ENS Headlines

Syndicate content
The news service of the Episcopal Church
Updated: 1 hour 13 min ago

African, North American bishops claim ‘foundational call as reconcilers’

Friday, May 30, 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby joins the fifth meeting of the Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue in Coventry, England. Photo: Michael Ingham

[Episcopal News Service] Two-dozen bishops from Africa and North America have renewed their pledge to reconciliation in the Anglican Communion and to walking together as a family despite deep cultural and theological differences.

The fifth Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue was held May 22-25 in Coventry, England, and for the first time included four African primates, or senior archbishops. Together, the bishops have committed “to consider Christ’s ministry of reconciliation in the world [and] to sharing a journey … into God’s intended future for humankind and all of the creation.”

Bishop Stacy Sauls, chief operating officer for the Episcopal Church and one of two Episcopal Church bishops participating in the Coventry gathering, described the consultation as a pivotal moment for bridge-building efforts in the Anglican Communion.

“I have come to wonder if the impediment to our communion as we have experienced it is neither justice nor orthodoxy, but pride. As we have come to understand one another as children of God and bishops deeply committed to the Gospel ministry of reconciliation, the wall of pride that has divided us has begun to crumble,” said Sauls.

Diocese of Colorado Bishop Rob O’Neill was the other Episcopal Church bishop attending the consultation.

Sudanese Bishop Anthony Poggo from the Diocese of Kajo Keji said he has greatly valued being a part of the consultation. “It’s important for us to respect each other and continue to talk with each other as part of one family,” Poggo, who was attending his third consultation, told ENS. “Some of us have taken a different view on various issues within Scripture, but this does not mean we look at the other person as an enemy.”

For Poggo, one of the main fruits of the consultation has been “to meet with my brothers and sisters from other parts of the communion, to renew friendships and also to have hope that we are one family although we have different opinions.”

In a testimony, released May 29, the bishops recommit to what they identify as their “foundational call as reconcilers” and ask forgiveness for their failures.

“We testify first that we find ourselves to be brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. It seems an obvious point, but it has not always been taken for granted. Some have claimed otherwise. It is a deception,” they say.

The leaders – from Burundi, Canada, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, United States and Zambia – also commit to understanding one another’s differences, listening more deeply, and learning about each other’s contexts.

“We have a lot to witness to a much-divided world,” Archbishop Colin Johnson of the Dioceses of Toronto and of Moosonee in the Anglican Church of Canada, told ENS. “Conversation is powerful as we ‘turn toward’ one another in mutual respect, learn from each other, and in the process of conversation we are converted by the always present third party to the conversation, the Holy Spirit.”

The consultation – which has met previously in London (2010), Dar es Salaam (2011), Toronto (2012), and Cape Town (2013) – was created in response to differences concerning human sexuality issues and grew out of an informal gathering at the 2008 Lambeth Conference that Johnson convened.

“I was determined that the moderate voices among Anglican bishops needed to be heard,” Johnson told ENS. Those voices, he said, include people who believe that the Anglican Communion is not falling apart and who want “to maintain and indeed deepen the relationships of mutual support and prayer that have been the hallmark of our life together as Anglicans.”

The Rev. Canon Isaac Kawuki Mukasa, who served on Johnson’s diocesan staff at the time and who was named in January as Africa relations officer for both the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, organized the first gathering of 11 bishops in London.

Since that first meeting, other bishops have been invited to join the consultation to replace retiring members or supplement those who could not attend.

Kawuki Mukasa believes that the consultation over the past five years has made a “considerable impact” on communion-wide reconciliation.

At the first meeting, “there was a good deal of apprehension on both sides,” Kawuki Mukasa told ENS. But with each successive meeting walls were broken down and the bishops came to realize that “they were actually doing the same kind of mission in different contexts,” he said by telephone from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where he is meeting with church partners.

Kawuki Mukasa noticed that the questions and engagement between the bishops became more candid. “That truth-telling and honesty began to show there was a great deal of trust building between them, which reflected the kind of friendships that were developing,” he said.

Kawuki Mukasa described the Coventry consultation as “a gamechanger.”

“It’s not that they are in agreement on the issues that divide them but they are committed to walk together,” he said.

Kawuki Mukasa, who was ordained in the Anglican Church of Uganda in 1984, said that many African bishops “are tired of fighting.

“They have strong beliefs about human sexuality, but they also feel they were misled by their leaders,” he said, noting their recognition that conservative and breakaway Anglicans “came and occupied provincial offices and tried to lead them into a fight. Many African leaders are beginning to get tired of being used to fight this war.”

There is a “great appetite for conciliatory voices,” Kawuki Mukasa said. “We are turning a corner.”

Johnson told ENS that the main objective of the consultation is “to listen more than speak, to learn about each others’ missional contexts and to understand one another.

“We have discovered that what brings us together is much more central to our beliefs and profound in our calling than what causes division. We have discovered that we are all faithfully trying to live out Christ’s call to be disciples and to be the Church in our local contexts. We have learned from one another and we have developed deepening friendships.”

Johnson said that bishops have a responsibility to build bridges across divides, “interpret our local community to the wider church and the wider church to our local church. This group is doing that informally, as a grassroots initiative.”

The decision to meet at Coventry Cathedral was described in the testimony as “providential.” Out of the ashes of the former cathedral, destroyed during World War II, grew a ministry of reconciliation, symbolized by the resurrection of a new cathedral built in the 1960s and embodied in the Community of the Cross of Nails housed there.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who has identified reconciliation as his main priority, joined the consultation for a day of prayer, teaching, and conversation. Welby’s presence “had a profound impact on each of us and was an important influence in our subsequent deliberations,” according to the testimony.

“We were struck by Archbishop Justin’s own request for prayer. Pray, he said, for the wisdom to know the right way toward reconciliation, for the patience to know when to act, and for courage to act. Finally, we testify to our intention to pray for Archbishop Justin as well as the Anglican Communion, especially for wisdom, patience, and courage. We commit ourselves to each other’s prayers, and yours, as well. Pray, we ask, for wisdom, patience, and courage.”

The group also heard presentations on reconciliation efforts from other parts of the Anglican Communion represented by bishops present at the consultation.

In their testimony, the bishops recognize that reconciliation is possible only among those willing to be reconciled and commit to “being a Eucharistic community, invoking the Holy Spirit by gathering together as diverse people to be strengthened by prayer, word and sacrament in order to go into the world to witness to the reconciling love and power of God.”

The bishops also commit to encouraging similar conversations among others “and deepening our understanding of the cultural influences on the theology that underpins reconciliation.”

The Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop in the Anglican Church of Canada, said he found the gathering invigorating and illuminating and sensed an “openness and willingness to listen that is rare.”

MacDonald, who also participated in the 2013 consultation, said the gathering has helped him to view the Anglican Communion in a different way. “We have a unique, critical and essential role to play in the body of Christ,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt such an urgent need and calling to preserve the blessed vocation that we have in the Anglican Communion.”

Although the consultation grew out of theological and cultural differences concerning issues of human sexuality, MacDonald said the conversations were not dominated by that topic. “Certainly those things didn’t disappear and disagreements didn’t disappear. There was a lot of honesty and openness about those. We have profound differences and nobody wanted to paper over that,” he said.

But despite those differences, MacDonald said that the consultation provided an important opportunity for deepening fellowship.

“We talked about the fact that one of the primary signs of our redemption is our love for other Christians … We came away from this reminded of that, but also with some sense that we do really love one another. Despite our differences there is passion about who we are as brothers and sisters in Christ, but also who we are as people with a very distinct calling.”

Johnson says he has grown increasingly hopeful with each encounter. “It is clear to me that the Anglican Communion is full of life and has enormous potential as a witness that unity is not uniformity, that diversity is a gift of the Spirit and does not necessarily lead to division (and is a reflection of God’s own life in Trinity), and that conflicts that arise because of differences can be healed by praying together, conversation, listening, mutual understanding and patience, rather than by separation and dis-enfranchising the other.”

Information from the previous consultation meetings, including testimonies and video interviews, is here.

– Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

One pastor, two faith traditions

Friday, May 30, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts] Beginning this Sunday, June 1, the Rev. Nathaniel Anderson, of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Wilbraham, will preside at neighboring Epiphany Episcopal www.epiphanyma.org as well. As the cost of a full-time rector became prohibitive, the community at Epiphany decided to make a change – a big, bold change which will, undoubtedly, stretch both communities as they share an ordained minister. The vision governing this experiment came after the leadership of both congregations met over the course of a year.

