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Servant Leadership Award presented to Irit Umani

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dean and President Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, left, with Ms. Irit Umani.

[Seminary of the Southwest] Servant leadership, “the disposition of the heart to put the good of the whole at the center of one’s vocation” is front and center at Seminary of the Southwest’s Matriculation Evensong each September. Since the retirement of much loved professor of pastoral theology, the Rev. Charlie Cook in 2008, the faculty of the seminary has chosen someone who exemplifies a ministry of servanthood to receive the Charles J. Cook Award in Servant Leadership.

This year, the faculty selected Ms. Irit Umani, executive director of Trinity Center in Austin, Texas to receive the 2014 award. Trinity Center cares for Austin neighbors who are living on the streets or in shelters near the downtown St. David’s Episcopal Church, which birthed the outreach ministry years ago.

“Humanitarian, peace activist, spiritual guide, educator, advocate for the marginalized and friend of the homeless” began the citation for the Israeli-born Ms. Umani. “You have said that the path of service is not that of the preacher or the prophet; rather, it is the path of the Levite who keeps the temple clean and makes certain that there is oil for the lamp.”

Accepting the award at Matriculation on September 7, Ms. Umani expressed her hope that the students beginning or continuing their studies and formation would find themselves at graduation “more in love with God and more in love with their neighbor” than they are today.

Previous recipients of the Cook Award in Servant Leadership include Judith A. Rhedin, the Rev. Helen Appelberg, Jennifer Long, the Rev. Zane Wilemon and George L. McGonigle.

Seminary of the Southwest welcomes new faculty member

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dr. Daniel Joslyn-Siemiatkoski

[Seminary of the Southwest] The Seminary of the Southwest officially welcomed its newest member of the faculty, Dr. Daniel Joslyn-Siemiatkoski, who joined the community at Seminary of the Southwest this fall after serving on the faculty at Church Divinity School of the Pacific since 2005. Academic Dean Scott Bader-Saye installed Joslyn-Siemiatkoski as the Duncalf-Villavaso associate professor of church history at the seminary’s Matriculation Evensong on September 7.

Dr. Joslyn-Siemiatkoski’s areas of interest include Jewish-Christian history, the history of Anglican ecclesiology, and contemporary interfaith dialogue. Earlier this summer, he participated as a fellow in the Christian Leadership Initiative in Jerusalem sponsored by the American Jewish Committee and the Shalom Hartman Institute.

He is the author of Christian Memories of the Maccabean Martyrs and is currently working on A Christian Commentary of Mishnah Avot. He has published in journals such as Anglican Theological Review and Anglican and Episcopal History.  Dr. Joslyn-Siemiatkoski will teach History of Christianity I and II and offer electives in his areas of expertise. Dan and his wife Jennifer have two children.

2014 Jubilee Ministry grant applications now accepted

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Samuel McDonald, Director of Mission and Deputy Chief Operating Officer, has announced that applications for Episcopal Church 2014 Jubilee Ministry grants are now being accepted in two categories: Program Development Grantand Program Impact Grants.

“Jubilee Centers are a vital and vibrant part of the mission of The Episcopal Church in our walk with those in need,” explained the Rev. Canon E. Mark Stevenson, Domestic Poverty Missioner. “They highlight the numerous, varied, and locally managed ways that we are committed to making a meaningful impact against the cycle of poverty that holds hostage the lives of so many.”

Application forms are available here.

One Program Development Grant, up to $35,000, will be awarded to a new or existing ministry that can demonstrate a new or re-visioned strategy and methodology to make an impact both locally and beyond itself.

Ten to 20 Program Impact Grants, ranging from $750 to $1,500 each, will be awarded to initiatives of Jubilee Centers that make a positive and measurable impact in the lives of those in need.

Stevenson continued: “While Jubilee Centers with a wide variety of missions and programs dealing with poverty alleviation are encouraged to apply, priority in grant awards will be given to those ministries with a strong educational and/or early childhood development component to their work. For example, a feeding ministry that teaches nutrition skills to care-givers of children would have priority over a program that only provides meals.”

All currently designated Jubilee Centers are eligible for this year’s grants.

Deadline is Tuesday, September 30. Grant recipients will be announced in October.

Information for ministries seeking to become designated as a Jubilee ministry and benefit from the network of support and be eligible for future Jubilee grants, applications and explanation of the process is here.

For more information contact Stevenson at mstevenson@episcopalchurch.org.

East Carolina notified of successful canonical consent process

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Office of Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has notified the Diocese of East Carolina that Bishop-Elect Robert Skirving has received the required majority of consents in the canonical consent process.

The Rev. Robert Stuart Skirving was elected on May 17.  His ordination and consecration service is slated for November 8; Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori will officiate.

As outlined under Canon III.11.4 (a), the Presiding Bishop confirmed the receipt of consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction, and has also reviewed the evidence of consents from a majority of standing committees of the Church sent to her by the diocesan standing committee.

In Canon III.11.4 (b), Standing Committees, in consenting to the ordination and consecration, attest they are “fully sensible of how important it is that the Sacred Order and Office of a Bishop should not be unworthily conferred, and firmly persuaded that it is our duty to bear testimony on this solemn occasion without partiality, do, in the presence of Almighty God, testify that we know of no impediment on account of which the Reverend A.B. ought not to be ordained to that Holy Office. We do, moreover, jointly and severally declare that we believe the Reverend A.B. to have been duly and lawfully elected and to be of such sufficiency in learning, of such soundness in the Faith, and of such godly character as to be able to exercise the Office of a Bishop to the honor of God and the edifying of the Church, and to be a wholesome example to the flock of Christ.”

Maryland diocese ordains Heather Elizabeth Cook as bishop suffragan

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bishop Suffragan of Maryland Heather Cook celebrates the Eucharist during her service of ordination and consecration to the episcopate. Photo: Richard Schori

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland ordained and consecrated the Rev. Heather Elizabeth Cook as its suffragan bishop on Sept. 6 during a service at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Baltimore.

The service featured participants from across the diocese, as well as Cook’s family, friends and people from past ministries. To honor her early years in Baltimore and her Episcopal education, a student from St. Paul’s School for Girls, Brooklandville, led the opening procession of the service with the school’s flag. Cook graduated from St. Paul’s School for Girls in 1974.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori served as the chief consecrator. Following the service, Cook offered blessings at the altar of the church.

A video stream of the service is available here.

From left, Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton, newly ordained Maryland Suffragan Bishop Heather Cook, and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori following the Sept. 6 ordination and consecration service. Photo: Richard Schori

Cook was ordained to the priesthood in April 1988. She has served as a boarding school chaplain at Stuart Hall in Staunton, Virginia; assistant rector at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Bedford, New York; rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, York, Pennsylvania; canon for mission in the Diocese of Central New York; and canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Easton on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Cook is the first woman to be elected a bishop in the Maryland diocese. She was elected bishop on May 2 on the fourth ballot from a slate of four nominees.

Click here for Cook’s biography and photo.

New for Episcopal authors: Episcopal Bookshelf

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopal authors now have a new Bookshelf!

Thanks to Sermons That Work, a new service has been launched, named the Episcopal Bookshelf, to promote books written by Episcopalians. Episcopal Bookshelf is here.

“Although the Sermons That Work website has been offering reviews of books by major publishing houses for several years, Episcopal Bookshelf now provides an opportunity for all Episcopal writers to market their books to other Episcopalians,” explained Sarah Johnson, editor and writer for the Office of Communication.

Sermons That Work, available here, is a popular and heavily utilized website designed for clergy and lay leaders. Sermons That Work website offers free sermons based on the Revised Common Lectionary readings for Sundays and selected feast days. Also available are weekly downloadable bulletin inserts highlighting the history, music, liturgy, mission, and ministry of The Episcopal Church, along with weekly lectionary-based Bible study commentary written by emerging thought leaders from Episcopal seminaries.

To learn more about listing a book on Episcopal Bookshelf, contact Johnson, sjohnson@episcopalchurch.org.

Links
Sermons That Work here

Sermons That Work RSS feed

Spanish sermons written by Latino/Hispanic Episcopal clergy specifically for Latino/Hispanic congregations, as well as Spanish bulletin inserts and Spanish Bible study commentary are available on the Sermones que Iluminan (“Sermons That Illuminate”) here.

Sermones que Iluminan RSS feed.

Sermons That Work and Sermones que Iluminan join Episcopal News Service as part of the Episcopal Digital Network, a digital publication network that delivers news and feature stories to more than 200,000 readers each month.

New for Episcopal authors: Episcopal Bookshelf

Monday, September 8, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopal authors now have a new Bookshelf!

Thanks to Sermons That Work, a new service has been launched, named the Episcopal Bookshelf, to promote books written by Episcopalians. Episcopal Bookshelf is here.

“Although the Sermons That Work website has been offering reviews of books by major publishing houses for several years, Episcopal Bookshelf now provides an opportunity for all Episcopal writers to market their books to other Episcopalians,” explained Sarah Johnson, editor and writer for the Office of Communication.

Sermons That Work, available here, is a popular and heavily utilized website designed for clergy and lay leaders. Sermons That Work website offers free sermons based on the Revised Common Lectionary readings for Sundays and selected feast days. Also available are weekly downloadable bulletin inserts highlighting the history, music, liturgy, mission, and ministry of The Episcopal Church, along with weekly lectionary-based Bible study commentary written by emerging thought leaders from Episcopal seminaries.

To learn more about listing a book on Episcopal Bookshelf, contact Johnson, sjohnson@episcopalchurch.org

Additional links

Sermons That Work RSS feed.

Spanish sermons written by Latino/Hispanic Episcopal clergy specifically for Latino/Hispanic congregations, as well as Spanish bulletin inserts and Spanish Bible study commentary are available on the Sermones que Iluminan (“Sermons That Illuminate”) here.

Sermones que Iluminan RSS feed.

Sermons That Work and Sermones que Iluminan join Episcopal News Service as part of the Episcopal Digital Network, a digital publication network that delivers news and feature stories to more than 200,000 readers each month.

Episcopal Church Development Office 2014 Symposium

Monday, September 8, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release]  Registration is still available for The Episcopal Church Development Office Fall 2014 Fundraising Symposium, Sacred Fundraising, Secular Tools, on Thursday and Friday, October 16, and 17.

