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Archbishop of Canterbury’s Presidential Address to General Synod

Thursday, February 13, 2014

[Lambeth Palace] A trip to the South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda and Goma in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) brings home some pretty tough realities.  Two of those areas are post conflict and two are current conflict.  In them the issues which mesmerise me day by day vanish, and the extraordinary courage of the Church is brought afresh in front of my eyes. By the Church I don’t only mean the Bishops and the Archbishops, extraordinary as they are, but the whole Church, in the small villages where they have been raided, where sexual violence has been the norm, where unspeakable atrocities have been carried out and yet they still trust in God.

These are churches of courage, Anglican, Catholic, Pentecostal, other Protestant and many others. Of course of they are flawed, we are all, but it is their courage and faith that lives with me.

However, like all churches, including ourselves, they are part of the society in which they live. Societies in conflict are societies in fear. It is on that subject of fear that I want to reflect for a few minutes, not with reference so much to the international situation but to ourselves and the way we deal with ourselves and between ourselves.

We all know that perfect love casts out fear. We know it although we don’t often apply it.  We mostly know that perfect fear casts out love. In any institution or organisation, the moment that suspicion reigns and the assumption that everything is zero sum becomes dominant (that is to say that some else’s gain must be my loss, we can’t both flourish) that institution will be increasingly dominated by fear. It is an old problem in game theory. The moment at which something is zero sum, players stop looking so much at their objectives and increasingly look at each other. The more they look at each other, the more they are dominated by fear and the less they are able to focus on their objectives.

The Church of England is not a closed system, nor is the Anglican Communion and most certainly nor is the Church catholic and universal. It is not a closed system because God is involved and where he is involved there is no limit to what can happen, and no limit to human flourishing.  His abundant love overwhelms us when we make space to flood into our own lives, into institutions and systems.

At the other end of the spectrum, closed systems, full of fear eventually implode under the weight of their own contradictions and conflicts. Assumptions grow about what is happening. I notice many of them.

For example, as those who were in the chamber for ‘questions’ know I recently commented that where a growing church is there is usually a good incumbent. A number of people took that to mean as well that where a church is not growing it must be because there’s a bad vicar. But I didn’t say that, and neither did I mean it. I have to confess that the moment I said it I knew I had expressed myself badly, and do apologise to those hurt by the comment. But, the underlying point remains, fear leads to the assumption of denigration.

Take another example. Yesterday this Synod by an overwhelming majority supported at its latest stage the legislation that could lead to the ordination of women to the episcopate.  We all know in this place that is only a first stage, that we have some way to go. In the middle of all the paper we have in Annex a of GS1932 the five principles agreed by the House of Bishops.  They are short and to the point, and to work they depend on love and trust.  The love has to be demonstrated and the trust has to be earned.  But the love cannot be demonstrated if it is refused and the trust cannot be earned without the iterative process of it being received and reinforced in the reception.  That is how love and trust work.

So, for example, if we are to live out a commitment to the flourishing of every tradition of the church there is going to have to be a massive cultural change that accepts that people with whom I differ deeply are also deeply loved by Christ and therefore must be deeply loved by me and love means seeking their flourishing.  We cannot make any sense of Philippians chapter 2 and the hymn to the Servant unless we adopt that approach.  The gift that Christ gives us, of loving us to the end, to the ultimate degree is meaningless unless that love is both given and received, and then passed on.

Culture change is always threatening, and when we talk about implementing the five principles, including the one that seeks the flourishing of every part of the Church, and thus of appointments of people who disagree with us most profoundly all sorts of objections can be raised.  “What would a church flourish if it appointed men who do not ordain women to senior posts, simply because in other respects those appointing sense the call and purpose of God?”  What would the world think?  The Church’s answer has to be “the world may think what it likes, we are seeking mutual flourishing”.  Even as I say it my heart beats faster with concern about the consequences and with fear of the difficulty of climbing such a steep slope. And “how can those who are deeply and theologically committed to the idea that women should not be ordained as Bishops, how can they flourish?” I can see the answer only in the grace and love of God in a church that risks living out its call. It is a hard course to steer. Yet I know it is right that we set such a course and hold to it through thick and thin, with integrity, transparency  and honesty.

Yet what lies on that journey? Well, it is certainly an untidy church.  It has incoherence, inconsistency between dioceses and between different places.  It’s not a church that says we do this and we don’t do that.  It’s a church that says we do this and we do that and actually quite a lot of us don’t like that but we are still going to do it because of love.  It’s a church that speaks to the world and says that consistency and coherence is not the ultimate virtue, that is found in holy  grace.

A church that loves those with whom the majority deeply disagree is a church that will be unpleasantly challenging to a world where disagreement is either banned within a given group or removed and expelled.  The absolute of holy grace challenges the absolutism of a world that says there are no absolutes expect the statement that there are no absolutes.

The Church of England is not tidy, nor efficiently hierarchical. There are no popes, but there is a College of Bishops and there are Synods and collections and lobbies and groups and pressure and struggle.   When it works well it works because love overcomes fear.  When it works badly it is because fear overcomes love. The resources for more fear lie within us and the resources for more love lie within God and are readily available to all those who in repentance and humility stretch out and seek them. With Jesus every imperative rests on an indicative, every command springs from a promise. Do not fear.

Already I can hear the arguments being pushed back at me, about compromise, about the wishy-washiness of reconciliation, to quote something I read recently.  But this sort of love, and the reconciliation between differing groups that it demands and implies, is not comfortable and soft and wishy-washy.  Facilitated conversations may be a clumsy phrase, but it has at its heart a search for good disagreement. It is exceptionally hard edged, extraordinarily demanding and likely to lead in parts of the world around us to profound unpopularity or dismissal.

This sort of gracious reconciliation means that we have to create safe space within ourselves to disagree, as we began to do last summer at the Synod in York, and as we need to do over the issues arising out of our discussions on sexuality, not because the outcome is predetermined to be a wishy-washy one, but because the very process is a proclamation of the Gospel of unconditionally loving God who gives Himself for our sin and failure.  It is incarnational in the best sense and leads to the need to bear our cross in the way we are commanded.

Let’s bring this down to some basics.  We have agreed that we will ordain women as Bishops.  At the same time we have agreed that while doing that we want all parts of the church to flourish.  If we are to challenge fear we have to find a cultural change in the life of the church, in the way our groups and parties work, sufficient to build love and trust.  That will mean different ways of working at every level of the church in practice in the way our meetings are structured, presented and lived out and in every form of appointment. It will, dare I say, mean a lot of careful training and development in our working methods, because the challenge for all institutions today, and us above all, is not merely the making of policy but how we then make things happen.

We have received a report with disagreement in it on sexuality, through the group led by Sir Joseph Pilling.  There is great fear among some, here and round the world,  that that will lead to the betrayal of our traditions, to the denial of the authority of scripture, to apostasy, not to use too strong a word. And there is also a great fear that our decisions will lead us to the rejection of LGBT people, to irrelevance in a changing society, to behaviour that many see akin to racism. Both those fears are alive and well in this room today.

We have to find a way forward that is one of holiness and obedience to the call of God and enables us to fulfil our purposes.  This cannot be done through fear. How we go forward matters deeply, as does where we arrive.

Where we work to overcome fear, and to bring society closer together we can make a real difference. Over the last few years the ‘Near Neighbours’ programme has, in extraordinary and creative ways, helped to create a stronger fabric of relationships and joint working across different faith communities. Largely funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government through the Church Urban Fund, the Church of England with its network of parishes and the four Presence and Engagement centres has partnered with people and organisations from a range of churches and different faiths to produce real, local change that has been acknowledged in two independent reports. I am delighted that it looks as though this fruitful partnership between government and faith communities led by the church can continue at least over the next two years, and we look forward to a formal announcement soon. This is recognition that the church is part of the glue that holds our society together, which casts out fear of difference and works practically for the common good.

So I come back to where I started. We live in a world of courageous churches, not only the ones I saw last week but churches like the Church of Nigeria and the Church of Kenya and the Church of Uganda and many, many others, South Africa, I could go on and on who live out the reality of a costly discipleship and somehow managed to find love in the midst of it.  They are not sinless but they are heroic.  We are called to be a heroic church: before us the great demons of poverty, ignorance, need, human suffering. Filling us the grace and love of Christ who leads us in mission. The churches I saw in the last 10 days are certainly heroic. That heroism should challenge us not simply to follow what they say but to be those whose heroic faith is truly holy and gracious.

Thank you.

Absalom Jones’ vibrancy lives on at St. Thomas, Philadelphia

Thursday, February 13, 2014

In conjunction with Black History Month, the Episcopal News Service will publish feature articles on several historically black Episcopal congregations during February.

The congregation of the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, Philadelphia, during the Palm Sunday procession in March 2013.

[Episcopal News Service] Feb. 13 may be the church calendar’s official recognition of the life and ministry of the Rev. Absalom Jones, but for Mary Sewell Smith and others at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia, every day is founder’s day.

Jones – the Episcopal Church’s and the nation’s first black priest – founded St. Thomas in 1792 as the country’s first historically black church of any denomination, and “that spirit that permeated the early church has come down through the years and is still alive and well and thriving,” Smith said.

“A guiding force in our church is the life and legacy of Rev. Jones. It is just part of my life,” said Smith, a lifelong parishioner and current member of the church’s historical society. “We try to live up to the principles he espoused: freedom, liberty, education, worship, community service.”

Besides St. Thomas, 90-some historically black Episcopal churches remain today, congregations created by blacks not welcomed in mainline Episcopal churches post-slavery and during racial segregation throughout the United States, according to the Rev. Harold T. Lewis, a former staff officer for black ministries at the Episcopal Church Center in New York and the author of “Yet With a Steady Beat: the African American Struggle for Recognition in the Episcopal Church” (Trinity Press International, 1996).

The oldest, St. Thomas, grew out of the Free African Society, an independent mutual-aid organization created by Absalom Jones and Richard Allen to provide assistance for the economic, educational, social and spiritual needs of the African-American community. Those efforts continued in the church.

“Most black congregations have always been about uplift, social action, outreach and empowering the community,” Lewis said.

“What is unfortunate is that many people in the church, black and white, are unaware of that history and don’t know how many people have fought to get us where we are today,” he added, citing the Episcopal Church’s checkered past with regard to African Americans and racism.

Portrait of Absalom Jones rendered by Philadelphia artist Raphaelle Peale in 1810.

Infused by the spirit of Absalom Jones
One of Smith’s earliest memories is of gazing up at the iconic portrait of Jones painted by Raphaelle Peale in 1810 and hanging in the church narthex as her father told her the story of St. Thomas’ founder, who was born into slavery, taught himself to read and purchased his freedom in 1784. Six years earlier, he had purchased his wife Mary’s freedom.

Jones served as a lay minister until he and other blacks were asked to leave St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. That exodus prompted Richard Allen and Jones to create the Free African Society. It led to Allen founding the African Methodist Episcopal Church and to Jones’ ordination in the Episcopal Church as a deacon and, nine years later, at age 58, a priest.

But then-Pennsylvania Bishop William White would agree to ordain Jones and receive St. Thomas into the diocese only if the church did not send any clergy or deputies to diocesan convention, thus depriving blacks of voice or vote in church governance, which “characterized the duality of race relations within the church for much of its history,” according to historical documents of the church.

Smith recalled visits to Jones’ grave, located “in the same cemetery where our family graves are. And when we would go to visit our family, we would always say a prayer at Rev. Jones’ marker.” Jones’ remains have been exhumed since then and cremated and placed in an urn at a commemorative chapel inside the Gothic-style church, she said.

Smith grew up playing on the church steps, along with childhood friends Mercedes Sadler and sisters Lucille and Isabel Hamill. The 70- and 80-something women continue to share a love of church and history as members of the historical society. They say the church infused them with a sense of belonging. Its story is their story, and also the nation’s story.

History lives: ‘Very much a part of church’
One of the greatest joys for retired schoolteachers and sisters Isabel Hamill, 87, and Lucille Hamill, 83, was finding a mention of their aunt, Bertha Jones, included among the names of church women supporting various war efforts.

“There were notes about the women who helped roll bandages for the Spanish-American War,” said Lucille Hamill. “And the women held canteens during World War I and World War II, where the young men could come and eat and be mothered by the older women in the church, and they used to come.”

For the Hamills, finding words for all that the church has meant to them is difficult. “It made you feel included, in a city where there was still rampant segregation when we were young,” Lucille Hamill said. “It just made you feel a part of something bigger than yourself, and that was important.”

To preserve the congregation’s history, the church had created an archive in an adjoining building but encountered climate and moisture issues that are being resolved, Smith said. The church’s archives offer a window into a past filled with social activism and community outreach, and even a glimpse of future possibilities.

“I think because we know quite a bit about what the church has been like down through the years, it leads us, it infuses the present,” Smith said.

Included in the archives are Jones’ baptismal records from the late 1700s, birth and death records, sermons and speeches, membership rolls and vestry meeting minutes.

