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EPPN: Take action to address human trafficking

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

[Episcopal Public Policy Network] Human trafficking is the global trade in persons through the recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, and/or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. According to the International Labor Organization there are an estimated 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally, including 5.5 million children.

Combating human trafficking is an issue of long standing passion, service, and advocacy within The Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Public Policy Network has created a Human Trafficking Resource Pageto educate, connect, and support advocacy on the issue of human trafficking.

Our voices as Episcopalians are important in this conversation, and we encourage you to continue raising them to ensure that our policy addresses this issue in a way that, as stated in our resolutions, prioritizes victim recovery and reintegration into society. On this resource page, you can learn about human trafficking then take action to urge your members of Congress to address human trafficking through legislation.

Go here to visit the Human Trafficking Resource Page on the EPPN action center!

Power of unity ‘impossible to exaggerate,’ Archbishop tells conference

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

[Lambeth Palace press release] Unity among Christians releases a power that is “impossible to exaggerate”, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby told the Leadership Conference 2015 at the Royal Albert Hall this morning.

The Archbishop was speaking during an on-stage interview with Nicky Gumbel, Vicar of HTB, alongside Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

“The Church, when it is visibly united, speaks more powerfully to the world, by the grace of the Spirit of God, than we can ever begin to imagine,” Archbishop Justin said. “We cripple our witness when we are not united. And we release a power of witness in the world – to who Jesus is, to hope, to life, for the poor, for people caught up in conflict and destruction – through our unity, that is impossible to exaggerate. That is the way that we will see the world brought face to face with Jesus Christ.

The Archbishop spoke of the “huge influence” Cardinal Nichols had had on him, and of Pope Francis’s “profound sense of global wisdom” and “deep commitment to human relationship, and above all relationship with the poor and those on the edge”.

He also spoke of the “extraordinary experience” of having members of the international ecumenical foundation Chemin Neuf living at Lambeth Palace, and of the formation of the Community of St Anselm, where Christians aged 20-35 will be invited to live as a monastic-inspired community for twelve months.

The Community of St Anselm, he said, was “trying to live out, in practice, across the whole church – not just with Anglicans – the reality of joy and celebration and prayer, and meeting Christ and serving the poor and thinking about what it is to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.”

At the end of the joint interview, Cardinal Nichols and Archbishop Justin each prayed.

The full interview will be available to watch on the Leadership Conference website

Communiqué from the meeting of ARCIC III in Villa Palazzola

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

[Anglican Communion Office] The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) is the official body appointed by the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion to engage in theological dialogue in order that they may come into visible unity and full ecclesial communion. It held the fifth meeting of its current phase (ARCIC III) in an atmosphere of shared prayer and friendship at Villa Palazzola, the summer residence of the Venerable English College in Rome, 28 April–4 May 2015. Members of the Commission are grateful to the staff of Villa Palazzola for the warm welcome extended to them.

The mandate for this third phase of ARCIC is both to promote the reception of the previous work of the Commission by presenting this as a corpus and to explore “The Church as Communion, local and universal, and how in communion the local and universal Church come to discern right ethical teaching”. To this end the Commission’s work centred on examining two draft texts which had been prepared by sub-committee drafting groups since its previous meeting in Vuleka Centre, Botha’s Hill, South Africa.

The first of these draft texts considered was material to present the five agreed statements of ARCIC II so that they can be received by the respective Communions. This consists of individual introductions to each statement, whose text is included, and a brief consideration of the responses each document engendered, short essays concerning theological method and themes running through the documents, suggesting directions for future work. This work has made good progress and it is hoped that it will shortly be ready for publication.

The second text considered was a draft document responding to the ecclesiological element of the mandate, that is, an examination of the structures of our two traditions which facilitate communion within and among the local and regional and universal dimensions of the Church.

On Thursday 30 April the Commission travelled to Rome for a private audience with Pope Francis. The Pope encouraged the Commission in its work, and in the context of contemporary persecution of Christians noted, “There is a strong bond that already unites us which goes beyond all divisions.” Archbishop Bernard Longley thanked Pope Francis for the inspiration and leadership given by both him and Archbishop Justin Welby, “especially by your common commitment to seek justice for those who suffer exploitation or neglect.” Archbishop David Moxon cited the draft ARCIC II volume, and acknowledged with gratitude Pope Francis’s emphasis on the preaching of the Gospel, the simplicity of his personal lifestyle, his stress on ministry to the poor and marginalized, the positive role he has played in international reconciliation. He concluded by saying that all of these have “played their part in commending the ministry of the Bishop of Rome to Christians throughout the world”.

Later that day they celebrated the Eucharist at the Anglican Centre in Rome, which generously hosted the Commission for lunch and for two working sessions, during which it heard a paper on sensus fidei (the sense of faith) of all the baptised, and case studies on slavery. From there the group visited the Venerable English College, where presentations of the Commission’s work were made to the student body with time for questions and answers. Members then participated in Vespers and much appreciated the opportunity to join students and staff for dinner.

On Friday 1 May members welcomed Bishop Mark Santer and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Co-Chairs at the last time ARCIC met at Palazzola. The special guests led an informal session in which they recounted some of the narrative of ARCIC II under their leadership. They remained until the end of the meeting.

The Commission welcomed Canon John Gibaut as the new Anglican Co-Secretary, succeeding Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan. The Commission also extended its thanks to Fr Norman Tanner SJ, who participated as a consultant.

The next meeting will take place near Toronto in May 2016, when the Commission will take up a reworked draft of an ecclesiological statement comparing the instruments of communion of each tradition.


Members of ARCIC III present at the meeting


  • The Most Revd Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, England
  • The Most Revd Sir David Moxon, Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See

Roman Catholics

  • The Revd Robert Christian OP, St Albert Priory, Oakland, California, USA
  • The Revd Canon Adelbert Denaux, Professor Em., Brugge, Belgium
  • Most Revd Arthur Kennedy, Auxiliary Bishop of Boston, USA
  • Professor Paul D. Murray, Durham University, England
  • Professor Sister Teresa Okure SHCJ, Catholic Institute of West Africa, Nigeria
  • Professor Janet E. Smith, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, Michigan, USA
  • The Revd Professor Vimal Tirimanna CSsR, Alphonsianum University, Rome, Italy
  • The Very Revd Dom Henry Wansbrough OSB, Ampleforth Abbey, England


  • Dr Paula Gooder, The Church of England
  • The Rt Revd Dr Christopher Hill, The Church of England
  • The Rt Revd Nkosinathi Ndwandwe, The Anglican Church of Southern Africa
  • The Revd Canon Dr Nicholas Sagovsky, The Church of England
  • The Revd Canon Dr Peter Sedgwick, The Church in Wales
  • The Revd Dr Charles Sherlock, The Anglican Church of Australia


  • The Revd Father Norman Tanner SJ, Roman Catholic Church


The work of the Commission is supported by the two Co-Secretaries

  • The Revd Canon Dr John Gibaut (Anglican Communion Office)
  • The Revd Anthony Currer  (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity)


  • The Revd Neil Vigers (Anglican Communion Office)
  • Ms Silvana Salvati (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity)

Applications now accepted for 2015 Jubilee Ministry grants

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Applications are now accepted for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society 2015 Jubilee Ministry grants, announced Samuel McDonald, Director of Mission and Deputy Chief Operating Officer.

Two categories of grants are available: Program Development Grant and Program Impact Grants.

“For decades, Jubilee Ministry grants have helped transform lives,” noted the Rev. Canon E. Mark Stevenson, Domestic Poverty Missioner for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. “They highlight the best of what we can be about – confronting the cycle of poverty on a local level with local understanding and local resources, all the while being supported by and providing inspiration to the wider Episcopal Church.”

Application forms are available here.

One Program Development Grant, up to $35,000, will be awarded to a new or existing ministry that can demonstrate a new or re-visioned strategy and methodology to make an impact both locally and beyond itself.

Ten to 20 Program Impact Grants, ranging from $750 to $1,500, will be awarded to initiatives of Jubilee Centers that make a positive and measurable impact in the lives of those in need.

Stevenson explained: “Jubilee Centers with a wide variety of missions and programs dealing with poverty alleviation are encouraged to apply. However, priority in grant awards will be given to those ministries with an educational and/or early childhood development component to their work. For example, a feeding ministry that teaches nutrition skills to care-givers of children would have priority over a program that only provides meals.”

All currently designated Jubilee Centers are eligible to apply for this year’s grants.

Deadline is Friday, May 29. Grant recipients will be announced in June.

Information for ministries seeking to become designated as a Jubilee ministry and benefit from the network of support and be eligible for future Jubilee grants, applications and explanation of the process is here.

For more information contact Stevenson at mstevenson@episcopalchurch.org.

World Council of Churches calls for day of prayer for South Sudan

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

[World Council of Churches press release] As the tragic situation of conflict in South Sudan moves into its 17th month, the World Council of Churches (WCC) invites its member churches to a special day of prayer on Sunday, 10 May, for those affected by the South Sudanese conflict, for the revival of fruitful peace talks, and for new ways ahead.

The WCC has accompanied the churches in South Sudan for more than 40 years. In April this year, the WCC in collaboration with the South Sudan Council of Churches convened twenty church leaders and representatives from South Sudan and Ethiopia, along with related agencies, in Addis Ababa, to reflect on the tragic situation of conflict in South Sudan, the recent collapse of peace talks among the parties to the conflict, and fresh ways forward.

“As the violent conflict moves into its 17th month, the South Sudanese are waiting in excruciating pain for the return of peace”, said the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit in his invitation to the churches.

