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2014 Anglican Communion Standing Committee bulletin Day 4

Monday, May 12, 2014

Director for Unity, Faith and Order, the Rev. Canon Dr. Alyson Barnett-Cowan, presented her report on the Anglican Communion’s Faith and Order work
Photo: Anglican Journey/Vianney Carriere

[Anglican Communion News Service] The final day included presentations on Bible in the Life of the Church Project, the ecumenical dialogues of the Anglican Communion, Unity, Faith and Order issues and the Anglican Communion’s Legal Advisers Network.

Unity, Faith & Order

Director for Unity, Faith and Order, the Rev. Canon Dr. Alyson Barnett-Cowan, presented her report on the Anglican Communion’s Faith and Order work, plus the ecumenical initiatives supported by her office. These included facilitating the Inter-Anglican Standing Committee (IASCUFO) and various dialogues at the global level.

A report by the Anglican-Methodist International Commission for Unity in Mission containing tool kits for Anglican-Methodist conversations was welcomed by the Standing Committee. It will be available soon. Canon Barnett-Cowan went on to explain that the members of the dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the World Communion of Reformed Churches have been named and will meet in 2015.

Canon Barnett-Cowan noted that the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan recently adopted the Anglican Communion Covenant. (The full list of responses to the Covenant to date can be found here)

The Anglican Communion Legal Advisors Network

Canon John Rees, legal adviser to the Anglican Consultative Council, said this group of canon lawyers from across the world are considering meeting together in person in January 2015 to consider family law patterns which are changing around the world. One reason for this is to provide a “descriptive backdrop against which Churches are carrying out their mission”.

Bible in the Life of the Church project

Mr. Stephen Lyon presented a report on the Bible in the Life of the Church project. He reminded the Standing Committee of the background to the project and associated ACC resolutions, and summarized the project so far. The project had fallen into two phases and would come to an end in 2016.

The project had four goals for its second phase 2012-2016: to increase educational resources and engagement with phase 1 of the project; to encourage engagement with what Anglicans had already said about Scripture; to support Anglicans in reading the Bible together to learn with and from one another; to explore different viewpoints on questions underlying understanding of Scripture, for example, what was meant by the authority of Scripture.

Following the publication of the report at the end of phase 1 of the Project, Deep Engagement; Fresh Discovery, questions had been raised such as ‘What does the Bible say about itself?’ Mr Lyon said he would write to a number of biblical scholars and theologians around the Communion asking them to consider these questions by email in small groups, with a view to publishing the conversations.

A series of essays edited by Clare Amos, former ACO Director for Theological Affairs, had been published with the title The Bible in the Life of the Church within the series Canterbury Studies in Anglicanism.

Mr. Lyon raised then three questions for the committee to consider:

• What form or forms should the final publication take? While the Deep Engagement; Fresh Discovery report had been described as ‘excellent’ it had also been noted that it ‘is a lot to digest in a short time’.
• Where should the work of the Bible in the Life of the Church project be placed, once its project-stage ended in 2016?
• Were there other platforms through which the work of the project and especially its resources could be made available?

These questions were discussed and suggestions fed back to Mr. Lyon. It was proposed that post-2016 the work of the project should be placed within the Department for Unity, Faith and Order, or the Theological Education if funds were found to reinstate this department.

Other matters resolved by the Standing Committee on the final day of its meeting included:

• That the Secretary General and Lambeth Palace staff should further investigate the feasibility 0f a project to help (Anglican) Christians and Muslims to better understand the nature of recent and current Christian/Muslim violence and consider possible ways to respond to it.
• Official thanks were given to Alyson Barnett-Cowan for her major contribution to the life and work of the Anglican Communion. Canon Barnett-Cowan is due to retire early in 2015.

Canterbury launches plan against homophobic bullying in schools

Monday, May 12, 2014

[Church of England press release] The Archbishop of Canterbury has May 12 launched a report from the Education Division of the Church of England “Valuing All God’s Children: Guidance for Church of England Schools on Challenging Homophobic Bullying.”

The report is here.

The guidance, which is being sent to all Church of England schools, provides 10 key recommendations which should be adopted by schools in combating homophobic bullying as well as sample policies for primary and secondary church schools. Published by the Church Of England Archbishop’s Council Education Division, the guidance involved consultation and involvement with a number of Church of England schools with existing good practice.

Speaking at a Church of England Secondary School, at Trinity Lewisham, the Rt. Rev. Justin Welby said that the publication of the guidance fulfilled a pledge he made last July when addressing the Church of England’s General Synod.

“Less than a year ago I set out my concerns about the terrible impact of homophobic bullying on the lives of young people and I made a public commitment to support our schools in eradicating homophobic stereotyping and bullying.

“Since then an enormous amount of work has gone into producing this guidance so that commitment can be turned into action. I am extremely grateful to all those who have worked so hard to produce it and I particularly want to thank the schools and young people who have contributed.

“Church schools begin from the belief that every child is loved by God. This guidance aims to help schools express God’s love by ensuring that they offer a safe and welcoming place for all God’s children. This is a task we are called to share and I know it is one our schools take immensely seriously. I commend this guidance as a contribution to that work.”

In his address to the Church of England’s General Synod in July 2013, the Archbishop said:

“With nearly a million children educated in our schools we not only must demonstrate a profound commitment to stamp out such stereotyping and bullying; but we must also take action. We are therefore developing a program for use in our schools, taking the best advice we can find anywhere, that specifically targets such bullying. More than that, we need also to ensure that what we do and say in this Synod, as we debate these issues, demonstrates above all the lavish love of God to all of us.”

The guidance published May 12 notes that the purpose of schools is to educate and the aim of this guidance is to protect pupils in Church of England schools from having their self-worth diminished and their ability to achieve impeded by being bullied because of their perceived/actual sexual orientation: “Church schools are places where boundaries should be strong, where any harmful words or actions are known to be unacceptable, and where there are clear strategies for recognizing bullying and dealing with it in a framework of forgiveness and restorative justice. Children and young people in Church of England schools should be able to grow freely and to be comfortable and confident within their own skins without fear or prejudice.” (paragraph 19 of guidance document)

As South Sudan rivals agree truce, church plays pivotal role

Monday, May 12, 2014

South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar (R) and South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (L) hold Episcopal Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul’s hands as they pray before signing a peace agreement in Addis Ababa May 9. Photo: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

[Episcopal News Service] South Sudan’s political rivals have struck a new peace deal to end the five-month conflict that has left thousands dead and forced some 1.5 million people to flee their homes.

Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan departed early from a London meeting of the Anglican Communion Standing Committee last week when he was summoned to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to take part in the May 9 negotiations between South Sudan President Salva Kiir and his sacked former deputy turned rebel leader Riek Machar.

It was the first face-to-face meeting between the two rivals since the conflict erupted in December after Kiir accused Machar of plotting a coup d’etat. Deng led the two leaders in prayer before they signed the peace deal.

But despite the deal, fighting has continued throughout the Upper Nile and Unity states, with each side accusing the other of violating the truce.

Deng was appointed chairperson of the national reconciliation committee by Kiir in April 2013, a move that highlights the central role that the church plays in peacebuilding and helping to heal the mental wounds in South Sudan following decades of civil war with the Islamic north.

During the past five months, South Sudan has faced its greatest challenge since becoming the world’s newest nation in July 2011, when it seceded from the north in a referendum on independence.

As part of the May 9 peace agreement, both leaders have committed to forming a transitional government, the drafting of a new constitution and to new elections.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who has called the Episcopal Church to prayer and action for South Sudan, told ENS May 9 during a break from the Standing Committee meeting that she sees hope “in the presence of Daniel Deng Bul in the midst of conversations, in the midst of challenges between political leaders in his own nation.”

“He continues to walk with hope; his people continue to walk with hope; the least we can do is join them.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby visited South Sudan in late January and witnessed some of the atrocities of the conflict. In an interview with ENS also on May 9 in London, Welby relayed his visit to Bor, in Jonglei State, where he said he saw hundreds of dead bodies lining the streets and where he consecrated a mass grave.

In the midst of evil, Welby said that he saw God “in the extraordinary fact that after half a century of civil war, and the hardening that that causes, that we could stand in Bor and see people weeping with compassion because the spirit of God still moves with love in their hearts.”

Deng’s role as chair of the reconciliation effort in South Sudan and in the May 9 peace talks in Addis Ababa “speaks volumes to the centrality of the church” in society and in peacebuilding, Welby said. It’s a church, “that has mobilized against despair … and is leading the struggle against violence.”

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

But even as the May 9 truce brings hope, church and world leaders warn that the task of building a lasting peace and rebuilding trust in South Sudan is daunting.

The U.N. has accused both the South Sudanese government and the rebels of crimes against humanity and estimates that five million people are now in need of humanitarian aid.

“The common people are the ones who suffer always and that’s very much the case in South Sudan,” said Jefferts Schori. “The displacement of people, the people who are starving, the children who are suffering in the midst of this. It’s a humanitarian disaster of the first order. I want to call the church to prayer about this until it is resolved.”

Richard Parkins, director of the American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, told ENS: “As we welcome the prospect of peace, let us understand that the cessation of hostility ushers in the opportunity to do some serious peace and reconciliation work to repair the deep mistrust among warring factions that this brutal conflict has produced. We must pray that the church, as the leader in rebuilding trust and fostering healing, will have the strength and wisdom to meet this daunting challenge.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was instrumental in bringing Kiir and Machar together, said the agreement “could mark a breakthrough for the future of South Sudan. The hard journey on a long road begins now and the work must continue.”

Gabriel Tor, a member of the Sudanese diaspora living in San Jose, California, has looked back on the last five months with despair and describes the peace agreement as “just a glimmer of hope in a desperate situation of crisis.”

Tor, who worships at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in San Jose, told ENS in a telephone interview that he wonders if Kiir and Machar would be willing to step aside “and leave the government to the rest of the leaders in South Sudan for a long-lasting peace and reconciliation after the peace process has been finalized. Of course we don’t know yet, but only if the two leaders are committed to what they’ve signed, will the future [bring peace] for the South Sudanese people.”

Kiir is Dinka and Machar is of the Nuer tribe, representing the two main Sudanese ethnic groups. Although there have been some ethnic dimensions to the conflict, Tor and many fellow Sudanese, both Dinka and Nuer, share the same view that the disagreements have been primarily political rather than tribal.

