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A reflection on the child immigration crisis

Thursday, July 24, 2014

[Diocese of Virginia] My husband, Tom, and I arrived in Guatemala for a week of vacation, language immersion and visits with our “adopted grandchildren” the day after newspapers told of the discovery of the body of Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez in the Texas desert. Gilberto was a 15-year-old boy from Huehuetenango, Guatemala, who was determined to join his brother in Chicago. There, he planned to go to school and work at night so that he could send money home to help his mother, who suffers from epilepsy. He never made it, but was separated from or abandoned by his “coyote,” the guide paid a large sum to take him across the border, and died under the relentless sun. The news of his death left the people of Guatemala, a country that Tom and I have come to love, reeling in grief and deep in debate about the child immigration crisis.

 As we talked with friends, old and new, in the beautiful city of Antigua, we heard that Guatemala was listed by The Wall Street Journal in April of this year as the country with the fifth highest murder rate in the world. We heard of a poverty rate that is soaring, gang violence that is on the increase, and killings of girls and women that are rising dramatically. No wonder families are anxious for their children to escape danger. We heard a shared grief and a resounding call to action and prayer so that there will be no more deaths. Beyond these commonalities, opinions varied widely. We heard from parents who could not imagine sending their child alone, even in the care of a trusted “coyote,” across the perilous desert. We heard from other parents who could not imagine not taking the risk of sending a beloved child to a safer life with a relative in the United States. These issues are clearly complicated. There are not just two sides. There are as many sides as there are stories of parents who love their children and want for them to have half a chance - a chance not so much for a better life but for a life, period.

This crisis of unaccompanied child immigrants points to the need for our nation to reform our immigration policy. The policy that requires each child entering the United States without a parent to have a hearing was put in place to protect children from sex trafficking. That same policy, meant to guard children from harm, is now a barrier as the wait for hearings becomes years-long. Change is needed to respond more quickly, fairly and compassionately to the children among us. They are children, after all. We are a nation that holds children and families in high esteem, and our immigration policies will be at their best when they honor families, promote justice, and care for the youngest and most vulnerable.  

This crisis also points to the need for the people of Guatemala and other Central American nations to address together with the community of nations the poverty and violence that so many children seek to escape. Guatemala has already begun an education campaign to counter rumors and assumptions and to give parents clear information, but political action to correct social ills must accompany education. The issue of children at our border is a complex matter that will not go away easily. It provides an invitation to us as Americans to live out the promise of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” on which our culture is based. And it provides an opportunity for us as Christians to live out the best of our faith as we live for the sake of others.

I invite you to join me in prayer for immigrant children and their families and for all of us as we struggle with these issues. Let us pray:

Lord Jesus Christ, beloved child of God, whose parents fled with you across the border to a foreign land so that you might live, we pray to you for the immigrant children who have come to our land. Give comfort to those who are held in detention centers as they await their futures. Give hope to family members in the United States and back home as they wait for news of their children’s fate. Inspire our political leaders to develop wise and clear policies in the midst of complex realities. And teach us all how to follow you by caring in concrete ways, as you did, for the most vulnerable among us. All this we ask for the sake of your great love. Amen.    

 – The Rt. Rev. Susan E. Goff is Bishop Suffragan of Virginia

TREC plans churchwide meeting for October 2

Thursday, July 24, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] As directed in its enabling resolution C095 approved by the 77th General Convention in 2012, the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church (TREC) will convene a churchwide meeting on October 2 at 7:30 pm Eastern time (6:30 pm Central/5:30 pm Mountain/4:30 pm Pacific/3:30 pm Alaska/1:30 pm Hawaii).

The purpose of the meeting is “to receive responses to the proposed recommendations to be brought forward to the 78th General Convention.”

The meeting will be webcast live from Washington National Cathedral. Although the meeting will be open to the entire church, TREC encourages attendance from each diocese: a bishop, a lay deputy, a clerical deputy, and one person under the age of 35.

There is no fee to attend in-person or to watch the live webcast. However, registration for in-person attendance is requested; register here. Registration is not required but is encouraged for viewing the webcast.

The planned format will be short concise presentations followed by substantive question and comment periods. Questions, concerns and comments will be taken from the live audience in addition to email and twitter.  Questions can be emailed to reimaginetec@gmail.com or on Twitter @ReimagineTEC.

TREC plans to draw from the comments, concerns and questions raised during this event to influence and fine-tune proposals currently under consideration during its final meeting immediately following the churchwide gathering on October 3 and 4.

TREC’s final report to General Convention is due by November 30 for the 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah in July 2015.

“TREC is especially grateful for the significant financial underwriting from Trinity Church Wall Street to supplement the budget provided by General Convention as well as the generous provision of space and technical support by Washington National Cathedral and the Diocese of Washington,” noted the Very Rev. Craig Loya and Katy George, TREC co-conveners. “Such generosity was critical to making this event possible.”

For more info, questions or comments, contact TREC members at reimaginetec@gmail.com.

Don Compier is new dean of Bishop Kemper School for Ministry

Thursday, July 24, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of Kansas] There has been a change in leadership at the Bishop Kemper School for Ministry, a collaborative education venture of the Episcopal Dioceses of Kansas, West Missouri, Nebraska and Western Kansas

The school’s dean since it was founded last summer, the Very Rev. Andrew Grosso of the Diocese of Kansas, left at the end of June to become the Director of Distance Learning at Nashotah House, an Episcopal seminary located about 30 miles west of Milwaukee, Wis.

The Rev. Don Compier, also of Kansas, accepted a call to become the new dean, beginning July 1.

The school offers classes to educate people from all four dioceses for leadership in lay and ordained vocations. It conducts classes and provides housing for students in Topeka.

The 2014-2015 classes are set to begin in August.

The new positions were announced earlier this summer by the school’s board of directors, which includes bishops and representatives of the four partnering dioceses.

BKSM board chair, Larry Bingham of the Diocese of Kansas, said that Compier “has extensive experience in theological education, including more than a decade in administration and nearly 25 years as a faculty member, most recently as Dean and Professor of Theology at Graceland University Seminary, an institution of the Community of Christ, in Independence, Mo.”

He previously served as a faculty member at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, Calif., where one of his students was Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. He also has made presentations to the House of Bishops.

Compier, who was ordained as a transitional deacon on June 7, earned his Ph.D. in Theological Studies from Emory University in Atlanta. He has served as a member of the Bishop Kemper School’s Board of Directors and has been a faculty member of the school this past year. He also taught at the Kansas School for Ministry, one of the predecessors of the Bishop Kemper School, since 2011. He is fluent in both Spanish and Dutch.

The position of dean previously had been part-time but now will be full-time, a move the board approved earlier this year in recognition of the growing needs of the school. Compier will work from his home in Independence, Mo.

Bishop Dean Wolfe of Kansas said of the change in leadership, “We have been richly blessed — first to have someone as capable as the Very Rev. Andrew Gross serving at the Bishop Kemper School, and then to have someone as wonderfully qualified as Dr. Don Compier serve as our next dean. I believe the Lord has been looking out for us.”

Bingham said that he and the other members of the board felt that such a smooth transition in a school that is only a year old, without a loss of competency, was inspired.

“The Holy Spirit obviously is at work here,” he said.

More information about the Bishop Kemper School for Ministry is on its website, www.bishopkemperschool.org.

–Melodie Woerman is director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas.

EPPN Policy Alert: Curb the Carbon, Cure our Climate

Thursday, July 24, 2014

[Episcopal Public Policy Network] The drastic impacts of climate change are evident across the globe. Coastal erosion, tremendous hurricanes, severe heat waves, and prolonged droughts often most harshly impact our vulnerable communities: the poor, the homeless, the elderly, and the young. Addressing climate change is a moral challenge of our generation.

Fortunately some policymakers are responding to the challenge. Carbon dioxide and other heat trapping gases are a leading cause of climate change, and reducing carbon emissions represents a significant step in addressing this global phenomenon. President Obama recently unveiled his Climate Action Plan, which includes a carbon rule for existing power plants. This rule would reduce U.S. carbon emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030 through assigning customized carbon reduction targets to individual states.

The United Nations is also constructing a global framework for carbon reduction and will meet in New York City in September of 2014 to continue this discussion. For nations to effectively curb climate change, ambitious carbon reduction targets coupled with support for affected communities will be a critical outcome of this process.

In our General Convention, The Episcopal Church urges the President to collaborate with other nations to lower carbon output. Every day, faith communities around the world are calling on political leaders to respond to the moral challenge of climate change. Will you join them?

This month, consider taking three steps to address climate change:

    1. Submit a comment or testify in support of the President’s proposed carbon rule for existing power plants.
    1. Call on our political leaders in the United States to take a leading role in helping to craft a moral global framework for the UN climate negotiations. Click here to sign the Faith Climate Petition!
  1. Demonstrate your own leadership by making an action pledge! Pledges for action can be as simple as changing a light bulb to installing solar panels on your congregation to hosting a climate vigil or sermon. These pledges will be highlighted during several faith events in New York in September. Click here to pledge to take action!

Together, let us respond to the challenge of climate change with compassion; lifting up the voices of our neighbors living in or near poverty, and striving to preserve God’s “good” Creation.

Rapidísimas

Thursday, July 24, 2014

El departamento de inmigración de Inglaterra tiene la sospecha de que muchos de los matrimonios recientes son fraudulentos y han sido hechos con el fin de obtener visas para residir en el país. Citó por ejemplo que en el 2010 se registraron 934 matrimonios y que el año pasado la cifra ascendió a 2135. Los que realizan matrimonios fraudulentos tanto civiles como religiosos están sujetos a penas de cárcel y multas.

