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NCC statement regarding the death of Michael Brown

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

[National Council of Churches press release] The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA deplores the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown at the hands of a police officer in Ferguson, MO on August 9 and supports a complete investigation of the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Brown.

Further, the Council expresses grave concern over the recent killings by police of several other African American men including on July 17, 43 year old Eric Garner in Staten Island, NY; on August 5, 22 year old John Crawford in Beavercreek, OH; and on August 11, 25 year old Ezell Ford in Los Angeles, CA.

“These killings, as well as those of hundreds of other Americans each year at the hands of increasingly militarized police forces is of great and growing concern. A peaceful, healthy society requires trust and positive relationships between citizens and law enforcement. That can best occur in circumstances in which deep-seated social problems such as racism and inequality are being addressed,” said Jim Winkler, NCC president and general secretary.

“The NCC remains committed to addressing the legacy of racism, to ending gun violence in our nation, to responding to the scourge of mass incarceration, and through our local congregations to providing Christ’s healing touch,” Winkler added.

Rev. Dr. Roy Medley, chair of the NCC Governing Board said, “We pray for the family of Michael Brown and for all those who have been harmed in the turmoil in Ferguson. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act and we are still seeking an America where young men of color are neither disproportionately imprisoned nor are victims of violence. We are grateful for the efforts of local church leaders and churches that are at work in the community in response to this devastating tragedy and the ongoing issues of racial injustice that it has surfaced.”

Throughout its existence, the National Council of Churches, the collective voice of 37 member communions with nearly 40 million members, has stood for human rights and peace.

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

Responding ecumenically to crisis in Iraq

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

[Episcopal Relief & Development press release] Episcopal Relief & Development is responding ecumenically to the current crisis in Iraq through the ACT Alliance, in support of Christian Aid UK’s relief activities.

ACT Alliance is a coalition of more than 140 churches and affiliated organizations active in over 140 countries.  In an update, the organization noted that implementing member Christian Aid has been responding to the Syrian refugee crisis since 2012, and recently expanded its operations to provide relief to Iraqis displaced by violence.

According to the Christian Aid situation report, “In recent weeks, attacks by [Islamic State militants] in the Ninewa province of Iraq have led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.  Many of them are persecuted religious minorities, including Yazidis and Christians.”

Christian Aid is currently acting through local partners including REACH (Rehabilitation, Education and Community Health) to distribute food, hygiene kits and other necessities such as children’s clothes to families who have fled active conflict zones in the northern mountains.  This most recent wave of internally displaced people (IDPs) have taken refuge in towns from Dahuk to Suleymaniyah and as far south as Diyala Province and Karbala.

UN OCHA stated that more than 1.2 million people have been displaced since the beginning of 2014.  UNHCR estimates that 700,000 people are taking refuge in the Kurdistan region, including 400,000 in Dahuk Governorate alone.

The humanitarian crisis in Iraq encompasses an additional 1 million Iraqis who were already internally displaced by conflict as of December 2013, and over 200,000 Syrian refugees residing in the country as well.

On August 12, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori issued a call for a day of prayer for Iraq on August 17.  The following day, the Anglican Alliance posted an article with excerpts of statements from Anglican Primates and Church-affiliated aid agencies around the world in response to the crisis.

“We face the reality that hundreds of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities are currently on the run throughout northern and western Iraq, displaced from their homes, with only the clothes on their backs,” said the Rev. Canon Robert D. Edmunds, Middle East Partnership Officer for The Episcopal Church.  “Each of us has an opportunity to bring needed relief and hope to them with our prayers and our contributions. We are grateful for Episcopal Relief & Development and the relationship that has been forged with sister aid agencies.”

Christian Aid provides helpful prayers and other worship resources to rally and express care and concern for those affected by the worsening situation in Iraq.

God of refuge and strength,
We pray for all those escaping fighting, seeking safety in northern Iraq.
Those half a million people who are now on the move and
those 220,000 Syrian refugees already there.
May you be a very present help in their trouble.
Help through the provision of resources so needs are met.
Help through food, water, hygiene and sanitation kits.
Help so this ‘crisis on top of a crisis’ would not reach breaking point.
May those who are left with nothing
Know that they are not forgotten.
May they once again be able to fear less.

Please pray for those impacted by the crisis in Iraq and the surrounding region, and those ministering to their humanitarian needs.

To enable Episcopal Relief & Development to provide disaster assistance in Iraq and other places where help is most needed, please contribute to the Disaster Response Fund.

Applications accepted for Episcopal Church delegates at 2015 United Nations meeting

Monday, August 18, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Applications are being accepted for a provincial delegate and up to 20 churchwide delegates to represent The Episcopal Church at the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) in New York City, March 9-20, 2015.

The provincial delegate and the churchwide delegates will be able to attend the official UNCSW proceedings at the UN and will represent The Episcopal Church/Anglican Communion in their advocacy at the UN, including joint advocacy with the group Ecumenical Women.

The 2015 UNCSW theme is a review of progress made in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Program for Action, 20 years after its adoption at the Fourth World Conference for Women in 1995.  See more here.

Applications are open to an adult or youth (ages 16-20), women or men, who can speak to the theme and are willing to participate in advocacy at UNSCW. Youth should be accompanied by an adult chaperone.

Applicants should have a relevant role at the parish, diocesan and/or provincial level, be accountable to a diocesan or provincial authority, and have a process for reporting back to their local community after participating in UNCSW.

Applicants will be expected to be present in New York City for UNSCW March 6-20, or as close to the entire stay as possible. Successful applicants will be responsible for their own travel, housing and program expenses.

The delegates will be chosen by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori; applicants will be notified by mid-October.

Application is available here. Deadline is September 15.

For more information contact Lynnaia Main, Episcopal Church Global Relations Officer, lmain@episcopalchurch.org.

Praying ‘that this Ebola passes over’ in Liberia

Monday, August 18, 2014

Liberian soldiers check people travelling in Bomi County Aug. 11. Liberian troops set up Ebola roadblocks and stopped public access to some of the worst-hit towns after the country declared a state of emergency to tackle the worst outbreak of the disease on record. Photo: Reuters

[Episcopal News Service] Liberian Archbishop Jonathan Bau-Bau Bonaparte Hart is praying to God “that this Ebola passes over” western Africa and his people are restored to health soon.

Hart, who spoke to Episcopal News Service Aug. 18 via telephone from his office in Monrovia’s Trinity Cathedral, spent the previous day visiting churches of all denominations in the capital city to urge people to practice the preventative measures being called for by medical and governmental workers and “to refrain from anything that will bring Ebola to us.”

Also on Aug. 18, Hart e-mailed ENS a two-page letter explaining that a widely reported recent statement by the Liberian Council of Churches about the need for prayer over the Ebola outbreak had been changed by an unknown person to include a reference to homosexuality and then released to the media. Hart is president of the council.

The Liberian Observer newspaper reported July 31 that the council had called for three days of national “indoor fasting and prayer” Aug. 6-8. The newspaper said that the first resolve of the resolution calling for the days of prayer read “that God is angry with Liberia, and that Ebola is a plague. Liberians have to pray and seek God’s forgiveness over the corruption and immoral acts (such as homosexualism, etc.) that continue to penetrate our society. As Christians, we must repent and seek God’s forgiveness.”

In his letter to ENS, Hart wrote that the call for prayer arose out of a council meeting in which the church leaders used Scripture to understand that they were “in the midst of a plague” and that, like the children of Israel, they and the nation were called to pray, fast and repent.

“As we talked about the state of our nation and how the most vulnerable of our society – women, children, the poor, the voiceless, continue to suffer the consequences of a post war nation that still lacks basic health care, education and economic empowerment, we, the leaders, felt that if God is angry at us, we must have done something against God’s will.”

Council members agreed that the nation needed to repent of its “shortcomings, including greed, corruption and the lack of stewardship for the care of our nation and its people.”

The discussion during the meeting included a conversation about human sexuality. The council is theologically diverse “and so we will interpret the teachings on human sexuality in more than one way,” Hart wrote.

“While we all agree with the protection of all people from acts of sexual violence, some of my colleagues believe that the sexual orientation of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters is against God’s will,” he said in the letter.

However, there was no agreement to mention human sexuality in the church council statement, Hart wrote, and “neither I nor my colleagues who have a different view on human sexuality, approved the inclusion of the word ‘homosexuality’ as something for which the nation has to repent.”

“Someone chose to include that one word” to a statement that he thought all members had agreed on, Hart wrote.

The archbishop left immediately after the meeting to travel to the southeastern part of Liberia and, he wrote, without internet access he had “no way of knowing what the statement said” until he returned to Monrovia to calls from “very angry Liberian Episcopalians in Liberia and around the world.”

In the Aug. 18 letter Hart wrote that as president of the church council he should have “personally reviewed the final statement, edited it.”

“I profoundly regret that I did not,” he wrote.

Hart apologized to “anyone and everyone who was hurt by that statement” and wrote that he hopes the statement’s problems do not define his church’s “incredible witness” in Liberia.

Faithful witness in Liberia
That witness is anchored in faith. Liberians have always turned to their faith in troubled times, the archbishop wrote, “from the bloody military coup d’etat execution of certain government officials, who were some of our parishioners and relatives, to the 14 years of senseless and bloody civil war that saw the worst human behavior, and now this Ebola virus.”

Liberian Archbishop Jonathan Bau-Bau Bonaparte Hart

Hart said that Ebola is a new and different war. “Unlike the war where we knew there were soldiers and rebels armed with weapons and deep hatred, this new war is silent, invisible, but just as devastating.”

Health workers in the Liberian capital of Monrovia are being overwhelmed in their efforts to collect and properly dispose of the bodies of those who have died from Ebola, Hart told ENS.
Sometimes people run out of patience to wait and so “sometimes they go on a rampage to attract police,” he said.

Weekend violence at a clinic for testing and monitoring people who had been exposed to Ebola occurred, according to what Hart had learned, because residents of the surrounding community thought that the patients did in fact have Ebola. They attacked the clinic “and made away with some of the health center’s materials,” he said.

News accounts of the attack in what Hart called “one of the worst slum areas” of Monrovia reported that bloody sheets and mattresses were also taken and that 17 people being kept at the clinic had disappeared.
According to Hart, people also are struggling with the conflicting desires to care for their sick family members and prepare the bodies of those who have died with the necessity of not coming in contact with the bodily fluids through which Ebola, a hemorrhagic virus, spreads.

He said he and others in the churches and in government are urging people to set up hand-washing stations and to wash their hands frequently in chlorine-treated water.

In addition, there are people who “still do not believe what is happening is Ebola – who still do not believe that there is Ebola in our country,” Hart said.

Ebola deaths increasing throughout West Africa
The current Ebola outbreak began in Guinea in December 2013 and now involves Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, according to the United Nations’ World Health Organization.

On Aug. 15, WHO said that between Aug. 12-13, a total of 152 new cases of Ebola virus disease (laboratory-confirmed, probable and suspect cases) as well as 76 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Since the outbreak began, there have been 2,127 laboratory-confirmed, probable and suspect cases and 1,145 laboratory-confirmed, probable, and suspect deaths, the organization said.

