[Saint Francis Community Services - Salina, Kansas] The Saint Francis Community Services Board of Directors has named The Rev. Robert Nelson Smith, currently of Peru, Illinois, as the child and family services provider’s sixth president and chief executive officer. Fr. Smith will assume his new duties on July 7.
“Fr. Smith, an Episcopal priest, has an extensive background in healthcare administration and is excited to couple that experience with the work of Saint Francis Community Services,” said Board Chair The Rev. Dennis Gilhousen. “We believe he is exactly the right person to continue leading Saint Francis as we touch the lives of so many people.”
Ordained to the priesthood in 2009, Fr. Smith earned his Master of Arts in Ministry, cum laude, from Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Nashotah, Wisconsin. For the last three years, he has served as associate rector to four churches that form the LaSalle County (Illinois) Episcopal Ministry within the Diocese of Chicago.
Since 2009, Fr. Smith has also served as Vice President, Physician Services and Quality/COO for Illinois Valley Community Hospital (IVCH), overseeing department operational budgets of more than $125 million while developing strategies to improve patient care and safety and access to services. He also supervised operations for the IVCH Medical Group, which provides a range of healthcare services including primary care, specialized care, mental health services, and a community clinic to meet the needs of uninsured and underinsured patients.
Prior to joining IVCH, Fr. Smith served as Director of Growth and Support Services for ThedaCare Physicians, and gained expertise in process improvement methods. ThedaCare is based in Appleton, Wisconsin.
He has also served as Vice President of Physician Services for Community Health Network, a partnership of two critical access hospitals in north central Wisconsin, and as Director of Corporate Communications and Director of Professional Services for St. Mary’s Good Samaritan, Inc., a Catholic not-for-profit healthcare system in Illinois.
Prior to his healthcare experience, Fr. Smith worked on Capitol Hill with a public policy focus on environmental, transportation, and infrastructure issues critical to rural communities.
In all, Fr. Smith brings nearly 20 years of healthcare and public policy experience to Saint Francis Community Services.
“I am humbled to have been asked to help guide the future of Saint Francis Community Services – the ministry that Fr. Mize began in 1945 and that Fr. Ed and the Board of Directors have carried forward is truly God’s work,” said Fr. Smith. “When I began my career in healthcare, my organization’s mission statement compelled us to continue the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, with special concern for the poor and vulnerable. This challenge has never left me and to know that Saint Francis Community Services is committed, at its most fundamental level, to providing the healing to children and families found in the forgiving, redeeming love of Christ is, for me, a ministry and calling to which I now dedicate my every effort.”
Fr. Smith succeeds The Very Reverend Edward Fellhauer, who announced his retirement late last year after 12 years at the SFCS helm.
About Saint Francis Community Services
Saint Francis Community Services is an Episcopal donor-supported, faith-based, child and family, community-based service provider that has been a voice of hope for children and families since 1945. Our mission is to be an instrument of healing for children, youths, and families in spirit, mind, and body, so they live responsibly and productively with purpose and hope. For more information about Saint Francis, visit www.st-francis.org or call 1-800-423-1342.
[Episcopal News Service – San Pedro Sula, Honduras] Hace algunos años una mujer vino al Rdo. Pascual P. Torres y le dijo, “Me voy a morir”.
Mientras que ella era una paciente en un hospital público, se le había tomado la prueba del VIH sin su conocimiento, y luego le dijeron que los resultados del examen fueron positivos. Y una persona del personal le dijo: “Vas a morir porque tienes SIDA”. La mujer salió del hospital y decidió saltar de un puente: pero luego se acordó de su hija de cinco años que estaba en casa.
“Ella decidió matar a su hija primero y luego matarse ella. Pero entonces se encontró con una enfermera… y ella no sabía si era Dios o lo que sea,..” dijo Torres
La enfermera le hablo a la mujer sobre Siempre Unidos, un ministerio de la Iglesia Episcopal en Honduras que proporciona atención médica y servicios sociales integrales a las personas con VIH y el SIDA y a sus familiares.
“Hace diez o 15 años, cuando la gente sabía que eran VIH positivo, ellos trataron de quitarse la vida, dijo Torres. “Ahora con la información y educación, las cosas están mejor, pero aún no es la mejor noticia que uno pueda recibir”.
La mujer parecía saludable, aunque ella insistía en decir, “Me voy a morir”, él dijo “Yo le dije que este lugar [Siempre Unidos] era un lugar para aquellos que quieren vivir. ‘Yo puedo ayudarte, puedo pasar todo el día con usted, pero si aún no ha tomado una decisión…’”
Once años después, la mujer es un técnico en Siempre Unidos; su hija tiene 16 años de edad.
Siempre Unidos comenzó en la década de 1990 en un momento en que la gente en su comunidad de apoyo estaba muriendo a un índice de nueve personas por mes y los ataúdes eran una cosa que el ministerio proporcionaba.
“Al comienzo de la pandemia, todo estaba mal”, dijo Torres durante una conversación en la clínica de San Pedro Sula.
En el 2003, cuando las patentes caducaron y los medicamentos se hicieron más asequibles y accesibles en el país subdesarrollado, Siempre Unidos empezó a proporcionar medicamentos para tratar la enfermedad del sistema inmunológico.
Hoy en día, entre 21,000 y 33,000 personas viven con el VHI y el SIDA en Honduras, con una población de 7.9 millones, de acuerdo a las estadísticas de la ONUSIDA
Siempre Unidos administra dos clínicas adicionales, una en Siguatepeque, en las montañas centrales, y la otra en Roatán, la isla más grande de Honduras donde se brinda atención a más de 1,500 personas, en colaboración con la Diócesis de Honduras.
El ministerio recibe la medicación del ministerio de salud, de compañías farmacéuticas internacionales y de personas en los Estados Unidos que colectan medicamentos no usados, y dependen del apoyo financiero local e internacional.
Cada año, sobre todo después de la crisis económica mundial, la recaudación de fondos es difícil, dijo Torres. “Además tenemos problemas con nuestros beneficiarios: la pobreza, la falta de empleo, desnutrición, dependencia a las drogas… Algunos no tienen dinero para el transporte entonces nosotros lo ofrecemos”, dijo Torres.
La Pobreza, el desempleo y el subempleo son generalizados en Honduras, donde un adulto promedio tiene 6.5 años de educación; a pesar de la confidencialidad de la salud, un diagnóstico positivo de VIH hace que sea difícil encontrar empleo”.
“Es contra la ley discriminar contra una persona que es VIH positivo, pero algunos veces se encuentran ‘otros motivos’, dijo Torres. “Para un hombre o una mujer encontrar empleo es difícil”.
La sala de espera en San Pedro Sula tenía dos tercios de su capacidad que está llena de pacientes, de hombres, mujeres, travestis, en una mañana del mes de marzo; en la cocina adyacente un tradicional desayuno Hondureño de baleadas se sirve.
Para algunos, el desayuno que consiste de una tortilla doblada con frijoles refritos y crema, sería la única comida esencial del día, dijo Torres.
Las mejoras en el tratamiento, incluyendo la llegada de la terapia anti-retroviral u otros medicamentos, han dado lugar a mejores resultados, expectativas y calidad de vida. Con el tiempo Siempre Unidos agrego servicios integrados para las personas infectadas con el VIH y el SIDA y a sus familiares, incluyendo becas, atención pastoral, educación comunitaria para la comunidad de homosexuales y las personas que trabajan brindando servicios sexuales
El país tiene una de las tasas de transmisiones sexuales más altas de los países subdesarrollados.
Durante los últimos ocho años, en asociación con Ayuda y Desarrollo Episcopal, Siempre Unidos ha administrado un programa de educación comunitaria y prevención dirigidas a reducir la propagación del VIH y de otras enfermedades de transmisión sexual entre las personas que trabajan brindando servicios sexuales en San Pedro Sula, el centro industrial del país.
