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Episcopal organizations partner to advance ABCD

Monday, June 9, 2014

[The School of Theology - Sewanee]  Twenty clergy and lay leaders from inside and outside the Episcopal Church, with knowledge of asset-based community development (ABCD), gathered for a conference at the University of the South May 27–30. This diverse group, co-sponsored by The Office of Justice and Advocacy Ministries of The Episcopal Church, Episcopal Relief & Development, and The Beecken Center of The School of Theology, began the process of creating a new ABCD resource for the Church.

Outstanding domestic and international practitioners of the ABCD approach provided detailed input and guidance to a collaborative team that will move the work forward over the summer. This team was led by the Rev. Canon E. Mark Stevenson, domestic poverty missioner for The Episcopal Church; Sean McConnell, director of engagement for Episcopal Relief & Development; Dr. Courtney Cowart, director of The Beecken Center of The School of Theology; the Rev. Shannon Kelly, interim missioner for lifelong formation, and Wendy Johnson, both of the Lifelong Formation Office of The Episcopal Church. The outcome will be a toolkit of written and electronic resources for congregations and a strategy for equipping and mobilizing facilitators.

The plan was originally conceived out of joint commitments to Mark Four of the Five Marks of Mission: To seek to transform unjust structures of society. Each of the three national partners (the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, Episcopal Relief & Development, and The Beecken Center) recognized unique assets that could be combined through partnership to resource and empower communities of faith.

Cowart said, “This will be an easily accessible, theologically sound and cost effective way for Christian disciples to live out a new paradigm of what it means to be engaged in ‘mission.’ ABCD is not about doing for. It is about partnering with. That’s part of how this approach transforms unjust structures.”

Asset-based community development builds on existing community resources to create long lasting, local, sustainable economic models. The ABCD toolkits developed as a result of this conference will encourage Episcopal congregations to recognize resources already present in their community and how those resources can be used to engage God’s mission in the world. Congregations will then engage in partnership with their communities to address the needs they discern.

McConnell said, “Episcopal Relief & Development utilizes an asset-based approach in our international development programs. An ABCD methodology helps us to better seek and serve Christ in our work to empower communities throughout the world. It also helps us to recognize and celebrate the abundant gifts that God has given us all.”

The next steps in the process will include building upon the work of the conference with the goal of testing, improving, and making the work available to the Church later this year.

“The work of the group over this past week is truly inspiring,” said Stevenson. “Through prayer, sharing stories, and exploring existing resources, this very diverse gathering found remarkable unity in the celebration of God’s gifts in community. To a person, we looked for and raised up practices that will move faith communities forward in mission with an awareness of abundance instead of a sense of scarcity.”

Other participants were the Rev. David Copley, team leader of global partnerships and mission for the Episcopal Church; Sarah Eagle Heart, indigenous ministries missioner for The Episcopal Church; James Goodmann, associate director of The Beecken Center; the Rev. Canon Angela Ifill, black ministries missioner for the Episcopal Church; Lelanda Lee, deputy and co-chair, Diocese of Colorado deputation to the 77th Convention of the Episcopal Church; Katie Mears, director of U. S. disaster preparedness and response for Episcopal Relief & Development; Karen Meridith, director of Education for Ministry (EfM); Dr. Tronn W. Moller, director of the Faith & Community Development Institute; Tammi Mott, program officer for Episcopal Relief & Development; Abagail Nelson, senior vice president for programs, Episcopal Relief & Development; Theresa Pasquale, MSW; Pamela Penn, program officer for engagement, Episcopal Relief & Development; the Rt. Rev. Michael Smith, bishop of the Diocese of North Dakota; the Rev. Jemonde Taylor, rector of St. Ambrose Episcopal Church, Raleigh, N.C.; and the Rev. Julie Wakelee-Lynch, rector, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Albany, Calif.

Colombia: Episcopal Church marks 50 years

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Episcopal Diocese of Colombia recently met in convention and celebrated 50 years. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

[Episcopal News Service – Bogotá, Colombia] What began as an English-speaking chapel where British, Canadian and U.S. diplomats and expatriates gathered in the early to mid-20th century when Roman Catholicism was the state religion has become, over the last half century, the Colombian Episcopal Church.

“Today we celebrate 50 years of community life … you are the support of this family, the family that is the fruit of the seed planted by those who came before us,” said Diocese of Colombia Bishop Francisco Duque Gomez during his diocesan convention address at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Bogotá in late May.

Like the other dioceses of Province IX, Colombia is working toward financial self-sustainability while balancing growth.

In 1963, the Diocese of Colombia split from the Diocese of Panama to form its own missionary district. A half century later, the diocese is a nationwide church with 35 parishes and missions, present in urban and rural areas covering 439,000 square miles of mountain, rainforest and tropical plains regions.

To sustain and advance its ministry and mission to meet the growing spiritual, social and humanitarian needs in the communities it serves, the church needs permanent infrastructure and more full-time clergy, Duque said later explained in a conversation in his office after the convention.

“There’s a need for child-care and development programs and elder-care programs and after-school programs for children of working parents and single mothers … as well as caring for displaced people, and for this we need a space,” said Duque.

Twenty of the 35 parishes and missions have church buildings; others meet in house churches. There are six full-time priests out of 36 priests, deacons and lay evangelists. Most clergy are bi-vocational professionals with careers in law, education, business and administration; others are retired police officers and government workers.

Colombia is a middle-income country, but 33 percent of its 47.7 million people live at or below the poverty line. It is the second most populous country in South America after Brazil, and the fourth largest geographically.

Most Colombians live in urban areas: Bogota, Medellin, Cali, Cartagena. Many have fled violence associated with the country’s ongoing 50-year civil war and narcotics trafficking. The violence displaced 4.7 million people, and close to half a million have become refugees.

Diocese of Colombia Bishop Francisco Duque Gomez delivering an address to convention. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

Under Duque’s leadership, the diocese has developed social programs that include micro-finance, preschools, services for the elderly and various programs for poor and displaced Colombians. These include Trinity Foundation in Cali, which runs a micro-finance program; a feeding program supporting the elderly; and a program that provides services to 70 indigenous children, supported by Episcopal Relief & Development.

Other Bogotá-based missions include Holy Spirit Mission, which provides space for a World Health Organization-supported program to empower single mothers and homeless women and help them acquire education and health care. Divine Savior Mission provides shelter and meals to homeless senior citizens and an after-school program in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. St. Paul’s Cathedral runs a youth leadership-development program. St. Peter’s Church has a grant-funded evangelism and community-outreach program.

The Rev. Ted J. Gaiser, is the diocese’s director of mission development and an Episcopal Church-appointed missionary now in his second year of service, and has been working to promote mission outreach and sustainability throughout the diocese.

Gaiser, who has a master’s in business administration and a doctorate degree in sociology with an emphasis in social justice, wrote a project-development and management-training program aimed at equipping parishes with the skills to develop well-organized projects and programs, including low-income housing, church-owned schools, elder housing and employment opportunities for internally displaced people.

The training, which uses an Asset Based Community Development Approach to evaluate existing resources, and includes project analysis, funding and budgeting, has been conducted throughout the diocese to help move it toward its 2021 goal of achieving financial self-sustainability.

Also, Colforpaz, a nonprofit organization has been founded to support the diocese’s mission and sustainability.

The diocese in recent years has established a presence in Cúcuta along the northern border with Venezuela, where refugees fleeing Colombia’s civil war have crossed into Venezuela, and where Venezuelans fleeing violence and social and economic troubles in their own country now cross into Colombia seeking refuge. And in Pasto, a city northeast of the border with Ecuador en route to Túlcan, the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees operates a field office for asylum seekers.

“In these two important cities construction is underway on our own temples that would let us develop permanent [social] work and a stable pastoral presence,” said Duque.

Vocational call’

Roman Catholicism was the official state religion until Colombia’s Constitution established protection for religious freedom in 1991. Now, 93 percent of the population is Christian, with more than 80 percent of them identified as Roman Catholics.

Most of the priests and deacons active in the diocese attended Roman Catholic seminaries and were priests in the Roman Catholic Church before joining the Episcopal Church, and many see the priesthood as a “vocational call” rather than a career, said Gaiser.

An active congregation, including outreach, is a canonical requirement to be priested in the diocese. The “process,” Gaiser explained, works like this: Aspirants, with the support of a priest or a deacon in their area, begin to build a worship community. Ordination to the diaconate and a long period of “Anglicanization” follows before ordination to the priesthood.

Anglican-Episcopal formation goes beyond the clergy. In recent years, the diocese has committed “to teach, baptize and nurture new believes,” the second of the Five Marks of Mission, and the Rev. Alberto Pinzón, of St. Paul’s Church in Bogotá, is working to implement a diocesan-wide evangelism program to invite, inspire and transform individuals, and building up parishes.

“They [people joining the Episcopal Church] need to understand what it means to be Anglican,” said Duque.

Given the country’s geography and the costs associated with meeting, the clergy, laity and diocesan leadership typically meet twice annually. Besides providing a place for elections and budget discussions, the convention provides time for workshops focused on continuing education and leadership development.

The most recent diocesan convention included workshops on gender and on the full inclusion of not only LGBT people but also displaced and other marginalized people; church history; and self-sustainability.

Bishop Carlos López-Lozano, bishop of the Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church, traveled from Madrid to attend convention. Over two sessions, he gave a history of the church, including the reformed church’s story of sustainability.

