[Episcopal News Service] Luego de más de un año en el exilio, los miembros de la iglesia episcopal de Todos los Santos [All Saints’ Episcopal Church] en Bay Head, Nueva Jersey, estarán de regreso a su santuario para la Navidad.
Concretamente, los feligreses de la iglesia que el huracán Sandy inundó el 29 de octubre de 2012, estarán de nuevo en su hogar espiritual para el cuarto domingo de Adviento.
Las puertas de Todos los Santos se abrirán de nuevo el 21 de diciembre con un “Oficio de la Luz”. Al día siguiente, la parroquia celebrará su primera eucaristía dominical en la iglesia desde [el azote de] Sandy. William Stokes, obispo de la Diócesis de Nueva Jersey, volverá a consagrar el santuario y el jardín de recordación.
Serán dos días, “muy, pero muy emotivos”, predijo el Rdo. Neil Turton, rector de Todos los Santos.
“Pero, como les he estado advirtiendo en varios sermones que he predicado recientemente, no estamos volviendo de la manera que éramos cuando nos fuimos”, le dijo él a Episcopal News Service en una entrevista reciente. “Va a ser muy diferente. No hay que esperar ser lo que fuimos debido a que las circunstancias han cambiado y nos han configurado en estos últimos 15 meses”.
La iglesia de 124 años se encuentra a tres cuadras del océano y a sólo unos pies del Scow Ditch, una vía de agua que fluctúa con la marea. Sandy causó cerca de $4 millones en daños a la iglesia y la rectoría debido al agua que arrastró desde el Atlántico y la bahía de Barnegat. Y Todos los Santos aún se encuentra rodeada de casas devastadas a lo largo de una faja de la costa de Jersey donde, en otros tramos, los constructores trabajan para restaurar las comunidades que recibieron los azotes de Sandy.
“Es una renovación” dijo Mark Durham, que vive a pocos metros al sur de la iglesia, refiriendo al inminente regreso a Todos los Santos. Él y su familia han regresado a su casa desde enero, pero ha sido un año de soledad ya que pocos de sus vecinos han regresado.
Bay Head y la vecina población de Mantoloking al sur se asientan juntas en una estrecha franja de tierra entre la bahía de Barnegat y el océano Atlántico, y fueron dos de los pueblos de la zona más duramente azotados por Sandy. Se cree que un rompeolas de 130 años haya marcado la diferencia entre las casas que se inundaron en Bay Head y las que resultaron destrozadas en Mantoloking.
El ochenta y ocho por ciento de las casas que estaban frente al mar en Bay Head se inundaron, pero sólo una resultó destruida, decía un informe. En Mantoloking el océano rompió la barrera en tres lugares, destruyó 60 casas, dejó 137 inhabitables y afecto a otras 383, según información que puede hallarse aquí.
La magnitud de los estragos “ha dejado una profunda cicatriz y nosotros también resultaremos conformados por eso”, dijo Turton, añadiendo que también hay cicatrices psicológicas.
Hay “muchísima frustración y cólera, porque después de 15 meses muchísimas personas siguen sufriendo”, agregó. “Aunque ha pasado el tiempo, parece que se hubiera detenido en lo que respecta a las compañías de seguro y al gobierno” y en cuanto al modo en que las políticas y los procedimientos de las entidades han llegado a obstaculizar a veces la restauración de la costa.
Pero, afirmó Turton, “la comunidad de fe se ha mantenido increíblemente firme”.
Esa firmeza se da a pesar del hecho de que la congregación es más pequeña de lo que era antes del azote de Sandy. Algunas personas no han regresado aún a la costa de Nueva Jersey. Algunas aves migratorias nunca volvieron de la Florida esta pasada primavera. “Montones de personas se han ido”, dijo él, haciendo notar que se trata de una tendencia que está teniendo lugar, a lo largo de la costa de Nueva Jersey y en otros lugares, como secuela del Sandy.
Turton dijo que el promedio de asistencia dominical de la parroquia antes de Sandy era de 168 personas; desde Sandy, la cifra es “un poquito por debajo de 100”. La congregación de Todos los Santos ha pasado estos largos meses celebrando el culto a las 12:15 PM los domingos en la iglesia episcopal de Santa María del Mar [St. Mary’s by the Sea Episcopal Church] en Point Pleasant Beach, a unas dos millas al norte. Santa María también ofreció refugio en forma de comidas y otros suministros a centenares de víctimas a partir de la mañana siguiente al paso de Sandy.
“Nos ha dado un concepto muy práctico de lo que significa ser parte de la familia diocesana, de una manera que normalmente nunca habríamos entendido”, dijo Turton refiriéndose al tiempo que pasó la congregación en Santa María. “Es diferente de asistir a una reunión diocesana. En realidad, hemos vivido y respirado con estas personas, compartimos con ellas el culto, compartimos las comidas, compartimos historias”.
No es el hogar aún. Y el oficio de las 12:15 PM resultó difícil para algunas personas, especialmente jóvenes y familias atareadas. “Sin irrespeto para [la congregación de] Santa María”, dijo Turton. “Ellos han sido estupendos, pero hemos estado en el exilio. Hemos estado en una tierra extraña”.
Con frecuencia, cuando, a lo largo de estos meses, le han pedido que se presente a sí mismo, el rector responde: “Mi nombre es Neil Turton y soy de Todos los Santos en el Exilio”.
Y ahora ese exilio está a punto de terminar. Partes del área de oficinas, fundamentalmente la oficina de Turton, faltan por acabar, pero la iglesia misma estaba casi del todo restaurada cuando ENS la visitó el 10 de diciembre. El órgano reparado debía estar de vuelta en cualquier momento y el emplazamiento del púlpito esperaba la llegada del sistema de sonido. Los bancos todavía necesitaban el portalibros y los cojines.
Esos fueron algunos de los últimos renglones de lo que ha sido una larga lista de pendientes que comenzó inmediatamente después que las aguas del Sandy—que llegaron a la altura de la cintura o más arriba a juzgar por las marcas de escombros que dejó— se retiraron. No todos los daños resultaron obvios al principio, dijo John Tym, un constructor local había terminado un trabajo de cinco años de restauración de la iglesia días antes de que azotara Sandy.
Mientras Tym y un colega recorrían Bay Head después de la tormenta para chequear el estado de las propiedades de sus clientes, su primera reacción fue de alivio cuando vieron que la iglesia seguía en pie en la esquina de la avenida Lake y la calle Howe. Pocos días después entraron en la iglesia y percibieron una capa de residuos de seis pulgadas de espesor en el piso mientras caminaban por el pasillo. Luego notaron que las paredes del santuario se inclinaban hacia adentro mientras ellos andaban.
La causa era un hueco de ocho a diez pies de ancho lleno de agua debajo del piso. La crecida provocada por la tormenta arrastró casi ocho pies del suelo en torno a los pilares de ladrillo rojo de la iglesia. La parte interior del piso nunca había estado fija a esos pilares, por consiguiente, de no haber sido por los cimientos más modernos del Bristol Hall de un lado y del nártex de los años 50 del otro, a la iglesia se la hubiera llevado el agua, dijo Tym.
Y si un predicador necesitó alguna vez una ilustración para un sermón de bienvenida, helo aquí: la otra ancla que probablemente salvó la iglesia fue la pila bautismal en el nártex cuya base de concreto atraviesa el piso y se afinca en el suelo.
La página de la parroquia en Facebook tiene una galería de fotos que muestra el estado del edificio de la iglesia y de la rectoría inmediatamente después de Sandy, así como las labores iniciales de limpieza, aquí.
Con ayuda del Seguro de la Iglesia, cuya preocupación y labor Turton calificó de “brillantes”, una compañía de restauración de desastres vino a la iglesia unos días después de la tormenta para secar el interior del edificio, mientras comenzaban las reparaciones y elevaban en dos pies el nivel del muro de contención del Scow Ditch. Este último proyecto fue financiado con $50.000 del dinero del seguro y con la donación de acciones de un feligrés que añadiría otros $30.000, según contó Turton.
Luego, hubo que extraer decenas de miles de litros de agua del subsuelo de la iglesia. Tym supervisó la colocación de cerca de 100 pilotes helicoidales en el terreno debajo del edificio para reforzar los rudimentarios cimientos. La iglesia desde entonces ha estado sujeta a esos pilares y también se han instalado bombas de extracción de agua.
Al piso de la iglesia hubo que arrancarlo y reemplazar las vigas que lo sostenían. Hubo que reemplazar también todos las tuberías sanitarias y eléctricas. El área de oficinas y el interior del salón parroquial y su cocina debieron ser demolidos y rehechos.
A todo el exterior le habían renovado las revestimiento de tablillas en los últimos cinco años aproximadamente y Tym había decidido quitar los andamios que quedaban antes de la tormenta. Luego tuvo que optar entre echar abajo las paredes interiores para llegar al aislamiento térmico que se había humedecido o arrancar las tambaleantes tablillas de cedro. Tym tuvo que irse cuando empezaron a arrancar el revestimiento del edificio porque dijo que no podía presenciarlo.
Colin Walsh, cuya compañía, C.M. Walsh Pipe Organs, de Filadelfia, estaba restaurando el órgano dañado por el agua, le dijo a Tym que ellos podían ayudarlo con otros trabajos de carpintería. Cuando resultó claro que la mayoría de los bancos, todos los cuales eran los originales del edificio, no podían salvarse, Tym le pidió a Walsh que hiciera bancos nuevos. El único problema, dijo él, fue que el primer prototipo “se veía demasiado bonito” y Tym temía que los bancos llegaran a verse fuera de lugar en la nave restaurada. Walsh trabajó con Tym para obtener el tinte que los hiciera parecer suficientemente viejos, según el constructor.
La madera de los bancos originales se usó para el revestimiento del salón parroquial y del ala de oficinas. Y con otras maderas que se rescataron se fabricó un altar para el salón donde se celebran oficios más informales. Tym dijo que había añadido bombillos eléctricos LED (diodos emisores de luz) y otras mejoras para ahorrar energía.
“Hemos logrado una iglesia del siglo XXI en un contexto del siglo XIX”, sentenció Turton.
El seguro de la Iglesia cubrió todo menos $200.000 del trabajo de la iglesia, —según el rector y Tym— y la parroquia ha recaudado hasta ahora unos $70.000 de esa cifra. Al acuerdo con el seguro se llegó después de algunas negociaciones, pero Turton insistió que “no puedo elogiarles lo bastante” por la manera en que la compañía trabajó con ellos”.
Sandy también inundó la vecina rectoría hasta el punto de que fue menester demolerla. La construcción de una nueva rectoría comenzó a principios de este mes, un proyecto para el cual el Seguro de la Iglesia aportará los $500.000 que cuesta. Sin embargo, Turton y su esposa, Wendy, no vivirán en la nueva rectoría. La pareja se ha mudado cuatro veces desde que fueron desplazados por Sandy y no pueden enfrentarse a una quinta mudanza, explicó él.
Si bien “una o dos personas” cuestionaron la necesidad, en ese caso, de construir una rectoría, Turton dijo que la parroquia debe edificar para el futuro. “Nadie nombrado aquí [como el próximo rector] podría costearse una casa en Bay Head”, apuntó.
Entre tanto, suponiendo que la rectoría esté terminada para el próximo verano, la parroquia puede ponerla en el lucrativo mercado de alquiler del verano por “una suma espléndida”, predijo él.
Pero, por el momento, el verano está muy lejos y el invierno apenas comienza. El Oficio de la Luz del 21 de diciembre en que se celebre el esperado regreso a casa de la congregación de Todos los Santos comenzará exactamente unas seis horas después del solsticio de invierno. Mientras los feligreses y amigos se adentren en la noche más larga del año, sin duda se acordarán de esa otra larga noche: aquella cuando Sandy llegó a la costa.
—La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora y reportera Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.
I have long admired the movie-making ministry of St. Paul’s, Auckland in New Zealand. Each year I eagerly await their annual Christmas video. This year I got tired of waiting so I let my admiration finally prompt me into action, emulating their work in my own parish. Watching the fun these New Zealand children have acting out these sacred stories, I was convinced that I had an easy recipe for success. I only needed a film crew, an acting coach, special effect/props guy and someone to teach me how to make a movie.
“Ever the optimist, I enthusiastically started talking about this idea with folks in the parish. These conversations lead me to recruit from our parish a professional videographer and producer (Michael Fairchild), an equity-actress willing to serve as the acting coach (Regina Schneider), and I have become the props and special effects guy. After a couple of meetings, we devised a game plan to attempt an initial movie. We decided to let our inspiration from the New Zealand videos lead us. We would shoot kids acting out the scenes of the Nativity story, using costumes from the Christmas pageant, and adding narration after the fact.
With sports on the wane and our children’s choirs on break for summer, the perfect window to make the film emerged in June by assuming their Wednesday afternoon rehearsal time. It became a Vacation Bible School of sorts with a 21st century flavor. We allotted four 90-minute workshops — one to teach some rudimentary acting skills and learn the Christmas story and three to shoot the video and record the narration. The script for the narration was drafted with the children’s input based on the scenes that we had filmed. You can watch a behind-the-scenes making of the movie here, which may give you more insight to the creative process. The end product, the film Christmas in June, was a gift we were able to share with the whole parish at the start of stewardship season. We plan to share it again during the Christmas season and hope you will share this film with your parish community then, too.