El equipo de concientización comunitaria proporciona a los trabajadores de servicios sexuales, pruebas rápidas de VIH y educación de prevención de enfermedades transmitidas sexualmente (ETS) y apoyo social y emocional.
“El trabajo que ellos [Siempre Unidos] hacen es muy importante”, dijo Kellie McDaniel, administrador de Ayuda y Desarrollo Episcopal para Latino América.
“Parte de ese trabajo es además sobre derechos humanos, el trabajo por motivo de género y violencia”.
Honduras tiene la tasa de homicidios más alta del mundo; delincuentes, pandillas juveniles que con frecuencia operan con impunidad; contra los marginados, incluso la comunidad de lesbianas, homosexuales, bisexual, travesti (LGBT), sufren mayores incidencias de violencia.
Las organizaciones nacionales y extranjeras de los derechos humanos han documentado minuciosamente violaciones contra las personas de la comunidad LGBT. Entre el 2009 y el 2012 más de 90 asesinatos por homofobia fueron reportados en Honduras.
Siempre Unidos recibe pacientes en su clínica que son referidos de hospitales y mediante personas que les avisan. El programa es diseñado para educar a las personas que brindan servicios sexuales y, las personas del programa van a las calles, y las enfermeras y educadores han llegado a conocer a las personas que ellos sirven.
“Ellos están más cerca al peligro, están expuestos a los traficantes de drogas, la extorsión, y son utilizados por pandillas juveniles y carteles de las drogas”, dijo Xiomara Hernandez, quien trabaja con seis personas que trabajan ofreciendo servicios sexuales. “Y las personas que viven en las calles son el objetivo del gobierno cuando ellos quieren hacer limpieza social”.
Debido a su trabajo con la comunidad LGBT, Siempre Unidos se ha convertido en un repositorio donde se documentan las violaciones a los derechos humanos.
“Hay una gran cantidad de crímenes por violencia y de limpieza social”, dijo Torres. “Nuestros archivos con crímenes de violencia y odio son mejores de los que la policía y las instituciones estatales tienen”.
El congreso del país recientemente realizo unos cambios a su código penal para “garantizar la protección jurídica contra la discriminación por motivos de orientación sexual e identidad de género”.
“Las autoridades nos piden información, pero para nosotros también es una situación muy peligrosa debido a la corrupción que existe en las instituciones”, dijo Torres.
– Lynette Wilson es una editor/reportera para Episcopal News Service.
[Anglican Church of Melanesia] Churches in the Solomon Islands have committed to playing an active part in mitigating the root causes of corruption.
Church leaders attending a three-day conference on Rethinking the Household of God in the Solomon Islands discussed some of the corrupt practices that were negatively impacting on the ability of their country to progress and develop in a ‘just’ and meaningful manner, hindering any normal government’s delivery of its welfare responsibilities.
During a working group session, church representatives identified a host of problems plaguing Solomon Islands’ political leadership, some of which include: self-centred individual interests, lack of transparency, nepotism, non-inclusive decision making processes and little regard or attention to the rule of law.
Church leaders and participants agreed that there was a ‘crisis of leadership’, and in particular a ‘crisis of honesty’ in the Solomon Islands.
“The moral and ethical values that should guide us as a nation is no more,” said the Archbishop of Melanesia, Most Revd David Vunagi.
“In our country, the Solomon Islands, it is unfortunate that corruption has taken precedence over general order, the normal administrative procedures, and, to say the least, there are elements of corruption even in our political system,” Archbishop Vunagi said.
Church participants identified the need to encourage the strengthening and promotion of laws that will lead to the active practices of good governance within public institutions.
“We need to reclaim the prophetic voice of the Church to actively carry out its contribution in helping stem the tide of apathy and hopeless in our country’s political sphere,” Archbishop Vunagi said.
“Churches are well placed to contribute substantially to Solomon Islands’ socio-economic conditions. However, we need to have greater say in the types of economic empowerment programmes created for this end and therefore stand ready to assist in helping to create durable-solutions that affects the lives of our people.”
Churches have now called on the Government to create a more effective process that will bring about meaningful co-operation and partnerships between the Church and the State in the Solomon Islands.
“Churches have committed to demanding a gainful say in formalised platforms of the State that would help them inform national policy and law making processes, instead of playing a nominal part in ceremonial matters on government’s behest,” Archbishop Vunagi said.
In calling for the eradication of corruption in national political and chiefly systems, Churches have committed to doing the same within their own faith based institutions.
[Anglican Communion News Service] A South Sudanese bishop has attributed the continued conflict in his country to bad governance saying the country’s leaders at various levels are not willing to “to change from rebel commanders to politicians.”
Bishop of Wau Diocese in South Sudan the Rt Revd Moses Deng said this in an interview with ACNS today. “The Country is ruled by former rebel generals from the President to State Governors and the County Commissioners,” he said.
It is estimated that thousands of people have died and around 900,000 have been displaced by the fighting in South Sudan in the last five months. The country consequently faces a major food crisis, which the United Nations warns could be dire if immediate and appropriate action is not taken.
In his Diocesan newsletter shared with many church friends and partners around the world, Bishop Deng explained: “It’s had to really imagine 900,000 people because it is a number that may have no meaning to you,
“But if you stop and think of how many people live in the town or city where you live then suddenly you can understand better how big this number is.”
He explained: “All these people have been forced from where they live and now must exist by the kindness of others as refugees in the country that not so long ago they fought for, voted for and gave so much to defend. All that they had is gone and the life that they led is stopped.”
“There are of course many who were never given any chance of survival which is a shame we must bear as a country. The leaders of our country have agreed a peace deal but fighting and killing has been intense for five months and caused much devastation,” he added.
The Church has a responsibility to help bring about peace and reconciliation in times of conflict and disagreements. But what exactly is the church in South Sudan doing to help bring a stop to the on-going conflict?
Bishop Deng told ACNS: “The Church has been playing a great role in peace and reconciliation. Had it not been for the Church, South Sudan would not be where it is today, but could have been worse than Somalia.”
The bishop said the Church is not failing and that it is just a matter of time before South Sudan achieves lasting peace. “The Anglican Church and other church organizations are praying and working hard to build and bring lasting peace to our country,” he said.
Bishop Deng said that various churches in South Sudan were contributing on different ways in an effort to end the conflict. He said that South Sudan Council of Churches is currently playing a role of observer and adviser to the warring parties at the Peace Talks in Addis Ababa.
“The church is also part of the National Platform for Peace and Reconciliation (NPPR) which brings together the three national peace and reconciliation mandated institutions, the National Committee for Healing, Peace and Reconciliation (led by the Anglican Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul), Peace Commission and Parliamentary Committee on Peace and Reconciliation,” he explained.
The Bishop was worried that the country has been divided along ethnic lines and that the conflict is also affecting the unity of the Anglican Church. “The Anglican Church cuts across ethnic divides and we are working hard to ensure that the Church remains united as it is the only institution which will facilitate reconciliation of our people.”
He concluded: “No one is blameless in this and as a country and a people we must wake up to the truth that this situation cannot be allowed and we must look for a peace that binds us all if we are going to be a country.”
[Lambeth Palace] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby made a last minute visit to Nigeria June 4 to offer his heartfelt sympathy for the recent events affecting the country, including the recent bombings in Jos and the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls who have now been missing for almost two months.
The archbishop paid a pastoral call on President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja to express his personal pain and condolence about the ongoing terrorism affecting parts of North Nigeria. The archbishop, the president, and the primate of Nigeria, the Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, then prayed privately together.
The archbishop, who has visited Nigeria on many occasions – including Jos and other parts of Northern Nigeria, where he worked while leading the reconciliation work at Coventry Cathedral – has previously condemned the abduction of the schoolgirls, calling it an atrocious and inexcusable act, and urging for them to be released immediately and unharmed.
[Virginia Theological Seminary press release] On May 21 the Board of Trustees of Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) unanimously approved an updated and bold vision statement which will guide VTS towards the seminary’s bicentennial year and beyond.