Designed for directors of development at dioceses, congregations, and other Episcopal organizations, as well as clergy interested in parish/diocesan fundraising, Sacred Fundraising, Secular Tools will be held at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity, 316 E. 88th St., New York City. NY.

“This year’s Fundraising Symposium will look outside the church for inspiration and enrichment, focusing on how successful and innovative secular fundraising practices can enhance church fundraising tools,” explained Elizabeth Lowell, Director of The Episcopal Church Development Office.

Leaders in philanthropy will share their expertise on such topics as targeted prospect researching, strategy design, building relationships, and the integration of social media.

Registration is $250 per person; seats are limited. Online registration is here.

Symposium information is here.

For more information contact Maggy Keet, mkeet@episcopalchurch.org.

Archbishop of Canterbury visits Anglicans in Brazil and Chile

Monday, September 8, 2014

Archbishop Justin Welby with Anglican bishops in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 4 Sept 2014.

[Lambeth Palace press release] The Archbishop of Canterbury today concluded a four-day visit to Anglicans in Brazil and Chile, part of his series of visits to Anglican primates worldwide.

Archbishop Justin Welby and his wife, Caroline, spent two days visiting the primate of the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Bishop Francisco de Assis da Silva, before flying to Chile to visit the Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, Bishop Tito Zavala.

The Archbishop is visiting all his fellow primates around the Anglican Communion during his first 18 months in office.

In the Brazilian capital of Sao Paulo the Archbishop met and prayed with local bishops, clergy and lay people. He also preached at Most Holy Trinity Parish, reflecting on the theme of his visit – ‘I am the vine… if you remain in me you will bear much fruit.’ (John 15.5).

Archbishop Justin meets with young people in Santiago, Chile, 7 Sept 2014.

While in Brazil the Archbishop also addressed local ecumenical leaders about the importance of ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue for the Anglican Communion.

In the Chilean capital, Santiago, the Archbishop attended a special service in which the province officially changed its name to the Anglican Church of South America. The service was one of thanksgiving for Allen Gardiner, the man who founded the South American Mission Society and sacrificed his life as one of the continent’s first missionaries.

The Archbishop also attended a special event with Chilean religious, social and political leaders, where he spoke on the role of faith in the development of society, and preached at a parish Sunday morning service in Santiago.

Read more about Archbishop Justin’s primates visits 

Canon Kenneth Kearon elected as bishop of Limerick and Killaloe

Monday, September 8, 2014

[Church of Ireland press release] The Episcopal Electoral College for Limerick & Killaloe, meeting in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, has elected the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon as the new bishop of Limerick and Killaloe. He succeeds the Rt. Rev. Trevor Williams who retired at the end of July this year.

Kearon is secretary general of the Anglican Communion, a position he has held since 2005. Born in 1953, Kearon is a native of Dublin. Educated at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), he served his curacy in All Saints Raheny and St John’s Coolock, before becoming dean of residence at TCD in 1984, a position he held until 1990. He was rector of the Parish of Tullow (Dublin) from 1991 to 1999 after which he became director of the Irish School of Ecumenics (1999-2005). Kearon is a canon of Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin and an honorary provincial canon of Canterbury Cathedral, St. Paul’s Cathedral London and St. George’s Cathedral, Jerusalem.

The Most Rev. Michael Jackson, archbishop of Dublin, said, “Canon Kearon has expressed his delight at returning to work in Ireland and his intention to serve the people of Limerick and Killaloe and the communities of which they are a part. I have known Canon Kearon for many years and have always appreciated his personal friendship. I wish Kenneth and Jennifer all that is best within the love of God in their time in Limerick and Killaloe.”

The bishop-elect said: “I am honored and delighted to have been elected to the Diocese of Limerick and Killaloe, and I look forward to getting to know the diocese, its people and its clergy well in the near future. Ireland has been through a very difficult period in its history, and I look forward to helping the diocese play its part and making its contribution to shaping the future. This diocese has made a distinctive contribution to the Church of Ireland in the past, in part through the work of its bishops and most recently through Bishop Trevor Williams, and I hope to be able to continue in their footsteps.”

Following approval by the House of Bishops, the bishop-elect will be consecrated as a bishop on a date to be determined.

RIP: Richard Reid, former dean of Virginia Theological Seminary

Monday, September 8, 2014

[Virginia Theological Seminary press release] The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS), announced today the death of the the Very Rev. Richard Reid, Th.D., dean and president of VTS from 1983 – 1994, on Saturday, Sept. 6.

“On this day, I invite this community to remember Dean Reid,” said Dean Markham. “To give thanks to God for his life and to commit afresh to serving the Kingdom as he did. May he rest in peace.”

Born in 1928 and a native of Providence, R.I., Reid earned A.B. (magna cum laude) and A.M. degrees from Harvard University; a B.D. (cum laude) from the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Mass.; and a Th.D. from Union Theological Seminary in New York. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and spent two sabbatical leaves studying in England (1968, Cambridge University, 1973, Oxford University). Reid was ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Church June 24, 1955. He was ordained to the priesthood March 24, 1956.

Reid first came to Virginia Theological Seminary in 1958 as a member of the department of New Testament. In 1969 he became associate dean for academic affairs. He served in this capacity until 1982 when he was elected by the board as dean and president, following the 1981 retirement of the Very Rev. Granville Cecil Woods, Jr. During his inaugural address in 1983, Reid outlined several initiatives for the Seminary, including a vision for strengthening the educational ministry of the church.

“This Seminary is strong because of the leadership of those who have come before. Dean Reid is a model of such leadership,” Markham continued. “He gave the most precious gift he could give to this Seminary – he gave years of his life in service.” Click here to read Dean Markham’s September 8, 2014 Commentary on Dean Reid.

 

Presiding Bishop preaches at St. John’s, Huntington, WV

Monday, September 8, 2014

St. John’s, Huntington, WV
7 September 2014

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

 

It is a joy and delight to be welcomed into this congregation like a member of the family! I feel even more like a member of the family because of the great adventure we had last night on the way from the airport, with a flat tire. You have invited me into your home – to share the great joys as well as the disasters along life’s roadways. I have the deep sense that you meet others in the same way, particularly the children of this community. That’s what St. John’s House is all about, and Reading Camp, and Head Start.[1] This kind of radical hospitality sees every human being as part of the family – which is really why we’re here.

 

Paul sounds pretty audacious telling the community in Rome that they don’t owe anybody anything except love. He’s saying to them, ‘You’ve heard all these laws and rules about how to live a good life, but they boil down to loving your neighbor as yourself.’ The catch is that it means that everybody in the community is a neighbor.

 

The ancient world drew strong boundaries between families (clans, tribes) and outsiders; today we tend to draw those boundaries even closer – many of us live as individuals, sometimes with nuclear families. As the saying goes, you can choose your friends, but you’re stuck with your family. When people say that, it’s not usually describing close family ties!

 

In Jesus’ day, most societies insisted that protecting your family and its honor was the central point of existence. Jesus kept pushing at that limited understanding, insisting that his family consisted of people who lived and loved as he did, loving God and neighbor abundantly. His story about the Good Samaritan says that even ancient cultural enemies can love one another – even Hatfields and McCoys.

 

Jesus called his followers friends; he healed, fed, and taught strangers; he laid down his life for them; and always he told them to love their neighbors the same way. He kept expanding the boundary of who was worthy of inclusion in his circle of friends and family. He clearly grew in his understanding of who was family and who wasn’t. Think about his encounter with the Syrophoenician woman, who asks him to heal her daughter. His first response is that he’s only supposed to care for his own people. She answers with that wonderful line about dogs getting the crumbs under the table, and he changes his mind. He tells her that her own faith – really her own ability to love a neighbor as herself, and demand that he do so as well – that’s what brought healing to her daughter.

 

In Jesus’ society you showed who your neighbors or family were by who you talked to, who you’d sit down for a meal with, and who you went out of your way to notice and help. Think about it – he sat down and talked to women, he even taught them – utterly shocking to good religious people in his day! He ate with social pariahs like tax collectors. He healed and forgave the outcasts of his day – lepers, the mentally ill, adulterers, and notorious offenders like the prisoner being executed on the cross next to him. He told his companions to notice and care for children, in a society that largely saw them as expendable, and little better than slaves.

 

Today that might look like sitting down for a meal with a homeless person, or striking up a friendship with a woman who’s been trafficked, or figuring out how to give a real home to some of those kids on our streets who’ve been thrown out of their homes and families. It might even include looking up a former governor of Virginia, to see about rebuilding his relationship with society.

 

Much of the biblical witness says that the rules in God’s family are different from the rules in most human societies. In the simplest terms, you can boil the rules down to: love God and love your neighbor as yourself. St. Augustine was even briefer – “love God and do as you please!”[2] The hard part is that “neighbor” means everybody. No one is beyond the pale, all are worthy of notice and dignity and compassion.

 

Who are our neighbors? Everyone your mayor has asked us to pray for[3] – the addicted and the drug dealers and those who work for healing – as well as everyone who turns away and ignores the pain of addiction and the exploitation of others. Neighbors are our friends, relatives, enemies, and those who disagree with us. The central challenge is how to love people who hate us, or people we’re afraid of.

 

The gospel this morning is trying to teach just that. Jesus says, start by dealing directly with the offender. Meet him as the image of God, rather than complaining to others or spreading gossip about what she’s done. Go directly and see if you can find a way to heal what’s been broken. Go and ask. There is certainly some assumption here that what’s happened really is a sin or wrong or a fault. Often relationships are broken because we’ve misunderstood or assumed something that’s not accurate – go check it out, and try to heal the brokenness.

 

Jesus goes on to say that if you don’t get anywhere, take a couple of others with you and try again. Don’t give up simply because the first attempt has failed. At the global level, that’s called diplomacy. Our task is to love this person or group back into relationship, not condemn people to outer darkness – that’s actually God’s prerogative, not ours.

 

If you still don’t get anywhere, tell the church community – take this matter to a group of loving people for discernment. Together, the body of Christ often does this work better than one or a few of us. If even that doesn’t work, he says, “let that person be as a Gentile or a tax collector.” Now, how did Jesus deal with Gentiles and tax collectors? He didn’t abandon them. He went to dinner with tax collectors,[4] and he healed Gentiles.[5] This is not an invitation to condemn people who have hurt us or others. It’s the radical, countercultural call of the gospel to love everyone, including our enemies. It asks us to go the extra mile.

