[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa has expressed its gratitude to the many Christians in Egypt and around the world for their monetary and material support towards helping the “poorest of the poor.”
This was contained in a report compiled to account for the first disbursement of the more than US$80,000 raised following a Special Appeal for Egypt to help the poor as well as to help build capacity for young adults in Egypt.
“I would like to thank you so much for all your support during last year,” said Bishop Mouneer Anis, who launched the appeal. “With your support, we were able to help many people, especially during the hard times which Egypt is going through.”
The last few months have been traumatic for Egyptians after they witnessed much bloodshed and vandalism on their streets. Last year saw the destruction of churches and government buildings.
Anglican, Roman Catholic and Coptic churches, as well as Christian schools, were burned down during the attacks in August last year. Despite efforts to restore peace, there is still a lack of security on the streets and the economy continues to decline.
The money raised was used mainly for food packages for disadvantaged Egyptian and Sudanese families, school fees and supplies for orphans and vulnerable children as well as for medical assistance.
A seven-year old Egyptian boy, Magdy, said he was grateful for the school bag he was given. “Yesterday I had a dream that I had a bag. It is the same bag that I was given at church. I asked my dad for a bag for school and he told me God will send it.”
Khawaja Muhammad, a Muslim from Sudan who is now living in Egypt said, “My husband is in Sudan. We have a family of four and I thank God that the Church is interested in helping us.”
She added: “I was always so preoccupied on what I would do and how I would provide for my family [thanks to the help received] I had the first joyous morning in a long time.”
The Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa serves all people regardless of religion or race, especially the disadvantaged and marginalized, through educational, medical, and community development ministries.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Registration is now open for the popular Episcopal Youth Event (EYE) scheduled for July 9-13, 2014 at Villanova University in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Drawing hundreds of youth from throughout the Episcopal Church, EYE14 is being planned in partnership with the Diocese of Pennsylvania.
The 2014 event marks the twelfth EYE and remains a popular and well-attended event. EYE 2014 is geared for youth in grades 9-12 during the 2013-2014 academic year and their adult leaders.
Bronwyn Clark Skov, Episcopal Church Youth Ministries Officer, explained: “EYE is an opportunity for the youth of the church to meet their peers and church leaders in a richly diverse environment, actively engaging the Five Marks of Mission while in Philadelphia.”
Each diocese is allowed up to 24 youth participants and six adult participants. Registration is $325 per participant (youth and adult) which includes meals and lodging. Diocesan delegations may also opt to participate in 3 Days of Urban Mission in Philadelphia immediately following the event for an additional $275 per participant.
Skov pointed out, “Diocesan delegations should represent all aspects of the diocese: ethnic, socio-economic, and cultural diversity, and a range of liturgical and theological expressions. They should be able to handle traveling away from home, honoring the community covenant, participating in all aspects of the event, and taking their learning home to their diocese, congregation, and community.”
Registration materials, available in English and Spanish, are here.
For information contact Skov at email@example.com.
Planning team members are:
- Thomas Alexander, Diocese of Arkansas, Province 7
- Madeline Carroll, Diocese of Milwaukee, Province 5
- Whitney Chapman, Diocese of West Virginia, Province 3
- Ariana Gonzalez-Bonillas, Diocese of Arizona, Province 8
- Lillian Hardaway, Diocese of Upper South Carolina, Province 4
- Angela Hudnell, Diocese of Ohio, Province 5
- Cydney Jackson, Diocese of San Diego, Province 8
- Casey Nakamura, Diocese of Hawaii, Province 8
- Kayden Nasworthy, Diocese of Massachusetts, Province 1
- Joseph Prickett, Diocese of Nebraska, Province 6
- Justin Thao, Diocese of Minnesota, Province 6
- Hauseng Vang, Diocese of Minnesota, Province 6
- Roger Villatoro, Diocese of Southeast Florida, Province 4
- Rosanna Vizcaino, Diocese of the Dominican Republic, Province 9
- Arlette Benoit, Diocese of Atlanta, Province 4
- Vincent Black, Diocese of Ohio, Province 5
- Randy Callender, Diocese of Maryland, Province 3
- Cookie Cantwell, Diocese of East Carolina, Province 4
- Randall Curtis, Diocese of Arizona, Province 7
- Earl Gibson, Diocese of Los Angeles, canonically resident in Diocese of Arizona, Province 8
- Andrew Kellner, Diocese of Pennsylvania, Province 3
- Shannon Kelly, Diocese of Southern Ohio, canonically resident in Diocese of Milwaukee, Province 5
- Abigail Moon, Diocese of Florida, Province 4
[Anglican Communion News Service] The Ecumenical Patriarch said today he hoped for a continuing exchange of Orthodox and Anglican students to aid the two Churches’ relationship.
His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who occupies the First Throne of the Orthodox Christian Church, was speaking today during his welcome of the Anglican Communion’s spiritual head Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
He said, “In the past, the rapprochement between our two Churches has been greatly assisted by the exchange of students, and we trust that this will continue. Our Theological School at Halki used to offer scholarships to Anglicans, and when it is reopened – as will happen in the near future (so it may be hoped) – we shall certainly wish to revive this tradition.
“These exchange students have frequently gone on to become leaders in their respective Churches, and their early inter-Church experience has enabled them to further the cause of Christian unity in highly constructive ways.”
Welby is on what has been described as an ‘intensive two-day visit’ that will include official reception in the Chamber of the Throne, and a discussion with the Synodical Committee for Inter-Christian Affairs.
It was clear from both the Orthodox leader’s welcome speech and his official toast that he very much welcomed the visit: “It is a great joy to us that, so soon after your elevation to Canterbury, Your Grace has found it possible to visit the sacred center of Orthodoxy, the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”
His All-Holiness also celebrated the growing relationship between the two Churches: “In the year 1837 the English traveler Robert Curzon visited the Ecumenical Patriarch at the Phanar, and was greatly surprised to find that His All-Holiness had never heard of the Archbishop of Canterbury. ‘Archbishop of what?,’ said the Patriarch with some skepticism. ‘Who is he?’
“Today, we are happy to affirm, our two Churches are somewhat better acquainted! You come here, dear Archbishop Justin, not as a stranger but as a friend, as a valued colleague and ally whom with all our heart we welcome most warmly. We hope that this will be the first of many visits.”
He also made reference to the shared theological dialogue the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue whose drafting committee are coincidentally meeting together in the Anglican Communion Office in London this week.
Welby has said he hopes the visit will help to develop greater fellowship between the two churches and contribute to the goal of Christian unity.
[Episcopal News Service] A Jan. 10 memo to the Obama Administration and members of U.S. Congress sent by the Episcopal Church’s Washington, D.C.-based Office of Government Relations outlines the current crisis in South Sudan and makes recommendations urging the government and the international community to partner with South Sudanese civic and faith leaders to stem the tide of violence and build peace.
The six-page memo, based on the firsthand accounts of church leaders on the ground in South Sudan and Episcopal and Anglican partners worldwide, conveys the church’s understanding of the current crisis that has engulfed the world’s newest nation. The memo touches on four areas specifically: public representation of the conflict and accountability; foreign assistance; human rights protection and the prevention of mass atrocities; and building a future of peace.
“Episcopalians in the United States and around the world have maintained long and close relationships with Episcopalians in South Sudan,” said Alexander Baumgarten, director of government relations for the Episcopal Church. “As a result, we have a responsibility to share the unique and compelling perspectives of partners in South Sudan who are playing a peacemaking role in the midst of extraordinary upheaval and violence.”
Among other things, the memo warns “While ethnic tensions are real and reflect the fruits of decades of upheaval and struggle, they are not the primary driving engine for the current violence,” and stresses that the media’s, and to an extent, the U.S. government’s portrayal of the violence as between ethnic and tribal groups is “misleading,” “simplistic,” and “could carry dire consequences.”
It also warns that the east African nation could be on the brink of civil war, and that the U.S. and others bear the responsibility of preventing mass atrocities and human rights violations. Click here to read the full memo to the president and Congress.
The estimated death toll had reached 10,000 people by Jan. 9. Some 200,000 people have been internally displaced inside South Sudan and tens of thousands of refugees have crossed borders into neighboring countries.
Fighting erupted in Juba, the nation’s capital, on Dec. 15 following a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar. In the weeks since, the crisis has spread to seven states and has created a humanitarian crisis in the fledgling nation.
“Our most-current reports indicate that violence is still spreading and that the urgent needs for food, medicine, and shelter could continue for months to come. The situation mirrors the dire time before Sudan’s 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, in which interminable civil war killed millions and uprooted millions more from their homes,” the memo’s introduction states.
Baumgarten noted that Episcopalians and Anglicans around the world with mission ties to Sudan and South Sudan have been hosting regular conference calls in the weeks since violence erupted in mid-December, and that his office’s staff have been sharing vital information as they learn it with U.S. government officials coordinating the humanitarian and peacemaking response.
“This is an example of an area in which the advocacy of Episcopalians can make a vital difference,” said Baumgarten. “There is no civic institution in South Sudan with a larger footprint than the church, and our experience is that government officials in the United States and elsewhere are quite eager to hear perspectives from church partners on the ground.
The Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan, with 2 million members, has 31 dioceses — 26 of them in South Sudan where it is one of the nation’s largest non-government organizations and has played a role in reconciliation in the aftermath of a two-decades-long civil war fought largely between the Arab and Muslim north and rebels in the Christian-animist south, that left 2 million people dead and an estimated 7 million displaced. South Sudan gained its independence from the north on July 9, 2011.
Sudan’s warring parties signed the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, ending the civil war that killed more than 2 million people and displaced an estimated 7 million more. South Sudan officially gained its independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011.
The memo points out that, “The leaders of the new state did not vigorously undertake the task of addressing the challenges of developing a unified nation and healing past divisions.” And that unification and healing are central to peacemaking efforts.
(In May 2013, South Sudan’s president appointed Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul to chair the national reconciliation committee, which planned a four-to five-year national campaign aimed and fostering peace building and reconciliation.)
The memo praises the Obama administration for its Dec. 3 pledge of an additional $50 million in humanitarian aid, but urges an “examination” of its and Congress’s aid strategy. On Jan. 9, news reports suggested that South Sudan risks losing hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid if government and rebel forces do not end the violence.
Meanwhile, Episcopalians and Anglicans across the Anglican Communion, including Episcopal Relief & Development, and Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, working with local partners in South Sudan, have begun responding to the crisis.
“The Episcopal Church, along with Episcopal and Anglican partners around the world, has mounted its own response of financial support, material accompaniment, and prayer for the people of South Sudan. We believe strongly that the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan and other faith groups there are among the most fruitful potential actors in leading and facilitating peace, humanitarian assistance, and healing,” the memo states.