Tveit added: “The church leaders are playing a significant role to bring peace to South Sudan. The churches are representing the people and the civil society and could unite the country. Therefore, the WCC invites its member churches and Christians worldwide to offer special prayers, to restore hope to all people affected by this situation of conflict, and to strengthen all well-intended initiatives.”

The WCC now invites churches to share a common prayer on Sunday, 10 May, for the South Sudan peace process, using liturgical materials including a prayer, hymn and photo slideshow on the theme of life in South Sudan, all made available through the WCC website.

González to join CDSP as assistant professor of Old Testament

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

[Church Divinity School of the Pacific press release] Church Divinity School of the Pacific has named a Colombian-born scholar with a special interest in how biblical texts have been used to provoke and justify violence as assistant professor of Old Testament.

Julián Andrés González Holguín, who is finishing his Ph.D. at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, will take up a joint appointment at CDSP and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in the fall, the Very Rev. W. Mark Richardson, the seminary’s dean and president, has announced.

“Julián González offers a fresh new voice in the world of scholarship and teaching in the context of theological education,” Richardson said. “We were impressed with his capacity to communicate some of the going concerns in Old Testament scholarship today.

“Julián, a native of Colombia, will bring new cultural awarenesses to bear in our community,” Richardson added. “He is very integrative in his approach to studies in sacred texts, looking for contemporary analogies to the experience of God in the ancient Middle East. It is a hermeneutic of lively immediacy that will bring new insight from scriptural studies.”

González, a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, received his Master of Divinity degree from George W. Truett Seminary at Baylor University in 2010. He had previously earned a bachelor’s degree in electronic engineering from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Cali, Colombia in 2006 and worked as a software engineer for Shell Oil in Colombia.

“Julián González will make a wonderful addition to CDSP and PLTS as well as the GTU,” said the Rev. Alicia Vargas, interim dean and associate professor of multicultural and contextual studies at PLTS. “He is a Hispanic Theological Initiative Scholar and comes deeply committed to the multicultural study and teaching of the biblical text. He is ready to come to Berkeley and share his exceptional teaching skills and sharp biblical scholarship with PLTS and CDSP students. We await his arrival in the fall with happy anticipation!”

González said he came by his interest in the rhetoric of violence through experience. “My country has been in violence since the late 1940s and early 1950s,” he said. “I have had experiences myself that have led to an interest in looking at the texts of violence in the Bible and how we interpret them, how we deal with them and how we use them nowadays.”

“Biblical interpretation is never ideologically neutral,” he added. “Neither is the Bible a static artifact, but rather it is a discursive object that is continually recreated and reflected by each receiving community in its own time and place.”

González will begin teaching at the seminaries in August.

Episcopal Relief & Development responds to Nepal earthquake

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

[Episcopal Relief & Development press release] A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on the morning of April 25, causing severe damage and loss of life across the small nation. Episcopal Relief & Development will help meet urgent needs such as food, clean water and shelter, as well as support for assessment and search and rescue teams in the initial phase of the disaster, through the ACT Alliance in Nepal and with partners in surrounding areas including northern India and southwest China.

Episcopal Relief & Development is responding to immediate needs for food, shelter and clean water in earthquake-impacted Nepal through the ecumenical ACT Alliance, and is exploring further opportunities for action through other partners in the region.  The organization is in contact with the Anglican Diocese of West Malaysia regarding its appeal for the work of the Deanery of Nepal (part of the Diocese of Singapore), and may also support partners in northern India and southwest China.

“Responding through the ACT Alliance as an initial step allows Episcopal Relief & Development to relay the care and support of our community to those in Nepal who are hurting from the earthquake and its aftermath,” said Abagail Nelson, the organization’s Senior Vice President of Programs.  “Our support is essential as the Alliance leverages strong local partnerships to assess and meet the needs of thousands of people for food, shelter and clean water.  Our prayers are with all those in Nepal and the surrounding area who are working to heal lives shattered by this event.”

The ACT Alliance issued an official appeal on May 1 detailing proposed activities to reach approximately 125,000 people in the most severely affected districts of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Dhading, Gorkha, Sindhupalchowk, Lamjung and Kabre.  Although some of the estimated 2.8 million people displaced by the earthquake are returning to their homes, shelter is a top priority for the 70,000 families whose homes were destroyed and the additional 900,000 people who are sleeping outside their undamaged homes for fear of aftershocks.  The ACT Alliance aims to reach 12,000 families with supplies and training to construct temporary shelters, and provide support for 2,500 vulnerable households to rebuild their permanent homes.  Additional priorities include the provision of food and household items, as well as supplying clean water and installing or rehabilitating sanitation systems in camps and established neighborhoods.  ACT Alliance members in Nepal have already distributed ready-to-eat food, blankets and tarps for emergency shelter to over 2,100 families in informal displacement camps around Kathmandu.

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25 was centered between the capital, Kathmandu, and the city of Pokhara, 130 miles west.  The original quake and powerful subsequent aftershocks leveled neighborhoods, businesses and iconic religious sites, particularly those in older or poorer areas where structures were made of mud brick.  The death toll as of May 5 exceeds 7,300, with search and rescue operations still in progress.

Initial relief operations are focused on meeting urgent basic needs of people who were displaced or otherwise impacted by the earthquake.  Assessments currently underway will help inform medium- and long-term efforts to help those most vulnerable to make a full and sustained recovery.  With the planting season reportedly six weeks away and monsoon rains beginning in eight weeks, timely action is needed in order to avoid prolonging emergency needs.

Episcopal Relief & Development and its peers in the Anglican Alliance, the group of Anglican Communion relief and development agencies, urge prayers for all those impacted by the earthquake in Nepal.

Please pray for those impacted by this disaster.  To support the Nepal Earthquake Response Fund, please visit episcopalrelief.org.

Episcopal Relief & Development works with more than 3 million people in nearly 40 countries worldwide to overcome poverty, hunger and disease through multi-sector programs that utilize local resources and expertise. An independent 501(c)(3) organization, Episcopal Relief & Development works closely with Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners to help communities rebuild after disasters and develop long-term strategies to create a thriving future. In 2014-15, the organization joins Episcopalians and friends in celebrating 75 Years of Healing a Hurting World. 

Presiding Bishop preaches at St. Francis, San Jose

Monday, May 4, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached the following sermon on May 3 at St. Francis Episcopal Church in San Jose, California.

St. Francis, San Jose, CA
3 May 2015

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

The Ethiopian hears his own experience in what he’s reading from Isaiah, and says, “Look, here’s some water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?”[1] Philip and the Ethiopian were traveling a desert road, through the wilderness. Today that part of Israel is rocky, steep, and grows scrawny bushes at the most. No lush green meadows or palm trees. The great biblical images of peace speak about springs of water in the desert and rivers of life – for the people in that part of the world live in a desert, and struggle over water to this day. Water is an immensely powerful image of abundant life.

Imagine a time when the Ethiopian wouldn’t have found a stream for his baptism. The early Christians expected to use living water for baptism – a river, or at least a spring, and not simply a puddle. The water has to give evidence of being alive, and in creative motion. We can miss that sense of abundant life when we use just a few little drops to baptize.

It’s shocking to see the dead and dying trees along the streets here, and how many are deeply stressed – in places the brown and drying leaves look more like fall. The grassy hillsides look more like September than May. And even if there is still a little snow in the mountains, it’s likely to be a very dry year.

At Easter this year, I was in a church that has a fairly new font that’s a good 15 feet across – it’s shaped something like a cross, and it overflows at the corners in four lively streams as a fountain of life. The pump was turned off on Good Friday, and when it began to flow again in the early dark of Easter morn, the sound added immensely to the joy of bells and Alleluias! Those baptized in its waters got thoroughly soaked.

The drought is making everyone much more aware of how precious and essential water is. It’s likely to generate more conflict over how, when, where and who gets to use water. It invites us to remember that water is part of a great, living system on this planet, and like life itself, it dies and rises again in a new form. It doesn’t disappear forever, even when we can’t find it where we expect to. Like the residents of Frank Herbert’s Dune, we’re learning to recycle water so completely that every drop can be used for life. Drought can be an opportunity for deep awareness, creativity, and thankfulness.

Thirst for that deep connection prompts the Ethiopian to say, “Now, here, in this water, I can find life that lasts!” He goes down into the water, and then goes on his way rejoicing. That lively, grateful awareness is what keeps us connected to the source of all life – like branches to the vine.

How do we stay connected? Where do we find moisture to re-enliven our consciousness and gratitude? Finding our place in the story seems to be essential. Through re-membering, literally connecting the members to the larger body, we discover that we’re not all alone, not cut off or dry or barren like the Ethiopian had been. Like discovering moisture in the desert by looking for green and growing things, those connections help us find our place in the creative web of life.

I was in Costa Rica recently for the 150th anniversary of the first non-Roman Catholic church in Central America. Costa Rica was a diocese of this Church from 1947 until 1998, and that first congregation began through the efforts of an English coffee merchant who brought Bibles to San José (another San Jose!) and took a number of young people back to England and funded their university educations.[2] Those young adults became a significant part of the leadership of the nation. The congregation this layman gathered in San José included founders of the first banks and railroad builders, and had a great deal to do with the development of a democratic nation. Today the Episcopal church in Costa Rica is a strong and growing branch of the vine. It shares a good deal with El Camino Real in history, age, and context – particularly its creative and entrepreneurial spirit.