For the most part, he said, the Episcopal Church in Spain began as an indigenous church and therefore didn’t receive outside support, with the exception of a period following the Spanish Civil War when the church paid its priests salaries with funds from the World Council of Churches.

“When it ended, the church needed to reorganize things,” said Lopez. “When you have money, you don’t think about self-sustainability.”

It’s important that people in the church understand that the church needs money to carry out its mission, and that in stewardship campaigns everyone be involved, he said. In solidarity, the larger churches help the smaller churches with their mission.

“It’s about changing minds about what we are capable of doing,” said Lopez.

Duque and the other bishops of Province IX have come to realize that prevailing regional circumstances call for new direction, he said. “In virtue of that, we have decided to adopt an integral sustainable-development strategy in each one of our dioceses.”

The Rev. Donald Vinson, canon for mission and transmission in the Diocese of West Virginia, addresses the Diocese of Colombia Convention. Colombia and West Virginia have a longstanding companion relationship. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

The Episcopal Church historically has supported the Province IX churches through a block-grant program, which provides the dioceses with operating funds amounting to $2.9 million in the current triennium. Colombia receives $127,400 annually toward its $241,250 budget.

During a July 2013 meeting of lay and ordained leaders of Province IX and Episcopal Church Center staff, the consensus was that “the current relationship between the dioceses of Province IX and the rest of the Episcopal Church is influenced by the nature of the historical block grants that establish a relationship of dependency. This is not spiritually healthy, either for the ‘dependent’ or the ‘depended upon,’” according to a document that was released following the meeting. The document created by the Mark 2 Mission group was born of a longer conversation that began in earnest in March 2011 with a conference in Tela, Honduras.

In February, on the recommendation of the Second Mark of Mission working group (a group convened by the staff of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society), the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council agreed to an 18-year plan for “self-sufficiency” to move to sustainable mission and ministry in Province IX.

The other Province IX churches are, in South America, Ecuador Central, Ecuador Litoral, and Venezuela; in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico; and in Central America, Honduras.

 – Lynette Wilson is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. 

Presiding Bishop preaches at Church of the Nativity, Phoenix, AZ

Monday, June 9, 2014

8 June 2014
Church of the Nativity, Phoenix, AZ

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

We’re going to make a prophet today. Actually, we’re going to authorize several prophets. And then we’re going to send them out there. Ready or not, world, here they come!

Garrison Keillor is famous for saying, ‘Who wants to be a prophet? Nobody wants ‘em around. Prophets don’t get invited to birthday parties or wedding feasts.’ [1] The world would rather have the profit of companies than the company of prophets.

What’s your image of a prophet? Somebody who looks a little like John the Baptist, delivering long rants on the street corner? The word actually means to speak forth, or speak for another, in this case, God. They’re spokespersons, newscasters. The prophets of the Bible weren’t fortune tellers or predictors of the future. They did tell people the truth about what was likely to happen if they didn’t change their ways, and they encouraged people who were feeling lost and abandoned.

Prophets have two main tasks in the truth they tell – to announce the news about God’s intention for creation and how we live together, and to both challenge and encourage people to live in ways that lead toward the Reign of God. It’s a vision of a world of peace and justice and right relationship among all its inhabitants. That’s what Jesus means when he says to his friends, “peace be with you. I’m sending you out with the same message – peace be with you and go help make peace for the whole world.”

Baptism is an invitation to become a truth-telling prophet. Like Eldad and Medad, it doesn’t really matter where you are, because somebody with a dose of spirit can prophesy anywhere. It doesn’t just happen in church. The company of prophets moves out into the world to announce the good news about God’s love for each one of us, and the hope for what this world might be if we all lived in ways that reflected the love that is already within us.

Prophets get their bad reputation because they’re willing to point out the gap between the goal of the Reign of God and where we are right now. Sometimes they use pretty strong language: “you cows of Bashan, lolling about on your ivory couches calling for wine while people are starving outside your doors… you’re going to be the first sent into exile.”[2] But they also offer comfort and encouragement to people who are suffering, like those in exile: “comfort ye, comfort ye my people…God is already preparing a smooth road home for you”[3]; or by reminding them that God weeps over them.[4] A prophet speaks God’s healing and renewing and creative word into the midst of life and its suffering.

That is what those baptismal promises are most centrally about – holding up that vision of what God’s world is intended to look like; coming together to learn and be fed for the work of proclaiming that vision, encouraging others by speaking and acting out that vision, and loving our neighbors as we go – encountering each person as Christ himself, with utmost respect for the divine image each neighbor bears.

So, what does that have to do with us, right here and right now? Everybody here has been inspired – we’ve all received spirit – for the journey toward the Reign of God. A prophet would look around and see where the world doesn’t look like that vision. The news is usually full of it – like the bad news of hungry and homeless people on our streets. Every year a lot of people who don’t have shelter from the heat die in this desert. Right now this part of the world is seeing an influx of refugees from Central America – lots of children coming alone, or with their mothers and siblings. Like refugees in Sudan, they’re fleeing hunger, violence, and the inability to make a living. What would a prophet do?

First task is to remember the vision, notice the need of a neighbor and tell the truth about what you see. Then respond to the need – with food, shelter, education – as this congregation does through your partnerships at UMOM here in Phoenix,[5] and in Navajoland and Veracruz.[6] But prophets go deeper, and begin to ask why the need exists, why the systems of this world permit or encourage this suffering. This is where the hard work of self-examination comes – what is my part in this injustice, and what can I do to change it? The theological term for it is repentance and amendment of life – turning back toward God’s vision of a healed world and seeking ways to live in that direction. It’s not easy work, but it’s far more possible in communities like this one that support and encourage and keep pointing the way.

Where have you seen a prophet at work?

I remember visiting a congregation during the depths of the economic downturn in 2008. We heard about the various ministries that had developed to respond to the suffering in that community, and then a middle schooler stood up to tell her story. She realized that the people who were losing their homes or jobs often had pets, whose human companions were finding it hard to feed them. So she organized a pet food bank to care for non-human neighbors. A high school student told about a mission trip he’d taken a year earlier. He’d seen people who’d lost limbs to landmines, and couldn’t make a living except by sitting along the road and begging. They had a very hard time getting around, because they had no access to wheelchairs. He went home and figured out how to build inexpensive wheelchairs out of bicycle wheels and plastic plumbing parts, for about $60 apiece, and he challenged people around him to help fund the work.

The response to Gabbie Gifford’s shooting here has motivated a number of prophets, working to address gun violence, mental illness, and a greater respect for neighbors and their differences as well as what we all share in common.

The ERD photo exhibit that’s been set up here gives you a sense of how prophets see possibilities for healing. I’d encourage you to take a look at how this part of the body of Christ is working to bridge the gap between what is and what ought to be.

Prophets change the world, one person and one situation at a time. They also change the world by inspiring others to notice the difference between current reality and God’s dream. Speaking truth isn’t always easy, but it is the only real route to abundant life.

Garrison Keillor is only partly right when he says that prophets don’t get invited to birthday parties and wedding feasts. Today we’re celebrating the birthday of the church, and all the baptized are being feted today as prophets in this body of Christ. It is indeed a birthday party for truth-tellers and world changers! And we’re all bound for the wedding feast – the heavenly banquet, Isaiah’s great picnic on a hillside, when everyone can sit down in safety and feast in peace because there is justice for all. Welcome to the company of prophets – happy birthday, church! What truth will you tell, and what change will you seek?

[1] Several places, but this one is typical: Garrison Keillor, Lake Wobegon, USA: Fertility. Track 2, “Prophet”

[2] Amos 4:1ff; Amos 6:4ff

[3] Isaiah 40:1-4

[4] Isaiah 16:11; Luke 19:41-44

[5] http://www.umom.org/ Largest homeless shelter in Arizona.

[6] http://nativityscottsdale.org/serving-others/

Presiding Bishop speaks at centennial of St. Andrew’s Chapel, Sewanee

Monday, June 9, 2014

Centennial of St. Andrew’s Chapel
St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School
6 June 2014

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

Happy birthday, happy anniversary – you are centenarians! This congregation is celebrating its hundredth anniversary, and even if you don’t join the throng here regularly, you are part of its long history and life in this place. This community took the name of Andrew a hundred years ago, for reasons that are shrouded in the mists of history, but probably linked to Andrew and his brother Simon Peter being the first two disciples.

I have a lot of fondness for Andrew. I became an Episcopalian as a sixth grader in a church named for him. After leaving the convent school I attended as a child, that congregation was my first lively experience of church as a loving and intimate Christian community. Before St. Andrew’s, church had been about doing your Sunday duty, in the company of a thousand anonymous strangers. Many years later, I was ordained a priest on the Feast of Andrew. And, like Andrew, I’ve spent most of my adult life fishing – first from boats, and now for people, in and around overturned boats in naves like this one. Andrew and the Swedish saint I’m named for have been among the most important holy heroes on this journey. Who are yours?

The saintly witnesses who came before us, and the ones we meet walking through life, are human reminders that God is still at work, creating life and more abundant life[1] in us and every part of creation. God desires our flourishing, that we might live full and abundant lives that help others to flourish. That starts with knowing that we are beloved, uniquely created and known by name, and called to be part of building a world that looks more like what God intends for all.