The Episcopal Church’s long-standing support for Sudan is manifested through its partnerships and companion diocese relationships, programs supported by Episcopal Relief & Development, and the advocacy work of the Office of Government Relations, which is rooted in General Convention resolutions.
Two Episcopal Church missionaries who were serving in South Sudan, Ed Eastman and Noah Hillerbrand, both engaged in food-security work, were evacuated from Renk to Nairobi, Kenya, on Dec. 20.
- Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal News Service] Un grupo de cinco médicos destinado a un campamento de refugiados en Sudán del Sur ha aplazado su misión sanitaria como resultado del intenso conflicto armado en que han perdido la vida más de 1.000 personas y que ha desplazado a otras 200.000 en la recién nacida nación centroafricana.
El grupo de misión, compuesto en su mayor parte por episcopales de la Diócesis de Colorado, tenía planeado visitar Yida, un campamento de refugiados del estado Unity, Sudán del Sur, donde residen cerca de 70.000 personas que huyeron de la violencia preexistente que, al lo menos durante dos años, plagó la rica región petrolera de las montañas de Nuba, una zona cuya población era mayoritariamente aliada de Sudán del Sur, pero que se encontraba bajo el control del gobierno del Sudán, en el norte.
Yida, es considerada un puesto de avanzada por los episcopales, laicos y clérigos, de la Diócesis de Kadugli, localizada en Kardofor Sur, en el lado norte de la frontera, donde el ejército sudanés y las fuerzas rebeldes separatistas han librado un conflicto armado desde junio de 2011.
En 2013, la Diócesis de Colorado, que tiene una estrecha e informal relación de compañerismo con la Diócesis de Kadugli, recibió una subvención de $26.625 de la Ofrenda Unida de Gracias (UTO, por su sigla en inglés) para brindarles adiestramiento de atención sanitaria básica a trabajadoras de la salud de Kadugli en Yida.
“[La intención] era comenzar a crear un equipo de personas que adiestraran a otras”, dijo Anita Sanborn, miembro del grupo de misión y presidente de la Fundación Episcopal de Colorado, la cual administra la subvención de la diócesis.
El grupo de la misión tenía programado salir para Sudán del Sur el 5 de enero y comenzar la labor de adiestramiento en el campamento —donde muchas de las personas desplazadas de la región entran y salen— el día 10, pero el viaje se ha aplazado debido al conflicto más reciente.
La lucha armada estalló en Juba, capital de la nación, el 15 de diciembre, luego de una disputa política entre el presidente Salva Kiir y su ex vice, Riek Machar. En las tres semanas que ha durado el conflicto, la crisis se ha extendido a siete de los 10 estados del país y ha creado una crisis humanitaria en Sudán del Sur.
El equipo planea reagruparse y llevar a cabo la labor de adiestramiento en otro campamento que atiende a refugiados sudaneses, ya sea en Kenia o en Uganda, probablemente en marzo o abril, una vez que el obispo de Kadugli, Andudu Adam Elnail, quien ha pasado gran parte de los últimos dos años en el exilio y que por el momento se encuentra en Colorado, regrese a la región e identifique una ubicación alternativa.
Muchas de las personas que viven en los campamentos carecen de instrucción y desconocen los principios generales de la salud, y cuando se trata del cuidado de recién nacidos, las cosas que uno hace en los primeros cinco minutos de la vida de un bebé pueden aumentar su tasa de supervivencia, dijo el Dr. Michaleen “Mickey” Richer, miembro del grupo y pediatra con más de 25 años de experiencia en salud global, la mayoría de los cuales los ha pasado en Sudán y en Sudán del Sur.
Andudu Adam Elnail, obispo de of Kadugli, tomó esta foto de unos niños en el campo de refugiados de Yida, en el estado Unity, durante su última visita al campamento.
La subvención de la UTO le permitirá al equipo de la misión preparar a las mujeres que viven en campamentos de refugiados y en cuevas, donde el acceso a profesionales de la medicina es limitado o inexistente, con los rudimentos de atención médica e higiene necesarios para sobrevivir, según el resumen de la adjudicación.
“Muy a menudo vemos cosas en las noticias y no sabemos cómo ayudar, nos sentimos inútiles; la UTO es una manera de participar diariamente en cambiar el mundo que nos rodea”, dijo la Rda. Heather Melton, coordinadora de la UTO. “Cuando echas monedas en la cajita [azul] y das gracias por algo bueno en tu vida, esas monedas sirve para ayudar a personas que están allá en nombre nuestro intentando transformar estructuras injustas de la sociedad.”
La Iglesia Episcopal del Sudán, hogar de 2 millones de miembros, tiene 31 diócesis —26 de ellas en Sudán del Sur, donde es una de las más grandes instituciones no gubernamentales y donde ha desempeñado un papel en la reconciliación luego de dos décadas de guerra civil librada en gran medida entre el norte árabe y musulmán y los rebeldes del sur cristiano y animista.
“La Iglesia en Sudán del Sur está presenciando los retos del desarrollo”, dijo Elnail el 8 de enero en una entrevista telefónica con ENS, añadiendo que está operando con recursos limitados.
Además de ministrar a sus fieles, que ahora se encuentra dispersos por Egipto, Uganda, Kenia, Sudán del Sur y el Sudán, el obispo ha abogado por la paz y la reconciliación, hablando tanto en África como en América del Norte. La solución del conflicto, dijo, “radica en el diálogo político, no en la lucha armada”.
Las partes beligerantes en el Sudán firmaron un Acuerdo Global de Paz en 2005, poniendo fin a la guerra civil que había causado más de 2 millones de muertos y había desplazado, según cálculos estimativos, a otros 7 millones. Sudán del Sur obtuvo oficialmente la independencia el 9 de julio de 2011. En febrero de 2012, estalló la violencia tribal en el estado de Jonglei, Sudán del Sur.
La Diócesis de Colorado ha apoyado durante mucho tiempo a los refugiados sudaneses, que comenzaron a llegar a Colorado hace más de una década. Muchos de los refugiados pertenecían a la Iglesia Episcopal del Sudán y se orientaron hacia las iglesias episcopales, como la catedral de San Juan en Denver, que tiene una congregación sudanesa, dijo Sanborn.
Cuando Sudán del Sur obtuvo su independencia, la diócesis cambió el foco de su interés, de ayudar a la diáspora al sostén de escuelas, la preparación de líderes y el apoyo al clero de la nueva nación en desarrollo, así como a la participación en campañas promocionales en Estados Unidos.
Además de proporcionar la ayuda y el adiestramiento necesarios, es importante para los estadounidenses y para los fieles de la Iglesia Episcopal dar testimonio y ofrecer información de los empeños promocionales basados en EE.UU., dijo Sanborn, que es ex miembro de la junta [directiva] de los Amigos Americanos de la Iglesia Episcopal en el Sudán, o AFRECS (por su sigla en inglés) como comúnmente se le conoce.
“Conozco como los norteamericanos somos de prácticos, y la gente con frecuencia pregunta: ‘¿qué bien le hace a usted irse allá y hacer dos semanas de adiestramiento?’”, dijo ella. “Lo que es inmensurable es la esperanza que nuestra presencia suscita en personas que se sienten traicionadas por sus propios líderes. Podemos llevar un mensaje a las personas que se encuentran allí que no sigan adelante, que no serán olvidadas”.
– Lynette Wilson es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.
[Episcopal News Service] Cuando las condiciones de la sequía preocuparon a agrupaciones ambientalistas de Oklahoma City, Ferrella March y el obispo Steven Charleston organizaron una reunión para orar por la lluvia. Y llovió a torrentes.
En Detroit, la iglesia episcopal de San Juan [St. John’s] celebró un oficio de oración para que los Tigres [Tigers], el equipo de béisbol local, ganara la temporada. Y el equipo estuvo a un paso de las eliminatorias.
En Los Ángeles, el obispo Jon Bruno contó con gran emoción —el 7 de diciembre en un reunión de la convención diocesana— que, mientras batallaba contra la leucemia, “los médicos me dieron un uno por ciento de supervivencia y yo estaba perfectamente feliz de irme”.
Luego vino un torrente de oraciones por su curación, de parte de familiares, amigos y la comunidad diocesana y denominacional. Ahora, un año más tarde, los médicos lo han declarado “metabólicamente libre” del cáncer y él dice “haber sentido todas las oraciones”.
Todo esto suscita interrogantes sobre cómo funciona la oración ¿Cómo entendemos nuestra relación con Dios si al parecer nuestras oraciones no obtienen respuesta? ¿Cómo, cuándo y por qué orar, y si una oración es demasiado breve o demasiado larga? Para comenzar a dar respuesta a algunas de estas preguntas, una serie de episcopales a través de la Iglesia compartieron sus experiencias y su concepto de la oración con Episcopal News Service.
En último término, dicen ellos, simplemente ora, ora y confía en Dios.
Oklahoma: ‘ora, enseña, actúa’
March, feligresa de la catedral de San Pablo [St. Paul’s Cathedral] en Oklahoma City, trabaja para la Asociación de Distritos de Conservación de Oklahoma, una organización de socios conservadores de recursos naturales del estado, y ayudó a organizar una serie de días de oración por la lluvia cuando una extensa sequía ocasionó racionamiento de agua, mató a los peces debido a la disminución del nivel de agua en los embalses y afectó los cultivos, el ganado y la calidad de la vida.
“En nuestro evento de mayo, tronó en medio del oficio, llovió y luego hubo una hermosa puesta de sol”, recordaba ella. “Después de eso, al menos en Oklahoma central, tuvimos una tormenta detrás de otra, un clima bastante severo, al extremo que la gente decía ‘tienen que dejar de orar ahora por la lluvia’”, dijo riendo.
Charleston, que junto con March fundó la Comunidad de Toda la Creación, un ministerio medioambiental en Facebook de unas 700 personas que siguen una regla de vida, bromeo que incluso “nuestros amigos del norte de Texas me escribieron para decirme ‘gracias, vuestras oraciones han funcionado aquí también’”.
Aunque agradecidos por la lluvia, ninguno de los dos está convencido de que tenga algo que ver con sus oraciones.
Y eso está bien, según dijo March. “Si llovió, estupendo”, afirmó. “Pero, si no hubiera llovido, [el evento] aún servía para crear conciencia. Fue una situación en la que todos salieron ganando. Algo verdaderamente episcopal”.
Pero añadió que, la oración es lo que uno hace primero, siempre. Luego, actúas.
“Ese es el concepto integral de la Comunidad de Toda la Creación. Primero oramos, luego enseñamos y después de nuestras oraciones y de nuestro aprendizaje saldrá la acción. La oración no debe ser el último recurso, por lo cual tan a menudo oímos decir ‘todo lo que pude hacer fue orar’. Eso debe ser lo primero”.