Some documents, in the process of being restored, predate the church. “We actually have a volume of accounts from the Free African Society,” Smith said. “Everything that I ever read says that no records of this organization had survived, but, in going through our old records, we have come across this volume, from 1790 until 1792, when the society disbanded and transitioned into the church.

“Each member had a page, and it shows they paid a couple of shillings, and this was money used to serve the poor and the disabled. You can see how people paid their dues and how they would miss a couple of months and then catch it up.”

Looking back, the focus was “always on community service,” she said. “The St. Mary’s Guild in the 1800s made clothing for children who couldn’t afford clothes to go to school. The Sons of St. Thomas – we have the minutes of these organizations – fashioned themselves after the Free African Society and functioned very much the same way.”

The Dorcas Society was composed of women, “and their primary function seems to have been to arrange and pay for burials of women in the church or community,” she said.

Church membership rolls read like a who’s who in African-American society, said Mercedes Sadler, 77, a sixth-generation Episcopalian and a member of the chancel choir, one of five church choirs.

They include James Forten, born in 1766 to free black parents. He fought in the Revolutionary War and parlayed an apprenticeship at a sail-making company into a wealthy business venture. He used more than half his wealth to purchase freedom for slaves, to help finance William Lloyd Garrison’s abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator, to operate an Underground Railroad station out of his home and to fund a school for black children.

Octavius Valentine Catto was “a Renaissance man and a St. Thomas vestry member back in the day,” Sadler said. “He was shot and killed while trying to get people to go out and vote.”

Catto was about 5 when his family moved to Philadelphia from South Carolina in 1850. A social activist, he was also an accomplished baseball shortstop and player-coach and the founder and captain of the Pythian Baseball Club. A Republican and supporter of Abraham Lincoln, he worked for passage of the 15th Amendment, allowing black men the right to vote, but was killed on Oct. 10, 1871, Election Day. One of his baseball bats is among the archive memorabilia.

St. Thomas’ clergy and parishioners played key roles in the abolition/anti-slavery/Underground Railroad movements and the early equal rights movement of the 1800s, according to the website. “Over the past 50 years, St. Thomas has figured prominently in the civil rights movement, the NAACP, Union of Black Episcopalians, Opportunities Industrialization Center, Philadelphia Interfaith Action and the Episcopal Church Women.”

For Smith, the memories are personal and precious. She recalled watching her brother practicing altar duties and the art of candle-lighting at home. Although girls were not allowed to serve as acolytes then, she discovered other ways to serve, as did her mother.

“My mother was what you call an acolyte mother,” Smith said. “In those days, you never knew which acolytes would show up. So, if a short one showed up, she had to pluck up the cassocks and put pins in them. I used to be in the sacristy with her before the service, getting them ready. In those days they didn’t have girls as acolytes, but I always found things to do.”

Looking back, moving forward
Besides community involvement, St. Thomas has remained committed “to uphold the knowledge and value of the black presence in the Episcopal Church,” according to the website. The church is offering a Black History Month exhibit, conducts regular tours for visitors and continues to preserve its wealth of records and to develop its archives.

“It’s such a blessing that we have these wonderful records,” Smith said. “Somehow, it was recognized, down through the years, that these records were valuable. You really get a sense of what life was like, the people, who were the movers and shakers. It has connected me and expanded my knowledge of black history and connection to the black community in a way I didn’t have.”

Although the church has moved four times since Absalom Jones founded it, it continues to grow and welcome others “with a little bit of something for everyone,” Sadler says. Its members represent the range of the African diaspora as well as “a fair number” of whites.

Stained-glass windows installed in 2000 pay homage not only to Jones but also to several black giants of the faith: Archbishop Desmond Tutu; retired Massachusetts Suffragan Bishop Barbara Harris, the first woman elected a bishop in the Episcopal Church; and Bishop Suffragan Franklin Turner, who bequeathed a crosier to the archives.

Turner, who retired in 2000, died Dec. 31, 2013, and a requiem was held Jan. 11.

At a 1992 service at St. Thomas to rebury the remains of Absalom Jones, Franklin had said of black Episcopalians, “We have indeed come this far by faith.”

“We can be justly proud of our sojourn in the Episcopal Church, although it has been an uphill struggle,” he said.

Uplift, empower, welcome
In the spirit of Absalom Jones’ push for education, the church is launching an after-school program, said the Rev. Angelo Wildgoose, associate rector.

“The after-school program is geared toward schools in our area and is basically looking towards helping with homework, technology, computer sciences, with SAT tips; and the church is involved in a variety of outreach efforts,” he told ENS.

Among other church programs, the five choirs offer a range of music: classical, spirituals, gospel, jazz.

A new middle school and high school “Souldiers for Christ” class is set to begin Feb. 16, said Wildgoose, who has served at the church since December. Another program, designed to connect students with local Episcopal churches during their college years, re-launched in December with about 15 students, he said.

“The idea is to give them that home away from home where they’ll be able to continue to worship at an Episcopal church and at the same time to have some familiar surroundings,” he said. “We’re trying to make sure we keep our young people engaged, from the children up to those in college. We’re stressing a lot of parental involvement.”

Average Sunday attendance is about 400 at one service, with about 50 children in the church school. “There’s a little bit of something for everyone here,” Sadler said.

For Smith, her lifelong friends and many others, St. Thomas has been a spiritual and a palpable home, “an anchor, somewhere to organize their life around, and with people of like interests,” Smith said. “We’re fortunate that our congregation is multi-generational, with a wonderful church school, a great group of teens and all the ‘Souldiers for Christ,’ and that each age group can feel ownership in the church and become an active part of the life of the church.

“It has certainly added to my life, and I think that’s what people find when they come here, and that’s why every Sunday we have people joining the church.”

– The Rev. Pat McCaughan is an Episcopal News Service correspondent.

Episcopal Relief & Development Sunday, March 9

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

[Episcopal Relief & Development] Economic empowerment, especially for women, is Episcopal Relief & Development’s Lenten theme for 2014.  Congregations throughout The Episcopal Church will commemorate Episcopal Relief & Development Sunday on March 9, the first Sunday in Lent, with sermons, prayers, adult forums and children’s activities that focus on sustainable solutions to global poverty.

“Lent gives us an opportunity to reflect on how our actions affect the lives of others, and commit to making mindful choices as consumers and global citizens,” said Sean McConnell, the organization’s Director of Engagement.  “Episcopal Relief & Development Sunday provides an occasion for us to seek healing and reconciliation through supporting economic justice in our own communities and around the world.”

Episcopal Relief & Development’s international programs address the root causes of poverty by improving access to supplies, training and financing for small farms and businesses.  Congregations can learn about and support the organization’s work with downloadable bulletin inserts (available in English and Spanish) and other resources available at www.episcopalrelief.org/sunday.  A designated offering for Episcopal Relief & Development’s Global Needs Fund will enable the agency to reach those most in need worldwide.

Lent was officially designated at the 2009 General Convention as a time to encourage dioceses, congregations and individuals to remember and support the life-saving work of Episcopal Relief & Development.  Although the first Sunday in Lent is the official day of observance, congregations may commemorate Episcopal Relief & Development on any Sunday during the Lenten season.

For creative ideas, read “Small Change May Seem Like Chicken-Scratch, But It Adds Up!” and other Friends of Episcopal Relief & Development features.  Additional online resources include a downloadable checklist to guide planning, and stories, photos and videos to illustrate the organization’s work.  Participating congregations can visit the Facebook event to exchange ideas and success stories.

Printed Episcopal Relief & Development resources, including Lenten Meditations booklets in English and Spanish, should be ordered from Episcopal Marketplace by February 15 to ensure delivery by Ash Wednesday, March 5.  PDF booklets and daily email devotionals are accessible at www.episcopalrelief.org/lent.  

“Particularly during this season of Lent, we are called back to our Baptismal Covenant promise of seeking and serving Christ in all persons, and caring for those most vulnerable around us,” said Rob Radtke, the organization’s President.  “I am grateful to all of the diocesan and church leaders whose participation in Episcopal Relief & Development Sunday helps deepen the Church’s engagement in healing a hurting world.”

In England, women bishops a closer reality with new legislation

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

General Synod, the Church of England’s main legislative body, meets Feb. 10-12 at Church House in Westminster.

[Episcopal News Service] For some it might be a case of déjà vu; for others it’s a new day as the Church of England cleared a major hurdle Feb. 11 giving its assent to new legislation that would enable women to become bishops.

Meeting in Westminster, the church’s General Synod supported legislation “enabling women, as well as men, to be consecrated to the office of bishop if they otherwise satisfy the requirements of Canon Law as to the persons who may be consecrated as bishops.”

The vote comes almost 15 months after synod narrowly rejected similar, but more complex, legislation to accept women as bishops. Various groups, including a steering committee and the House of Bishops, have since worked towards advancing as efficiently as possible a legislative package that could be supported by the overall majority.

The legislation, called a measure, now needs to be approved by a majority of the church’s 44 dioceses, which would typically take at least 12 months. But synod achieved the required 75 percent majority to suspend temporarily one of its standing orders and agreed to curtail the consultation period for the dioceses to just a few months, thus enabling the legislation to come back to synod in July for final approval. The deadline for diocesan responses is midnight on May 22. Last time, 42 of the 44 dioceses supported the legislation. Since the creation of synod in 1970, this is the first time a piece of legislation on the same subject has had to be sent to the dioceses for a second time.

While today’s vote required a straight majority, final approval at synod would require a two-thirds majority in all three houses of laity, clergy and bishops.

And even then, the measure would still require approval by the U.K. Parliament because it effectively changes English law. (The Church of England is an officially established Christian church with Queen Elizabeth II as its supreme governor.) Following the failure of the previous legislation, it was clear from parliamentary debate that many of the U.K.’s politicians were getting impatient with the church’s drawn-out journey towards acceptance of women bishops. Were synod to give final approval in July, the U.K. Parliament may take up the matter before the end of 2014.

Today’s debate indicated that many former opponents in synod are willing to commit to the new legislative package, in part due to a declaration from the House of Bishops outlining procedures for handling grievances, mediation and resolving disputes arising from those who are unable to accept the new legislation or the ministry of women bishops.

The declaration, which synod welcomed on Feb. 11, lists five guiding principles acknowledging that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter; accepting that there will be those who disagree with the decision; and committing to maintaining the highest degree of communion through “pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority.”

Bishop James Langstaff of Rochester, who chaired the steering committee that produced the new legislative package, raised up the five principles as the linchpin of the declaration. “If we stick with those then we will find that we will behave with each other as we should,” he said.

Last November, synod agreed that the new legislation should move forward as swiftly as possible, and come to the February synod for its revision stage rather than to go to a revision committee, essentially eliminating up to one year in the process.

Following the synod debate on Feb. 11, no revisions were made and the proposed new legislative package remained intact.

Several speakers upheld the importance of reciprocity, as outlined in the bishops’ declaration, “that everyone, notwithstanding differences of conviction on this issue, will accept that they can rejoice in each other’s partnership in the Gospel and cooperate to the maximum possible extent in mission and ministry. There will need to be an acknowledgement that the differences of view which persist stem from an underlying divergence of theological conviction.”

The Rev. Simon Killwick from the Diocese of Manchester is chairman of the Catholic Group in General Synod, a coalition that has pushed for greater provisions for those opposed to women bishops. Killwick said he hopes the legislative package “will proceed smoothly and quickly through its final stages” while acknowledging that the church has “been greatly blessed by the degree of reconciliation that has taken place” throughout the last 15 months.

Sue Slater, a lay synod member from the Diocese of Lincoln, said she wants the Church of England to be a place “where I can talk to my children and grandchildren about … our Gospel, not just about our church order … We know that God makes things new with each generation.”

Timothy Allen, lay synod member from the Diocese of St. Edmundsbury and Ipswich said the delay “has done and continues to do great damage to the reputation and mission of the church. We need to take measures to convince society that we are not the hopelessly out of date, old fashioned and bigoted organization it is often felt to be.”

Allen added that “the shallow pond of male-only candidates has been overfished.”

Lindsay Newcombe, a lay synod member from the Diocese of London and the vice chairman of Forward in Faith, an organization opposed to women’s ordination, said she has found the conversations during the past year to be “mostly encouraging. I believe that there is a will to stop…talking past each other. How brilliant that we have shown that we have the will to work together through our differences.”

History of women’s ordained ministry
The Church of England opened the priesthood to women in November 1992, five years after women first were ordained to the diaconate. More than 5,000 women have been ordained as priests in England since 1994 and today they represent nearly 40 percent of all clergy.

In July 2005, 13 years after agreeing to ordain female priests, the General Synod began its steady course toward allowing them to become bishops when it passed a motion to remove the legal obstacles to ordaining women as bishops.

In July 2006, the synod called for the practical and legislative arrangements of admitting women to the episcopate to be explored. It also called for the formation of a legislative drafting group to prepare a draft measure and amending canon necessary to remove the legal obstacles.

At its July 2008 group of sessions, synod agreed that it was the “wish of its majority … for women to be admitted to the episcopate” and affirmed that “special arrangements be available, within the existing structures of the Church of England, for those who as a matter of theological conviction will not be able to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests.”