Schools and church communities have remarkable opportunities to plant and deepen that knowledge of the abiding, creative love of God. And when church and school come together, as they have in this place, they can help to shape leaders who will transform the world.

This chapel may only be a hundred years old, but it carries a much longer story of shaping leaders. The indigenous peoples who lived here before settlers came understood Sewanee as a holy place to say prayers and discover the divine at work in their lives and the world around them. That’s what the psalmist is talking about – the heavens and the high places and all the parts of creation declare God’s glory, even if they don’t use words. This mountain is like the dream of Mount Zion, to which many tribes and peoples stream in to learn the ways toward God’s dream for all humanity and all creation. Human beings haven’t always done it perfectly – God knows! – yet the yearning for that eternal and abundant life, and the drawing toward it, continue today. We’re marking a hundred years here, but it is only the latest chapter in a very long story.

The founders of what has become the University of the South saw this mountain as a place to educate their heirs in godly ways. They may have had a very narrow understanding of what that meant, but God has continued to be at work here. Our own understanding of what the Reign of God implies continues to grow and expand, in the same way that Andrew and Peter grew in understanding what it meant to follow Jesus and fish for people.

Formal efforts to educate youngsters started up here in 1857 with the laying of a cornerstone (which was destroyed in the war – by Union soldiers), but the collapse of dreams for coal mining (given the carbon rule announced on Monday, that sounds eerily contemporary) and the intervening Civil War meant that it was 1865 before any real work started. At that point all the original founders were dead, there was no money, no classes had been held and no buildings built. There was plenty of land, but it was going to revert to the donors if no students were being educated. Just before default in 1868, a secondary school opened with nine high school students and four teachers, eventually becoming Sewanee (Military) Academy. A school for the girls in faculty families was started later by the DuBose family, and then the Order of St. Mary began another school for local girls. In 1904 the Order of the Holy Cross began to teach local boys in what grew into St. Andrew’s. The educational heritage of all four schools continues in St. Andrew’s-Sewanee.

The history of this chapel begins “in a little upper room” in the monks’ mountaintop farmhouse. When the congregation of boys and neighbors outgrew the space, they turned a carpenter’s shop into a worship space. That, too, was soon stretched beyond its limits, but there were no funds to build something larger. The story goes that a poor woman sent a small sum, with these words: “I cannot build the chapel, but I send this mite with which to begin the fund, and God will do the rest.” One of the monks had been sent off to Philadelphia to fill in as a parish interim, and as a result the 1913 Easter offering from St. Mark’s was sent here and provided the core of critically needed funds.

The cornerstone was laid by Bishop William Alexander Guerry of South Carolina in 1913. Bishop Guerry had long connections up here, serving as chaplain and professor of theology and homiletics at the University of the South. He is much better known for his fishing work in South Carolina. He knew something about the kind of fishing Andrew was called to – that post-Resurrection haul that was too big and scary for the fishermen to land, the one that started to tear their nets and make them afraid of sinking.

Guerry had a broad and generous understanding of what Christian community means: “We should strive for unity, not uniformity.  Uniformity is mechanical, barren, unfruitful, and unprofitable. Unity is organic, living, and capable of endless growth. If we are to be truly catholic, as Christ himself is catholic, then we must have a church broad enough to embrace within its communion every living human soul.”[2] The year after he laid the cornerstone of this place, he proposed that his diocese elect a suffragan bishop for ministry with African-Americans, to ensure that South Carolina might be that kind of broadly inclusive community. He didn’t prevail, and the fear of a haul like Andrew’s produced even more profound segregation in the Church that continued to deepen for decades.

In 1928 Guerry was murdered by one of his priests who then shot himself. The man was still furious about that dream of an enormous haul of fish, and accused the bishop of trying to “root out the principle of white supremacy in the South.” Guerry the martyr is part of the foundation of this place. That godly word of the fundamental dignity and equality of all human beings is very near you, it’s been seeping into your heart and emerging on your lips if you’ve spent time in this place. The word of God is always at work in ways and places and times we little suspect.

The gospel says that Andrew’s journey of faith, his willingness to let go of old ways and try Jesus’ way of fishing happened in the blink of an eye, that he and Simon left their nets “immediately,” and so did James and John. Methinks the gospel writer doth protest too much. Very few of us do anything quite that quickly, unless out of youthful, perhaps rash, enthusiasm. Enthusiasm means being filled with God. Pray that St. Andrew’s-Sewanee continues to enthuse people here, young and old, and fill us all with enough sheer holy boldness to change the world. Lord, teach us to fish with your abandon, and fill our nets far beyond our puny expectations.

If we can do that, St. Andrew’s–Sewanee will still be here in a hundred years, forming leaders who will change the world.

[1] or as the United Church of Christ puts it, that God is still speaking

[2] http://www.gracechurchcharleston.org/bishop-guerry-chapel

Rapidísimas, Junio 6 de 2014

Friday, June 6, 2014

En su discurso inaugural ante la reunión general de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) que se celebra en Asunción, Paraguay, el secretario general del organismo internacional José Miguel Insulza pidió “que no se presione ni se sancione” al gobierno de Venezuela añadiendo que la situación en este país “sigue siendo motivo de preocupación” y espera que el diálogo tenga buenos resultados. En otra parte de su discurso elogió la labor de la Unión de Naciones Suramericanas, un grupo paralelo a la OEA formado por inspiración del difunto presidente Hugo Chávez. Un tema que ha generado polémica en el seno de la OEA es la resolución presentada por Brasil en la que se pide “no discriminar” a las personas que tienen una orientación sexual diferente. Hasta el momento sólo Brasil, Argentina, Uruguay y Ecuador han firmado el proyecto de resolución.

La sorpresiva abdicación del Rey de España, Juan Carlos I, ha ocupado gran parte de la primera plana de los periódicos del mundo. Se cree que el 18 de junio su hijo Felipe de Borbón, de 46 años,  será proclamado rey. Sin embargo, miles de españoles se han reunido en varias ciudades pidiendo el cese de la monarquía y la instauración de una república similar a Francia. Esta decisión se debate en conversaciones personales  y en los medios. Los principales observadores piensan que este cambio no tiene posibilidades de triunfar.

Aunque en Venezuela han disminuido los actos de protesta, ahora está candente el juicio que se le sigue al opositor Leopoldo López por delitos “que no ha cometido”, según la opinión popular. En un largo alegato la fiscalía acusa a López de instigar los recientes hechos pero no ha podido presentar pruebas. El juicio está plagado de irregularidades, dicen sus abogados a los que no se les ha permitido hablar. Su esposa Lilian Tintori dijo que la fiscalía acusa a “Leopoldo por su discurso político” y añade que él es un preso de conciencia y no un criminal.

Kim Jung Wook, un pastor evangélico de Corea del Sur ha sido arrestado en Corea del Norte acusado de espionaje y de establecer iglesias y ha sido condenado a “trabajos forzados de por vida”. El pastor negó los cargos de espionaje.

El celibato sacerdotal sigue teniendo actualidad. El papa Francisco ha dicho que “la puerta está abierta para discutir el celibato” pero algunos medios lo han interpretado que será eliminado “mañana mismo”. El papa añadió que “al no ser un dogma de fe” puede modificarse. Sus palabras llegaron después que 26 mujeres italianas pidieron que se hiciera una revisión del celibato porque ellas están enamoradas o conviven con sacerdotes.

La visita a Cuba de miembros de la Cámara de Comercio de Estados Unidos ha generado polémicas en varias partes del exilio cubano que se oponen a cualquier contacto con el régimen de La Habana. Algunos líderes del exilio han dicho por los medios que mientras el gobierno de Cuba no “dé señales de cambio” especialmente en relación con los derechos humanos, no puede haber contactos.

El ex presidente ecuatoriano Jamil Mahuad que gobernó el país andino en el período 1997-2000 ha sido condenado por la Corte Nacional de Justicia a 12 años de prisión por el delito de malversación de fondos públicos durante la crisis financiera de 1999. La policía internacional busca su paradero. Antes de su búsqueda Mahuad vivía en Estados Unidos e impartía clases en la Universidad de Harvard.

Nathaniel Makoto Uematsu ha sido reelecto primado de la Iglesia Anglicana de Japón en un sínodo en Kyoto. Renato Mag-gay Abibico,  obispo de Luzón del Norte ha sido electo primado de la Iglesia Episcopal en las Filipinas.

La suspensión en sus funciones de Nilton Geise, como secretario general del Consejo Latinoamericano de Iglesias (CLAI) ha traído consecuencias. El presidente de la Iglesia Evangélica de Confesión Luterana, Néstor Paulo Friedrich, iglesia a la que pertenece Geise, ha expresado su “profunda tristeza” por la acción tomada por la directiva del CLAI y propone la suspensión en sus actividades en el CLAI hasta que se “restablezcan las condiciones necesarias para una saludable, respetuosa y provechosa participación ecuménica en ese organismo”. Friedrich recuerda en un comunicado que su iglesia es miembro constituyente del CLAI y que “siempre apreció y valoró” su trabajo y que le gustaría seguir valorándolo.

Ann Davies la simpática empleada doméstica en la serie televisiva “The Brady Bunch” conocida con el nombre artístico de “Alice”, ha fallecido a los 88 años de edad en San Antonio, Texas. Dotada de una profunda fe religiosa Davies se distinguió en diversos proyectos de la Iglesia Episcopal. Por 38 años residió en una comunidad religiosa en la casa del obispo William Frey y su esposa Bárbara. Frey fue obispo de Guatemala en la década de los años 70.

