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Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue meets in England

Friday, May 23, 2014

[Anglican Church of Canada] The fifth meeting of the Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue takes place in Coventry, England from May 22 to 25, 2014. The Consultation brings together Anglican bishops from Africa and North America in hopes of building common understanding and respect.

Beginning in 2010, a rotating group of approximately two-dozen bishops from Canada, the United States, and a number of African countries, have met annually at locales around the world. Their gatherings facilitate learning about each other’s contexts and finding pathways for healing and reconciliation. Their time together in Coventry focuses specifically on “Reconciliation in the Anglican Communion.”

This intentional dialogue was developed in response to theological controversies that strained relationships across the Anglican Communion in the early 2000s. These included issues relating to human sexuality and the blessing of same-sex marriages. In the face of pain and division arising from these controversies, Archbishop Colin Johnson of the Diocese of Toronto and the Rev. Canon Dr. Isaac Kawuki Mukasa, now Africa Relations Coordinator, spearheaded this important dialogue.

The bishops report this time together as one of powerful transformation and reconciliation. Kawuki Mukasa says that many at the table have grown tired of the tone of past discourse and that there is sincere interest in carving a new, respectful way forward. “There’s growing appetite for conciliatory voices in the Anglican Communion,” he says. There is also deepening appreciation that all who form this unique group carry out their lives and ministries as faithfully as they can in their contexts.

At the close of their last meeting, Canon David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director of Reconciliation, invited the bishops to Coventry for their fifth face-to-face gathering. The setting in Coventry is especially fitting for the theme of the 2014 meeting given the city’s growing reputation as a hub for peace and reconciliation work. This includes strong Anglican contributions. The leadership and community at Coventry Cathedral responded to the World War II destruction of their building with forgiveness and commitment to reconciliation. This commitment is now lived out through a number of ministries addressing reconciliation around the world.

The members of the Anglican Church of Canada are asked to pray for the leadership and staff gathered in Coventry this week as they seek to listen to and learn from each other.

To learn more about the Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue, please visit the Anglican Church of Canada website.


The Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi – Diocese of Matana (Primate of Burundi)
The Most Rev. Albert Chama – Diocese of Northern Zambia (Primate of Central Africa)
The Most Rev. J. Chimeledya – Diocese of Mpwapwa (Primate of Tanzania)
The Most Rev. Daniel Sarfo – Diocese of Kumasi (Primate of West Africa)
The Most Rev. J. Idowu-Fearon – Diocese of Kaduna
The Rt. Rev. Garth Counsell – Diocese of Cape Town
The Rt. Rev. Sixbert Macumi – Diocese of Buye
The Rt. Rev. Joel Waweru – Diocese of Nairobi
The Rt. Rev. Johannes Angela – Diocese of Bondo
The Rt. Rev. Julius Kalu – Diocese of Mombasa
The Rt. Rev.  Joseph Wasonga – Diocese of Maseno West
The Rt. Rev.  Antony Poggo – Diocese of Kajo Keji
The Rt. Rev. Evans Kisekka – Diocese of Luwero
The Rt. Rev.  Kobina Ben Smith – Suffragan Diocese of Kumasi
The Rt. Rev. Mensah Torto – Diocese of Accra
The Most Rev. Colin Johnson – Diocese of Toronto (Metropolitan of Ontario)
The Rt. Rev. John Chapman – Diocese of Ottawa
The Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald – National Indigenous Anglican Bishop
The Rt. Rev. Jane Alexander – Diocese of Edmonton
The Rt. Rev. Michael Bird – Diocese of Niagara
The Rt. Rev. Michael Oulton – Diocese of Ontario
The Rt. Rev. Michael Ingham – (Retired) Diocese of New Westminster
The Rt. Rev. Robert O’Neill – Diocese of Colorado
The Rt. Rev. Stacy Sauls – The Episcopal Church Chielf Operating Officer
The Rt. Rev. Christopher Cocksworth – Diocese of Coventry
The Most Rev. Justin Welby – Archbishop of Canterbury


Canon David Porter
Ms. Madeleine Walters
Canon Phil Groves
Canon Benjamin Musoke-Lubega
Ms. Sarah Arney
Dr. Andrea Mann
Canon Isaac Kawuki-Mukasa

Honduras clinic provides treatment, care to people living with HIV, AIDS

Friday, May 23, 2014

A woman working in the pharmacy at Siempre Unidos in San Pedro Sula dispenses medications to a transgender woman. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

[Episcopal News Service – San Pedro Sula, Honduras] Some years ago a woman came to the Rev. Pascual P. Torres and said, “I am going to die.”

While she was a patient at a public hospital, she had been tested for HIV without her knowledge, then told the test results were positive. The staff told her: “You are going to die because you have AIDS.” The woman left the hospital and decided to jump off a bridge; she then remembered her 5-year-old daughter at home.

“She decided to kill her daughter first and then herself. But then she ran into a nurse … and she didn’t know if it was God or whatever, ” Torres said.

The nurse told the woman about Siempre Unidos, a ministry of the Episcopal Church in Honduras that provides medical care and comprehensive social services to people living with HIV and AIDS and their families.

“Ten to 15 years ago when people knew they were HIV positive, they tried to take their lives,” said Torres. “Now with information and education, things are better but it’s still not the best news to get.”

The woman looked healthy, though she persisted in saying, “I am going to die,” he said. “I told her that this [Siempre Unidos] was a place for those who want to live. ‘I can help you, I can spend all day with you, but if you have made up your mind…’”

Eleven years later, the woman is a technician at Siempre Unidos; her daughter is 16 years old.

Siempre Unidos began in the 1990s at a time when people in its support community were dying at a rate of nine per month and coffins were one thing the ministry provided.

“At the beginning of the pandemic it was bad,” said Torres during a conversation at the clinic in San Pedro Sula.

In 2003, when patents expired and drugs became more affordable and accessible in the developing world, Siempre Unidos began providing medication to treat the immune system disease.

Today, between 21,000 and 33,000 people live with HIV and AIDS in Honduras, population 7.9 million, according to UNAIDS statistics.

Siempre Unidos operates two additional clinics, one in Siguatepeque, in the central mountains, and the other in Roatán, the largest of Honduras’ Bay Islands, providing care for more than 1,500 people in partnership with the Diocese of Honduras.

The ministry receives medication from Honduras’ ministry of health, international pharmaceutical companies and from individuals in the United States who collect unused drugs, and depends on local and international financial support.

Each year, particularly in the aftermath of the global economic crisis, fundraising is difficult, said Torres.

“Also we have challenges with our beneficiaries: poverty, lack of work, malnutrition, drug dependency … Some don’t have money for transportation so we provide that,” said Torres.

Poverty, unemployment and underemployment are pervasive in Honduras, where the average adult has 6.5 years of education; despite health confidentiality, a positive HIV diagnosis makes finding a job even more difficult.

“It’s against the law to discriminate against a person who is HIV positive, but sometimes they’ll find ‘other’ reasons,” said Torres. “For a man or woman with HIV, it’s hard to find work.”

