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Presiding Bishop’s greetings to Moravian Northern Province

Thursday, June 19, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The remarks from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori were delivered June 19 to the Moravian Church in North America Northern Province Synod meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Travel difficulties prevent the presiding bishop from delivering her remarks in person as intended. Neva Rae Fox, the Episcopal Church’s public affairs officer, read out Jefferts Schori’s remarks.

Moravian Northern Province Greeting 19 June 2014

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

I greet you on behalf of The Episcopal Church which is located in 17 nations: Austria, Belgium, Colombia, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, Haiti, Honduras, Italy, Micronesia (includes Saipan as well as Guam), Switzerland, Taiwan, the United States (including Puerto Rico), Venezuela, Virgin Islands (including British VI). Places where we overlap with this Moravian province and others in the Unitas Fratrum. Like you, we are part of a global fellowship of provinces, the Anglican Communion. Episcopalians and Moravians are still just beginning to explore what it means to be in full communion with one another. We celebrate the fact that there is now one partnership in North Carolina, and one beginning in central Pennsylvania. I hope and pray that we will continue to grow into a living “covenant in heart and hand.”

As a Church, we’re a product of the English Reformation, with significant influence by the Continental reformers and your own forebears. Anglicanism grew out of the early Christian witness in Britain, from as early as the 2nd century, having come with Roman soldiers. Alban is recognized as the first martyr in Britain, and I will take you with me in prayer to the celebration of his feast at St. Alban’s Cathedral in England on Saturday. Christianity took root and indigenized, and when Augustine of Canterbury was sent to Britain with some other monks by Gregory the Great in the 6th century, he was reminded to bless the good he found there and work with the rest.

That’s probably a helpful frame for a gift Anglicans and Moravians share – a comfort with diversity and a willingness to look for the presence of God at work in a wide range of theological positions, liturgical practices, and contexts. We claim catholic, reformed, and liberal strands within Anglicanism, and at our best we believe that each has important gifts to offer the larger tradition. We prize unity over uniformity, even though working that out is frequently messy. Your own willingness to affirm the confessional documents of a range of Christian bodies, finding truth in each, is a constructive parallel.

We take worship and the practice of holiness with deep seriousness as well as an eagerness to find beauty and truth in all we do. We are increasingly remembering that our part in God’s mission requires us to turn outward into God’s larger creation, human and otherwise, to seek and produce beauty and truth in incarnate social form – as justice and peace.

We also govern ourselves synodically, with lay persons, priests, deacons, and bishops working together to discern the movement of the Spirit as we make decisions on behalf of the whole Church.

We’ve been working for many years on fuller inclusion of all God’s people – beginning with Native Americans and slaves in the colonial years on this continent. We have never done this work quickly or easily, but it has been inexorable, as the Church has affirmed the full dignity and equality of people of color, women, children, and now gay and lesbian persons. We have struggled amid fear and trembling, but we have discovered God’s guiding spirit in the midst of it, and renewed life and joy when the hard decisions have been made. You are in our prayers as you wrestle here.

As we seek to grow into the one body of Christ, we are discovering new gifts and possibilities for God’s mission in all our communion partners. We give thanks for your partnership and your willingness to teach us about the truth you know, and we promise you the same. I ask your prayers for us.

May God continue to richly bless the Moravian Church, your ministry, and the work and world we share. We give thanks for you, and pray that together we can witness more fully to our friendship in Christ.

Catherine Roskam to serve St. James’, L.A., as bishop-in-charge

Thursday, June 19, 2014

[Episcopal News, Los Angeles] Bishop Catherine Roskam, retired bishop suffragan of the Diocese of New York, has been called as bishopin-charge under special circumstances at St. James’ Church on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles,  beginning July 1.

Roskam has lived in the Diocese of Los Angeles since her retirement in 2012. She has frequently assisted Bishop J. Jon Bruno and Bishops Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce and Mary Glasspool with pastoral visits to congregations.

“I feel blessed to be called to St James-in-the-City with its rich diversity, its compassionate outreach, its commitment to education, and its excellence in liturgy,” Roskam told The Episcopal News. “I’m so looking forward to this new phase of our ministry together to the glory of God.”

Roskam, a native New Yorker, graduated as a theatre major from Middlebury College in 1965, and worked as an actress and producer in New York for 16 years, until she began her studies at General Seminary in 1980, graduating cum laude in 1984. She is one of three bishops honored by the establishment of the F. A. R. and Wide Scholarship to enable a General Seminary student to spend six weeks in a mission setting somewhere in the Anglican Communion.

Roskam served as bishop suffragan in New York from January 1996  until January 1, 2012. She was a member of the Anglican Consultative Council for nine of those years and on Executive Council for a six-year term.

“Through the interplay of these three positions, the world of global mission was opened to me in the most unexpected and enriching way” she wrote. “Several global partnerships grew out of relationships that held firm in “the bonds of affection” even through the troubles.”

Roskam helped to found Carpenter’s Kids, a partnership between the Diocese of New York and the Diocese of Central Tanganyika, and now including other dioceses, enables over 7,000 AIDS orphans and other vulnerable children to go to school and have a nutritious breakfast every school day.

She was also a founder of The Global Women’s Fund to support the education of Anglican women, with priority given to those entering seminary, a program that “now has terrific success stories to tell about women, both lay and ordained, in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, The Philippines, Haiti and Honduras.,” Roskam writes. “I am so proud of those endeavors and have such affection for the dear friends who labored with me in those particular vineyards, the energetic, entrepreneurial Bishop Mdimi Mhogolo of the Diocese of Central Tanganyika (who sadly died this past May), and Canon Jolly Babirukamu of Uganda, a fellow member of the ACC whose life has been devoted to the empowerment of women in Africa.”

Education  was a strong theme for her episcopate. “We began an initiative called All Our Children, in support of public education. We challenged every congregation to become involved with their local public school and every individual Episcopalian to give 40 hours a year in direct service or advocacy or teacher support.”

Roskam has been an associate of the Society of St. John the Evangelist since 1981. “Now I spend most of my time with my family, especially my husband of 47 years and our 5 year old grandson. I also study Hebrew at American Jewish University and am studying Torah at Valley Beth Shalom in Van Nuys.”

Presiding Bishop’s 2014 World Refugee Day message

Thursday, June 19, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] “Remember in prayer all who flee persecution and suffering in search of security and peace, remember the baptismal promise to strive for justice and peace, and reaffirm our commitment to welcoming the stranger as Christ himself,” Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori states in her 2014 World Refugee Day message.

World Refugee Day is June 20, and in her message, the Presiding Bishop also heralds the work of Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) for its extensive resettlement and advocacy efforts.

The following is Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori’s message.

2014 World Refugee Day

I was a stranger and you welcomed me.

On June 20, communities across the globe will celebrate World Refugee Day, honoring the strength, resilience, and contributions of refugees. In 2014, the world has seen the heights to which refugees can rise when given the chance to start a new life in dignity and peace. A former refugee became the first American citizen in a generation to win the Boston Marathon. At the same time the world has been challenged by the ongoing and urgent need to protect the vulnerable fleeing conflicts in Syria, South Sudan, the Congo, Myanmar, and Central Africa. This World Refugee Day, The Episcopal Church honors the proud legacy of our Church’s intentional work of welcoming refugees – a ministry that began in 1939 through the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that there are currently more than 15 million refugees worldwide, the majority of whom are women and children. These vulnerable individuals have fled their homes, often with little more than the clothes on their backs, and frequently leaving family members behind. Less than 1% of these 15 million refugees will ever be resettled in a third country. Many will live out their lives in uncertainty or the indignity of refugee “camps,” as essentially stateless persons. The United States has a proud tradition of resettling more refugees each year than any other receiving country, and since 1988 Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) has partnered with the U.S. government to welcome refugees into new communities.

In 2013 alone, EMM helped almost 5,000 refugees build new lives in security and peace in 30 communities across the United States. To carry out this work, EMM collaborates with local partner agencies in 26 Episcopal dioceses and 22 states to welcome those fleeing violence and persecution. This ministry links public funding with private donations and volunteers to accompany refugees through their first months in the United States. Each year, EMM welcomes an ever-diversifying refugee population – from more than 69 nations to date. The EMM affiliate network includes staff and volunteers who provide refugees with the essentials needed as they begin their new lives in the U.S., including housing, food, furnishings, and orientation to life in their new communities. That assistance includes connection to services like English classes and job training, access to health care, enrolling their children in school, and understanding the other services available in the community. Our communities and congregations are in turn enriched socially, culturally, and spiritually by the presence and contributions of refugees.

