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La Obispa Presidenta de la Iglesia Episcopal presenta el mensaje en el Día Mundial del Refugiado 2015

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

[17 de junio de 2015] “Con demasiada frecuencia el mundo quiere cerrar sus fronteras, condenar las puertas de entrada y ahogar los gritos de los hambrientos y los desprotegidos”, nos dice la Obispa Presidenta de la Iglesia Episcopal Katharine Jefferts Schori en su mensaje del Día Mundial del Refugiado 2015. (“Somos guardianes de nuestros hermanos y hermanas, y cuando somos reflexivos, recordamos que nuestro bienestar depende de la seguridad de los demás”.)

El Día Mundial del Refugiado se celebra el 20 de junio, y en su mensaje, la Obispa Presidenta se refirió también a la ardua labor de reasentamiento que realizan los Ministerios Episcopales de Migración.

A continuación el mensaje de la de Obispa Presidenta Jefferts Schori.

Día Mundial del Refugiado 2015

Por miles de años, los seres humanos han sido sacados de sus hogares debido a conflictos, desastres y opresión. Abraham y Sara comenzaron como inmigrantes y sus descendientes se convirtieron en refugiados:

“Un arameo errante fue mi antepasado; él descendió a Egipto y vivió allí como extranjero, pocos en número… Cuando los egipcios nos trataron duramente y nos abatieron… el Señor nos sacó de Egipto… a este lugar y nos dio esta tierra… en la que fluye leche y miel”.[1]

Sus descendientes se convirtieron en una bendición para Egipto, hasta que se vieron oprimidos y huyeron para salvar sus vidas. Siendo niño, Jesús y su familia fueron refugiados en la otra dirección, huyendo de la violencia de la dominación romana en la tierra de Israel y buscando refugio en Egipto[2].

Hoy en día hay más refugiados, solicitantes de asilo y personas desplazadas internamente que en cualquier otro momento desde el final de la II Guerra Mundial. Más de 51 millones de personas alrededor del mundo viven en peligro de muerte, con temor e incertidumbre. Como descendientes de los arameos errantes, cuyos antepasados huyeron de la esclavitud en Egipto, estamos encargados de cuidar al peregrino. Amar al prójimo como a nosotros mismos es fundamental para nuestra vida de fe.

Con demasiada frecuencia el mundo quiere cerrar sus fronteras, condenar las puertas de entrada y ahogar los gritos de los hambrientos y los desprotegidos. Somos guardianes de nuestros hermanos y hermanas, y cuando somos reflexivos, recordamos que nuestro bienestar depende de la seguridad de los demás. Si algunos viven en la miseria y la inseguridad, la violencia por lo general es el resultado. Sólo tenemos que mirar a nuestro alrededor y reconocer que la violencia muy a menudo viene de quienes supuestamente viven de manera segura así como de quienes carecen de medios o recursos. Si queremos paz, debemos cuidar de quienes huyen de la violencia – y orar por sus perpetradores. Estamos hechos a imagen de Dios y fuimos creados para vivir en paz.

Al conmemorar el Día Mundial del Refugiado, reflexionemos acerca de cómo estar conscientes e involucrados:

  • Conozcamos sobre las actuales migraciones a gran escala – de África a lo largo del Mediterráneo; de áreas del sudeste de Asia; del conflictivo Oriente Medio; de Burundi a las naciones circundantes; los refugiados de guerras de las pandillas en América Latina; y en tantos otros lugares de conflicto, desastre y discriminación.
  • Oremos por aquéllos que viven en los campamentos de refugiados, en centros de detención y en el limbo migratorio.
  • Busquemos maneras de involucrarnos personalmente y a través de las congregaciones.
  • Participemos en los Ministerios Episcopales de Migración, que celebran 75 años de ayudar a reasentar a los refugiados en Estados Unidos. Contribuyamos con ayuda financiera, defensoría e involucramiento personal. El año pasado, los Ministerios Episcopales de Migración reasentaron a más de 5,000 personas de 32 países diferentes.
  • Seamos defensores de los inmigrantes, quienes luchan por ser escuchados, quienes suelen ser invisibles o estar marginados. Unámonos a otros para abogar por políticas de inmigración y asilo que busquen la justicia para todas las clases y condiciones de personas desplazadas.
  • Trabajemos por la paz en nuestros propios vecindarios y en todo el mundo – relaciones que aquí abarcan las diferencias pueden sustentar iniciativas de consolidación de la paz en otros lugares.

Los refugiados y los inmigrantes se convierten en fuertes miembros de las comunidades locales y son una bendición para sus vecinos. ¿Seremos igualmente nosotros una bendición para ellos, buscaremos que tengan una dignidad similar y responderemos con compasión a sus necesidades?

Reverendísima Katharine Jefferts Schori
Obispa Presidenta y Primada
La Iglesia Episcopal

Ministerios Episcopales de Inmigración

Los Ministerios Episcopales de Inmigración son el programa de reasentamiento de refugiados de la Sociedad Misionera para Locales y Extranjeros. Cada año, la Sociedad Misionera trabaja en colaboración con su red de afiliados, junto con las diócesis, las comunidades religiosas y voluntarios, para recibir a refugiados de las zonas de conflicto de todo el mundo.

[1] Cf. Deuteronomio 26:5-9

[2] Mateo 2:13-15

[1] Cf. Deuteronomio 26:5-9

[2] Mateo 2:13-15

After 30 years as priests, Brazil’s women look toward episcopacy

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Rev. Carmen Gomes, the first female priest ordained in the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, and Christina Takatsu Winnischofer, president of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil’s Women’s Union and the church’s former general secretary, pose for a photo during a June 6 conference of lay and ordained women theologians in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

[Episcopal News Service – Porto Alegre, Brazil] In 1985, the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil ordained its first female priest, nine years after The Episcopal Church opened all orders of ordained ministry to women.

“As a church we feel we were really blessed to take this step quite early,” said Archbishop Francisco de Assis da Silva, Brazil’s primate since 2013, and bishop of the Diocese of Southwest Brazil, adding that it wasn’t until 1994, nine years later, that the Church of England ordained women to the priesthood.

Yet despite 30 years of women’s ordination, he said, “We still have resistance,” and despite female candidates in bishop elections, no diocese has taken that step.

In early June, as part of its 125th anniversary celebration, the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil also celebrated 30 years of women’s ordination. Coinciding with the celebration in Porto Alegre, the birthplace of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, 40 lay and ordained female theologians gathered at a Roman Catholic retreat house for a three-day national conference themed, “women, strength and faith.” As an invited speaker, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori delivered a lecture, “Discipleship of Equals: Episcopate and Sexism” on June 6.

For years, the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil’s Women’s Union has actively worked toward raising women’s status in the church and society, but despite women having accessed leadership positions in the church, the absence of a female bishop is cause both for concern and question among lay and ordained women.

The Brazilian church came close to electing the Rev. Patricia Powers, a longtime Episcopal Church-appointed missionary who in 1986 became the second ordained female priest and then the first woman to serve as a dean. In the 27 years since Powers stood for election, women have been included in bishop slates three times, most recently in 2012.

“We need to be represented in the House of Bishops where the decisions are made,” said the Rev. Carmen Gomes, who was the first woman ordained priest. “We can offer service in the house, not just as representatives of women, but of all who feel marginalized in the church.”

The three largest Southern Cone countries – Argentina, Brazil and Chile – all currently are headed by female presidents; unlike the Brazilian church, however, Argentina and Chile belong to the more conservative Anglican churches of South America, and do not support women’s ordination.

Modeled after a 2005 resolution passed by the Anglican Consultative Council that called for equal representation of men and women in leadership goals, the women drafted a similar resolution to be introduced at the church’s 2017 synod. In the meantime, they’ve committed to work not only to empower and prepare women for leadership roles, but to envision an episcopate different from the traditional, top-down male model, said the Rev. Glenda McQueen, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, who attended the three-day conference.

A women’s model was something the presiding bishop touched on.

Because of their gender, women can bring particular gifts to the episcopate, said Jefferts Schori in her June 6 lecture, echoing words she’d spoken in late May at the Westminster Faith Debates at St. James’s Church in London, England: “… women’s presence in leadership expands the image of what it means to be made in the image of God.  Furthermore, given their social location in most societies, women’s experience of marginalization can help to bring that particular perspective to the work of leadership.”

During that lecture, the presiding bishop expanded her thoughts on marginalization saying that women bring their own experience “outside the norm” into leadership of a community, and women continue in much of the world today to experience marginalization and varying levels of social control in their lives.

Women as leaders “serve both as iconic images of the complexity and otherness of God and by representing and raising the concerns of the marginalized, having known that reality themselves.  Both are basic to following Jesus, who spent most of his active ministry with the marginalized, seeking to make them and their communities whole.  It doesn’t mean that men cannot also do that work, but that women by their social location are often closer to the reality of the oppressed and ‘unfree,’” she said.

Jefferts Schori spent June 5-7 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in celebration of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil’s 125th anniversary, 50 years of autonomy and 30 years of women’s ordination. In addition to the June 6 lecture, the presiding bishop preached and co-celebrated at the June 7 Eucharist at Most Holy Trinity Cathedral, the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil’s national cathedral.

Nearing the end of her nine-year term as presiding bishop, the faith debate in Westminster and the lecture given in Porto Alegre were the only times she’s been asked to speak on women, sexism and the episcopacy, Jefferts Schori said.

The invitation to participate in the faith debate at Westminster came after the Church of England appointed its first female bishop, the Rt. Rev. Libby Lane.

In July 2014, the Church of England, following years of debate, approved legislation enabling women to serve as bishops as early as 2015. By June 10, the Church of England had appointed four women as bishops.

On June 6, during the gathering in Porto Alegre, the Very Rev. Mary Irwin-Gibson became the first woman elected bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal.

At Westminster, Jefferts Schori said, she focused on women in religious leadership, but in Brazil, she thought it was important to emphasize the different trajectories and realities across the Anglican Communion, including statistics.

When the women learned the presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church would preach on June 7, they changed the date of their conference to coincide with her visit, said the Very Rev. Mannez Rosa dos Santos, dean of Most Holy Trinity Cathedral.

“It’s very special for the women of Brazil,” she said, speaking through an interpreter.

Three points underline the importance of the presiding bishop’s visit, she said: Elected as the first female primate in the Anglican Communion, Jefferts Schori has “a special witness and prophetic position”; sharing herself with the women indicates an openness to relationship; and her visit served as an opportunity for the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil to see a female bishop and visualize what women’s leadership in the episcopate means.

“We need to change our vision,” said dos Santos, who is one of two female deans serving the church.

Today, women make up 25 percent of the of the Brazilian church’s 150 active clergy serving nine dioceses. In the U.S.-based Episcopal Church, women make up 35 percent of the more than 6,500 active clergy serving 99 dioceses.