The waiting room in San Pedro Sula was two-thirds full of patients, men, women, transvestites, on a March morning; in the adjacent kitchen a traditional Honduran breakfast of baleadas was served.

For some, the breakfast, a folded tortilla with refried beans and crema, would be the only substantial meal of the day, said Torres.

Improvements in treatment, including the advent of antiretroviral therapy and other drug cocktails, have led to better outcomes, expectations and quality of life. Eventually, Siempre Unidos added integrated services for HIV- and AIDS-infected individuals and their families, including scholarships, pastoral care and educational outreach to the gay community and sex workers.

The country has one of the highest heterosexual transmission rates in the developing world.

Over the last eight years, in partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development, Siempre Unidos has run a community education and prevention program aimed at reducing the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases among commercial sex workers in San Pedro Sula, the country’s industrial center.

The outreach team provides sex workers with rapid HIV tests, STD prevention education and social and emotional support.

“The work they [Siempre Unidos] do is really important,” said Kellie McDaniel, Episcopal Relief & Development’s program manager for Latin America. “Part of that work is also human rights, gender-based-violence work.”

Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world; criminals and criminal gangs often operate with impunity; the marginalized, including the LGBT community, suffer greater incidences of violence.

Local and international human rights organizations have thoroughly documented violations against LGBT individuals. Between 2009 and 2012 more than 90 homophobic killings were reported in Honduras.

Siempre Unidos receives patients at its clinic by referrals from hospitals and through word of mouth. The program designed to educate sex workers goes out to the streets, and the nurses and educators have gotten to know the people they serve.

“They are closer to the danger, they are exposed to drug dealers, extortion, and are being used by the gangs and the drug cartels,” said Xiomara Hernandez, who works with sex workers. “And the people who live in the streets are targets of the government when they want to do social cleansing.”

Because of its work with the LGBT community, Siempre Unidos has become a repository for documenting human rights violations.

“There’s a lot of hate crimes and social cleansing,” said Torres. “Our files of violence and hate crimes are better than those the police and state institutions have.”

The country’s Congress recently made changes to its penal code to “ensure legal protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

“The authorities ask us for information, but for us it’s also a very dangerous situation because of the corruption that exists in institutions,” said Torres.

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

Presiding Bishop invited to preach at St. Alban’s, England

Thursday, May 22, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affair press release] At the invitation of the Very Reverend Dr. Jeffrey John, Dean, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Katharine Jefferts Schori will con-celebrate and preach at noon at the Cathedral and Abbey of St. Alban, England, and will participate in the annual Alban Pilgrimage on June 21.

“I have been fascinated with Alban for years – the first English martyr, newly baptized, who sheltered a priest fleeing persecution and gave his life in the other’s stead,” Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori said. “He is a remarkable example of baptismal vocation.”On June 22, at the invitation of the Rev. Canon Brian Mountford, Vicar, the Presiding Bishop will preach at the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin at Oxford University at 10:30 am.

On June 25, the Presiding Bishop will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity by the University of Oxford.

“I am deeply honored by this development,” the Presiding Bishop said. “None of us comes to a time like this without the teaching, support, and partnership of many, many people.  I am immensely grateful for their companionship in this journey.”

The Rev. Fredrick Robinson honored

Thursday, May 22, 2014

[Church of the Redeemer press release] The Very Rev. Fredrick A. Robinson, Rector of the Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota, Florida, was honored and thanked for 20 years of outstanding service and leadership to the parish and the local community during an outdoor block party at the church on Friday, May 16.  Hundreds of parishioners and friends of the church attended the “Potluck on Palm” event on Friday, which featured a big-screen video presentation chronicling Fr. Robinson’s years at Redeemer.  The Right Reverend Dabney T. Smith, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida, attended as well, and formally blessed a gift of a chalice and paten given by the parish to the church in Fr. Robinson’s honor.

Bishop Dabney Smith blesses Eucharistic vessels given to given by members of Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota, Florida, in honor of their rector, the Rev. Fredrick A. Robinson.

Fr. Robinson’s long tenure has provided a stability and continuity in pastoral leadership rarely found among parishes of Redeemer’s size. Many staff members have been working for the church for 20+ years, and his Associate Rector, the Rev. Richard C. Marsden, whom Fr. Robinson hired in 1995, has been with the church for nearly two decades as well.

Under Fr. Robinson’s leadership, church membership has grown tremendously, leading him to establish positions for a full-time youth minister, a full-time priest in charge of the Hispanic ministry, and a Director of Children’s Christian Formation. The church has also expanded its schedule of worship offerings to include a Saturday evening contemporary service, and a Sunday afternoon mass entirely in Spanish.

Over the past 20 years, Fr. Robinson has been the guiding force behind a number of Redeemer’s ambitious outreach ministries.  He is currently the President of the Board of Directors for the ecumenical day center for the homeless, Resurrection House, which Redeemer helped found.  The walking of the Stations of the Cross down Main Street in Sarasota — a tradition begun by Redeemer 18 years ago, has grown into a partnership with the Downtown Ministerial Association that involves the participation of 60 area churches and faith-based organizations, as well as hundreds of participants from the community.  Redeemer is an active participant in Day of Hope each year, and at least once a year since 1999, the church has been sending mission groups of both adults and youth to serve those in need in the Dominican Republic; Fr. Robinson has participated in these trips nearly every year.

With Fr. Robinson at the helm, Redeemer has embarked on many significant improvements to the church facility and campus. The church added a second story to its parish buildings to accommodate the growing number of students in the church school, and in 2003 installed the massive 50-stop Nichols & Simpson organ which highlights Redeemer’s acclaimed Great Music in Sacred Space annual music series. The nave has been improved, new lighting and sound systems and stained glass windows were installed, and the church’s faith has been illuminated by the addition of several masterful works of art including life-size mosaics on exterior walls, and an interior thirty-foot icon painted by world-renowned religious iconographer and Romanian Orthodox Nun Sister Eliseea Papacioc.

Cultivating extensive adult education offerings and a developing a robust program for children, youth and families have been focal points for Fr. Robinson’s energies over the years.  To augment in-house programs, he regularly invites noted theologians, preachers and speakers from around the globe to speak to the parish on a diverse range of topics.

Fr. Robinson is the chairman of the Southwest Florida Diocesan Commission on Liturgy and Music; he also serves on the Board of Trustees for Nashotah House and as chairman of the External Affairs Committee for the school. In 2013, he was appointed Dean of the Manasota Deanery.

Prior to being called to Redeemer, Fr. Robinson served as Rector at Grace Episcopal Church in Monroe, Louisiana, and at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Grand Prairie, Texas. He holds a B.A. in psychology from Ohio State University, a Magistri in Sancta Theologia fromNashotah House Theological Seminary and a Master of Theology from Perkins School of Theology. He lives in Sarasota with his wife, Linda; the couple has two children.