This World Refugee Day, remember in prayer all who flee persecution and suffering in search of security and peace, remember the baptismal promise to strive for justice and peace, and reaffirm our commitment to welcoming the stranger as Christ himself.

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

Obispa Presidente de la Iglesia Episcopal presenta Mensaje de 2014 del Día Mundial de los Refugiados

Fui forastero y me acogisteis.

[19 de junio de 2014] “Recuerde en oración a todos los que huyen de la persecución y el sufrimiento y que buscan la seguridad y la paz, recuerde la promesa bautismal de luchar por la justicia y la paz, y reafirmar nuestro compromiso de dar la bienvenida al extraño como al mismo Cristo”, la Obispa Presidente de la Iglesia Episcopal Katharine Jefferts Schori indica en su mensaje de 2014 del Día Mundial de los Refugiados.

El Día Mundial de los Refugiados es el 20 de junio, y en su mensaje, la Obispa Presidente también anuncia la obra del Ministerio Episcopal de Migración (EMM) y sus grandes esfuerzos de reasentamiento y defensoría.

A continuación el mensaje de la Obispa Presidente Jefferts Schori.

Día Mundial de los Refugiados 2014

Fui forastero y me acogisteis.

El 20 de junio, las comunidades de todo el mundo celebrarán el Día Mundial del Refugiado, en honor a la fuerza, resistencia, y a las contribuciones de los refugiados. En el 2014, el mundo ha podido ver lo tan alto que pueden llegar los refugiados cuando se les brinda la oportunidad de empezar una vida nueva con dignidad y paz. Un ex refugiado se convirtió en el primer ciudadano estadounidense en una generación al ganar el maratón de Boston. Al mismo tiempo, el mundo ha sido cuestionado por la necesidad continua y urgente de proteger a los vulnerables que huyen de los conflictos en Siria, Sudán del Sur, el Congo, Myanmar, y África Central. En este Día Mundial del Refugiado, la Iglesia Episcopal honra el legado de orgullo del trabajo intencional de nuestra Iglesia al acoger a los refugiados – un ministerio que comenzó en 1939 a través del Fondo de la Obispa Presidente para Ayuda Mundial.

El Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados estima que actualmente hay más de 15 millones de refugiados en todo el mundo, la mayoría de los cuales son mujeres y niños. Estos individuos vulnerables han huido de sus hogares, a menudo con poco más que la ropa que llevaban puesta, y con frecuencia dejando atrás a familiares. Menos del 1% de estos 15 millones de refugiados nunca serán re-establecidos en un tercer país. Muchos vivirán sus vidas en la incertidumbre o en la indignidad de “campos” para refugiados como personas esencialmente sin patria. Los Estados Unidos tiene una orgullosa tradición de reasentar a refugiados cada año y más que en cualquier otro país que los recibe, y desde 1988 el Ministerio Episcopal de Migración (EMM) se han asociado con el gobierno de los EE.UU. para recibir a los refugiados en nuevas comunidades.

Sólo en 2013, el Ministerio Episcopal de Migración ayudó a casi 5.000 refugiados a construir una nueva vida con seguridad y paz en 30 comunidades de los Estados Unidos. Para llevar a cabo este trabajo, la EMM colabora con agencias locales asociadas en 26 diócesis episcopales y 22 estados para dar la bienvenida a quienes huyen de la violencia y la persecución. Este ministerio vincula la financiación pública con donaciones privadas y voluntarios para acompañar a los refugiados a través de sus primeros meses que están en los Estados Unidos. Cada año, la EMM da la bienvenida a una población diversificada de refugiados – de más de 69 países hasta la fecha. La red de afiliados EMM incluye el personal y los voluntarios que proporcionan a los refugiados con los elementos necesarios a medida que comienzan su nueva vida en los EE.UU., lo cual incluye vivienda, la alimentación, el mobiliario, y la orientación sobre la vida en sus nuevas comunidades. Esa asistencia incluye la conexión a servicios como clases de inglés y capacitación para el trabajo, el acceso a la asistencia sanitaria, inscripción a sus hijos en la escuela, y tener un mejor conocimiento sobre los otros servicios disponibles en la comunidad. Nuestras comunidades y congregaciones están a su vez enriquecidas socialmente, culturalmente y espiritualmente por la presencia y las contribuciones de los refugiados.

En este Día Mundial del Refugiado, recuerde en oración a todos los que huyen de la persecución y el sufrimiento y que buscan la seguridad y la paz, recuerde la promesa bautismal de luchar por la justicia y la paz, y reafirmar nuestro compromiso de dar la bienvenida al extraño como al mismo Cristo.

La Reverendísima Katharine Jefferts Schori
Obispa Presidente y Primada
La Iglesia Episcopal

SCLM provides information on Indaba-style gathering

Thursday, June 19, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Episcopal Church’s Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) has provided information following an Indaba meeting in Kansas City, MO on June 3 – 5.

The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music
The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SLCM) of The Episcopal Church recently held a two-and-a-half-day Indaba-style conversation on same-sex marriage June 3-5 at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City, MO.

The conversation included leaders from across the Anglican Communion, ecumenical partners, and lay and clergy representatives from Episcopal dioceses where civil same-sex marriage is legal.

“The overwhelming feel of the entire gathering was one of openness, love, trust, and joy,” said Kathleen Moore, Diocese of Vermont. “Over the course of just three days, many participants who hailed from different states, countries, and denominations shared the profound closeness they now feel toward one another, and an intent to remain in touch.”

The first half of the gathering featured Indaba-style discussion that sought to develop an understanding of civil marriage and the church’s response in different contexts. Indaba is a method of having purposeful conversation, especially about issues that may invite disagreement or diverse viewpoints, that is common in some African cultures.

The second half focused specifically on discussing and hearing responses to “I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing,” the rite and related resources for blessing same-sex relationships approved at the 77th General Convention in 2012.

The SCLM held the meeting to fulfill, in part, Resolution A049’s directive to invite responses “from provinces, dioceses, congregations, and individuals from throughout The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, and from our ecumenical partners,” in order to report back to the 78th General Convention in 2015.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori encouraged openness. “We are here to encounter a diverse sample of God’s creation and consider how we might effectively support and nurture that journey in community for all without resort to rigidity or anarchy,” she said. “Neither is Anglican. So enjoy the discovery and don’t jump to conclusions. Be open to God’s still-and ever-unfolding creative spirit.”

As an introduction to the Indaba-style conversation, each participant was asked to introduce himself or herself and an object that represents what he or she brings to the conversation. The Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music Chair, opened by introducing her object, a photograph of two women at whose blessing she officiated. Meyers explained, “I have heard so many stories. This photo reminds me of the couples whose hopes and dreams are expressed in this process.”

Ulysses Dietz, Diocese of Newark, brought his wedding ring. He recounted his journey through the years that began when he and his husband Gary entered into a private covenant in 1975, followed by a civil union, and finally a marriage. They were married by the mayor of Maplewood, NJ. Dietz explained: “When the mayor asked about rings, I said, ‘forget the rings.’ What we got was the word ‘husband.’ Words are important.”

Echoing that sentiment, Jeff Diehl, Diocese of El Camino Real, brought the liturgy from his upcoming marriage. Diehl told participants, “It is incredible that our names are written under the words ‘The Witnessing and Blessing of Marriage.’ We belong to a church that acknowledges us for who we are, that blesses our family, that loves our family.”

The Rev. Jacynthia Murphy of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia brought with her a dress with the Maori symbol koru to remind participants that “we are all joined.” She also taught the Maori greeting of hongi – rubbing noses and exchanging breath – to remind all present that “you belong to each other and to all of creation.”

A highlight of the gathering was enacting the “Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” liturgy. Meyers served as “Presider,” while the Rev. Jane Stewart and Linda Kroon, Diocese of Iowa, who happened to be celebrating their 15th anniversary that day, served as “the couple.” Though it was only a reading of the text and not an actual use of the liturgy, several of those present were moved to tears. The Rev. Marinez R. S. Bassotto from Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil observed that this liturgy sounded very much like the Holy Matrimony liturgy in Brazil. “What I heard was a marriage,” she said.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies, preached at the meeting’s closing Eucharist. “If every person is of equal value, a beloved child of God, then every baptized member of this Church has equal claim on everything the Church offers,” she said. “Equal value. Equal claim. It’s not rocket science…It’s an amazing privilege to work so that all may claim their rightful inheritance. Talk about a love story.”

At the meeting’s end, a number of Episcopal participants said that while the church has come a long way in its effort to treat all of its members as equals, the difference between the church offering same-sex couples a blessing and other couples a marriage was of great concern.

