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Sewanee’s School of Theology confers 2 honorary degrees

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

[Sewanee: The University of the South press release] Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba and Bishop of East Carolina Robert Skirving received honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees from the University of the South’s School of Theology in Sewanee, Tennessee, during a ceremony on May 8.

A press release from Sewanee is available here.

Full bios of the honorary degree recipients may be found here.

Katharine G. Flexer installed as rector of St. Michael’s, New York

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Rt. Rev. Bavi E. (Nedi) Rivera, provisional bishop of the Diocese of Eastern Oregon, the Rev. Katharine (Kate) G. Flexer and her children Frances and Benjamin, and seminarian Tommie Watkins, following the May 3 installation. Photo: Dave McGlynn

[St. Michael’s Church] The West Coast came east on Sunday, May 3, when the Rev. Katharine (Kate) G. Flexer, was installed as the 11th rector of St. Michael’s Church at Amsterdam Avenue and West 99th Street in New York City. Flexer is the first woman rector in the Manhattan church’s 208-year history.

The Rt. Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche, bishop of the Diocese of New York, presided, and the Rt. Rev. Bavi E. (Nedi) Rivera, provisional bishop of the Diocese of Eastern Oregon, preached. During the sermon, Rivera reminisced about how, when she was rector of St. Aidan’s Church in San Francisco, California, she had hired Flexer as a youth minister fresh from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Flexer, in her own remarks, said that Rivera continues to be her mentor.

Flexer was presented with symbolic gifts from St. Michael’s ministries, including the Saturday Kitchen and Pilgrim Resource Center, which serves more than 200 meals each week; the Sunday school classes, with more than 60 children; the Trinity Place Shelter volunteers, who provide food for a 10-bed transitional shelter for homeless LGBTQ youth at the neighboring Trinity Lutheran Church of Manhattan; and St. Michael’s Cemetery, 88 acres in Astoria, Queens. The music ministry commissioned a hymn as a gift, “How Large the Promise,” by composer Bill Heigen, which was sung during the service.

After concluding the induction, Dietsche said to the congregation, “Greet your new rector.” Flexer received a prolonged standing ovation. She then introduced her family: husband Jim Hinch, an editor at Guideposts magazine; and children Frances, 8, and Benjamin, 5, who all joined her on the chancel steps, to another standing ovation.

Flexer brings bicoastal experience to her new role. She is a native of the Seattle, Washington, area and a former associate rector at St. Michael’s. Since 2011 she has served as rector of The Episcopal Church in Almaden, a neighborhood of San Jose, California. On the Saturday before the installation, Flexer, Hinch and the children, all of whom are outdoor enthusiasts, led a group of 24 parishioners (and a dog) on a family hike to Breakneck Ridge in Hudson Highlands State Park, an hour north of the city.

Ben Badgett marks first Sunday as associate rector at Holy Communion

Monday, May 11, 2015

[Church of the Holy Communion] It wasn’t immediately after Ben Badgett proposed to Kendall Terrett that she asked him to join the Peace Corps, but “it might have been the same weekend.” They both said yes, and that’s how they ended up in Madagascar.

Before Madagascar, there was Memphis. When Father Ben was nine, his father’s job brought the family to Memphis, and he lived here until he was 18 and left for college at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. In some ways, the Memphis he’s returning to is not completely unfamiliar, but as he puts it, “I knew it from a youth’s perspective, a child’s perspective. It is a much different city to me now than it was then.” That newness is something he’s looking forward to exploring – the city itself and its cultural diversity.

But first, Madagascar. Father Ben and Kendall learned French, but as soon as they landed in Madagascar, they found themselves immersed in the language and culture of its indigenous people – Malagasy – not its colonists. They spent a year and a half in the rural village of Andrambovato, where Kendall worked with a women’s organization raising AIDS awareness. They led a health and sanitation awareness program, building 13 latrines in a village which once had none. They worked with an NGO on an ecotourism assessment, building trails and teaching English, composting and guiding.

“It was a very secular experience in the sense that our focus was being a bridge of cultures.” Ben and Kendall, as representatives of the Peace Corps, were not there as missionaries, but, he says, “the neat thing was that Christianity was there.”

A Lutheran church was the smallest of three in the village, and “every Sunday we’d hear them singing the Doxology in Malagasy.

“That was church for us.”

Ben met Kendall in school. Though brought up Episcopalian, during his undergraduate years, he’d been active in the Baptist campus ministry. Kendall, one of his residents when he worked as an RA, invited him back to the Episcopal Church through campus ministry, and that’s where he found his individual faith and learning coming together with the idea of communal faith and worship.