On Friday a number of people joined your bishop on a pilgrimage to learn about some of the early history of this diocese. We started in Jolon, down south in rural Monterey County, where St. Luke’s began through the work of James McGowan, who came here with no financial support but an urgent understanding that he was supposed to share the good news and gather the faithful. He started St. Paul’s in Salinas by sitting in the bar and conversing with the poker players. One of them volunteered that he wanted nothing to do with church because he didn’t understand the Trinity.

“I think I can get you to admit that you believe some things that you cannot explain,” down went the cards from every hand and a voice called out, “Let’s hear it.”

            “When I was coming from Watsonville,” I proceeded, “I saw an ox eating grass. Do you believe this statement?”

            “Yes, of course,” came the reply.

            “Now, on the ox the grass becomes fur; on the sheep, wool; and on the goose, feathers. Can you explain this?”

            No, I can’t” the man replied.

            “Then you believe some things that you cannot explain,” I told him, and those seated around the table clapped their hands and told my doubting brother to “take a back seat.” Some of these men attended my service that afternoon, and we were always good friends after that.[3]

McGowan went on to found six other churches in the southern part of this diocese, connecting branches to the vine by linking their experience and questions to the larger stories of God’s life-giving creativity.

I had an experience like that coming back from Costa Rica. My seat mate on the plane was an old man in his 90s, and he couldn’t figure out how to open his tray. I spoke to him in Spanish and showed him how it worked. He responded in English and began to tell me something of his story. He’s a WWII vet, who served in Philippines as a Seabee. When the war was over, he came back and studied biochemistry at UC Davis, where he met and married a woman from Costa Rica. He wanted to do research, but ended up working for Borden on health issues in the dairy industry, like TB in cows. Later he did extensive consulting throughout Latin America.

He told me about growing up on a ranch in New Mexico, and spending part of the year on the ranch and going to a very inadequate rural school. When the workload lessened, his father would send him to Santa Fe to board at a Presbyterian school. I asked about how his family came to New Mexico, and heard that he’s descended from Spanish colonists who came with Coronado in the mid-1500s.

Manuel Abeyta is still a Presbyterian, and his theology is a lot more deterministic than mine, but he’s still a pretty engaged and engaging missionary – a water-carrier and life-giver. He lives in SFO part of the year, and part of the year in Costa Rica. He buried his mother not long ago at the age of 107, and it looks to me like he might live as long himself, still connecting people to the life he knows in Jesus.

We’re all connected to that vine, and we are re-membered to the vine by telling the stories of our origins. Our very life and liveliness comes in discovering those interconnections. How have you found your place in the story? Who helped connect you to the source of life? Sharing your own story will be life-giving water for one who is thirsty.

[1] Acts 8:36

[2] William Lacheur

[3] “Mission to California,” James S. McGowan. Transcript of handwritten diary, available from Diocese of El Camino Real.

Dual actions end Heather Cook’s ordained ministry, employment

Friday, May 1, 2015

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori announced May 1 that she and Episcopal Diocese of Maryland Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook have reached an agreement that deprives her of her status as an ordained person in The Episcopal Church; moreover, that announcement came on the same day that Cook resigned her diocesan post.

Cook is scheduled to go on trial in June for allegedly causing the Dec. 27 car-bicycle accident in Baltimore that killed bicyclist Thomas Palermo. The simultaneous May 1 announcements do not involve the legal proceedings against Cook, but they do end all ecclesiastical disciplinary matters pending against her.

Maryland Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton had placed Cook on administrative leave shortly after the accident. Jefferts Schori restricted her ministry on Feb. 10

The statement from the Office of the Presiding Bishop is here and below.

“Pursuant to Title IV of the Canons of The Episcopal Church, the Presiding Bishop and Bishop Cook have reached an Accord. Under the terms of the Accord, Bishop Cook will receive a Sentence of Deposition, pursuant to which she shall be ‘deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority of God’s word and sacraments conferred at ordination.’

“As such, Cook will no longer function as an ordained person in The Episcopal Church.

“The Accord resolves all ecclesiastical disciplinary matters involving Cook.

“This Accord is separate from any resolution of employment matters involving Cook and the Diocese of Maryland as well as from criminal matters pending in the secular courts.”

The statement from the Diocese of Maryland is here and below.

“The Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton and the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland today announced the acceptance of the resignation of Heather E. Cook as bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. This means that Cook is no longer employed by the diocese. The acceptance of Cook’s resignation is independent of any Title IV disciplinary action taken by the Episcopal Church.”

In late January, the Maryland Standing Committee and Sutton asked Cook to resign as an employee of the diocese.

A Baltimore grand jury indicted Cook Feb. 4 on 13 counts for allegedly causing the Dec. 27 car-bicycle accident.

Five of the charges listed in the indictment by a Baltimore City grand jury come in addition to those Cook has faced since being charged Jan. 9 with four criminal offenses and four traffic violations.

The grand jury had added charges of driving while under the influence of alcohol per se (a “per se” DUI charge involves drivers whose blood alcohol limit is above the .08% legal limit and can be charged with drunk driving even if their ability to drive does not appear to be impaired), driving under the impairment of alcohol, texting while driving, reckless driving and negligent driving.

The original Jan. 9 criminal charges included manslaughter by vehicle, criminal negligent manslaughter by vehicle, homicide by driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol per se and homicide by driving a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol.

The traffic charges filed on Jan. 9 included failing to remain at an accident resulting in death, failing to remain at the scene of an accident resulting in serious bodily injury, using a text messaging device while driving causing an accident with death or serious injury, and driving under the influence of alcohol. The grand jury added to the two failure-to-stop offenses a charge of failure to stop the vehicle as close as possible to the scene of an accident.

The failing to remain at an accident resulting in serious bodily injury and the failing to remain at an accident resulting in death are both felony charges.

Cook appeared in court on the charges for the first time April 2 during an arraignment in Baltimore Circuit Court, according to court records. Because she accepted a trial date (June 4) “there’s an inferential plea of not guilty to all the charges,” David Irwin, one of Cook’s attorneys, told reporters outside the courthouse after the arraignment.

Irwin told Episcopal News Service on May 1 that there was been no resolution to the legal charges against Cook. “We hope to make progress in resolving the case, but we’re still involved in the discovery process and in the evaluation process,” he said, referring to the pre-trial process

in which both sides exchange information about the witnesses and evidence they’ll present at trial.

Cook faces a combined maximum penalty of at least 39 years in prison and a $39,000 fine, depending on whether her 2010 arrest and subsequent “probation before judgment” sentence is considered a first offense for any sentence she might receive if she were convicted of the charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or driving while under the influence of alcohol per se.

Cook, who is free on $2.5 million bail, “is still in treatment,” according to Irwin. She has been living in a drug and alcohol treatment facility since shortly after the accident.

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

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, K Street, in downtown DC, calls new rector

Friday, May 1, 2015

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, K Street, a downtown parish known for its excellence in traditional liturgy and sacred music, today announced the call of The Reverend Richard David Wall to be its tenth Rector. The call of Fr. Wall comes after an eighteen month discernment process and national search.

A naturalized citizen of the United States, Fr. Wall was born in South Staffordshire, England. He completed his undergraduate and seminary work at Oxford, studying at Christ Church and St. Stephen’s House, respectively. He was sponsored for ordination by the Diocese of Liverpool and ordained at Chelmsford Cathedral in 2002. Fr. Wall served as a Curate in Essex, England, for almost three years. In 2005, he moved to the United States to serve as Curate at St. Clement’s, Philadelphia. Fr. Wall was elected Rector of St. Andrew’s, State College, in the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, in 2009.

In accepting the call, Fr. Wall noted:

“I believe the primary purpose of any church is twofold: proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and serving the poor. I look forward to being with you, sharing in this ministry of proclamation and service, and finding a new home among the people of St. Paul’s.”

Located in Foggy Bottom, near George Washington University and the State Department, and within walking distance of the Kennedy Center and the White House, St. Paul’s is a diverse congregation whose members live across the entire Washington metropolitan area.

St. Paul’s Senior Warden, R. Allen Payne, said:

“Fr. Wall’s successful outreach to a university community, his desire to nurture St. Paul’s rich liturgical and sacred music tradition, and his commitment to serving the poor very much impressed our Vestry. He really ‘gets’ what it takes to lead and minister to a vibrant and diverse parish in heart of the nation’s capital.”

Founded in 1866, St. Paul’s is one of the larger parishes of the Diocese of Washington within the Episcopal Church, a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The parish is one of a handful of Episcopal churches in the country to celebrate Mass 365 days a year. For more information, visit http://stpauls-kst.com/about-us.

Casos del Tribunal Supremo son un preludio del debate sobre el matrimonio en la Convención General

Friday, May 1, 2015

Partidarios del matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo concurrieron a una manifestación frente al Tribunal Supremo de Justicia de EE.UU. antes de que la corte escuchara los argumentos acerca del matrimonio de homosexuales este 28 de abril en Washington, D.C. Los nueve magistrados del Tribunal Supremo deben decidir si la Constitución les ofrece a las parejas del mismo sexo el derecho a casarse, aceptando con ello un contencioso problema social en lo que promete ser el más esperado dictamen del año. Foto de Joshua Roberts/Reuters.

[Episcopal News Service] Los episcopales que siguieron los alegatos orales en el Tribunal Supremo de EE.UU. el 28 de abril sobre si parejas del mismo sexo tienen un derecho constitucional a casarse no dudan de contemplar las implicaciones del dictamen del tribunal para la Convención General de este verano.