The purpose of the vision statement is to help provide the foundation needed for the strategic planning process. This new vision statement will provide a guide for where the Seminary seeks to be in 2023, and how VTS intends to realize that vision and the qualities which the Seminary aspires for in our graduates.
“VTS will be both traditional and yet innovative,” said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., dean and president of VTS. “We will take the best from the past and respond imaginatively to the challenges of the future.”
The vision statement reaffirms the necessity of the residential experience in the formation of priests and leaders of the Episcopal Church at a time when many institutions are being forced, through economic necessities, to abandon this model. To meet this challenge in part, the Seminary will break ground on 38 new apartments on campus capable to house single residents and families.
“Like a wise scribe, we will bring out what is old and what is new; we will cherish the ancient truths as we embrace new truths,” reads the vision statement. “We will be a porous community–welcoming the guest and reaching out to the community. We will seek to be flexible, adaptable, and ready to meet the challenges of our time.”
VTS is ready to make our programming more flexible, as well as provide the resources for an important Church-wide conversation about congregational leadership. And with the changing demographics of the U.S., the Seminary commits to equip students with the “appropriate skills to engage with a diverse world.”
With the success of the Seminary’s Second Three Years program, VTS further commits to offering “comprehensive educational and support programs” to graduates after 10, 15, and 20 years out.
While many seminaries are finding the traditional three-year residential M.Div. program impossible to sustain, the vision statement from VTS affirms its conviction of formation within community.
Vision Statement: https://www.vts.edu/ftpimages/95/misc/misc_145108.pdf
[Lambeth Palace press release] This Pentecost, the archbishops of Canterbury and York are calling on the church to pray for those who have not yet encountered the love of God in Jesus Christ.
The call to prayer for evangelism at Pentecost, which is celebrated on Sunday (June 8), was the first task given to the Archbishops’ Evangelism Task Group by the General Synod of the Church of England in November last year. The Task Group was set up by the Synod to facilitate the outworking of the priority of “Intentional Evangelism.”
Members of the Archbishops’ Evangelism Task Group have put together printed and online prayer resources, which are available at www.usewords.org. There is also a short video, which explores the question: “What is evangelism?”
The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “The task before us cannot be overestimated. We could easily be disheartened. We cannot do it alone. But. . . Allelulia! For we are not thrown back on ourselves, but in, by and through the power of the Holy Spirit, God brings forth life. It is right that as the Evangelism Task Group considers how it may resource the Church to bear faithful witness to Jesus Christ, the commitment to pray is the essential first step. Prayer has to be our first priority, if we are to call more people to follow Christ, and to invite others to share in the story of God’s love for the world. The wonderful news is God is always ready to hear our prayers and to send his Spirit that we may proclaim the good news afresh. I urge every church community and individual to set aside time to pray and to share God’s heart for all his people.”
The archbishop of York, John Sentamu, said: “Recently all the Bishops of the North of England met with a group of young adults from across the Province of York to pray and take counsel together ‘towards the re-evangelisation of the north of England’. It was wonderful to tread in the footsteps of St Aidan and St Cuthbert, who in their time told the people of the north the good news of Jesus Christ, rooting their proclamation in the practice of fervent prayer and praise. Praying for others to come to know Christ is a privilege and a joy – and loving our neighbours and making disciples of Jesus is exactly what we are called to do. At Pentecost we recall the wind and flame of the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples, so let’s commit ourselves afresh to pray, for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and for boldness, simplicity, wisdom, and compassion in the proclamation of the Gospel.”
In calling the church to pray the archbishops are reaffirming, for all Christians in all times and in all places, the priority of prayer for new disciples of Jesus, and encouraging many ways in which this prayer takes shape.
For the Task Group this is just the beginning of a process to encourage everyone in the church, young and old, to consider how best to witness to the love of God in Christ amongst families, friends, neighbours, colleagues, and to hold them before God in prayer.
The call to prayer is not a one-off, but a call to a continuing openness, dependence upon, and imploring of God to work among us for the sake of others. Rather than launching a programme or a campaign, the Church is seeking to respond obediently afresh to the last words of Jesus, in both the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 16-30) and his charge to wait on the empowering presence of the Spirit (Acts 1:8).
[The Society for the Increase of the Ministry press release] The Society for the Increase of the Ministry (“SIM”) and the Mercer Fund of the Diocese of Long Island (“Mercer”) announce the awarding of the initial SIM/Mercer Challenge Scholarship to Jason Daniel Roberson, a postulant from The Episcopal Church in South Carolina and Grace Church, Charleston and his sponsoring bishop, the Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg. The scholarship covers Mr. Roberson’s tuition, room and board.
Mr. Roberson completed his graduate studies with a M.A. in Spanish Linguistics at Penn State University and a M.A. in Hispanic Language and Civilization at NYU’s Madrid campus in Spain. With a vibrant interest in mission and outreach both locally and around the world, Mr. Roberson felt called “to serve the mission of The Episcopal Church and its inclusivity of all peoples, cultures, and languages around the world. Language and culture are integral parts of who we are as spiritual human beings. We can see that beauty in God’s work being done right here in our own parish in South Carolina and around the world.” Mr. Roberson will begin his Master of Divinity course at The General Theological Seminary in September 2014.
About the SIM/Mercer Challenge Scholarship
SIM developed this exciting, merit-based scholarship program—the SIM/Mercer Challenge—in partnership with Mercer. Traditionally SIM and Mercer have been leading providers of small “need-based” grants to many Episcopal seminarians. The SIM/Mercer Challenge addresses the reality that the church needs to suitably and responsibly fund theological education for attracting highly gifted individuals with calls to become Episcopal priests. In particular, the SIM/Mercer Challenge Scholarship Committee seeks such individuals who also have demonstrated the aptitudes and spiritual bearings to be leaders in the church today and tomorrow.
The SIM/Mercer Scholarship offers merit-based full theological education and formation scholarships for bishops to use to proactively identify and recruit future ordained leaders for the ministries that will revitalize the church.
SIM is embarking on a major capital campaign to expand the SIM/Mercer Challenge Scholarship program.
Since 1857, when SIM was founded to “aid suitable persons for the Episcopal ministry in acquiring a thorough education,” SIM has awarded more than $6 million in needs-based assistance to over 5,000 men and women. Typically 20-25% of Episcopal seminarians are receiving SIM grants each year. Almost 30% of diocesan bishops received a SIM grant. In recent years, as the only organization raising funds on a national basis for support available to all Episcopal seminarians, SIM has become all the more important to The Episcopal Church as resources for theological education support at the national, diocesan and parish levels have steadily diminished.
About the Mercer Fund
The Mercer Fund was established in 1956 as a result of a bequest from the family of George W. Mercer, Jr. It provides funds for the Mercer School of Theology on Long Island and for scholarships for those studying in Episcopal seminaries.
To learn more about the SIM/Mercer Scholarship, please contact:
Thomas Moore III
120 Sigourney Street
Hartford, CT 06105
Office: (860) 233-1732
Fax: (860) 233-2644
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Samuel McDonald, Episcopal Church Director of Mission and Deputy Chief operating Officer, announced the recipients of the Campus Ministry Grants, totaling $99,598, for the 2014-2015 grant cycle.
Campus Ministry Grants provide dioceses, parishes or community college/college/university campuses with funding for new as well as current campus ministries in higher education institutions in the Episcopal Church.
“These grants help the Episcopal Church imagine a broader vision of campus ministry,” commented the Rev. Michael Angell, Episcopal Church Missioner for Young Adult and Campus Ministries. “Additionally, our goal is to reach out to college students who would not seek out a traditional Canterbury House and community and tribal colleges.”
A team of eleven, including the Provincial Campus Ministry Coordinators, reviewed the grant applications. A total of 53 applications were received.
Two Leadership Grants and 12 Program Grants were awarded to 11 dioceses. The Leadership Grants will start new campus ministry initiatives. The Program Grants provide seed money to assist in the start-up of new, innovative campus ministries or to enhance a current initiative.