“I felt a strong call to working in the church” from as young as 16 years old. After graduation, Ben worked for a year as an outdoor and environmental educator at the Mountain Trail Outdoor School at Kanuga Conference Center in North Carolina, then for a year as a youth and young adult minister at Trinity Episcopal in Owensboro, Kentucky.

Marriage and Madagascar were next, and after a discernment internship at Christ Church Cathedral in Louisville, Ben and Kendall began studies at Virginia Theological Seminary, graduating in 2012.

Following that, Ben served as assistant rector and then priest-in-charge at Christ Episcopal Church in Bowling Green, and as Episcopal Campus Ministry chaplain at his alma mater, WKU. In January 2013, Kendall was named Director of Youth Programs and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Kentucky.

Nearly eight years after Madagascar, Ben and Kendall have followed his calling to Holy Communion, moving here with their sons, four-year-old Edward and 16-month-old Keenan, and Barnabas, a five-month-old half Australian shepherd, half chocolate lab puppy. Father Ben’s last Sunday at Christ Church was April 12; May 10 was his first Sunday at Holy Communion; he joined us a week before that for May 1-3’s Sacred Arts Festival.

Father Ben will oversee Holy Communion’s Christian formation department, including supervising the work of our youth and children’s ministers, and he will oversee the pastoral care teams, as well as participating fully in the preaching, teaching, sacramental and pastoral ministries shared by the Reverend Sandy Webb, Priest-in-Charge; the Reverend Hester Mathes, Curate; and the Reverend Randy McCloy, Deacon.

Ben is excited about “entering into this space that’s holy and unique to itself.” The most meaningful part of his early visit, he says, was the warm welcome of the people at Holy Communion. “That was really the heart of the experience,” he says. “They’re excited for Holy Communion… inviting us into their space, that was really the holy moment.”

Welby’s sermon at Victory in Europe Day Thanksgiving Service

Monday, May 11, 2015

[Lambeth Palace press release] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby preached at the Service of Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey marking the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe.

The service was attended by veterans and their families, representatives of Allied nations and Commonwealth countries who fought alongside Britain in the conflict, and senior government and military representatives.

Listen to the sermon on audioBoom or read it below.

‘Nothing will separate us from the love of Christ’

Sermon by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Service of Thanksgiving marking the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe. Westminster Abbey, 10 May 2015.

Isaiah 56:6-9a,11-12; Psalm 107:1-16; Romans 8:31-39

May I speak in the name of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

On the 26 May 1940, with the Government sitting here in this very Abbey, in the same way as those in the Psalm we just sung, across the country we cried to God in our trouble. Churchill wrote of the campaign in May-June 1940:

“Now at last the slowly-gathered, long pent-up fury of the storm broke upon us. Four or five millions of men met each other in the first shock of the most merciless of all the wars of which record has been kept.  … Within six weeks we were to find ourselves alone, almost disarmed… with the whole of Europe open to Hitler’s power…”

And he continued, writing of the situation in 1945: “The contrast was certainly remarkable. The road across these five years was long, hard and perilous. Those who perished upon it did not give their lives in vain. Those who marched forward to the end will always be proud to have trodden it with honour.”

Archbishop Justin Welby preaches at Westminster Abbey during the VE Day Service of Thanksgiving, 10 May 2015. Photograph: Andrew Dunsmore/Picture Partnership

And now we gather again, 70 years on, thankful for victory over the greatest darkness of the twentieth century, perhaps of all history. Our gratitude is not simply for victory-in-Europe, but also reconciliation-in-Europe that followed, neither obviously nor automatically. Peace is more than the end of war: reconciliation dismantles the hostilities which previously separated and alienated us from one another and from God.

In November 1940 Coventry was terribly bombed. The fires lit the skies for miles, so many people died and were wounded, and amongst much else, the Cathedral burned. Yet from the next day the Provost of Coventry, the Very Reverend Richard Howard, set a course towards reconciliation and the dismantling of hostility.

Six weeks later, on Christmas Day 1940, he gave a sermon on the BBC, in which he said: “we want to tell the world… that with Christ born again in our hearts today, we are trying, hard as it may be, to banish all thoughts of revenge… We are going to try to make a kinder, simpler – a more Christ-child-like sort of world in the days beyond this strife.”

The peace for which we give thanks today – 70 years of the greatest peace in Western Europe since the departure of the Roman legions – remains an ongoing project of reconciliation in that world of which he spoke, not only for us but as a gift to our world, where conflict and extremism destroy hope, devastate prosperity, vanquish aspiration to a better life.