A safe place to talk about stress

Thursday, May 22, 2014

[Living Compass] The figure of the harried parent, juggling responsibilities of work and family, is familiar, but teens feel stress, too, and often they have no one to share it with, no safe place to talk about it.

That’s why Living Well with Living Compass for Teens was such a welcome addition to the programing at Our Next Generation (ONG), which offers after school academic support and year round guidance in making life choices to children and teens from disadvantaged neighborhoods in Milwaukee.

“The stress piece was important,” said De’Shawn Ewing, coordinator of the teen program at ONG. “They don’t feel they can always talk to someone when they were stressed out, and it was important to talk about how they shouldn’t be bottling up stress and holding it in.”

ONG, which is based in a former Episcopal church building, received the Living Compass program through a grant from the Charles E. Kubly Foundation, a charity that focuses on mental health issues. The curriculum and facilitators’ guide were prepared by Holly Stoner of Living Compass, who has worked with hundreds of teens and families in her private therapy practice and led scores of Living Compass groups for teens, parents and adults.

The program “is easy to follow,” Ewing said, “and it hit on some key areas for youth, things that they might not often think about but that definitely needs to be discussed like stress, spirituality, being in tune with yourself.”

Dan Rocklin, who is working as an intern at Living Compass, visited the group and was impressed with the material and how it was being used.

“The focus was on the teens accessing their own sense of wellness,” said Rocklin. There wasn’t the moralistic tone to the book. It really had them looking within themselves to figure out what was the best way for them to be healthy.”

Rocklin, who is spending a year with Creating for a Cause, the Milwaukee branch of the Episcopal Service Corps, said Stoner had done an excellent job adopting the Living Compass approach for a teen audience.

“In the adult curriculum that are questions about work and vocation. In the teen version, that section is aimed more toward school. There are questions about making friends, fitting in with a peer group, interacting with your parents, but it is the same basic idea of having individuals assess their own health.”

Like most of Living Compass’ offerings, the teen program is designed to be used in a supportive group. Ewing was curious about whether it would be effective with the five to ten young people who attended the sessions because they didn’t have much experience discussing their personal lives in such a public setting.

“We made a deliberate effort to get them focused on the material, and to get them to understand that we were going to have a discussion.” Ewing said. “’If you want to share, you can. If you don’t want to share, you don’t have to.’ That was just to get the intimidation factor out of it.”

It worked.

Rocklin said the conversation was lively in the session he observed and that the students praised the curriculum.

“I liked it because it gave me a chance to speak out,” said Julian, a high school student who participated in the program. “It gave me a chance to verbalize my stress without feeling like I’m being a burden.”


Thursday, May 22, 2014

El Consejo Latinoamericano de Iglesias parece que está pasando por una seria crisis institucional a juzgar por una carta abierta enviada a todas sus iglesias e instituciones miembros. En una reciente reunión de la directiva celebrada en Colombia se decidió que es necesario hacer más efectivo el trabajo del CLAI para lo cual se necesita “un movimiento continental más dinámico, más fraterno y más cercano en su misión con las iglesias y la sociedad”.  La directiva propuso revisar los estatutos y re-estructurar la organización para dar respuesta a los nuevos desafíos de América Latina y El Caribe. También decidió dar por terminada la labor del secretario general Nilton Geise, un clérigo luterano brasileño.  El CLAI es una organización de iglesias y movimientos cristianos que se fundó en Huampaní, Perú, en noviembre de 1982, su misión es promover la unidad entre los cristianos del continente y su oficina central está en Quito, Ecuador.

Con una larga ovación fue recibida Lilian Tintori, esposa del opositor venezolano preso Leopoldo López después de un vehemente discurso sobre la situación de Venezuela en el Campus  Wolfson del Miami Dade College. Dijo que el gobierno de Nicolás Maduro “tiene miedo” dialogar con la oposición sin condiciones porque no tiene la razón y el cuadro de destrucción del país es prueba de su ineficiencia. Tintori dijo que los estudiantes continuaban las protestas con renovado valor después de tres meses de lucha. “No somos de ningún partido, sólo queremos una patria libre y soberana”, dijo.

Alina Fernández Revuelta, hija natural de Fidel Castro dice en una entrevista que desde que escapó de Cuba a los 38 años de edad en 1993 no ha vuelto a la isla, ni ha visto a su padre. “Yo no regreso a Cuba mientras tenga que pedir permiso para viajar a la isla”, dice con firmeza. Añade que es un derecho humano volver a la tierra donde uno nació “sin permisos especiales”. Con respecto a su padre dice que no lo odia pero que lo considera “una persona con un nivel de crueldad muy elevado”. Añade que nunca la ha llamado y que el día de sus quince le mandó una caja de refrescos como regalo.

Albita Rodríguez, la popular cantante cubana dice que fue “un grave error” que después del triunfo de la revolución cientos de artistas y cantantes se vincularon al grupo triunfante. “Ahora están pagando las consecuencias”, dice la cantante que fue muy popular en Cuba. En 1993 no resistió más y marchó al exilio. La decisión fue inspirada por un tío suyo que le dijo que “cualquier proyecto social, filosófico o religioso que divida la familia no puede ser bueno”.

El antiguo periódico italiano La Stampa ha publicado una carta al papa Francisco pidiéndole que elimine el celibato sacerdotal. La carta está firmada por 26 mujeres que conviven con sacerdotes y tienen hijos. La carta añade que algunas de ellas viven en relación sentimental con sacerdotes y quisieran hacerlo “sin ocultarse”. Añaden también, que “somos un grupo de mujeres que queremos romper el muro del silencio y vivir el evangelio en el estado conyugal dando  testimonio a nuestros hijos y a la comunidad”.  En el rito latino de la iglesia existe el celibato y la promesa de castidad desde el Concilio de Letrán en 1139. El Vaticano no ha contestado la carta.

Colombia está de luto por el accidente en Fundación, un pueblo de la costa atlántica colombiana, donde 30 niños y dos adultos perdieron la vida y 20 resultaron heridos en el incendio de un autobús que llevaba gasolina en un recipiente al descubierto. El grupo regresaba de un culto evangélico cuando ocurrió el siniestro. Las autoridades locales han dicho que aparentemente el chofer del bus violó varias normas de seguridad. El presidente Juan Manuel Santos pidió un minuto de silencio al conocer la noticia.

La Iglesia Ortodoxa Rusa ha denunciado una competencia artística transmitida por Eurovisión cuando una homosexual austríaca recibió el premio como la mejor canción de la noche. La nota dice que el hecho es un “signo de decadencia moral” y un esfuerzo para introducir nuevos modelos culturales en países como Rusia.

La pastora Gloria Rojas, luterana de Chile, ha sido nombrada por la presidenta Michelle Bachelet como capellana del Palacio de la Moneda sede del gobierno de Chile en Santiago. Ha sido presidenta de la Iglesia Luterana de Chile y ha realizado estudios superiores en Argentina y Estados Unidos. Ella y su esposo tienen tres hijos mayores.