Tor said that in many places in South Sudan, members of different tribes continue to live peacefully and attend the same churches. They have not been in conflict, he said, “because they realize that the issues are mostly political … But the abuse came when both men [Kiir and Machar] used their tribal names to establish their claims.”

But Tor also acknowledged that the situation is complicated, varies from region to region, and that it has been challenging for accurate information to reach all the communities of South Sudan.

Welby told ENS that although there has been an ethnic element to the conflict, “to simplify it to the degree of saying that it is a tribal conflict is insane. It’s a mixture of things … It has a very strong economic element. It’s very strongly to do with development and the allocation of resources within that development. It has a lot to do with issues of justice, of accountability, and non-impunity. And I think it has a lot to do with leadership. And there are probably a million other reasons I haven’t thought of and don’t know enough about. All I know is that when we simplify conflicts, we drive out approaches to resolution.”

The church has a presence in almost every community in South Sudan, with Episcopalians and Roman Catholics accounting for the vast majority of the population.

The Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, visited Juba, South Sudan’s capital, in early May to meet with representatives of local churches.

In a recent statement, he stressed that the South Sudanese churches have “rich spiritual resources” and play “a significant role in national dialogue, affirming unity and a sense of nation-building by strengthening a process of reconciliation.”

“We will pray and work with the churches in South Sudan, while they continue addressing these struggles in their pilgrimage for justice and peace,” he added.

Long-standing partnerships with Episcopal dioceses and agencies in the U.S. have brought these issues closer to home. Churchwide advocacy and prayer has meant that the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion has found tangible ways to walk alongside its Sudanese brothers and sisters.

“The Episcopal Church has been integrally involved in this issue for several years,” Jefferts Schori said. “I would like Episcopalians to learn more about the situation, to be in contact with their legislators, to pray, and to reach out to the Sudanese in their own neighborhoods.”

Jefferts Schori was joined May 9 by heads of the North American Lutheran and Anglican churches in calling the church to prayer, especially as the Episcopal Church calendar commemorates the Martyrs of Sudan on May 16.

The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations provided a template for an advocacy letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, urging him to support peace and reconciliation in South Sudan.

“Prayer at the very least changes our own hearts; it joins us to people who are in the midst of radical suffering; it’s a reminder that we are all connected, that we are all children of the same God,” Jefferts Schori said.

Asked why prayer is so important and what difference it makes, Welby said: “As we pray, our hearts and minds are shaped by the wisdom and power of the spirit of God, and as we pray we engage with God in the struggle against human evil … We must be battering at the gates of heaven in prayer; remorseless, unceasing prayer.”

For further information about the crisis in South Sudan and resources for prayer, study and action, visit: www.episcopalchurch.org/sudan.

– Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

Video: South Sudan in crisis

Monday, May 12, 2014

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

[Episcopal News Service] South Sudan is facing its greatest challenge since becoming an independent nation almost three years ago.

Fighting erupted last December after South Sudan President Salva Kiir accused his sacked former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup.

But even as hope emerged on May 9 when the two rivals agreed to a truce and to forming a transitional government ahead of fresh elections, the humanitarian crisis is vast and the South Sudanese are desperately in need of the world’s support.

The conflict has left thousands dead and more than 1.2 million people have fled their homes.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has called the church to prayer. But in addition to prayer, she says that the church has a duty to study and to act. To find out more, visit: www.episcopalchurch.org/sudan

– Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

EPPN: Urge Obama to support peace and reconciliation in South Sudan

Friday, May 9, 2014

[Episcopal Public Policy Network] In response to today’s call to action and prayer for the people of Sudan and South Sudan by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and her three other counterparts, heads of the North American Lutheran and Anglican Churches, The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations provides the following template for an advocacy letter to President Obama. Members of the Episcopal Public Policy Network may GO HERE to send it to the President. (After clicking the link, you will have the option of personalizing the letter if you wish).

Dear Mr. President,

As an Episcopalian whose Church has deep ties to our fellow Episcopalians in Sudan and South Sudan, I write with grave concern for the humanitarian situation in both countries in light of recent events. Our nation has had a long and productive history of diplomatic, humanitarian, and peacemaking engagement in Sudan and South Sudan. As the severity of the situation on the ground deepens, and the potential of a significant food crisis looms, I believe it is urgent that the United States build on its tremendous moral capital and history of engagement. Specifically, I urge you to:

    • Strengthen and provide greater specificity to the U.S. government’s engagement with the various parties in order to affect meaningful comprehensive peace processes in both Sudan and South Sudan. I welcome Secretary Kerry’s recent visit to Juba and the Administration’s statements of ongoing support for peace in South Sudan and Sudan. However, the lack of specificity in our nation’s responses, our wavering diplomatic presence, and the absence of meaningful accountability mechanisms all cause me grave concern. Our government should work to build a coalition of international partners that will more intensively engage in the various peace processes and create meaningful and enforceable accountability mechanisms – political, diplomatic, legal, and financial – against any party that orchestrates war crimes, obstructs humanitarian aid, or otherwise contributes to violence.
    • Expand humanitarian assistance. Among the material consequences of the ongoing violence on many fronts are the threat of a significant food and hunger crisis and the widespread displacement of people from their homes and communities. The need for greater international humanitarian assistance is urgent. I urge the U.S. government to provide significantly increased financial assistance – that is, new money, not simply reprogrammed money – in response to humanitarian needs. I urge particular focus on agriculture and hunger, assistance and protection of displaced persons, and the equipping of nongovernmental organizations working directly on the ground. Humanitarian assistance cannot wait for political developments.
    • Provide greater support for reconciliation efforts. It is abundantly clear that lasting peace cannot come without the parties undertaking the challenging work of reconciliation, healing, and rebuilding of societal relationships. The well-known work of the Churches of South Sudan in promoting reconciliation through efforts such as the Committee for National Healing, Peace, and Reconciliation deserve greater financial and political investment, and expansion to other areas of the ongoing conflicts. The Churches of South Sudan uniquely have both the presence and credibility to be the principal agents of peace and reconciliation; however, that potential can be realized only if the parties and the various international partners invest them with the means to carry out the task. I urge the U.S. government to work more closely with the parties and international partners in supporting this and other national-reconciliation initiatives. It is imperative that reconciliation efforts be led by people on the ground and not simply the political elites who have precipitated various dimensions of conflict in the first place.
    • Support political, democratic, and military reform; and the strengthening of civil society. I urge the U.S. government to actively build international support for political and democratic reform in the two Sudans. Specifically, I urge the building of transparent and inclusive processes to review constitutional, legal, and electoral systems. In particular, the U.S. government should prioritize efforts to assist the government of South Sudan in creating a new constitution that strengthens national unity, provides greater recognition to the state’s various sectors and persons, and assures greater accountability between the government and its people. Additionally, military reform, particularly building cohesion in the context of South Sudan’s ethnic divisions in military units, offers the potential for systemic change. In all reform processes, the inclusion of voices from civil society – particularly faith groups – will be a key to the success of those initiatives.

Mr. President, your own history of concern for peace in Sudan and South Sudan, and in the wider region, is significant. Now, in a critical moment for people who have endured as much conflict as any others in the world over the past sixty years, I pray that you will position our nation at the forefront of the effort to bring a lasting season of peace with justice, healing, and reconciliation.

Sincerely,

Send this letter to President Obama HERE

Obispa Presidente pide oraciones para El Sur de Sudán y Sudán  

Friday, May 9, 2014

[9 de mayo de 2014] Con los informes recientes del aumento de la violencia y las muertes, la Obispa Presidente de la Iglesia Episcopal Katharine Jefferts Schori ha pedidooraciones para Sudán del Sur y Sudán.

Ella se une a los líderes de la Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en América, la Iglesia Anglicana de Canadá, y la Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en Canadá en presentar Un Mensaje de Solidaridad con la Iglesia en el Sur de Sudán

A continuación el mensaje:

Un Mensaje de Solidaridad Con la Iglesia en el Sur de Sudán

De los Líderes de
Iglesia Anglicana de Canadá
Iglesia Episcopal
Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en Americá
Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en Canadá

Viernes 9 de mayo de 2014

La situación en Sudán del Sur sigue siendo extremadamente difícil, y la noticia de esteen los medios de comunicación de América del Norte es mínima. La violencia ha sidofomentada y estimulada por los líderes políticos que buscan sus propios intereses.Aunque los medios de comunicación presentan el conflicto como étnico, sus raíces, como en cualquier conflicto, son variados y complicados. De cualquier modo, nunca puede haber una lógica para el sufrimiento que se ha forjado.

Nuestros socios en la Iglesia Episcopal de Sudán del Sur y Sudán han sufrido muchas pérdidas masivas. Su pueblo ha sido asesinado, violado, torturado y quemado fuera de sus hogares. Las iglesias y pueblos enteros han sido destruidos. A pesar del amplio desplazamiento, los Anglicanos/Episcopales y Luteranos continúan estando activos en los esfuerzos de ayuda y de paz mediante nuestros socios de la Iglesia Episcopal del Sur de Sudán y Sudán y la Federación Luterana Mundial.

Nosotros les instamos a que se unan en oración por el pueblo de Sudán del Sur ySudán, por obtener la paz duradera y significativa, y para la ayuda inmediata y responder a las necesidades de los miles de desplazados.

Al celebrar la fiesta de la Resurrección, le instamos a ayudar en hacer que el cuerpo resucitado de Cristo sea evidente para aquellos que trabajan en el valle de sombra de muerte.

Reverendísima Katharine Jefferts Schori
Obispa Presidente y Primada
Iglesia Episcopal

Obispa Elizabeth Eaton
Obispa Presidente
Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en Americá

Reverendísimo Fred Hiltz
Primado
Iglesia Anglicana de Canadá

Obispa Susan Johnson
Obispa Nacional
Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en Canadá

_____________________________________________________________________

Recursos

Información de la Iglesia Episcopal de Sudan www.episcopalchurch.org/sudan

  • Oraciones
  • Noticias y videos de Episcopal News Service

Inserciones al Boletín de la Iglesia  http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/stw/bulletin-inserts/

Promoción y Recursos Educacionales

Fondo de Desarrollo & Ayuda Episcopal  www.episcopalrelief.org/southsudan

Primates unite in outrage, prayer for schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria

Friday, May 9, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] Primates from countries all over the Anglican Communion have joined the worldwide outcry the abduction of more than two hundred young girls from Chibok, Nigeria.

Over the past week church leaders on five continents have added their voices to the multitude of others calling for the safe return of the girls.

Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Thabo Makgoba condemned abductions of Nigerian Schoolgirls as an ‘outrage’. He called for “all of Africa, and especially South Africa” to rise up and demand the release of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls who were abducted from their school three weeks ago.

Primate of the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Francisco da Silva issued a lengthy statement condemning the “terrible act”.

“It was with a heavy heart that the Brazilian people, along with the rest of the world, learned of the kidnapping of over 200 young girls in Nigeria, at the hands of extremist group Boko Haram,” he wrote. “Many of us, especially in the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, have remembered the girls, their families, and the Nigerian people with prayers, tears, and compassion during this time.

“Nigeria, like so many countries, has of course had its trying and difficult times as a multi-religious society – but it is in times of difficulty like these that we set aside our differences, and stand together—in solidarity, in demanding peace, and most importantly, demanding the safe return of these young women. Not simply a return to their families – but their return to the lives they knew, their ability to go to school and be educated, to have a better future, and to be beautiful, active members of a future Nigerian society.”

Canadian primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz called the Anglican Church of Canada to pray for the situation in Nigeria, “The group behind the schoolgirl kidnappings, Boko Haram, and its declared intention ‘to sell them in the market’ is appalling. It is an abomination against internationally held human rights, and an absolute affront to the efforts of many nations to honour the Millennium Development Goals to empower women and young girls through a good education.

“I am asking Anglicans to offer prayers of special intent in the coming weeks with people of all faiths who are appalled by these crimes,” he added.

The Anglican and Roman Catholic Archbishops of New Zealand called on people to pray for the release and protection of the 200 schoolgirls. Anglican Archbishops Philip Richardson and Brown Turei, and Roman Catholic Archbishop John Dew said this Sunday is an opportunity for churches across the country to pray for, and so stand with governments and churches across the globe, wanting a safe return of the young women.

Primate of the Episcopal Church the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori said in a statement that the Church was “horrified” and what was taking place. “The unfortunate truth is that girls and women are still deemed dispensable in much of the world, or at least of lesser value than members of the other sex,” said the Presiding Bishop. “The necessary response is education – of girls and boys, in equal numbers and to an equal degree, that all might take their rightful place in societies that serve all their citizens with equal respect and dignity.

Calling what happened “an atrocious and inexcusable act” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said, “My prayers and thoughts go out to the young people and their families at this upsetting time. I appeal to those who have taken these schoolgirls to release them immediately and unharmed.

“This is in a part of Nigeria I have visited and in a country whose people are close to my heart. Let your hearts be open in compassion and mercy to those who have suffered so much.”

2014 Anglican Communion Standing Committee bulletin day 3

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Rev. Terrie Robinson. right, told the Standing Committee that on the issue of gender-based violence: “We can be very proud of what Anglicans are doing, but not complacent”. Here she is pictured with Uganda MU president Canon Edidah Mujinya. Photo: ACNS

[Anglican Communion News Service] The day started with presentations from the Mission Cluster: the Anglican Communion Office’s (ACO) Mission Department, the Anglican Alliance, the international Networks, the ACO Women’s Desk and the Anglican presence at the UN.

Mission Department

The Rev. John Kafwanka stressed the holistic nature of mission in the Anglican Communion and how that is reflected in the mission work at the Anglican Communion Office. He said that two projects—a review of the companion links and a diaspora project in which they will explore how Anglicans respond to the issue of migration (people movement)—will be reported on in 2015.

He highlighted the digital presence including the one-stop-shop Resource Hub www.anglicanwitness.org where Anglicans can go to get resources on discipleship, children and young people, and general evangelistic resources. He said there had been some very encouraging responses from many places around the Communion including Lesotho, Spain, and Uruguay about the new site.

He said that three priorities for his office under Anglican Witness were discipleship; children and young people; and mobilising and sharing resources. He asked the standing committee to support a focus on discipleship for a seven year period from ACC-16, which they did. He quoted Archbishop David Vunagi who once said to him: “We have no problem filling our churches with people but they need to know what it means to be followers of Jesus Christ.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby welcomed the focus on discipleship agreeing with Archbishop Vunagi. He said, “The church-going habit can as easily be lost as gained,” which is why people needed to have a deep relationship with Jesus Christ through God’s Holy Spirit.

To encourage support of ministry among young people across the Communion he is proposing a Youth and Children award (organised by the Core Group of Anglican Witness: Evangelism and Church Growth) to highlight and encourage good practice. He called young people a “force to be reckoned with” particularly in “the advancement of God’s kingdom and transformation of society.”

[Pesiding] Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori (The Episcopal Church) encouraged the award to be for work by young people rather than for young people. The Revd Kafwanka said it would be an award for work for, by and with young people. Helen Biggin (Wales) suggested that young people ought to work with the Core Group to organise the award.

The Standing Committee endorsed the development of the proposed award project

Anglican Alliance

Co-director the Rev. Rachel Carnegie began the presentation by stressing that the Anglican Alliance is all about the Communion’s family of churches and agencies working on relief, development and advocacy within the context of the Marks of Mission.

The other co-director, the Rev. Andy Bowerman, said the heart of the Anglican Alliance was about was a sense of restored relationships, of listening and interdependence. He made it clear that the Alliance is not a funding agency. It is rather about connecting our work, sharing skills and building capacity across the Communion, from the grassroots up. He reminded the Standing Committee of Anglican Alliance regional facilitators based in the Solomon Islands, Bangladesh, Kenya, and Brazil. He said the Alliance had, following regional and global consultations, adopted three global themes: youth and women’s empowerment; trafficking/slavery, migration and refugees; and climate change (including food security). In advocacy, the Alliance will focus on supporting the Communion’s voice in shaping the global post-2015 sustainable development goals.

Archbishop Daniel Deng (Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan) challenged the Alliance to play a positive role in representing majority world Churches to relief agencies to ensure contextually effective funding that supports the Church’s mission. Primate of the Church of Pakistan, Bishop Samuel Azariah, asked whether the Alliance could help his Province better communicate with donor agencies. Secretary General Canon Kenneth Kearon reminded the committee of the Alliance’s Agents of Change programme that was designed to do give Member Church staff the skills and language to work with funding agencies.

Louisa Mojela (Southern Africa) said it is important for Member Churches to remember that few churches have the proper skills to respond in an emergency situation, or accountability systems which is why funding agencies generally prefer to do the work themselves. Juanildo Burity (Brazil) said it was important for any Anglican relief goods be for anyone regardless of faith or background.

[Connecticut] Bishop Ian Douglas (The Episcopal Church) asked whether the role of the Anglican Alliance should occupy “a third space” between the relief agencies of the Church and the churches doing work on the ground. Mrs Carnegie said that the Alliance does indeed have a role as a broker between these two groups, providing a platform for communication and particularly in amplifying the local church voice.

International Networks

The Rev. Terrie Robinson, Anglican Communion Networks Co-ordinator and Women’s Desk Officer, presented on the international networks of the Anglican Communion.* She explained that the Networks tell the stories of grass roots experience; share news and information; (some) undertake advocacy; provide information to the Instruments of Communion; and prayer and relationship-building.

She highlighted those that were particularly demonstrating best practice. These included the Anglican Communion Environment Network which recently used digital communications channels to promote their Lenten Fast Blog. The Lenten material generated “a vast amount of conversation and debate” explained Mrs Robinson. She also highlighted the Eco Bishops initiative led by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba.

Mrs Robinson said another ‘thriving’ network is the Family network. She paid tribute to its former Chair Ian Sparks who died this year. Mrs Robinson explained that under the new Chair Bishop David Rossdale the Network continues to promote the family as the place where each member can have status and have their God-given dignity upheld and protected. One way the Network is doing this is through promoting the Church’s role in Birth Registration.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby responded to Mrs Robinson’s report on the work of the Safe Church Network by stressing how important it was to ensure Churches are places where people are safe: “There’s no point at all talking about youth ministry if churches are not safe for children.”

The presentation led to a conversation about the future of the Networks.

Women’s Desk

In discussing the issues facing women across the Anglican Communion, Mrs Robinson said that “the churches have made some progress in strengthening the arm of women but the pace has generally been slow”. She said that “the way forward is not a battle of the sexes; it’s exactly the opposite. Women and men can equally own the journey towards gender equality.

Mrs Robinson’s information resource for the 16 Days of Activism against Violence Against Women is now accessible from 130 websites of Anglican/Episcopal dioceses, agencies, and education institutions. She showed the Standing Committee images of men and women in Anglican Communion Provinces including Rwanda, the Church of North India, England and Brazil working to address violence against women and girls and said, “We can be very proud [of what Anglicans are already doing], but not complacent. There is so much more to do to bring about the transformation we long to see.”

Anglican Communion Representation at the United Nations in Geneva

The Rev. Canon Flora Winfield gave the Standing Committee an overview of her new role as Anglican Communion Representative to the United Nations institutions in Geneva, and of the current and potential relationship between the Anglican Communion and the UN institutions. She said that her role included developing UN literacy across the Communion; enabling the voices of the Communion to be heard in the processes and institutions of the UN; and facilitating partnership working to increase the impact of the Communion’s Member Churches’ work on global and local issues.

Having visited a range of representatives of organisations and Churches based in Geneva, Canon Winfield identified several areas of synergy and potential. These included the Welcoming the Stranger document which emerged from the UNHCR Dialogue on Faith and Protection from faith leaders and was signed by the Archbishop of Canterbury in November last year. She explained, “This document challenges us to work for reconciliation across difference and stand with the most marginalised.”

The other priority is birth registration. Canon Winfield said, at the local level, the Church has a unique opportunity through the ministry of baptism to promote the importance of registering a child’s birth. Engaging with the issue at the UN level means the Anglican Communion can have an impact at another level: challenging national governments to do what they can to make registration universal. She added that the Anglican Communion is already doing work on this issue in several countries, not least through the Mothers’ Union.

ACC-16

The final presentation of the day was from Stephen Lyon updating the Standing Committee about his visit to Zambia to talk to members of the Church of the Province of Central Africa about the pending Anglican Consultative Council meeting in 2015. He said there was a real sense of pride about the event being held in Zambia with local people saying “this will be the only time in our life time that the ACC will come to us”. There was, said Mr Lyon, a great enthusiasm and a real sense of hospitality and welcome.

*These include: the Anglican Health Network, the Anglican Indigenous Network, the Anglican Peace and Justice Network, Colleges & Universities of the Anglican Communion, the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, the Anglican Communion Safe Church Network, the Anglican Refugee & Migrant Network, the International Anglican Family Network, the International Anglican Women’s Network, the International Anglican Youth Network and the Réseau Francophone de la Communion Anglicane.