“For Epiphany and CTK to enter into a partnership that both respect one another’s confessional tradition while also carrying out a unified ministry. CTK and Epiphany will not only share a pastor, but also collaborate in carrying out God’s work wherever possible.”

The ELCA and the Episcopal Church are in full communion. That means mutual recognition of one another’s ministers and the sharing of the sacraments. There are several Lutheran ministers serving in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, and we have an Episcopal priest serving a conjoined Episcopal/Lutheran church but this is the first time that one Lutheran pastor will serve two communities in two separate locations – a pastoral “time-share” of sorts. While the metaphor works to a certain extent, Anderson sees himself as a full-time pastor with a congregation that has doubled in size. He has already written his first bulletin column to both churches.

In it Anderson acknowledged the challenge ahead. “Of course, central to these exciting possibilities [of shared ministry] is that we take a risk – that we work together and even simply get to know one another… I hope you will join me in taking a risk and doing something new and exciting in God’s name.”

Retired Bishop Daniel L. Swenson dies

Friday, May 30, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] The Rt. Rev. Daniel L. Swenson, eighth bishop of Vermont, died May 24. A private service with his family took place May 29 (Ascension Day) in Northfield, Minnesota.

Swenson leaves behind family and countless friends whose hearts and lives have been warmed by his friendship and laughter. Following Swenson’s ordination in the Episcopal Church in 1960, he and his wife Sally lived in a number of towns in Minnesota including Minnetonka Beach, Wayzata, Virginia, Eveleth, Faribault, and White Bear Lake. In 1986 they moved to Burlington, Vermont, when he was elected the eighth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont and was active in the wider Episcopal Church.

Following his retirement as bishop of Vermont in 1993, Swenson and his wife moved to Forest Lake, Minnesota. He was invited to serve as assisting bishop with the Rt. Rev. James L. Jelinek for 13 years. He knew the history of Minnesota and the Episcopal Church in Minnesota and was happy studying the Gospel of John and teaching. Having been raised in the shadow of the Holocaust and World War II, he worked passionately to educate and transform himself in the areas of institutional racism and civil rights. He was a strong advocate for the ordination of women, prevention of clergy sexual abuse and the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people.

In 2003, the Swensons relocated to Northfield to be closer to their family. There they were part of All Saints Church, Northfield, a community of faith that welcomed and embraced their presence and ministry. The Rev. Gayle Mardine Marsh is the rector at All Saints and was very close to the Swensons.

Swenson was preceded in death by his parents, siblings and his wife, who died on Dec. 25, 2012. Immediate family includes: children Martha (Dennis Joyner) Swenson of Vadnais Heights; Sara (Willie Jr.) Shuford of Minneapolis; Daniel (Kathleen Hanscom) Swenson of Northfield; 10 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Santa Barbara: ‘Resilience in the face of violence’

Thursday, May 29, 2014

[Diocese of Los Angeles Episcopal News] Southland Episcopalians from Santa Barbara to Irvine were among thousands who gathered May 27 to remember and to honor six college students who were killed and 13 others who were injured during a deadly May 23 rampage in Isla Vista.

One of the many tributes to the murdered in Isla Vista, California. Photo: Nicole Janelle via Facebook

The Rev. Nicole Janelle, vicar and chaplain of St. Michael’s University Church and the Episcopal campus ministry at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), offered a final benediction to about 16,000 people at a Tuesday afternoon memorial service at the university’s Harder Stadium.

Invoking a spirit of healing and solace, strength and unity, Janelle called for “resilience in the face of violence and the courage to face that violence with resolve.”

“May we embrace our work as peacemakers, helping to nurture a culture of respect and loving compassion and a culture where there is ‘not one more’ in our community and in our world,” she added, echoing a rousing chant initiated by Richard Martinez, father of one of the victims, Christopher Michaels-Martinez, who also addressed the gathering.

He urged mourners to shout chant loudly enough, until Washington lawmakers could hear the cry of “not one more” senseless gun death.

Martinez and other UCSB students died when a local community college student, Elliot Rodger, embarked upon self-described “retribution” for feeling rejected by female students. Rodger detailed his intentions to target a UCSB sorority in a video and a “manifesto” posted on YouTube.

After fatally stabbing Cheng Yuan Hong, 20; George Chen, 19; and Weihan Wang, 20, Rodger shot and killed Veronika Weiss, 19; Katie Cooper, 22; and Michaels-Martinez, 20. Rodger continued his shooting spree and rammed others with his vehicle as he drove erratically across campus before dying of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot.

Irvine vigil: cherishing life, standing in solidarity
Students, staff and faculty at the UC-Irvine campus also organized an 8 p.m. vigil on Tuesday to express solidarity with the UCSB campus, according to the Rev. Hsin-Fen Chang, Episcopal chaplain.

The emotional vigil was “an opportunity for UCI students to gather and to honor the victims and to pray for their families and also for those who were injured,” said Chang.

She cancelled a regular bible study so that participants could attend the gathering, characterized by several speakers as an opportunity to cherish both life and one another, she said.

The gathering of about 500 also included several moments of silence in honor of the victims and their families. Many of the UCI students knew and recalled memories of the victims, she added. University officials offered counseling and other grief and wellness resources to students.

The Rev. Jim Lee, chair of the UCI Asian American Studies Department, said he taught at UCSB from 2004 to 2009, and has heard from colleagues who needed to talk about their grief.

“I’ve been keeping in touch with folks via social media and in many ways,” Lee told The Episcopal News. “I got a call from a former colleague wanting to reflect with me how he should respond to his class of 300 students; how does he engage students today on an official day of mourning where classes are canceled but the faculty is invited to be on campus to be available to students.”

He said that the community needs time to grieve before actively engaging some of the analysis already underway on social media regarding Rodger’s motives and background. Rodger had a history of mental and emotional difficulties and in April concerned family members had requested that local sheriffs conduct a welfare check on him. Sheriffs reportedly found nothing amiss.

“In a lot of ways, many of my non-UCSB-related people on Facebook and the like have been trying to reflect on how Mr. Rodger’s race and gender and his misogynistic rants in both the video and manifesto reflected deeper problems with misogyny and violence against women,” Lee told the Episcopal News.

University of California Santa Barbara students meet in a candlelight vigil May 24. Photo: Nicole Janelle via Facebook

“My sense in conversations online with UCSB is, let’s not so much displace those questions or conversations but let’s bring to the fore the very real pain the folks are feeling in Santa Barbara.

“There’s a much more visceral response that wants to rally to make grieving central to that, at least as an initial response,” Lee said. “From my observations of UCSB, they’re trying to hold both as much space for grief, empathy and the like before going through any kind of social analysis.”

In Isla Vista, Janelle and others said the usually lively oceanside campus has been uncharacteristically quiet and somber and students spent Tuesday, a designated “day of mourning,” seeking solace and comfort in small groups.

Brian Granger, 43, a doctoral student in theatre who sings in St. Michael’s choir, said that a former student visiting from Los Angeles, identified as “Matt” on Facebook, was among those wounded in the shootings.

“He had gone to grab a drink and was standing next to someone who was killed on the spot,” Granger said. “He ducked behind a car and then ran into a nearby shop. When he got there he realized it was hard for him to move and at that moment, realized he was shot,” Granger said. The injuries were not life-threatening and following surgery his friend was released from the hospital on May 27.

Granger said the memorial service helped to begin the healing process and added that St. Michael’s “immediately opened the doors of the church and they’re still open. And we put signs up so people knew they could come and meditate or pray.”

Students, staff and faculty at UCLA also gathered to mourn and to show support in the wake of the violence. A candlelight vigil is planned for 8 p.m. May 28 at UC Riverside and the public is invited to attend.

Janelle said that a peace labyrinth, already under construction, will be dedicated on May 31 at St. Michael’s.

During the church’s regular Monday evening dinner for the homeless, participants lined up to paint “peace rocks” for the labyrinth. “We’re using that to create an activity to honor what’s happened in the last few days,” Janelle said.

– The Rev. Pat McCaughan writes for the Diocese of Los Angeles’ Episcopal News.


Welby joins calls for protection of Pakistan’s Christians

Thursday, May 29, 2014

[Lambeth Palace] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has said the Christians of Pakistan are a people under siege and joined calls for their churches to be protected and for them to be able to worship in safety.

