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Archbishops call on church to pray for new disciples of Jesus

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

[Lambeth Palace press release] This Pentecost, the archbishops of Canterbury and York are calling on the church to pray for those who have not yet encountered the love of God in Jesus Christ.

The call to prayer for evangelism at Pentecost, which is celebrated on Sunday (June 8), was the first task given to the Archbishops’ Evangelism Task Group by the General Synod of the Church of England in November last year. The Task Group was set up by the Synod to facilitate the outworking of the priority of “Intentional Evangelism.”

Members of the Archbishops’ Evangelism Task Group have put together printed and online prayer resources, which are available at www.usewords.org. There is also a short video, which explores the question: “What is evangelism?”

The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “The task before us cannot be overestimated. We could easily be disheartened. We cannot do it alone. But. . . Allelulia! For we are not thrown back on ourselves, but in, by and through the power of the Holy Spirit, God brings forth life. It is right that as the Evangelism Task Group considers how it may resource the Church to bear faithful witness to Jesus Christ, the commitment to pray is the essential first step. Prayer has to be our first priority, if we are to call more people to follow Christ, and to invite others to share in the story of God’s love for the world. The wonderful news is God is always ready to hear our prayers and to send his Spirit that we may proclaim the good news afresh. I urge every church community and individual to set aside time to pray and to share God’s heart for all his people.”

The archbishop of York, John Sentamu, said: “Recently all the Bishops of the North of England met with a group of young adults from across the Province of York to pray and take counsel together ‘towards the re-evangelisation of the north of England’. It was wonderful to tread in the footsteps of St Aidan and St Cuthbert, who in their time told the people of the north the good news of Jesus Christ, rooting their proclamation in the practice of fervent prayer and praise. Praying for others to come to know Christ is a privilege and a joy – and loving our neighbours and making disciples of Jesus is exactly what we are called to do. At Pentecost we recall the wind and flame of the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples, so let’s commit ourselves afresh to pray, for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and for boldness, simplicity, wisdom, and compassion in the proclamation of the Gospel.”

In calling the church to pray the archbishops are reaffirming, for all Christians in all times and in all places, the priority of prayer for new disciples of Jesus, and encouraging many ways in which this prayer takes shape.

For the Task Group this is just the beginning of a process to encourage everyone in the church, young and old, to consider how best to witness to the love of God in Christ amongst families, friends, neighbours, colleagues, and to hold them before God in prayer.

The call to prayer is not a one-off, but a call to a continuing openness, dependence upon, and imploring of God to work among us for the sake of others. Rather than launching a programme or a campaign, the Church is seeking to respond obediently afresh to the last words of Jesus, in both the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 16-30) and his charge to wait on the empowering presence of the Spirit (Acts 1:8).

SIM announces first recipient of SIM/Mercer Challenge scholarship

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

[The Society for the Increase of the Ministry press release] The Society for the Increase of the Ministry (“SIM”) and the Mercer Fund of the Diocese of Long Island (“Mercer”) announce the awarding of the initial SIM/Mercer Challenge Scholarship to Jason Daniel Roberson, a postulant from The Episcopal Church in South Carolina and Grace Church, Charleston and his sponsoring bishop, the Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg.  The scholarship covers Mr. Roberson’s tuition, room and board.

Mr. Roberson completed his graduate studies with a M.A. in Spanish Linguistics at Penn State University and a M.A. in Hispanic Language and Civilization at NYU’s Madrid campus in Spain.  With a vibrant interest in mission and outreach both locally and around the world, Mr. Roberson felt called “to serve the mission of The Episcopal Church and its inclusivity of all peoples, cultures, and languages around the world.  Language and culture are integral parts of who we are as spiritual human beings.  We can see that beauty in God’s work being done right here in our own parish in South Carolina and around the world.”  Mr. Roberson will begin his Master of Divinity course at The General Theological Seminary in September 2014.

About the SIM/Mercer Challenge Scholarship
SIM developed this exciting, merit-based scholarship program—the SIM/Mercer Challenge—in partnership with Mercer.  Traditionally SIM and Mercer have been leading providers of small “need-based” grants to many Episcopal seminarians.   The SIM/Mercer Challenge addresses the reality that the church needs to suitably and responsibly fund theological education for attracting highly gifted individuals with calls to become Episcopal priests.  In particular, the SIM/Mercer Challenge Scholarship Committee seeks such individuals who also have demonstrated the aptitudes and spiritual bearings to be leaders in the church today and tomorrow.