The success of the program has prompted us to create a second film, Performing Parables, which seeks to answer the question, “Who is Jesus?,” by enacting some of the events of his life and parables from his ministry. With this second film, we have added special effects into the venture. With the help of our sexton, I constructed an underwater plank to create the illusion of Jesus walking on water. Building the plank was easy compared to the prospect of convincing the child playing Peter to fall into the chilly waters of the lake on an October morning.
Creating these films has been a lot of work, but it was well worth the time and the effort. We have given the kids an opportunity to engage the sacred stories in their terms, with their own words. These films allow God to be known to them and to us. That’s what the story of Christmas is all about, incarnation: God being made present in our human situation. As I watched the kids acting out the story of God’s incarnation, I felt God’s presence in a new way. As the kids embodied the story, laughing and horsing around, I felt God, too, was laughing in and through them. By acting out these stories from the Bible, the stories enter into the very bodies of the children. They know the stories in a new way.
If you would like to try a similar initiative at your parish, I am more than willing to consult, offer insight and brainstorm with you. Just shoot me an email (email@example.com) and we’ll explore the possibilities. To date, this filmmaking venture has been the most meaningful times of my ministry and probably the most fun too!
The Rev. Luke Fodor is the assistant rector of St. John’s Church in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, where he works with children, youth and young families. Having spent nearly 5 years working at Episcopal Relief & Development, Luke works to empower children and youth for God’s mission in this hurting world.
[Episcopal News Service] It wasn’t so much the donkey in Grace Church’s living Nativity scene that surprised Benjamin de Leon, as the llama.
“It was great fun, interesting because you’re outside in a little manger. There was a donkey there, and a llama, definitely some animals,” recalled de Leon, 41, who served as Joseph a few years ago in the San Marcos, California church’s outdoor living nativity.
Along with wife Lara, as Mary; daughters Abigail and Elena as angels and then-four-month-old Charlotte as the infant Jesus, the family enjoyed “a wonderful experience. It makes you think about what Christmas really means, instead of just presents and Santa Claus. It’s such an important thing to do because you’re playing the holy family.”
The San Diego area congregation has offered the living nativity “as a gift to the community” for the past four years, according to Grace communications director Teresa Osborne.
A parishioner who rescues animals provides sheep, a donkey, and even the llama. The scene is aglow with luminaries. There’s even a “Bethlehem star,” and a one-sided tent doubles as a stable and is the backdrop for the handmade wooden crèche and manger, Osborne said. And there’s always room for one more angel so everyone can get into the act, she said.
Church members sign up for half-hour shifts to create the tableau; this year, the event has grown from one to two nights and will include a pageant.
“It’s in a very visual spot so people driving by can see it,” Osborne said. “People tell us they get excited when they see it.”
Reverence of and fascination for nativity scenes and crèches (cribs) – living or otherwise – dates to the Middle Ages, when tradition says St. Francis of Assisi created the first one after visiting the Holy Land and Christ’s birthplace.
A global tradition, the representations of Jesus’ birth stories from the gospels of Luke and Matthew vary; so does their use.
Some churches’ crèche displays – like the Washington National Cathedral’s well-known exhibit – are seasonal. Others, however, and even some individual collectors, enjoy them year-round.
“I probably have close to 50 different nativities from all over the world: Germany, Italy, Austria, Africa, Mexico, the United States and Haiti,” said the Rev. Sally Monastiere, of Upland, California, who has collected crèches for more than 20 years. Some she displays year-round; others only seasonally.
“The figures in the African one are in native dress,” she said. “One from France has the figure of Joseph in a seated position and Mary is reclining. One of the most unusual has Joseph holding the baby. Another I got because it had chickens. I’ve even created a nativity in cross-stitch and own one knit in the manner of the duduza dolls of Haiti.”
In Upland, California, ‘Mary is everybody’s mother’
Lisa Drew, who created Monastiere’s duduza-style nativity, also knitted a two-foot, cuddly, hands-on crèche for St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and School in Upland so kids – big and little – could touch and feel and handle and “get to use the figures and tell the stories with them.”
“My seventh grade math class had a lot of questions about it, so we took a crèche tour,” said Drew, a math teacher, counselor and parishioner at St. Mark’s. “Here were 12- and 13-year-olds doing what I had envisioned four and five-year-olds doing. They were picking up the animals and moving them around, rearranging them, hugging the lamb and the sheep. It was fun.”
Drew was inspired after attending a knitting afternoon hosted by For a Reason, a nonprofit agency which raises funds for educational opportunities, including in Haiti where St. Mark’s has partnered with St. Andre’s School in Trianon for more than a dozen years.
It reawakened her interest in knitting and she decided to model a nativity after the Haitian duduza dolls.
“I had to make stands and wire skeletons for the critters – there was no pattern, so I was just knitting what I thought would be an animal shape.”
Using PVC pipe and copper wire for skeletons, yarn and polyester stuffing for bodies and green floral styrofoam for stands, she created a family of three sheep – a ram, ewe and lamb – a goat, and a donkey in addition to Mary, Joseph, an angel, a wise man and “a baby which detaches so we can tell the story leading up to the birth of the baby without the baby there,” said Drew.
“Mary’s veil and Gabriel’s wings are seed-stitched, which is rather laborious, but gives them a veil-like texture which is fun to make,” she added.
Ultimately, the effort is about teaching children how to tell the story. “It was very much about the children who would get to use these figures and the stories that they could tell with them,” Drew said. “The idea was to try to envision the crèche in a new way, to try to envision it in a way that included our Haitian partners and that the nativity is available to all people of all colors in all places.”
She used yarn to emulate the skin tone of the Haitian dolls “because Mary is everybody’s mother, everybody’s daughter. She’s the woman we all wish we could be that could say yes to God like that and Joseph is that obedient man, who also said yes to God.”
Atlanta: A natural connection to the holy family
It isn’t easy to describe the carved, wooden, mid-19th century, 4×5-foot Italian relief displayed year-round in the narthex of Holy Innocents Church and School in Atlanta, according to the Rev. Michael Radford Sullivan, rector.
“How do you describe something that’s holy?” he asked during a recent telephone interview with ENS.
The slab’s delicate carving renders clothing and other details almost sketch-like; the figures seem to emerge from the wood, he said. “What you really notice are the faces and the beauty of the people. It has a remarkable, incarnate quality.”
And he added: “Since we are Church of the Holy Innocents, we have a natural connection all year to the holy family and so this is actually in the narthex and so it’s there all the time. It’s an absolutely beautiful carved piece.”
But like most churches, another crèche – about a foot high and made of olive wood – is seasonally placed near the altar. “Its pieces usually start appearing in the narthex over the four Sundays of Advent – first a cow, then a sheep and shepherds,” Sullivan said. “Mary shows up on the third Sunday of Advent and on Christmas Eve Jesus is placed in the manger.”
One of the cool things is that “the crèches, both on the wall and the one that will be at the altar, are experienced by school children year-round as well,” he added.
“There’s something about living with the image of Jesus throughout the year as a child that counterbalances our tendency to make Jesus only divine,” he added. “For me to see Jesus as a baby reminds me of humanity; it reminds me of vulnerability, of what it is like to be dependent upon mother and father and so I would say that for our parishioners having those images of Jesus throughout the year is a very powerful thing for us.”
Nativity as hospitality in Newport, Rhode Island
A 17th century Italian plaster nativity, donated as a memorial in 1914 to the Zabriskie Memorial Church of St. John the Evangelist in Newport, Rhode Island, is becoming a focal point of hospitality for the English Gothic-style parish, according the Rev. Nathan J.A. Humphrey, vicar.
The crèche, donated in memory of a young girl who died while traveling in Italy, “includes 17th century figures and animals collected from all over Europe.”
The crèche is protected by an ornately carved, seven-foot wooden case depicting the Virgin and child with angels on either side on the exterior. Traditionally, it was only opened on Christmas Eve and then closed on Epiphany, he said.
“We take the front off it and lower the glass and traditionally a young member of the congregation is chosen to carry the Christ child in and place the Christ child in the manger,” Humphrey said.
He added, chuckling, there’s a story told that some years ago, a young boy who was chosen to carry the Christ child was asked what he’d done with the infant. “He replied, ‘the baby Jesus got cold so I put him in my pocket to warm him up’.”
The church is open daily for visitors and this year church leadership decided to leave the crèche open as well as a gesture of hospitality for visitors to the town, a vacation destination, Humphrey told ENS.
“I’ve seen families with children come in and gaze at it,” Humphrey said. “It’s not unusual, either, for a child in church who is getting a little restless to wander over with a parent or friend and spend a few minutes gazing at the crèche.
“It has a really engaging presence for children and for adults as well but we particularly love it for the connection it has for children.”
The figures tell the story in St. Louis Park, Minnesota
By her own admission, Mary Kulfeld’s fascination with the nativity borders on near obsession.
A collector for some 20 years, she has donated her crèche – along with about 245 Fontanini resin figures – to her church, St. George’s in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.
The five-inch resin figures “are incredibly detailed. They look like wood carvings,” said Kulfeld in a recent telephone interview with ENS.
First, she purchased the holy family – Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and an angel. A year later, she added shepherds, and sheep; the third year, the three kings. As time passed, she got creative, adding green grocers, a blacksmith, a carpenter, a bakery shop, an inn and innkeeper.
Now there are street musicians and palm trees, a winery. As the figures and buildings accumulated, so did the stories accompanying them.
“There’s a musician who plays the bagpipes, for example. He’s holding the bagpipes in his hand. A very attractive woman is coming to well with yoke and buckets, so I set it up so he’s staring at her,” Kulfeld says.
A sleeping shepherd has been placed on a rooftop “and I put a jug of wine beside him, so he’s passed out.”
Regarding a little boy and girl picking olives, “she has her hand out. I have a painted mule and her hand fits perfectly on his nose, so it looks like she’s petting him on the nose. Then there is a girl who is selling herbs and perfumed flowers and it looks as if she’s blind. She’s staring upward with a look on her face like she can’t see. This year, I bought a girl holding a tray so we sat her beside the blind girl, so they’re friends.”
About two dozen angel ornaments, playing harps, lutes and trumpets are suspended above the nativity with fishing line.
“I’m going to go over to the church this week and put Mary and Joseph in the stable,” said Kulfeld, 70. “On Christmas Eve we put the baby in the manger; and have the three kings just coming into Bethlehem on a separate table and the other figures are turned, gaping at them as they’re coming in.”
The whole elaborate display is disassembled on Epiphany but not before Kulfeld uses it to teach children the Christmas story, she said.
“I gave a presentation this past Sunday to the children’s chapel. They all gathered around and they asked me to tell them the story of St. Francis. He’s the first one who had a crèche and started the tradition, using residents of his town to act out the roles. It took off from there.”
The kids love looking at the crèche and Kulfeld loves explaining it. Like the angels, “I explained that I needed a multitude of the heavenly host and so I got two dozen. I think 24 is pretty much a multitude.”
For Kulfeld, traditions surrounding the display may not be one hundred percent historically accurate, but “it’s such a beloved part of Christmas that I’m glad we observe it and have this beautiful representation of it.”
Even her pets love it. Previously, when displaying the nativity at home, “I had this one cat that used to steal the baby Jesus,” she said. “I don’t know why, but he wouldn’t touch any of the other pieces, only Jesus. I’d have to go looking and find Jesus wherever he’d dropped him in the house.”
Initially, the figures cost about $6 each; now the price ranges between $15-$20 and, just when she is convinced she’s bought enough, she discovers another one.
“I just got a winery. It’s such a pretty little building with grapevines,” she said. “They’re all made of resin, there’s amazing detail. They are painted to look like wood that has been painted and the paint is wearing off. I just love to tell the story. I just like to rave about it.”
–The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. She is based in Los Angeles.
[Episcopal Relief and Development] Around Tacloban, in the central Philippines, there is a wide swath of destruction where homes once lined the coast. On November 8, Super Typhoon Haiyan shattered lives and livelihoods, leaving piles of debris everywhere. Large international first-response agencies have been on the ground, doing what they do best – setting up central distribution points for food and water, clearing roads, collecting information and liaising with the local government.
But what about remote communities, families who can’t get to the relief centers or people with special needs that might not be met by the larger response efforts? What will happen after the first response agencies move on to the next disaster? Here is where the Episcopal Church of the Philippines (ECP) is strongest – reaching out in typhoon-impacted communities to find where needs remain unmet, and promising to stay through the long-term, helping vulnerable people to make a full and sustained recovery.
Episcopal Relief & Development Program Officer Sara Delaney traveled to the Philippines in December to visit ECP programs and work with staff on their three-year long-term recovery plan. Her first stop was the northern part of the country, where the ECP has been promoting sustainable agricultural practices and fostering food production as an income generating project. Following the typhoon, the farmers organized themselves to increase production of sweet potato biscuits and vegetable noodles for the Church’s food relief packs, in order to provide a fresher, healthier and more easily transportable alternative to canned food rations.