“Freedom of worship is a universal human right around the world, and all countries need to pay attention to that,” he said.

Meanwhile, condemning the “revolting lynching” of a pregnant Pakistani woman who was stoned to death by her family in front of hundreds of people outside the Lahore high court, the Archbishop told the Times: “I was utterly horrified and every Pakistani I have spoken to is also horrified. It (the stoning) was in no sense a punishment, but but a revolting lynching.”

Archbishop Justin was speaking at the end of a two-day visit to Pakistan’s Anglicans leaders in the eastern city of Lahore, during which he heard of the persecution and daily threats Christians face from Islamist militants.

Pakistan is home to 3.6 million Christians – about two percent of the population – who have been targeted by the misuse of draconian blasphemy laws.

Blasphemy carries the death penalty in Pakistan and cases against both religious minorities and Muslims are rising.

The Archbishop added his voice to the plea for an immediate change in laws that have also been misused to target Muslims by those with a vendetta against their neighbors.

“I pray for their blessing and for the government to be favorable to seeing that this is not a group that are seeking undue advantage but are only seeking to do good,” he said during a press conference.

Archbishop Justin, accompanied by his wife Caroline, was visiting Pakistan at the invitation of its Anglican primate, the Most Revd Samuel Robert Azariah, Bishop of Raiwind and Moderator of the Church of Pakistan.

During the visit Archbishop Justin met with Christian and Muslim leaders, attended a special service at Lahore’s Cathedral of the Resurrection, and met with high school students.

The visit is the first leg of a week-long visit by Archbishop Justin to fellow Anglican primates in the region. Today the Archbishop arrived in Bangladesh, after which he will travel to India.

Archbishop Justin’s visit to the region forms part of his plan to visit all of his fellow archbishops (also known as ‘primates’) during his first 18 months in office. His desire is to express solidarity, build personal and professional bonds, understand the primates’ work in their local contexts, and lay foundations for good collaboration over the coming years.

See photos from Archbishop Justin’s previous primates visits on Flickr

Anglican Bishops in Dialogue issue testimony

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Testimony of Our Journey toward Reconciliation

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

The fifth Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue took place in the City of Coventry, England from 22 May through 25 May 2014. Our meeting followed our commitment in Cape Town, South Africa in May of 2013 to consider Christ’s ministry of reconciliation in the world, the entrusting of that ministry to us, and the implications of that for our lives and ministries, especially with regard to the life of the Anglican Communion.

The Consultation is a group of Anglican bishops, grassroots in origin, committed to walking together as ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). We come from both Africa and North America, multiple countries and multiple provinces. We have come together willing to continue conversations begun at the Lambeth Conference of 2008. This consultation is expressive of our commitment to sharing a journey, a journey toward reconciliation, a journey into God’s intended future for humankind and all of the creation. The Consultation has met previously in London (2010), Dar es Salaam (2011), Toronto (2012), and Cape Town (2013). Previous testimonies may be found at http://www.anglican.ca/relationships/programs/global-relations/bishopsconsultation .

We came to Coventry at the invitation of Canon David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director of Reconciliation, to meet in part at Coventry Cathedral, which is recognized internationally as a centre for the ministry of reconciliation. We are grateful for Canon Porter’s invitation. We were especially blessed to have the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend and Right Honorable Justin Welby, with us for a day of prayer, teaching, and conversation. Our time with Archbishop Justin had a profound impact on each of us and was an important influence in our subsequent deliberations.

In addition to the Archbishop’s presentation on Reconciliation in the Anglican Communion, we heard presentations on the Ministry of Reconciliation in Coventry (Canon Porter), the Anglican Church of Kenya’s role in Kenya’s reconciliation effort (Bishops Waweru and Kalu), Reconciliation in the Communion—An African Perspective (Archbishop Idowu-Fearon), and Reconciliation in the Communion—A North American Perspective (Archbishop Johnson). During our time together, we upheld and prayed for South Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria, Syria, and other areas of the world experiencing conflicts. As always, the conversations and fellowship among ourselves provided room for the Holy Spirit to work among us.

We are grateful to many for making this rewarding time together possible and those who enriched us by their presence and hospitality. We are grateful to Dr. Andrea Mann, the Rev. Canon Dr. Isaac Kawuki Mukasa, and Ms. Claudia Alvarez-Vega Munoz of the Anglican Church of Canada’s Global Relations staff for providing logistical support. We thank the Archbishop of Canterbury for his time with us amidst a very demanding schedule. We thank Canon David Porter for journeying with us and facilitating our time in Coventry. We would also like to express our gratitude to the Bishop and Mrs. Cocksworth of Coventry for a warm welcome and supper in their home, for the unfailing help of the Dean, Chapter, and staff of Coventry Cathedral, especially for welcoming us as participants in Sunday’s Eucharist, and the staff of St. Michael’s House who provided generous support in so many ways. Finally, we express deep appreciation to those who made the event possible financially, particularly the Dioceses of Toronto, Niagara, and Ottawa, The Anglican Church of Canada, Trinity Church Wall Street, The Episcopal Church, and Fellowship of the Maple Leaf.

We now realize our decision to gather in the precincts of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Coventry was providential. Our consultation began by praying the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation, which takes place each Friday at noon, within the medieval walls of the Cathedral destroyed in the midst of war on the night of 14 November 1940. Our consultation concluded in a celebration of the Holy Eucharist in the modern Cathedral on the 52nd anniversary of its consecration to the Glory of God. In our worship we were drawn mysteriously into the risen life of Christ in Glory, which is the image of the tapestry hung on the Cathedral’s East Wall and which dominates the entire experience of visiting the Cathedral.

The tapestry held for us a clue to the journey on which we have been embarked over these years together. The hands of Christ are raised in a manner that at first seems to invoke a blessing. Upon closer examination, however, the hands are not blessing but are instead holding a glass that faintly hides the face of Christ leaving it somewhat less bright than the greens of the tapestry’s background. It is a brilliant artistic expression of what we all know to be spiritually true. “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face.” (1 Cor. 13:12a)

There is a third part of the Cathedral’s architectural design. The ruins of the pre-war Cathedral are joined to the post-war structure by an expansive porch. To enter the sanctuary from the ruins requires that one cross the porch, beside which stands a massive statue of St. Michael in triumph over a chained and defeated Satan, the father of lies (Jn. 8:44). We came to realize that the reconciliation we seek, in which Satan is defeated and deception succumbs to truth, is not something to be accomplished by us but is rather something already accomplished by God and in which we learn to participate over time. In this, we are each other’s teachers, none of us seeing in any way now but through a glass dimly. Reconciliation is a journey from the ruins of war to the eschatological glory to which we are headed but at which we have not yet arrived. Reconciliation is eschatological, by which we mean it is God’s ultimate dream for the creation, the direction in which creation is unavoidably moving, and the destination at which it will ultimately arrive in God’s time. For now, though, we see but dimly.

To be a pilgrim at Coventry Cathedral is to move unavoidably and purposefully from old to new across the porch, the middle ground between what was and what is coming, crossing from what was to what will be, to hear the words of Christ in Glory, “See, I am making all things new.” (Rev. 21:5) It is in this middle ground between what was and what will be that all Christians stand, but it is the particular vocation of Anglicans to stand in the middle, to be the incarnate people of reconciliation.

God has well-supplied us with gifts necessary to answer our call to be people of reconciliation. In spite of many failures to live this out, reconciliation remains foundational to our identity and experience from our earliest days. We have come to see the challenges of our present life as being less a failure of our life together than an opportunity to live out the truth of what we have been called to be.

We strive to be bridge builders, understanding that Anglicanism has an eschatological vocation that is urgent, irrevocable, and irreplaceable, which is part of God’s design for the wellbeing of the world. We ask forgiveness for our failures, past and present, and as a sign of our repentance, we recommit ourselves to our foundational call as reconcilers.

It takes courage to continue in the journey when the way is difficult and the path ahead uncertain. The knowledge that perfect love casts out fear fills us with determination to persevere. Part of our journey, although we have only come to realize it in retrospect, has been through the 13th chapter of Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. For not only have we been reminded by the Cathedral tapestry that all of us now see only dimly and none, face to face, we have come to realize that the reconciliation we seek is far beyond agreeing to disagree. We must seek not only to tolerate but to understand. Again, we are inspired by Paul’s words about the dim glass. In God’s time, “I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Cor. 13:12b) If we are to know God fully, we believe we must do the hard work of knowing, and being fully known to, one another.