- Diocese of North Dakota – Sitting Bull College, United Tribes Technical College: $25,000
- Diocese of Western Michigan – Universities and community colleges in Grand Rapids: $20,148
- Diocese of Iowa – Student leaders forming campus ministries initiative: $5,000
- Diocese of Minnesota – University of Minnesota, Duluth: $5,000
- Diocese of Western Michigan – Hope College: $5,000
- Diocese of Montana – Flathead Valley Community College: $5,000
- Diocese of Minnesota – All Minnesota Colleges: $5,000
- Diocese of Minnesota – Riverland Community College: $5,000
- Diocese of Milwaukee – University of Wisconsin, Whitewater: $5,000
- Diocese of Los Angeles – California State Long Beach: $5,000
- Diocese of Western Massachusetts – Mount Holyoke: $5,000
- Diocese of Olympia – Western Washington: $5,000
- Diocese of El Camino Real – West Valley Community College: $2,750
- Diocese of East Carolina – University of North Carolina – Pembroke: $1,700
[Anglican Journal] Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, captured headlines this past weekend with harsh and controversial criticism of the Alberta oil sands made while attending a May 31 to June 1 conference in Fort McMurray, Alberta.
Media attention has focused most on his comment that “The fact that this filth is being created now, when the link between carbon emissions and global warming is so obvious, reflects negligence and greed.” It was part of Tutu’s keynote address at a two-day conference, organized by the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) and the law firm Olthuis Kleer Townsend, titled “As Long as the Rivers Flow: Coming Back to the Treaty Relationship in our Time.”
Tutu’s criticisms and call for action seemed to go further in some ways than the position discussed by Chief Allan Adam of the ACFN, who acknowledged that many people’s livelihoods depend on economic development related to the oil sands. “We don’t want to stop development. We don’t want to shut it down,” he told the crowd of about 200 people attending the conference.
“We would like the government of Alberta and Canada to impose the regulations that guide industry for what we call sustainable development and responsible development to occur in this region,” Adam said. “And somewhere down the line, they’ve forgotten that, and because of that, our way of life on the lakeshores of Lake Athabasca continuing all the way down the MacKenzie is threatened because we continue to survive and live off the land.” Some of the people attending the conference spoke of fears for their health and the lives of their children and grandchildren because of pollution, particularly of the water, from the oil sands.
Much of Tutu’s criticism was from a global perspective and was focused on the need to reduce carbon emissions to halt the effects of climate change. “I have witnessed the vulnerability of some of the communities most affected by climate change,” he said. “The urgency of our responsibility to take action has never been clearer. Every day, hundreds of millions of lives and livelihoods are affected by global warming…,” he said. “That is why I have been outspoken in support of citizen-led strategies that will force governments and corporations to move away from our dependence on fossil fuels and towards safer and cleaner energies that can protect people and our planet. This is why I have stood in solidarity with communities across Canada and the United States that are opposing the proposed oil sands pipelines.”
The archbishop added that the countries and companies primarily responsible for emitting carbon and accelerating climate change will have to be pushed to “do the right thing. Just as Canadians reached out to help South Africans rid themselves of the scourge of apartheid, we can work together again to protect our planet from the worst of dangerous climate change,” he said.
When a participant in the conference asked Tutu how to encourage leaders of fossil fuel companies to have the courage to transition to clean energy such as solar or wind, he answered that grassroots efforts from many would be required. “You are going to have to go onto the streets. You are going to have to have demonstrations—you know, the things that indicate that many are taking it seriously. Write letters to the press. Do all the things that we did against apartheid.”
When a participant asked about his council for the movement to divest funds away from the fossil fuel industry, he asked her, “Do you have a helmet?…Prepare yourself for a really rough ride,” he advised, saying that such efforts would meet powerful opposition. But he added, “Just go on persuading more and more people to join you—religious communities, different denominations. Do as they did in the Free South Africa movement, because we wouldn’t have made it without your help.” Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his opposition to apartheid in South Africa.
Tutu has made strong critiques of the oil sands and pipeline projects in the past. Just prior to his visit to Fort McMurray, the Anglican Church of Canada outlined its position on the issue in a statement on its website, acknowledging both the importance of the industry to many people’s livelihoods as well as concerns for the environment and indigenous rights. The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada issued a statement on “responsible resource extraction” with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada at their Joint Assembly in 2013, which affirmed that “responsible and sustainable relationships to water, land, home, and each other are part of realizing our full humanity.”
In his address, Tutu noted that “oil sands development not only devastates our shared climate, it is also stripping away the rights of First Nations and affected communities to protect their children, land and water from being poisoned.”
Tutu reminded the audience that people on all sides of the issue are all brothers and sisters in God’s family. Recognizing our inter-connectedness, along with being magnanimous and compassionate with one another, he said, are essential ingredients in bridge-building.
As the name of the conference indicated, much of the focus was on a call to governments in Canada to respect historic treaties signed with aboriginal peoples.
Chief Adam pointed out a fundamental difference in the way the treaties have been understood and implemented. Treaty 8, signed on the shores of Lake Athabasca in 1899, he said, was an agreement to share the land, not surrender it, he said. When Chief Alexander Laviolette signed, he was promising to share the land “to the depth of the plough, meaning that only six inches of the land that we share with the newcomers was to grow food, to farm and to harvest. The resources were never discussed and [the land] was never surrendered to anyone,” Adam said.
“This isn’t about ACFN. This is about all treaty-making people across this country,” Adam added.
John Olthius of Olthuis Kleer Townsend, which was hosting the event with ACNF, said, “We are all treaty partners, and that includes corporate citizens. Now is the time. First Nations peoples have been honouring these treaties for 250 years, and in the case of Treaty 8, for over 100 years. It’s time that the rest of us honoured the treaties.”
[Anglican Communion News Service] The Most Rev. Nathaniel Makoto Uematsu has been re-elected as primate of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (the Anglican Church in Japan) at its 61st synod which met May 27-29.
He will serve until the next synod in 2016. In NSKK canon law, the primate is elected by the synod for two years and can be re-elected without a limitation of the number of terms.
Also a new general secretary, the Rev. Jesse Shin-ichi Yahagi of the Diocese of Kyoto, was appointed by the House of Bishops and consented to by clergy and lay people.
He is currently rector of St. John’s Church in Kanazawa and head of the affiliated St. John’s Nursery School.
He replaces the Rev. John Makito Aizawa, who has stepped down after serving three terms of six years. Aizawa will return to his native Diocese of Yokohama.
The Anglican Board of Mission has reported that the new prime bishop of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines is the Rt. Rev. Renato Mag-gay Abibico, bishop of Northern Luzon. No official confirmation of this has yet been received by the Anglican Communion Office.
[Episcopal Church Public Policy Network] It’s almost summertime. This season evokes images of freedom, sunlight, and children running through sprinklers and biking through the neighborhood for a day at the pool. These coming months bring the promise of new experiences and friendships as children continue to learn and explore outside of the classroom. Summertime is an important period of learning and growth, yet many children do not experience a fulfilling summer because they’re too hungry to enjoy it.
At the end of the school year, many children who formerly participated in the National School Lunch Program abruptly lose access to their daily meals. Summer meal programs already successfully operate in some areas of the country, yet in 2012, only 14% of children enrolled in the National School Lunch Program participated in these summer feeding programs. Millions of school age children suffer a major gap in their meal coverage during the summer, putting them at risk for underdeveloped social skills, weak academic achievement, and long-term health problems.
The Episcopal Church supports adequate funding for programs that combat social and economic conditions which place children at risk, or that diminish children’s ability to achieve their full potential in the world. The Church also stands in strong solidarity with federal nutrition programs and the populations that they serve.
Urged by our General Convention and inspired by our faith, let’s improve summer for hungry children by increasing enrollment in summer meal programs and promoting access to nutritious food throughout the coming months. Wondering where to begin? Here are three concrete actions that you can take today:
- Publicize summer meal programs in your community through sharing these resources and directing others to a food service site near you.