Delaney then traveled south with her ECP colleagues to Tacloban, the center of the Church’s relief efforts and one of the hardest-hit areas. The group visited the nearby community of Sawa, where they had a chance to talk with area residents who were working on clearing debris and salvaging belongings and building materials.
“While we were talking, I slowly realized how long it would take for these families to rebuild their lives,” Delaney said. “Not only had their homes and community buildings been destroyed, but they had lost their last rice crop, were unable to plant the next crop because of the salt water contamination, and their main cash source, the coconut trees, had been ruined and wouldn’t bear fruit again for five years. They told us all of this remarkably calmly, but I could see they had a huge challenge in front of them.”
Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, hit the central Philippines with winds that peaked at 195 miles per hour, making it one of the most powerful storms ever to make landfall. Early warning systems saved many lives by prompting evacuations before the storm surged ashore, though more than 14 million people were affected and nearly 4 million displaced.
“I was comforted at least by knowing that ECP is committed to working with communities through the entire rebuilding process, and that they have the experience and skills to guide families back, and hopefully also to make them even stronger,” Delaney said.
No strangers to storm response – Haiyan was the sixth typhoon to hit the Philippines in the 2013 season – the Church in recent years has emphasized the importance of building up local capacity to recover after disasters. After Typhoon Ondoy in 2009, Episcopal Relief & Development and the Japanese Church, Nippon Sei Ko Kai, helped the ECP establish a rotating loan fund to support rebuilding efforts in the municipalities of Cabiao and Licab. Once the loan amounts were repaid, other impacted communities could apply for assistance, with interest helping the fund to grow.
With the frequent addition of more groups, the Church’s development and disaster recovery programs have built a strong network of care and support. In the case of Typhoon Haiyan, this has enabled communities across the country to connect to the ECP’s relief efforts. For example, members of a women’s group in Tubo, northwestern Luzon, hiked for 90 minutes along a road impassible by vehicle to deliver their donation of 1,700 pieces of handmade soap for hygiene kits. And the Anunciation Cooperative in Licab resolved to speed up their repayment period on a 115,000 peso ($2,600) ECP reconstruction loan so communities impacted by Haiyan would have access to funds for their own rebuilding.
In a recent report, Provincial Secretary and National Development Officer Floyd Lalwet noted this generous response of individuals and groups from all over the country, and highlighted the ECP’s aim to structure its relief and recovery program around a framework of sustainable development. According to Lalwet, the long-term work of the ECP in response to Haiyan will focus on accompanying specifically identified communities that do not have other partners, and strengthening adversely affected social enterprises in the impacted areas.
In the meantime, the ECP will continue to work with local organizers and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines to distribute supplies and identify ways to leverage expertise to meet needs. One recent example of this is the solar lighting systems that the ECP has installed at evacuation and distribution centers in areas without power. The ECP has been promoting solar power because it is environmentally friendly, but now with gas for generators in short supply, it has become an ideal solution. The lighting systems help reduce fear and anxiety for people who have been displaced from their homes, and they increase security for women and children who may be vulnerable in their shelters or traveling after nightfall. Once the electricity comes back on in the places where the lights are currently installed, they can be moved to other locations until the power grid is repaired throughout the impacted area.
Moving forward, Episcopal Relief & Development Program Officer Sara Delaney looks forward to working with her ECP counterparts to build on the long-term plans they began developing during her visit. Although it is going to be a large task, Delaney sees great reason for hope.
“It’s hard to really prepare to enter this kind of landscape – the scale of it is overwhelming – but our ECP colleagues have shown incredible steadfastness and compassion as they work with people and listen to their stories,” Delaney said. “It’s amazing to be with them.
For detailed information on Typhoon Haiyan response, please visit Episcopal Relief & Development’s website: www.episcopalrelief.org/haiyan.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Executive Council Subcommittee on the Location of the Episcopal Church Center has issued a survey and is inviting Episcopalians to offer their input.
The survey is available here.
As stated in the survey: In 2012, the General Convention expressed its desire that the Episcopal Church Center be moved out of its currently building located at 815 Second Ave in New York City. In response to this call, the Executive Council has charged a subcommittee to explore and report back options for the relocation of the Episcopal Church’s staff. This survey will gather broad input from the Church in choosing a future that best serves the mission and ministry of our Church.
The survey consists of 11 questions, and is a combination of multiple choice and narrative.
The deadline for participation in the survey is January 19, 2014.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Bishop Stacy Sauls, Chief Operating Officer of The Episcopal Church, has announced the appointment of the Rev. Michael Angell as Missioner for Young Adults and Campus Ministry on the staff of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS).
In this position, Angell will coordinate the Episcopal Church outreach to young adults throughout the church in campus settings and beyond.
Most recently Angell was the Assistant Rector at St. John’s Church, Lafayette Square, Washington DC (Diocese of Washington). While there he launched an evangelism effort, Theology on Tap, to engage with un-churched and de-churched young adults. He also led the largest young adult ministry in the diocese, serving over 300 people in their 20s and 30s.
Before that he was the Campus Missioner to the University of California San Diego.
The recipient of numerous awards, he is a graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, VA and the University of San Diego in San Diego, CA.
Bishop Sauls noted that the appointment of Angell follows an extensive search process that garnered over 100 resumes and interview process by a committee and senior staff at DFMS.
Angell will begin work with the DFMS on Monday, January 13. His office will be based in St. Louis, MO. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org as of December 23.
[Episcopal News Service] It all started with a song.
Twenty-three years ago, Kate Munger filled in as a bedside volunteer for a friend dying of AIDS. “All morning I did chores, and in the afternoon I was supposed to sit by his bedside. And he was comatose and agitated, and I was terrified,” she recalled. “I had no idea what to do, so I started singing. I’ve been leading community singing for many years, and there was a song in that period that comforted me, that gave me courage when I was afraid. I sang it for two-and a-half hours.”
By the end of that time, he had calmed, “and I got calmer as well,” she said. “I realized that I had given him the best gift that I personally could give him and that I had given him something essential, something very deep from my soul to his soul.”
Ten years later, in Berkeley, Calif., she started the first of what now are 108 “threshold choirs,” who sing a capella by invitation for people on life’s thresholds. The Threshold Choir network of primarily women’s choirs stretches across the country and as far as Australia and Cambodia, although most groups are in the continental United States and Canada. Members generally visit homes, hospitals, hospices and other locations in groups of two to four, singing softly in what Munger calls “lullaby voice.”
Although Threshold Choir is not a religious organization, members will sing a hymn if asked. Some choirs rehearse at Episcopal churches or have Episcopal members, and at least one choir in Illinois operates as a ministry in an Episcopal parish.
“This is prayer and not performance,” said Munger, the organization’s creative director. “I think people that are not religious have access to prayer just like people who are religious.” A threshold choir can provide support for those who don’t necessarily have a church to meet their beliefs and needs, she noted.
The definition of “threshold” is somewhat flexible. “We focus on end of life, and some choirs sing for people who are ill and in treatment and struggling,” said Munger, the organization’s creative director. “Our official wording is that we sing for people who are struggling, some with living, some with dying.”
In Oregon, the Portland Threshold Choir rehearses at St. David of Wales Episcopal Church and sings for certain communal events as well as for individuals. On Dec. 20 at 6, the group will provide musical accompaniment for a Longest Night Service at the church.
While the holidays are portrayed as “a time of sweetness, joy, happiness, light,” this service acknowledges “that there are a lot of people for whom the holiday season has got the other side of that spectrum, too: grief, depression, despair, sadness, anger,” said Kri Schlafer, the choir’s director. The group sings while worshipers have a chance to light a candle and leave a photo or other reminder of someone who died or needs healing. The singers leave space within the music “where people can speak their name into the silence,” she said.
“Some people call it a Blue Mass,” said Rector Sara Fischer, adding that the singers “do an absolutely beautiful job helping us to create a really meaningful service every year.”
The group also sings at local labyrinth walks and at Portland’s 24-hour Chants for Peace, where groups connected with a variety of traditions each sing for an hour in a kind of musical relay to raise awareness of peace and peace-building.
And the choir sings for individuals or families, with groups of one to three people visiting homes, adult foster cares or hospitals, finding out how to be most supportive and singing the songs that would be meaningful to them.
“The intention is really to be companions on the journey, whatever journey they’re on,” Schlafer said. “We keep things fairly open in Portland in terms of wanting to honor a variety of thresholds.” Their first call was for a family with a new baby. They’ve also sung for a wedding – “pretty much any significant threshold crossing where that kind of presence is called for,” she said.
“We’re not a performance choir; we’re a presence choir,” said Schlafer. And, although the singers rehearse at a church, they are not connected to any particular religion, she said. She herself was raised Episcopalian and now follows the Zen Buddhist mindfulness practice of Thich Nhat Hanh.
The choir will sing secular songs or songs from a religious tradition, if that is what will be most meaningful to the listener, she said. “We want to meet them where they are.”
The choirs work from a songbook, with many of the songs sung as rounds or with harmony, said Georgia Duncan, who sings with the Flagstaff Threshold Choir in Flagstaff, Arizona. The choir rehearses at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, where she is a member.
“They’re mostly ones that have been composed for this situation. They’re very simple, spiritual, quiet songs,” she said. On one occasion, the church’s deacon called to say a woman at the hospice where she is chaplain wanted them to come and sing “Whispering Hope.”
“It’s not like a performance,” she said. “It’s singing very quietly.”
Afterwards, the individuals they sing for seem more relaxed, she said. “Sometimes we’ll sing in the living room area [of a medical institution]. People have remarked that it just seems to lend a note of peace to the whole facility.”
The work affects the singers as well. “I feel quieted and uplifted” after singing, Duncan said.
For her, the threshold choir is a ministry. “Ministries take all forms,” she said. “I try to be aware of all sorts of situations where one can be a minister without thinking of it in the traditional sense.”
In Burr Ridge, Illinois, the St. Helena’s Threshold Singers are not all church members, but the choir is among the ministries of St. Helena’s Episcopal Church, said Daryce Hoff Nolan, choir musical director and co-founder, who is a pastoral associate and diaconal aspirant at the church.
“When we rehearse, we start with a prayer intention, which is a little unusual,” she said. “We also have prayer before we go in to sing for someone to settle ourselves. It’s a little bit nerve-wracking, at least at the beginning. You want to be your best.”
Many of the members are or have been choral singers, she said. “You’re programmed to be perfect. This does not have to be perfect. We practice in order for it to be as good as it can be for the listener. … The intention is really what drives all of us together, to support and bring healing and comfort.”
They sing the music compiled by Threshold Choir, much of it written by choir members, some from folk sources, she said. “For anyone in Christian circles, particularly that’s been involved in meditation … I would liken it to Taize music. It tends to be simple and repetitive, [of a] gentle, lullaby nature.”
While they sing to people at the end of life, “it can also be people who are struggling emotionally and need support,” she said. As a music teacher by profession who has worked as a health-care chaplain in a hospital and hospice, “this for me is just the perfect blend … to be able to combine my two great loves.”
She recalled singing at the bedside of a parishioner in hospice and later being asked to sing at her memorial service. “The response that people give when they’re being sung to is just profound. This lady’s response was, she sat up in her bed and just smiled and looked at each one of us in the eye.”
On another occasion, choir members were doing a workshop for staff in a memory-care unit. As they were leaving, one dementia patient became very agitated, and the staff asked them to sing to her.
“At the beginning, she got a little more agitated, but there was a very interesting moment when she took a deep breath and just her whole countenance quieted,” Nolan said. “Actually her breath began to match our song, the breath in the song. It was incredible. And it was really the first some of my choir members had actually had an experience with a patient, so it just made them so acutely aware of what our work was going to do, and it also made them excited to do it.”
Early on, the group also sang to St. Helena’s member Chris DiBartelo, a close friend of Nolan’s with chronic back pain.
“At first, I kind of felt a little, I don’t know, awkward, because most of these people I knew,” she recounted. “Once the opened their mouths to sing, it was just unbelievably beautiful. It just took me to another place, mentally and emotionally. … It was extremely soothing.”
Using a slightly different approach, the Threshold Choir of New York City focuses its efforts on specific hospitals rather than visiting homes. “We don’t have cars. We’re in Manhattan, and it really is difficult to move around,” explained Sue Ribaudo, founder and director. “We decided to go where the people were, and that’s how we decided to be hospital-based.”
They began with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “It’s a little different there, because it’s not hospice,” she said. “The patients that we’re singing to are just there temporarily in the hospital.”
They subsequently added singing on the hospice floors of two other hospitals. They try to visit each hospital once a week, with different song leaders directing groups of three or four people. They’ll visit a hospital floor and sing for different patients, if they wish. Most welcome the experience, she said. “They’re usually surprised. They’re used to getting flowers, not songs.”
The cancer patients often applaud, “which we don’t ask for,” Ribaudo said. “We’re not performance-oriented really so much as offering, I’d say, almost a prayer.