We testify first that we find ourselves to be brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. It seems an obvious point, but it has not always been taken for granted. Some have claimed otherwise. It is a deception.

We also testify to our love for one another as brothers and sisters within the family of God. We do not make this claim lightly. We are aware of its costs. Love requires, as Paul has also taught us, patience and kindness toward one another. It requires that none insist on his or her own way or be envious, boastful, arrogant, or rude, irritable or resentful, or rejoice in wrongdoing. Rather, we rejoice in the truth, which we seek together. We bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things. We know that love never ends. (1 Cor. 13:4-8)

Jesus said we will be known as his disciples by just one thing, that we love one another. (Jn. 13:35) The love we are called to have for one another gives expression to the movement of the Spirit in our midst filling us with courage that the hand of God will lead us, break apart the barriers around us, and reveal bridges God has already laid across the chasms of broken relationships. In our diversity, cultural, racial, geographic, and indeed theological, we are convinced that what binds us together is greater and stronger than what divides. It is that we love one another as God has first loved us.

We also testify to the following:

  • We are family. The Anglican Communion is a family of churches. It is not a Church itself. There is much we have in common as Anglicans, which is evidenced in mutuality in mission, but we remain independent and diverse provinces.
  • We are called to seek to understand our differences, resisting the urge to ignore or simplify them.
  • We ought to listen deeply to one another, and learn about each other’s contexts by meeting face to face in those contexts.
  • Efforts toward reconciliation are informed by our cultural context. There are going to be mistakes, misunderstanding, and miscommunication despite our best intentions.
  • Reconciliation is possible only among those willing to be reconciled.
  • Reconciling leadership does not dominate. It seeks to be servant of all and not master of any. Its power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9) It seeks broad consensus and not uniformity. It is often time consuming and repetitive, it requires a capacity to live with difference, and it needs patience.

We commit to:

  • Being a Eucharistic community, invoking the Holy Spirit by gathering together as diverse people to be strengthened by prayer, word and sacrament in order to go into the world to witness to the reconciling love and power of God.
  • Taking our testimony to the places from which we’ve come for reflection, discussion, and action.
  • Praying for each other.
  • Commending the fellowship of the Community of the Cross of Nails as a visible commitment to the ministry of reconciliation.
  • Learning more about each other’s contexts.
  • Taking our conversations deeper and wider using the biblical and theological resources at our disposal.
  • Sharing the journey on which we have embarked with others with whom we work and commending work toward reconciliation as we have experienced it.
  • Encouraging conversations like this one among others.
  • Challenging and correcting misinformation.
  • Deepening our understanding of the cultural influences on the theology that underpins reconciliation.
  • Reaching out to others in the effort of reconciliation even when others do not respond.
  • Challenging each other to a deeper life of faithfulness and discipleship.
  • Meeting again.

We leave Coventry knowing the work of reconciliation is not yet fully accomplished in our lives even while it is accomplished finally in the death and resurrection of Christ. Still, we take hope that this great work, to which Christ committed his own life, is now ours. It is no small thing. It is a journey of the spirit. It is a journey long and difficult. We do not anticipate arriving at its destination until we no longer see through a mirror dimly but behold God, and ourselves, face to face in eternity.

We were struck by Archbishop Justin’s own request for prayer. Pray, he said, for the wisdom to know the right way toward reconciliation, for the patience to know when to act, and for courage to act. Finally, we testify to our intention to pray for Archbishop Justin as well as the Anglican Communion, especially for wisdom, patience, and courage. We commit ourselves to each other’s prayers, and yours, as well. Pray, we ask, for wisdom, patience, and courage.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20

The Fifth Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue – May 2014

The Rt. Rev’d Jane Alexander—Diocese of Edmonton, Canada
The Rt. Rev’d Johannes Angela—Diocese of Bondo, Kenya
The Rt. Rev’d Michael Bird—Diocese of Niagara, Canada
The Most Rev’d Albert Chama—Primate of the Province of Central Africa, Zambia
The Rt. Rev’d John Chapman—Diocese of Ottawa Canada
The Most Rev’d Jacob Chimeledya—Primate of the Province of Tanzania, Tanzania
The Rt. Rev’d Garth Counsell—Diocese of Cape Town, South Africa
The Most Rev’d Josiah Idowu-Fearon—Diocese of Kaduna, Nigeria
The Rt. Rev’d Michael Ingham—Diocese of New Westminster (retired), Canada
The Most Rev’d Colin Johnson –Dioceses of Toronto and of Moosonee & Metropolitan of Ontario, Canada
The Rt. Rev’d Julius Kalu—Diocese of Mombasa, Kenya
The Rt. Rev’d Evans Mukasa Kisekka—Diocese of Luwero, Uganda
The Rt. Rev’d Cyril Kobina Ben Smith—Diocese of Mampong, Ghana
The Rt. Rev’d Mark MacDonald—National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, Canada
The Rt. Rev’d Sixbert Macumi—Diocese of Buye, Burundi
The Most Rev’d Bernard Ntahoturi—Primate of the Province of Burundi, Burundi
The Rt. Rev’d Robert O’Neill—Diocese of Colorado, USA
The Rt. Rev’d Michael Oulton—Diocese of Ontario, Canada
The Rt. Rev’d Anthony Poggo—Diocese of Kajo Keji, South Sudan
The Most Rev’d Daniel Sarfo—Primate of the Province of West Africa, Ghana
The Rt. Rev’d Stacy Sauls—Chief Operating Officer, The Episcopal Church
The Rt. Rev’d Mensha Torto—Diocese of Accra, Ghana
The Rt. Rev’d Joseph Wasonga—Diocese of Maseno West, Kenya
The Rt. Rev’d Joel Waweru—Diocese of Nairobi, Kenya


Dr. Andrea Mann—Director of Global Relations, Anglican Church of Canada
The Rev’d Canon Dr. Isaac Kawuki-Mukasa—Africa Relations Officer, Anglican Church of Canada


Thursday, May 29, 2014

La visita del papa Francisco al Medio Oriente ha sido considerada como un gran éxito espiritual, ecuménico y diplomático. La prensa le ha dedicado gran espacio. Demos gracias a Dios por su ministerio.

En México el vocero de la arquidiócesis, Hugo Valdemar, dijo “México es cristiano, es un país que ama a la familia, es su célula fundamental y el centro de cohesión social, es por ello que vemos con profunda preocupación cómo se ataca al matrimonio, cómo se burlan de los valores cristianos y de nuestras creencias más sagradas”. El cardenal Norberto Rivera reiteró que “los matrimonios entre personas del mismo sexo son antinaturales y la ley que permite ese tipo de uniones y les da la facultad para que adopten a menores es una ley inmoral y perversa”.

Después de un largo debate en la celebración de un sínodo nacional, la Iglesia de Noruega (Luterana) rechazó una propuesta apoyada por la mayoría de los obispos de no realizar bodas para parejas del mismo sexo. La decisión final: 64 votos en contra y 51 a favor.

El nuevo presidente de Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solís, ha izado la bandera de la diversidad sexual en la casa presidencial, además, hizo un llamado a toda la nación “para que abra su corazón a las nuevas formas de entender la diversidad y el respeto”. La Alianza Evangélica Costarricense consideró la decisión como “una terrible vergüenza”.

Elena Poniatowska, una de las periodistas y escritoras más prominentes de México ha sido homenajeada por el Museo Nacional de Arte Mexicano de Chicago por su labor de “denuncia social” a lo largo de su extensa carrera como escritora. Nacida en Paris de ancestro polaco emigró a México a los 10 años de edad. Entre sus muchas obras y trabajos periodísticos se destaca La Noche de Tlatelolco que narra la represión y muerte de cientos de estudiantes en 1968.

Según un informe de la Organización Internacional del Trabajo divulgado en Ginebra en América Latina y el Caribe hay un tráfico humano ilegal que incluye a un total de casi dos millones de personas cada año que realizan trabajos forzados y produce una ganancia de 12,000 millones de dólares. El 80 por ciento de esta cantidad proviene de la prostitución.

Una monja italiana de 25 años de la orden de las Ursulinas ha recibido aplausos y excelentes elogios en la prensa de espectáculos. Su nombre es Cristina Scuccia y se caracteriza por su magnífica voz y su agradable personalidad. Dice la prensa que en su presentación en La Voz, la versión italiana del programa de reality, “los jueces se llevaron la sorpresa de sus vidas”. En una entrevista ha dicho que la fe y el arte “han sido amigos por muchos años” y no ve conflicto alguno.