La organización de derechos humanos Human Rights Watch ha pedido al Congreso de Ecuador que modifique un “alarmante” proyecto de enmiendas constitucionales, que permitiría la reelección indefinida y penalizaría las acciones de ciudadanos contra el Estado.

Líderes de derechos humanos en El Salvador explican la situación que vive Centroamérica y que ha originado la crisis humanitaria de la frontera sur de Estados Unidos con estas palabras: “Dos de las pandillas más violentas de Centro América, la Mara Salvatrucha y Barrio 18 controlan y batallan por territorio en El Salvador, sobre todo en comunidades pobres y marginadas donde la violencia, el asesinato, la violación, la extorsión y las amenazas permean la vida diaria de los vecinos, incluidos los niños”.

Durante los días del 25 al 28 de agosto se celebrará en el Centro de Conferencias de Kanuga en Hendersonville, Carolina del Norte, una conferencia titulada “Nuevo Amanecer” especialmente diseñada para los laicos y clérigos que trabajan en el ministerio hispano. El evento será patrocinado por la oficina de Ministerio Latino de la Iglesia Episcopal y contará con el aporte de la oficina similar de la Iglesia Luterana (ELCA). Informes Nancy Frausto, coordinadora, frausto.nancy@gmail.com.

Tom Ehrich, sacerdote episcopal director de Religion News Service, dice en su más reciente columna: “No son los inmigrantes mexicanos los que han causado grandes cambios en el lugar de trabajo en Estados Unidos. Tampoco son los hondureños ni los guatemaltecos los que han robado la vida de las comunidades americanas. Son los “patriotas” con pistola al cinto gritando odio a los niños refugiados y regando veneno en el lado equivocado”.

Si usted conoce alguna persona que le gustaría leer este noticiero dígale que con mucho gusto lo incluiremos en la lista. Escriba a obisposoto@aol.com

Ante una nutrida audiencia la opositora venezolana Lilian Tintori, dio una conferencia en el Club de Prensa de Washington en la que pidió a todos los países del mundo a que presionen al gobierno venezolano para que ponga en libertad a todos los presos políticos. Entre ellos se encuentra su esposo Leopoldo López preso desde febrero que según informes de prensa será juzgado el 23 de julio.

El problema de los inmigrantes en la frontera sur de Estados Unidos sigue complicándose. Ahora el gobernador de Texas, Rick Perry, está enviando 1,000 efectivos de la Guardia Nacional para impedir el ingreso de indocumentados al país. Perry se considera un “cristiano evangélico fundamentalista”.

La ofensiva israelí sigue en ascenso en la Franja de Gaza. Hasta el momento más de 600 palestinos y 20 soldados israelitas han muerto. El único hospital cristiano de la franja ha dicho que no puede atender a tantos heridos, aún trabajando día y moche.

Antonio Castañeda, presidente de la Asociación Yoruba de Cuba, ha fallecido a los 67 años. El culto africano en Cuba se ha extendido rápidamente durante los últimos 50 años. Según la prensa oficial la asociación tiene 20,000 miembros en el país y muchos otros en el extranjero. Castañeda era “babalao” (sacerdote) de la Asociación Yoruba y además pertenecía a la asamblea del Poder Popular.

Rubem Alves distinguido teólogo, escritor y filósofo brasileño falleció el 19 de julio en Campinas, Brasil, a la edad de 80 años. Realizó estudios teológicos en el Seminario Presbiteriano de Campinas, el Union Seminary de Nueva York y la Universidad de Princeton en Nueva Jersey. Durante su vida escribió 40 libros que han sido traducidos a varios idiomas. Muchos lo consideran uno de “los padres” de la Teología de la Liberación. Su velorio tuvo lugar en la Cámara Municipal de Campinas.

VERDAD. “Acaso no soy yo el que te ordeno que seas fuerte y valiente? No temas ni te acobardes, porque el Señor, tu Dios, estará contigo dondequiera que vayas”. Josué 1:9.

Churches call for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Gaza

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

[World Council of Churches press release] Expressing grave concern over the escalation of military operations in Gaza, the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said, “Hostilities must cease. Israel, Palestine and the surrounding region must be offered the hope of peace: a peace based in justice, a lasting peace that may lead toward reconciliation”.

In an official statement from the WCC issued on 22 July, Tveit expressed deep sadness over the “human devastation on every side, and the disproportionately high number of Palestinian civilian casualties, including women and children”.

On behalf of the 345 member churches of the WCC, Tveit appealed to “all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law” which condemn and prohibit all kinds of indiscriminate and disproportionate killing of civilians.

Tveit shared the WCC’s call for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Gaza. He urged lifting of restrictions on the movement of persons and goods in and out of the Gaza Strip so that urgent humanitarian needs can be dealt with.

In the statement, WCC also called for the resumption of direct peace talks to achieve a comprehensive and sustainable peace based upon a two-state solution along internationally recognized borders.

Tveit said that the “latest resort to armed conflict – and the consequent intolerable suffering inflicted on families and communities – can do nothing to promote a just and sustainable peace for Israelis and Palestinians”.

He added that “peace in Israel and Palestine will come only through the restoration of compassion between human beings, through seeking together common paths towards justice and peace, and through a genuine commitment to creating the basis for future generations of Israelis and Palestinians to live side-by-side in peace.”

Read full text of the WCC general secretary’s statement

WCC member churches in the Middle East

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.

Detroit delays water shutoff 15 days

Monday, July 21, 2014

More than a thousand protesters gathered in Detroit, Michigan, July 18 in defense of water rights including actor Mark Ruffalo, a water rights activist, who attended the march and rally. Photo: T.R. Smith/Diocese of Michigan

[Episcopal News Service] The building crowd – which swelled to more than 1,000 protesters on July 18 in downtown Detroit – had a chant growing ever louder.

“What do we want?  Water. When do we want it? Now.”

Their voices were apparently heard. Monday, after months of residential water shutoffs designed to help the bankrupt city of Detroit raise money and after several protests, the city’s water department announced it has suspended residential cutoffs for 15 days.

“This is a pause. This is not a moratorium,” water department spokesman Bill Johnson told The Detroit News. “We are pausing to give an opportunity to customers who have trouble paying their bills to come in and make arrangements with us. We want to make sure we haven’t missed any truly needy people.”

Increase efforts will also be made for the department to communicate methods of making payment arrangements with religious and community leaders.

Prior to the 15-day suspension, cutoffs were met with protests from civic and religious leaders, who believe if businesses were held to the same standard as the residents, there would be no need for “heavy-handed tactics.”

Last week, the protesters marched from Cobo Center to Hart Plaza, near the city’s riverfront. Earlier in the day, a group of protesters was arrested as it blocked trucks from leaving a facility contracted to administer the shutoffs. One of those arrested was the Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman, rector at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Corktown.

It was the second time in a little more than a week Wylie-Kellerman was arrested in an act of civil disobedience, blocking the entrance to Homrich Industries.

The police tried to “move us forcibly, and we sat down,” he said after his first arrest. “We’re here to appeal to the workers to stop shutting off the water.”

It is estimated up to 3,000 residences weekly are having their water service cut for being at least two months behind in payments and that nearly 30,000 homes could have their service cut. So far, around 17,000 homes had their service stopped.

Although the city’s water department has encouraged those with accounts in arrears to set up a repayment plan to prevent service from being stopped, it hasn’t been a smooth process.

“I’m on assistance, which I’m not proud to say,” said Detroiter Carl Gardner, part of a march protesting the water shutoffs. “Yeah, money from welfare helps pay utilities. At least, it’s supposed to. But, man, it doesn’t pay it all.

“Understand, when you are deciding what to do with what’s left, do you choose food or paying on a bill that the city hasn’t tried to collect on in as long as I can remember?”

More than a thousand people marched in Detroit, Michigan, in defense of water rights on July 18. Photo: T.R. Smith/Diocese of Michigan

Many who have been shut off claim to have not received water bills lately, or in any sort of regular fashion.

“The water shutoffs in Detroit are a catastrophe,” said the Rt. Rev. Wendell N. Gibbs Jr., bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. “The people most at risk have no voice.”

A big part of Detroit’s ailments has been a shrinking tax base caused by a dwindling population. Over the course of several decades, Detroit’s population has tumbled from 2 million in the 1950s to 700,000. What was once one of the nation’s wealthiest cities is now one of the poorest.  So distressed is the city that steps were taken by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to appoint an emergency financial manager, Kevyn Orr, to oversee the economic recovery of the city by handling all of its financial matters.

However, the idea of stepping up collection efforts with shutoffs in a city with more than 40 percent of its residents living below the poverty level is troubling to many.

“Disconnections due to non-payment are only permissible if it can be shown that the resident is able to pay but is not paying. In other words, when there is genuine inability to pay, human rights simply forbids disconnections,” said Catarina de Albuquerque, who specializes on water and sanitations issues for the United Nations, in a statement.

At Friday’s rally in Detroit, organizers from the National Nurses United presented their opposition to the shutoffs, citing a potential public health crisis.

“This is not a Third World country,” explained Ivie Jefferson, a Detroit resident for 52 years. “Prisoners are afforded the opportunity to use water, even behind bars. You can’t just hold prisoners without giving them basic human essentials, such as water. I see it as a God-given right for prisoners, and it’s a God-given right for common folk.