 

What does that say about how we encounter the situations of strife in the world around us, like drug wars here or in Central America? The same reality that’s destroying communities here is pushing unaccompanied children over our southern border. What about the mess in Ukraine? Or dealing with ISIS?

This radical call to treat them like Gentiles and tax collectors is first of all to remember that God has created each one in the divine image. Some people do turn away from God’s invitation or lure toward abundant life, but the ultimate judgment is up to God, rather than us. I believe that’s why we heard the Passover account. Those directions are about being ready to move out into the wilderness – hurry up and eat, and don’t bother with the leftovers, because you’re going to be moving into new territory, where you will depend on God, not your own sense of judgment. God’s going to pass over you, and not judge you, yet, either.

All we owe our neighbors is love. It takes a lifetime to learn how to do it, but that’s why we’re here. Pray for those who hurt us, and deal with them as neighbors and family. The health of our communities depends on how we love our neighbors – all of them.

[1] http://www.stjohnshuntingtonwv.org/our-ministries.html

[2] He goes on to say, “for the soul of one trained in loving God won’t do anything to offend the one who is beloved.”

[3] Stephen Williams (an Episcopalian): http://www.statejournal.com/story/26451525/huntington-mayor-turns-to-prayer . In conversation, he indicated this was a result of his participation in EFM.

[4] Luke 19:1-10; Mark 2:13-17

[5] E.g., the Syrophoenician woman’s daughter; Gadarene demoniac; Samaritan leper; centurion’s servant

Christians facing more persecution

Monday, September 8, 2014

[Anglican Journal] ISIS/ISIL in Iraq and Syria; Boko Haram in Nigeria; Kim Jong-un in North Korea; the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt — these are all players in a worsening world pattern of persecution targeting Christians as well as other religious and ethnic groups.

The calamitous plight of the uprooted faithful in the Middle East may currently be the most media-documented example of animosity against Christians, but practically anywhere on the planet, the followers of Jesus are the likeliest to be persecuted for their religion, according to the Washington-based Pew Center for Research. Christians face religious oppression in 151 countries.

And in findings from the Netherlands-based Open Doors, an evangelical Christian group that monitors the oppression of Christians worldwide and facilitates the practice of their faith, number one in the top 10 of today’s persecuting nations is North Korea — for the 12th consecutive year.

“An estimated 70,000 of North Korea’s several hundred thousand Christians are currently consigned to labor camps for their faith,” says Paul Estabrooks, a spokesperson for Open Doors Canada.

That Supreme Leader-worshiping country is followed by Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Iran and Yemen, where persecution of Christians is driven largely by Islamic extremism. With heart-wrenching images of thousands of Christian, Yazidi, Shia and Turkmen families fleeing ISIS jihadists seeking to establish a Sunni Muslim caliphate, northern Iraq and Syria have recently dominated the world’s television screens, provoking pity and alarm. According to U.N. estimates, at least 400,000 people have been forced out of their homes since ISIS forces swept across the Syrian border into Iraq in June. Many have bee killed, raped or abducted. Churches, sacred monuments, tombs and documents have been destroyed.

In observations by Donatella Rovera, an Amnesty International crisis response adviser, the militants have turned northern Iraq into “blood-soaked killing fields.” According to Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom at Washington’s Hudson Institute, “Christians are being systematically eradicated from the region.”

In late July, France responded to the brutal religious-ethnic cleansing by offering asylum to Christians expelled from the city of Mosul, home to one of the Middle East’s oldest Christian communities.

Following suit in early August, several U.K. Anglican bishops argued that, given its participation in the destabilizing 2003 Iraq war that opened the door to Islamist extremists, Britain has a responsibility to grant prompt sanctuary to Mosul Christians after militants threatened them with speedy execution, ruinous taxation or forced conversion. To ignore their needs would be “a betrayal of Britain’s moral and historical obligations,” the bishops said in their letter to Prime Minister David Cameron. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby backed their demand a few days later.

Before the U.S.-led invasion that left the north vulnerable to radical jihadis, Iraq was home to about 1.5 million Christians (5 per cent of the population), who had lived there for almost 2,000 years. Since then, the Christian population has hemorrhaged out of Iraq, as elsewhere in the regional cradle of Christianity.

“In a sense, the current situation is only the latest in a long series of bloody attacks on Assyrian Christians, except this time it appears that in many places they have been permanently wiped off the map,” says Archdeacon Bruce Myers, the Anglican church’s coordinator for ecumenical and interfaith relations.

Referring to the annihilation of ancient Christian communities in an Aug. 13 media briefing in Melbourne, Justin Welby said, “…what is happening right now in northern Iraq is off the scale of human horror.”

Back in July, in solidarity with Iraq’s Christians, Welby had replaced his homepage photo with ن (nūn), the Arabic letter for N, standing for Nazarene, which was being branded on the doors of Christian homes for expropriation.

In August, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, joined other faith leaders in condemning the brutal violence against religious minorities in Iraq, Christians particularly. And the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund also announced an initial grant of $10,000 through the Action by Churches Together (ACT) Alliance to help assist those displaced by the conflict.

Speaking on CBC, Andrew Bennett, Canada’s ambassador for religious freedom, called on the region’s influential Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to step up and condemn the barbaric violation of human dignity, “which has all the characteristics of a genocide.” The delicate Sunni-versus-Shia religious politics of the Middle East, however, may conspire against gestures that might seem obvious from afar.

Given the enormity of the crimes, though, has the response of global leaders been sufficient? With thousands of Christians so obviously suffering, why, some ask, did it take the expulsion of the Yazidis to spur the Obama administration to forceful action by air strikes? The Bush administration had sidestepped Christians’ persecution as a “sectarian issue.”

Taking up this question in an Aug. 19 op ed piece in The New York Times, Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress slammed the world’s—including the United Nations’—relative indifference to the large-scale brutalization of many thousands of Christians in the Middle East, while being quick to protest Palestinian casualties in Gaza. “There are no flotillas traveling to Syria or Iraq. And the beautiful celebrities and aging rock stars—why doesn’t the slaughter of Christians seem to activate their social antennas?” Lauder wrote.

Bennett shed light on the West’s reluctance to decry the persecution of Christians in an Aug. 22 commentary in the National Post, noting that this may reflect “a domestic cultural instinct to shy away from public reference to religion, or a concern that such advocacy could be somehow cast as renewed Western imperialism.”

Dr. Paul Cere, an assistant professor of religion, ethics and public policy at Montreal’s McGill University, offers this explanation: “One of the challenges is that when enforcer nations such as Britain and the U.S. that are already viewed with suspicion in the Middle East come to the defense of religious minorities, does it complicate issues for these minorities since they’re perceived as being in alliance with the West?”

But what immediate action can Canadians take? Estabrooks of Open Doors thinks Ottawa should follow France’s lead in offering immediate asylum to expelled Christians. The problem is, many Christians would prefer to remain in their ancient communities. And while, Estabrooks says, diplomatic intervention might achieve this in some regions, “others, I’m afraid, are a losing battle.”

Is there something immediate that Christians can do to help their oppressed co-religionists around the world? “The most tangible way we can respond to this appalling persecution is to support efforts to provide temporary refuge for those fleeing for their lives, to urge our governments to let our countries receive these refugees of religious violence and to pray for these persecuted sisters and brothers in Christ,” says Myers.

Estabrooks concurs and looks beyond the Middle East. “The first thing persecuted Christians everywhere ask us almost universally is to pray for them,” he says. “The second thing is to assure them they are not forgotten. People are aware of what’s happening in Iraq and Syria but may not be aware of how serious the persecution is elsewhere.”

Gaza hospital faces a future treating severe injuries, trauma

Monday, September 8, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican-run hospital in Gaza City which provided critical healthcare during the recent fighting is facing a future treating severe injuries and trauma.

In a message to the Anglican Communion, Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani said serving the immediate needs of the community in Gaza “remained a high priority” for Al Ahli Arab Hospital and its staff.

The bishop was writing primarily to thank the Anglican Communion for the “outpouring of support from our development partners, churches and individuals” after a humanitarian appeal for Al Ahli Hospital on July 15.

Thanks to support from the Anglican community worldwide and other supporters, Al Ahli was one of the hospitals able to continue to treat men, women and children injured during the two months of violence that killed 1,663 Palestinian and 67 Israeli civilians and soldiers*.

Once described as a “haven of peace” in the middle of one of the world’s most troubled places,” the hospital has become a key center for those impacted by the horrors of war.

“Although we celebrate the news of the August 26 ceasefire and an end to two months of violence, rebuilding Gaza will be a huge task,” said Dawani. “For Al Ahli Hospital, serving the immediate needs of the community in Gaza remains a high priority.

“Al Ahli has distributed first-aid packages to community-based organizations to enable them to treat some of the injured. Long-term care at the hospital is needed for those with severe injuries, while thousands of people are receiving psychosocial support to deal with the impact of the war.

“As so many buildings and homes in Gaza have been destroyed, many people still seek shelter and food for themselves and their families. With water and sanitation infrastructure damaged in many places, Al Ahli is also working hard to help contain the spread of communicable diseases and other hazards of polluted water and inadequate hygiene facilities.”

Half of all the hospitals there were damaged or destroyed in the violence. Al Ahli was not one of them, but it did lose staff. One of the hospital’s nurses, Nivine Attar, was killed at home after her night shift at the hospital. She died on August 10 as she tried to protect her two daughters – aged 2 1/2 years and six months – during a bombardment of the area around her home. The girls are now orphans.

In the latest update from the hospital, it recorded receiving 4,300 patients; treating 45 patients a day for burns (50% of those were children); and 120 people per day (again mainly children) were affected by the lack of sanitation, water, and food. Children in particular were suffering from chest infections, rashes and scabies.

Dawani said, the terrible news coming out of Israel/Palestine, Iraq and Syria could cause people to lose hope but he went on, “When we look more carefully at our communities – our schools, hospitals and other places of healing, as well as places of worship – we see promising signs everywhere of the Spirit moving hearts with love to help others.”