VERDAD. La fe sin obras no tiene valor.

Mensaje de Desmond Tutu al Recibir el Premi Internacional Catalunya

Friday, June 6, 2014

[IERE] Gracias por el reconocimiento a quienes se ocupan de la justicia social hoy en nuestro mundo compartido.

En todo el planeta, las personas están despertando a la realización del negocio como de costumbre Ya no es suficiente que nosotros, los seres humanos, evitemos desastres paralelos por nuestra propia causa, como la degradación ambiental y la desigualdad socio-económica.

En todo el planeta, las buenas personas han aumentado para desafiar la injusticia. Para desafiar los derechos a las utilidades de los gobiernos y las corporaciones, a expensas de la gente y el planeta. Al desafío de la discriminación y elprejuicio y el odio y la maldad. Para desafiar al status quo, por decirlo así, que parece estar conduciéndonos –inexorablemente– al precipicio.

Me honran con este premio, que humildemente recibo en nombre de este magnífico grupo de personas socialmente conscientes, personas diversas, multiculturales, multinacionales, polivalentes – de activistas por el bien común del ser humano y nuestro planeta…

  • De quienes se dedican a salvar niñas de estar atrapadas en matrimonios abusivos en el África subsahariana;
  • Quienes apoyan a desinvertir en las empresas de combustibles fósiles en Israel;
  • Quienes se oponen a la legislación homofóbica en Uganda;
  • Quienes apoyan el cierre de la despreciable prisión en la Bahía de Guantánamo
  • A quienes en el campo de asistencia médica se preocupan por los refugiados en Siria;
  • Aquellas mujeres extraordinarias que secan los ojos de niñas y niños ciegos y huérfanos a causa del SIDA en mi propio país, Sudáfrica;
  • Quienes apoyan el derecho de los catalanes –y ciudadanos de otros territorios como el Tíbet, y las Islas Malvinas– para determinar pacíficamente su destino…

Hay muchos más.

Acepto este premio con todos, en su nombre. Tienen la sabiduría y el coraje y hacen el trabajo–es su mérito. Gracias.

Viajé a Catalunya desde el norte de Canadá, donde fui invitado a hablar en una conferencia de las principales naciones para discutir lo que se denomina: campos de arenas bituminosas.

Las compañías de combustible han descubierto el potencial de hacer masas de dinero por extracción de arena.

Para ellos, estos beneficios son mayores que el hecho de extraer petróleo y se dice que más diabólica con la tierra y el medioambientalmente.

Y los beneficios superan los derechos de las personas originarias en la prístina región del norte, conocida como Alberta.

Hacen burla de las palabras y el espíritu de los tratados que las primeras naciones firmaron con la reina Victoria hace más de un siglo.

Estos tratados garantizan a las primeras personas habitantes de Canadá el derecho a la práctica de las formas tradicionales de vida “siempre y cuando el sol brille, la hierba crezca y el flujo de los ríos se mantenga”. El sol sigue brillando en el norte de Alberta, pero cuánto tiempo continuará creciendo la hierba, y los ríos fluirán, si en el aire está muy presente la cada vez más contaminada atmósfera…

Cuando uno considera lo que el impacto humano ha hecho al clima del mundo, uno se pregunta cómo la gente puede ser tan ciega, tan cegada por la ganancia y la avaricia.

He estado en solidaridad con las comunidades a través de Canadá y Estados Unidos que se oponen a la extracción de arenas petrolíferas y las tuberías para mover el petróleo hasta el Golfo de México.

La lucha de los ciudadanos contra este proyecto potencialmente calamitoso se pone en la primera línea de la lucha más importante en el mundo de hoy.

Dios hizo a la gente con la intención de compartir el mundo. Pero, hace mucho tiempo, la gente decidió que compartir no era la mejor opción, así que se pusieron a dividir el mundo en piezas que tenían el poder para manejar, manipular y explotar sin la interferencia de otros grupos de personas.

Así, durante miles de años el mundo ha presenciado el ascenso y caída de los poderosos líderes, ciudades, principados, imperios, los sindicatos y Estados.

La historia de la cartografía, o de cartografía, está pensada para comenzar aproximadamente 8mil años –aunque hay ejemplos anteriores de personas que tienen asignadas los cielos.

Los primeros “mapas del mundo” fueron desarrollados por dos razones: (1) para permitir la navegación y (2) para representar con precisión quién era dueño de qué. Estos son los llamados mapas “físicos” y “políticos” que tenemos hoy.

Los mapas físicos mostrando el mundo de Dios, como fue creado, en todo su natural esplendor topográfico, oceánico y fluvial; los mapas políticos mostrando cómo la gente ha dividido arbitrariamente, los tamaños y formas de las piezas determinada no por las necesidades o deseos de la gente sino por la capacidad de los ricos y los poderosos para controlarlos.

Un mapa, con las características físicas constantes que tienen –hasta hace muy poco– no afectado por la gente. El otro, con las características que han cambiado en siglos que reflejan el flujo y la energía humana.

Hoy vivimos en lo que se ha denominado la aldea global. Comunicación, tecnología de la información y viajes que nos permiten estar en muchos lugares –virtualmente- al mismo tiempo. Y hay un sistema económico global que permite a la gente a decir que eso puede transformar un estornudo en la bolsa de valores de Wall Street en un resfriado en lugares remotos.

Tenemos que volver a dibujar el mapa político para reflejar el interés humano, en el contexto de nuestro llamado mundo globalizado.

Tenemos que volver a configurar, en nuestros corazones y nuestras mentes, las nociones que hemos aprendido de nuestra historia y de nuestros padres de “nosotros” y de “ellos”.

Hay sólo un “nosotros”. No importa qué nacionalidad o bandera esté colgada en el jardín, ni cómo miramos o a quienes amamos, somos miembros de una misma familia, la familia de la humanidad –la familia de Dios.

Seguramente es hora de que comencemos a vernos a nosotros mismos como hermanos y hermanas con intereses mutuos en cuanto a lo que queremos dejar a nuestros hijos, nietos y bisnietos por venir.

En Sudáfrica, nos referimos a la esencia del ser humano como Ubuntu. Ubuntu Habla particularmente por el hecho de que no puedes existir como ser humano en aislamiento.

Habla de nuestra interconexión. No puedes ser humano por ti mismo, y cuando tú tienes esta cualidad –Ubuntu– eres conocido por tu generosidad.

Con demasiada frecuencia pensamos sobre nosotros mismos como individuos, separados uno de otro. Pero estamos conectados, y lo que hacemos afecta a todo el mundo. Cuando hacemos bien, lo sale fuera; es para toda la humanidad.

Cuando la masa crítica de los ciudadanos de cualquier región o nación actúa con un propósito común para lograr un objetivo justo se convierten en una fuerza irresistible.

Quienes buscan evitar que se logre, pueden tener éxito por un tiempo, con un gran costo, pero inevitablemente descubrirán que la resistencia es fútil.

Discusiones de mente abierta y corazón abierto, en que todas las partes necesariamente hacen concesiones para el beneficio mutuo, son infinitamente preferibles.

Estalló la lucha de los catalanes por un estado independiente atrayendo la atención del mundo en 2012 cuando más de 1millón de personas –algunos estiman millón y medio– se reunieron en el centro de Barcelona para la manifestación más grande en la historia de la ciudad.

Esto fue seguido un año después por más personas que unieron sus manos para formar una larga cadena humana de 400 kilómetros, del norte al sur de Catalunya.

Pero el Parlamento de España, en abril, rechazó formalmente la petición de Catalunya para realizar un referéndum y medir la opinión de la gente; el rechazo fue seguido por el endurecimiento público de las posiciones de ambas partes.

La invasión violenta por matones derechistas de un centro cultural catalán en Madrid el fin de año fue un signo preocupante de lo que podría venir.

Parece de sentido común decir que si la mayoría de los ciudadanos 7 millones de Catalunya anhelan independencia, gobierno central de España debe escuchar.

Las partes deben discutir cómo podrían lograr mejor la independencia para los ciudadanos Catalanes del resto de España y el tipo de relación futura que beneficiaría a la mayoría de la gente.

Seguramente tiene más sentido trazar conjuntamente el futuro que permitir que las relaciones se deterioren –y el riesgo de declarar unilateralmente la independencia de Cataluña. Yo uso la palabra “riesgo” con conocimiento de causa, porque cualquier forma o el unilateralismo es la segunda mejor opción al consenso y al acuerdo.

El sol saldrá mañana –incluso en los campos de arenas petrolíferas en Alberta, por el momento, por lo menos. Las hermanas y hermanos que se encuentran a ambos lados de la frontera de Catalunya permanecerán en nuestro mundo compartido.

Mantengamos las manos unidas y tracemos el mejor futuro para todos. Eso tiene que ser principal premio colectivo.

Se lo agradezco.

Dios les bendiga.

Egypt: New prison ministry in Alexandria

Friday, June 6, 2014

[Diocese of Egypt] The Anglican Church recently started a new prison ministry in Alexandria, on the north coast of Egypt. This new ministry is co-ordinated by Mrs. Nabila Mansour, a member of the St Mark’s Anglican Pro-Cathedral in Alexandria.

