[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The following Pastoral Message on Climate Change has been issued by Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori with the heads for the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
A Pastoral Message on Climate Change
from the heads of
Anglican Church of Canada
The Episcopal Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
September 19, 2014
We are united as Christian leaders in our concern for the well-being of our neighbors and of God’s good creation that provides life and livelihood for all God’s creatures. Daily we see and hear the evidence of a rapidly changing climate. Glaciers are disappearing, the polar ice cap is melting, and sea levels are rising. Incidents of pollution created dead zones in seas and the ocean and toxic algae growth in water supplies are occurring with greater frequency. Most disturbingly, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising at an unprecedented rate. At the same time we also witness in too many instances how the earth’s natural beauty, a sign of God’s wonderful creativity, has been defiled by pollutants and waste.
Many have reacted to these changes with grief and anger. In their outrage some have understandably focused on the neglect and carelessness, both in private industry and in government regulation, that have contributed to these changes. However, an honest accounting requires a recognition that we all participate both as consumers and investors in economies that make intensive and insistent demands for energy. In addition, as citizens we have chosen to support or acquiesce in policies that shift the burdens of climate change to communities that are most vulnerable to its effects. People who are already challenged by poverty and by dislocation resulting from civil war or famine have limited resources for adapting to climate change’s effects.
While an accounting of climate change that has credibility and integrity must include our own repentance, we find our hope in the promise of God’s own faithfulness to the creation and humankind and in the liberation that comes from God’s promise.
God, who made the creation and made it good, has not abandoned it. Daily the Spirit continues to renew the face of the earth. All who care for the earth and work for the restoration of its vitality can be confident that they are not pursuing a lost cause. We serve in concert with God’s own creative and renewing power.
Moreover, we need not surrender to political ideologies and other modern mythologies that would divide us into partisan factions — deserving and undeserving, powerless victims and godless oppressors. In Christ we have the promise of a life where God has reconciled the human community. In Christ God sets us free from the captivity of blaming and shaming. God liberates us for shared endeavors where we find each other at our best.
While the challenge may seem daunting, the Spirit’s abundant gifts for service empower us to find common cause with people who exercise countless insights and skills, embodied in hundreds of occupations and trades. We have good reason to hope in all the ways God’s grace is at work among us. We can commend ourselves to the work before us with confidence in God’s mercy.
Opportunities to act imaginatively and courageously abound in all our individual callings. The Holy Spirit’s work in us leads us as faithful consumers and investors in a global economy to make responsible choices to reduce energy use, carbon emissions, and the wasteful consumption of water and other natural resources. As citizens, we have voices to use in educating children about the climate and in shaping public and corporate policies that affect the environment. The Spirit has also given us our voices to contribute our witness to public discussion of just and responsible use of natural resources.
We also have the resources and responsibility to act together for the common good, especially for those most vulnerable to the effect of climate change in the spirit of the seventh Millennium Development Goal, “to ensure environmental stability”. World leaders will meet this month in New York for a Climate Summit, and in December in Lima, Peru, to discuss global cooperation on climate change. Working under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), participants in the UNFCCC’s negotiations hope for an agreement in 2015 that will move toward reduction of carbon emissions, development of low carbon technologies, and assistance to populations most vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate.
We encourage you to take the initiative to engage decision-makers in this godly work in all arenas of public life — in government and business, in schools and civic organizations, in social media and also in our church life.
We are not powerless to act and we are not alone. “We have the power of the Holy Spirit and the indwelling Spirit of Christ to give us hope and courage.”i
The present moment is a critical one, filled with both challenge and opportunity to act as faithful individuals and churches in solidarity with God’s good creation.
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
Bishop Elizabeth Eaton
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
Anglican Church of Canada
Bishop Susan Johnson
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Task Force to Reimagine the Episcopal Church (TREC) will convene a churchwide meeting on October 2 at 7:30 pm Eastern time (6:30 pmCentral/5:30 pm Mountain/4:30 pm Pacific/3:30 pm Alaska/1:30 pm Hawaii).
The meeting will be webcast live from Washington National Cathedral. Although the meeting will be open to the entire church, TREC encourages attendance from each diocese: a bishop, a lay deputy, a clerical deputy, and one person under the age of 35.
In a statement about the event, TREC members said: “We are extraordinarily grateful for the amount of feedback we have received about our recent letter to the church outlining some of our thinking and developing proposals. Members of TREC have been carefully reading the many e-mails, blogs, and conversations across social media that have emerged in response to the letter. We are hopeful that this vigorous conversation that has already begun will be of great value to the church as it prepares to take up the issue of re-structuring and re-imaginging at General Convention next year, and that the Holy Spirit will continue to work through this collective discernment to set us on the most faithful path forward. We look forward to continuing that conversation on October 2, and we will be carefully considering all of the feedback we’ve received as we meetOctober 3 and 4 to begin preparing our final report and specific recommendations to the 78th General Convention.”
There is no fee to attend in person or to watch the live webcast. However, registration for in-person attendance is requested; register here. Registration is not required but is encouraged for viewing the webcast.
The purpose of the meeting is “to receive responses to the proposed recommendations to be brought forward to the 78th General Convention.”
The planned format will be short concise presentations followed by substantive question and comment periods. Questions, concerns and comments will be taken from the live audience in addition to email and twitter. Questions can be emailed email@example.com or on Twitter here @ReimagineTEC.
TREC’s final report to General Convention is due by November 30 for the 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah in July 2015.
For more info, questions or comments, contact TREC members firstname.lastname@example.org
[Episcopal News Service] Michael Puot Rambang hopes soccer and volleyball games will help to promote peace and reconciliation among a generation of future Sudanese leaders.
“I was in Juba when the fighting broke out [on Dec. 15, 2013],” Rambang, 26, told the Episcopal News Service (ENS) recently from Nairobi, Kenya. “I was almost killed; they targeted 25 of my neighbors, who were killed.”
He escaped to the Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya, only to discover violence there also. “Everyone was angry. They want to push, and shove. It is not good for people to live like this. I had to come up with something to bring the youth together. That was when I came up with South Sudan Youth for Peace and Reconciliation (SSYPR).”
The initiative aims to gather varying communities of Sudanese youth in the camp for a series of sports tournaments paired with peace and reconciliation trainings and other activities. Sowing a spirit of cooperation will also help improve conditions generally in the camp, according to John Malek Kur, also involved in organizing SSYPR’s efforts.
“We will help to create a condition whereby we can see where we can reconcile, and counsel them because of the dramatic things they have seen, since war broke out in Juba and elsewhere,” Kur told ENS.
“We need to teach them so we can send a team to go and teach and talk peace among the people, and we will extend it slowly to the areas affected by the war,” Kur added.
South Sudan emerged as the world’s newest nation in 2011, with Juba as its capital city. Fighting erupted in December 2013 after a political struggle between the president, Salva Kiir, and his former deputy, Riek Machar, displacing as many as one million people. Kiir is from the Dinka tribe and rebel leader Machar is Nuer, representing the two main Sudanese ethnic groups. Many fled to the Kakuma Refugee Camp, which was established in 1992 during decades of Sudanese civil war. An estimated 180,000 people from Sudan, South Sudan, and other African countries reside at the camp.
