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Bishops on the GTS Board of Trustees issue letter

Thursday, May 28, 2015

[General Theological Seminary]

To: The Bishops of The Episcopal Church

May 20, 2015

From: The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel, III, the Rt. Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche, the Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer, the Rt. Rev. Steven A. Miller, the Rt. Rev. Lawrence C. Provenzano, the Rt. Rev. Stacy F. Sauls, the Rt. Rev. William H. Stokes, and the Rt. Rev. Eugene T. Sutton

Dear Brother and Sister Bishops,

As bishops serving on the Board of Trustees at The General Theological Seminary of The Episcopal Church, we have witnessed up close an unprecedented year of challenge, conflict and opportunity. We write to you today in order to share our thoughts, continue our honest conversation, and ask for your constant prayer and support as we embrace our continuing mission: forming and educating leaders for the church in our changing world.

There is no way to understand the events of last fall and spring without placing them in the wider context of theological education in America and the state of The Episcopal Church. The ground has shifted fundamentally, and many of the givens in the worlds of academia and church are now adrift. How much seminary debt is too much? Should students make a three-year residential commitment? Can distance learning form effective leaders? What is the right balance of classroom and field experience? What is the ideal faculty composition? And how can we carefully transform a beloved institution with the clock ticking loudly in the background?

The committee of students, faculty and board members who selected the Very Rev. Kurt Dunkle as General Seminary’s 13th Dean and President chose a leader to guide us through these rocky shoals. We knew it would be hard and even painful work to turn a ship of our age and reputation, a lesson many of you have learned in your congregations and dioceses. You also know that the ghosts of an institution’s life are always lurking and that certain patterns, narratives and resistance tend to resurface in moments of transition and change, as clearly happened here.

The good news is that – with the ongoing facilitation of the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center and the voluntary participation of all segments of the seminary community – we have had more honest conversations about our past, present and future in the past few months than most of us have seen in our entire association with the school, and have made much progress toward reconciliation.

The hard news is that this truth and reconciliation process came only after deep wounds were inflicted on and by all sides. But in the end, we believe that our Seminary will be stronger for this experience – more transparent, and more united in our efforts to maintain all the best of the past as we continue to evolve to meet the needs and address the challenges of a changed world with purpose and vision.

We have all learned a great deal about mutuality, deep listening, repentance and servant leadership. So we ask God’s grace as we seek to become a more true witness to the virtues carved into the stones of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd.

All of which brings us to this moment and this letter. We write not only to ask your prayers or to provide explanation, though both are essential. We write to welcome you to commit with us to a journey. Your input and your support of GTS – the first seminary of The Episcopal Church – will be vital to our efforts to test new approaches and create new models for seminary education.

As efforts continue, we are gratified and encouraged by clear signs of progress:

  • Dozens of applications were submitted for fall 2015, and we anticipate welcoming a full complement of students in September whose intelligence, experience, maturity and eagerness will contribute to the remaking of a seminary.
  • The Association of Theological Schools conducted a rigorous evaluation of General Seminary this winter and issued a positive assessment and accreditation, with strong encouragement for several initiatives and helpful suggestions for our future development.
  • The Wisdom Year pilot project launched last fall, and most of the rising senior class will partake starting this fall. Serving in sites across the region but still living on campus, these residents will spend their final year of seminary in ministry less like traditional field education and more akin to a curacy with ample supervision and reflection … and all coupled with compensation adequate to pay for the year’s tuition and basic housing.
  • The Lombard Mennonite Peace Center’s work from October to May has provided the entire school with tools and practices to examine our common life and rebuild trust. We plan to use these practices and others to form a culture that is more faithful, open, honest and healthy. The LMPC will continue that journey with us next year.
  • We will miss the presence of some seasoned faculty who have served the seminary faithfully for years, but one of the graces of our location and reputation is that many well-respected academic and church professionals are excited to join in teaching and formation at General Seminary this fall and beyond.
  • We have turned our gaze outward and are exploring partnerships and alignments with other seminaries and church organizations. For instance, a new partnership with the United Thank Offering will bring returning young missionaries to General Theological Seminary to live and work, bridging the wisdom of global mission and local engagement.

The Episcopal Church is not the same church it was 100, 50 or even 10 years ago. Life has changed; our contexts for mission and ministry have changed. Systems must be more agile, adaptive and lean. These are not buzzwords; they are signs of a fundamental paradigm shift. As Episcopalians, we carry catholic, time-honored traditions into relationship with these changing environments, and we ask our seminaries to prepare leaders who are capable of engaging this dance between ancient and future.

We are convinced that General Theological Seminary has a special witness to make in our church and in the world. Can historic, catholic traditions come to new life in a wired, multicultural, spiritual-but-not-religious age? Yes they can. As General turns toward resurrection, we hope to share the good news and inspire others in our church to risk, listen and be transformed for the sake of the gospel, along with us.

We ask you to join us and send your students to train as Christian leaders in a school uniquely dedicated to transformation and excellence. Please feel free to contact any of us to discuss this letter and our hopes for the future of General Theological Seminary and our Church.

The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel, III

The Rt. Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche

The Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer

The Rt. Rev. Steven A. Miller

The Rt. Rev. Lawrence C. Provenzano

The Rt. Rev. Stacy F. Sauls

The Rt. Rev. William H. Stokes

The Rt. Rev. Eugene T. Sutton

Canada: Anglicans join biosolids protest in Nicola Valley

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Heather Shuter, Clarence Basil and Denise Lafferty mind the blockade outside of Shulus. Photo: André Forget

[Anglican Journal] A bad smell hangs over parts of British Columbia’s Nicola Valley.

Partially processed human waste — known in the industry as “biosolids” — are being dumped onto a 320-acre patch of former ranch land not far from where the Spius Creek flows into the Nicola River, and concerns about the safety of the practice have led local First Nations to impose a moratorium on the practice and local concerned citizens to enforce a blockade to keep more waste from entering the valley.

“It’s like living in a real stinky outhouse,” said Heather Shuter, a member of the community action group Friends of the Nicola Valley and member of Scw’exmx parish, part of the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (APCI). “My daughter drove up the hill, and she must have [driven] through one of these fields, and when they came back she said they had a devil of a time cleaning their pickup because it stunk so much.”

Harold Joe, a councilor for the Lower Nicola Indian Band, said people became aware of the dumping only last winter. “Some of the residents close by there were objecting to the smell,” he said. “It all happened kind of suddenly.”

Lower Nicola’s chief, Aaron Sam, wasn’t given any warning about the dumping, either. “[Due to] community concern, the local bands and the chiefs started looking into the issue,” he said. “We haven’t been notified by the government at all where it’s being disposed of in our territory. The way we found out about it back then is by word of mouth.”

In early March, the Friends of the Nicola Valley responded by blockading Highway 8, the main highway leading into the valley, in order to keep any more biosolids from being dumped on the land near their homes.

“People from all over B.C. have stopped here,” said Judy Weinart, who has been on the blockade almost every day since it began. “They’re sympathetic. [The biosolids] come out of their area, and they can’t believe it’s being dumped here.”

Weinart and fellow-blockader Jason Schroeder encourage drivers of passing cars to sign a petition. They seem to have a good rapport with them, many of whom honk in support. When traffic is slow, the blockaders tend a fire to keep themselves warm. Beside the highway, they have placed large homemade signs with slogans like, “No More Bio Sludge!” and “Keep Your Own Sewage!”

From the very beginning of the protest, many of the strongest voices have been Anglican. The priest for Scw’exmx Parish, the Rev. Danny Whitehead, has been unwavering in his support of the actions, offering the parish hall in Shulus to blockaders who need somewhere to rest.

“As Christians, we are called to take care of creation,” Whitehead explained. “Our First Nations brothers and sisters have always done that, and set an example for us—and so being a priest [who] has the privilege and honour of working with First Nations, I very much support what they’re doing.”

The blockade has also received enthusiastic support from Barbara Andrews, suffragan bishop in charge of APCI, who has invited all members of APCI “to come with me to be protectors on the picket line.”

Members of the territory’s Indigenous council, including many pastoral elders, came forward at APCI’s assembly at the beginning of May to encourage Anglicans of the Central Interior to stand with their First Nations brothers and sisters in protecting the land.

In a passionate address to the assembly, Shuter spoke about the challenges facing both settlers and First Nations people in the Nicola Valley.

“They’re slathering it on our fields, our ranch lands, in the wilderness,” she said, “and they put a sign up there saying, ‘don’t go on this property for three months, do not eat any of the products from this field for three years.’ Do our deer know how to read that sign? Do our fish know how to read that sign, when they’re swimming in those rivers?”

This point, in particular, strikes a strong chord with many First Nations people living in the valley, who subsist in large part from food gathered in the traditional manner. Shuter herself estimates that 90 per cent of the meat and fish her family eats comes from the land rather than the supermarket.

Sam, too, is worried about the potential effects contamination of the water could have on public health, given that the land the biosolids are being dumped on is not far from the Nicola River, the valley’s main water source and an important salmon spawning ground

“When it affects the land, it affects the water,” he said. “We’re concerned about the health of the community…People from our communities are still very, very reliant on fish and salmon, and we’re very reliant on our traditional foods.”

But while many of the First Nations and settlers living in the valley are united in their resistance to dumping, finding a solution to the problem has not been easy.

The chiefs of the Nicola Valley bands sent a letter to the provincial government in December informing them, as Sam put it, “that we wanted the biosolids not to be coming into the valley anymore, and we wanted to be informed about what is going on in our traditional territory.”

The problem is that the biosolids are being disposed of on private land that has been purchased for this purpose. Several companies are involved, including Agassiz-based BioCentral and New Westminster-based Sylvis, and all of them obtained the necessary government permits.