There are eight regular volunteers from different denominations. There are also four students from the Alexandria School of Theology joining the prison ministry for the practical component of their training.

The team visit Borg el Arab Prison and Hadra Prison. Borg el Arab is lo-cated 45 kilometres south-west of Alexandria. It is a men only prison, and there are 8 foreigners and 250 Egyptians.
The conditions in which the men live are very poor. The cells are under-ground and have only small windows. Many men share the same rooms and there are no beds, only mattresses on the floor. Skin diseases are common. As most of the Egyptian men are from other areas of Egypt, they receive few visitors and no-one else provides for them except this ministry.

Ministry Activities

  • Visiting the prisoners. We listen to them and encourage them, pray with them, sing worship songs and read the Bible together.
  • Sending letters to the prisoners
  •  Supplying material needs (medicine, food, clothes, blankets, toilet-ries), spiritual (spiritual books and Bibles) and legal support
  • Continue to follow up after prisoners after released. For example assisting with finding jobs and spiritual guidance.
  • Support prisoners’ families through helping them with material and spiritual needs (school fees and supplies for children, food and clothing, gifts at Easter and Christmas

Malawi: Anglican parishes unite to build new church

Friday, June 6, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] Six Anglican Parishes in Malawi have united to help kickstart the construction of a church building for an Anglican outstation in the city of Blantyre in fulfillment of their obligation of “building the House of the God.”

Mpemba Anglican Church, an outstation of Manase Parish in Blantyre, Malawi, is the beneficiary of the offering that was collected on an Inter-Parish Way of the Cross procession which the six Anglican Parishes were involved in during this year’s Good Friday.

During the handover of the building materials last Sunday, Chairperson of the Organising Committee, Paul Kanthambi said: “We have an obligation to build the House of the Lord, and this is one of the ways of doing it. Our committee thought that the money should not be shared amongst the parishes or used in any other way other than assisting in this church project.”

Speaking during the same presentation, Manase Parish Priest, the Revd David Mponda said, “We are witnessing the oneness of the Anglican Church as we gather for the purpose of building God’s house.”

Fr. Mponda urged all Anglicans in the country to unite and passionately contribute to church projects regardless of which location the activities were taking place. He also thanked the Organising Committee and those that had materially contributed towards the initiative.

For a long time, the Parishes that have participated in the joint Way of the Cross have been sharing the money amongst them. It was only recently that a decision was made not to share the money but instead contribute it toward one cause.

Two years ago the money was given towards the medical expenses of a priest who was going abroad for treatment. Last year the collection was given to a different Parish to help repair their priest’s motorcycle.

In his sermon Daniel Baluwa from Soche Parish encouraged the congregation to forge ahead with the project, as it is an obligation. He asked both the leaders and the followers to accommodate and understand each other in order for the project to succeed.

He charged, “Just as everyone wants his house to be in good shape and of a high, good standard, so should the house of the Lord. Time has come to prepare the House of the Lord just as many others did in the Bible.”

According to the Organising Committee Chairperson, the gesture is meant to promote oneness and unity within the Anglican Church in the country. “Anglicans should be assisting in each other’s projects and not be looking up to politicians.”

He explained that it’s actually politicians who should be seeking assistance from church through prayers and blessings. The church also plans to build a Priest house and a multipurpose hall at their new site.

– With additional reporting from Manase Parish media team.

Episcopal, ELCA Presiding Bishops issue statement on carbon emissions

Friday, June 6, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have issued a joint statement in support of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Rule on carbon emissions.

“The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The Episcopal Church are eager to collaborate with the EPA and states across the nation to ensure that the carbon rule is implemented fairly, particularly for low-income consumers,” the Presiding Bishops stated. “We will continue to pray that all involved in this good work will be graced with vision, hope, and the search for truth as they seek to implement the carbon rule swiftly and effectively.”

The joint statement follows:

Joint Statement on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Rule on carbon emissions

Lutherans and Episcopalians collectively celebrate and support the release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon rule for existing power plants. As faith traditions committed to the health, flourishing, and sanctity of human communities and God’s creation, we believe that the carbon rule is a critical step toward safeguarding the lives and livelihood of future generations.

Recent reports outline the enormous impacts that climate change is already having on our world.  Multi-year droughts, sea level rise, extreme weather events, and increased flooding dramatically affect communities internationally, from the Inupiat on the north slope of Alaska to Midwestern farming families to our brothers and sisters in the Philippines. We recognize with concern that climate change particularly harms low income communities that lack the resources and technology to adapt to rapid environmental changes.

These impacts are already affecting global agriculture, and with it, food supplies and prices. Ending hunger and alleviating global poverty are key concerns for our faith traditions. Yet our work faces the daunting and interconnected challenges of addressing hunger and poverty in a rapidly changing climate.  Sustainable solutions must include both poverty alleviation and environmental conservation.

Power plants are the single largest source of carbon dioxide pollution in the United States and major contributors to climate change. These emissions not only threaten the environmental stability of our planet, but also the health of young children and their families, disproportionally affecting the poorest among us.  Yet there are currently no limits on power plant emissions of greenhouse gases.

The carbon rule proposed this week will reduce the carbon dioxide output from existing power plants, setting a strong standard that will modernize our nation’s power plants while limiting our contribution to global climate change. Reducing carbon emissions from power plants must be a top priority for the U.S. if we hope to prevent the worst impacts of climate change and ensure a just and sustainable world for our generation and those to come.

Our faith traditions teach us that no single person can be whole unless all have the opportunity for full and abundant life. That wholeness and collective well-being is only possible as a global community. We recognize our connections to fellow citizens and neighbors around the world who are already suffering from the consequences of climate change, and acknowledge our responsibility to those yet unborn, who will either benefit from our efforts to curb carbon emissions or suffer from our failure to address this ethical imperative. We believe that addressing climate change is a moral obligation to our neighbors and to God’s creation, so that all may enjoy full, healthy, and abundant lives.

The proposed carbon rule for existing power plants is the single largest step that we can take now to address the pressing issue of climate change. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The Episcopal Church are eager to collaborate with the EPA and states across the nation to ensure that the carbon rule is implemented fairly, particularly for low-income consumers.  We will continue to pray that all involved in this good work will be graced with vision, hope, and the search for truth as they seek to implement the carbon rule swiftly and effectively.

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

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)


New Zealand: Judge lifts stay on Christchurch Cathedral deconstruction

Friday, June 6, 2014

[Anglican Taonga/ACNS] It’s one more day in the drawn-out saga of Christchurch Cathedral. Justice Graham Panckhurst has lifted a stay against the Anglican Church taking down the iconic stone building.

A formal commitment from the church to rebuild a cathedral on the site is reason enough to lift the stay of demolition on the 133-year-old building, according to the judge.

He also has found that the Church Property Trustees have acted honestly and given fair consideration to all the relevant issues, including safety, cost and public opinion in both the church and the wider community.

However, Bishop Victoria Matthews says CPT is under no illusion that it will happen soon. “The consent process lies before us.”

In the meantime, the church will continue to pray and participate in the recovery of Christchurch Canterbury.

Christchurch Cathedral was one of the buildings destroyed in the 2010, 6.8 richter earthquake that rocked the city. Located in the heart of the city, bordering Cathedral Square, the landmark building dominated the skyline since the city’s beginnings.

Local people feel it was the heart of the city, and a decision by the church to dismantle the cathedral’s was a cause for concern for some.

The decision was even challenged in New Zealand’s courts until the Supreme Court ruled that the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia could go ahead and take down the existing building.

The church has expressed its desire to have a new cathedral built on the site within 10 years.


Episcopal Church Foundation 2014 fellows announced

Friday, June 6, 2014

[The Episcopal Church Foundation] The Episcopal Church Foundation has named its 2014 Fellows who bring an exciting vision and passion for the future of the Episcopal Church.

Later this year ECF will kick off a celebration of the Fellowship Partners Program’s 50th year of supporting emerging scholars and ministry leaders so they can pursue studies and ministries they might not otherwise be able to, and share their knowledge and learning with the wider Church.

“When we look back on 50 years of ECF Fellows we are amazed at the impact they have had at all levels of the Episcopal Church,” said Donald V. Romanik, ECF President. “This year’s recipients continue the legacy of dedication, passion, and vision for the Church that is embodied by all our ECF Fellows.”

“ECF is thrilled to be able to name five Fellows on this 50th anniversary of the ECF Fellowship Partners Program,” said Miguel Escobar, Senior Program Director. “The 2014 class of Fellows are broadening our theological understanding of justice, exploring ethical concerns related to international aid work, strengthening the church’s connection to public health, networking innovative leadership initiatives, and building a lay leadership network among Chinese-American Episcopal communities of faith. Together they are exploring issues that will be of critical importance to the life of the Episcopal Church in the next fifty years.”

ECF is proud to partner with our 2014 Fellows and to walk with them as they explore how to be the Episcopal Church of the future.

Natalie Finstad

Natalie began her community-organizing career working with the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts in 2009. She moved to Kenya in 2010 and founded Be the Change – Kenya, now Tatua Kenya, which works to develop sustainable, justice-based approaches to change. Natalie holds a BA from the University of Texas, Austin and is an experienced organizer and teacher of community organizing.