Presiding Bishop calls for prayer for South Sudan, Sudan

Friday, May 9, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] With the reports of violence and casualties, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has called for prayers for South Sudan and Sudan.

She joins with the heads of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Anglican Church of Canada, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada in issuing A Message of Solidarity with the Church in South Sudan

Here is the message:

A Message of Solidarity with the Church in South Sudan

from the heads of

The Anglican Church of Canada

The Episcopal Church

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

Friday, May 9, 2014

The situation in South Sudan continues to be extremely difficult, and news of it in North American media is minimal. Violence has been fomented and stirred by political leaders for their own ends. Although the mainstream media portrays the conflict as ethnic, its roots, as with any conflict, are varied and complicated. Regardless, there can never be a rationale for the suffering that has been wrought.

Our partners in South Sudan have suffered massive casualties. Their people have been murdered, raped, tortured, and burned out of their homes. Churches and entire villages have been destroyed. In spite of extensive displacement, Anglicans/Episcopalians and Lutherans continue to be active in relief and peace-making efforts through our partners in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan, and the Lutheran World Federation.

We urge you to join in prayer for the people of South Sudan and Sudan, for a lasting and meaningful peace, and for immediate aid and response to the needs of the myriad of displaced persons.

As we celebrate the feast of the Resurrection, we urge you to help make the risen body of Christ evident to those who labor through the valley of the shadow of death.

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

Bishop Elizabeth Eaton
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
Primate
Anglican Church of Canada

Bishop Susan Johnson
National Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
_____________________________________________________________________-

Resources

Episcopal Church Sudan information www.episcopalchurch.org/sudan

  • Prayers
  • News and videos from Episcopal News Service

Episcopal Church Bulletin Insert http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/stw/bulletin-inserts/

Advocacy and Educational Resources

Episcopal Relief & Development  www.episcopalrelief.org/southsudan

Church leaders to join talks between South Sudan’s Kiir and Machar

Friday, May 9, 2014

[World Council of Churches press release] Church leaders from South Sudan are arriving in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, all set to take part in the start of negotiations between South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar. The negotiations aim to find solutions for the world’s newest nation, reeling from violence since last year that has left thousands dead and millions homeless.

Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Juba, Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak of the Episcopal Church of Sudan are mong these church leaders, as well as Peter Gai Lual Marrow of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan, who was scheduled to arrive to Addis Ababa on 9 May.

These church leaders are accompanied by Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, former general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and ecumenical special envoy for South Sudan and Sudan, who will be representing the All Africa Conference of Churches. Dr Nigussu Legesse, the WCC’s programme executive for advocacy for Africa, will also be present.

The participation of church leaders in the Addis Ababa negotiations comes after the recent visit to Juba of an ecumenical delegation which urged leaders on both sides to use the negotiations as an opportunity to agree to dialogue and implement an immediate ceasefire.

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC, was in Juba last week meeting with representatives of local churches. He stressed that South Sudanese churches have “rich spiritual resources to help find a way towards peace.”

“Churches in South Sudan have a significant role in national dialogue, affirming unity and a sense of nation-building by strengthening a process of reconciliation,” Tveit said. “In this process of reconciliation, youth and women must be empowered.”

“We will pray and work with the churches in South Sudan, while they continue addressing these struggles in their pilgrimage for justice and peace,” Tveit concluded.

Among other efforts by the church bodies to end conflict in South Sudan, the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) along with the South Sudan’s Islamic Council will participate in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) peace process.

CPG names Roger A. Sayler chief investment officer

Friday, May 9, 2014

[The Church Pension Group ] The Church Pension Group (CPG) announced today that Roger A. Sayler has joined CPG to succeed William L. Cobb, Jr., as Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer on June 19, 2014. Mr. Cobb, who has so admirably served the Church and CPG with a depth of expertise, dedication and insight, is retiring after 15 faithful years of service in that capacity and will continue as an advisor.

“Roger Sayler is a recognized leader in the investment community who brings both institutional investment management experience and leadership skills,” said Mary Kate Wold, CPG’s CEO and President. “We are delighted to welcome him to the CPG team.”

Prior to joining CPG, Mr. Sayler served as Chief Operating Officer at Columbia Management Group. Before that, he spent 20 years at J.P. Morgan Investment Management Inc., where, as Managing Director, he headed such areas as Structured Equity Portfolio Management and Mutual Funds and served as global head of derivatives.

“Roger and I worked closely together for many years at J.P. Morgan,” said Mr. Cobb, “and we share a common investment philosophy.”

Agraduate of Dartmouth College, Mr. Sayler received his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. His not-for-profit experience includes serving as trustee and chair of the Investment Committee of Portico Benefit Services (previously, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Board of Pensions). “I am honored to play a role in CPG’s important mission of service to those who serve The Episcopal Church,” he said.

Mr. Sayler is only the second Chief Investment Officer in CPG’s history. Mr. Cobb, its first, began working on the Church Pension Fund investment portfolio in 1981 while at J.P. Morgan, and joined CPG as the company’s first Chief Investment Officer when he retired as Vice Chairman of J.P. Morgan Investment Management Inc. in 1999. Under Mr. Cobb’s leadership, the Church Pension Fund built a strong investment team that now includes 28 professionals, opened an office in Hong Kong in 2009, and expanded the diversification of investment programs globally.

“Bill’s contribution to the financial strength of The Church Pension Fund is immeasurable,” said Ms. Wold, “and we thank him for his long and faithful service as our first Chief Investment Officer.”

Charleston David Wilson joins the Church of the Redeemer

Friday, May 9, 2014

[Church of the Redeemer -- Sarasota, Florida] The Rev. Charleston David Wilson has joined the Church of the Redeemer, as a new Priest Associate with the parish. Fr. Wilson will be assisting Redeemer’s Rector, The Very Rev. Fredrick A. Robinson, in the areas of Evangelism and Outreach.

“Fr. Fred is a nationally — and internationally — recognized and proven leader in the Anglican Communion,” said Fr. Wilson. “To be able to sit at his feet and learn from him is a great blessing.”

Fr. Wilson was ordained at Redeemer in December, 2014. He earned a degree in Religion from Samford University and a Master of Divinity from Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Nashotah, Wisconsin, where he also served as the Associate Dean of Institutional Advancement.

A member of the Board of Directors for SOMA, an international Anglican missionary organization, Fr. Wilson is also a member of the Board of Trustees of The Anglican Digest. He and his wife, Malacy, have two children: 5-year-old Robert Augustus and 3-year-old Mary Camille.

Upper South Carolina: Bishop releases reflection on same-sex blessings

Friday, May 9, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina] The Right Reverend Andrew Waldo, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina,  May 8 released “In Dialogue with Sacred Tradition:  A Pastoral and Theological Reflection on Same-Sex Blessings.”

Bishop Waldo will allow the blessings of same-sex relationships in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina under conditions outlined in the report released today.

  “My decision to allow the blessing of same-sex relationships is deeply rooted in scripture, tradition and reason and comes after four years of dialogue throughout the Diocese and a year-and-a-half of deep study and dialogue by a task force of clergy and lay persons who represent deeply diverse positions,” said Waldo.

Accompanying Bishop Waldo’s reflection is the work of his Task Force on Unity and Faithfulness, which he formed in September 2012 as a response to the General Convention 2012 passage of resolution A049, which allows provisional use of a liturgical rite for same-sex blessings.

The Task Force’s work, In Dialogue With Each Other, is a curriculum for congregations and encourages dialogue among clergy and parishioners, regardless of their beliefs on this issue.  Completion of the curriculum is mandatory for congregations that desire to bless same-sex relationships.
“Both my reflection and the curriculum seek to embody a robust dialogue focused on the ministry of reconciliation to which Christ calls us. This work seeks not so much to change minds but to challenge perspectives held by people on various ends of the theological spectrum and to deepen relationships across the Diocese,” Waldo said.

The entire document is available on the Diocesan website: www.edusc.org.

ECS programs tackle poverty on multiple fronts

Friday, May 9, 2014

From left, Aquill Palmer, Tyron Morrison and Brittany Palmer show off computers provided to the Youth Center at Episcopal Community Services in Philadelphia thanks to St. Thomas Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Participants in the center’s program, which helps teens and young adults complete their education and find jobs, decorate the blackboard behind them with sayings and drawings. Photo: ECS

[Episcopal News Service] Tyron Morrison has plans: finding a job, attending community college, parenting his infant son, pursing a career in music. He also has faced challenges, including three years in a juvenile detention home, that not everyone can see past. He found the help he needed through the Youth Center at Episcopal Community Services in Philadelphia.

“Normally, other places that I’ve come in contact with, they tend to judge me off of … things that have happened in my life,” he said. “This program here, they accepted me with open arms. They listened to me.” He feels like he’s known center director Beatrice Fulton “all my life. … I feel really safe and secure.”

Across the country, Episcopal Community Services programs provide hands-on assistance to people needing a hand up. The organizations operate under various names, working independently from each other. Some are diocesan agencies, others separate nonprofits. Their common focus is poverty and those affected by it.

Through the Episcopal Community Services in America, a network of health and human-services organizations affiliated with the Episcopal Church, some of these agencies are working to strengthen their connections to share resources and raise the visibility of the work they do. In early June, representatives of ECSA and other related agencies will meet with the Rev. Canon Mark Stevenson, Episcopal Church domestic poverty missioner, in the Diocese of Western Texas to talk about ways to move forward.

“Over the years, many of the dioceses had multiple types of programs to help people who are destitute, who are homeless,” said the Rev. Canon Phillip J. Rapp, president and CEO of ECSA. “It’s a significant part of the heritage of the Episcopal Church. But in all that time, there never was an overall desk or agency … associated with the church that coordinated the activities.”

Mostly, dioceses or parishes ran the programs, but they were unconnected, with no denominational-level information collected about them, he said. “The Church Pension Group has all of the information about every clergy person in the church. They have it about every parish. They have it about every diocese. But they have little or nothing about the institutional ministries of the Episcopal Church.”

Thus, when the Journal of Philanthropy publishes its annual index of health- and human-service-based agencies, “when it comes to the Episcopalians, there’s just a [blank] line there because there is no composite knowledge of the amount of money that is spent on services, the amount of full-time employees that the church has in that related situation and, more importantly, I think, the amount and the diversity of … clients who are served.”