- Sign up to participate in a Twitter Thunderclap to promote awareness for summer meal programs on June 3rd to
- Contact your Senator and ask them to support the Stop Child Summer Hunger Act introduced by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). This bill ensures that more kids consistently receive meals during summer months by providing eligible families with an EBT card to purchase groceries, replacing the school meals that their children would otherwise receive during the academic year.
Go here to take action today to improve summer for hungry children!
[The Episcopal News, Diocese of Los Angeles] The world knew and loved her as “Alice” of The Brady Bunch television fame, the wholesome, down-to-earth housekeeper with a heart of gold and ever-ready supply of snappy one-liners.
Off-camera she was all that and a staunch Episcopalian besides, retired Bishop of Colorado William Frey said of Ann B. Davis, best known for her role as the iconic housekeeper. She died June 1 after a fall at her home in San Antonio, Texas. She was 88.
“She was a very faithful churchwoman and Christian with an insatiable curiosity. She would spend a couple of days studying a week for her bible study at St. Helena’s Church in Boerne, north of San Antonio,” Frey said during a June 2 telephone interview. “She went there twice a week, Sundays and to a midweek Eucharist. She sang in the choir.”
Davis had lived with Bill and Barbara Frey for more than 38 years, “and will be terribly missed. My 58-year-old son called me in tears yesterday,” Frey said. We’re still in a state of shock. The grief hasn’t completely soaked in yet. We feel it, we recognize it; she leaves an enormous vacuum in the family.
They discovered her unconscious after receiving a phone call when Davis failed to show up for a regular Saturday morning hairdresser appointment, Frey told The Episcopal News. “We found her in the bathroom. She’d fallen and hit her head. She never regained consciousness. She died very peacefully 24 hours later.”
Davis, who never married, met the Freys while doing summer stock theatre in Denver, according to Tom Beckwith, a General Convention deputy from Colorado and former diocesan communications officer.
“She was always herself,” Beckwith recalled. “There was never any pretense. She was a very humble, very cheerful person, and seemed to be happy most of the time. She had effervescence about her.
“She used to tell a funny story about that, about how it was her habit to go to an Episcopal Church on Sunday and meet the clergy and hand out some tickets to one of her shows,” Beckwith recalled.
“It was a way to get invited to lunch. She went to St. John’s Cathedral in Denver once and Bishop Bill and Barbara Frey happened to be there. Basically, they did as expected and invited her to lunch.”
Frey said that Davis wanted to visit his home. “We wound up having a kind of extended family household community of people who seemed to have ministry gifts we could use in the diocese, so we all lived together in a big three-story house; 17 or 18 of us, depending on when you asked.”
Basically, he said, Davis came to visit and never left.
“She came to visit us on Epiphany in 1976 and, after about a month, we realized she wasn’t visiting and she realized the same thing, that she belonged there. She called her agent and said, ‘Don’t call me for a year, I got a better offer.’”
Frey said Davis shared a bedroom with two other single women and, along with Barbara Frey, “flew out to Hollywood, closed up her house and brought her Emmys and a few files and lived with us, ever since … like a maiden aunt.”
Davis had also garnered two Emmys and Hollywood fame for her role on “The Bob Cummings Show” in the 1950s before being cast as Alice in ABC-TVs “The Brady Bunch,” which aired 1969 – 1974 and continued in reruns, spin-off shows and big-screen movies.
Yet through it all “she was always a church woman and a faithful Christian,” Frey said. “When she moved in with us, for about the next ten to 15 years, she traveled the circuit. She spoke at churches all over the country, giving her testimony about how the Lord reawakened her.
She attended All Saints’ Church in Beverly Hills when she lived in Los Angeles. When a new rector came to the parish, she once told Frey, she went to church saying, “I want to catch his act.”
“He put her in a bible study and she discovered a brand new world,” Frey said. “It was amazing to her and the curiosity just never left her.”
“When she was traveling on the road, doing a lot of dinner theatre and things of that nature, she would always look up the local Episcopal church and get to know the priest. She called them her fly fathers.”
She even volunteered as a page in the House of Bishops during the 1979 General Convention in Denver and at a few subsequent conventions. “For some reason or other, conventions and councils fascinated her,” Frey said.
But others were fascinated by Davis; her iconic wholesomeness transcended ethnic, racial and geographic boundaries and she continued to receive and respond to 30-some fan letters monthly, he said.
“The general public considered her a very wholesome person, and it’s really true, that’s who she was,” he said. “She received fan letters from all over the place … just last week she got one from Russia. Another one came from Germany not long ago. I had to find a translator for that.
During Frey’s stint as dean of Trinity Seminary in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, “students regularly came by the house to ask if ‘Alice’ was home, he recalled.
“When I served as the interim bishop in the Diocese of Rio Grande a few years ago, we were at a little restaurant in Grants, New Mexico. Almost everybody else there was Native American. People spotted her and came over to touch her and lay their hands on her shoulders. It was amazing.”
Davis’s last gig was “a TV-Land special in Los Angeles for cast members of a series of programs, from Roots to the Brady Bunch and so on,” Frey said. “When they honored the Brady Bunch, they passed the microphone around and everyone applauded politely. But when they finally handed the mike to Ann B., she got a five-minute standing ovation. She was surprised. That tells you something about Ann B.”
Yet, some aspects of Davis were definitely un-Alice-like. For example, in the Frey household, “we had a number of small children and she wasn’t sure exactly how to handle them, but she learned,” Frey said.
And, “she didn’t cook at all in the household here,” he added, laughing. “We take turns cooking here. But when it’s her turn to cook, we all go out to a restaurant. When people express concern about that, and say “but on the program you cooked,” she’d respond, ‘Blah, blah, blah — it’s called acting, dearie.”
Ultimately, she was an anchor in the television family that “everybody wanted to grow up in but didn’t. We all had the feeling she raised us,” Frey said. “And if you said that to her, she had a stock reply; ‘But look how well you turned out.’”
Born May 5, 1926 in Schenectady, New York, to Marguerite and Cassius Miles Davis, Ann Davis had an identical twin sister, Harriet, and an older brother, Evans. She was reared in Erie, Pennsylvania, and enrolled in the University of Michigan as a pre-med major, later switching to drama and speech. She graduated in 1948 and appeared in television commercials before she was cast in “The Bob Cummings Show” and “The Brady Bunch.”
Funeral arrangements are pending; it is expected she will be buried from St. Helena’s, Boerne, because “that’s her home church,” Frey said.
[Episcopal News Service] Hundreds of South Sudanese Episcopalians united in prayers for peace at a two-day gathering held last week in Kenya’s Rift Valley.
The group, many of them refugees of the decades-long civil war in Sudan or more recently displaced by a politically fueled conflict in the south, was led in prayer and fasting by Sudanese bishops Nathaniel Garang Anyieth of Bor, Joseph Maker Atot of Pacong and Abraham Yel Nhial of Aweil.
Garang urged South Sudanese “to pray for the nation and unite as one people,” adding that “it is only through prayer to God that the land can be healed,” according to the Christian Times. Yel challenged the prayer gathering not to accept political divisions and called on the international community and neighboring countries to continue praying and supporting South Sudan.
Such prayer has been a central force in Sudan’s quest for peace.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was joined last month by heads of the North American Lutheran and Anglican churches in calling the church to prayer for South Sudan.
“Prayer at the very least changes our own hearts,” Jefferts Schori said during an interview with ENS. “It joins us to people who are in the midst of radical suffering; it’s a reminder that we are all connected, that we are all children of the same God.”
During the past five months, South Sudan has faced its greatest challenge since becoming the world’s newest nation in July 2011, when it seceded from the north in a referendum on independence following almost half a century of civil war.
A separate conflict erupted last December after South Sudan President Salva Kiir accused his sacked former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup. Despite a May 9 peace deal between the two leaders, fighting has continued, but hope is resting on a fresh round of talks expected to begin soon in Kenya.