Charleston convino en ello: “Las oraciones por la lluvia tuvieron un impacto en todo el estado; estamos asociados ahora con el estado a través de las organizaciones de conservación para funcionar anualmente, para edificar y concienciar a la comunidad e intentar que la gente se concentre espiritualmente en el medioambiente. Y tenemos ahora una creciente red interreligiosa. Nuestro plan es: el agua este año; el año próximo, la tierra y luego el aire”.
Charleston, decano jubilado de la Escuela Episcopal de Teología en Cambridge, Massachusetts, enseña religiones nativoamericanas en la Escuela de Teología de San Pablo en [St. Paul’s School of Theology] en Oklahoma City y es fundador de Red Moon Publications. La oración que no funciona es con frecuencia la mejor respuesta “y no siempre debemos llegar a la conclusión de que todas las oraciones deben ser respondidas o que fallamos o que nuestro Dios nos ha fallado”, apuntó él.
“Dios no es una dispensadora de chicles que le ponemos un moneda y sale lo que queremos”, agregó. “La manera en que juzgamos la respuesta de una oración exige una profunda participación de parte nuestra de escuchar cuidadosamente”.
Béisbol, buena vecindad y oración persistente en Detroit
El gran amor del Rdo. Steven Kelly por el béisbol y un extravagante sentido del humor se tradujo en organizar un servicio público para orar por el equipo local, los Tigres de Detroit, al objeto de que tuvieran una temporada victoriosa.
“Empezamos esto en 2001 y fue completamente risible cuando, en 2002, los Tigres estuvieron a un partido del peor récord en el béisbol de las grandes ligas”, dijo Kelly en una entrevista telefónica con ENS.
“La gente decía: ‘bueno, caramba, las oraciones de ustedes no funcionan’ y nosotros respondíamos que a los israelitas les llevó 40 años atravesar el desierto; puede que a los Tigres les tome ese tiempo también”.
Los miembros de la iglesia de San Juan [St. John’s Church], que ya tiene 150 años de fundada, celebraron su oficio anual de ‘Orar por los Tigres” al comienzo de la temporada de béisbol de 2013 y, cuando el equipo entró en las eliminatorias, celebraron otro con la especial intención de que ganara la Serie Mundial.
Finalmente, los Tigres perdieron ante los Media Rojas de Boston, pero Kelly tomó las cosas deportivamente, haciendo notar que las oraciones tenían que ver menos con el triunfo y más con el amor al prójimo [el vecino] puesto que el equipo juega en Comerica Park, localizado a menos de 200 metros de la iglesia.
“Ciertamente, oramos que, si era la voluntad de Dios, obtuvieran un montón de victorias, pero oramos también, y fundamentalmente, por el dueño, por los jugadores, por la salud [del equipo], por los fanáticos, por los obreros y los vendedores”, algunos de los cuales son feligreses de la iglesia, dijo.
“La importancia de la oración radica en la persistencia”, añadió él. También es importante llevar un diario de oración. “A veces, uno puede repasarlo más tarde y ver de qué manera Dios respondió a esas oraciones…O bien uno se da cuenta de que ‘no puedo creer que algo fuera tan importante para preocuparse por ello”.
‘Nuestros acercamientos a la oración son innumerables’
Para el Rdo. Canónigo Malcolm Boyd, de 90 años, columnista de Huffington Post y autor del libro de oraciones, Are You Running with Me, Jesus? [¿Corres conmigo, Jesús?] publicado en 1961. “Nuestros acercamientos a la oración son innumerables. Creo que, virtualmente, todo el mundo ora en un momento u otro”.
Él oró toda la noche en 1961, “la noche antes de que tuviera que tomar la decisión de participar o no en una Caravana de la Libertad. Estaba asustado. No tenía la menor idea de lo que era una ‘caravana de la libertad’ [freedom ride]. Sin embargo, debía responder a la mañana siguiente”.
Aunque el célebre activista de los derechos civiles dijo: “No creo que [Dios] responda a nuestras oraciones como si fuera una máquina dispensadora de chicles”, él siguió adelante y se convirtió en miembro de la Caravana de la Libertad así como promotor de otras causas, incluida la plena inclusión de la comunidad LGBT (homosexuales, bisexuales y transexuales).
Las oraciones, afirmó “pueden ser ‘respondidas’ misteriosamente y en el futuro y al parecer fuera de secuencia. ¿Cómo sabemos si nuestras oraciones no son respondidas? ¿Quieres decir que no conseguiste ese empleo que querías? La oración no es como el mostrador de una farmacia”.
Y añadió que “mi oración a veces era difícil, cuando yo debatía con Dios o simplemente me sentía indigno de orar en absoluto. Los cumpleaños a veces han sido difíciles, en particular cuando cumplí 90 hace poco. ¿Sería mi último cumpleaños? De ser así, ¿sobre qué debería orar?”
El Rdo. Martin Smith, jubilado recientemente de Santa Columba, en Washington, D.C. y autor de numerosos libros sobre la oración, dijo que oramos “para expandir nuestra experiencia de comunión con Dios, que es amor, para ser receptivo a la misericordia y la transformación por la gracia de Dios y para tomar parte en su obra de restauración al ofrecerle nuestro anhelo de que su reino de amor llegue a ser real en las vidas de todos los seres humanos”.
Hemos de entender nuestra relación con Dios cuando parece que no responde a nuestras oraciones, dijo, porque “el vínculo con Dios que se desarrolla en la oración profundiza nuestro sentido de puro misterio.
“No sabemos y no podemos saber más que una fracción de cómo nuestras acciones amorosas activas desempeñan un papel en la venida del reino de Dios en la tierra”, agregó. “Aprendemos a amar sin dependencia de muchos resultados tangibles inmediatos… Oro como miembro del Cuerpo de Cristo, estoy actuando dentro de la red de vidas interconectadas llamada la comunión del Espíritu Santo.
“Aprendo a vivir sin poder ejercer mucho control sobre ninguna cosa, sencillamente haciendo de mi capacidad de amar y desear una continua ofrenda a Dios cuyo misterio escapa al alcance de mi entendimiento”.
Por qué orar. ¿Es importante la oración instructiva?
Claire Littlefield, de 17 años, alumna de último año de la escuela secundaria Pittman y feligresa de la iglesia de San Francisco ‘[St. Francis], en Turlock, California, en la Diócesis Episcopal de San Joaquín, dijo que ella ora a lo largo de sus jornadas, tratando “de acordarse siempre de dar gracias por todas las bendiciones que recibo cada día y todos los días” y durante las situaciones tensas así como antes de las competencias de atletismo.
“Siempre nos reunimos y oramos antes de nuestras carreras para pedirle a Dios que nos dé fuerzas para hacerlo lo mejor que podamos, y para acordarnos de que Dios está con nosotros. Orar me calma y me concentra. Siempre reafirmo la presencia de Dios conmigo cuando oro”.
Para Ryan Macías, de 17 años y feligrés de la iglesia de San Jorge [St. George’s] en Laguna Hills, California, la oración surge como una respuesta a Dios. “Constantemente, Dios se nos está dando a conocer de muchas maneras diferentes, en los sacramentos, en la belleza de la creación que nos rodea, en su Palabra y de otras muchas formas.
“Es muy importante considerar las diversas formas de responderle a Dios”, añadió Macías, quien dijo que se había enamorado de las oraciones del Libro de Oración Común cuando lo descubrió.
“Muchas veces necesito estructura, necesito ayuda para concentrarme. Me encuentro sin palabras. Oro por las pequeñas cosas como por las grandes, por las bendiciones y por las cargas. Nada es demasiado grande, y nada demasiado pequeño para ponerlo ante Dios. Él oye nuestras peticiones. Él oye nuestras alabanzas y acciones de gracia, de ello estoy convencido”.
La notable escritora y conferenciante Phyllis Tickle se vale de una metáfora literaria para describir una oración no peticionaria.
“Lo que en verdad hago es pasar a través de una suerte de ojo de cerradura o de puerta que está en alguna parte dentro de mi mundo no objetivo y salgo al otro lado a una especie de plaza de mercado [por carecer de una palabra mejor] donde hay actividad y donde las ideas y las frases y las percepciones se muestran como en una gran galería comercial”, escribió Tickle en un correo electrónico dirigido a ENS el pasado 12 de diciembre. “Y yo voy a comprar, tomando lo que necesito o lo que quiero o aquello que me atrae, pero el “comprador” no soy yo, porque “yo” sigo estando del otro lado del ojo de la cerradura, a la espera.
“El comprador, más bien, es un ser guiado, de quien yo soy sólo una parte… o de quien mi autoconciencia es sólo una parte. Yo/nosotros, recojo lo que me atrae [porque inevitablemente lo necesitaré en el otro lado], o lo que me complace, aunque no sé por qué, o lo que simplemente me encanta y se basta a sí mismo por esa razón. Luego, el yo lo lleva todo de vuelta a través del ojo de la cerradura o a través de la puerta y hace de eso la esencia del arte y de la vida, porque ese es el resultado final para el que está concebido”.
Ella añadió que “la oración a horas fijas, como la oración ritual, es el hogar del alma… los lugares [porque la oración es siempre un lugar] donde somos orientados, instruidos y definidos por otra agenda que no es la nuestra”.
‘La oración misma es un milagro’
Un accidente automovilístico ocurrido hace varios años le suscitó dudas sobre la oración al Rdo. Ernesto Medina, rector de la iglesia de Santa Marta [St. Martha’s Church] en Papillion, Nebraska.
Él se recuperó de lesiones graves y “la gente decía cosas como, Dios debe tener un propósito para ti en la tierra. ¡Cómo si los que se mueren no tuvieran ningún propósito en la tierra!
Toda la idea de un Dios que responde a la oración “me molesta”, añadió Medina. “Es como decir: si te responden a las oraciones, estás dentro; si no te las responden, te quedas fuera”.
“Por otra parte, existe la presunción de que uno hace algo para que te respondan las oraciones. Si no estudias el día antes de un examen, y ruegas que Dios te dé la sabiduría para contestar las respuestas correctas, probablemente no vas a salir muy bien en el examen”.
Pero la oración misma es un milagro, añadió. “El milagro que la oración contiene es que la oración es útil cuando te ayuda a entender lo que estás poniendo ante Dios, algo de lo que haces dejación, que entiendes por ti mismo no tienes poder alguno sobre eso. De manera que la acción, lo sepas o no, que presentas ante Dios, un poder superior, es el milagro”.
Incluso más, “cuando oras por otra persona te vinculas de manera encarnada con la comunión de los santos, de suerte que si oro contigo me vinculo a ti y ese es el milagro.