The SIM/Mercer Scholarship offers merit-based full theological education and formation scholarships for bishops to use to proactively identify and recruit future ordained leaders for the ministries that will revitalize the church.

SIM is embarking on a major capital campaign to expand the SIM/Mercer Challenge Scholarship program.

About SIM
Since 1857, when SIM was founded to “aid suitable persons for the Episcopal ministry in acquiring a thorough education,” SIM has awarded more than $6 million in needs-based assistance to over 5,000 men and women. Typically 20-25% of Episcopal seminarians are receiving SIM grants each year. Almost 30% of diocesan bishops received a SIM grant. In recent years, as the only organization raising funds on a national basis for support available to all Episcopal seminarians, SIM has become all the more important to The Episcopal Church as resources for theological education support at the national, diocesan and parish levels have steadily diminished.

About the Mercer Fund
The Mercer Fund was established in 1956 as a result of a bequest from the family of George W. Mercer, Jr.  It provides funds for the Mercer School of Theology on Long Island and for scholarships for those studying in Episcopal seminaries.

Contact
To learn more about the SIM/Mercer Scholarship, please contact:
Thomas Moore III
Executive Director
120 Sigourney Street
Hartford, CT 06105
Office: (860) 233-1732
Fax: (860) 233-2644
eMail: t.moore@simministry.org
Web: www.simministry.org

Campus ministry grants announced

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Samuel McDonald, Episcopal Church Director of Mission and Deputy Chief operating Officer, announced the recipients of the Campus Ministry Grants, totaling $99,598, for the 2014-2015 grant cycle.

Campus Ministry Grants provide dioceses, parishes or community college/college/university campuses with funding for new as well as current campus ministries in higher education institutions in the Episcopal Church.

“These grants help the Episcopal Church imagine a broader vision of campus ministry,” commented the Rev. Michael Angell, Episcopal Church Missioner for Young Adult and Campus Ministries. “Additionally, our goal is to reach out to college students who would not seek out a traditional Canterbury House and community and tribal colleges.”

A team of eleven, including the Provincial Campus Ministry Coordinators, reviewed the grant applications.  A total of 53 applications were received.

Two Leadership Grants and 12 Program Grants were awarded to 11 dioceses.  The Leadership Grants will start new campus ministry initiatives.  The Program Grants provide seed money to assist in the start-up of new, innovative campus ministries or to enhance a current initiative.

Recipients

Leadership Grants

  • Diocese of North Dakota – Sitting Bull College, United Tribes Technical College: $25,000
  • Diocese of Western Michigan – Universities and community colleges in Grand Rapids: $20,148

Program Grants

  • Diocese of Iowa – Student leaders forming campus ministries initiative: $5,000
  • Diocese of Minnesota – University of Minnesota, Duluth: $5,000
  • Diocese of Western Michigan – Hope College: $5,000
  • Diocese of Montana – Flathead Valley Community College: $5,000
  • Diocese of Minnesota – All Minnesota Colleges: $5,000
  • Diocese of Minnesota – Riverland Community College: $5,000
  • Diocese of Milwaukee – University of Wisconsin, Whitewater: $5,000
  • Diocese of Los Angeles – California State Long Beach: $5,000
  • Diocese of Western Massachusetts – Mount Holyoke: $5,000
  • Diocese of Olympia – Western Washington:         $5,000
  • Diocese of  El Camino Real – West Valley Community College: $2,750
  • Diocese of East Carolina – University of North Carolina – Pembroke: $1,700

For more information contact McDonald smcdonald@episcopalchurch.org or Angell mangell@episcopalchurch.org.

Canada: Tutu slams oil sands

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

[Anglican Journal] Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, captured headlines this past weekend with harsh and controversial criticism of the Alberta oil sands made while attending a May 31 to June 1 conference in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Media attention has focused most on his comment that “The fact that this filth is being created now, when the link between carbon emissions and global warming is so obvious, reflects negligence and greed.” It was part of Tutu’s keynote address at a two-day conference, organized by the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) and the law firm Olthuis Kleer Townsend, titled “As Long as the Rivers Flow: Coming Back to the Treaty Relationship in our Time.”