La Iglesia Episcopal ha abogado oficialmente durante años por igual tratamiento para homosexuales, bisexuales y transexuales tanto en el terreno civil como eclesiástico. Sin embargo, no fue hasta 2012 que la Convención General aprobó el entrar a considerar nuevamente la teología de la Iglesia sobre el matrimonio, el acceso de los episcopales LGBT al rito sacramental.

Por consiguiente, si bien el dictamen del tribunal —que se espera se produzca antes de que el período actual llegue a su fin a fines de junio o principios de julio— puede dejar sentado el problema del acceso al matrimonio civil y cumplir uno de las posiciones de política pública que la Iglesia Episcopal ha defendido durante mucho tiempo, éste podría producirse mientras la Convención esté debatiendo la interpretación de la Iglesia del matrimonio sacramental y la definición canónica del matrimonio que le acompaña. La 78ª. reunión de la Convención General tiene lugar del 25 de junio al 3 de julio en Salt Lake City, Utah.

La defensa de la Iglesia en pro de la igualdad civil para las personas LGBT comenzó en 1976 con la Resolución A071 en la cual se decía que “las personas homosexuales tienen derecho a igual protección de las leyes que todos los demás ciudadanos, y llama a nuestra sociedad a ver que dicha protección se otorgue realmente”. Esa misma convención dijo (en la Resolución A069) que “las personas homosexuales son hijos de Dios que tienen el mismo derecho que todas las otras personas al amor, la aceptación y el interés y cuidado pastorales de la Iglesia”.

De entonces en adelante, esta tendencia continuó, incluyendo estas tres resoluciones:

1994: la Resolución D006 que pedía a los gobiernos locales, estatales y federal que les diera a las parejas homosexuales los mismos derechos y protecciones que [disfrutaban] las parejas casadas no homosexuales.

2000: la Resolución D039 afirmaba que algunas personas en la Iglesia viven en relaciones [conyugales] fuera de matrimonio y bosquejaba las características que se esperaban de esas relaciones.

2006: la Resolución A095 decía que la Iglesia se oponía a las enmiendas constitucionales estatales o federales que prohibían los matrimonios o uniones civiles de personas del mismo sexo.

2009: la Resolución D025 reconocía que los miembros bautizados de la Iglesia incluían a parejas del mismo sexo que vivieran en una relación comprometida de por vida, [y] que las personas LGBT participaban en el ministerio laico y ordenado.

2012: la Resolución D018 resaltaba que la Iglesia “estaba en un período de discernimiento respecto al significado del matrimonio cristiano, sobre el cual hay personas fieles que sostienen puntos de vista divergentes”, e instaba al Congreso a repudiar las leyes federales que discriminaban a parejas del mismo sexo casadas por lo civil, así como a aprobar una legislación que le permitiera al gobierno federal proporcionarles beneficios,.

También en 2012, los obispos y los diputados le permitieron al clero bendecir relaciones entre parejas del mismo sexo con la autorización del obispo [diocesano]. Autorizaron ritos para esas bendiciones (Resolución A049) y pidieron (en la Resolución A050) que un equipo de trabajo “identificara y explorara las dimensiones teológicas, históricas, litúrgicas y canónicas del matrimonio”. La Convención le pidió a lo que se conoce como Grupo de Trabajo sobre el Estudio del Matrimonio que examinara “las cambiantes normas sociales y culturales y las estructuras legales” en torno al matrimonio.

(Una lista completa con enlaces a todas las resoluciones de la Convención General desde 1976 a 2012 relacionadas con la liturgia, matrimonio y ordenación además de las resoluciones sobre los derechos civiles de los LGBT se encuentran aquí).

“Personalmente, sigo dando gracias por la manera en que los episcopales y la gente de buena fe en EE.UU. y de mucho más lejos están aprendiendo a ver la imagen de Dios en todos los hijos de Dios, ya sean homosexuales, heterosexuales, transexuales, pequeños, rubios o cualquier otra cosa”, dijo la obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori a Episcopal News Service el 28 de abril. “La capacidad de Dios de crear de diversas maneras es una señal de que nunca llegaremos a conocer del todo la mente divina y que recibimos dones de todo lo que Dios nos ofrece. La tarea de la Iglesia es ayudar a las personas a vivir vidas de santidad, amando a Dios y amando a nuestros prójimos como a nosotros mismos —a todos nuestros prójimos”.

En una entrevista con ENS el 28 de abril, la presidente de la Cámara de Diputados, Rda. Gay Clark Jennings, dijo que ella creía que “el largo [proceso de] discernimiento de nuestra Iglesia sobre la igualdad de los LGBT respecto a los derechos civiles y nuestra subsecuente discusión acerca de la igualdad en el matrimonio sacramental forman parte de lo que motivó a la cultura en su sentido más amplio hasta el punto de los actuales debates en el Tribunal Supremo”. La labor de la Iglesia Episcopal se une “a las de otras tradiciones religiosas que también se enfrentan con su legado de homofobia”, añadió.

La Rda. canóniga Susan Russell, que durante mucho tiempo ha abogado por la plena inclusión de los homosexuales en la Iglesia y quien propuso la Resolución 2012-D018, le dijo a ENS que “el Espíritu Santo está manifestándose tanto en medio de nuestra Convención General como en el calendario del Tribunal Supremo”.

Varias propuestas sobre matrimonios de parejas del mismo sexo se presentarán en la Convención

El grupo de trabajo sobre el matrimonio, la comisión permanente que propuso su creación y, hasta la fecha, cuatro diócesis, instan a que la reunión de la Convención este verano se manifieste con mayor claridad respecto a su interpretación de la accesibilidad del rito sacramental del matrimonio tanto para parejas de sexo diferente como del mismo sexo.

La Comisión Permanente sobre Liturgia y Música solicitó en su informe (a partir de la página 3 aquí) que la Convención autorice una versión expandida de Recursos Litúrgicos I: Te bendeciré y serás una bendición, la liturgia para la bendición de relaciones de parejas del mismo sexo, junto con otros materiales cuyo uso se autorizó en 2012. La nueva versión (de las páginas 2-151 incluyen aquí tres liturgias tradicionales: El testimonio y la bendición de un matrimonio [The Witnessing and Blessing of a Marriage], La celebración y bendición de un matrimonio 2 [The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2]; y La Forma de solemnización del matrimonio [The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony]. Esos ritos ofrecen la opción de usar “esposa”, “esposo”, “persona” o “cónyuge”, haciéndoles de este modo aplicables tanto a parejas heterosexuales como del mismo sexo.

La Resolución A054 propuesta por la comisión dice que los obispos diocesanos deben aprobar el uso de los ritos. Dice también que los obispos dentro de jurisdicciones civiles donde el matrimonio, las uniones civiles o las asociaciones domésticas de parejas del mismo sexo sean legales pueden seguir brindando una “generosa respuesta pastoral” a las necesidades de los miembros de la Iglesia (un eco de la Resolución 2009-C056).

Y la resolución propuesta repite la cláusula de la Resolución 2012-A049 de que “ningún obispo, sacerdote, diácono o persona laica debe ser coaccionado o sancionado de alguna manera, ni sufrir ninguna incapacidad canónica” como resultado de su objeción teológica o de su apoyo a la resolución. La resolución también extendería a estos nuevos ritos lo dispuesto en el Canon I.18.4 de la Iglesia, el cual dice que un clérigo puede rehusar la solemnización de cualquier matrimonio.

El Grupo de Trabajo para el Estudio del Matrimonio pide que la Iglesia Episcopal vaya más lejos al proponer en su Resolución A036 revisar el Canon I.18 titulado “De la solemnización del Santo Matrimonio” (página 58 de los Cánones de la Iglesia Episcopal aquí).

Entre muchas correcciones, la revisión elimina las referencias al matrimonio como [la unión] entre un hombre y una mujer.

La revisión reestructuraría el requisito de la primera sección del canon de que el clero se ajustara tanto a “las leyes del estado” como a “las leyes de la Iglesia” respecto al matrimonio. La porción reescrita exigiría que el clero se ajustara a “las leyes del Estado que rigen la creación del estado civil del matrimonio, y también a estos cánones en lo concerniente a la solemnización del matrimonio”.

Y la propuesta conserva la cláusula del canon de que el clérigo puede rehusar solemnizar cualquier matrimonio y extiende esa discreción para incluir la opción de rehusar bendecir un matrimonio.

Entre las medidas propuestas por cuatro diócesis, la Resolución C017 de la Diócesis de Chicago y la Resolución C022 de la Diócesis de California ambas piden que la Convención autorice el uso de los ritos del matrimonio del Libro de Oración Común de 1979 y de Recursos Litúrgicos I “para todos los matrimonios legales en la jurisdicción civil en los cuales le liturgia tenga lugar”. En las jurisdicciones civiles con matrimonios de parejas del mismo sexo, el lenguaje de los ritos se interpretaría como neutro en lo tocante al género. La C022 también propone una reescritura del canon de la solemnización [del matrimonio].

La Diócesis de Rochester, en la Resolución C007, y la Diócesis de Los Ángeles en la C009 simplemente piden que la Convención “tome todas y cada una de las medidas necesarias para hacer accesible inmediatamente el Rito del Santo Matrimonio a parejas del mismo sexo a través de la Iglesia Episcopal”.

Todas estas resoluciones y otras afines que pudiera surgir han sido asignadas al Comité Legislativo Especial sobre el Matrimonio (SCLM, por su sigla en inglés), formalmente un comité de obispos que se reúne junto con un comité de diputados, pero que votan por separado, dado a conocer en julio de 2014 por Jefferts Schori y Jennings.