Female priests make up more than 50 percent of clergy in eight of the 99 U.S.-based dioceses, mainly small, rural dioceses, said Jefferts Schori in her lecture.

Female priests “are also under-represented as senior leaders (rectors or deans) or clergy serving alone in a congregation. They constitute 31 percent of such clergy across the U.S. part of the church, and we don’t have enough data to say very much about the non-U.S. parts of The Episcopal Church,” she continued. “The percentage of women serving as senior clergy is lower in the more politically conservative parts of the U.S., and in dioceses where there are a lot of large and wealthy congregations.  More women are deployed in poorer and more rural areas, and in positions that pay less than average or where they serve without compensation.”

This can change, she added, if dioceses prepare the electorate to elect a woman:

Share the data; share the reality (for example, the number of ordained women and what fraction of the whole that represents, their trajectory and whether they are growing in percentage).

“And (challenge) people in the congregation to think about why women aren’t elected as church leaders in ordained ministry and why there are so few of them, because I don’t think people are conscious (of that) when they go to vote,” said Jefferts Schori in an interview with ENS.  “I think people vote for who they like and people they can imagine being their bishop and if they have never seen a woman [as a] bishop they probably aren’t conscious of the fact that they are not going to vote for somebody that they don’t think of potentially as being a bishop. And I don’t think it’s terribly conscious, but it can be brought into consciousness by doing some preparatory work, and by ensuring that there are women on the ballot and that the electors get exposed to the variety.”

In her lecture, she talked specifically about women as bishops, showing the numbers, which indicate it may be easier for a woman to be appointed a bishop, as is the case in the Church of England, rather than to be elected as in The Episcopal Church.

“In 1988, Barbara Harris was the first woman to be elected bishop in the Anglican Communion.  Since then, 44 other women have been elected or appointed across the Anglican Communion.  They have been almost exactly divided between suffragan bishops, 23, and diocesan bishops, 22. One suffragan has since been called to serve as a diocesan. In some parts of the Communion, bishops are elected by dioceses; in other provinces they are appointed by more centralized church bodies.  Thus far, it appears to be far easier to appoint women bishops than it is to elect them, especially as diocesan bishops,” she said.

Of the total 22 women elected as bishops in The Episcopal Church, nine have been diocesan bishops; four remain and a fifth will be consecrated in September. Since Jefferts Schori was elected in 2000, there have been 125 bishops elected, she said.

“The House of Bishops is beginning to talk about the low percentage of women [as] bishops,” the presiding bishop said, during the interview with ENS.

Jefferts Schori ran alongside six male candidates both when she was elected bishop of the Diocese of Nevada in 2001 and as presiding bishop in 2006.

“The male bishops are noticing that there are fewer women bishops in the House because the women who were elected in the first round are retiring,” she said. “It shocked me when I first looked at the statistics: 20 percent of the total are women, and only 10 percent of the active bishops in The Episcopal Church. And we’ve elected some 40 to 45 percent of the women in the communion, simply because we have so many dioceses, so many opportunities, but the fact remains that we are not electing them as diocesans.”

During a question-and-answer session following the presiding bishop’s lecture, the women wanted to know if she’d ever been discriminated against.

“Face to face, I’ve been treated well, but lots of mean things have been said on the Internet,” she said, adding that at her first Primates Meeting, the situation was tense at times, but the comments made weren’t personal, she said.

Later, when asked by ENS if she felt like a role model throughout her term as primate, Jefferts Schori said: “The fact that a woman is seen in that role, it’s really important. It’s like what I said in the first part of the lecture, women present another aspect of the image of God and if they are not represented then people’s understanding – of what and who God is – is really limited, and again it’s unconscious for most people. And again, it’s important to see the possibility that a woman can do this, particularly in patriarchal societies that continue to tell women that they can’t do these things.”

— Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for Episcopal News Service.        

Welby joins faith leaders calling for action on climate change

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

[Lambeth Palace press release] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has joined faith leaders in Britain pledging to fast and pray for the success of key international negotiations over climate change, in a new declaration warning of the “huge challenge” facing the world over global warming.

Representatives of the major faiths, including Welby, said climate change has already hit the poorest of the world hardest and urgent action is needed now to protect future generations.

In the Lambeth Declaration, which will be launched June 17, signatories call on faith communities to recognize the pressing need to make the transition to a low carbon economy.

The call comes ahead of the international climate change talks in Paris this December where negotiators from more than 190 nations will gather to discuss a new global agreement on climate change, aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 when current commitments run out.

The Declaration, signed by the archbishops of Canterbury and York and other faith leaders in the U.K., warns that world leaders must agree to reduce emissions to avoid average temperatures rising beyond 2⁰C, widely considered to be the threshold above which it is considered that the impacts of climate change will be most severe.

The original declaration was hosted by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and signed by faith leaders in 2009 ahead of the Climate Summit in Copenhagen.

The declaration is being launched Wednesday, June 17, by Bishop of Salisbury Nicholas Holtam, the Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment, at ecumenical services in Westminster, London, to mark the national lobby of U.K. Parliament over the Paris talks.

Signatories include representatives from the Muslim, Sikh and Jewish communities as well as the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Methodist Conference and other denominations and faiths, with more leaders continuing to sign the Declaration.

Hundreds more people are expected to sign up to the declaration as it travels rounds the country during a summer of pilgrimages.

View text of the Lambeth Declaration and full list of signatories on the Church of England website

Convention challenged to expand global missionary opportunities

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Natalie Finstad, an Episcopal Church missionary who served in Kenya, helps to plant seedlings at a young adult leadership event with one of Tatua Kenya’s partner organizations, Nyumba ya Tumaini. Photo: Tatua Kenya

[Episcopal News Service] Crossing cultural boundaries, building partnerships, and engaging God’s mission locally and globally are at the very heart of The Episcopal Church’s missionary program.

The 78th General Convention, meeting June 25-July 3 in Salt Lake City, Utah, will be asked in two proposed resolutions to commit to its ongoing support and development of the Episcopal Church’s Young Adult Service Corps (YASC) and Episcopal Volunteers in Mission (EVIM) programs.

Through these programs, hundreds of Episcopal missionaries have chosen to embrace a life-changing experience of walking alongside a community often far removed – both geographically and culturally – from their own.

The Standing Commission on World Mission and the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council – which submitted the two resolutions – hope that the programs will be developed and the opportunities increased in the 2016-2018 triennium.

“Global mission is essentially incarnational,” said Sandra McPhee, a lawyer from Evanston, Illinois, who has served as chair of the Standing Commission on World Mission, one of the church’s interim bodies that works throughout the triennium and reports to General Convention with recommendations on the church’s priorities and policies.

“Young adult missionaries in the YASC program and more-seasoned volunteers for longer-term commitments through EVIM experience God’s action in their lives and in the lives of others around the world,” McPhee, a lifelong member of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Evanston, told ENS. “Even more, by sharing their experiences with their parishes and when they return, they manifest God’s love.”

Continued support for YASC and EVIM is essential to the life of The Episcopal Church, McPhee added. “We must engage with our partners outside of the U.S. This ongoing engagement is important to them and it is vital to us. We live out our baptismal covenant being with those who are different from us, seeing the face of Christ reflected in them and working together for God’s mission.”

Resolution A112, submitted by the standing commission, calls on General Convention to encourage dioceses, seminaries, and parishes to recruit and support YASC and EVIM missionaries. The resolution proposes an increase in the number of YASCers to 30 in 2016, 40 in 2017, and 50 in 2018, and the number of EVIMs by 10 percent per year.

At the time the commission filed its report, it didn’t know that a record-breaking 45 young adults representing 27 dioceses would file applications to serve in the YASC program for the coming year. Twenty-seven of those 42 have been accepted onto the program for 2015-2016.

The 2013-2015 budget passed by General Convention allotted $1 million to make “a missionary experience available to all Episcopal young people through such programs as the Young Adult Service Corps program for a gap-year experience between high school and college or work.”

That allocation is part of the way in which the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is responding to the third Mark of Mission, which calls on members of the Anglican Communion to respond to human need in loving service.

The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is the legal and canonical name under which The Episcopal Church is incorporated, conducts business and carries out mission.

“When I first signed up to do YASC, I had no idea how much it would change my life,” said Will Bryant from the Diocese of Western North Carolina, who spent his first year as a YASC missionary working with the Mission to Seafarers in Hong Kong, and is currently serving a second year at the Joel Nafuma Refugee Centre in Rome.

“In my two years with the program I have grown spiritually and mentally in ways that I would have never imagined,” he told ENS recently.

Bryant said that his experiences with the YASC program have helped him to realize that “whether you are an Afghani refugee, a Filipino seafarer or an American missionary, we are all seeking the same thing: a safe, comfortable place to call home, employment to provide for our families and community, and a deeper connection with our creator. … Now, after living in two completely different countries and continents, I can safely say that I have become more confident in my faith and in my abilities as a human being. I don’t exactly know what the future holds after my time in YASC, but I do know that whatever that may be, I will be well-prepared because of the lessons I have learned as a missionary.”

“YASCers are valuable in developing relationships with global partners and for what they bring back to the communities from which they came,” according to the explanation offered by the Standing Commission on World Mission in its “Blue Book” report to General Convention. “Likewise, EVIMs are important servants of the church, as they bring their experience and expertise to the places where they are received, and bring the global church back to their communities.”

The Executive Council has submitted Resolution A013, calling on the 78th General Convention to affirm the growing success of the church’s global mission work, “especially the global networks, relationships, and spiritual developments seen” in the YASC and EVIM programs.

The resolution calls for the opportunities for global mission to be “increased, diversified, and prioritized” by the time the 79th General Convention meets in Austin, Texas, in 2018, and urges every diocese “to explore the opportunities for global mission work and encourage as many people as possible to apply for, attend, and complete a mission assignment as made available by these programs.”

Martha Gardner, chair of the Executive Council’s Joint Standing Committee on World Mission, said that every Episcopalian “needs to know about the wonderful work our missionaries are doing.” She said that she has heard so many stories about the mutual benefits experienced by The Episcopal Church’s missionaries serving throughout the world, but also by its Anglican partners and both the sending and receiving dioceses.

“I love the model of how we are doing our global mission work,” she said. “Working with dioceses and networks, our global partnership staff is facilitating partnerships on all levels, and it is imperative that we continue to support that work which offers Episcopalians of all ages an opportunity to be agents of Jesus’s transformational mission in the world.”

The Episcopal Church has a long history of missionary involvement, explained McPhee, citing the earliest missionaries who traveled to the Midwest and western parts of the United States to the women supported by the United Thank Offering who worked in Asia and Africa.