“Speaking from the perspective of the clergy group at the gathering, I would say that we felt that as priests we are in a particularly difficult position,” said the Rev. Amy Welin, Diocese of Connecticut. “The distinction between a blessing and holy matrimony is not insignificant. As we have vowed both to obey our bishops and to care for all our people, this puts parish clergy in a pastorally tenuous role.”

Bishop Thomas C. Ely of Vermont, who serves on the Task Force on the Study of Marriage as well as the SCLM, said this gathering gave “much to be able to take back into our work based on conversation with people living this reality on the ground, and hearing the pastoral challenges local clergy are facing.”

Meyers described the experience as “amazing,” adding, “You hope and you pray – and when you stand back and give the Holy Spirit room to do her work, it’s astonishing.”

Video: One young adult…and a Roman refugee center

Thursday, June 19, 2014
[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.]

This video story is being published in time for World Refugee Day, which is observed on June 20.

[Episcopal News Service] In the shadow of the Colosseum, one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions, the Colle Oppio Park is home to many of Rome’s refugees.

A mile north, in the crypt of the Episcopal Church’s St. Paul’s Within the Walls, some of those refugees find a breakfast and a host of other resources to survive and to rebuild their lives in Italy.

The Joel Nafuma Refugee Center is where Jared Grant’s vocation has led him this year. It’s his second year as a volunteer with the Episcopal Church’s Young Adult Service Corps program, widely known as YASC. He previously served in Lesotho in South Africa. The two experiences could not have been more varied, but in Grant’s discernment for the priesthood, they also could not have been more valuable.

Jenny Korwan is also working at the refugee center for a few months. She’s not long back from Kenya where she served for a year with the YASC program. As with many YASC volunteers, mission is in her blood.

Further information about YASC is available here.

Additional videos in this ENS series highlighting the ministry of YASC missionaries follow.

One young adult…and a South African clinic

One young adult…and a provincial archives

One young adult…and a mission for migrant workers

One young adult…and a mission to seafarers

The forgotten story of the Nuba Mountain people

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

[World Council of Churches press release] The security situation for the people of the Nuba Mountain region of Sudan has continued to deteriorate recently with increased attacks on civilians and the denial of basic human rights.

This region was included in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005 that led to the independence of South Sudan. The future of the state of South Kordofan, where the Nuba Mountains are located, along with two other areas, were left to popular consultations after 2005. After six years, this process broke down and war reignited in June of 2011.

The urgency of the current situation was brought to the attention of church leaders at the recentconsultation for Regional Ecumenical Organizations and National Councils of Churches, sponsored by the WCC and the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), in Nairobi, Kenya from 2 to 7 June. During the meetings, the general secretary of the Sudan Council of Churches, Rev. Kori Elramla Kori Kuku, urged the international ecumenical community to intervene and bring peace to Sudan.

“We want this war to stop,” he said. “People are suffering, many already died. Most of our churches were destroyed and the bombings also affect the rural areas so that our people are not being able to farm,” added Kuku.

In 2009, the local office of the AACC in Nyala, South Darfur state, was closed. The Sudan Council of Churches is asking for support from the international ecumenical community to engage in dialogue with the local government.

Former WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia is the AACC’s ecumenical special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan. He has urged the international community to engage in fast and effective advocacy work.

“It is time to double our efforts in solidarity with the people in that region. Churches and ecumenical councils in Sudan and South Sudan are operating in a very hostile environment,” he said. “The ecumenical movement has a very important role to play, not only through statements, but also by visiting these communities.”

Kobia also pointed to the primacy of the voices coming from the ground. “Whatever we say on the international level must be based and inspired by what we receive directly from the people and churches experiencing this war. One of our main tasks is to amplify their voices,” he concluded.

Meanwhile the Nuba people continue to face escalating insecurity. Hunger increases as they have not been able to plant or harvest. Over 70,000 fled to camps in South Sudan.

Many trek back to their homes – a trip requiring one to two weeks in the rainy season- to share their meager rations with those left behind. Unaccompanied children are moving between the camp and Unity state where there is a strong possibility of being abducted and recruited to fight in the war or to be used as sex slaves.

Women pick leaves for food in the rainy season. Occasionally they find wild fruit; however, it is hardly enough.

They grind grass seed into flow to make porridge. In the dry season, they cook roots and seeds so bitter that they have to be boiled three times, all the while aware that smoke increases the potential for aerial attacks.

Texting and social media from the ground show that bombing of civilian areas by the Sudanese military has been intensifying over the past three months.

Civilians are being targeted, some villages have been repeatedly bombed. Markets are attacked on market days.

Children cannot go to school. The people cannot escape to the north because of the presence of government troops and they face increasing difficulty fleeing to South Sudan because of the violence raging there between government troops and rebels.

More than 350,000 people are now living in caves, nearby mountains or the bush, sharing the space with hyenas and other wild animals who are also seeking shelter from the bombing.

The WCC is proposing and urging a wide ecumenical advocacy campaign to raise awareness on the situation in Nuba Mountains and South Kordofan in general, taking into account that this crisis is been overshadowed by the conflicts in South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Syria.

Ecumenical organizations have been outspoken in condemning aerial bombing and insisting that the UN pressure the Sudanese government to stop targeting civilians.

Learn more about the Nuba situation: http://nubareports.org

Read also: Church councils reflect on the spirit of Christian unity in a time of change (WCC news release, 5 June 2014)

Sudanese churches an important voice in rebuilding nation (WCC news release, 26 April 2013)

WCC member churches in Sudan

Video: Corn pollen blessing

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.]

[Episcopal News Service --Fort Defiance, Arizona] Kimball Shorty using sacred corn pollen to bless Cathlena Plummer and Leon Sampson prior to their ordination June 14 to the transitional diaconate at Good Shepherd Mission church in Fort Defiance, Arizona, in the Episcopal Church’s Navajoland Area Mission.

Video: Navajo purification ceremony

Wednesday, June 18, 2014
[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.]

[Episcopal News Service -- Fort Defiance, Arizona] Kimball Shorty purified the Good Shepherd Mission church and the people in it June 14 at the start of the ordination liturgy for transitional deacon candidates Cathlena Plummer and Leon Sampson at Good Shepherd Mission Church here. This clip shows a portion of the ritual.

Navajoland Area Mission continues to raise up native leaders

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Kimball Shorty anoints Cathlena Plummer’s mouth with corn pollen in a traditional Navajo blessing during the June 14 ordination of Plummer and Leon Sampson to the transitional diaconate at Good Shepherd Mission church in Fort Defiance, Arizona. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Fort Defiance, Arizona] The Episcopal Church’s Navajoland Area Mission continued during its 38th annual convocation to make history and change the shape of its ministry.

In a liturgy at Good Shepherd Mission here, filled with traditional Navajo and Episcopal symbols, Navajoland Bishop David Bailey on June 14 ordained Cathlena Arnette Plummer and Leon Sampson to the transitional diaconate.

Then during the convocation’s business meeting on June 15 the members elected only Navajos as deputies to the 78th triennial meeting of General Convention, set for June 25-July 3, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Those deputies are:

Clerical order

  • The Rev. Leon Sampson
  • The Rev. Cornelia Eaton
  • The Rev. Cathlena Plummer
  • The Rev. Inez Velarde
  • The Rev. Paula Henson, alternate

Laity order

  • Anna Fowler
  • Marieta Buck
  • Margaret Benally
  • Arnold Joe
  • Dorothy Redhorse, alternate

“This is believed to be a historic action of the election of an all-Navajo deputation,” Eaton, who was ordained to the transitional diaconate in December and is Bailey’s canon to the ordinary, told Episcopal News Service via e-mail, after the meeting.  “Most certainly to be true in the election of all Navajo clerical deputation.”

Plummer is the daughter of the late Bishop Steven Plummer, who served Navajoland as bishop from 1990 to 1994. Her mother, Catherine Plummer, is a priest at St. Mary’s of the Moonlight Episcopal Church in Oljato, Utah.

When Plummer and Sampson were ordained, they became the latest ordained Navajo leaders that the area has raised up and Bailey has ordained since he became bishop in August 2010. There are eight ordained Navajo and three others are in training.

“Throughout human history, communities have designated some of their members to encourage others to live in ways of peace, order, harmony, truth, and beauty,” said Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in her sermon during the ordinations. “That’s what we are here today to do, to recognize and bless the particular gifts the Creator has given Cathlena and Leon, to call them into the center of this circle to bless them, and to challenge them to keep encouraging the flock in ho’zho’.”

Ho’zho’ is a Navajo word meaning peace, balance, beauty and harmony, and to be “in ho’zho’” is to be at one within oneself and to be at one with the world.