En Sudán del Sur, el nuevo país desmembrado de Sudán, los conflictos armados y la violencia continúan. El conflicto comenzó hace seis meses y ha causado miles de muertos y 1.5 millones de personas sin hogar, ni medios para sobrevivir. El arzobispo anglicano de Sudán, Daniel Deng Bul ha logrado que los cabecillas de ambos grupos se sienten a conversar sobre una agenda de paz. Hasta el momento sólo hay esperanzas. El arzobispo pide oraciones para que “Dios ilumine las mentes y los corazones de los líderes en conflicto”.

El jefe de un grupo guerrillero en Nigeria ha dicho que sabe donde están las casi 300 niñas secuestradas de una escuela, pero se niega a revelar su escondite. Líderes religiosos alrededor del mundo han protestado por el hecho y han pedido la libertad inmediata de las niñas secuestradas. El ejército de Nigeria no ha decidido intervenir por temor a que las jovencitas sean ejecutadas.

La palabra “imán” es de origen árabe y significa “el que generalmente dirige la oración comunitaria” en el islam. Muchas personas creen erróneamente que un imán es el equivalente de los ministros cristianos o rabinos judíos. El islam carece de clero y un imán puede ser cualquier persona que conozca bien el ritual del rezo.

Un cartel distribuido durante una protesta Los Ángeles dice: “Señor Presidente,  es contradictorio decir que apoya la legalización de los indocumentados y al mismo tiempo deportarlos”.

Don Taylor, anterior obispo de las Islas Vírgenes y Auxiliar de Nueva York, falleció el 24 de mayo de problemas cardíacos a los 77 años de edad. Le sobrevive su hija Tara. Nació en Jamaica y estudió en Nueva York. Será sepultado el 4 de junio en la cripta de la Catedral de San Juan el Teólogo en Nueva York.

VERDAD. Dios es amor.

Video: Historic New Jersey church honors deceased veterans

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.][Episcopal News Service – Shrewsbury, New Jersey] History always hovers around Christ Church, standing on the Historic Four Corners intersection here. But, the past is especially present on the Sunday of every Memorial Day weekend.

Parishioners and visitors gather that day at 11 a.m. in the churchyard that surrounds the church to hear the names of 75 veterans, all male except for First Lt. Eleanore M. Judd who served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and died in 2013, read aloud, to pray for the continued repose of their souls and to give thanks for their service.

The first name read every year is Col. John Redford, who fought in the French and Indian War. The names continue through Lt. Com. Bruce A. Brand who served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. One American Revolution loyalist, Anthony Dennis, is buried in the graveyard and is also remembered during the Memorial Day service. Redford died in 1764, just as construction of the parish’s current church building was being considered.

The veterans whose names were read this year on May 25 are:

French and Indian War of 1746
Colonel John Redford

Revolutionary War 1775-1783

  • Private Edward Bennett, First Regiment of Monmouth Militia
  • Private Joseph Dennis, First Regiment of Monmouth Militia
  • General James Greene, served as captain, Company of Light Horse, Monmouth Militia
  • Private John Haggerty, First Regiment of Monmouth Militia
  • Private William Lippincott, First Regiment of Monmouth Militia
  • Corporal Thomas Lloyd, First Regiment of Monmouth Militia
  • Private Lewis McKnight, First Regiment of Monmouth Militia
  • Private Thomas Morford, First Regiment of Monmouth Militia
  • Private John Slocum, First Regiment of Monmouth Militia
  • Private Holmes Throckmorton, Continental Army and served with General John Sullivan’s Division against the Six Nations in Western, Pa. and New York
  • Private James Throckmorton, Monmouth Grenadiers, also a minuteman, troop of light horse.
  • Private Job Throckmorton, First Regiment of Monmouth Militia
  • Private John West, First Regiment of Monmouth Militia

War of 1812

  • Lieutenant Col. William Carpender, New York Volunteers
  • Private Henry Clay, Second Regiment of New Jersey Detailed Militia
  • Private Joseph Dennis, New Jersey Detailed Militia
  • Private Asher Haggerty, Third Regiment of New Jersey Detailed Militia
  • James Schureman
  • Joseph Voorhees
  • Edmund West
  • Private Elisha White, Third Regiment Monmouth Brigade
  • Lyttleton White
  • Private David Williamson, 32nd and 15th Regiments.

Mexican-American War 1846-1848

  • Lieutenant Benjamin S. Lippincott, Company H, California Battalion

Civil War 1861-1865

  • Private Samuel T. Denise, Co. F, 29th Regiment, NJ Vol. Inf.
  • Private Joseph H. Dennis, Co. F, 29th Regiment, NJ Vol. Inf.
  • Private Franklin Goodwin, Co. F, 1st Regiment, NJ Calvary
  • Private Thomas Hawkins, Co. A, Second New Jersey Militia
  • 1st Lieutenant John Hopper, Co. B, Second New Jersey Militia
  • Private William F. Marshall, Co. D., 13th Regiment, NJ Vol. Inf.
  • William McDonald, Confederate States Army
  • William Lawes, Union Army druggist
  • Private John Buckingham, Co. H, 34th Regiment, NJ Vol. Inf.
  • Private Rufus West, Co. G, Second New Jersey Militia
  • Private John L. Wheeler, served as private, 8th New York Calvary
  • Captain John White,
  • Private John Worthley, served as private in Co. A, 1st Regiment, NJ Vol. Inf.
  • 1st Lieutenant Thomas K. Durham, Co. M, 1st New York Vol. Engineers
  • Ernst Schroeder
  • Commodore Edward W. Carpender, appointed Midshipman 1813, served War of 1812; served as Lt. in Command of the Brig. Truxtan, Mexican War of 1846; served as
  • Commodore on the Navy’s Reserve list during the Civil War and also stationed at Key West, Florida, in charge of captured prize vessels.
  • Captain Samuel Sleeper, husband of Abigail Sleeper who is interred in the graveyard was killed at Fredericksburg during the Civil War. Abigail tried to have his remains returned for burial in the Christ Church graveyard but to no avail.

Spanish-American War 1898

  • 1st Lieutenant Frederick Waller Hope, Calvary Troop

World War I 1914-1918

  • Captain Franklin G. Allen, US Army
  • Walter S. Bowker
  • William E. Donald
  • 1st Lieutenant Morgan R. Eilert
  • Corporal Robert R. Graham, served as band corporal, HQ Company, 107 Inf., US Army
  • Lieutenant Colonel Louis H. Hanson, Medical Corps.
  • 1st Lieutenant Arnold Watson Hazard, Motor Transportation Corp.
  • Private Howard G. Montgomery, Head Quarters Company, 165th Inf., NY, US Army
  • 1st Lieutenant Howard Stokes, US Army
  • Private Joseph L. Thompson, US Army Air Force
  • Major Dr. Harry Ticehurst, US Army, 9th Division Cavalry veterinarian

World War II 1939-1944

  • Lieutenant Hermann Alexander Allen, US Navy 1942 – 1946
  • Private Michael Jonathan Badal, US Army Air Force, Private 1st Class, 5th Adrom Squadron
  • Tech. Sergeant Reuel K. Hartshorne, US Army, 1942 – 1945, Bronze Star Medal
  • Colonel Arthur E. James, Army Air Corp flight instructor in US and in the Pacific Theater   1941-1947, USAF Reserves 1950 – 1979
  • 1st. Lieutenant Alvin Bradford Judd, Doctor, US Army Air Corp.
  • 1st Lieutenant Eleanore M. Judd, US Army, served in the Medical Corp. of the 351st General Hospital
  • Richard A. Kirby
  • Colonel John Kline, served in Ordnance Corps in Pacific theater
  • Petty Officer Frank W. Lovekin, US Navy
  • Sergeant William F. Marshall, US Army Air Forces 1943-1946
  • Staff Sergeant George D. Maxfield, 1306 Engineer Ground Support Regiment, US Army
  • Ortrude V. Maxfield, US Navy
  • Harold G. Paynton, Jr. US Army South Pacific and Japan
  • 1st Lieutenant Stewart Van Vliet, Jr., 182nd Inf., American Division, US Army.