VERDAD. Deja de pensar en la vida y resuélvete a vivirla. Paulo Coelho, novelista brasileño.

Sharing Faith Dinners inspires thousands across the country

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Photo: Diocese of Texas

[Episcopal Diocese of Texas] Thousands of Episcopalians across the United States gathered in homes, restaurants and churches last Thursday, May 15, to share a meal and share stories of their faith. In the third year of Sharing Faith Dinners, the Dioceses of West Texas, Fort Worth, Northwest TexasNorth Carolina and a few individual churches across the country and even Canada joined the Diocese of Texas for the annual event.

Sharing Faith began in 2012, fashioned after Houston Interfaith Ministries’ Amazing Faith Dinners, where people of different faiths gather for a simple meal and to answer questions about their faith experiences. The Diocese of West Texas joined in 2013 and the idea continues to spread.

“It’s funny that we have to plan an evening to talk to friends about our faith, but each time I’ve done Sharing Faith, it’s been a gift,” said Carol Barnwell, director of communications for the Diocese of Texas. “To enjoy the hospitality of people I may not know is always lovely. And to hear the very personal experiences of God from others is a humbling experience. Each time, I feel like I’ve received a gift and each story allows me to see God in a new way.”

Photo: Diocese of Texas

The evening is designed to promote listening. A moderator provides guidance for the group, allowing each person to speak without interruption or crosstalk. Every year, participants share stories of great joy and pain, moments when they questioned their faith, and moments when they were affirmed in their beliefs. Friends often share tears and laughter as they learn about each other in a new, deeper way.

At an event in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood, parishioners of St. Stephen’s and St. James’ Episcopal churches gathered at the home of Carvel Glenn and Randall Lamb. A dozen participants shared jambalaya around a table and then chose cards that prompted each person with a question.

“It was a night of sharing heartfelt stories and everybody was feeling safe enough to feel vulnerable,” Lamb said in his distinctive southern drawl. “It’s like one of our dogs, Aretha. She loves to have her belly scratched, and she will flop on the ground to expose her belly to be scratched. I guess everyone was just sort of flopping and having their belly scratched.”

Stephanie Davidson, a member of St. Stephen’s, attended her first Sharing Faith Dinner at the home of Lamb and Glenn. “I learned something from every single person there,” she said. “Normally I’m the kind of person that would interject, but the format really allowed me to listen and learn. I really felt God’s presence among us.”

In North Carolina, organizers designed their own question cards and named the event “Go Speak! Sharing Your Faith” in order to coincide with a wider diocesan theme. On the night of the gatherings, tornado and flood watches were in effect for much of North Carolina, but it didn’t seem to hinder participation. More than 40 percent of churches in the Diocese of North Carolina joined the event.

North Carolina’s communications coordinator, Summerlee Walter, said the feedback has been extremely positive, especially among smaller churches. “We have a lot of very small, rural churches,” she said. “A large percentage of those churches participated. It was really nice to have a diocesan event that didn’t require travel and allowed those smaller parishes to feel they were a part of the wider diocese.”

In a video posted by the Diocese of North Carolina, participants talk about their experience immediately following their dinners. One participant, Reid Joyner, admitted he had little experience describing his faith, but the environment helped him share. “The questions were really helpful for this Episcopalian that doesn’t find it particularly easy to talk about his faith,” he said. “But telling my story was easy, and I was glad to do it.”

In homes and churches, and other creative places, Episcopalians learned a great deal about each other as well as themselves through the simple act of sharing a meal and sharing their faith.

The Sharing Faith Dinners tradition will continue to grow in Texas and beyond. Visit epicenter.org/sharingfaith to learn more about the program. Or contact Carol Barnwell at cbarnwell@epicenter.org.

Zimbabwe Anglicans to Mothers’ Union: ‘We resource our own change’

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] Mothers’ Union leaders from around the world are this week meeting in Zimbabwe to learn how Anglicans there use the Community and Church Mobilisation Process (CCMP) to positively transform themselves and their communities.

The team of thirteen drawn from various countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa began the tour of the Diocese Harare on Sunday, May 18. It will end on May 23.

Juliet Ross, a Trustee and Coordinator for the Action and Outreach Unit Committee in the Mothers’ Union talked to ACNS soon after a tour of some of major CCMP sites in Harare.

She said: “I have heard so many moving stories about the Mothers’ Union and CCMP from Zimbabwe.

“It’s so dramatic what the program has done for the people here, and it seems the impact keeps growing from nothing to enormous. It’s so inspiring to see how the people are open, caring and willing to share information and success stories with others,” she added.

Lizzie Zimunya, the Mothers’ Union Community Development Coordinator in Harare Diocese, has been instrumental in the success of the diocese’s CCMP program.

She told ACNS: “This visit encourages us in Zimbabwe and helps us celebrate our successes. It also motivates many others willing to start the process in their own churches. This is also an indication that this programmis not only for Harare Diocese, because others are also willing to implement it.

Other members of the Mothers’ Union team include the Worldwide Coordinators Programme Officer Robert Dawes, the Head of Action and Outreach Worldwide Nicola Lawrence, and the Worldwide Regional Development Officer, Hannah Taylor.

The Community and Individuals Fundraising Officer, Naomi Mardon is also part of the team, as is the representative from the Mothers’ Union Literacy and Financial Education Program in South Sudan, Anne Gardner.

The team began by visiting three main sites within the city of Harare that are practicing CCMP including an old railway township called Rugare. Others included an old high-density suburb called Mabvuku and the farming town of Glendale on the outskirts of Harare.

CCMP as a community concept is inspired by the belief that poverty is a result of broken relationships between man and God, which can be restored through the word of God. It also challenges communities to build relationships, identify their own problems and to discover how they can use the readily available resources to address them.

It was only November 2012, when Zimbabwe Anglicans were able to reclaim the churches and other properties taken from them by a renegade bishop and his supporters.

“The problem of being in exile for our parish as well as the rest of the diocese made it difficult to bring back God’s flock. The youths were confused and did not understand why they could not worship in their own churches,” explained the Parish Priest of St Christopher’s Anglican Church in Rugare, the Revd Fresh Chamalenga.

“But through CCMP we were able to bring about unity and become one community which cares for one another. Using youth-friendly methodologies such as poetry and drama has made it possible to reach especially the young people in our community,” he said.

From the discussions, which the team had with the local CCMP participants, it was clear that this program has greatly impacted the various communities. Members from Mabvuku community, where St James Anglican Church is found, explained how they are usually faced with the challenge of water shortages, and how quarrels over sharing the little available water were once commonplace.

“CCMP has helped us in the fair distribution of work as well as resources,” said a local parishioner, Charity Matsiwe. “We challenge people in our community to help from as little as they have. We also teach communities how to love and care for each other and let them understand how to best help each other with the little available resources.”

A CCMP Facilitator from St James, Moreblessing Ruhukwa also made it clear that many other human resources such as mechanics, electricians and teachers can be put to good use for the Church.