Tutu’s criticisms and call for action seemed to go further in some ways than the position discussed by Chief Allan Adam of the ACFN, who acknowledged that many people’s livelihoods depend on economic development related to the oil sands. “We don’t want to stop development. We don’t want to shut it down,” he told the crowd of about 200 people attending the conference.

“We would like the government of Alberta and Canada to impose the regulations that guide industry for what we call sustainable development and responsible development to occur in this region,” Adam said. “And somewhere down the line, they’ve forgotten that, and because of that, our way of life on the lakeshores of Lake Athabasca continuing all the way down the MacKenzie is threatened because we continue to survive and live off the land.” Some of the people attending the conference spoke of fears for their health and the lives of their children and grandchildren because of pollution, particularly of the water, from the oil sands.

Much of Tutu’s criticism was from a global perspective and was focused on the need to reduce carbon emissions to halt the effects of climate change. “I have witnessed the vulnerability of some of the communities most affected by climate change,” he said. “The urgency of our responsibility to take action has never been clearer. Every day, hundreds of millions of lives and livelihoods are affected by global warming…,” he said. “That is why I have been outspoken in support of citizen-led strategies that will force governments and corporations to move away from our dependence on fossil fuels and towards safer and cleaner energies that can protect people and our planet. This is why I have stood in solidarity with communities across Canada and the United States that are opposing the proposed oil sands pipelines.”

The archbishop added that the countries and companies primarily responsible for emitting carbon and accelerating climate change will have to be pushed to “do the right thing. Just as Canadians reached out to help South Africans rid themselves of the scourge of apartheid, we can work together again to protect our planet from the worst of dangerous climate change,” he said.

When a participant in the conference asked Tutu how to encourage leaders of fossil fuel companies to have the courage to transition to clean energy such as solar or wind, he answered that grassroots efforts from many would be required. “You are going to have to go onto the streets. You are going to have to have demonstrations—you know, the things that indicate that many are taking it seriously. Write letters to the press. Do all the things that we did against apartheid.”

When a participant asked about his council for the movement to divest funds away from the fossil fuel industry, he asked her, “Do you have a helmet?…Prepare yourself for a really rough ride,” he advised, saying that such efforts would meet powerful opposition. But he added, “Just go on persuading more and more people to join you—religious communities, different denominations. Do as they did in the Free South Africa movement, because we wouldn’t have made it without your help.” Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his opposition to apartheid in South Africa.

Tutu has made strong critiques of the oil sands and pipeline projects in the past. Just prior to his visit to Fort McMurray, the Anglican Church of Canada outlined its position on the issue in a statement on its website, acknowledging both the importance of the industry to many people’s livelihoods as well as concerns for the environment and indigenous rights. The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada issued a statement on “responsible resource extraction” with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada at their Joint Assembly in 2013, which affirmed that “responsible and sustainable relationships to water, land, home, and each other are part of realizing our full humanity.”

In his address, Tutu noted that “oil sands development not only devastates our shared climate, it is also stripping away the rights of First Nations and affected communities to protect their children, land and water from being poisoned.”
Tutu reminded the audience that people on all sides of the issue are all brothers and sisters in God’s family. Recognizing our inter-connectedness, along with being magnanimous and compassionate with one another, he said, are essential ingredients in bridge-building.

As the name of the conference indicated, much of the focus was on a call to governments in Canada to respect historic treaties signed with aboriginal peoples.

Chief Adam pointed out a fundamental difference in the way the treaties have been understood and implemented. Treaty 8, signed on the shores of Lake Athabasca in 1899, he said, was an agreement to share the land, not surrender it, he said. When Chief Alexander Laviolette signed, he was promising to share the land “to the depth of the plough, meaning that only six inches of the land that we share with the newcomers was to grow food, to farm and to harvest. The resources were never discussed and [the land] was never surrendered to anyone,” Adam said.

“This isn’t about ACFN. This is about all treaty-making people across this country,” Adam added.

John Olthius of Olthuis Kleer Townsend, which was hosting the event with ACNF, said, “We are all treaty partners, and that includes corporate citizens. Now is the time. First Nations peoples have been honouring these treaties for 250 years, and in the case of Treaty 8, for over 100 years. It’s time that the rest of us honoured the treaties.”

Anglican primates elected for Japan and the Philippines

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Most Rev. Nathaniel Makoto Uematsu has been re-elected as primate of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (the Anglican Church in Japan) at its 61st synod which met May 27-29.