General Synod voted in February 2009 to send a draft measure on women becoming bishops to a revision committee so it could rework the legislation.

The revision committee met 16 times beginning in May 2009 and considered 114 submissions from synod members and a further 183 submissions from others. In May 2010, the committee published a 142-page report, which offered a detailed analysis of the draft legislation in time for the July 2010 synod debate and vote.

The July 2010 synod backed legislation that paved the way for women to become bishops and referred the measure to diocesan synods for their consideration. A majority of diocesan synods needed to approve the measure for it to return to General Synod.

From July 2010 to February 2012, 42 of the 44 diocesan synods throughout England approved the legislation supporting female bishops.

The February 2012 General Synod rejected a bid to provide greater concessions for those opposed to female bishops. Those concessions essentially were an amendment to the legislation that would have enabled two bishops to exercise episcopal functions within the same jurisdiction by way of “co-ordinating” their ministries.

The long path towards accepting women’s ordained ministry in the Anglican Communion began in 1920 when the Lambeth Conference called (via Resolutions 47-52) for the diaconate of women to be restored “formally and canonically,” adding that it should be recognized throughout the communion.

The first female priest in the communion, the Rev. Li Tim-Oi, was ordained in Hong Kong in 1944. Due to outside pressure, she resigned her license, but not her holy orders, following World War II. In 1971, the Rev. Jane Hwang and the Rev. Joyce Bennett were ordained priests in the Diocese of Hong Kong, though their ministries were not recognized in many parts of the Anglican Communion.

In 1974, there was an “irregular” ordination of 11 women in the U.S.-based Episcopal Church, which officially authorized women’s priestly ordination two years later.

Bishop Barbara Harris, now retired, was elected bishop suffragan of Massachusetts in 1988 and became the Anglican Communion’s first female bishop after her consecration and ordination in 1989.

The Rt. Rev. Penelope Jamieson made history in 1989 when she was elected bishop of the Diocese of Dunedin, New Zealand, and became the first woman to serve as a diocesan bishop in the Anglican Communion.

The Rt. Rev. Mary Adelia McLeod, who was ordained a priest in 1980, was consecrated in 1993 as bishop of the Diocese of Vermont, becoming the first female diocesan bishop in the U.S.-based Episcopal Church. She retired in 2001.

The Rt. Rev. Canon Nerva Cot Aguilera became the first female Anglican bishop in Latin America when she was consecrated bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Church of Cuba in June 2007.

The Rev. Ellinah Ntombi Wamukoya on Nov. 17, 2012 was ordained as bishop of Swaziland and became the first female bishop in any of the 12 Anglican provinces.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, previously bishop of Nevada, became the Anglican Communion’s first female primate in November 2006 when she was invested as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

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

A. Jeanne Finan called to Vermont cathedral

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Rev. A. Jeanne Finan has been called as the dean and rector of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Burlington, Vermont. She has served for the past six-and-a-half years as rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Asheville, North Carolina and prior to that at St. Mary of the Hills in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Her first Sunday at the cathedral will be March 30.

UPDATED: Fire destroys computers, office equipment in Honduras

Monday, February 10, 2014

The fire started in the reception area, damaging computers and other office equipment.

[Episcopal News Service] Editor’s note: This story was updated on Feb. 11.

A fire broke out over night Feb. 10 at the Episcopal Diocese of Honduras Diocesan Center in San Pedro Sula when an air conditioner unit exploded in the reception area. The damage was contained in the area, but the roof, computers and office equipment will have to be replaced, said the Rev. Canon Lura Kaval, an Episcopal Church missionary and the diocese’s canon for development.

At 2:30 a.m., Diocese of Honduras Bishop Lloyd Allen received a phone call from the night watchman at the Diocesan Center in San Pedro Sula indicating that a wall air conditioner had exploded and the building was on fire; the entrance to the building and roof of the wood structure were destroyed and the front door was demolished by firefighters.

The reception area where the bishop’s administrative assistant works suffered extensive smoke damage; the telephone, computer and copier were destroyed by water damage. In addition to the reception area, the adjoining conference room suffered slight water damage, but the damage was contained in those two areas.

The damage mainly was contained to the reception area and a conference room. The building, but not its contents, is insured.

Further damage to computers and telephone equipment that may have resulted from an electrical surge cannot be assessed until the electricity is turned back on. The electricity remains off in both the Diocesan Center, the Cathedral El Buen Pastor and the adjoining school. Electricity is expected to return on Feb. 11. The building itself, but not its contents, is insured, Kaval said.

“It is a sad day for the diocese. Some days it’s two steps forward and then one step back.  But recently it had been suggested that as we move toward self-sufficiency that we update the diocesan reception area to include some glass shelving and display cases to highlight Episcopal crafters and entrepreneurs who are selling beautiful jewelry and tasty coffee,” said Kaval.  “Maybe we weren’t working as fast as God wanted us to?  In all things God works for good.”

La UTO y la Iglesia Episcopal ratifican un acuerdo ‘histórico’

Monday, February 10, 2014

[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] La Ofrenda Unida de Gracias [UTO, por su sigla en inglés] y el Consejo Ejecutivo de la Iglesia Episcopal convinieron oficialmente el 7 de febrero en un memorando de entendimiento [o acuerdo] y en una nueva serie de estatutos para la organización que durante 125 años ha apoyado la misión y ministerio de la Iglesia.

El acuerdo constituye un “salto histórico en una nueva época para la UTO”, según dice una carta de presentación de los dos documentos de Barbara Schafer, presidente de la Junta de la UTO y de Steve Hutchinson, que encabeza el Comité Permanente Conjunto de Gobierno y Administración para la Misión (GAM, por su sigla en inglés).

Los documentos ofrecen “nuevas oportunidades para la misión y [nuevas] relaciones de colaboración” entre la UTO y los departamentos y el personal de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera (o DFMS, sigla en inglés del nombre corporativo de la Iglesia), dice la carta, y [sus autores] bosquejan una futuro para la UTO de “una inclusión más amplia  de poblaciones divergentes dentro de la Iglesia”. Las actividades de la UTO se expandirán para contribuir  a una misión más amplia de la Iglesia, dijeron Schafer y Hutchinson.

Los dos documentos deben aparecer en breve publicados en las páginas de la UTO aquí.

Los mismos reconocen que habrá un “período de transición y aprendizaje” mientras el memorando y los estatutos entran en vigor.

Hutchinson le dijo al Consejo que el equipo de trabajo, la junta de la UTO y el GAM habían entendido que tanto el memorando como los estatutos fueron creados para darle a la UTO “un fundamento apropiado” para su futuro, pero que no son perfectos.

“La expectativa es que este diálogo continuará durante un tiempo” le había dicho él antes a ENS.

En efecto, el Consejo también aprobó una resolución en que solicitaba del grupo de trabajo que supervisara la aplicación de los estatutos y el memorando y recomendaba “perfeccionamientos que ampliarán aún más la obra de misión de la Junta de la UTO y su relación con la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera”.

Los estatutos definen la misión y fines de la UTO, así como sus responsabilidades, el papel a desempeñar de los funcionarios y miembros de la junta (y sus períodos de servicio) y otros temas funcionales.

El memorando de entendimiento detalla algunos aspectos operativos respecto a la manera en que la DFMS trabajará con la UTO y viceversa.

Entre las cosas que la DFMS ha convenido hacer se encuentran:

  • Incluir a la UTO en sus discusiones de la planificación de la misión, de manera que esté consciente de los objetivos y prioridades del departamento de misión.
  • Colaborar con la junta de la UTO en preparar presupuestos anuales y trienales para someterlos a la aprobación del Consejo.
  • Administrar todos los asuntos financieros de la UTO en conjunto con la junta de la UTO, informándole a la junta mediante estados de cuentas financieros mensuales y estados de las inversiones trimestrales.
  • Administrar los fondos fiduciarios mantenidos en todo o en parte por la UTO “de manera prudente” conforme a las políticas de inversión de la DFMS y de acuerdo con las condiciones de los fondos.
  • Proporcionarle a la junta [de la UTO] servicios de planificación de reuniones y logística de viajes, así como la preparación del personal que sea necesaria.
  • Proporcionarle a la junta información sobre rendición de cuenta de las subvenciones.
  •  Proporcionar recursos de comunicaciones y un sistema de comunicación electrónica interno para permitirle a la junta que tenga acceso también a documentos electrónicos.
  • Administrar los archivos de los documentos no electrónicos, así como objetos de valor histórico y de otra clase que pertenezcan a la UTO.
  • Ofrecer servicios de traducción y servicios legales cuando los necesite.
  • Promover la UTO “siempre que sea posible”; y
  • Proporcionar con carácter permanente dos miembros del personal de la DFMS para que trabajen con la junta (el memorando bosqueja las tareas de cada empleado).

Entre las responsabilidades de la UTO se incluyen:

  • Obrar en conformidad con  la autoridad de la Constitución y Cánones de la Iglesia, los estatutos del Consejo y las políticas y procedimientos de la DFMS.
  • Presentar informes anuales al Consejo
  • Presentar sus recomendaciones de subvenciones anuales al director de misión  de la DFMS en conformidad con los criterios de subvenciones aprobados por el Consejo ese año, y sometiendo la concesión de subvenciones a la aprobación del Consejo.
  • Convenir en consultar con miembros del Equipo de Asociaciones Globales de la Iglesia respecto a la aplicación de subvenciones provenientes de provincias fuera de la Iglesia Episcopal.
  • Ser “responsable del proceso de concesión de subvenciones de la UTO en apoyo de la iniciativa de la misión tal como ha sido establecida por el liderazgo de la Iglesia Episcopal”, y
  • Expandir la participación, con la cooperación del personal de la DFMS, en la UTO “para representar todas las demografías que se encuentren dentro de la Iglesia Episcopal”.

Hutchinson dijo que, debido al propósito del memorando, “ya está en marcha una nueva época de colaboración y consulta” entre la junta [de la UTO] y el personal de la DFMS.

Los acuerdos parten de una promesa que hizo el Consejo en su reunión de octubre de 2013 de restañar las heridas que se produjeron durante el controvertido empeño, unos meses antes, de redactar un memorando de entendimiento ente la UTO y la DFMS, así como nuevos estatutos para la histórica organización. Cuatro miembros de la junta de la UTO renunciaron en desacuerdo con este proyecto en septiembre de 2013.

En ese tiempo, la obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori dijo que el esfuerzo tenía por objeto de “poner los procedimientos operativos en conformidad tanto con las leyes federales como con las políticas de la DFMS”.

También existía el deseo, entonces, de ayudar a un ministerio con 125 años de existencia a que evolucionara su proceso de recaudación de fondos en una Iglesia y cultura cambiantes.

En una resolución que el Consejo aprobó en su reunión de octubre, los miembros “se comprometieron [a llevar adelante] un período de reconciliación y de renovación de todas las partes mediante un diálogo ponderado y leal para resolver los asuntos de gobierno y administración, al tiempo de honrar la promoción histórica de la UTO de una teología de la acción de gracias, de manera que la misión de la UTO pueda fortalecerse”.

Ese período comenzó durante esa reunión de octubre cuando cuatro miembros de la junta directiva de la UTO se reunieron en privado con el comité para el gobierno y la administración de la misión [del Consejo], encuentro que Hutchinson definió en su momento como de conversación “franca”.

Poco después de la reunión del Consejo en octubre, Jefferts Schori y Barbara Schafer, presidente de la junta directiva de la UTO emitieron una declaración conjunta en que se comprometían a trabajar juntas para superar la controversia.

Se creó un equipo de trabajo compuesto de miembros de la UTO y del Consejo que se reunió en Fort Worth, Texas, a principios de enero. Hutchinson y Schafer asistieron, como también lo hizo la vicepresidente de la UTO, Marcelle Cherau, la secretaria de la UTO Dena Lee, los miembros del Consejo Stephane Cheney, Tess Judge y Marion Luckey; y el asesor legal de la DFMS Paul Nix. La coordinadora de la UTO Heather Melton y Margaret Cooper, quien hace la convocatoria de las subvenciones, participaron por teleconferencia.

Hutchinson dijo a ENS que el grupo se reunió durante 52 horas a lo largo de cuatro días y medio y que al fin se alcanzó “pleno consenso y unidad” sobre el memorando de entendimiento y los estatutos propuestos. La junta de la UTO aprobó más tarde por unanimidad los dos documentos, explicó él.

La UTO se creó en 1889 como la Ofrenda Unida de la Rama Auxiliar de Mujeres para la Junta de Misiones y originalmente apoyaba tan sólo la obra de las misioneras. Posteriormente, la UTO amplió su énfasis para incluir todas las áreas de trabajo de la Iglesia.

Las subvenciones de la UTO se financian en gran medida con el dinero que los episcopales depositan en las “cajitas azules” que mantienen en sus casas y oficinas. A lo largo de los últimos 124 años, la UTO ha concedido $131.789.046,70; según un informe que puede leerse aquí.