*Figures from BBC News Online http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28666562

Olympia diocese committed to multi-phase Oso mudslide recovery

Friday, September 5, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of Olympia] Five months after a major mudslide occurred near Oso, a rural area of Washington State approximately 60 miles northeast of Seattle, Episcopalians in the Diocese of Olympia are expressing their gratitude to all who’ve donated to the ongoing relief efforts while focusing on the future.

“Through our combined efforts, the Episcopal Church has dispersed approximately $35,000 to date,” including quiet donations from people and congregations, said the Rev. Janet Loyd, vicar of Church of the Transfiguration in Darrington, just east of Oso. “The generosity has helped many people up and down Highway 530, especially in the community of Darrington, move forward.”

It was Saturday morning, March 22, 2014, when the mudslide occurred. A portion of a hill collapsed sending mud and debris flowing across the north fork of the Stillaguamish River, damming the river, and burying more than one square mile of the landscape, including homes, cars, people and animals. The town of Darrington was cut off and isolated when the slide covered a portion of Highway 530. The slide killed 43 people.

In the days following the slide ,Diocese of Olympia Bishop Greg Rickel provided ongoing updates and a donation site was set up. On April 3, the mudslide was declared a major disaster by President Barack Obama, who visited the site on April 22.

A diocesan press release at the time noted that “the fabric of small towns is tight-knit community. Oso and Darrington are communities with tightly-woven relationships connecting people in integrated lives that make everyone ‘family’ in one way or another. The implication of this symbiosis is that when one thread of these communities’ fabric is pulled the whole cloth is affected.”

Recovery from this disaster will be a long-term project, and donations either directly to the Church of the Transfiguration, Darrington, or through the Diocese of Olympia, have been handled based on the approach that it is a marathon, not a race. There have been three phases to the recovery to date.

During Phase 1 – the first days after the slide – the biggest gift was prayer. Offers of immediate physical help were deeply appreciated, though the nature of the event made them mostly impractical. Donated books, cards, prayer shawls and squares, quilts, fleece blankets and comfort rocks were distributed to an appreciative community. The community felt very isolated as the slide blocked access to jobs, medical care, and basic services – with only a “back roads” mountain route cleared early of snow available. During this period monetary donations were largely used for gas cards, hotel accommodations, and community funeral dinners.

Phase 2 began with a collective sigh of emotional and practical relief when the first by-pass route opened. It also marked the beginning of the town facing the physical reality of the slide on a regular basis. Those living in Darrington must drive through the slide zone, and regularly revisit the places where homes, friends, and family members were lost. Funding during this phase was very diverse; many needs were identified through participation in the Combined Long Term Recovery Group, sometimes called the Unmet Needs Group. Each family or individual requesting help was assigned a caseworker who helped them develop a long-term plan for recovery, and then relayed needs to the group. Donations provided scholarships for affected children, participation in summer camp and other grief-related programs, storage containers and replacement vehicles, payment of household and medical bills, insurance and business licensing, small-business employment support, and payment of property taxes and mortgages while people struggled to get back on their feet. The mandate of the group to care for widows and orphans – and to love our neighbors – was fully addressed through the generosity shared with our community.

Phase 3 began in July when the remains of the final victim were found and returned to her family. For Darrington, this wasn’t closure, but did mark the beginning of a general readiness to look forward. Needs at this time tend to involve larger amounts as families are make decisions to move, renovate or relocate. The Unmet Needs Group has helped with down payments, rentals, mortgages, and construction costs. Because people are just beginning to realize their needs, money has been set aside for the future, and there will be an ongoing need for funding.

– Dede Moore is canon for operations for the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia and the Rev. Janet Loyd is vicar of Church of the Transfiguration in Darrington, Washington.

Gayle Harris, obispa de Massachusetts, hace historia en una catedral de Gales

Friday, September 5, 2014

Gayle Harris, obispa sufragánea de Massachusetts, mientras preside la eucaristía en la catedral de San Asaf, en Gales, el 31 de agosto, convirtiéndose en la primera obispa anglicana que oficia en una catedral galesa. Foto de Nathaniel Ramanaden.

[Episcopal News Service] Mientras la Iglesia en Gales se prepara a capacitar mujeres para que lleguen a ser obispas, Gayle Harris, obispa sufragánea de la Diócesis Episcopal de Massachusetts, se convirtió en la primera obispa anglicana que preside la eucaristía y predica en una catedral galesa.

“La Iglesia no sólo se ve enriquecida por la ordenación de las mujeres, sino que se ve capacitada y potenciada por la presencia de las mujeres”, le dijo ella a Episcopal News Service durante una entrevista telefónica desde el Reino Unido mientras se preparaba para su histórica participación en el servicio eucarístico de las 11:00 A.M. el 31 de agosto en la catedral de San Asaf, en Denbighshire, Gales del Norte. “Veo a las mujeres poniendo de relieve el deseo de que todas las personas se sienten a la mesa del liderazgo, que todas participen de los beneficios de la vida de Dios. Nadie debe ser ignorado ni dejado fuera”.

Aunque la Iglesia en Gales aprobó el 12 de septiembre de 2013 abrir el episcopado a las mujeres, decidió que el derecho eclesiástico no se alteraría en el curso de un año para darle tiempo a los obispos galeses a preparar un Código de Conducta. La Iglesia de Inglaterra también tomó una decisión histórica cuando su Sínodo General, en su reunión de julio, aprobó una legislación que le permite a las mujeres convertirse en obispas.

El obispo Gregory Cameron, de la Diócesis de San Asaf, invitó a la obispa Gayle Harris, sufragánea de la Diócesis de Massachusetts, a predicar y presidir el oficio eucarístico en la catedral de San Asaf. Foto de Nathaniel Ramanaden.

 

La visita de Harris se produjo en respuesta a la invitación del obispo Gregory Cameron, de la Diócesis de San Asaf, quien dijo que le había sorprendido el mucho tiempo que le había tomado a la Iglesia en Gales dar el paso de ordenar mujeres como obispos.

“Tengo una vasta experiencia sobre las mujeres obispos en la Comunión Anglicana, y su ministerio es tan natural y apropiado como nuestra membresía en la Iglesia, de hombres y mujeres”, le dijo él a ENS. “En efecto, las obispas que conozco han sido de capacidad y talento excepcionales. Es precisamente porque las obispas no son nuevas para la Comunión que me siento encantado de haber tenido la oportunidad de invitar a la obispo Gayle Harris a estar con nosotros, en tanto nos acercamos a la fecha en que las mujeres puedan ser elegidas al episcopado en Gales”.

Pero para Harris, la segunda afroamericana en ser consagrada obispa en la Iglesia Episcopal, su llegada al Reino Unido no resultó tan sencilla como era de esperar. La Guardia Fronteriza la detuvo durante más de cinco horas y le dijo que tendría que regresar a EE.UU. aunque ella tenía todos sus documentos y permisos en regla, incluidas [las invitaciones] de la Iglesia en Gales y del arzobispo de York.

A pesar del contratiempo, Harris dijo que los funcionarios fronterizos “fueron muy amables, educados y corteses” y que una vez que comprobaron que su visita era legítima, rescindieron la orden de deportación. “Sé que la gente del aeropuerto intentaba cumplir con su deber”, dijo, añadiendo que el funcionario jefe de la Guardia Fronteriza del R.U. le había ofrecido una disculpa personal por lo larga que había sido la detención.

Harris se sintió aliviada de superar la experiencia y concentrarse en el itinerario planeado y las próximas celebraciones.

Harris ya tenía planes de visitar el R.U. —para oficiar en la boda de una ahijada— cuando la invitaron a expresar un saludo a Cruzar el Umbral [Crossing the Threshold ], una conferencia que celebra el cambio legal para permitir que las mujeres lleguen a ser obispas.

Ella asistirá a la conferencia el 4 de septiembre en Cardiff, en la que Geralyn Wolf, obispa jubilada de Rhode Island, participará como oradora principal.

La Iglesia Episcopal se convirtió en la primera provincia de la Comunión Anglicana en abrir el episcopado a las mujeres mediante un decreto de la Convención General de 1976, aunque habrían de pasar otros 13 años hasta que la Rvdma. Barbara Harris —predecesora de la obispa Gayle Harris en Massachusetts— fuera consagrada como su primera obispa en 1989. En julio pasado, la Iglesia Episcopal conmemoró los 40 años transcurridos desde que las primeras mujeres fueron ordenadas presbíteras. Sin embargo, la mayoría de las provincias de la Comunión Anglicana aún no ordenan mujeres al episcopado.

“Hay lugares donde no podremos ver mujeres ordenadas al episcopado en el curso de nuestras vidas o incluso en la próxima generación, pero creo que Dios puede llamar a quien Él quiera, hombre o mujer, negro o blanco”, dijo Harris. “A veces resulta difícil para nosotros oír y discernir ese llamado y es por eso que en algunos lugares toma más tiempo que en otros”.

La obispa Gayle Harris fue ordenada al presbiterado en 1982 y electa obispa sufragánea de Massachusetts en 2002. Esa trayectoria, apuntó ella, ha tenido sus altibajos, pero, a lo largo de ese tiempo, la ha sostenido la presencia de Dios.

Gayle Harris, obispa sufragánea de Massachusetts, predica el 31 de agosto en la catedral de San Asaf, en Gales. Foto de Nathaniel Ramanaden.

 

Durante su sermón en la catedral de St. Asaf, Harris habló acerca de ser seguidor de Cristo y explicó que el discipulado no es fácil y conlleva un costo personal.

Como la primera mujer negra en celebrar misa en una iglesia del interior del estado de Nueva York a principio de los años 90, Harris recibió varias reacciones, tanto positivas como negativas. “Nadie en esa parroquia había visto jamás a una mujer en ese santuario, pero corrieron el riesgo de pedirme como rectora” de la iglesia de San Lucas y San Simón Cireneo [St. Luke and St. Simon Cyrene] en Rochester, Nueva York, señaló.

“El primer domingo, decidí no celebrar, sino sentarme entre ellos para lograr conocerlos mejor”, añadió. Algunos feligreses dijeron que no iban a volver, contó Harris. Afortunadamente, la mayoría volvió, entre ellos algunos disconformes que más tarde reconocieron que “no era tan malo como habían esperado”.