“It’s another case of the poor being oppressed by thugs masquerading as being dictators in charge. It ain’t right. And it ain’t staying this way. We will continue to protest – peacefully, I have to say – until our voices are heard. See all these brothers and sisters walking with me? We’re not happy.

“Community groups support us. Many churches and religious leaders believe in challenging the wrongness of this.”

“People could get sick,” said L.C. Witt, a nurse from Kalamazoo, Michigan, who traveled two hours to attend the rally and march. “In the most basic human conditions, you have to understand fresh water is needed to clean, nourish and to deal with human waste. How unreasonable is it to afford the poorest of our citizens not only water for reasons of health and safety, but also for the issue of basic human dignity?

“We are a not asking for a handout. We’re asking that the marginalized citizens of Detroit be treated with the same respect given to large corporations.”

First-term Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan admitted while there is a need to collect water and other overdue bills due to the city, he also expressed disapproval over the collection methods and the lack of fully communicating the shutoffs before they began. But, because of the emergency financial manager arrangement, he has no real authority over Detroit’s water department.

Judge Steven Rhodes, however, did take the opportunity to address the collection methods during bankruptcy court proceedings last week.

“Your residential shutoff program has caused not only a lot of anger in the city and also a lot of hardship,” Rhodes said to the deputy director of the water department, Darryl Latimer. “It’s caused a lot of bad publicity for the city it doesn’t need right now.”

Here’s another spin-off from the water shutoffs: According to Leilani Farha, a U.N. adequate housing authority, children could be separated from their families by social services representatives due to inadequate living conditions.

“If these water disconnections disproportionately affect African-Americans they may be discriminatory, in violation of treaties the U.S. has ratified,” Farha said.

The irony, as many people see it? The region has no issues with a water shortage. Nearly 20 percent of the world’s freshwater supply can be found in the five Great Lakes surrounding Michigan.

“The lack of affordable access to clean water in the United States in 2014 is shameful,” Gibbs said. “And yet, the government persists in spending more money to shut off the water than it would in assistance to needy citizens to pay their water bill.

“It seems that Detroit has taken a further negative step in bankruptcy – from financial to moral bankruptcy.”

– Rick Schulte is director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan.

Fellowships announced for poverty alleviation, environment

Monday, July 21, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Samuel McDonald, Episcopal Church Director of Mission and Deputy Chief Operating Officer, has announced the recipients of the one-year and two-year Justice and Advocacy Fellowships for social justice and advocacy work for The Episcopal Church.

The Justice and Advocacy Fellowships for Domestic Poverty and Environmental Stewardship, new initiatives of The Episcopal Church, will provide financial support for service, professional development and education to those who are engaged in poverty alleviation and environmental stewardship.

Focusing on the Anglican Marks of Mission Mark 4 and Mark 5, the 2014 Justice and Advocacy Fellowships are sponsored by the Episcopal Church Office of Justice and Advocacy Ministries.

The Domestic Poverty Fellowships
The Domestic Poverty Fellowships are one-year each at $24,000 and call for addressing domestic poverty in communities.

The Rev. Susan Heath of South Carolina and the Rev. Sarah Monroe of Washington were awarded the Domestic Poverty Fellowships.

Heath is sponsored by the Diocese of Upper South Carolina.  She wrote in her application: “South Carolina is plagued by generational domestic poverty.  Our public education system suffers in many parts of the state. My fellowship application theme is to address these ills by bringing the combined voices and action of Episcopal congregations along with other churches in the conversation.”

Monroe is sponsored by the Episcopal Network Collaboration (Episcopal Network for Economic Justice, Episcopal Ecological Network and Union of Black Episcopalians). She wrote in her application: “My focus will be on poverty in rural and working class communities, using Aberdeen, WA as a case study. I will focus specifically on rural homelessness, as it intersects with a post-industrial economy, indigenous struggle, high poverty rates and immigration.”

The Environmental Stewardship Fellowship
The Environmental Stewardship Fellowships are two-years each at $48,000 (over two years) and will provide leadership on key environmental issues in affected domestic communities.

Cynthia Coe of Tennessee and Sarah Nolan of California were awarded the Environmental Stewardship Fellowships

Coe is sponsored by the DuBose Conference Center, an Episcopal facility owned by the three Episcopal dioceses located in Tennessee.  She wrote in her application: “This fellowship will introduce environmental education to young people through summer camp activities. Leader training workshops will also be offered to share this program with other camps, schools and parishes.”

Nolan is sponsored by The Beecken Center at the School of Theology at Sewanee. She wrote in her application: “Through the intentional growth of an organizational eco-system, the Farm, Faith and Food initiative will provide nourishment through building relationships, disseminating resources and sharing stories rooted in agricultural and food based ministries of all shapes and sizes.”

The Justice and Advocacy Fellowships
A total of 33 applications were received.  The applications were reviewed by a seven-person committee of laity and clergy from throughout the Church who then made the granting recommendations.“We are pleased that the recipients of the Justice and Advocacy Fellowships for Domestic Poverty and Environmental Stewardship are well-versed in their areas and will focus on their mission and ministry,” explained the Rev. Canon E. Mark Stevenson, Domestic Poverty Missioner.

For more information contact Stevenson at Mstevenson@episcopalchurch.org or Jayce Hafner, Episcopal Church Domestic Policy Analyst, at jhafner@episcopalchurch.org.

 

Grace Cathedral dean to become Stanford’s dean for religious life

Monday, July 21, 2014

[Stanford University Press release] The Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, has been named dean for religious life at Stanford University, Provost John Etchemendy announced today. Shaw will also be joining the faculty in Stanford’s Department of Religious Studies.

Shaw, a historian and theologian who is at present also a visiting scholar at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, has served as dean of the Episcopal Grace Cathedral since 2010. She previously taught at the University of Oxford.

Shaw, 51, will succeed the Rev. William “Scotty” McLennan Jr., who is stepping down after 14 years. She will assume her position as Stanford’s spiritual leader this fall.

At Stanford, Shaw will provide spiritual, religious and ethical leadership to the university community, serve as minister of Memorial Church and also teach undergraduates and graduate students as a professor of religious studies.

“We are lucky to have found in Jane Shaw both a charismatic leader and an accomplished academic to lead our Office for Religious Life,” said Etchemendy. “Dean Shaw is equally committed to the educational mission of the university and the ecumenical mission of Memorial Church.”

“I am delighted to be joining Stanford as dean for religious life,” Shaw said. “The opportunity to serve at this extraordinary university is a great privilege. It will be my pleasure to work with so many wonderful colleagues and students to relate religious and ethical questions to the cutting-edge work being done at Stanford University, and to provide spiritual leadership for this exceptional academic community. I am also thrilled to be joining the excellent Religious Studies Department as a professor.”

At Grace Cathedral, Shaw has been responsible for overseeing its mission, vision and spiritual life, and has provided leadership to the extended community of an iconic house of prayer known locally, nationally and internationally. The inclusive Grace Cathedral congregation is known for welcoming pilgrims, seekers and believers; embracing innovation; fostering open-minded conversation; and putting beliefs into action.

During her time as dean of Grace Cathedral, Shaw has overseen growth in all areas of the cathedral community’s life, not least in its artistic, cultural and educational events, which have tripled over the past four years. She founded a resident artist program, and also developed educational programming that related questions of values and ethics to the issues of the day, such as the environment and technology.

“Jane Shaw will bring her vision, broad experience and deep commitment to service to the Office for Religious Life,” said William Damon, a professor in the Graduate School of Education at Stanford and co-chair of the search committee for the position. “The Stanford community will be enhanced by her spiritual leadership.”

Shaw joined Grace Cathedral from the University of Oxford, where she taught history and theology for 16 years and was Dean of Divinity and Fellow of New College. A historian of modern religion, she is the author ofMiracles in Enlightenment England (Yale, 2006); Octavia, Daughter of God: The Story of a Female Messiah and Her Followers (Yale, 2011), which won the San Francisco Book Festival History Prize; and A Practical Christianity: Meditations for the Season of Lent (Morehouse, 2012).

Shaw has given several lectures at Stanford on topics including the role of the modern cathedral and reasons behind the 20th-century flight from institutional religion. In 2009, Shaw delivered the Palm Sunday sermon in Memorial Church. While at Stanford this spring, on a short sabbatical leave from Grace Cathedral, she has been researching the moral imagination, a project she is working on with actress, playwright and Grace Cathedral trustee Anna Deavere Smith. Shaw is also working on a book on spirituality and mysticism in the early 20th century.

Shaw was educated as an undergraduate at Oxford; she holds an MDiv from Harvard and a PhD in history from the University of California, Berkeley. She has been awarded honorary doctorates by Colgate University and Episcopal Divinity School.

National Council of Churches opposes Israeli invasion of Gaza

Monday, July 21, 2014

[National Council of Churches USA press release] The President and General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA expressed deep disappointment and sadness Friday over the invasion of Gaza by Israeli Defense Forces.

The Israeli government said it is “hitting Hamas hard” following the Palestinian faction’s refusal to accept a peace plan brokered by Egypt.

NCC President and General Secretary Jim Winkler said, “The overwhelming military superiority possessed by Israel, exhibited by days of air strikes against Gaza and the consequent deaths of hundreds of Palestinians and the wounding of thousands more, guarantees the besieged and impoverished people who live there will suffer much more.”