La UTO sugiere que las personas deben orar y ofrendar dinero —poniendo algunas monedas en su cajita azul— todos los días, en reconocimiento de su cotidiana gratitud por lo que Dios les ha dado. Con frecuencia, las personas a las que la UTO llama “dadores agradecidos” suplementan sus contribuciones diarias mediante un proceso conocido como recaudaciones diocesanas. La UTO cree que la dádiva agradecida une espiritualmente a los dadores con las personas que se benefician de sus dádivas.

Durante la reunión de la junta del grupo del 25 de septiembre al 1 de octubre, Melton dijo que las dádivas a la UTO habían disminuido a lo largo de los últimos 10 años.

En 2007, la UTO otorgó 81 subvenciones por un total de $2.401.906,70. En 2009, concedió cerca de  $2,1 millones en 63 subvenciones. Para 2013, La UTO concedió 48 subvenciones por un total de $1.517.280,91. La lista completa de las subvenciones se encuentra aquí.

El Consejo Ejecutivo pidió en 2008 la creación de un grupo de estudio sobre la UTO para esclarecer la relación legal de la UTO con la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera (DFMS).

Sandra McPhee, la primera en presidir este grupo, advirtió en su momento que no había nada por escrito que estableciera la relación de la UTO con la DFMS, pese al hecho de que la UTO estaba usando el número de exención de impuestos asignado a la DFMS por la Superintendencia de Contribuciones (IRS), la cual esperaba que la DFMS “controlara” la UTO.

El comité del Consejo que propuso el grupo de estudio también hizo notar el descenso en los ingresos de la UTO y cuestionó si el modelo de recaudación de impuestos de la UTO y los métodos para otorgar subvenciones necesitaban actualizarse.

El grupo de estudio de 2008 informó al Consejo y a la Convención General en 2012. El Consejo aprobó el informe del grupo en 2011, incluso una nueva serie de estatutos y pidió que se suscribiera un memorando de entendimiento entre la UTO y la DFMS. La Convención también adoptó el informe y los estatutos. Hutchinson dijo que el proceso no permitió una revisión exhaustiva de los estatutos. Por ejemplo, agregó él, al comité de gobierno del Consejo no se le pidió que los revisara.

La reunión del Consejo Ejecutivo del 5 al 7 de febrero tuvo lugar en el Centro de Conferencias del Instituto Marítimo.

Algunos miembros del Consejo enviaron mensajes por Twitter desde la reunión mediante el código #ExCoun.

El Consejo Ejecutivo lleva a cabo los programas y políticas adoptadas por la Convención General, según el  Canon I.4 (1) (a). El Consejo está compuesto de 38 miembros, 20 de los cuales (cuatro obispos, cuatro presbíteros o diáconos y 12 laicos) son elegidos por la Convención General, y 18 por los nueve sínodos provinciales (un clérigo y un laico cada uno) por períodos de seis años, además del Obispo Primado y el Presidente de la Cámara de Diputados [que son miembros ex oficio].

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

El Consejo trata de dar esperanza y liderazgo ‘a los que no están a la mesa’

Monday, February 10, 2014

[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] Los dominicanos de ascendencia haitiana, la trata de personas y los nombres “peyorativos” de equipos deportivos se encontraron entre los temas que el Consejo Ejecutivo de la Iglesia Episcopal abordó el 7 de febrero durante las ultimas sesiones de su reunión en esta ciudad.

El Consejo declaró su solidaridad con los dominicanos de ascendencia haitiana, quienes “han sido convertidos esencialmente en apátridas” cuando el tribunal constitucional de la República Dominicana dictaminó, el 23 de septiembre de 2013, que cualquier niño nacido de inmigrantes haitianos en la República Dominicana no tenía derecho a la ciudadanía. El tribunal también le ordenó a las autoridades dominicanas que auditaran los registros civiles hasta junio de 1929 para determinar, según informa el diario New York Times quien carece de derecho a la ciudadanía.

Diciendo que el dictamen del tribunal podría dar lugar a una “tragedia potencial en gran escala”, la resolución del Consejo insta a la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales de la Iglesia a alentar a Estados Unidos y los asociados ecuménicos e interreligiosos de la iglesia a que aboguen a favor de esos dominicanos.  [La resolución] insta también a la Red Episcopal de Política Pública de esa oficina a educar y alertar a los miembros de la Iglesia respecto a ese problema, y a alentar la defensa [de esa causa] dentro de sus iglesias y comunidades.

También animaba a la obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori a encabezar una delegación que fuera a la República Dominicana, junto con asociados ecuménicos e interreligiosos, a recabar información precisa para luego informar al Consejo.

El Rvdmo. Julio Holguín, obispo de la Diócesis [Episcopal] de la República Dominicana le dijo a ENS poco después de darse a conocer el dictamen del tribunal que “el tribunal constitucional ha cometido un gran error con este fallo, señalando que muchos de los afectados eran descendientes de inmigrantes, la mayoría de los cuales vinieron a la República Dominicana por acuerdo de los dos gobiernos —dominicano y haitiano— para trabajar principalmente en el corte de caña.

Debe coordinarse la labor sobre la trata de personas

El Consejo aprobó ratificar el compromiso de la 77ª. Convención General de combatir la trata de personas tal como quedo explícito en la Resolución D-042. Lelanda Lee, presidente del Comité Permanente Conjunto de Promoción Social e Interconexión, dijo que había llegado a ser obvio para ese comité que la labor que se necesitaba respecto a ese problema es tan compleja que se precisaba de un comité que la coordinara.

La resolución instruía a la Obispa Primada y a la presidente de la Cámara de Diputados a nombrar el comité para el 31 de marzo “a fin de garantizar la implementación, efectiva, concienzuda y cooperativa, de las políticas adoptadas por la 77ª. Convención General”.

Lee dijo que la resolución encaja con lo que el comité cree que es su papel de “brindarle esperanza y liderazgo a los que no se encuentra a la mesa”.

Nombres de equipos ‘peyorativos o denostativos’

En otra resolución auspiciada por el Comité Permanente Conjunto sobre Promoción Social e Interconexión, el Consejo se sumó a lo que ya se ha convertido en una campaña nacional que ha llegado hasta la Casa Blanca de convencer al equipo de los Pieles Rojas [Redskins] de Washington de que cambie de nombre.

La resolución denuncia el uso de “equipos deportivos con nombres peyorativos o denostativos”, recordándole a la Iglesia su compromiso del pacto bautismal, de luchar por la justicia y la paz entre todos los pueblos y respetar la dignidad de todo ser humano. Los miembros [del Consejo] sostuvieron su llamado a ponerle fin al uso de tales nombres como parte del empeño de la Iglesia, a lo largo de muchos años, en combatir el racismo.

La resolución le pide a las organizaciones atléticas en todos los niveles a seguir la política de la Asociación Nacional Atlética Universitaria de penar los programas deportivos universitarios que usen nombres de equipos, imágenes, mascotas y conductas peyorativos o denostativos. Los miembros también le pidieron a las diócesis e iglesias locales que aborden el asunto de los nombres de equipos peyorativos o denostativos si sus equipos deportivos de escuelas y comunidades locales usan tales nombres.

La resolución insta también a la Liga Nacional de Fútbol Americano (NFL) a “no permitir que un evento importante de fútbol americano, como el Súper Tazón, tenga lugar en Washington, D.C.”.

Terry Star, miembro del Consejo e indoamericano lakota proveniente de Dakota del Norte, le agradeció al Consejo, a través de sus mensajes en Twitter, su preocupación por el uso de tales nombres.

“Yo he estado luchando con este problema desde que estaba en la escuela secundaria hace 22 años”, dijo él.

Plan de sostenibilidad para la IX Provincia

El Consejo convino en una campaña de 18 años que un informe define como “un plan audaz con el valioso objetivo de establecer modelos de misión y ministerio sostenibles y autosuficientes para las diócesis de la IX Provincia”.

Martha Gardner, que preside el  Comité Permanente Conjunto sobre Misión Mundial del Consejo, dijo que el problema de la sostenibilidad “había estado surgiendo a lo largo de muchos años”.

El equipo del proyecto Segunda Marca de la Misión del personal denominacional recomendó el plan al Consejo con la sugerencia de que se concentrara en las diócesis que ya han avanzado en sus gestiones de superar la dependencia del modelo histórico de las subvenciones en bloque de la Iglesia. La Diócesis de la República Dominicana, con su objetivo autodefinido de lograr la autosuficiencia para 1015, será el foco inicial, seguida por la Diócesis de Honduras y luego la de Colombia.

En la medida en que cada diócesis alcance la autosuficiencia del programa de subvenciones en bloque, se comprometerá a su vez en trabajar con las otras diócesis para ayudarles a alcanzar el mismo objetivo.

“El compromiso general del dinero de la subvención en bloque del presupuesto denominacional se mantendría a fin de proporcionar réditos para esta labor de desarrollo, y para que a la próxima diócesis que le toque en turno se comprometa a fondo en la labor de la autosuficiencia y la sostenibilidad”, dijo el equipo en su informe.

El equipo dijo también que tal proyecto a largo plazo exigirá “compromiso, confianza y flexibilidad” según “el panorama y las realidades puedan ajustarse y cambiar a lo largo del tiempo”, lo cual exigiría alguna especie de acuerdo pactado susceptible de renovarse mediante una renegociación periódica.

En otros asuntos, el Consejo:

*Dio su consentimiento a la selección hecha por el Comité Permanente Conjunto sobre Planificación y Disposiciones acerca de la selección de la Diócesis de Texas como el sitio para la celebración de la 79ª. Convención General en 2018.

La selección debe ser aprobada también por la 78ª. Convención en Salt Lake City en 2015.

El Rdo. Canónigo Michael Barlowe, funcionario ejecutivo de la Iglesia, respondió las preguntas de los miembros respecto a celebrar la convención en una diócesis que históricamente ha estado entre aquellas que dan una pequeña cantidad de sus ingresos al presupuesto denominacional. Él dijo que antes de incluir la diócesis en la lista de posibles lugares, él y la Obispa Primada y la presidente de la Cámara de Diputados hablarían con el obispo Andy Doyle y se impondrían de su “compromiso personal… en conducir la Diócesis de Texas hacia la plena participación en la vida de la Iglesia Episcopal incluido el cumplimiento con sus responsabilidades económicas y de otro tipo”.

Ese compromiso, agregó, se reiteró durante las reuniones entre el grupo que selecciona los sitios [de la Convención] y el liderazgo diocesano. “Nos sentimos satisfechos de que hemos explorado esto en detalle”, dijo Barlowe, añadiendo que el Comité Permanente está “encantado” con la “trayectoria” de participación que se le explicó.

La Iglesia Episcopal le pide a las diócesis que contribuyan al presupuesto denominacional con el 19 por ciento de sus ingresos anuales. La contribución anual en el presupuesto trienal se basa en el ingreso de la diócesis dos años antes, menos $120.000.

En 2013, Texas había prometido un 6,7 por ciento ($463,959 de sus $7,094,500 de ingresos); según información que puede encontrarse aquí, y que debe aprobarse este fin de semana, aparece una promesa para 2014 de $755.338.

La última vez que la Convención General se reunió en una diócesis de la VII Provincia fue en 1970, lo cual es un hiato más largo que para cualquier otra provincia, agregó Barlowe.

Puede encontrarse aquí más información sobre la selección.

* Autorizó gastos hasta de $95.000 para peritaje profesional adicional a fin de ayudar en la revisión y el análisis de futuras acciones relacionadas con el Centro denominacional de la Iglesia Episcopal en Nueva York. La decisión se produjo después de que el Consejo se reuniera en sesión ejecutiva para escuchar un informe de un subcomité suyo que está explorando el asunto.

La Resolución D016 de la Convención General, aprobada en julio de 2012, decía que “es la voluntad de esta Convención mudar las oficinas centrales del centro denominacional” de ese edificio.

Hace un año, el Consejo recibió un informe que decía que “la misión reconciliadora de Dios se promueve mejor” quedándose en el 815 de la Segunda Avenida en Manhattan y consolidando las operaciones de la DFMS en el centro denominacional de la Iglesia mediante la liberación de más espacio que los 3,5 pisos que ya están alquilados, para  cederlos a inquilinos de afuera. Esta opción favorecería, según el informe, “los mejores intereses de la organización en el orden económico, tanto en lo que respecta al presupuesto como a lo fines de la inversión a largo plazo”.

La Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera (DFMS), la entidad corporativa de la Iglesia, alquila actualmente 2,5 pisos al Ad Council, un piso a la Misión Permanente de Haití ante las Naciones Unidas y un piso a la Escuela Internacional Liceo Kennedy [Lyceum Kennedy International School]. El centro denominacional cuenta con 9 pisos de espacio de oficinas.

El estudio que hizo el informe comenzó en febrero de 2012, cinco meses antes de que se reuniera la Convención General, cuando el Comité de Finanzas para la Misión del Consejo le pidió a la gerencia de la DFMS que estudiara la posible reubicación del centro denominacional. El Grupo de Supervisión Ejecutiva [Executive Oversight Group] integrado por 10 personas, llevó a cabo el estudio.

