ENS Headlines

Syndicate content
The news service of the Episcopal Church
Updated: 1 hour 37 min ago

Presiding Bishop preaches at Westminster Abbey

Monday, June 15, 2015

14 June 2015
Westminster Abbey
London, England

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

Did you notice that green cedar sprig Ezekiel mentioned? Can you imagine its fresh and pungent smell, and its tender green growth? We often see sprigs like that at Easter, and at baptisms and funerals, when the people or their mortal remains have water rained upon them – a sprinkling meant to remind us of our own death and resurrection. We, too, are sprigs planted by the gardener, meant to grow and flourish under God’s care.

Ezekiel is confronting a wayward and warring people who’ve forgotten their planter and gardener. God takes a sprig from the lofty top of a cedar and plants it on a high mountain to become shelter for all the birds of the air. God is often described as high and lifted up, and that lofty cedar is meant to image God’s tree of life for all creatures. Ezekiel is reminding his hearers that they are meant to be holy and just, like the one whose image they bear. This is about right relationship, sharing God’s creative care of tree and bird and every creature under heaven. So, who finds shelter in the shade of your branches? Who needs shelter and isn’t finding it?

Ezekiel’s little parable follows a near parallel at the beginning of the chapter, only in that first vision a great eagle flies in to take a small branch from the cedar and then flies back to Babylon to plant it. The prophet is confronting Israel’s exiled leaders in Babylon, political deal-makers who are trying to build a military alliance with Egypt, instead of relying on their planter and gardener. The prophet insists that the cedar twig high and lifted up is there in a position of service, not as a general’s vantage point. The strategy is about caring for the weak, and it’s repeated in Jesus’ parable: the kingdom of God is like a gardener scattering seed, then watching and waiting for growth. The sower doesn’t know exactly how the seed turns into a great plant, but he trusts that it will, for it is the nature of the earth to be fruitful. God’s planting yields shelters like the mustard shrub, with branches supposedly broad and leafy enough to make a home for all sorts of birds.

The great joke in Jesus’ parable is that mustard is a pretty puny bush. It’s thin and fragile, and it’s often considered a weed, by farmers and gardeners alike. Mustard plants aren’t sturdy enough to hold big predatory birds like hawks and eagles, but a field full of mustard certainly could hide a flock of sparrows – those little ones Jesus is most worried about. The mustard’s human scale, its commonness and ubiquity, and the tiny seed from which it grows, all make it a remarkable image for the reign of God.

High and lifted up – for what? We live in a world that often seeks to hold the peaks as castellated fortresses of righteousness. Their battlements are designed to keep out the unholy rabble, the dangerous or unworthy, hoi polloi, the wrongheaded and the subversive. Alliance building and struggles for power and dominance are not new, in the Middle East or elsewhere, nor is the urge to justify them religiously, as God’s will for the rest of the world.

Yet whom do we follow but one who was lifted up on a tree to die? The same one who offers shelter for the world’s rejected, sinful, wrong, and wandering beneath the arms and branches of what became a tree of life…

Those sheltering birds might be like the one who left the ark and came back with an olive branch. There are a fair number of them working in Pakistan right now, trying to vaccinate people against polio, and put an end to that ancient scourge.[1] Those vaccinators are still too often misunderstood as tools of oppressive regimes or those who want to exterminate religious minorities, and some are being killed for their efforts. Yet for every one who is assassinated, another is rising to take her place. That bush is close to the ground, and it has many branches.

What of the Middle East? Where is the mustard bush or the olive branch? There are sowers at work, scattering tiny seeds in countless fields, nearby and far away. Rabbi Lord Sacks made a profound plea on Friday for a widespread public claim on Abrahamic values – the dignity of every human being, made in the image of God, and a rejection of the demonizing so prevalent in the world’s conflicts.[2] The rapid escalation of those conflicts, and the desperate scale of human suffering in death, displacement, sickness, loss of home and livelihood is enormous – there are more refugees and displaced people today than at any time since the Second World War. To many it feels entirely hopeless.

And yet, there are tiny signs of hope if we’re willing to look – like the grassroots peacebuilding initiatives in the West Bank and in Israel. In January an American Abrahamic pilgrimage met with a group called Roots that included a settler rabbi, another Jewish settler, and a former Palestinian freedom fighter with a long prison history.[3] They spoke about how their hearts and minds have been transformed by hearing one another’s stories of suffering and injustice. Compassion has been lit in their hearts, and its fire is changing the landscape. The bush is growing – maybe even burning a little.

We met another group focused on building bridges around water use and environmental concerns along the Jordan Valley.[4] Palestinians and Israelis, Muslims, Jews, and Christians are recognizing that they share the same trees and water sources, and that all their lives are bound up together in the health and wholeness of creation.

Yet another community is teaching negotiation skills to mid-level civil servants (Israeli and Palestinian) and to junior members of the international diplomatic corps, with the expectation that those individuals can change the dialogue about conflict in their own persons, and that they will be a ready resource to all levels of intergovernmental conversation. They are becoming a sheltering field of constructive possibility.

I met an interreligious dialogue group in Brazil last week that embodied the reality of the cedar and the mustard.[5] Religious leaders from a broad range of traditions – Roman Catholic, Jewish, spiritualist, Anglican, indigenous Afro-Brazilian, Baha’i, Buddhist, and more – gather regularly to promote understanding among themselves and in the wider community. They hold up a mirror to society, saying, “see the image of God in this diversity. We are created to be people of peace.” They even march into football matches hand in hand, wearing the colors of different teams!

Those very local initiatives can and do begin to impact the wider community. When Christians and Muslims, or even Scots and English, begin to hear each other’s stories with open-hearted compassion, seeds begin to grow. The great religious traditions of the world do share a yearning for peace. The Abrahamic traditions insist that all are made in the image of God, and that we share a responsibility for the well-being of all God’s creatures. We proclaim that our help is in the Lord, not in military power or a suicide vest.

The work is both local and global. The solidarity we build with anyone deemed “other” – a hungry person on the street, a new neighbor from a different country or religious tradition, or a fellow citizen whose political aims are robustly different from our own – each act of hospitable companionship provides a bit of shelter. Keep sowing seeds, growing branches, and building a holy place for all God’s creatures. Whose branches have sheltered you? Where and how will you return the honor?

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/09/health/pakistan-polio-every-last-child-documentary.html

[2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/11665931/Rabbi-Lord-Sacks-How-to-end-the-wars-of-hatred.html

[3] http://www.friendsofroots.net/the-people.html

[4] http://www.foeme.org/www/?module=home

[5] Grupo de Dialogo Inter-Religioso de Porto Alegre http://wp.clicrbs.com.br/blogdasreligioes/?topo=13,1,1,,,13

Episcopal-Anglican-Lutheran leadership of Canada, US write to President Obama, Prime Minister Harper

Friday, June 12, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has joined with the Episcopal-Anglican-Lutheran leadership of Canada and the United States in a letter to both United States President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper concerning the review and future of the Columbia River Treaty, drawing attention to its impact on Indigenous peoples and regional residents as well as the implications of climate change for this sensitive ecosystem, the fisheries it supports, and the environmental services it provides.

In writing the letter, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori joined with: Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; the Most Rev. Fred Hiltz, Primate, Anglican Church of Canada; and Bishop Susan Johnson, National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

“We hear in this moment the call of God to work for justice and to deepen our practice of living as treaty people,” the four leaders stated in the letter. “In this time of climate change, the United States, Canada, tribes and First Nations working together to promote stewardship of shared waters would be a sign of hope for a healthier environment and a fairer world.”

The following is the letter to the President and Prime Minister.

To President Barack Obama and Prime Minster Stephen Harper

June 11, 2015

We write to you to add our voices to those who are calling for a review of the Columbia River Treaty in order to respect the rights, dignity and traditions of the Columbia Basin tribes and First Nations by including them in the implementation and management of the Treaty, and to include the healthy functioning of the ecosystem as an equal purpose of the Treaty.

On September 23, 2014, you received the Declaration on Ethics and Modernizing the Columbia River Treaty, and the Columbia River Pastoral Letter upon which the Declaration is based. The Declaration sets forth eight valuable principles to consider in the review of the Columbia River Treaty.

As noted in the Declaration, the original treaty only included flood control and hydroelectric power generation as international management purposes of the Columbia River. We stand at a critical moment in history regarding both the renewal of relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and the addressing of climate change. In fact, Indigenous rights and climate justice are deeply interrelated. The right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent is enshrined in the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The wisdom of Indigenous peoples is vital to addressing the environmental crisis.

We hear in this moment the call of God to work for justice and to deepen our practice of living as treaty people. In this time of climate change, the United States and Canada working together to promote stewardship of shared waters would be a sign of hope for a healthier environment and a fairer world.

Please move forward with negotiations to review the Columbia River Treaty, and thereby provide  a respectful, just and sustainable model for stewardship of these vital waters.

Sincerely,

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

Bishop Elizabeth Eaton
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
Primate
Anglican Church of Canada

Bishop Susan Johnson
National Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

Minnesota: Six Hmong people among 33 to be ordained

Friday, June 12, 2015

[The Episcopal Church in Minnesota] The Rt. Rev. Brian Prior, IX Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, will ordain 33 people on Saturday, June 20. Of these 33, six are Hmong members of Holy Apostles, the first Hmong-majority faith community within the Episcopal Church.

Two of the six are being ordained as vocational deacons, while the other four will be ordained as transitional deacons. God willing and the people consenting, the four transitional deacons will be ordained as priests next year.

Thomas Thao, one of the four being ordained as a transitional deacon, is very excited about this opportunity, especially knowing that he’ll be a positive role model for others in his community.

“This is very meaningful to me because I’ll be able to share my gifts and talents with others,” said Thao.