Navajoland Bishop David Bailey on June 14 hands newly ordained transitional deacon Leon Sampson a bible. Cathlena Arnette Plummer, another transitional diaconate who was ordained with Sampson at Good Shepherd Mission church in Fort Defiance, Arizona, stands to his right. The Rev. Chan Anaya, Good Shepherd’s priest and a regional ministry developer, serves as Bailey’s chaplain. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Noting that Navajo believe that Spider Woman’s web can hold people above the waters of the flood, much like Noah’s ark, Jefferts Schori called on Plummer and Sampson to weave their Christ-centered selves into the web of their people to help protect them and “to shake [the web] up when its connections fray or start to break.”

“We ask you to help us pursue those who wander away or lose their connections with that web. We pray that you will know your own connection to that web so deeply that you can remind the lost or forgetful that the Creator loves us more deeply than we can imagine,” she said. “And we promise to bind our own fibers together with yours, that the web may grow in beauty, justice, and peace to rebalance the world. Become weavers of beauty for others, and challenge us to keep expanding the holy web of life in ho’zho’.”

As the ordination service began, Kimball Shorty, who is related to both Plummer and Sampson, purified the Good Shepherd Mission sanctuary and the people in it with cedar smoke. Using feather fan, Shorty spread the smoke to make connection with the Creator and to tell the Creator that the “grandchildren are here.”

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.]Later a wind that gusted to 40 miles per hour whistled around the church and buffeted the roof as the congregation sang a traditional ordination hymn (Hymn 503 – Come Holy Spirit ­– from The 1982 Hymnal).

Then, Plummer and Sampson rose from the communion rail where they had been kneeling before Bailey, turned and sat down on the floor facing the congregation. Shorty blessed them with corn pollen. Corn, a Navajo staple, is also considered to be a sacred plant given to the Navajo at the beginning of creation.

Beginning with their feet, Shorty also anointed the diaconal candidates’ knees, hands, arms, chests, backs, heads and mouths. The latter done “in order to speak the true word – the right word for them,” he later told Episcopal News Service.

He then led them outside the building, “spun them around” clockwise to greet the elements and brought them back inside for their ordination. “Now they’re whole” and ready for their work, explained Shorty, who attends St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Glendale, Arizona.

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.]During a thanksgiving lunch held in the compound’s Thorne Building after the ordinations, Plummer’s mother, Catherine, said the Navajo elements in the service, including a number of hymns in the Navajo language, showed that “that’s who we are: Christian and Navajo.”

“We need to reorganize the church so that it works for us as Navajo Christians in the Episcopal Church in Navajoland,” she added.

At the church’s Executive Council meeting in Phoenix, few days prior to the ordinations, Bailey had told a committee meeting that ordaining Navajo people to ministerial positions is part of the mission’s reorganization and sustainability plan. The ordinations are “an investment; it’s not a short-term solution,” he warned, adding that the mission is in his estimation at least six years away from being ready to call another Navajo as its bishop.

In 1978 the Episcopal Church created the Navajoland Area Mission, also known as the Episcopal Church in Navajoland, out of sections of the dioceses of Rio Grande, Arizona and Utah – areas within and surrounded by the 27,425-square-mile Navajo Nation, as the reservation is known. It encompasses 26,000 square miles over Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

The Navajo, also known as The Dine’ (The People), is one of the largest Native American Indian tribes in the United States. Between 125,000 and 150,000 Navajo live on the reservation, which is about the size of West Virginia. Many people work in extractive industries, such as oil, uranium and petroleum, but an estimated 50 percent of the population is unemployed and 50 percent lives in extreme poverty. Addiction, domestic abuse and suicide rates are high.

At their convocation in 1987, the Navajo Episcopalians asked for a new level of partnership with the Episcopal Church, including the right to nominate their own bishop. The 1988 General Convention endorsed the request and the Navajos elected Steven Plummer in June 1989. The House of Bishops meeting in Philadelphia that fall ratified the choice, and Plummer was consecrated the first Navajo bishop, and the third Native American bishop, in March 1990.

Alice Mason of St. Michael’s, center, speaks to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on June 14 after Mason and two other elders – Lillie Henderson of St. John the Baptizer and Maggie Brown of Good Shepherd Mission – had presented Jefferts Schori with a Navajoland Pendleton blanket. The presentation happened during a thanksgiving lunch in the Thorne Building in the Good Shepherd Mission compound in Fort Defiance, Arizona. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The Episcopal presence in what is now known as the Navajoland Area Mission began close to 100 years prior. In 1894, Episcopalians helped establish mission hospitals, followed by schools and orphanages within Navajo communities. Those mission hospital compounds are the core of the area mission’s three regions today. However, most of the buildings that were built in the late-1800s through the mid-1900s with gifts from East Coast churches fell into disrepair when there was no money for maintenance.

In addition, Bailey and others told council, Navajo members lacked leadership and financial training and thus became dependent upon “outsiders.” And there was a lack of consistency in how Navajo lay and ordained leaders were raised up, he said. Navajoland had one indigenous priest in 2010 when Bailey was elected bishop. Now, there are eight, and Bailey and the area mission are determined to raise up more leaders.

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

Video: Cornelia Eaton preaches at Navajoland Convocation

Wednesday, June 18, 2014
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[Episcopal News Service – Fort Defiance, Arizona] The Rev. Cornelia Eaton, canon to the ordinary for the Navajoland Area Mission, preaches June 13 during a healing Eucharist that traditionally starts the area mission’s convocations. After introducing herself in Navajo by explaining her kinship, she begins her sermon in English with the same introduction. Eaton, ordained to the transitional diaconate in December by Navajoland Bishop David Bailey, was preaching at the area mission’’s 38 annual convocation.

Archbishop of Canterbury addresses Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

[Lambeth Palace] Speaking at the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast, the Archbishop of Canterbury says the global 21st century church must – as Pope Francis has said – be about the three P’s: prayer, peace and poverty.

In this clip the Archbishop describes recent visits to the DRC and South Sudan, praising churches on the ground who even as they bury their own dead – and care for others caught up in brutal conflict – are calling for reconciliation.

“A 21st-century global church loves the poor and the victim, and stands for human dignity, challenges oppressors and supports victims. It speaks for women killed in lynchings called ‘honour killings’, or for those imprisoned under blasphemy laws. It does all that despite its own suffering. Truth and love embrace,” the Archbishop told the 700-strong audience at the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast in Westminster this morning.

The Archbishop’s talk was the first time an Archbishop of Canterbury has addressed the prayer breakfast in its 20-year history. Also for the first time, the event was attended by both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

Watch the full address on YouTube

A transcript of the Archbishop’s address as delivered follows:

Global Christianity in the 21st Century

Readings: Isaiah 58: 6 – 12; Acts 2: 43 – 47

“Good morning and thank you very much for the invitation to take part in this National Prayer Breakfast. . . You may have heard of the case of the bishop who went to a parish and found almost no one had turned up to hear him. . . and he said to the vicar: “Didn’t you tell them I was coming?” And the vicar said: “No, my Lord, I can’t understand – I didn’t tell anyone at all you were coming.” [Laughter]

“I’ve been to this event on a few occasions, but I never imagined that I would have the privilege of speaking at it. Stephen Timms said that I know a lot about the global church. Caroline and I are indeed travelling to all 37 provinces of the Anglican Communion, last year and this. We got back from Pakistan and Bangladesh and North and South India about 10 days ago. So really I’m much more qualified to talk about global airports than I am about global church, but there we are.

“Before I begin I also want to pay tribute to Paul Goggins, who was to be the Chair of this year’s Prayer Breakfast, before his tragically early death in January. Although our paths did not cross in parliament, his reputation as a man of great integrity, with a commitment to tackling the injustices he saw around him, inspired by deeply held faith, means that he will be sorely missed, and will be remembered with great warmth and affection for many years to come, as was shown in the parliamentary reaction to his death.

“And I am also very grateful to Stephen Timms for chairing this morning’s proceedings, and to all those who have made it possible.

“The author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon, which I was given by my wife shortly after we married – I think because I was travelling a lot and she thought I needed to fill the empty hours, and which indeed I read – it is worth reading, but it does take a while… but very early on in the first volume he says this: “The religions of the Roman Empire were to the people all equally true, the philosophers all equally false, and to the magistrates – which is you lot – all equally useful.”

“Well, he was wrong. He may have been right about what they thought, but he was suggesting that is the role of religion; and whatever else the Church is, I hope and pray and we will never just be useful – what a dreadful condemnation that would be. There have been moments when we’ve fallen into that trap, and the walls of Lambeth Palace are lined with Archbishops looking useful [laughter], a bit like Hogwarts. But it’s always happened when we’ve lost sight of the fact that at the heart of being a Christian is knowing Jesus Christ, so that together as we meet with Him and share in worship, we find ourselves renewed and strengthened for the call of carrying the cross and following Him.