* Convino en sacar al mercado un espacio de estacionamiento en Austin, Texas, que se compró en 2009 como un sitio posible para reubicar los Archivos de la Iglesia Episcopal. Los archivos se encuentran actualmente en el campus del Seminario del Sudoeste, cerca de Austin. Los ingresos devenidos del espacio de estacionamiento han cubierto el interés del préstamo y han permitido reembolsar algo del capital. La propiedad “no es probable que sea del mayor interés financiero de la Sociedad” pero ha aumentado en valor desde la compra, según explica la resolución.

El Consejo aprobó una resolución afín en que solicita que un grupo de trabajo renueve sus empeños a fin de encontrar una ubicación idónea para los Archivos.

El resumen de cada resolución aprobada por el Consejo se encuentra aquí.

Algunos miembros del consejo enviaron mensajes por Twitter desde la reunión valiéndose del código #ExCoun.

El Consejo Ejecutivo lleva a cabo los programas y políticas adoptadas por la Convención General, según el  Canon I.4 (1) (a). El Consejo está compuesto de 38 miembros, 20 de los cuales (cuatro obispos, cuatro presbíteros o diáconos y 12 laicos) son elegidos por la Convención General, y 18 por los nueve sínodos provinciales (un clérigo y un laico cada uno) por períodos de seis años, además del Obispo Primado y el Presidente de la Cámara de Diputados [que son miembros ex oficio].

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

Presiding Bishop preaches in Fort Worth

Monday, February 10, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori delivered the following sermons on Feb. 8 in the Fort Worth, Texas. 

Diocese of Fort Worth
8 February 2014


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

Have you ever noticed how much time and energy we spend on what we eat?  A current best-seller tells us to eat more fat and protein and give up sugars and grains, because they cause dementia.[1]  Other experts tell us to eat low-fat diets, with lots of complex carbohydrates – whole grains, vegetables, and fruit.  A growing number of Americans avoid foods they’re allergic to –gluten, peanuts, dairy, eggs.  Others choose to eat less meat and fewer animal products because of the environmental cost of producing them.  Most of us are pretty obsessed about what we eat, whether we crave a good steak or a veggie burger.

Isaiah’s words about fasting evoke another sort of diet.  Giving up certain foods or eating less is a spiritual discipline that reminds us about what is most important.  As Lent approaches, it’s good to remember that fasting is also an act of solidarity with those who live with hunger – whether it’s spiritual hunger or spiritual.  In societies that had to wait for the first crops to mature, springtime fasting was a normal part of life.  And until communities stopped holding food in common as a resource for everyone, if one person was hungry, everybody was.  Isaiah is ranting about the kind of justice that comes from solidarity with every member of the community, especially when some people eat and others don’t. 

Isaiah claims, and Jesus echoes it later, that the fast God chooses is about righting inequities and injustices everywhere.  Feed the hungry, house the homeless, cover the naked, and don’t hide from your kin – love and care for them.  The kicker is that we’re all kin.  The fast we’re committed to as children of God is a solidarity fast with anyone in want. 

This diocese has known a kind of hunger that wasn’t chosen by most of you.  It was a rule-bound fast, and it kept this community turned inward to ensure that the fast was maintained in a particular way.  Since the end of that fast five years ago you’ve practiced another diet, one that has become far more about solidarity with the wider community – a fast that opens people up to become vulnerable to the presence of God beyond these walls.  You’ve exchanged that old fast for one that’s founded on the most fundamental law of all:  love God with all you are and have, and love your neighbor as yourself.

The new diet has included a fast from vindictiveness.  You’ve tried to fast from those words of doom:  “we’ve never done it this way before.”  Some have learned about the feast that’s possible in surprising surroundings – the non-traditional settings where some have met for worship and fellowship these last five years and in new acts of solidarity with others beyond this community.  But in order to enjoy that feast, you’ve had to fast from the familiar and predictable.  You’ve grown stronger as you’ve risked that justice fast. 

Meals on the justice diet include a whole lot of salt.  Salt is a sign of life.  It’s still a basic symbol of hospitality in the Middle East and on the steppes of Asia.  It’s presented to visitors, along with bread, as a way of saying, ‘your life is safe with us, and we recognize you as friend.’  As Jesus did – “I call you friend, no longer do I call you servant, but friend.”

Salt was an ancient medium of exchange, because it’s portable and essential to life.  It’s valuable, and at some times and places you could exchange it, ounce for ounce, for gold.

The salty witness of blood, sweat, and tears is a reminder of the cost of life – and its preciousness.  Jesus gave abundantly of all three, weeping at the death of a friend, sweating in the Garden of Gethsemane, and at the end giving up his blood along with his life.  That salty output is part of our own costly living, if we are going to glorify God as human beings, who are fully alive.  Blood, sweat, and tears are sacramental evidence of a compassionate heart, and a faithful image of the God of love.

That heart is what Jesus is asking his disciples for – a heart of flesh, fully alive, connected to other human beings and the whole of creation, able to feel with and respond to the pain and joy of others.  That’s salt.  Salty tears of compassion prompt you to fill backpacks with food for kids and families to eat over the weekend, and do all you can to keep kids in school.  Sweaty labor builds houses here and around the globe.  The blood of Jesus flows in our veins to give life to the world.

The value of salt led to ranking the guests at a dinner party by seating some “above the salt” and others below.  Yet Jesus’ table is effectively round, and the salt is in the center, at the heart.  All his friends are equally welcome to share his meal of abundant life, and having eaten, they turn outward to share the meal with others.

Salt comes in other forms – like a salty vocabulary, those earthy words our mothers discouraged us from using.  That kind of salt gets attention, and it can be very useful when our audience is asleep.  Prophets are fond of salty language:  “you cows of Bashan, lolling around on ivory couches, while your neighbors are starving on your doorstep.”  John Baptist and Jesus did, too:  “you brood of vipers, you whitewashed tombs.”  Salty words can indeed be divinely abrasive signs of God’s urgency – and ultimately life-giving.

Your letter to a member of Congress, or to the editor of the local paper, or the words you speak to a city council can be salt, when they challenge the complacent to pay attention to the needs of hungry children or the unemployed.  That is the salt of compassion, when it irritates and wakens those who haven’t yet noticed their neighbors’ need.

Being salt of the earth generates light for the world.  Salt is actually necessary to make light.  The many kinds of salts are merely charged particles, ions that generate action and reaction.  Whether it’s the fiery energy of the sun, the light from a battery or an electrical outlet, or even the light from a firefly, producing light depends on something salty.

Like all good gifts, salt can be overused – often with counterintuitive results.  Salt is a very good preservative – we still use it to make ham and pickles.  But too much in our food also pickles us – and leads to less of life, not more.  We use old salt mines to entomb hazardous waste – as we might use a load of salt to shut down hate speech.  It may have happened to Lot’s wife – and might be useful response to other kinds of violence.

Being light to the world means being appropriately salty.  Discernment is essential in deciding where and how to apply salt.  What’s cooking in this part of Texas?  Who or what needs signs of life, and good news?  And what life-denying reality needs to be isolated or defanged with dunes of salt?  Where can we be some transformative, reactive, catalytic salt?  A salty solidarity diet is needed anywhere there is deep hunger:  for health care, dignified jobs, immigration reform, the groaning of creation, homeless teens on the street, people who are discarded in the maw of what we call a justice system.  Salty transformation begins as we discover God already present with those who hunger and cry in the wilderness, and join that holy hunger for creative change.

Have you ever thrown those fireplace salts into a bonfire?  The beautifully colored flames that leap up are an image of what’s possible when we partner with God’s holy and creative spirit.  The fire is already lit – add your salt and marvel at the way light springs up…and life abounds – for all our kin.  For then we will hunger and thirst no more, and the sun’s heat will not torment us, for our friend and shepherd will show us still waters and pastures of plenty for all.[2]

So, my friends, go be salt shakers!

[1] David Perlmutter, Grain Brain.  Little, Brown & Co: 2013

[2] Cf. Rev 7:16-17

Franklin M. Berger joins Episcopal Relief & Development board

Monday, February 10, 2014

[Episcopal Relief & Development press release] Episcopal Relief & Development announces that Franklin M. Berger, CFA, has joined its Board of Directors, effective January 1, 2014.  A leading biotechnology analyst specializing in business development, finance and investment, Berger has contributed to the expansion of major biotech firms at the leading edge of innovation.  He was responsible for technical, scientific and clinical due diligence as well as company selection in his work at J. P. Morgan Securities, Salomon Smith Barney and Josephthal & Co.  In addition to consulting, he currently serves on the board of three publicly traded biotech companies, advising on the scientific, technological, business and financial aspects of the industry.

“Franklin Berger’s expertise in the private sector and investment field will be invaluable as Episcopal Relief & Development continues to solidify its standing as a leader in international development” said the Right Reverend Robert J. O’Neill, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and Chair of Episcopal Relief & Development’s Board of Directors. “Franklin is an experienced board member with a wealth of executive and operational knowledge, and I look forward to working with him.”

Berger earned his MBA from Harvard and his BA and MA from Johns Hopkins University.  He has served on the vestry and the Investment Policy Committee at St. James’ Episcopal Church in New York City.

“I am extremely pleased to have Franklin Berger joining Episcopal Relief & Development’s board of directors,” said Rob Radtke, the organization’s President. “As we seek to grow in our capacity to leverage donor contributions to their greatest effect, Franklin’s ability to see potential and capitalize on it will help immeasurably.”

As Berger joins the board, Teri Lawver steps down, having completed her final term. Based in New Jersey, Lawver is the Global Commercial Strategy Leader, Global Vice President, for the Cardiovascular and Metabolism Therapeutic Area with Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.  Lawver will continue to serve on the Advisory Council of the NetsforLife® program partnership for malaria prevention in sub-Saharan Africa.  She also joins the board’s Advancement Committee to help diversify and strengthen the organization’s fundraising efforts as it moves toward celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015.

“Teri has provided superb leadership during her tenure on Episcopal Relief & Development’s board,” Radtke said. “She will continue to be engaged with the organization and I look forward to working with her in the future.”

Episcopal Relief & Development is currently governed by a 21-member board. Board members are invited to serve three-year terms, which may be renewed once.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization operating under the General Convention of The Episcopal Church, Episcopal Relief & Development is governed by a Board of Directors that includes clergy and lay leaders from around the country. The Honorary Chair of the Board is the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, and the Chair of the Board is the Right Reverend Robert J. O’Neill, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado. Members of the board are nominated by the Presiding Bishop and the Chair of the Board of Episcopal Relief & Development, with assistance from the board’s Governance Committee. New members are then elected by the board, and this decision is ratified by the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church.

For more information about the Board of Directors, please visit Episcopal Relief & Development’s Board page.

Por una solución dominicana al conflicto de la nacionalidad

Monday, February 10, 2014

[Febrero 7 del 2014 -- Santo Domingo, República Dominicana] Tras la realización del Examen Periódico Universal del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas, efectuado este 5 de febrero en Ginebra, Suiza, este Comité de Solidaridad con las Personas Desnacionalizadas por la sentencia 168-13 del Tribunal Constitucional (TC), desea manifestar lo siguiente:

1.-  Acogemos con responsabilidad el apoyo manifiesto de una veintena de Estados expresado ante el Consejo de Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas a los fines de garantizar la plenitud de derechos a todos los ciudadanos y ciudadanas de ascendencia extranjera nacidos en el país y que han sido despojados de su derecho a la nacionalidad.

El firme apoyo al respeto de  los derechos humanos expresado por diversas naciones tanto del Sistema Interamericano, como de países otros continentes debe mover a la reflexión sobre la imagen del país en la comunidad internacional. Entre los países que manifestaron recomendaciones en ese sentido se destacan Argentina, Brasil, Canadá, Chile, Estados Unidos, Guatemala, Jamaica, México, Uruguay, Trinidad y Tobago, España, Francia, Italia, Alemania, Suiza, Irlanda, Noruega, Ucrania, Portugal, Eslovenia y Australia.

2- Lamentamos que la nación siga siendo objeto de cuestionamientos en el plano  internacional, en relación a la plena vigencia de los derechos humanos en el país y reiteramos que el enorme rechazo nacional e internacional a la sentencia de desnacionalización ha creado una situación de graves incertidumbres que afectan la imagen del país. A nombre de la soberanía no se puede ignorar los compromisos internacionales, ni la sensibilidad universal en materia de derechos tan fundamentales como el de la nacionalidad. Las autoridades están en el deber de evitar mayores daños que pudieran derivarse de las denuncias a que está sometido el Estado dominicano.

3.- Reiteramos que es desde la sociedad dominicana que tiene que salir una solución justa e institucional, que restituya plenamente los derechos conculcados, primero por la Resolución 12-07 de la Junta Central Electoral, y luego por la Sentencia 168-13 del Tribunal Constitucional.

Esperamos que “la postura firme” expresada por el Estado Dominicano en Ginebra, de que “ninguna persona que tenga la nacionalidad dominicana va a ser despojada de ella”, se materialice en la solución nacional al drama que están padeciendo las personas desnacionalizadas, con sus vidas suspendidas.