Enfrentar el problema de crear espacio para los que disientan

Un posible dilema del asunto en la Convención sería la cuestión de cómo crear un espacio para los episcopales que se oponga al cambio de definición del matrimonio ya fuese en el contexto civil como eclesiástico, o en ambos.

Ed Little, obispo de la Diócesis de Indiana Norte le dijo recientemente a ENS que la Iglesia Episcopal tiene una “economía mixta” con una “mayoría progresista que estaría a favor de redefinir el matrimonio desde el punto de vista de su expresión civil y que también estaría a favor de redefinir el matrimonio desde el punto de vista de su expresión sacramental”. Y hay una minoría conservadora o tradicional no insustancial que se muestra “preocupada de que ambas series de acontecimientos nos distancien del matrimonio tal y como ha sido experimentado tanto por la comunidad humana como por la comunidad eclesial durante miles de años”.

Ambos grupos disponen de “espacio para prosperar”, lo cual “le da al Espíritu Santo espacio para obrar”, dijo Little, debido a lo estipulado en las resoluciones 2009-C056 y 2012-A049.

“En este momento, yo cuento con el espacio para vivir con mi conciencia dentro de la Iglesia, pero es preocupante si el matrimonio se redefine canónicamente”, señaló. “Eso parece estrechar las opciones y parece decir que los que sostienen las perspectivas antiguas y tradicionales no tienen un lugar honorable en nuestra comunidad”.

Russell dijo que tanto las propuestas del SCLM como del grupo de trabajo muestran el “genio anglicano” de reconocer que “como Iglesia, somos una gran tienda; que sí mantenemos en tensión las diferencias que existen entre nosotros”. La Iglesia Episcopal siempre ha avanzado en asuntos que causan divisiones procurando “alcanzar un consenso abarcador, no la unanimidad”, dijo ella.

“No importa lo que hagamos en la Convención General, será demasiado para algunos y demasiado poco para otros”, predijo ella.

La trayectoria de la ordenación de las mujeres sirve, dijo Little, como un “relato admonitorio” en el cual los que se opusieron a las mujeres sacerdotes y obispas fueron “de alguna manera respetados y luego meramente tolerados y finalmente fueron canónicamente excluidos”.

Después que la Convención General convino en 1976 que las mujeres podían ser sacerdotes y obispas (ya habían sido ordenadas diáconas), el entonces obispo primado John Allin dijo en una reunión de la Cámara de Obispos en 1977 que él no creía “que las mujeres podían ser sacerdotes de la misma manera que no pueden ser padres ni esposos” y ofreció renunciar como obispo primado. Como alternativa, los obispos confirmaron su liderazgo y adoptaron “una declaración de conciencia” que decía que “ningún obispo, sacerdote o laico debía ser obligado o penado en modo alguno, ni experimentar ninguna discapacidad canónica como resultado de su objeción de conciencia o de su apoyo” a la ordenación de mujeres.

Puesto que la “cláusula de la conciencia” nunca fue adoptada por la Cámara de Diputados, no tenía ninguna autoridad canónica. Pero, un puñado de obispos y sus diócesis la utilizaron para excluir a las mujeres del sacerdocio durante 33 años.

Veinte años después, la Convención General dijo que rehusar ordenar a las mujeres ya no era una opción. En 2000, pidió que se supervisaran las tres diócesis (Fort Worth, San Joaquín y Quincy) que aún no ordenaban mujeres.

“El resultado ha sido que personas de perspectiva muy tradicional que no eran capaces de abrazar, por una razón teológica, la ordenación de mujeres, dejaron de sentirse bienvenidas”, dijo Little. “La mayoría se ha ido. Hay unas cuantas aún en la Iglesia, pero se sienten en los márgenes de la Iglesia”.

Little dijo que él había ordenado más mujeres que hombres “pero me duele también que la perspectiva tradicional ya no sea canónicamente viable en la Iglesia”.

En Salt Lake City, en lo que él espera que sea su última Convención General como obispo diocesano, Little se opondrá a cualquier revisión del canon de la solemnización que redefiniría el matrimonio, dijo él. Él querría que la Convención preservara la cláusula de la “conciencia” en la resolución de la bendición.

Russell dijo que ella pensaba que la discreción que siempre se le ha otorgado al clero en el canon del matrimonio y las protecciones que les dispensan al clero en todos los estados que actualmente permiten matrimonios entre personas del mismo sexo eran protección suficiente.

Y Jennings, aunque sin comprometerse directamente sobre lo concerniente a una cláusula de conciencia, dijo “yo no creo que el lugar donde una pareja pueda casarse deba ser un accidente de la geografía, ya sea [el matrimonio] civil o dentro de la Iglesia”.

Independientemente de lo que pase en Salt Lake City, dijo Little, él “seguirá abogando por el reconocimiento de que a través de la Iglesia las personas se enfrentan con estos problemas difíciles de diferente manera —personas de profundo compromiso y profunda integridad— y en consecuencia deberíamos de encontrar una forma en que se respetaran sus conciencias”.

“Los problemas son significativos. Impactan lo más profundo de nuestro corazón, pero yo espero que todos nosotros reconoceremos, dondequiera que lleguemos en estos asuntos, que nuestro compromiso con Jesucristo, nuestro amor por él y sobre todo el suyo por nosotros, es lo nos mantiene unidos”, afirmó. “Tenemos que reconocer que en tiempos borrascosos Jesús es nuestra única esperanza. Uno no puede legislar eso, pero al final lo único que nos puede mantener juntos es Jesús mismo”.

Russell también citó a Jesús, al decir “yo creo firmemente en lo más profundo de mi corazón que nada menos que la plena inclusión de los homosexuales, bisexuales y transexuales bautizados es suficientemente bueno para Jesús y para nosotros, y esta es una trayectoria para lograr ese objetivo”.

Insistiendo que ella no es “incrementalista”, sino más bien una “anglicana pragmática”, Russell dijo que le gustaría ver la plena inclusión enunciada en el Libro de Oración Común. “Y con lo que quiero salir de Salt Lake City es con la aprobación de que la Iglesia Episcopal está inequívocamente por ponerle fin a la discriminación contra el matrimonio de personas del mismo sexo, reconociendo que tenemos personas dentro de este cuerpo para quienes eso no es congruente con su teología”.

Little dijo que él estaba “en esto hasta el final ocurra lo que ocurra y [dispuesto a] hacerme oír todo lo que pueda” y seguir tratando de tender puentes en la Iglesia. Russell dijo que ella tampoco se iba a ninguna otra parte. “La única amenaza que siempre hemos hecho es la de seguir volviendo”, afirmó, añadiendo que la santa patrona de ella y de sus colegas que piensan como ella es la viuda persistente. “No hemos amenazado con irnos, no hemos amenazado con retirar nuestras promesas, no hemos amenazado con hacer ninguna otra cosa que seguir compareciendo”.

Episcopales que abogan por la igualdad matrimonial

A principios de este año los magistrados del Tribunal Supremo anunciaron que considerarían las prohibiciones de matrimonios de personas del mismo sexo de Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee y Michigan que habían sido ratificadas en noviembre por el Tribunal Federal de Apelaciones del Sexto Circuito. Todos los otros tribunales federales de apelaciones se han pronunciado sobre el tema y han anulado tales prohibiciones.

Los magistrados también tomaron la medida inusual de delimitar los asuntos por los que usarían los casos para llegar a un veredicto. El primero es si la Decimocuarta Enmienda a la Constitución de EE.UU. le exige a un estado que otorgue una licencia matrimonial a dos personas del mismo sexo. El segundo es si la Decimocuarta Enmienda le exige a un estado reconocer un matrimonio entre dos personas del mismo sexo cuando ese matrimonio ha sido legalmente autorizado y contraído fuera del estado.

La decisión del Tribunal Supremo de considerar los casos, conocidos como Obergefell vs. Hodges y Casos Consolidados, ha suscitado mucha atención y dado lugar a 145 amicus curiae, o alegatos [particulares] de un “amigo del tribunal”, presentados hasta el 27 de abril. La lista de solicitantes va desde la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de EE.UU. hasta sindicatos de trabajadores e incluye la Clínica Legal de Sexualidad y Género de la Escuela de Derecho de [la Universidad de] Columbia y los Historiadores del Matrimonio junto con la Asociación Histórica Americana.

Una solicitud la firmaban 226 alcaldes de ciudades de EE.UU. y otra provenía de 167 miembros de la Cámara de Representantes y de 44 senadores del Congreso federal. Casi 380 empleadores, entre Microsoft, los campeones nacionales de fútbol americano New England Patriots y pequeñas empresas tales como Crazy Misfits Pets Service de Kent, Washington, presentaron otra.

Cerca de 2.000 individuos, líderes religiosos, laicos y ordenados, encabezados por firmantes como Jennings y los obispos de Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio y Tennessee (los estados incluidos en el Tribunal de Apelaciones del Sexto Circuito) presentaron uno de esos alegatos.

Esos obispos incluyen a Terry Allen White, obispo de Kentucky; Douglas Hahn, obispo de Lexington; Wendell N. Gibbs Jr., obispo de Michigan; Whayne M. Hougland Jr., obispo de Michigan Occidental; Rayford J. Ray, obispo de Michigan Norte; Todd Ousley, obispo de Michigan Oriental; Mark Hollingsworth Jr., obispo de Ohio; David C. Bowman, William D. Persell y Arthur B. Williams Jr., obispos auxiliares de Ohio; Thomas E. Breidenthal, obispo de Ohio Sur; Kenneth L. Price Jr., obispo sufragáneo jubilado de Ohio Sur; Bavi Edna Rivera, obispa auxiliar de Ohio Sur; Don E. Johnson, obispo de Tennessee Occidental y George D. Young III, obispo de Tennessee Oriental. Todos estos obispos han autorizado la bendición de parejas del mismo sexo en sus diócesis, incluidas las parejas que ya han contraído matrimonio civil en otras jurisdicciones.