“Se trata de si confías o no en Dios. Si tratamos de manipular la oración no confiamos. Pero si realmente vivimos en ‘hágase tu voluntad’, probablemente sea ésta la única oración”.
Dolores Conyer, de Pomona, California, sabe algo de milagros. Su hijo Timothy Gaines nació con una grave discapacidad física y mental, con pie zambo bilateral, que exigió de numerosas cirugías correctivas. “No me di cuenta de cuánto yo dependía de la oración hasta después”, recordaba Conyer durante una entrevista telefónica con ENS.
“Estuvo sometido a todas estas cirugías y, durante ellas, sufrió un paro cardíaco de causa desconocida. Sentí que la oración y la fe eran las razones por las que había sobrevivido. Él solía decir que ‘la dama de blanco’ venía a verlo. Creo que la dama de blanco era la oración, era la fe, y todo eso era bueno”
Pero Timothy fue asesinado a la edad de 35 años en 2001; su asesinato sigue sin resolver y a Conyer, de 72 años, le diagnosticaron recientemente un cáncer avanzado de pulmón. Pero su fe permanece inconmovible y aunque ella siempre tendrá interrogantes respecto a los porqués del asesinato su hijo y a sus propios quebrantos de salud “no tengo ninguna necesidad de hacer nada más que mantener mi fe, y sólo continuar orando”, dijo.
“Pensaba en todo el dolor y el sufrimiento por el que Tim pasó y en el porqué tuvo que morir de la manera en que murió, solo, y una voz me dijo: ‘no, él no lo estaba, él no estaba solo’. De manera que aquí aparece esa dama de blanco”.
Entre tanto, “pienso como cuando Tim era chiquito”, dijo Conyer. “Me dijeron que él no sobreviviría los cinco años. Así que, si él amanecía, yo hacía un plan para el día. Vivíamos día a día.
“Siempre he sido una persona arriesgada”, añadió ella. “Nunca le he temido a la aventura y a intentar nuevas cosas. Ando por este otro trayecto y, juzgado con optimismo, a pesar de que se acaba, habrá sido un buen viaje. La fe y la oración desempeñan un papel en eso. Si no contara con la fe y la oración, no sería capaz de hacer nada, estaría perdida”.
–La Rda. Pat McCaughan es una corresponsal de Episcopal News Service que está radicada en Los Ángeles. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.
Monsieur Vernet sells hardware from a kiosk he made out of shipping container parts. “I used to sell from a ‘real’ shop,” he sighed. Then pointing across the dirt street to one of the many walled off and vacant Carrefour lots where collapsed buildings used to be, he continued, “Right over there is where I rented a shop, before the earthquake, that is.”
Vernet has been selling hardware for “years”. Before the earthquake he had not only hardware tools and parts, but also electrical supplies, car tools and car parts. He built up his inventory over time with the help of CEDDISEC (the relief & development arm of the Episcopal Diocese in Haiti). Vernet is a former client – “in good standing,” he says with a smile and pride – of CEDDISEC’s microcredit service. Prior to the earthquake he had taken and paid back in full several loans that permit him to build his business by increasing and diversifying his stock.
But on January 12th 2010 he lost it all.
He recalls the day and the months that followed, with an expression that masks his deep pain – pain from not the loss of his store, but from the loss of his wife.
When the earthquake hit, Vernet’s wife was at their home in Gressier. Gressier is a border community to Carrefour that was at the epicenter of the quake. Vernet’s wife was in their house when it collapsed. She managed to escape, but in the process was hit from a falling block, and seriously injured on her head. Vernet, amidst the chaos in Haiti, put her in a car and took her to a hospital in the neighboring Dominican Republic (DR).
While in the DR, Vernet received several calls from his family and friends informing him that his hardware store in Carrefour had also collapsed, and that his merchandise was being looted. “My wife was more important to me than that store” he shared, “I just hung up… what else could I do?” Shortly thereafter, Vernet’s wife of 40+ years passed away.
Last year Vernet restarted his business. He pieced together his kiosk and bought his initial stock with small funds he borrowed from close friends. He has chosen to restart in Carrefour right across from his prior shop because this is where “his” customers are.
As a former client of the church’s pre-earthquake microcredit program, Episcopal Relief & Development has prioritized Vernet’s application for a new 2014 loan. Vernet’s plan is to once again build and diversify his inventory. Vernet is one of 43 potential clients in line to receive loans in 2014.
When asked why he has not applied for a loan from one of the many loan agencies in Haiti today, he replied, “Because the people of the church were there for me in the past, and I know they will be there for me now and in the future.”
He then added with another smile, “And because they have the best [lowest] interest rate in town!”
Tammi Mott is a program officer with Episcopal Relief & Development.
[Episcopal News Service] The remains of the two most iconic symbols of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, — its murals and its bells — are entombed today on the cathedral grounds awaiting resurrection.
Episcopalians have an opportunity on Jan. 12, the fourth anniversary of the earthquake that devastated wide swaths of the country, to hasten that resurrection. Already, there is new life in other parts of the diocese’s ministries.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has called on the church to “pray and give” in a special offering that day to help the Diocese of Haiti rebuild Holy Trinity Cathedral.
Noting that cathedral housed 14 ground-breaking murals depicting Haitian religious life and the life of Christ in Haitian motifs that were regarded as a “national treasure,” Jefferts Schori said in her invitation that “rebuilding the cathedral offers hope not only to Episcopalians but to the nation as a whole – a sign that God is present, that God continues to create out of dust, and that God abides in the spirit of his people.”
A bulletin insert with the presiding bishop’s invitation is here.
The magnitude-7 earthquake, whose epicenter was 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, struck at 4:53 p.m. local time on Jan. 12, 2010, and was immediately followed by two aftershocks of 5.9 and 5.5 magnitude. Close to 300,000 people were killed. About a third of Haiti’s approximately 9 million people lived in Port-au-Prince at the time of the quake. Of those, 1.6 million people in the capital and elsewhere were left homeless on streets filled with the rubble of 80,000 destroyed buildings.
After Holy Trinity Cathedral shook and swayed and collapsed, three murals survived on three standing fragments of walls. The murals were later purposely reduced to pieces by Smithsonian-backed art conservators and stored in a container on the cathedral grounds as part of a hoped-for restoration in a new cathedral.
Fifteen bronze bells, known in carillon parlance as a “chime,” sounded from Holy Trinity’s tower from the time of their installation in the 1950s until Jan. 12, 2010. It is thought that 14 survived the quake. Two later went missing.
Elizabeth Lowell, the Episcopal Church’s director of development, was present on the cathedral grounds on a hot November day when diocesan chief operating officer Sikumbuzo Vundla and Haitian architect designer J-Hervé Sabin peeled back part of a cement vault’s corrugated tin covering to find just nine bells. However, the survivors each revealed a part of the story.
Sabin climbed into the vault and, with tracing paper and a pencil, gathered the name of each bell’s donor as well as the company that cast the bells.
As roosters milled about and the Holy Trinity choir practiced “For Unto Us a Child is Born” in the background, Vundla searched the web via his iPad and discovered that John Taylor & Co., the company that cast the bells, is a British firm with an extensive archive of its work. Lowell said archivist George Dawson has since given her copies of the initial correspondence with then-diocesan Bishop Alfred Voegli about the bells (Voegli also commissioned the murals). Dawson also provided Lowell with the details of each bell’s diameter, weight, tone and cost.
The plan for the new cathedral includes space for the bells. That plan was unveiled in October 2012. At the time it was estimated to cost $21 million to build the entire cathedral project – the so-called “Full Vision” – immediately and that price could increase to $25 million if it took three years to build, said architect Thomas Kerns of Kerns Group Architects, in Arlington, Virginia.
The project no doubt will be constructed in phases, Kerns told the church Executive Council during his October presentation, with the first being the main worship space which would cost $15 million, including a three-year cost-escalation estimate. Construction on the cathedral has not yet begun and worshippers continue to gather in covered, open-air church on the grounds.
Lowell, who with her colleagues is helping raise money for the project, agreed that rebuilding the cathedral “is going to be a very long-term piece,” noting that very few cathedrals, past or present, have been built in short periods of time. Cathedral fund-raising details are here.
Rebuilding Holy Trinity has been a priority for diocesan Bishop Jean Zaché Duracin since shortly after the devastating quake. He has predicted the new cathedral will be “the iconic symbol of the Episcopal Church in Haiti.”
Lowell said in a recent interview that “it’s the Haitians who are asking for this [new cathedral], and with good reason because to them it’s a national treasure and it’s a symbol of their faith.”
“This is food for the soul; this is food for their lives. It’s what they are asking for and it is what we could give them,” she said. “Arts feed the soul. This church feeds the soul. This cathedral is the center of the 254 schools and the two hospitals and the 13 clinics and everything else that we’re doing for the people of Haiti, without regard to their denomination.”
While the diocese lost 80 percent of its infrastructure, all of its schools have been open since April 2010, serving Haitians from kindergarten to university. Not all schools are up to their pre-quake complement of students and staff, and work remains.
In the Haitian capital, the quake destroyed the Holy Trinity primary, secondary, music and trade schools and the Convent of the Sisters of Saint Margaret (all on the cathedral complex), as well as St. Vincent’s School for the Handicapped, the Episcopal University of Haiti, College Saint Pierre (a secondary school) and income-producing rental properties.
There is a proposal to build an income-producing property in the Turgeau section of Port-au-Prince on land that once held the diocesan bishop’s house that was destroyed in the quake. The project would include office rental space, condominiums, apartments, a guesthouse with restaurant and a supermarket with a rooftop cafeteria catering to students at a nearby university.
The Holy Trinity primary, secondary and music schools are operating in makeshift conditions on the grounds of the cathedral with plans to rebuild. The music school has plans for an expanded school in Cange and a new school in Cap Haitien in the north, as well as a new facility near the Port-au-Prince campus itself, according to information here.
The trade school has re-opened in a new, smaller facility in nearby Croix des Bouquets and now trains 600 students compared to the previous 1,700.
And all of the diocese’s churches and other institutions such as medical clinics are operating – albeit many in far less-than-ideal conditions. Still, there are bright spots and hope for the future. In Léogâne, the diocese’s Faculté des Sciences Infirmières, its nursing school, was relatively undamaged by the temblor and continues its four-year baccalaureate program (the only one in the country) for registered nurses. Twenty of its graduates are enrolled in a master’s level nurse practitioner program run in partnership with Hunter College in New York.
The Léogâne school will soon have a new neighbor in the form of an Episcopal University-approved four-year occupational and physical therapy training program. Those students will intern at St. Vincent’s School for the Handicapped.