Twelve years ago, 14 or 15 agencies came together to form Episcopal Community Services in America, Rapp said. General Convention formally recognized the network in 2006, and the church provided a grant to develop a database of all the related agencies within the church, he said. ECSA identified 565 in more than 80 dioceses spending cumulatively more than $2 billion, but it ran out of money to continue or update the analysis, he said.

According to its website, ECSA’s vision is “to alleviate the systemic causes of domestic poverty and to help those in need by strengthening the work of Episcopal health and human-service organizations.” Three years ago, it supported a three-day conference in Newark, New Jersey, on the church’s response to domestic poverty. The June 5-6 meeting in San Antonio, Texas, will bring together Stevenson and members of various groups within the church, including ECS programs, the Church Pension Group, Jubilee Ministries and National Episcopal Health Ministries, to talk about ways to bring the ministries together and “to proclaim domestic action” against poverty, and programs that could be replicated and expanded, Rapp said.

Not just a safety net

In the Diocese of Pennsylvania, ECS has been reorganizing and reevaluating its programs to focus on finding and funding the most effective ways to alleviate poverty.

“The challenge is that the city funding and the state funding were going through tremendous change, and it’s pretty clear that that funding is volatile at best and nonexistent more than likely,” said Executive Director David Griffith ECS is preparing to launch a capital campaign and is creating two for-profit entities: consulting services to help parishes “build capacity and outreach muscle” and a home-care program, he said.

Two other focal points are St. Barnabas Mission and the youth program.

St. Barnabas is a shelter for abused young women with children that ECS hopes to expand into a community outreach program offering food banks, community centers, day care and housing, Griffith said. “A shelter is not the best way to cure homelessness.”

This reflects the general ECS vision: “We never want to be a safety net. We want to be a mechanism where we lift up and we lift out individuals in poverty,” he said.

The youth program uses a cognitive-therapy model to help 14- through 23-year-olds stay in school and find meaningful jobs with benefits, so that “they’re safe, they’re stable and … they become contributing members of the region,” Griffith said.

A $100,000 grant funded a pilot program called Teens Takin’ Over, which began as a workshop series for about 40 teens. A second $100,000 grant will help the program expand to serve 250 to 300 teens and young adults this year, working toward a goal of 1,500 served by 2020, Griffith said.

Youngsters in the Ark preschool for homeless children operated by Episcopal Community Services of Maryland had an opportunity to play in the snow during a monthly field trip to the Irvine Nature Center outside Baltimore. Photo: ECS

Fifteen years ago, ECS was providing grief counseling for families with AIDS, Fulton recalled. “The work was really about working with the families because the parents were dying, and sort of having planning for the teens, the children who would be left behind – who also had AIDS.”

ECS staff would make sure the teens kept appointments at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “One of the issues on the table when we’d go to these doctor meetings is, the kids were not taking their medications,” Fulton said. “We asked ourselves: What would a future look like that you’d be willing to take your medication? That was sort of the beginning of the vocational work we’re doing now.”

Today, young people who walk into the center complete a vocational assessment – identifying something they’re passionate about – and then look at the education they’ll need to achieve that kind of job. They learn to envision and articulate what a day on the job would be like: what they’ll do, what they’ll wear, who they’ll talk to. They discuss what would prevent them from obtaining this job and, using cognitive-therapy techniques, discern what they need to change in order to achieve their goals. “We get them to connect their thinking about the situation to how they’re feeling and, more important for our purposes, their behavior,” Fulton said.

Participants – more than 100 in the past year – also work on resumes, applications, proper work attire. Ultimately, they join the center’s 191 club, earning $100 for clothing and a $91 transit pass. Morrison recently picked out “nice dressy pants, some nice shoes,” a button-down shirt and a bow tie in preparation for an interview at a local McDonald’s. In the fall, he’ll begin studying at the Community College of Philadelphia.

Morrison, 21, arrived at the center about eight months ago on a friend’s recommendation. “I just needed a little bit more guidance and some information on how to approach certain situations, like filling out a resume,” he said. “The 191 program is … teaching you things that you’re really going to use in real life. So I’ve mastered it now. I can approach every situation with a lot of confidence.”

“The program is Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. I’m here every day,” he said. “I love it. The atmosphere, it’s peaceful. I can laugh. I can be myself.”

Long tradition, changing structure

Episcopal Community Services of the Diocese of Long Island also is reorganizing. It traces its origins to an upstate New York home for “wayward girls – basically unwed mothers” – and the parish-based Church Mission of Help network started by Holy Cross Monastery founder the Rev. James Otis Huntington and photojournalist Jacob Riis in 1913, said the Rev. Charles McCarron, ECS executive director and vicar of the Episcopal Church of St. Lawrence of Canterbury in Dix Hills, New York.

The network grew to about 20 programs across the church, with many changing their names to Youth Consultation Service in the 1960s. The Long Island mission underwent several name changes before becoming ECS – part of an effort to improve recognition for Episcopal service agencies – and five years ago shifted from an independent agency to a diocesan corporation, McCarron said. It now is restructuring, including looking at how ECS might work more closely with the related Episcopal Charities, which raises funds, and Episcopal Health Services, he said.

Through the years, ECS has introduced new programs to meet new needs. Following a devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, ECS trained volunteers to help Haitian nationals complete temporary protective status forms to allow them to remain and work in the United States.

After Hurricane Sandy hit the diocese in 2011, ECS worked with an evangelical congregation in the Rockaways (where there was no Episcopal church) to provide meals, set up job co-ops, run summer and after-school programs, and help day laborers from the mostly immigrant population to achieve OSHA certification to do construction work, McCarron said. In Mastic Beach, home of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, the diocese operated a weekly meal program and continues to host volunteer groups to help with construction and rebuilding, including working with the Poospatuck Reservation community. The diocese now is establishing a permanent program in Mastic Beach.

“As the Sandy needs are changing, we’ve just been awarded a grant from New York state to being kind of a youth center there and focus in on creating a mentoring program,” McCarron said. The $130,000, two-year grant will provide for a clinical social worker.

Addressing poverty’s injustices

Episcopal Community Services of Maryland offers both vocational and children’s programs aimed “to help people navigate the obstacles of homelessness, poverty and re-entry into society.”

“We’re addressing the injustices brought on by severe poverty,” said Beth Margulies, communications manager. “All the programs are growing.”

That includes Jericho, a re-entry program for released state prisoners that focuses on workforce development and job placement. “When you’re coming out of a prison setting, you need several things … to make your new life work or to avoid recidivism, and one of the primary things you need is a job, so we start by focusing on really the work skills that you’re going to need,” Margulies said.

ECS has a commercial kitchen, which provides a job-training environment for Jericho participants. It recently partnered with a local nonprofit coffeehouse that focuses on helping unemployed local youth.

“They’re all kind of learning from each other, so we now have a social enterprise called Cups Coffeehouse and Kitchen, and we’re moving into event catering,” Margulies said. Students work on teams and take turns as sous chef, so on any given day a Jericho adult or an Urban Alliance youth may be in charge.

ECS also operates The Club at Collington Square, an after-school and summer-camp program for at-risk students, and the Ark, a preschool for homeless children.

Located in a city school, the Ark enrolls up to 15 children at a time. “It’s so clear to me that these children who come to our doors have some great potential, but they’re already behind,” said Director Nancy Newman. “They need a lot of stimulation and care to catch up.”

“We do see a lot of behavior challenges and developmental problems,” she said. “Most all of our kids are language-delayed. … After kids settle in, we do a developmental screening.”

The full-day program annually serves 40 to 45 children, who stay 16 weeks on average, Newman said. This accounts for a small percentage of the 450 children younger than 5 counted as homeless in Baltimore last year, she noted.

All services are free, including transportation, dental and other screenings, and daily breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack. Once a month, the students and their parents take a field trip to a local nature center with an outdoor classroom.

“These children deserve the highest-quality care and education,” Newman said, “so they can move ahead and get past this traumatic period.”

– Sharon Sheridan is an ENS correspondent. 

Presiding Bishop on abducted schoolgirls in Nigeria

Thursday, May 8, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued the following statement:

The Episcopal Church is horrified at the violence perpetrated against innocent schoolgirls in Nigeria, and the willingness of those who should be addressing this to look the other way.  The unfortunate truth is that girls and women are still deemed dispensable in much of the world, or at least of lesser value than members of the other sex.  The necessary response is education – of girls and boys, in equal numbers and to an equal degree, that all might take their rightful place in societies that serve all their citizens with equal respect and dignity.  I pray that all Episcopalians, and all people of faith and good will, will pray and plead with their political leaders to find the kidnappers, liberate these girls, and restore them to the safety they deserve.  May God have mercy on us all.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop and Primate

The Episcopal Church

We need an alleluia

Thursday, May 8, 2014

We are in the fifty days of Easter, but I am having a hard time saying “Alleluia.”

We learned today that eight more girls were kidnapped from their school in Nigeria.  This adds to the 276 that we are aware of. Faces of grief, anger, and fear cover the screens of our televisions, computers, smart phones and Twitter feeds.  The angry reaction is palpable.

The social media world is buzzing.  Bring back our girls.

#BringBackOurGirls

Our girls?  Why are they our girls?  They live in a place far away from the world I know.  I live in a middle class subdivision in a bedroom community just outside of Columbia, SC.  I drive almost 30 minutes to work every day.  I listen to NPR or sing out loud to some band that is piped from my iPhone through my car’s speakers.

Today I didn’t feel like singing.

I am a dad.  I have a daughter who is 12 years old.  She is a happy child . . . most of the time. Her emotions shift like the wind. One moment she is laughing and joyful. The next she is a sobbing mess. She is 12-years-old.  This is normal.  I have to constantly remind myself of this.

The missing girls in Nigeria range in age from 12-15. These children were ripped from their lives – from their families. My girl is in the kitchen spreading Nutella on toast.  These girls are being sold as slaves; their bodies are likely being ravaged my men twice their age.

I have an enlarged heart. It is filled with the faces and names of children I have served and loved.  It is filled with the faces of the children who were taken from their families and loved ones in Sandy Hook.  It is filled with the faces and names of the ones who remain.

My enlarged heart is close to breaking.  There are now 284 more children I grieve for.  284 more children to love and pray for.

They are our girls because they need us.  They are our girls because they are our sisters, daughters, and friends.  They are our girls because they are in trouble. They are our girls because we are all children of God.

Bring back our girls.

Bring back our girls.

Bring back our girls.

We need an Alleluia. I’m ready to shout it from the rafters.