4.- Llamamos al liderazgo político del país, especialmente al Presidente de la República, a escuchar tanto la opinión de los principales expertos constitucionalistas, como  de  la mayoría del pueblo dominicano, que entiende que son dominicanos los hijos de padres haitianos indocumentados, como se reflejó en la Encuesta Gallup publicada esta semana por el diario Hoy. El  58.2% de los encuestados le reconoce la nacionalidad dominicana y sólo el 39.6%  se la niega.

Por el Comité de Solidaridad con las Personas Desnacionalizadas, integrado por mas de 400 ciudadanos y ciudadanas dominicanas,

Miguel Ceara Hatton              Carmen Amelia Cedeño

Juan Bolívar Díaz                   Mons. Julio César Holguín K.

Pavel Isa Contreras                Wilfredo Lozano

Manuel Robles                       Cristóbal Rodríguez

Padre Mario Serrano              Ana Selman

Guadalupe Valdez                 Víctor Víctor

Roque Félix                            Sergia Galvan

Guillermo Sterlíng                  Eulogia Familia


Video – Jenny McConnachie: Long-term missionary in South Africa

Monday, February 10, 2014
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[Episcopal News Service] Episcopal missionary Jenny McConnachie has devoted her life to the poorest of the poor. Jenny and her late husband Chris moved from North Carolina to South Africa’s Eastern Cape in the early 1980s. Together, the McConnachies set up African Medical Mission, strengthening the most vulnerable communities with commitment and compassion.

Chris transformed and managed a 200-capacity orthopedic hospital. For many years, he was the only certified orthopedic surgeon in the Transkei. Sadly, Chris died from leukemia in 2007. He leaves behind an incredible legacy. Jenny launched a medical clinic where it was needed most – in the impoverished shantytown of Itipini, a community quite literally built on a garbage dump. Unfortunately, Itipini is no more.

East Carolina diocese announces 4 nominees for bishop

Monday, February 10, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina] The Standing Committee of the Diocese of East Carolina announced its slate of nominees for election as bishop. The announcement was made as the final piece of business during the 131st Convention of the diocese on Feb. 8, meeting in New Bern, North Carolina.

The nominees are:

More information about each of the nominees is available here.

A petition process for submitting additional names opened on Feb. 8 and will close on Feb. 22. Complete information about the petition process and the petition form are available on the website as well.

The slate is the result of a 10-month discernment process conducted by the Search Committee, made up of lay and clergy members representing all five deaneries of the diocese. The Search Committee was established and charged by the Standing Committee. With the announcement of the slate, a Transition Committee, also reporting to the Standing Committee and comprising lay and clergy members from across the diocese, implements the next stages of the election process.

The nominees will tour the diocese and participate in question-and-answer sessions April 28-May 2, giving the people of the diocese an opportunity to meet and learn more about the nominees. Visit http://eastcarolinabishopsearch.com/about/process.html for locations and times.

The election will take place on Saturday, May 17 at Christ Church, New Bern, North Carolina. All canonically resident clergy of the diocese and lay delegates vote separately as “orders”; a majority of votes on the same ballot from both the clergy and lay orders is required for election.

Pending consent from a majority of the Episcopal Church’s diocesan bishops and a majority of dioceses (via their Standing Committees), the consecration and ordination of the bishop-elect is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Nov. 8 at the Rock Springs Center in Greenville, North Carolina, with Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori presiding.

The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel served as the 7th bishop from 1997 until his resignation in February 2013 to become the bishop provisional of the Diocese of Pennsylvania. The Rt. Rev. Peter J. Lee was elected bishop provisional in March 2013 and will serve until the consecration of the 8th bishop. The Diocese of East Carolina is composed of nearly 70 parishes in 32 counties and covers the area from I-95 to the coast and from Southport up to Gatesville. This diocese is home to several major military bases, a large Hispanic community, and small congregations.

Matthew P. Payne named director of operations of the Historical Society

Monday, February 10, 2014

Matthew P. Payne has been selected to serve as Director of Operations of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church (HSEC). Payne is Lay Canon for Administration for the Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac and will be responsible for membership management, subscription management of Anglican and Episcopal History, the Society’s Quarterly Journal, financial and corporate responsibilities, meeting planning and information technology management. He continues in his position with the diocese.

For over a century HSEC has been an association dedicated to preserving and disseminating information about the history of the Episcopal Church. Founded in Philadelphia in 1910 as the Church Historical Society, its members include scholars, writers, teachers, ministers (lay and ordained) and many others who have an interest in the objectives and activities of the Historical Society.

“I look forward to managing the administration of HSEC activities” Payne shared with the search committee. “My goal is for the necessities of operations to function quietly, behind the scenes so the important work of the Society is front and center.”

Over the next month Payne is working to enable a smooth transition with Susan Johnson, who is retiring from the position the end of February.

Payne was selected following a search chaired by HSEC President the Rev. Dr. Robert W. Prichard. The Search Team interviewed multiple candidates before making the selection of Payne. Prichard commented, “The Historical Society has been well served in the past by those talented individuals who been our administrators and directors of operations. We give thanks for the work of Susan Johnson. We were impressed by the talents and experience of all of those whom we interviewed and, and look forward to working with Matthew Payne.”

The change in Director of Operations will result in a new address of 82 Cherry Court, Appleton, Wisconsin 54915. The email address (administration@hsec.us), toll-free phone (866-989-5851) and website (hsec.us) remain the same.

Council tries to give hope, leadership ‘for those who are not at the table’

Friday, February 7, 2014

[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] Dominicans of Haitian descent, human trafficking and “derogatory” athletic team names were among the issues the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council addressed Feb. 7 during the closing sessions of its meeting here.

The council declared its solidarity with Dominicans of Haitian descent, who they said “have been made essentially stateless” when the Dominican Republic’s constitutional court on Sept. 23, 2013, ruled that any children born of Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic were ineligible for citizenship. The court also ordered Dominican authorities to audit birth records back to June 1929 to determine who no longer qualifies for citizenship, according to the New York Times.

Saying that the court decision could prompt a “potential large-scale tragedy,” council’s resolution urges the church’s Office of Government Relations to encourage the United States and the church’s ecumenical and interreligious partners to advocate for such Dominicans. It encouraged that office’s Episcopal Public Policy Network to educate and alert the members of the church to the issue, and encourage advocacy within their churches and communities.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori also was encouraged to lead a fact-finding delegation to the Dominican Republic together with ecumenical and interreligious partners, and report to council.

Diocese of the Dominican Republic Bishop Julio Holguín told ENS shortly after the ruling that “the constitutional court has made a big mistake with that ruling,” pointing out that many of those affected were descendants of immigrants, most of whom came to the Dominican Republic, by agreement between the two governments – Dominican and Haitian – to work primarily cutting sugarcane.

Human trafficking work to be coordinated
Council voted to reaffirm the 77th General Convention’s commitment to fighting human trafficking as expressed in Resolution D-042. Lelanda Lee, chair of the council’s Joint Standing Committee on Advocacy and Networking, said it had become obvious to that committee that the work needed on the issue is so complex that a coordinating committee was needed.

The resolution directed the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies to appoint the committee by March 31 “in order to assure the effective, thorough, and collaborative implementation of the policies adopted by the 77th General Convention.”

Lee said the resolution fits with what the committee feels is its role of “giving hope and giving leadership for those who are not at the table.”

‘Pejorative or disparaging team names’
In another Joint Standing Committee on Advocacy and Networking-sponsored resolution, the council joined what has become a nationwide effort that has reached to the White House to convince the National Football League’s Washington Redskins team to change its name.

The resolution decries the use of “pejorative or disparaging team names,” reminding the church of its commitment to the Baptismal Covenant, which vows to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being. The members anchored their call to end the use of such names in the church’s multi-year efforts to fight racism.

The resolution calls on athletic organizations at all levels to follow the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s policy to penalize collegiate athletic programs that use pejorative or disparaging team names, images, mascots, and behaviors. The members also asked local dioceses and churches to address the issue of pejorative or disparaging team names if their local schools and community sports teams use such names.

Also, the resolution urges the NFL to “not to allow a major football event like the Super Bowl to occur in Washington, D.C.”

Council member Terry Star, a Lakota from North Dakota, thanked council for noticing his concern about such names via his tweets.

“I’ve been fighting with this issue since I was in high school 22 years ago,” he said.

Plan for Province IX sustainability
Council agreed to an 18-year effort that a report calls “a bold plan with a worthy goal of establishing self-sufficient sustainable models of mission and ministry for the dioceses of Province IX.”

Martha Gardner, chair of council’s Joint Standing Committee on World Mission, said that the issue of sustainability “has been emerging over a number of years.”

The churchwide staff’s Second Mark of Mission project team recommended the plan to council with the suggestion that it concentrate on those dioceses already furthest along in their efforts to move out of dependence of the church’s historical block grants model. The Diocese of Dominican Republic, with a self-stated goal of achieving self-sufficiency by 2015, will be the initial focus, followed by the Diocese of Honduras and then Colombia.

As each diocese attains self-sufficiency from the block grant program, they will in turn commit to working with the other dioceses to help them achieve the same goal.

“The overall commitment of block grant dollars from the churchwide budget would be maintained in order to provide revenue for this development work, and for the next diocese in line to deeply engage in the focused work of self-sufficiency and sustainability,” the team said in its report.

The team also said such a long-term project will require “commitment, trust, and flexibility” as “the landscape and realities may adjust and change over time,” requiring some sort of covenant agreement which may need periodic renegotiation.

In other business, the council:
* Gave its consent to the Joint Standing Committee on Planning & Arrangement’s selection of Austin in the Diocese of Texas as the site for the 79th General Convention in 2018.

The selection must also be approved by the 78th meeting of convention in Salt Lake City in 2015.

The Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe, the church’s executive officer, addressed members’ questions about placing the convention in a diocese that has historically been among those giving a small amount of their income to the churchwide budget. He said that prior to including the diocese on the list of possible sites, he and the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies talked with Bishop Andy Doyle and learned of his “personal commitment … in leading the Diocese of Texas towards full participation in the life of The Episcopal Church included the attendant financial responsibilities and other responsibilities.”

That commitment, he said, was reiterated during meetings between the site selection group and the diocesan leadership. “We are satisfied that we had explored this in some detail,” Barlowe said, adding that the Standing Committee is “delighted” in the “trajectory” of participation that was explained to them.

The Episcopal Church asks dioceses to contribute 19 percent of their income annually to the churchwide budget. Each year’s annual giving in the three-year budget is based on a diocese’s income two years earlier, minus $120,000.

In 2013, Texas has pledged 6.7 percent ($463,959 of its $7,094,500 of income), according to information here, due to be approved this weekend, shows a 2014 pledge of $755,338.

The last time General Convention met in a Province VII diocese is 1970, which is a longer hiatus than for any other province, Barlowe said.

More information on the selection is here.

* Authorized spending up to $95,000 for additional professional expertise to assist in the review and analysis of future options related to the Episcopal Church Center in New York. The decision came after the council met in executive session to hear a report from its subcommittee that is exploring the issue.

General Convention Resolution D016, passed in July 2012, said “it is the will of this convention to move the church center headquarters” away from that building.

A year ago, council received a report that said “God’s mission of reconciliation is best furthered” by remaining at 815 Second Ave. in Manhattan and consolidating DFMS operations at the church center to free up even more space to rent to outside tenants than the 3.5 floors that were then leased out. This choice would be “in the organization’s best interests financially, both in terms of budget effect and for long-term investment purposes,” according to the report.

The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, the church’s corporate entity, currently rents 2.5 floors to the Ad Council, one floor to Permanent Mission of Haiti to the United Nations and one floor to the Lyceum Kennedy International School. The church center has nine floors of office space.

The study that produced the report began in February 2012, five months before General Convention met, when council’s Finances for Mission committee asked DFMS management to study the possible relocation of the church center. It was conducted by the 10-person Executive Oversight Group.

* Agreed to market a parking lot in Austin, Texas, that was purchased in 2009 as a potential site for relocating the Archives of the Episcopal Church. The archives is now located on the campus of the Seminary of the Southwest, also in Austin. Revenue from the parking lot operation has covered the interest on the loan and has allowed for repayment of some of the principal. The property is “no longer likely to be in the best financial interest of the Society,” but has appreciated in value since purchase, according to the resolution’s explanation.

Council passed a related resolution calling for a working group to renew efforts to find a suitable location for the Archives.

Summaries of each resolution that council passed at the meeting are here.

Some council members tweeted from the meeting using #ExCoun.

The Executive Council carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1)(a). The council is composed of 38 members, 20 of whom (four bishops, four priests or deacons and 12 lay people) are elected by General Convention and 18 (one clergy and one lay) by the nine provincial synods for six-year terms – plus the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies.

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

A summary of Executive Council resolutions

Friday, February 7, 2014

[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] During its Feb.5-7 meeting here, the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council adopted multiple resolutions, which are summarized below.

Executive Council
Approve the revised charter of the Joint Audit Committee of the Executive Council and the DFMS (EC009).