St. Vincent’s was the first such school in Haiti when it was built in 1945 and is still the only place offering education for the blind in the country. Its prosthetics clinic has been rebuilt and some of the older deaf children are learning a trade there. Plans for rebuilding are coming together which call for an increased enrollment of 525 students (165 of them residential). St. Vincent’s is also home to Haiti’s only hand bell choir – all whose members are blind.
Outside Port-au-Prince, 33 of the diocese’s schools, rebuilt to international hurricane and earthquake resistant standards, were community shelters when Hurricane Sandy hit the island. Another 13 schools are being constructed now. Each school educates between 400 and 800 students.
Episcopal Relief & Development, which had a strong partnership with the Haitian diocese before the quake and has been involved in in post-quake work since, is part of an international effort to “green” some of the newly built Episcopal schools along with two public schools. That work includes equipping them with bio-digester sewage systems. The systems produce compost that is used in school gardens, hillside reforestation and the growing of fruit trees for transplantation near people’s homes. The methane produced by the systems fuels cooking stoves in the school’s kitchens. Another part of the effort involves collecting rainwater for use at hand washing stations and latrines.
Those involved in the schools effort, in addition to Episcopal Relief & Development, include the Presbyterian Church, which has had a long-standing relationship with the diocese-run nursing school and Holy Cross Hospital in Léogâne, and Scandinavian and German church-affiliated organizations, according to Lowell.
The latter group, she said, recognizes that the Episcopal Church “plays a huge role in education and so their way of helping is saying ‘we’ll build the building but, it’s your school, you run it.’”
It is such work that makes Lowell want to tell people that Haiti is “not all bleak and dark.”
She takes it as part of her job to “help change people’s mindset about Haiti … there are some really extraordinary things happening there.”
Lowell, who has traveled to Haiti many times since the earthquake, often in the company of other Episcopalians to whom she wants to tell the post-quake story, says the signs of hope in Haiti reach beyond the work of the Episcopal Church. They include such things as a concerted effort to pick up garbage in some parts of Port-au-Prince and the installation of solar-powered street lights. In Pétionville, what was once a 15,000-tent camp three blocks from the diocesan offices is now a well-used urban park and a soccer stadium that once housed 45,000 tents has been refurbished into a state-of-the-art soccer stadium. Six new governmental building are going up in the Haitian capital.
Still, there is work to be done. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 172,000 people were living in 306 tent camps in September 2013 and faced deteriorating conditions. The office said in late 2013 that those numbers are down from a total of 1.5 million displaced in July 2010 and living in 1,555 camps. However, 600,000 Haitians faced severe food insecurity, and an additional 2.4 million lived in moderate food insecurity at the end of 2013.
The UN also said that there had been a 50 percent drop in the incidence of cholera since the 2010 outbreak that was later traced to UN peacekeepers. Still, the disease, once unknown in Haiti, persists and the UN humanitarian office predicts 45,000 new cases of the disease this year, acknowledging that the country still hosts half of the world’s suspected cholera cases.
Meanwhile, Haiti vies for the world’s continued attention in the midst of several new and on-going humanitarian crises. UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos recently said that an unprecedented number of people are beginning 2014 either internally displaced or as refugees who have been driven from their homes by violence and bloodshed or uprooted by devastating natural disasters.
She said conflicts in Syria, the Central African Republic and South Sudan, as well as in the Philippines, which was devastated by typhoon Haiyan in 2013, , head the list. Amos noted crises in Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and eight other countries in the band across the continent that marks the transition of Saharan to sub-Saharan Africa. And, she added, the UN is still concerned with on-going humanitarian issues in Afghanistan and Myanmar, as well as Haiti.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Eleven Episcopal Church Jubilee Grants totaling $50,000 have been announced to support mission and ministry in 11 dioceses.
Jubilee Ministries are congregations or agencies with connections to the Episcopal Church, designated by diocesan bishops and affirmed by Executive Council, whose mission work affect the lives of those in need, addressing basic human needs and justice issues.
Grants were awarded in two categories: Program Impact and Program Development.
Ten Program Impact Grants at $1,500 each were awarded to initiatives of Jubilee Centers that make a positive and measurable impact in the lives of those in need.
- Diocese of Alabama: Banks Caddell Partnership – Elementary School Homework Program and Backpack for Food Program
- Diocese of Arizona: Good Shepherd of the Hills – Neighborhood Tutoring Program
- Diocese of Colombia: Youth Leadership Development – cultivating leadership among youth through spiritual development and socio-economic, legal and cultural education
- Diocese of Colorado: Evergreen Christian Outreach – job skills training
- Diocese of Haiti: Haiti Program Development – educational assistance for children
- Diocese of Iowa: Jubilee Community Center, Muscatine, IA – ministry to families with special needs children
- Diocese of New Jersey: Trinity School for Arts – ministry to at-risk youth through music education
- Diocese of Newark: All Saints Community Service and Development – “Fresh and Fit,” a health education, healthy meals, and fitness project
- Diocese of Northern Michigan: Camp New Day – ministering to youth ages nine to 14 whose lives have been disrupted by the incarceration of a parent or immediate family member
- Diocese of Southwest Florida: Cornerstone Kids – empowering “Teens in Action” to assist in the educational, spiritual and emotional development of neighborhood at-risk five to 11 year olds
One Program Development Grant for $35,000 was awarded to a Jubilee ministry that has demonstrated a new or re-visioned strategy and methodology to make an impact both locally and beyond itself.
- Diocese of Kansas: St. Paul’s, Kansas City – “Youth in Transition,” providing a meaningful learning and life skills environment for urban poor and underserved youth in transition.
“The Youth in Transition program was developed in consultation with members of the community that will benefit greatly from the work,” commented Episcopal Church Domestic Poverty Missioner the Rev. Canon Mark Stevenson. “The program utilizes the treasures (skills) of the worshiping community, has partnerships outside of the church itself, and has a strong educational component – a component that once fully developed can be replicated in or shared with other communities.”
A five- member committee with representatives from throughout the church reviewed 114 applications for grants.
The next Jubilee granting cycle and procedure will be announced in fall 2014.
For more information, contact Stevenson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Episcopal News Service] A five-member group bound for a refugee camp in South Sudan has postponed its medical mission as a result of intense fighting that has killed an estimated 10,000 people and displaced 200,000 more in the fledgling Central Africa nation.
The mission group, mostly Episcopalians from the Diocese of Colorado, had planned to visit Yida, a refugee camp in Unity State, South Sudan, home to upwards of 70,000 people who’ve fled the pre-existing violence that has for at least two years plagued the oil-rich Nuba Mountains region, an area mostly allied with South Sudan but under the control of the government of Sudan, to the north.
Yida, considered an outpost for Anglicans, lay and clergy, from the Diocese of Kadugli, is located in South Kardofor on the Sudan side of the border, where the Sudanese army and separatist rebel forces have engaged in armed conflict since June 2011.
In 2013, the Diocese of Colorado, which has a close, informal companion relationship with the Diocese of Kadugli, received a $26,625 grant from the United Thank Offering to carry out primary medical care training for women health workers from Kadugli at Yida.
“[The intention] was to begin to build a cadre of people to train other people,” said Anita Sanborn, a member of the mission group and president of the Colorado Episcopal Foundation, which is administering the grant for the diocese.
The mission group was scheduled to leave for South Sudan on Jan. 5 and to begin training at the camp, where many of the region’s displaced people come and go, on Jan. 10, but postponed the trip because of the most recent conflict.
Fighting erupted in Juba, the nation’s capital, on Dec. 15 following a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar. In the three weeks since, the fighting has spread to seven of 10 states and has created a humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.
The group plans to regroup and carry out the training in a different refugee camp serving Sudanese refugees, either in Kenya or Uganda, likely in March or April, once Bishop of Kadugli Andudu Adam Elnail, who himself has spent much of the last two years in exile and for the moment is in Colorado, returns to the region and identifies an alternative location.
Many of the people living in the camps are uneducated and don’t know general health principles, and when it comes to caring for newborns, the things you do in the first five minutes in the life of a baby that can increase their survival rate, said mission team member Dr. Michaleen “Mickey” Richer, a pediatrician with more than 25 years’ experience in global health, the majority of it in Sudan and South Sudan.
The UTO grant will allow the mission team to empower women living in refugee camps and caves, where access to medical professionals is limited or nonexistent, with the basic health-care skills and hygiene skills needed for survival, according to the award summary.
“So often we see things on the news and we don’t know how to help, we feel hopeless; UTO is a daily way to participate in changing the world around us,” said the Rev. Heather Melton, UTO coordinator. “When you put coins in the [blue] box and give thanks for something good in your life, those coins go to help people who are out there on our behalf trying to transform unjust structures of society.”
The Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan, home to 2 million members, has 31 dioceses — 26 of them in South Sudan, where it is one of the nation’s largest non-government organizations and has played a role in reconciliation in the aftermath of a two-decades-long civil war fought largely between the Arab and Muslim north and rebels in the Christian-animist south.
“The church in South Sudan is seeing the challenges of development,” said Elnail in a Jan. 8 telephone call with ENS, adding that it is operating with limited resources.
In addition to ministering to his people, who now are spread across Egypt, Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and Sudan, the bishop has advocated peace and reconciliation, speaking out both in Africa and North America. The solution to the conflict, he said, “lies in political dialogue, not in fighting.”
Sudan’s warring parties signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, ending the civil war that killed more than 2 million people and displaced an estimated 7 million more. South Sudan officially gained its independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011. In February 2012, tribal violence erupted in South Sudan’s Jonglei State.
The Diocese of Colorado has long supported Sudanese refugees, who began arriving in Colorado more than a decade ago. Many of the refugees belonged to the Episcopal Church of Sudan and found their way to diocesan churches, like St. John’s Cathedral in Denver, which is home to a Sudanese Congregation, said Sanborn.
When South Sudan gained its independence, the diocese shifted its focus from helping the diaspora to fostering schools, training in leadership development, and support for clergy in the newly developing nation, as well as engaging in advocacy efforts at home.
In addition to providing necessary assistance and training, it’s important for Americans and people of the Episcopal Church to bear witness and provide information for U.S.-based advocacy efforts, said Sanborn, who is a former board member of the American Friends of the Episcopal Church in Sudan, or AFRECS, as it is commonly known.
“I know as Americans we are really practical, and people often ask ‘what good does it do for you to go over and do two weeks of training?’’’ she said. “What is un-measurable is the hope that our presence stimulates in people who feel betrayed by their own leaders. We can bring a message to the people who are there to keep going, they will not be forgotten.”
– Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[The Tablet] The Church of England is trialling a new version of its baptism service, in which parents and godparents are no longer asked to “repent of sins” and “reject the Devil”.
The new wording – which is being piloted in more than 400 parishes until April – was devised in response to requests to couch the ceremony “in culturally appropriate and accessible language”.
Anglican baptisms are recognised by the Catholic Church, and vice versa.