He added, “This opportunity leads me on a new journey and will allow me to continue growing my faith while sharing my experiences with others.”

The six ordinands include three women and three men; Bao Moua will be the first Hmong woman to pursue the priesthood.

“The most exciting thing about June 20, 2015, is that for over 40 years of the Hmong people being in the U.S., the Episcopal Church will be ordaining its first Hmong majority Shared Ministry Team, three of whom are women,” said Moua.

“This is history in the making, and with God’s help we have only begun our mission,” she added.

In addition to the six Hmong being ordained, one Anglo from Holy Apostles will be ordained as a vocational deacon. The seven ordinands from Holy Apostles, in addition to seven others who will be commissioned for lay ministries in December, will make up Holy Apostles’ Shared Ministry Team. They will be leading worship, pastoral care, mission and evangelism, and Christian formation; they will also collaborate with the Bishop’s Committee.

The Shared Ministry Team has been in formation for three years. Instructors have been drawn from local seminaries in addition to clergy, lay instructors, and missioners from the Episcopal Church. All instruction has been interpreted from English to Hmong to make the program accessible to team members who are not fluent in English.

The team will be working with the support and collaboration of The Rev. Letha Wilson-Barnard, Holy Apostles’ Vicar and Mentor to the Team, and The Rev. Toua Vang, Associate Priest of Holy Apostles and Hmong/Southeast Asian Missioner of Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries (EAM).

The Bishop’s Committee and Shared Ministry Team have already begun meeting regularly to develop the mission and vision for Holy Apostles. This Shared Ministry Team provides new opportunities for ministry, mission, and evangelism to the Hmong community in Minnesota, the United States, and the world.

Presiding Bishop preaches in Brazil

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Unity and Thanksgiving
125th Anniversary of IEAB; 50th Anniversary of Province of Brazil;
30th Anniversary of Women’s Ordination

7 June 2015
Holy Trinity Cathedral, Porto Alegre, 4 pm
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Psalm 133; Ephesians 4:1-6; John 17:6a,15-23

What does it mean to be “one”? On the flight here I thought about what it’s like to be packed like sardines on a commercial airplane. It seems to bind people together more closely than most find comfortable, but it doesn’t begin to promote a sense of oneness until there’s some sort of crisis. If a passenger gets sick, or there’s a big delay, people begin to reach out to each other. If the crew recognizes some newlyweds, other passengers clap and congratulate them. Oneness begins in some sort of shared experience that’s outside the norm, and for most people that process of coming together produces a sense of gratitude – or even a big dose of joy.

Ecclesiastes talks about oneness as acting together for mutual benefit and protection.        The psalmist sees oneness as blessing, abundance, and life that endures. That’s pretty much what Jesus calls abundant life – “I came that you might have life, and have it abundantly.”

The Ephesians are challenged to be one in the Spirit by living at peace with one another, and they’re reminded of the many ways they are already one: in baptism, in following Jesus, in seeking oneness with God, and in God’s own self.

In the gospel, Jesus prays that his friends will be one with him as he is one with God, and again it has something to do with holiness and with love.

This Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil has the same vocation of oneness that Jesus asks for his disciples. Your history here has been a long process of drawing people together in ways that bless them. Your gift has been the conviction that oneness in the Church is supposed to bless the wider community as well. Becoming one begins in sharing the good news of God’s love for all and teaching people how to live together as friends – friends of God and one another. We see that oneness happen in congregations and in the ways in which their members are present in the wider community – feeding, teaching, healing, and seeking justice. Yesterday we saw an example in a Guaraní community, where friends have been accompanying one another for 20 years, growing in solidarity, and today everyone is finding a greater sense of wholeness.

Think about that crowded airplane again. Sometimes people are so tightly packed that when one person reclines his seat, the person behind him has so little space that she leans her seat back, too – and often it causes the whole plane to rearrange itself – like rows of dominos falling over. It’s a very physical reminder of how connected we are, but it’s very mechanical. You move only because you’ve been pushed. The system is designed for interchangeable parts, not unique human beings of different shapes and sizes with different desires for quiet or physical space.

The body of Christ isn’t quite like that cattle car in the sky. It IS profoundly interconnected, and it is meant to respond in solidarity to the pain or joy of another member, but not because of fear or physical force. The community of God’s friends is meant to live interdependently and responsively, and to be intentional and conscious about the other members, all the time. The body of Christ doesn’t expect every part to fit in identical seats. The Anglican Communion is learning to rearrange the chairs and recognize that we aren’t all meant to face exactly the same direction or get identical cardboard meals. The IEAB is working to celebrate the diversity of God’s people and creation, and we’re all learning to serve as passengers and crew together, shifting roles as necessary and as our gifts permit. God’s mission, with all of us together on this planet of 7.3 billion people, is flying through time, trying to learn to live together in peace.

The ministry of oneness is most essentially about breaking down walls and healing relationships. When that happens, we’re thankful because we are experiencing the life for which we are created – wholeness, peace in community, and the near presence of the Reign of God. Oneness is never about uniformity; it is about celebrating the unique gifts of every person, all of whom bear the image of God. Oneness gathers those diverse and complementary parts into a healthier and holier and more effective body of Christ.

There are abundant signs of that oneness here – in the profound respect shown to every member of the interreligious group we met here on Friday[1]; in your conscious and pro-active empowerment of women, sexual minorities, and indigenous people; in your care and solidarity with all the poor, including our poor abused environment. Together, all God’s people are working to build a more effective whole.

This celebration is about that growing health and wholeness, and lots of boundaries have been broken down to bring us to this point. For anyone who doesn’t have a clear sense of what life is truly about (and that’s every one of us at some point), your new prayer book will help people recognize the holy all around us and within us. It will bring us closer to a church that truly does respect the dignity of every human being, male and female, gay and straight, the descendants of every nation, and the other parts of God’s creation.

The 125 year history of the IEAB has been a continuing search to honor and encourage the variety of life here, to encourage all parts to grow in their leadership for healing what is broken in the lives of human beings and in the wider society. Your half-century of autonomy celebrates growth toward the full stature of Christ, as a mature part of the body of his Church. You are able to help other partners do the same – and the request in 1990 for a bilateral committee is a good example. You said to TEC, ‘come and partner with us as equals – let us learn from each other and support one another.’ We give great thanks for your challenge and invitation, and I expect that we will continue to grow in solidarity with one another and with others, as fellow passengers and crew on this flying planet.

Sitting together in that cramped and crowded airplane can be like the disciples after the crucifixion, who locked themselves in the upper room, too scared to move. It can be a useful reminder of our interconnections, but also a kind of slavery. We know a way out of that captivity. It’s called God’s mission, God’s sending – going out, going to Galilee, where Jesus told those disciples they would find him. We’re meant to be on that journey, moving together out to the far edges of the globe, looking for the lost and the least and the left out. We’ll find oneness there on the margins, and we’ll be immensely grateful, for there is joy and wholeness when companions lean on each other.

Felicitações em seus aniversários, e que Deus continue a abençoar a todos vocês.

[1] Grupo de Dialogo Inter-Religioso de Porto Alegre http://wp.clicrbs.com.br/blogdasreligioes/?topo=13,1,1,,,13

 

Advancing to General Convention 2015: Blue Book reports complete

Thursday, June 11, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe, General Convention Executive Officer, has announced that all reports for the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church have been posted on the General Convention website in a single document.

Reports to the 78th General Convention, commonly referred to as The Blue Book, is available at the General Convention website here. The Blue Book contains reports of the committees, commissions, agencies, and boards of the General Convention. The information is available in English and in Spanish.

The Blue Book is offered online and documents can be downloaded at no fee. Barlowe also announced that the General Convention Office has partnered with Mission Graphics to provide print copies for purchase.  Copies will be available at Amazon.com after June 15.

Among the reports are: the Joint Nominating Committee on the Election of the Presiding Bishop; the Taskforce for Reimagining The Episcopal Church (TREC); the Task Force on the Study of Marriage; the Joint Committee on Nominations; and others.

Episcopal Church’s 78th General Convention, June 25 – July 3, will be held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah (Diocese of Utah).

For questions about The Blue Book, contact Twila Rios, staff assistant for content management and digital publishing in the General Convention Office, trios@episcopalchurch.org.

The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.

Brazilian church celebrates 125th anniversary

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Archbishop Francisco de Assis da Silva, right, and Bishop Humberto Maiztegue of the Diocese of Meridional, co-celebrated during the June 7 Eucharist celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil. The church also celebrated 50 years of autonomy and 30 years of women’s ordination. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

[Episcopal News Service – Porto Alegre, Brazil] For 125 years the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil has been building the reign of God through its pursuit of mission across what is the largest country in South America, with the help of both local partnerships and strong, historical ties with the U.S.-based Episcopal Church in a spirit of “oneness.”

“This Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil has the same vocation of oneness that Jesus asks for his disciples,” said Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, during a sermon delivered June 7 at Most Holy Trinity Cathedral in Porto Alegre, the southern city where the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil was established in 1890 by two missionaries sent by Virginia Theological Seminary.

“Your history here has been a long process of drawing people together in ways that bless them. Your gift has been the conviction that oneness in the Church is supposed to bless the wider community as well. Becoming one begins in sharing the good news of God’s love for all and teaching people how to live together as friends – friends of God and one another. We see that oneness happen in congregations and in the ways in which their members are present in the wider community – feeding, teaching, healing and seeking justice,” she said.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached during the June 7 Eucharist at Most Holy Trinity Cathedral in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the birthplace of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil. The Rev. Luiz Coelho, of the Diocese of Rio de Janeiro, translated the sermon from English to Portuguese. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

More than 200 people gathered in the early evening at Most Holy Trinity Cathedral, the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil’s national cathedral, for the three-hour service marking the church’s 125th anniversary, 50 years of autonomy and 30 years of women’s ordination. In addition to preaching, the presiding bishop celebrated alongside Archbishop Francisco de Assis da Silva and Bishop Humberto Maiztegue of the Diocese of Meridional, where the cathedral is located.