Kur, a former “Lost Boy” now studying peace and conflict transformation at Nairobi’s Daystar University, said camp conditions are challenging. Illness, illiteracy and hunger are pervasive, he said. (The Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan moved to the U.S. as part of a resettlement program in the early ‘00s.)
“We have a diverse community in South Sudan and in Camp Kakuma, young people on both sides and the only thing you can do is speak a word of peace to them through soccer. They will play for fun and for a goal,” Kur said. “When they will be working for that goal, they will start talking, realizing their worth, and making friendships among themselves.”
SSYPR advisor Bishop John Gattek Wallam of the Bentiu area of the Diocese of Malakal said the plan includes university students serving as trainers for the camp’s youth. The initiative is working in tandem with other like-minded organizations under the umbrella of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees seeking peace and reconciliation, he said.
“The youth are the children of the warring parties [and from different tribes]. Both sides will be able to come together and learn peace and reconciliation,” Wallam told ENS from Kenya recently.
The games “will be an outlet for the youth, to participate in peace-building activities. We will organize a program for them, and a concert that will also bring the youth together and also give them reconciliation messages from the Bible,” said Wallam. He was part of a negotiating team that has secured the endorsement of the United Nations and the Kenyan Police Camp manager to establish the Kakuma Peace Initiative and Sports for Peace games.
A tentative date to host the games awaits securing project funding and sponsorships, according to the Rev. Jerry Drino of Hope with South Sudan, a San Jose-based education and outreach agency.
“This whole effort is lifting up from the ground,” said Drino. Faith communities are at the forefront of the efforts, as are organizations like the American Friends of the Episcopal Church in Sudan (AFRECS), and Episcopal Relief & Development who are working to alleviate hardships in Sudan, he added.
Pockets of hope exist amid the continuing crisis in Sudan, Drino said. He urged Episcopalians across the church to support the organization of fledgling peace efforts.
“The good news is that already there are sporadic games with mixed tribal teams being played in Kakuma and that the Mothers Union and Presbyterian women are coming together to pray across tribal lines. The SSYPR will give them greater incentive to continue and expand this work.”
Colorado: October visit to offer medical, pastoral care training,
A medical and pastoral care team from the Diocese of Colorado, seeking to alleviate refugee camp conditions and to support the efforts of Sudanese Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail of the Diocese of Kadugli, is planning an Oct. 28-Nov. 9 trip to the Kakuma Refugee Camp, according to Anita Sanborn, president of the Colorado Episcopal Foundation.
Team members will focus on health issues and offer pastoral care, human rights, leadership and peace-building trainings, she said.
The team initially intended to visit the Yida Refugee Camp in South Sudan in January of this year, Sanborn said. But the trip, funded by the United Thank Offering (UTO) and Episcopal Relief & Development and private donations, was rescheduled for the Kakuma Camp after the December fighting broke out.
The team focus will include newborn and maternal health, basic hygiene and health care, identifying symptoms of trauma and self-care for clergy and lay leaders.
“There will be a segment on human rights, teaching what the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights is all about, so people understand in this time of exile what their rights really are and to give them a sense of hope that they don’t need to be landless forever, but to prepare for a time when they can return home,” Sanborn added.
Sanborn described Elnail as a bishop without a diocese. ENS’s efforts to reach him were unsuccessful.
Elnail was in the United States for medical treatment in 2012 when Sudanese government forces entered Kadugli, raided his office, destroyed some equipment and confiscated others, Sanborn said. He began advocacy efforts and in 2013 was granted U.S. asylum. He organized an office in Juba to provide a base of operations for the thousands of Nuba people fleeing into the South.
Sanborn also urged Episcopalians across the church to continue support for the Sudanese people, even though media focus may have shifted elsewhere.
“When compassion fatigue seems so pervasive, it would be my hope that we in the Episcopal Church here continue to stand by the Sudanese refugees who’ve been sent here,” Sanborn said of Sudanese communities throughout the United States.
“There are so many ways people can get involved,” she added. “It doesn’t have to always mean going to Sudan. It’s important to be aware and to be educated about what is going on, if people will just take that step. And to remember that prayer is always needed.”
– The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.
The U.S.-based Episcopal Church has long-standing partnerships with the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan, through companion diocese relationships, Episcopal Relief & Development programs and the advocacy work of the Office of Government Relations.
Current companion relationships include Albany (New York) with the Province of Sudan, Bethlehem (Pennsylvania) with Kajo Keji, Chicago with Renk, Indianapolis with Bor, Missouri with Lui, Rhode Island with Ezo, Southwestern Virginia with the Province of Sudan, and Virginia with the Province of Sudan.
[Episcopal News Service – Taipei, Taiwan] Members of the House of Bishops have begun learning about the theological context and mission challenges faced by Episcopal and Anglican churches in Asia.
Their exploration had already begun with a deep experience of what Diocese of Kansas Bishop Dean Wolfe described as “such hospitality, such graciousness, such joy in the spirit” on the part of Taiwanese Episcopalians who are hosting the Sept. 17-23 meeting here.
“I will take that back to my Diocese of Kansas and remind my people of the connection we have with the Diocese of Taiwan,” said Wolfe, who is vice president of the house and served as emcee for the Sept. 19 sessions.
Wolfe noted that some members of the Episcopal Church have questioned why the bishops would go to the expense of meeting in Taiwan. “We never think about not going to our farthest parish because it is too far away” or too small, he said.
Thus, because the bishops accepted Taiwan Bishop David Jung-Hsin Lai’s invitation to meet here, Wolfe said to applause, they have found that “the Diocese of Taiwan is a much a part of this family as any diocese in the Episcopal Church.”
After fanning out on Sept. 18 to visit three congregations of the Diocese of Taiwan, along with the diocese’s St. John’s University, the bishops came back together on the 19th to learn more about the Taiwanese Episcopal Church as well as Anglican work in Hong Kong and Pakistan.
Taiwanese Episcopalians “started from zero” and now have 20 churches, including seven parishes, Lai said. He acknowledged that his diocese’s ministry is run differently from most other dioceses in the Episcopal Church because of the cultural context of Taiwan. Taiwanese often practice a combination of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Most of the island’s traditional places of worship combine all three traditions.
Episcopal churches in Taiwan must work within that context, he said. For instance, they use a Mandarin Book of Common Prayer (which took 15 years to translate) and also have a book of supplemental liturgies that frame traditional practices, such as ancestor worship, in a Christian context.
And the diocese actively encourages Christian formation and faith sharing with others. The diocese also helps members discern their ministry, and then actively supports that ministry, often monetarily, the bishop said.
Families often ostracize members who convert to Christianity, Lai said, seeing the conversion as a betrayal. Yet, the bishop urges his members to make their Christian faith evident in their daily lives to counter a common notion in Taiwan that all religions are the same and only “teach us to be a good person.”
“I always remind our church members: ‘don’t keep silence when they say so. If you keep silent it means you agree with their idea. But don’t try to argue with them. You need to build a good relationship.’ So I always encourage them to share your belief – your faith – with them so that they know the God we worship is so different from the god as the idol you worship in your family, in the temple or anywhere.”
Lai said that diocesan members are encouraged not to just believe in and trust in God but also to “do something by your faith” in a way that others, including family members, will see the converted person as others will see “how different, how wonderful, how joyful that you are; you are a Christian, you are a person with a totally new life.”