“Music is spiritual. It speaks to that part of us,” she said. “Many of the songs I think of as being very spiritual, that they speak to something beyond us. And also, we do have in our repertoire … some religious songs in case people request them or if we sense that something like that would be appropriate. No one’s against religion. We just want to be open, especially in New York City. It’s so multicultural, we want to be open to the fact that not everybody’s a Christian.”
– Sharon Sheridan is an ENS correspondent.
[Diocese of Western Massachusetts] Recognizing the environmental destruction due to climate change and honoring the Christian belief that all of Creation belongs to God, the Right Rev. Douglas J. Fisher, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, has named The Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas as Missioner for Creation Care.
Formerly, Priest Associate at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst, MA, the Rev. Bullitt-Jonas brings to this new, part-time position her 20 years of environmental activism as an Episcopal priest. Last fall, an anonymous donor gave a generous gift to the diocese to educate God’s people about climate change and to inspire us to care for God’s Creation. The donation enabled the diocese to create this new leadership position toward a renewed understanding of Creation Spirituality and how we might act for the Lord’s Earth.
“Margaret will represent the diocese at environmental conferences and other gatherings so the Church will have a seat at the table for one of the most crucial issues of our time,” said Bishop Fisher upon her appointment. “She will help us to develop a strategy for action for the Lord’s Creation and to help us to execute that plan. We are deeply grateful for the generous donor who heard this prayer and for Margaret’s willingness to engage us in this deeply religious mission.”
In addition to participating at environmental conferences, she will report on climate action opportunities and build ecumenical, interfaith and secular partnerships. The Rev. Bullitt-Jonas will assume her new position at Diocesan House in Springfield, MA on January 2, 2014.
“I am grateful to Bishop Doug Fisher for offering me this opportunity to express my faith in a God who loves and redeems all Creation,” said the Rev. Bullitt-Jonas. “I hope to inspire and support the Diocese of Western Massachusetts as we seek to honor the sacredness of Creation and to make a robust, faithful and coordinated response to climate change. I am very interested in the ways that religious faith can move us beyond fear, hopelessness or despair as we face the reality of climate change. I also believe that religious communities and leaders have an important role to play in shaping this country’s growing climate movement.”
The Rev. Bullitt-Jonas received a B.A. in 1974 from Stanford University, a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature in 1984 from Harvard University, and a Masters of Divinity in 1988 from Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA.
[Episcopal News Service] ‘Tis the season to be joyful at New Hope Oklahoma’s Dec. 21 Christmas party, hosted for hundreds of children with incarcerated parents, held at Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa.
Michelle Young started attending the agency’s afterschool programs — and also its Christmas parties — in seventh grade, when someone told her about New Hope Oklahoma. The agency was begun by the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma about 20 years ago to assist children who have at least one parent in prison.
“A lot of people told me I would turn out just like my dad, going in and out of jail all the time. But, with New Hope, they tell you, they show you, a different path. You can stay in school and get your education,” said Young, 19, a freshman at Oklahoma State University, who volunteers at events like the upcoming Christmas party.
“It’s great fun. There are different activities. You can create your own reindeer, your own treats. There are toys and presents and food. It gets pretty hectic but it’s a lot of fun. The kids love it.”
Executive Director Lindsay Fry-Geier said New Hope strives to be more than “just an agency. We see our kids every day of the week. We want to be that consistency in their lives when so much in their lives is inconsistent.”
Oklahoma has the highest women’s and third highest men’s incarceration rate in the nation; New Hope Oklahoma was established out of concern for the children left behind, Fry-Geier said.
The agency was featured recently on NBC’s Today Show, which teamed up with Walmart to provide Christmas gifts for hundreds of children, an opportunity Fry-Geier hopes “will give voice to … these kids who’ve been forgotten by so many, especially around the holidays when they’re already missing their parents.”
New Hope isn’t alone; congregations and ministries throughout the Episcopal Church partner with agencies like Angel Tree, and other organizations to provide gifts to families and prisoners. Angel Tree estimates that 2.75 million children have a parent in prison and hopes to offer 425,000 gifts this year.
‘Cellblock by cellblock’ – reaching out to prisoners
For Beverly Duncan of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Acton, Massachusetts, packing Christmas gift bags for prisoners in local correctional facilities can be quite a production.
“Imagine 1,700 bars of Irish Spring soap and the space they take up,” she chuckled during a recent telephone interview with ENS. “Sometimes I think I never want to smell another bar of Irish Spring in my lifetime.”
In addition to the soap, the gift bags include other personal items, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, socks, stationery, envelopes and a Christmas card “signed by somebody with a note. Many of the cards are made by children in local Sunday schools,” she said.
It all started when Good Shepherd teamed up with Concord Prison Outreach, a coalition of local faith communities that, Duncan said, “wants to help today’s inmates become tomorrow’s good neighbors.”
Fundraising and shopping goes on all year for the gift bags and the Department of Corrections issues guidelines for acceptable items, she said. “We are obsessive in detail about these things and keep plying the powers that be at the prison, with questions like, how large or how small does this toothpaste have to be?” she said.
More enriching is the opportunity to distribute the bags to the inmates themselves.
“We go into the Massachusetts Correctional Institution, and the inmates come down by cell block,” said Duncan, 79. “They are checked in and out of the gym and we hand … [the gift bags] to each inmate, and shake his hand. He has to run the gamut of six or seven volunteers. We want to shake every hand.”
Reactions are varied: “Some won’t look us in the eye; some dance down the line. One man said this was the first Christmas present he’d ever received in his life.”
But she added that, they are “enormously appreciative. They just keep coming, cellblock by cellblock. It’s appalling. It’s one prison in one state and we have so much energy and talent locked away,” Duncan said.
“Some of it quite necessarily, but not to the extent that it is and the talent in those buildings is incredible and the lack of education is also incredible.”
She receives as many as 60 thank you letters each year from prisoners. “One man noted that when he got back to his cell, unpacking their bags led he and his cellie [cellmate] to talk about the real meaning of Christmas.
“Some of the letters are almost illiterate. They all say thank you for the items, but mostly for being remembered, that they are not forgotten people just because they are in prison.”
Jermain Billinger has been on the receiving end of such gift bags.
At 33, he has spent nearly half his life in places like Attica, Sing Sing and other New York state prisons.
“I’ve been in trouble since I was about 13 years old, that was the first time I was arrested,” the soft-spoken father of two said during a recent telephone interview with ENS. “I was arrested 15 times from age 13 to 15,” added Billinger, who just met his three-year-old son a few months ago, after he was released from prison.
If being incarcerated is difficult enough, being in prison during the holidays is worse. His mother died when he was in prison; his girlfriend “was shot in the chest and, you’re not there. You feel so helpless, so weak. I didn’t really realize how depressing it can be around these holiday times till after my mother passed.
“When I was younger, it was very hard,” he said. “You know, I was away from my loved ones and it was painful. I became numb. I numbed that feeling in some sense and sort of like locked it away.
“You’re depressed in there,” he added. “You’re so depressed you don’t even know you’re depressed. Either you’ve been found guilty or taken a plea, there’s all this anxiety, you’re trying to deal with acceptance of what you have going on now and while you’re trying to process that, the anxiety never leaves, or the emptiness, loneliness, for your loved ones.”
Newly released, he is working and eager to begin anew, and to make a difference.
“I realized that enough is enough,” he said. “The hardship that I caused my family … I see the way it affected my loved ones. I don’t want to do that anymore.”
Now, he is focused on changing his life, helping others, especially those he left behind.
Along with the Rev. Petero Sabune and the Episcopal Church of Saints John, Paul and Clement in Mount Vernon, he got involved with Toys for Joys, a nonprofit agency that helps provide holiday gifts to underprivileged children.
“First, we find out what the kids want, like a secret Santa thing,” Billinger said. “Then we get the gifts, and we address them to the children as if they came from their fathers.”
He looks back with regret, but ahead with anticipation, savoring what he calls the true gifts and meaning of the season: peace, gratefulness, joy, freedom, hope.
Now, he accepts collect calls from prisoners and offers them support, adding, “I want to give back as much as I can and reach out to those who are less fortunate.”
And his Christmas hopes? “Don’t forget your brother that’s incarcerated,” he said. “There are some innocent men there and some people who made mistakes when they were children; now they are grown men and still suffering. Everybody isn’t all bad; people do change. I would like the world to give a second chance to someone that’s at least attempting to change.”
In Tulsa, Lindsay Fry-Geier said that, year-round, New Hope Oklahoma serves more than 400 children through summer camps, afterschool programs, regular family gatherings and other events, like the Dec. 21 Christmas party.
“We also do retreats and we have a therapist on staff who does case management needs assessment for their families. They have so many great needs. We can’t meet every need for every family but we can actively work with families and know what their needs are and try to fill the gaps.”
The agency offers tutoring assistance, support groups, and other community-based programs, providing transportation for youth from some 20 area schools to Trinity Church for their afterschool programs and offering school-based groups in seven other schools.
“Trinity’s a big, beautiful parish and we’ve got every room, all the classrooms, conference rooms filled. We go from 5-7 p.m.,” she said. “The kids come and work with each other and struggle together; we have a support group for caregivers, too. It really is our hope that it creates a community.
“All of our summer staff this year were college students who were in the program and had graduated and are the first in their families to attend the university,” she added. “That’s such a beautiful thing. Some of our high schoolers will say that they love coming to camp and programs and looking up to the older kids and knowing they were going to make it. It is something powerful for our kids.”
Michelle Young agreed. “New Hope has meant a lot to me,” she said. “They bring a lot of people in and you expect them not to know your name, but they do. They know every single child that comes into their program. You’re not a number. You’re an actual person.”
–The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. She is based in Los Angeles.
[Episcopal News Service] Around 5:30 this evening, a handful of musicians, a film projectionist, clergy and maybe a dancer will arrive at the Episcopal Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn, N.Y., to pool their talents and hope the Holy Spirit inspires the Eucharist they will lead an hour later.
The service is the last in a series of three experimental liturgies for Advent on the theme “Divine Invasion,” a title taken from a 1960s science fiction work written by Episcopalian Philip Dick. “It’s sort of like the nativity story from outer space,” explained Joe Budenholzer, a parishioner who initiated the liturgies and composed the music for them.
“It presents something both familiar and other-worldly,” said the Rev. Michael Sniffen, the parish’s rector. “We think that’s part of the spirituality of Advent, that Christ is coming and Christ is known to us in a certain way and yet remains completely unknown and completely unrecognizable to us in other ways.”
“We often focus on our preparation,” he said. “We thought it was a helpful corrective to also focus on God’s action in Advent: Ready or not, here God comes. That’s not to take the focus off preparation, but to remind us of God’s active participation.”
The services have been held in the large, darkened nave. Just a lantern and reflections from film projections on a screen provided light the first week, a bit more light and images projected onto the dome above the main altar for the second. Tonight will feature more light still – but not the full light of the world come into the world at Christmas, Budenholzer said. “This is going to be the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The accompaniment to the sung Eucharist has grown from a synthesizer making “sort of scary” ambient sounds and bassoon and atonal organ music to a composition tonight in a minor key that adds a drum duo called the Dream Lovers.
“I write a different score each week,” Budenholzer said. “We pull it all together in the moment. … We’re still putting it together, and that’s part of the experimental liturgy, is that we’re prepared to fail.”
“It’s really been the most memorable Advent I’ve had,” he said. “The Holy Spirit has definitely been there.”
“It’s been a real success, liturgically and aesthetically. It’s had pretty good turnout; it’s been growing each week,” Budenholzer said. “We’ve liked it so much, we’re talking about maybe doing something similar for Lent.”
Such artistic experimentation and expression is part of the ethos of St. Luke and St. Matthew, where other community-art collaborations include hosting a dance company as artists in residence and the creation of a mural depicting church and community history. The church itself is a designated historic landmark, recently rededicated after undergoing renovations to repair damage from a fire set just before Christmas 2012.
The parish has a strong outreach focus, having served as a major distribution hub for relief supplies after Superstorm Sandy. Sniffen supported Occupy Wall Street participants when the movement began and was arrested during a protest in December 2011.
The arts initiatives are another piece of the outreach mosaic.
“My model of leadership is very much a partnership model,” Sniffen said, “and the congregation here, myself included, has been very much strengthened by coming together with other communities across the borough and the city who all have common mission goals. It really expanded our vision of what’s possible.”
With the arts collaborations in particular, “part of it was my desire to help the church reclaim its role as patron of the arts in urban areas,” he said. “I both wanted to gain inspiration from local artists and also do what we could to support interaction between the faith community and artist communities.”
One immediate way to connect was to offer some of the church’s unused space to artists at a reasonable cost in exchange for a certain number of weekly hours of community programming. “What’s come out of that is that we collaborate even more than we anticipated,” Sniffen said.
The New York Landmarks Association played matchmaker to bring Gallim Dance to the church as artists in residence.
“Many contemporary dance companies do not have full-time rehearsal space,” said Meredith Max Hodges, Gallim executive director. “They rent different spaces all over Manhattan and Brooklyn and kind of wander from place to place. We really wanted the permanence and the freedom that a permanent home would provide.”
The troupe’s artistic director and Sniffen met and “just found a tremendous amount of common ground about their vision for what a dance company in permanent residence could provide for the community above and beyond what is happening in that space,” she said.