“Lo más importante es la presencia de Dios”, dijo Harris. “En primer lugar y ante todo yo soy creada a imagen de Dios. Nadie puede negar que ésa es mi identidad. Pero todas mis experiencias de respuestas negativas no se han acabado. Me han tildado de incompetente debido a quien soy, como mujer negra. Eso continúa. Aún creo que este mundo tiene que lidiar con la diferencia del color de la piel. Seguimos eludiendo el problema. Como negra, a veces tengo que preguntar si es porque soy mujer, pero la mayoría de las veces es porque soy negra y mujer. No se ha abordado [a fondo] el problema de la raza.

Harris dijo que le está agradecida a Cameron por su invitación a San Asaf. “Dice mucho de él y de lo amable que es. Poro yo veo esto como otra oportunidad de participar y encontrarme con el otro”, afirmó. “Creo que Dios está presente en este momento”.

– Matthew Davies es redactor y reportero de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Archbishop invites young Christians to spend year praying at Lambeth

Friday, September 5, 2014

[Lambeth Palace press release] In a unique experiment, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is to open up Lambeth Palace in London to Christians aged 20-35 – inviting them to spend a year living, studying and praying at a historic centre of the Anglican Communion.

Launching in September 2015, the Community of St Anselm will gather a group of adventurous young adults from all walks of life, hungry for a challenging and formative experience of life in a praying community.

The Community will initially consist of 16 people living at Lambeth Palace full-time, and up to 40 people, who live and work in London, joining part-time. The year-long programme will include prayer, study, practical service and community life.

Members of the Community will live in a way the ancient monastics would recognise: drawing closer to God through a daily rhythm of silence, study and prayer. But, through those disciplines, they will also be immersed in the modern challenges of the global 21st century church.

Lambeth Palace is in the process of recruiting a Prior to pioneer this new venture and direct its worship and work. The Prior will work under the auspices of the Archbishop, who will be Abbot of the Community.

Archbishop Justin Welby said: “Stanley Hauerwas reminds us that the church should always be engaged in doing things that make no sense if God does not exist. The thing that would most make no sense at all if God does not exist is prayer. Living in a praying community is the ultimate wager on the existence of God, and is anything but comfortable or risk-free. Through it people subject themselves to discipline, to each other in community, and, above all, to God.

“I expect this venture to have radical impact – not just for the individuals who participate but for life at Lambeth, across the Church and in the world we seek to serve. This is what we expect in following Jesus. I urge young people to step up: here is an open invitation to be transformed and to transform.”

The Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Revd Dr Jo Wells, said: “Archbishop Justin is passionate about prayer and about community. The renewal of prayer and Religious Life is the first of his three priorities, and that is what the Community of St Anselm is all about.

“We are inviting people from all around the Anglican Communion – and beyond – to live a year in God’s time. There are no qualifications for joining the Community except a longing to pray, to learn, to study together the things of God, and so to be stretched in body, mind and spirit.”

“Archbishop Justin longs that Lambeth Palace be not so much a historic place of power and authority, but a place from which blessing and service reach to the ends of the earth.”

To find out more, visit: www.stanselm.org.uk

TREC emite Una Carta a la Iglesia Episcopal

Thursday, September 4, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] El equipo de trabajo para re-imaginar la Iglesia Episcopal (TREC) ha emitido Una Palabra a la Iglesia Episcopal.

Carta TREC a la Iglesia: Septiembre de 2014

Jesús gritó: —“¡Lázaro, sal de ahí!” El hombre que había estado muerto salió. Sus manos y pies estaban todavía atados con vendas, y su cara estaba envuelta en un lienzo. Jesús le dijo a la gente: —“Desátenlo y déjenlo ir”. (Juan 11:43–44)

A medida que el equipo de trabajo para re-imaginar la Iglesia Episcopal (TREC) ha progresado en nuestro trabajo, hemos llegado a ver el resucitar y desatar de Lázaro como una manera útil de entender este momento en la vida de la Iglesia Episcopal. Creemos que Jesús está llamando a nuestra iglesia a una nueva vida y vitalidad, pero la iglesia se ve limitada por sus consolidaciones—viejas formas de trabajo que ya no nos sirven bien.

Escribimos esto al comenzar los últimos meses de nuestro trabajo, para actualizarles sobre nuestras ideas y recomendaciones emergentes para su consideración en oración y para obtener su opinión. Vamos a publicar nuestro informe final y las propuestas legislativas específicas en diciembre de 2014.

En los 18 meses desde que nos reunimos por primera vez como un grupo de trabajo, hemos estado en conversaciones con muchos de ustedes—en persona y virtualmente—sobre sus esperanzas, sueños, ideas y preocupaciones por la Iglesia y sobre nuestra misión colectiva para servir a Cristo. Hemos apreciado su comentario, su estímulo y su crítica de nuestro trabajo hasta ahora. Esperamos continuar nuestro diálogo con ustedes en los próximos meses y le animamos a responder a esta carta, a participar en nuestra reunión en el ayuntamiento virtual que vamos a transmitir vía internet desde la Catedral Nacional de Washington el 2 de octubre, y para entablar un diálogo con nosotros mientras nos unimos a las reuniones provinciales y otros foros. Le damos las gracias por su colaboración hasta la fecha y por sus oraciones para nuestro trabajo conjunto.

La Necesidad de un Cambio

Las estructuras de la Iglesia Episcopal y procesos de gobierno reflejan las hipótesis de épocas anteriores que no siempre se ajustan a los contextos actuales. Ellos no se han adaptado a los cambios rápidos ambientes culturales, políticos y sociales que vivimos. Las estructuras de la organización de toda la iglesia y los procesos de gobierno están demasiado desconectados de las necesidades locales y demasiado a menudo desempeñan un papel de “puerta o salida” o de papel regulador a la innovación local. A menudo son demasiado lento y confuso para abordar decisivamente soluciones intermedias, difícil y urgente o para buscar direcciones audaces que se deben establecer en el nivel de la organización de toda la iglesia. Nuestro estudio y observaciones sugieren, por ejemplo, que:

■  La Convención General ha sido históricamente más eficaz en deliberadamente discernir y en la constante evolución de la posición de la Iglesia sobre cuestiones de gran escala (por ejemplo, revisión de libro de oración, la reforma de la formación del clero y cánones de disciplina, la ordenación de mujeres, las bendiciones a parejas del mismo del sexo). Esta debe seguir siendo la función primordial de la Convención General
■  Sin embargo, la Convención General no está organizada para impulsar una clara priorización de recursos; abordar cuestiones técnicas; establecer una agenda clara para el personal de la organización; lanzar programas audaces de innovación o de reforma; o garantizar la rendición de cuentas para la ejecución eficaz y eficiente del personal de toda la iglesia. A nivel de toda la iglesia, carecemos de la capacidad de centrarnos en las prioridades que son más urgentes en el ámbito local, donde la mayor parte, si no toda la parte más importante de nuestra misión principal y el ministerio ocurre.
■  Ni el Consejo Ejecutivo ni la oficina del Obispo Presidente son plenamente eficaces en la complementación de la Convención General, al tomar decisiones de equilibrio difíciles, establecer la dirección audaz, o conducir la rendición de cuentas del personal de la organización a las necesidades locales. Las funciones del Consejo Ejecutivo y de la oficina del Obispo Presidente son a menudo ambiguas y poco claras, y tampoco son estructuradas, seleccionadas, o del tamaño adecuado para sus tareas en materia de gobierno y ejecución. Como resultado, el personal de toda la iglesia presenta una gran confusión en cuanto a quién establece la dirección. Las luchas de poder surgen, con todas las facciones que reclaman la alineación con las resoluciones de la Convención General, y los conflictos se resuelven a través de la rotación y la demora, en lugar de a través de un análisis claro y la autoridad responsable. No hemos demostrado la capacidad a nivel de toda la iglesia para desarrollar el tipo de enfoque estratégico que nos permita abordar algunas de nuestras prioridades más importantes y más urgentes.
■  La funciones de personal de toda la iglesia han evolucionado en sus papeles y los modos de pensar son cada vez más sensible y de apoyo a la misión local, pero su propósito y alcance no son claros y ampliamente entendidos a través de la iglesia. Las personas altamente cualificadas y programas bien desarrollados son subutilizados porque los grupos locales no saben que existen. En otras situaciones, las diócesis informan frustración ya que los programas de toda la iglesia no responden o no son adecuados para satisfacer sus necesidades locales. No hay sistemas suficientes de transparencia en torno a cómo los recursos de toda la iglesia se utilizan o rendir cuentas de su eficacia y la administración de recursos.

Un nuevo paradigma
Vivimos en una era de las redes de contacto, sin embargo, nuestra estructura de la organización nacional no se ha adaptado totalmente a este paradigma organizacional. La evolución de un paradigma de agencia reguladora burocrática a una red cambiará profundamente el papel, la cultura, los procesos de toma de decisiones, y los paradigmas de liderazgo de toda la iglesia y dentro de las estructuras de la Iglesia Episcopal. Esto no sería diferente de otras evoluciones significativas que se han producido históricamente en torno al gobierno y la estructura de nuestra Iglesia.