Just not yet.

– Roger W. Hutchison is Canon for Children’s Ministries at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral n Columbia, South Carolina, Diocese of Upper South Carolina.

Honduras: Schools play a role in self-sustainability, society

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Miriam Rivkin, a member of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in DeLand, Florida, visited St. Mary’s Episcopal School in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in March during a trip to explore potential partnerships. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

[Episcopal News Service – San Pedro Sula, Honduras] Episcopal schools in the Diocese of Honduras not only have a role in moving the church toward self-sustainability; they also play a role in transforming communities.

“Children profit from education, teachers are employed, students receive an Episcopal Church education, which is also part of our evangelism program,” said the Rev. Canon Lura Kaval, the diocese’s canon for development and an Episcopal Church-appointed missionary.

Schools are a main source of income for the diocese; it operates seven, faith-based bilingual schools serving 1,500 students from prekindergarten through 11th grade, the final grade level required in Honduras.

“As a whole they are in the black; some of them are in better shape than others, but all are headed in the right direction with great potential for growth,” said Kaval,

For instance, at St. Mary’s Episcopal School in Tegucigalpa, the Rev. Canon Joe Rhodes and his wife, Tina, missionaries sent by the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders, are working to bring the school toward profitability.

“We have 158 students now, we need 200 to be profitable,” explained Rhodes to a group from St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in DeLand, Florida, who visited in March during a trip to explore potential partnerships.

Longtime supporters of the diocese, the Rhodes over the years have led many short-term mission teams to Honduras while Joe Rhodes served as the rector of Holy Spirit Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They have served the school for the last 18 months.

Bishop Lloyd Allen founded St. Mary’s School in 1994 while serving St. Mary’s Church; the bishop personally asked the Rhodes to move to Tegucigalpa to assist the school full time.


The Diocese of Honduras operates seven, faith-based bilingual schools serving 1,500 students from prekindergarten through 11th grade. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

In recent years, Allen has worked to focus the diocese’s attention on achieving self-sustainability by 2019; in addition to the diocese’s self-sustainability plan, the schools have a separate strategic aimed at self-sufficiency.

As part of the plan, administrators are working toward international accreditation with the help of Steven Robinson, president of the Southern Association of Independent Schools, a U.S.-based accrediting agency.

“The schools there are really fascinating and I think they serve a tremendous purpose, some of the schools have a long way to go, but the flagship, [El] Buen Pastor, in San Pedro Sula, is probably eligible now if not close,” said Robison, in a telephone interview with ENS.

Accreditation at its core means a school is fulfilling its mission; and that a school is financially sustainable and has good governance, explained Robinson.

“It [accreditation] doesn’t mean all schools are equal; that’s largely dependent on the resources they have,” said Robinson. “It means they are serving the mission they set out to serve.”

A young girl prays during Sunday school at St. Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church in Brick Bay in Roatán, Honduras. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

At the heart of each Episcopal school’s mission is a commitment to Christian education and the diocese has committed to translating from English to Spanish the Episcopal Children’s Curriculum, developed by Virginia Theological Seminary, so that it can share it with others looking for Christian educational resources in Spanish, said Kaval. The diocese plans to begin using the curriculum in both the schools and its Sunday schools in the fall.

Robinson became involved with the Episcopal schools in Honduras in 2010 when he met Andrea Baker at a National Association of Episcopal Schools conference in San Antonio, Texas.

“She saw my nametag and asked, ‘do you accredit? And can we talk?’” said Robinson.

Baker invited Robinson to visit Honduras, which he did. “I fell in love with the schools and the work of Bishop Allen,” he said, adding that what the diocese is doing with its schools is “at the heart of what education should be.”

Since then, Robinson has been involved with the schools and this summer plans to run professional development workshops in Honduras. It’s a matter of working with the schools to understand where they are, where they need to be, and assisting them as they grow toward accreditation, he said.

El Buen Pastor, the school Robinson referred to in San Pedro Sula, was founded in 1984 and has since grown to more than 500 students grades pre-k through 11. Some of El Buen Pastor’s students have gone on to attend universities in the United States.

Other schools, like St. John’s Episcopal School in Siguatepeque, a small town in the central mountains, are just getting started.

Rick Harlow, the diocese’s project manager, and Episcopal Church-appointed missionary, explained that the school serves 48 students grades prekindergarten through fourth grade, next year the school will add fifth grade and more space for prekindergarten students.  The school currently has an 80-student capacity.

Episcopal schools operate on the same 10-month calendar as schools in the United States, not the public schools’November to February calendar, normal for the country’s private schools. For this reason, the schools tend to grow from year to year as students graduate from one grade level to the next, and from new students enrolling in prekindergarten and kindergarten.

One way to recruit new students is to make the school more appealing. In March, for instance, construction was underway on a horseshoe-shaped driveway where parents can drop off and pick up their children in front of the school instead of on the busy street in front of the church.

The driveway and additional classroom space constitute the first phase of construction; the second phase will include a cafeteria and kitchen and additional classrooms.

“We have to work year by year by year with the resources available,” said Harlow, adding that teams from churches in the United States have thus far helped with the school building’s construction and there’s still a need.

Not far from St. John’s, also in Siguatepeque, the Rev. Vaike Madisson de Molina started a first-aid clinic that three years later has turned into a nursing school recognized by the Ministry of Health. In 2009, Allen told his clergy they’d need to look at their communities and create something to move their missions toward self-sustainability, so de Molina, inspired by Florence Nightingale’s legend, turned to healthcare.

The Nightingale Centro Episcopal de Formación de Auxiliar de Enfermería opened in December 2011 and graduated its first 14 students in December 2013.

The Rev. Vaike Madisson de Molina shows architectural renderings for the nursing school to the Rev. Canon Lura Kaval, the dioceses canon for development. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

Given the school’s successes, de Molina has plans for a two-story building that will house classrooms and a laboratory alongside her church, San Bartolomé Apóstol, moving the school out of the parish hall.

“This project, I love it,” she said during an interview in her home. “I think Jesus Christ is happy … some members of the church are even now students.”

De Molina chose the nursing school, she said, partly because she likes the story of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, which she feels fits nicely with the history of the Anglican Church, but also because she recognized a need for a permanent medical clinic in the community. And she saw the school as a way to give women, many of them single mothers, a means of supporting themselves.

Josselin Flores, 18, is one such student. Flores works at the church and studies at the nursing school, while her mother cares for her 18-month-old baby.

“I want to have a better life and to care of others,” said Flores in an interview at the church.

Sixty percent of Honduras’7.9 million people live at the poverty line, according to World Bank statistics. The average adult has 6.5 years of education, according to United Nations Development Program data.

Founding an Episcopal university in Honduras is a long-range goal of the bishop, especially in a post-9/11 world where it has become increasingly difficult for students to secure visas to study in the United States, and the currency exchange rate between the Honduran Lempira and the U.S. dollar puts the cost out of reach for most students coming from a low-middle income country.

“Not only is the bishop committed to self-sufficiency model of empowerment rather than dependency … the schools not only play a tremendous part it that, but through education the Episcopal Church is in a position to change a nation,” said Robinson.

From his experience and travels, Robinson hasn’t seen another independent schools system poised for such a high return on investment.

“I’m very blessed and fortunate to work with almost 400 of best schools in the world, including 40 Episcopal schools, travel the world and talk on a variety of issues,” he said. “I don’t know of any place where good, strong Episcopal schools could have an impact on the entire nation. Honduras could be impacted by the school system and I don’t say that lightly.

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

2014 Standing Committee Bulletin day 1 + 2

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Standing Committee plus Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Canon Kenneth Kearon
Photo: Neil Vigers/ACNS

[Anglican Communion News Service]

Standing Committee Day 1

[The members of the Standing Committee can be seen at http://bit.ly/1fRoMNT]

All but one member of the Standing Committee were able to attend this year’s meeting. Only Bishop James Tengatenga was unable to travel to London because of visa issues.

Much of the first day was taken up with business matters. The Anglican Consultative Council’s (ACC) legal advisor Canon John Rees began with a brief orientation for the Standing Committee members. The committee then moved on to discussions about membership. With the elevation of Sarah Macneil (Australia) to Bishop the committee needs to appoint a replacement.

Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi (Burundi) was re-elected as the member of the Crown Nominations Commission and Archbishop Thabo Makgoba (Southern Africa) was re-elected as the alternate. Archbishop Emmanuel Egbunu (a diocesan bishop in Nigeria) was also re-elected the Anglican Communion’s ‘constant member’ of the group that appoints the Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe.

Highlights from the Secretary General’s annual report included informal talks with the Vatican, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Lutheran World Federation; the WCC General Assembly in Busan, Korea; and visits to Anglican Communion Churches in West Africa, Brazil, the USA and Zambia.

Copies of Transforming Communities, the report of ACC-15, were circulated to members and will be sent to ACC members, Primates and Provincial Secretaries. The report can be bought online at http://shop.anglicancommunion.org/.

In response to a paper on Muslim-Christian relations submitted for consideration, the committee began an informal conversation about the issue. The paper will be considered in more detail later in the meeting.

Day 2

Canon Dr Phil Groves, Director for Continuing Indaba, presented an update on the project.

He said that Archbishop Welby’s focus on reconciliation had added fresh impetus to the initiative adding, “I think we have an interesting future ahead”. He said the vision of the Communion as a “place of reconciled reconcilers” remained and told the committee that a guide to implementing the principles of Indaba, as well as a new website www.continuingindaba.com had been produced in 2013/4. A further publication, Living Reconciliation, will be published in September this year, gathering together theological resources from the project’s pilot programme and reflecting on reconciliation.

Canon Groves said that principles of Indaba were being taking up in a many parts of the Communion including Kenya, the USA, and England. He said, “The Indaba journey is growing and developing, we’re providing process resources, and theological resources, and we’re getting them out into the hands of Anglicans who are changing their world.”

Archbishop Daniel Deng (Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan) noted the need for internal reconciliation and highlighted a need for a conversation with the GAFCON* group. Canon Groves thanked the Primate for his comments and noted that several theological advisors to the GAFCON group had contributed material to the Living Reconciliation book.

The Revd Rachel Carnegie and the Revd Andy Bowerman then presented the Anglican Alliance company trustees’ audited annual report. The committee received the report and also approved the appointment to the Board of Trustees of Canon David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director for Reconciliation, to succeed Mr Chris Smith as the Archbishop’s representative.