A summary of the history of the Diocese of Taiwan, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, can be found in this story.
The Rev. Peter Koon, provincial secretary of the Hong Kong heng Kung Hui (Anglican Church in Hong Kong), asked for the bishops’ prayers as that province faces the possibility of unrest, perhaps as early as October, by way of the anticipated Occupy Central with Love and Peace, which will campaign for universal suffrage.
Hong Kong return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 from British control and the laws governing that move say the territory is getting to a system of universal suffrage for picking the chief executive in the 2017 election. Some in Hong Kong worry that the national legislature and the city government will insist on a plan for nominating the chief executive that bars candidates unacceptable to Beijing.
The challenge, Koon said, is how the Anglican churches in Hong Kong can find ways to respond pastorally and theologically to congregations that are divided on the issue.
“Do pray for the cathedral because we are in the hot spot,” Koon said.
Meanwhile, Gareth Jones, principal of the province’s Ming Hua Theological College, outlined the seminary’s effort to change theological education.
Many seminaries in the Anglican Communion, he said, have “a tendency toward generic theological education with a little bit of Anglicanism bolted onto the end.” Rather than foster what he called the “theological confusion” such a model either evidences or causes, Ming Hua has moved to a model that is more rooted in Anglican identity from the outset and which emphasizes the idea of companionship with God, Jones said.
The model also is based on an understanding that the crises of faith can be seen through the crises in the gardens of Eden and Gethsemane and the seminarians are learning “how to be in Adam and Eve’s shoes and how to be in Jesus’ shoes in those gardens.”
Bishop Samuel Azariah, moderator of the Church of Pakistan (United), told the bishops about the life of his church in a country where Christians account for 1.5 percent of the 189 million Pakistanis.
He said Pakistan is “in continuous religious disputes” within itself, and with India and Afghanistan.
“The misuse and abuse of religion has not only impacted our economy and our relationships, but has also introduced a phase of religious militancy” and especially one that vows to spread Islam, he said. “That is the reality of the context we live in and very soon this is going to hit you, my brothers and my sisters, even in the United States.”
Azariah added a caution: “I’m not saying that we need to fight Islam; what I am saying is that we need to recognize that reality” and prepare for it by learning about Islam and working to improve interfaith relations, and always searching for reconciliation.
“Islam will be the dominant religion in your own dioceses sooner or later that you will have to negotiate with,” he told the bishops. “You will have large populations of Muslims around you in your areas to whom you will have to pastor to and how will you do that?”
In his context, Azariah said he rejects the ideas of loving one’s enemies, saying instead he prefers to advocate loving one’s neighbors in a way that aims “to recognize, to respect in humbleness and with patience, the quality of otherness that my neighbor carries within himself or within herself.”
Meanwhile, Azariah issued a call for deeper relations between his church and others in the Anglican Communion, especially in terms of educational partnerships and development.
“We want to be in relationship; not a relationship of dependency. We do not want to be a project of any church but in a relationship of equal brothers and sisters and disciples of Jesus Christ,” he said.
Also on the bishops’ agenda
The theme of the House of Bishops meeting in Taiwan is “expanding the apostolic imagination” and the house is also due to hear from bishops and others from the Anglican Church in Japan, the Philippines and Korea as part of that exploration. However, the approach of Tropical Storm Fung-Wong may disrupt the travel of some of those people, the bishops were warned.
The bishops, spouses, partners and others attending the meeting will spend Sept. 20 sightseeing in various parts of the island. On Sunday, Sept. 21, they will worship at either Church of the Good Shepherd and St. John’s Cathedral in Taipei or Advent Church in Tam Sui. They will return to Taipei in the late afternoon for a session aimed at processing their experiences.
The evening of the 21st will also include a closed fireside chat meant for the presiding bishop and the bishops alone.
While in Taipei, the bishops also are scheduled to receive briefings on the work of the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church, which recently released a letter to the church outlining the recommendations on structural change it will make to the 2015 meeting of General Convention. Bishop members of the A050 Task Force on the Study of Marriage and the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop will also discuss the work of those groups to date. The latter briefing will be held in closed session, according to the meeting schedule.
The bishops also plan a town hall-style session with the presiding bishop and a formal business session on Sept. 23.
After the meeting ends a number of bishops are heading to Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines or Korea to continue learning about mission and ministry of the Anglican Church.
The meeting is taking place at the Grand Hotel in Taipei. Some bishops are blogging from the meeting about their visit to Taiwan, including
- Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith
- Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce
- Nevada Bishop Dan Edwards
- Western Massachusetts Bishop Douglas Fisher
- North Dakota Assisting Bishop Carol Gallagher
- Bishop Doug Hahn
- Rhode Island Bishop Nicholas Knisley
- Bishop Suffragan for Armed Services & Federal Ministries Jay Magness
- Bishop Greg Rickel
- Delaware Bishop Wayne Wright
Others are tweeting during the meeting using #HOBFall14. Those tweets can be read here.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church is meeting in the Diocese of Taiwan from September 17 to September 23. The following is an account of the activities for Friday, September 19.
The theme for the fall meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is Expanding the Apostolic Imagination
The day began with Eucharist, celebrated by Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick of Hawaii http://www.episcopalhawaii.org/ and Bishop-in-Charge of the Church in Micronesia (Guam and Saipan) http://episcopalmicronesia.org/guam/ . Preacher was HOB Chaplain the Rev. Simon Batista, Canon Missioner for Latino Ministries and Outreach of the Diocese of Texas.
Throughout the Eucharist, Bishop Fitzpatrick used Hawaiian language for the prayers and concluded with a Book of Common Prayer blessing in Hawaiian: Ka ho’opomaika’I ‘ana o ke Akua mana loa, ka Makua ke Keiki, a me ka ‘Uhane Hemolele me ‘oukou a e noho pu me ‘oukou amau loa aku. ‘Amene. (The blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be upon you and remain with you forever Amen.)
The emcee for the day was Bishop Dean Wolfe of Kansas. http://www.episcopal-ks.org/
Bishop David Lai of Taiwan, and the host of the HOB meeting, presented Theological Context & Mission Challenges in Taiwan. Bishop Lai gave an overview of the history of the Diocese of Taiwan, from a missionary district to today’s diocese, beginning with the Episcopalians in the American military. The diocese grew to 20 congregations. The ministry context of the diocese is defined by Taoism, Buddhism and ancestor worship. Using the Book of Common Prayer in Mandarin is mandatory, even though 70% of the nation’s population speaks Taiwanese Hokkien. Table conversation focused on two questions: What surprised you about the theological context or challenges for mission in Taiwan; and are the theology and/or challenges in Taiwan very similar or different from the context of my diocese?
The first afternoon session was devoted to the Rev. Peter Koon, Principal Secretary, Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui http://www.hkskh.org/index.aspx?lang=1 , and Dr. Gareth Jones, Principal, SKH Ming Hua Seminary, Hong Kong http://www.minghua.org.hk/en/about presenting Theological Context & Mission Challenges in Hong Kong.
The shifting political realities of Hong Kong’s special relationship with mainland China shape the missional context of the school. Theological education in the Ming Hua seminary revolves around an interpretation of seeking the restoration of companionship with God, which the original couple lost when they abandoned God in the Garden of Eden.