Nearly 300 persons have been killed in Gaza during recent hostilities between Israel and Hamas, and 1800 persons have been injured.

“The deaths of 18 members of one Palestinian family, and of four little boys playing on the beach, as a result of Israeli attacks are just a few of the heartbreaking results of the conflict,” Winkler said.

“Just as we express opposition to Israel’s invasion, so too do we oppose the firing of thousands of rockets from Gaza into Israel,” Winkler said. “We grieve at the news of the death of an Israeli as a result of a rocket attack.”

“One thing is certain,” Winkler said. “Israel’s invasion of Gaza will not bring a peaceful resolution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine nor will rocket fire from Gaza bring peace. The long cycle of violence must be broken. It appears neither side possesses the courage, faith, or imagination necessary to alter the dynamics of the situation in a positive direction. Too many Palestinians and Israelis are held captive by the self-defeating notion that violence must be met by violence to bring about a secure future. I will continue to pray that God’s word is heeded in the land we consider holy, and that God’s peace will ultimately prevail.”

The current round of fighting between Hamas and Israel was triggered by the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers, allegedly by Palestinians, and the kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian youth, allegedly by Israelis.

The National Council of Churches supports a viable two-state solution, which takes into account the right to self-determination of, and security for, both Israelis and Palestinians; an end to Israel’s Occupation of Palestinian land, and resolution of issues such as refugees, the Separation Barrier, checkpoints settlements, water resources, and the status of a shared Jerusalem.

See more here

El Salvador: violencia, inseguridad e impunidad conducen al desplazamiento

Monday, July 21, 2014

[Episcopal News Service – San Salvador, El Salvador] La hija de 13 años de Irene desapareció al salir de la escuela el 15 de febrero de 2012, en una municipalidad del noroeste de San Salvador controlada por las pandillas. El cadáver de la niña lo encontraron dos días después; Irene se enteró por un noticiero de la televisión local.

“Estoy muy atemorizada por mis otros hijos, que algo les pueda ocurrir debido a la violencia”, dijo Irene, durante una entrevista con ENS en el Instituto de Derechos Humanos que tiene su sede en la Universidad Centroamericana en San Salvador.

Ella tiene dos hijos de 10 y 13 años; uno desapareció brevemente y no habla del tema.

Aunque Irene —éste no es su verdadero nombre— le gustaría ver procesados a los asesinos de su hija, la investigación que lleva a cabo el Estado, la cual incluye el secuestro y el asesinato semejante de otras cuatro niñas, significa que ella y su familia viven en constante temor de represalias. Independientemente de si prosigue la investigación, explica Karla Salas, abogada de derechos humanos, los miembros de la pandilla asociados con los asesinos la amenazan y la hostigan a ella y a su familia. No cuentan con ninguna protección.

“Cuando el Estado se muestra negligente en el manejo de estos casos, la gente acude aquí”, agregó Salas.

Dos de las pandillas más violentas de Centroamérica, la Mara Salvatrucha y Barrio 18, controlan y batallan por territorio en El Salvador, sobre todo en comunidades pobres y marginales donde la violencia, el asesinato, la violación, la extorsión y las amenazas permean la vida diaria de los vecinos, incluidos los niños. Es esta realidad la que en parte ha conducido a la crisis humanitaria que actualmente tiene lugar a lo largo de la frontera de EE.UU. y México, donde más de 44.000 menores no acompañados de El Salvador, Honduras y Guatemala —los otros dos países del Triángulo Norte [de América Central] con problemas de pandillerismo— han sido detenidos en el cruce de la frontera.

“El problema de los menores no acompañados es sólo un elemento de un problema de inmigración más amplio. No es nuevo, es algo que se ha estado desarrollando a lo largo de dos o tres años, pero ahora es que ha cobrado notoriedad en la prensa”, dijo Noah Bullock, director ejecutivo de la Fundación Cristosal, una organización para el desarrollo comunitario basada en los derechos humanos que se arraiga en las iglesias anglicana y episcopal que funcionan en El Salvador.

“Cuando miramos a la inmigración en Estados Unidos tendemos a verlo como un gran bloque, y lo entendemos como [el fenómeno] de personas que buscan trabajo y una vida mejor. Pero no nos fijamos en las personas que escapan de conflictos muy serios y de amenazas de violencia, y esos casos sacan a relucir problemas de protección”, afirmó.

En Colombia, décadas de guerra civil y de violencia asociada con el crimen organizado han desplazado internamente a cinco millones de personas y cerca de 400.000 responden a los criterios para el reconocimiento de la condición de refugiado. La violencia de las pandillas y el crimen organizado han conducido al desplazamiento interno y externo de centroamericanos, aunque debido a la falta de una guerra declarada y de la naturaleza criminal del conflicto, el fenómeno no ha sido formalmente abordado desde la perspectiva de las violaciones de los derechos humanos y de la protección internacional, y los tradicionales procedimientos de asilo resultan difíciles de aplicar.

A diferencia de Colombia, donde el desplazamiento interno y externo ha sido bien documentado por el Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados y otros organismos no gubernamentales, el desplazamiento se estudia menos en Centroamérica.

“Es un fenómeno menos visible, menos documentado en El Salvador, no existe realmente una estrategia nacional para abordarlo”, dijo Bullock.

En efecto, los perfiles nacionales del ACNUR para El Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras juntos no incluyen ni un solo desplazado interno.

La Fundación Cristosal cobró consciencia por primera vez de las personas desplazadas por la violencia cuando, junto con la Iglesia Anglicana-Episcopal de El Salvador, supervisó el programa de reasentamiento de refugiados del ACNUR.

“El año pasado conseguimos más de 150 personas que eran salvadoreños y que buscaban asilo fuera del país, de manera que lo que vemos en los niños debería de verse como parte de un patrón histórico de desplazamiento que ha estado sucediendo durante mucho tiempo”, dijo Bullock en una entrevista con ENS en su oficina de San Salvador.

Tanto el desplazamiento interno como externo, añadió Bullock, tienen causas comunes: falta de bienestar en las comunidades salvadoreñas, violencia generalizada e incapacidad del Estado de salvaguardar las vidas de las personas e imponer el imperio de la ley mediante el procesamiento de las organizaciones delictivas.

“Todas esas cosas, la incapacidad de proteger a los testigos, la incapacidad de mantener escuelas y zonas seguras donde los niños tienen su esparcimiento… esas son áreas que han sido terreno de reclutamiento de las pandillas y donde fundamentalmente se hacen las amenazas”, explicó Bullock. “Son una causa común del desplazamiento interno y externo”.

El ACNUR, en su informe sobre las necesidades de reasentamiento previstas para 2014 a nivel global, calculaba que habría 691.000 refugiados, sin tomar en cuenta el flujo de refugiados de Siria. En 2012, hubo 86.000 espacios disponibles.

En el Día Mundial de los Refugiados en junio se informó que el número de refugiados en todo el mundo había sobrepasado los 50 millones por primera vez desde la primera guerra mundial.

En 2014 se cumple el 30º. aniversario de la Declaración de Cartagena, la cual enmendaba la definición de 1951 y la de 1967 de lo que significa ser un refugiado para incluir a “personas que han huido de su país porque sus vidas, su seguridad o su libertad han sido amenazadas por la violencia generalizada, la agresión extranjera, los conflictos internos, la violación masiva de los derechos humanos u otras circunstancias que hayan perturbado seriamente el orden público”.

Los países de América Central y México adoptaron el protocolo, que no fue reconocido por Estados Unidos, en un momento en que tanto Guatemala como El Salvador estaban librando guerras civiles y cuando los rebeldes contras luchaban contra el gobierno sandinista en Nicaragua.

“En Centroamérica hubo desde fines de los años 60, y a través de los 70, los 80 y los 90 sus buenas tres décadas ininterrumpidas de guerra. Y luego las guerras terminaron y no hubo una resolución muy efectiva de algunas de esas causas estructurales; después hay otras dos décadas de conflicto social que no tienen un nombre como un conflicto armado tradicional, pero que producen muertes en la misma escala”, añadió Bullock. “De manera que, esencialmente, en Centroamérica ha habido 50 años de guerra de baja intensidad y en verdad no deberíamos de sorprendernos que tengamos una crisis de refugiados en Estados Unidos”.

“Nunca nos atrevimos a usar la palabra ‘refugiado’; antes eran inmigrantes, eran ilegales… y ahora porque son niños estamos más dispuestos a ver a los centroamericanos que llegan a nuestras fronteras como algo más”, dijo Bullock. “Tres semanas de crisis humanitaria y de refugiados, cinco décadas de conflicto”.

En una declaración del 10 de julio en que abordaba la crisis de la frontera, la obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori instó a los episcopales a dirigirse a sus legisladores y pedirles que apoyaran una “respuesta humanitaria adecuada a la crisis”.

Entre tanto, la Fundación Cristosal trabaja con organizaciones de derechos humanos y la sociedad civil, entre ellos el Instituto de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Centroamericana, para formular un análisis más abarcador del desplazamiento interno y externo, así como una propuesta que aborde ambos fenómenos, según Bullock.

“Lo que estamos tratando de hacer ahora con nuestro programa es responder a esas necesidades, pero no hay respuestas perfectas porque las causas son muy estructurales y profundas”, apuntó. “Tienes que ser capaz de intentarlo y ayudar a alguien en una crisis humanitaria inmediata, pero también tratar de empeñarte en resolver algunos de los problemas estructurales que están creando las crisis humanitarias”, afirmó.