Since the signing of a bilateral covenant in 1990, following a period of separation, the U.S.-based Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil have been working to reconnect, re-establish friendships and encourage partnerships and companion relationships between the two churches.

“In the last 20 years the relationship has become even more important. I think they can teach us an awful lot about the missional push out to the places that have never seen any good news, or are in urgent need of it,” Jefferts Schori told Episcopal News Service, referring to the church’s missionary work with indigenous people that stresses solidarity and accompaniment, rather than giving. “That’s a remarkable point of view and theology that most people in the U.S. part of the church would never understand or never start with.

“Brazil is at a post-colonial place, and is very confident about it and that is something we could learn from. That it’s not about bounteous giving, which has been The Episcopal Church’s M.O. (modus operandi) for a long time. It’s less so today, but that’s what we are famous for. We are beginning to learn how to be in solidarity, but the church here already knows how and could teach us an awful lot.”

The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil has been rooted in mission throughout its 125 years of existence; the mission field established in the south has spread to remote corners of the Amazon, as well as more recently into the northeast. Still, as with the U.S.-based Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil weathered more than a decade of schism related to human sexuality and ethics, both heterosexual and homosexual behavior, explained da Silva, in an interview with Episcopal News Service on June 6.

The church chose the theme “unity and thanksgiving” as a reaffirmation of its commitment to mission and service, through “unity” not “uniformity,” and to express its gratitude for its rich history, as well as its commitment to move forward as one church, he said.

The Very Rev. Mannez Rosa dos Santos, dean of Most Holy Trinity Cathedral in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and others who worked on the 1,181-page Book of Common Prayer, adapted for the Brazilian context, celebrate its introduction during the 125th anniversary Eucharist on June 7. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

Additionally, the church is thankful for the publication of its 1,181-page Book of Common Prayer, which was nine years in the making and is adapted to the Brazilian context, including gender inclusive and colloquial language that sets a course for the future, he said.

“Our church has a sense of openness to the future,” said da Silva.

The presiding bishop spent three days in Porto Alegre, where she and the Rev. David Gortner, who represented Virginia Theological Seminary, got to better know the Brazilian church; they met with an interreligious group, visited with the staff of a diocesan environmental education program for children, a Guarani village and an elder-care facility operated out of a church. On June 6, the presiding bishop gave a lecture on the episcopate and sexism during a conference of lay and ordained women theologians that coincided with the weekend’s events.

“There are abundant signs of that oneness here – in the profound respect shown to every member of the interreligious group we met here on Friday; in your conscious and pro-active empowerment of women, sexual minorities, and indigenous people; (and) in your care and solidarity with all the poor, including our poor, abused environment. Together, all God’s people are working to build a more effective whole,” said the presiding bishop in her sermon.

“This celebration is about that growing health and wholeness, and lots of boundaries have been broken down to bring us to this point. For anyone who doesn’t have a clear sense of what life is truly about – and that’s every one of us at some point– your new prayer book will help people recognize the holy all around us and within us. It will bring us closer to a church that truly does respect the dignity of every human being, male and female, gay and straight, the descendants of every nation, and the other parts of God’s creation.”

The presiding bishop’s presence, said the Rev. Arthur Cavalcante, the church’s provincial secretary, was a testament to the historical relationship between the two churches and a “sign that we can continue to build the mission of God we are charged with.”

In 1890, two missionaries from Virginia Theological Seminary, Lucien Lee Kinsolving and James Watson Morris, established the church in Porto Alegre, in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul.

In 1907, the missionary efforts in Brazil resulted in the establishment of a missionary district of The Episcopal Church under the leadership of Kinsolving, who by then was a bishop.

“I’m continually moved by Virginia’s heritage and its influence on Christian and Episcopal mission, and that we’ve consistently emphasized the growth of an indigenous church with indigenous leadership,” said Gortner, professor of evangelism and congregational leadership and director of the doctor of ministry program at Virginia Theological Seminary.

The Rev. David Gortner, professor of evangelism and congregational leadership and director of the doctor of ministry program at Virginia Theological Seminary, represented the seminary at the 125th anniversary celebration. Here he reads a letter from the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, the seminary’s dean, during the June 7 Eucharist. The Rev. Luiz Coelho, of the Diocese of Rio de Janeiro, translated the letter from English to Portuguese. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

Gortner participated in the June 7 service by reading a letter from the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, the seminary’s dean, and on June 6, during a reception, a letter from the Rev. Robert Heaney, direct of the Center for Anglican Communion Studies.

“The people in leadership roles are remarkable, committed and passionate and show a real joy in ministry,” said Gortner, in an interview with ENS.“I admire the ways they seek to partner with and advocate for the poor and the marginalized and those who don’t hold power in this society. I hope for more influence that can only come with growth.”

Brazil is the world’s fifth largest country both geographically and by population, with more than 200 million people. Though Roman Catholicism is no longer the state-sponsored religion, it has more Roman Catholics, 123 million, than any other country in the world. The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, by contrast, records 120,000 baptized members, and a regular Sunday attendance of about 25,000 worshippers.

The church’s historical ties to the seminary and The Episcopal Church, more so than its ties to the Anglican Church, which established Anglican chaplaincies to serve expatriates, carries great importance.

“The presence of the Virginia missionaries has always been relevant and very important to the church in Brazil in starting the mission here,” said the Rev. Glenda McQueen, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, adding that the church also experienced a period of separation from the seminary that it hoped to remedy. “So being able to reconnect with Virginia Seminary has been very important in connecting with where the mission started, and the people that came.

“Also, the relationship with The Episcopal Church has been important for Brazil to maintain and to strengthen and that relationship has been very important throughout the years, so the presiding bishop’s presence speaks to that relationship and that partnership. I believe also especially the celebration of the 30 years of ordination of women serves to highlight women’s leadership where, historically, the leaders have all been men. But, it’s the partnership for them that is really, really important, and Virginia coming was just the icing on the cake.”

In the 1950s, the Brazilian church began talking about its autonomy, and in 1965 the missionary district became the autonomous Province of Brazil.

During the Cold War – a time when the U.S. government regularly backed right-wing governments in an attempt to thwart the spread of communism in Latin America, at times participating in the overthrow left-leaning leaders, including the 1964 military coup that ousted Brazil’s president João Goulart – a resurgent nationalism took hold in Brazil.

“Everyone knows that the U.S. played a key role in the process [coup], and people in the church began to feel nationalistic,” said da Silva, adding that the church became in independent province the next year.

The Episcopal Church continued its financial support of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil until 1975. Still, the church lost many of its clergy, who were previously paid in U.S. dollars rather than the weaker local currency, and the church was forced to sell off properties.

“The process of autonomy was not rightly led and it became a great challenge for us to manage,” said da Silva. “We were completely, financially dependent.”

Fifty years later, the church celebrates its autonomy, and continues in the missionary tradition of its founding.

In addition to Brazil, The Episcopal Church has covenant relationships with Episcopal churches in Liberia, the Philippines, which became an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion in 2005, and the Anglican Church of the Central Region of America (most commonly known by its Spanish acronym, IARCA).

“Brazil is a major success story: They have grown to maturity and beyond in a lot of ways,” said Jefferts Schori, adding that Brazil was the first province to become autonomous out of the work of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. “They are teaching us.”

(The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is the name under which The Episcopal Church is incorporated, conducts business and carries out mission.)

“They pushed us to move to a new level of relationship,” said the presiding bishop. “The Philippines have done something like that, too, in their assertive move to autonomy ahead of schedule and in bringing that enormous gift to General Convention. And long term, I hope that’s what the future is for a number of the extra-U.S. dioceses. We ought to be moving toward that kind of vision and helping them become autonomous in a way that lets them thrive. That’s what the [Province IX] sustainability work is about, I believe, long term.”

— Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for Episcopal News Service.

Advancing to General Convention

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] There are many avenues for prayer for the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, for those attending the event as well as those following remotely.

General Convention 2015 will be held June 25 – July 3 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah).

Daily Eucharist
The daily Eucharists at General Convention will feature presiders and preachers from throughout the church. All Eucharists will be livestreamed on the Media Hub here.

Important note for those attending General Convention: Worship bulletins will not be available in print form at General Convention 2015. The worship bulletins are available as pdf documents on the virtual binder iPads, or one may download or print the pdf versions of the bulletins, available here or in the General Convention Guidebook Guide which can be downloaded here.

For those not attending General Convention, daily worship bulletins are available here.

Eucharist will be celebrated daily at 9:30 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time, except Sunday, June 28 at 10 a.m. MDT and Friday, July 3 at 8:30 a.m. MDT.

Thursday, June 25: Opening Eucharist
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will preside and preach.

Friday, June 26: Presider: Bishop Suffragan Mary Glasspool of Los Angeles; Preacher: the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies

Saturday, June 27: Presider: Bishop Michael Smith of North Dakota; Preacher: the Rev. Cathlena Plummer of Navajoland

Sunday, June 28: United Thank Offering Ingathering. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will preside and preach.

Monday, June 29: Presider: Bishop Mike Klusmeyer of West Virginia; Preacher: Archbishop Vicken Aykazian of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church in America

Tuesday, June 30:  Presider: Bishop Wendell Gibbs of Michigan; Preacher: the Rev. Kimberly Jackson, chaplain and vicar of the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center, Emmaus House Chapel

Wednesday, July 1: Presider: Bishop Scott Hayashi of Utah; Preacher: the Rev. Becca Stevens, founder of Magdalene and Thistle Farms

Thursday, July 2: Presider: Bishop Julio Holguin of the Dominican Republic; Preacher: the Rev. Colin Mathewson, St. Paul’s Cathedral, San Diego (Diocese of San Diego)

Friday, July 3: Closing Eucharist. Presider: Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori; Preacher: the Presiding Bishop-Elect

Prayers through social media
The Society of Saint John the Evangelist (SSJE) has established the General Convention’s home base for interactive prayer here.