“The scale, duration, and lethality of the Ebola outbreak have generated a high level of public fear and anxiety, which extends well beyond west Africa,” another press release from WHO said. “Such reactions are understandable, given the high fatality rate and the absence of a vaccine or cure.”

The organization acknowledged that people are looking everywhere for cures and that some are placing their hopes in dangerous products and practices. “All rumors of any other effective products or practices are false,” WHO said in the release. “Their use can be dangerous. In Nigeria, for example, at least two people have died after drinking salt water, rumored to be protective.”

“The most effective personal behaviors are avoiding well-known high-risk situations, knowing the symptoms of infection, and reporting early for testing and care. Evidence suggests that early supportive care improves the prospects of survival,” the statement said.

The organization also cautioned people against hoping for the widespread effectiveness of experimental drugs to treat Ebola, which it authorized last week, because of safety concerns, difficulty in administration in such settings and the limited supply of the drugs.

WHO has called the outbreak “the largest, most severe and most complex” since the disease was first seen in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 1976. The disease killed 280 during that outbreak, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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

Bishop Seabury Church in Groton sold to Baptist congregation

Monday, August 18, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut press release] The building formerly known as Bishop Seabury Episcopal Church on North Road in Groton is set on a new path to serve God’s mission in Groton and beyond. The Episcopal Church in Connecticut had maintained a parish presence on the site since 1966 when the congregation relocated there from its former home at Fort Street in Groton. Beginning on Aug. 15 the property will become the new home of Stedfast Baptist Church.

The building became available for repurposing following the departure of its worshipping community from The Episcopal Church because of theological differences. After a prolonged legal challenge, the property remained part of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut.

For the last 18 months lay and ordained leaders from the Bishops’ Office and from Episcopal parishes in Gales Ferry, New London, Niantic, Norwich, Poquetanuck, Stonington, Mystic, and Yantic worked closely together to discern what God is up to in Groton and its environs, and how the resources of the Bishop Seabury Church might best be used to extend God’s mission in Groton and across Connecticut. In a community-wide meeting in January, representatives of the neighborhood, social service agencies, other faith communities, and municipal offices all shared their hopes and dreams, needs and aspirations for Groton.

Following the community meeting Episcopal leaders pursued wide-ranging options for the property with possibilities including: housing for wounded veterans, a community center, and a soup kitchen. In the end it was decided that the best option would be to sell the building to another Christian community and use the proceeds to support a new missionary program of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut.

During this period of discernment, leaders of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut were in conversation with members of Stedfast Baptist Church, currently located at 1041 Poquonnock Road in Groton. As God would have it, the leaders of Stedfast Baptist Church, a long-time and respected Christian church in the Groton community, were looking to relocate to a new and larger facility. In a matter of months an agreement had been worked out between the two churches.

The Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, the Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, said of these developments: “I am delighted that the building formerly known as Bishop Seabury Church will continue to be a house of prayer for sisters and brothers in Christ. And I am particularly excited that the resources freed up by the sale of the building will help to underwrite a new missionary program through the Missionary Society of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. After all, Bishop Samuel Seabury, the first bishop in The Episcopal Church, was a pioneering missionary in these parts in the early years of American independence. I can think of no better use of the money coming from the sale of the church that bears his name than to support new missionaries in Connecticut today.”

Ferguson, Misurí: líderes de la Iglesia intentan ayudar a rehacer la confianza de la comunidad

Monday, August 18, 2014

Wayne Smith, obispo [episcopal] de Misurí desfila el 14 de agosto, junto con clérigos y otras personas, a través del complejo de apartamentos de Canfield Green, donde el joven Michael Brown, de 18 años, fue muerto a tiros el 9 de agosto. Foto de Mike Angell.

[Episcopal News Service] La Rda. Teresa Mithen-Danieley confiando en que “probablemente no habría gases lacrimógenos” se llevó consigo a su hija de dos años, Ruby Frances, a la marcha del 14 de agosto en Ferguson, Misurí, para empezar a rehacer la confianza de la comunidad después de que un policía matara a tiros a un adolescente negro desarmado el 9 de agosto y la secuela de violencia que ello tuvo.

Junto con el obispo Wayne Smith, de Misurí, ella y otros episcopales se unieron al menos a otras 1.000 personas —clérigos, funcionarios públicos, vecinos y partidarios— en una manifestación en Ferguson de más de 3 kilómetros de largo, en la cual los clérigos se situaron en los perímetros y en los extremos, según dijo Mithen-Danieley.

“Quisimos tratar de hacerle claro a cualquiera que quisiera participar en la manifestación y a la policía y al público que este es un acto no violento, y que estábamos todos allí en solidaridad con las personas de Ferguson”.

Mientras los manifestantes se acercaban al complejo de Canfield Green, donde el adolescente de 18 años Michael Brown resultó fatalmente herido el 9 de agosto “entrábamos en un valle de casas estilo rancho y uno podía ver que todo el barrio estaba saturado de gases lacrimógenos”, explicó.

“Uno podía apreciar en la medida en que usaron los gases lacrimógenos, permeaban toda la zona”, dijo Mithen-Daniely, rectora de la iglesia episcopal de San Juan [St. John’s Episcopal Church] en Tower Grove cerca de San Luis.

La agresión a tiros —y el nivel de la violencia policial dirigida a la comunidad predominantemente afroamericana en los días que siguieron— ha reabierto viejas heridas y expuesto dolorosamente las divisiones raciales y económicas en esta comunidad suburbana de San Luis de unos 21.000 habitantes.

Y el 15 de agosto, la declaración de la policía en que nombraba al agente que hizo los disparos e identificab a Michael Brown como sospechoso de un robo no cambió nada de eso, según el obispo Smith.

“La elección del momento es desafortunada, que la mención de Michael Brown como sospechoso se haya dado a conocer al mismo momento en que se revelaba el nombre del agente”, dijo él a ENS el 15 de agosto. “Simplemente no pareció justo. Es absolutamente una maniobra distractiva en lo concerniente a la agresión policial en sí”.

Los efectos persistentes de la violencia espiritual de la justicia racial y económica “no son nuevos para nosotros; es algo que hemos tenido que enfrentar durante mucho tiempo”, añadió Smith quien, en un comunicado en la página web de la diócesis, hizo un llamado a todos los episcopales “especialmente a aquellos cuya raza o cultura les otorga un innato privilegio, lo que se ha puesto de manifiesto, a orar acerca de estas cosas, a aprender humildemente de ellas, y anhelar y laborar en pro de respuestas que promuevan la justicia”.


Cicatrices permanentes, divisiones raciales y económicas

Mientras viajaba hasta Ferguson desde la iglesia catedral de Cristo [Christ Church Cathedral] en San Luis, para participar en la marcha del 14 de agosto, contaba Smith: “pasé por el cementerio del Calvario, donde está enterrado Dred Scott, y pensaba en esa larga y dolorosa historia que hemos tenido con las relaciones raciales aquí en la ciudad y el condado de San Luis”.

Dread Scott, siendo esclavo, presentó una demanda para obtener su libertad en un caso célebre que finalmente llegó al Tribunal Supremo de EE.UU. En 1857, el tribunal dictaminó que por ser Scott negro, no era ciudadano y, por consiguiente, no tenía derecho a demandar.

Smith dijo que se había unido a la marcha atendiendo la invitación de la Coalición de Clérigos Metropolitanos “una organización predominantemente afroamericana. Enviamos una notificación por correo electrónico al clero y al laicado y en verdad me sentí animado por la decidida muestra de apoyo”.

“espero que nuestra Iglesia pueda seguir el ejemplo de lo que la comunidad de Ferguson y las comunidades vecinas necesitan y quieren. Tenemos que respetar su integridad y su autoridad”, afirmó.

Smith dijo también que durante la marcha “desfiló con un joven del Colegio Universitario de Morehouse que había venido en auto desde Atlanta con Ruby Sales”, quien había sido invitada a hablar en un evento local.

“Él quería contribuir con la resolución del conflicto en San Luis y me pidió mis señas para ponerse en contacto conmigo”, contó Smith. “Le mencioné que ayer era la fiesta de Jonathan Daniels”, el seminarista episcopal que murió por salvar a Sales de un escopetazo durante la campaña en pro de los derechos civiles en 1965, [que se llamó] Verano de la Libertad en Hayneville, Alabama.


‘Una enorme falta de confianza’

El Muy Rdo. Mike Kinman, deán de la iglesia catedral de Cristo en San Luis, dijo que después que se diera a conocer, el 15 de agosto, el nombre del agente así como la información que incriminaba a Brown como sospechoso de robo, “la situación estaba cambiando por instantes”.

El momento de comunicar esa información “denuncia la enorme falta de confianza en nuestra comunidad; que es uno de los problemas fundamentales aquí”, señaló. “Ha habido, a lo largo del tiempo, un increíble deterioro de la confianza entre la comunidad negra de San Luis y el departamento de la policía y las instituciones de la justicia en general, y no sólo en Ferguson, sino en toda el área metropolitana”.

El 14 de agosto, el gobernador de Misurí, Jay Nixon, le quitó la supervisión de la seguridad en Ferguson a la policía local y la puso en manos del capitán Ronald S. Johnson, de Patrulla de Caminos, y prometió un cambio en el tono de lo que el Rdo. Steve Lawler y otros han llamado “una militarización” de la policía.

La policía estatal se unió con los manifestantes en la marcha del 14 de agosto. Brillaban por su ausencia los equipos antimotines, las armas semiautomáticas, los vehículos blindados y la excesiva demostración de fuerza que antes había usado la policía de Ferguson, apuntó él.

“Esa ha sido la gran conmoción, la mayor sorpresa, la respuesta de la policía”, dijo Lawler, rector de la iglesia episcopal de San Esteban [St. Stephen’s] (http://www.saint-stephens.info) en Ferguson. “Realmente ha sido intensa, y parece como si hubiera acelerado, más bien que desacelerado, el resolver la manera en que la gente volviera a trabajar junta”.

Chester Hines, presidente de la comisión diocesana sobre el desmantelamiento del racismo estaba dirigiendo un taller de formación antirracista en Sikeston, a 233 kilómetros a sur de San Luis, que ya estaba programado “antes de que Ferguson explotara”.

Pero él no se mostró sorprendido por los disparos ni por la violencia, “como un resultado de mi propia experiencia con el racismo en esta comunidad durante más de 60 años ahora”, dijo. “La razón por la cual realizo esta labor se debe a mis propias experiencias personales de convivir con el racismo en San Luis”.

Y, agregó, que las mismas circunstancias de Ferguson están presentes en otras comunidades. La diferencia consiste en que “Ferguson tiene una población bastante grande de personas de color, que fueron capaces de salirle al paso como comunidad a las fuerzas del departamento de policía. En la mayoría de nuestras comunidades suburbanas las personas de color son realmente una minoría, de manera que en verdad tienen una voz o un impacto muy limitado”.


Emplear ‘el poder del Evangelio’

No obstante, a pesar de todo, dijo Lawler, “el poder del Evangelio ha sido palpable”.