The chiefs have had some contact with the companies bringing the waste into their community, and some of the companies have shown a desire to work out an arrangement, but Sam said this will not lead to a lasting solution.

“It’s an issue with government,” he said. “The government has that legal obligation to consult and accommodate First Nations, and all these companies…it’s not the companies’ fault—they worked through the current legislation. The First Nations perspective is that we have to figure something out on how we’re going to move forward with government.”

The provincial government, however, has not responded to concerns raised by Nicola Valley residents.

In March, the Friends of the Nicola Valley chose to enforce the moratorium declared by the chiefs by blockading the highway around the clock, and while this effectively stopped the dumping, it still did not bring serious government engagement. In mid-April, the five Nicola Valley chiefs took things a step further by blockading Christy Clark’s constituency office in West Kelowna, an action that Shuter was personally involved in.

“Three non-Natives had to get us in the building,” she recalled. “We called them Trojan grannies — three elderly ladies. Their job was to get the door open, and then all the protectors [sic], who were around the side of the building…had to zip in, and that’s the only way we got in, because they had already been notified that some blockaders were going to be over there. We were there for six days. Nothing from Christy Clark.”

In an April 15 press conference, Clark said there is no easy solution. “There’s a lot of hands in the pot here, so it’s taking a little bit more time than I would have hoped to get it settled.”

Clark noted that the Minister of the Environment, Mary Polak, had met with the protesters, but when asked about it, Sam said the meeting “didn’t go anywhere.”

“They weren’t willing to move anything at all,” Shuter explained, “so the meeting dissolved.”

When asked to comment on the matter by the Anglican Journal, Polak sent a copy of a statement she issued, which expressed her support of the “application” of biosolids. “Biosolids can only be applied to the land when there is benefit,” said the statement. “Biosolids are used in compost or as fertilizer on land. The nutrients in the biosolids make soils healthier, similar to animal manure.” Polak on to note that she had met on “numerous” occasions with “local residents and community leaders, including First Nations.”

The statement ended with Polak underlining her commitment to “work closely with all parties to ensure concerns are heard and addressed—and to ensure the application of biosolids is always done safely for people and the environment.”

While Jackie Tegart, MLA for Fraser-Nicola acknowledged that various groups have expressed concerns, and assured her constituents that the government was taking them seriously, she, too, was quick to defend the practice.

“Biosolids have been applied at a number of locations in the Nicola Valley—and around the province—since 2002 in accordance with the Organic Matter Recycling Regulation, a safeguard that is designed to protect people and the environment.”

Neither Polak nor Tegart, however, addressed the problem of the smell, and nor did they speak to Shuter’s and Sam’s concerns over the government’s failure to inform and seek consent from First Nations beforehand.

But the Friends of the Nicola Valley and the First Nations bands both hope that the government can be brought to the table for an honest discussion.

“In regards to a moratorium and whether the government is going to agree with that, well, we’ve invited them to support our moratorium, so we’ll see where that goes,” said Sam. “The one thing that’s really important from our perspective is that we the Nicola chiefs realize that this is an issue that isn’t going to go away.”

— André Forget joined the Anglican Journal in 2014 as staff writer and social media lead. He also serves as managing editor of Whether Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The Dalhousie Review, The Winnipeg Review, and the Town Crier.

Beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero hailed by ecumenical leaders

Thursday, May 28, 2015

[World Council of Churches press release] Leaders of churches and ecumenical organizations have expressed respect and appreciation following the beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero on Sunday, May 24. In the Roman Catholic Church, beatification is a significant step in the process leading to canonization as a saint. Romero was murdered while presiding at Mass in San Salvador on March 24, 1980. He had been archbishop of the capital of El Salvador for three years.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, Roman Catholic prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, has been widely quoted as saying, “Romero, from heaven, wants every Salvadoran to walk the path of peace and justice.”

The beatification of Romero encouraged Pastor Angel Peiró, from the Church of the Disciples of Christ in Argentina, to share his memories of ecumenical participation in Romero’s funeral at San Salvador’s cathedral.

Peiró attended the ceremony on May 30, 1980 alongside WCC staff member Rev. Charles Harper and seminal Latin American liberation theologian Father Gustavo Gutierrez. Peiró was responsible for reading the gospel lesson at that ceremony.

“The spirit of the ceremony was truly ecumenical, as was the spirit of our work in Central America during those years,” recalled Peirò.

“Just at the time I was reading the gospel, snipers stationed in the buildings around the square opened fire on the audience outside the cathedral. They were shooting, and the people started running desperately for shelter. Later we learned that 35 people died that day. And there were many wounded,” he added.

In a letter sent to H.E. Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary, the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, expressed the joy experienced by Christians of many traditions at the beatification of Monsignor Oscar Romero.

“Romero has been a martyr for justice and peace,” wrote Tveit. “In the middle of violence in El Salvador, he was an image of Christ, the good Shepherd, as His Holiness Pope Francis recalled in his letter on occasion of the beatification.”

The WCC general secretary also stressed that Romero, “through his ministry, took care and loved especially the poorest and the victims of violence in his country.” Tveit suggested that Romero’s fearless service to the point of death is “an example and inspiration not only for El Salvador, and the church in this country, but for all Christians worldwide.”

In his letter to the Vatican official, the WCC general secretary stated that he hopes “the beatification contributes to the healing of wounds of the past also ecumenically.  The ecumenical movement’s work for justice, peace and reconciliation is greatly encouraged by his testimony.”

Considered as both a prophet and a martyr in Latin America, Romero left an important legacy of ecumenical social engagement in the region. His beatification also was hailed by former WCC president Bishop Federico Pagura from the Evangelical Methodist Church of Argentina.

In a letter sent on 24 May to the current Roman Catholic bishop of El Salvador, Monsignor José Luis Escobar Salas, Pagura expressed thankfulness for the “vision and strength of Pope Francis and his significant gestures that renew our faith, our hope and our love in the new generation that rises and grows in these critical and challenging times.”

“We pray strongly that in this new Latin American and Caribbean awakening he will make the words of Monsignor Romero a reality and will continue seeding and planting in this new ecumenical Pentecost blowing among us,” Pagura concluded.

Letter to Cardinal Koch Beatification Monsignor Romero

Testimony of Rev. Angel Vicente Peiro

Central Pennsylvania notified of successful canonical consent process

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Registrar of General Convention, the Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe, have notified the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania that Bishop-Elect Audrey Scanlan has received the required majority of consents in the canonical consent process.

The Rev. Canon Audrey Scanlan was elected bishop on March 14. Her ordination and consecration service is slated for September 12; Jefferts Schori will officiate.

While Scanlan has received the necessary majority of consents, consents will continue to be accepted up to and including the August 6 deadline date.

In Canon III.11.4 (b), Standing Committees, in consenting to the ordination and consecration, attest they are “fully sensible of how important it is that the Sacred Order and Office of a Bishop should not be unworthily conferred, and firmly persuaded that it is our duty to bear testimony on this solemn occasion without partiality, do, in the presence of Almighty God, testify that we know of no impediment on account of which the Reverend A.B. ought not to be ordained to that Holy Office. We do, moreover, jointly and severally declare that we believe the Reverend A.B. to have been duly and lawfully elected and to be of such sufficiency in learning, of such soundness in the Faith, and of such godly character as to be able to exercise the Office of a Bishop to the honor of God and the edifying of the Church, and to be a wholesome example to the flock of Christ.”

 

 

Anglican dean of Nepal: Relief and rebuilding work is ‘mammoth’

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

[Anglican Alliance] Two weeks after the second earthquake, the extent of the devastation is emerging in Nepal. Eight million people have been affected by the earthquakes, more than 8,600 people have been killed, 16,808 people reported injured and more than 750,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged, according to latest UNOCHA figures (18 May 2015).

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on April 25 with the epicentre about 50 miles north-west of the capital, Kathmandu. Tremors were felt across the region and aftershocks affected the area for several days. A second earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.3, struck Dolakha district, 100 miles east of Kathmandu on 12 May. Powerful aftershocks continued for hours, including 5.6 and 6.3 magnitude tremors. The area, already affected by the first earthquake, suffered additional casualties and further destruction to buildings and homes.

In several districts (Sindhupalchowk, Nuwakot and Dolakha), more that 95% of people have had their homes destroyed, according to MapAction, May 15. Even in less affected areas people can’t shelter in  buildings that are still standing, because of the risk of further aftershocks. Thousands are living out in the open, exposed to the elements both the cold and the rain.

According to a May 19 Ministry of Health and Population report, out of a total of 1,100 health facilities in the region, 427 are completely destroyed and 673 have been damaged.

Humanitarian situation

An immediate priority has been for emergency shelter as the monsoon season begins in June and it is already raining. While over 175,000 tarpaulins and 8,000 tents had been distributed (UNOCHA May 18), communities in remote and hard to reach areas are still to be helped with high quality tarpaulins, tools and household items (including blankets).

The government has organized a district authority-led rapid multi-sectoral assessment across Village Development Committees (VDC) to learn about the situation in all affected districts. In addition to shelter, food, clean water and sanitation, household items and hygiene kits are top priorities.

UN World Food Program (WFP) report that the window of opportunity—just weeks before the onset of the monsoon—to deliver life-saving food, shelter and medical supplies is closing rapidly for people living high up in the mountains with no road access. Once the monsoon rains begin, access to the high-lying villages will be seriously curtailed.

WFP is racing against the clock to deliver food and assist other organizations in delivering shelter materials by helicopter, trucks, tractors and, starting this week, approximately 20,000 local porters who will trek into some of the remotest villages carrying food and shelter on their backs.