Gallim moved into a large parish hall with a “huge cathedral ceiling” in February 2012 and launched its year-round community and education programming seven months later. “We have turned this into an extremely active space,” Hodges said. “We rehearse there full time five days a week, and our office is there, but now what we’re offering is just a huge array of free and low-cost programs for the community.”
They offer dance classes – including Afro-Caribbean dance classes with drums – and yoga and movement classes for dancers at all levels and free opportunities to watch the company rehearse. “We’re really going for that sense of openness and intimacy and sharing our work with our local community.”
The recently installed community mural at the church marked a collaboration led by Stefanie Siegel, executive director of Bailey’s Café – an intergenerational arts organization – and former teacher at Paul Robeson High School, now in the process of closing.
Originally, a mural depicting the school’s history was planned for two classrooms within the school building. “The idea was to have everyone who’d ever been engaged with the school come in and work on the mural and have it sort of be this journey of the school represented,” Siegel said.
When efforts to keep the school open – and to create the mural in a part of the school that would be open to the public – failed, the project relocated to St. Luke and St. Matthew. And the vision of the mural expanded. “Moving it here,” Siegel said, “we were very aware that it couldn’t just be about the school anymore, because it was in a different community, and the church community had its own struggles around different issues.”
A girls group from the café interviewed some of the church’s “elders” to hear the congregation’s stories. School alumni provided quotations and a poem. Portrait artist Sophia Dawson led the creation of the mural on parachute cloth, a method that allows mural painting without having to be outside working directly on a wall.
Said Sniffen,“The mural tells the story of the struggles for liberation, both in Paul Robeson School and the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew and in the community more broadly. At the center of the mural is a depiction of the rose window which is above the entrance of the church.”
In place of panes of stained glass are representations of the communities’ narratives, including fire trucks fighting the December 2012 blaze at the church, he said.
The mural also incorporates a tree, Bailey’s symbol, representing growth, Siegel said. “There’s images of struggle, but there’s also images of growth and celebration.”
She sees growth at the church, fostered by its openness to artistic collaborations. “I think [Sniffen’s] mission has been to really open the church up to community and to the arts and to see the arts as a healing force and also a spiritual force and a way to build the community,” she said. “They see themselves as sort of a resource in the community that that goes way beyond specific institutionalized religious belief. I think also that they recognized as people of the faith that this is sort of the way religious institutions almost have to go, because otherwise it’s so narrow and isolating to people.”
At St. Luke and St. Matthew, she said, they are “opening themselves up to be a space that is welcoming.”
“I imagine we’ll continue to work with the church,” she said. “We really like the space and enjoy the community that is there and really feel welcome there. It’s been a really positive experience all around.”
– Sharon Sheridan is an ENS correspondent.
[Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil] The Diocese of Brasilia in the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil has a close companion relationship with the Diocese of Bor in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan. In the wake of recent violence Presiding Bishop Francisco de Assis da Silva Dec. 18 sent a letter to members of his province asking that they pray for the people of South Sudan and its leaders. The letter follows:
Santa Maria, 18th December 2013 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
Brothers and sisters,
During this time as we approach the celebration of the Prince of Peace, we are saddened to hear the news from South Sudan. The peace process in this country suffers from constant violent conflicts which have recently killed more than 500, left some thousand injured, and by latest counts, some 15,000 displaced.
We raise our prayers to God for the people of South Sudan and for their leaders, that they treat their political differences in a peaceable manner and in constant dialogue. We pray for our Anglican brothers, that their lives remain safe, and for their testimony, that they urge conflicting parties to abandon violence and seek peaceful solutions.
May our God comfort the families that live in this struggle, strengthen the wounded, and that the people of South Sudan may construct their nation in accordance with the motto: in justice, equality and liberty!
Our prayers are especially with Bishop Ruben Akurdid, of the Diocese of Bor, companion diocese of the Anglican Diocese of Brasilia. I urge our Province to pray for the people of South Sudan in their Eucharistic celebrations this Sunday the 22nd of December, demonstration that we are the body of Christ, desiring Peace and Justice to become reality in this country that is as a brother to us.
With my best wishes for a blessed Christmas,
++ Francisco de Assis da Silva
Primate of Brazil and Diocesan in Santa Maria
[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori accompanied Bishop for the Armed Forces and Federal Ministries Jay Magness on a Dec. 12-15 visit to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. The visit entailed making calls upon the senior commanders of the post, chaplains and family members. The presiding bishop preached, celebrated the eucharist and presided at a baptism on Dec. 15 at the George W. Wood Memorial Chapel on the post. In the congregation, a joint congregation of the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church, she was joined by Magness and several Episcopal and Lutheran Army chaplains. The patron of the chapel, George W. Wood, was an Episcopal priest who served as an Army chaplain during World War II in Europe as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division.
The presiding bishop’s full sermon follows:
Wood Memorial Chapel, Fort Bragg, NC
15 Dec 2013
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
There’s been a running story in the New York Times this week about a homeless family with 8 children. They live in a shelter in Brooklyn, and the writer has followed an 11 year old girl in particular – the oldest child who bears outsized responsibility for her younger siblings in this much-stressed family. Her mother named her Dasani, after the expensive bottled water, believing in her preciousness, perhaps hoping for what might satisfy thirst in the desert of hopelessness. Her mother and her step-father lose it and fly into rages when things aren’t going well, and their anger often lights on the tallest child in range. Yet Dasani still has an outsized gift for dreaming bold and creative possibilities for her future – but those hopes keep getting dashed and waylaid by the struggles around her. Asked about God, Dasani says, God “is somewhere around.” She hasn’t seen a lot of consistent evidence. “We just can’t find him.”
On Wednesday, at a service of celebration of the life of Nelson Mandela, amid the gratitude for his leadership and the praise for transformation in South Africa, and the hope that he offered the whole world, Andrew Young sounded a somewhat discordant note. He said, ‘Mandela was a prophet, but you don’t have anything to celebrate. Hungry people can’t eat hope.’ Neither can homeless people build houses out of dreams. Those are also prophetic words, and very much in the tradition of Nelson Mandela. They are also in the same tradition as Isaiah and the dream of a healed world that’s variously called the kingdom of God, heaven on earth, the peaceable kingdom, or shalom. Yet words aren’t enough.
John the baptizer is also challenging the people of Judea to hope and work for a world like that, and Herod has heard his challenge as threatening enough to throw him into prison. John is inciting rebellion, or maybe what the Russians have been calling “hooliganism” as they’ve locked up Pussy Riot and Greenpeace folks. Prophets threaten the established order of things because they hold up an alternate possibility – a world where things work for the good of all people, and not just a few.
So when Jesus asks the crowds why they’ve come to hear him, or who they think they’re hearing, he’s pushing them to distinguish between a messenger of transformation and a preacher of the status quo. One wears soft robes, lives in a palace and says don’t rock the boat, the other describes harder work that means the furniture has to move, and systems have to change, and somebody is quite likely to be upset. The kingdom of God we pray for so regularly does not arrive without that kind of transformative shift. John is preparing the road, rocking the boat and stirring things up, for the coming of a different kind of society.
And when Jesus is asked if he’s the one who’s going to generate that different community, he says, “well, what do you see?” Can you believe your eyes and ears, or will you keep denying the evidence in front of you? Is the prophetic word become real, is it taking on flesh?
The child we’re baptizing today is meant to be a partner in that kind of transformation. Nayshawn is both a sign of our hope for that healed world, and a potential leader in making it possible. We’re inviting him and his parents and sponsors to push back the darkness, to wrestle with what’s wrong in this world, to offer their lives for this transforming work: to bring an end to illness and broken relationships; an end to violent responses to experiences of death, deprivation, and division; to ensure that people have full bellies and decent housing instead of hunger and homelessness; to bring an end to war – and peace in our time. Isaiah identifies the obstacles as fear, and the kind of half-hearted, weak-kneed uncertainty that never changes anything. This is going to take all that we are and all that we have. And yes, it requires the same kind of vulnerability as rushing into harm’s way to save a buddy or follow an order in time of war. This is dangerous work, as John the Baptist and Jesus both know.
At the beginning of this service we prayed, ‘stir up your might, O Lord, and come among us, let your bountiful grace and mercy deliver us from all that hinders us from following you.’ This community, and every one like it, exists to help deliver and un-hinder us from that work of transformation. This is God’s way of helping us find the courage we need. We are here to help strengthen the faint-hearted and shore up the weak-kneed, including ourselves. A military community like this one knows quite a lot about that.
Esprit de corps is a phrase often used to describe the strength of the whole unit that helps each member deal with fear and find enthusiasm for its mission. The phrase literally means the spirit of the body. In this place it means the spirit of God made known in the body of Christ, strengthening the weak and encouraging the fearful – and God knows that we’re all in need of that. We’ve had experience of healing strength in the body made up of companions in the faith. We know what it is to be enthused, literally “filled with God.” We are here to join this child to this body. He is a new member of this unit – welcome and guide him, strengthen him when he stands, comfort him when discouraged or sorrowful, raise him up when he falls, and keep sharing that vision of wholeness and holiness the prophets set before us and Jesus himself enacts. We will find ourselves strengthened as a new member is grafted into Jesus’ incarnate body.
Our task is not to lounge around on couches wearing soft robes, but to train for the work before us, and to gather up every possible friend and partner in making the world whole. We’re sent out on that Holy Way that Isaiah speaks of, that John the Baptist came preparing, to live as Jesus’ body in this world. That’s our mission, that’s the corps this child and all of us have been baptized into. So firm up your feeble knees, and go walk that holy road. Strengthen your weak hands to build a world where children like Dasani and Nayshawn can discover the strange and wonderful way they’ve been created, and help them to grow and develop those remarkable gifts. Dream a world into reality where every child and every adult can find abundant evidence of the love of God in this baptized host of holy engineers, binding and building a world of peace. Stir up your power in us, O Lord, strengthen our hands and hearts and backs and knees to dream your dream and help heal your world, that all may be fed and housed and healed and hear good news. And blessed be everyone who takes no offense at that dream.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Bishop Stacy Sauls, Chief Operating Officer of The Episcopal Church, has announced the first recipients of the grants for Mission Enterprise Zones and for New Church Starts.
These two innovative Episcopal Church initiatives are funded through the Five Marks of Mission triennial budget, approved by General Convention July 2012. In the budget, $2 million was allotted for the work of establishing Mission Enterprise Zones and for supporting New Church Starts for the First Mark of Mission, To proclaim the Good news of the Kingdom.
Matching grants were available for up to $20,000 for a Mission Enterprise Zone and up to $100,000 for New Church Starts.
Thirty grants totaling $1.3 million were awarded to 27 dioceses, including one to an Episcopal/Lutheran initiative. The committee continues to meet monthly to review new applications. Application forms can be accessed here.
Applications were reviewed and considered by the Local Mission and Ministry Committee of Executive Council, serving as the review committee for the grant applications.
The following are the grant recipients, the sponsoring diocese and the amount:
- Allston Project, Diocese of Massachusetts, $100,000
- Canton/Fells Point Mission, Diocese of Maryland, $100,000
- Divine Power Yoga, Diocese of Chicago /Metro Chicago Synod, $100,000
- Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Hurricane Shelter, Sewing Clinic, Diocese of Honduras, $20,000
- Episcopal Development Agency of Thomasville, Diocese of Georgia, $20,000
- GEORGE: Center for Community – An Artist’s Space, Diocese of Olympia, $20,000
- Grace Church – Episcopal, Diocese of Oklahoma, $100,000
- Hmong Ministry Planting Initiative, Diocese of Minnesota, $100,000
- Holy Apostles Episcopal Sudanese Church, Diocese of South Dakota, $20,000
- Iglesia Santa Maria, Diocese of Arizona, $100,000
- Kairos West Community Center, Diocese of Western North Carolina, $20,000
- Korean Ministry of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Diocese of El Camino Real, $20,000
- La Iglesia Detroit, Diocese of Michigan, $100,000
- Latino Ministry Leadership Development, Diocese of Southwest Florida, $20,000
- Lawrence House Service Corps, Western Massachusetts, $20,000
- Living our Baptismal Covenant Together, Diocese of Idaho , $20,000
- Mission Christ the Liberator (Cristo Libertador), Diocese of Dominican Republic, $100,000
- Organizing Latinos for Mission, Diocese of San Diego, $20,000
- Our Lady Of Guadalupe Episcopal Church, Diocese of Olympia, $100,000
- Reviving Cultural and Ministry Needs of the Penn Hills Area, Diocese of Pittsburgh, $20,000
- Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center, Diocese of Maine, $20,000
- St. Columba Church Replant, Diocese of Hawaii, $20,000
- St. Mary in Palms Spanish speaking ministry, Diocese of Los Angeles, $100,000
- St. Matthew’s Mission Enterprise, Diocese of Northern California, $20,000
- The Matthew 25 Project, Diocese of Los Angeles, $20,000
- Trinity Episcopal Bread and Roses Ministry, Diocese of Virginia, $20,000
- Urban Core Mission Enterprise Zone, Diocese of Southern Ohio, $20,000
- Warriors of the Dream – Transforming Violence, Building Leaders, Diocese of New York, $20,000
- Westside Ministry Partnership, Diocese of Northern Indiana, $20,000
- Young Adult Ministry Development Team, Diocese of Iowa, $20,000
General Convention resolution
General Convention 2012’s Resolution A073 established “the Mission Enterprise Fund, to be administered by a grants committee for that purpose established by the Executive Council, with $1 million for the 2013–2015 triennium.” It also states that “Diocesan Standing Committees and Bishops partner to create ‘Mission Enterprise Zones,’ defined as a geographic area, as a group of congregations or as an entire diocese committed to mission and evangelism that engages under-represented groups, including youth and young adults, people of color, poor and working-class people, people with a high-school
diploma or less, and/or people with little or no church background or involvement.” Text is here.