La despensa de San Esteban está desesperadamente necesitada de reabastecimientos; muchos negocios locales estuvieron cerrados y los vecinos se mostraban renuentes a aventurarse afuera debido a la masiva presencia de la policía, contó él.

“No podíamos conseguir alimentos y sabíamos que esta es la época del año cuando la gente tiene que comprar útiles escolares y otras cosas”, dijo. “El lunes habría sido el primer día de clases del distrito escolar.

“Las personas ya estaban presionadas económicamente”, añadió. “Es un mes caro”.

Pero la respuesta resultó abrumadora, ya que las congregaciones diocesanas, las organizaciones comunitarias y los individuos inundaron la despensa con alimentos y artículos de uso personal. Por ejemplo, dijo Lawler, “hay un hombre que está por temporadas sin hogar, pero pasó y me dio un par de latas de frijoles listos para comer, las cuales yo sé que son probablemente la mitad de la comida que él tiene para el día, si acaso”.

“Otro tipo, cuyo hijo se encontraba comprando marihuana en el lugar equivocado a la hora equivocada, y a quien mataron a tiros hace un par de semanas, se apareció con comida, lleno de compasión por la comunidad. Hay un nivel de compenetración que ha estado presente aquí, en medio de todo esto”.

La planificación para otras vigilias de oración, manifestaciones y actos también se encuentra en marcha, en tanto la comunidad comienza a hacerle frente a la difícil labor a largo plazo de reconstruir la confianza y emprender la reconciliación.

Chuck Wynder, misionero de la Iglesia Episcopal para la justicia y la defensa social dijo que ha estado trabajando estrechamente con sus colegas el Misionero para la Reconciliación Racial, Heidi Kim, y con Alex Baumgarten, que dirige la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales de la Iglesia “para ver cómo podemos acompañar a la gente aquí y cómo podemos apoyar a la diócesis y a la comunidad”.

“Queremos cerciorarnos de que nuestro testimonio y nuestra defensa social está presente tanto en la localidad como en la Iglesia a nivel denominacional y facilitar nuestra respuesta misional de manera que otras partes de la Iglesia más allá de Ferguson y de la Diócesis de Misurí sepan que la Iglesia está presente en medio de todo esto”, afirmó.

El Rdo. Mike Angell que, como misionero de la Iglesia Episcopal para los jóvenes adultos y el ministerio universitario, está radicado en San Luis, dijo que escribió un pliego de preguntas y respuestas para ayudar a los estudiantes universitarios y jóvenes adultos a discutir las ramificaciones de la tragedia de Ferguson.


Comenzar la ardua tarea de la reconciliación

Congregarse y avanzar constituye un reto a largo plazo, dijo Angell. “Es un problema de racismo sistémico”, afirmó. “Tenemos una crisis en nuestro país que salió a relucir con lo que sucedió con Michael Brown. Es permanente. Tenemos mucho que hacer hoy día y ¿no es la Iglesia exactamente el lugar donde debemos hacerlo?”.

La Rda. Teresa Mithen-Danieley convino con él.

“Ha habido alguna respuesta inmediata esta semana, y me alegro de eso”, dijo Mithen-Danieley, que creció en Normandy, una comunidad vecina a Ferguson. “Pero quiero un compromiso a largo plazo”, añadió.

“Para mí, eso no significa mucho, a menos que la diócesis como un todo y las personas de la diócesis continúen invirtiendo y participando en la justicia económica y la justicia racial a largo plazo en nuestra región. Desafortunadamente, esta tragedia ha ayudado a las personas a ver que hay muchísimas tensiones que han estado ocurriendo a lo largo de toda mi vida, y yo tengo 37”, puntualizó ella.

“Espero que sea una oportunidad de llevar esto a toda la Iglesia, cómo la justicia racial y la económica están vinculadas y que esto es un problema a largo plazo que no se va a acabar cuando se acaben las manifestaciones”.

Kinman se mostró de acuerdo.

“Ahora mismo, está en los medios de prensa, una causa que nos ha exaltado, y eso es importante y está bien. Pero los asuntos con que esto tiene que ver son el poder y el privilegio y la raza y la clase social y ellos han estado presente durante mucho tiempo. Enfrentarse a esto conllevará un empeño sostenido.

“Y les corresponderá a las personas con poder y privilegios, y esas constituyen la mayoría de los episcopales blancos y de los sanluiseños blancos; y nos corresponderá educarnos y convertirnos realmente en buenos escuchas y examinar cómo somos llamados a cambiar algunos de estos sistemas que llevaron a la muerte de Michael Brown”.

La catedral está sosteniendo conversaciones respecto a formar parte de ese proceso actual educativo “y de restauración, no de restauración hasta el punto donde todo el mundo, de alguna manera, se quede callado otra vez, sino restauración que nos lleve a alcanzar un nivel diferente”, explicó.

“Nunca le devolveremos la vida a Michael Brown, pero esto puede redimirse de algún modo”.

“No resulta fácil, en momentos como éste, elegir a una parte —a una persona o a un grupo de personas— como completamente buena y a la otra parte como completamente mala, y tenemos que resistir eso a toda costa. Pero, somos llamados a ser embajadores de Cristo y ministros de la reconciliación y tenemos que respaldar a todo el mundo. Tenemos que llamar a todos nosotros a ser esas imágenes de Dios que son nuestra mejor naturaleza.

“Esa es la labor a largo plazo de la Iglesia, establecer relaciones de amor y de respeto con todos, de manera que podamos congregarlos a todos y decir escuchémoslos a todos y atendamos lo que Dios nos está llamando a ser”.

–La Rda. Pat McCaughan es corresponsal de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Agrupaciones de la Iglesia se movilizan para hacerle frente al brote del ébola en África Occidental

Monday, August 18, 2014

Unos voluntarios sepultan un cadáver —preparado conforme a normas de enterramiento seguras para garantizar que no presente riesgos de salud para otros y que interrumpa la cadena de transmisiones de una persona a otra— en una tumba de Kailahún, Sierra Leona. Foto de Tarik Jasarevic/Reuters/OMS.

[Episcopal News Service] Dos sacerdotes episcopales con profundas raíces personales y profesionales en dos de los países que están siendo devastados por el ébola dicen que los empeños por contener la propagación del virus mortal están siendo obstaculizados por la lentitud de la respuesta, la falta de suministros médicos, el analfabetismo, la pobreza y la desinformación.

“El problema que hemos tenido es que los liberianos no toman medidas preventivas”, dijo el Rdo. James Tetegba Yarsiah a ENS el 13 de agosto, añadiendo que hasta hace unas pocas semanas los liberianos no le estaban prestando atención a esta “enfermedad mortal”.

“Es ahora que lo están tomando muy en serio”, dijo Yarsiah, que es el capellán y vicario de Voorhees College donde también ejerce de profesor auxiliar de religión y filosofía. Él es también un líder de la Comunidad Episcopal Liberiana en los Estados Unidos de América.

Los padres, hermanos y suegra de Yarsiah, además de otros parientes y amigos suyos, viven en Liberia, que junto con Sierra Leona y Guinea se encuentra en el centro del peor brote de ébola de la historia. Él les ha instado a que tomen medidas preventivas para protegerse del virus, según dijo.

Ellos “se sienten aterrados y horrorizados por la manera en [el ébola] ha asolado y causado la muerte a la población de África Occidental, de manera que están llegando al convencimiento de que es muy peligroso”.

“Y también ven el sufrimiento que le ha traído a la región”, agregó.

James Yarsiah


Hasta hace muy poco, la Iglesia Episcopal de Liberia, que tiene sus raíces en la Iglesia Episcopal en Estados Unidos y que ahora es parte de la Iglesia Anglicana en la Provincia de África Occidental, no ha estado haciendo mucho respecto al ébola, agregó Yarsiah.

“Y la razón para eso es que esto es algo que ha tomado a todo el país por sorpresa, y que ha avanzado con mucha rapidez y ha causado mucho caos y muerte”, explicó, añadiendo que La Iglesia Episcopal de Liberia no cuenta con los materiales necesarios, las instalaciones y los suministros médicos que se necesitan. La Iglesia, sin embargo, está intentando educar a la gente, especialmente en las zonas rurales, respecto a la manera de protegerse.

El arzobispo Jonathan Bau-Bau Bonaparte Hart, que fue electo en 2008 como obispo de Liberia y que se convirtió el mes pasado en el arzobispo de la Provincia Interna de África Occidental en la Iglesia de la Provincia de África Occidental, le estuvo contando a Yarsiah del sufrimiento y el miedo que él presencia en Liberia.

“Él teme por sus fieles a través de la diócesis”, apuntó Yarsiah.

Ministrar una zona afectada por una enfermedad como el ébola, dijo Yarsiah, constituye “una carga para él y todo el clero y para toda la Iglesia”.

Agregó que ha tenido noticias de algunos colegas suyos, graduados como él de la Universidad de Cuttington, fundada en 1889 en el sur de Libera por la Iglesia Episcopal de EE.UU., que han perdido a miembros de su familia debido a este virus. Algunos enfermeros profesionales que se graduaron en Cuttington han muerto.

Ese tipo de noticias hace que el ébola “toque de cerca” a los [africanos] que viven en Estados Unidos, señaló él. Hace que la gente tema que no tardará en recibir malas noticias sobre sus seres queridos que se quedaron allá.

Yarsiah cree que si bien muchas iglesias episcopales en Liberia se han visto afectadas por el ébola, la mayoría sigue funcionando. “Este es un momento en que las iglesias deben abrir sus puertas y ayudar a la información de las personas, ayudar a consolar y aconsejar a la gente”, afirmó.

En un llamado a la oración por la población de África Occidental hecho el 8 de agosto, la organización misionera anglicana Us., conocida anteriormente como la Sociedad Unida para la Propagación del Evangelio (USPG por su sigla en inglés) informaba que [el obispo] Hart le había dicho al personal de su diócesis que “hemos unido fuerzas con el Consejo de Iglesias, el gobierno y otras organizaciones en la lucha contra el ébola. Las iglesias están instruyendo a nuestros miembros a que eviten el contacto con personas infectadas, a que se laven las manos con cloro y a que no entren en pánico”.

“Instamos al público a que mantenga su medioambiente limpio”, dijo Hart, añadiendo que la Iglesia está repitiendo el mensaje de las autoridades sanitarias al pedirles a los episcopales que “evitan darse la mano y, en la medida en que sea posible, rehúsen cualquier innecesario contacto corporal”.

“Necesitamos guantes quirúrgicos desechables, cloro y útiles de higiene como salvaguarda contra el ébola”, le dijo Hart a Us.

Yarsiah contó que la Comunidad Episcopal Liberiana en los Estados Unidos de América está tratando de ayudar a la Iglesia a reunir esos suministros, valiéndose de una lista proporcionada por el Consejo Liberiano de Iglesias, del cual Hart es el presidente, y de otra lista que publicara en su página web la embajada liberiana en Washington, D.C.

Se puede obtener más información sobre esta iniciativa en la página web de la organización.