As an ECF Fellow Natalie will build the capacity of The Episcopal Church by identifying, strengthening and networking areas of transformative ministry in our worshipping communities. She will begin by working with other Episcopal leaders to name a set of principles that defines transformational ministry. She then plans to partner with several dioceses to launch diocesan-wide efforts to interweave transformative mission principles through their ministry/programs and worshipping communities. Natalie will also be forming a network that connects these dioceses for the purpose of creating a shared language around transformation, sharing a powerful story of change and hopefully spurring the wider church towards a fuller incarnation of who we are called to be as people of Christ.

Jordan Hylden

Jordan is a doctoral candidate in theology and ethics at Duke University, where his dissertation research focuses on the work of the French-American philosopher Yves R. Simon and other mid-20th century Catholic figures who helped the church take a fresh look at liberal democracy from within the Catholic theological tradition.

Jordan believes that there is “a need for theological work that integrates the call for justice and peace within the language of the worshiping church, neither sacrificing the urgency of that call nor failing to see its connection to the theological grammar of our prayer book as a whole.”

Jordan serves part-time as curate and Assistant for Christian Formation at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Columbia, SC. A 2006 graduate of Harvard College, he received his M.Div. in 2010 from Duke Divinity School. He is a frequent contributor to The Living Church magazine, where he also serves as a board member, and is co-editing a collection of essays on justification in the Anglican tradition with Daniel Westberg.

Nicole Janelle

Nicole is Episcopal chaplain to UC Santa Barbara and vicar of St. Michael’s University Church in Isla Vista, California.

Nicole’s nine years of ordained ministry work has been dedicated to helping people connect to and live out their theological convictions through bodywork, care of creation, community-based relationship building, wellness activities, peace and justice work, and general activism.

The ECF fellowship will enable Nicole to pursue master’s level studies in the area of public health through a distance learning program at the University of California Berkeley. She notes that church communities are positioned to respond to our country’s most serious health-related needs: providing healthcare that is affordable, increasing access to healthy food, addressing the obesity epidemic and improving mental/spiritual health services. She hopes her MPH studies will allow her to explore academically and implement pastorally how we can better equip the Episcopal Church to respond to serious health-related community needs at the congregational, diocesan and international levels.

Alison Lutz

Alison Lutz is a priest from the Episcopal Diocese of New York who has worked for many years in rural Haiti, both as a priest and aid worker with Partners in Health. Ali is pursuing a PhD in Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University’s Graduate Division of Religion in Nashville, Tennessee. She was awarded an ECF Fellowship to continue her research on the ethics of humanitarian aid. Alison’s work explores the ethical assumptions that drive international development and global mission work, in particular the issues of control and imbalances of power that are inherent in any effort to relieve global poverty. Her scholarship strengthens frameworks for humanitarian endeavors linked inextricably to solidarity with the poor and defined by aid workers’ conversion to empathy.

Serving the church she loves, Ali advised Episcopal congregations from Upper South Carolina, Massachusetts, New York, and Arizona on their mission partnerships in Haiti. Through her doctoral studies, Ali will continue to help church leaders learn how to live out the social justice demands of the Gospel in a way that surrenders the quest for self-efficacy in favor of joining God’s people on the margins to expand God’s kingdom so all people can thrive.

Thomas Ni

Ordained in 2007 as a deacon and 2008 as a priest, Thomas is one of the only two priests in the Episcopal Church who are from Mainland China. Shortly after ordination he started a Mandarin speaking congregation and has since been ministering to Mandarin speaking Chinese immigrants, first at St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church, San Marino, California and now at the Church of Our Saviour, San Gabriel, California.

Thomas serves as the Executive Director of the Li Tim-Oi Center, which explores creative ways to develop Chinese ministry. One of the major challenges Chinese ministry faces is a shortage of both lay and ordained leaders. The language difficulty is one of the main obstacles preventing Chinese congregations from raising up more leaders. The Li Tim-Oi Center has planned to launch a Chinese lay training course, which aims at helping not only the Chinese congregations in the Los Angeles Diocese, but also all the Chinese congregations in the U.S. The ECF Fellowship will help support this plan.

ECF has renewed fellowships for Nancy Frausto, P. Joshua Griffin. Eric McIntosh, Albert Rodriguez, Jesse Zink, Sarah Nolan, Kyle Pedersen, Will Scott, and Joseph Wolyniak.

The deadline for 2015 Fellowships will be March 13, 2015. Complete information about the ECF Fellowship Partners Program can be found here or by calling 800-697-2858.

EPPN: Act today to support refugees in your community

Thursday, June 5, 2014

[Episcopal Public Policy Network] More than 6.5 million people have been displaced within Syria, and more than 2.7 million have crossed international borders as refugees. Of that refugee population, more than 1.4 million are children.

Monday, June 2, President Obama called the unprecedented arrival of tens of thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children, fleeing violence and poverty at home, an “urgent humanitarian crisis.”

The conflict in Sudan and South Sudan has killed thousands and forced more than 1.5 million people to flee their homes to escape the violence, making many of these survivors of the country’s civil war refugees twice over.

Refugees and displaced people across the world need your prayers and your voice. Each new conflict and crisis brings its own unique challenges and opportunities to offer protection and hope. Having endured incredible hardship and unimaginable horrors in their home countries, refugees often spend years exiled in host countries once they flee, awaiting the opportunity to rebuild their lives. Once they are resettled, refugees become engaged and productive community members, contributing economically, socially, and spiritually to our communities.

The Episcopal Church, through Episcopal Migration Ministries, is a leader in this work of welcome, as one of the 9 “voluntary agencies” that partners with the federal government to welcome refugees to their new communities and walk with them as they begin their new lives in safety and peace. Working with refugees in this ministry, members of our Church have witnessed firsthand the suffering of refugees around the world, as well as the positive impact that resettled refugees play when welcomed into our communities here in the United States.

This National Refugee Advocacy Week, stand in solidarity with refugees and ask the United States to renew its commitment to the protection of refugees and vulnerable populations.

Go HERE to ask your Representative and Senators to support refugees, asylees, victims of human trafficking, victims of torture, Cuban-Haitian entrants, Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa holders, and unaccompanied immigrant children by supporting the refugee resettlement program, in both funding and legislation.

Training, intensive program offers skills for mission leadership

Thursday, June 5, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The GEMN Global Mission Immersion Program on August 16-26 in Bogota, Colombia is designed to prepare leadership for mission through in-depth training, resources and field work.

The Immersion Program is presented in collaboration from the Diocese of Colombia, Episcopal Church Global Partnership Office, and GEMN (Global Episcopal Mission Network).

“More than a ‘mission trip’, the Global Mission Immersion Program offers the unique opportunity both to study and to engage in mission simultaneously, thus deepening and enriching the mission experience,” noted the Rev. Dr. Ted J. Gaiser, program facilitator, an Episcopal Church missionary, and GEMN president.

The 10-day program is ideal for seminarians, deacons, priests, lay missionaries, experienced  missionaries, the mission curious, diocesan mission leaders, “and anyone with an interest in global mission,” noted the Rev. David Copley, Episcopal Church Mission Personnel Officer.

The program will feature clergy and lay instructors who are missionaries with a broad range of knowledge about global mission and will provide practical skills to provide leadership in parishes, dioceses, and the wider church. Among the topics are: church history as it pertains to mission; biblical and theological foundations for mission; field experience; and local culture and history of Colombia

Information and registration here.

For more information contact Gaiser at gmip@gemn.org.

Saint Francis Community Services names new president and CEO

Thursday, June 5, 2014

[Saint Francis Community Services - Salina, Kansas] The Saint Francis Community Services Board of Directors has named The Rev. Robert Nelson Smith, currently of Peru, Illinois, as the child and family services provider’s sixth president and chief executive officer. Fr. Smith will assume his new duties on July 7.

“Fr. Smith, an Episcopal priest, has an extensive background in healthcare administration and is excited to couple that experience with the work of Saint Francis Community Services,” said Board Chair The Rev. Dennis Gilhousen. “We believe he is exactly the right person to continue leading Saint Francis as we touch the lives of so many people.”

Ordained to the priesthood in 2009, Fr. Smith earned his Master of Arts in Ministry, cum laude, from Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Nashotah, Wisconsin. For the last three years, he has served as associate rector to four churches that form the LaSalle County (Illinois) Episcopal Ministry within the Diocese of Chicago.

Since 2009, Fr. Smith has also served as Vice President, Physician Services and Quality/COO for Illinois Valley Community Hospital (IVCH), overseeing department operational budgets of more than $125 million while developing strategies to improve patient care and safety and access to services. He also supervised operations for the IVCH Medical Group, which provides a range of healthcare services including primary care, specialized care, mental health services, and a community clinic to meet the needs of uninsured and underinsured patients.

Prior to joining IVCH, Fr. Smith served as Director of Growth and Support Services for ThedaCare Physicians, and gained expertise in process improvement methods. ThedaCare is based in Appleton, Wisconsin.

He has also served as Vice President of Physician Services for Community Health Network, a partnership of two critical access hospitals in north central Wisconsin, and as Director of Corporate Communications and Director of Professional Services for St. Mary’s Good Samaritan, Inc., a Catholic not-for-profit healthcare system in Illinois.

Prior to his healthcare experience, Fr. Smith worked on Capitol Hill with a public policy focus on environmental, transportation, and infrastructure issues critical to rural communities.

In all, Fr. Smith brings nearly 20 years of healthcare and public policy experience to Saint Francis Community Services.