For more information contact the Rev. Thomas Brackett, Episcopal Church Missioner for New Church Starts and Missional Initiatives, at email@example.com
[Episcopal News Service] After more than a year in exile, the members of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Bay Head, New Jersey, will be home for Christmas.
In fact, the parishioners of the church that Hurricane Sandy swamped on Oct. 29, 2012, will be home for the Fourth Sunday of Advent.
All Saints’ doors will open again on Dec. 21 with a “Service of Light.” The following day, the parish will celebrate its first Sunday Eucharist in the church since Sandy. Diocese of New Jersey Bishop William Stokes will re-consecrate the sanctuary and church’s memorial garden.
It will be a “very, very emotional” two days, the Rev. Neil Turton, All Saints rector, predicted.
“But, as I’ve been warning them in a number of sermons I’ve recently delivered, we are not going back in the way that we were when we left,” he told Episcopal News Service in a recent interview. “It is going to be very different. Do not expect to be what we were because of the circumstances that have changed and shaped us over these last 15 months.”
The 124-year-old church sits three blocks from the ocean and just feet from Scow Ditch, a tidal waterway. Sandy caused close to $4 million in damage to the church and rectory as it drove water toward the church from both the Atlantic and Barnegat Bay. And All Saints is surrounded by still-devastated homes along a stretch of the Jersey Shore where some blocks are still mostly deserted and where, on other stretches, builders toil to restore the communities from Sandy’s body blows.
“It’s renewal,” said Mark Durham, who lives a few yards south of the church, of All Saints imminent return. He and his family have been back in their house since January, but it’s been a lonely year as few of their neighbors have returned.
Bay Head and neighboring Mantoloking to the south sit together on a narrow strip of land between Barnegat Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. They were two of the area towns among the hardest hit by Sandy. A 130-year-old rock seawall is thought to have made the difference between homes being inundated in Bay Head and ripped apart in Mantoloking.
Eighty-eight percent of Bay Head’s oceanfront homes were flooded but only one was destroyed, one report said In Mantoloking the ocean breached the barrier spit in three places, destroyed 60 homes, making 137 uninhabitable and damaging another 383, according to information here.
The magnitude of damage has “left a deep scar and we will also be shaped by that,” Turton said, adding that there are psychological scars as well.
There is “a great deal of frustration, anger because after 15 months a lot of people are still suffering,” he said. “It’s as though time has moved on but it seems time has stood still in terms of insurance companies, government” and the way those entities’ policies and procedures has at times hampered the Shore’s restoration.
But, Turton said, “the faith community has remained incredibly strong.”
That strength comes despite the fact that the congregation is smaller than it was before Sandy struck. Some people have still not come home to the Jersey Shore. Some snowbirds never came back from Florida this past spring. “A lot of people have walked away,” he said, noting a trend happening up and down the Jersey Shore and elsewhere in Sandy’s wake.
Turton said the parish’s pre-Sandy average Sunday attendance was 168; since Sandy the figure is “a shade under 100.” All Saints congregation has spent these long months worshipping at 12:15 p.m. on Sundays at St. Mary’s by the Sea Episcopal Church in Point Pleasant Beach, about two miles to the north. St. Mary’s also offered refuge in the form or meals and other supplies to hundreds of storm victims beginning the morning after Sandy cleared out.
“It’s given us a very hands-on concept of what it means to be part of a diocesan family in a way we would never normally understand,” Turton said of the parish’s time at St. Mary’s. “It’s different from going to a diocesan meeting with people. We have actually lived and breathed with these people, shared worship, shared meals, shared stories.”
Still, it wasn’t home. And the 12:15 p.m. worship time was a tough sell for some folks, especially young, busy families. “It’s no disrespect to St. Mary’s,” Turton said. “They have been wonderful but, we have been in exile. We have been in a foreign land.”
Often, when he has been asked to introduce himself at meeting over these months, the rector responds: “My name is Neil Turton and I am from All Saints in Exile”
And now that exile is about to end. Parts of the office area, primarily Turton’s office, still need finishing but the church itself was nearly put back to rights when ENS visited Dec. 10. The restored organ was due back any day and the pulpit’s placement awaited arrival of the sound system. The pews still need book racks and cushions.
Those were some of the last items on what has been a long punch list of needed work that began soon after Sandy’s waters – waist-high or higher by the looks of the debris lines it left – receded. Not all of the damage was apparent at first, said John Tym, a local builder who completed five years of restoration work on the church days before Sandy struck.
As Tym and a colleague walked through Bay Head after the storm to check on their customers’ properties, their first reaction was relief when they saw the church still standing at the corner of Lake Avenue and Howe Street. A few days later they entered the church and sensed a six-inch pitch to the floor as they walked up the aisle. Then they noticed that the walls of the sanctuary were pulling in as they walked.
The cause was a water-filled eight-10-foot wide hole under the floor. The storm surge had scoured out nearly eight feet of the ground around the church’s red-brick pilings. The underside of the floor had never been attached to those pilings, thus, had it not been for the more modern foundations under the attached Bristol Hall on one side and the 1950s-era narthex on the other, the church would have been washed away, Tym said.
And if a preacher ever needed a homecoming sermon illustration here it is: the other anchor that probably saved the church was the baptismal font in the narthex whose concrete base goes through the floor and into the ground.
The parish’s Facebook page has a photo gallery showing the immediate post-Sandy state of the church building and the rectory, and the initial clean-up, here.
With the help of Church Insurance, whose concern and work Turton called “brilliant,” a disaster-restoration company came to the church within days of the storm to dry the inside of the building while work began on repairing and raising the Scow Ditch bulkhead by two feet. That latter project was being funded by $50,000 in insurance money and a parishioner’s gift of stock that would add another $30,000, according to Turton.
Then, thousands of gallons of water had to be pumped from underneath the church. Tym oversaw the sinking of close to 100 helical piles into the ground below the building to retrofit the rudimentary foundation. The church has since been tied to those piles. Sump pumps are in place as well.
The church floor had to be ripped up and the floor beams replaced. All utilities needed to be replaced. The office area and the interior of the parish hall and its kitchen needed to be gutted and redone.
The entire exterior had been re-shingled over the previous five years or so and Tym had just decided to take down the last of the exterior pipe scaffolding right before the storm. Then he was faced with the choice of pulling the interior walls apart to get at wet insulation or tearing off those new cedar shake shingles. Tym had to leave when the shingles were stripped from the building because he said he just couldn’t watch.
Colin Walsh, whose company C.M. Walsh Pipe Organs of Philadelphia was restoring the water-damaged organ, told Tym that they could help him with other cabinetry needs. When it became clear that the majority of the pews, which were all original to the building, could not be salvaged, Tym asked Walsh to make new pews. The only trouble, he said, was that the first prototype “looked too nice” and Tym feared the pews would look out of place in the restored nave. Walsh worked with Tym to get the stain to look old enough, according to the builder.
Wood from the original pews was later milled into wainscoting for the parish hall and office wing. And other salvaged lumber was crafted into an altar for the hall for more informal services. Tym said they added LED light bulbs and other energy-efficiency upgrade.
“We’ve got a 21st century church in a 19th century context,” Turton said.
Church Insurance covered all but $200,000 of the work on the church, according to the rector and Tym, and the parish has raised about $70,000 of that amount thus far. The insurance settlement came after some negotiation but Turton insisted, “I can’t praise them too highly” for the way the company worked with them.
Sandy also flooded the near-by rectory to the point where it needed to be razed. Construction began earlier this month on a new rectory, with Church Insurance covering the $500,000 replacement cost. However, Turton and his wife, Wendy, will not be living in the new rectory. The couple has moved four times since being displaced by Sandy and can’t face a fifth move, he said.
While “one or two people” questioned the need to construct a rectory in that case, Turton said the parish must build for the future. “No one appointed here [as the next rector] will be able to afford a house in Bay Head,” he said.
Meanwhile, assuming the rectory is completed by next summer, the parish can let it out in the lucrative summer-rental market for “a princely sum,” he predicted.
But, for now, summer is far way and winter is just coming on. The Dec. 21 Service of Light celebrating All Saints’ long-expected homecoming will begin just about six hours after the winter solstice. As parishioners and friends head into the longest night of the year, they will no doubt be remembering that other long night – the one when Sandy hit the Shore.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Oficina de Relaciones Públicas] El grupo de trabajo para la re-imaginación de la Iglesia Episcopal (TREC) ha emitido una carta a la Iglesia Episcopal.
La carta de TREC para la Iglesia: 10 de diciembre del 2013
En los últimos meses, los miembros del Grupo de Trabajo para la Re-imaginación de la Iglesia Episcopal han estado en un peregrinar de escucha – en persona y de manera virtual. Hemos hablado con grupos de jóvenes y obispos, el Consejo Ejecutivo y consejos de líderes locales, en las provincias, en las diócesis, parroquias y comunidades religiosas. Hemos preguntado a la gente cuáles son sus esperanzas y sueños son para con nuestra Iglesia, ¿Qué aspectos de la Iglesia esperan que apreciemos y fortalezcamos, y en que desean que fuéramos ser lo suficientemente valientes como para dejar de lado con el fin de hacer a nuestra Iglesia más vibrante y centrada en la misión.
Nuestra escucha a la Iglesia es un proceso continuo. Lo que hemos oído es un profundo y permanente amor por nuestra Iglesia y su manera única de crear comunidad y misión centrada en Cristo. El Libro de Oración Común y la belleza y el misterio de nuestra liturgia nos unen a través de las edades, geografías y políticas. Nosotros amamos profundamente lo intelectual, así como también la vida espiritual que es cultivada en nuestros miembros (“usted no necesita dejar su mente en la puerta”).
En muchos otros temas, no estamos de acuerdo. Escuchamos llamados para que la Iglesia sea “menos reactivas a los problemas sociales”, y también llamados para hacer que la voz de la Iglesia sobre temas sociales sea aún más fuerte. Escuchamos llamados para una mayor diversidad en nuestra liturgia y la música, y llamados igualmente urgentes por menos diversidad. ¡Nos esperábamos nada diferente! Muchos de nosotros apreciamos la diversidad de nuestra comunidad tanto como apreciamos las creencias y tradiciones comunes que nos unen.
Pero hubo varios temas fuertes y urgentes que surgían consistentemente a través de nuestras discusiones: la Iglesia nos pide que reduzcamos la burocracia y la intensidad de los recursos en nuestros procesos de toda la iglesia. La Iglesia quiere que el trabajo de la Convención General y otras estructuras de la Iglesia sea más relevante y más vivificante para nuestras comunidades parroquiales locales. Y, la Iglesia quiere que enfrentemos y lidiemos con los temas difíciles y los “elefantes en el centro de la habitación” que absorben nuestros recursos, tiempo y energía, y que bloquean nuestro crecimiento.
Como grupo de trabajo, hemos estado reflexionando sobre lo que hemos oído, y la visión de una Iglesia Episcopal revigorizada está emergiendo.
Una nueva visión
Imagina un mundo en el que todas nuestras parroquias episcopales son espiritualmente vibrantes y están enfocadas en la misión. Una encuesta reciente indica que menos del 30 % pasaría esta prueba hoy.  Imagine un mundo en el que nuestras parroquias consistentemente son buenas para inspirar a sus miembros tradicionales y también están energizadas y son eficaces en alcanzar a las nuevas generaciones y las nuevas poblaciones. Imagina un mundo donde la forma de nuestra Iglesia se adapta con frecuencia, en la medida que nuevas comunidades parroquiales surgen en lugares no tradicionales y en formas no tradicionales, y en la medida que parroquias existentes se fusionan y se reinventan al cambiar las condiciones locales. Imagina un mundo en el que clero episcopal y líderes laicos son reconocidos por ser líderes altamente eficaces, hábiles en la formación cristiana y la construcción de comunidades, en la nueva plantación de iglesias, en la transformación de iglesias, y en la organización de comunidades para la misión. Imagina que los episcopales colaboran fácilmente entre sí a través de la Iglesia: formando comunidades de interés, trabajando juntos para compartir los aprendizajes de las iniciativas locales y la colaboración para aunar recursos e ideas. Imagina que la amplia estructura de la Iglesia Episcopal sirve principalmente para permitir y ampliar la misión local a través de la colaboración en redes, así como también a prestar su voz profética. Imagine que cada trienio nos reunimos en un ” Convocatoria General de Misión “, donde participantes de toda la Iglesia se sumergen en el aprendizaje de la misión, en compartir, en la toma de decisiones y la celebración.