A fines de julio, El Consejo Liberiano de Iglesia pidió tres días de “ayuno y oración de puertas cerradas”, del 6 al 8 de agosto. El llamado, que se divulgó en los periódicos de Liberia, comenzaba por decir que “Dios estaba enojado con Liberia y que el ébola era una plaga. Que los liberianos tienen que orar y buscar el perdón de Dios por la corrupción y actos inmorales (tales como homosexualismo, etc.) que siguen penetrando en nuestra sociedad. Como cristianos, debemos arrepentirnos y buscar el perdón de Dios”.


El ébola en Sierra Leona

En la Diócesis de Texas, el Rdo. Johannes George, natural de Sierra Leona, dijo haber escuchado otro tipo de información acerca del ébola.

George ha estado en contacto diariamente con amigos y familiares en busca de actualización. Junto con su congregación en la iglesia episcopal de Cristo el Rey [Christ the King Episcopal Church] en Houston, George reunió a un gran grupo de africanos del sudoeste de Houston para orar y recaudar dinero a fin de ayudar [en esta crisis], informó la diócesis el 12 de agosto. Él también hace contacto por Internet cada sábado con musulmanes y cristianos de todo el país para orar por las víctimas y por los trabajadores sanitarios en África.

George contó que había hablado con personas de su pueblo natal de Kenama, el cual se encuentra en cuarentena.

“Nadie confía en nadie. No confían en los trabajadores sanitarios; ni siquiera confían en su propia familia”, dijo George durante la entrevista en vídeo de la Diócesis de Texas.

“Hay un conflicto entre los trabajadores sanitarios y la gente tradicional”, agregó, que parte de la tradición de la gente de lavar y ungir a los muertos y de “darles un último abrazo” antes del entierro, y el empeño de los trabajadores médicos de evitar que las personas tengan tales contactos con los muertos del ébola.

Las personas, añadió, deben ser sensibles al hecho de que deben comportarse de manera diferente durante una epidemia. Este hecho alguna gente lo pierde de vista, especialmente en aldeas rurales, dijo George.

“No creen que es algo que proviene del interior [de su sociedad], señaló. “La creencia es que proviene de afuera, que viene de Occidente y que Occidente está infectándonos con esto”.

No entienden que el ébola proviene de comer mono, insectos y otros “animales salvajes” que dice George que las personas comen por falta de otros alimentos. El diseminar información acerca del ébola y cómo se propaga resulta difícil porque muchas personas son analfabetas. La mayoría no tiene radio ni televisión, añadió.



Un informe reciente del New York Times mostraba un cuadro sombrío de la propagación del virus en Njala Ngiema, donde George una vez prestó servicios y predicó. La aldea de 500 habitantes ha perdido más del 10 por ciento de su población, muchos de los cuales son agricultores de subsistencia.

George teme que la cuarentena impuesta para prevenir la propagación de la enfermedad afecte a una población víctima de la pobreza al reducir los pocos suministros de alimento y comida de que disponen los miembros de la aldea. Recurrirán a beber de las aguas contaminadas y a comer más animales salvajes, expresó.

El Times informaba que los expertos reconocen que cualquier cordón sanitario debe permitir que el alimento, el agua y la atención médica lleguen a los de adentro.

Ade Renner-Thomas, canciller de la Diócesis de Freetown, en Sierra Leona, dijo a Us. El 8 de agosto que el gobierno de Sierra Leona ha declarado un estado de emergencia sanitaria pública, lo cual significa que hay cuarentenas en las zonas más afectadas. Se han restringido los movimientos en ciertas zonas y las reuniones de más de cinco personas están prohibidas.

“Cuando nos hemos reunido en una iglesia, no hay estrechones de mano al compartir el rito de la paz, etc.”, dijo él a Us. “Necesitamos tanta oración como ustedes puedan ofrecer”.

Ayuda y Desarrollo Episcopales labora con sus asociados, tanto en Liberia como en Sierra Leona, en apoyo a las campañas por crear conciencia y proporcionar equipo de protección personal y desinfectantes a hospitales y clínicas de escasos recursos en las zonas afectadas, según un comunicado de prensa del 6 de agosto.

La extensión del brote

El actual brote del ébola comenzó en Guinea en diciembre de 2013 y ahora afecta a Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria y Sierra Leona, según una declaración de la Organización Mundial de la Salud de Naciones Unidas.


El 14 de agosto, la OMS dijo que había 1.975 casos de ébola y 1.069 muertes reportadas en Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria y Sierra Leona.

La OMS ha calificado el brote como “el mayor, más grave y más complejo” desde que la enfermedad se detectó por primera vez en Zaire, ahora República Democrática del Congo, en 1976. La enfermedad mató 280 personas durante ese brote, según el Centro para Control y Prevención de Enfermedades de Estados Unidos.

En su entrevista con la Diócesis de Texas, George pidió que las drogas experimentales se pusieran inmediatamente a disposición [de los que las necesitaran]. Y el 13 de agosto, la Organización Mundial de la Salud aprobó tal uso, con precauciones.

El respaldo de la organización se produjo después de que ésta reunió a un grupo de especialistas en cuestiones éticas para considerar las implicaciones de responder al uso de tales medicamentos para salvar la vida de pacientes y frenar la propagación de la epidemia, aunque aún su inocuidad y eficacia en seres humanos no hubiese sido evaluada.

“Hubo un acuerdo unánime entre los expertos de que en las circunstancias especiales de este brote del ébola, es ético ofrecer intervenciones no registradas como tratamientos potenciales o de prevención”, dijo Marie-Paule Kieny, subdirectora general de la Organización Mundial de la Salud.

Si los medicamentos han de aplicarse a los pacientes y en qué momento “existe la obligación moral de recoger y compartir todos los datos que se generen”, dijo el organismo en un resumen del 12 de agosto de su debate del día anterior.

“Hubo un acuerdo unánime de que existe un deber moral de evaluar también estas intervenciones (para el tratamiento o la prevención) en los mejores experimentos clínicos que permitan las circunstancias a fin de probar definitivamente su inocuidad y eficacia o arrojar pruebas para detener su utilización”, dijo la institución.

La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Ferguson, Missouri: Church leaders aim to help rebuild community trust

Friday, August 15, 2014

Missouri Bishop Wayne Smith marches Aug. 14 with clergy and others through the Canfield Green apartment complex where 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot Aug. 9. Photo: Mike Angell

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Teresa Mithen-Danieley gambled “there probably wouldn’t be tear gas” and took her two-year-old daughter Ruby Frances with her to the Aug. 14 march in Ferguson, Missouri, to begin to rebuild community trust after the Aug. 9 fatal police shooting of an unarmed black teenager and its violent aftermath.

Along with Missouri Bishop Wayne Smith, she and other Episcopalians joined at least 1,000 other clergy, public officials, residents and supporters in the nearly two-mile march in Ferguson with clergy positioned on the perimeters and ends, according to Mithen-Danieley.

“We wanted to try to be clear to anybody that wanted to participate in the march and to the police and to the public that this is a nonviolent event, and that we were all there in solidarity with the people of Ferguson.”

As marchers approached the Canfield Green apartment complex where 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot Aug. 9 “we were walking down into a valley of ranch-style homes and you could see how the whole neighborhood was tear-gassed,” she said.

“You could see how the tear gas was used, it permeated the whole area,” said Mithen-Daniely, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Tower Grove near St. Louis.

The shooting — and the level of police violence directed at the predominantly African American community in its aftermath — has re-opened old wounds and painfully exposed racial and economic divides in the suburban St. Louis community of about 21,000.

And the Aug. 15 police statement naming the officer involved in the shooting and identifying Michael Brown as a robbery suspect didn’t change any of that, according to Bishop Smith.

“It’s unfortunate timing, that the mention of Michael Brown as a suspect was released at the same moment as the name of the officer was released,” he told ENS on Aug. 15. “It just did not seem right. It is absolutely a red herring when it comes to the shooting itself.”

The lingering effects of the spiritual violence of racial and economic injustice “are not new to us; it’s something we’ve had to face for a long time,” added Smith, who in a statement on the diocesan website called upon all Episcopalians “especially those whose race or culture gives innate privilege, to look upon what has been laid bare, to pray about these things, humbly to learn from them, and to yearn and work for responses that would bring justice.”

Lingering scars, racial and economic divides

While traveling to Ferguson from Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis for the Aug. 14 march Smith said: “I passed by Calvary Cemetery, where Dred Scott is buried, and I thought of that long and painful history that we’ve had with race relations here in St. Louis city and county.”

A slave, Dred Scott sued to gain his freedom in a landmark case that eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1857, the court ruled that because Scott was black, he was not a citizen and therefore had no right to sue.

Smith said that he joined the march at the invitation of the St. Louis Metropolitan Clergy Coalition “a predominantly African American organization. We sent out email notification to clergy and laity and I really was heartened by the strong support,” he said.

“I hope that our church really can follow the lead of what the community in Ferguson and surrounding communities need and want. We have to respect their integrity and authority,” he said.

During the march Smith said he “walked with a young man from Morehouse College who drove from Atlanta with Ruby Sales” who had been invited to speak at a local event.

“He wanted to be involved with conflict resolution in St. Louis and asked for my contact information,” Smith said. “I mentioned to him that yesterday was the feast of Jonathan Daniels” the Episcopal seminarian who died when he pushed Sales out of the way of a shotgun blast during the 1965 civil rights Freedom Summer in Hayneville, Alabama.

‘A huge poverty of trust’

The Very Rev. Mike Kinman, dean of Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis, said after the Aug. 15 release of the officer’s name and information naming Brown as a robbery suspect that “the situation is changing moment by moment.”

The timing of the release “speaks to the huge poverty of trust in our community; that’s one of the central issues here,” he said. “There has been over time an incredible deterioration of trust between the black community in St. Louis and the police department and the institutions of justice in general, and not just in Ferguson, but the whole metro area.”

On Aug. 14, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon took supervision of security in Ferguson away from the local police and gave it to Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson, and he promised a change in tone from what the Rev. Steve Lawler and others had called “a militarization” of the police.

State police joined with demonstrators during the Aug. 14 march. Noticeably absent were the riot gear, semi-automatic weapons, armored vehicles and excessive show of force previously used by the Ferguson police, he said.

“That’s been the biggest shock, the biggest surprise, the police response,” said Lawler, rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church (http://www.saint-stephens.info) in Ferguson. “It’s really been intense, and it seems like it’s accelerated rather than decelerated the figuring out how to get folks back to working together.”

Chester Hines, chairperson of the diocesan commission on dismantling racism was leading an anti-racism training in Sikeston, 145 miles south of St. Louis, that had been previously scheduled “before Ferguson blew up.”

But he wasn’t surprised at the shooting or the violence, “as a result of my own experience with racism in this community for over 60 years now,” he said. “The reason I do this work is because of my own personal experiences of living with racism in St. Louis.”

And, he said, the same circumstances in Ferguson are present in other communities. The difference is “Ferguson has a large enough population of people of color, that they were able to stand as a community against the forces of the police department. In most of our suburban communities people of color are really in a minority so they actually have very limited voice or impact.”

Engaging ‘the Power of the Gospel’

Yet, in spite of it all, Lawler said “the power of the Gospel” has been palpable.

St. Stephen’s food pantry desperately needed restocking; many local businesses were closed and residents were reluctant to venture out because of the massive police presence, he said.