“I am humbled to have been asked to help guide the future of Saint Francis Community Services – the ministry that Fr. Mize began in 1945 and that Fr. Ed and the Board of Directors have carried forward is truly God’s work,” said Fr. Smith. “When I began my career in healthcare, my organization’s mission statement compelled us to continue the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, with special concern for the poor and vulnerable. This challenge has never left me and to know that Saint Francis Community Services is committed, at its most fundamental level, to providing the healing to children and families found in the forgiving, redeeming love of Christ is, for me, a ministry and calling to which I now dedicate my every effort.” 

Fr. Smith succeeds The Very Reverend Edward Fellhauer, who announced his retirement late last year after 12 years at the SFCS helm. 

About Saint Francis Community Services
Saint Francis Community Services is an Episcopal donor-supported, faith-based, child and family, community-based service provider that has been a voice of hope for children and families since 1945. Our mission is to be an instrument of healing for children, youths, and families in spirit, mind, and body, so they live responsibly and productively with purpose and hope. For more information about Saint Francis, visit www.st-francis.org or call 1-800-423-1342.

Clínicas de Honduras ofrecen tratamiento, atención médica para personas con VIH y SIDA

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Una mujer que trabaja en la farmacia de Siempre Unidos en San Pedro Sula distribuye los fármacos a una mujer transexual. Foto: Lynette Wilson/ENS

[Episcopal News Service – San Pedro Sula, Honduras] Hace algunos años una mujer vino al Rdo. Pascual P. Torres y le dijo, “Me voy a morir”.

Mientras que ella era una paciente en un hospital público, se le había tomado la prueba del VIH sin su conocimiento, y luego le dijeron que los resultados del examen fueron positivos. Y una persona del personal le dijo: “Vas a morir porque tienes SIDA”. La mujer salió del hospital y decidió saltar de un puente: pero luego se acordó de su hija de cinco años que estaba en casa.

“Ella decidió matar a su hija primero y luego matarse  ella. Pero entonces se encontró con una enfermera… y ella no sabía si era Dios o lo que sea,..” dijo Torres

La enfermera le hablo a la mujer sobre Siempre Unidos, un ministerio de la Iglesia Episcopal en Honduras que proporciona atención médica y servicios sociales integrales a las personas con VIH y el SIDA y a sus familiares.

“Hace diez o 15 años, cuando la gente sabía que eran VIH positivo, ellos trataron de quitarse la vida, dijo Torres. “Ahora con la información y educación, las cosas están mejor, pero aún no es la mejor noticia que uno pueda recibir”.

La mujer parecía saludable, aunque ella insistía en decir, “Me voy a morir”, él dijo “Yo le dije que este lugar [Siempre Unidos] era un lugar para aquellos que quieren vivir. ‘Yo puedo ayudarte, puedo pasar todo el día con usted, pero si aún no ha tomado una decisión…’”

Once años después, la mujer es un técnico en  Siempre Unidos; su hija tiene 16 años de edad.

Siempre Unidos comenzó en la década de 1990 en un momento en que la gente en su comunidad de apoyo estaba muriendo a un índice de nueve personas por mes y los ataúdes eran una cosa que el ministerio proporcionaba.

“Al comienzo de la pandemia, todo  estaba mal”, dijo Torres durante una conversación en la clínica de San Pedro Sula.

En el 2003, cuando las patentes caducaron y  los medicamentos se hicieron más asequibles y accesibles en el país subdesarrollado, Siempre Unidos empezó a proporcionar medicamentos para tratar la enfermedad del sistema inmunológico.

Hoy en día, entre 21,000 y 33,000 personas viven con el VHI y el SIDA en  Honduras, con una población de 7.9 millones, de acuerdo a las estadísticas de la ONUSIDA

Siempre Unidos administra dos clínicas adicionales, una en Siguatepeque, en las montañas centrales, y la otra en  Roatán,  la isla más grande de Honduras donde se brinda atención a más de 1,500 personas, en colaboración con la Diócesis de Honduras.

El ministerio recibe la medicación del ministerio de salud, de compañías farmacéuticas internacionales y de personas en los Estados Unidos que colectan medicamentos no usados, y dependen del apoyo financiero local e internacional.

Cada año, sobre todo después de la crisis económica mundial, la recaudación de fondos es difícil, dijo Torres. “Además tenemos problemas con nuestros beneficiarios: la pobreza, la falta de empleo, desnutrición, dependencia  a las drogas… Algunos no tienen dinero para el transporte entonces nosotros  lo ofrecemos”, dijo Torres.

La Pobreza, el desempleo y el subempleo son generalizados en Honduras, donde un adulto promedio tiene 6.5 años de  educación; a pesar de la confidencialidad de la salud, un diagnóstico positivo de VIH hace que sea difícil encontrar empleo”.

“Es contra la ley discriminar contra una persona que es  VIH positivo, pero algunos veces se encuentran ‘otros motivos’, dijo Torres. “Para un hombre o una mujer encontrar empleo es difícil”.

La sala de espera en San Pedro Sula tenía dos tercios de su capacidad  que está llena de pacientes, de hombres, mujeres, travestis, en una mañana del mes de marzo; en la cocina adyacente un tradicional desayuno Hondureño de baleadas se sirve.

Para algunos, el desayuno que consiste de una tortilla doblada con frijoles refritos y crema, sería la única comida esencial del día, dijo Torres.

Las mejoras en el tratamiento, incluyendo la llegada de la terapia anti-retroviral u otros medicamentos, han dado lugar a mejores resultados, expectativas y calidad de vida. Con el tiempo Siempre Unidos agrego servicios integrados para las personas infectadas con el VIH y el SIDA y a sus familiares, incluyendo becas, atención pastoral, educación comunitaria para la comunidad de homosexuales y las personas que trabajan brindando servicios sexuales

El país tiene una de las tasas de transmisiones sexuales más altas de los países subdesarrollados.

Durante los últimos ocho años, en asociación con Ayuda y Desarrollo Episcopal, Siempre Unidos ha administrado un programa de educación comunitaria y prevención dirigidas a reducir la propagación del VIH y de otras enfermedades de transmisión sexual entre las personas que trabajan brindando servicios sexuales en San Pedro Sula, el centro industrial del país.

El equipo de concientización comunitaria proporciona a los trabajadores de servicios sexuales, pruebas  rápidas de VIH y educación de prevención de enfermedades transmitidas sexualmente (ETS) y apoyo social y emocional.

“El trabajo que ellos  [Siempre Unidos] hacen es muy importante”, dijo Kellie McDaniel, administrador de Ayuda y Desarrollo Episcopal para Latino América.

“Parte de ese trabajo es además sobre derechos humanos, el trabajo por motivo de género y violencia”.

Honduras tiene la tasa de homicidios más alta del mundo; delincuentes, pandillas juveniles que con frecuencia operan con impunidad; contra los marginados, incluso la comunidad de lesbianas, homosexuales, bisexual, travesti (LGBT), sufren mayores incidencias de violencia.

Las organizaciones nacionales y extranjeras de  los derechos humanos han documentado minuciosamente violaciones contra las personas de la comunidad LGBT. Entre el 2009 y el 2012 más de 90 asesinatos por homofobia  fueron reportados en Honduras.

Siempre Unidos recibe pacientes en su clínica que son referidos de hospitales y  mediante personas que les avisan. El programa es diseñado para educar a las personas que brindan servicios sexuales y, las personas del programa van  a las calles, y las enfermeras y educadores han llegado a conocer a  las personas que ellos sirven.

“Ellos están más cerca al peligro, están expuestos a los traficantes de drogas, la extorsión, y son utilizados por pandillas juveniles y carteles de las drogas”, dijo Xiomara Hernandez, quien trabaja con seis personas que trabajan ofreciendo servicios sexuales. “Y las personas que viven en las calles son el objetivo del gobierno cuando ellos quieren hacer  limpieza social”.

Debido a su trabajo con la comunidad LGBT, Siempre Unidos se ha convertido en un repositorio donde se documentan las violaciones a los derechos humanos.

“Hay una gran cantidad de crímenes por violencia y de limpieza social”,  dijo Torres. “Nuestros archivos con  crímenes de violencia y odio son mejores de los que la policía y las instituciones estatales tienen”.

El congreso del país recientemente realizo unos cambios  a su código penal para “garantizar la protección jurídica contra la discriminación por motivos de orientación sexual e identidad de género”.

“Las autoridades nos piden información, pero para nosotros también es una situación muy peligrosa debido a la corrupción que existe en las instituciones”, dijo Torres.

– Lynette Wilson es una editor/reportera para Episcopal News Service. 

Solomon Island churches: ‘We will work to stem corruption’

Thursday, June 5, 2014

[Anglican Church of Melanesia] Churches in the Solomon Islands have committed to playing an active part in mitigating the root causes of corruption.

Church leaders attending a three-day conference on Rethinking the Household of God in the Solomon Islands discussed some of the corrupt practices that were negatively impacting on the ability of their country to progress and develop in a ‘just’ and meaningful manner, hindering any normal government’s delivery of its welfare responsibilities.

During a working group session, church representatives identified a host of problems plaguing Solomon Islands’ political leadership, some of which include: self-centred individual interests, lack of transparency, nepotism, non-inclusive decision making processes and little regard or attention to the rule of law.