But mission work has changed, she said. “Instead of a lifelong commitment, short-term missionaries may be sent by a parish or diocese for a two- or three-week commitment. Our Young Adult Service Corps sends people to serve for a year or two in a variety of settings around the world. Some of the YASCers find that they are called to ordination or a deeper, longer commitment to serving God’s mission in the world. Others go on the other careers but all of them cite their time as life-changing and enriching.

“Perhaps most important, the way we think about global mission has changed,” she added. “We see our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world as partners and companions, understanding that we have much to learn from each other.”

The Rev. David Copley, mission personnel officer for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, highlighted a new initiative offered by the mission personnel office to support shorter-term missionaries who can provide specific skills.

For instance, Jim and Mary Higbee and Sue Dauer visited Kenya for just one month in 2014 to provide hands-on teacher training that they will continue to monitor in the coming years.

Copley’s office also continues to work with Episcopal Church dioceses to strengthen their companion relationships and to support medium-term mission placements of older adults as well as placements for YASCers.

“I see mission service as providing technical expertise to empower others and also as an avenue to strengthen companion relationships through the ministry of presence,” he told ENS.

The Standing Commission on World Mission (SCWM) has continued to advocate for and support the sending of YASC and EVIM missionaries “with the purpose of strengthening and deepening relationships throughout the Anglican Communion, fulfilling our baptismal covenant to ‘seek and serve Christ in all persons,’” according to its report.

The commission acknowledged that its future is unclear, pending the outcome of the report to General Convention from the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church.

However, SCWM members “hope and pray that the foundations of the multiple global relationships that have been strengthened by many years of compassionate work will remain solid. … The level of trust that has been established through the years by the work of SCWM should be strengthened, especially in this time of world turmoil, rather than weakened by severe change that may not be clearly understood by our global partners. That being noted, the SCWM is moving forward with goals to enhance work that has already begun, to restore trust that has been eroded by promises that have not been kept, and to capitalize on the vital interest in mission work that youth and young adults are displaying.”

For further information about the missionary program, contact the Rev. David Copley, director for mission personnel, at dcopley@episcopalchurch.org. For further information about the YASC program, contact Elizabeth Boe, officer for global networking, at eboe@episcopalchurch.org.

ENS video stories highlighting the ministry of YASC missionaries are available below.

One young adult…and a Roman refugee center
One young adult…and a South African clinic
One young adult…and a provincial archives
One young adult…and a mission for migrant workers
One young adult…and a mission to seafarers

— Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

2015 Campus Ministry grants announced

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Samuel McDonald, Director of Mission and Deputy Chief Operating Officer for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, announced the recipients of the Campus Ministry Grants, totaling $ 95,300, for the 2015 grant cycle.

Campus Ministry Grants provide dioceses, parishes or community colleges, tribal colleges, and/or college and university campuses with funding for new and current campus ministries in higher education institutions in The Episcopal Church.

“These grants help the Episcopal Church imagine and live into a broader vision of campus ministry and what it means to minister to young adults on campuses,” commented the Rev. Shannon Kelly, Acting Missioner for Campus and Young Adult Ministries for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. “Our goal is to reach out to college students who would not seek out a traditional campus ministry and to help the diocese and congregations begin new ministries.”

A team of ten, including the Provincial Campus Ministry Coordinators, reviewed the grant applications. A total of 39 applications were received representing $528,387 in requests.

Two Leadership Grants and 13 Program Grants were awarded to 14 dioceses.  The Leadership Grants will start new campus ministry initiatives.  The Program Grants provide seed money to assist in the start-up of new, innovative campus ministries or to enhance a current initiative.

Recipients

Leadership Grants
• Diocese of Chicago – Northwestern University Campus Ministry: $24,000
• Diocese of Central Florida – University of Central Florida: $12,500

Program Grants
• Diocese of Albany – University at Albany (SUNY): $4000
• Diocese of Arkansas – University of Arkansas Fort Smith: $5000
• Diocese of Central Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania College of Technology: $5000
• Diocese of El Camino Real – DeAnza Community College: $4800
• Diocese of Lexington – University of Kentucky: $5000
• Diocese of Los Angeles – California State University, Long Beach: $5000
• Diocese of Minnesota – Hamline University: $5000
• Diocese of Minnesota – University of Minnesota, Minnesota Community and Technical College, Augsburg College: $5000
• Diocese of Montana – Montana State University: $2000
• Diocese of Northern California – University of California, Davis: $5000
• Diocese of Northern Michigan – Michigan Technological University, Finlandia University: $5000
• Diocese of Southwestern Virginia – Roanoke College: $3000
• Diocese of Virginia – The University of Virginia: $5000

For more information contact Kelly at skelly@episcopalchurch.org

Companions of St. Luke, OSB elects a new superior

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Brother Basil Edwards, OSB was elected by the professed membership of the Benedictine Community, The Companions of St. Luke – OSB to be their Abbot for the next five years.

The constitution of the Companions of St. Luke requires that the superior serves a single five year term.  Abbot Basil who follows Abbot Robert Cotton, OSB assumed his role immediately upon election on May 27, 2015.

Abbot Basil, OSB entered the community in 2008 and was solemnly professed in 2014.  He is a member of St. Paul’s parish in Seattle, where he serves on the Evening Prayer teams, sings in the choir, and is participating in discernment committee for a candidate for the priesthood. He has served the parish in several different liturgical roles, including serving at the altar for both Sunday and Weekday Holy Eucharist, Lecturing and leading Solemn Evensong and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.  He holds both PhD and MD degrees and has recently accepted a position on the Medical Ethics committee of the Diocese of Olympia.  Abbot Basil is Professor Emeritus of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine at University of Washington School of Medicine and is still practicing part time at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

The Companions of St. Luke (CSL) is a dispersed Benedictine Community with members in 22 states, the District of Columbia, England, Canada and Brazil. CSL began in the Diocese of Chicago in June 1992 and is a recognized Christian Community of the Episcopal Church. The community is an active member of the National Association of Episcopal Christian Communities. Our website is here and our application program Opus Dei is here.

Final report of Joint Subcommittee on Location of the Church Center

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe, General Convention executive officer, has announced that the final report from the Joint Subcommittee on the Location of the Episcopal Church Center has been issued, and has been distributed to the House of Deputies and House of Bishops in preparation for the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church.

The Joint Subcommittee on the Location of the Episcopal Church Center is a subcommittee of two Joint Standing Committees of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church.  The report is available here.

The nine-page report provides an overview and chronicles the steps taken in addressing Resolution D016 from the 77th General Convention in 2012.

The Episcopal Church’s 78th General Convention, June 25 – July 3, will be held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah (Diocese of Utah).  The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.

Archbishop of Canterbury marks 800th anniversary of Magna Carta

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

[Lambeth Palace press release] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby on June 15 attended the Magna Carta 800th anniversary celebration at Runnymede in Berkshire.

Speaking at the celebrations, which were led by The Queen and attended by senior members of the British royal family, and parliamentarians led by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, the archbishop said:

“Archbishop Stephen Langton was mediator between the King and his barons, counselor to both, and an advocate of civil harmony, cohesion and goodwill. His great legacy was this remarkable document, the spring from which so much of the human quest for political liberty has drawn, here and abroad, especially in the United States of America.

“The vision of the dignity of the human being, however limited that vision is, in Magna Carta sets a standard for our consideration of all human beings – however important or unimportant, near or far, they may seem to be.

“Langton was not alone. His was an age of giants at Canterbury. Alphege whose love for his people led him to give his life to save them from paying a crippling ransom. Anselm, the wise scholar and yet brave counsellor, whose advice cost him years of exile.

In such self-giving and courage Magna Carta found fertile soil to grow. It sets the bar high for all of us today.

“In the centuries since, how often the Church and others have failed to uphold these most noble qualities, to be an advocate for those members of our community for whom the rights and liberties of Magna Carta have remained a distant hope.

“From the support for enclosures to the opposition to the Great Reform Act, to the toleration of all sorts of abuse, with humility we recognise these failings.

“But I pray that today will be a moment of opportunity in which our commitment to the liberty and flourishing of one another, the bond between us that allows us to recognise our individual human dignity, is renewed and will never again fail.

There have been great moments. Bishops of Durham in the late nineteenth century and later in the twentieth speaking up for the miners; a church alongside the poorest, the genius of the Elizabethan settlement of religious differences, however long it took to become fixed.

“As the path to Magna Carta and our history since lays bare, the relationship between the Church and the State has not always been easy. In my own Cathedral in Canterbury, at the Altar of the Sword’s Point, the site of the martyrdom of Becket, I am reminded of what happens when this relationship collapses.

“Together, as critical friends, we must seek the principled and active betterment of society as a whole, ensuring that all the rights and liberties afforded to them, both in our legal system and in our inherent worth as children of God, are, in the words of Magna Carta, “enjoyed in their entirety, with lasting strength, forever.””

Breakaway group rejects offer to settle South Carolina property lawsuit

Monday, June 15, 2015

[Episcopal News Service] An offer by South Carolina Episcopalians to settle a church-property lawsuit in eastern South Carolina was rejected by a breakaway group on June 15, the same day the offer was made public.

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina offered to let 35 parishes keep their church properties, whether or not they choose to remain part of The Episcopal Church.

In exchange, the proposal required the breakaway group to return the diocesan property, assets and identity of “The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina” to the diocese that is still affiliated with The Episcopal Church.

Hours after the offer was made public, the breakaway group led by Mark Lawrence, who was bishop in 2012 when he announced the diocese was leaving The Episcopal Church, announced that the parishes of the group unanimously rejected the offer.

“This is not a legitimate offer of good faith negotiation and never was intended to be,” the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis, Lawrence’s assistant, said in the press release, a longer version of which was e-mailed to Episcopal News Service. He called the offer an effort to disrupt the on-going legal process rather an effort to settle it.

Episcopal Church in South Carolina Bishop Charles G. vonRosenberg did not comment on the rejection.

A spokesperson for his office said the offer remains on the table despite the breakaway group’s claim in its release that it came with a June 15 deadline. The breakaway group faced a brief-filing deadline in the lawsuit on June 15 in the state Supreme Court and the spokesperson said the Episcopal Church in South Carolina had simply said that it reserved the right to withdraw the offer after that day.

In announcing the offer earlier in the day, vonRosenberg had said it stemmed from the hope for reconciliation that Episcopalians in South Carolina have held from the beginning of the dispute. “We see this offer as the strongest possible way we can demonstrate that,” he said.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori consented to the offer and it was presented to attorneys June 2, according to the Episcopal Church in South Carolina’s announcement.

Discussions about releasing the parish properties have been going on since early 2013, a few months after the split occurred, the release said.