“The Speaker alluded to the state of the world in which we find the global Church; an uncertain world. Uncertain forces – Iraq, we’ve heard of; Nigeria, so often easily forgotten; Syria; the Holy Land; I could go on and on. And the global Church of the 21st century is in some ways always the same as it always has been: a blessing to the world, a call to Christ. We saw that in Isaiah and Acts; the fabulous poetry of Isaiah, describing a country, a place of renewal and human flourishing, of the overflowing of the abundance of God in which all benefit. The Acts, a new society created in which generosity is the watch-word, confidence in Christ the foundation, love for one another the way of living. Human flourishing, growing, suffering, hospitable, a generous church.

“The Church, though, is a suffering church in this century. It is growing and in growing it suffers. It carries a cross. That is as true today as ever, and the last few years have demonstrated the truth and cost of that reality. A couple of weeks ago, Caroline and I were in Lahore in Pakistan. Just incidentally. . . just remember in your prayers our diplomatic service around the world. We’ve seen a lot of them in the last year; they are unbelievably good and they get absolutely no credit, anywhere, for the extraordinary work they do [applause]. . . But in Lahore two weeks ago we met some of the clergy and the Bishop of Peshawar who were involved in the bomb explosion last September at All Saints Church, an Anglican church, in which over 200 people were killed. And you ask them: “How are things recovering? Are people still going to church?” “Oh,” they said. “The congregation has tripled.” It is a suffering church and a church of courage.

“In the routine list of dioceses around the world that we pray for, last week was Damaturu, which almost none of you probably would have heard of, in north-east Nigeria. I know the bishop there; that the people of that diocese have been scattered to the four winds by Boko Haram. Its bishop is in hiding and danger is all around for those few Christians who remain. The girls of Chibok kidnapped and still held were from a part of that region, which is a Christian part. The global Church is a profoundly suffering church.

“It is cross-shaped. It carries a cross of suffering, but also it carries a cross for the salvation of the world. That has always been a scandal since the first few centuries. Early doubters, attackers of the Christian Church said: “How can you worship someone who died on a cross?” But it is a scandal of which we should be proud. We boast in the cross of Christ. It tells us that each of us here – each of us, all of us – need God’s rescue because we cannot rescue ourselves. It calls us, the cross, to prayer and worship, passionate devotion to Jesus, who died for us. The Church of the 21st century clings to Christ in prayer, finds its strength in prayer and prays together. It prays with all those who will pray, and we see new communities of prayer springing up across Europe and around the world. Communities like 24/7, full of young people, serving their community, living in hardship, in order to be a blessing to the poor.

“And so the 21st century Church is very like all other churches in history. It’s unchanged because it serves a faithful God who loves and suffers on the cross, and is with us at every moment in the darkest times as well as the brightest. And it’s a united church; it’s a church that prays and worships and has its ultimate values in the faithfulness of God. It holds together, it belongs to one another, all Christians belong to one another as sister and brother, not as mutual members of a club. Through all our differences of culture… and we belong to one another not because we choose to but because God has made us that way; you can choose your friends, but you’re stuck with your relatives, and I have to tell you that all who follow Christ are relatives, so you’re stuck with me and I’m stuck with you, so we’d better get used to it.

“And that last point is essential to understanding how we act as the Church in the 21st century. We do not have the option, if we love one another, of simply ditching those with whom we disagree. To take a local issue, in the Church of England we have the vote next month on women bishops in the General Synod. It is not a win/lose, zero-sum game. I hope and expect the vote to go through, and I rejoice in that. But I also rejoice that we are promising to seek the flourishing in the Church of those who disagree. You don’t chuck out family; you love them and seek their wellbeing, even when you argue. In the Church of England we are seeking to start a radical new way of being the Church: good and loving disagreement, a potential gift to a world of bitter and divisive conflict. What can be more radical than to disagree well, not by abandoning principle and truth, but affirming it – agreeing what is right, acting on it and yet continuing to love those who have a different view?

“And so in this century we do not abandon truth, found in scripture, applied afresh in each generation. We can’t decide that there are bits of the body of Christ which are excluded. To put those two statements together is hard and always controversial. The Anglican Communion by itself – and it’s only one small part of the global Church – is in 165 countries, one of which, Nigeria, has 407 language groups by itself. We deal in thousands of cultures. The struggle, the achievement, of holding together in good disagreement sets a pattern in which truth is not a club with which to strike others, but a light freely offered for a path of joy and flourishing.

“The poor are not served by a divided church obsessed with inward issues. Pope Francis said last year, and Cardinal Vincent Nichols and I picked up and used together in the weeks before Easter, the slogan “listen to God, hear the poor”. When we listen to God we are looking outwards, not inwards to the life of the Church.

“A 21st-century global Church, with all Christians irrevocably belonging to each other through the action of God, seeking to discern truth in many thousand cultures, is a church with fuzzy edges; because in a world in which cultures overlap constantly, and are communicated instantly – and, judging from what I get, often with some friction – you need space to adapt and to meet with one another, and you have to trust the sovereign grace of God for the consequences. He comments that even 20 years ago took months to reach the far corners of the earth now, as we know, take seconds. Instant reaction has replaced reflective comment. That is a reality that you deal with in politics, and it demands a new reality of ways in which we accept one another, love each other, pray for each other. The best answer to a complex issue on which one has heard a soundbite from a sophisticated argument is not always given in 140 characters.

“The Church of this century must be a generous church, because of that communications revolution, because of technology, because we are face-to-face with everyone, everywhere, always, in a way we never have been in history. The Church is a generous church which loves truth and loves people with the overwhelming love of God in Christ. As Christians we believe that God reaches out to us unconditionally and we are to do the same for others. God has no preferences, except a preference of love for the poor, the weak and the vulnerable; the widow and the orphan, the alien and the stranger. The Church is the most effective church when it demonstrates that love. And with that love comes the obligation of holiness: of being ourselves, but not turned inwards but living in holy lives that draw people to the blessing of which Isaiah spoke.

“The Speaker spoke eloquently of poverty. And the Church around the world today tackles poverty. We are among the biggest educators on earth. In this country alone we educate nearly a million children in the Church of England, another half a million through the Roman Catholic schools. And let me say no recent problems were in one of the church schools. It is the church schools that stand for tolerance, acceptance, reception, generosity, open handedness. Education is something which the Church has done for centuries, which it held in its monasteries when the rest of the world gave up on it in Western Europe, and we do it today.

“International aid. The Church of the 21st century is among the most efficient and the best deliverers of help for the poor that exists on the face of the earth… Isn’t it wonderful, let’s celebrate what’s good – it’s easy to be cynical about politics – but let’s celebrate what’s good: that with cross-party support in this country we have maintained international aid at 0.7 per cent of GDP. [Applause]. That we have introduced – again, across the parties – the Modern Slavery Bill, leading the world and tackling trafficking, which I was talking to the Pope about yesterday. That last week, again across politics, there was support for the greatest conference on sexual violence in conflict that has existed. Those aren’t cynical vote winners, from any politician in this room; but they arise from a spirit of generosity, which is right and proper.

“Love and outward-looking should be the characteristic of the Church. Holiness, radical difference in lifestyle. And truth and love drive action and attitude. The Church in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has loved and aided the victims of conflict-driven sexual violence for many years. We were there in January, in a place of the utmost despair, in which the love that shone was the light of Christ; a tent, I remember, full of handicapped children dying, hungry and alone, apart from the church people who went in to sit with them. It was overwhelming.

“In the South Sudan, again in January, Caroline and I were there, and we were called a couple of days before we got there by the Archbishop, Daniel Deng, one of the great heroes of the faith, and he said: “Would you come up to Bor with me?” A town in the middle of the fighting zone. Well, we did, with a slight objection from some people, but we did. And we went out and we found the town that had been taken and retaken four times. Bodies on the streets, the smell of death in 40 degrees of heat everywhere. Mass graves to consecrate. And what does Daniel do? He goes on national television in the South Sudan and calls for reconciliation. Isn’t that extraordinary? Doesn’t that speak of what the Church should be? And in Sudan, the Church is also speaking heroically for an imprisoned woman and her two children, Meriam, for whom truth matters enough to die. A 21st-century global church loves the poor and the victim, and stands for human dignity, challenges oppressors and supports victims. It speaks for women killed in lynchings called “honour killings”, or for those imprisoned under blasphemy laws. It does all that despite its own suffering. Truth and love embrace.