That was followed by Theological Context & Mission Challenges in Pakistan by The Most Rev. Samuel Robert Azariah, Bishop of Raiwind and Moderator of the Church of Pakistan http://www.anglicancommunion.org/tour/province.cfm?ID=P He prefaced his remarks about Pakistan with a broad characterization of the mission context of South Asia. It is a place of multiple languages, many religious traditions, different climates, and a variety of cultures. Turning more specifically to his home Pakistan, the Bishops were asked to imagine that we were not bishops but simply disciples of Jesus Christ. He then led us in imagining ministry in the third largest Islamic state. He detailed for us the numerous challenges that the small minority of Christians in Pakistan face daily. When asked how the Episcopal Church could be helpful to the Church in Pakistan, he replied that we could help them learn how to do development and capacity building. Additionally, there is a great need for addressing theological education. His example humbled and encouraged the members of the House of Bishops.
The evening was focused on class gatherings, discussion and dinners.
Media Briefers for Friday, September 19
Bishop Jacob Owensby of Western Louisiana http://www.diocesewla.org/
Bishop Pierre Whalon of Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe http://www.tec-europe.org/
Follow the bishops on Twitter #HOBFall14
[Episcopal Church in South Carolina] Bishop Charles G. vonRosenberg of South Carolina has welcomed a returning member of the clergy back into good standing as a priest, hailing the reinstatement of the Rev. H. Dagnall Free, Jr. as an important day for The Episcopal Church and an encouraging step toward reconciliation in South Carolina.
On Tuesday, in a brief liturgy led by vonRosenberg, Free reaffirmed the vows he took at his ordination in 2010 and signed a formal declaration promising to conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church.
Free was a priest serving at St. John’s Episcopal Church on John’s Island in 2012, when a breakaway group under Bishop Mark Lawrence announced it was leaving The Episcopal Church. After the schism, a number of clergy remained with The Episcopal Church. However, Free stayed at St. John’s, which followed the breakaway group under Lawrence.
Yet in the eyes of The Episcopal Church, he remained under vonRosenberg’s authority. Over a five-month period in 2013, the bishop made efforts to contact each breakaway clergy member. In most cases there was no reply. In August 2013, with the advice and consent of the Standing Committee, the bishop formally removed Free and more than 100 other priests and deacons from the ordained ministry.
“After clergy left The Episcopal Church, I had the obligation to discipline them according to church canons,” vonRosenberg said. But the canons gave him a choice about which disciplinary procedure to follow. One option would be to “depose” clergy who did not recognize the Church’s authority. VonRosenberg chose instead to “release and remove” the clergy, which left open a possibility for reconciliation and eventual reinstatement.
“I chose the less severe option in hopes that occasions like this one today might be facilitated,” the bishop said. “We rejoice when that goal becomes realized – even one person at a time.”
The first step in that journey came in April 2013, when Free came to see vonRosenberg to ask if there was a path open for him to return. The bishop’s immediate answer: Yes.
But the very first step was a difficult one: He had to acknowledge that he had been removed as a priest in The Episcopal Church. He became “Mr. Free,” stopped wearing his clerical collar, and ceased to perform the duties of an ordained minister. “He was under that discipline, and he was faithful to that,” the bishop said.
Canonically, the only requirement for reinstatement was the bishop’s approval. But vonRosenberg said it was important to ensure that reinstatement was the right move – not only for one priest and one diocese, but for the church. “He’s a priest of the whole church, not just South Carolina,” he said.
Creating a process
A major hurdle involved Free’s personnel files, which are in the possession of the breakaway group that still controls the pre-2013 diocesan records. Officials there have refused to cooperate with any of the Episcopal Church clergy who have sought access to their professional records for their ongoing employment.
Working in consultation with the Standing Committee, Chancellor Tom Tisdale, and Commission on Ministry member Amy Webb, the bishop set forth a reinstatement procedure that required:
– Consulting with the Bishop on a regular, ongoing basis;
– Working with a development coach for evaluations and discussions about his spiritual journey;
– Cooperating with the administrative staff in rebuilding his professional file, including background checks, training certificates, references and other documentation. “Doing that was necessary for the protection of the whole Church,” the bishop said.
– Meeting with the Standing Committee to discuss his desire for reinstatement.
On September 11, having completed the initial steps, Free met with the Standing Committee. After a brief discussion, the committee unanimously approved a motion advising the Bishop in favor of reinstatement.
VonRosenberg said the process has proven to be a good one, and likely will be used again. Discussions are occurring with other clergy who have had second thoughts about the schism. “It’s important that they know that this process is available,” the bishop said.
When the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church meets in 2015, it likely will consider a resolution about reinstatement procedures, and South Carolina’s experience will be valuable to that discussion. “Once again, we’re on the leading edge in some ways,” vonRosenberg said.
The path ahead of Free still has its challenges. He is no longer employed at St. John’s. VonRosenberg and Archdeacon Calhoun Walpole, the deployment officer for The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, are assisting him in finding opportunities in Episcopal churches. Free and his wife Sallie are parents of two teenagers, and staying employed was one factor in his choice to remain at St. John’s when the schism took place. Another factor was that he enjoyed serving the people of that parish, and there were others as well. But Free told the Standing Committee that he does not offer them as excuses. “I made a mistake,” he said.
“Part of what I had to learn is that you can’t take anything for granted. God will teach you, and re-teach you,” Free said on Tuesday.
Free said that it seemed far from coincidence that the readings of the Daily Office this summer included the stories of Moses, Joshua, and finally Job. “It’s been kind of like walking through a desert,” he said. “But I think we’re through that now.”
Walpole, who was present for the reinstatement liturgy Tuesday, said Free’s experience reminded her of the words of a prayer for the Church found in Eucharistic Prayer D, which asks God to “reveal its unity.”
“Here we have an example of that unity today,” she said. “Even though we don’t always act like it, the reality is that the church is one.”
– Holly Behre is director of communications for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina.
[Lambeth Palace press release] The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has issued a statement after the Scottish people voted to remain within the United Kingdom.
The Archbishop said:
“Over the past few weeks the campaign has touched on such raw issues of identity and been so closely fought that it has generated profound questioning and unsettlement far beyond Scotland.
“The decision by the Scottish people to remain within the United Kingdom, while deeply disappointing to many, will be welcomed by all those who believe that this country can continue to be an example of how different nations can work together for the common good within one state.
“This is a moment for reconciliation and healing not rejoicing or recrimination. Some of the wounds opened up in recent months are likely to take time to heal on both sides of the border. The historically close relationships that have existed between the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church of Scotland and the Church of England and our long involvement in mediation have a contribution to make as our societies not only reflect on the lessons of the referendum campaign but engage in delivering the radical restructuring of the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom for which commitments have been made.”
[Diocese of Virginia] The Very Rev. Mary Thorpe will assume the position of director of transition ministry of the Diocese of Virginia on October 1, succeeding Lindsay Ryland. Ed Keithly, who currently serves as vocation officer, will work in partnership with Mary as deputy director of transition ministry.
Recientemente el grupo opositor cubano conocido como las Damas de Blanco de Santiago de Cuba decidió separarse del grupo principal por “indisciplinas graves “que no fueron atendidas. Parece que otras querellas internas dieron lugar a la escisión. Las damas que se separaron dijeron que están dispuestas a iniciar un diálogo que pueda traer reconciliación. Berta Soler, presidenta del grupo original dijo que “continuamos la lucha por el respeto a los derechos humanos y la libertad y los presos políticos” en Cuba.