En la edición del 13 de julio de La prensa, uno de los dos principales diarios de El Salvador, los titulares de primera página iban desde la Copa Mundial a los 375.000 casos de inmigración bloqueados en los tribunales de EE.UU., así como el homicidio de dos adolescentes. En el cuerpo del periódico había una noticia sobre una muchacha violada por su tío en su viaje al norte, un artículo que se proponía la disuasión de emprender viajes semejantes. A principios de semana, había artículos centrados en tratar de disuadir a las familias de que enviaran a sus hijos al norte.

“Esto es algo que la Casa Blanca señala”, dijo Bullock. “Los tratantes de personas y la información que les dan a las familias parecen motivarlas a enviar a sus hijos; creen que les va mejor corriendo el riesgo en base a la información que el coyote les da…  queremos que las personas cuenten con otros medios de obtener información que sea un poco más objetiva que las que le daría un tratante de personas”.

Los abogados de la Fundación Cristosal, explicó él, no intervienen, sin embargo, en la toma de decisiones de vida o muerte con las personas; eso es algo que en último término le compete a un miembro de la familia. Lo que hacen los abogados es tratar de darles a las familias una buena información, de manera que puedan tomar decisiones con conocimiento de causa.

“La Casa Blanca gasta un millón de dólares en publicidad para disuadir a las familias de enviar a sus hijos”, añadió Bullock. “Pero eso no es más que otra forma de propaganda; a lo que las personas responden es al auténtico consejo objetivo de organizaciones como Cristosal”.

La Universidad Centroamericana fundó el Instituto de Derechos Humanos en 1986 en respuesta al número abrumador de violaciones de derechos humanos cometidos durante la guerra civil de 12 años en El Salvador, en la cual asesinaron a 75,000 personas. En ese tiempo el instituto hizo hincapié en la inmigración debido al gran número de personas que huían del país para escapar del conflicto armado, dijo Salas, el abogado de derechos humanos que representa a Irene, en una entrevista en su oficina de la universidad.

Irene se despierta a las 3:00 A.M. todas las mañanas y se dirige a su puesto de venta de comida. Para las 2:00 P.M. ya está de vuelta a su casa de donde no vuelve a salir. Sus hijos van a la escuela y vuelven, y nada más. La familia, incluida la madre de Irene, vive con $6 diarios, dijo ella.

El ACNUR no cuenta con una oficina dentro del país para los que buscan asilo. Irene y su familia deben hacer su petición de asilo fuera de El Salvador. Salas dijo que ella y otros trabajan con una agencia catolicorromana en Europa —la Universidad Centroamericana es católica— que ha convenido en ayudar a la familia con su petición, pero ellos deben cubrir por sí mismos los gastos de viaje.

En el ínterin, la familia vive con miedo y sigue recibiendo amenazas de los miembros de la pandilla que indagan con sorna cómo marcha la investigación. Incluso si el Estado le ofreciera protección a testigos o confidentes, no podría garantizar su seguridad, dijo Salas.

“La pondrían con la misma gente que mató a su hija”, recalcó ella.

- Lynette Wilson es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service

Traducción de Vicente Echerri

 

Deadline extended for United Thank Offering special anniversary grants

Monday, July 21, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The deadline has been extended to August 15 for The Episcopal Church United Thank Offering special “seed money” grants of $12,500 to one bishop in each of the Church’s nine provinces, and to the Presiding Bishop, for a total of $125,000.

Part of the celebration of the 125th Anniversary of the United Thank Offering, these one-time special anniversary grants are intended to be used for a project in each province that will reflect the fourth Anglican Mark of Mission: To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind to pursue peace and reconciliation.

The project must be completed by May 1, 2015.  The grants that are selected will be showcased at 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City, UT in June/July 2015.

Application deadline is August 15.   Applications available here.

For more information contact the Rev. Heather Melton, United Thank Offering coordinator, hmelton@episcopalchurch.org.

Known worldwide as UTO, the United Thank Offering grants are awarded for projects that address human needs and help alleviate poverty, both domestically and internationally.

 

Sin precedente el número de niños detenidos al cruzar la frontera

Monday, July 21, 2014

Inmigrantes de Centroamérica llegan al centro local de refugiados en McAllen. Uno de ellos lleva información de donde viven varios de sus parientes en Estados Unidos. Foto de Trish Motheral.

[Episcopal News Service] Dieciséis muchachos con edades de entre 14 y 17 años se reunieron el 6 de julio en torno a un mapa de América en el que fijaron notas adhesivas con sus nombres de pila junto a sus países de origen. La mayoría de las notas fueron a dar a Guatemala, seguida por Honduras.

Entonces, la Rda. Susan Copley les pidió a los adolescentes que pusieran las notas junto al lugar al que se dirigían. Algunos dijeron que se quedarían con parientes en Nueva York; otros se dirigían a Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland y California.

Un mes antes, el 5 de enero, Copley y algunos voluntarios de su iglesia comenzaron a visitar a los menores no acompañados en Abbott House, una agencia de servicios regional de carácter comunitario que tiene su sede central en Irvington, Nueva York, un pequeño pueblo del valle del río Hudson, justo al sur de Tarrytown, donde Copley es el rector de la iglesia de Cristo y la misión de San Marcos [Christ Church and San Marcos Mission].

Además de llevar a cabo visitas semanales, donde juegan deportes con los chicos y celebran una eucaristía abreviada en español, los miembros de la iglesia oran por los niños y se movilizan para apoyarlos. En una tarde, sus congregaciones de habla inglesa y española recaudaron $1.000 para comprar zapatos para los niños, algunos de los cuales llegaron descalzos a Abbott House.

No se trata sólo de proporcionarles a los niños “un contacto positivo con las personas que se ocupan de ellos”, invitando a diferentes miembros de la iglesia de Cristo y de la comunidad de San Marcos, lo cual contribuye a contrapesar algo de la negatividad que acompaña sus relatos, dijo Copley.

Desde principios de junio, las cifras récord de menores de edad no acompañados que han cruzado la frontera suroccidental [de Estados Unidos] fundamentalmente de Guatemala, Honduras y El Salvador— y la crisis humanitaria que se les asocia ha estado en las noticias, en las cuales los políticos han estado sorteándose la culpa, y los que protestan haciendo titulares.

Con excepción de los menores no acompañados provenientes de México y Canadá, que pueden ser devueltos inmediatamente a sus países de origen conforme a la ley de inmigración de EE.UU. de 2008, los menores que llegan solos deben ser detenidos por las autoridades estadounidenses y sujetos a una vista de deportación, que puede tomar años. Un menor no acompañado es por definición una persona menor de 18 años de edad que está separada de ambos padres y no se encuentra al cuidado de un tutor ni de ningún otro adulto.

Para ajustarse al influjo de menores inmigrantes, el gobierno ha improvisado albergues en bases militares y ha contratado hogares de tránsito, como Abbott House, donde los menores pueden ser atendidos antes de entregárselos a un pariente, con quién estarían hasta el momento de la vista de inmigración.

Abbott House les brinda a los menores que llegan solos cama y comida, asesoría de caso, consejería individual, servicios médicos y educativos, recreación y actividades de esparcimiento, aculturación, servicios legales, transporte y acceso a servicios religiosos antes de ubicarlos con familiares o en acogida temporal, según un comunicado de prensa del 4 de junio.

Las iglesias acuden a la frontera

En un llamado del pasado 3 de julio a la Diócesis de Texas Occidental, el obispo Gary Lillibridge describió las necesidades humanitarias de su diócesis, particularmente en las poblaciones fronterizas de McAllen y Laredo.

La iglesia episcopal de San Juan [St. John’s Episcopal Church] en McAllen, con la colaboración de Ayuda y Desarrollo Episcopales, se ha incorporado a una campaña mayor, la Comunidad de Fe de McAllen para la Recuperación de Desastres, un grupo de agencias eclesiásticas y gubernamentales que se han asociado para responder a crisis, mediante la ayuda  con comidas y lavado de ropa para individuos y familias albergados en la iglesia católica del Sagrado Corazón [Sacred Heart Catholic Church] o en tiendas levantadas en su entorno.

San Juan comenzó preparando mochilas con artículos de higiene personal, tales como jabones, champús y acondicionadores tamaño de viaje, un peine, un cepillo de dientes y otros artículos, así como paquetes de suplementos nutritivos, tales como galletitas de mantequilla de maní y barras de cereal.

“Organizamos ‘grupos de embalaje’ en la iglesia todos los domingos y miércoles y juntamos tantos paquetes como podemos, y embalamos esos paquetes según se necesitan”, dijo la Rda. Nancy Springer, auxiliar del rector en San Juan.

Empeños semejantes están teniendo lugar en Laredo, donde los feligreses de la iglesia de Cristo [Christ Church] preparan mochilas que también contienen artículos de higiene personal y nutricionales, para entregárselos a los niños y sus familiares que acuden a su ciudad.

Y en Arizona, donde se dijo que mujeres y niños se bajaban en las estaciones de autobuses de Tucson y Phoenix, la Iglesia también se ha sumado a los empeños interreligiosos.