News from Deanery of Nepal

The Very Rev. Lewis Lew, Dean of Nepal, was distributing rice and supplies in Godarwari, 35 miles south-west of the epicenter, Namche Bazaar when the second earthquake hit. He reports that “this second quake devastated the hope of many Nepalese who thought things were getting better and that the country was on the road to recovery, after the first quake… I could see in the eyes of the villagers; fear, frustration and in some the anger that so little has been done for them. Once again, they are plunged into great despair. Although the second quake had been smaller in scale, the people looked more affected. There are also more damages to buildings, roads, and to an already weak economy.”

“All over the place, we could see the people trooping out into the open, to once again set up tents and temporary shelters, getting ready for more after shocks. For many, they were just fearful of being caught in crumbling buildings, as many of the after shocks were equally sizeable to the quake itself, with some measuring up to 6.3. Some buildings that survived the first quake had unfortunately failed in the second.”

Once Dean Lew returned to the capital Kathmandu he said, “We could hear the sound of sirens filled the air. Ambulances from all directions were rushing the injured to the hospitals. We could also see the long lines of injured outside the hospitals.  It was like a scene in the war movie; except that this is real. As the aftershocks continued through the day and night, the people began to camp out in the open braving the cold nights.”

He continues “with 8 million people throughout Nepal affected, 530,000 houses destroyed across 39 of Nepal’s 75 districts, the relief and rebuilding work is mammoth, and it will be for the long haul. Our deanery’s immediate response is to provide food supplies and temporary shelter to help the people cope with the monsoon that will last till mid September. After which, we will focus on helping with the rebuilding in the district of Dhading, where we have more than 50% of our Anglican members. This rebuilding phase could take between 18 months to 3 years.”

Trafficking concern

There is real concern that Nepal quake survivors face threat from human traffickers supplying the sex trade, according to a Guardian report. NGOs fear that criminal networks will use the cover of the rescue effort to target poor rural communities from which an estimated 15,000 girls are already trafficked a year.

Girls and young women in these communities have long been targeted by traffickers, who abduct them and force them into sex work. Some are taken abroad to East Asia, and beyond. But the majority end up in Indian brothels where tens of thousands are working in appalling conditions.

Sometimes, the enslavement of people impoverished by an emergency is portrayed as an act of charity, for example giving a child “a roof over their head” as a domestic slave; or the hope of already poor people for a better life is used against them with the deception of falsely offering decent work abroad.

There is great need at this time for awareness of these risks within the community to protect not just children but everyone who, already poor, have been made even more vulnerable to the danger of trafficking. This issue is looked at in depth in another recent Guardian report.

Dean Lew writes “In a sinister new development parents are being urged to protect children from roaming gangs of ruthless human traffickers, who, it is reported, can earn $570 for every girl or boy they supply.”

“At least 950,000 children in Nepal are in makeshift tents, on the streets or simply out of school and will not be able to return for months unless urgent action is taken.”

“With all classrooms closed until May 29, in a country, which in recent years has lost 200,000 girls to cross-border trafficking and exploitation, fears are now growing that children consigned to the streets or camps may be easy prey.”

Response support

The Diocese of Singapore, through its crisis relief ministry Anglican Crisis Relief, Outreach & Support, Singapore (ACROSS) has sent a medical team to Nepal and more are being planned.

Dean Lew says “I am extremely thankful for the support of our partners from other Dioceses, Mission Agencies, our Mission Deaneries and our local parishes. Thank you for giving to the Nepal Relief Fund. To date, we have received a total of $245,000 and we need more to meet the demand of the rebuilding before us.”

Information about how to support the Deanery of Nepal, including points for prayer, can be found on the Diocese of Singapore website.

Visit the Anglican Alliance website for more prayers for Nepal and information about Anglican agencies supporting the people of Nepal through response appeals.

Share prayers for Nepal on the Prayer Wall of the Anglican Communion website.

Women bishops: Presiding Bishop speaks at Westminster Faith Debates

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Women bishops: what difference does it make?
Westminster Faith Debates
St James’s Church, London
26 May 2015

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

Women can bring two distinctive gifts to the episcopacy, and indeed to many forms of leadership. Their presence in leadership expands the image of what it means to be made in the image of God. And women’s awareness and experience of marginalization can motivate compassionate response within the body of Christ. I don’t believe it is helpful to paint with too broad a brush, for the unique gifts of each human being are involved. Some women have no consciousness of marginalization, and many men also do, though from different perspectives.

Let’s begin with Creation.

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”… God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.[1]

Women and men are created in the image of God, and both are charged with generativity and stewardship. That word dominion has its roots[2] in the work of housekeeping and husbanding, and even those who live with traditional gender roles agree that both are necessary to the care of the whole garden. Yet part of our fallenness is the desire to assign to one category of humankind the role of being “in charge,” even though we were created at the very beginning to share in caring for the whole community, recognizing that God is the only one truly “in charge.” Dominion is not about power over, but about service.

I spent a week in Salisbury before the 2008 Lambeth Conference, in company with the bishops of Sudan. We had an afternoon Q&A session with parishioners and members of the Diocese, and afterward a man said to me, “We’ll never have women bishops here because no man is willing to obey a woman.” I tried to explain to him that that’s not really the vocation of bishops, and by the way, had he noticed that the head of the Church of England was a woman and had been for some 50 years – and that it wasn’t the first time?

Too often we understand or fear that leadership roles are about the directive or command function. Bishops rarely have to stand up and say, “There’s a fire over there, and we’re all going out that door, NOW!” though when necessary, effective ones can and do say, “Move!” Most bishops spend much of their time listening to the joys and laments of the people in their dioceses – not just the Episcopalians or Anglicans, but all the people. The task of episcopal leadership is to guide and challenge the whole flock to move toward the Reign of God, and given that we haven’t yet arrived at its fullness, that entails change – conversion and transformation. The “dominion” work is about creating a society that reflects God’s intent for peaceable and just relationships everywhere – and there is plenty yet to do.

Perhaps the most primary difference women bishops provide is a witness to the otherness of God. The same can be said of gay bishops, old ones, younger ones, bishops of Asian and African descent, bishops who speak varied languages, short ones and tall ones, and bishops who ride horses or use wheelchairs. White, male, English-speaking bishops with degrees from Oxford or Cambridge are only one sort – they cannot image the fullness of God. When a variety of categories of leaders are called to serve the body of Christ, the incarnate variety of humanity can begin to recognize that it, too, is created in the image of God. It helps us all avoid the unconscious assumption that only a certain kind of human being can have theological insight or lead a group in prayer or build a bridge to an excluded or persecuted group. When leadership begins to represent the variety of human existence, all the baptized people of God can begin to imagine their own ministry, rather than deferring “ministry” to only one sort of human being. And all God’s people begin to realize that they have gifts of leadership in the context of their daily lives.

Beyond the iconic and imaginative role, women bishops can bring their own experience as “outside the norm” into leadership of a community. In much of the world it is still true that women experience marginalization or varying levels of social control in some or most of their life situations. Women leaders who are aware of those varieties of “unfreedom” can bring that conscious representation into the community’s awareness – in service of true gospel freedom for all the least and lost and left out. Community development workers speak about this in more secular contexts as the reality that when women in a community are empowered, particularly in decision-making, the whole community begins to flourish. There are repeated examples in Jesus’ ministry – he speaks to women in public; he teaches and heals the socially marginalized, whether women, lepers, tax collectors, or Gentiles; he welcomes children; and he engages in true conversation, in the sense of spending time that might lead to the kind of healing we call conversion toward the Reign of God, with all sorts and conditions of people.

At the last Lambeth Conference, the bishops and spouses spent a morning speaking about gender and violence. We were segregated by gender. One male bishop wanted to know why, and when told that it was because not everyone in the group felt safe to discuss the issues in mixed-gender groups, he essentially said he didn’t believe it. He was not alone. Yet in the group of women I sat with, I heard bishops’ wives[3] speak of AIDS widows being forced to marry one of their deceased husband’s brothers, whether or not he was already married. If a woman refused, the husband’s family would take her children and property. The church in their contexts would not support the woman unless she complied.

The real Communion-wide work on gender violence did not get wide support and action beyond women’s groups until a staff member of the ACO – a woman – brought the issue to the Primates’ Meeting. After several well-informed personal statements by primates, the whole group agreed to take it home as a major priority.

Women leaders serve both as iconic images of the complexity and otherness of God and by representing and raising the concerns of the marginalized, having known that reality themselves. Both are basic to following Jesus, who spent most of his active ministry with the marginalized, seeking to make them and their communities whole. It doesn’t mean that men cannot also do that work, but that women by their social location are often closer to the reality of the oppressed and unfree.

That gift of a different (ab-normal?) social location often brings with it the willingness to build bridges across boundaries in order to confront the principalities and powers. Jesus’ willingness to dine with the unclean is one example. Think also of the non-violent witness of Liberian market-women in the peace process,[4] or the Nigerian women who finally got executives of polluting and exploitative oil companies to pay attention to their grievances by sitting down in the street in front of their offices and removing their shirts. Like Lady Godiva, they shamed their oppressors, rather than themselves.

Creative leadership uses the gifts at hand to foment transformation. Women have rarely been able to rely on traditional modes of power and control to energize change. Jesus used the tools of the least of these, rather than those of rulers, to lead us toward the Reign of God, and those are the gifts that we are looking for. Women (and men) who can lead from below are particularly needed in an age when the Church is rediscovering its position on the margins of society. That is the native home of the body of Christ, and indeed, of all the world’s great religious traditions.

[1] Genesis 1:26-28,31

[2] From the Latin, domus, and Greek, domos, meaning “house.”

[3] Most of them powerful leaders in their own contexts, particularly with the Mothers’ Union and with women married to clergy.