In the current version of the CofE service, which dates back to 1998, the vicar asks: “Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?”. The candidate, or parents and godparents acting on his or her behalf, reply: “I reject them.”
Parents and godparents are then asked: “Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?”, to which the reply is: “I repent of them.”
Instead of this formula, reference to the devil or sin is dropped and parents and godparents are instead asked to “reject evil, and all its many forms, and all its empty promises”.
The amended version currently has no formal status because it has not been formally approved by General Synod. The reforms are backed by Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
But it has already attracted criticism. The former bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali, and Bishop of Willesden Pete Broadbent accused the church of dumbing down.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Bishop Nazir-Ali said: “The need is not [for the Church of England] to eliminate crucial areas of teaching but to explain them”, warning that the CofE should “call a halt to this perhaps well-meant effort before it further reduces the fullness of the Church’s faith to easily swallowed soundbites.”
The Bishop of Willesden, Pete Broadbent, took issue with a raft of proposed text changes, concluding in a blog: “This is crass. It’s baptism lite. It will not do.”
But Revd Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, a vicar in Durham who has been asked to use the new texts in baptism ceremonies until the end of April, said: “This is a first draft, for experimental use. It will doubtless get better as people write in with stories of what worked and what didn’t. But the aim, to have elements of the service that even those of low literacy can understand, is entirely laudable.”
[Anglican Journal] The heads of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have agreed to co-ordinate their responses to “events that transcend” their borders, such as natural disasters.
They could, for instance, issue a joint pastoral letter in response to a natural calamity and invite their members to contribute to relief and recovery efforts through one of their four relief agencies, said Archdeacon Bruce Myers, the Anglican Church of Canada General Synod’s coordinator for ecumenical and interfaith relations. Myers served as staff support at the meeting.
Leaders of the four churches reached this agreement when they met for a day and a half of informal talks last December in Winnipeg. Since 2010, the heads of these four churches have met for informal talks, “becoming colloquially known as the ‘Four-Way,’ ” said Myers.
The Anglican Church of Canada’s primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, ELCIC Bishop Susan Johnson and Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori were joined in the meeting by the new presiding bishop of the ELCA, Elizabeth Eaton.
“Broadly speaking, these informal conversations are aimed at exploring ways to extend the implications of our Anglican-Lutheran full communion partnerships across the international boundary,” said Myers. “What more could we be doing as North American churches in full communion?” The Anglican Church of Canada and the ELCIC have been in full communion since 2011, as have the ELCA and the Episcopal Church.
The leaders also agreed to explore ways of addressing the Doctrine of Discovery
“as a step towards reconciliation with indigenous people in North America,” said Myers. The Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church have both repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery.
The Anglican church, however, “has only begun to try to give tangible expression to that renunciation,” said Myers. When it renounced the Doctrine of Discovery at the 2010 General Synod, the church pledged a review of its policies and programs to expose the doctrine’s historical impact and end its continuing effects on indigenous peoples. The Doctrine of Discovery was a principle of charters and acts developed by colonizing Western societies more than 500 years ago.
[The Episcopal Church renounced the doctrine at its 2009 meeting of General Convention.]
At the meeting, Hiltz also informed the other bishops about his church’s recent decision to designate the seventh Sunday of Easter as Jerusalem Sunday. In response, the other three churches “pledged to explore the possibility of making it a common observance,” said Myers.
Each leader also agreed to prepare a devotional piece for different Sundays in Advent, to be made available for individual or congregational use in their churches during the 2014 Advent season.
They also agreed to look at what they might be able to say collectively in response to an ecumenical convergence text on ecclesiology called The Church: Towards a Common Vision. The document was issued March 2013 by the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches (WCC). Described by Myers as “groundbreaking,” the text addresses what churches might say together in areas such as peace and justice in the world, and how they might grow in communion and overcome past and present divisions. Theologians “from the widest range of Christian traditions and cultures” produced the text for the WCC.
[Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church press release] Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church, in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, has installed a new system that sends the sounds of its church services directly to hearing aids and cochlear implants.
The system, called an induction hearing loop, is widely used in Europe, and is becoming more popular in the United States. It consists of a flat copper wire that is installed under the carpet to surround the pews. The loop is connected to a special amplifier that gets its input from the church’s sound system. Sermons, music, readings, prayers, and announcements are all transmitted by the loop via a magnetic signal.
A hearing aid that that is equipped with a telecoil or “T-coil” device can receive the signal. The majority of hearing aids sold today have T-coils. By consulting with one’s audiologist, the user can have the T-coil enabled and optimized for loop listening, and learn how to activate it.
For hearing aid users, no headset is required in order to benefit from the hearing assistance system. For hearing impaired people without hearing aids, headsets are available.
“We realized that some of our church members were unable to clearly hear the service,” said the Rev. Harrison Heidel, rector at St. Barnabas. “The church leadership chose to make this investment not only for current members, but also for future members and other folks in the community who may want to use our facility.”
[Episcopal News Service] When drought conditions worried Oklahoma City environmental groups, Ferrella March and Bishop Steven Charleston organized a gathering to pray for rain.
There was a downpour.
In Detroit, St. John’s Episcopal Church held a worship service to pray for a winning season for the local baseball team, the Tigers.
The team came within reach of the playoffs.
In Los Angeles, an emotional Bishop Jon Bruno told a Dec. 7 diocesan convention gathering that, while battling leukemia, “doctors gave me a one percent chance of living and I was perfectly happy to go.”
Then came an outpouring of prayers for healing from family, friends and the diocesan and church-wide community. Now, a year later, doctors have declared him “metabolically clear” of cancer and he says he “felt all the prayers.”
All of which raises questions about how prayer works, or does it? How do we understand our relationship with God if it appears our prayers aren’t answered? How, when and why to pray, and whether any prayer too small or too large? To begin to start to answer some of these questions, a range of Episcopalians across the church shared their experiences and understanding of prayer with the Episcopal News Service.
Ultimately, they said, just pray, pray and trust God.
Oklahoma: ‘pray, teach, act’
March, a parishioner at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Oklahoma City, works for the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, a membership organization for statewide natural resource managers, and helped organize a series of days of prayer for rain when widespread drought caused water rationing, killed fish because of low reservoirs, affected crops, livestock and quality of life.
“At our May event, it thundered during the middle of the service, rained and then we had a beautiful sunset,” she recalled. “After that, at least in central Oklahoma, we had rainstorm after rainstorm, pretty severe weather, and at that point, people were saying, ‘you have to quit praying for rain now,’” she laughed.
Charleston, who along with March founded the Whole Creation Community, a Facebook environmental ministry of about 700 people living a rule of life, joked that even “our friends in north Texas wrote to me and said ‘thank you, your prayers are working here, too.’”
While grateful for the rain, neither is convinced it had anything to do with their prayers.
And that’s okay, according to March. “If it rained, great,” she said. “But, if it didn’t, it [the event] still promoted awareness. It was a win-win. That’s really Episcopalian.”
But she added that, prayer is what you do first, always. Next, you act.
“That’s the whole concept of Whole Creation Community. First we pray, then we teach and then action will come from our prayers and education. Prayer shouldn’t be the last resort; so often you hear people say, ‘all I could do was pray.’ It should be the first thing you do.”
Charleston agreed: “The prayers for rain had a statewide impact; we are partnered now with the state through conservation organizations to work annually now, to bring community building and awareness and to try to spiritually focus people on the environment. And we have a growing interreligious network now. Our plan is, water this year, next year, land, and then air.”
The retired dean and president of Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Charleston teaches Native American religions at St. Paul’s School of Theology in Oklahoma City and is founder of Red Moon Publications. Prayer that doesn’t work is often the best answer “and we don’t always need to jump to the assessment that every prayer thought must be answered or that we failed, or our God has failed,” he said.
“God is not a gumball machine that we put in a quarter and out comes what we want,” he added. “The way we judge how prayer is being responded to requires a deep participation on our part of listening carefully.”
Playing ball, being neighborly and persistently praying in Detroit
The Rev. Steven Kelly’s deep love of baseball and extravagant sense of humor translated into organizing a public prayer service to pray for the hometown team, the Detroit Tigers, to have a winning season.
“We started this in 2001 and were laughed at roundly when in 2002 the Tigers were one game short of the worst record in major league baseball,” Kelly said in a telephone interview with ENS.
“People said, ‘well, gee, your prayers aren’t working’ and we’d respond that it took the Israelites 40 years to get through the wilderness; it may take the Tigers that long, too.”
Members of the 150-year-old St. John’s Church held their annual ‘Pray for the Tigers’ service at the start of 2013 baseball season and, when the team entered the playoffs, they held another one with special intention for a World Series win.
Ultimately, the Tigers lost to the Boston Red Sox, but Kelly took the defeat in stride, noting that the prayers were less about winning and more about love of neighbor since the team plays at Comerica Park, located about 200 yards from the church.
“Yes, we pray that, if it’s God’s will they will get lots of victories but primarily we also pray for the owner, the players, for health, for the fans, for the workers, the vendors” some of whom are parishioners at the church, he said.
“The importance about prayer is persistence,” he added. It’s also important to keep a prayer journal. “Sometimes, you can go back later and see how God answered those prayers,” he said. “Or, you realize that, ‘I can’t believe something was so important to worry about.”
‘Our approaches to prayer are legion’
For the Rev. Canon Malcolm Boyd, 90, a Huffington Post columnist and author of the 1961 book of prayers, Are You Running with Me, Jesus? “our approaches to prayer are legion. I feel virtually everybody prays at one time or another.”
He prayed all night in 1961 “the night before I had to make a decision about whether or not to participate in a Freedom Ride. I was scared. I didn’t have any idea what a ‘freedom ride’ was. Yet, I must answer the next morning.”
While the celebrated civil rights activist said: “I don’t think our prayers are ‘answered’ as if by a slot machine” he went on to become a Freedom Rider and to herald other causes, including full inclusion for the LGBT community.
Prayers, he said, “can be ‘answered’ mysteriously and in the future and seemingly out of sequence. How do we know if our prayers don’t get answered? You mean you didn’t get that job you wanted? Prayer isn’t like a prescription counter at a drugstore.”
He added that, “my prayer was at times difficult when I was arguing with God or simply felt unworthy to be praying at all. Birthdays have sometimes been hard, maybe especially my recent 90th one. Would it be my last? If so, what should I be praying about?”
The Rev. Martin Smith, recently retired from St. Columba’s, Washington, D.C., and the author of numerous books about prayer, said we pray “to expand our experience of communion with God, who is love, to be open to mercy and transformation by God’s grace, and to take part in his work of healing by offering to him our longing for his reign of love to be made real in the lives of all human beings.”