Tom Ely, obispo de la Diócesis de Vermont; Robert Fitzpatrick, de la Diócesis de Hawái; Leo Frade, de la Diócesis del Sudeste de la Florida, Steve Lane, de la Diócesis de Maine; Keith Whitmore, obispo auxiliar de la Diócesis de Atlanta y alrededor de otro 200 episcopales ordenados y laicos también firmaron el alegato.

El alegato bosqueja cómo varias denominaciones protestantes, ramas del judaísmo y ciertos grupos musulmanes han llegado a pedir la igualdad matrimonial. Destaca que la Iglesia Presbiteriana (E.U.A.), la mayor denominación presbiteriana de EE.UU., pidió el verano pasado a sus miembros que redefinieran el matrimonio como [un vínculo contraído] entre “dos personas, tradicionalmente un hombre y una mujer”. Desde entonces los cambios constitucionales han obtenido la aprobación de la mayoría de los presbiterios de esa Iglesia.

Los firmantes del alegato arguyen que “eliminar la discriminación en el matrimonio civil no vulnerará la doctrina, la conciencia o la práctica religiosas. Todas las religiones seguirían siendo libres …de definir el matrimonio religioso de la manera que prefieran”. El alegato señala que tales libertades religiosas existen actualmente en los 36 estados que, junto con el Distrito de Columbia, permiten casarse a parejas del mismo sexo.

“La razón por la cual firmé el alegato es que ya es hora de ponerle fin a cualquier discriminación contra los hijos de Dios en este país”, dijo Jennings a ENS. “Una revocación del veredicto del Sexto Circuito nos aproximaría al día de la justicia y la reconciliación que yo creo que las personas de todas las religiones anhelan ver”.

Little, de Indiana Norte, dijo que le preocupaba la promoción hecha por algunos episcopales ante el Tribunal Supremo porque pareciera mostrar que la mayoría de la Iglesia se está distanciando del reconocimiento de la “economía mixta” que él aprecia. Esos que abogan, dijo “puede que estén intentando mostrar a la Iglesia como monocromática cuando se trata de estos dificilísimos y muy sensibles problemas teológicos y pastorales”.

La promoción, dijo él, “con frecuencia no reconoce el hecho de que los que firman los alegatos y otras cosas por el estilo no hablan por la Iglesia, hablan por sí mismos, pero suena como si estuvieran hablando por la Iglesia”.

Jefferts Schori declinó sumarse al alegato porque si bien la Iglesia Episcopal tiene una política oficial de buscar la igualdad del matrimonio civil, dijo ella, “no tenemos esa política para el matrimonio sacramental”.

“No creo que esta Iglesia pueda o deba firmar alegatos de amicus allí donde nuestra comunidad no ha aceptado formalmente las premisas que subyacen en tales alegatos”, afirmó. “Creo que la mayoría de los episcopales afirmaría que nuestra posición teológica acerca del sacramento del matrimonio tiene mayor peso moral que el derecho civil”.

“Hasta que nuestras leyes cambien, no veo ninguna otra opción”, dijo ella. “Hemos recorrido un gran trecho, pero no hemos llegado todavía a una conclusión. Pido vuestras oraciones mientras la Iglesia busca mayor claridad”.

– La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service.

Nota de la redactora: El Tribunal Supremo de EE.UU. ha publicado grabaciones y transcripciones de los argumentos de la vista oral del 28 de abril en su página web aquí. The New York Times, entre otros sitios noticiosos, compartió los argumentos en directo en su bitácora.

Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Se anuncian los nominados para Obispo Presidente de la Iglesia Episcopal

Friday, May 1, 2015

[1 de mayo del 2015] Los nominados para el 27º Obispo Presidente de la Iglesia Episcopal se han anunciado en un informe publicado por el Comité Conjunto de Nominaciones para la Elección del Obispo Presidente (JNCPB). El informe, presentado en el Libro Azul, está disponible aquí

El 27º Obispo Presidente de la Iglesia Episcopal será elegido el sábado 27 de junio durante la 78a Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal, que se celebrará del 25 de junio al 3 de julio en el Centro de Convenciones Salt Palace, en Salt Lake City, UT (Diócesis de Utah).

Los nominados para Obispo Presidente son:

  • El Rvdmo. Thomas E. Breidenthal, Obispo de la Diócesis del Sur de Ohio
  • El Rvdmo. Michael B. Curry, Obispo de la Diócesis de Carolina del Norte
  • El Rvdmo. Ian T. Douglas, Obispo de la Diócesis de Connecticut
  • El Rvdmo. Dabney T. Smith, Obispo de la Diócesis del Sudoeste de Florida

El sábado, 27 de junio, miembros de la Cámara de los Obispos con asiento, voz y voto se reunirán en la catedral de San Marcos, en Salt Lake City, donde se producirá la elección en el contexto de oración y reflexión. Una vez que una elección haya tenido lugar, la actual Obispa Presidente Katharine Jefferts Schori enviará una delegación a la Cámara de los Diputados para la confirmación de la elección.

La Revda. Gay Jennings, Presidente de la Cámara de los Diputados, referirá el nombre al comité legislativo sobre la confirmación del Obispo Presidente de la Cámara de los Diputados sin anunciar el nombre a la Cámara en pleno. El comité legislativo hará una recomendación a la Cámara de los Diputados ya sea para confirmar la elección o no confirmarla, y la Cámara de los Diputados votará inmediatamente sobre la recomendación. La Presidente Jennings nombrará entonces una delegación de la Cámara de los Diputados para notificar a la Cámara de los Obispos sobre la acción tomada.

El Obispo Presidente sirve por un período de nueve años. El Obispo Presidente es el Primado y Pastor Principal de la Iglesia, el Presidente del Consejo Ejecutivo, y el Presidente de la Sociedad Misionera Doméstica y Extranjera.

Convención General
La 78a Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal se celebrará del 25 de junio al 3 de julio, en Salt Lake City, UT (Diócesis de Utah). La Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal se celebra cada tres años, y es el órgano de gobierno bicameral de la Iglesia. Se compone de la Cámara de los Obispos, con más de 200 obispos activos y jubilados, y la Cámara de los Diputados, con clérigos y laicos diputados electos de las 108 diócesis y tres áreas regionales de la Iglesia, a más de 800 miembros.

Four chosen as nominees for 27th presiding bishop

Friday, May 1, 2015

[Episcopal News Service] The Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop May 1 announced the names of the bishops it will nominate this summer to succeed Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

The four names will be formally submitted to the General Convention during a joint session on June 26, the day prior to the day set for the election by the House of Bishops of the 27th presiding bishop. The nominees are:

The committee’s formal announcement, along with biographical information about each nominee, is posted on the General Convention website here in English, Spanish and French.

Breidenthal was dean of religious life and of the chapel at Princeton University in New Jersey when he was elected on Nov. 11, 2006, to be the ninth bishop of Southern Ohio. He was ordained and consecrated April 28, 2007. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1974 from Portland State University, a Master of Arts degree from the University of Victoria, in British Columbia, in 1977, a Master of Divinity degree in 1981 from Church Divinity School of the Pacific and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in theology from Oxford University in 1991.

Curry was the rector of St. James’ Episcopal Church, Baltimore, Maryland, when he was elected on February 11, 2000, to be the 11th bishop of North Carolina. He was ordained and consecrated on June 17, 2000. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1975 from Hobart and William Smith College, in Geneva, New York, and a Master of Divinity degree in 1978 from the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale.

Douglas was the Angus Dun Professor of Mission and World Christianity at Episcopal Divinity School when he was elected on Oct. 24, 2009, to be the 15th bishop of Connecticut. He was ordained and consecrated on April 17, 2010. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1980 from Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont, and a Masters of Education in counseling and consulting psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1982. Douglas earned a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School in 1983. In 1993, he earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in religious studies from Boston University.

Smith was rector of Trinity Church, New Orleans, Louisiana, when he was elected on Dec. 9, 2006, to be the fifth bishop of Southwest Florida. He was ordained and consecrated on Sept. 15, 2007. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcasting production from the University of South Florida in Tampa in 1980, a Master of Divinity in 1987 from Nashotah House and a Doctor of Ministry from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary with special focus on congregational development in 1999.

The announcement of the nominees now opens a 12-day process to be followed by any bishop or deputy who wants to nominate from the floor a bishop not on the committee’s slate. The committee recently outlined the process that must be followed before any additional bishop may be nominated in that manner.

Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings recently wrote to their houses with information about the bishops’ election and deputies’ confirmation process that will be followed at convention. That information is here.

All of the nominees will be given the opportunity to address both houses of General Convention the afternoon of June  24. Their names will be formally submitted to the General Convention during a joint session of the two houses on June 26. Nominations from the floor, done according to the committee’s process, will happen during that session as well.

Bishops will gather at the Convention Eucharist at 9:30 a.m. on June 27 in the Salt Palace Convention Center. Following that, the bishops with seat, voice, and vote will board buses to travel to St. Mark’s Cathedral, where the election will take place in the context of prayer and reflection.