“In a situation like this, where there has been so much grief and misunderstanding caused by the actions of a few, we pray that a gracious response to those who are now separated from us will hasten the day when we can be together as one unified diocese again,” vonRosenberg said.

If the offer had been accepted, it would have ended the legal dispute that began in January 2013 when the breakaway group sued The Episcopal Church, and later its local diocese, seeking to control both diocesan and parish property and the identity of the diocese, according to the Episcopal Church of South Carolina release. It also would resolve a federal lawsuit currently before the U.S. District Court in Charleston.

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina reorganized the diocese in early 2013 and operates with a part-time staff and a sharply reduced budget funded primarily by contributions from the 30 remaining Episcopal congregations. Meanwhile, the diocesan assets have been in the control of the breakaway group led by Lawrence.

The congregations led by Lawrence operate separately without any formal affiliation with a larger religious body. The Episcopal Church in South Carolina remains part of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

In February, a state court judge awarded the properties and identity of the diocese to the breakaway group. Episcopalians have appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court; oral arguments are set for September 23.

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina said that diocesan leaders worked closely with Episcopalians who had been members of breakaway parishes and were left without church buildings in which to worship when the split occurred. “Most have moved ahead and created new Episcopal congregations, and gave their blessing for the settlement offer to be made,” the June 15 release said.

“Buildings are important, but what is most important is the people who are in them,”  vonRosenberg said. “It is the people that we long to welcome back into The Episcopal Church once again.”

Churches included in the settlement proposal
(All these parishes are plaintiffs in the lawsuit against The Episcopal Church and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina)
All Saints, Florence
Christ Church, Mount Pleasant
Christ the King, Waccamaw
Christ-St. Paul’s, Yonges Island
Church of the Cross, Bluffton
Epiphany, Eutawville
Good Shepherd, Charleston
Holy Comforter, Sumter
Holy Cross, Stateburg
Holy Trinity, Charleston
Old St. Andrew’s, Charleston
Church of Our Saviour, John’s Island
Prince George Winyah, Georgetown
Redeemer, Orangeburg
Resurrection, Surfside
St. Bartholomew’s, Hartsville
St. David’s, Cheraw
St. Helena’s, Beaufort
St. James, James Island
St. John’s, Florence
St. John’s, John’s Island
St. Jude’s, Walterboro
St. Luke’s, Hilton Head
St. Luke and St. Paul, Charleston
St. Matthew’s, Darlington
St. Matthew’s, Fort Motte
St. Matthias, Summerton
St. Michael’s, Charleston
St. Paul’s, Bennettsville
St. Paul’s, Conway
St. Paul’s, Summerville
St. Philip’s, Charleston
Trinity, Edisto Island
Trinity, Pinopolis
Trinity, Myrtle Beach

Presiding Bishop preaches at Westminster Abbey

Monday, June 15, 2015

14 June 2015
Westminster Abbey
London, England

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

Did you notice that green cedar sprig Ezekiel mentioned? Can you imagine its fresh and pungent smell, and its tender green growth? We often see sprigs like that at Easter, and at baptisms and funerals, when the people or their mortal remains have water rained upon them – a sprinkling meant to remind us of our own death and resurrection. We, too, are sprigs planted by the gardener, meant to grow and flourish under God’s care.

Ezekiel is confronting a wayward and warring people who’ve forgotten their planter and gardener. God takes a sprig from the lofty top of a cedar and plants it on a high mountain to become shelter for all the birds of the air. God is often described as high and lifted up, and that lofty cedar is meant to image God’s tree of life for all creatures. Ezekiel is reminding his hearers that they are meant to be holy and just, like the one whose image they bear. This is about right relationship, sharing God’s creative care of tree and bird and every creature under heaven. So, who finds shelter in the shade of your branches? Who needs shelter and isn’t finding it?

Ezekiel’s little parable follows a near parallel at the beginning of the chapter, only in that first vision a great eagle flies in to take a small branch from the cedar and then flies back to Babylon to plant it. The prophet is confronting Israel’s exiled leaders in Babylon, political deal-makers who are trying to build a military alliance with Egypt, instead of relying on their planter and gardener. The prophet insists that the cedar twig high and lifted up is there in a position of service, not as a general’s vantage point. The strategy is about caring for the weak, and it’s repeated in Jesus’ parable: the kingdom of God is like a gardener scattering seed, then watching and waiting for growth. The sower doesn’t know exactly how the seed turns into a great plant, but he trusts that it will, for it is the nature of the earth to be fruitful. God’s planting yields shelters like the mustard shrub, with branches supposedly broad and leafy enough to make a home for all sorts of birds.

The great joke in Jesus’ parable is that mustard is a pretty puny bush. It’s thin and fragile, and it’s often considered a weed, by farmers and gardeners alike. Mustard plants aren’t sturdy enough to hold big predatory birds like hawks and eagles, but a field full of mustard certainly could hide a flock of sparrows – those little ones Jesus is most worried about. The mustard’s human scale, its commonness and ubiquity, and the tiny seed from which it grows, all make it a remarkable image for the reign of God.

High and lifted up – for what? We live in a world that often seeks to hold the peaks as castellated fortresses of righteousness. Their battlements are designed to keep out the unholy rabble, the dangerous or unworthy, hoi polloi, the wrongheaded and the subversive. Alliance building and struggles for power and dominance are not new, in the Middle East or elsewhere, nor is the urge to justify them religiously, as God’s will for the rest of the world.

Yet whom do we follow but one who was lifted up on a tree to die? The same one who offers shelter for the world’s rejected, sinful, wrong, and wandering beneath the arms and branches of what became a tree of life…

Those sheltering birds might be like the one who left the ark and came back with an olive branch. There are a fair number of them working in Pakistan right now, trying to vaccinate people against polio, and put an end to that ancient scourge.[1] Those vaccinators are still too often misunderstood as tools of oppressive regimes or those who want to exterminate religious minorities, and some are being killed for their efforts. Yet for every one who is assassinated, another is rising to take her place. That bush is close to the ground, and it has many branches.

What of the Middle East? Where is the mustard bush or the olive branch? There are sowers at work, scattering tiny seeds in countless fields, nearby and far away. Rabbi Lord Sacks made a profound plea on Friday for a widespread public claim on Abrahamic values – the dignity of every human being, made in the image of God, and a rejection of the demonizing so prevalent in the world’s conflicts.[2] The rapid escalation of those conflicts, and the desperate scale of human suffering in death, displacement, sickness, loss of home and livelihood is enormous – there are more refugees and displaced people today than at any time since the Second World War. To many it feels entirely hopeless.

And yet, there are tiny signs of hope if we’re willing to look – like the grassroots peacebuilding initiatives in the West Bank and in Israel. In January an American Abrahamic pilgrimage met with a group called Roots that included a settler rabbi, another Jewish settler, and a former Palestinian freedom fighter with a long prison history.[3] They spoke about how their hearts and minds have been transformed by hearing one another’s stories of suffering and injustice. Compassion has been lit in their hearts, and its fire is changing the landscape. The bush is growing – maybe even burning a little.

We met another group focused on building bridges around water use and environmental concerns along the Jordan Valley.[4] Palestinians and Israelis, Muslims, Jews, and Christians are recognizing that they share the same trees and water sources, and that all their lives are bound up together in the health and wholeness of creation.

Yet another community is teaching negotiation skills to mid-level civil servants (Israeli and Palestinian) and to junior members of the international diplomatic corps, with the expectation that those individuals can change the dialogue about conflict in their own persons, and that they will be a ready resource to all levels of intergovernmental conversation. They are becoming a sheltering field of constructive possibility.

I met an interreligious dialogue group in Brazil last week that embodied the reality of the cedar and the mustard.[5] Religious leaders from a broad range of traditions –Roman Catholic, Jewish, spiritualist, Anglican, indigenous Afro-Brazilian, Baha’i, Buddhist, and more – gather regularly to promote understanding among themselves and in the wider community. They hold up a mirror to society, saying, “see the image of God in this diversity. We are created to be people of peace.” They even march into football matches hand in hand, wearing the colors of different teams!

Those very local initiatives can and do begin to impact the wider community. When Christians and Muslims, or even Scots and English, begin to hear each other’s stories with open-hearted compassion, seeds begin to grow. The great religious traditions of the world do share a yearning for peace. The Abrahamic traditions insist that all are made in the image of God, and that we share a responsibility for the well-being of all God’s creatures. We proclaim that our help is in the Lord, not in military power or a suicide vest.

The work is both local and global. The solidarity we build with anyone deemed “other” – a hungry person on the street, a new neighbor from a different country or religious tradition, or a fellow citizen whose political aims are robustly different from our own – each act of hospitable companionship provides a bit of shelter. Keep sowing seeds, growing branches, and building a holy place for all God’s creatures. Whose branches have sheltered you? Where and how will you return the honor?

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/09/health/pakistan-polio-every-last-child-documentary.html

[2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/11665931/Rabbi-Lord-Sacks-How-to-end-the-wars-of-hatred.html

[3] http://www.friendsofroots.net/the-people.html

[4] http://www.foeme.org/www/?module=home

[5] Grupo de Dialogo Inter-Religioso de Porto Alegre http://wp.clicrbs.com.br/blogdasreligioes/?topo=13,1,1,,,13

St. Columba’s calls Ledlie I. Laughlin as new rector

Monday, June 15, 2015

[St. Columba’s Episcopal Church] The vestry of St. Columba’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., is pleased to announce the calling of the Rev. Ledlie I. Laughlin as its new rector.

“Ledlie’s work has demonstrated a love of children, an appreciation of the importance of great music to liturgy, a commitment to thoughtful, well-crafted preaching and a vision of the church as the body of Christ committed to serving others. We look forward to beginning a journey together,” said wardens Lane Heard and Elizabeth Taylor.

The Rev. Ledlie Laughlin is currently the rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in downtown Philadelphia, where he has served since 1999. He graduated from Oberlin College and attended Berkeley/Yale Divinity School, where he received his M.Div. in 1987. For 25 years, he has served in urban parishes up and down the East Coast. An active leader in the Diocese of Pennsylvania during his tenure at St. Peter’s, Ledlie chaired the Standing Committee during a difficult time of transition, restoring trust in Diocesan leadership. He has also played an instrumental role in the creation of P.O.W.E.R. (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild).

“From everything I know and have experienced of St. Columba’s, both past and present, I sense an overwhelming extraordinary potential; I sense that it is a community eager to serve the world as children of God and disciples of Christ,” responded the Rev. Laughlin.

The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde added, “I am thrilled to join St. Columba’s in welcoming Ledlie Laughlin and his wife, Sarah to the Diocese of Washington. Ledlie brings deep faith, a wide range of ministry experience and skills and a passion for The Episcopal Church. His ministry will enrich us all. It has been a privilege for me to walk alongside and pray with St. Columba’s leadership in this season of discernment. They have served God and their congregation well.” Ledlie and Sarah, a social worker, will move to Washington this summer. He will officially begin his duties at St. Columba’s on Sept. 13, 2015.