“We couldn’t get food and we knew that this is the time of year when people have to buy school supplies and other things,” he said. “Monday would have been the first day of school for the local school district.

“People are already stressed financially,” he added. “It’s an expensive month.”

But the response was overwhelming, as diocesan congregations, community organizations and individuals flooded the food bank with food and personal items. For instance, Lawler said, “a guy I know who toggles in and out of being homeless but who stopped by and handed me a couple of cans of baked beans, which I know is probably half of the food he had for the day, if that.”

“Another guy, whose son was in the wrong place at the wrong time, buying weed and was shot and killed a couple of weeks ago, came by with food, with such compassion for the community. There’s a level of connectivity that’s been here throughout, in the midst of all this.”

Planning for additional prayer vigils, demonstrations and events is also underway, as the community begins to grapple with the long-term and challenging work of rebuilding trust and engaging reconciliation.

Chuck Wynder, Episcopal Church missioner for social justice and advocacy said he has been working closely with his colleagues Missioner for Racial Reconciliation Heidi Kim and with Alex Baumgarten, who directs the church’s Office of Government Relations, “to see how we can companion the folks there and how we can support the diocese and the community.”

“We want to make sure our witness and our advocacy is present both locally and church-wide and facilitate our missional response so that other parts of the church beyond Ferguson and the Diocese of Missouri know the church is present in the midst of all this,” he said.

The Rev. Mike Angell, who as Episcopal Church missioner for young adult and campus ministries is based in St. Louis, said he wrote a question and answer sheet to help college students and young adults discuss the ramifications of the Ferguson tragedy.

Beginning the hard task of reconciliation

Coming together and moving forward is a long-term challenge, Angell said. “It’s an issue of systemic racism,” he said. “We have a crisis in our country that broke through with what happened with Michael Brown. It’s ongoing. We have a lot of work to do today and isn’t the church exactly the place where we should be doing it?”

The Rev. Teresa Mithen-Danieley agreed.

“There’s been some immediate response this week, and I’m glad of that,” said Mithen-Danieley who grew up in Normandy, a community adjoining Ferguson. “But I want a long-term commitment,” she added.

“To me, it doesn’t mean much unless the diocese as a whole and the people of the diocese continue to be invested and engaged in long-term economic justice and racial justice in our region. Unfortunately, this tragedy has helped people to see there are a lot of tensions that have been going on my whole lifetime, and I’m 37,” she said.

“I hope this is an opportunity to bring this to the wider church, how racial and economic justice are tied together and that this is a long-term problem that’s not going to go away when the marching stops.”

Kinman agreed.

“Right now, it’s in the media, we’re riled up about it and that’s important and that’s good. But the issues this is all about are power and privilege and race and class and they have been around a long time. This will take a sustained effort to deal with.

“And it’s going to take people of power and privilege and that’s most of us white Episcopalians and white St. Louisans; it will take us becoming educated and becoming really good listeners and examining how we are being called to change some of these systems that led to the killing Michael Brown.”

The cathedral is having conversations about being part of that ongoing educational process, “and of healing, not healing to a point where everyone’s just sort of quiet again, but healing to where we reach a different level,” he said.

“We’re never bringing Michael Brown back, but somehow that this can be redeemed,” he said.

“It’s so easy in moments like this to cast one side, one person, one group of people as completely good and the other side as completely evil and we have to resist that at all costs. But, we are called to be ambassadors of Christ and ministers of reconciliation and we stand with everyone. We have to call all of us to be those images of God that are our best selves.

“That’s the long-term work of the church, to build relationships of love and respect with everybody so we can bring people together and say let’s listen to everybody and look at who God is calling us to be.”

–The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.


Church groups mobilize to address West Africa Ebola outbreak

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Volunteers lower a corpse, which is prepared with safe burial practices to ensure it does not pose a health risk to others and stop the chain of person-to-person transmission of Ebola, into a grave in Kailahun, Sierra Leone. Photo: Reuters/WHO/Tarik Jasarevic

[Episcopal News Service] Two Episcopal Church priests with deep personal and professional roots in two of the countries being devastated by Ebola say that efforts to stem the deadly virus’ spread are being hampered by a slow response, lack of medical supplies, illiteracy, poverty and misinformation.

“The problem we have had is Liberians not taking preventive measures,” the Rev. James Tetegba Yarsiah told ENS Aug. 13, adding that up to a few weeks ago many Liberians were not paying attention to this “deadly disease.”

“It is now that they are getting very serious about it,” said Yarsiah, who is the chaplain and vicar at Voorhees College where he is also an assistant professor of religion and philosophy. He also is a leader in the Liberian Episcopal Community in the United States of America.

Yarsiah’s parents, siblings and mother-in-law plus other relatives and friends live in Liberia, which along with Sierra Leone and Guinea is at the heart of the worst outbreak of Ebola in history. He has been urging them to take preventive measures to protect themselves against the virus, he said.

They are “being very terrified and horrified by the way [Ebola] has ravaged and killed people in West Africa, so they are coming to the realization that this is very dangerous.”

“And they also see the suffering that it has brought upon the land,” he said.

James Yarsiah

Up until very recently, the Episcopal Church of Liberia, which has its roots in the U.S.-based Episcopal Church and is now a part of the Anglican Church of the Province of West Africa, has not been doing much about Ebola, Yarsiah said.

“And the reason for that is this is something that has caught the entire country unexpectedly, and has moved so quickly and has caused so much havoc and death,” he explained, adding that the Episcopal Church in Liberia does not have the needed materials, facilities and medical supplies that are needed. The church, however, is trying to educate people, especially in rural areas, about how to protect themselves.

Archbishop Jonathan Bau-Bau Bonaparte Hart, who was elected in 2008 as the bishop of Liberia and became the archbishop of the Internal Province of West Africa in the Church of the Province of West Africa last month, told Yarsiah of the suffering and fear he sees in Liberia.

“He is fearful for his parishioners throughout the diocese,” Yarsiah said.

Ministering to an area affected by such a disease as Ebola is, Yarsiah said, “a burden on him and all the clergy and all the church.”

He said he has heard from fellow graduates of Cuttington University, founded in 1889 in southern Liberia by the U.S.-based Episcopal Church, who have lost family members to the virus. Some professional nurses who were Cuttington graduates have died, Yarsiah said.

That sort of news brings Ebola “close to home” for those living in the United States, he said. It makes people worry that they will soon hear bad news about their loved ones back home.

Yarsiah believes that while many Episcopal churches in Liberia are being touched by Ebola, most are still functioning. “This is a time that churches need to open their doors and help education people, help comfort and counsel people,” he said.

In an Aug. 8 call for prayers for the people of West Africa the Anglican mission organization Us., formerly known as USPG (United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel), reported that Hart had told its staffers “we have joined hands with the council of churches, the government and other organizations in the fight against Ebola. Churches are educating our members to avoid contact with infected people, wash hands with chlorine, and not to panic.”

“We encourage the public to keep their environments clean,” Hart said, adding that the church is repeating the message of the health authorities in calling on Episcopalians also to “avoid hand shaking and, as much as possible, refuse unnecessary bodily contact.”

“We need disposable surgical gloves, chorine and basic hygiene kits to safeguard against Ebola,” Hart told Us.

Yarsiah said that the Liberian Episcopal Community in the United States of America is trying to help the church gather those supplies, using a list provided by the Liberian Council of Churches, of which Hart is the president, and another list posted on the website of the Liberian embassy in Washington, D.C.

More information about that effort is available on the organization’s website.

In late July, the Liberian Council of Churches called for three days of national “indoor fasting and prayer” Aug. 6-8. The call, which was reported in Liberian newspapers, began by saying that “God is angry with Liberia, and that Ebola is a plague. Liberians have to pray and seek God’s forgiveness over the corruption and immoral acts (such as homosexualism, etc.) that continue to penetrate our society. As Christians, we must repent and seek God’s forgiveness.”

Ebola in Sierra Leone
In the Diocese of Texas, the Rev. Johannes George, a native of Sierra Leone, said he is hearing other kinds of misinformation about Ebola.

George has been in contact with friends and family daily for updates. Along with his congregation at Christ the King Episcopal Church in Houston, George has gathered a larger group of Africans in southwest Houston, to pray and raise money to help, the diocese reported Aug. 12. He also meets online each Saturday with Muslims and Christians across the country to pray for victims and health workers in Africa.

George said he has talked to people in his home town of Kenama, which is under quarantine.

“Nobody trusts anyone. They don’t trust the health workers; you don’t even trust your own family,” George said during the Diocese of Texas video interview.

“There is a conflict between the health workers and the traditional people,” he said, growing out of the people’s tradition of washing and anointing the dead and “giving them the final hug” before burial and medical workers’ efforts to keep people of having such contact with those whom Ebola has killed.

People, he said, need to be sensitized to the fact that they must behave differently during an epidemic. That fact is lost on some people, especially in rural villages, George said.

“They don’t believe that this is something coming from within,” he said. “The belief is that this is coming from the outside, coming from the West and that the West is infecting them with this.”

They do not understand that Ebola comes from eating monkey, insects and other “bush animals,” which George said the people eat for lack of other food. Disseminating information about Ebola and how it is spread is difficult because so many people are illiterate. Most do not have working radios or televisions, he added.

A New York Times’ story recently painted a grim picture of the virus’s spread in Njala Ngiema, where George once served and preached. The village of 500 has lost more than 10 percent of its population, many of whom are subsistence farmers.

George is worried that quarantines imposed to halt the spread of the disease will hurt the poverty-stricken population by cutting off what little food and water supplies villagers have. They will resort to drinking from polluted streams and eating more bush meat, he said.

The Times has reported that experts acknowledge that any cordon must let food, water and medical care reach those inside.

Ade Renner-Thomas, chancellor for the Diocese of Freetown, Sierra Leone, told Us. on Aug. 8 the Sierra Leone government has declared a state of public health emergency, which means there are quarantines in the areas most affected. Movements are restricted in certain areas, and gatherings of more than five people are prohibited.

“When we have met as a church, there are no more handshakes when we share the peace, etc.,” he told Us. “We need as much prayer as you can offer.”

Episcopal Relief & Development is working with its partners in both Liberia and Sierra Leone supporting awareness-raising efforts and providing personal protection equipment and disinfectants to under-resourced hospitals and clinics in the affected areas, according to an Aug. 6 press release.

The breadth of the outbreak
The current Ebola outbreak began in Guinea in December 2013 and now involves Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, according to a statement from the United Nations’ World Health Organization.

On Aug. 14, WHO said there were 1,975 cases of Ebola and 1,069 deaths reported in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

WHO has called the outbreak “the largest, most severe and most complex” since the disease was first seen in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 1976. The disease killed 280 during that outbreak, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In his interview with the Diocese of Texas, George called for experimental drugs to be made available immediately. And on Aug. 13, the World Health Organization endorsed such use, with caveats.

The endorsement came after the organization convened a group of ethicists to consider the implications of responding to calls to use such drugs to try to save the lives of patients and to curb the epidemic even though they have not been evaluated for safety and efficacy in human beings.