Korea 1950

  • Corporal Edward C. Hazard, served as corporal, US Army
  • Corporal Webster J. McClellan, US Army

Vietnam 1955-1975

  • Lieutenant Commander Bruce A. Brand – served as Lt. US Navy 1962

New Jersey National Guard (1895)

  • 1st Lieutenant Frederick W. Hope, Second Troop Calvary, National Guard of New Jersey
  • George D. Tillman, served in Head Quarters, Second Troop Calvary, National Guard of New Jersey

Monmouth County Loyalists during the American Revolution

  • Anthony Dennis

More about Christ Church
The parish was founded in 1702 when the Rev. George Keith, an Anglican missionary dispatched by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (currently known as Us) in London, held services in 1702 in the home of Lewis Morris, later royal governor of New Jersey. The parish established more of a presence in 1706 through the acquisition of a small parcel of land at the present-day intersection of Broad Street and Sycamore Avenue in Shrewsbury.

Very near the current intersection were the Council Pine where the Indians met with the settlers; Anglican/Episcopal, Quaker and Presbyterian churches (all of which still stand and are in use); the West Great-House where the court met; the Allen House, a tavern that was the scene of a Revolutionary massacre and now a museum; and a toll house for taxing persons traveling in an east-west direction.

Queen Anne gave Christ Church a simple two-piece communion set that is still used on Easter and Christmas. King George chartered the parish in 1738. The document is on permanent display in the church.

During the Revolution, the church was used as barracks by patriot soldiers. Since the church was a symbol of the British Crown, these soldiers shot at the pulpit and at the orb and crown on the steeple atop the church building. The church retains the damaged orb and a wood-embedded musket ball.

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

Dallas Bishop James Stanton: A legacy of strength and inspiration

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bishop James Stanton retires after 21 years at the Diocese of Dallas.

[Episcopal Diocese of Dallas] Leadership, intellect and strategy — that’s the hallmark of much-loved Bishop James Monte Stanton who is retiring from the Diocese of Dallas after 21 years.

Despite facing doctrinal disagreement and changing demographics, his robust legacy leaves behind a healthy, vibrant diocese for the next generation of leaders.

“It’s important to have new vision and energy for the future. It’s a great diocese with the potential to become greater,” Bishop Stanton said. “It’s time for new eyes and new ideas.”

Consecrated in 1993, Bishop Stanton arrived at an unstable time for the Episcopal Church. Factions disagreed over the ordination of women, the ordination of openly gay clergy and same sex marriages.

His first month in office, during the Diocesan Convention, Bishop Stanton aimed to return harmony to the ranks by asking everyone to arrive in work clothes. Together they constructed two Habitat For Humanity houses, while at the same time hammering out the framework for relationships and trust.

“I wanted to focus on ministry,” said Bishop Stanton as he reflected on his early days at the diocese. “We can be very different in theology, but we can work together for good. We needed to enlarge the vision,” he said.

An active leader beyond the diocesan footprint, he also became a notable figure on the national scene. His emergence as point man for conservatism in the Episcopal Church catapulted Bishop Stanton into the limelight resulting in interviews with media outlets such as 60 Minutes, Newsweek and the Associated Press, to name a few.

“Bishop Stanton was a leader in the orthodox movement,” Dean Neil Michell said. “He will be remembered as a catalyst in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion to maintain fidelity to the apostolic faith. He drew people together as the theological voice for those who did not want to see the historical documents and practice of the church eroded.”

National media portrayed Bishop Stanton to be a stoic conservative leader with a public persona that those who knew him well say didn’t accurately match the man. Articles often characterized the bishop as a polarizing force while his actions in the diocesan theater showed him to be a skillful steward of unity.

The Church went through a difficult period when it consecrated its first openly gay bishop, causing many parishes to leave for another Anglican jurisdiction, said Father Mike Michie, vicar at St. Andrew’s in McKinney. When some churches left the diocese, it hurt financially and lowered moral.

“His chief legacy will be how he kept the diocese together through the difficult period when churches left and others wanted to leave. He really shepherded us through that time in history in a wonderful way,” Father Michie said. “If you look at us now, we are a strong diocese, we are together, we are growing and we pay our bills. A lesser leader would not be able to weather that storm.”

While the national instability of the Episcopal Church played an important role defining Bishop Stanton’s tenure, to many in the diocese his biggest contribution came from his strategic plan.

The strategy called for examining and evaluating every program in the diocese, and realigning resources to allow for stronger focus on church planting, youth programs, world mission and leadership development.

“The strategic planning process was his signature achievement,” Dean Michell said. “So much came out of it.”

For example, the diocese created a Church Planting Commission and provided seed money to establish successful programs. This resulted in several new churches, including four in the northern suburbs of the diocese, ethnically diverse urban churches in Dallas, and yet another in the more rural outpost of Wiley.

One of these churches, St. Philip’s in Frisco, has grown to 700 in attendance at weekend services. “We have planted more churches than any other diocese,” said Father Clay Lein, rector at St. Philip’s. “We’ve been able to grow our ministry because of his leadership as our bishop. We would not exist if it wasn’t for his vision.”

Bishop Stanton’s church growth efforts were an astute reaction to demographic changes, Bishop Suffragan Paul Lambert said. “Church planting is the lifeblood of any diocese. For many years we were behind the curve on that and now we are up to speed.”

Building new churches in the diocese wasn’t Bishop Stanton’s only strategy for growth. He also focused on development of young Christians. For starters, he increased the number of youth ministers in the diocese by encouraging those churches that had part-time youth ministers to make them full-time and nudging churches with no youth minister to hire part-time ministers. He used diocese grants to make it happen.

Additionally, the diocese acquired Camp All Saints on Lake Texoma, to provide summer camp and other opportunities for youth and schools.

“You can provide more education and formation of young Christians during a week of camp than you can in a year or more of Sunday school, because they are living in community,” Bishop Stanton said. “Camp was a place where I met God and heard God’s call. It really was home for me when I was young.”

The bishop’s vision for a camp is part of his overall philosophy of identifying and raising leaders, Bishop Lambert said. “That’s where many young people commit to a relationship with Jesus Christ and the Church.”

While the camp served as part of his domestic mission efforts, Bishop Stanton also encouraged churches to engage globally. Those efforts have included mission outreach to Africa, Belize, and South America to name a few.

“He had a heart for mission of the church in its largest sense, and like the first bishop of the Diocese of Dallas, Alexander Garrett, he thought mission should be out in the world,” noted Bishop Lambert.

In preparing for the Lambeth Conference of 1998, Bishop Stanton invited 50 bishops to Dallas from around the world to build bonds of trust by study, prayer and discussion of common concerns. The bishops also became familiar with the legislative rules of the Conference so they could actively represent themselves in the future.

Teaching others to lead is another Bishop Stanton trademark, most notably in the formation of the Stanton Center, a school for laity and those preparing to be deacons.

“It’s a great resource for those who want to train for ministry in their local church, Father Michie said. “There are great classes to be had in biblical studies. Sometimes, Sunday school isn’t enough and people want a more academic route to their studies.”

Part of this legacy includes heavy focus on training leaders whether it is deacons, youth ministers, priests or other bishops. He also helped establish the Cranmer Institute, a center for Anglican studies at Southern Methodist University.

He furthered women’s ordination in the diocese without alienating parishes and splitting the diocese, Dean Michell said. He also championed deacons and made the diocese a model for others to follow. He loved to nurture priests to become confident, strong leaders in their own right.

“He was the reason I wanted to plant a church here,” Father Michie said. “He always trusted me as a leader of the church and his confidence helped me. He’s done a great job of merging his intellect with his faith and that is something I want to emulate more.”

Father Lein agreed that Bishop Stanton was a role model and said he cherished him as a mentor, “He has the willingness to empower people and give them permission to do the ministry God has called them to do. He empowers people and it makes a difference.”

When asked about his favorite accomplishments over the years, Bishop Stanton, says there are many, but noted that he fondly remembers the time he went to every parish and mission on a “listening tour” to take the pulse of the diocese.

“I had a lot of surprises,” he said. “The rural churches were much wiser. They lived with a lot of diversity issues but they managed to minister to each other, support each other and thrive without action of conventions. My successor needs to pay attention to what’s going on in the rural church. They are not big in numbers or money but they are big on Christian life and witness.”

For retirement, Bishop Stanton plans to spend time with his two children, their spouses and five grandchildren. He wants to archive family photos for future generations, travel domestically, teach theology at the Cranmer Institute and Stanton Center, and write.