We are to understand our relationship with God when it appears our prayers are not answered, he said, because “the bond with God that grows in prayer deepens our sense of sheer mystery.
“We don’t know and can’t know more than a fraction of how our active loving plays a part in the coming of the reign of God on earth,” he added. “We learn to love without dependence on many immediate tangible results … I pray as a member of Christ’s Body, I am acting within the web of interconnecting lives called the communion of the Holy Spirit.
“I learn to live without being able to control much of anything, just making my capacity to love and desire a continual offering to God whose mystery lies beyond the grasp of my understanding.”
Why Pray; prayer how-to, does it matter?
Claire Littlefield, 17, a senior at Pittman High School and a parishioner at St. Francis Church in Turlock, California, in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, said she prays throughout her days, trying “to remember to always give thanks for all the blessings that I receive each and every day” and during stressful situations as well as before track meets.
“We always come together and pray before our races to ask that God will give us the strength to do our very best, and to remind ourselves that God is with us. Praying calms me and gives me focus. I am reassured of God’s presence with me always when I pray.”
Prayer comes as a response to God, for Ryan Macias, 17, a parishioner at St. George’s Church in Laguna Hills, California. “God is constantly making himself known to us in so many different ways, the sacraments, the beauty of the creation around us, his word and so many more.
“It is so important to consider the diverse forms of responding to God,” added Macias, who said he fell in love with the prayers in the Book of Common Prayer when he encountered it.
“Many times I need structure, I need help focusing. I find myself at a loss for words. I pray about the little things as well as the big things, the blessings and the burdens. Nothing is too big, and nothing too small to lay before God. He hears our petitions. He hears out thanksgivings and praises, this I am convinced of.”
Noted writer and lecturer Phyllis Tickle uses a writing metaphor to help describe non-petitionary prayer.
“What I really do is push through some kind of keyhole or door somewhere inside my non-objective world and come out on the other side into some kind of marketplace [for lack of a better word] where there is activity and where ideas and phrases and insights are on display as if in a grand mall,” Tickle wrote in a Dec. 12 e-mail to ENS. “And I go shopping, taking what I need or want or am drawn to, but the ‘shopper’ is not me, for ‘me’ is still on the other side of the keyhole, waiting.
“The shopper, rather, is a guided being of whom I am only a part … or of whom my self-consciousness is only a part. I/we gather what I am nudged toward [for inevitably, I shall need it on the other side], or what delights me, though I don’t know why, or what simply charms and is sufficient unto itself for that reason. Then, the I who carries it all back through the keyhole or door and makes from it the stuff of art and life, for that is the end result for which it is intended.”
She added that “fixed-hour prayer, like ritual prayer, is the soul’s home … the places [for prayer is a place always] where we are tutored and schooled and sculpted by an agenda other than our own.”
‘Prayer itself is a miracle’
A car accident several years ago raised questions about prayers for the Rev. Ernesto Medina, rector of St. Martha’s Church in Papillion, Nebraska.
He recovered from serious injuries and “people were saying things like, God must have a purpose for you on earth. Like someone who dies doesn’t have a purpose on earth?”
The whole idea of God answering prayer “bothers me,” Medina added. “It’s like, if the prayers are answered, you’re in; if they’re not, you’re out.
“On the other hand, there’s the assumption that you do something so your prayers can be answered. If you don’t study the day before a test, and pray that God gives you the wisdom to put the right answers down anyway, you’re probably not going to do very well on the test.”
But prayer itself is a miracle, he said. “The miracle contained within prayer is that prayer is helpful when it helps you understand that you’re turning it over to God, that you let go, that you understand that you yourself don’t have power over it. So that action, whether you know it or not, that you’re turning it over to God, a higher power, is the miracle.”
Even more so, “there’s something about when you’re praying for someone else you somehow are linked in an incarnational way with the communion of saints, so if I’m praying with you I’m linked to you and that’s the miracle.
“It’s about whether we trust God or not. If we’re trying to manipulate the prayer we’re not trusting. But if we’re really living into thy will be done, it probably is really the only prayer.’
Dolores Conyer of Pomona, California, knows something about miracles. Her son Timothy Gaines was born severely mentally and physically disabled, with bilateral club feet, requiring numerous corrective surgeries. “I didn’t realize how much I relied on prayer until later,” Conyer recalled during a telephone interview with ENS.
“He was having all these surgeries and during them, he suffered cardiac arrest, the cause unknown. I felt that prayer and faith were the reason he survived. He used to say ‘the lady in white’ came to him. I think the lady in white was prayer, was faith, and all that was good.”
But Timothy was murdered at age 35 in 2001; his murder remains unsolved and Conyer, 72, recently was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. But her faith remains unshaken and although she will always have questions about the whys of her son’s murder and her own health challenges, “there’s no need to do anything other than to maintain my faith, and just keep on praying,” she said.
“I think about all the pain and suffering Tim went through and why he had to die the way he did, alone, and a voice said to me, ‘No, he wasn’t. He was not alone’. So, here comes that lady in white.”
For the mean time, “I’m thinking in terms of when Tim was little,” Conyer said. “They told me he wouldn’t live past five years old. So, if he woke up, I made a plan for the day. We lived each day at a time.
“I’ve always been an adventurous person,” she added. “I’ve never been afraid to venture and try new things. This is another journey that I’m on and, hopefully, however it ends, it will have been a good ride. Faith and prayer play a role in that. If I didn’t have faith and prayer I wouldn’t be able to do anything, I would be lost.”
–The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. She is based in Los Angeles.
[Episcopal Relief & Development press release] Episcopal Relief & Development is working with its partners in South Sudan as they respond to the humanitarian needs of people displaced by the current crisis. The Episcopal Church of South Sudan & Sudan (ECSSS) has established nine relief centers in Awerial to provide supplies and pastoral care to people who have fled violence in the nearby town of Bor. The Church’s relief and development arm, SUDRA (the Sudanese Development and Relief Agency), reports that nearly 76,000 people from Bor are currently sheltering at churches, schools and under trees in Awerial. Many of the displaced arrived on boats via the Nile River, which separates Jonglei State from Lakes State.
The most recent outbreak of civil unrest in South Sudan erupted on December 15, 2013, in the country’s capital, Juba. Conflict between two armed elements within the South Sudan Presidential Guard – one loyal to President Salva Kiir and one to former Vice President Riek Machar – spread from Juba through seven out of the country’s ten states. Clashes between the two groups over control of key towns such as Bor and Malakal has led to the displacement of around 194,000 people. Some have crossed into neighboring countries, and approximately 54,000 are seeking refuge at UN bases inside South Sudan, but thousands are sheltering out in the open with little security and scant supplies.
“The scale of the displacement, combined with limited local resources and infrastructure for absorbing large populations at short notice, presents numerous challenges,” said Nagulan Nesiah, Program Officer for Episcopal Relief & Development. “People look to the Church for care and leadership in times of crisis, and ECSSS has responded wholeheartedly, opening doors and mobilizing available resources to help those in need.”
In Awerial, the church compound alone is housing nearly 16,000 people, with many more in adjacent open areas. Scarcity of food is a major concern both in the displacement camps and in the town, due to the sudden large influx of people from Bor, and children are particularly at risk of malnutrition. SUDRA aims to address this by providing cooked food rations for 2,000 children through the Church’s nine relief centers. Episcopal Relief & Development support will enable SUDRA to purchase milk, rice and sugar for the feeding program, as well as charcoal and utensils for cooking and serving.
The Church in Awerial is also providing logistical and pastoral support for displaced people, with youth volunteers helping to assess needs and organize services in the camps. In addition to food, there is acute need for shelter materials, cooking utensils, medical care and adequate water and sanitation. Other agencies are addressing health issues such as malaria, waterborne disease and measles.
“Accessing contested and rebel-held areas has not been possible due to the security situation, so assessment of humanitarian needs by outside actors has been extremely limited,” said Nesiah. “However, because the Church has long-term presence and deep relationships in these communities, it has been able to gather and relay information that is extremely valuable in planning a coordinated, large-scale response.”
Episcopal Relief & Development anticipates a broader proposal from ECSSS and SUDRA to address food, shelter and healthcare needs for internally displaced people across the conflict region. SUDRA will concentrate on identifying and filling gaps in services provided by the UN and other emergency response organizations. Relief activities are planned within the context of the Church’s long-term development programs, which aim to empower vulnerable and marginalized people to make sustainable improvements in their lives and communities.
“Episcopal Relief & Development has been partnering with the Church and SUDRA since before the independence referendum to ensure that people returning to South Sudan would have spiritual and technical support to build thriving communities,” said Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Vice President for Programs. “We have been accompanying the Church as it builds its own capacity and networks to respond to emergencies like this, and SUDRA’s community-based development work has increased stability and resilience at the grassroots level. We will continue to stand with our partners at this time of crisis and through their long-term work.”
Magdalene St. Louis helps women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, abuse, addiction and life on the streets by providing a community where they can recover and rebuild their lives. The program offers two years of housing, support and education at no cost. Based on the highly successful Magdalene/Thistle Farms program in Nashville, Magdalene St. Louis is scheduled to open its first house later this year.
This is the first year Trinity is offering Wildcard Grants, which are designed to be “resources for innovative leaders.” According to the grant description, “these grants seek to reward beyond-the-bell-curve work that inspires positive transformation of people and, by extension, societies. The one-time award will be offered to organizations whose leaders have a ‘wow’ idea that lacks only money to help get it off the ground.”
In making the grant award, the Rev. James H. Cooper, rector of Trinity Wall Street said the grant is “to support general start-up costs of the program, such as buying or leasing the residential house.
“We are delighted to be able to support this program,” Cooper said, “and we look forward to hearing of its progress.
“In the midst of acquiring our first residential home and planning its rehab, this generous grant could not have come at a better time”, said Magdalene St. Louis Executive Director Tricia Roland-Hamilton. “Our circle of support now includes Trinity Wall Street.”
Magdalene St. Louis Board President the Very Rev. Mike Kinman will be at Trinity Wall Street this Sunday evening as a guest panelist on human trafficking following a performance of Angel’s Bone, a musical drama “about two fallen angels whose nostalgia for earthly delights finds them far from heaven—and victims of human trafficking.”
“Trinity is an inspiring example of a church consistently using its resources to support transformative ministries,” Kinman said. “We are honored they have entrusted us with this grant and share our belief that in addition to this being about the women who will be in our first community, this is about changing a culture where women are bought and sold.”
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Applications are now accepted for the 2014-2015 United Thank Offering grants. The application forms are available here.
The focus for the 2014-2015 United Thank Offering grants is The Gospel of Love proclaimed by Jesus Christ.
Guidelines for applying for the grants are here.