He will serve until the next synod in 2016. In NSKK canon law, the primate is elected by the synod for two years and can be re-elected without a limitation of the number of terms.

Also a new general secretary, the Rev. Jesse Shin-ichi Yahagi of the Diocese of Kyoto, was appointed by the House of Bishops and consented to by clergy and lay people.

He is currently rector of St. John’s Church in Kanazawa and head of the affiliated St. John’s Nursery School.

He replaces the Rev. John Makito Aizawa, who has stepped down after serving three terms of six years. Aizawa will return to his native Diocese of Yokohama.

The Anglican Board of Mission has reported that the new prime bishop of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines is the Rt. Rev. Renato Mag-gay Abibico, bishop of Northern Luzon. No official confirmation of this has yet been received by the Anglican Communion Office.

Take action to support summer nutrition for children in your community

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

[Episcopal Church Public Policy Network] It’s almost summertime. This season evokes images of freedom, sunlight, and children running through sprinklers and biking through the neighborhood for a day at the pool. These coming months bring the promise of new experiences and friendships as children continue to learn and explore outside of the classroom. Summertime is an important period of learning and growth, yet many children do not experience a fulfilling summer because they’re too hungry to enjoy it.

At the end of the school year, many children who formerly participated in the National School Lunch Program abruptly lose access to their daily meals. Summer meal programs already successfully operate in some areas of the country, yet in 2012, only 14% of children enrolled in the National School Lunch Program participated in these summer feeding programs. Millions of school age children suffer a major gap in their meal coverage during the summer, putting them at risk for underdeveloped social skills, weak academic achievement, and long-term health problems.

The Episcopal Church supports adequate funding for programs that combat social and economic conditions which place children at risk, or that diminish children’s ability to achieve their full potential in the world. The Church also stands in strong solidarity with federal nutrition programs and the populations that they serve.

Urged by our General Convention and inspired by our faith, let’s improve summer for hungry children by increasing enrollment in summer meal programs and promoting access to nutritious food throughout the coming months. Wondering where to begin? Here are three concrete actions that you can take today:

  1. Publicize summer meal programs in your community through sharing these resources and directing others to a food service site near you.
  2. Sign up to participate in a Twitter Thunderclap to promote awareness for summer meal programs on June 3rd to
  3. Contact your Senator and ask them to support the Stop Child Summer Hunger Act introduced by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). This bill ensures that more kids consistently receive meals during summer months by providing eligible families with an EBT card to purchase groceries, replacing the school meals that their children would otherwise receive during the academic year.

Go here to take action today to improve summer for hungry children!

Ann B. Davis, Brady Bunch’s ‘Alice,’ will be ‘sorely’ missed

Monday, June 2, 2014

[The Episcopal News, Diocese of Los Angeles] The world knew and loved her as “Alice” of The Brady Bunch television fame, the wholesome, down-to-earth housekeeper with a heart of gold and ever-ready supply of snappy one-liners.

Off-camera she was all that and a staunch Episcopalian besides, retired Bishop of Colorado William Frey said of Ann B. Davis, best known for her role as the iconic housekeeper. She died June 1 after a fall at her home in San Antonio, Texas. She was 88.

“She was a very faithful churchwoman and Christian with an insatiable curiosity. She would spend a couple of days studying a week for her bible study at St. Helena’s Church in Boerne, north of San Antonio,” Frey said during a June 2 telephone interview. “She went there twice a week, Sundays and to a midweek Eucharist. She sang in the choir.”

Davis had lived with Bill and Barbara Frey for more than 38 years, “and will be terribly missed. My 58-year-old son called me in tears yesterday,” Frey said. We’re still in a state of shock. The grief hasn’t completely soaked in yet. We feel it, we recognize it; she leaves an enormous vacuum in the family.

They discovered her unconscious after receiving a phone call when Davis failed to show up for a regular Saturday morning hairdresser appointment, Frey told The Episcopal News. “We found her in the bathroom. She’d fallen and hit her head. She never regained consciousness. She died very peacefully 24 hours later.”

Davis, who never married, met the Freys while doing summer stock theatre in Denver, according to Tom Beckwith, a General Convention deputy from Colorado and former diocesan communications officer.

“She was always herself,” Beckwith recalled. “There was never any pretense. She was a very humble, very cheerful person, and seemed to be happy most of the time. She had effervescence about her.

“She used to tell a funny story about that, about how it was her habit to go to an Episcopal Church on Sunday and meet the clergy and hand out some tickets to one of her shows,” Beckwith recalled.