Archbishop Justin Welby at Westminster Abbey during the VE Day Service of Thanksgiving, 10 May 2015. Photograph: Andrew Dunsmore/Picture Partnership

Isaiah speaks of how we meet that challenge to build a more Christ-child-like world of peace and hope. He gives a great and inspiring call to all of us who have received much, such a great deliverance, to be those who give much. He calls us by sacrifice and determination to be those who raise up the foundations of many generations, who repair the breach and restore paths of peace and justice so that, as he says, “our light shall spring up like the dawn and our healing shall spring up quickly”.

And Paul, in that beautiful Second Reading, in words of fire and hope, reveals the foundations of our call to transform a world of war, to share the deliverance that we have received. Yes, he says, there will be struggle and sacrifice, they have been there before and how gratefully we remember today those who gave everything in those years.

But in the struggle against the darkness of cruelty and conflict, in the struggle for reconciliation, nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus Christ. Firmly held by his love we will overcome all fear, prevail over all discouragement, live our vocation to be still a nation of inspiration and generosity, of reconciliation, of blessing to our world.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

NCC statement on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide

Friday, May 8, 2015

[National Council of Churches press release] This evening’s commemoration is a solemn occasion.  We are gathered with our sisters and brothers in the Armenian Orthodox Church and the wider Armenian community to give witness to the Armenian Genocide.  We are also gathered with them to acknowledge their faith and resilience in the face of such adversity.  And so, we gather together to remember, to mourn, to find inspiration, and yes, even to celebrate.

We remember that the Armenian Genocide was the first genocide of the 20th century, and that it marked the beginning of what is commonly referred to as the bloodiest, most violent century in all of human history.  During the horrific period beginning in 1915 and continuing until 1923, more than 1 million Armenians (and others) were killed, and hundreds of thousands more were displaced.  The dead were buried in the land where they had lived for generations.  The refugees were dispersed throughout the world, and some to the United States, where their future generations have now become the friends and neighbors with whom we stand today.

We mourn the dead.  We stand tonight among the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who were killed.  We listen to the language of the Armenian people, and of their great and proud heritage.  We pray the prayers of their ancient Church, asking for God’s mercy upon the people and the nation that was first in history to become Christian.  Tonight, in solidarity, their forebears become our forebears, their language becomes our language, and their prayers become our prayers.

We find inspiration in the call of the Armenian people to stand against the evil of genocide wherever and whenever it is committed.  And in the last century, genocide has been committed all too often, and in too many places:  in Europe (the Holocaust) in the 1930s and 1940s; in Cambodia in the late 1970s; in Rwanda in 1994; in Bosnia in the mid-1990s; and in Darfur in the early 2000s.  In addition, mass atrocities and crimes against humanity continue to be perpetrated today in many parts of the world, especially in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.  In the face of such evil, standing among our Armenian brothers and sisters we affirm that our work to end genocide is not finished.

Finally, we celebrate the resurrection of the Armenian people.  The Christian faith is all about hope, and all about the victory of life over death.  Like Jesus Christ, who rose from the tomb to give life to the world (John 8:12), the Armenian people rose from the ashes of genocide to become again a vibrant people among all the peoples of the world.  They are a powerful witness to faith in the resurrection, and a profound testimony to God’s promise to remember those who take refuge in him (Psalm 18:30).  And to this, we say, “Amen.”

++++++++++++++

Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC’s 37 member communions — from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches — include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

Episcopal Asiamerican Ministries Consultation 2015: ‘Celebrating Our Partnerships, Uniting Our Mission’

Thursday, May 7, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Samuel McDonald, Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Director of Mission for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, has announced that registration is now open for the Episcopal Asiamerican Ministries Consultation 2015, slated for Seoul, Korea September 30 – October 5.

“Celebrating our Partnerships, Uniting our Mission” is the theme of the event which will be held at the Anglican Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Nicholas, Seoul, Korea.

“The Consultation will provide new opportunities for renewal and celebration of the partnership in mission between The Episcopal Church and the churches in Asia,” commented the Rev. Dr. Winfred B. Vergara, Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society missioner for Asiamerican Ministries.

With an invitation from the Most Rev. Paul Kim, Archbishop and Primate of the Church in Korea, the consultation also will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Anglican Church in Korea.