Mr Michael Hart, consultant to the Finance & Administration Committee and its vice chair, then presented its report. The Committee’s report included reference and administrative details of the Charity; its trustees and advisors; a list of Officers of the ACC; the annual report of the Trustees; the Independent Auditor’s report to the Trustees; a statement of financial activities to 31 December 2013; a balance sheet and notes to the financial statements; and a schedule of contributions to the Inter Anglican Budget.

The budget was described by Helen Biggin (Wales) as “tight and well managed”, but she noted that there needed to be more thinking given to future funding, particularly for those projects reliant on grants.

The day ended with a presentation by Director for Communications Jan Butter who presented the committee with five Church communications wins, five challenges and five ‘big ideas’ to make the committee to think big about how the Anglican Communion could look to the future.

The wins included more Churches getting to grips with digital media; thinking about ministry and witness in digital spaces; sharing more best practice online; speaking for themselves rather than relying on the media; and reaching a younger generation through social media and digital technology. However, he said that, when it came to the Anglican Communion having basic communications tools in place, too little had improved: strategic communication was still not in many Provinces’ DNA; neither clergy nor laity receive formal training on how to live as a Christian online; and there are still too few Member Churches/extra-Provincials with qualified, senior communicators in place.

He also said that, as a Communion of 85 million people, we were not leveraging our collective voice, power and resources – particularly through digital channels. He pointed to Kickstarter and Change.org as two sites that should be models for the way the Anglican Communion uses its collective power for good.

His ‘big ideas’ included a Kickstarter Sunday to raise money for projects around the Communion; setting up a global network of volunteers to translate Communion documents, news and information into a range of languages; and having the Anglican Communion lead a global forum on the future of being and doing Church in a digital age.

*The Global Anglican Future Conference

‘Come and see the new Honduras’

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Bishop Lloyd Allen confirmed 11 people and received 13 more into the Episcopal Church on March 9 at La Misión San José in El Cedral, Honduras. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

[Episcopal News Service] What does it mean to be the church in Honduras?

It’s a question Bishop Lloyd Allen and others in the Diocese of Honduras have begun asking themselves as they fine-tune their 2019 self-sustainability plan and move away from more than 150 years of dependency.

Although financial independence and self-sustainability may sound like invigorating concepts to North Americans, moving away from a century and a half of dependence — needs influenced and met by outside support — doesn’t come easy in Honduras, or more broadly in Latin America, where a deeply embedded culture of dependence dates back to the Spanish occupation, and in the church to when Anglicans established their first colonial mission outposts.

“Like it or not, as difficult as this may seem, I think it’s time for the diocese to begin to walk away from that legacy of dependency,” said Allen in a 2012 address to the Diocese of Central Florida’s convention, echoing words he’d spoken a year earlier during his own diocese’s annual meeting.

In Central Florida, a longtime companion diocese, the crowd applauded Allen’s words. Back in Honduras, however, his proclamation had not been as well received. “I may not be the most popular person in the Diocese of Honduras now,” he said.

Moving away from dependency, Allen soon realized, would require changing a deeply held mindset, and wasn’t something that could be accomplished by inviting in consultants and conducting workshops.

“We are on the road; I don’t know how long it’s going to take,” he said. “ … we’re on our way, cost us what it may. Growth doesn’t come easy.”

At the center of that growth is a complete overhaul of the relationship between the diocese and its missions and preaching stations. As it is and has always been, money flows from the diocese to the 124 congregations. The flow must be reversed; when that’s accomplished, the diocese can begin to send its support to the Episcopal Church, reversing that longstanding relationship of dependency.

“That’s a real change in dynamics,” said the Rev. Canon Lura Kaval, the diocese’s development officer and an Episcopal Church-appointed missionary based in San Pedro Sula.

In addition to the $227,000 the diocese receives from the Episcopal Church, the diocese operates seven, bilingual schools, a conference center, a warehouse and EpiscoTours, which handles the travel arrangements and itineraries for mission teams, all of which generate revenue. The diocese also has incorporated a nonprofit organization in the United States, the Honduras Development Network, to raise funds.

Historical perspective  

The Church of England transferred jurisdiction of the missionary outposts in Central America and the Caribbean to the U.S.-based Episcopal Church following World War II. Two decades later in the 1960s, the trend across the Anglican Communion was to examine the church’s missionary work in a post-colonial world, moving away from “paternalistic treatment of the overseas ‘missionary districts,’ ” according to archived documents.

The 1964 General Convention established Province IX “to foster relationships among districts in Latin America that would lead toward self-support.”

Honduras is the only Episcopal diocese in Central American belonging to Province IX; the others — El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua — belong to the Anglican Churches in Central America, or IARCA its Spanish acronym, a province of the Anglican Communion.

The other Province IX churches include, in South America, Ecuador Central, Ecuador Litoral, Colombia, and Venezuela, and in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

In February, on the recommendation of the Second Mark of Mission working group, a group convened by the staff of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council agreed to an 18-year plan for “self-sufficiency,” to move to sustainable mission and ministry in Province IX

The Episcopal Church historically has supported the Province IX churches through a block grant program, which provides the dioceses with operating funds amounting to $2.9 million in the current triennium.  The triennial budget also included an additional $1 million for Province IX with the goal of “strengthening the province for sustainable mission.” This money will be made available to the dioceses to further their progress toward self-sustainability.

In 2009 General Convention budget slashed the block grant program, decreasing the amount dioceses received by a third; although the abrupt cuts came as a surprise, they weren’t totally unexpected.

In the first years of his episcopacy, Allen served on the church’s Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance and “saw the writing on the wall,” he said.

“I would come home and share my thoughts and concerns with the clergy, and I would say we need to look forward and try to walk away from dependency.”

Ordained and consecrated in 2001, Allen hired an outside consultant to assist the diocese in creating a strategic plan, the first of which was introduced in 2004 and updated in 2007; the 2019 plan for self-sufficiency builds on those previous plans.

Following Hurricane Mitch, a Category 5 hurricane that killed more than 7,000 people and caused more than $2 billion in damage when it hit Honduras in late October 1998, billions of dollars in international aid money poured in and teams of volunteers began arriving to help in the rebuilding of the Central American country.

In development terms, the country’s then-president said Mitch set back Honduras 50 years; Mitch also marked a turning point in which Honduras’ gangs became better organized and the country’s security situation began to deteriorate.

Eventually, the media coverage and the outpouring of funds and assistance dwindled. Yet the Episcopal Church remained, and began to retool and to grow, and the 2019 plan, “Come and see the new Honduras,” took shape.

Engaging leadership

Fast-forward to March 2014 and a daylong parochial report conference held at Iglesia de Espiritu Santo in Santa Rita de Copán, where 60 leaders gathered from 26 of some 30 missions and preaching stations in the Copán and Maya deaneries covering the country’s far southwest.

“Everything we need in the Diocese of Honduras God has given us,” said Kaval. “Part of this is to help the people see what we have.”

The four-page parochial report records demographics, revenue and expenses, clergy, baptism, confirmation and educational information, and is intended for mission planning. The diocese plans to use the information gathered by the parochial reports to apply the principals of asset-based community development to help its missions and preaching stations become self-sustaining. Additionally the Five Marks of Mission form an integral part of the diocese’s self-sustainability plan; they provide a road map to determine what it means to be the church in Honduras and as the basis for leadership development and stewardship.

The 2019 self-sustainability plan, Venga y ver la nueva Honduras, or “Come and see the new Honduras,” begins with empowering the clergy and laity. In the spring of 2013, the diocese formed lay leaderships teams providing them with the Five Marks of Mission and the diocese’s goals for financial independence and self-sustainability, with the intention being that the clergy and lay leaders would hold each other accountable.

From scarcity to abundance

In a country where 60 percent of 7.9 million people live in poverty, Copán is the third poorest department in the country, which in land area is about the size of Kentucky. Still, the 46 missions in the Copán and Maya deaneries are some of the most resourceful and least dependent on the diocese.

“These two are way ahead on stewardship, and they are building their own churches,” said Allen, adding that they’re a model for the other deaneries. “There’s very little that we [the diocese] do for them.”

Bishop Lloyd Allen confirmed 11 people on March 9 at La Misión San José in El Cedral, Honduras. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

An hours’ drive up the mountain from La Entrada, a literal fork in the road in southwest Honduras that in one direction leads to the Mayan ruins in Copán, sits La Misión San José, a relatively new mission of the Diocese of Honduras, but one that grew March 9 when 11 people were confirmed and 13 received into the Episcopal Church.

Allen preached and presided at the service that day, the first Sunday of Lent, where parishioners had hung balloons and scattered purple and white flower petals down the aisle. Allen recently asked the congregation, now officially a mission, to look to the Book of Common Prayer, the saints and feasts, to choose a name. They chose San José.

Misión San José is led by Yolanda Portillo, a lay leader who has grown the church.

“I’m a firm believer in women’s ministry; she has turned the church around,” said Allen, on the drive to La Cedral, where 2,500 people live in and around the community, largely employed in the coffee industry.

The church has grown, Portillo said, through preaching the Gospel door-to-door.

At the start of Allen’s episcopacy, the diocese had 87 congregations served by 22 priests, almost half of them foreign. Over a two-day period in 2005, he ordained 25 deacons. Today the diocese has 156 missions served by 56 priests and 16 deacons, the majority of them Hondurans. The number of Episcopalians has reached 65,000.

Examples of congregational growth, self-sustainability and community outreach can be seen throughout the diocese. Another example is Parroquia Manos de Dios in Danlí, a town 60 miles southeast of Tegucigalpa, the capital, near the border with Nicaragua.

The Rev. Roberto Martinez Amengual, Bishop Lloyd Allen and Victor Manuel Velasquez at Manos de Dios in Danli. Manos de Dios serves as a model of self-sustainability for the rest of the diocese. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

Led by Victor Manuel Velasquez, Manos de Dios began as a house church in 2000, but with the help of the Anglican Agency for Development in Honduras, or Aanglidesh as it is called, and its partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development, has grown to include a large facility with a community center, space for workshops, a computer lab and an income-generating store that sells supplies to students attending a nearby technical school.

It’s that kind of entrepreneurship that Allen says serves as a model for other congregations in the diocese, and one that the Rev. Roberto Martinez Amengual, Aanglidesh’s administrator, said demonstrates the power of partnerships.

Manos de Dios also provides space for a savings and loan program and microcredit serving women and families in Danlí.