About St. Columba’s

“Open in spirit, deep in faith, rich in worship and active in service”

Today St. Columba’s is the largest parish in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. Established in 1874, and moved into a small white frame chapel in Tenleytown in 1875, we have grown to become a congregation of over 3,000 members. For over 140 years, we have been an inclusive community filled with a deep sense of worship and a great appreciation of music and liturgy, committed to Christian formation, nurturing of minds of children and adults alike, and serving our neighbors. Find more information on our ministries @Columba.org. Join our conversation on Facebook by “liking” our page.

Joint Nominating Committee presents fourth essay

Monday, June 15, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Episcopal Church Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB) has issued the following information.

Fourth Education Piece
of the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding  Bishop

The Process for the Election of the Presiding Bishop at General Convention June 2015

On May 1, 2015, after two and one-half years of work, the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop announced the names of four nominees for the office of Presiding Bishop.   This link provides information on the four nominees.

The members of the Joint Nominating Committee who have made these choices include a bishop, a member of the clergy, and a layperson from each of the nine provinces ofThe Episcopal Church, and two members of the youth appointed by the President of theHouse of Deputies.  Here is the full roster of membership with diocese and province of each:

Ms. Sally Johnson, Minnesota, VI (Co-Chair)
The Rt. Rev. Edward Konieczny, Oklahoma, VII (Co-Chair)
The Rev. Ruth Lawson Kirk, Delaware, III (Secretary)
The Rt. Rev. Lloyd Allen, Honduras,  IX
The Rev. Devon Anderson, Minnesota, VI
Ms. Diane Butler, Rio Grande, VII
The Very Rev. Ellis Clifton, Michigan, V
The Rev. Canon Amy Real Coultas, Kentucky, IV
Mr. William Fleener, Jr, Western Michigan, V
The Rt. Rev. R. William Franklin, Western New York, II
Ms. Pauline Getz, San Diego, VIII
The Rt. Rev. Wendell Gibbs, Michigan, V
The Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool, Los Angeles, VIII
The Rt. Rev. Duncan Gray III, Mississippi, IV
The Rev. Lowell Grisham, Arkansas, VII
Ms. Josephine Hicks, North Carolina, IV
The Rev. David Jackson, Hawaii, VIII
The Rt. Rev. William Klusmeyer, West Virginia, III
The Rev. Canon Mally Ewing Lloyd, Massachusetts, I
Mr. Louis Eduardo Moreno Bayona, Columbia, IX
Ms. Diane Pollard, New York, II
The Rev. Canon Jose Francisco Salazar, Venezuela, IX
Ms. Nina Vest Salmon, Southwestern Virginia, III
The Rt. Rev. Gordon Scruton, Western Massachusetts, I
Mr. Joe Skinner, South Dakota, VI
The Rt. Rev. John Smylie, Wyoming, VI
Ms. Kathryn Spicer, West Missouri, VII
Mr. Dante Tavoloro, Rhode Island, I
The Rev. Canon Sandye Wilson, Newark, II

The Educational Pieces of the Joint Nominating Committee

Since June 2014, the Joint Nominating Committee has shared three short educational pieces with the Church.  The first essay described the basic time-line and steps the nominating committee has followed so far in the election process.  The second essay outlined the current roles, functions, and responsibilities of the Presiding Bishop.  The third essay discussed how the constitutional/canonical roles of the office have changed and evolved.  Here are the links to the three previous educational pieces:

#1 here
#2 here
#3 here

This fourth educational piece describes the process of the election at the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, Utah from June 24 through July 3.

June 24

The nominees for Presiding Bishop will be presented to a joint gathering of the bishops and the clergy and lay deputies to General Convention on Wednesday, June 24 from1:30 pm (MDT) to 4:30 pm.  Deputies, bishops and alternate deputies will be guaranteed seating; registered visitors to General Convention will also be given access up to the hall’s capacity.   A live-stream will be available at here.

After introductions of each nominee, they will each have three minutes to speak to those gathered in person and by webcast.  Nominees will then respond to questions prepared by the Joint Nominating Committee and questions that have come from bishops, deputies and alternates to General Convention, and from members of congregations across all provinces of The Episcopal Church.  The nominees will be allotted two minutes for each response.

The joint gathering will conclude with a closing statement from each nominee for the Churchwide audience listening by webcast as well as the assembly in Salt Lake City.

June 26

On June 26 the Joint Nominating Committee will formally nominate to the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies in Joint Session the names of the four members of the House of Bishops it has selected “for the consideration of the two Houses in the choice of a Presiding Bishop.” (Canon 1.2.1.f).  There will not be any other nominations from the floor because no bishop or deputy indicated their intent to nominate any other bishop in accordance with the procedures set by the Nominating Committee.  The Joint Session is scheduled for 11:15 am-1:00 pm (MDT).  Seating and access to live-stream transmission to the Joint Session will be similar to the June 24 meeting.

June 27

Following the Convention Eucharist at 9:30 am on June 27 bishops with seat, voice, and vote will gather at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral for the election.  The bishops cast ballots until a Presiding Bishop is elected. A majority of all bishops (excluding retired Bishops not present) is required to carry the election.  The vote totals for each ballot are public and must be provided to the House of Deputies.  Once there is an election, the Presiding Bishop sends a deputation from the House of Bishops with the name to the President of the House of Deputies.  The President refers the name to the House of Deputies Legislative Committee on the Confirmation of the Presiding Bishop without announcing the name to the House of Deputies.  The legislative committee, chaired by Deputy Lynn V. Schmissrauter from the Diocese of East Tennessee, will then make a recommendation to the House of Deputies on whether to confirm or not to confirm the choice of the House of Bishops, and the House of Deputies will immediately vote on the recommendation.  A delegation from the House of Deputies will then notify the House of Bishops of the action taken.  The bishops remain in the Cathedral and must refrain from any communication outside the Cathedral throughout the election and until the confirmation is received.

Once the House of Bishops receives the confirmation, the Presiding Bishop-elect is then presented to the House of Deputies, along with his family members present at the Convention.

Seating and access to live-stream transmission of this presentation of the Presiding Bishop-elect will be similar to the June 24 meeting.

July 3

The Presiding Bishop-elect will be the preacher at the closing General Convention Eucharist on July 3, from 8:30 am to 10:00 am (MDT).  Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will be the celebrant at this closing Eucharist, which will be live-streamed.

November 1

The Presiding Bishop-elect becomes the 27th Presiding Bishop on November 1. The seating of the Presiding Bishop at the Washington National Cathedral is scheduled fornoon.  Details of this service are under the supervision of the Presiding Bishop Transition and Installation Committee appointed by the Executive Council.  The National Cathedral will arrange for the seating to be live-streamed, as are all of the Cathedral’s major services.

The JNCPB members are listed here
On Twitter at:  PB27Nominations or #JNCPB
On Facebook  here

La Iglesia brasileña celebra su 125º. aniversario

Monday, June 15, 2015

La obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori, el arzobispo Francisco de Assis da Silva, a la derecha, y el obispo Humberto Maiztegue, de la Diócesis Meridional, concelebran durante la eucaristía del 7 de junio en conmemoración del 125º. aniversario de la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil. La Iglesia también celebró 50 años de autonomía y 30 años de la ordenación de mujeres. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

[Episcopal News Service – Porto Alegre, Brasil] Durante 125 años la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil ha estado edificando el reino de Dios mediante su dedicación a la misión en el país más grande de América del Sur, gracias tanto a la ayuda de asociaciones locales como de haber conservado sólidos vínculos históricos con la Iglesia Episcopal en Estados Unidos —en un espíritu de “unidad”.

“Esta Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil tiene la misma vocación a la unión que Jesús le pidió a sus discípulos”, dijo la obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori, durante un sermón que predicó el 7 de junio en la ciudad sureña donde dos misioneros enviados por el Seminario Teológico de Virginia establecieron la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil en 1890.

“Vuestra historia aquí ha sido un largo proceso de reunir a las personas para bendecirlas. Vuestro don ha sido la convicción de que la unidad en la Iglesia se supone que bendiga también a toda la comunidad. El ser uno comienza por compartir las buenas nuevas del amor de Dios para todos y por enseñar a las personas a vivir juntas como amigos —amigos de Dios y los unos de los otros. Vemos que la unidad tiene lugar en congregaciones y en las maneras en que sus miembros están presentes en la comunidad más amplia —alimentando, curando y procurando la justicia” —afirmó.

La obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori predicó durante el oficio eucarístico del 7 de junio en la catedral de la Santísima Trinidad en Porto Alegre, Brasil, lugar de nacimiento de la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil. El Rdo. Luiz Coelho, de la Diócesis de Río de Janeiro, tradujo el sermón del inglés al portugués. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

Más de 200 personas se reunieron al anochecer en la catedral de la Santísima Trinidad, la catedral Nacional de la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil, para el oficio de tres horas en conmemoración del 125º. Aniversario de la Iglesia, los 50 años de autonomía y los 30 años de la ordenación de mujeres. Además de predicar, la obispa primada concelebró con el arzobispo Francisco de Assis da Silva y el obispo Humberto Maiztegue de la Diócesis Meridional, donde está localizada la catedral.

Desde la firma de un pacto bilateral en 1990, luego de un período de separación, la Iglesia Episcopal en Estados Unidos y la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil han estado trabajando para reconectarse, restablecer sus nexos de amistad y alentar la asociación y las relaciones de compañerismo entre las dos iglesias.

“En los últimos 20 años las relaciones han llegado a ser incluso más importantes. Creo que pueden enseñarnos muchísimo acerca del empuje misional a los lugares que nunca han visto ninguna buena nueva, o que están en urgente necesidad de ella”, dijo Jefferts Schori a Episcopal News Service, refiriéndose a la labor misionera de la Iglesia con los pueblos indígenas que afirma la solidaridad y el compañerismo, más que dádivas. “Eso es un punto de vista notable y una teología que la mayoría de las personas en la Iglesia de EE.UU. nunca entenderían o nunca iniciarían.

“Brasil es un lugar postcolonial, y se siente muy confiado al respecto y eso es algo que podríamos aprender. Que no se trata de dádivas generosas, que ha sido el M.O. (modus operandi) de la Iglesia Episcopal durante mucho tiempo. Hoy es menos así, pero eso es por lo que somos famosos. Estamos empezando a aprender ahora a estar en solidaridad, pero la Iglesia aquí ya sabe cómo y podría enseñarnos un montón”.

La Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil ha estado afincada en la misión a lo largo de sus 125 años de existencia; el campo misionero establecido en el sur se ha propagado hasta los remotos confines del Amazonas, así como más recientemente en el nordeste. Sin embargo, en su relación con la Iglesia Episcopal en Estados Unidos, a la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil la afectó un cisma de más de una década relacionado con la sexualidad humana y la ética, tanto en lo que respecta a la conducta heterosexual como homosexual, explicó da Silva en una entrevista con ENS el 6 de junio.

La Iglesia eligió el tema “unidad y acción de gracias” como una reafirmación de su compromiso con la misión y el servicio a través de la “unidad” no de la “uniformidad”, y para expresar su gratitud por su valiosa historia, así como su compromiso a marchar adelante como una sola Iglesia, afirmó él.

 

La Muy Rda. Mannez Rosa dos Santos, deana de la catedral de la Santísima Trinidad en Porto Alegre, Brasil, y otras personas que trabajaron en el Libro de Oración Común de 1,181 páginas, adaptado para el contexto brasileño, celebran su presentación durante la eucaristía del 125º. aniversario. Foto de of Lynette Wilson/ENS.

Además, la Iglesia se siente agradecida por la publicación de su Libro de Oración Común de 1.181 páginas, que ha sido el resultado de nueve años de labor y está adaptado al contexto brasileño, incluido el lenguaje coloquial e integrado de género que fija el rumbo para el futuro, dijo él.

“Nuestra Iglesia tiene un sentido de apertura hacia el futuro”, dijo da Silva.

La Obispa Primada pasó tres días en Porto Alegre, donde ella y el Rdo. David Gortner, que representó al Seminario Teológico de Virginia, lograron conocer mejor a la Iglesia brasileña, se reunieron con una agrupación interreligiosa, visitaron, con el personal de un programa de educación medioambiental diocesano para niños, una aldea guaraní y un hogar de ancianos dirigido por la Iglesia. El 6 de junio, la Obispa Primada dio una conferencia sobre el episcopado y el sexismo durante un seminario de teólogas laicas y ordenadas que coincidió con los eventos del fin de semana.

“Hay señales abundantes de esa unidad aquí —en el profundo respecto mostrado hacia todos los miembros de la agrupación interreligiosa que conocimos aquí el viernes; en vuestra capacitación consciente y proactiva de las mujeres, las minorías sexuales y los pueblos indígenas (y) en vuestro cuidado y solidaridad con los pobres, incluido nuestro pobre y explotado medioambiente. Junto, todo el pueblo de Dios se empeña en crear una totalidad más eficaz”, dijo la Obispa Primada en su sermón.

“Esta celebración es acerca de esa salud e integridad crecientes, y muchas son las barreras que se han desplomado para hacernos llegar hasta este punto. Para cualquiera que no tenga una idea clara de lo que significa realmente la vida —y eso somos todos nosotros en algún momento— vuestro nuevo libro de oración ayudará a las personas a reconocer lo santo que hay en torno a todos nosotros y dentro de nosotros. Nos acercará más a una Iglesia que en verdad sí respeta la dignidad de todo ser humano, hombre y mujer, homosexual y heterosexual, descendientes de todas las naciones, y las otra partes de la creación de Dios”.

La presencia de la Obispa Primada, dijo el Rdo. Arthur Cavalcante, secretario provincial de la Iglesia, era un testamento a la relación histórica entre las dos iglesias y una “señal de que podemos continuar edificando la misión de Dios que nos han encargado”.

En 1890, dos misioneros del Seminario Teológico de Virginia, Lucien Lee Kinsolving y James Watson Morris, establecieron la Iglesia en Porto Alegre, en el sureño estado de Rio Grande Do Sul.

En 1907, los empeños misioneros en el Brasil dieron lugar al establecimiento de un distrito misionero de la Iglesia Episcopal bajo el liderazgo de Kinsolving, quien para entonces era obispo.

“Me siento continuamente conmovido por la herencia de Virginia y su influencia en la misión cristiana y episcopal, y que sistemáticamente hayamos enfatizado el desarrollo de una Iglesia indígena con liderazgo indígena”, dijo Gortner, profesor de evangelización y liderazgo congregacional y director del programa doctoral de ministerio en el Seminario Teológico de Virginia.

 

El Rdo. David Gortner, profesor de evangelización y liderazgo congregacional y director del programa doctoral de ministerio en el Seminario Evangélico de Virginia, representó al seminario en la celebración del 125º. aniversario. En esta foto aparece leyendo una carta del Ian S. Markham, decano del seminario, durante la eucaristía del 7 de junio. El Rdo. Luiz Coelho, de la Diócesis de Rio de Janeiro, tradujo la carta del inglés al portugués. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

Gortner participó en el oficio del 7 de junio con la lectura de una carta del Muy Rdo. Ian S. Markham, decano del seminario, y el 6 de junio, durante una recepción, una carta del Rdo. Robert Heaney, director del Centro de Estudios de la Comunión Anglicana.

“Las personas en papeles de liderazgo son notables, comprometidas y apasionadas y muestran un auténtico júbilo en el ministerio”, dijo Gortner, en una entrevista con ENS. “Admiro las formas en que procuran asociarse con los pobres y marginados y los que no tienen poder en esta sociedad y abogar por ellos. Espero [que lleguen a tener] una influencia mayor que sólo puede venir con el crecimiento”.

El Brasil es el quinto país del mundo, tanto en extensión como en población, con más de 200 millones de habitantes. Aunque el catolicismo romano ya no es una religión patrocinada por el Estado, el Brasil tiene más catolicorromanos —123 millones— que ningún otro país del mundo.

Los lazos históricos de la Iglesia con el seminario y la Iglesia Episcopal, más que sus nexos con la Iglesia Anglicana, que estableció capellanías anglicanas para servir a expatriados, son de gran importancia.

“La presencia de los misioneros de Virginia siempre ha sido notable y de mucha importancia para la Iglesia en Brasil al comenzar la misión aquí”, dijo la Rda. Glenda McQueen, encargada de América Latina y el Caribe de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera, añadiendo que la Iglesia también experimentó un período de separación del seminario que esperaba remediar. “De manera que poder reconectar con el Seminario de Virginia ha sido muy importante ya que era conectar con el lugar donde la misión comenzó, y con la gente que vino.

“También, la relación con la Iglesia Episcopal ha sido importante para Brasil de mantener y de fortalecer esa relación a través de los años, de manera que la presencia de la Obispa Primada habla de esa relación y de esa asociación. Creo especialmente también que la celebración de los 30 años de la ordenación de mujeres sirve para resaltar el liderazgo de las mujeres donde, históricamente, todos los líderes han sido hombres. Pero la asociación es lo que resulta realmente importante para ellos, y que viniera [la representación de] Virginia fue sencillamente la guinda del pastel”.

En los años 50, la Iglesia brasileña comenzó a hablar acerca de su autonomía y en 1965 el distrito misionero se convirtió en la Provincia Autónoma del Brasil.

Durante la guerra fría —una época en que el gobierno de EE.UU. respaldaba regularmente a los gobiernos de derecha en un intento de contener la propagación del comunismo en Latinoamérica, a veces participando en el derrocamiento de líderes izquierdistas, incluido el golpe militar de 1964 que depuso al presidente del Brasil João Goulart— un resurgente nacionalismo se hizo fuerte en Brasil.

“Todo el mundo sabe que EE.UU. desempeñó un papel clave en el proceso [el golpe] y el pueblo de la Iglesia comenzó a sentirse nacionalista”, dijo da Silva, añadiendo que la Iglesia se convirtió en una provincia independiente un año después.

La Iglesia Episcopal mantuvo su ayuda económica a la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil hasta 1975. No obstante, la Iglesia perdió a muchos de sus clérigos, que anteriormente cobraban [sus salarios] en dólares norteamericanos en lugar de en la más débil moneda local, y la Iglesia se vio obligada a vender propiedades.

“Al proceso de autonomía no lo dirigieron correctamente y para nosotros llegó a ser muy difícil de manejar”, dijo da Silva. “En lo económico, éramos del todo dependientes”.

Cincuenta años después, la Iglesia celebra su autonomía, y continúa en la tradición misionera de su fundación.

Además de Brasil, La Iglesia Episcopal tiene relaciones pactadas con iglesias episcopales en Liberia, y las Filipinas, que se convirtieron en provincias autónomas de la Comunión Anglicana en 2005, y con la Iglesia Anglicana de la Región Central de América (IARCA)

“Brasil es una notable historia de éxito. Han alcanzado la madurez y la han sobrepasado de muchas maneras”, dijo Jefferts Schori, añadiendo que Brasil fue la primera provincia en llegar a ser autónoma a partir de la obra de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera. Nos están enseñando”.

(La Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS) es el nombre con el cual la Iglesia Episcopal está incorporada, funciona empresarialmente y lleva a cabo la misión).

“Ellos nos empujaron a movernos hacia un nuevo nivel de relación”, dijo la Obispa Primada. “Las Filipinas han hecho algo semejante también, en su resuelta decisión de adelantar la autonomía antes de lo programado y de ofrecerle ese inmenso regalo a la Convención Nacional. Y a largo plazo, yo espero que ese es el futuro para toda una serie de diócesis que se encuentran fuera de EE.UU. Debemos avanzar hacia ese tipo de visión y ayudarlas a hacerse autónomas de un modo que les permita prosperar. En eso radica, creo yo, la labor de sostenibilidad [de la IX Provincia] a largo plazo”.

— Lynette Wilson es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Applications now accepted for New Opportunity Grants for Native American program assistance

Monday, June 15, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Samuel McDonald, Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Director of Mission for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, has announced that applications are now accepted for New Opportunity Grants which support Indigenous people in developing new and innovative approaches to their ministries.

McDonald invites communities of The Episcopal Church with Indigenous mission priorities to review the guidelines and submit an application.  Info and application are here.

“New Opportunity Grants serve as an important way for our larger church to support ministry opportunities in Indigenous communities,” noted Jasmine Bostock, chair of Executive Council Committee on Indigenous Ministries. “They provide funding for new ideas to be implemented in dioceses where there would otherwise not be enough to fund new programming. The expectation is that after three years this program becomes self-sustainable, thus allowing the grant monies to be used in new and evolving ways in each granting cycle. It is an honor to have served on this committee previously, and to be in a position to show our church’s support for ministry as we continue to move forward and meet the changing needs of our communities.”

Sarah Eagle Heart, Missioner for Indigenous Ministries for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, noted that the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s Office of Indigenous Ministries invites the Executive Council Committee on Indigenous Ministries to review applications and make the recommendations for awards.

Deadline for applying is August 1. Proposals received after the deadline will not be considered.

For more info contact Eagle Heart at seagleheart@episcopalchurch.org or Angeline Cabanban acabanban@episcopalchurch.org.