In addition, SSJE set up the hashtag #PrayersOf, which invites people from General Convention and beyond to submit Prayers of the People on a different theme each day: life, thanksgiving, praise, intercession, adoration, oblation, penitence, petition, and celebration. Words or images can be submitted via Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, and are tagged with #PrayersOf and the day’s theme.

“The hashtag #PrayersOf allows us all to join in prayer, to know what is on each of our hearts and offer that to God and one another,” said Brother Geoffrey Tristram, Superior of SSJE, an Episcopal monastic community in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

SSJE will also offer daily morning and evening meditation podcasts, each eight- to – ten-minutes, with a prayer, a brief reflection, and a chant.

Prayer Wall
The prayer wall on the website of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society continues to invite the posting of prayer requests. And, during General Convention 2015, The Episcopal Community will be praying for all of the prayer requests posted on the Prayer Wall.

The Episcopal Community an organization of Episcopal women who adhere to a Rule of Life and who pray in community to support the church and the world.

Prayers can be submitted here.

General Convention
The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.

Gary Hall elected chair of Episcopal Divinity School’s board of trustees

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

[Episcopal Divinity School press release] The Very Rev. James Kowalski has announced that he is retiring from Episcopal Divinity School’s board of trustees, where he has served for five years and was elected chair three times. In a private message to fellow trustees, Kowalski expressed his hope and prayers for a bright future for the institution he called “transformational in my life.” Kowalski currently serves as dean of St. John the Divine Episcopal Cathedral in the Diocese of New York.

The trustees have named the Very Rev. Gary Hall as chair of the board of trustees. Consistent with the board’s traditional practice, an election of all officers will occur at the annual meeting to be held in October 2015. Hall has served as dean of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., since October 2012. An ordained minister for more than 35 years, Hall currently serves as the National Cathedral’s chief ecclesiastical leader and executive officer, working closely with the bishop of Washington and governing bodies to shape and support ministries to the city of Washington, the nation, and the world.

In assuming this role, Hall said, “I am deeply grateful for Jim Kowalski’s board leadership, and I look forward to working with trustees, faculty, students, alumni/ae, and staff as we chart the course for EDS in the coming decades. EDS has a unique role and mission in the church and the world. Together we can strengthen the school community, develop its resources, and ensure its sustainability in the years to come.”

England: Dame Sarah Mullally named as bishop of Crediton

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Photo: Diocese of Exeter

[Diocese of Exeter press release] The Rev. Dame Sarah Mullally, canon treasurer at Salisbury Cathedral, will be the next bishop of Crediton, a suffragan in the Diocese of Exeter. The appointment makes her the fourth woman to be named as a bishop in the Church of England.

Mullally, a former nurse, had a distinguished service in the U.K.’s National Health Service before ordination, culminating in her appointment as the government’s chief nursing officer for England in 1999, when she was the youngest person to be appointed to the post.

She was ordained in 2001 and served her curacy in St. Saviour’s Battersea Fields, initially as a self-supporting minister. She left her post as chief nursing officer in 2004 to take up full-time ministry, becoming a team rector in Sutton, Surrey, in 2006. In 2012, she was installed as canon treasurer at Salisbury Cathedral.

She was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 2005 in recognition of her outstanding contribution to nursing and midwifery. As the announcement was made, Mullally visited projects in the north of the Diocese of Exeter. “I am delighted to be appointed as the bishop of Crediton,” she said. “These projects show that our communities, inside the church and out, are built on the love and compassion people have for each other. In even our smallest rural communities, often where many of the other services and facilities have long gone, the church – and it can sometimes be only a few people – remains, as a symbol of God’s enduring love.

“Throughout my life, as both a nurse and a priest, I have experienced this love and I hope as bishop to be able to share that love with others,” she added. “My calling as a Christian and now as bishop has been shaped by my belief that we are called to be witnesses to the generous love of God and the good news of Christ Jesus. In my future ministry in the Diocese of Exeter I hope to encourage and enable Christians to grow in their faith, to share that faith with confidence and to serve the people of Devon with joy.”

The bishop of Exeter, the Rt. Rev. Robert Atwell, said he was delighted to welcome Mullally to Devon.

“This is an outstanding appointment. Sarah will enrich the life of the church in Devon enormously,” he said. “She will bring to her new role the same mixture of compassion, integrity and professionalism that has characterized everything she has done and achieved, both nationally and specifically within the Church of England.”

As bishop of Crediton, she will primarily look after east and north Devon, though in common with the bishop of Plymouth, also a suffragan, she will minister across the whole Diocese of Exeter.

Mullally, 53, is the fourth woman bishop to be appointed by the Church of England, and the first in the Southwest. She is married to Eamonn, who works as a business architect, and they have two adult children.

She will be consecrated as bishop of Crediton in Canterbury Cathedral in July, alongside the first woman to be appointed as a diocesan bishop, the Venerable Rachel Treweek, who is to be bishop of Gloucester.

She will then be installed in a service in Exeter Cathedral in September.

Mullally will succeed the Rt. Rev. Nick McKinnel, who moved to become bishop of Plymouth in April.

$1 million gift to Sewanee supports School of Theology’s vision

Wednesday, June 10, 2015
[Sewanee press release] The University of the South has announced a $1 million gift from the Episcopal Foundation of Texas. Though the gift is being made to the university as a whole, a significant portion has been designated for the School of Theology. “We are blessed by our long partnership with Sewanee and we have the distinct pleasure to have many Sewanee graduates among both our lay leaders and our clergy,” said the Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. “We are grateful to be able to make this gift and pray it will help to support the continued health and vitality of the University of the South and of the School of Theology.” The School of Theology, an accredited seminary of The Episcopal Church, has been an essential part of the University of the South since 1878. Over the years, the school has played a major role in the church, the Anglican Communion, and the world by forming and educating men and women for leadership positions. With the recent expansion of the Beecken Center, the school now provides training for congregational and missional development in dioceses and parishes in addition to its long-established Education for Ministry program. “This gift provides a tremendous boost to the plans we have for the School of Theology, as the university and the School of Theology are planning to expand the School’s buildings and programs,” said the university’s Vice Chancellor John M. McCardell Jr. The university’s vision for the School of Theology includes the construction of state-of-the-art academic, conference, and residential facilities; an increase in student scholarships; support for faculty development; and additional opportunities for theological education in the Beecken Center. “The leadership of the bishop and Diocese of Texas is critical to Sewanee’s future, particularly their support of the expanding work of the School of Theology,” said the Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, dean of the School of Theology. “Bishop Doyle shares our vision that theological education is the birthright of all of the baptized and the foundation’s support is a major factor in making that vision a living reality.”

Philippines: Priests negotiate surrender, baptism of homicide suspect

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

[Episcopal Church in the Philippines] On May 28, 2015, Filipino Episcopal priests,  Lito Awakan, Leo Basing-at and Pablo Buyagan of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Philippines, together with members of the Movement for the Advancement of Tribal Unity and Development (MAITUD),  effected the surrender of a suspect in the killing of a 13-year old boy from Bontoc, Mountain Province, which has caused tribal tension between the peoples of Bontoc and Tinglayan, Kalinga, the suspect’s hometown. Both towns are in the Cordillera mountains of Northern Philippines, whose tribes have a history of engagement in violent tribal wars. Prior to the surrender, the suspected assailant, Zaldy Alinong Dalog, confessed to the crime and requested that he be first baptized.

The victim, Bryden Faniswa, Crisostomo, was killed on April 10, 2015 in Bontoc ili and Dalog [no connection to Mountain Province incumbent Congressman Maximo B. Dalog, Sr.) emerged as the prime suspect. The latter, who went into hiding, is a native of Basao, Tinglayan where the Diocese has recently opened mission work. Owing to the slow progress in the suspect’s arrest, the officials of various barangays of Bontoc set up a check-point on May 3, 2015 at the entrance to the town, preventing the entry of all vehicles and passengers from Tinglayan purposely to pressure the officials and people of the said Kalinga municipality to surrender the suspect.  The Bontoc officials publicly declared that no revenge nor violent action will be committed against the suspect, his family and tribe as had been the tribal practice in the past but strongly demanded that the said suspect be immediately subjected to the country’s criminal justice system.  Feeling the adverse effect of the checkpoint, the Tinglayan officials and travelers complained that it was unfair to include other barangays and people who had no involvement in the killing. A subsequent dialogue between the tribes involved ensued resulting in an agreement that the checkpoint will be suspended until May 20 to give time for the Tinglayan officials to effect the surrender of the suspect.  This was extended for five days from May 19 when no surrender nor arrest was yet made.

In an earlier dialogue between the Bontoc and Tinglayan officials, the Episcopal priests suggested a pastoral approach in effecting the surrender but this was not appreciated by most participants. Despite the negative reactions, the  Rt. Rev. Brent H.W. Alawas, EDNP Bishop, directed that pastoral initiatives be pursued. The Diocese then approached MAITUD members and several meetings, including one with the family of the suspect, followed.  On May 27,  the group went back to Basao and held a meeting with the community  lasting up to almostmidnight.

Early the next day, the group was invited to have breakfast at the suspect’s house and met the latter for the first time. The suspect approached The Rev. Basing-at whom he has met some years ago and confessed to the crime. He then expressed a desire to be baptized. Also, his siblings Dennis and Julie expressed a similar desire. The family and the rest of the community then walked to St. Theodore’s Episcopal Church where its vicar, The Rev. Awakan, officiated the baptism in a Eucharistic celebration. Thereafter, the group, together with the suspect and his family and other relatives proceeded to Tinglayan municipality where he was turned over to the police.