Sin embargo, la crisis en el triángulo norte de América Central no sólo concierne a los niños, sino a los adultos y a las familias también. En las últimas semanas, decenas de miles de mujeres con niños y otros núcleos  familiares que huyen de la violencia en Guatemala, El Salvador y Honduras han llegado a Texas y Arizona, según explica una reciente actualización de la defensa de la inmigración  de la Red Episcopal de Política Pública: “Cuando las mujeres y los niños huyen de sus hogares en estas cifras ello indica una crisis humanitaria, no una amenaza a la seguridad”, dijo Katie Conway, analista de inmigración y refugiados de la Iglesia Episcopal. “Los episcopales a través del país han respondido a la crisis con compasión y amoroso servicio y llamamos al Presidente y al Congreso a hacer lo mismo. Creemos que Estados Unidos es capaz de hacerle frente a este desafío sin comprometer nuestros valores o nuestra seguridad, y sin darles la espalda a madres e hijos vulnerables que buscan paz y protección”.

(El 25 de junio, Conway y Alexander Baumgarten, director de la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales de la Iglesia Episcopal con sede en Washington, D.C. presentó un testimonio ante el Congreso respecto a la crisis en nombre de la Iglesia.

En marzo, el Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (ACNUR), expresó su preocupación por el creciente número de niños que cruzaban la frontera “empujados por la violencia, la inseguridad y el abuso en sus comunidades y en sus hogares” y pidió a los organismos gubernamentales “que tomaran medidas para mantener a los menores de edad a salvo de abusos de derechos humanos, violencia y delitos, y para garantizarles su acceso al asilo y a otras formas de protección internacional”.

El ACNUR fundamenta su preocupación y su llamado a la acción en un informe de 120 páginas titulado Niños en fuga, que se basa en entrevistas con más de 400 menores no acompañados provenientes de Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras y México que se encuentran bajo detención federal. El informe indica que muchos de los niños creían que corrían peligro en sus países de origen y que serían seleccionados por las autoridades que evaluarían sus necesidades de protección internacional sobre la marcha.

El informe dice también que muchos de los jóvenes entrevistados eran parte de movimientos de una  “migración mixta”, que incluye tanto a individuos necesitados de protección internacional como a migrantes en busca de trabajo.

“Es de suma importancia advertir que la vasta mayoría de estos niños pueden ser en verdad solicitantes de asilo”, dijo Deb Stein, director del Ministerio Episcopal de Migración. “Hablar de deportarlos a las mismas circunstancias terribles de las que huyeron por seguridad sin la oportunidad de buscar protección es ignorar sus derechos conforme a la Convención de los Refugiados de la ONU de 1951, de la cual EE.UU. es signatario. Esto se pierde en la acalorada retórica de deportarlos simplemente porque entraron ilegalmente al país, cuando en efecto no es ilegal solicitar asilo”.

A partir de octubre de 2011, el gobierno de EE.UU. comenzó a advertir un aumento dramático del número de menores no acompañados provenientes de El Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras, el cual para el año fiscal 2013 había aumentado de 4.059 a 21.573. Para el 15 de junio de 2014, el número había llegado a 51.279 para este año fiscal. Desde 2009, el ACNUR ha registrado un aumento en las solicitudes de asilo [de personas] provenientes de esos mismos tres países. El

Ministerio Episcopal de Migración,  el Ministerio de Justicia y Defensa Social de la Iglesia Episcopal Episcopal y Ayuda y Desarrollo Episcopales están trabajando juntos para conectar a los episcopales interesados en crear o compartir información, recursos y ayuda mutua para la promoción y el ministerio de la inmigración.

– Lynette Wilson es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Laura Shaver, encargada de comunicaciones de la Diócesis de Texas Occidental, colaboró con esta información.

Traducción de Vicente Echerri

Presiding Bishop preaches in Savannah

Monday, July 21, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached the following sermon July 20 at Christ Church in Savannah, Georgia. 

Christ Church, Savannah

20 July 2014

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

It is very good to be with you again – and to be here with you!  It’s hard to believe that it’s been six years since we gathered at St. Michael and All Angels.  Your journey has been a long one, and in addition to grief and some despair at the beginning, it’s brought growth, maturation, and a deepened sense of interconnection with this community, this Church, and the world.  Thank you for demonstrating what it is to be disciples and missionaries – that it means getting out there on the road as friends of Jesus, who, as Wisdom puts it, know that the righteous are kind and filled with hope.

Hope underlies Jesus’ story about weeds in the wheat field.  No, he says, you can’t run out there and start pulling the weeds before harvest time, because you’re likely to pull up some of the wheat as well.  The kind of weeds he’s talking about look a whole lot like wheat.  So the farmer is stuck with the reality that if you want to harvest everything there is to harvest, you have to wait – it’s won’t increase your yield to try to weed the field before everything is ripe.

A friend and former staff member came to see me last week.  Now he works with re-entry programs for parolees, particularly focused on young men under age 25.  New York State releases something like 2500 prisoners every month, and nearly a quarter of them are youth and young adults between 16 and 25.  The brains of kids that age aren’t fully developed yet, but in too many places we lock them up for minor crimes – and more serious ones.  We also lock up a whole lot of mentally ill folks rather than provide effective treatment.  That’s an awful lot of wheat being confused with weeds.

Religious institutions often react in the same way – and Christ Church certainly knows something about that.  There is a strain in human behavior that wants to be absolutely clear about who’s in and who’s out, and we usually only want to let in people who agree with us.  Too often we try to exclude people who make us uncomfortable or fearful – enemies, opponents, and those people, anyone who just doesn’t fit our idea of a proper human being.  Jesus sits down to dinner with all sorts of others – public sinners, enemies of the state, and social reprobates.  They’re all welcome at his table, because he sees wheat, not weed.  He sees beloved child of God, someone who reflects divine creativity, and a potential friend.  He has hope for continued growth.  And that growth often comes in surprising ways – as some of you learned in exile.

What does it take to hope that a person might become more than we see at first encounter, or even before we meet somebody as an individual?  What does it take to expect that God is still at work in another, that more is possible than we might believe?   Do we expect that God is at work in us, expanding our vision and capacity for discernment?  That hope and expectation is what prayer is most fundamentally about.  Prayer starts in that yearning to recognize and experience the divine MORE – for ourselves, friends, family.  Loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength can expand that prayer to include our enemies and the difficult people around us.  Pray that God will do more than we can ask or imagine, in us and our neighbors.  We need that kind of prayer in abundance – for the divisiveness in Congress, the stalemate in Israel and Gaza that is killing and terrifying so many, for the bitterness that remains in some who left this Church and some who remained, and for the strand in each of us that simply doesn’t want to engage someone who has hurt or threatened us.

God’s actually been working that kind of hope-filled newness around here for a long time.  Christ Church was the site of the baptism of the first black person in Savannah – in 1750.  Someone saw wheat in her, and the priest in this place concurred.  There is still work to do, for not all the residents of Savannah are greeted and encouraged as joyously as we are meeting one another here this morning.

One of your ancestors, Juliet Gordon Low, saw wheat everywhere she looked, in rafts of little girls and not so little ones, at a time when girls and women were rarely accorded equal access to anything.  There are signs of expansiveness on that score as well – even the Church of England is moving into a new place!

The ability to suspend judgment, and wait for the ultimate harvest, can be cultivated.  It might even look like turning the soil in our own hearts, uncovering what is fertile and breaking up the manure so it can do its job, instead of plucking up still-growing plants.  That kind of garden-tending certainly has something to do with keeping the field well watered, and life-giving showers of grace and roots that reach down deep into the fount of life.

There’s something about this parable that evokes very current ecological sensibilities.  It’s really insisting that the health of one part of the system depends on all the others.  If you pluck out the part you don’t like or want, the rest is going to suffer.  The developed world is beginning to learn that our profligate use of antibiotics is making a lot of us sick and overweight, because we’re killing off good bacteria as well as dangerous ones.  The good bugs keep us healthy, make vitamins for us, and help us digest our food.  The weedy bacteria become more dangerous when they’re not balanced by others.

An emerging movement called One Health has begun to respond to diseases that have moved from their usual hosts in bats or pigs or primates into human beings – like HIV, Ebola, and influenza.  Human beings have little resistance because we didn’t evolve with these microbes.  They have in some sense been plucked out of their usual field and planted in new and unfamiliar human ones.

The realization that the health of the whole community depends on the health of each part, growing in its own way and context, isn’t just a scientific revelation; it’s an ancient teaching in our own faith tradition.  Human flourishing depends on the other creatures – the plants and animals who provide our food, clothing, and shelter, recycle our waste and clean the water we drink.  We are increasingly being challenged to understand that how we judge the other parts of our environment affects our own ability to live and to do so abundantly:  is this weed or wheat? useful or waste? resource or dumping ground?

Loving God, and discovering the reign of God among us, has something to do with loving our neighbors, both human and non-human creatures, both those we recognize as human and those we have doubts about, both those we see as holy and those we’re sure are not.  The very current tragedies around us – the Christians, Yazidis, and minority Muslims being pushed out of Iraq; the move to reject child refugees from Central America, the war between Abraham’s children in the Middle East – these are all attempts to weed the garden.  It makes God weep, it makes God heartsick.

Creation is an intricate web of life, more complex, awesome, finely balanced, and exquisitely beautiful than any human being can possibly envision.  So is the human community.  The dream of God, the heaven on earth we pray for so earnestly needs all those parts, working together to build up the whole.  Who are we to decide who’s fit for that dream and who isn’t?  Let them and us grow some more – the harvest isn’t due yet.  Give us hearts and eyes to discover God’s beauty in those we ignore or despise.  Our salvation, our healing and wholeness, is bound up with theirs.