At a time when many other poorer communities look for outside help to address their local challenges, CCMP is reminding Christians of the many resources that are already available to them like water, soil and human resources and how they can be put to good use within the community.

Bishop Rowe calls same-sex marriage ruling ‘a step toward justice’

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

[Canticle Communications] The Rt. Rev. Sean W. Rowe, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania and bishop provisional of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, released the following statement on Judge John E. Jones III’s ruling that Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional:

“Today is a joyful day for Pennsylvanians who believe as I do that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry in our state. These couples work hard, raise children, volunteer for good causes and pay taxes. Pennsylvania would be poorer without them, and I am pleased that Judge John E. Jones III has moved them one significant step closer to equality under the law.

“The Episcopal Church has struggled faithfully with the issue of same-sex relationships for more than three decades, and in that struggle most of us have come to understand that same-sex couples and their families are blessings to their communities and to their neighbors and friends. Like opposite-sex couples, their love draws them more clearly into fidelity to one another and service to the world. Like opposite sex couples, they are signs and sacraments allowing us to see the boundless love of God more clearly.

“I am aware that faithful Episcopalians in the Dioceses of Bethlehem and Northwestern Pennsylvania disagree with me on this issue. I want to assure them that our dioceses will remain places where people of good conscience can differ charitably and remain united in the hope and healing of Jesus Christ.

“After reflection and consultation, I will write to both dioceses with guidance for clergy who want to officiate at same-sex marriages. For today, I am grateful to live in a state that has taken a step toward justice.”

The Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem comprises 63 congregations in the 14 counties of northeastern Pennsylvania. To learn more, visit www.diobeth.org.

The Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania comprises 33 congregations in the 13 counties of northwestern Pennsylvania. To learn more, visit www.dionwpa.org.

Tiki-Toki Test

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Episcopal Church to host Oct. 22 forum: Civil Discourse in America

Monday, May 19, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] On October 22, The Episcopal Church will host and produce a groundbreaking forum on an important topic in our society: Civil Discourse in America: Finding Common Ground for the Greater Good.

The 90-minute live webcast will originate from historic Christ Church, Philadelphia (Diocese of Pennsylvania), the birthplace of the Episcopal Church and the home of our country’s beginnings. In partnership with the Diocese of Pennsylvania, Civil Discourse in America will begin at 2 pm Eastern (1 pm Central, noon Mountain, 11 am Pacific, 10 am Alaska, 9 am Hawaii).

“This nation’s life is remarkably polarized in the current season,” commented Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. “We have largely forgotten or ignored the need to value the well-being of others as a significant contributor to our nation’s quality of life. We see the evidence in increasing economic inequality, the decreasing quality of public schools, continuing high levels of unemployment and underemployment, and rabid rhetoric that blames the suffering for their own plight. Some of the current polarization is certainly generated by fear – often stirred up for particular ends – fear of the other, whether of other faith traditions or none, immigrants both documented and not, or those who inhabit different social locations – economic, geographic, or cultural. We have forgotten what it is to know our neighbors as human beings with equal rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The forum will be moderated by well-known journalist and commentator Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Executive Religion Editor for the Huffington Post. Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori will present the keynote address. Two panel discussions will focus on main themes: Civil discourse and faith; and Civil discourse in politics and policy.

Raushenbush noted, “It is encouraging that The Episcopal Church is focusing on civil discourse in America and is recognizing the crucial role spiritual and moral discipline plays in finding common ground for the greater good. At this time of deep divisions within our country and the world, we can only repair the rifts when we encounter the other with respect and openness. I’m honored to be a part of this discussion and fully expect to leave the event better equipped to be the kind of prophetic peacemaker that each of us is called to be, filled with a spirit of hope that we can move forward together in peace.”

Panelists will be recognized leaders from faith groups, NGOs, the media, academia and government. Viewers will be able to submit questions to the participants during the live webcast.

The forum is ideal for live group watching and discussion, or on-demand viewing later. It will be appropriate for Sunday School, discussion groups, and community gatherings.

The event supports Mark 4 of the Anglican Marks of Mission: To seek to transform unjust structures of society.

“People of faith claim to know something about how to respect the dignity of people created in the image of God,” the Presiding Bishop said. “Our own tradition teaches us to be “repairers of the breach, and restorers of cities fit to live in (Isaiah 58:12).” We will consider both how to learn that wisdom more deeply and how to share it in our communities.”

Resources such as bibliography, on-demand video, materials for community and individual review, discussion questions, and lesson plans will be available.

For more information contact Neva Rae Fox, Public Affairs Officer, publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org.

‘Spirit without Borders’

Monday, May 19, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] Espíritu sin Fronteras, or Spirit without Borders, began with seven women of Amatepec’s Episcopal Church, San Andrés, informally gathered around a kitchen table learning to make candles from a YouTube video. Two years later, they have grown to ten active members of various ages and dispositions, meeting every day from 2 to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, to share, work on the latest crafts, learn new techniques, and most importantly, to drink coffee. Because, as Rosita explained matter-of-factly, “una reunión sin café no es una reunión” (a meeting without coffee isn’t a meeting).

I first met with the women of Espíritu sin Fronteras with Olivia Amadon, Co-Coordinator of the Global School at Foundation Cristosal, a human rights and community development NGO based here in San Salvador. We went to meet with the cooperative at its store in Amatepec, an urban area on the outskirts of San Salvador, to invite them to participate in an upcoming Global School course on gender equality and women’s empowerment. (The courses are weeklong training and exchange opportunities for North Americans and Salvadorans to come together in El Salvador and engage on specific themes related to human rights).

As I sat in my plastic, wobbly chair listening to Olivia and the cooperative members tell their stories, I remembered how I had first imagined my future life as a Young Adult Service Corps volunteer in El Salvador. I had dreamt of working with women’s groups and empowering the poor… phrases I had stolen from white papers I read as an undergrad, studying development out of a textbook and PowerPoint lectures. Yet it wasn’t until nine months after I began my work with Cristosal that those images became a reality… nine months until I was ready to be in this meeting, truly listening and understanding (in Spanish!) instead of waiting to speak.

Women’s empowerment is one of those catch phrases we hear a lot these days. Cristosal takes a particular point of view, as Olivia explained in the meeting: “There are more ways that women need to empower themselves besides economic. One person cannot empower another. People must empower themselves.” The ten cooperative members vigorously nodded in agreement, and said their biggest obstacle to feeling empowered or confident is timidez (shyness). “We live in a society of men,” Wilma said. There is no precedent to show that women deserve a place in the marketplace, that they have just as much a right as men to sell high-quality goods, to run a store, or to demand a fair and equal wage. None of the women in the cooperative have a fixed job and most lived day-to-day, subsisting on informal, unpredictable incomes.