Hemos escrito anteriormente sobre la evolución histórica de paradigmas estructurales de toda la iglesia y se han descrito cuatro funciones claras que recomendamos para el siglo 21:
■  Catalizador: Toda la Iglesia Episcopal debe inspirar y causar que todos los miembros de la iglesia vivan plenamente en su misión de “restaurar todos los pueblos a la unión con Dios y unos con otros en Cristo” (Libro de Oración Común, página 855.).
–    Los ejemplos específicos de lo que la estructura de la organización de la iglesia debe hacer para cumplir con esta función incluiría inspirar y hacer un llamado a toda la iglesia al ministerio bautismal y ayudar a cada miembro a interpretar el mundo a través de los ojos del Evangelio, incluyendo el ejercicio de una voz profética en temas de justicia social y en representación de las voces de las personas marginadas.
■  Conector: La organización de toda la iglesia debe establecer y mantener relaciones entre sus comunidades miembros y constituyentes con el fin de cultivar la identidad episcopal, para magnificar el impacto de misión de las comunidades locales mediante la conexión de ellas entre sí, y para facilitar el intercambio de ideas y el aprendizaje a través de toda la iglesia Episcopal y redes anglicanas más amplias.
–    Los ejemplos específicos de lo que la estructura de la organización nacional debe hacer para cumplir con esta función incluiría representar la Iglesia Episcopal en la Comunión Anglicana; forjar relaciones ecuménicas y alianzas; ejercer la autoridad canónica de fomentar y preservar la catolicidad de la Iglesia (unidad en la diversidad con la iglesia cristiana en general); el mantenimiento de la historia institucional de la iglesia a través de los archivos de la Iglesia; y el fomento de la comunicación a través de la iglesia en torno a nuevas ideas, aprendizaje y las oportunidades de colaboración.
■  Capacidad de Construir: La organización de toda la Iglesia Episcopal debería apoyar el desarrollo de liderazgo centrado en las habilidades críticas necesarias para la formación cristiana individual y nivel comunitario en contextos del siglo 21. Toda la Iglesia Episcopal también debe asegurarse de que la iglesia es una organización de aprendizaje-que aprende rápido de los éxitos y fracasos a través de la iglesia y compartir rápidamente estas lecciones a través de la red de la iglesia. Las capacidades clave necesarias en el contexto misionero de hoy incluyen habilidades en el ministerio, organización de la comunidad, revivir congregaciones, establecer congregaciones, liderazgo multicultural, la evangelización, la formación cristiana, alcanzar a las nuevas generaciones, y llegar a nuevas poblaciones. La experiencia en estas áreas radica fundamentalmente a nivel de base, pero la estructura de la organización nacional puede fomentar el aprendizaje mutuo, especialmente sobre una base de igual a igual.
–    Los ejemplos específicos de lo que la estructura de la organización nacional debe hacer para cumplir con esta función incluiría cultivar y fomentar el intercambio de conocimientos para la formación específica y el desarrollo profesional.
■  Coordinador: Toda la organización de la Iglesia Episcopal debe reunir a la iglesia en formas tradicionales y no tradicionales como una convocación misionera. La organización de la iglesia Episcopal también debería convocar a la iglesia con la Comunión Anglicana en general, con los asociados ecuménicos de la iglesia, y con otros posibles socios y colaboradores en la proclamación del Evangelio de Cristo y vivir las Cinco Marcas de la Misión. [1]
–    Los ejemplos específicos de lo que la estructura de la organización de toda la iglesia debe hacer para cumplir con esta función incluiría la reunión de una Convocación General Misionero tanto en persona como virtualmente, posibles concurrentes con la Convención General.

Repercusiones para las estructuras de la organización nacional existente
Para empezar a cambiar el paradigma de funcionamiento de la iglesia en las formas que creemos que será necesario, hemos identificado varias prioridades de “camino crítico” y hemos trabajado para desarrollarlos más plenamente. Hemos llegado a la conclusión de que estas áreas necesitan más de nuestra atención si queremos hacer que la iglesia funcione de manera más eficaz en nuestro contexto del siglo 21. Estos cambios no harán la transición plenamente de las estructuras de la organización y la gobernabilidad para el modelo basado en la red que se describe arriba. El trabajo de volver a imaginar nuestra iglesia y la reestructuración de la institución de la iglesia tendrá que ser un proceso continuo de adaptación mientras nuestro contexto continúa cambiando. En conjunto, sin embargo, creemos que abordar estas áreas constituye un primer paso fundamental y permitirán profundizar el cambio. Debemos racionalizar y concentrar el alcance de nuestra agenda de la organización nacional, para convertirse en una iglesia más distributiva, una red, y ágil que se centra en la formación de fe local y misión local y que permite y acelera la innovación local y la adaptación; mientras que al mismo tiempo mejora, y no disminuye nuestra voz profética para el mundo que nos rodea.
■  A nivel de la organización nacional, tenemos que seleccionar y capacitar plenamente un liderazgo claro y eficaz para definir agendas, dirección establecida, desarrollar los conocimientos en torno a cuestiones complejas y sus consecuencias, tomar decisiones difíciles, y perseguir ideas audaces y menos perjudiciales en su caso. Hay inferencias para la Convención General, para el Consejo Ejecutivo, la función ejecutiva central de la iglesia, y  las Comisiones de la Convención General, consejos, organismos y Juntas (CCAB).
■  Una vez que la dirección se establece para las obras necesarias a nivel de toda la organización de la iglesia, tenemos que capacitar a un personal de la organización para crear capacidad a través de nuestra iglesia y actuar como catalizadores de la red y los constructores de la red. Este personal debe ser dirigido y supervisado por profesionales con experiencia y conocimientos profundos y relevantes en las áreas que son el centro de sus respectivos proyectos. El alcance del trabajo del personal relacionado con la misión debe ser específico y de duración determinada (véase abajo “Recomendaciones de desarrollo”).
■  Debemos crear responsabilidad en nuestra estructura de la organización de toda la iglesia para que seamos capaces de medir si esa estructura está siguiendo la dirección que se ha establecido, asegurando una alta calidad de trabajo y la eficiencia de conducción. Para el personal de la organización de toda la iglesia esto significa que los objetivos deben fijarse en el inicio de cualquier proyecto o iniciativa con pautas métricas básicas que sean revisadas e informadas.

Creemos que abordar estas prioridades permitirá a la iglesia continuar evolucionando y racionalizar su administración y las estructuras en zonas que no hemos abordado. También creemos que abordar estas prioridades permitirá a la iglesia ser más eficaz en el tratamiento de sus problemas más complejos y urgentes cuando se requiere un estudio profundo y acción audaz (por ejemplo, la sostenibilidad del clero estipendiario; implicaciones para la educación del clero y de las estructuras de pensiones).

Recomendaciones de Desarrollo

Las recomendaciones que vamos a presentar a la iglesia y en la Convención General del 2015 es probable que tome varias formas diferentes:
1.  Un conjunto de resoluciones complementarios que sugieren enmiendas a los cánones y la Constitución con el fin de poner en práctica lo que el Grupo de Trabajo considera “camino crítico” cambios en la estructura de la organización de toda la iglesia, el gobierno y la administración. Nosotros le recomendamos que estas resoluciones se ejecuten en un paquete total.
2.  Proyectos de resolución para una mayor racionalización de las estructuras de la organización de toda la iglesia y la gobernabilidad y que nuestro trabajo nos diga que representamos a los deseos de un gran segmento de miembros de la iglesia y que creemos que debe ser debatido y resuelto en la Convención General del 2015.
3.  Una agenda recomendada de cuestiones serias y profundas sobre las que nuestra iglesia debe tomar medidas urgentes con el fin de ser lo más audaz, adaptable y resistente come tiene que ser en las próximas décadas, además de una ilustración de cómo será informada y progresado de manera efectiva y eficiente esta agenda y si nuestras recomendaciones legislativas fuesen aprobadas.
4.  Más concretamente, las propuestas de “ruta Crítica” que estamos considerando proponen en forma de resoluciones de la Convención General que hacen un llamado a enmiendas a los Cánones y Constitución actualmente incluyen:

■  Las mejoras en la eficacia de la Convención General, por ejemplo:
–    Límites de duración de la Convención General y que los esfuerzos se concentren y se brinde prioridad a su agenda legislativa.
–    Reducción del número de comisiones legislativas para la Convención General
–    El permiso expreso de los comités legislativos para permitir que las resoluciones concluyan en los comités
–    La evolución de la Convención General para convertirse en una Convocación General  Misionero de la Iglesia, con la creación de redes y el intercambio en torno a la misión y ministerios de su enfoque principal, y esperando se reduzca el alcance y el tamaño de la legislación y los dos órganos legislativos, mientras se aumenta la participación general y la relevancia de la misión a nivel local.
■  Aclaraciones en torno al papel de las estructuras ejecutivas centrales de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera (DFMS)
–    La Obispa Presidenta permanece como Directora Ejecutiva (CEO) de la Iglesia, Presidente del Consejo Ejecutivo, y Presidente de la DFMS, con responsabilidad de administración para todo el personal de la DFMS
–    Presidente de la Cámara de Diputados (PHoD) retuvo el cargo de Vicepresidente de la Iglesia, el Vicepresidente del Consejo Ejecutivo, y vicepresidente de la DFMS
–    El Obispo Presidente responsable de nombrar a tres personas para servir en las siguientes oficinas, con el acuerdo del Presidente de la Cámara de Diputados (PHoD): Director Ejecutivo (COO), Tesorero/Director Financiero (CFO), Director del Área Jurídica. Estas posiciones servirán a las órdenes del Obispo Presidente. No se requerirá la aprobación de la PHoD o el Consejo Ejecutivo para que el Obispo Presidente despida a cualquiera de estos oficiales
■  Los cambios en el papel, el tamaño, y la selección del Consejo Ejecutivo
–    El papel del Consejo Ejecutivo clarificado como un papel de “gobernabilidad”, similar a una Junta Directiva sin fines de lucro.
–   EL tamaño del Consejo Ejecutivo reducido de 40 a 21 miembros (manteniendo la proporcionalidad entre las órdenes) para mejorar su eficacia como junta.
–    Membresía del Consejo Ejecutivo para incluir el Obispo Presidente, el Presidente de la Cámara de Diputados como miembros ex officio con derecho a voto, y el Director de Operaciones, Tesorero/CFO y secretario como miembros sin derecho a voto, además de 20 miembros electos “en general” en vez de representantes de cada provincia
■  Reducción en el número de CCABs y su alcance
–    Eliminación de todas las Comisiones de trabajo, excepto los Comités Permanente Conjunto de Nominaciones y Programa y Presupuesto y Finanzas
–    Encargar a los presidentes para nombrar a tales grupos de trabajo que puedan ser necesarios para llevar a cabo el trabajo de una Convención General sobre un trienio basado en un trienio.
■  Una transición en el personal de la misión relacionado con el programa de DFMS a un modelo principalmente contratista
–    Contratistas para ser contratados basado en un alcance del proyecto específico, duración, y en un conjunto de objetivos
–    Eficacia de los proyectos a ser supervisada por la oficina del Obispo Presidente y revisado anualmente por el Consejo Ejecutivo en contra de un conjunto de métricas previamente acordados
– El personal de “funciones de apoyo” como Recursos Humanos, Finanzas, IT, legal, comunicaciones, o Archivos no serían afectados

En nuestro informe final, vamos a ilustrar cómo estos cambios recomendados ayudarían a la Iglesia Episcopal a abordar de manera más eficaz y eficiente temas críticos y urgentes de la agenda, con la flexibilidad para innovar y experimentar con mayor rapidez y adoptar cursos de acción audaces cuando sea necesario.