“It was a way to get invited to lunch. She went to St. John’s Cathedral in Denver once and Bishop Bill and Barbara Frey happened to be there. Basically, they did as expected and invited her to lunch.”

Frey said that Davis wanted to visit his home. “We wound up having a kind of extended family household community of people who seemed to have ministry gifts we could use in the diocese, so we all lived together in a big three-story house; 17 or 18 of us, depending on when you asked.”

Basically, he said, Davis came to visit and never left.

“She came to visit us on Epiphany in 1976 and, after about a month, we realized she wasn’t visiting and she realized the same thing, that she belonged there. She called her agent and said, ‘Don’t call me for a year, I got a better offer.’”

Frey said Davis shared a bedroom with two other single women and, along with Barbara Frey, “flew out to Hollywood, closed up her house and brought her Emmys and a few files and lived with us, ever since … like a maiden aunt.”

Davis had also garnered two Emmys and Hollywood fame for her role on “The Bob Cummings Show” in the 1950s before being cast as Alice in ABC-TVs “The Brady Bunch,” which aired 1969 – 1974 and continued in reruns, spin-off shows and big-screen movies.

Yet through it all “she was always a church woman and a faithful Christian,” Frey said. “When she moved in with us, for about the next ten to 15 years, she traveled the circuit. She spoke at churches all over the country, giving her testimony about how the Lord reawakened her.

She attended All Saints’ Church in Beverly Hills when she lived in Los Angeles. When a new rector came to the parish, she once told Frey, she went to church saying, “I want to catch his act.”

“He put her in a bible study and she discovered a brand new world,” Frey said. “It was amazing to her and the curiosity just never left her.”

“When she was traveling on the road, doing a lot of dinner theatre and things of that nature, she would always look up the local Episcopal church and get to know the priest. She called them her fly fathers.”

She even volunteered as a page in the House of Bishops during the 1979 General Convention in Denver and at a few subsequent conventions. “For some reason or other, conventions and councils fascinated her,” Frey said.

But others were fascinated by Davis; her iconic wholesomeness transcended ethnic, racial and geographic boundaries and she continued to receive and respond to 30-some fan letters monthly, he said.

“The general public considered her a very wholesome person, and it’s really true, that’s who she was,” he said. “She received fan letters from all over the place … just last week she got one from Russia. Another one came from Germany not long ago. I had to find a translator for that.

During Frey’s stint as dean of Trinity Seminary in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, “students regularly came by the house to ask if ‘Alice’ was home, he recalled.

“When I served as the interim bishop in the Diocese of Rio Grande a few years ago, we were at a little restaurant in Grants, New Mexico. Almost everybody else there was Native American. People spotted her and came over to touch her and lay their hands on her shoulders. It was amazing.”

Davis’s last gig was “a TV-Land special in Los Angeles for cast members of a series of programs, from Roots to the Brady Bunch and so on,” Frey said. “When they honored the Brady Bunch, they passed the microphone around and everyone applauded politely. But when they finally handed the mike to Ann B., she got a five-minute standing ovation. She was surprised. That tells you something about Ann B.”

Yet, some aspects of Davis were definitely un-Alice-like. For example, in the Frey household, “we had a number of small children and she wasn’t sure exactly how to handle them, but she learned,” Frey said.

And, “she didn’t cook at all in the household here,” he added, laughing. “We take turns cooking here. But when it’s her turn to cook, we all go out to a restaurant. When people express concern about that, and say “but on the program you cooked,” she’d respond, ‘Blah, blah, blah — it’s called acting, dearie.”

Ultimately, she was an anchor in the television family that “everybody wanted to grow up in but didn’t. We all had the feeling she raised us,” Frey said. “And if you said that to her, she had a stock reply; ‘But look how well you turned out.’”

Born May 5, 1926 in Schenectady, New York, to Marguerite and Cassius Miles Davis, Ann Davis had an identical twin sister, Harriet, and an older brother, Evans. She was reared in Erie, Pennsylvania, and enrolled in the University of Michigan as a pre-med major, later switching to drama and speech. She graduated in 1948 and appeared in television commercials before she was cast in “The Bob Cummings Show” and “The Brady Bunch.”

Funeral arrangements are pending; it is expected she will be buried from St. Helena’s, Boerne, because “that’s her home church,” Frey said.