His legacy will be looked back on fondly over the years, said Dean Michell. “He will be remembered as a Bishop-scholar, as a leader in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion, and as a larger than life figure.”

Bishop Stanton is not a man who seeks fussy attention or notoriety, but instead prefers to shine the light on others. Sitting in an easy-chair in his diocesan office he deflects questions about himself to instead thank others. Most notably, he thanks the people of the diocese for making his job easier.

“The people here are very optimistic and have a can-do spirit. Rarely will someone throw cold water on an idea,” he said. “They are open and that’s what I love about them. They are eager for the challenge and rise to the occasion. It’s been a pleasure.”

Archbishop Welby receives a warm welcome in Pakistan

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby meets local Christians in Pakistan. Photo: Diocese of Raiwand

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop Justin Welby has received a warm welcome from the Church of Pakistan on the first day of his visit there.

Accompanied by his wife Caroline and two staff members, Archbishop Welby spent time with the Church’s bishop, their spouses and other members of the Church.

He met Governor of Punjab Mohammed Sarwar who, before becoming governor, was Britain’s first Muslim MP. Archbishop Welby also met other non-religious leaders.

In the evening he and his guests were treated to a culture event staged by the young people from the Church of Pakistan.

More photos are available here.

Archbishop Justin to visit Rome

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

[Lambeth Palace press release] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will meet Pope Francis in Rome next month.

The visit, from 14th to 16th June, will focus on the joint modern slavery and human trafficking initiative launched by Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis earlier this year.

The Archbishop will visit the Anglican Centre in Rome and hear about the new international Anglican Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission website, which will be launched at this time. He will also see a church-based refugee project, visit the Sant’Egidio community mission and hear about poverty projects. He will also meet members of the international ecumenical Catholic foundation Chemin Neuf, four of whose members took up residence at Lambeth Palace earlier this year.

The Papal meeting will take place during the final morning of the visit. Archbishop Justin previously met the Pope at a private meeting last year.

Read more about the launch of the joint modern slavery and human trafficking initiative here: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5262/archbishop-justin-and-pope-francis-back-anglican-catholic-anti-slavery-and-human-trafficking-initiat

New grants announced for Mission Enterprise Zones, New Church Starts

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Bishop Stacy Sauls, Chief Operating Officer of The Episcopal Church, has announced the final group of recipients of the grants for Mission Enterprise Zones and for New Church Starts.

Eleven grants totaling $700,000 were awarded to 14 dioceses.

Mission Enterprise Zones and New Church Starts are Episcopal Church initiatives funded through the Five Marks of Mission triennial budget, approved by General Convention July 2012. In the budget, $2 million was allotted for the work of establishing Mission Enterprise Zones and for supporting New Church Starts for the First Mark of Mission, To proclaim the Good news of the Kingdom.

Matching grants were available for up to $20,000 for a Mission Enterprise Zone and up to $100,000 for New Church Starts. Applications were reviewed and considered by the Local Mission and Ministry Committee of Executive Council, serving as the review committee for the grant applications.

Grant recipients
The following are the grant recipients, the sponsoring diocese and the amount:

• “Bi-lingual rebirth”, San Pedro y San Pablo, Diocese of Oregon, $60,000
• Be the Change: Alabama, Diocese of Alabama, $20,000
• Calling the Circle, Diocese of Arizona, $20,000
• Iglesia Episcopal San Pablo Apóstol, Diocese of El Camino Real, $100,000
• Indigenous Ministry Development through the Bishop’s Native Collaborative, Dioceses of Alaska/Montana/Navajoland/North Dakota/South Dakota, $60,000
• PINE (Pacific Inland Northwest Exchange), Diocese of Spokane, $20,000
• St. Gabriel’s, Diocese of Virginia, $100,000
• St. Joe’s Unplugged, Diocese of Southeast Florida, $20,000
• The Abbey, Diocese of Alabama, $100,000
• The Abundant Table Farm Church, Diocese of Los Angeles, $100,000
• Worcester Urban Mission Strategy, Diocese of Western Massachusetts, $100,000

Continuing the work
As this is the last round of grants, no more funding is available for this program for this triennium. Nonetheless, the Rev. Thomas Brackett, Episcopal Church Missioner for New Church Starts and Missional Initiatives, will continue to partner with others in new church and enterprise efforts.

Brackett pointed out that a focus on the grant work doesn’t end with the awarding of the funds.  Rather, continues the resources through monthly web calls for mutual support, accountability, partnership, and ongoing learning together.

“These round-table videoconferences are bringing together a wise community of practice,” Brackett noted.  “This gathering of practitioners has so much to share with the church at large, as they learn to share their gifts in these emerging ministries.”

Next steps also include the work of the Standing Commission on Mission And Evangelism, which will collect the experiences of those receiving the funding and will share best practices and accomplishments.

For more information contact Brackett at tbrackett@episcopalchurch.org

In December 2013, 30 grants totaling $1.3 million were awarded. List is here.

Conant Grant awardees named

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] A total of $106,360.08 has been allocated through the Conant Grants for the year June 1 to May 31, 2015.

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

The following grants were approved:

The Rev. Dr. William Brosend of Sewanee: The University of the South, $6300
Cynthia Crysdale of Sewanee: The University of the South, $4912
The Rev. Dr. Jason Fout of Bexley Seabury, $6734.50
The Rev. Dr. David Gortner of Virginia Theological Seminary, $15,000
The Rev. Dr. Ruthanna Hooke of Virginia Theological Seminary, $14,615
Dr. Elisabeth Kimball of Virginia Theological Seminary, $5192.40
The Rev. Dr. William Roberts of Virginia Theological Seminary, $14,412
John Solomon of Sewanee: The University of the South, $2998
The Rev. Dr. Susanna Singer of Church Divinity School of the Pacific, $14,338
The Rev. Dr. Allison St. Louis of Virginia Theological Seminary, $14,258.18
The Rev. Dr. John Yieh of Virginia Theological Seminary, $7600

The next cycle of grants will be awarded in 2015.

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

For more information contact Samuel McDonald, Episcopal Church Director of Mission and Deputy Chief Operating Officer, smcdonald@episcopalchurch.org.

Retired New York Vicar Bishop Don Taylor dies at 77

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of New York] Announcing the death of retired Vicar Bishop of New York, the Rt. Rev. E. Don Taylor, Bishop Andy Dietsche wrote:

Retired New York Vicar Bishop Don Taylor dies at 77. Photo: Diocese of New York

Bishop Taylor suffered a stroke in February and had pursued faithfully a long and difficult process towards recovery. This past week, however, his body began to fail, and he was admitted to the ICU of Phelps Memorial Hospital in Sleepy Hollow. He died last Saturday, May 24, 2014, with his daughter Tara and other members of his family by his side.

Bishop Taylor held the distinction of being the first West Indian to become a Bishop in The Episcopal Church. Born and raised in Jamaica, he was ordained a priest in 1961 and began a ministry at St. Mary the Virgin, then a small mission in Kingston, Jamaica. In 1970, he left a flourishing congregation to take up his next appointment as Headmaster of Kingston College. He came to the United State in 1973 and served communities in Buffalo and Atlanta for some 14 years, until election in 1987 as Bishop of the Virgin Islands. As Bishop, his strong pastoral ministry contributed to significant church growth. A former radio announcer, he established a Diocesan Radio Studio and proclaimed the gospel in weekly broadcasts.

In 1994, Bishop Taylor returned to the United States mainland to assume duties as Assistant Bishop in this diocese, in the newly created position of Vicar Bishop for New York City, an area covering Staten Island, Manhattan and the Bronx.  Bishop Taylor was especially beloved for his pastoral ministry and his commitment to promoting community development. Always he cared most about the people he served. “I haven’t done spectacular things, haven’t raised millions of dollars,” Bishop Taylor once said about his ministry as Vicar Bishop. “I’ve just tried to be a faithful, loving and caring bishop.”