Tend the seeds of your own heart, water them with tears of lament and showers of grace.  Cultivate an interest in a person or group who seems like a weed.  This community of faith can teach the world about good gardening.  We have tasted the bread of life – help the world hope for bread, and not weeds.

Will Mebane to serve St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buffalo, as interim dean

Friday, July 18, 2014

[St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral press release] The Rev. Will Mebane will assume interim leadership of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral on July 1. Mebane comes to Buffalo from Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio, where he has served as Canon since 2011.

Mebane entered ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church after an eclectic career in media.  After receiving his B.A. degree in Radio,Television and Motion Pictures from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he held positions with several radio and television stations, including WKBW-Channel 7 here in Buffalo in from 1977 to 1980.

Mebane’s heart was always drawn to social justice. And he is a founding board member and served as vice president of AMISTAD America, Inc. It was this thirst for social justice that originally led the teenaged Mebane to the Episcopal Church.  He had wrestled since childhood with a call to ordained ministry and entered a formal discernment process just short of his 50th birthday. He was accepted into Yale Divinity School and earned his Master of Divinity along with an award for excellence in preaching. He received a Diploma in Anglican Studies from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale at that same time. He was ordained to the priesthood in 2010.

At Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland he shared in serving as a pastor, prophet and priest to the more than 900 individuals that gather there. He worked with clergy, staff and laity on neighborhood ministry, congregational life and social justice programs. He served as chaplain to the Wilma Ruth Combs Union of Black Episcopalians Chapter in Northern Ohio and served on the Strategy Leadership Team of Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC). He was also an active diocesan leader.

Recently, Mebane was appointed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, to The Episcopal Church’s new Task Force on the Study of Marriage.

Mebane and his wife Paulette (aka “Ronnie”), a registered and master’s prepared nurse affiliated with University Hospitals Case Medical Center, have parented two sons during their 40+ years of marriage.

Mebane’s first Sunday at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral will be Sunday, July 6th. Summer Eucharist Hours are 8:00 am in the Richmond Chapel, and 9:00 am in Cathedral Park. All are welcome.

Mebane’s full bio may be read at http://www.stpaulscathedral.org/article/2/welcome/

Hester Mathes named curate, Church of the Holy Communion, Memphis

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Rev. Hester Mathes with Bishop Don E. Johnson of West Tennessee.

For six years as a student at St. Mary’s Episcopal School, Hester Shipp Mathes attended morning chapel in the sanctuary of Church of the Holy Communion. Twenty-two years later, she has returned to that sanctuary, now as an ordained deacon and the new curate of Church of the Holy Communion. Mathes’ ordination as deacon, which took place June 28 at St. Mary’s Cathedral, is the last major step before being ordained to the priesthood.

The Reverend Hester Mathes joins the Reverend Sandy Webb, who became priest in charge of Holy Communion one year ago, and the Reverend Randy McCloy, deacon. “Hester brings to her ministry a wealth of experience as an educator and church professional, and will learn here the craft of priesthood,” says Webb. “I am very grateful to Bishop Don E. Johnson for appointing Hester to serve at Holy Communion, and to the vestry for creating a position in which someone as talented as Hester can come to learn.”

This is Mathes’ second homecoming to Memphis. After graduating from the College of William & Mary, studying music, art and psychology, she returned to serve as youth coordinator at Calvary Episcopal, the parish in which she grew up, and to teach at St. George’s Independent School.

“Teaching in itself was a ministry,” says Mathes, but the “little voice” of a call to priesthood had started making itself known during her college years. She returned to Virginia in 2011 for graduate school, this time at Virginia Theological Seminary, and graduated this spring.

Mathes’ work at Church of the Holy Communion will focus on young adult ministry and sharing in sacramental, preaching and teaching responsibilities. Assuming that all of the canonical consents are received, Mathes will be ordained as a priest this winter.
Mathes and her husband Andy, who has recently opened the Tennessee office of Farr, Miller & Washington Investment Counsel (based in Washington, D.C.), have two children: Neeley, 11, and Zander, nine.

‘Education as Hope’: Anglican universities conference convenes in Seoul

Friday, July 18, 2014

Delegates attending the CUAC conference visit the DMZ on the Korean Peninsula.

[Colleges and Universities of the Anglican Communion press release] On Sunday July 5th, seventy delegates from five continents, representing forty-seven member schools of the Colleges and Universities of the Anglican Communion (CUAC), gathered on the square outside a chapel in Seoul, Korea to convene CUAC’s 8th International Triennial Conference, “Education as Hope: Working Towards Transformation in Our Common World.” Hosted by Sungkonghoe University (SKHU) during its own centennial anniversary, the conference drew on the heritage of Korean culture as well as the peninsula’s specific context of separation and reconciliation as frameworks for exploring the programmatic theme. The tone was set as a group of SKHU student musicians in the Pungmul Kilnori tradition led the delegates in a parade of free dancing into the Chapel of the Epiphany, where the ensuing liturgy incorporated traditional Korean music and dance.

SKHU President the Rev. Dr. Jeong-ku Lee presided and preached at the opening Eucharist, which began with delegates representing the seven CUAC regional chapters bearing candles to the table behind the altar. Dr. Lee proclaimed that, “If the Anglican spirit is like Peter, CUAC is like Paul with the Anglican spirit and its vision for education is being spread worldwide through CUAC.” He continued, “If the Anglican educational institutes that God planted become like blind people in this world, our common world and its education will fall into a ditch….CUAC is a plant that God planted. May this CUAC international conference be another wonderful experience of our being a rainbow spectrum in diversity.”

The Rev. Dr. Jeremy Law, Dean of Chapel of Canterbury Christ Church University, who led the development of the conference theme, connected “Education as Hope” to the theology of the German theologian Jürgen Moltmann. In his seminal Theology of Hope, Moltmann insists that Christian hope is not limited to a future that emerges from the possibilities of the world, but reaches out to that resurrection future which arrives from the possibilities of God; this is hope for nothing less than a new creation. This hope, Law suggests, underwrites the open-ended enquiry that lies at the heart of genuine education. He thus called for education that “resists the stabilization of things, that provokes the question of meaning that makes the familiar strange, and so keeps the world open to that ultimate future God promises to bring.”

The delegates spent a day on “Reading the Korean Context” that included an overview from the Rev. Dr. Jaejoung Lee, South Korea’s former minister of unification, and a visit to the Demilitarized Zone that defines the division of the Korean peninsula.

The Triennial’s two keynote speakers addressed issues of Anglican identity and mission from different perspectives. The Rev. Dr. Sathinathan Clarke, professor of theology and culture at Wesley Theological Seminary, in Washington, DC, called for “a shift from post-colonial Anglicanism to TransAnglican cosmopolitanism.” Speaking to delegates representing a plurality of schools where Christians are in the minority, Clarke cited Namsoon Kang’s proposal to “move from politics of single identity to the politics of multiple solidarities across various identities without abandoning one’s personal attachments and commitments to the group one finds significant.” Such a posture allows colleges and universities to offer hospitality to other faiths, as well as to those who have none, while remaining Christian in character. “TransAnglican cosmopolitan Communion,” to Clarke, “is grounded in God’s grace, sieved through the preferential compassion of Jesus Christ, and nurtured by the cosmo-centric restoration of the Holy Spirit.”

Keynoter Dr. Jenny Te Paa Daniel, a public theologian and former dean at St. John’s Theological College in Auckland, New Zealand, related how the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King spoke to her situation as a young Maori student: “I said to my children, ‘I’m going to work and do everything that I can do to see that you get a good education. I don’t ever want you to forget that there are millions of God’s children who will not and cannot get a good education, and I don’t want you feeling that you are better than they are. For you will never be what you ought to be until they are what they ought to be.’”  She challenged delegates to reframe Anglican education, by having “the capacity and will to transform the way things are, by reaching out to include disadvantaged individuals not only in our schools, but by preparing them to make it to top levels of leadership.” “What I want for my grandchildren,” she concluded, “is for them to be transfigured, changed into something beautiful.”

Other conference speakers included Dr. John McCardell, Vice-Chancellor of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, who led off the conference addressing Personal Transformation as “Development of Character,” noting, “Character is balancing liberty with restraint from within;” Dr. Elaine Graham, research professor at the University of Chester in the UK, who took on Social Transformation in her paper “Apologetics without Apology,” focusing on the dilemma of navigating between religious resurgences in societies over against the new place of secularization; Dr. Gerald Pillay, Vice-Chancellor of Liverpool Hope University in the UK, who looked at Social Transformation through the lens of church history, describing “Christianity as the most globalized phenomenon in the world, surpassing democracy and capitalism;”and Dr. Henrique F. Tokpa, President of Cuttington University in Liberia spoke to Personal Transformation from his experience in Liberia of “Education from Ex-Combatants to Students.”

CUAC’s General Secretary, The Rev. Canon James G. Callaway, D.D., challenged the delegates that “as liberal arts recognizes the importance of learning a second language in starting one’s critical thinking about his or her mother tongue, [their] task was to begin to speak Sungkonghoe as they learn about its situation and context, to understand their own institutions better.”