“There was unanimous agreement among the experts that in the special circumstances of this Ebola outbreak it is ethical to offer unregistered interventions as potential treatments or prevention,” Marie-Paule Kieny, the World Health Organization’s assistant director general, said.

If and when the drugs are used to treat patients, “there is a moral obligation to collect and share all data generated,” the group said in an Aug. 12 summary of its discussion the previous day.

“There was unanimous agreement that there is a moral duty to also evaluate these interventions (for treatment or prevention) in the best possible clinical trials under the circumstances in order to definitively prove their safety and efficacy or provide evidence to stop their utilization,” the group said.

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

Presiding Bishop, faith leaders welcome Israel-Hamas ceasefire

Thursday, August 14, 2014

[National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East press release] As leaders of American Jewish, Christian, and Muslim national religious organizations, united in the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East (NILI), we welcome the ceasefire agreement of Israel and Hamas, and the negotiations to make it permanent.  We were appalled by the kidnappings and murders of Israeli and Palestinian teenagers. We believe the loss of even one human life is a tragedy that grieves God.  In the recent weeks of war between Hamas and Israel, we mourn the innocent civilians killed.  We offer our prayers as well for the wounded and for the families of all the victims of violence.

This tragic escalation of violence demonstrates once again that there is no such thing as a stable status-quo in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ideas being promoted in some circles for returning to the previous status quo or managing the conflict are dangerous.  Acknowledging the recent failed negotiations, we call on Israeli and Palestinian political leaders to renew negotiations to achieve a two-state peace agreement, the only realistic resolution of the conflict in which both people can live in peace, security, and mutual recognition. The crucial choice leaders on both sides face now is between negotiating a two-state peace agreement with a new sense of urgency or condemning Palestinian and Israeli children and youth to continued conflict — more violence, more suffering, and more deaths.

We strongly supported Secretary of State Kerry’s efforts to achieve a negotiated peace agreement, and urge the United States to renew efforts to reach a two-state agreement as soon as possible.  Recalling President Obama’s words in Jerusalem, “Peace is necessary…peace is also just…and peace is possible,” we believe the outline of a possible two-state agreement is widely known, including ideas drawn from previous official and informal negotiations for fair, realistic compromises.  While none of the previous plans present a complete outline, the Taba Agreement (2000), the Arab Peace Initiative (2002), People’s Voice Initiative (2003), Geneva Accord (2003), and the (unofficial) Israeli Peace Initiative (2011) are sources for principled and practical ideas to help resolve all the issues, including borders and security, settlements, refugees and Jerusalem.

It is more urgent than ever that the United States and the international community press for a two-state peace agreement. While appreciating that maintaining a sustainable ceasefire is now the priority, we would welcome an early opportunity to meet with Secretary of State Kerry to discuss how we can assist with renewed U.S. efforts to achieve a negotiated two-state peace agreement. We pledge to mobilize active public support from members of synagogues, churches and mosques across the country for active, fair and determined U.S. leadership for peace.

NILI Statement Welcoming the Ceasefire
In Israel and Gaza – August 2014
List of Endorsers

Christian Leaders:
Bishop Richard E. Pates, Chairman, USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace
Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington
Archbishop Vicken Aykasian, Director, Ecumenical Affairs, Armenian Orthodox Church in America
Archimandrite Nathanael Symeonides, Ecumenical Officer, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Jim Winkler, President/General Secretary, National Council of Churches of Christ USA
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Bishop Warner H. Brown Jr., President, Council of Bishops, United Methodist Church
Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church
Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Reverend Geoffrey Black, General Minister & President, United Church of Christ
Reverend Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister, President, Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ)
Reverend Leighton Ford, President, Leighton Ford Ministries, Board Member, World Vision US
David Neff, former Editorial Vice-President, Christianity Today
John M. Buchanan, Editor and Publisher, Christian Century

Jewish Leaders:
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President, Union of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Rick Block, President, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Steven A. Fox, Chief Executive Officer, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Ph.D. Rector and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, American Jewish University
Rabbi Burt Visotzky, Jewish Theological Seminary
Rabbi Jason Klein, President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Rabbi Deborah Waxman, President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Rabbi Amy Small, Past President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus, Past President, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Peter Knobel, Past President, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Paul Menitoff, Executive Vice President Emeritus, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Alvin M. Sugarman, Rabbi Emeritus, The Temple, Atlanta Georgia

Muslim Leaders:
Imam Mohammed Magid, President, Islamic Society of North America
Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, National Director, Islamic Society of North America
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Founder of the ASMA Society and Chairman of the Cordoba Initiative
Dawud Assad, President Emeritus, Council of Mosques, USA
Imam Yahya Hendi, Founder and President, Clergy Beyond Borders
Eide Alawan, Interfaith Office for Outreach, Islamic Center of America
Iftekhar A. Hai, Founding Director, United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance

Turning from fear to prayer: Archbishop of Canterbury in Auckland

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Photos of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s visit to Auckland, New Zealand, are available here.

[Anglican Taonga] More than 400 Kiwi Anglicans crammed into Auckland’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre last evening to see and hear The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev Justin Welby, during his racing stopover in New Zealand.

Archbishop Welby, who is in New Zealand for just 24 hours, preached on a night when the beautifully-restored 135-year old wooden Gothic Revival church creaked and shuddered like a Spanish galleon in the teeth of a late winter blast.

He’d spent the afternoon with the three Archbishops of this province, and their wives, talking about the challenges facing the communion – they’d touched on everything from slavery to the persecution of Christians in strife-torn places like Iraq and northern Nigeria, he said – and he’d learned something about the life of the church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

Archbishop Welby told journalists after the service that “the most challenging thing for me… has been hearing about the extraordinarily radical way in which the Anglican Church in New Zealand is structuring itself to represent its communities.

“Giving integrity to each one, yet being woven together as one – and it’s a real blessing for the rest of the Anglican communion.”

The evening service itself bore out what Archbishop Welby had earlier been told by the local archbishops – with hymns and Bible readings in Maori, English, Samoan and Tongan, and performances by Pacific Island choirs and action songs by a Maori kapa haka troup.

Archbishop Welby told the journalists that he was well familiar with multicultural settings – but not with the degree of interweaving he’d just seen at Holy Sep: “It’s much more bound together here,” he said. “There seems to be a really deliberate sense to it, which is very exciting.

The absurdity, the insanity of the cross…

Archbishop Welby drew his sermon from the texts for the evening – Psalm 72, Proverbs 8: 22-31 and John 19: 23-27 – reflecting on the impulse to fear in the world, and the overcoming of that fear that is the Christian’s birthright.

He acknowledged too, that this is the bicentenary year for the church in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“Even after 200 years of the gospel,” he said, “it is good to remember the absurdity, the insanity of the cross.

“In John’s gospel the cross is the place of exaltation, of triumph. John himself says that that was only clear to the disciples after the resurrection.

“For everyone else apart from Jesus, the spectacle, the sight of a man on the cross led them to get Jesus wrong.

“For the soldiers, playing dice at the foot of the cross, the error was to see nothing out of the ordinary.

“The world is being saved around them. By this figure, at whose feet they gamble.

“And they gamble… to make the most of a dull day.

“The disciples, those who have not run away, huddle in despair, and anguish and defeat. Their error is only to see their crucified rabbi.

“They do not see triumph. The throne of the cross.

“The world passed on its way, that day, as it would every other day – and as probably we would have done, if we’d been going into Jerusalem on that day.

“Across the Holy Land, the dying died, the suffering suffered, all over the world. Many other deaths happened, unremarked, that day. And this day was much unremarked, among those who were there.

“And yet only this one death made human history, made cosmic history, completely different.

“And the challenge for us as the family, that was created through and after that event – God’s family – is to be the sort of people who enable the mistakes that were made then, and are still made today to be set right, so that the light may shine.

“Because for Christians, all our actions should be governed by this figure. And by the way of his death.

“A figure on the cross. By the empty tomb. By the gift of the spirit of God – by our vocation to be Christ in this troubled, and for many, this terrible world.

A world propelled to fear

“This evening, the appalling events of Iraq, the equally terrible killings in Northern Nigeria and in Syria, the war in the Ukraine, and in so many other parts of the world…

“The seemingly endless repetitions of the terrible tragedies of Gaza and the whole of Israel and Palestine… all these events and movements propel the world towards fear.

“And fear takes people to self-protection, and self-protection takes people to actions that only make things worse.

“There must of course be actions. We are an active people.

“Christians are called by God to serve, to transform.

“Yet the pattern of our action is set by the figure on the cross.

“There are millions of reasons for fear. There’s probably about six and a half billion in this world at the moment – and they are every single human being.

“We look at human sin and violence, and that gives us reason to fear.

“We look at natural disasters – and you know so much more than we do about that – and we see millions and billions of reasons for fear.

“Against those millions and billions, there is only one reason for courage, for hope – and that is God.

“The God of cross and resurrection.

“And that one reason overwhelms every other reason for fear.”

Maui’s ‘A Cup of Cold Water’ pours hope into homeless community

Thursday, August 14, 2014

ACCW volunteer driver BJ Santiago offers food and other personal care items to Charles near Lahaina. Photo: Keith Yamamoto

[Episcopal News Service, Maui, Hawaii] The blue and white van bounced slowly, a bumpy ride along the rocky beach, bringing water, food, clothing, first aid and personal care items to isolated homeless communities along the mouth of Maui’s Wailuku River in Hawaii.

Nearing a small encampment of several cars and trucks sheltered by trees and bushes, Lawrence Kauhaahaa carefully maneuvered the van to a stop. He tapped the horn lightly as his mother, Juanita Kauhaahaa, 75, threw open the van’s sliding door and called out: “A Cup of Cold Water!”

Along with grandson Joseph, 18, she bagged canned meat, fruit cups, cheese crackers, pop-top puddings, granola bars and other snacks to hand out as a line quickly formed at the door. Other brown paper sacks were filled with personal and first aid items: toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash, Band-Aids, lotion, and soap and – because of the extreme July heat – cold water, lots of water.

Requests – for toilet paper, socks, slippers, shorts, T-shirts, hats, sheets, towels, laundry detergent – are granted as available, and grace abounds in the personal exchange.

“I haven’t seen you for awhile. I wondered where you’d gone,” Juanita called out to a family whose two young children perch inside the van. In return, a young man offers her a box of almost-ripe bananas with a simple request to “spread them around.”

“Everybody shares what they have,” said Lawrence Kauhaahaa, a retired 20-year veteran of the Maui police department who considers the once-monthly Wednesday morning run a family affair. And it’s not just because three generations of his family participate together. They have come to know many “uncles” and “aunties” along the route through Central Maui.

“They’ve gotten to know us and trust us,” he said.

Volunteers and supporters work together to help Maui’s homeless community.

A little ‘elbow-grease’ Christianity
Estimates of the numbers of homeless people on Maui range as high as 2,000, about half of whom are “hard-core homeless” with little access to assistance on weekends, according to Kekuhaupio “Keku” Akana, a parishioner at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Wailuku.

“Helping them was always something that I felt compelled to try and be part of the hand of Christ in,” according to Akana, 57, a retired Maui deputy police chief, the inspiration and driving force behind A Cup of Cold Water (ACCW), which takes its name from Matthew 10:42.