Church leaders and participants agreed that there was a ‘crisis of leadership’, and in particular a ‘crisis of honesty’ in the Solomon Islands.

“The moral and ethical values that should guide us as a nation is no more,” said the Archbishop of Melanesia, Most Revd David Vunagi.

“In our country, the Solomon Islands, it is unfortunate that corruption has taken precedence over general order, the normal administrative procedures, and, to say the least, there are elements of corruption even in our political system,” Archbishop Vunagi said.

Church participants identified the need to encourage the strengthening and promotion of laws that will lead to the active practices of good governance within public institutions.

“We need to reclaim the prophetic voice of the Church to actively carry out its contribution in helping stem the tide of apathy and hopeless in our country’s political sphere,” Archbishop Vunagi said.

“Churches are well placed to contribute substantially to Solomon Islands’ socio-economic conditions. However, we need to have greater say in the types of economic empowerment programmes created for this end and therefore stand ready to assist in helping to create durable-solutions that affects the lives of our people.”

Churches have now called on the Government to create a more effective process that will bring about meaningful co-operation and partnerships between the Church and the State in the Solomon Islands.

“Churches have committed to demanding a gainful say in formalised platforms of the State that would help them inform national policy and law making processes, instead of playing a nominal part in ceremonial matters on government’s behest,” Archbishop Vunagi said.

In calling for the eradication of corruption in national political and chiefly systems, Churches have committed to doing the same within their own faith based institutions.

‘Bad governance’ reason for conflict in South Sudan, bishop says

Thursday, June 5, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] A South Sudanese bishop has attributed the continued conflict in his country to bad governance saying the country’s leaders at various levels are not willing to “to change from rebel commanders to politicians.”

Bishop of Wau Diocese in South Sudan the Rt Revd Moses Deng said this in an interview with ACNS today. “The Country is ruled by former rebel generals from the President to State Governors and the County Commissioners,” he said.

It is estimated that thousands of people have died and around 900,000 have been displaced by the fighting in South Sudan in the last five months. The country consequently faces a major food crisis, which the United Nations warns could be dire if immediate and appropriate action is not taken.

In his Diocesan newsletter shared with many church friends and partners around the world, Bishop Deng explained: “It’s had to really imagine 900,000 people because it is a number that may have no meaning to you,

“But if you stop and think of how many people live in the town or city where you live then suddenly you can understand better how big this number is.”

He explained: “All these people have been forced from where they live and now must exist by the kindness of others as refugees in the country that not so long ago they fought for, voted for and gave so much to defend. All that they had is gone and the life that they led is stopped.”

“There are of course many who were never given any chance of survival which is a shame we must bear as a country. The leaders of our country have agreed a peace deal but fighting and killing has been intense for five months and caused much devastation,” he added.

The Church has a responsibility to help bring about peace and reconciliation in times of conflict and disagreements. But what exactly is the church in South Sudan doing to help bring a stop to the on-going conflict?

Bishop Deng told ACNS: “The Church has been playing a great role in peace and reconciliation. Had it not been for the Church, South Sudan would not be where it is today, but could have been worse than Somalia.”

The bishop said the Church is not failing and that it is just a matter of time before South Sudan achieves lasting peace. “The Anglican Church and other church organizations are praying and working hard to build and bring lasting peace to our country,” he said.

Bishop Deng said that various churches in South Sudan were contributing on different ways in an effort to end the conflict. He said that South Sudan Council of Churches is currently playing a role of observer and adviser to the warring parties at the Peace Talks in Addis Ababa.

“The church is also part of the National Platform for Peace and Reconciliation (NPPR) which brings together the three national peace and reconciliation mandated institutions, the National Committee for Healing, Peace and Reconciliation (led by the Anglican Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul), Peace Commission and Parliamentary Committee on Peace and Reconciliation,” he explained.

The Bishop was worried that the country has been divided along ethnic lines and that the conflict is also affecting the unity of the Anglican Church. “The Anglican Church cuts across ethnic divides and we are working hard to ensure that the Church remains united as it is the only institution which will facilitate reconciliation of our people.”

He concluded: “No one is blameless in this and as a country and a people we must wake up to the truth that this situation cannot be allowed and we must look for a peace that binds us all if we are going to be a country.”

Archbishop of Canterbury, Nigerian president pray during visit

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

[Lambeth Palace] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby made a last minute visit to Nigeria June 4 to offer his heartfelt sympathy for the recent events affecting the country, including the recent bombings in Jos and the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls who have now been missing for almost two months.

The archbishop paid a pastoral call on President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja to express his personal pain and condolence about the ongoing terrorism affecting parts of North Nigeria. The archbishop, the president, and the primate of Nigeria, the Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, then prayed privately together.

The archbishop, who has visited Nigeria on many occasions – including Jos and other parts of Northern Nigeria, where he worked while leading the reconciliation work at Coventry Cathedral – has previously condemned the abduction of the schoolgirls, calling it an atrocious and inexcusable act, and urging for them to be released immediately and unharmed.

Virginia Theological Seminary set sights for 2023

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

[Virginia Theological Seminary press release] On May 21 the Board of Trustees of Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) unanimously approved an updated and bold vision statement which will guide VTS towards the seminary’s bicentennial year and beyond.

The purpose of the vision statement is to help provide the foundation needed for the strategic planning process. This new vision statement will provide a guide for where the Seminary seeks to be in 2023, and how VTS intends to realize that vision and the qualities which the Seminary aspires for in our graduates.

“VTS will be both traditional and yet innovative,” said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., dean and president of VTS. “We will take the best from the past and respond imaginatively to the challenges of the future.”

The vision statement reaffirms the necessity of the residential experience in the formation of priests and leaders of the Episcopal Church at a time when many institutions are being forced, through economic necessities, to abandon this model. To meet this challenge in part, the Seminary will break ground on 38 new apartments on campus capable to house single residents and families.

“Like a wise scribe, we will bring out what is old and what is new; we will cherish the ancient truths as we embrace new truths,” reads the vision statement. “We will be a porous community–welcoming the guest and reaching out to the community. We will seek to be flexible, adaptable, and ready to meet the challenges of our time.”

VTS is ready to make our programming more flexible, as well as provide the resources for an important Church-wide conversation about congregational leadership. And with the changing demographics of the U.S., the Seminary commits to equip students with the “appropriate skills to engage with a diverse world.”

With the success of the Seminary’s Second Three Years program, VTS further commits to offering “comprehensive educational and support programs” to graduates after 10, 15, and 20 years out.

While many seminaries are finding the traditional three-year residential M.Div. program impossible to sustain, the vision statement from VTS affirms its conviction of formation within community.

Vision Statement:  https://www.vts.edu/ftpimages/95/misc/misc_145108.pdf

Archbishops call on church to pray for new disciples of Jesus

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

[Lambeth Palace press release] This Pentecost, the archbishops of Canterbury and York are calling on the church to pray for those who have not yet encountered the love of God in Jesus Christ.

The call to prayer for evangelism at Pentecost, which is celebrated on Sunday (June 8), was the first task given to the Archbishops’ Evangelism Task Group by the General Synod of the Church of England in November last year. The Task Group was set up by the Synod to facilitate the outworking of the priority of “Intentional Evangelism.”

Members of the Archbishops’ Evangelism Task Group have put together printed and online prayer resources, which are available at www.usewords.org. There is also a short video, which explores the question: “What is evangelism?”

The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “The task before us cannot be overestimated. We could easily be disheartened. We cannot do it alone. But. . . Allelulia! For we are not thrown back on ourselves, but in, by and through the power of the Holy Spirit, God brings forth life. It is right that as the Evangelism Task Group considers how it may resource the Church to bear faithful witness to Jesus Christ, the commitment to pray is the essential first step. Prayer has to be our first priority, if we are to call more people to follow Christ, and to invite others to share in the story of God’s love for the world. The wonderful news is God is always ready to hear our prayers and to send his Spirit that we may proclaim the good news afresh. I urge every church community and individual to set aside time to pray and to share God’s heart for all his people.”

The archbishop of York, John Sentamu, said: “Recently all the Bishops of the North of England met with a group of young adults from across the Province of York to pray and take counsel together ‘towards the re-evangelisation of the north of England’. It was wonderful to tread in the footsteps of St Aidan and St Cuthbert, who in their time told the people of the north the good news of Jesus Christ, rooting their proclamation in the practice of fervent prayer and praise. Praying for others to come to know Christ is a privilege and a joy – and loving our neighbours and making disciples of Jesus is exactly what we are called to do. At Pentecost we recall the wind and flame of the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples, so let’s commit ourselves afresh to pray, for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and for boldness, simplicity, wisdom, and compassion in the proclamation of the Gospel.”

In calling the church to pray the archbishops are reaffirming, for all Christians in all times and in all places, the priority of prayer for new disciples of Jesus, and encouraging many ways in which this prayer takes shape.

For the Task Group this is just the beginning of a process to encourage everyone in the church, young and old, to consider how best to witness to the love of God in Christ amongst families, friends, neighbours, colleagues, and to hold them before God in prayer.

The call to prayer is not a one-off, but a call to a continuing openness, dependence upon, and imploring of God to work among us for the sake of others. Rather than launching a programme or a campaign, the Church is seeking to respond obediently afresh to the last words of Jesus, in both the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 16-30) and his charge to wait on the empowering presence of the Spirit (Acts 1:8).