Bishop Anthony Poggo of the Diocese of Kajo Keji, in Central Equatoria, told Episcopal News Service that despite a great deal of disappointment among South Sudanese concerning the recent violence, “we continue to walk together with those who are directly affected and we continue to share in prayer.”
Poggo was speaking by telephone from the Church of England’s Diocese of Salisbury, which has been in partnership with the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan for more than 40 years.
It was the first time Poggo had left South Sudan since the fighting began in December. He had been attending the Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue, a group of African and North American bishops who’ve committed to reconciliation in the Anglican Communion and to walking together as a family despite deep cultural and theological differences.
“We as South Sudanese people have gone through much in the past and many of us pray a lot for God’s intervention and we continue to have the same hope we have always had,” said Poggo. “We strongly believe that this crisis will come to an end which is why we continue to be involved at various levels. Reconciliation is the key message of the church and we do that as part of our prayerful ministry to our people.”
Poggo said he has faith that the anticipated peace talks in Kenya will be successful in bringing an end to the conflict because “the leaders have agreed that others need to be involved. It’s not only our politicians who are involved. It includes other stakeholders.”
No region in South Sudan has escaped the impact of the recent conflict, which has left 1.5 million people displaced and 5 million in need of urgent humanitarian aid.
Poggo’s Diocese of Kajo Keji has provided shelter to thousands of internally displaced people.
“We have intervened, with the help of our partners, to offer support for emergency needs and basic medical needs and offering shelter,” he said.
“We trust in God, we believe that God is the same God that we prayed to during the 50 years of civil war who answered our prayer. We have to put our trust in God. I believe that everything happens in accordance to his purpose.”
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, during a recent interview with Episcopal News Service, said, “As we pray, our hearts and minds are shaped by the wisdom and power of the spirit of God, and as we pray we engage with God in the struggle against human evil.
“We must be battering at the gates of heaven in prayer” for South Sudan, he added. “Remorseless, unceasing prayer.”
For further information about the crisis in South Sudan and resources for prayer, study and action, visit: www.episcopalchurch.org/sudan.
– Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal Church's Executive Council Committee on Science, Technology and Faith press release] The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council Committee on Science, Technology, and Faith (ECCSTF) recently hosted several denominations for the annual Ecumenical Roundtable on Science, Technology, and the Church (ERT, May 7-10, 2014). Lutherans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and other ERT attendees joined Episcopal delegates to explore a variety of issues pertaining to science, technology, medicine, and the Christian faith – from the recent discovery of primordial gravitational waves to the latest climate change projections. Begun years ago as an informal gathering, ERT has grown into an annual gathering of Christians seeking to ecumenically engage a range of theological, philosophical, and ethical topics.
Attendees began their meeting with committee work in their respective denominational groups, then joined together for prayer, worship, conversation, and fellowship. The Rt. Rev. Scott Hayashi (11th Bishop of Utah), who hosted the gathering at the Episcopal Church Center of Utah and celebrated at the ecumenical Eucharist, surmised: “Gathering people from different denominations and expressions of the Christian faith is in itself an enriching experience. To be together for the purpose of learning from one another and advancing the conversation on the intersection of faith and science is a demonstration that reason and faith are not strangers to each other just as people who seek the truth are not strangers to one another.”
The Rt. Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely (13th Bishop of Rhode Island and ECCSTF bishop-member) likewise touched on themes of pursuing mystery in science and faith in his homily at the ERT Eucharist: “A rabbi once told me, in a conversation about faith and science, that God hides the truth from us and expects us to use all our faculties to find it. That is counter to the common understanding of how science or theology work, but for those of us who are seekers in both fields it is something that we know to be true. We encounter it every day of our lives.”
The culminating event was a keynote address titled “Christology, Evolution & the Theological Imagination” by the Rev. Dr. W. Mark Richardson (President & Dean, Church Divinity School of the Pacific). The address focused on Anglican responses to Darwinian evolution in the late 19th and early 20th century, including figures such as Charles Gore (1853-1932) and William Temple (1881-1944). The conference was live-tweeted with#ERT2014 and the keynote was live-streamed via a Google+ Hangout on Air, with an opportunity for members of the public to submit questions on the Hangout or via Twitter (@episcosci) and Facebook (fb.com/episcopalscience). The live-streamed event is archived and available for viewing on the ECCSTF’s YouTube page.
Following the keynote address, Meredith Rawls (lay ECCSTF member from the Diocese of the Rio Grande and PhD candidate in astronomy at New Mexico State University) hosted stargazing for ERT attendees and members of the public, with help from a colleague in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Utah. ERT attendees glimpsed Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and the Moon through a telescope. “Our star party – part of the worldwide #OneSky event – was the perfect way to close the day,” noted Rawls.
The chair of the ECCSTF, the Rev. Alistair So (Rector, All Hallows Parish, Diocese of Maryland), summed up the gathering as “a model of ecumenical engagement not just for the purpose of the important dialogue between science and faith, but also as an example of how our various denominations can work together in the mission field of the 21st century.” In his presentation to the group, the Rev. Dr. Roger Willer (Canon Theologian to the Presiding Bishop in the ELCA) echoed these sentiments: “The Ecumenical Roundtable is one of the more important ecumenical efforts I am aware of, addressing such pressing issues [related to science and technology] in the Church and wider society.”
At the gathering, the ECCSTF worked on resolutions assigned at the 77th General Convention – tackling issues from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) to weaponized drones – in preparation for the upcoming 78th General Convention. The committee is also working to revamp and more widely distribute the “Catechism of Creation” (originally developed and disseminated by the ECCSTF in the previous triennium) in keeping with a resolution passed at the 77th General Convention which “affirmed the compatibility of science and the Christian faith” and “encourages the dioceses and parishes of The Episcopal Church to establish Christian education programs pertinent to this complementary relationship.”
More information can be found on the website of the Episcopal Network for Science, Technology & Faith (ENSTF, http://episcopalscience.org/). You can also like the ENSTF of Facebook (fb.com/episcopalscience) or follow them on Twitter (twitter.com/episcosci or @episcosci).
The following is a statement from Bishop Mouneer Hanna Anis of the Anglican Diocese of Egypt on the election of Field Marshal Abdul Fatah Al Sisi as Egypt’s new president.
[Diocese of Egypt] Egyptians are waiting for the official results of the three-day elections held earlier this week which went smoothly, transparently, and resulted in the election of the new President of Egypt.
As soon as the people heard even the initial results being announced, they gathered in squares in cities throughout Egypt, especially in Cairo and Alexandria. The results indicated that Field Marshal Abdul Fatah Al Sisi has won the elections, receiving more than 23 million votes out of 25 million people who voted. His opponent, Mr. Hamdine Sabahi, received just less than one million votes, with another million votes for neither of the two candidates.
If we compare these initial election results with those of former President Mohammed Morsi we find Al Sisi received 10 million more votes than former President Morsi, although the same number of people voted in each time (25 million).
Many people held peaceful celebrations throughout the night in Tahrir square. They danced and carried the flag of Egypt and posters of Al Sisi. President Al Sisi was the charismatic figure who responded to the cry of millions of Egyptian people who demonstrated on the 30 June 2013 against Morsi. On 3 July 2013 Al Sisi removed Morsi from power and handed over the rule to a civil government. He risked his life to take this important decision and as a result he won the hearts of the majority of Egyptians.
Most of the voters went to the poles on the second and third days of voting. However, young people were reluctant to vote because they were worried that the rule of Al Sisi will be similar to that of former President Hosni Mubarak who was also from a military background.
I personally think that President Al Sisi is the right choice at this time because Egypt needs a president who can reestablish the security of the country. Without security, tourism and the economic situation will not improve. The new president has to work hard in order to meet the many challenges that are facing Egypt, including the financial situation and the concerns of those who think that Egypt will be ruled in a military-like way.
Please pray for Egypt and the new President so that we cross over this difficult time into more stability.