“The old-timers used to call us peace officers and that’s what I considered myself,” he said. “But it was always very difficult when you had to respond and move on, respond and move on, and you couldn’t give quality time to somebody in need,” he told ENS. “I was a cop for 25 years; I drove into a lot of despair.”

So with “a little elbow-grease Christianity, age-old compassion and love,” diocesan support and generous donations he formed a committee of dedicated supporters. They began organizing, fundraising, recruiting and training volunteers from Good Shepherd and the island’s other Episcopal churches: St. John’s, Kula; Holy Innocents, Lahaina; and Trinity-by-the-Sea, Kihei. The first run happened in November 2013.

Since then, the ministry has distributed some 34,000 items during more than 4,300 encounters and it has attracted volunteers from Catholic, Nazarene, Congregational, New Hope Chapel, Grace Bible, Hawaiian Church and other local communities of faith. Akana hopes it will expand beyond the current three weekly runs: Wednesdays in Central Maui, Saturdays in Lahaina and West Maui, and Sundays in Kihei and South Maui.

The ministry relies on donations to help others survive, he said. ACCW partners with other local agencies and hands out resource cards, and upon request, Bibles and prayer books.

“For us, it’s giving hope and love, moment by moment, person to person,” Akana said. “It’s giving a little bit of hope to someone in despair, connected to addiction, mental illness or whatever the circumstances, giving hope that someone’s going to come because they care.”

Good old-fashioned compassion
On a steamy Saturday morning, B. J. Santiago restocks the van with water, food and supplies from the storage space at Good Shepherd Church and pauses for prayer with other ACCW volunteers.

A line has already formed in the church parking lot at the sight of the van. Each person’s needs are addressed before the van departs for the West Maui run.

“There are lines waiting when we get back from the run, too,” according to B.J. Santiago, a longtime Good Shepherd member and one of nine volunteer drivers. “Some of our guests are homeless, some work but have a hard time making ends meet.”

Stops along the route are scheduled and unscheduled: “If I see people who look like they need help, and there’s room to pull the van over, I do.”

With a tropical storm threatening, he is eager to assist as many people today as possible. He parks at the first scheduled stop, along Highway 30 west. One, two, three quick beeps of the horn and he goes to check on the elderly “uncle” who has built a wooden shelter on top of a truck, beside the tent where a family of six live.

Typically, there are three volunteers per run. A driver records items distributed and keeps track of mileage. Two others distribute food and personal items and “talk story” with guests, which just seems natural to volunteers like Kit Hart, a parishioner at St. John’s, Kula.

“We just take people at face value. Just the fact that we’re here, engaging them as people about whatever they want to share, helps,” according to the retired family therapist. “They need food and other things, yes, but they need smiles and conversation, too.”

“Mickey” was among the first to line up as the van parked near the Lahaina courthouse, alongside the town’s iconic 60-foot high, block-long banyan tree.

“I lived in Ohio and California. I came here to work and got hurt,” according to the former restaurant employee. “I have a place to stay, but the food helps. Every little bit helps.”

Andrew, who requests and receives a pair of slacks, says he left Saginaw, Michigan, in search of “a peaceful environment. I kept moving west.”

But “things have been up and down financially,” he said. “A Cup of Cold Water is a blessing to me. It’s the only thing available this day of the week. The food helps out a lot.”

Food is the main thing, agreed Joel, 48, who said the past two years have been tough ones. “I lost my dad. My camp just got bulldozed. I had a Volkswagen but someone stole the engine. It’s been two years now and I’ve just left it all in God’s hands.

“But,” he smiled, “it’s great that A Cup of Cold Water comes out here, and helps us. Every little bit helps and I’m thankful to God. I mean to give to others, too.”

He points ACCW volunteers in the direction of “Charles” who is dozing on and off in a wheelchair and whose legs are covered with infected sores. He promises Santiago to keep a watchful eye on Charles.

A little further along the route, Deborah Duffy hesitates when Santiago and Hart beckon her toward the van.

Seated at a park picnic table near the ocean, she is at first cautious. But after watching Hart interact with others, she approaches, eager to interact, to share her story.

“I haven’t been in a house for four years,” she said. “I lost my wallet. I had to give up my apartment and I’ve been hoping to get back in. I’m trying to make some money so I can eat.”

For now, the food and attention allays at least some of her anxiety. “I didn’t know anything like this existed,” according to the 59-year-old. “I think you’re blessed. When do you come back?”

– The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.

Archbishops of Canterbury and Australia issue joint statement on Iraq

Thursday, August 14, 2014

[Lambeth Palace] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of Australia Philip Freier made a joint statement on the crisis in northern Iraq during press conference in Melbourne, Australia yesterday.

The press conference took place at The Chapter House at St. Paul’s Cathedral before the inauguration of Archbishop Philip Freier as the Anglican Primate of Australia.

Archbishop Justin Welby said: 

“Ever since the war to end all wars ended in 1918, humankind have been saying “never again”, then we wring our hands as genocide unfolds in some distant corner. But what is happening right now in northern Iraq is off the scale of human horror.

“In a globalised world where even distant nations are our “neighbour”, we cannot allow these atrocities to be unleashed with impunity. And while the behaviour of the ISIS jihadis in Syria and northern Iraq is particularly savage, it is also part of rising and increasingly serious persecution of Christians and other groups in many countries.

“These groups are, rightly, rejected by the vast majority of Muslims. The struggle being faced is one for a world that can cope with diversity, and disagree without destruction. ISIS, Boko Haram and their equivalents seek only destruction for their own ends.

“The international community must document the human rights abuses in northern Iraq so that the perpetrators can later be prosecuted.

“As Anglican leaders, we cry to God for peace and justice and security throughout the world, and especially for Christians and other minority groups suffering so deeply in northern Iraq.”

Archbishop Philip Freier said:

“As Anglican Primate of Australia, I have written to the Prime Minister, Mr Tony Abbott, appreciating Australia’s rapid response  in providing aid to the displaced thousands in Iraq. I have asked him to emulate France in offering asylum to the Christians of northern Iraq who are facing forced conversion or death. I have also written to the Immigration Minister, Mr Scott Morrison, making the same request.

“I have also launched an appeal through Anglican Overseas Aid  to help provide succour and relief for those fleeing the ISIS fighters. It is reported that more than 1.2 million people have been forced to flee, plus another 200,000 Syrians who have sought refuge in northern Iraq. More than 200,000 people have been displaced in the past fortnight, including all the residents of Iraq’s largest Christian town, Qaraqosh, and a large number of the Yazidi minority group.

“Aid agencies cannot cope with the influx, and the suffering is immense. The refugees need food, water, clothes, medical supplies and much more. I ask Anglicans and others to give sacrificially.”

Read more: 

Statement from Archbishop Justin Welby on Iraq 

Iraq crisis: Archbishop’s interview on Radio 4 

Nominating committee issues call, profile for 27th Presiding Bishop

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Episcopal Church Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB) has issued the Call for Discernment and Profile for the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.

The Call for Discernment and Profile is located here.

The Spanish version is here and the French version is here.

Between now and September 30, any member of The Episcopal Church may submit a name of a bishop to JNCPB whom they believe should be considered for nomination through the email listed in the Call for Discernment and Profile.  JNCPB will inform bishops whose names have been presented and advise them that if they wish to engage the discernment process, they must submit their materials as specified in the Call for Discernment and Profile between October 1 and October 31. The JNCPB will announce its nominees in early May 2015.

The election will take place during the 78th meeting of General Convention June 25-July 3, 2015 in Salt Lake City. The current draft of the convention schedule shows the election taking place on June 27.

According to JCNPB, the Call for Discernment and Profile is intended to paint a picture of the skills, qualities and gifts the church seeks in its next presiding bishop in light of what the church may look like in the next decade, to assist bishops, deputies and prospective nominees in discerning which bishops may be called to the ministry of presiding bishop and to assist the committee in discerning potential nominees. To assist in that process, last year the the committee crafted and circulated a church-wide survey. The synthesis of the more than 5,200 responses helped develop the profile.

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

On Twitter at:  @PB27Nominations or #JNCPB

On Facebook at: www.facebook.com/pb27nominations

Due to an editing error an earlier version of this story contained an incorrect date (July 27) for the presiding bishop election. The correct date is June 27, 2015.

El Comité Conjunto de Nominaciones emite una Convocatoria de Discernimiento y Perfil para el 27 Obispo Presidente Episcopal

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

[El 13 de agosto de 2014] El Comité Conjunto de Nominaciones de la Episcopal Iglesia para la Elección del Obispo Presidente (JNCPB) ha publicado una Convocatoria de Discernimiento y Perfil para la 27º Obispo Presidente de la Iglesia Episcopal

El perfil se encuentra aquí  y en español aquí   y Frances

Entre hoy y el 30 de septiembre, cualquier miembro de la Iglesia Episcopal puede presentar el nombre de un obispo al  Comité [JNCPB] a quien crean deba ser considerado para la nominación, a través del correo electrónico que aparece en una Convocatoria de Discernimiento y Perfil. El JNCPB informará a los obispos cuyos nombres se han presentado y les informará de que si desean participar del proceso de discernimiento, deberán presentar sus materiales, según se especifica en una Convocatoria de Discernimiento y Perfil, del 1 al 31 de octubre El JNCPB anunciará sus nominados a principios de mayo de 2015.

Según el JNCPB, el perfil tiene la intención de pintar un cuadro de las habilidades, cualidades y dones que la Iglesia busca en su próximo Obispo Presidente a la luz de lo que la Iglesia puede parecer en la próxima década, para ayudar a los obispos, diputados y posibles candidatos a que disciernan qué obispos pueden ser llamados al ministerio de Obispo Presidente y para ayudar al JNCPB en el discernimiento de los potenciales candidatos. Para ayudar en este proceso, el año pasado el JNCPB elaboró y distribuyó una encuesta en toda la iglesia. La síntesis de las más de 5.200 respuestas ayudó a desarrollar el perfil.

El JNCPB está compuesto por un miembro laico, un sacerdote o diácono, y un obispo elegido de cada una de las nueve provincias de la Iglesia Episcopal, además de dos representantes de la juventud, designados por el Presidente de la Cámara de los Diputados, la Revda. Gay Jennings. Los diputados de la  Convención General y los obispos sirven un término de tres años para concluir en la clausura de la Convención General de 2015 en Salt Lake City.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

La guerra que se ha desatado entre Israel y Hamás, se deteriora constantemente. Los muertos, los heridos y los desplazados se cuentan por cientos sino miles. Las naciones vecinas se han caracterizado por su silencio, dicen comentaristas. Se estima que las Fuerzas Armadas Israelitas han causado más de 1,800 bajas en la Franja de Gaza. El primer ministro Benjamín Netanyahu dijo a la agencia francesa de prensa que Israel podrá vivir en paz después que se destruyan los túneles cavados por las milicias palestinas.