[4] Pray the Devil back to Hell

Church of the Holy Communion calls Sandy Webb as sixth rector

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

[Church of the Holy Communion press release] Pentecost, the birthday of the Christian church, was an appropriate Sunday to announce the call of Church of the Holy Communion’s sixth rector, the Rev. Sandy Webb, elected unanimously at a special vestry meeting on May 12, chaired by the Rt. Rev. Don Johnson, Bishop of West Tennessee.

“It is a milestone,” says senior warden Ann Duncan. A milestone that comes almost two years after Webb was called to Memphis and to Holy Communion as the parish’s priest-in-charge, two years of change and growth: “We have strengthened and rebuilt our core programs, core staff – we’re looking to new ways to do outreach and newcomers’ ministry.”

On May 24, Duncan made the official announcement on behalf of the vestry, adding to a day already marked by celebration and emotion including the baptism of one of the youth, who would graduate from high school that afternoon, and the liturgy of one of the church’s high festival days.

The 10:30 service hymns included “Come, new heav’n, new earth descending,” commissioned from Virginia Theological Seminary composer and faculty member Bill Roberts and hymn writer Susan Cherwien for the parish’s recent Alleluia Be Our Measure: A Festival of Sacred Arts. Parishioners and choristers participated in a multilingual reading of Acts 2. The nave was bright with red and the Pentecost banner flew over the processional and recessional.

From the senior warden’s remarks: “Under Sandy’s leadership as priest-in-charge, the parish is experiencing new energy and engagement. A full complement of well-qualified clergy and staff is in place; adult formation has been revitalized; we are welcoming visitors and new members in more intentional ways; facilities have been refurbished; planning for a capital campaign is under way; Episcopal Service Corps is a new model for outreach; attendance and stewardship giving have increased for two years in a row.”

Webb’s sermon looked forward, not just in the life of Holy Communion but in the life of the city of Memphis. “What is the value of the most technologically advanced life if it has no meaning? We’re in the meaning of life business – we’re in the business of resurrection.”

From the sermon:

“In my first sermon to you almost two years ago, I said that a yet more glorious day was about to break before us. Indeed, it has. We have honored our past, but we have also fixed our eyes on the future. Energy has filled this place, and a spirit of possibility has taken hold of us. Our resources are greater, our pews are fuller, and our parking is tighter. As one sage put it, ‘It’s a great time to be at Holy Communion!’

“Yet, the sunlight shows us that we are standing in a field of bones. We live in a city divided by race and affluence, by neighborhood and occupation, by our access to healthcare and education. A divided community can only be healed when its members choose to reach across their divides. Love is not passive.”

Webb, speaking on the future of Holy Communion: “The church has to be something new. Christianity in America is changing; Memphis is changing – so how do we create a church for the future that draws on the best parts of our past but isn’t limited by them?

“I want us looking inward, outward and forward. We’re going to set our eyes on the world that our Lord died to save.”

To read and listen to Webb’s first sermon as rector of Holy Communion, as well as his and Duncan’s opening remarks, visit Holy Communion’s A Sacred Presence blog.

Church leaders in South Sudan urge government to stop the war

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

[World Council of Churches press release] As the tragic situation of conflict in South Sudan moves into its 18th month, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) continue calling for an end to the senseless conflict. Human rights are being abused at every level, both on the battlefield and in peaceful areas. People are being killed, raped and tortured. The humanitarian situation is deteriorating. South Sudan, a rich and fertile land, should be the bread basket of Africa yet instead is relying on foreign aid.

In a statement issued in Juba on 26 May, the South Sudan Council of Churches spoke of the deteriorating situation in South Sudan:  “We challenge the military and political leaders of all sides, most of whom call themselves Christians: why are you not listening to the voice of your church leaders, who echo the voice of the ordinary citizens of South Sudan?”

The statement also said: “Children are being recruited into armed groups. Looting is endemic. People are being arrested for no reason. Security organs appear to be acting as if they are above the law. The space for citizens and civil society to speak out appears to be narrowing.”

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC, commented on the statement: “The church leaders are playing a significant role to bring peace to South Sudan. The churches are representing the people and the civil society and they speak the truth and the true will of all the people of a real and just peace for South Sudan”

Tveit added:  “Together as the South Sudan Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches, we will convey the message we have as one worldwide fellowship of churches: Stop the war!”

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

Tveit underlined: “We have to build South Sudan by peaceful and political means.”

The church leaders concluded their statement: “We will take more proactive steps to try to achieve peace and reconciliation for the people of South Sudan. Any long term solution to the conflict must take account of the needs of the ordinary people, not the agenda of the political and military elite.”

Read full text of the statement on 26 May from the South Sudan Council of Churches on the deteriorating situation in South Sudan

Church leaders in South Sudan unite to urge peace now

Statement from the South Sudan Council of Churches and the WCC Consultation on Peace in South Sudan 14 – 15 April 2015

Member churches in South Sudan

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 345 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 550 million Christians in over 120 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway.

Episcopal Church Foundation announces 2015 Fellows

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

[Episcopal Church Foundation] The Episcopal Church Foundation has named its 2015 Fellows who bring an exciting vision and passion for the future of the Episcopal Church.

The Fellowship Partners Program is ECF’s longest running program, and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014. It continues to be one of the most exciting programs ECF has to offer. The Fellowship Partners Program supports emerging scholars and ministry leaders so they can pursue studies and ministries they might not otherwise be able to, and share their knowledge and learning with the wider church.

“We are proud of this program,” said Donald V. Romanik, ECF President, “and amazed at the impact ECF’s Fellows have had at all levels of the church. We are confident our 2015 Fellows will serve the church in creative and innovative ways and look forward to creating opportunities for them to share their learning.”

“The 2015 Fellows represent a variety of new frontiers in Episcopal Church ministry,” said Miguel Escobar, senior program director. “They are using technology to form the next generation of lay and clergy leaders in innovative ways, are utilizing alternative spaces to build vibrant faith communities, and are reclaiming aspects of the Episcopal Church’s past missionary efforts among Native Americans. These four individuals were selected for the promise they hold as future leaders of the church.”

ECF is proud to partner with our 2015 Fellows and to walk with them as they explore how to be the Episcopal Church of the future.

Audra Abt: Audra is a priest working in the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. She received her BA in Environmental Studies at Oberlin College, where she spent a semester studying abroad in the Amazon, and lived for a year in Capim Grosso, Bahia, Brazil where she discerned a call to the priesthood. For the past 4 years she has served as an assistant rector at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Greensboro, North Carolina.

As an ECF Fellow, Audra will nurture a growing Christian base community movement (home and neighborhood-oriented worship, study and mission), started by Latino immigrants in Greensboro, North Carolina. This ministry is an example of how Episcopalians from Latin America are leading the church of the U.S. into a life of worship and service that reflects the communities described in the book of Acts. Such communities rely not on their privilege, wealth, or buildings but on the Holy Spirit, neighborly hospitality, and the contribution of every single member. As missioner, Audra will make a space where Latinos and non-Latinos can collaborate and influence the wider Church’s life with their faith.

Reed Carlson Trustee Fellow: Reed studies and teaches the story of God’s people. Currently he is a doctoral candidate in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at Harvard Divinity School and is scheduled to be ordained in the Episcopal Church in Minnesota in the summer of 2015.

Reed studies conceptions of evil and human moral agency in the Old Testament and in Second Temple Jewish Literature. His research seeks to answer questions such as: How did the writers and readers of biblical literature conceive of angels, demons, spirits, and other divine beings? What relationships did these beings have to human suffering, politics and ethical decision-making? Who or what was “evil” in Second Temple Judaism and how could it be managed?

Reed hopes to develop curricula for use in seminaries and local churches that empower all of God’s people to teach, preach, and live the theological stories that begin in the Bible and continue today.

Bob Leopold William B. Given, Jr. Fellow: Bob is Missioner at Southside Abbey, a community he helped found in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Southside Abbey is a non-traditional Episcopal worshiping community that engages in justice ministries and gathers for a meal and worship in a non-profit art gallery. Bob was ordained a priest in 2008, after attending Virginia Theological Seminary and the University of Tennessee, twice and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry at Sewanee and a Master of Arts in Storytelling at East Tennessee State.

As Southside Abbey has grown, their leadership team has formed partnerships in East Tennessee and beyond through shared ministry projects, preaching and teaching engagements, and spiritual conversations. After seeing the transformative effect these relationships have had on congregations and individuals, Bob dreamed of the creation an ongoing community for sharing knowledge, experience, and best practices with the wider Church. With is ECF Fellowship, Bob will be able pursue his dream by working with Southside Abbey to begin “Innovative Leadership Rounds.” This project will invite missional church lay and clergy leaders to engage with other like-minded leaders from across the Church by visiting, observing, sharing, and inquiring in groups with the overarching goal of creating a network of missional communities in a web of support for one another.

Colleen Swan Dorothy A. Given, Jr. Fellow: Colleen lives and works in Kivalina, Alaska. She is municipal coordinator for Kivalina’s relocation project and is a lay minister and environmental justice advocate. Colleen has represented her community to the United Nations, at field hearings of the U.S. Senate, before the State of Alaska legislature, and shared her community’s story with numerous universities and media outlets.

In light of the 2009 General Convention of the Episcopal Church’s apology for the Doctrine of Discovery and wrongs committed against Native people in the name of Christ, Colleen began a restorative justice process to help communities understand what they lost and connect their traditional practices with their Christian faith.

Colleen’s project is outlined in three phases: to document stories from elders, about both abuses endured through encounters with missionaries, and important Iñupiaq traditions; to develop an Iñupiaq-English resource for Arctic Coast congregations that synthesizes biblical Christianity, Episcopalian practice, and Iñupiaq spirituality; and create venues for healing and restoration.

The application process for the 2016 ECF Fellowship will open in November, 2015. Complete information about the ECF Fellowship Partners Program can be found on ECF’s website at www.EpiscopalFoundation.org or by calling 800-697-2858.