Historical Society makes donation to Kenyan University

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

[Historical Society of the Episcopal Church press release] The Historical Society of the Episcopal Church has donated a set of their quarterly journal, Anglican and Episcopal History, from the 1970s through today to the library of St. Paul’s University, Limuru, Kenya. A number of books that were received for reviews in the journal were also donated.

The donation of hundreds of items were prepared by Matthew P. Payne, HSEC director of operations, and the Rev. Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook, book editor of Anglican and Episcopal History. They began their journey by being delivered to the Rev. Joseph Duggan in San Francisco. Duggan is founder of the Postcolonial Theology Network and to avoid the high cost of shipping, members of the network will take them as they travel to Kenya for the network’s summer conference.

The need for the donation was made know by Esther Mombo, a prominent Anglican theologian and former deputy vice chancellor of the university. “I offer our sincerest thanks for the journals and books to support scholarship at St. Paul’s, especially in the area of church history.”

Founded as an Anglican institution, the United Theological College at St. Paul’s University is now an ecumenical divinity school serving Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists, and the Reformed Church of East Africa. The school has a long-standing reputation of training theologians and pastors in various parts of Africa for service, including archbishops, bishops, moderators, and general secretaries.

“This exchange is an important opportunity to have Anglicans in another part of the world become familiar with Anglican and Episcopal History,” Kujawa-Holbrook said.

Payne said that the journal has been published since 1932, and that “recently all back issues were added to the academic online journal service, JSTOR.”

For more than a century, HSEC has been an association dedicated to preserving and disseminating information about the history of The Episcopal Church. Founded in Philadelphia in 1910 as the Church Historical Society, its members include scholars, writers, teachers, ministers (lay and ordained) and many others who have an interest in the objectives and activities of the Historical Society.

Canada: First female bishop for Montreal

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

“Montreal has always been in my heart,” says Bishop-elect Mary Irwin-Gibson, whose election is greeted by applause. She served parishes in Montreal for 28 years before moving to Kingston, Ontario. Photo: Tony Hadley

[Anglican Journal] Mary Irwin-Gibson, dean and rector of St. George’s Anglican Cathedral in Kingston, Ont., since 2009, has been elected the first female bishop of the Anglican diocese of Montreal in its 165-year history.

Irwin-Gibson, 59, who served parishes in the diocese of Montreal between 1981 and 2009, was elected bishop on a fourth ballot on Sat., June 6,  over another woman candidate, the Rev. Karen L. Egan, 57, director of pastoral studies at the Montreal Diocesan Theological College.

Bishop-elect Irwin-Gibson will be ordained following ratification by bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Canada, made up of seven dioceses in Quebec and Atlantic Canada. She will succeed Bishop Barry Clarke, 62, who will retire in late August after serving since 2004.

In the final ballot, Irwin-Gibson outpolled Egan 51-26 among lay delegates to an electoral synod and 32-27 among clergy delegates. The church laws, or canons, require a majority of votes among both lay and clergy delegates.

“Montreal has always been in my heart,” said Irwin-Gibson after her election was announced. The bishop-elect served as rector of Holy Trinity Church in the resort community of Ste. Agathe des Monts, in the Laurentians, from 1991 to 2009.

She urged them to join her in putting their trust in the Holy Spirit to see what the future will bring. “I am calling you to pray for our diocese. The Lord does with us what he wants to do with us,” she said in her brief bilingual remarks. “Let us lay our lives before God in a spirit of dedication and love.”

Two other candidates nominated in advance dropped out after polling behind the two women in the first two ballots. Bishop Dennis Drainville, 61, of the diocese of Quebec, was seeking to promote the merger of his diocese, in central and eastern Quebec, with the diocese of Montreal.  Archdeacon Bill Gray, 60, came to the diocese of Montreal in 2012 after serving in the Ontario dioceses of Huron and Toronto; he has been executive archdeacon of the diocese of Montreal since November.

Two other candidates nominated at the beginning of the electoral synod—the Rev. Patricia Kirkpatrick, a professor of McGill University’s faculty of religious studies, and the Rev. Canon Joyce Sanchez of Trinity Memorial Anglican Church, at a strategic site in west-end Montreal—also dropped out after the second ballot.

Irwin-Gibson outpolled Egan in the third ballot but had only a plurality among clergy, a half-dozen of whom voted for candidates who were out of the running. So a fourth ballot was required.

Irwin-Gibson, in a brief and informal interview, said that she is open to the idea of a merger of the dioceses, “but this is a decision to be made by synods, not bishops,” and would involve “long and complex study and negotiations.” Drainville said he remains hopeful about a merger as a means of bringing about a church that is more open and responsive to today’s world.

The lead-up to the election was marked by a relative absence of public debate, partly as a result of efforts by the diocesan chancellor, David Eramian, to avoid electioneering. One result of this may have been that there was almost no debate about same-sex marriage or blessings, a topic of controversy during Clarke’s term.

The four advance nominees were permitted to distribute to delegates and make public a relatively brief statement of their “vision for episcopal ministry in the Diocese of Montreal.”

Irwin-Gibson listed nine priorities, of which the sixth was “to continue the Diocese of Montreal’s inclusive policy of ordaining partnered gay people.” She was the only one of four whose statement mentioned the topic.

Her statement also mentions that she earned an executive MBA degree from the Université du Québec â Montréal in 2005 “with study focused on the Church and its future.”

The church is in a period of transition, she notes in her statement. “That is not new for the Church. We have a message of hope, grace and healing to share; that message is rooted in our life in Christ. Although we may wonder what lies ahead, the mission of Jesus Christ is not diminished and there is much remaining for us to do.”

Meanwhile, diocese of Ontario Bishop Michael Oulton issued a statement congratulating Irwin-Gibson. “It has been a joy and pleasure to work with her in this diocese and while I am feeling a few twinges of loss beginning to settle in which are growing by the moment, I am thrilled that we will continue working together as colleagues in the House of Bishops.”  He added that Irwin-Gibson “served us so well here in the Diocese of Ontario and particularly in supporting my ministry as bishop over these past four years. Our loss is a gain for the Church and the people of Montreal.”

Presiding Bishop invited to preach at Westminster Abbey

Monday, June 8, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Katharine Jefferts Schori has been invited by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Rev. Dr. John Hall, to participate in a panel discussion and preach at London’s historic Westminster Abbey on June 13 and 14.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to join in the ancient worship life of the Abbey and I am grateful to the Dean for his invitation to preach,” Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori commented. “I give thanks for the growing and lively relationships between our two provinces of the Anglican Communion.”

On Saturday, June 13, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori will participate in a panel discussion on Church and State relations. She will preach on Sunday, June 14 at the 11:15 am Sung Eucharist.

The Dean of Westminster said, “The Abbey welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors and worshipers from the United States each year. It will be a particular pleasure to welcome Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who has visited the Abbey on previous occasions, as our guest and preacher on this occasion. We look forward to further strengthening the historic links between our countries and churches.”

Although she has preached at other historic cathedrals and churches in England, this marks the first time Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori will preach at Westminster Abbey.

Presiding Bishop preaches for 125th anniversary of Church in Brazil

Monday, June 8, 2015

Unity and Thanksgiving
125th Anniversary of IEAB; 50th Anniversary of Province of Brazil; 30th Anniversary of Women’s Ordination
7 June 2015
Holy Trinity Cathedral, Porto Alegre

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

What does it mean to be “one”? On the flight here I thought about what it’s like to be packed like sardines on a commercial airplane. It seems to bind people together more closely than most find comfortable, but it doesn’t begin to promote a sense of oneness until there’s some sort of crisis. If a passenger gets sick, or there’s a big delay, people begin to reach out to each other. If the crew recognizes some newlyweds, other passengers clap and congratulate them. Oneness begins in some sort of shared experience that’s outside the norm, and for most people that process of coming together produces a sense of gratitude – or even a big dose of joy.

Ecclesiastes talks about oneness as acting together for mutual benefit and protection.

The psalmist sees oneness as blessing, abundance, and life that endures. That’s pretty much what Jesus calls abundant life – “I came that you might have life, and have it abundantly.”

The Ephesians are challenged to be one in the Spirit by living at peace with one another, and they’re reminded of the many ways they are already one: in baptism, in following Jesus, in seeking oneness with God, and in God’s own self.

In the gospel, Jesus prays that his friends will be one with him as he is one with God, and again it has something to do with holiness and with love.

This Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil has the same vocation of oneness that Jesus asks for his disciples. Your history here has been a long process of drawing people together in ways that bless them. Your gift has been the conviction that oneness in the Church is supposed to bless the wider community as well. Becoming one begins in sharing the good news of God’s love for all and teaching people how to live together as friends – friends of God and one another. We see that oneness happen in congregations and in the ways in which their members are present in the wider community – feeding, teaching, healing, and seeking justice. Yesterday we saw an example in a Guaraní community, where friends have been accompanying one another for 20 years, growing in solidarity, and today everyone is finding a greater sense of wholeness.

Think about that crowded airplane again. Sometimes people are so tightly packed that when one person reclines his seat, the person behind him has so little space that she leans her seat back, too – and often it causes the whole plane to rearrange itself – like rows of dominos falling over. It’s a very physical reminder of how connected we are, but it’s very mechanical. You move only because you’ve been pushed. The system is designed for interchangeable parts, not unique human beings of different shapes and sizes with different desires for quiet or physical space.