Upon his retirement, he answered the call to serve, once again, in his homeland and in 2009, he was appointed Rector of the Church of St. Thomas the Apostle, more widely known as the Kingston Parish Church, in the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

I wish again to express my profound gratitude to the clergy and lay leaders of our diocese who, in these last weeks since his stroke, visited Bishop Taylor and joined me in pastoral and sacramental ministry. Many of you offered care and companionship to Bishop Taylor in his journey towards God, expressing the love of this diocese for him.  I will add personally that it was my great pleasure to work as friend and colleague with Don on the staff of this diocese through the last ten years of his ministry here.  Nothing could be clearer than that he loved being a bishop, and his service to and ministry in this diocese was always characterized by the broad, infectious smile and deep laugh that signaled the profound joy at the center of his being.  He also served as a visible link to the Anglican Church in Jamaica and throughout the West Indies for the great number of Caribbean-American Episcopalians in the Diocese of New York.  In this last season of his life, I had the privilege to come to him as a brother bishop, and I am confident that I speak for Bishops Sisk, Grein, Roskam and Donovan, all of whom shared episcopal ministry with Don in New York, in expressing our sorrow at his passing, our love for him, and our respect for the legacy he built in the ongoing life of this our diocese.

Letters and cards of condolence may be sent to his daughter:

Tara Taylor
195-04 90th Avenue
Jamaica, NY 11423

Please continue to remember our brother at your altars, commending him to God’s surpassing peace, abiding love and complete joy. Pray, also, for Tara, Bishop Taylor’s family, and all within the wider church who mourn.”

Archbishop of Canterbury visits Pakistan, Bangladesh and India

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

[Lambeth Palace] The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and his wife, Caroline, landed in Pakistan yesterday for the start of a week-long visit to Anglican leaders in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.

The visits, which are primarily pastoral and personal, are part of Archbishop Justin’s plan to visit every Primate of the Anglican Communion by the end of 2014.

In Pakistan, the Archbishop and Mrs Welby are being hosted by the Most Revd Samuel Azariah, Bishop of Raiwind and Moderator of the Church of Pakistan.

WCC calls on Sudan president to protect Mariam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag

Friday, May 23, 2014

[World Council of Churches press release] A court sentence in Sudan ordering flogging and the death penalty for Mariam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag has prompted an expression of “profound concern” from Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), who has urged President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir to “prevent the implementation of this unjust and unconscionable sentence.”

Ishag, a 27-year-old Sudanese woman, was criminally charged for converting from Islam to Christianity and charged with committing adultery for marrying a Christian man, according to media reports.

In his letter to President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir, sent on 23 May, Tveit expressed shock over the court’s decision. “Whether Mrs Mariam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag was born of Muslim parents or Christian parents, such a sentence runs counter to the letter and spirit of the Sudanese Constitution,” Tveit said. According to the Sudanese constitution, he added, all citizens have the “right to the freedom of religious creed and worship.”

Tveit said that condemning Mariam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag violates a fundamental principle of international human rights law embodied in Sudan’s own constitution.

Read full text of the WCC general secretary’s letter

Press statement from Internal Province of the Episcopal Church of Sudan

WCC member churches in Sudan

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2013 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 140 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway.

St. Paul’s Cathedral hosts Martyrs, a video installation by Bill Viola

Friday, May 23, 2014

[St Paul's Cathedral press release] St Paul’s Cathedral in London is delighted to host Martyrs (Earth, Air, Fire, Water), the first of two large-scale permanent video installations created by internationally acclaimed artist Bill Viola.

The installation is the first moving-image artwork to be installed in a British cathedral or church on a long-term basis.

Created by Bill Viola and Kira Perov and opened in May 2014, Martyrs shows four individuals, across four colour vertical plasma screens, being martyred by the four classical elements.

As the work opens, four individuals are shown in stasis, a pause from their suffering. Gradually there is movement in each scene as an element of nature begins to disturb their stillness. Flames rain down, winds begin to lash, water cascades, and earth flies up. As the elements rage, each martyr’s resolve remains unchanged. In their most violent assault, the elements represent the darkest hour of the martyr’s passage through death into the light.

The work has no sound. It lasts for seven minutes.

Martyrs will be joined in 2015 by a second piece entitled Mary, which the artist has conceived as a companion work. The installations have been gifted to Tate, and are on long-term loan to St Paul’s Cathedral.

These special web pages will provide you with information about Martyrs, as well as how and when you are able to visit it at St Paul’s.

Full details of the work including artist’s statement and information about the collaboration with Tate

Martyrs in Context
What this work means for St Paul’s, including a video interview with Bill Viola and commentary by Canon Mark Oakley

Art and St Paul’s
Experiences engaging with contemporary art in St Paul’s

St Paul’s Art Programme
Details of the varied Arts Programme run by the Cathedral

Viewing Martyrs
How you can see Martyrs whilst visiting St Paul’s, and details of discounted and free entry opportunities

Answers to a number of questions raised by the installation

Including biographies of the main creators

Tiny Deaths at Tate Modern
Information about Bill Viola’s Tiny Deaths, currently on display at the Tate Modern

Communiqué from the meeting of ARCIC III in Durban

Friday, May 23, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission is the official body appointed by the two Communions to engage in theological dialogue in order that they may come into full communion. It held the fourth meeting of its current phase (ARCIC III), at the Vuleka Centre, Botha’s Hill, Durban (12–20 May 2014). This is the first time in its more than forty year history that ARCIC has met in Africa.

A wide range of papers was prepared for the meeting and discussed, taking the Commission further towards its goal of producing an agreed statement. The mandate for this third phase of ARCIC is to explore: the Church as Communion, local and universal, and how in communion the local and universal Church come to discern right ethical teaching.

At this meeting, ARCIC III discussed its method and agreed that it would build on that of ARCIC I and II, integrated with the method of receptive ecumenism. In the light of this work, the Schema prepared at the first meeting of ARCIC III in 2011 was revised. Discussions concentrated on the first part of the mandate, the Church as Communion, local and universal. Members reviewed texts from ARCIC II, national Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogues (ARCs), and other ecumenical material on the subject. ARCIC III decided to examine the regional level of the Church in addition to the local and universal. It considered, through papers presented, the impact of culture on the thinking of Christians and the role of the baptized in ecclesial decision-making. The ecclesiological work will be advanced by a drafting team which will bring a preliminary text back to the next meeting.

ARCIC III was also mandated to prepare a book presenting the five Agreed Statements of ARCIC II so that they can be received by the respective Communions. The Statements will be accompanied by articles on the method of ARCIC II, its use of Scripture, and major theological themes which emerged in its work, together with introductory material and commentaries. It is planned that the book will be ready for publication following the next meeting.

Members of the Commission are grateful to The Rt Revd Rubin Phillip, Anglican Bishop of Natal, for the generous welcome extended to them by him and his Diocese. Particular thanks are due to Mrs Mary Robinson of the Vuleka Trust, and her colleagues at the Centre, whose mission is to equip young people for leadership in South Africa.

Bishop Rubin visited the Commission at Vuleka and participated in a discussion of local ecumenism. He and his wife Rose welcomed ARCIC members to their home to meet leaders of the local Anglican, Roman Catholic and Methodist Churches. On the Sunday the bishop presided, together with Archbishop Moxon and Bishop Nicholls, at the Eucharist at the 160 year old St Augustine’s, Umlazi, where ARCIC joined in the vibrant worship of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

Members of the Commission visited the Hillcrest Aids Centre, and a project in Nazareth, Pinetown, run by the Diakonia Council of Churches, which works for social justice and community development with the poorest people.

The next meeting will take place near Rome at the end of April 2015, when the Commission will intensify its focus on the second part of its mandate by studying ethical discernment in the Scriptures and by further developing its case study on slavery.

As the Commission welcomed the Revd Antony Currer as the new co-secretary, replacing Msgr Mark Langham, it was also conscious that this was the last ARCIC of Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan. Alyson has served the Commission with great efficiency and grace, and members gave thanks for her five years of service.

APPENDIX: MEMBERS OF ARCIC III present at the meeting


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

Roman Catholics

The Revd Robert Christian OP, Angelicum University, Rome
The Revd Adelbert Denaux, Professor Emeritus, Brugge, Belgium
Professor Paul D. Murray, Durham University, England
Professor Sister Teresa Okure SHCJ,Catholic Institute of West Africa, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Professor Janet E. Smith, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, Michigan, USA
The Revd Professor Vimal Tirimanna CSsR, Alphonsianum University, Rome
The Very Revd Dom Henry Wansbrough OSB, Ampleforth Abbey, England


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


The Revd Odair Pedroso Mateus, Faith and Order Secretariat, World Council of Churches


The work of the Commission is supported by the Co-Secretaries, Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan (Anglican Communion Office), The Revd Antony Currer (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity) and Mr Neil Vigers (Administrator, Anglican Communion Office).

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.