The delegates at the Triennial elected members to the Board of Voting Trustees for the next three years. Prof. Robert Derrenbacker, Vice-Chancellor of Thorneloe University in Sudbury, Canada was elected chair; The Rev. Dr. Renta Nishihara, Vice President of Rikkyo University in Tokyo, Japan, Vice Chair; The Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Guen Seok Yang of Sungkonghoe University in Seoul, Korea, Treasurer; and Prof. Alexander Jesudasan, principal and secretary of Madras Christian College in Chennai, India, as Secretary. At the closing banquet Canon Callaway cited the words of greeting of the Mayor of Seoul, Park Won-soon, who told delegates that “Sungkonghoe’s witness in human rights and human development was the same as his,” and that of the Mayor of the City of Guro, Lee Sung, who noted that “the mission I have for this city has been shared by Sungkonghoe University.” Callaway then told President Jeong-ku Lee that because CUAC shared the solidarity of the mayors that Sungkonghoe’s witness in their hundred years lived out CUAC’s vision as well. He then presented Lee a commendatory Centenary certificate signed by CUAC’s Patron the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

The Triennial concluded on Friday July 11th, and was followed by a two-day Chaplains’ Conference facilitated by Dr. Law. The next Triennial will be held in Chennai, India in early January 2017, hosted by Madras Christian College.

CUAC is a world-wide association of over 130 institutions of higher education that were founded by and retain ties to a branch of the Anglican Communion. With institutions on five continents, CUAC promotes cross-cultural contacts for the exchange of ideas and the joint development of educational programs among member institutions. As a network of the Anglican Communion, CUAC leverages its global presence to help the faculty and students of its member institutions become better citizens of an increasingly-diverse world. For more information, visit www.cuac.org.

Archbishop writes to ecumenical partners about women bishops

Friday, July 18, 2014

[Lambeth Palace] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has written to ecumenical partners about the General Synod’s decision to allow women to become bishops, emphasizing that churches “need each other.”

An ENS article about the Church of England’s decision to enable women to serve as bishops is available here.

The text of Welby’s letter, which is being posted to partner churches, follows.

This comes to you with warm Christian greetings and the wish to communicate personally to you the decision of the General Synod of the Church of England to admit women to the episcopate.

This is an occasion of deep rejoicing for many, especially for many of the women clergy in the Church of England. They feel that this decision affirms their place and ministry in the life of the Church. For others in the Church of England, the decision may be a source of disappointment and concern.

As the Synod moved towards the decision many were struck by the spirit of the debate: frankness, passion and, I am glad to say, a good deal of Christian charity.  It all indicated an intention and sincere assurance to hold all of us together in one Church. There appeared a determination that the genuinely held differences on the issue of the ordination of women to the episcopate should not become a dividing factor in the Church of England, and there was care and expressions of love for those troubled by the outcome.

The Bishops have sought to build trust across the Church. The five principles outlined by them in their declaration form part of the package approved. Principles 3 and 4 are ecumenically relevant.

I give below these principles:

1.  Now that legislation has been passed to enable women to become bishops the Church of England is fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender, and holds that those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to office are the true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and canonical obedience;                          

2.  Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must be prepared to acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter;

3.  Since it continues to share the historic episcopate with other Churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and those provinces of the Anglican Communion which continue to ordain only men as priests or bishops, the Church of England acknowledges that its own clear decision on ministry and gender is set within a broader process of discernment within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of God;

 4. Since those within the Church of England who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests continue to be within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of the Anglican Communion, the Church of England remains committed to enabling them to flourish within its life and structures; and

5.  Pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority within the Church of England will be made without specifying a limit of time and in a way that maintains the highest possible degree of communion and contributes to mutual flourishing across the whole Church of England. 

The Church of England continues in its quest to make our unity more visible with those with whom we are in communion, and to seek greater unity with those with whom we are not yet in communion. Some of our Sister Churches in communion will share the joy of those in the Church of England, who welcome the development of having women in the episcopate. But we are also aware that our other ecumenical partners may find this a further difficulty on the journey towards full communion. There is, however, much that unites us, and I pray that the bonds of friendship will continue to be strengthened and that our understanding of each other’s traditions will grow.

Finally, it is clear to me that whilst our theological dialogue will face new challenges, there is nonetheless so much troubling our world today that our common witness to the Gospel is of more importance than ever. There is conflict in many regions of our world, acute poverty, unemployment and an influx of oppressed people driven away from their own countries and seeking refuge elsewhere. We need each other, as we, as churches empowered by the Holy Spirit, rise to the challenge and proclaim the good news of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and strive for closer fellowship and greater unity. I do recognise that there are issues that raise difficulties, but I do also take courage from the words communicated to one of my predecessors by a significant Orthodox brother which have become dear to me:

In spite of such obstacles, we cannot allow ourselves to congeal the love between us which is also manifested in dialogue so “let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us” with the good hope that the Lord of powers and mercy “will not let us be tested beyond our strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that we may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

It is therefore in this spirit that I greet you and ask for your prayers for our ministry in the Church of England.

The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby
Archbishop of Canterbury

Religious leaders of Africa commit to post-2015 development

Friday, July 18, 2014

CAPA General Secretary Grace Kaiso said the widest cooperation was necessary for success. Photo: CAPA

[Anglican Communion News Service] Hundreds of faith leaders from across Africa recently met in Uganda’s capital for a three-day summit on sustainable development and the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

More than 200 religious leaders gathered in Kampala between June 30 and July 2 for the Africa Faith Leaders’ Summit with its theme of Enhancing Faith Communities’ Engagement on the post 2015 Development Agenda in the Context of the Rising Africa.

During the conference the leaders, from a wide variety of religious traditions, considered ways to work together to ensure post-2015 goals were implemented.

They made a host of commitments, including doing more to promote peace and reconciliation in countries and communities currently facing violence; to promote interfaith dialogue and co-operation as a means of eradicating religious radicalization; to ensure women, children, youth, people with disabilities and people living with HIV/AIDS are included in finding solutions to Africa’s development challenges; and to promote the resourcefulness of Africa as opposed to its poverty and misery.

Canon Grace Kaiso, general secretary of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) who attended the event, said, “The shaping of our common future must not be left to a few but must involve people at all levels.

“Our expectation of support from partners worldwide should not stop us as Africans from bearing our responsibility to turn life on the Continent around by being responsible and accountable stewards of the enormous resources God the Creator has endowed us with.

“CAPA, like many others at the meeting, is committed to the unlocking of the potential of  the continent for the thriving of the human family.”

The summit was organized under the auspices of the African Interfaith Initiative on Post-2015 Development Agenda, a coalition of faith communities and their leaders across Africa with technical support from the United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC) and other development partners.

Participants included representatives of the African Council of Religious Leaders, Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar; All Africa Council of Churches; Organization of African Instituted Churches; Hindu Council of Africa; Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa; Union of Muslim Councils of Central, Eastern and Southern Africa; the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’i; the Association of the Evangelicals of Africa; Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa; and Arigatou International, Nairobi.

The Post-2015 Development Agenda will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that will expire in 2015. Of the eight goals, it is believed that only three will be fully met by 2015, hence the need for a successive agenda to build on the achievements made to date.

Read the faith leaders’ Position Paper here 

Read the faith leaders’ statement From Lament to Action here

WCC expresses sorrow over Malaysia Airlines disaster

Friday, July 18, 2014

[World Council of Churches press release] The World Council of Churches (WCC) today expressed sympathy and sorrow to family, friends and colleagues who mourn the deaths of nearly 300 passengers and crew on board Malaysia Airlines flight 17 when it crashed in eastern Ukraine on 17 July en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Particular mention was made of the estimated one-third of the victims who were travelling to the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, due to begin on Sunday 20 July.

“This is a profound tragedy that shocks and worries all of us; but especially for those who have lost their loved ones including our neighbours and partners at the World Health Organization (WHO) here in Geneva who lost over 100 staff in the crash,” the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said.

“The thoughts and prayers of the world community are with you. It is our sincere hope for the eventual healing of your minds and spirits.”

“This tragedy taking place in a highly sensitive location and situation that remains poised on the brink of terrible violence, reminds us of the fragility and sacredness of life and the need for peace in this region,” he added. “Our sympathy also goes to the people of Malaysia who are now experiencing a second airline tragedy within a few months.”

Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, the WCC associate general secretary for Public Witness and Diakonia, said, “The WCC is mourning the deaths of a reported 100 UN AIDS and WHO staff and their family members.”

“I knew personally and worked with some of the people who died in this crash,” Phiri said. “It is in this context that the WCC is seriously affected by these deaths.  It is painful to realize that the deaths will have a negative impact on progress that was being made in the area of HIV and AIDS research at a global level. My own relatives whose lives depend on new discoveries in HIV and AIDS research will be affected by the deaths of these people.”

Since 27 May 1974 a “Memorandum of Understanding” has been in place between the WCC (and its former Christian Medical Commission) and the WHO enabling a working relationship by “joint involvement in common endeavors on a very practical level.”

The WCC, through the CMC, became the first Non-State Faith-Based-Organization (FBO) through which churches’ health workers could have a voice and a platform for advocacy on health policies at the annual WHO Assembly and the Executive Board.

The CMC was instrumental in WHO’s Primary Health Care Approach. Equally important, WHO was instrumental in the WCC’s ecumenical response to the AIDS crisis since 1986.

The cause of the Malaysia Airlines disaster is currently under investigation. Charges and counter-charges have been levelled by opposing sides in the on-going conflict within Ukraine.

Phiri observed, “This is a clear demonstration that any war in any part of the world affects us all.”

Tveit said that, “All efforts should be made and it should be a goal of everyone that civil aviation does not again become a target in situations of conflict”.