The body of Christ isn’t quite like that cattle car in the sky. It IS profoundly interconnected, and it is meant to respond in solidarity to the pain or joy of another member, but not because of fear or physical force. The community of God’s friends is meant to live interdependently and responsively, and to be intentional and conscious about the other members, all the time. The body of Christ doesn’t expect every part to fit in identical seats. The Anglican Communion is learning to rearrange the chairs and recognize that we aren’t all meant to face exactly the same direction or get identical cardboard meals. The IEAB is working to celebrate the diversity of God’s people and creation, and we’re all learning to serve as passengers and crew together, shifting roles as necessary and as our gifts permit. God’s mission, with all of us together on this planet of 7.3 billion people, is flying through time, trying to learn to live together in peace.

The ministry of oneness is most essentially about breaking down walls and healing relationships. When that happens, we’re thankful because we are experiencing the life for which we are created – wholeness, peace in community, and the near presence of the Reign of God. Oneness is never about uniformity; it is about celebrating the unique gifts of every person, all of whom bear the image of God. Oneness gathers those diverse and complementary parts into a healthier and holier and more effective body of Christ.

There are abundant signs of that oneness here – in the profound respect shown to every member of the interreligious group we met here on Friday[1]; in your conscious and pro-active empowerment of women, sexual minorities, and indigenous people; in your care and solidarity with all the poor, including our poor abused environment. Together, all God’s people are working to build a more effective whole.

This celebration is about that growing health and wholeness, and lots of boundaries have been broken down to bring us to this point. For anyone who doesn’t have a clear sense of what life is truly about (and that’s every one of us at some point), your new prayer book will help people recognize the holy all around us and within us. It will bring us closer to a church that truly does respect the dignity of every human being, male and female, gay and straight, the descendants of every nation, and the other parts of God’s creation.

The 125 year history of the IEAB has been a continuing search to honor and encourage the variety of life here, to encourage all parts to grow in their leadership for healing what is broken in the lives of human beings and in the wider society. Your half-century of autonomy celebrates growth toward the full stature of Christ, as a mature part of the body of his Church. You are able to help other partners do the same – and the request in 1990 for a bilateral committee is a good example. You said to The Episcopal Church, ‘come and partner with us as equals – let us learn from each other and support one another.’ We give great thanks for your challenge and invitation, and I expect that we will continue to grow in solidarity with one another and with others, as fellow passengers and crew on this flying planet.

Sitting together in that cramped and crowded airplane can be like the disciples after the crucifixion, who locked themselves in the upper room, too scared to move. It can be a useful reminder of our interconnections, but also a kind of slavery. We know a way out of that captivity. It’s called God’s mission, God’s sending – going out, going to Galilee, where Jesus told those disciples they would find him. We’re meant to be on that journey, moving together out to the far edges of the globe, looking for the lost and the least and the left out. We’ll find oneness there on the margins, and we’ll be immensely grateful, for there is joy and wholeness when companions lean on each other.

Felicitações em seus aniversários, e que Deus continue a abençoar a todos vocês.

[1] Grupo de Dialogo Inter-Religioso de Porto Alegre http://wp.clicrbs.com.br/blogdasreligioes/?topo=13,1,1,,,13

WCC mourns the loss of Anglican ecumenist Kodwo E. Ankrah

Monday, June 8, 2015

[World Council of Churches press release] In a letter of consolation to the family and friends of Canon Kodwo E. Ankrah of the (Anglican) Church of the Province of Uganda, World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit has expressed sympathy following the death on May 29 of “this great Pan-Africanist and ecumenist.”

Born in Anomabu, Ghana on Jan. 30, 1928, Ankrah served in a variety of key positions for the Christian Council of Ghana, the Christian Service Committee, the All Africa Conference of Churches, and as coordinator for planning, development and rehabilitation within the Church of the Province of Uganda. From 1970 to 1974, he was the WCC executive for English-speaking Africa.

Ankrah was the author of the 1998 book Development and the Church of Uganda: Mission, Myths and Metaphors (Nairobi: Action Publishers).

The WCC general secretary wrote in part: “We cannot but acknowledge his true commitment to ecumenism and humanity for traversing national boundaries, denominational identities and his deep engagement with the plight of refugees in Africa, especially in the Sudan. Canon Kodwo Ankrah was a highly motivated and effective church leader.”

2015 Conant Grant awardees announced

Friday, June 5, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Samuel McDonald, deputy chief operating officer and director of mission for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, has announced that 19 grants totaling $149,047.80 have been allocated through the Conant Grants for 2015.

Conant Grant funds are provided for the improvement of seminary-based theological education. Specifically, the grants are directed for the support of research, writing and course development undertaken by faculty members at the recognized Episcopal seminaries in the United States.

The following grants were approved:

Dean Thomas Ferguson; Bexley-Seabury; $5,837.00
Dr Gale A. Yee; Episcopal Divinity School; $5,028.96
Dr. Andrew J. M. Irving; The General Theological Seminary; $7,494.00
Dr. Andrew Thompson; The School of Theology at Sewanee; $4,638.84
Dr. Hannah Matis Perett; Virginia Theological Seminary; $7,000.00
Dr. Jason A Fout; Bexley-Seabury; $7,972.00
Dr. Mitzi Budde; Virginia Theological Seminary; $7,445.00
Dr. Paul Holloway; The School of Theology at Sewanee; $1,460.00
Dr. Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook; The Episcopal Theological School at Claremont; $5,000.00
Professor Bryan Spinks; Berkeley Divinity School; $15,000.00
Professor John Solomon; The School of Theology at Sewanee; $6,000.00
Professor William Brosend; The School of Theology at Sewanee; $10,400.00
The Rev. A. Katherine Grieb, Ph.D.; Virginia Theological Seminary; $12,260.00
The Rev. Dr Kathleen Russell; Seminary of the Southwest; $6,680.00
The Rev. John Y.H. Yieh, Ph.D.; Virginia Theological Seminary; $15,000.00
The Rev. Judy Fentress-Williams; Virginia Theological Seminary; $5,375.00
The Rev. Melody D. Knowles, Ph.D.; Virginia Theological Seminary; $3,582.00
The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham; Virginia Theological Seminary; $7,875.00
The Rev. Dr. Peter Walker; Trinity School for Ministry; $15,000.00

The funds are derived from a trust fund established by William S. and Mary M. Conant in 1953.  Applications are reviewed by a subcommittee of the members of the Standing Commission for Ministry Development.

Bishop Brian Thom of Idaho, chair of the subcommittee, noted:  “It is inspiring to learn about and support the many types of continuing education and development that the professors are seeking. They use Conant grants to work on manuscripts, better their language skills, participate in archeological digs, and collaborate with other seminary educators around the world.  All this in order to bring greater depth into our seminary classrooms. The Conant family gave quite a blessing to the Church when it established this fund for faculty development.”

The next cycle of grants will be awarded in 2016.

For more information contact McDonald at smcdonald@episcopalchurch.org.

Middle East Christians seek aid for survival and security

Friday, June 5, 2015

[World Council of Churches press release] Despite desperate times in the Middle East, Christians there continue to worship and sustain their faith, keeping the church alive.

“I think there is no single day we don’t hear about Christians in the Middle East,” said Father Michel Jalakh, secretary general of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), in late May.

He was speaking during a May 22 meeting involving the MECC and the World Council of Churches (WCC) at its Ecumenical Strategical Forum near Geneva in Bossey, Switzerland.

Recent years been exceptionally difficult for Christians in the region, marked by the flight of millions of refugees, economic upheaval, and overt violence against some Christian communities.

That is why ecumenical groups such as the MECC are of even more importance now, says Jalakh.

The Christian faithful have been swept up in the regional conflicts in a way that some see as endangering their very existence in the area where Christianity began.

War in the region not only endangers the people and the places where they life but also ravages the environment.

In addition, the area ranks lowest in constitutional provisions for separation of religion and state. In all 20 Arab states of the Middle East and North Africa, there is no legal separation between religion and state.

The MECC provides the ecumenical thread in the region, with most major churches in the region as members.

It works with the WCC and the ACT Alliance (ACT) through its member churches on issues and projects of development and advocacy.

ACT in turn works with International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) and its church partner in Syria, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East.

Dr Audeh B. Quawas from Jordan, a WCC central committee member, says, “ACT members seeking to help with the millions of refugees in the Middle East region are aware of the fact that we are all living in one system.”

Quawas belongs to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. He cites the negative impact of the Syrian refugee camps in countries neighbouring  Syria. The camps have polluted the underground water basins on which they sit.

“But we offer, as an ecumenical world community, to come to the help of the stricken people in Gaza, Syria, Iraq and nowadays Yemen.

“We are always aware that emergency relief  and covering the essential needs of the affected population are answers that lead to questions  about sustainability into the future, in our case that of social organization and I would  say also that  of state formation.”

The churches in the Middle East have refrained from setting up national councils of churches in their countries.

They prefer to see the MECC as the one body that expresses their unity and common witness, at the regional level and in their local settings.

The number of WCC member churches in the MECC is 12 and it represents 15 million Christians.

What do the churches in the Middle East need most urgently from the ecumenical family?

“I am afraid that we think in a peaceful way for a stable peace era, while we are living a war…. I think we should move to a more modest scale,” says Jalakh, who is a Maronite priest.

“I don’t think justice and peace are the right words for the Middle East now.… We probably should make a shift in expectations, a shift in expressions from justice and peace to survival and security,” he said.

“Without security we cannot arrive at peace, and without survival we cannot arrive at justice.”

He noted, “The Syrian conflict has triggered the world’s largest humanitarian crisis since World War II.

“Humanitarian needs continue to rise, population displacements continue, and an entire generation of children is being exposed to war and violence, increasingly deprived of basic services, education and protection.”