When I learned about cooperatives and women’s empowerment in Sustainable Development 101, I memorized definitions like “triple bottom line” and “positive externalities.” Yet nothing in those books prepared me for the enthusiasm and pride described in that small room. Despite the apparent cultural and generational differences, each member agrees these daily meetings are the highlight of their week. “Estaba deprimida… I was depressedNorma said of her years before joining the cooperative. “I was home alone all day and it was really hard to find work. Here, more than anything, we share.” Compartimos, she said. “We share the word of God, we share work, and we share community. This group changed my life.”

When the meeting began, the women showed this same timidez in speaking to Olivia and I, and admitted they were nervous to share this small space with two gringa women. Yet as each woman told her story, the ten cooperative members inched forward in their chairs, their voices got louder, broad smiles matching even broader gesticulations. Roxanna, a young, spunky participant and one of the newest in the group, eagerly told the story of how she first arrived at Espíritu sin Fronteras. “I showed up one day and sat in the corner, watching the women making scarves. I came out of curiosity, and soon someone invited me to learn how to make my own. I was so proud of that first scarf, even though it wasn’t very good, but then I was making hats and jewelry. Now this is my other family.”

When it came time to design the Gobal School course itself, it was clear we needed to focus not only on information exchange and learning, but also on building the women’s experience and confidence as independent entrepreneurs. We had to mesh our goals with theirs, mirroring the cooperative’s objective as a communal space not only to learn new skills in arts and crafts, but also an invitation for each individual to experiment, risk, and share as budding businesswomen. “We don’t come here to earn, we come to learn,” Rosita explained.

After those three hours Olivia and I spent with the cooperative – sitting in a circle watching the conversation bounce around the room like a hyperactive tennis match, sipping coffee from mismatched mugs and cradling warm pan dulce or pastelitos – I remember walking away as if filled with something more than food and drink. It was palpable hope, something often amiss in communities where decades of exclusion, violence, and poverty have the power to squelch it out of even the strongest and most stubborn optimists. It was also a true sense of being useful, of lending my skills as a North American while leaving the space required for others to, as Olivia said, empoderarse (to empower themselves). Norma perhaps said it best: “[This work] makes us happy. We can do something here. We can do anything if we apply ourselves and work hard to make it happen.”

– Hannah Perls is a YASC Volunteer from the Diocese of Olympia. She will be serving a second year in El Salvador with Foundation Cristosal.

New Zealand province to divest fossil fuel shares

Monday, May 19, 2014

[Anglican Taonga] The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has become the first province in the Anglican Communion to pledge to divest from fossil fuels.

The provincial synod May 14 passed a resolution that requires the church “to take all reasonable steps” to divest its shares in fossil fuel companies by its next synod, in mid-2016.

Rod Oram, who moved the proposal, told synod that it “gives us the opportunity to offer leadership on, and to make a practical response to, climate change.

“Thus, it speaks to two marks of our Christian mission: care of creation and righting unjust social structures.

“Of all the ways in which we live unsustainably,” he said, “it is climate change that is causing the gravest harm – right now, here and around the world – to the very ecosystem on which our existence depends.”

And climate change, he said, is being driven “simply by pumping a rapidly rising volume of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases” into the atmosphere.

Oram, who is a journalist specializing in economic issues, said one of the key needs was to “shift the weight of investment away from fossil fuels into sustainable forms of energy” – and that had led to a worldwide campaign to persuade investors to sell their shares in fossil fuel companies.

While the ethical imperatives for divesting are clear, Oram said, there are also a number of practical financial reasons – to do with safeguarding returns for investors – for doing so.

The motion drew impassioned support from Tikanga Pasefika speakers, most notably Bishop Api Qiliho, who said the survival of Pacific Island people was at stake.

There were notes of caution, however, from Mark Wilcox, general manager of the Anglican Pension Board.

He told synod that the pension board manages $160 million of funds on behalf of its members, many of whom are retired or serving clergy.

Wilcox said the board took its ethical investment philosophy seriously, and had wrestled with how to respond “to the growing tide of sentiment around the world for divestment of fossil fuel investments.”

But it also had to take its fiduciary obligations to its members equally seriously.

“Very broadly, if a divestment program risks having a significant financial detriment, we cannot legally divest.”

In other words, if the pension board can’t reinvest the funds into other investments that offer a similarly good return/risk profile, “then we can’t do it.”

Wilcox advised that the board had recently analyzed its portfolio and determined that divestment within two years may not be possible. However, the situation would be monitored on an ongoing basis.

Two of synod’s Tikanga Pasefika members proposed an amendment (carried) which asked synod to set up a group to advise on reinvesting the divested funds into conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity “in regions that are vulnerable to climate change and sea level rise.”

The debate came to an unusual end. Because of one particularly long speech, it had continued well past the afternoon tea break and looked likely to go on a good deal longer.

But the Rev. Michael Wallace called a point of order, asking for the motion to be put to the vote, there and then.

It was – as standing orders require – and was passed.



Archbishop of Canterbury writes on Boko Haram in the Church Times

Monday, May 19, 2014

[Lambeth Palace] The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has said foreign support in tackling Boko Haram should be offered to Nigeria “humbly and respectfully”.

Writing in this week’s Church Times the Archbishop says that defeating Boko Haram, who last month kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls from their school in Chibok, northern Nigeria, will take a combination of local police work, winning the hearts and minds local populations, and “careful spiritual and economic development”.

Archbishop Justin, who has condemned the kidnapping, says: “External intervention is always difficult. In the first place, our history as the colonial power, and the role of the USA in Iraq and Afghanistan, makes both countries (and indeed much of the ‘Christian West’) suspicious for many Muslims.”

Lamenting a crisis that has claimed “many lives”, the Archbishop says help must be offered “humbly and respectfully to a people suffering in a country of great talent and potential.”

“Above all, we are called to identify with the poor and suffering in prayer – and then to act as God calls us to be the answer to the prayer we pray.”

Well-armed and well-funded, Boko Haram’s stated aim is to establish a radical and extremist Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria, which would next be extended to the rest of Nigeria and beyond.

Both Christians and Muslims, and their places of worship, have been attacked, with several Anglican dioceses especially severely affected.

The Anglican Church of Nigeria is “intimately involved” in seeking a solution, through interfaith dialogue and other efforts, says the Archbishop.

Speaking to Radio 4 last Sunday, the Archbishop said even though Boko Haram was a disparate and “irrational” group, the Nigerian authorities should try to negotiate with them.

“[Boko Haram] are very difficult to deal with and utterly merciless. [They] have a very difficult inner core and negotiation there is extremely complicated, though I think you need to try.”

Read the full article on the Church Times website.

Archbishop of Canterbury praises Great Lakes peace initiative

Monday, May 19, 2014

[Lambeth Palace press release] The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Cardinal Vincent Nichols met with delegates from the Peace in the Great Lakes campaign at Lambeth Palace last Thursday.

The campaign brings together Roman Catholic and Anglican leaders from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi and Rwanda to encourage a grass-roots movement for peace in the Great Lakes region, which for decades has been affected by political instability and armed conflicts, porous borders and humanitarian crisis, along with tensions over natural resources.