En el curso de nuestro trabajo como un equipo de trabajo, hemos identificado y seguimos desarrollando un conjunto de temas del programa que creemos que debe ser abordado por la Iglesia en los próximos años. Estos temas incluyen:
■  La creación de capacidad y la capacidad de toda la Iglesia en torno a la evangelización, liderazgo comunitario, y la formación de la parroquia no tradicional
■  La sostenibilidad de un modelo totalmente estipendiario del clero y el predominio probable de modelos mixtos de empleo y liderazgo del clero
■  Implicaciones para la educación en el seminario, los requisitos, y la carga de la deuda
– Las oportunidades para los cambios de política del Fondo de Pensiones para mejorar el clero y la  alineación de incentivos de liderazgo
■  Viabilidad Diocesano, el número de diócesis, y requisitos de evaluación/ expectativas
■  Viabilidad Parroquial, el número y la distribución geográfica de las parroquias, y el fomento de nuevas iglesias

Creemos que para abordar este tipo de cuestiones será necesario un fuerte, inspirado y responsable liderazgo, opiniones informadas, y, en algunos casos, la acción rápida. Con los cambios que hemos recomendado en las estructuras de la organización de toda la iglesia, el gobierno y la administración, vemos que estos temas se abordan de la siguiente manera:

■  La Convención General haría un llamado para que estos temas sean parte de la agenda de la DFMS, que será dirigida por la oficina del Obispo Presidente y de responsabilidad de Consejo Ejecutivo y de las Convenciones Generales posteriores
■  La oficina del Obispo Presidente (muy probablemente a través del COO) sería identificaría el peritaje y el tipo de recursos necesarios para estudiar con eficacia estas cuestiones y formular recomendaciones. La oficina del Obispo Presidente, en consulta con el Consejo Ejecutivo, diseñaría proyectos con plazos concretos, con objetivos y métricas específicas, y que contrataría contratistas calificados y establecería consejos asesores como sea necesario. La oficina del Obispo Presidente dirigiría estos proyectos y a las personas contratadas para llevarlos a cabo.
■  El Consejo Ejecutivo examinará y proporcionará una supervisión adecuada de la cartera total de la DFMS de proyectos relativos a las métricas pre-establecidas anuales.

Conclusión
Es importante establecer clara y enfáticamente que el trabajo de innovación y adaptación ya está en marcha en todos los niveles de la iglesia. Está claro que con o sin la Convención General, con o sin recomendaciones de TREC, la re-imaginación de nuestra Iglesia ya está y seguirá tomando lugar. El Espíritu Santo ha dado nueva vida a la Iglesia en un sinnúmero de veces y de muchas maneras en el pasado, y el mismo Espíritu continuará haciéndolo en el futuro. Nuestra esperanza es que nuestras recomendaciones en última instancia, ayuden a enfocar y dirigir los extraordinarios recursos humanos y recursos materiales espirituales que Dios nos ha confiado hacia un conjunto claro de prioridades que nos ayudará a ser más fiel y eficaz en seguir participando en la misión de Dios en el mundo.

Una oración por nuestro trabajo continúo
Espíritu Santo, que proteges a todo el mundo, llena los corazones y las mentes de tus siervos en el equipo de trabajo para re-imaginar la Iglesia Episcopal con sabiduría, claridad y valentía. Trabaja en ellos, mientras que ellos examinan y recomiendan reformas para la estructura, gobierno y administración de esta rama de la Iglesia una, santa, católica y apostólica. Ayúdelos a proponer reformas para proclamar de manera más eficaz mediante la palabra y el ejemplo las Buenas Nuevas de Dios en Cristo, para desafiar el mundo para buscar y servir a Cristo en todas las personas amantes de nuestro prójimo como a nosotros mismos- y ser una luz ardiente para la clase de justicia y la paz que lleva a todas las personas, respetando la dignidad de todo ser humano. Esté con la Iglesia Episcopal para que estemos abiertos a los desafíos que este grupo de trabajo traerá a nosotros, y ayude a toda la Iglesia para discernir su voluntad para nuestro futuro. En el nombre de Jesucristo, nuestro Mediador, en cuya vida se fundó esta Iglesia. AMEN
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[1] Proclamar la Buena Nueva del Reino. Enseñar, bautizar y nutrir a los nuevos creyentes. Responder a las necesidades humanas a través del servicio amoroso. Buscar la transformación de las estructuras injustas de la sociedad, desafiar a la violencia de cualquier tipo y buscar la paz y la reconciliación. Esforzarse para salvaguardar la integridad de la creación y sostener y renovar la vida de la tierra.

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Para más información, preguntas o comentarios, póngase en contacto con miembros de TREC en reimaginetec@gmail.com.

TREC planea una reunión de toda la iglesia para el 2 de octubre

TREC issues a letter to The Episcopal Church suggesting changes

Thursday, September 4, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Taskforce for Reimagining The Episcopal Church (TREC) has issued A Word To The Episcopal Church.

TREC Letter to the Church: September, 2014

Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth.  Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”                                                                                                                                                               (John 11:43–44)

As the Taskforce for Reimagining The Episcopal Church (TREC) has progressed in our work, we have come to see the raising and unbinding of Lazarus as a helpful way of understanding this moment in the life of The Episcopal Church. We believe Jesus is calling our church to new life and vitality, but the church is held back by its bindings—old ways of working that no longer serve us well.

We write this as we begin the final months of our work, to give you an update about our thinking and emerging recommendations for your prayerful consideration and feedback. We will publish our final report and specific legislative proposals in December 2014.

In the 18 months since we first met as a Task Force, we have been in conversation with many of you—in person and virtually—about your hopes, dreams, ideas, and concerns for the church and about our collective mission to serve Christ. We have appreciated your feedback, your encouragement, and your criticism of our work so far. We look to continue our dialogue with you in the months to come and encourage you to respond to this letter, to participate in our virtual town hall meeting that we will webcast from Washington National Cathedral on October 2, and to engage in dialogue with us as we join provincial meetings and other forums. We thank you for your input to date and for your prayers for our work together.

The Need for Change
The Episcopal Church’s structures and governance processes reflect assumptions from previous eras that do not always fit with today’s contexts. They have not adapted to the rapidly changing cultural, political, and social environments in which we live.  The churchwide structures and governance processes are too disconnected from local needs and too often play a “gating” or regulatory role to local innovation. They are often too slow and confusing to deal decisively with tough and urgent tradeoffs or to pursue bold directions that must be set at the churchwide level.

Our study and observations would suggest, for example, that:
■             General Convention has historically been most effective in deliberatively discerning and evolving the church’s position on large-scale issues (e.g., prayer book revision, reform of clergy formation and discipline canons, women’s ordination, same sex blessings). This should continue to be the primary role of General Convention.
■             However, General Convention is not organized to drive clear prioritization of resourcing; address technical issues; set a clear agenda for churchwide staff; launch bold programs of innovation or reform; or ensure accountability for effective and efficient execution by the churchwide staff. At the churchwide level, we lack the ability to focus on the priorities that are most urgent at the local level, where much if not most of our primary mission and ministry take place.
■             Neither the Executive Council nor the Presiding Bishop’s office are fully effective in complementing the General Convention by making tough tradeoffs, setting bold direction, or driving accountability of churchwide staff to local needs. The roles of the Executive Council and the Presiding Bishop’s office are often ambiguous and unclear, and neither are structured, selected, or sized appropriately for their tasks in governance and execution. As a result, churchwide staff report significant confusion as to who sets direction. Power struggles emerge, with all factions claiming alignment with General Convention resolutions, and conflicts are resolved through churn and delay, rather than through clear analysis and accountable authority. We have not demonstrated the capacity at the churchwide level to develop the kind of strategic focus that allows us to address some of our highest and most pressing priorities.
■             Churchwide staff functions have evolved their roles and mindsets to be increasingly responsive and supportive of local mission, but their purpose and scope are not clear and broadly understood across the church. Highly skilled people and well-developed programs are underutilized because local groups do not know they exist.  In other situations, dioceses report frustration that churchwide programs are not responsive or adequate to meet their local needs. There are not sufficient systems of transparency around how churchwide resources are used or held accountable for their effectiveness and resource stewardship.

A New Paradigm
We live in an age of networks, yet our churchwide structure has not fully adapted to this organizational paradigm. The evolution from a bureaucratic/regulatory agency paradigm to a network will profoundly change the role, culture, decision making processes, and leadership paradigms of and within The Episcopal Church’s churchwide structures. This would not be unlike other significant evolutions that have occurred historically around our church’s governance and structures.

We have previously written about the historical evolution of churchwide structural paradigms and described four clear roles that we recommend for the 21st century:
■             Catalyst: The Episcopal churchwide organization should inspire and provoke all members of the church to live fully into its mission of “restoring all people to unity with God and one another in Christ” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 855).
–    Specific examples of what the churchwide structure must and should do to fulfill this role would include inspiring and calling the whole church to baptismal ministry and helping every member interpret the world through the eyes of the gospel, including exercising a prophetic voice on social justice issues and representing the voices of marginalized people.
■             Connector: The churchwide organization should establish and maintain relationships among its member communities and constituents in order to cultivate Episcopal identity, to magnify the mission impact of local communities by connecting them to each other, and to facilitate the sharing of ideas and learning across the Episcopal and broader Anglican networks.
–    Specific examples of what the churchwide structure must and should do to fulfill this role would include representing The Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion; forging ecumenical relationships and alliances; exercising canonical authority to foster and preserve the church’s catholicity (unity in diversity with the wider Christian Church); maintaining the church’s institutional history through the Church Archives; and fostering communication across the church around new ideas, learning, and opportunities for collaboration.
■             Capability Builder: The Episcopal churchwide organization should support leadership development centered around the critical skills necessary for individual and communitywide Christian formation in 21st century contexts. The Episcopal churchwide organization should also ensure that the church is a learning organization—rapidly learning from successes and failures across the church and rapidly sharing these lessons across the church’s network. Key capabilities needed in today’s missionary context include skills in ministry, community organization, reviving congregations, planting congregations, multicultural leadership, evangelism, Christian formation, reaching new generations, and reaching new populations. The expertise in these areas lies primarily at the grassroots level, but the churchwide structure can foster mutual learning, especially on a peer-to-peer basis.
–    Specific examples of what the churchwide structure must and should do to fulfill this role would include cultivating and fostering the sharing of expertise for targeted training and professional development.
■             Convenor: The Episcopal churchwide organization should assemble the church in traditional and non-traditional ways as a missionary convocation. The Episcopal churchwide organization should also convene the church with the broader Anglican Communion, with ecumenical church partners, and with other potential partners and collaborators in proclaiming Christ’s gospel and living the Five Marks of Mission.[1]
–    Specific examples of what the churchwide structure must and should do to fulfill this role would include convening a General Missionary Convocation both in person and virtually, potentially concurrent with General Convention.