Spokane Bishop Waggoner announces plan to resign

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopal Diocese of Spokane Bishop James E. Waggoner Jr. recently announced that he has asked the diocesan Standing Committee to begin searching for his successor.

Waggoner, 67, said he will resign his post upon the ordination and consecration of the ninth bishop of Spokane.

Waggoner was ordained and consecrated in October 2000 as the diocese’s eighth bishop.

He recently sent the following letter to the people of the diocese.

May 21, 2015
To the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane:

Dear Friends in Christ,

Fifteen years ago today, May 21, I received a phone call from Tom Robison, President of the Standing Committee in this diocese. Tom asked, “Would you be willing to buy some purple shirts?” – his way of saying that I had been elected to serve as Bishop of this diocese. My answer was an enthusiastic, “Yes, and thank you!” Gloria and I still remember the experience of that day, and today look back wondering how fifteen years could have passed so quickly. For us, “Yes” was the right response. Life with you here in this holy and gifted diocese has made it so.

And now it is time to say “yes” again; to say “yes” to the next chapter of life and ministry for this diocese and for Gloria and me. After an ongoing period of discernment, prayerfully reading the signs around us and the spirit within us, we recognize that the time has come for me to call for the election of the next Bishop of Spokane. Accordingly, I have asked the Standing Committee of the diocese to initiate the episcopal election process, and I will resign as your Bishop upon the ordination and consecration of my successor.

Having announced my intention to resign, I am thankful that this will not happen immediately. The process for electing and consecrating the next Bishop is deliberate and normally takes from eighteen to twenty months or so. We are blessed to have a very able and wise Standing Committee overseeing and implementing the discernment and election process, and they will have the benefit of substantial support from the House of Bishops’ Office of Pastoral Development.

I enthusiastically look forward to our continuing together, focusing on God’s mission and carrying out vital ministries already in place and emerging. As I continue to do so, Gloria and I are already reflecting on the indescribably wonderful gift it has been to serve with you, learn from you, and know what it means to be abundantly blessed by being part of this loving body of Christ.

As we anticipate the future, I think of a small book titled To Pause at the Threshold, by Ester de Waal. In it she emphasizes that the Christian journey always calls us to new lands, new opportunities, new chapters, and that there is a time where we pause before moving into what God still has in store for us. May we pause at this threshold together, then prayerfully, expectantly, and joyfully say “yes” to the new chapter God is opening for this diocese and for us as we go forward in Christ.

Faithfully yours,
James E. Waggoner, Jr., Bishop
Episcopal Diocese of Spokane

Kenworthy named as interim vicar of Washington National Cathedral

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

[Washington National Cathedral press release] Washington National Cathedral has announced the appointment of the Rev. Stuart A. Kenworthy as interim vicar of Washington National Cathedral.

Kenworthy will assume on an interim basis the position vacated by the Rev. Canon Jan Naylor Cope, recently named the cathedral’s provost.

Kenworthy was previously the longtime rector of Christ Church Georgetown, Washington, D.C. from 1991 until his retirement in 2014. He also served as a chaplain in the Army National Guard from 1994 through 2007, including a deployment to Iraq in 2005-2006.

“I am grateful that Stuart has accepted my invitation to serve as interim vicar at the Cathedral during this transitional period. He is a gifted and beloved priest and pastor, and we will call upon his unparalleled leadership skills to help us all discern and live into the next phase of the congregation’s life and ministry,” said the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral.

Kenworthy will serve as the pastoral leader of the growing Cathedral congregation, which now numbers more than 1,350 members. He will work closely with Dean Hall, the senior staff, the cathedral chapter and the congregation itself as they envision the congregation’s role in the cathedral and the community.

“I am deeply honored to serve in this important role within the cathedral community. Washington National Cathedral has long been a very special place to me, and I greatly look forward to working with Dean Hall and the cathedral leadership in the months ahead,” said Kenworthy.

Kenworthy is married to Fran Prescott Kenworthy, and they have three grown children. He will begin his new position on June 1.

Jennifer Snow named director of extended learning at CDSP

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

[Church Divinity School of the Pacific press release] Church Divinity School of the Pacific has named Jennifer Snow, associate for discipleship ministries in the Episcopal Diocese of California, to a dual position as director of extended learning and assistant professor of practical theology.

“Jennifer Snow is well positioned in background and sensibilities to take on the leadership of our extended learning program,” said the Very Rev. Mark Richardson, CDSP’s president and dean. “She brings a probing, analytic intellect and collaborative spirit to her work. I am delighted that she will be guiding the planning and implementation of our extended learning initiatives.”

Snow, who holds a Ph.D. in religion from Columbia University, was previously deputy director of Progressive Christians Uniting in Los Angeles. She said she is excited by the opportunity both to develop CDSP’s distance learning offerings and online pedagogy, and to teach in a seminary classroom.

“Being extended learning director will be really interesting because I love the challenge of both identifying people’s needs and then finding the people who can fill them,” Snow said. “I can continually meet people and say ‘Oh that sounds really interesting. I bet we can make a great course out of that.’

“For the practical theology part, I love teaching and being able to teach in a faith-based institution is very exciting to me,” she added. “I am looking forward to teaching people who are really committed to their own faith journeys, and to creating an environment in which people’s discernment is respected and is part of the classroom context.”

Snow will arrive at CDSP as the seminary is reshaping its extended learning program, currently known as the Center for Anglican Learning and Leadership (CALL). While the program’s mission—“to bring the broadest possible Anglican theological education to the widest possible audience using the best educational technology available”—will not change, its offerings and approach to online education will.

“I wanted to develop a better pedagogy for the people teaching the course so they have all of the resources availability to create really exciting courses,” Snow said. “People who are really good teachers in person can become really good teachers online, but it’s not the same.”

Richardson said Snow’s arrival is well timed. “It is commonly understood that our church and our bishops are in a dynamic phase regarding how they will support needs for theological education to serve the future of the church” he said. “CALL is very well positioned to offer creative options to enhance the classic approaches taken to theological education.”

Snow, who begins work in June, is married to the Rev. Teresita Valeriano, a Lutheran minister. Their son, Taal Charles, is almost two.

Iglesias coordinan campaña de socorro en el dilatado conflicto de Sudán del Sur

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Entre los suministros de alimentos distribuidos por SUDRA se incluyen maíz, frijoles, aceite de cocinar y otros artículos esenciales. Foto/ SUDRA.

[Episcopal News Service] Mientras el violento conflicto en Sudán del Sur prosigue en su 17º. mes, la Iglesia Episcopal en el país devastado por la guerra y sus asociados globales mantienen su firme compromiso de proporcionarles ayuda inmediata a los cientos de miles de desplazados internos y de alcanzar el objetivo último de la paz y la reconciliación.

“En medio del conflicto y la tribulación, Dios no puede olvidar a su pueblo independientemente de su desobediencia”, dijo a Episcopal News Service el Rdo. Joseph El-hag Abe Natana, director general de la Agencia Sudanesa para Desarrollo y Ayuda (SUDRA, por su sigla en inglés), al tiempo que Naciones Unidas reportaba que más de 300.000 personas sin “socorro” en el estado Unidad, a lo largo de la frontera entre el Sudán y Sudán del Sur, luego que intensos combates forzaran el retiro de las agencias internacionales de ayuda.

“Dios siempre suscita expectativas con un mensaje de esperanza de que liberará a su pueblo. De aquí que la respuesta humanitaria, las oraciones y la intervención de muchas naciones en pro de la paz, tanto en el ámbito regional como internacionalmente, se vea como el cuidado, la ayuda y la intervención de Dios”, dijo Natana, sacerdote de la Iglesia Episcopal de Sudán del Sur y del Sudán.

Sudán del Sur se convirtió en la nación más joven del mundo en julio de 2011, cuando se separó del norte mediante un referendo sobre la independencia que siguió a casi medio siglo de guerra civil.

Pero un nuevo conflicto estalló en diciembre de 2013 después que el presidente de Sudán del Sur, Salva Kiir, acusó a su ex vicepresidente Riek Machar de conspirar para dar un golpe de Estado.

Aunque el conflicto comenzó a partir de una disputa política dentro del partido de gobierno, no tardó en transformarse en una guerra tribal entre los dinkas, fundamentalmente aliados de Kiir, y los nueres, partidarios de Machar, ahora un líder rebelde.

Pese a varios intentos de llegar a una paz negociada entre los dos líderes, la lucha ha continuado, y más de 1,5 millones de personas permanecen internamente desplazadas y en necesidad perentoria de ayuda humanitaria.

SUDRA ayuda a coordinar raciones de alimentos para las personas internamente desplazadas. Foto/SUDRA.

En respuesta a la crisis actual, agencias anglicanas y agrupaciones afiliadas están ayudando a SUDRA, el brazo de ayuda y desarrollo de la Iglesia Episcopal del Sudán del Sur y del Sudán, a proporcionar alimento de emergencia para socorrer a las personas internamente desplazadas a través del sur, particularmente poblaciones vulnerables de niños, mujeres y ancianos. Los suministros de alimentos incluyen maíz, frijoles, aceite de cocinar, sal y otros ingredientes esenciales.

La Alianza Anglicana —que conecta y fortalece las actividades de desarrollo, ayuda y promoción social de iglesias, agencias y redes de la Comunión Anglicana— reconoce a SUDRA como la agencia directriz y el asociado fundamental para la respuesta coordinada de la Iglesia al conflicto de Sudán del Sur.

La Agencia Episcopal de Ayuda y Desarrollo es una de las asociadas que ha apoyado a SUDRA por más tiempo, y continúa apoyando su labor de abordar la creciente crisis humanitaria en Sudán del Sur, especialmente en revisar las valoraciones de emergencias, en la planificación de las actividades del programa, en la preparación de informes, así como en llevar a cabo auditorías y evaluaciones.