Once the election has taken place, Jefferts Schori will send a delegation to Jennings to inform her of the name of the bishop who has been elected. Jennings will refer the name to the House of Deputies legislative committee on the Confirmation of the Presiding Bishop without announcing the name to the full House. The legislative committee will make a recommendation to the House of Deputies whether to confirm the election or not confirm, and the House of Deputies will immediately vote on the recommendation. Jennings will then appoint a delegation of deputies to notify the House of Bishops of the action taken.

“No communication is permitted from the House of Bishops during the election and until confirmation is received. I know this will be a challenge, but ask your cooperation and faithfulness to our mutual life and accountability,” Jefferts Schori said in her letter to the bishops.

The presiding bishop-elect will preach at the convention’s closing Eucharist on July 3, and Jefferts Schori will preside. The presiding bishop-elect’s nine-year term officially begins Nov. 1, 2015.

The presiding bishop is primate and chief pastor of the church, chair of the Executive Council, and president of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.”

The 78th General Convention meets June 25 – July 3, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

May – August 2015 consecrations, elections and consents

Thursday, April 30, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] In the next four months – May 1 to August 31 – The Episcopal Church will witness the consecrations of two bishops, the elections of two bishops, and the consent processes underway for three.

Two consecrations of two bishops are slated for May – August.

May 9: Diocese of Southeast Florida – the Very Rev. Peter Eaton elected bishop coadjutor on January 31

July 25: Diocese of Central Gulf Coast – the Rev. James “Russell” Kendrick, elected bishop on February 21 (pending successful completion of the consent process).

During May – August, two elections for bishops are schedule.

May 16: Diocese of Dallas
July 25: Diocese of Dominican Republic

Canonical Consent Process
Currently there are three canonical consent processes underway for May – August.

June 17 deadline: The Very Rev. Peter Eaton, elected January 31 as bishop coadjutor of Southeast Florida (although there has been a successful completion of the consent process, consents continue to be received up to the deadline date).

August 7 deadline: The Rev. James “Russell” Kendrick, elected February 21 as bishop of Central Gulf Coast.

August 6 deadline:  The Rev. Canon Audrey Scanlan, elected March 14 as bishop of Central Pennsylvania

Episcopal Church in Europe responds to acts of anti-Semitism

Thursday, April 30, 2015

[Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe  press release] In an April 29 letter to Haim Korsia, Grand Rabbi of France, Bishop Pierre Whalon and the Very Rev. Lucinda Laird, dean of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Paris, expressed solidarity with the Jewish community in the face of growing anti-Semitism in France, and across Europe.

The letter followed an incident in which the Cathedral wall along the avenue George V was defaced with anti-Jewish graffiti.

“It is intolerable that anti-Semitism is rising again in our countries,” the two said. With this deplorable act, “we felt that Christians were being targeted, as well. Whoever is attacking the Jews in France is attacking us as well.” “Whether Jew, Christian or Muslim, we are all one human family and worthy of respect.”

Whalon and Laird recalled an earlier expression of solidarity, when synagogues were damaged during the French Presidential election of 2002.

Then, Episcopal Churches in Europe collected money to help repair these places of worship. Later, when mosques were damaged as well, additional funds were raised. The collected funds were then shared between the two communities.

The cathedral hosted a Christian-Jewish-Muslim summit later that year to promote dialogue and foster stronger relationships among the three religious communities in Paris.

In their recent letter to the Grand Rabbi, Whalon and Laird concluded, “We will stand by your side until hatred is undone by solidarity.”

According to a recent article in Le Figaro, the Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) reports that 51% of racist acts in France were committed against the Jewish community, and that the number of anti-Semitic acts in France doubled in the last year. The Jewish community represents only 1 % of the French population.

Nepali Anglicans among those killed in earthquake

Thursday, April 30, 2015

[Anglican Diocese of Sydney] It’s been revealed hundreds of Christians died or were injured as the Nepal earthquake hit their churches, including an Anglican minister and 17 of his parishioners.

In Nepal, Sunday is a work day so Christians normally attend church on their day off, which is Saturday. So many were in church when the quake hit on April25.

The Rev. Lewis Lew, the dean of Nepal which is under the oversight of the Diocese of Singapore, Church of the Province of South East Asia, has issued a confirmation of a tragic scene in the village of Choke.

The village was recently visited by a mission team from Singapore.

“It is my deep regret to inform you that we have received confirmation that one of ours, Pastor Laxman Tamang and 17 of his members from Choke Church were called home to be with the Lord on 25 April, Saturday when the quake struck the village of Choke in Dhading district,” Lew said in a prayer letter.

“Pastor Laxman pastors a 340-member church. He loved the Lord, and had spent more than half his life in the ministry. Under his leadership Choke Church became part of Anglican Church of Nepal 15 years ago. Part of the reason why the Singapore team went to his village was because his heart was for the salvation of his fellow 11,000 villagers who have not given their lives to Christ.”

“(We would) Cherish your prayers for his family, as they cope with their lost. Cherish your prayers also for the village of Choke, it has been completely destroyed and the people are displaced without medical aid, food, supply and temporary shelter.” the dean said.

The quake, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale struck the mountain kingdom between the city of Pokhara and the capital Kathmandu.

The death toll has risen above 5,200.

International Nepal Fellowship Nepal Director Prem Subedi reports “Our team is back from Ghurka and we now have more information about the situation in both Ghurka and Dhading. The need for food and other non-food items is enormous. So here in Pokhara INF is preparing food and non food packages to send out. And our medical team is in standby mode. At the same time we are considering how we might be able to contribute in the long run, using our skills as a health and development organization to respond to the more long term situation. Please be praying for our immediate and longer term response, for good information and wisdom in decision making. Pray also that food can reach those who need it most.”

The team has also reported on a swine flu outbreak in the area of Jajakot.

For more details on Anglican Communion response to the disaster, please consult the Anglican Alliance website.

Share prayers for Nepal and the region on the Prayer Wall of the Anglican Communion website.

Presiding Bishop, President of the House of Deputies offer details, preview elections

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has written to the House of Bishops and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings has written to the House of Deputies outlining details of elections and confirmations that will occur during General Convention.

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is June 25 – July 3, in Salt Lake City, Utah. 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 more than 800 clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church.

In her letter, President Jennings provides deputies with a checklist of elections and confirmations to be held in the House of Deputies and the schedule on which the work will be done. “General Convention meets just once every three years, so we deputies have a great responsibility to elect and confirm many of the people who do the work of the church in between conventions,” wrote President Jennings. “At this convention, we’ll elect 50 people to nine different positions, confirm House of Bishops elections of 17 people, including a new Presiding Bishop, and confirm 13 people appointed by the presiding officers.”

The Presiding Bishop’s letter was written to inform the bishops and to address any confusion. “There is a good deal of rumor and misinformation floating around, which I would like to lay to rest – in peace, and not to rise again!,” Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori wrote.

Election of the Presiding Bishop
The nominees for Presiding Bishop will be presented to a joint meeting of the Bishops and Deputies on Wednesday, June 24.  The formal nominations for Presiding Bishop will be made at a joint session of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops on Friday, June 26, with the election scheduled for Saturday, June 27.

Bishops will gather at the Convention Eucharist at 9:30 a.m. in the Salt Palace. Following that, the bishops with seat, voice, and vote will board buses to travel to St. Mark’s Cathedral, where the election will take place in the context of prayer and reflection.

Once an election has taken place, the Presiding Bishop will send a delegation to the President of the House of Deputies to inform her of the name of the bishop who has been elected. President Jennings will refer the name to the House of Deputies legislative committee on the Confirmation of the Presiding Bishop without announcing the name to the full House. The legislative committee will make a recommendation to the House of Deputies whether to confirm the election or not confirm, and the House of Deputies will immediately vote on the recommendation. President Jennings will then appoint a delegation from the House of Deputies to notify the House of Bishops of the action taken.

Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori added, “No communication is permitted from the House of Bishops during the election and until confirmation is received. I know this will be a challenge, but ask your cooperation and faithfulness to our mutual life and accountability.”

The House of Bishops and House of Deputies will elect and confirm General Convention officers and members of many other church leadership bodies including Executive Council; Disciplinary Board for Bishops; Trustees of General Theological Seminary; Trustees of the Church Pension Fund; Board of Transition Ministry; and Archives of The Episcopal Church.

A list and schedule of elections in the House of Deputies is available here.

NCC calls for justice, end to violence in Baltimore

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

[National Council of Churches] The National Council of Churches joins with the churches of Baltimore in grieving the loss of Freddie Gray. In the wake of his death and the violence that has followed, we call for sweeping changes to policing methods and procedures that will finally address the causes for the rage being expressed not only in Baltimore, but in cities across the nation.  Too many young African-American men and women are dying at the hands of the police, and the nation must correct this injustice immediately. We call upon both rioters and police alike to end their violent acts toward one another.

We dispute the narrative that the riots are being carried out by “criminals and thugs,” as both President Obama and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake have characterized rioters and protesters alike.  To engage in dismissive name-calling by political leaders who are unable to offer any reasonable justification for Gray’s death is to simply fuel the fire they seek to calm.  In the spirit of Jesus’s recollection of the Great Commandment to “love God” and “love your neighbor as yourself,” we cannot abide by speech that diminishes the lives and sacred worth of the young people of communities broken by violence.We call upon the press to act on behalf of all people, not simply those in power.  We ask the press to not only echo government talking points, but to investigate the reasons for the violence seen in the streets.  We call upon the press to report not only how many police are injured in the violence, but how many civilians are as well.