Realizar esta visión
Tomará mucho más que cambios estructurales para concretizar este nuevo mundo. Tomará un liderazgo resuelto y capaz en todos los niveles de la Iglesia, y se necesitará un cambio cultural amplio y profundo dentro de la Iglesia. Vamos a tener que trabajar a través de un proceso de duelo, ya que, individual y colectivamente perdemos estructuras que han sido partes esenciales de nuestra vida e incluso de nuestras identidades. Al mismo tiempo, también vamos a tener que encontrar una manera de adoptar una nueva y más esperanzador mentalidad: tendremos que creer, verdaderamente creen-que ¡a Iglesia Episcopal puede, debe y tiene que CRECER!
En nuestro trabajo, vamos a señalar algunos de los cambios no estructurales que creemos que serán fundamental para vivir en una nueva visión de una Iglesia vibrante, creciente y adaptativa. Vamos a dar algunas sugerencias sobre cómo podemos ir más allá de las reformas estructurales para lograr estos cambios en los comportamientos de liderazgo, cultura y capacidad organizacional.
Nos vamos a centrar la mayor parte de nuestro tiempo como grupo de trabajo en el desarrollo de un conjunto de recomendaciones para los cambios estructurales o cambios “técnicos” que creemos que será una parte crítica de revigorizar a la Iglesia. Estos cambios jugaran tres papeles importantes en la revitalización de nuestra Iglesia:
1) Estos “despejaran el camino” para la innovación y la adaptación, liberando nuestro tiempo y energía, y acelerando la toma de decisiones.
2) Ellos le darán el liderazgo de la Iglesia una agenda audaz y holística de cambio que, si se aprueba, servirá como modelo a seguir del tipo de cambios audaces similares que deben ocurrir en todos los otros niveles de la Iglesia.
3) Estos reinventaran el papel de las organizaciones y estructuras de la Iglesia en general: alejándonos de “hacer” misión hacia el capacitar para la misión, alejándonos de establecer agendas y asignar recursos hacia la conexión de las comunidades locales e individuos para el aprendizaje mutuo, el apoyo y la colaboración.
¿Qué se puede esperar de nosotros?
Hemos identificado una serie de cuestiones clave que creemos que debe ser abordada a través de la reforma estructural. Estamos trabajando para desarrollar propuestas que abordan cada uno de estos temas. Algunas de estas propuestas se sentirá incrementales, y muchas han sido debatido antes. Algunas de ellas se percibirán como audaces y arriesgadas. Algunas de ellas van más allá del alcance de una interpretación estricta de la resolución que creó nuestro Grupo de trabajo (C095). Algunas de ellas van más allá del alcance de la autoridad de la Convención General, y por lo tanto va a tomar la forma de “recomendaciones” o “proclamaciones proféticas”, en lugar de las propuestas legislativas. En conjunto, sin embargo, junto con las muchas cosas emocionantes, vibrantes, y esperanzadoras ya emergentes en torno a la Iglesia, creemos que nuestras propuestas serán parte de la constante labor que se realiza en el dirigir a la Iglesia en un nuevo camino hacia la salud y la vitalidad.
Algunas de las áreas en las que estamos desarrollando recomendaciones incluyen:
1) El papel y la mecánica de la Convención General: La reducción de la agenda legislativa y reducir el tamaño de sus órganos legislativos, mientras que ampliar el alcance de nuestras reuniones a fin de que no sólo sirvan como espacios donde la legislaciones importantes sean debatidas y aprobadas, sino también como un espacio vibrante, abierto e inclusivo de convocatorias celebrativas de la misión – reuniendo a participantes apasionados y activos en cada tipo de misión que está sucediendo alrededor de la iglesia.
2) Las funciones y responsabilidades de los Oficiales Presidentes y del Consejo Ejecutivo - en particular en relación con todo el personal de la Iglesia: El establecimiento de líneas simples y claras de rendición de cuentas y responsabilidad, reduciendo la redundancia, aclarando confusiones que pueden inhibir los procesos claros de toma de decisión y cambiar el tamaño del Consejo para que funcione más efectivamente como una junta de gobierno.
3) La amplitud de la CCAB (Comités, Comisiones, Agencias y Juntas) y la creación de modelos alternativos, frescos y creativos para la colaboración en toda la Iglesia: La refundición de la mayoría de nuestros CCABs en un nuevo modelo de colaboración distributiva y responsable. La creación de modelos de colaboración en línea que conectan líderes misioneros locales de toda nuestra Iglesia para que nuestra “agenda” colectiva puede adaptarse dinámicamente a las necesidades locales y para que nos conectamos con el mayor activo de nuestra Iglesia- todos nosotros, sentados en los bancos haciendo un gran trabajo a nivel local, pero mayormente desconectados unos de los otros y de la Iglesia Episcopal.
4) Número de diócesis: Considerando un proceso objetivo, de una sola vez, para el establecimiento de normas para un tamaño y estructura diocesana saludable y viable con el fin de permitir a la misión y reducir la complejidad de nuestra organización.
5) Capacidad y desarrollo de liderazgo: El establecimiento de formación de liderazgo efectiva y el desarrollo de enfoques para todas las órdenes del ministerio, basadas en nuestros votos del bautismo y la ordenación, así como en las necesidades particulares del siglo 21. Señalar en voz alta las implicaciones para las carreras del clero y la empleomanía, así como también las implicaciones y oportunidades para los seminarios y otros programas de desarrollo de liderazgo actuales. Fomentar la creación de nuevos “centros de excelencia” u otros mecanismos para fomentar el aprendizaje constante y la creación de capacidad a gran escala, fomentando la creación de redes en torno a nodos existentes de trabajo excelente.
También está claro que hay una necesidad profunda de desarrollar algunos entendimientos comunes sobre cómo diócesis pueden tomar mejores decisiones acerca de, y proporcionar el mejor apoyo para, la vitalidad y viabilidad de las parroquias. Dado que el paisaje cultural y demográfico es ampliamente diferente desde que la mayoría de nuestras congregaciones se fundaron y sus edificios fueron construidos, ¿cómo podemos hacer el uso más fiel y estratégico de nuestros recursos cuando tomamos decisiones sobre el número de parroquias, lugares, consolidaciones, nuevo plantas, etc.? Este trabajo es en gran parte en manos de las diócesis locales más que la Convención General, pero esperamos que nuestro trabajo tendrá algunas reflexiones y recomendaciones que pueden ser absorbidos por toda la iglesia en torno a estas cuestiones apremiantes, así como también críticas.
Lo que necesitamos de ti
¡Tenemos un enorme y complejo alcance de trabajo, y necesitamos tu ayuda! Por favor, continúa hablando con nosotros y dándonos comentarios e ideas. ¡Si no has convocado a una discusión con nuestro paquete de compromiso, o completado nuestro cuestionario en línea, por favor hazlo! Si tienes reacciones sobre nuestro documento de Identidad Episcopal Identidad y Visión publicado en nuestra página web, por favor envíanos tus comentarios e ideas. Estamos revisándolo con los comentarios que ya hemos recibido y seguiremos revisándolo al colectar comentarios adicionales. Por favor envíanos tus comentarios e ideas respecto a esta carta.
En el futuro, por favor, este atento de ver los borradores de recomendaciones en torno a las áreas de reforma que hemos destacado en esta nota. Publicaremos porciones en torno a nuestras ideas tan rápido como podamos, a partir de finales de enero de 2014, para permitir la mayor discusión, el debate y la retroalimentación cuanto sea posible. Vamos a seguir publicando actualizaciones de nuestras propuestas en evolución en el transcurso del año, a medida que trabajamos hacia la finalización de nuestro trabajo a finales de 2014. Además, estamos en el proceso de planificación de una reunión especial de la Iglesia en el otoño de 2014 para discutir más a fondo nuestras propuestas y recibir retroalimentación. En línea con nuestra visión de vivir en nuevas maneras de ” hacer Iglesia” en el siglo 21, esta reunión será virtual, de modo que podamos involucrar a un grupo lo más amplio y diverso posible, sin restringir el acceso a aquellos que no tienen los recursos financieros para unirse a una reunión en persona.
Por último, por favor, oren por nosotros y por todos los que están participando con nosotros, ya que hacemos lo mejor que podemos para discernir el camino correcto para nuestra Iglesia. Puede utilizar la oración que miembros de nuestro Grupo de Trabajo han escrito para nosotros:
Espíritu Santo, que te ciernes sobre el mundo, llena los corazones y las mentes de tus siervos en El Grupo de Trabajo para la Re-Imaginación de La Iglesia Episcopal con sabiduría, claridad y valentía. Trabaja en ellos, al examinar y recomendar reformas para la estructura, gobierno y administración de esta rama de la Iglesia una, santa, católica y apostólica. Ayúdalos a proponer reformas para proclamar de manera más eficaz mediante la palabra y el ejemplo las Buenas Nuevas de Dios en Cristo, para desafiar al mundo para buscar y servir a Cristo en todas las personas – amando a nuestro prójimo como a nosotros mismos y ser una luz ardiente por el tipo de justicia y paz que lleva a todas las personas, a respetar la dignidad de cada ser humano. Se con la Iglesia Episcopal para que todos podamos estar abiertos a los desafíos que este grupo de trabajo traerá a nosotros,- y ayuda a toda la Iglesia a discernir tu voluntad para nuestro futuro. En el nombre de Jesucristo, nuestro Mediador, en cuya vida se fundó esta Iglesia. AMEN
Gracias por la confianza que han depositado en nosotros, y por la retroalimentación que ya han proporcionado. Gracias de antemano por los comentarios y el debate vigoroso que esperamos que marcarán la próxima fase de nuestro trabajo con usted.
Para más información, preguntas o comentarios, póngase en contacto con los miembros de TREC en firstname.lastname@example.org
 David Roozen, “Una década de cambio en las Congregaciones de América: 2000-2010″, Instituto Hartford para la Investigación Religiosa, 2011.
Paquete de Participación de TREC: http://reimaginetec.org/
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] In the next four months – January 1, 2014 to April 30 - the Episcopal Church will witness the consecration of one bishop, the election of one bishop, and the canonical consent process underway for two bishops-elect.
One consecration of a bishop is slated for January to April. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will officiate at the ordination service.
April 26: Diocese of Fond du Lac consecration: the Rev. Matthew Alan Gunter electedOctober 19 (pending completion of successful canonical consent process).
During January to April, one bishop election is scheduled:
April 5: Diocese of Massachusetts
Canonical Consent Process
The canonical consent process is currently underway for one bishop-elect. Another will be underway soon. The deadline is:
April 1: the Rev. Matthew Alan Gunter, elected bishop of the Diocese of Fond du Lac onOctober 19.
Date to be determined: The Rev. Allen Shin, elected bishop suffragan of the Diocese of New York on December 7
[Episcopal News Service] One year after the shooting at a Connecticut elementary school where 20 children and six adults were killed, Episcopalians across the nation participated in memorial services and spoke to the need for tighter gun control.
At Trinity Episcopal Church in Newtown, Connecticut, about two miles from Sandy Hook Elementary School, the site of the Dec. 14, 2012 shooting, the community was joined by Connecticut bishops suffragan Laura J. Ahrens and James E. Curry for a two-hour memorial serving commemorating the victims.
At St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the grandfather of one of the child victims rang the bells 20 times, once for each child victim.
Adam Lanza, 20, who had a history of mental and emotional problems, killed his mother at their Newtown home one year ago before driving to the elementary school, where he opened fire on the other victims and then committed suicide. The shooting, which devastated the nation, sparked a conversation on stricter gun control.
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on Dec. 14 lit at candle for each of the 26 victims at the school, and the president called for stricter gun control and support for mental health treatment.
“As a nation, we can’t stop every act of violence. We can’t heal every troubled mind. But if we want to live in a country where we can go to work, send our kids to school, and walk our streets free from fear, we have to keep trying. We have to keep caring. We have to treat every child like they’re our child. Like those in Sandy Hook, we must choose love. And together, we must make a change,” said Obama in his weekly address.
In Salt Lake City, Episcopal Diocese of Utah Bishop Scott Hayashi said the nation’s wounds remained open and that Americans would not be lulled into thinking that such a tragedy won’t happen again.
“You and I, for the sake of all people, must continue to be outraged,” Hayashi told an audience at Salt Lake City’s First Unitarian Church, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. “If we lose that, we will lose the energy to move forward to make the changes that need to be made.”
One day earlier, on Dec. 13, in Littleton, Colorado, an 18-year-old gunman shot and critically wounded a 17-year-old high-school classmate before killing himself. The gunman went to the high school searching for the head of speech and debate team, who’d recently kicked him off the team, according to news reports.
On Dec. 14, the bishops of the Diocese of Virginia sent the following message to the diocese, “Today, we remember the children, men and women who lost their lives at the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting one year ago. We join in prayer with others from across the country and across the globe, for the victims and families of Sandy Hook and of so many other gun-related tragedies. We pray, too, for our country, as we continue to grapple with issues surrounding gun violence and safety – issues raised again by yesterday’s shootings in a suburban Denver school.”