Nagulan Nesiah, encargado principal del programa para respuestas a desastres y reducción de riesgos de la Agencia Episcopal de Ayuda y Desarrollo, dijo que las iniciativas de la Alianza Anglicana en la movilización de todos los asociados anglicanos para respaldar un empeño coordinado “han mejorado los esfuerzos de respuesta a desastres proporcionando un modo de consolidar fondos donados por varios asociados para apoyar una estrategia abarcadora”.

La Agencia Episcopal para Ayuda y Desarrollo sigue colaborando con SUDRA en el fortalecimiento de la preparación y respuesta a los riesgos de desastres. Estuvo entre otras 12 agencias anglicanas que crearon juntas el instrumento “Pastores y Desastres”, un recurso concebido para perfeccionar las iniciativas de respuesta a desastres dentro de la comunidad de ayuda y desarrollo anglicana.

“La situación en Sudán del Sur sigue intensificándose”, dijo Nesiah. “la Agencia Episcopal de Ayuda y Desarrollo se siente agradecida por la asociación con SUDRA y la Alianza Anglicana mientras sigue apoyando el ministerio de atención de la Iglesia a comunidades y personas subatendidas afectadas por una crisis actual”.

Natana identificó las prioridades de SUDRA como proporcionar socorro alimentario de emergencia, oración y asesoramiento, desarrollo de [una estrategia] de paz y de rehabilitación y programas de apoyo psicológico a las decenas de miles de personas internamente desplazadas. “Estas personas son menesterosas y vulnerables, necesitan ayuda humanitaria”, especialmente los niños, las mujeres y los ancianos, afirmó.

Él encomió el apoyo y la labor coordinadora de la Alianza Anglicana que “le ha permitido a SUDRA resultar más eficaz a la hora de proporcionar ayuda y apoyo a personas desplazadas internamente a través de Sudán del Sur.

“La asociación global es primordial porque la crisis no ha terminado”, afirmó. “Se sigue combatiendo y prosigue el desplazamiento que exige entrega de socorros, negociaciones de paz, presiones políticas y promoción a favor de un Sudán del Sur pacífico”.

La Iglesia Episcopal en Estados Unidos tiene asociaciones de larga data con la Iglesia Episcopal de Sudán del Sur y del Sudán a través de las relaciones de diócesis compañeras, de los programas de la Agencia Episcopal de Ayuda y Desarrollo, de la labor de promoción social de la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales y del apoyo y la solidaridad de la Oficina de Relaciones Globales.

Las actuales relaciones de compañerismo incluyen: Albany (Nueva York) con la Provincia del Sudán; Bethlehem (Pensilvania) con Kajo Keji; Chicago con Renk; Indianápolis con Bor; Misurí con Lui; Rhode Island con Ezo; Virginia Sudoccidental con la Provincia del Sudán y Virginia con la Provincia del Sudán.

También existen asociaciones a través de varias redes, tales como los Amigos Americanos de la Iglesia Episcopal del Sudán y Esperanza con Sudán del Sur.

“Como hermanos y hermanas en el cuerpo de Cristo, seguimos comprometidos a respaldar al pueblo de la Iglesia Episcopal de Sudán del Sur y del Sudán mientras se esfuerzan en brindarles socorro a los sufridos sudaneses del sur, al mismo tiempo que se labora por una paz con justicia”, dijo el Rdo. Ranjit K. Mathews, encargado de relaciones globales e interconexiones de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera [DFMS]. “Existen sólidas relaciones diocesanas de variada índole entre la Iglesia Episcopal y la Iglesia Episcopal de Sudán del Sur y del Sudán que seguirán siendo un sitio donde se comparte la información y, más importante aún, donde se ofrecen la oración y la solidaridad”.

AFRECS le está proporcionando ayuda de emergencia a varios obispos sudaneses cuyo desplazamiento de sus diócesis ha dado lugar a su relocalización, tanto dentro de Sudán del Sur como en algunos países vecinos, “lo cual les ha dejado virtualmente sin recursos para sostenerse, a ellos y sus familias, o para extender el cuidado pastoral a sus dispersas congregaciones y clero”, dijo a ENS Richard Parkins, director ejecutivo de AFRECS.

Si bien la situación de seguridad en Juba, la capital de la nación, es relativamente estable, las regiones fronterizas, tales como el Alto Nilo y Kadugli, ricas en petróleo, se han visto seriamente afectadas por el conflicto, así como por los esfuerzos desestabilizadores del gobierno de Jartum en el norte.

AFRECS ha estado ayudando a financiar la labor del obispo Andudu Elnail en tanto él capta y capacita pastores en la Diócesis de Kadugli “donde la gente de las montañas de Nuba sigue viviendo con temor debido a los constantes asaltos de Jartum contra el pueblo de Nuba”, dijo Parkins.

Un proyecto experimental de pacificación en Bor (Alto Nilo), una región que ha experimentado algunos de los más terribles sufrimientos resultantes del conflicto intertribal, comenzará a fines de mayo. El proyecto es una colaboración entre la Alianza Anglicana, asociados de iglesias del Reino Unido y Estados Unidos y de la Comisión de Justicia, Paz y Reconciliación de la Iglesia Episcopal de Sudán del Sur y del Sudán.

AFRECS, juntos con otros asociados de EE.UU., también está ayudando a apoyar las iniciativas de paz y reconciliación en el campamento de refugiados de Kakuma, en Kenia, donde viven miles de refugiados que tienen las mismas identidades tribales de los que luchan entre sí en Sudán del Sur, explicó Parkins. “Estos empeños tienen por objeto poner a prueba los medios de reunir a las diversas facciones con la esperanza de que la reconciliación creada en el campamento ofrecerá un modelo para lo que podría llegar a lograrse en Sudán del Sur, donde las iniciativas de paz puedan llevarse a cabo de manera realista”, apuntó.

El consejo de Iglesias de Sudán del Sur, un movimiento ecuménico que agrupa a varias denominaciones cristianas, ha presionado por tener un lugar en la mesa de negociaciones, pero sus peticiones de un cese al fuego han sido en gran medida ignoradas, siguió diciendo Parkins. Entre tanto, AFRECS y otros asociados en Estados Unidos y en el Reino Unido “siguen alentando las iniciativas de pacificación como medios de llevar esperanza a una nación cansada de guerrear, donde miles de personas están sufriendo y siendo rehenes de la intransigencia de los líderes del gobierno y de sus adversarios rebeldes”.

Una consecuencia de décadas de guerra civil entre el norte y el sur seguidas por un conflicto interno alimentado por diferencias políticas” ha sido el surgimiento de una cultura de la violencia que no se ha limitado a la guerra tribal/étnica que ha afectado a tantas partes de Sudán del Sur, sino que resulta en expresiones violentas de venganza y represalia entre otras tribus y subtribus”, añadió. “Esta proliferación de la violencia podría frustrar seriamente el futuro de las iniciativas de pacificación. Esta situación hace que el fin del conflicto sea aun más urgente”.

— Matthew Davies es redactor y reportero de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Pennsylvania clergy confront addiction, recovery at ‘Wellness Day’

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Rt. Rev. Chilton Knudsen preaches during a Wellness Day May 21 at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in State College. Photo: Linda Arguedas

[Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania] “If you are a member of the Episcopal Church, you are co-dependent. The Episcopal Church is co-dependent and we have to get better,” the Rt. Rev. Chilton Knudsen, former bishop of Maine, told a gathering of more than 120 clergy from the dioceses of Central Pennsylvania, Bethlehem and Northwestern Pennsylvania attending a Wellness Day May 21 at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in State College.

“If there is one above all interventions to move a system toward joy, creativity and health, it is learning how to respond to each other. We shape one another’s reality by the way we respond to each other,” said Knudsen, a counselor in the field of addiction recovery who was recently appointed as assistant bishop in the Diocese of Maryland. (An NPR interview with Knudsen is available here.)

Among the other presenters was the Rev. Stuart Hoke, adjunct professor of pastoral theology at the General Theological Seminary in New York and a well-known voice on addiction.

The Wellness Day began with morning prayer, followed by presentations on clergy and addiction and alcoholic systems. Each participant received a copy of Knudsen’s book, “So You Think You Don’t Know One?: Addiction and Recovery in Clergy and Congregations.” The day concluded with a Eucharist celebrated by Central Pennsylvania Bishop-elect Audrey Scanlan and a sermon from Knudsen.

The Wellness Day was sponsored by the Widows Corporation in partnership with the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania. The Widows Corporation was founded in 1769 to care for the families of clergy in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Separated into three state societies after the Revolution, the Pennsylvania corporation has increasingly used the returns on its investments to help not only the widows and orphaned children of deceased clergy, but also the families of living clergy throughout Pennsylvania through its program of Wellness Funds, established in 2000 by now-retired Bishop Allen Bartlett of the Diocese of Pennsylvania. More than two million dollars in direct assistance to clergy families has been granted since then, and in recent years new initiatives for caring for clergy and clergy families have been funded as well.

“The Wellness Initiative in Central Pennsylvania, which we have been happy to support, is a model of care for clergy that we highly recommend to other dioceses,” said John Miller, executive director of the Widows Corporation. “This seminar on addictions, like others occurring throughout Pennsylvania, is one more effort to assist the bishops in providing necessary pastoral care and guidance to all of our clergy.”

Following up on the success of Wellness Day, clergy participants are encouraging Episcopalians to move into “the spirit of holy wonder” and respond to the lessons provided by Knudson and Hoke. “We invite those interested to join a diocesan task force on addiction and recovery. The work of the task force is to provide congregational resources and best practices for choosing avenues for health that help us live as a diocese in the spirit of gratitude in the midst of cultural anxiety,” said the Very Rev. Robyn Szoke Coolidge, dean of Central Pennsylvania’s Stevenson School for Ministry.