Keynote speakers include:
• The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church

• The Most Rev. Nathaniel Uematsu, Archbishop of Hokkaido and Primate of Japan Nippon Sei Ko Kai

• The Rt. Rev. Allen Shin, Suffragan Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of New York

• The Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Yang, Former President of Songdonghoe University, Seoul, Korea

Workshops will explore various aspects including Congregational Development, Evangelism and Church Planting, Multi-ethnic and intercultural churches, Ministry of Reconciliation, Life Long Formation, Anglican Global Relations, Youth and Young Adult Ministries, and Issues Arising from the General Convention.

Registration is encouraged for clergy and lay from the Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries Convocations (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, South Asian and Southeast Asian parishes and missions), the churches in the Anglican Communion; and those in communion with The Episcopal Church including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Moravian Church and Iglesia Filipina Independiente.

Registration is available here. Travel is not included in the registration.

For more information contact Angeline Cabanban, acabanban@episcopalchurch.org

Japanese Anglicans oppose new US military base in Okinawa

Thursday, May 7, 2015

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans are among the supporters of a statement from the Okinawa Christian Council Committee opposing the construction of a new United States military base in Henoko within the Japanese island prefecture of Okinawa.

Eighty percent of Okinawans were against the construction of the base and people opposing the new base “have been detained and intimidated by the prefectural police, coast guard and the security guard of the U.S. Base and have been unable to speak up and act freely,” said Bishop of Okinawa David Eisho Uehara, chairperson of the Okinawa Christian Council Committee, in a letter to the members of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (The Anglican Communion in Japan) accompanying the statement.

According to the statement, “The New U.S. Base in Henoko must be prevented at all costs,” the new base was not a simple “relocation” of the older U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station as claimed but rather a move to construct a “full, strategic functioning base for the Army-Navy-Air Force,” with nuclear submarine capacity.

“[Doesn’t] the base and military force exist to protect the rights and profit of the people who owns money, authority and power?” Uehara asked, noting that the government, which had power and authority, was putting pressure on the people of Okinawa, who had neither.

History had proven that the peace “under armed force comes to an end with sad results at the end,” said the statement. “The Bible teaches us to [hammer] swords and spears to make ploughs which … bear life. The church has a role … to build friends in the world, and become a practitioner of the word ‘shall not learn war’ as written in the Bible.”

The bishop asked Japanese Anglicans to give prayerful consideration to the statement and to possible ways to engage the tense situation in Okinawa.

Indianapolis Bishop Waynick announces retirement plan

Thursday, May 7, 2015

[Episcopal News Service] Bishop Catherine M. Waynick of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis has announced that she plans to retire two years from now and has called for the election of her successor.

Waynick expects to retire as a new bishop is ordained and consecrated on April  22, 2017. Waynick’s successor will be elected at the diocesan convention in October 2016.

Waynick has served the Indianapolis diocese as its 10th bishop since 1997. By the time of her retirement, Waynick will be 69. The Episcopal Church requires all clergy and bishops to retire, technically to resign, when they reach the age of 72.

In a letter to the diocese, Waynick said that her 18 years as bishop have been a joy and a blessing, but that in retirement she looks forward to spending more time with her husband Larry.

Links to her letter, her biographical information, photos and information on the search can be found here.

EPPN: Take action to address human trafficking

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Communiqué from the meeting of ARCIC III in Villa Palazzola

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

APPENDIX

Members of ARCIC III present at the meeting

Co-Chairs

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

Roman Catholics

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

Anglicans

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

Consultant

  • The Revd Father Norman Tanner SJ, Roman Catholic Church

Staff

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

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

and

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

Applications now accepted for 2015 Jubilee Ministry grants

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

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

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

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

Application forms are available here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

González to join CDSP as assistant professor of Old Testament

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

González will begin teaching at the seminaries in August.

Episcopal Relief & Development responds to Nepal earthquake

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Presiding Bishop preaches at St. Francis, San Jose

Monday, May 4, 2015

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

St. Francis, San Jose, CA
3 May 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            “Yes, of course,” came the reply.

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

            No, I can’t” the man replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[1] Acts 8:36

[2] William Lacheur

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

Dual actions end Heather Cook’s ordained ministry, employment

Friday, May 1, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The Accord resolves all ecclesiastical disciplinary matters involving Cook.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 1, 2015

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

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

In accepting the call, Fr. Wall noted:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 1, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enfrentar el problema de crear espacio para los que disientan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Episcopales que abogan por la igualdad matrimonial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Se anuncian los nominados para Obispo Presidente de la Iglesia Episcopal

Friday, May 1, 2015

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

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

Nominados
Los nominados para Obispo Presidente son:

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

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

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

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

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