Advocacy & Networking for Mission  
Declare solidarity with Dominicans of Haitian descent, who have been made essentially stateless when the Dominican Republic’s constitutional court on Sept. 23, 2013, ruled ineligible for citizenship any children born of Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic and ordered authorities to “audit all of the nation’s birth records back to June 1929 to determine who no longer qualifies for citizenship,” (according to an article in The New York Times); encourage all Episcopalians to pray for Dominicans of Haitian descent and all other stateless persons in the world that they may find homes where they are welcomed and afforded legitimate residential, educational, and work status for themselves and their children; affirm support of the Episcopal Church in the Dominican Republic and Bishop Julio Holguín and the Diocese of Haiti and Bishop Jean Zache Duracin in their efforts to provide advocacy and other succor to those affected by their country’s constitutional court ruling; direct the Office of Government Relations to encourage the United States and the church’s ecumenical and interreligious partners to engage this human rights issue with the Dominican Republic on behalf of Dominicans of Haitian descent and others similarly affected by this issue; encourage the presiding bishop to lead a fact-finding delegation to the Dominican Republic together with ecumenical and interreligious partners, and report to council; encourage the Episcopal Public Policy Network to engage in a concerted effort to educate and alert the members of the Episcopal Church of this issue and potential large-scale tragedy and to encourage advocacy within their churches and communities (AN019).

Instruct the treasurer to vote in favor of all shareholder resolutions asking companies to adopt, and present for shareholder approval, a “proxy access” bylaw with a minimum threshold of three percent share ownership for at least three continuous years with a maximum of one-quarter of the overall board proposed by shareholders (AN020).

Instruct the treasurer to vote yes on all shareholder resolutions asking companies to publish semi-annual reports, subject to existing laws and regulations, providing metrics and discussion regarding requests for customer information by U.S. and foreign governments (AN021).

Call the church’s members to remember their commitment to the Baptismal Covenant, which states that we will strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being; affirm various General Convention and Executive Council anti-racism resolutions of the past several decades, the House of Bishops pastoral letters of March 1994 and March 2006, that have declared that racism is a sin from which the church and its members should repent, and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s May 2012 pastoral letter on the Doctrine of Discovery and Indigenous Peoples; affirm and declare solidarity with the December 2013 resolution by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, of which the Episcopal Church is a member, as being educational opportunities for the wider church and community; call on the high school organization that is the equivalent of the National Collegiate Athletic Association to endorse the policy instituted and enforced by the NCAA in regard to so-called “Native” names that promote negative stereotypes; call on other professional sports leagues and college and high school organizations to endorse the policy instituted and enforced by the NCAA in regard to so-called “Native” names that promote negative stereotypes; call on the National Football League (NFL) to endorse the policy instituted and enforced by the NCAA in regard to so-called “Native” names that promote negative stereotypes, and not to allow a major football event like the Super Bowl to occur in Washington, D.C.; encourage churches and dioceses to engage the issue of pejorative or disparaging team names in their local contexts when such occurrences exist within their local schools and community sports teams; renew a call to Episcopal Church clergy and lay leaders to participate in anti-racism training as a fundamental aspect of their ongoing Christian formation (AN023).

Rejoice that a ceasefire agreement was signed by the Republic of South Sudan with the South Sudan Democratic Movement on Jan. 23, and is hopeful that peace will be restored in Jonglei State and the rest of South Sudan; commend the efforts of the leaders of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, the United States, and the United Nations, and Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak and leaders of the Episcopal Church in South Sudan and Sudan, in the pursuit of peace for South Sudan and support for the critically necessary peace monitoring teams that must be deployed to South Sudan; commend the dioceses and congregations of the Episcopal Church that have engaged in advocacy, mission, and ministry to the people of South Sudan and to the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan, and encourage such ongoing advocacy and support in the future; reaffirm its solidarity with Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak and the Episcopal Church in South Sudan and Sudan; call for continuing and sustained prayers and advocacy from the Episcopal Church’s members that the fragile peace in South Sudan will become a strong and enduring peace aligned with the establishment and recognition of human rights and freedom from war, violence, and atrocities for the people of South Sudan; encourage the Episcopal Church’s members to join the churchwide Day of Prayer for South Sudan on Feb. 16, called for by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, together with the Rev. Gradye Parsons, the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian General Assembly, and the Reformed Church in America (AN024).

Acknowledge with grateful thanksgiving the importance of the support and ministry provided by The Archives of the Episcopal Church to the broader church by keeping safe the institutional memory of the church as it relates to anti-racism, the legacy of slavery, poverty reduction, the care of creation, and the causes of peace and justice; acknowledge that the current location of The Archives is no longer adequate, and the need for a new facility is now critical; request that council’s chair and vice-chair form and authorize a working group to consider possible alternatives, including but not limited to partnerships with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) or other ecumenical partners, and to bring recommendations to council’s October 2014 meeting with a goal of identifying a long-term solution by the end of 2014, taking into account the recommendations specifically as they relate to fundraising found in The Episcopal Archives Strategy Committee of Executive Council Report and Recommendations, dated Jan. 11, 2012 (AN025).

Reaffirm the commitment of the 77th General Convention expressed in Resolution D042 (titled “Fighting Human Trafficking”); direct the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies to appoint a D042 coordinating committee by March 31 in order to assure the effective, thorough, and collaborative implementation of the policies adopted by the 77th General Convention through Resolution D042; direct the coordinating committee to conduct business by teleconference and any other activities, including the consultation of outside experts whose input is deemed necessary by the group, shall be done at the expense of the interim bodies whose members are constituent of this coordinating committee, or as approved by Executive Council; committee shall provide a report on its activities to the council to be included as part of council’s triennial Blue Book report for the 78th General Convention (AN026).

Call upon governments to provide safety for their LGBTI residents and asylum for those seeking to emigrate from nations in which people are under threat of criminal penalties, imprisonment, torture, death, and/or mob violence on the basis of their LGBTI identity and/or advocacy;
commit to standing in solidarity with those who are persecuted because of their LGBTI identity and/or advocacy, to listen to their stories, and to encourage prayers for their safety and wholeness throughout the church, keeping in mind the word of Christ (Luke 6:20-23); commend the recent strong statements of the president of the House of Deputies and the presiding bishop, condemning the criminalization of LGBTI identity and/or advocacy and reminding the church that all people are created in God’s image and are God’s beloved (AN027).

Finances for Mission
Establish St. John’s Church Building Fund (Fallbrook, California) (FFM034).

Establish St. John’s Church Organ Fund (Fallbrook, California) (FFM035).

Establish St. David’s Episcopal Church Investment Fund (Columbia, South Carolina) (FFM036).

Authorize $500,000 loan to the Iglesia Episcopal de Panama for support of its continuing operations; terms and conditions to be developed by the DFMS’s chief financial officer in collaboration with the chair of council’s Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission (FFM037).

Authorize a line of credit of up to $500,000 to be available to reorganizing dioceses and similar entities to be accessed prior to Dec. 31, 2014 for support of conflict resolution; terms and conditions to be developed by DFMS’s chief financial officer in collaboration with the chair of the council’s Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission (FM038).

Approve modifications to the 2014 Budget for The Episcopal Church (FFM039).

Approve revised official travel guidelines for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, effective Feb. 17, 2014 (FFM040).

Authorize treasurer to identify opportunities for sale of DMFS land in Austin, Texas, purchased in 2009, at no less than $10 million sales price and related marketing and closing costs; authorize treasurer to retain appropriate consultants and brokers; any sale be reviewed and approved by the Executive Council Executive Committee; proceeds from sale be used first to repay the associated line of credit (FFM041).

Authorize up to $95,000 for additional professional expertise to assist in the review and analysis of various future options related to the Episcopal Church Center; selection of additional expertise shall be approved by the co-chairs of the Subcommittee on the Location of the Episcopal Church Center and the chairs of GAM and FFM; source of money to be determined by the DFMS’s chief financial officer in collaboration with the chair of the Executive Council’s Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission (FFM042).

Authorize income from Trust Fund 853 (Episcopal Church of Liberia, Endowment Fund (1982)) be distributed according to payout rates established annually by council (FFM043).

Governance and Administration for Mission
Endorse and approve Memorandum of Understanding between the officers of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society and the Board of the United Thank Offering, dated Jan. 10, 2014, which has been approved by the UTO Board (GAM012).

Endorse and approve restated By-Laws of the Board of the United Thank Offering, dated Jan. 10, 2014, which have been approved by the UTO Board (GAM013).

Request that the GAM/UTO Working Group monitor the implementation of the restated UTO bylaws and Memorandum of Understanding with the expectation that the Working Group will recommend to the UTO Board and Executive Council refinements that will further enhance the mission work of the UTO Board and its relationship to the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (GAM015).

Give consent to the Joint Standing Committee on Planning & Arrangement’s selection of Austin in the Diocese of Texas as the site for the 79th General Convention in 2018 (GAM016).

Local Mission and Ministry
Affirm the following ministries as Jubilee Ministries: Church of the Epiphany, Richardson, Texas, Diocese of Dallas; Randy Sams’ Outreach Shelter, Texarkana, Texas, Diocese of Dallas; Cumberland Adult Reading Council (CARC), Crossville, Tennessee, Diocese of East Tennessee;
St. Paul’s Community Ministry, Brady, Texas, Diocese of West Texas; Southside Abbey, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Diocese of East Tennessee; Open Hands Food Bank Garden Site, St. Christopher’s Community Church, Olympia, Diocese of Olympia; The Micah Project. Sioux City, Iowa, Diocese of Iowa; The Episcopal Church Networks Collaborative, Washington, D.C. , Diocese of Washington; Hanover Interfaith Clinics, Ashland, Virginia, Diocese of Virginia; Bread and Roses Ministry, Charlottesville, Virginia, Diocese of Virginia; St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, Asbury Park, New Jersey, Diocese of New Jersey; Christ Church Outreach Center, Bradenton, Florida, Diocese of Southwest Florida; ARISE (Area of Renton Interfaith Shelter Endeavor), Renton, Washington, Diocese of Olympia; St. David of Wales Episcopal Church, Shelton, Washington, Diocese of Olympia; Episcopal Diocese of Lexington, Lexington, Kentucky, Diocese of Lexington (LMM 007).

Approve the following proposals for Constable Fund grants: Stirrings of the Spirit, Province I, $14,000; Building & Enhancing AntiRacism Ministry throughout Province III, $13,200; Celebrating Diversity in the Lower Peninsula, Province V, $26,450; General Convention 2015 Children’s Program – Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Formation & Education, Province VIII, Lifelong Christian Formation Office of The Episcopal Church’s Formation and Vocation Ministries Team, $6,000; Episcopal Peace Fellowship Urban Pilgrimage, $10,000; Share the Journey, Episcopal Migration Ministries, $44,910; Ecumenical/Interfaith Education on Tri-Faith Campus, $10,000; Virtual Campus Training Project, Global Partnerships, Province IX,  Communication, $43,500 TOTAL: $168,060 (LMM008).

Recognize that the Executive Council has changed the relationship of the Constable Fund to the operating budget, causing broader demand on limited funds; acknowledge that the General Convention Children’s Program, like the Official Youth Presence at General Convention, is a priority of the church and a budget responsibility because of its fundamental importance; resolve that council’s Joint Standing Committee for Finances for Mission and appropriate staff consider an allocation of $19,400 in the 2015 budget to provide the remaining funds necessary for the General Convention 2015 Children’s Program (LMM009).

World Mission
Affirm the Second Mark of Mission “Province IX Sustainability Plan” as submitted and call upon the Executive Council to adopt this plan and empower the church staff, World Mission committee and representatives from Province IX to move forward with this plan which will move Province IX in the direction of self-sustainability (WM018).

Recognize the nearly complete achievement of consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) at the United Nations by the decision of the U.N. Committee on NGOs on Jan. 27 to recommend ECOSOC special consultative status to the DFMS; commend local, diocesan and churchwide work and ministries of 2 million Episcopalians in 17 countries over a vast breadth of issues relating to the work of the U.N. and its member states, verbally recognized by the U.N. Committee of NGOs as “noble work” worthy of their support; encourage all Episcopalians to “think globally and act locally” and avail themselves of the resources and opportunities presented by this status, in particular partnering with the Global Partnerships Office and the church’s official representatives to the U.N.; affirm that advocacy and networking at the UN forms an intrinsic part of The Episcopal Church’s comprehensive strategies for advocacy and public witness that both informs, and is informed by, those comprehensive strategies; express its gratitude to the Anglican Consultative Council for its consistent and gracious support of The Episcopal Church’s engagement at the United Nations, both as a member province of the Anglican Communion and in seeking its own ECOSOC consultative status; affirm its commitment to working closely with the Anglican Communion in the development of its ministries at the United Nations, for the further enhancement and strengthening of our collective Anglican and Episcopal voices there (WM019).

Executive Council awards Episcopal Church Constable Fund Grants

Friday, February 7, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Episcopal Church Executive Council approved the recipients of the Constable Fund Grants, totaling $168,060 for the 2014 grant cycle.