Implications for Existing Churchwide Structures
To begin to change the church’s operating paradigm in the ways that we believe will be necessary, we have identified several “critical path” priorities and have worked to more fully develop them. We have concluded these areas are in the most need of our attention if we are to make the church work more effectively in our 21st century context.  These changes will not fully transition the churchwide structures and governance to the network-based model that we describe above. The work of reimagining our church and restructuring the church’s institution will need to be an ongoing process of adaptation as our context continues to shift and change. Taken together, however, we believe addressing these areas constitute a critical first step and will enable further change. We must streamline and focus  the scope of our churchwide agenda, to become a more distributive, networked, and nimble church that is focused on local faith formation and local mission and that enables and accelerates local innovation and adaptation; while at the same time enhancing, not diminishing our prophetic voice to the world around us.
■             At the churchwide level, we must select and fully empower clear and effective leadership to define agendas, set direction, develop expertise around complex issues and their implications, make tough choices, and pursue bold and disruptive ideas where appropriate. There are implications for the General Convention, for the Executive Council, the central executive function of the church, and for General Convention’s Commissions, Councils, Agencies, and Boards (CCABs).
■             Once the direction is set for the work necessary at the churchwide level, we must empower a lean churchwide staff to build capacity across our church and act as network catalysts and network builders. This staff must be directed and supervised by professionals with deep and relevant expertise and experience in the areas that are the focus of their respective projects. The scope of mission-related staff work should be specific and time-bound (see “Developing Recommendations” below).
■             We must create accountability in our churchwide structure so that we are able to measure whether that structure is following the direction that has been set, ensuring a high quality of work, and driving efficiency. For churchwide staff, this means that objectives must be set at the start of any project or endeavor with basic, guiding metrics that are tracked and reported.

We believe that addressing these priorities will enable the church to continue to evolve and streamline its governance and structures in areas that we have not addressed.  We also believe that addressing these priorities will enable the church to be more effective in addressing its most complex and urgent issues where deep study and bold action is required (e.g., sustainability of stipendiary clergy; implications for clergy education and pension structures).

Developing Recommendations
The recommendations that we will submit to the church and to the 2015 General Convention will likely take several different forms:
1.            A complementary set of resolutions that suggest amendments to the Canons and Constitution in order to implement what the Task Force considers “critical path” changes to churchwide structures, governance, and administration. We will strongly recommend that these resolutions be implemented as a total package.
2.            Draft resolutions for further streamlining of churchwide structures and governance that our work tells us represent the wishes of a large segment of church members and that we believe should be debated and resolved in the 2015 General Convention.
3.            A recommended agenda of serious and deep issues on which our church must take urgent action in order to be as bold, adaptive, and resilient as it needs to be over the coming decades, plus an illustration of how this agenda would be effectively and efficiently informed and progressed if our legislative recommendations were adopted.
4.            More specifically, the “critical path” proposals we are considering putting forward in the form of General Convention resolutions calling for amendments to the Canons and Constitution currently include:
■             Improvements to the effectiveness of the General Convention, e.g.:
–    Limits to the overall length of the General Convention and efforts to focus and prioritize its legislative agenda.
–    Reduction in the number of legislative committees for General Convention
–    Express permission for legislative committees to let resolutions die in committee
–    The evolution of General Convention to become a General Missionary Convocation of the Church, with networking and sharing around mission and ministries its primary focus, and hopefully reducing the scope and size of legislation and both legislative bodies, while still increasing overall participation and relevance to mission at the local level.
■             Clarifications around the role of the central executive structures of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS)
–    Presiding Bishop retained as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Church, Chair of the Executive Council, and President of DFMS, with managerial responsibility for all DFMS staff
–    President of the House of Deputies (PHoD) retained as Vice President of the Church, Vice Chair of the Executive Council, and Vice President of DFMS
–    Presiding Bishop responsible for nominating three people to serve in the following offices, with concurrence by the PHoD:  Chief Operating Officer (COO), Treasurer/Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Legal Officer. These positions would serve at the pleasure of the Presiding Bishop.  Approval for the Presiding Bishop to fire any of these officers would not be required from the PHoD or the Executive Council.
■             Changes to the role, size, and selection of the Executive Council
–    The role of the Executive Council clarified as a “governance” role, similar to a non-profit Board of Trustees
–    Size of the Executive Council reduced from 40 to 21 members (retaining proportionality among the orders) to improve its effectiveness as a Board
–    Executive Council membership to include the Presiding Bishop, the President of the House of Deputies as ex officio voting members, and the COO, Treasurer/CFO and Secretary as non-voting members, plus 20 members elected “at large” rather than as representatives of each province
■             Reduction in the number of CCABs and their scope
–    Elimination of all Standing Commissions except the Joint Standing Committees on Nominations and Program, and Budget & Finance
–    Charging the presiding officers to appoint such task forces as might be necessary to carry out the work of a General Convention on a triennium by triennium basis.
■             A transition in the mission or program-related staff of DFMS to a primarily contractor-only model
–    Contractors to be hired based on a specific project scope, length, and set of objectives
–    Project effectiveness to be monitored by the Presiding Bishop’s office and reviewed annually by Executive Council against a set of pre-agreed metrics
Staff in “support functions” like Human Resources, Finance, IT, Legal, Communications, or Archives would not be impacted

In our final report, we will illustrate how these recommended changes would help The Episcopal Church to more effectively and efficiently address critical and urgent agenda items, with the flexibility to innovate and experiment more rapidly and to adopt bold courses of action where necessary.

In the course of our work as a Task Force, we have identified and are continuing to develop a set of agenda items that we believe must be addressed by The Church in coming years. These agenda items include:
■             Building capacity and capability across the Church around evangelism, community leadership, and non-traditional parish formation
■             The sustainability of a fully stipendiary clergy model and the likely predominance of mixed models of employment and clergy leadership
■             Implications for seminary education, requirements, and debt burden
■             Opportunities for Pension Fund policy changes to improve clergy and lay leadership incentive alignment
■             Diocesan viability, the number of dioceses, and assessment requirements/expectations
■             Parish viability, the number and geographic distribution of parishes, and fostering new church plants

We believe that addressing these types of issues will require strong, inspired and accountable leadership, informed input, and, in some cases, quick action. With the changes we have recommended in churchwide structures, governance, and administration, we see these issues being addressed as follows:
■             The General Convention would call for these issues to be part of the DFMS agenda, to be directed by the Presiding Bishop’s office and accountable to the Executive Council and to subsequent General Conventions
■             The Presiding Bishop’s office (most likely through the COO) would identify the expertise and type of resources required to effectively study these issues and to develop recommendations. The Presiding Bishop’s office, in consultation with the Executive Council, would charter time-bound projects with specific objectives and metrics, and it would hire qualified contractors and establish advisory boards as necessary. The Presiding Bishop’s office would direct these projects and the people hired to accomplish them.
■             The Executive Council would review and provide appropriate oversight of DFMS’s total portfolio of projects relative to pre-established metrics on an annual basis.

Conclusion
It is important to state clearly and emphatically that the work of innovation and adaptation is already underway at all levels of the church. It is clear that with or without the General Convention, with or without any recommendations from TREC, the re-imagining of our Church is already and will continue to take place. The Holy Spirit has breathed new life into the Church at countless times and in countless ways in the past, and the same Spirit will continue to do so in the future. Our hope is that our recommendations will ultimately help focus and direct the extraordinary spiritual, human, and material resources God has entrusted to us toward a clear set of priorities that will help us be most faithful and effective in continuing to participate in God’s mission in the world.

A Prayer for Our Continued Work
Holy Spirit, who broods over the world, fill the hearts and minds of your servants on the Taskforce for Reimagining The Episcopal Church with wisdom, clarity, and courage.  Work in them as they examine and recommend reforms for the structure, governance, and administration of this branch of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church. Help them propose reforms to more effectively proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ, to challenge the world to seek and serve Christ in all persons—loving our neighbors as ourselves—and to be a blazing light for the kind of justice and peace that leads to all people respecting the dignity of every other human being. Be with The Episcopal Church that we may be open to the challenges that this Taskforce will bring to us, and help the whole church to discern your will for our future. In the name of Jesus Christ our Mediator, on whose life this Church was founded.  AMEN
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[1] To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom. To teach, baptize and nurture new believers. To respond to human need by loving service. To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
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For more info, questions or comments, contact TREC members at reimaginetec@gmail.com

TREC plans a churchwide meeting on October 2. Details are available here.

It’s time to vote for 2014 Episcopal Church Christmas card

Thursday, September 4, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] It’s time to vote for your favorite original artwork that will be used for the 2014 Episcopal Church Christmas card.

Forty-eight artists submitted 70 entries expressing a local understanding of God’s incarnation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

About the voting:

  • Submissions and voting instructions are here
  • Participants are requested to vote for only one.
  • Voting is open until September 19.
  • Winner will be announced on October 1.

A printable PDF of the card with the winning artwork will be made available online to all congregations.  The greeting inside the card will appear in English, Spanish, French, Creole and Navajo.

For information about voting process contact Ana Arias, or Barry Merer.

For information on the Christmas Card Image Contest, contact Neva Rae Fox publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org

The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/episcopalian

Twitter: www.twitter.com/iamepiscopalian

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/EpiscopalChurchYT