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Religious-themed movies – helping or hurting the Christian story?

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] The latest in a slew of religious-themed films this year, “Exodus: Gods and Kings” starring Christian Bale as Moses, opened Dec. 12, but can it and others of its genre be considered Christian movies? And do they help – or hinder – the telling of the biblical story?

Some Episcopalians, like Faith Bryant of Highland, California, believe Hollywood’s creative license with movies like “Noah,” released in March and starring Russell Crowe as the ark-building patriarch, wreak havoc with beloved Bible stories.

But others say making connections matters. That, if the movies – loyal or not to biblical accounts – can lead to deeper engagement of faith or even steer the uninitiated in the church’s direction, all the better.

Lisa Brown, director of children’s ministry at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania, held a red carpet gala and other activities after “we had children coming out of the woodwork” when “The Fault in Our Stars” was filmed at the church.

The Rev. Alex Riffee, who is set to launch a “Movie Theology Ministry” in January at St. James Church in Louisa, Virginia, considers that even the raunchy television series “South Park” can invite deeper conversations about the faith.

Telling the story, or not
A long-time Episcopalian, Bryant said she eagerly anticipated viewing the epic movie about “Noah,” the beloved biblical story she learned as a child. It starred Crowe, who held a widely publicized meeting with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby after the film’s premiere, to talk about faith and spirituality.

Russell Crowe meets with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at Lambeth Palace the day after attending the premiere in London of Crowe’s film “Noah.” Photo: Lambeth Palace

But Bryant didn’t find much faith or spirituality in the movie, and it didn’t receive particularly good reviews. She said it has inspired her own exodus – from Hollywood-style religious movies altogether.

“There were a lot of things in the movie that were false,” recalled Bryant, 55. “They portrayed Noah as somebody who was maybe a little crazy. They didn’t portray him as an upright, righteous person. It was disturbing. It was almost a bit sci-fi. A person who sees the movie first and then reads the Bible will say, ‘No, that’s not like the movie. Where’s all the stuff that was in the movie?’ ”

“Noah” and “Exodus: Gods and Kings” aren’t the only recent big screen attempts to re-tell biblical stories. Within the past few months, a spate of religious-themed Christian movies has included “Son of God” produced by former “Highway to Heaven” star Roma Downey and “Left Behind” starring Nicholas Cage, echoing the Rapture.

And now there’s a priest turned moviemaker (see related story), the Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler, who is co-producing “Ports of Call,” an interfaith love story which is more about building bridges than incorporating religious themes.

Riffee says rejecting such movies outright without considering their potential to make connections between church and secular worlds is a missed opportunity.

Russell Crowe stars in “Noah,” released in March 2014 Photo: “Noah” movie official website

And while he didn’t think “Noah” was a particularly good movie, “if nothing else it was meant to be entertaining, which is what Hollywood’s trying to do,” he said. “We have to remember they’re not trying to tell the story from a faith perspective at all.

“That means they change the story based on what people want to see and hear” but the popularity of such movies can “also be a conversation-starter for people to open up the Bible in the first place,” added Riffee, 28.

He hopes to use his “movie theology ministry” to engage families and children, because biblical themes are prevalent in all sorts of media, and whatever the movie, “if we believe with our lens that there is always a connection we can engage the entire world and find holiness in it.”

For example, he said, “Noah” could be considered through the lens of maintaining creation and even become an entrée to a discussion about global warming and environmental justice.

He believes it’s good that “they’re even trying to do the stories. Whether the church goes and sees it or attacks it, people are going to see it and we have no control over that. Some will see [“Exodus: Gods and Kings”] because they like Christian Bale. We can do something about it in responding to it happening, engaging it, dispelling some of the stuff we don’t think it’s really trying to say.”

Even television programs such as “South Park,” often considered “one of the worst shows on TV,” spark worthy conversation, Riffee said. “I wasn’t allowed to watch it, I had to go to a friend’s house to see it, but the idea was to express a point by showing extremes to the ridiculous.

“If you’re able to get past that, they actually have something deep and meaningful to say, and they also engage a lot of religious topics. There’s always a nugget you can take away, because they try to portray a central truth that everybody hopefully can agree upon.”

Missouri ‘film forum’ guides believers on journey of discovery
Jim Andris, 76, of St. Louis, Missouri, said the first time he saw the epic “The Ten Commandments” starring Charlton Heston, he believed the movie was gospel.

Charlton Heston plays Moses in the 1956 movie “The Ten Commandments.” Photo: Wikimedia Commons

“Since then I’ve traveled a long path of spiritual investigation,” Andris told ENS. “I grew up on those grand Hollywood visions of the patriarchs in the Bible. At the time, I saw those movies as helping us. I uncritically saw them as doors into understanding the message of the Christian scriptures.”

Now, he views the movies, as well as the biblical stories themselves, as intending “to tell us something about the way we should live our lives. There’s some truth, if we dig for it; we each have our own interpretation.”

Besides, said the retired university professor who now attends Trinity Episcopal Church in East St. Louis, “there’s this fascination with holy battles, or with right-versus-wrong battles where you see hour after hour of the most incredible, unbelievable carnage … with louder sound, and unbelievable graphics. At one level, I think it’s all just baloney. I can be entertained, but that doesn’t get us closer to the truth.”

He added that “the actual truth of Jesus Christ is not very exciting. Jesus Christ gave a nonviolent example and Hollywood seems to be obsessed with violence.”

He credits a film forum series offered by another Trinity parishioner and long-time film critic Martha Baker with inviting deeper understanding of his own faith and theological themes in movie messages.