Líderes de las principales iglesias de Uruguay se han reunido en el salón parroquial de la Catedral Anglicana de Montevideo para “analizar críticamente” la gestión del nuevo gobierno que se elegirá próximamente. El grupo dijo que había que “repensar” el modelo de desarrollo de una economía extractiva a la luz de consumo desmedido y la preocupante profundización de la “brecha entre ricos y pobres” que afecta a los más vulnerables especialmente a los niños y adolescentes.
Pedro Corzo, historiador cubano, dice en un artículo publicado en El Nuevo Herald de Miami titulado “Apuntes para la oposición cubana” que hay que “sembrar la esperanza en la población de que los cambios son posibles e instilarle confianza en el futuro”.
Justo González, escritor y profesor metodista recibió un doctorado honoris causa del Seminario Episcopal del Sureste en Austin, Texas. En los ejercicios de graduación fue el orador principal. En la misma ceremonia recibió similar galardón el presbítero Alejandro Mendoza inmigrante peruano que comenzó hace años limpiando pisos en la Iglesia Episcopal de San Mateo en Austin y hoy es su rector y un reconocido predicador y evangelista. En la clase de este año se graduaron 29 estudiantes, 20 de los cuales son mujeres con edades que oscilan entre los 30 y los 55 años de edad. Entre los graduandos no hubo ninguna persona de origen afro-americana.
El presidente de México, Enrique Peña Nieto, ha calificado de “reprobable” la decisión del gobernador de Texas, Rick Perry, de enviar una fuerza de 1000 miembros de la Guardia Nacional para guardar la frontera entre Texas y México. El presidente dice que la medida no contribuye “a una mejor vecindad o relación”. La decisión de Texas trata de evitar el flujo de niños indocumentados.
El gobierno de Cuba quiere enviar un contingente de médicos y enfermeras para ayudar a combatir la plaga del virus de ébola en África. Aunque un reducido número ha aceptado el reto, la mayor parte de la población dice que el riesgo es muy alto. El primer país que se tiene en mente es Sierra Leona, en la costa occidental de África.
El presidente Nicolás Maduro de Venezuela ya no sabe qué hacer para levantar su índice de aceptación. Ahora se ha puesto de moda entre los chavistas una parodia del Padrenuestro que invoca a Chávez y pide que sus ideales revolucionarios se cumplan en “la tierra como en el cielo”. La oración fue preparada durante el Diseño del Sistema de Formación Socialista. Los obispos han dicho que esta parodia da pie a la idolatría algo contrario a la fe cristiana. Otros sectores también la han criticado.
Recientemente un grupo ecuménico se reunió en la ciudad de Estrasburgo, Francia, para considerar acciones más efectivas contra la discriminación, la persecución y la violencia que sufren los cristianos alrededor del mundo. El tema será explorado a profundidad en una conferencia que tendrá lugar en el 2015. La reunión fue patrocinada por el Vaticano, el Consejo Mundial de Iglesias, la Alianza Mundial Evangélica y las iglesias pentecostales.
El incisivo periodista Roberto Luque Escalona escribe en el semanario Libre que en una ocasión “que no recuerdo bien” llamó tonta a la popular cantante colombiana Skakira. Más recientemente le preguntaron a la diva que ciudad le gustaría visitar y sin pensarlo dijo “Roma, porque allí nació nuestro Señor Jesucristo”. Rectifica Luque que en la primera ocasión él tenía la razón: “la joven es tonta”.
Vernella Brown, la primera mujer ordenada al presbiterado en la diócesis de Connecticut y trabajadora incansable entre los pobres, ha fallecido el 27 de agosto a la edad de 88 años. Nacida en Guantánamo de padres de ascendencia jamaiquina tomó residencia en el estado de Connecticut donde trabajó por 20 años en el servicio social de la ciudad de Norwalk. Después de su retiro hizo estudios teológicos en Nueva York y fue ordenada y sirvió en varias parroquias y misiones de la diócesis. Vernella será siempre recordada por su humildad y su deseo de servir a los desposeídos.VERDAD. Bienaventurados los pobres en espíritu porque de ellos es el reino de los cielos. San Mateo 5:10.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church is meeting in the Diocese of Taiwan from September 17 to September 23. The following is an account of the activities for Thursday, September 18.
The theme for the fall meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is Expanding the Apostolic Imagination.
On Thursday, the House of Bishops and spouses embarked on daylong visits to Episcopal churches and institutions throughout Taiwan to witness the mission and ministry of the diocese. The visits will be discussed during the remainder of the House of Bishops meeting.
Follow the bishops on:
Mrs. Hilary Freeman of Fairbanks, Alaska, with family roots back to the Klondike Gold Rush, retired in September 2014 from 29 years of Ministry as Parish Administrator & Office Manager of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church of Fairbanks. She and her husband Gene plan to remain in Fairbanks; and she hopes to now have time to go berry picking before winter comes.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Episcopal Church Office of Communication is offering dioceses and congregations of all sizes some proven options for websites and web hosting.
“A well-designed website is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’,” noted Anne Rudig, Director of Communication. “If a church or a diocese can’t be googled, for many people it simply doesn’t exist.”
Affordable Websites for Congregations and Dioceses is located here.
Among the offerings:
Digital Faith connects all the churches, committees, people, events, and financial campaigns across your entire community of faith. This total online solution now includes Episcopal branded templates and RSS feeds from The Episcopal Church. Linkhere
Harness the power and simplicity of WordPress — the world’s most popular blogging platform — combined with the Genesis Framework from StudioPress and put it to work for your church. Building a website doesn’t have to be scary or expensive and with branded themes from by The Episcopal Church, your next site for your church or diocese will already look and feel familiar — plus stay up-to-date with the latest church-wide news and announcements. Link here
Coming Soon - Free WordPress themes from The Episcopal Church
Ready to try your hand at DIY? Are you on a budget? Have content will code? Free branded WordPress themes from The Episcopal Church just made your life a whole lot easier. Your rector will be pleased (and so will your parish treasurer). Hosting is not provided.
For more information contact the Rev. Jake Dell, email@example.com.
[Episcopal Appalachian Ministries] Episcopal Appalachian Ministries offers small grants through funding made available from the Episcopal Church General Convention. These grants are in place to help enable new or start-up ministries with the “seed money” needed in establishing a new ministry. The money is granted for specific needs at the grass-roots level.
Size of Grants: Grants usually range in size from $500 to $2,000.
- Grants are made to diocesan, parish, or community-based organizations that are within the Appalachian region or serve Appalachian people.
- Organizations or individuals applying for grants must have a clear connection and/or relationship to the Episcopal Church.
- These organizations must serve communities in the Appalachian region or urban Appalachian communities outside the region.
- Appalachian Initiative Grants are intended to be used as seed money for ministries and organizations to seize opportunities of a one-time nature and project start-up costs.
- Grants must be for a specific ministry, project or program.
- Successful grant requests would typically be for purchasing specific items (e.g., computer equipment, building supplies, etc.)
- Consideration will be given to projects that involve awarding “scholarships” to participants of programs if the money is being used specifically for those scholarships.
- Requests for money to supplement or cover regular operating expenses such as salaries, will not be awarded. Money for “matching grants” will not be awarded.