 

Hoping for reconciliation, church offers to settle South Carolina lawsuit

Monday, June 15, 2015

[The Episcopal Church in South Carolina press release] Episcopalians who are seeking to end the bitter legal battle over church property in eastern South Carolina have presented a settlement agreement to a breakaway group, offering to let 35 parishes keep their church properties, whether or not they choose to remain part of The Episcopal Church.

In exchange, the proposal would require the breakaway group to return the diocesan property, assets and identity of “The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina” to the diocese that is still affiliated with The Episcopal Church.

“From the beginning of this dispute, we have hoped for reconciliation with people in the churches affected by this sad division,” said the Rt. Rev. Charles G. vonRosenberg, bishop of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina. “We see this offer as the strongest possible way we can demonstrate that.”

(See below for a list of the 35 parishes included in the settlement proposal.)

The offer was made with the consent of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, and was presented to attorneys June 2. No response has been received.

Leaders of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina have made reconciliation a key goal since the beginning of this dispute. Discussions about releasing the parish properties have been going on since early 2013, a few months after the split occurred.

“In a situation like this, where there has been so much grief and misunderstanding caused by the actions of a few, we pray that a gracious response to those who are now separated from us will hasten the day when we can be together as one unified diocese again,” vonRosenberg said.

If accepted, the offer would end the legal dispute that began in January 2013 when the breakaway group sued The Episcopal Church, and later its local diocese, seeking to control both diocesan and parish property and the identity of the diocese. It also would resolve a federal lawsuit currently before the U.S. District Court in Charleston.

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina reorganized the diocese in early 2013 and operates with a part-time staff and a sharply reduced budget funded primarily by contributions from the 30 remaining Episcopal congregations. Meanwhile, the diocesan assets have been in the control of the breakaway group led by Mark Lawrence, who was bishop in 2012 when he announced the diocese was leaving The Episcopal Church.

The breakaway organization is now operating separate from any larger religious body. The Episcopal Church in South Carolina remains part of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

In February, a state court judge awarded the properties and identity of the diocese to the breakaway group. Episcopalians have appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court; oral arguments are set for September 23.

In preparing the settlement offer, diocesan leaders worked closely with Episcopalians who had been members of breakaway parishes and were left without church buildings in which to worship when the split occurred. Most have moved ahead and created new Episcopal congregations, and gave their blessing for the settlement offer to be made.

“Buildings are important, but what is most important is the people who are in them,” Bishop vonRosenberg said. “It is the people that we long to welcome back into The Episcopal Church once again.”

Churches included in the settlement proposal
(All these parishes are plaintiffs in the lawsuit against The Episcopal Church and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina)
All Saints, Florence
Christ Church, Mount Pleasant
Christ the King, Waccamaw
Christ-St. Paul’s, Yonges Island
Church of the Cross, Bluffton
Epiphany, Eutawville
Good Shepherd, Charleston
Holy Comforter, Sumter
Holy Cross, Stateburg
Holy Trinity, Charleston
Old St. Andrew’s, Charleston
Church of Our Saviour, John’s Island
Prince George Winyah, Georgetown
Redeemer, Orangeburg
Resurrection, Surfside
St. Bartholomew’s, Hartsville
St. David’s, Cheraw
St. Helena’s, Beaufort
St. James, James Island
St. John’s, Florence
St. John’s, John’s Island
St. Jude’s, Walterboro
St. Luke’s, Hilton Head
St. Luke and St. Paul, Charleston
St. Matthew’s, Darlington
St. Matthew’s, Fort Motte
St. Matthias, Summerton
St. Michael’s, Charleston
St. Paul’s, Bennettsville
St. Paul’s, Conway
St. Paul’s, Summerville
St. Philip’s, Charleston
Trinity, Edisto Island
Trinity, Pinopolis
Trinity, Myrtle Beach

Presiding Bishop preaches at Westminster Abbey

Monday, June 15, 2015

14 June 2015
Westminster Abbey
London, England

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

Did you notice that green cedar sprig Ezekiel mentioned? Can you imagine its fresh and pungent smell, and its tender green growth? We often see sprigs like that at Easter, and at baptisms and funerals, when the people or their mortal remains have water rained upon them – a sprinkling meant to remind us of our own death and resurrection. We, too, are sprigs planted by the gardener, meant to grow and flourish under God’s care.

Ezekiel is confronting a wayward and warring people who’ve forgotten their planter and gardener. God takes a sprig from the lofty top of a cedar and plants it on a high mountain to become shelter for all the birds of the air. God is often described as high and lifted up, and that lofty cedar is meant to image God’s tree of life for all creatures. Ezekiel is reminding his hearers that they are meant to be holy and just, like the one whose image they bear. This is about right relationship, sharing God’s creative care of tree and bird and every creature under heaven. So, who finds shelter in the shade of your branches? Who needs shelter and isn’t finding it?

Ezekiel’s little parable follows a near parallel at the beginning of the chapter, only in that first vision a great eagle flies in to take a small branch from the cedar and then flies back to Babylon to plant it. The prophet is confronting Israel’s exiled leaders in Babylon, political deal-makers who are trying to build a military alliance with Egypt, instead of relying on their planter and gardener. The prophet insists that the cedar twig high and lifted up is there in a position of service, not as a general’s vantage point. The strategy is about caring for the weak, and it’s repeated in Jesus’ parable: the kingdom of God is like a gardener scattering seed, then watching and waiting for growth. The sower doesn’t know exactly how the seed turns into a great plant, but he trusts that it will, for it is the nature of the earth to be fruitful. God’s planting yields shelters like the mustard shrub, with branches supposedly broad and leafy enough to make a home for all sorts of birds.

The great joke in Jesus’ parable is that mustard is a pretty puny bush. It’s thin and fragile, and it’s often considered a weed, by farmers and gardeners alike. Mustard plants aren’t sturdy enough to hold big predatory birds like hawks and eagles, but a field full of mustard certainly could hide a flock of sparrows – those little ones Jesus is most worried about. The mustard’s human scale, its commonness and ubiquity, and the tiny seed from which it grows, all make it a remarkable image for the reign of God.

High and lifted up – for what? We live in a world that often seeks to hold the peaks as castellated fortresses of righteousness. Their battlements are designed to keep out the unholy rabble, the dangerous or unworthy, hoi polloi, the wrongheaded and the subversive. Alliance building and struggles for power and dominance are not new, in the Middle East or elsewhere, nor is the urge to justify them religiously, as God’s will for the rest of the world.

Yet whom do we follow but one who was lifted up on a tree to die? The same one who offers shelter for the world’s rejected, sinful, wrong, and wandering beneath the arms and branches of what became a tree of life…

Those sheltering birds might be like the one who left the ark and came back with an olive branch. There are a fair number of them working in Pakistan right now, trying to vaccinate people against polio, and put an end to that ancient scourge.[1] Those vaccinators are still too often misunderstood as tools of oppressive regimes or those who want to exterminate religious minorities, and some are being killed for their efforts. Yet for every one who is assassinated, another is rising to take her place. That bush is close to the ground, and it has many branches.

What of the Middle East? Where is the mustard bush or the olive branch? There are sowers at work, scattering tiny seeds in countless fields, nearby and far away. Rabbi Lord Sacks made a profound plea on Friday for a widespread public claim on Abrahamic values – the dignity of every human being, made in the image of God, and a rejection of the demonizing so prevalent in the world’s conflicts.[2] The rapid escalation of those conflicts, and the desperate scale of human suffering in death, displacement, sickness, loss of home and livelihood is enormous – there are more refugees and displaced people today than at any time since the Second World War. To many it feels entirely hopeless.

And yet, there are tiny signs of hope if we’re willing to look – like the grassroots peacebuilding initiatives in the West Bank and in Israel. In January an American Abrahamic pilgrimage met with a group called Roots that included a settler rabbi, another Jewish settler, and a former Palestinian freedom fighter with a long prison history.[3] They spoke about how their hearts and minds have been transformed by hearing one another’s stories of suffering and injustice. Compassion has been lit in their hearts, and its fire is changing the landscape. The bush is growing – maybe even burning a little.

We met another group focused on building bridges around water use and environmental concerns along the Jordan Valley.[4] Palestinians and Israelis, Muslims, Jews, and Christians are recognizing that they share the same trees and water sources, and that all their lives are bound up together in the health and wholeness of creation.

Yet another community is teaching negotiation skills to mid-level civil servants (Israeli and Palestinian) and to junior members of the international diplomatic corps, with the expectation that those individuals can change the dialogue about conflict in their own persons, and that they will be a ready resource to all levels of intergovernmental conversation. They are becoming a sheltering field of constructive possibility.

I met an interreligious dialogue group in Brazil last week that embodied the reality of the cedar and the mustard.[5] Religious leaders from a broad range of traditions – Roman Catholic, Jewish, spiritualist, Anglican, indigenous Afro-Brazilian, Baha’i, Buddhist, and more – gather regularly to promote understanding among themselves and in the wider community. They hold up a mirror to society, saying, “see the image of God in this diversity. We are created to be people of peace.” They even march into football matches hand in hand, wearing the colors of different teams!

Those very local initiatives can and do begin to impact the wider community. When Christians and Muslims, or even Scots and English, begin to hear each other’s stories with open-hearted compassion, seeds begin to grow. The great religious traditions of the world do share a yearning for peace. The Abrahamic traditions insist that all are made in the image of God, and that we share a responsibility for the well-being of all God’s creatures. We proclaim that our help is in the Lord, not in military power or a suicide vest.

The work is both local and global. The solidarity we build with anyone deemed “other” – a hungry person on the street, a new neighbor from a different country or religious tradition, or a fellow citizen whose political aims are robustly different from our own – each act of hospitable companionship provides a bit of shelter. Keep sowing seeds, growing branches, and building a holy place for all God’s creatures. Whose branches have sheltered you? Where and how will you return the honor?

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/09/health/pakistan-polio-every-last-child-documentary.html

[2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/11665931/Rabbi-Lord-Sacks-How-to-end-the-wars-of-hatred.html

[3] http://www.friendsofroots.net/the-people.html

[4] http://www.foeme.org/www/?module=home

[5] Grupo de Dialogo Inter-Religioso de Porto Alegre http://wp.clicrbs.com.br/blogdasreligioes/?topo=13,1,1,,,13

Episcopal-Anglican-Lutheran leadership of Canada, US write to President Obama, Prime Minister Harper

Friday, June 12, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has joined with the Episcopal-Anglican-Lutheran leadership of Canada and the United States in a letter to both United States President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper concerning the review and future of the Columbia River Treaty, drawing attention to its impact on Indigenous peoples and regional residents as well as the implications of climate change for this sensitive ecosystem, the fisheries it supports, and the environmental services it provides.