+ Mouneer Egypt
The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis
Bishop of Episcopal / Anglican Diocese of Egypt
with North Africa and the Horn of Africa
President Bishop of the Episcopal / Anglican
Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East
[Episcopal News Service] Two-dozen bishops from Africa and North America have renewed their pledge to reconciliation in the Anglican Communion and to walking together as a family despite deep cultural and theological differences.
The fifth Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue was held May 22-25 in Coventry, England, and for the first time included four African primates, or senior archbishops. Together, the bishops have committed “to consider Christ’s ministry of reconciliation in the world [and] to sharing a journey … into God’s intended future for humankind and all of the creation.”
Bishop Stacy Sauls, chief operating officer for the Episcopal Church and one of two Episcopal Church bishops participating in the Coventry gathering, described the consultation as a pivotal moment for bridge-building efforts in the Anglican Communion.
“I have come to wonder if the impediment to our communion as we have experienced it is neither justice nor orthodoxy, but pride. As we have come to understand one another as children of God and bishops deeply committed to the Gospel ministry of reconciliation, the wall of pride that has divided us has begun to crumble,” said Sauls.
Diocese of Colorado Bishop Rob O’Neill was the other Episcopal Church bishop attending the consultation.
Sudanese Bishop Anthony Poggo from the Diocese of Kajo Keji said he has greatly valued being a part of the consultation. “It’s important for us to respect each other and continue to talk with each other as part of one family,” Poggo, who was attending his third consultation, told ENS. “Some of us have taken a different view on various issues within Scripture, but this does not mean we look at the other person as an enemy.”
For Poggo, one of the main fruits of the consultation has been “to meet with my brothers and sisters from other parts of the communion, to renew friendships and also to have hope that we are one family although we have different opinions.”
In a testimony, released May 29, the bishops recommit to what they identify as their “foundational call as reconcilers” and ask forgiveness for their failures.
“We testify first that we find ourselves to be brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. It seems an obvious point, but it has not always been taken for granted. Some have claimed otherwise. It is a deception,” they say.
The leaders – from Burundi, Canada, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, United States and Zambia – also commit to understanding one another’s differences, listening more deeply, and learning about each other’s contexts.
“We have a lot to witness to a much-divided world,” Archbishop Colin Johnson of the Dioceses of Toronto and of Moosonee in the Anglican Church of Canada, told ENS. “Conversation is powerful as we ‘turn toward’ one another in mutual respect, learn from each other, and in the process of conversation we are converted by the always present third party to the conversation, the Holy Spirit.”
The consultation – which has met previously in London (2010), Dar es Salaam (2011), Toronto (2012), and Cape Town (2013) – was created in response to differences concerning human sexuality issues and grew out of an informal gathering at the 2008 Lambeth Conference that Johnson convened.
“I was determined that the moderate voices among Anglican bishops needed to be heard,” Johnson told ENS. Those voices, he said, include people who believe that the Anglican Communion is not falling apart and who want “to maintain and indeed deepen the relationships of mutual support and prayer that have been the hallmark of our life together as Anglicans.”
The Rev. Canon Isaac Kawuki Mukasa, who served on Johnson’s diocesan staff at the time and who was named in January as Africa relations officer for both the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, organized the first gathering of 11 bishops in London.
Since that first meeting, other bishops have been invited to join the consultation to replace retiring members or supplement those who could not attend.
Kawuki Mukasa believes that the consultation over the past five years has made a “considerable impact” on communion-wide reconciliation.
At the first meeting, “there was a good deal of apprehension on both sides,” Kawuki Mukasa told ENS. But with each successive meeting walls were broken down and the bishops came to realize that “they were actually doing the same kind of mission in different contexts,” he said by telephone from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where he is meeting with church partners.
Kawuki Mukasa noticed that the questions and engagement between the bishops became more candid. “That truth-telling and honesty began to show there was a great deal of trust building between them, which reflected the kind of friendships that were developing,” he said.
Kawuki Mukasa described the Coventry consultation as “a gamechanger.”
“It’s not that they are in agreement on the issues that divide them but they are committed to walk together,” he said.
Kawuki Mukasa, who was ordained in the Anglican Church of Uganda in 1984, said that many African bishops “are tired of fighting.
“They have strong beliefs about human sexuality, but they also feel they were misled by their leaders,” he said, noting their recognition that conservative and breakaway Anglicans “came and occupied provincial offices and tried to lead them into a fight. Many African leaders are beginning to get tired of being used to fight this war.”
There is a “great appetite for conciliatory voices,” Kawuki Mukasa said. “We are turning a corner.”
Johnson told ENS that the main objective of the consultation is “to listen more than speak, to learn about each others’ missional contexts and to understand one another.
“We have discovered that what brings us together is much more central to our beliefs and profound in our calling than what causes division. We have discovered that we are all faithfully trying to live out Christ’s call to be disciples and to be the Church in our local contexts. We have learned from one another and we have developed deepening friendships.”
Johnson said that bishops have a responsibility to build bridges across divides, “interpret our local community to the wider church and the wider church to our local church. This group is doing that informally, as a grassroots initiative.”
The decision to meet at Coventry Cathedral was described in the testimony as “providential.” Out of the ashes of the former cathedral, destroyed during World War II, grew a ministry of reconciliation, symbolized by the resurrection of a new cathedral built in the 1960s and embodied in the Community of the Cross of Nails housed there.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who has identified reconciliation as his main priority, joined the consultation for a day of prayer, teaching, and conversation. Welby’s presence “had a profound impact on each of us and was an important influence in our subsequent deliberations,” according to the testimony.
“We were struck by Archbishop Justin’s own request for prayer. Pray, he said, for the wisdom to know the right way toward reconciliation, for the patience to know when to act, and for courage to act. Finally, we testify to our intention to pray for Archbishop Justin as well as the Anglican Communion, especially for wisdom, patience, and courage. We commit ourselves to each other’s prayers, and yours, as well. Pray, we ask, for wisdom, patience, and courage.”
The group also heard presentations on reconciliation efforts from other parts of the Anglican Communion represented by bishops present at the consultation.
In their testimony, the bishops recognize that reconciliation is possible only among those willing to be reconciled and commit to “being a Eucharistic community, invoking the Holy Spirit by gathering together as diverse people to be strengthened by prayer, word and sacrament in order to go into the world to witness to the reconciling love and power of God.”
The bishops also commit to encouraging similar conversations among others “and deepening our understanding of the cultural influences on the theology that underpins reconciliation.”
The Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop in the Anglican Church of Canada, said he found the gathering invigorating and illuminating and sensed an “openness and willingness to listen that is rare.”
MacDonald, who also participated in the 2013 consultation, said the gathering has helped him to view the Anglican Communion in a different way. “We have a unique, critical and essential role to play in the body of Christ,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt such an urgent need and calling to preserve the blessed vocation that we have in the Anglican Communion.”
Although the consultation grew out of theological and cultural differences concerning issues of human sexuality, MacDonald said the conversations were not dominated by that topic. “Certainly those things didn’t disappear and disagreements didn’t disappear. There was a lot of honesty and openness about those. We have profound differences and nobody wanted to paper over that,” he said.
But despite those differences, MacDonald said that the consultation provided an important opportunity for deepening fellowship.
“We talked about the fact that one of the primary signs of our redemption is our love for other Christians … We came away from this reminded of that, but also with some sense that we do really love one another. Despite our differences there is passion about who we are as brothers and sisters in Christ, but also who we are as people with a very distinct calling.”
Johnson says he has grown increasingly hopeful with each encounter. “It is clear to me that the Anglican Communion is full of life and has enormous potential as a witness that unity is not uniformity, that diversity is a gift of the Spirit and does not necessarily lead to division (and is a reflection of God’s own life in Trinity), and that conflicts that arise because of differences can be healed by praying together, conversation, listening, mutual understanding and patience, rather than by separation and dis-enfranchising the other.”
Information from the previous consultation meetings, including testimonies and video interviews, is here.
– Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts] Beginning this Sunday, June 1, the Rev. Nathaniel Anderson, of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Wilbraham, will preside at neighboring Epiphany Episcopal www.epiphanyma.org as well. As the cost of a full-time rector became prohibitive, the community at Epiphany decided to make a change – a big, bold change which will, undoubtedly, stretch both communities as they share an ordained minister. The vision governing this experiment came after the leadership of both congregations met over the course of a year.
“For Epiphany and CTK to enter into a partnership that both respect one another’s confessional tradition while also carrying out a unified ministry. CTK and Epiphany will not only share a pastor, but also collaborate in carrying out God’s work wherever possible.”
The ELCA and the Episcopal Church are in full communion. That means mutual recognition of one another’s ministers and the sharing of the sacraments. There are several Lutheran ministers serving in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, and we have an Episcopal priest serving a conjoined Episcopal/Lutheran church but this is the first time that one Lutheran pastor will serve two communities in two separate locations – a pastoral “time-share” of sorts. While the metaphor works to a certain extent, Anderson sees himself as a full-time pastor with a congregation that has doubled in size. He has already written his first bulletin column to both churches.
In it Anderson acknowledged the challenge ahead. “Of course, central to these exciting possibilities [of shared ministry] is that we take a risk – that we work together and even simply get to know one another… I hope you will join me in taking a risk and doing something new and exciting in God’s name.”
Swenson leaves behind family and countless friends whose hearts and lives have been warmed by his friendship and laughter. Following Swenson’s ordination in the Episcopal Church in 1960, he and his wife Sally lived in a number of towns in Minnesota including Minnetonka Beach, Wayzata, Virginia, Eveleth, Faribault, and White Bear Lake. In 1986 they moved to Burlington, Vermont, when he was elected the eighth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont and was active in the wider Episcopal Church.
Following his retirement as bishop of Vermont in 1993, Swenson and his wife moved to Forest Lake, Minnesota. He was invited to serve as assisting bishop with the Rt. Rev. James L. Jelinek for 13 years. He knew the history of Minnesota and the Episcopal Church in Minnesota and was happy studying the Gospel of John and teaching. Having been raised in the shadow of the Holocaust and World War II, he worked passionately to educate and transform himself in the areas of institutional racism and civil rights. He was a strong advocate for the ordination of women, prevention of clergy sexual abuse and the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people.
In 2003, the Swensons relocated to Northfield to be closer to their family. There they were part of All Saints Church, Northfield, a community of faith that welcomed and embraced their presence and ministry. The Rev. Gayle Mardine Marsh is the rector at All Saints and was very close to the Swensons.
Swenson was preceded in death by his parents, siblings and his wife, who died on Dec. 25, 2012. Immediate family includes: children Martha (Dennis Joyner) Swenson of Vadnais Heights; Sara (Willie Jr.) Shuford of Minneapolis; Daniel (Kathleen Hanscom) Swenson of Northfield; 10 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
[Diocese of Los Angeles Episcopal News] Southland Episcopalians from Santa Barbara to Irvine were among thousands who gathered May 27 to remember and to honor six college students who were killed and 13 others who were injured during a deadly May 23 rampage in Isla Vista.
The Rev. Nicole Janelle, vicar and chaplain of St. Michael’s University Church and the Episcopal campus ministry at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), offered a final benediction to about 16,000 people at a Tuesday afternoon memorial service at the university’s Harder Stadium.
Invoking a spirit of healing and solace, strength and unity, Janelle called for “resilience in the face of violence and the courage to face that violence with resolve.”
“May we embrace our work as peacemakers, helping to nurture a culture of respect and loving compassion and a culture where there is ‘not one more’ in our community and in our world,” she added, echoing a rousing chant initiated by Richard Martinez, father of one of the victims, Christopher Michaels-Martinez, who also addressed the gathering.
He urged mourners to shout chant loudly enough, until Washington lawmakers could hear the cry of “not one more” senseless gun death.
Martinez and other UCSB students died when a local community college student, Elliot Rodger, embarked upon self-described “retribution” for feeling rejected by female students. Rodger detailed his intentions to target a UCSB sorority in a video and a “manifesto” posted on YouTube.
After fatally stabbing Cheng Yuan Hong, 20; George Chen, 19; and Weihan Wang, 20, Rodger shot and killed Veronika Weiss, 19; Katie Cooper, 22; and Michaels-Martinez, 20. Rodger continued his shooting spree and rammed others with his vehicle as he drove erratically across campus before dying of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot.
Irvine vigil: cherishing life, standing in solidarity
Students, staff and faculty at the UC-Irvine campus also organized an 8 p.m. vigil on Tuesday to express solidarity with the UCSB campus, according to the Rev. Hsin-Fen Chang, Episcopal chaplain.
The emotional vigil was “an opportunity for UCI students to gather and to honor the victims and to pray for their families and also for those who were injured,” said Chang.
She cancelled a regular bible study so that participants could attend the gathering, characterized by several speakers as an opportunity to cherish both life and one another, she said.
The gathering of about 500 also included several moments of silence in honor of the victims and their families. Many of the UCI students knew and recalled memories of the victims, she added. University officials offered counseling and other grief and wellness resources to students.
The Rev. Jim Lee, chair of the UCI Asian American Studies Department, said he taught at UCSB from 2004 to 2009, and has heard from colleagues who needed to talk about their grief.
“I’ve been keeping in touch with folks via social media and in many ways,” Lee told The Episcopal News. “I got a call from a former colleague wanting to reflect with me how he should respond to his class of 300 students; how does he engage students today on an official day of mourning where classes are canceled but the faculty is invited to be on campus to be available to students.”
He said that the community needs time to grieve before actively engaging some of the analysis already underway on social media regarding Rodger’s motives and background. Rodger had a history of mental and emotional difficulties and in April concerned family members had requested that local sheriffs conduct a welfare check on him. Sheriffs reportedly found nothing amiss.
“In a lot of ways, many of my non-UCSB-related people on Facebook and the like have been trying to reflect on how Mr. Rodger’s race and gender and his misogynistic rants in both the video and manifesto reflected deeper problems with misogyny and violence against women,” Lee told the Episcopal News.
“My sense in conversations online with UCSB is, let’s not so much displace those questions or conversations but let’s bring to the fore the very real pain the folks are feeling in Santa Barbara.
“There’s a much more visceral response that wants to rally to make grieving central to that, at least as an initial response,” Lee said. “From my observations of UCSB, they’re trying to hold both as much space for grief, empathy and the like before going through any kind of social analysis.”
In Isla Vista, Janelle and others said the usually lively oceanside campus has been uncharacteristically quiet and somber and students spent Tuesday, a designated “day of mourning,” seeking solace and comfort in small groups.
Brian Granger, 43, a doctoral student in theatre who sings in St. Michael’s choir, said that a former student visiting from Los Angeles, identified as “Matt” on Facebook, was among those wounded in the shootings.
“He had gone to grab a drink and was standing next to someone who was killed on the spot,” Granger said. “He ducked behind a car and then ran into a nearby shop. When he got there he realized it was hard for him to move and at that moment, realized he was shot,” Granger said. The injuries were not life-threatening and following surgery his friend was released from the hospital on May 27.
Granger said the memorial service helped to begin the healing process and added that St. Michael’s “immediately opened the doors of the church and they’re still open. And we put signs up so people knew they could come and meditate or pray.”
Students, staff and faculty at UCLA also gathered to mourn and to show support in the wake of the violence. A candlelight vigil is planned for 8 p.m. May 28 at UC Riverside and the public is invited to attend.
Janelle said that a peace labyrinth, already under construction, will be dedicated on May 31 at St. Michael’s.
During the church’s regular Monday evening dinner for the homeless, participants lined up to paint “peace rocks” for the labyrinth. “We’re using that to create an activity to honor what’s happened in the last few days,” Janelle said.
– The Rev. Pat McCaughan writes for the Diocese of Los Angeles’ Episcopal News.