“This task force is to especially include those in recovery, to meet our challenge to be a recovering system that is a community fully aware of the challenges of addiction and the necessary steps to recover and become a community filled with positive regard,” she said.

— Linda Arguedas is assistant to the bishop for programs and communications in the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania.

New Jersey church honors its war dead to highlight cost of conflict

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Rev. Audrey Hasselbrook, assistant rector at St. James Episcopal Church in Upper Montclair, New Jersey, dedicates a marker erected by Boy Scout C.J. Kaloudis to highlight the bell tower’s history as a memorial to World War I soldiers. Photo: Dom Gerard

[Episcopal News Service] While celebrating the divine gift of the Holy Spirit to the church on Pentecost Sunday, St. James Episcopal Church in Upper Montclair, New Jersey, also celebrated the human gifts of service and sacrifice as it honored men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who died serving their country.

George Stanley Butcher was a parishioner at St. James Episcopal Church in Upper Montclair, New Jersey, who was killed in battle in World War I in 1918 at age 23. He received the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism. Photo: Sharon Sheridan/Episcopal News Service

In particular, the church honored seven parishioners who died during World War I, especially George Stanley Butcher, a former crucifer who posthumously received the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroism.

The church’s bell tower was erected in memory of those who died and in celebration of the safe return of other local World War I soldiers. The tower, currently under repair, was donated by Alexander Luchars, a St. James warden for 15 years, and contains bells inscribed with the names of the parish’s seven deceased soldiers.

The church’s tribute focused on the World War I soldiers, and on Butcher in particular, to bring a human face to war, the Rev. C. Melissa Hall, St. James interim rector, told Episcopal News Service.

Sometimes war is a necessity, she said. “World War II is a perfect example.” There was a “horrible evil” in the world, and people acted against it, said Hall. Her father, Paul, served in World War II, fighting at the Battle of the Bulge and helping to liberate a Nazi concentration camp.

But, she said, “If you talk about war in the abstract, if you don’t make that connection and honor those people and name them, war becomes a lot easier. We’re a country at war, and people don’t even think about it.”

The May 24 Eucharist included the “last roll call” reading of the names of the seven World War I soldiers – a military tradition in which each deceased soldier’s name is said three times – by parishioner 2 Lt. Phillip Russo of the 50th Brigade Combat Team of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division and his childhood friend 1 Lt. Gregory Carnazza of the Weapons Training Battalion of the Marine Corps Installations East. Russo’s father Cole, a Marine Corps veteran and former St. James warden, read a letter written by Butcher’s commanding officer, Maj. Williard E. Tydings, informing Butcher’s parents of his Oct. 27, 1918, death at age 23.

The Rev. C. Melissa Hall, interim rector at St. James Episcopal Church in Upper Montclair, New Jersey, and parishioner C. J. Kaloudis stand in front of the marker he created as an Eagle Scout project to highlight the church’s bell tower’s history as a memorial to World War I soldiers. Photo: Sharon Sheridan/Episcopal News Service

“May God, in his mercy, ease your pain, with the knowledge that only can the finest of men give up their live for others,” Tydings wrote. “It is the wish of myself and the other officers and men who are left that this letter be published that his friends and townspeople may get a glimpse of his noble act.”

In her sermon, Hall interwove the themes of Pentecost and Memorial Day.

“Pentecost inspires the idea of the beginning of something new for humankind, it marks a new creation, a new church and a new life touched by the peace of God,” she said. “And, on the other hand, there’s Memorial Day which is about endings, and remembering the events of the past, and the lives lost in war.

“Pentecost united the peoples of the world with one voice, one mission, one purpose,” she said. “And that purpose was to become the people of God, and to do the work of God. … The disciples are called by one name in the Spirit, and they are all God’s people.

“Memorial Day is about naming as well. It is a national holiday that honors the fallen military that died in the service of this country. And as noble and important as that is, once this day is past, it is easy to forget those men and women who sacrificed themselves during times of wars.

“Today Saint James has taken on the responsibility to put the faces to the names and to tell the stories of the lives of the fallen from World War I, who came from this church,” she said. “These are the stories we must remember if we are truly to honor our war dead.

“War as an abstraction can be a dangerous thing, because it makes it so easy to see it as our only option to conflict,” she said. “I will say the same thing for peace, because peace cannot be done in the abstract. Peace is the outcome of an action. Peace requires at least two people standing face to face.”

She concluded, “Let these lost children of Saint James remind us that war in the abstract is not an option, let their sacrifice make us mindful to follow in the ways of Jesus, and may their lives always guide us to choose love and peace first.”

After the service, the congregation gathered on the church lawn. Phillip Russo read Butcher’s Distinguished Service Cross commendation. Then Hall and the Rev. Audrey Hasselbrook, assistant rector, led a litany commemorating the seven World War I soldiers and those who have died in other wars. A pair of military boots with a photo of each St. James soldier was displayed on red fabric banners hanging from the tower scaffolding and lining the church walkway – inspired, Hall said, by the sea of red ceramic poppies displayed as a World War I memorial outside the Tower of London.

Seven parishioners who died serving in World War I were remembered with a Memorial Day display of boots, candles and photos at St. James Episcopal Church in Upper Montclair, New Jersey. Photo: Sharon Sheridan/Episcopal News Service

Choir member David Gurniak played taps. Then Hasselbrook dedicated a sign with historic photos and a description of the bell tower’s significance, recently erected as an Eagle Scout project by parishioner C. J. Kaloudis. His Boy Scout Troop 12 meets at the church. The ceremony ended with a tolling of the tower’s bells.

Kaloudis, a high school sophomore who aspires to join the Navy, said he liked how the tower was designed to bring church and community together.

“The town actually helped pay for this bell tower,” he said. “It was saying that this bell tower is for the town. It’s not just for the church, not just for this one religion.” It was dedicated to all the soldiers who fought, he said, “everyone in Montclair.”

Parishioner Katherine Hall-Kapinski examines the photo of one of the soldiers from St. James Episcopal Church in Upper Montclair, New Jersey, killed during World War I. Photo: Sharon Sheridan/Episcopal News Service

Kaloudis, who recently was confirmed in the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, said he also wanted to do a project to benefit the church as a way of thanking it for hosting his troop and for supporting him through his years in the parish.

Phillip Russo and Carnazza each said they appreciated the chance to participate in the tribute.

Thinking about the soldiers they memorialized as a serviceman himself, Russo said, “It’s just a recognition that all of us are connected. … We’re just continuing their legacy.”

With the St. James Memorial Day tribute, Hall told ENS, “We’re not memorializing war.” Rather, she said, the church is stopping to memorialize those who died serving their country. “We do this because it’s the right thing to do and it’s what we’re called to do.”

— Sharon Sheridan is an Episcopal News Service correspondent.

Seminary of the Southwest awards honorary degrees, honors trustee

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

[Seminary of the Southwest press release] Seminary of the Southwest held its sixty-fourth commencement on May 12 at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Austin.

The seminary awarded master’s degrees to 29 students completing the master of divinity, master’s in religion, master’s in counseling, master’s in chaplaincy and pastoral care and master’s in spiritual formation. Four students received diplomas in Anglican studies or in theological studies.

Photo from left: Dean and President Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, the Rev. Canon John Peterson, the Rt. Rev. Brian Seage, the Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, the Rt. Rev. Dena A. Harrison, chair of the board.

The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of Washington, preached at the Holy Eucharist. The seminary awarded honorary doctorates to Budde; the Rt. Rev. Brian Seage, bishop of the Diocese of Mississippi; and the Rev. Canon John Peterson, immediate past president of the Compass Rose Society and Anglican canon at St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem.

Mr. Robert C. Schorr received the 2015 Trustees’ Award for 17 years of “indefatigable service” on the seminary’s board of trustees.  Read the citation presented to Trustee Schorr who is pictured here as seminary faculty sing their farewell at a reception the evening before Commencement.

At their spring meeting on May 11, the seminary’s board of trustees elected three new trustees: the Rt. Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld, bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire; Teri Lawver, business leader with Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson and Johnson; and the Honorable Lora Jeanette Livingston, presiding judge, 261st District Court, Travis County, Texas.

The Rev. Bob Dannals, rector of St. Michael and All Angels, Dallas, and chair of the governance committee of the seminary’s board of trustees, reflected, “Seminary of the Southwest is committed to identifying and recruiting excellent lay and ordained leaders, and we are grateful for these outstanding men and women who are willing to serve.”

Dean and President Cynthia Briggs Kittredge’s homily at Evensong

Bishop Budde’s Commencement sermon

Citation for Bishop Budde’s honorary degree

Citation for Canon Peterson’s honorary degree

Citation for Bishop Seage’s honorary degree

Anglican leaders identify needs for Companion Link relationships

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Edmonton Bishop Jane Alexander and the Rev. Yohana Mtokambali at St. Alban’s Cathedral in Dar es Salaam. Photo: John Kafwanka

[Anglican Communion News Service] Mission-centered relationship and openness about the challenges faced in both the global north and global south of the Anglican Communion were the key needs identified in the Companion Link consultation involving 25 Anglican/Episcopalian leaders from 11 dioceses in Canada, Ghana, South Sudan and Tanzania that took place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on May 14-17.

Companion or church links are relationships among Anglican Communion churches that agree to work together to enhance their local and global mission by sharing resources, exchange visits, work and cultural experience. “Companion Link relationships should become the heartbeat of each diocese,” Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said at the Tanzania meeting.