- Successful applications will usually involve helping Appalachians address regional issues such as poverty, literacy, health care, unemployment, education, cultural affirmation, or the environment through direct service.
Application Process (new guidelines)
- Applications must be submitted through the local diocese and be approved and endorsed by the bishop of the diocese. (The bishop of the diocese may appoint a committee for this process at his or her discretion)
- Each diocese will prioritize the applications received to submit to the EAM Small Grants Selection Committee by the deadlines.
- Each diocese will only be allowed to submit no more than 2 applications for each grant period (spring and fall, 4 total for the year).
Application Deadlines: Applications will be accepted at any time. The Grants Committee usually meets in April and November. Usual project start times are July 1 or January 1. Exceptions will be considered. Applications for April are dueMarch 31st. Applications for November consideration are due October 31st.
Download Grant Applications Here:
E-mail your proposal with the subject line, “grant application” to firstname.lastname@example.org and mail a hard copy to:
The Rev. L. Gordon Brewer, Jr.
Episcopal Appalachian Ministries
1417 Warpath Dr. Suite B
Kingsport, TN 37664-3383
[Episcopal News Service – Taipei, Taiwan] In a historic year for the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Taiwan, the House of Bishops has come to this city to “learn of greenness in different pastures,” in Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s words.
The theme of the Sept. 17-23 fall Taiwan meeting is “expanding the apostolic imagination” and the bishops will explore the mission and ministry of the Diocese of Taiwan. In addition, bishops and others from the Anglican Church in Hong Kong, Japan, Pakistan, the Philippines and Korea will discuss with the house the theological context and mission challenges their provinces face.
After the meeting ends a number of bishops are heading to Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines or Korea to continue learning about the mission and ministry of the Anglican Churches there.
The Diocese of Taiwan is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. The bishops agreed to meet here at Taiwan Bishop David Jung-Hsin Lai’s invitation.
During the house’s opening session on Sept. 17, Lai thanked the bishops, many of whom had traveled as much as 24 hours to get to Taipei, for making the effort to come, saying that his six-year-old dream of having the House of Bishops come to his diocese had come true.
“You come here to share, to learn, to strengthen your wisdom and knowledge,” he said.
The entire diocese has prayed at 9 p.m. every day for 40 days for the success of the House of Bishops meeting, according to Lai.
He acknowledged that many of the bishops were feeling jet-lagged after their travels and he jokingly told them that now they know how he has felt at every House of Bishops meeting since his election in 2000.
Jefferts Schori had said during a news conference at the end of the last House of Bishops meeting in March that Lai’s invitation “seemed like a remarkable opportunity for the bishops in this church to learn something about the Asian context in which the church has relationships, and also increasingly from which other parts of the Episcopal Church are receiving migrants.”
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou told a reception on the evening of Sept. 17 (local time) that Chinese tradition marks time in 60 year periods and thus the Diocese of Taiwan has completed one cycle and is embarking on a new one “that foretells an unlimited future.”
“So the Episcopal Church couldn’t have picked a better year to hold a House of Bishops in Taiwan,” he said. “Your choice shows the importance you place upon your congregations here and upon my country. For this, I am grateful.”
Ma said he wanted to express personally his “deepest respect and thanks” for the way that the Episcopal Church has “actively preached the gospel” through service to its communities both in Taiwan and around the world.
The Taiwanese president then outlined his efforts toward turning his country into a peacemaking nation and one known for providing international humanitarian aid rather than receiving it, based on the biblical call to love your neighbor as yourself.
The House of Bishops’ opening Eucharist earlier in the day marked the feast day of Hildegard of Bingen. Jefferts Schori noted in her sermon that Hildegard used the concept of viriditas and its sense of the fecundity of the earth and the soul to teach people about the “blazing fire of creativity at the heart of God.” The presiding bishop likened viriditas to Jesus’ call to abundant life.
Where, she asked the bishops, do they encounter viriditas and “what creative ferment engages and transforms you?”
“This Episcopal Church is in the throes of creative ferment, yearning to find a new congruence that will discover emerging light in new soil and refreshed growth in the plantings of former years,” she said. “Our gathering here will offer opportunities to learn of greenness in different pastures and, God willing, to transform us to discover abundance and possibility in more familiar ones.”
History of Anglican and Episcopal Churches on Taiwan
Anglicanism has been on the island of Taiwan since at least 1895 after the island was ceded to the Empire of Japan at the end of the First Sino-Japanese war.
From then until 1945, when Japan was defeated in World War II, the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (Anglican Church in Japan) built churches in Taiwan and held services for its Japanese citizens. Taiwan was part of the NSKK’s Diocese of Osaka. The nationalist government confiscated most of those buildings after the Japanese left and gave them to other denomination.
Episcopal Church chaplains came to serve American military personnel that were based here after the Japanese surrender. As the Episcopal Church grew, it came under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Honolulu (later the Diocese of Hawaii). The church also took pastoral care of the former Chinese Anglican Church members who had come to Taiwan from Mainland China in 1949 with Chinese Nationalists who left in after the Chinese Communist Party defeated the Nationalist army.
From 1954 to 1960, the Episcopal Church in Taiwan was under the supervision of Honolulu Bishop Harry S. Kennedy as part of the pastoral care of American Armed Forces in the Pacific.
Kennedy remained the bishop-in-charge and Honolulu Bishop Suffragan Charles P. Gilson became bishop-in-residence in Taiwan in 1961 when the island became a missionary diocese after the NSKK handed over ministry here to the Episcopal Church.
In 1988, the diocese achieved full diocesan status. Episcopalians in Taiwan renewed their Anglican connection with Japan in 2005 when the diocese entered into a companion relationship with the NSKK Diocese of Osaka.
The Diocese of Taiwan exists in country of 23.34 million people, less than 5 percent of who call themselves Christian, according to the diocese’s Friendship Magazine. The diocese has a history of “gradual inculturation and integration” moving from a membership of Mainland China Anglicans and American military personnel to one with more Taiwanese people.
The diocese has gained members in the 10 years ending in 2012 (the latest year for which figures are available here. The diocese had 1,176 members in that year compared to 975 in 2002, according to this report, and Friendship Magazine says it now serves roughly 2,000 members. The average Sunday attendance in 2012 throughout the diocese’s 16 congregations was 687.
The diocese also includes St. John’s University with an enrollment of slightly more than 6,000, eight parish kindergartens and a number of outreach centers.
The Episcopal Church includes worshiping communities in 17 countries, including the United States, Micronesia (Guam and Saipan), Taiwan, Honduras, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Virgin Islands (both U.S. and British), Puerto Rico and, by way of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Austria.
Also on the bishops’ agenda
On Sept. 18, the bishops will divide themselves among Church of the Good Shepherd in Taipei, St. James Church in Taichung, Trinity & St. Stephen’s churches in Keelung and St. John’s University in Tam Sui. On Sunday, Sept. 21, bishops and their spouses and partners, and others present for the meeting will worship at either Church of the Good Shepherd and St. John’s Cathedral in Taipei or Advent Church in Tam Sui. They will return to Taipei in the late afternoon for a session aimed at processing their experiences.
The evening of Sept. 21 will also include a closed “fireside chat,” meant for the presiding bishop and the bishops alone.