The United Thank Offering will accept:
• one grant application per diocese within The Episcopal Church;
• one additional application for a companion diocese grant from a diocese of The Episcopal Church may be submitted. This relationship may be formed with a diocese from The Episcopal Church or The Anglican Communion. The sponsoring diocese will be responsible for the accounting of the grant.
The United Thank Offering will not fund:
• project site/programs two consecutive years;
• capital campaigns or debt reductions;
• deferred maintenance (repairs or upgrades to the physical plant or facility must be tied to the specific ministry or project of the current application);
• operational budgets (meaning the proposed budget and program is the same as the year before)
• debts obligated or incurred before the date of the grant award;
• purchase of consumable items (e.g., food, medicine, paper goods, toiletries, fuel, etc.);
• scholarships, tuition, camp fees, and attendance incentives;
• emergency response.
In Episcopal dioceses within the United States, the United Thank Offering will not fund:
• a vehicle with a 12 or 15 passenger chassis (due to stability and insurance matters);
• previously funded requests;
• programs regarded to be diocesan operating budgets.
In 2014, the United Thank Offering will not fund grants (even if they are within criteria) to dioceses or provinces that have past grants still open (with the exception of 2013 awarded grants and grants currently operating under an extension).
For more information about these guidelines contact the Rev. Heather Melton, United Thank Offering coordinator, email@example.com
[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans and Episcopalians around the Communion are responding to first-hand accounts of conflict and the growing humanitarian crisis in Africa’s newest country, South Sudan.
Since hostilities broke out on 15 December different factions of the South Sudanese army have been fighting each other and killing civilians, says the UN. The UN believes that thousands have been killed and as many as 180,000 displaced in the violence.
Eye witness accounts of the conflict shared by clergy from the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan (ECSSS) over the past few weeks have fueled calls for prayers and support for the beleaguered country.
‘It’s a war zone’
The most disturbing reports came from the Bishop of Bor Ruben Akurdit Ngong, now in Juba, who spoke to several media outlets about the situation in the town.
In a recent BBC interview he described it as “really terrible, it’s horrible. You cannot even describe it.
“Two days, we came out of the UNMISS compound and it seemed to be alright. But suddenly things turned around and we heard gunshots and the rebels running towards Bor town. So everyone started fleeing in different directions. They ran into the bush. Some came into the town. Some went to the River Nile, others towards Lakes State and Juba.
“It’s a war zone. You find dead bodies everywhere. When you are in Bor town, you move around closing your nose because of the smell. Bor is in anarchy because the government is not in control. The rebels are not in control. What they are doing is fighting each other. There is no system, no way that help can come to the civilian population. There is no way even to get medicines to the vulnerable. It is just a really terrible situation.”
On New Year’s Eve, the Rev. Daniel Kon Malual, Secretary in the Office of the Bishop of Bor reported that, “Most of the Diocese of Bor Congregation is displaced and all villages of the archdeaconry of Baidit, Tong, Mathiang are all burned down by the Lau Nuer Youth. [The] Majority of the people are under trees in Awinrial County of Lake State. Other population flew to swarm area West of Baidit Payam and are under threat of attack from Lau Nuer Youth.”
Making their escape
Four days earlier South Sudan priest the Rev. John Daau had written to supporters to explain that he, like so many others, had made the difficult decision to flee South Sudan–his overriding concern was the safety of his heavily pregnant wife who was only two weeks away from giving birth.
Daau laid out the challenges facing the tens of thousands trying to leave the country and his guilt at making the decision to escape to family in Kenya in a relative’s vehicle.
“Those [who could] preferred to leave the country for fear of what may happen next despite the assurance from the government that all will be alright soon. I saw thousands of South Sudanese and foreigners (mainly Kenyans and Ugandan) crowded at the [Ugandan] border…Perhaps, over 2000 private vehicles were parked by the time I was at the border, all going through clearance on both side of Ugandan-South Sudan border as drivers scrambled in the long queues to clear and receive visas.”
People are dying
On January 3, the Primate of ECSSS, Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, wrote in a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, that the situation was increasingly desperate.
“I myself and the head of SUDRA (our Church’s local Relief and Rehabilitation Agency) visited the area and [saw] over 75 thousand people (and more are still coming) mainly women and children, some occupying churches, schools and other living under trees.
“The situation is more desperate as there is no clean water to drink, little food to eat, no good sanitation and lack of health facilities.”
Archbishop Deng Bul explained that, as a response to the crisis, he has formed an Emergency Crisis committee with the Bishop of Bor as its chairman. The committee is working with SUDRA to consolidate a proposal for the humanitarian response in the affected dioceses.
The Archbishop called on relief agencies and the wider Communion to help the Province in its work to alleviate the suffering of people affected by the conflict: “Some of them are now dying of hunger and diseases, particularly the children … as the humanitarian crisis has reached a breaking point.”
One response by Archbishop Justin Welby has been to write to all Primates of the Anglican Communion sharing with them ECSSS’s request for prayer and support.
Collaborating on aid
Over the Christmas and New Year period, Anglican/Episcopal agencies including Episcopal Relief & Development, the Anglican Alliance and the Anglican Board of Mission met on conference calls. Together, with members of ECSSS, they have been working on developing a coordinated humanitarian response through the local churches.
According to Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail of ECSSS’s Kadugli Diocese, whatever relief goods are required, he believes there will also be a need to train pastors for reconciliation and peacebuilding.
The consolidated proposal is expected in a few days and will be posted on the Anglican Alliance’s website.
Prayers for peace
Elsewhere in the Anglican Communion, South Sudanese living in Melbourne, Australia turned an annual service of thanksgiving for the past year into a national day of mourning and anxiety on New Year’s Day.
More than 200 adults and 70 children gathered at the Anglican Church of the Apostles, Sunshine, for a regular thanksgiving service. But because most of those present come from the vicinity of Bor, the prayers reflected the anxiety and concern about relatives back home.
Prayers for ‘peace in South Sudan and wellbeing of all civilians’ were led by the Rev. Abraham Angau. Prayers for the future were led by the Rev. Daniel Gai Aleu.
The Anglican Church in Melbourne has 17 congregations worshiping in the Dinka language, scattered from Sunshine to Dandenong.
In Uganda, the Primate Archbishop Stanley Ntagali also used part of his Christmas message to call for a dialogue to end the conflict in South Sudan.
Que los estadounidenses tengan una mala opinión sobre el trabajo de sus congresistas en Washington no es noticia nueva, lo que sí es novedoso es que la mayoría califique al Congreso 2013 que acaba de terminar sus sesiones como el peor que les ha tocado vivir…o lo que para muchos es “el peor de la historia de Estados Unidos”. Así lo revela una encuesta de CNN/ORC International que demostró que el 73% de los encuestados cree que “los congresistas hicieron un pésimo trabajo”. Las luchas partidistas y la poca cooperación entre los partidos, son las causas principales según la encuesta.
En una conferencia sobre racismo en los países europeos y Estados Unidos, se mencionaron los siguientes hechos históricos: Las estrellas amarillas y los triángulos rosados del régimen nazi, la prohibición a las mujeres musulmanas del uso de su velo religioso en Francia, la encarcelación de ciudadanos japoneses en Estados Unidos durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, la ley de exclusión de ciudadanos chinos para inmigrar a Estados Unidos en 1882, las diferentes categorías del régimen de apartheid en Sudáfrica, la violación de los derechos humanos en Cuba, la exclusión de la ciudadanía de descendientes haitianos en la República Dominicana, la remoción de niños indígenas de sus lugares de origen para enseñarles a “ser blancos”, la remoción de negros de las leyes de inmigración, la esclavitud y sus consecuencias.
Eggoni Pushpalalitha, presbítera de la Iglesia del Sur de la India ha sido designada primera obispa días después que Patricia Storey de la Iglesia Anglicana de Irlanda electa obispa para servir en la diócesis de Meath y Kildare. Su esposo es Earl Storey, clérigo irlandés. La pareja tiene dos hijos mayores.
Carlos M. de Céspedes, vicario general de la arquidiócesis de La Habana, afirmó en una conferencia que los “actuales cambios” de Raúl Castro parecen conducir a “un socialismo más participativo y democrático”, dijo en la revista Espacio Laical. Añadió que en Cuba “muchos experimentan la imposibilidad transitoria de construir una sociedad de acuerdo con su visión de la misma” y “se sienten incómodos en la sociedad cubana contemporánea, socialista en movimiento”. Apuntando a disidentes y exiliados, sin mencionarlos explícitamente, dijo que “esto los lleva a una apatía social o al distanciamiento geográfico”.
El asesino mandatarios de Corea del Norte, Kim Jong-Un, ha amenazado con “desastre nuclear” en la península coreana si hay una nueva guerra, y advirtió a Estados Unidos que en caso de conflicto no saldrá indemne. “Si estalla de nuevo una guerra en esta tierra, traerá consigo un desastre nuclear masivo, y Estados Unidos nunca estará seguro”. Kim ejecutó a su tío recientemente.
Los expertos analistas económicos de América Latina dijeron en varias ocasiones el año pasado que “el gobierno de Nicolás Maduro no llegará al nuevo año”. Parece que se equivocaron aunque el nivel de inflación es de 50.6 hace pensar que la economía no anda muy bien.
Al marcar el año 55 de la llegada al poder de los Castros, el jefe mayor ha alertado a la ciudadanía a que “graves peligros” se acercan y que “poderosas fuerzas subversivas dentro y fuera de la lista” están al asecho de destruir lo que se ha creado con tanto esfuerzo por el pueblo cubano. Ese cuento se ha escuchad muchas veces. ¿De qué isla hablará el líder que prometió libertad, justicia y educación para todos? Nada, que no hay peor ciego que el que no quiere oír.
El papa Francisco ha recibido una visita oficial de una delegación de la Federación Luterana Mundial y los miembros de la Comisión Luterana-Católica para la Unidad. “El ecumenismo espiritual constituye el alma de nuestro camino en dirección a la plena comunión, y nos permite probar, incluso ahora cualquier fruto, aunque sea imperfecto”, dijo el pontífice.
La terapista familiar Virginia Satir, dice en una de sus conferencias: los hispanos somos conocidos porque no podemos hablar ni saludar sin tocar al otro. Si hay confianza, lo nuestro es abrazar y besar. Si no la hay, se nos zafa la palmadita, poner la mano en el hombro o dar el apretón de manos. A los hijos, sobrinos y nietos, desde bebés, los abrazamos y los apretamos. ¿Seremos expertos en repartir salud? Añade que los abrazos “producen seguridad, confianza, sentido de protección y comunicación honesta” y sanan los sentimientos de ira, soledad y aislamiento”. El abrazo se ha hecho una forma generalizada de saludarse durante la paz en la Iglesia Episcopal.
FELICITACIÓN: Feliz 2014.