We also applaud the faithful, courageous actions of clergy who have taken to the streets and stood not only for calm and peace, but also for justice and fairness.  We urge the clergy of Baltimore and all troubled communities to continue to be an active presence during times of distress and violence.

“For months, and indeed decades, we have seen the tragedies such as the death of Freddie Gray unfold over and over again,” said General Secretary Jim Winkler.  “If we as a nation cannot learn from the lessons of these tragedies, we will see our problems get worse.  If we can do the kind of soul searching these events call for, we have hope.”

School of Theology senior prizes announced

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

[School of Theology press release] On April 22, 2015, the School of Theology community gathered in the Chapel of the Apostles for a Eucharist in celebration of the upcoming commencement on May 8.

At the luncheon following the service, the Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, dean of the School of Theology, accompanied by the University of the South’s Vice-Chancellor John M. McCardell Jr. and the School’s academic dean the Rev. Canon Jim Turrell, presented the School of Theology prizes to the seniors who exhibited the most outstanding academic achievement in the following categories:

The School of Theology Prize in Biblical Studies was awarded to Joseph Robert Woodfin, an M. Div. student from the Diocese of Tennessee. Woodfin was also awarded The School of Theology Prize in Historical Studies. During his time at Sewanee, Woodfin also received a Griffin Scholarship to study in the Holy Land, the Freeman Award for Merit in his middler year, and served as student body president.

“I am honored to have received these prizes from the School of Theology, and honored to have lived and worked with my wonderful classmates for the last three years,” said Woodfin. “I will always value the formation I have received in Sewanee, both academically and in the relationships that I will treasure throughout my ministry.”

The School of Theology Prize in Theology and Ethics was awarded to Sarah Leanne Miller, an M.Div. student from the Diocese of Alabama. Miller shared the Freeman Award for Merit with Woodfin during her middler year and served on the Task Force to Reimagine The Episcopal Church. Miller, reflecting on her time on the Mountain, stated, “I am deeply grateful to have spent three years being formed by a dedicated faculty and a loving community of peers.”

The School of Theology Prize in Practical Theology was awarded to Bonnie Gordy Underwood, an M.Div. student from the Diocese of Atlanta. Underwood also received a Griffin Scholarship and served as head sacristan at the seminary’s Chapel of the Apostles.

“This recognition was such a surprise!” exclaimed Underwood. “I am truly humbled and very grateful for this honor. My time here in Sewanee has been such a blessing and I will always be thankful for the opportunity to learn and grow within this community.”

The annual senior awards luncheon marks what is to be a bittersweet “leave-taking” process for the graduating students and the seminary community. “As we approach graduation, I reflect on how Sewanee is blessed with many outstanding students every year and how difficult it is for the faculty to determine just one recipient for the prizes,” explained Alexander. “This year the faculty acknowledged three equally deserving seminarians for academic achievement of the highest order.”

Weeping for Baltimore: A statement by Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

[Episcopal Diocese of Maryland] Episcopal Diocese of Maryland Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton issued the following statement April 28.

Jeremiah 29:4-7
Psalm 137:1-6
Luke 6:17-31

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Weep and pray for Baltimore.  Violence never works.  Ever.

Today we need to mourn. The City of Baltimore in many of its parts is burning. Righteous anger over the death of Freddie Gray, who was injured while in Baltimore City Police custody and later died, has turned into a destructive anger that is destroying the fabric of many of our communities. Schools and businesses have been closed, and many of its citizens are afraid to go out into its neighborhoods. We are in an official State of Emergency, but we are also in an unofficial State of Despair.

Sometimes the most healing thing you can do in a state of despair is to allow yourself the freedom and the dignity to cry. Jesus did. The shortest verse in the New Testament is John 11:35, when our Lord went to the tomb of his good friend Lazarus, the verse says simply, “Jesus wept.” Apparently Jesus did that a lot, weeping not only for human beings, but for whole cities. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!  How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37) If our Lord could weep for the city of Jerusalem, then surely we can weep for our beloved city of Baltimore.

Today we also need to remember how we came to this point. Of course, all of us in Baltimore and around the world remember Freddie Gray. And we still remember Michael Brown and Eric Garner, the two unarmed black men killed last year by police officers who were not indicted for their part in their deaths.

We remember Trayvon Martin, who died unarmed from gunshot wounds two years ago. Those of us with longer memories recall Amadou Diallo, the young man immortalized in Bruce Springsteen’s haunting “American Skin (41 Shots).”

But how many of us have ever heard of Patrick Dorismund, Rekia Boyd, Orlando Barlow, Ousmane Zongo, Timothy Stansbury Jr., Aaron Campbell, James Brissette, Ronald Matison, Travares McGill, Shantel Davis, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Jerrod Miller, Victor Steen, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Steven Eugene Washington, Alonzo Ashley, Wendell Allen, Ramarley Graham, Kendra James, Ervin Jefferson, Kendree McDade or Kimani Gray?  Who were they?  All were shot by police officers or security guards between 2000 and 2013. All were African American men and women, including one child, averaging just 23 years of age, and all were unarmed.

In addition to these, America was also shocked by the shooting deaths of two young African American males, John Crawford (22) and Tamir Rice (12) who were both killed while carrying toy BB guns in Ohio, an “open carry” state, in which the carrying of firearms is legal with or without a license.

“According to data stretching from 1999-2011, African Americans have comprised 26 percent of all police-shooting victims. Overall, young African Americans are killed by cops 4½ times more often than people of other races and ages.” (quote from the Daily Beast, Nov. 26, 2014)

We need to remember these statistics, because each of those black lives mattered – if not to all of us, then at least they mattered to God. Those of us who regularly attend an Episcopal church renew our baptismal vows several times a year. At the renewal, the presider asks this question: “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?”  To which the people respond, “I will, with God’s help.” (Book of Common Prayer, pgs. 292-294) That’s one of the most difficult vows for all of us to keep in a nation that has struggled with the sin of racism since its inception.

“From the 1787 Constitutional ‘Three-fifths Compromise’ – meaning an African American was to be counted as 3/5 of a person in a census – to the legacy of lynching in the Jim Crow and Civil Rights eras, to the continued stereotypes that blacks (especially male blacks) are essentially criminally inclined, beastly aggressive, and lacking fundamental intellectual and social qualities to merit human dignity.” (From a reflection on Ferguson by Bishop Nathan Baxter, 11/26/14)

We all know, of course, of the tragic situation of black on black violence emanating from the political and economic cages we call “inner-city ghettos” in America. In many of our communities, we have reason to be scared of some of our neighbors. But when the police – the very ones who are supposed to protect you from those predators roaming our streets are themselves the ones who are killing you – then that gives rise to rage.

Black and white citizens of good will throughout this nations are outraged that black lives seem to matter less than other lives in our communities.  We are enraged that we have to have rallies and hold signs that say, “BLACK LIVES MATTER.”

The dream of living in a community where justice and peace prevails has been seriously tested here in Baltimore for the last two weeks, and particularly with yesterday’s violence. That dream has been deferred for far too long. In Langston Hughes’ famous poem, he writes:

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Last night, the deferred dream exploded in Baltimore, and it’s going to take a long time to get it back. We need to constantly, diligently and faithfully keep the dream alive, especially for those who cannot see it right now. I want so desperately to say this to all those young people who are wondering whether or not to take to the streets today: “Don’t kindle buildings. Kindle dreams.”

In the final analysis that’s why it’s so important that we gather together. We need to each other in order to make a difference in our city.

Last night I had a long conversation with a reporter who kept asking me this question: “Who is the leader of the black community in Baltimore?  Who’s the one whom angry youth listen to?” The reporter couldn’t understand my reticence to answer her question with one short answer. I gave her names of some prominent pastors in the city, of course, but the point I was trying to get across to her is that there is no single person or one church or one religious group or organization that’s going to get the job done of reaching out and capturing the hearts and minds of all toward healing and peace – thank God.

I told her of the efforts of hundreds of unsung heroes who are leaders in their own right…

…the mother who verbally reprimanded and physically moved her grown up son away from the violence and looting at Mondawmin Mall.

…the small business owner who is determined to rebuild her business from the burnt ashes, not only for herself and her family, but to provide jobs in the community.

…the unnamed woman who at 5:00 am this morning was sweeping up the litter on North Avenue, which sparked others to do the same thing.

…the pastor who chooses to commit himself to serving in an impoverished area to uplift dispirited souls.

…the tiny congregation who feeds many times the number of its members so that poor families can have at least one hot, healthy meal that day.

…the beleaguered police officer under attack for just trying to do his job of protecting innocent people from looters and rioters, and the firefighter who has a brick thrown at her trying to save somebody’s business and somebody’s home.

All unsung, ordinary men and women – and all of them leaders.

My brothers and sisters, don’t expect me or anybody else to be the savior of this situation we find ourselves in today.  I am not a savior…but I serve a Savior.  My Savior is not afraid to weep, not afraid to get angry, not afraid to say and do the right thing because it’s hard, not afraid of anyone or any neighborhood – and not afraid of fear. He is strong to save because he’s strong in love, and my Lord God came down from heaven in human form to show us His children the way.

When Jesus said to his disciples, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will rejoice,” he gave us a great gift. Our tears today are going to fuel our tomorrows. Baltimore weeps today, but that’s just a prelude to what we’re going to do tomorrow and every day for the rest of our lives: we are going to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and get to the work of striving for justice and peace among all people, and respecting the dignity of EVERY HUMAN BEING.

So, weep, pray for and rebuild Baltimore. Violence never works. Ever. Amen.