The resolution was presented by Anne Watkins, an Executive Council member from the Diocese of Connecticut and chair of the Constable Fund Grant Review Committee, during the Executive Council meeting, currently gathered in Baltimore, Maryland.

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

Watkins said the committee received and considered 19 applications and eight grants were awarded. Watkins explained that the 19 applications requested a total of $1,021,102 in grant requests which far exceeded the $168,238 in actual funds available.

The recipients, the projects, the amounts and brief explanations (taken from the applications) follow:

* Stirrings of the Spirit – Province I/Diocese of Vermont: $14,000
In partnership with Vermont Interfaith Action, (VIA) a faith-based, grassroots coalition of congregations that transforms ordinary people into empowered and engaged citizens.

* Building & Enhancing Anti-Racism Ministry throughout Province III: $13,200
The Province aims to support anti-racism workshops where none exist and to strengthen those that do.

* Celebrating Diversity in the Lower Peninsula – Province V: $26,450
The Dioceses of Eastern Michigan, Michigan, and Western Michigan are coming together to form a response to racism in the lower peninsula.

* General Convention 2015 Children’s Program – Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Formation and Education with Province VIII and the Lifelong Christian Formation Office of The Episcopal Church’s Formation and Vocation Ministries Team: $6,000
Funding is needed to begin the planning and creation of a dynamic, educational, and safe program for the children that includes learning, fun, worship, and formation in the Episcopal Church.

* Episcopal Peace Fellowship Urban Pilgrimage: $10,000
Urban Pilgrimage is an alternative Spring Break program for young adults (ages 18-25) to witness, participate with, and reflect upon unjust social issues.

* Share the Journey – Episcopal Migration Ministries: $44,910
This project endeavors to welcome more Episcopalians into shaping the future of the Church’s refugee ministry as they, in turn, inform and deepen their personal faith journeys through mission.

* Ecumenical/Interfaith Education on Tri-Faith Campus: $10,000
This grant will fund adult education, focusing on Christian ecumenical programming to support the expanding Christian community which will become the Christian presence on the Tri-Faith campus in Omaha, NE.

* Virtual Campus Training Project – Global Partnerships, Province IX, with Office of Communications: $43,500          This project will create a virtual campus for biblical, theological, spiritual and pastoral education with its central character, “Padre Pablo,” as a virtual meeting place where information and training will be provided, and attention will be placed on the needs of the Hispanic community both in Latin America and the United States, supporting them through biblical, theological, spiritual, and pastoral training and reflection.

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

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

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

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

Dates, location for General Convention 2018 announced

Friday, February 7, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church will be held in July 2018 at The Austin Convention Center, Austin, Texas (Diocese of Texas).

The decision was presented by the Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe, Executive Officer of General Convention and Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Planning and Arrangements, to the Executive Council currently meeting at the Conference Center at the Maritime Institute in Linthicum Heights, MD (Diocese of Maryland).

“The Standing Committee was blessed by having three outstanding finalist cities, each with the enthusiastic support of their bishops and the other leadership of their dioceses,” Barlowe explained. “Austin emerged as the best site for 2018 because of a convergence of factors, including superb facilities that have achieved a LEED Gold environmental rating; a walkable location, close to all hotels and the vibrant music venues and restaurants of downtown; and the fact that the Austin Convention Center was by far the most economical choice for the church.”

Concurrently, Bishop Andrew Doyle of the Diocese of Texas announced the selection.

Bishop Doyle noted: “The diocesan Executive Board voted unanimously and enthusiastically to place the Diocese of Texas name up for consideration when they were given the opportunity last year. The final decision gives us a unique opportunity to strengthen our relationship with the broader Church. We hope to share what we are learning on the forefront of God’s mission with our wider church family. We also look forward to hearing about the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of mission that others in the Episcopal Church have experienced.  As General Convention is a global event with representatives from across the world it will be a unique experience for Texas.”

He added, “We are thrilled to welcome deputies and bishops, exhibitors and visitors to Austin, the live music capital of the world and a singularly unique city in the hill country of Texas. We stand with open arms to share our Southern hospitality, our talented musicians, barbecue, bats and wild flowers with the broader Church.”

In his report to the Executive Council’s Joint Standing Committee on Governance, and Administration for Mission, Barlowe acknowledged that the site selection committee wrestled with a concern that the Diocese of Texas has not in recent years met its full financial asking from The Episcopal Church to the budget passed by General Convention. “This concern was addressed in conversations between the Bishop of Texas, the Presiding Bishop, the President of the House of Deputies and myself,” he said. “We heard a clear commitment from Bishop Doyle and the leadership he invited to meet with us of their desire to participate fully in the Episcopal Church and its consequent financial and other obligations.”

As required by canon, the decision received approval from the majority of the Presidents and Vice Presidents of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies, the Presidents of the Provinces, and the Executive Council.

The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It is composed of the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay representatives elected from the 110 dioceses of the Church, at more than 800 members.

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church will be held June 25 – July 3, 2015 at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah).

UTO, Episcopal Church ratify ‘historic’ agreement

Friday, February 7, 2014

[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] The United Thank Offering and the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council officially agreed Feb. 7 on a memorandum of understanding and a new set of bylaws for the organization that for 125 years has supported the church’s mission and ministry.

The agreement is a “historic leap into a new day for the UTO,” according to a cover letter for the two documents from UTO Board President Barbara Schafer and Steve Hutchinson, chair of council’s Joint Standing Committee on Governance and Administration for Mission (GAM).

The documents provide “new mission opportunities and collaborative working relationships” between the UTO and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s departments and staff (the DFMS is the church’s corporate name), the letter says, and they outline a vision for UTO of “broader inclusivity of divergent populations within the church.” UTO’s activities will expand to contribute to the wider mission work of the church, Schafer and Hutchinson said.

The two documents are due to be posted to the UTO’s pages here soon.

They acknowledge that there will be a “period of transition and learning” as the memo and the bylaws are implemented.

Hutchinson told the council that the working group, the UTO board and GAM all understand that both the memo and the bylaws were created to give UTO “a suitable foundation” for the future of UTO but, that they are not perfect.

“The expectation is that this will be a continuing conversation for a while,” he had earlier told ENS.

In fact, council also passed a resolution calling on the working group to monitor the implementation of the bylaws and memo and recommend “refinements that will further enhance the mission work of the UTO Board and its relationship to the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.”

The bylaws outline the UTO’s mission and purpose, its responsibilities, the roles of the board’s officers and members (and the terms of their service) and other functional issues.

The memo of understanding details operational aspects of how DFMS will work with the UTO and vice versa.

Among the things the DFMS has agreed to do are:

  • include the UTO in its mission-planning discussions so that it is aware of the mission department’s goals and priorities;
  • collaborate with the UTO board in preparing annual and triennial budgets for the council’s approval;
  • manage all of UTO’s financial affairs in conjunction with the UTO board, reporting to the board with monthly financial operating statements and quarterly investment statements;
  • manage trust funds held in whole or in part for the UTO “in a prudent manner consistent with DFMS investment policies and in accordance with the terms of the funds;
  • provide the board with meeting-planning services and travel logistics, as well as needed staff training;
  • provide the board with grant-accountability information;
  • provide communications resources and a web-based internal communication system for the board that will also allow for archiving of electronic documents;
  • manage the archiving of non-electronic documents, memorabilia and other UTO items;
  • provide translation services and legal services as needed;
  • promote UTO “whenever possible”; and
  • provide two full-time DFMS staff members to work with the board (the memo outlines the tasks of each employee).

Among the UTO’s responsibilities are:

  • acceding to the authority of the church’s Constitution and Canons, the council’s bylaws and DFMS policies and procedures;
  • submitting an annual report to council;
  • having its annual grant recommendations vetted by the DFMS director of mission for compliance with that year’s council-approved grant criteria, and submitting the awards to council for approval;
  • agreeing to consult with members of the church center’s Global Partnerships Team regarding grant applications from provinces outside the Episcopal Church;
  • being “responsible for the UTO granting process in support of the mission initiative as established by the leadership of the Episcopal Church”; and
  • expanding participation, with cooperation of DFMS staff, in UTO “to represent all demographics found within the Episcopal Church.”

Hutchinson said that because of the intent of the memo “there’s a new day of collaboration and consultation going on already” between the board and the DFMS staff.

The agreements stem from a pledge council made at its October 2013 meeting to heal the wounds incurred during a controversial effort a few months earlier to draft a memorandum of understanding between the UTO and the DMFS, and new bylaws for the historic organization. Four UTO board members resigned in disagreement over the effort in September 2013.

At the time, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said the effort was meant to bring UTO’s operating procedures “into compliance with both federal law and with DFMS policies.”

At the time, there was also a desire to help the 125-year-old ministry evolve its fundraising process in a changing church and culture.

In a resolution council passed at its October meeting, the members “committed to a season of reconciliation and renewal of all involved in a thoughtful and faithful engagement and conversation to resolve matters of governance and administration, while honoring the UTO’s historic promotion of a theology of thankfulness, so that the mission of the UTO can be strengthened.”

That season began during that October meeting when four members of UTO’s board met privately with council’s governance and administration for mission committee for what Hutchinson said was a time of “candid” conversation.

Shortly after the October council meeting, Jefferts Schori and UTO Board President Barbara Schafer issued a joint statement pledging to work together to overcome the controversy.

A working group made up of UTO and council members was formed and met in Fort Worth, Texas in early January. Hutchinson and Schafer attended as did UTO Vice President Marcelle Cherau; UTO Secretary Dena Lee; council members Stephane Cheney, Tess Judge and Marion Luckey; and DFMS legal counsel Paul Nix. UTO Coordinator Heather Melton and Grants Convener Margaret Cooper participated via teleconference.

Hutchinson told ENS that the group met together for 52 hours over four and a half days, and in the end there was “full consensus and unity” on the proposed memo of understanding and bylaws. The UTO board later unanimously approved the two documents, he said.

UTO was established in 1889 as the United Offering by the Women’s Auxiliary to the Board of Missions and primarily supported the work of women missionaries. UTO later broadened its emphasis to include all areas of the church’s work.

UTO grants are funded in large part with the money that Episcopalians deposit in “Blue Boxes,” which they keep in their homes and offices. Over the last 124 years UTO has granted $131,789,046.70, according to a report here.

UTO suggests that people should daily pray and give – by putting some coins in their Blue Box – in recognition of their daily thanks for what God has given them. Oftentimes, the people whom the UTO calls “thankful givers” supplement their daily contributions before sending the money to UTO either individually or through a process known as diocesan in-gatherings. The UTO believes that thankful giving unites the givers spiritually with the people who benefit from their gifts.

During the group’s Sept. 25-Oct. 1 board meeting, Melton said that giving to UTO has declined over the last 10 years.

In 2007, the UTO made 91 grants totaling $2,401,906.70. In 2009, it granted close to $2.1 million in 63 grants. For 2013, UTO awarded 48 grants for a total of $1,517,280.91. The complete list of grants is here.

Executive Council called in 2008 for a UTO study group to clarify the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s legal relationship with UTO.

Sandra McPhee, the first chair of the group, noted at the time that there was nothing in writing that spells out the UTO’s relationship to the DFMS, despite the fact that UTO was using the tax-exempt number assigned to the DFMS by the Internal Revenue Service, which expected the DFMS to “control” the UTO.

The council committee that proposed the study group also noted the UTO’s declining revenue and wondered if UTO’s fundraising model and grant-making methods needed updating.

The 2008 study group reported to council and General Convention in 2012. Council approved the group’s report in 2011, including a new set of bylaws and called for a memo of understanding between UTO and the DFMS. Convention also adopted the report and the bylaws. Hutchinson said that the process did not afford an extensive review of the bylaws. For instance, he said, that council’s governance committee was not asked to review them.

The Feb. 5-7 Executive Council meeting is taking place at the Maritime Institute Conference Center.

Some council members are tweeting from the meeting using #ExCoun.

The Executive Council carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1)(a). The council is composed of 38 members, 20 of whom (four bishops, four priests or deacons and 12 lay people) are elected by General Convention and 18 (one clergy and one lay) by the nine provincial synods for six-year terms – plus the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies.

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

Nominations accepted for Episcopal Church positions, committees, boards

Friday, February 7, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Nominations are now being accepted for various Episcopal Church positions, committees or boards that will be elected during the next General Convention.

The Episcopal Church Joint Standing Committee for Nominations for General Convention has issued a call for nominations for seven positions. Elections will take place at the 78th General Convention, to be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, Thursday, June 25 to Friday, July 3, 2015.

The nomination form is available in English, Spanish, French and Chinese.

More information, duties of each position, instructions and nomination forms are available here.

Nominations are accepted for the following committees/boards:
Member, Disciplinary Board for Bishops
Member, Executive Council
Member, General Board of Examining Chaplains
Secretary of the House of Deputies
Treasurer of the General Convention
Trustee, The Church Pension Fund
Trustee, The General Theological Seminary

Deadline for nominations is March 1.

For more information contact gcoffice@episcopalchurch.org.

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