Also on Dec. 14, gun control advocates gathered at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Baltimore, Maryland, to commemorate the Sandy Hook victims and “to express their displeasure” with the federal government and individual states for failing to pass stricter gun control laws.
Washington National Cathedral on Dec. 12 held a national vigil for all victims of gun violence honoring all those who have been affected by the rampant gun violence in the United States and exploring the role that people of faith can have in healing victimized communities and push for justice and changes in law that can protect against further gun deaths.
More than 800 people, including Connecticut Bishop Ian T. Douglas, interfaith gun control activists, survivors and victim’s families, attended the service. The Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the cathedral, has been an outspoken advocate for stricter gun control in the wake of the Connecticut and other shootings.
On Dec. 15, Hall used his sermon to reaffirm his stance.
“A year ago, I stood in the pulpit and declared my own and this cathedral’s resolve to stand with and for the victims of gun violence and to use our energies to mobilize the faith community to pressure our legislators for action to curb the epidemic of deaths brought about by guns in America,” he said. “In the phrase that will no doubt be the opening line of my obituary, I said, ‘The gun lobby is no match for the cross lobby.’”
Hall noted that one year later “pretty close to nothing has happened,” pointing out that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that an additional 32,000 people have died from gun violence in the United States since the Sandy Hook shootings, including 12 people who died in the Washington Navy Yard shootings in September 2013.
“There has been almost no legislative action in response to these deaths,” he said.
“What else did we think we had a right to expect? Nothing has happened in a year partially because we have not cared enough to make something happen. The passion is all on one side in the gun violence debate. Oh, sure, we care every time there is a tragedy. But we quickly lose interest and turn our attention to other things. We need, my friends, to do better. We need, as the community that lives out the life and promise of Jesus in the world, to be the people bringing good news to a nation and world in the grips of a death-dealing addiction to violence and guns,” Hall continued.
A Facebook page, Episcopalians Against Gun Violence, has been created to share the work of bishops, clergy and lay Episcopalians working to curb gun violence.
Meanwhile, the Episcopal Peace Fellowship staged a memorial vigil — “Protect Children, Not Guns!” – at the National Rifle Association headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, on the morning of Dec. 14,” said the Rev. Allison Liles, EPF executive director.
“Twenty young children and six educators were slaughtered by 154 bullets – fired in just five minutes. This obscenity has to stop,” said the Liles, who took part in the national vigil for all victims of gun violence at Washington National Cathedral on Dec. 12. “I felt a strong sense of commitment during the cathedral vigil to work even harder to persuade the U.S. Congress to finally adopt meaningful and sensible gun control legislation when they return to Washington in January.”
La muerte del presidente de Sudáfrica, Nelson Mandela, ha acaparado todos los medios de comunicación mundiales desde que se supo la noticia. En Sudáfrica abundan los elogios sobre su contribución a la paz y a la concordia en el país africano. Varios noticieros han dicho que fue “el hombre más prominente del siglo XX”. Miami no ha sido la excepción aunque también se ha recordado su visita a Cuba en los años 70 y sus palabras de elogio a Fidel Castro. Su velorio tuvo lugar en un moderno estadio con un gran oficio inter-religioso. Por lo menos 53 jefes de estado participaron de las exequias. Mandela pertenecía a la Iglesia Metodista.
Como era de esperarse en Venezuela ganó el oficialismo en las recientes elecciones municipales superando a la oposición en el total de votos emitidos y en la totalidad de alcaldías obtenidas. La oposición ganó los centros urbanos de mayor población como Caracas y Maracaibo. El ex embajador de Venezuela ante las Naciones Unidas, Diego Arria, dijo que el resultado de las elecciones del domingo debe obligar a la oposición a reflexionar seriamente sobre cuál debe ser ahora el camino a seguir “para luchar contra un régimen empecinado en instaurar un régimen castro-comunista en Venezuela”. La oposición informó que el gobierno montó una gran maquinaria propagandística y que el gobernante Nicolás Maduro amenazó a la población.
Por cuarta vez, el Comité Permanente de la diócesis de Puerto Rico ha suspendido la elección de su próximo obispo diocesano que estaba fijada para el 7 de diciembre. Sin dar mayores explicaciones, la declaración del Comité Permanente dice: “ésta ha sido una decisión extremadamente difícil pero que consideramos necesaria para el bienestar de la diócesis ahora y en el futuro”. También añade: “Debemos abrir un espacio de reflexión y oración para el fortalecimiento de nuestra diócesis. Juntos podemos sanar las heridas que este proceso ha generado entre nuestros hermanos y hermanas”. En entrevista con el noticiero Rapidísimas el obispo saliente, David Álvarez, dijo desde su nueva casa en Ocala, Florida: “Para mí ha sido una decepción que gente que yo coloqué en posiciones de responsabilidad o ganancias materiales hayan creado desconfianza en muchos miembros del clero y el laicado”. Añadió que “oro para que Dios dirija las mentes y corazones de todos”. La misma reunión nombró al obispo puertorriqueño jubilado Wilfrido Ramos Orench como obispo provisional.
Las oficinas nacionales de la Iglesia Episcopal en Nueva York han anunciado que ocho oficiales han sido designados para ocuparse de su ministerio nacional e internacional. A juzgar por la fotografía divulgada por el departamento de prensa todos los nuevos oficiales son jóvenes y aparentemente novatos en el trabajo de la iglesia. De los ocho nombrados siete son mujeres y dos ordenados (un hombre y una mujer). Sólo uno pertenece a una minoría étnica. Esta es la primera vez que tantos oficiales son nombrados al mismo tiempo. Varios de ellos trabajarán en diferentes partes del país siguiendo el nuevo lineamiento de descentralización en la misión. El edificio del Centro Episcopal, oficina nacional e internacional de la Iglesia Episcopal, está localizado en la segunda avenida de Manhattan a una cuadra al oeste del imponente edificio de las Naciones Unidas.
Después de un receso de poco más de un año el grupo los Guías Espirituales del Exilio, formado por pastores en el área de Miami, se ha vuelto a reunir con el fin de dar acompañamiento a los que lo necesiten. El grupo tuvo “un descanso” de un año por el fallecimiento de varios de sus líderes en los últimos años entre los que se encuentran el obispo Agustín Román, Rolando Espinoza, Max Salvador, Manuel Salabarría, Francisco Villaverde, Luis Pérez, Francisco Santana, Ovidio Amaro, Anselmo Carral y Emilio Vallina. En la reunión celebrada la semana pasada en un restaurant se hicieron planes preliminares para reanudar las reuniones mensuales. En esta ocasión el grupo tuvo la visita del pastor bautista Mario Lleonart y su esposa Yoaxis, miembros del Movimiento Cristiano Liberación, que trabajan en el poblado de Taguayabón, Villa Clara, y que regresarán Cuba en enero. La próxima reunión de los Guías será en el Salón Varela de la Ermita de la Caridad el 7 de enero a las 10 am.
Hay regocijo en la comunidad cristiana mundial por la decisión de la revista Time de escoger al papa Francisco como el ‘Personaje del Año’ por considerar que el nuevo líder de más de más de mil millones de fieles ha modificado notablemente la imagen pública de la Iglesia Católica Romana en muy poco tiempo.
PARA PENSAR: Querer es poder.
[Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil] Presiding Bishop Francisco de Assis da Silva of sent a letter Dec. 9 to government leaders urging them to promote food security and ending hunger in setting the agenda for the 2014 G20 Summit. The presiding bishop joined a larger movement being organized by the Anglican Alliance. The full letter follows.
Minister Milton Rondó, General Coordinator of International Actions to Combat Hunger
Dr. Gilberto Carvalho, Office of the President
Brazil has excelled on the world stage as a country that has adopted public policies geared toward diminishing poverty and inequality, as well as policies aimed at the unbreakable tripod of climate change, food security and sustainable development. Worldwide, religions have been committed to involvement on these issues and realities. For Christian churches, such involvement is a requirement of faith, more than just an ethical or humanitarian engagement. For this, during this moment of gathering the richest countries in the world, the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil cannot keep from manifesting and expressing our support for the positions of Brazil in these meetings, and to remind them of what is important and cannot be forgotten.
Recognizing that in the context of the G20 summit Brazil has communicated its intentions on this topic, we are writing to you to continue prioritizing policies that attend to the needs of people worldwide, to guarantee the right to healthy food and the right to produce without pollutants, and to do so without concentrating solely on export. Also we emphasize the importance of listening and involving not just government and corporate aspects, but also social, civil and religious organizations in this fundamental role, that these spaces can also be used to influence G20 nations to eradicate this scandal—that 1 billion people worldwide live with hunger every day. Australia will have the G20 presidency, and we would like to solicit that the Brazilian government use its influence to persuade its colleagues and Australian partners to include food security on the working agenda, connecting this theme and realities with climate change and sustainable development.
For the social civil organizations, food sovereignty and nutrition is of paramount importance in overcoming inequalities. This item was on the agenda of the G20 summit which took place this year in Russia. The St. Petersburg Development Observatory in Russia gave priority to food security, focusing especially on rural and family farming, and the empowerment of women, who comprise the majority in this type of agriculture. We fully support this type of initiative also in Brazil, with many important government sectors involved, and especially for the social movements which work with small-scale production and rural and family farming, which are statistically proven to be segments that feed this country.
At the last meeting of G20 in Moscow, there was a notable lecture made by the Brazilian government called “Comprehensive approach to social protection and food security for sustainable development.” Our country made an impactful presentation indicating a new and radical way that, together with civil society, we deal with these realities of nutritional and food security. We have shared our experience and our learnings in this field especially with African countries, with which we have a historical relationship.
During the summit in Moscow, Mr. Miguel Grisbach de Pereira Franco, Ambassador of Brazil, shared an essay entitled “Brazil: policies to improve food security and nutrition through social protection”, which was well received by other participants.
We of the Anglican family are present in the majority of the poorest countries in the world, and we consider it a key role in our mission to overcome poverty and injustice, and to have a commitment to assure that no one has to live with hunger in a world of such abundance. We understand this as a priority for the twenty richest countries in the world should take into account in their policies this overcoming of poverty, inequality and hunger that affects so many millions of people on the planet.
Faithful to our commitment to human dignity, and with the preservation of the environment, we wish to solicit that the Brazilian government firmly defend positions to the countries of G20 to overcome the disgrace still plaguing us in such high figures in today’s world, that so many do not have access to healthy food!
++ Francisco de Assis da Silva
Presiding Bishop of Brazil and Diocesan Bishop in Santa Maria
[12 de diciembre de 2013] La Obispa Presidente de la Iglesia Episcopal Katharine Jefferts Schori, en su Mensaje de Navidad del 2013 ora para: “Que usted descubra ese dominio humilde nacido de nuevo en los bordes de la conciencia del mundo. Que esa herencia real y dominio del estable, nazca en usted, alegre su corazón, y permanezca sobre sus hombros”.
A continuación el mensaje de la Obispa Presidente:
Mensaje de Navidad del 2013
Porque un niño nos es nacido, un hijo nos es dado, y el dominio estará sobre su hombro. Se llamará su nombre: Admirable Consejero, Dios Fuerte, Padre Eterno, Príncipe de Paz. Isaías 09:06
Isaías pronuncia estas palabras a un pueblo que recuerda el yugo de la esclavitud en sus hombros. Han estado esperando por este niño, cuyo nacimiento transforma ese yugo en un manto de autoridad. Se les promete que esta autoridad seguirá creciendo a medida que se establece un reino de paz – con justicia y rectitud para todos y para siempre.
Esta promesa es hablada de nuevo a la gente de todas las edades, a aquellos que han vivido bajo la opresión o en la depresión oscura, a los hambrientos y enfermos y encarcelados. El nacimiento que celebramos ofrece esperanza en la Palabra hecha carne, que viene entre nosotros para sanar y recorrer este camino con nosotros. El manto del dominio sobre sus hombros comienza en los pañales de un niño nacido en la más humilde de las circunstancias. Sin embargo, ese dominio es reconocido incluso por los extranjeros que vienen de lejos. Ese manto de la autoridad sigue creciendo, a través de una vida ofrecida para los demás, planteadas en una nueva vida, y se transmite a las nuevas generaciones portadora de la carne de Dios. Dondequiera que se haga justicia y rectitud, ese dominio está creciendo, llevada en hombros del Príncipe de la Paz.
Él viene otra vez, teniendo la gracia de Aquel cuya imagen Él lleva en carne. Búscalo, canta su nueva canción, declara su gloria, y habla de la buena nueva a todas las naciones: Dios reina, y Él viene trayendo justicia y la verdad sobre sus hombros.
“Que usted descubra ese dominio humilde nacido de nuevo en los bordes de la conciencia del mundo. Que esa herencia real y dominio del estable, nazca en usted, alegre su corazón, y permanezca sobre sus hombros”. Llévela afuera en paz, este año y a lo largo de los siglos.
Reverendísima Katharine Jefferts Schori
Obispa Presidente y Primada
La Iglesia Episcopal