“And it’s a forgiven church because it’s a failing church. The Church is always full of failure, and I’m sorry to say that’s because it’s always full of people. Without wishing to be controversial, you’re sinners, and so am I. I once said that in a sermon and someone came up afterwards and said: “I’d never have come and listened to you if I knew you were a sinner.” [Laughter]

“The Church is forgiven and knows the forgiveness of God, and if it’s doing its stuff, shares it in the 21st century. It knows failure and recognises the need for renewal. I saw Pope Francis yesterday… and at the end of the meeting he summed it up when he said: “Remember the three Ps: prayer, peace and poverty…”

“At its best such a Church is diversity established and accepted, forgiveness abundant, people listened to with love, prisoners set free, the poor served, Jesus loved and worshiped passionately, and that love for Jesus meaning that we recognise in the stranger the call of Christ to love; the good news of all that shared with confidence; people invited to join with us to become His disciples and feast on His love; and a community that challenges radically all the assumptions of what makes for a success through the reversal of all importance and the holding together of weak and strong… and a million more things besides.

“And lastly we are a hospitable church in the 21st century if we follow Christ – utterly at home in a world of numerous faith traditions. Open about the hope we have while listening to others. In Lent I spent some time with Ibrahim Mogra, the remarkable Muslim leader from Leicester, and we shared together our scriptures: I read bits of John’s Gospel with him, and he read bits of the Qur’an with me. Hospitable.

“That belonging to one another, being different, diverse and yet authentic to oneself and to one’s tradition and the truth, is a gift this world needs. It’s the opposite of all this Trojan Horse process. It is a generosity of spirit and openness to listen. The 21st century Church knows that the good news of Jesus Christ is a gift which is to be shared in witness. Making new disciples now is as important as it was in the 1st century, in the 6th century when Augustine came to Canterbury, in the 8th and 9th centuries during the Dark Ages and learning and civilization were brought back; at the Reformation when the rights of the individual to know God themselves and to be free began to be established through the work of the churches; in the 18th century when knowledge was treasured and developed by clergy; in the 19th century when the campaign against slavery began (and continues). The call to discipleship is always offered without manipulation as hospitality, respecting the freedom of others to say no, without aggression, and always in love. But it is offered.

“The church is not an NGO with lots of old buildings. It is the Church of God, rejoicing in the realities of cultural diversity in a way never known before: global, cross-bearing, confident and welcoming. The Church holds for the world the treasure of reconciliation, and offers it as a gift freely given out of its own experience of struggling with the reality of it, of being reconciled ourselves through the sovereign love of God in Jesus Christ. The global Church is above all God’s church, for all its failings, and in passionate devotion to him will offer the treasure He puts in our hands, unconditionally, always pointing in worship, deed and word to Jesus Christ.

“Amen.”

Richard Bass joins Church Publishing as consulting editor

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

[Church Publishing press release] Nationally recognized congregational development expert and former publisher of the Alban Institute Richard Bass has joined Church Publishing Incorporated (CPI) as a consulting editor, specializing in congregational development, church leadership, and the challenges and opportunities facing congregations today.

Bass served as Director of Publishing at Alban from 2002 until earlier this year. Prior to becoming Director of Publishing, he directed the development of the Congregational Resource Guide, a joint project of the Alban Institute and the Indianapolis Center for Congregations. He also worked for the reference publisher ABC-CLIO, the United States Catholic Conference, and the Practising Law Institute.

“Church Publishing is proud to be ‘the place where the conversations happen’ both within The Episcopal Church and ecumenically. Richard’s presence on our team strengthens and broadens our ability to live into that commitment,” said Nancy Bryan, CPI’s Editorial Director.

Mr. Bass remarked: “I am really looking forward to working with the fine team at Church Publishing. Nancy Bryan and Davis Perkins have pulled together a strong collection of editors producing resources and working on many of the most pressing issues facing congregations and the church today. I am grateful to be part of such an effort.”

Bass holds a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Wesleyan University, Connecticut. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife, Diana Butler Bass, and their daughter. They attend St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Alexandria.  Mr. Bass can be reached at rbass@cpg.org.

Scruton joins nominating committee for election of Presiding Bishop

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Rt. Rev. Gordon Scruton, retired bishop of the Diocese of Western Massachusetts, has been named to the Episcopal Church Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB), replacing Bishop Thomas Shaw of the Diocese of Massachusetts who has resigned from the Committee.

Bishop Scruton was appointed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to represent Province I.

The JNCPB is comprised of a lay member, a priest or deacon, and a bishop elected from each of the nine provinces of the Episcopal Church, plus two youth representatives, appointed by the President of the House of Deputies, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings. The General Convention Deputies and bishops serve a three-year term to conclude at the close of General Convention 2015 in Salt Lake City.

Central Pennsylvania elects Robert Gepert as provisional bishop

Monday, June 16, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvannia press release] To kick off the 144th Annual Diocesan Convention, clergy and elected lay delegates of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania elected the the Rt. Rev. Robert Gepert as their provisional bishop. Bishop Gepert will remain the provisional until a new bishop is elected in March 2015. The Rt. Rev. Nathan Baxter, retired from the Diocese of CPA May 31st, hands over the crozier to Bishop Gepert after his election as the provisional.

Share The Journey with Episcopal Migration Ministries

Monday, June 16, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] You can participate in an important effort to raise awareness of the refugee resettlement work done by The Episcopal Church through “Share the Journey” from Episcopal Migration Ministries.

The “Share the Journey” campaign will highlight the stories of refugees and their resettlement in the United States through traditional and social media.

“Launching on June 16, ‘Share The Journey’ is a year-long effort bringing widespread awareness of refugees and their journey to resettlement,” explained Deborah Stein, Director of Episcopal Migration Ministries. “Everyone can become a companion to refugees, learning about their new neighbors and joining in the journey of resettlement.”

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, at the beginning of 2013, there were 15.4 million refugees worldwide.  This number continues to rise with the recent refugee crises in Syria, South Sudan and the Congo.

Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) is an organization of The Episcopal Church that welcomes refugees to peaceful homes and hopeful futures in the US, partnering with faith groups, volunteers, community organizations, and many other local supporters to build a foundation for success for these new Americans.

“Even after arriving in the US, new challenges arise as refugees seek out new connections to rebuild their lives in safety and freedom,” explained Stein. “A strong network of caring neighbors and friends is the foundation of successful resettlement, and Episcopal Migration Ministries and our network of affiliates work to cultivate these supportive relationships in all 30 communities where we welcome refugees.”

Milestones of “Share the Journey” include

• The international observance of the annual World Refugee Day on June 20.

• EMM’s 25th anniversary, as well as the celebration of The Episcopal Church’s 75 years of resettling refugees

• Events at the 78th General Convention in 2015 for those interested and engaged in refugee resettlement.

How can you participate?
On Facebook or Twitter, post a photo of yourself holding a hand-written sign that says #ShareTheJourney with @EMMRefugees.  Share with Episcopal Migration Ministries on Facebook or tag Episcopal Migration Ministries on Twitter: @EMMRefugees.  Please include the hashtag #ShareTheJourney in your post.

Check out the websites Episcopal Migration Ministires or Share The Journey .

Learn more EMM’s history and how to participate in local refugee settlement here.

Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM)
Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) is the refugee resettlement ministry of The Episcopal Church, helping people uprooted by persecution and violence to find a safe haven and begin their lives anew in the US.

EMM welcomes refuges resettling in the US through a public-private partnership with the federal government, specifically the Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Department of Health and Human Services. Throughout its history, EMM has resettled refugees from across the globe.  In 2013, EMM resettled more than 4,700 refugees from over 75 countries.

EMM currently partners with 26 dioceses of The Episcopal Church to welcome refugees in 30 cities across the US.

Following World War I, The Episcopal Church established a Bureau of Immigration of the Episcopal Church Board of Missions to minister to new arrivals to America. During World War II, the Department of Social Services of the Diocese of Southern Ohio enlisted other parishes and dioceses to respond to the plight of refugees in Europe. The Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief was an outgrowth of this initiative.

In 1946, The Episcopal Church was a partner with 16 Protestant denominations in founding Church World Service (CWS), resettling refugees as part of the overseas relief and service arm of the National Council of Churches of Christ until 1981.  From 1981 to 1988, the refugee work of The Episcopal Church returned to and was carried out as a program of the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief. In 1988, a new entity – Episcopal Migration Ministries – was established as the Church’s ministry for carrying out resettlement work and providing advocacy and witness on behalf of refugees and immigrants.

 

Video: Presiding Bishop preaches at Navajoland Convocation

Monday, June 16, 2014

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.]