La Iglesia en Brasil celebra 125 años

Friday, June 5, 2015

[Episcopal News Service] Durante 125 años la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil ha estado arraigada en la misión. Lo que comenzó como una misión de la Iglesia Episcopal en EE.UU. ha expandido sus propios campos de misión hasta remotos confines del país más grande de Sudamérica.

En los próximos días, la Iglesia se reunirá en Porto Alegre, el lugar de nacimiento de la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil, para celebrar no sólo su 125º. aniversario, sino también 50 años de autonomía y 30 años de [que empezara] la ordenación de mujeres.

“Es importante celebrar este hito porque es imperativo que la historia y los recuerdos de la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil se mantengan vivos”. Dijo el arzobispo Francisco de Assis da Silva, primado del Brasil desde 2013, y obispo de la Diócesis del Brasil Sudoccidental. “Es también una oportunidad de celebrar y dar acciones de gracias por la dedicación y la devoción de muchas generaciones y por hacer visible la presencia anglicana en el Brasil”.

En 1890, dos misioneros del Seminario Teológico de Virginia, Lucien Lee Kinsolving y James Watson Morris, se sintieron llamados a comenzar la Iglesia [Episcopal] en Brasil y establecieron una presencia en la ciudad sureña de Porto Alegre, donde hoy se levanta la catedral de la Santísima Trinidad. Otros tres misioneros —William Cabell Brown, John Gaw Meem y Mary Packard— vinieron al Brasil en 1891 y establecieron nuevas misiones en Santa Rita do Rio dos Sinos, Rio Grande y Pelotas, explicó da Silva.

Además de las celebraciones del aniversario, la Iglesia presentará una versión del Libro de Oración Común adaptada al contexto brasileño. La obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori asistirá a la celebración del 5 al 7 de junio y está programado que dé una conferencia en conmemoración de la ordenación de mujeres.

“La Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil ha invitado a muchos amigos y asociados para celebrar este acontecimiento importante y hermoso”, dijo da Silva, añadiendo que la Iglesia en el Brasil no ha estado sola en su misión, sino que ha trabajado con asociados religiosos. “Somos ecuménicos tanto en nuestras almas como en nuestras acciones. Es importante que la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil eche cimientos y edifique comunidades con un espíritu de justicia para los próximos 125 años, tal como ha hecho durante los últimos 125”.

En 1810, cuando el Brasil era aún una colonia portuguesa, la Iglesia Anglicana estableció capellanías para expatriados. Más tarde, después de la independencia y de la separación oficial de la Iglesia y el Estado en 1889, envió misioneros. Sin embargo, los vínculos de afecto se mantuvieron más fuertes con la Iglesia Episcopal desde que Kinsolving y Watson establecieron un campo misionero en 1890 que sería parte de la Iglesia Episcopal en Estados Unidos hasta que la Iglesia brasileña se convirtió en una provincia autónoma de la Comunión Anglicana en 1965.

“Estos misioneros vinieron a trabajar con los brasileños, a diferencia de los británicos que vinieron a trabajar con su propia gente”, dijo el Rdo. Arthur Cavalcante, secretario provincial de la Iglesia, durante una reunión de un comité bilateral en San Pablo a fines de 2014. “Nuestra relación es obviamente más firme con los norteamericanos ya que ellos tomaron la iniciativa de entablar un diálogo con los brasileños”.

En 1907, los empeños misioneros en Brasil dieron lugar al establecimiento de un distrito misionero de la Iglesia Episcopal bajo el liderazgo de Kinsolving, quien para entonces era obispo. En los años cincuenta [del pasado siglo] la Iglesia brasileña comenzó conversaciones acerca de su autonomía, y en 1965 el distrito misionero se convirtió en la Provincia [autónoma] de Brasil. La Iglesia Episcopal continúo su ayuda económica de la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil hasta 1975.

Después de la autonomía, aunque la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil mantenía una sólida conexión con la Iglesia Episcopal en EE.UU., comenzó a sentirse aislada. En 1990, al tiempo de la celebración del centenario de la Iglesia, los primados de las dos iglesias convinieron en establecer un comité bilateral para reconectar, restablecer amistades y alentar las asociaciones y las relaciones de compañerismo entre las dos iglesias.

“Ninguna Iglesia vive en el aislamiento”, dijo la Rda. Glenda McQueen, funcionaria de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera (DFMS) a cargo de América Latina y el Caribe, añadiendo que la Iglesia en el Brasil presenta una oportunidad para las asociaciones. “La Iglesia en el Brasil es responsable de la misión de la Iglesia en esta parte del continente, pero la Iglesia en el Brasil también necesita e invita a sus hermanos y hermanas de la Iglesia en otras partes del mundo a venir y compartir, a venir y aprender, a venir y experimentar a Dios en este contexto, y para nosotros en la Iglesia Episcopal esta es una magnífica oportunidad para la misión y el ministerio”.

Siendo una joven provincia de la Comunión Anglicana, la energía y la vida abundante de la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil sirven no sólo como un ejemplo para otros, sino como una oportunidad de re-energizarse, de aprender y de crecer, y de compartir esa energía, dijo McQueen.

La Iglesia Episcopal continúa enviando misioneros al Brasil: Mónica Vega y Heidi Schmidt son misioneros nombrados por la Iglesia que sirven en la provincia, y la misionera Rachel McDaniel del Cuerpo de Servicio de Jóvenes Adultos (YASC) está prestando servicio en la Diócesis de Brasil Sudoccidental. Se espera que otros dos misioneros del YASC se dirijan al Brasil más adelante este año. La Diócesis de Pensilvania Central y la Diócesis de San Pablo, y la Diócesis de Brasilia y la Diócesis de Indianápolis tienen relaciones de compañerismo vigentes.

Además de buscar asociaciones con la Iglesia Episcopal, la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil auspició recientemente una reunión de tres días de las iglesias [anglicanas] de habla portuguesa, entre las que se cuentan algunas de Angola, Mozambique y Portugal, para promover la expresión de la Iglesia en portugués y establecer relaciones y asociaciones en misión.

“Ciento veinticinco años después que vinieran los misioneros, Brasil sigue siendo en gran medida una tierra de misión”, dijo Cavalcante. “Hay aun muchísima necesidad de apoyo: Brasil es enorme y necesitamos misioneros para trabajar en zonas donde la Iglesia está subrepresentada, en lugares como la Amazonia, que abarca 3,5 millones de kilómetros cuadrados, lugares donde sólo se llega por barco y en el nordeste”.

El Brasil es el quinto país del mundo en extensión y en población, con más de 200 millones de habitantes. Aunque el catolicismo romano ya no es la religión patrocinada por el Estado, el Brasil tiene más catolicorromanos —123 millones— que ningún otro país del mundo.

A diferencia de otras iglesias protestantes y evangélicas, que en los últimos años han ganado adeptos a costa de la Iglesia Católica Romana en Sudamérica, la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil predica un evangelio social destinado a que las congregaciones y comunidades participen en conversaciones que aún se consideran tabúes en ciertos círculos.

“Entendemos que el evangelio no debe proclamarse sólo como salvación del alma, sino del ser integral”, dijo Filadelfo Oliveira Neto, obispo de Rio de Janeiro, durante la reunión de un comité bilateral.

Pese a tener una de las economías de más rápido crecimiento durante el último decenio —la mayor economía de América del Sur y la séptima del mundo con una creciente clase media— el Brasil tiene uno de los índices más altos de desigualdad de ingresos en el mundo. El acceso a la tierra y a una vivienda costeable, altos niveles de violencia doméstica, racismo y homofobia, discriminación y explotación que afecta a un elevado número de migrantes que trabaja en la economía informal son problemas que no salen a relucir entre gente educada, pero son problemas que la Iglesia aborda.

La Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil, a diferencia de otras denominaciones cristianas, asume un enfoque más integrado al predicar el evangelio. Ofrece un evangelio social a la sociedad brasileña, al abogar por los derechos de los homosexuales, e iniciar diálogos destinados a abordar el problema epidémico de la violencia contra las mujeres, y al manifestarse a favor de los pueblos indígenas y el movimiento de los obreros rurales sin tierra.

“Es aún una Iglesia minoritaria, y puesto que es más “liberal” ha desarrollado su propia identidad… Ofrecemos una teología diferente de la teología catolicorromana que es más tradicional y eso puede resultarle incómodo a la gente”, dijo Cavalcante. “La Iglesia Anglicana es un lugar donde puedes tener una visión alternativa de cómo ser la Iglesia y de qué es la Iglesia”.

— Lynette Wilson es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Un centro de refugiados en Roma le pide a todos que ‘acojan al forastero’

Friday, June 5, 2015

ÚNETE A NOSOTROS EL DOMINGO 21 DE JUNIO EN QUE CELEBRAMOS EL DOMINGO MUNDIAL DE LOS REFUGIADOS

[Episcopal News Service] La experiencia del refugiado es una parte fundamental de la historia cristiana y “al acoger a un forastero, estamos acogiendo al mismo Cristo y al Dios que proclamamos”, dice el Rdo. Austin Ríos, rector de la iglesia episcopal de San Pablo Intramuros [St. Paul’s Within the Walls Episcopal Church] en Roma, Italia.

La cripta de San Pablo es el hogar del Centro de Refugiados Joel Nafuma (JNRC, por su sigla en inglés), un ministerio de hospitalidad radical en el corazón de Roma, donde cientos de refugiados pueden encontrar un desayuno y multitud de otros recursos para sobrevivir y reconstruir sus vidas. Debido al elevadísimo número de africanos que migran a través del mar Mediterráneo para escapar de la persecución, muchos de los cuales se ahogan en el camino, Italia se encuentra en el foco de la última crisis migratoria.