The initiative, which was formally launched in December 2013, reaches out to those most affected by the conflict and longing for peace, including women and girls who have experienced trauma and sexual violence.

During the meeting, which began with Morning Prayer in Lambeth Palace chapel, the delegation emphasised the need to foster a climate of confidence and cooperation in the region, stressing the importance of governments respecting the international accords and conventions they had signed.

Disarming armed groups was essential, they said, adding that building peace in the region was closely connected with transparent and effective use of natural resources for the common good.

The upcoming global summit on Preventing Sexual Violence, which will include reflection on the role of faith leaders in building peace and security, was also discussed.

One delegate said: “This campaign, which brings together Catholics, Anglicans and other faith leaders, is a very important step and an example on building peace. We need assistance to accompany this process. The process must involve sharing stories, listening to the suffering of others moves people to pity and compassion. The Church seeks a justice which reconciles and builds peace.”

Archbishop Justin commended the campaign’s vision to work for peace and reconciliation, saying he hoped other partners – such as CAFOD and Christian Aid – will continue to lend their support.

“This initiative is inspirational in bringing together different denominations and in working together across the region of the Great Lakes region to build peace,” he added.

Cardinal Vincent said: “It is important we learn more in this country of your work together – to hear of your joint work of reconciliation and the healing of memories and hearts.”

The delegation, which is visiting the UK and Ireland, included: Bishop Augustin Mvunabandi and Bishop Kambanda Antoine from Rwanda: Consolate Baranyizigiye from Burundi; and Bishop Fridolin Besungu Ambongo, Denise Mbuilu Malueki and Father Leonard Santedi from DRC.

New York diocese ordains Allen K. Shin as bishop suffragan

Monday, May 19, 2014

The bishops surround Bishop-elect Shin for the laying on of hands. Photo: Kara Flannery

[Episcopal Diocese of New York] The Rev. Allen K. Shin was ordained and consecrated as bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of New York on May 19 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

The chief consecrator was Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. Co-consecrating bishops included the 16th Bishop of New York, Andrew M. L. Dietsche, retired bishops of New York Richard F. Grein and Mark S. Sisk, retired suffragan bishop Catherine S. Roskam, Bishop Lawrence C. Provenzano of Long Island, Suffragan Bishop Diane Jardine Bruce of Los Angeles, Bishop Robert A. Rimbo of the Metropolitan New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Bishop Marian Blair Couch of the Northern Province of the Moravian Church. The sermon was preached by retired presiding bishop, the Rt. Rev. Frank T. Griswold III.

Shin most recently served as rector of St. John’s Church, Huntington, Long Island.


East Carolina diocese elects Robert Skirving as bishop

Monday, May 19, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina] The Rev. Robert Skirving, rector of St. John’s Church in Midland, Michigan, was elected as the 8th bishop of the Diocese of East Carolina on May 17, pending the required consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and standing committees of the Episcopal Church.

Skirving was elected on the third ballot, receiving 48 of the 70 clergy votes and 97 of the 165 lay votes. Thirty-six clergy votes and 84 lay votes were needed for an election. The first ballot was invalidated due to a procedural error.

The election was held during a reconvened session of the 131st Convention held at Christ Church, New Bern, North Carolina.

Pending consents, the consecration and ordination of the bishop-elect is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Nov. 8, at the Rock Springs Center in Greenville, North Carolina, with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori presiding. Under the canons (III.11.4) of the Episcopal Church, a majority of bishops exercising jurisdiction and diocesan standing committees must consent to the bishop-elect’s ordination as bishop within 120 days of receiving notice of the election.

“Sandy and I are excited that God has called us to East Carolina to journey forward with you,” Skirving said in a phone call broadcast through the nave shortly after his election was announced. “I am grateful for the trust you have placed in me, and I am confident God will give us everything we need to do the work of the church.”

Skirving has been rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church since 2005. He currently serves on the House of Deputies State of the Church Committee and represents the Diocese of Eastern Michigan on the Province V Executive Board. He was a deputy to General Convention in 2012 and has served his diocese as dean and chair of its Commission on Ministry.

Previously, Skirving served as rector of Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church in London, Ontario, Canada. His work in Canada provided him experience working in churches of varying sizes, from small rural to large, program-sized congregations in suburban and urban areas.

He was awarded a BA in Philosophy from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada in 1982. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Huron University College in London, Ontario in 1986. He has completed additional course work towards advanced degrees in religious studies and congregational development at the University of Windsor, University of Notre Dame and Seabury Institute.

He and his wife Sandy have two grown children. He has begun to learn Latin-American Spanish to help in his congregation’s ongoing mission partnership with the Episcopal Church in the Dominican Republic.

The other nominees were:

  • The Rev. Mary Cecilia (Mimi) Lacy, rector, St. Timothy’s Church, Greenville, North Carolina;
  • The Rev. Canon David Pfaff, canon to the ordinary, Diocese of Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and
  • The Rev. Stephen Smith, rector, St. Patrick’s Church, Dublin, Ohio.

The Diocese of East Carolina is composed of nearly 70 parishes in 32 counties and covers the area from I-95 to the coast and from Southport up to Gatesville. The diocese is home to several major military bases, a large Hispanic community, and small congregations.

New Anglican university to encourage intertribal harmony in Burundi

Monday, May 19, 2014

The church is doing all it can to encourage university-level education in Burundi. Photo: The Anglican Church of Burundi

[Anglican Communion News Service] A new Christian university planned by Anglicans in Burundi aims to promote inter-tribal harmony across the nation through the teaching of the Gospel.

Burundi is one of the five poorest countries in the world with one of the lowest per capita GDPs of any nation in the world. The country has suffered from warfare, corruption and poor access to education.

The country’s Anglican Church is hoping to address some of that by building a new university that will teach students how to think for themselves and to see what God has to say about peace, justice and reconciliation.

In an interview with ACNS, the university’s vice chancellor, the Rev. Canon Donald Werner, said the plan was to provide students with a university-level education and encourage them to bring that learning back to their towns and villages.

“The church needs educated Christians who can communicate the ethical teaching of Jesus Christ,” he said. “We encourage children in education and in the practice of thinking for themselves rather than blindly following a strong personality in whatever they say.”

The Anglican Church is complementing the government’s effort to improve the education sector in a country still suffering from years of civil war. The conflict was the result of long-standing ethnic divisions between the Hutu and the Tutsi tribes in the country.

The university is also a response to a growing desire for education among local people, which has put pressure on existing facilities and, in some cases, has resulted in the shortage of education facilities and study materials.

For many years, the Anglican Church of Burundi has wanted to provide a university-level course in pastoral theology as part of the preparation for lay or ordained ministry in the country.

“The university has the full strong support of all the diocesan bishops and the archbishop of Burundi,” the vice chancellor said. “But we are also asking for prayer and financial support from the wider world.

“While I am keen to see the Church of Burundi owning the venture by giving as much financial support as possible, it would be unrealistic to expect the Church to contribute more than a small fraction of the cost,” said Werner.