In writing the letter, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori joined with: Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; the Most Rev. Fred Hiltz, Primate, Anglican Church of Canada; and Bishop Susan Johnson, National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

“We hear in this moment the call of God to work for justice and to deepen our practice of living as treaty people,” the four leaders stated in the letter. “In this time of climate change, the United States, Canada, tribes and First Nations working together to promote stewardship of shared waters would be a sign of hope for a healthier environment and a fairer world.”

The following is the letter to the President and Prime Minister.

To President Barack Obama and Prime Minster Stephen Harper

June 11, 2015

We write to you to add our voices to those who are calling for a review of the Columbia River Treaty in order to respect the rights, dignity and traditions of the Columbia Basin tribes and First Nations by including them in the implementation and management of the Treaty, and to include the healthy functioning of the ecosystem as an equal purpose of the Treaty.

On September 23, 2014, you received the Declaration on Ethics and Modernizing the Columbia River Treaty, and the Columbia River Pastoral Letter upon which the Declaration is based. The Declaration sets forth eight valuable principles to consider in the review of the Columbia River Treaty.

As noted in the Declaration, the original treaty only included flood control and hydroelectric power generation as international management purposes of the Columbia River. We stand at a critical moment in history regarding both the renewal of relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and the addressing of climate change. In fact, Indigenous rights and climate justice are deeply interrelated. The right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent is enshrined in the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The wisdom of Indigenous peoples is vital to addressing the environmental crisis.

We hear in this moment the call of God to work for justice and to deepen our practice of living as treaty people. In this time of climate change, the United States and Canada working together to promote stewardship of shared waters would be a sign of hope for a healthier environment and a fairer world.

Please move forward with negotiations to review the Columbia River Treaty, and thereby provide  a respectful, just and sustainable model for stewardship of these vital waters.

Sincerely,

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

Bishop Elizabeth Eaton
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
Primate
Anglican Church of Canada

Bishop Susan Johnson
National Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

Minnesota: Six Hmong people among 33 to be ordained

Friday, June 12, 2015

[The Episcopal Church in Minnesota] The Rt. Rev. Brian Prior, IX Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, will ordain 33 people on Saturday, June 20. Of these 33, six are Hmong members of Holy Apostles, the first Hmong-majority faith community within the Episcopal Church.

Two of the six are being ordained as vocational deacons, while the other four will be ordained as transitional deacons. God willing and the people consenting, the four transitional deacons will be ordained as priests next year.

Thomas Thao, one of the four being ordained as a transitional deacon, is very excited about this opportunity, especially knowing that he’ll be a positive role model for others in his community.

“This is very meaningful to me because I’ll be able to share my gifts and talents with others,” said Thao.

He added, “This opportunity leads me on a new journey and will allow me to continue growing my faith while sharing my experiences with others.”

The six ordinands include three women and three men; Bao Moua will be the first Hmong woman to pursue the priesthood.

“The most exciting thing about June 20, 2015, is that for over 40 years of the Hmong people being in the U.S., the Episcopal Church will be ordaining its first Hmong majority Shared Ministry Team, three of whom are women,” said Moua.

“This is history in the making, and with God’s help we have only begun our mission,” she added.

In addition to the six Hmong being ordained, one Anglo from Holy Apostles will be ordained as a vocational deacon. The seven ordinands from Holy Apostles, in addition to seven others who will be commissioned for lay ministries in December, will make up Holy Apostles’ Shared Ministry Team. They will be leading worship, pastoral care, mission and evangelism, and Christian formation; they will also collaborate with the Bishop’s Committee.

The Shared Ministry Team has been in formation for three years. Instructors have been drawn from local seminaries in addition to clergy, lay instructors, and missioners from the Episcopal Church. All instruction has been interpreted from English to Hmong to make the program accessible to team members who are not fluent in English.

The team will be working with the support and collaboration of The Rev. Letha Wilson-Barnard, Holy Apostles’ Vicar and Mentor to the Team, and The Rev. Toua Vang, Associate Priest of Holy Apostles and Hmong/Southeast Asian Missioner of Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries (EAM).

The Bishop’s Committee and Shared Ministry Team have already begun meeting regularly to develop the mission and vision for Holy Apostles. This Shared Ministry Team provides new opportunities for ministry, mission, and evangelism to the Hmong community in Minnesota, the United States, and the world.

Presiding Bishop preaches in Brazil

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Unity and Thanksgiving
125th Anniversary of IEAB; 50th Anniversary of Province of Brazil;
30th Anniversary of Women’s Ordination

7 June 2015
Holy Trinity Cathedral, Porto Alegre, 4 pm
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Psalm 133; Ephesians 4:1-6; John 17:6a,15-23

What does it mean to be “one”? On the flight here I thought about what it’s like to be packed like sardines on a commercial airplane. It seems to bind people together more closely than most find comfortable, but it doesn’t begin to promote a sense of oneness until there’s some sort of crisis. If a passenger gets sick, or there’s a big delay, people begin to reach out to each other. If the crew recognizes some newlyweds, other passengers clap and congratulate them. Oneness begins in some sort of shared experience that’s outside the norm, and for most people that process of coming together produces a sense of gratitude – or even a big dose of joy.

Ecclesiastes talks about oneness as acting together for mutual benefit and protection.        The psalmist sees oneness as blessing, abundance, and life that endures. That’s pretty much what Jesus calls abundant life – “I came that you might have life, and have it abundantly.”

The Ephesians are challenged to be one in the Spirit by living at peace with one another, and they’re reminded of the many ways they are already one: in baptism, in following Jesus, in seeking oneness with God, and in God’s own self.

In the gospel, Jesus prays that his friends will be one with him as he is one with God, and again it has something to do with holiness and with love.

This Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil has the same vocation of oneness that Jesus asks for his disciples. Your history here has been a long process of drawing people together in ways that bless them. Your gift has been the conviction that oneness in the Church is supposed to bless the wider community as well. Becoming one begins in sharing the good news of God’s love for all and teaching people how to live together as friends – friends of God and one another. We see that oneness happen in congregations and in the ways in which their members are present in the wider community – feeding, teaching, healing, and seeking justice. Yesterday we saw an example in a Guaraní community, where friends have been accompanying one another for 20 years, growing in solidarity, and today everyone is finding a greater sense of wholeness.

Think about that crowded airplane again. Sometimes people are so tightly packed that when one person reclines his seat, the person behind him has so little space that she leans her seat back, too – and often it causes the whole plane to rearrange itself – like rows of dominos falling over. It’s a very physical reminder of how connected we are, but it’s very mechanical. You move only because you’ve been pushed. The system is designed for interchangeable parts, not unique human beings of different shapes and sizes with different desires for quiet or physical space.

The body of Christ isn’t quite like that cattle car in the sky. It IS profoundly interconnected, and it is meant to respond in solidarity to the pain or joy of another member, but not because of fear or physical force. The community of God’s friends is meant to live interdependently and responsively, and to be intentional and conscious about the other members, all the time. The body of Christ doesn’t expect every part to fit in identical seats. The Anglican Communion is learning to rearrange the chairs and recognize that we aren’t all meant to face exactly the same direction or get identical cardboard meals. The IEAB is working to celebrate the diversity of God’s people and creation, and we’re all learning to serve as passengers and crew together, shifting roles as necessary and as our gifts permit. God’s mission, with all of us together on this planet of 7.3 billion people, is flying through time, trying to learn to live together in peace.

The ministry of oneness is most essentially about breaking down walls and healing relationships. When that happens, we’re thankful because we are experiencing the life for which we are created – wholeness, peace in community, and the near presence of the Reign of God. Oneness is never about uniformity; it is about celebrating the unique gifts of every person, all of whom bear the image of God. Oneness gathers those diverse and complementary parts into a healthier and holier and more effective body of Christ.

There are abundant signs of that oneness here – in the profound respect shown to every member of the interreligious group we met here on Friday[1]; in your conscious and pro-active empowerment of women, sexual minorities, and indigenous people; in your care and solidarity with all the poor, including our poor abused environment. Together, all God’s people are working to build a more effective whole.

This celebration is about that growing health and wholeness, and lots of boundaries have been broken down to bring us to this point. For anyone who doesn’t have a clear sense of what life is truly about (and that’s every one of us at some point), your new prayer book will help people recognize the holy all around us and within us. It will bring us closer to a church that truly does respect the dignity of every human being, male and female, gay and straight, the descendants of every nation, and the other parts of God’s creation.

The 125 year history of the IEAB has been a continuing search to honor and encourage the variety of life here, to encourage all parts to grow in their leadership for healing what is broken in the lives of human beings and in the wider society. Your half-century of autonomy celebrates growth toward the full stature of Christ, as a mature part of the body of his Church. You are able to help other partners do the same – and the request in 1990 for a bilateral committee is a good example. You said to TEC, ‘come and partner with us as equals – let us learn from each other and support one another.’ We give great thanks for your challenge and invitation, and I expect that we will continue to grow in solidarity with one another and with others, as fellow passengers and crew on this flying planet.

Sitting together in that cramped and crowded airplane can be like the disciples after the crucifixion, who locked themselves in the upper room, too scared to move. It can be a useful reminder of our interconnections, but also a kind of slavery. We know a way out of that captivity. It’s called God’s mission, God’s sending – going out, going to Galilee, where Jesus told those disciples they would find him. We’re meant to be on that journey, moving together out to the far edges of the globe, looking for the lost and the least and the left out. We’ll find oneness there on the margins, and we’ll be immensely grateful, for there is joy and wholeness when companions lean on each other.

Felicitações em seus aniversários, e que Deus continue a abençoar a todos vocês.

[1] Grupo de Dialogo Inter-Religioso de Porto Alegre http://wp.clicrbs.com.br/blogdasreligioes/?topo=13,1,1,,,13

 

Advancing to General Convention 2015: Blue Book reports complete

Thursday, June 11, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe, General Convention Executive Officer, has announced that all reports for the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church have been posted on the General Convention website in a single document.

Reports to the 78th General Convention, commonly referred to as The Blue Book, is available at the General Convention website here. The Blue Book contains reports of the committees, commissions, agencies, and boards of the General Convention. The information is available in English and in Spanish.

The Blue Book is offered online and documents can be downloaded at no fee. Barlowe also announced that the General Convention Office has partnered with Mission Graphics to provide print copies for purchase.  Copies will be available at Amazon.com after June 15.

Among the reports are: the Joint Nominating Committee on the Election of the Presiding Bishop; the Taskforce for Reimagining The Episcopal Church (TREC); the Task Force on the Study of Marriage; the Joint Committee on Nominations; and others.

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

For questions about The Blue Book, contact Twila Rios, staff assistant for content management and digital publishing in the General Convention Office, trios@episcopalchurch.org.

The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.