Cada año, el Día Mundial de los Refugiados se conmemora el 20 de junio. Con la crisis mundial de refugiados en su peor nivel desde la segunda guerra mundial, [la iglesia de] San Pablo quería ofrecer a la Comunión Anglicana materiales litúrgicos y de otro tipo para usarlos en las congregaciones el domingo 21 de junio (el domingo más cercano al Día Mundial de los Refugiados) como parte de su campaña “Acoge al forastero” para crear conciencia de los refugiados y de sus conflictos, y para alentar una respuesta más compasiva hacia su travesía. Es una iniciativa que apoya la embajada de Estados Unidos ante la Santa Sede.

Los misioneros Jared Grant y Will Bryant del Cuerpo de Servicio de Jóvenes Adultos, cuyas experiencias en el Centro de Refugiados Joel Nafuma los inspiró a preparar los materiales para el Domingo Mundial de los Refugiados, adaptaron el material eucarístico a partir de una liturgia del Seminario Teológico General.

“El Día Mundial de los Refugiados nos da a los cristianos una oportunidad de poner en práctica lo que predicamos”, dijo Bryant, que está prestando su segundo año de servicio como misionero del YASC y quien sucedió a Grant en 2014 como voluntario en el centro de refugiados. “Nos da una oportunidad de hablar en nombre de aquellos que no tienen voz. Nos permite honrar a los que nos resulta fácil olvidar: los millones de refugiados que viven en la periferia de la sociedad. Son pobres, son vagabundos, pero siguen siendo el cuerpo de Cristo”.

Bryant, cuya colocación en el YASC concluirá en agosto, dijo que una conmemoración del Día Mundial de los Refugiados en toda la Comunión [Anglicana] se necesita ahora más que nunca cuando la crisis de los refugiados ha alcanzado niveles históricos.

“Debemos cambiar la dinámica y las vidas de los refugiados [y] cambiar las actitudes de la gente hacia ellos”, dijo a ENS en una entrevista por Skype desde Roma, en el centro donde los muchos voluntarios de diferentes comunidades religiosas conocen a los refugiados como “huéspedes”. “Se trata de inspirar a la gente a acoger a los forasteros, en lugar echarlos fuera”.

Los movimientos migratorios globales y sus pérdidas afectan a todos, dijo, y responder a las necesidades de los refugiados “no recae sobre un solo país ni sobre un solo continente, sino sobre toda la raza humana. Mi esperanza es que gente de todo el mundo conmemore esta ocasión especial, y que cuando nos congreguemos el 21 de junio, nos comprometamos con nosotros mismos y con el mundo a recibir a los extranjeros en medio nuestro. Después de todo, y esto es particularmente cierto para los norteamericanos, todos fuimos una vez inmigrantes”.

La Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera (DFMS) — el nombre legal y canónico con el cual la Iglesia Episcopal está incorporada, funciona empresarialmente y lleva a cabo la misión— también ha preparado materiales para conmemorar el Día Mundial de los Refugiados en diócesis y congregaciones a través de la Iglesia Episcopal.

Los materiales incluyen textos para el culto y un boletín para insertar [en los programas de los oficios] del domingo 21 de junio; una mapa interactivo de las actividades del Día Mundial de los Refugiados a través de la Iglesia Episcopal e información acerca de dónde encontrar un afiliado al Ministerio Episcopal de Migración y oportunidades para voluntarios locales.

“En conmemoración del Día Mundial de los Refugiados, la DFMS invita a los episcopales a aprender más de la manera en que la Iglesia Episcopal recibe y reubica a refugiados en asociación con nuestros treinta afiliados de reasentamiento en 26 diócesis”, dijo el obispo Stacy Sauls, director de operaciones de la Iglesia Episcopal según un comunicado de prensa.

Deborah Stein, directora del Ministerio Episcopal de Migración la agencia de reasentamiento de refugiados de la DFMS, dijo que el Día Mundial de los Refugiados, establecido por la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas en 2000 para honrar las contribuciones de los refugiados en todo el mundo y crear conciencia acerca de la creciente crisis de refugiados, “es especialmente significativa este año en que la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera sigue celebrando el 75º. aniversario de este ministerio de salvar vidas”.

Para la celebración de los 75 años, la DFMS ha lanzado #ShareTheJourney, un empeño de multimedia “para educar, formar y preparar a los episcopales a comprometerse en amoroso servicio con los refugiados reasentados y a convertirse en testigos proféticos y defensores de los refugiados, asilados, migrantes y personas desplazadas en todo el mundo”.

Esta no es la primera vez que la Iglesia Episcopal ha respondido con recursos para hacer frente a los problemas de los refugiados: durante la crisis migratoria de menores de edad en la frontera de EE.UU. y México en 2014, muchas iglesias encontraron modos de consolar y de acoger a menores que llegaban solos y de ayudarlos a través de su laberinto burocrático.

“He tenido la oportunidad de ser testigo de primera mano de la obra compasiva e inspiradora del JNRC, y de oír de sus huéspedes como la acogida que reciben allí es tan vital para su capacidad de afirmar su humanidad en media de circunstancias verdaderamente desesperadas”, dijo Stein, que dirigió una peregrinación a la región de los Grandes lagos en África en marzo para analizar la apremiante situación de los refugiados. “En tanto los episcopales celebran la labor que realizamos aquí en Estados Unidos para acoger a refugiados, el Día Mundial de los Refugiados es un recordatorio de que estamos uniéndonos con las iglesias anglicanas y episcopales a través del mundo en este importante ministerio”.

El Centro de Refugiados Joel Nafuma se inauguró en 1995 y ofrece santuario a refugiados que buscan consejo y ayuda en San Pablo Intramuros, una parroquia de la Convocación de Iglesias Episcopales en Europa. El centro ofrece desayuno, distribuye artículos de aseo personal y prendas de ropa, ayuda con solicitudes de empleo y ofrece servicios para que los refugiados aprendan idiomas y se familiaricen con el manejo de computadoras.

Mediante un programa de orientación, un mediador cultural adiestrado acompaña a los refugiados a las audiencias de asilo o a las citas con abogados y médicos, explicó Ríos en un reciente ensayo reflexión. Durante más de dos años, un grupo de artesanos ha estado fabricando y vendiendo objetos de artesanía. Cada pieza de artesanía va acompañada de una historia que aboga a favor de los refugiados en Roma y da a conocer sus dificultades. Los artesanos comparten las ganancias entre ellos y hacen donaciones al centro.

“Los cristianos siguen y adoran a un Señor que no sólo ‘descendió del cielo’, migrando en el misterio de la Encarnación, sino que con sólo unos días de nacido se vio obligado a huir a un país extranjero debido a una campaña gubernamental de infanticidio”, dijo Ríos a ENS. “Jesús experimentó tanto la acogida (de María y José, de los pastores, los magos, los animales) como el rechazó (de Herodes) desde su nacimiento…—una dinámica que continuaría a lo largo de toda su vida terrenal.

“Jesús comisionó a sus primeros discípulos a llevar a cabo su misión cuando en Mateo 10:40 dice: ‘el que a vosotros recibe, a mí me recibe; y el que me recibe a mí, recibe al que me envió’”, explicó Ríos.

“Como herederos de esta tradición de comisión y sus inherentes responsabilidades tanto de recibir como de extender la hospitalidad que Dios nos ha ofrecido, somos llamados a brindar también esta acogida, especialmente en lo que concierne a los que son vulnerables debido a la itinerancia o migración forzada”, dijo Ríos, “no sólo porque la acogida es una respuesta propiamente humana al sufrimiento, sino porque es parte esencial del ADN de nuestra fe. […] Acoger nunca resulta fácil; implica sacrificio. Pero si hemos de creer en las promesas de Dios, entonces sabemos que de ese sacrificio proviene la vida gozosa, abundante y compartida que respalda nuestra salvación”.

Además de San Pablo [Intramuros], la catedral de San Juan [St. John’s Cathedral] en Hong Kong y la catedral de los Fieles Difuntos [The Cathedral of All Souls] en Asheville, Carolina del Norte, se han comprometido a celebrar el Domingo Mundial de los Refugiados con una liturgia especial el 21 de junio.

Los materiales incluyen también reflexiones que se pueden descargar escritas por líderes religiosos y huéspedes del Centro de Refugiados Joel Nafuma que vienen de países devastados por la guerra en Oriente Medio y África, con la intención de que los feligreses puedan llegar a entender más profundamente la situación de los refugiados en la crisis migratoria de la actualidad.

“Ayudar a aliviar a los refugiados significa no sólo proporcionarles alimento, agua y albergue, sino también ayudarles a aprender un idioma, a ir a la escuela, a encontrar trabajo”, dijo el obispo Pierre Whalon de la Convocación de Iglesias Episcopales en Europa en un ensayo reflexión del 2 de junio en la página web del centro. “Los beneficios de acoger son grandes, incluidos los económicos y sociales. Las penas por rehusar acoger al forastero son severas. En las enseñanzas de Cristo, es un asunto de vida o muerte, no sólo para el migrante, sino para todos nosotros”.

Este es un momento de extrema crisis para los migrantes en todo el mundo, especialmente los que viajan desde el norte de África a través del mar Mediterráneo, según un comunicado de prensa de San Pablo.

En abril, más de 900 migrantes a bordo de una embarcación murieron en el intento de ir de África a Italia. “Esta tragedia insensata estuvo en el foco de los principales medios noticiosos durante una semana. Arrojó luz sobre las difícil situación de los refugiados en todas partes”, señalaba el comunicado. “Pero luego, tan rápidamente como había aparecido, el tema desapareció de los titulares y de la vista del público. Conmemoramos el Día Mundial de los Refugiados como un mensaje al mundo de que no hemos olvidado a los refugiados, aunque el resto del mundo simplemente ha cambiado el canal. Estamos unidos para acoger a los forasteros en medio nuestro”.

— Matthew Davies es redactor y reportero de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.