To show its commitment to the success of this project, however, the Diocese of Bujumbura has donated the old cathedral building which is in a prime site in the center of the capital city. It will be converted into three lecture rooms, library, offices and a worship area.

“We are starting small, with just a theology faculty, and then we will add other faculties,” said the vice chancellor. “This was the way taken by what is now regarded as the best university in Burundi, that now has thousands of students and many faculties.”

Werner said he was also encouraged by the fact that six lecturers from England have offered to visit the country to teach some units of the university’s syllabus.

The Burundi Christian University (BCU) is scheduled to open in September this year.

Calif. court’s preliminary decision: return 27 properties to Episcopalians

Friday, May 16, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] In a preliminary decision, a California court has ordered the return of 27 properties held by a breakaway group to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin and has said that dioceses cannot opt to leave the Episcopal Church.

St. James Cathedral, the former diocesan offices, the Episcopal Camp and Conference Center near Yosemite National Park, the diocesan investment trust and 25 other church properties, valued at about $50 million, are included in the May 5 decision.

In the 41-page opinion in a case  brought by the Episcopal Church and its Diocese of San Joaquin, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Donald S. Black also said that “because a diocese is a geographical construct of the Church, it makes no sense that a diocese can ‘leave’ the Church; it does not exist apart from the Church.”

While individuals may exercise their right of freedom of religion to leave and form a new church in another religious denomination, “they cannot tell the Church that it no longer has a diocese in a particular geographical area such as San Joaquin,” Black concluded.

He also noted that church property is held in trust for the mission and ministry of the wider church. A former bishop lacked authority to transfer church property into the “Anglican Diocese Holding Corporation”, an entity created for the express purpose of preventing the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin access to it, according to the decision.

San Joaquin Bishop Provisional David Rice said that while the ultimate result of the litigation “will inform and influence our exploration, our discernment, and yes, our prayers, it will not completely define who we are, nor how we respond missionally.”

Rice, who was elected bishop provisional March 29, 2014, added that: “We are diligently working on deeper understandings of what it means to be welcoming, inclusive and reconciling.

“We are exploring and discerning and praying through the ways in which we are being called to serve in our communities and to join God in what God is already doing in people’s lives. We have much to do as Episcopalians throughout this place called San Joaquin.”

Diocesan chancellor Michael Glass said he believed Black’s decision to be one of the clearest and most comprehensive judicial explanations as to why a diocese cannot leave the Episcopal Church, “which we hope will be helpful to our fellow Episcopalians in the Diocese of Ft. Worth, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, and the Diocese of Quincy.”

“The court said the diocese did not and could not disaffiliate, because the accession of a diocese to the Church may not unilaterally be retracted,” Glass said. “It’s very clear that once you’re a diocese and you’ve acceded to the canons of the church, there’s no going back.”

The decision will become final within the next sixty days or so, depending on whether the defendants will seek to have the trial court modify the decision from its tentative form, he said. Once the decision is finalized, the defendants will have approximately sixty days to file an appeal with the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Fresno.

The Rt. Rev. Eric Menees, bishop of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, in a statement posted on the diocesan website, called for a May 17 meeting to discuss those options.

“Please understand that, should this tentative ruling be formalized into a judgment, we will not have to immediately vacate our properties,” according to the statement. “Under these circumstances there will be time for an orderly departure.

“Even if we were to accept the ruling and choose not to appeal, we believe there would be a window of time to negotiate the timing and manner in which the churches of the Diocese would surrender their property, allowing time for us to make plans for the future.”

Glass said that the Episcopal diocese remains open to discussions with the defendants to address any pastoral concerns in any transitions resolving the property disputes.

The disputes erupted over theological differences when Bishop David Schofield attempted to disaffiliate the diocese from the Episcopal Church in Dec. 2007.

The House of Bishops deposed Schofield March 12, 2008. A month later, he transferred the diocesan property into a holding company he created, according to court documents.

Meanwhile, property disputes involving three incorporated parishes have yet to be resolved. Trials are scheduled in two of the cases, concerning St. Paul’s, Visalia and St. John’s, Porterville, for November 20l4. A third property, St. Columba’s, Fresno, does not yet have a trial date.

Other disputed properties have been returned to the diocese as a result of favorable court rulings, including: St. Michael’s, Ridgecrest; St. Paul’s, Bakersfield; St. John’s, Stockton; St. Francis, Turlock; Hope-Redeemer, Delano and St. James, Sonora. Another church, St. Paul’s, Modesto, was returned prior to litigation.

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

Church Divinity School of the Pacific to hold 120th commencement

Friday, May 16, 2014

[CDSP press release] Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP), a seminary of the Episcopal Church and a member of the Graduate Theological Union, will hold its 120th commencement on May 23.

The ceremony will take place in the St. Margaret’s Courtyard on CDSP’s campus in Berkeley, California and is open to the public. The event will be streamed live over the Internet at www.cdsp.edu beginning at 10:30 am Pacific.

Jenny Te Paa-Daniel, an Anglican Communion leader and former principal of Te Rau Kahikatea, a constituent of the College of St. John the Evangelist in Auckland, will give the commencement address and receive a Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa.

Te Paa-Daniel, who will be a visiting scholar at CDSP during the fall 2014 semester, earned her PhD from the Graduate Theological Union in 2001. She is the first Maori person to earn a PhD in theology.

“Jenny is personally engaging and a passionate communicator,” said the Very Rev. W. Mark Richardson, CDSP’s dean and president. “She is an advocate of a strong Anglican Communion that recognizes the gifts of all regions and cultures.  She presses toward full inclusion of women in the church, and she is a strong advocate of theological education for all.”

The Rt. Rev. Thomas Breidenthal ‘81, bishop of Southern Ohio, and the Rt. Rev. Edward Konieczny ’94, bishop of Oklahoma, will receive honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees.

Breidenthal, who was elected bishop of Southern Ohio in 2006, is a distinguished pastor and theologian who holds a DPhil from Oxford University. In 2013, he created one of the inaugural CDSP bishop’s scholarships, which are full-tuition scholarships for students identified as leaders by Episcopal bishops who will return to their home dioceses after graduation.

Before his election, Breidenthal was dean of religious life and of the Chapel at Princeton University and John Henry Hobart Professor of Christian Ethics and Moral Theology at General Theological Seminary in New York City. He is the author of Sacred Unions: A New Guide to Life-Long Commitment, published in 2006, and Christian Households: The Sanctification of Nearness, published in 1997.

Konieczny was elected bishop of Oklahoma in 2007 and has served churches in Texas and Colorado. Before attending seminary at CDSP, he was a law enforcement officer for seventeen years. He holds a DMin in congregational development from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary.

Church Divinity School of the Pacific, a seminary of the Episcopal Church and a member of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, educates students in an ecumenical and interreligious context to develop leaders who can proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world through traditional and emerging ministries. Learn more at www.cdsp.edu.


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