While in Taipei, the bishops are also scheduled to receive briefings on the work of the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church, which recently released a letter to the church outlining the structural changes it will recommend to the 2015 meeting of General Convention. Bishop members of the A050 Task Force on the Study of Marriage and the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop will also discuss the work of those groups to date. The latter briefing will be held in closed session, according to the meeting schedule.
The bishops also plan a “town hall”-style session with the presiding bishop and a formal business session on Sept. 23.
The meeting is taking place at the Grand Hotel in Taipei. Some bishops are blogging from the meeting about their visit to Taiwan. Others are tweeting during the meeting using #HOBFall14. Those tweets can be read here.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church is meeting in the Diocese of Taiwan from September 17 to September 23. The following is an account of the activities for September 17.
The theme for the spring meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is Expanding the Apostolic Imagination. This is the first time that the House of Bishops has met in Asia.
The day began with Eucharist. The Presiding Bishop presided and preached (Presiding Bishop’s sermon here). She urged the bishops to ‘let the creative word of God take root within you and bear new branches…and be not afraid.” During the Eucharist the Bishops renewed their commitment to the Core Values of the House of Bishops.
The Presiding Bishop and Bishop David Lai of the Diocese of Taiwan welcomed the bishops and spouses, and spoke of the significance of this historic gathering. He shared a letter of greeting from Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
The morning session concluded with a group photo of the bishops and spouses.
The afternoon session was devoted to check-in among the bishops.
The Diocese of Taiwan welcomed the bishops and spouses at an evening reception. In attendance were President Ma Ying-Jeou, regional dignitaries, officials and government representatives. Area clergy and lay leadership also welcomed the bishops and spouses.
Media Briefers for Wednesday, September 17
Bishop William Franklin of Western New York http://episcopalwny.org/
Follow the bishops on:
Sept 17, 2014
House of Bishops, Taipei
Expanding the Apostolic Imagination
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
We thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon these your servants the forgiveness of sin, and have raised them to the new life of grace. Sustain them, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works. Amen.
Pray for that gift of joy and wonder in all God’s works. That is the root of an expanded imagination – for God is always doing new things beyond our understanding or ability to conceive, and all effective ministry depends on radical trust in that newness, like the green blade rising we sing of at Easter.
Hildegard of Bingen reveled in mystical wonder at every part of creation. She overflowed with ecstatic joy in mystical encounter with the divine creative source of all. Her visionary experience brought forth wisdom and formed an apostolic leader. As we gather here to find our own apostolic ministries and imaginations expanded, she is a paramount example of joy and wonder in all God’s works.
Hildegard lived from 1098 to 1179, in what is now Germany. When she was a small child, her parents sent her to be educated in the Benedictine convent, and she stayed and joined the order when she was 15. If she had lived a few centuries later, we would call her a Renaissance woman. Matthew Fox noted that if she had been a man, Hildegard would be one of the most famous figures in history. She was a mystic, poet, theologian, prophet, preacher, scientist, physician, composer, dramatist, abbess, ecclesiastical politician, as well as correspondent and advisor to popes, archbishops, and royalty.
Beginning early in her childhood, Hildegard experienced remarkable mystical visions, but she didn’t begin to tell others about them until she was in middle age. Her mystical experience informed and prompted and indeed compelled her active and apostolic ministry in the world.
In the 12th century in Europe feminine or female authority was an oxymoron. Women had no right or claim to public speech. Hildegard acknowledged this herself, often beginning a letter or sermon by saying, “I am just a poor unlettered woman,” and then went right on to say that God’s power is perfected in weakness, and that God uses the most humble and most foolish of this world for divine purposes. Hildegard claimed divine authority to speak, as a direct result of her visions. She was sent to share what she knew – and she became a pre-Reformation apostle to the apostles, like Mary of Magdala.
Hildegard claimed her authority to speak prophetically about reforming the church, and over the course of some 10 years preached four missions in northern Europe – an unheard-of activity for a woman. In 1168 she took Emperor Frederick Barbarossa to task for continuing the papal schism by appointing yet another antipope. Listen to Hildegard the prophet: “He Who Is says, ‘I destroy contumacy, and by myself I crush the resistance of those who despise me. Woe, woe to the malice of wicked men who defy me! Hear this, king, if you wish to live; otherwise my sword shall smite you.”
Mystical encounter as well as careful examination of the world around her evoked wisdom in abundance. Her most famous work is Scivias, meaning “know the ways” [of God]. She also wrote a nine-volume encyclopedia of medical and scientific import, and a handbook of diseases and their remedies. Her intuitive description of cancer accords very well with the most recent of our scientific research. Her liturgical drama, Ordo Virtutum, is the earliest known liturgical morality play, in which personified virtues sing their parts, but the devil is condemned to live without music, and can only speak. Hildegard’s music is haunting in its beauty and its challenging quality, fitting for worship of the Creator of all that is.
Hildegard uses a remarkable variety of images for God, particularly centered around Wisdom, as God who encircles and enfolds all creation. Hildegard speaks of creation as Wisdom’s clothing, revealing God as a person’s clothes hint at the wearer’s body.
Hildegard speaks scientifically and theologically of divine creativity as viriditas, reflecting both greenness and truth. Viriditas represents the fecundity of the earth as God’s creation, and the fecundity of the soul, which gives life to the body. Viriditas nurtures the virtues, through which human beings give evidence of God’s creative life in the world. Viriditas as life-giving greenness is close kin to the holy wholeness Jesus speaks of as abundant life. In one of Hildegard’s canticles Mary is described as grassland touched by dew, and filled with greenness. In another, Hildegard speaks to God saying, “you summon and unite all. Through you the clouds stream, the upper air flies, the stones have their temper, the waters lead forth their rills, and the earth exudes viriditas.”
Hildegard helped to expand the church’s vision – as a theologian, woman, mystic, scientist and healer. She reminds us that we may see God intimately in the myriad and seemingly mundane works of creation – the heavens, clouds, and the signs of abundant greenness that surround us. She and her spiritual siblings remind us that God is never bound up in traditional images or names, and that God is known as mother as much as father. Perhaps most importantly, Hildegard and other mystics open a window into the blazing fire of creativity at the heart of God. Their experience is never the fuel of private contemplation, but rather it is given for love of all God’s body, for all seekers of the sacred, and for right relationship among the parts of creation – that each might show forth the goodness of its own creation. Those visions propel their seers into the world with creative wonder, joy, and divine possibility.
Where do you meet viriditas? Where is joy and wonder in the world around you? What creative ferment engages and transforms you? All are signs of expanding possibility, divine creativity, and new green shoots emerging.
Sirach knows the same reality – each part of creation, sun, moon, stars, and rainbow show forth that wondrous glory of divine action. The psalmist would have us recognize divine humor in the great sea monsters, frolicking in the depths – and I think he must have seen giant squid as well as whales. God’s creative spirit is at work bringing forth life and renewing the face of creation endlessly, eternally – even though human beings frequently reject the risk of newness.
John’s gospel speaks of those who love darkness as those who refuse the encounter with God’s creative, greening Word. Those who do what is true, he says, are those who are willing to live in that fiery light that burns and transforms like a laser – perhaps a green laser that enlightens or heals. The light has come into the world for life. The Celts and others often imaged Christ as the green man – the life-giver – the way, the truth, and the life.