Meanwhile, political instability in the country prevented Burundi Anglican leaders from two dioceses and their primate from participating in the consultation. Those who gathered expressed profound sadness and solidarity with their counterparts and the whole nation, and prayed for peace and co-existence among Burundians and the ability to settle differences and remain united.

The delegates discussed Companion Link achievements and areas for improvement to enhance cooperation among companion dioceses and parishes. The meeting provided an opportunity for the dioceses to know more about each other’s work and develop even closer partnerships.

Diocesan bishops shared personal stories of mission experience lived out in their contexts and across Companion Links. Bishop Jane Alexander from the Diocese of Edmonton in Canada talked of a church partnership with the local government to end poverty and homelessness, and highlighted the diocese’s vision to deal with the challenge to keep youth and young people in the church beyond confirmation.

Bishop Wilson Kamani of the Diocese of Iba in South Sudan talked about the high illiteracy levels and the role of the church in providing education, pointing out that the first school in the area was started by the church in 2007. Kamani also highlighted the vision for self-sustainability where more locally educated people and infrastructure support the work of the diocese so there is less need to depend on support from outside.

Some of the areas identified for future cooperation included regular communication of good practice stories and information as well as the crucial role of personal visits and exchange of theology students and young people to break down misconceptions and learning from each other’s culture.

Speaking at the meeting, the Rev. John Kafwanka, director for mission of the Anglican Communion Office, implored the delegates to look at Companion Link as a means of “serving together” as disciples of Jesus Christ. “Companion Link provides a platform for common witness to Christ’s love in God’s world, expressed through the common voice, vision, mission, and unity of purpose in a world that is so divided by sin,” he said.

Kafwanka also pointed out: “The Five Marks of Mission provides an avenue in which Companion Links can be intentional in serving together as partners in mission, and as global disciples.”

VTS celebrates first commencement ceremony in Immanuel Chapel

Thursday, May 21, 2015

[Virginia Theological Seminary press release] Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) celebrated its 192nd Commencement May 21, awarding 57 students with degrees of Master in Divinity, Master of Arts, Doctor of Ministry, the Licentiate in Theology, Diploma in Theology, and Diploma in Anglican Studies. This was the first Commencement from Immanuel Chapel.

The commencement address was given by the Rt. Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee, the 12th bishop of Chicago and author of Opening the Prayer Book in the New Church’s Teaching Series.

“As you go (into the world), I ask you to join me in listening to the needs and hopes and the heartaches and longings of the world we live in,” said Lee. “Listen to those who suspect that God has left the church behind. Listen. Listen and lead.”

The recipient of the 2015 Virginia Seminary Ford Chair, a gift of Susan Ford to a member of the graduating class who has exhibited a strong commitment to the community life and mission of the seminary, was the Rev. Jose Reyes from the Diocese of Western Massachusetts.

The recipients of the Harris Award, given each year to candidate for Holy Orders who has demonstrated academic excellence and leadership ability, was Zac Harmon, from the Diocese of Oregon.

The St. George’s College Prize awarded to a student who has demonstrated leadership and a commitment to the larger Church and the global Anglican Communion was given to Sarah Taylor from the Diocese of Texas, and the Dudley Speech Prize, awarded to a graduating student who, in the opinion of the faculty, has demonstrated excellence in the public reading and interpretation of the Scriptures and the Liturgy, was given to the Rev. Maxine Barnett from the Diocese of Long Island.

This year, the seminary conferred Doctors of Humane Letters, honoris causa, on Auguste Johns Bannard, head of St. Catherine’s School (1989-2007) and former member of the VTS Board of Trustees; Professor Herman Franklin Bostick, a graduate of the Virginia Theological Seminary’s Lay School of Theology who also served on the board of the Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys; and Linda Armstrong Chisholm, founder and first general secretary of the Colleges and Universities of the Anglican Communion and the founder and president of the International Partnership for Service-Learning. The seminary also conferred Doctor in Divinity, honoris causa, on the Rt. Rev. James Barnabas Almasi, the 9th bishop of the Diocese of Masas; the Very Rev. Canon Patrick Pervez, commissary to the archbishop of Sudan; and the Rt. Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee, the 12th bishop of Chicago.

“This really is an extraordinary, joyous occasion,” said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., dean and president of VTS. “My faculty colleagues and I have had the privilege of serving God as God does the hard and holy work of formation in the lives of those graduating today. Congratulations to the Class of 2015.  Special congratulations to the parents, friends, spouses, and children who are here today. You know that you played your part.”

For the 8th year in a row, the service was streamed live over the Internet through the VTS website. Click here to watch now.

Music director wins top honor in California competition

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dwight Stone on piano at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Walnut Creek, CA. Photo: Yau-Man Chan.

[St. Paul’s Episcopal Church] Dwight Stone, Director of Music Ministries at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Walnut Creek, has won first place for performance works in the 2015 Music Teachers’ Association of California Composition Competition with his piece for piano solo, “Eye on the Prize.” He will perform the work and accept the award at the MTAC state convention in San Jose on July 6, where world-renowned artists and teachers give recitals, lectures, presentations, and master classes.

“I am honored, excited and looking forward to presenting this composition to musicians and teachers from all across California,” said Stone. “I was inspired to write it in 2008 when I was in Austria, and I heard virtuoso guitarist Peter Taucher perform with his jazz-avant-garde trio. That style really connected with me, and I wanted to write something for them. ‘Eye on the Prize’ is the pianist’s version of this concept.”

Stone’s compositions reflect his experience in all facets of music, including vocal, choral, brass, orchestra, guitar and piano. An accomplished vocalist and performer on piano, and a conductor, with nearly a dozen recordings to his credit, Stone adds, “It’s especially nice to be recognized and acknowledged as a composer.”

Dwight Stone was born in California into a musical family and grew up in Missoula, Montana. He studied applied voice, piano, organ, composition, orchestration and conducting, along with the required theoretical and musicological aspects of music, obtaining a B. Mus. in voice. While completing his M.A. in composition at CSU Sacramento, he concurrently served as Director of Orchestras at Sacramento City College and Music Director at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in North Sacramento.

Stone received a graduate certificate in film scoring from USC and spent 20 years in Los Angeles scoring commercials and documentaries, composing for chorus and various ensembles, conducting, singing and accompanying. He served as organist/choirmaster for St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church in Canoga Park. He sang with the LA Jazz Choir, the LA Chamber Choir, the LA Master Chorale, and toured four times with the Roger Wagner Chorale in the U.S. and Orient. He served as Music Director of the Methodist Church in Pacific Palisades, and also of Temple Akiba in Culver City. His album “Reveries for Day and Night” grew out of his encounter with Dutch chromatic harmonica virtuoso Tim Welvaars, as well as the inspiration for the recent album of flute duets, “Amsterdam.” More information is on his web site, www.stonemusic.us , and Facebook page, DwightStoneConcerts.

The Music Teachers’ Association of California, incorporated in 1897, is a professional organization dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in music education. With over 4,700 members, there are more than 67 self-governing, affiliated branches throughout the state—from Humboldt County to San Diego County—which coordinate their own activities as well as participate in state-wide events. More information is at www.mtac.org.

Church in Burundi responds to people displaced by political tension

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

[Anglican Alliance] Recent political tensions in Burundi have increased uncertainty and fear of violence, leading to displacement in the country, with more than 100,000 people reported to have fled in recent days. The Church in Burundi is calling for prayers for peace, while it also responds to the needs of vulnerable people.

After several weeks of political tension, the situation escalated last week with an attempted coup and struggle over control of Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. The tensions began when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he would stand for a third term as president in elections at the end of June. The constitution limits the presidential tenure to two terms.

Recent weeks have seen violent street protests and a large exodus of people leaving the country concerned for their safety. This is considered the worst outbreak of violence since the civil war ended in 2005.

Last week’s events have resulted in a huge increase in displacement as people flee in fear. A UNHCR report on Friday, May 15, shows 105,000 people have left the country, with 70,000 refugees in Tanzania alone.

Oxfam reports that “new arrivals cite fear of violence and intimidation as primary reasons for leaving. Tens of thousands are in urgent need of clean water, adequate sanitation, health care, food and shelter. Without these basic needs being met, the risk of disease spreading among new arrivals is dangerously high.”

The Anglican Church in Burundi is among the Christian Aid partners that are preparing to respond to the needs of people affected by the ongoing situation in Burundi. Christian Aid reports that partners are now assessing the needs on the ground and coordinating their response. They have received funding to work alongside communities to support them to prepare local contingency plans that can be activated in the event of a crisis.

Christian Aid Country Manager for Burundi, James Robinson, said: “The situation is very volatile and things are tense in and around Bujumbura particularly. Many people have been staying indoors, not moving because of the threat of gunfire, wondering what will happen next. People are scared to leave their homes.

“Since the demonstrations began life for many Burundians has been paralyzed, with local trade, transport and public services all affected. As the protests continue, stocks of goods such as petrol, food, medicine and water are becoming scarce. Any further disruption threatens to leave communities both insecure and without essential items. With the high levels of poverty in the country, it’s the poorest who are the least able to cope.”

Before the attempted coup last week, Bishop Eraste Bigirimana of Bujumbura had already asked for prayers as the situation was becoming worse in Bujumbura city. Most of the offices and shops are now closed. Many people have been killed, others seriously injured and admitted to hospital. Five hundred are in jail, thousands have fled the country. “We are now receiving a big number of people, especially children, coming to our home seeking for security and protection,” Bigirimana says.

Mothers’ Union President Mathilde Nkwirikiye also asks for continued prayers, for tolerance and for discernment of God’s will for His people. Nkwirikiye has already taken in several children evacuated from the Rainbow Centre where the foster families are living in the danger zones, with other members doing likewise. The Rainbow Centre is planning a wider response to support vulnerable children during this uncertain period.