Navajoland Convocation
Ordination of two Dine leaders
14 June 2014
Good Shepherd Mission, Fort Defiance, AZ

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

In the beginning, God said, let there be, and it was created…light, sun, moon, waters above and waters below, animals, and human beings. God saw everything that had been created and indeed, it was very good. And God rested on the seventh day, and made it holy.

God created in enormous diversity – mountains and seas, plants, animals, fish, the sea monsters – and Leviathan, for the sport of it – and probably coyote for the same reason! God created the many peoples, nations, tribes, and families of this earth, who together are part of the blessing of creation. The psalmist proclaims, “All sheep and oxen, the wild beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fish and whatsoever walks in the paths of the sea” – these are the fruit of divine creativity.

The goodness of created diversity is a central teaching of the Bible, even if the bilagáana[1] have often misunderstood what God intended. Human beings often stop with their own clan and tribe in recognizing people’s created goodness, yet we understand that all human beings give us an image of God’s own self. Christians worship God as Trinity, three-in-one, diversity in community. It means that God is one yet also diverse, divine unity in the presence of diversity. Human communities are meant to reflect that kind of community as well.

The creation stories of the Diné also begin in diversity – colors and clouds and mountains and gender…[2] The stories that human beings tell about our origins all insist that we are meant to live in communities of right relationship. That is what it means to live a holy life, and to walk in beauty.

In the reading from Corinthians we heard, Paul sums up life in holy community as restoring order and living in peace – do this, he says, and you will find the holy one in your midst. The Diné call that ho’zho’, walking in beauty – the holy balance of right and fitting relationship, being at one with all of creation. That understanding has much in common with the Hebrew concept of shalom, or the Reign of God, or perhaps better – the commonweal of God. The dream of God from the beginning of creation is about right relationship with all that is.

That cosmic right relationship is what Jesus embodied and what he taught. It is what he sent his disciples out to teach others, to wash them with the grace of dying to self-centeredness so that each might rise into a new life, lived for the sake of the whole of God’s creation. When we love God and love our neighbors as ourselves, we are living in harmony with God and God’s creation – we are walking in beauty.

The feast of Trinity we mark this weekend is about divine ho’zho’, the unity of God and the relational reality of God’s own being. For human beings, ho’zho’ is becoming part of that divine and creative balance.

Throughout human history, communities have designated some of their members to encourage others to live in ways of peace, order, harmony, truth, and beauty. That’s what we are here today to do, to recognize and bless the particular gifts the Creator has given Cathlena and Leon, to call them into the center of this circle to bless them, and to challenge them to keep encouraging the flock in ho’zho’. The language Jesus uses is to teach and baptize and remember God’s presence in the midst of the flock. And re-member is used in the sense of putting the members back into relationship. These two are to be among us as shepherds – guides to the wandering, midwives to new life that is emerging, and guards in the face of coyotes and quicksand.

Yet these two will never act all alone. They depend on the support and balance of others in and beyond this flock. They can encourage and warn and teach, but only in partnership with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit planted in each one of us. Soon we will ask if you will offer that balance and support.

Think about a spider web. It is a remarkable example of balance and support, made to sustain life. In the Diné understanding, Spider Woman’s web saves life threatened by flooding, her web holds people above the waters of death.[3]   The ark Noah builds does something similar. Jesus uses the same kind of image when he tells his friends to throw out their webs into the sea and fish for people. Teach and baptize, he says. Teach people to let their fears and selfishness die in the water, and then fish them out for life in that web of relationships, in holy balance with Creator and creation. The work God asks of each one of us is about tending the web that unites us and it is about strengthening the connections of each individual to the whole, so that web may sustain the life of the earth and all that is in it. We are made, in all our diversity, to be interwoven in beauty.

The particular ministry of these two deacons will be to care for those who need to be reconnected to the web of life. They are charged to jiggle the web, wake up its inhabitants, and call out the alarm: there is life falling away, come and help! Stretch out your hand, offer your prayer, cast your net wide into the raging sea and whirling air – many are in danger!

These deacons will be life-giving fibers expanding the net, helping it to grow closer to embrace those in peril or broken on life’s rocks. If these two are to live and walk in beauty and extend ho’zho’in the world around us, their fiber must be centered in Christ, in good strong wool from the flock of the lamb of God.

Leon and Cathlena, we ask you to hang on to that web of life, to depend on it, and to find your life in deep and balanced connection to its maker. We want you to shake it up when its connections fray or start to break. We ask you to help us pursue those who wander away or lose their connections with that web. We pray that you will know your own connection to that web so deeply that you can remind the lost or forgetful that the Creator loves us more deeply than we can imagine. And we promise to bind our own fibers together with yours, that the web may grow in beauty, justice, and peace to rebalance the world.

Become weavers of beauty for others, and challenge us to keep expanding the holy web of life in ho’zho’.

[1] Navajo word for Caucasians

[2] A sampling of the central stories: http://navajopeople.org/navajo-legends.htm

[3] http://www2.mcdaniel.edu/art.students/navajo_blankets/spiderwoman.html

Urgent prayer, help needed for Iraq’s Christians

Monday, June 16, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] In the wake of the growing crisis in Iraq, a plea for prayer and help has been issued by the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf and the Anglican vicar of St George’s Church in Baghdad.

An estimated half a million people, including hundreds of Christian families, are fleeing the area with many attempting to find refuge in the nearby Kurdish provinces of Northern Iraq. At least one Assyrian church in Mosul has been burned down in the recent violence.

A statement from the diocese said that Christians are feeling particularly vulnerable, “especially in light of the treatment of Christians in the Raqqah province of northern Syria where ISIS* has also established its authority.

“Recall that, in February 2014, ISIS commanders in Raqqah forced Christian community leaders to sign a contract agreeing to a set of stringent conditions. These included the payment of a special tax (known as jizya), conduct of Christian rites only behind closed doors so as to be neither visible nor audible to Muslims, and adherence to Islamic commercial, dress code and dietary regulations.

“Mosul and the surrounding Nineveh plain is the traditional heartland of Iraq’s Christian communities. Many Christians fled to this region when forced to leave Baghdad and other areas in recent years. Christians are alarmed at the ISIS take-over of Mosul, fearful that this will further accelerate the decline of the Christian presence in Iraq.”

The statement said Christians in the country have asked for prayer for the following issues:

  • The Christians of Mosul will know the close presence of Jesus, the guidance of the Spirit and the protection of the Father
  • Those who have chosen to remain in the city would not be subjected to violent or unjust treatment
  • Humanitarian assistance would reach all who are in need, whether having been displaced or remaining in Mosul
  • Christians throughout Iraq will know the peace and presence of Jesus each day, and will remain faithful to him and clear in their testimony
  • The Iraqi authorities will act decisively to improve security for all citizens of Iraq.

Anglican vicar of St George’s Church in Baghdad, Canon Andrew White, also issued an appeal entitled “Please, please help us in this crisis”. Canon White who has lost hundreds of his congregation to the violence over the years, said Iraq was facing its worst crisis since 2003. 

“ISIS, a group that does not even see Al Qaida as extreme enough, has moved into Mosul, which is Nineveh. It has totally taken control, destroyed all government departments. Allowed all prisoners out of the prisons. Killed countless numbers of people. There are bodies over the streets. The army and police have fled, so many of the military resources have been captured. Tankers, armed vehicles and even helicopters are now in the hands of ISIS.”

Writing on the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, Canon Andrew said his work at St George’s–providing a spiritual home, medical care and humanitarian relief as well as promoting reconciliation amongst different religious groups–is inevitably suffering.

“The summer is by far our worst time of the year for support,” he writes. “Both our Foundation in the UK and US have seriously had to reduce our funding. We are in a desperate crisis. So many of our people had returned their homes in Nineveh for the summer now they are stuck in this total carnage unable to even escape. We desperately need help so that we can help the Christians of this broken land just get through this new crisis. Please can you help us, we are desperate.

The terrible fact is that ISIS are in the control now of Fallujah in the South and Mosul in the North they could now move down towards Baghdad between the two and cause a total crisis there. So to be honest I don’t know what to do, do I stay or go back? I have a huge amount of commitments here. If I go back, I cannot change the situation but I want to be with my people. Here we are with this huge crisis and need and we do not even have the resources to help those most in need.”

For more information on supporting Canon White’s ministry visit http://frrme.org/please-please-help-us-crisis/

*the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Group

Archbishop of Canterbury meets Pope Francis in Rome

Monday, June 16, 2014

[Lambeth Palace] In their second meeting within eighteen months Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby today recommitted themselves resolutely to the struggle against modern slavery and human trafficking.

Following their first meeting last year the two global leaders have continually spoken out to challenge this crime against humanity, and have acted decisively to support the foundation of the new faith based global freedom network. They both endorsed this network as a crucial force in the struggle to rid the world of a global evil.

Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin also spoke about areas in conflict and how churches around the globe are called by Christ, our reconciler, to act as peacemakers. They described their Christian passion for peacemaking in places torn apart by war, and pledged their ongoing commitment to act as agents of reconciliation and restorative justice.

The Pope and Archbishop also spoke of their appreciation of the recent work of the Anglican Roman  Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) following its meeting in South Africa. The burdens of division continue but the opportunities for new collaboration and much deeper understanding between the two world communions are compelling and timely.

Read the text of the Archbishop’s address to Pope Francis here:

http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5345/archbishop-justins-address-to-pope-francis

Read about the Archbishop’s gifts to the Pope here:

http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5346/archbishop-justins-gifts-for-pope-francis

Sean Lanigan receives Beatitudes Society Fellowship

Friday, June 13, 2014

[Beatitudes Society] The Beatitudes Society has announced that Sean Lanigan, Yale Divinity School ’09, has been awarded a $10,000 Beatitudes Fellowship.

He is one of eight emerging faith leaders from across the United States selected for the annual award.

“We are delighted that Sean is one of our game-changing new leaders,” said The Rev. Anne Howard, Executive Director of The Beatitudes Society. “We are working toward the day when we will see a thriving nationwide web of courageous, authentic, innovative faith leaders and their communities who are engaged in the public square on behalf of inclusion, compassion, and the common good, and Sean will be a vital part of that network.”

The Beatitudes Fellowship identifies and equips a select group of young entrepreneurial faith leaders with the resources and relationships that empower them to create new models for church and social justice, and grow vital communities of faith in a pluralistic world.

The yearlong curriculum for the Fellows is project-based: each Fellow develops their own model for progressive ministry within their local faith community. The Fellows gather four times throughout the year for a week of coaching and customized mentoring to bring their idea to fruition. The curriculum is designed to develop each individual Fellow’s capacity for authentic leadership, while also building a community of peers for long-term mutual support.

The Beatitudes Fellowship provides each Fellow:

·       A $10,000 award (not a project grant);

·       A yearlong series of four Fellows’ gatherings at Easton Hall, in Berkeley, CA;

·       Customized, project-focused mentoring and coaching;

  • Project evaluation: how to figure out what projects need, from the tangible (people, money, time) to the intangible (faith, hope, courage);
  • Teaching, preaching, story-telling and community-building workshops: how to deepen faith, build community, inspire justice and engage communities in transformative change;
  • Sustaining spiritual practices: contemplative spiritual prayer and the Center for Courage and Renewal’s practices and principles for “leading from within”;
  • Peer community with other entrepreneurial leaders: time to relax and connect.

To find out more, please visit: www.BeatitudesSociety.org

Colombia: Church stands with internally displaced people

Friday, June 13, 2014

Soacha is home to more than 45,000 internally displaced people. The Episcopal Diocese of Colombia has a church in Soacha that provides space and assistance to a women’s cooperative. Photo: Lynette Wilson /ENS

[Episcopal News Service  - Bogotá, Colombia] Two to three families seeking shelter arrive weekly at Divine Savior Episcopal Church in Barrio Los Libertadores, a low-income community on the outskirts of Colombia’s capital, Bogotá.

“Many people need to flee their homes and their land for fear of their lives,” said the Rev. José Antonio Romero, referring to the internally displaced people who seek shelter in his church. “They had farms, homes, businesses, but because of the war, they leave with nothing.”

Families arrive at the bus station in Los Libertadores, or The Liberators, from all over Colombia, a country almost double the size of Texas with a rugged geography of mountain, rainforest and tropical plains.

They find Divine Savior by word of mouth.

Divine Savior Mission in Barrio Los Libertadores, a low-income community on the outskirts of Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, runs a shelter for IDPs. Photo: Lynette Wilson /ENS

The parish began 20 years ago with a chapel, which is now the basement of a four-story building that has a kitchen, a shelter, a sanctuary and an apartment on the top floor, where Romero has lived for the past 16 years since coming to Divine Savior.

For the families that come to the city in search of safety and employment, the church provides temporary housing, food, medicine and clothing with financial support Romero says he raises through friends, while the families apply for government assistance.

The Rev. José Antonio Romero’s explains that two to three families arrive weekly seeking shelter at Divine Savior. Photo: Lynette Wilson /ENS

Even for those families the government determines have legitimate displacement claims – and which receive compensation sometimes in land, other times in housing – Colombia’s 4.7 million displaced people still struggle to find employment, security and often are targets of discrimination. More than half a million people have become refugees.

Since the mid-1960s government forces, left-wing guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries have been fighting a civil war rooted in inequality that has killed more than 200,000 Colombians.  The Colombian government and the largest guerilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, have been involved in peace talks in Havana, Cuba, since 2012. It is speculated that the country’s June 15 presidential runoff election will determine whether the peace talks – accords have been reached concerning three of five agenda items – continue.

Fighting and related violence associated with organized crime, drug trafficking, land distribution, and resource extraction in recent years has disproportionately affected rural areas where 44 percent of the population lives in poverty. The violence forces people living in rural areas to seek safety in cities.

Located on a high plateau in the Andes, Bogotá is surrounded by these informal communities populated by internally displaced people; places like San Cristobal, where Los Libertadores is located, Suba, Ciudad Bolivar, and Soacha, where Holy Spirit Mission provides space for Mesa de Organizations de Mujeres de Soacha, a women’s rights and empowerment cooperative, supported by the World Health Organization.

A working class, industrial area 40 minutes southwest of the capital, Soacha, population 490,000, is home to more than 45,000 displaced people.

“All the problems, drug trafficking, armed gangs, converge here,” said the Rev. Carlos Eduardo Guevara, the priest serving Holy Spirit Church.

Internally displaced people live in homes built on hillsides subject to landslides, like these in Soacha. Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, is surrounded but such informal communities. Photo: Lynette Wilson /ENS

In addition to the dangers of everyday life in Soacha, where mothers live in fear that their sons will be recruited by armed groups and criminal organizations, human rights workers and community organizers face other dangers.

Human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings committed by armed groups, the government and criminal organizations have been well documented in Colombia. Human rights workers, labor activists, community and religious leaders often are targets of violence.

To engage in human rights work is perceived to be working against the state, similar to the way armed groups are seen, explained Clemencia Lopez, the cooperative’s legal representative.

Lopez and her family – she has three children, two in their teens, and the third 9 years old – were displaced three times, twice because of the armed conflict and once because of criminal activity and violence happening around them. Once there were three grenades thrown in front of the restaurant she and her husband owned, she said.

“We were in the middle of the confrontation,” she said during an interview in her office on the second floor of Holy Spirit Mission in May of 2013.

Around the time of the incident in front of the restaurant, Lopez participated in a workshop on women and gender equality; in 2007 she became involved with the women’s cooperative, which has grown to include some eight organizations.

“[In the beginning] we didn’t even know how to use computers,” said Lopez, who finished high school in 2009 by taking accelerated night classes.

In mainstream society, women typically don’t receive the necessary support and leadership training to participate in politics. The women’s cooperative provides women with access to human rights workshops, leadership training, education and the skills, said Lopez.

Additionally, Colombia’s patriarchal society often excludes women.


Clemencia Lopez and Fabiola Murcia are members of Mesa de Organizations de Mujeres de Soacha, a women’s rights and empowerment cooperative, with offices at Holy Spirit Church. Photo: Lynette Wilson /ENS

In 2012, the Colombian government adopted public policy on gender equality and a comprehensive plan against violence. Still, a 2013 report by the United Nations Human Rights Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women found “the persistence of patriarchal attitudes and deep-rooted stereotypes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family and society.” Moreover, those attitudes and stereotypes are responsible for women’s disadvantaged position in political and public life, the labor market, the prevalence of violence against women and gender segregation, as related to educational opportunities for girls, the report said.

In addition to the discrimination displaced people experience – which is in addition to other forms of gender, race and economic discrimination – displacement puts a strain on families, with husbands and wives often blaming one another for their situation, said Lopez, adding that involvement in human rights work can also strain relationships.

“Women involved in human rights work put themselves at risk,” said Romero, who often accompanies the women in marches and demonstrations.

The women’s cooperative came to be located at Holy Spirit Church in 2010, after friends of Lopez introduced her to Diocese of Colombia Bishop Francisco Duque. Lopez has since become involved as a lay leader in the diocese.

One of the things the women have accomplished is a public policy platform for women, including the right to live a life free of violence, access to education and health care, economic opportunities, and the right to a vacation, something a life of displacement and social exclusion doesn’t afford them.

“They have dignified the role of women here in Soacha,” said Guevara, to a group of visitors in May 2013.

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