This Episcopal Church is in the throes of creative ferment, yearning to find a new congruence that will discover emerging life in new soil, and refreshed growth in the plantings of former years. Our gathering here will offer opportunities to learn of greenness in different pastures, and God willing, transform us to discover abundance and possibility in more familiar ones.
Hildegard’s vision motivates all healers of creation who understand the green web of connection that ties creation together in Wisdom’s body. Creation is sacrament of God – the outward and visible sign of the green and growing, creative expression of God who is the origin of all life and liveliness. Viriditas begins in wonder, and emerges to motivate constructive, healing connection between air and ocean, carbon and crops, hunger and floods, Ebola and economic inequality. Bishop Michael Baroi of Bangladesh challenged the bishops of this Church to find that connection when we gathered in Puerto Rico in 2003. He told of flooding on his coastal plains, and cried, “save us from these curses!” He might as well have said, “show forth greenness.”
As Colossians puts it, be at peace, let the creative word of God take root within you and bear new branches, discover viriditas and truth, and be not afraid. New life is springing forth – be thankful – and pray for the gift of joy and wonder in God’s good, green, creative possibility.
 Book of Common Prayer p 308 (prayer after baptism).
 Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen. Bear & Co; 2002
 Barbara Newman, Sister of Wisdom, Univ Calif Press: 1998.
 Hildegard’s poem “O Ignis Spiritus”
[Seamen’s Church Institute press release] Think Somali piracy is a thing of the past? That “past” haunts thousands of seafarers today; but the reports from individual seafarers mostly go unnoticed, as some shipowners leave seafarers high and dry after release—ignored and uncompensated. Their stories tell of trying times in the wake of survival.
The Seamen’s Church Institute’s (SCI) Douglas B. Stevenson, Director of SCI’s Center for Seafarers’ Rights, recently sat down with former hostages from the MV Iceberg 1 in Accra, Ghana to hear about their experiences and how they find life two years after release from pirate captivity. See their video interviews here.
The seafarers from the Iceberg I speak of the incidents with unambiguous detail, as if the incidents happened only yesterday. Even though the number of attacks in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia has decreased since 2011, seafarers and their families continue to deal with the aftermath of hijackings. The men from the Iceberg 1 number among the over 5,000 seafarers pirates have captured and held hostage since 2007.
The men interviewed in these four videos served on board the MV Iceberg 1, a Panama-flagged cargo ship transiting near the Somali Coast in 2010. Somali pirates captured the vessel in March, and held the crew hostage under harsh conditions for nearly three years—the longest Somali pirates have ever held any crew. Seafarers recorded in these interviews speak of torture, starvation and violence.
Since their release, the seafarers have not been paid earned wages nor have they received any other compensation from their ship’s Dubai-based owner, Azul Shipping. The seafarers have survived on charity from their churches, families and the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Program. “These are proud, skilled seafarers,” says interviewer Douglas B. Stevenson. “They don’t want charity; they just want to go back to work.” Unfortunately, most of these seafarers have experienced difficulty in obtaining employment.
The question “What happens to seafarers after pirate attacks?” remains largely unanswered. SCI has attempted to bring this problem to light for many years. Seafarers, who have endured unspeakable torment and suffering, frequently find little help and recourse years after the incidents. How they cope with life post-piracy and what care they receive when repatriated remains largely undocumented.
To illuminate the effects of piracy on seafarers, SCI has collected stories from seafarers following incidents of piracy and published them online at Seafarer Voices: Piracy on the High Seas. The videos reveal seafarers’ strength and resilience and, for some, the challenges they encounter in returning to productive lives. Stevenson adds, “Very effective therapies exist for those seafarers who need some help following a traumatic experience, provided, however, that the appropriate assistance is made available to them.”
Watch video interviews on YouTube at http://smschur.ch/sep14voices.
Founded in 1834 and affiliated with the Episcopal Church, though nondenominational in terms of its trustees, staff and service to mariners, the Seamen’s Church Institute of New York & New Jersey (SCI) is the largest, most comprehensive mariners’ agency in North America. Annually, its chaplains visit thousands of vessels in the Port of New York and New Jersey, the Port of Oakland, and along 2,200 miles of America’s inland waterways and into the Gulf of Mexico. SCI’s maritime education facilities provide navigational training to nearly 1,600 mariners each year through simulator-based facilities located in Houston, TX and Paducah, KY. The Institute and its maritime attorneys are recognized as leading advocates for merchant mariners by the United States Government, including the US Congress, the US Coast Guard, and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the United Nations, the International Maritime Organization, the International Labor Organization and maritime trade associations.
[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts ordained and consecrated the Rev. Alan M. Gates as its 16th bishop on Sept. 13 during a service at the Agganis Arena at Boston University.
Bishop Stephen T. Lane of the Diocese of Maine, president of Province I of the Episcopal Church, served as the chief consecrator. He was among some 4,000 participants and 27 bishops who attended the service. A massed choir of 550-plus singers from nearly 75 parish choirs performed, along with a gospel choir, a brass ensemble, a steel drum band and a handbell choir.
Bishop Mark Hollingsworth Jr. of the Diocese of Ohio, and formerly a priest of the Diocese of Massachusetts, preached.
A photo gallery of the service is available here.
Gates, 56, former rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland, Ohio, was elected bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts on April 5.
Gates is a Massachusetts native and graduate of Middlebury College. Prior to seminary he was a Russian language translator, researcher and intelligence analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense, including a tour of duty at the State Department. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1988. He served congregations in the Episcopal dioceses of Massachusetts, Western Massachusetts and Chicago prior to his call to Ohio. He and his spouse, Patricia J. Harvey, have two adult sons.
Gates succeeds the Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE, who has served the Diocese of Massachusetts as its bishop since 1995 and who resigned his office at the time of the consecration on Sept. 13.
The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, established in 1784, is among the Episcopal Church’s oldest and largest in terms of baptized membership, and comprises 180 parishes, missions, chapels and campus chaplaincies in eastern Massachusetts.
Allis, born Feb. 27, 1938 in Mansfield, Pennsylvania to Leo Joseph Allis and Evelyn Norton, had degrees and certificates from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, the Naval Chaplain School, the Virginia Theological Seminary, Sheffield University (UK), Duquesne University, Pittsburgh Theological School, the Graduate Theological Foundation and the National Institute for Interim Ministry.
He was ordained deacon in 1963 and priest in 1964 by the Rt. Rev. John T. Heistand.
Allis served on the Board of Governors, School for Ministry, Diocese of Rhode Island; as Coordinator for Lay Ministries, Diocese of Rhode Island; as Rector, St. James. Woonsocket, Rhode Island; Rector, St. Peter’s, Brentwood, Pennsylvania; Rector, St. Mark’s, Johnstown, Pennsylvania; Canon Pastor, Christ Church Cathedral, Houston; and Chaplain, Lancaster County Juvenile Detention Home, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
In Southwest Florida, he served at the State College of Florida Chapel Center from 1995 to 2001, and served on the Diocese of Southwest Florida staff as Canon Pastor from 2000-2005. In his retirement, he served many congregations in Southwest Florida as consultant and supply priest.
His wife, Pauline Middleton Allis, a native of Halifax, West Yorkshire, England, died in June 2012. He is survived by two sons. Services for Fr. Allis are anticipated to take place over the Thanksgiving weekend.