“Our partnership with Aanglidesh in rural Honduras is a strong example of the asset-based approach we promote throughout our work worldwide,” said Kirsten Laursen Muth, Episcopal Relief & Development’s senior director of international programs.

On a tour of Manos de Dios, Velasquez explained that a $5,000 revolving loan, along with the help of mission teams from the United States, made the building possible.

“You can see where the investment went,” he said. “We will become a parish really soon.”

The diocese already has moved four missions to parish status: St. Mary’s in Tegucigalpa, Holy Trinity in La Ceiba, Good Shepherd in San Pedro Sula and Holy Spirit in Tela. Thirteen of 156 missions have been identified for “supported-parish status,” meaning they’re close to being able to pay 50 percent of the clergy costs. Most of the diocese’s urban congregations have schools, and have realized they can support their own clergy, said Allen.

“There will be missions out in the rural areas that will never become (parishes); maybe two or three will have to come together,” said Allen.

Stewardship

Protestant and evangelical churches are gaining on the Roman Catholic Church in Honduras, where it’s not uncommon for a Roman Catholic priest to visit a parish once or twice a year, and when the priest does come, he must be paid, said Allen, explaining part of the reason for growth in his diocese. Additionally, as demonstrated in Danlí, Episcopal missions often address societal needs in the community. Still, Episcopal clergy aren’t always comfortable asking for support from their parishioners.

The Rev. Vaike Madisson de Molina, the vicar San Bartolomé Apóstol in Siguatepeque, worked with the Ministry of Health to establish a nursing school at her church. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

For instance, at San Bartolomé Apóstol in Siguatepeque, a small town in the Central Mountains on the main route between San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, the Rev. Vaike Madisson de Molina, the vicar, worked with the Ministry of Health to establish a nursing school and completed the coursework despite the fact that she’s too old to be licensed; yet when the topic of self-sustainability and asking for support from the congregation is broached, she becomes visibly uncomfortable.

Diocesan leaders say it’s this mindset that needs to change in order for the missions to become self-sustaining and to contribute money to the diocesan budget; clergy need to embrace stewardship, and begin asking their congregations for support.

“The clergy need to make people understand that they are the church … it’s not about going to church, it’s about being the church,” said Rick Harlow, the diocese’s project manager and an Episcopal Church-appointed missionary.

The diocese recently hosted a clergy conference focused on stewardship, where the Rev. Gary C. Hoag, co-author of  “The Sower,” presented concepts and workshops aimed at “developing faithful stewards.”

At Misión San Fernando Rey in Omoa, where Ana Reid, a missionary serving in Honduras as part of the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders, or SAMS, stewardship, building on the local evangelical influence, is an integral component to rebuilding a mission station that had otherwise been neglected and gone to rack and ruin.

“In the evangelical church, it’s taught you need to give your 10 percent; it’s ingrained in you as a responsibility as a Christian,” said Reid, who is from Danvers, Massachusetts. “They are very strong on the teaching that through giving, you receive.”

Ana Reid, a missionary serving in Honduras as part of the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders, or SAMS, is helping to rebuild Misión San Fernando Rey in Muchilena. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

For Reid, however, she continued, it’s all about education and training. For those who’ve come from the Roman Catholic Church, the practice has been to put small change in the offering plate because historically the priest was paid by someone else; parishioners were not required to participate in the life of the parish and support it financially. She says the Episcopal Church hasn’t been strong on teaching tithing, either.

“It’s a spiritual discipline,” she said, adding that there are clergy who themselves don’t tithe. “If they themselves are not doing it, they cannot preach it.”

In addition to teaching about stewardship in rebuilding San Fernando Rey, Reid has helped David Dominguez, the lay leader, to offer English classes at the parish, which is also planning to operate an Internet lab after conducting a market study to determine the need and the desire for one in the community. The parish also plans an outside café that will cater to tourists.

“I’m not the priest, I’m not the person in charge, I’m just here to help,” said Reid, adding that she’s not just telling the people what to do, but doing it herself. “I get my hands dirty.”

Ultimately, Reid’s plan is to empower lay leaders and work herself out of a job.

Back to the church’s beginnings

The Honduran government official recognized the Episcopal Church 150 years ago, however the Anglican-Episcopal presence in Honduras dates back 400 years to 1639, when buccaneers brought the Anglican Church to Roatán, the largest of Honduras’ bay islands, and established Emmanuel Anglican Church on Port Royal.

Allen sent the Rev. Nelson Mejia and his wife, the Rev. Kara Mejias, to Roatán to re-establish an Episcopal Church presence on the largest of Honduras’ Bay Islands, a 90-minute ferry ride from the mainland, which they’ve done already in an area called Brick Bay. A second church, made possible with a grant from church planting and ministry redevelopment, is in the first phases of construction. 

The Rev. Nelson Mejia and Rick Harlow, the diocese’s project manager and an Episcopal Church-appointed missionary review plans for the new church plant in Roatán. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

The new church, which will be called Emmanuel for the church the buccaneers founded in 17th century, is planned for Coxen Hole, a growing community of 20,000 people. Construction began on the site in August 2014; before that the congregation met in homes and later rented a small room in town, said the Rev. Nelson Mejia.

The permanent building will be concrete with reinforced beams, and in addition to the sanctuary, there will also be a parish hall and a sewing room to support a micro-business.

For now, church takes place under a temporary, wood-framed shelter, a heavy tarpaulin serves as the roof; the floor is dirt. Bathrooms, needed for the church to host events, are off to the side, along with a storage shed where plastic chairs, the podium, a keyboard, projector and other supplies for the service and Sunday school are stored. Mejia and his family arrive a few minutes before the service to set up.

Companion relationships, mission teams

The 2019 plan also invites participation from North American partners, who are invited to join a mission team, share professional expertise or to support a clergy member through its Clergy Partnership Program.

The diocese began operating short-term mission trips in 1992 without incident. But the rise of gangs and international headlines portraying the violence have lead to an almost 50 percent drop in the number of mission teams in recent years.

“The increase in violence has really affected us greatly,” said Allen. “A lot of people ask me if [short-term missions] are still safe.” The diocese in Honduras provides mission teams with 24/7 guides and drivers, from arrival to departure.

Larry Tate, a member of Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, Texas, who over the years has led many short-term mission teams to Honduras, and who was in Honduras in March scouting his team’s next trip, said his No. 1 priority is keep team members safe.

“We won’t put people in danger,” he said, adding he keeps an eye on the news. “We listen to what the bishop tells us and we ask questions.”

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

 

Los Angeles bishop calls for unity as property litigation ends

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles]

To the People and Congregations of the Diocese of Los Angeles

This new Easter season unites us in responding to the ways in which God is calling us into new, resurrected life in Christ. We enter this Eastertide as a united diocesan community, joined together in daily ministry and shared service in our neighborhoods. This unity has been strengthened through the years by coming together around challenging issues and seeking common ground for understanding as we are led by the Holy Spirit.

Vitality continues to emerge from the firm stands the Diocese of Los Angeles has taken in respecting the dignity of every human being – the calling of our Baptismal Covenant. It is wonderful again to live within the full Christian promise of Easter.

After a May 7, 2014, appearance in Orange County Superior Court brought final resolution to the litigation, the Episcopal Church of St. James the Great, Newport Beach, will continue in ministry free of the challenge of appeal by parties who left the parish in August 2004. This action follows the California Supreme Court’s January 2009 decision affirming that all Episcopal Church parish properties are held in trust for the present and future ministry of the local diocese and wider denomination.

In steadfastly supporting this position, the Diocese of Los Angeles has secured assets given by generations of Episcopalians and assisted in establishing favorable precedent for the future, and particularly for other dioceses to prevail in similar cases.

Invested in this position is more than $8 million in costs incurred on behalf of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the Episcopal Church by the Bishop as Corporation Sole. This expenditure resulted in retaining multimillion-dollar properties in Newport Beach, La Crescenta, Long Beach and North Hollywood, and in establishing important legal precedent. While the congregations of St. James the Great, Newport Beach, and St. Luke’s of the Mountains, La Crescenta, continue in ministry within the Episcopal Church, congregations will not be restarted as All Saints, Long Beach, or St. David’s, North Hollywood. The Corporation Sole currently holds title to the church property in Long Beach – a city where there are three neighboring Episcopal Church congregations – and a negotiated settlement allows the present congregation to worship on site while remunerating the Diocese for use of those facilities. Meanwhile, the Oakwood School has purchased the North Hollywood property, a fitting use in the mission of local secondary education.

As we move forward I ask your prayers that understanding will continue to grow among us as we experience resurrection anew in Christ. In that Easter spirit, we are called to look forward and, as leaders of local congregations, to strengthen the work that our parishes and missions are called to do. We can also share in current diocesan initiatives, including the Seeds of Hope nutrition and wellness program, the Hands in Healing outreach to youth and young adults, and Horizons & Heritage, the upcoming observance of the Episcopal Church’s 150th year in Southern California.

It is important that we remain in community, not in isolation, and that in charity we create space for people whose views may differ from our own. We are not here to judge one another but rather to be in joy with each other in the name of Jesus. As resurrection people, we are looking forward to doing those things that would reflect the will of Jesus Christ, working to include people of all views and positions, making the Diocese of Los Angeles a beacon of inclusive, loving, joyful action in Christ Jesus.

So I call each of you to renew your local ministries and to share in the ministries of the Diocese. The door to the future is open. We will participate in our diocesan community by continuing to develop Hands in Healing and taking seriously reconciliation. Through Seeds of Hope we will keep nurturing new ministries in this Diocese for food security and care of our environment through curriculum in our primary, secondary and Sunday schools. We will continue to dwell in the new life and abundance of our diocesan community.

Within the Episcopal Church, we go through careful processes to examine what is best for the whole community. In General Convention, we come to places of corporate decision, and whether we agree or disagree, we move forward in joy. We do the same in our Diocese, where there will be no declarations of “I told you so” or “we won” regarding important deliberations. Here I think of times when General Convention meetings have observed times of silence and prayer before the announcement of significant votes taken, and it has been through such prayer that God has guided us from positions of separation to being made whole.

I call you to pray for one another and for the unity of the entire Episcopal Church.

Almighty God, whose blessed Son before his passion prayed for his disciples that they might be one, as you and he are one: Grant that your Church, being bound together in love and obedience to you, may be united in one body by the one Spirit, that the world may believe in him whom you have sent, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
-The Book of Common Prayer, Collect for the Unity of the Church

Together in Christ,
+ J. Jon Bruno
Sixth Bishop of Los Angeles

 

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