Justin Welby, arzobispo de Cantórbery, ha dicho en un mensaje radial dijo que los “horribles eventos” que están ocurriendo en Irak deben ser preocupación y acción de todos los cristianos y personas de buena voluntad. Añade el primado anglicano que miles de cristianos y otras minorías religiosas están siendo ejecutadas causando gran dolor e indignación. El arzobispo añade que los países europeos deben ejercer su influencia para que cesen estos crímenes y se castigue a los autores. Además, deben ofrecer protección a las víctimas desplazadas junto con sus oraciones.

Comentaristas internacionales afirman que los problemas de violencia de las maras (pandillas) en Centro América comenzaron en Los Ángeles cuando cientos de niños y jóvenes tomaron refugio en Estados Unidos debido a la guerra en sus países y cuando ésta se terminó fueron deportados a sus países de origen sin el debido respaldo y casi siempre sin sus padres.

El 10 de agosto siete diáconos fueron ordenados en la Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba por su obispa Griselda Delgado del Carpio en la Catedral de la Santísima Trinidad de La Habana. Esta es el mayor grupo de diáconos ordenados de que se tenga memoria. Después de más estudios y entrenamiento los diáconos serán examinados para poder ser ordenados al presbiterado o sacerdocio. Enhorabuena.

La comunidad judía de Miami se encuentra pasando por un momento difícil. Primero el rabino ortodoxo Joseph Raksin de Nueva York que visitaba la ciudad y que se dirigía al templo cumpliendo con las leyes del sabat en North Miami Beach fue asaltado por dos jóvenes afroamericanos para robarle. El rabino no cargaba ni prendas ni dinero. La policía no cree que fue un “crimen de odio” si no un delito común.  Segundo, en varios lugares de la ciudad se han visto suásticas y escritos en las paredes con palabras ofensivas a la comunidad judía. En Caracas el gobernante Nicolás Maduro pronunció un discurso a favor de los palestinos y contra los judíos que ha dado lugar a grafitis como “haz patria, mata a un judío”. En América Latina, Caracas tiene la segunda comunidad judía en número después de Buenos Aires.

Robin Williams el conocido actor y comediante norteamericano apareció muerto en su casa de California el 11 de agosto a la edad de 63 años. Las investigaciones forenses indican que su muerte fue un suicidio debido a una gran depresión que sufría. Participó en 72 películas, una de las más conocidas fue Moscú en el Hudson con la actriz cubano-venezolana María Conchita Alonso. Williams era miembro de la Iglesia Episcopal desde su infancia. En una ocasión dijo que su iglesia “era muy similar a la romana pero con la mitad del sentido de culpa”.

El misionero español Miguel Pajares, de 75 años, falleció en un hospital de Madrid luego de ser expatriado de Liberia, África, donde contrajo el virus del ébola. Ninguno de los fármacos conocidos tuvo efecto en la detención de la enfermedad.  En Liberia se quedaron ingresados tres religiosos españoles infectados con el virus. El director del centro médico donde fue internado, Patrick Nshamdze, falleció recientemente de la misma enfermedad. La Organización Mundial de la Salud dijo que otros países de África Occidental han sido contagiados.

Grupos extremistas yihadistas de Siria mataron a una mujer acusada de adulterio. La mujer vestida de negro y con la cara cubierta fue apedreada en una plaza pública sin que ninguna persona u organización interviniera a su favor. Un clérigo leyó el veredicto antes de la llegada de un camión cargado de piedras. La población se siente atemorizada ante esta ola de extrema violencia.

Juan Carlos Tejedor, el presentador de 46 años del programa noticioso estelar de la televisión cubana, ha decidido no regresar a su trabajo en Cuba después de unas vacaciones en el extranjero. Añadió que parte de su ausencia de Cuba se debe a que es creyente cristiano y que además quiere ser libre.

VERDAD. Conoceréis la verdad y la verdad os hará libres. Juan 8:32

Video: Escaping persecution, Iraqi Christians find new lives in Paris

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] ENS produced the following video in June 2013 about the persecution of Iraqi Christians and the Episcopal Church’s role in helping them to resettle in France. Although at the time the French government had closed its doors to Iraqi refugees, it has recently announced it is ready to offer asylum again to those escaping persecution from Islamist militants.

The Association d’entraide aux minorités d’Orient, of which Bishop Pierre Whalon has been president since 2008, welcomes the refugees at the airport, takes them to the transit centers for asylum seekers, and helps see them through the process until they are settled. This is the second round of AEMO’s work. Between 2008 and 2012, AEMO facilitated the resettlement of 1300 refugees in France.

Church questionnaire requests info for 2015 UNCSW

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Input is requested from members of The Episcopal Church for a questionnaire that will form the foundation of the church’s presence and participation at the 2015 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) meeting, March 9-20, 2015.

The questionnaire is located here.

In 2015, UNCSW will undertake a review of progress made in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action  beijing20.unwomen.org/ , 20 years after its adoption at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995.

As in previous years, The Episcopal Church will be joining the Anglican Communion and  Ecumenical Women www.ecumenciacalwomen.org a coalition of 17 faith-based member organizations, in joint advocacy at UNCSW.

“The Episcopal Church and Ecumenical Women invite all to participate in deciding on the advocacy priorities at UNCSW 59 by filling out the Ecumenical Women questionnaire,” explained Lynnaia Main, Episcopal Church Officer for Global Relations. “The questionnaire can be answered by anyone affiliated with The Episcopal Church or another member organization of Ecumenical Women. Answers will be gathered and considered in forming The Episcopal Church’s and Ecumenical Women’s advocacy priorities at UNCSW in 2015, and will also form the basis for stories related to The Episcopal Church’s engagement with the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and women and girls more generally.”

The questionnaire

The questionnaire was prepared jointly by Ecumenical Women with input from The Episcopal Church and other faith denominations.

The questionnaire can be completed either by individuals or by a group.

Deadline to participate in the survey is September 15.   

Data from the questionnaires will be submitted automatically to The Episcopal Church and Ecumenical Women upon submission. From the answers, advocacy priorities will be formulated and written statements will be prepared to be submitted to UNCSW for the 2015 event.

For more information contact Lynnaia Main, Episcopal Church Officer for Global Relations, lmain@episcopalchurch.org.

Ya está abierto el proceso de solicitud para las becas del Fondo Constable de la Iglesia Episcopal La fecha límite es el 1 de noviembre

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

[12 de  agosto de 2014] El proceso de solicitud está abierto para las becas del Fondo Constable del ciclo 2014-2015.

El Fondo Constable ofrece becas para financiar iniciativas de misión que no estaban previstas en el presupuesto de la Convención General de la Sociedad Misionera/Doméstica y Extranjera de la Iglesia Episcopal (DFMS).

Anne Watkins, miembro del Consejo Ejecutivo, pertenece a la Diócesis de Connecticut y es presidente del Comité de Revisión de becas del Fondo Constable, señaló que las  recientes becas Constable van de 5,000 a 200,000 dólares
Las solicitudes pueden presentarse a través de: (1) una oficina programática de  DFMS; (2) uno de los CCAB  (comité /comisión/agencia/junta directiva) de la Convención General; o (3) una de las Provincias de la Iglesia Episcopal.

Las directrices específicas, sugerencias, formulario de solicitud y el calendario están disponibles aquí.

La fecha límite para las solicitudes es el 1 de noviembre. Las  becas serán revisadas en diciembre y las recomendaciones remitidas al Consejo Ejecutivo para su decisión en la reunión de enero de 2015. Los beneficiarios serán notificados tras la clausura de esa reunión.

Para obtener más información contacte  a Watkins en annemw630@gmail.com, o a Samuel McDonald, Adjunto Director de Operaciones de la Iglesia Episcopal y Director de Misión, smcdonald@episcopalchurch.org.

Llamadas así por la señorita Constable
Las Becas Constable recibieron el nombre de  la señorita Mary Louise Constable, que fue una filántropa visionaria. Watkins señaló: “El suyo es un ejemplo de testimonio fiel y de generosidad en respuesta a un entendimiento, obviamente, maduro y profundo de sí misma como discípula de Jesucristo y como mayordoma de las bendiciones que Dios le otorgó”.

En 1935, en medio de la catástrofe económica conocida como la Gran Depresión, la señorita Constable hizo un regalo monetario a la Iglesia Episcopal para establecer el Fondo Constable. Su deseo e intención de añadir periódicamente al fondo durante su vida se realizó y culminó con un último regalo muy generoso en el momento de su muerte en 1951.

Watkins además explicó: “Las estipulaciones para el uso del fondo también fueron visionarias y generosas, al reconocer y confiar en que los que vinieran después de ella  cumplirían con sus deseos, al paso que les ofrecía flexibilidad a fin de llevar a la misión de Dios a través de la Iglesia de Dios hacia adelante en nuevos tiempos”.

El lenguaje del testamento de la señorita Constable afirma que el fondo existe “a perpetuidad… para que se dedique la ganancia neta a los fines de la Sociedad, de preferencia para el trabajo en la educación religiosa no prevista en el presupuesto de la Sociedad”.

“Es el deseo del Comité de Revisión del Consejo Ejecutivo del Fondo Constable que el ejemplo de la señorita Constable de mayordomía, generosidad, flexibilidad y  creatividad sean valores que se continúen  honrando”, Watkins concluyó.

Application process now open for Constable Fund Grants

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The application process is now open for the Constable Fund Grants for the 2014-2015 cycle.

The Constable Fund provides grants to fund mission initiatives that were not provided for within the budget of the Episcopal Church General Convention/Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS).

Anne Watkins, an Executive Council member from the Diocese of Connecticut and chair of the Constable Fund Grant Review Committee, noted recent Constable Grants have ranged from $5,000 to $200,000

Applications can be submitted by: (1) a programmatic office of the DFMS; (2) one of the General Convention CCABs (committee/commission/agency/board); or (3) one of the Provinces of the Episcopal Church.

Specific guidelines, suggestions, application form and timetable are available here.

Deadline for applications is November 1. Grants will be reviewed in December and recommendations forwarded to the Executive Council for action at its January 2015 meeting. Recipients will be notified at the close of that meeting.

For more information contact Watkins at annemw630@gmail.com, or Samuel McDonald, Episcopal Church Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Director of Mission, smcdonald@episcopalchurch.org.

Named for Miss Constable

The Constable Grants were named for Miss Mary Louise Constable, who was a visionary philanthropist.  Watkins pointed out, “Hers is an example of faithful witness and generosity in response to an obviously mature and deep understanding of herself as both a disciple of Jesus Christ and as a steward of the blessings bestowed upon her by God.”

In 1935, in the midst of economic catastrophe known as the Great Depression, Miss Constable made a monetary gift to the Episcopal Church to establish the Constable Fund.  Her desire and intent to add periodically to the fund during her lifetime was realized and culminated with a very generous final gift at the time of her death in 1951.

Watkins further explained, “Stipulations for use of the fund were also visionary and generous, recognizing in and trusting those who came after her to comply with her wishes while allowing them flexibility in order to carry the mission of God through God’s Church forward into new eras.”

The language of Miss Constable’s will states that the fund exists “in perpetuity … to apply the net income for the purposes of the Society, preferably for the work in religious education not provided for within the Society’s budget.”

“It is the desire of the Executive Council Constable Fund Review Committee that Miss Constable’s example of stewardship, generosity, flexibility, and creativity be values that continue to be honored,” Watkins concluded.