Baker, a KDHX-St. Louis Radio film critic, has reviewed movies since 1977 and “purposely steers clear of films like ‘Noah’” for discussion by the parish forum.

“I never have purposefully selected a film with what one might call a religious theme except maybe “The Way” with Martin Sheen,” the film about his character’s pilgrimage walking Spain’s El Camino de Santiago de Compostela, said Baker. “The other was a film about Hildegard of Bingen. Both were fabulous in and of themselves.”

But some movies, like Mel Gibson’s 2004 “The Passion of the Christ,” she believes, actually hurt the Christian message. “It was one of the worst movies ever made, generally, and then when you add the specifics of the Christian part of that tone, it does more damage than good. It was hurtful to the greater Christian message.”

Using ‘Fault’ to reach out to young people
Director of Children’s Ministry Lisa Brown maximized the opportunity for discussion and for outreach when the movie “The Fault in Our Stars” was filmed at her parish.

Released in June, the movie was based on the book of the same name, by Episcopalian John Green.

“He was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. He’s known for his Crash Course videos on YouTube, mostly history lessons, and kids watch. Anytime you have an opportunity for the church to be connected to something so culturally relevant, we have an opportunity to reach out to a lot of kids.”

Although some were disappointed in the film’s portrayal of church and clergy, the movie sent a powerful message in a time when many young people may view the church as irrelevant or ineffective, Brown said, because the young couple returned to the church at a crucial moment in the movie.

Her youth group “was giddy to have something so tremendously cool associated with their church,” she recalled.

The church staged a premiere of sorts the evening of the film’s release, with a red-carpet gala open to all young people, Brown said. “We worked with a local movie theater, we rented a red carpet, the congregation made appetizers and food. Some kids wore prom apparel, some T-shirts,” she said.

It was a wonderful experience, but Brown said that, while “you can look at any movie through a Christian lens or perspective, I’m always leery because I think sometimes there’s a lot of reinterpretation that is not necessarily reflective of the way I’d use the story as a Christian educator.

“There’s such a broad spectrum of even Christian beliefs … that I don’t want someone to make assumptions about what I believe based on what was portrayed in a movie. Anytime you take a story out of context, it can be problematic.”

– The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.

Episcopal priest-curator hopes to build peace through filmmaking

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Canon Paul-Gordon Chandler hopes his upcoming film, “Ports of Call,” a “passionate interfaith love story,” will help foster understandings between East and West.

The Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler

But he hesitates to consider it a religious-themed movie because “I’m somewhat of a skeptic looking at religious films, as in the Middle East and the culture I grew up in, you don’t really separate one from the other. It’s all interwoven, a single thread,” said Chandler, former rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Cairo, Egypt.

For example, he said, if the new movie “Exodus: Gods and Kings” is shown in the Middle East, “no one thinks that it’s a religious film. It’s simply a story related to the Middle East, whether it’s true or not.”

Chandler is the founder and curator of the Caravan interfaith arts exhibition, a nonprofit movement founded in Cairo that since March 2014 has been based in Chicago.

Washington National Cathedral and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York recently showcased the Caravan exhibition, “AMEN: A Prayer for the World.” Chandler co-curated the show with Egyptian artist Reda Abdel Rahman. It included a showing of 30 Egyptian artists with Muslim and Christian backgrounds and 18 Western artists with Jewish and Christian backgrounds.

Similarly, “Ports of Call,” expected to be released in the spring of 2016, aims to deepen understanding between faiths. It is based on the 1996 novel by Lebanese French author and Académie Française member Amin Maalouf and was nominated for a Nobel Prize for Literature.

The story of two ill-fated lovers who meet in Paris during World War II and who are ultimately torn apart by the 1948 Arab-Israeli war will be produced by Ron Senkowski (“Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet,” “Decoding Annie Parker”) and Samira Kawas through their Dubai/L.A.-based Symply Entertainment. Chandler, who initially obtained the rights from Maalouf, is a co-producer.

“It’s quite a story,” Chandler told ENS recently from Chicago. “In some ways, the film is a microcosm of the Middle East but it also links to the West and it addresses East-West issues …  it’s got war, tragedy, love, conflict.”

“It involves the story of a Lebanese Muslim man of Turkish origin whose mother was Armenian Christian who falls in love during the French resistance in France while studying there, with a young Jewish woman,” so it involves all three Abrahamic faiths, Chandler said.

Being a film industry novice didn’t faze Chandler, who grew up in Senegal, the son of missionaries, and “always observed this tension, the divide that exists between the two faiths and cultures, especially between the cultures of the Middle East and the West.”

“My father was the pastor of the international church, with services in English and French, in Dakar, the capital city,” he recalled.

Drawn to The Episcopal Church while in college, he began to realize that the arts can “bridge creeds and cultures in the East and West” while serving as St. John’s rector in Cairo, he told ENS.

Danis Tanovic, who won the 2002 Foreign Language Oscar for “No Man’s Land,” as well as the Cannes 2001 screenplay prize for the film, is directing “Ports of Call.”

“The film is about impossible love,” said Senkowski, Symply Entertainment CEO, in an email to ENS about “Ports of Call.” “Love without boundaries. Can two people who are in love survive in a world that is filled with conflict and war dedicated toward destroying people who are of other faiths? Today’s world is filled with blindness toward others.

“Today it is neighborhood versus neighborhood, family against family, tribe against tribe. Lines on a map are dividing people as a result of arbitrary, or at least poorly conceived demarcations. These divisions are disrupting and in fact dominating generations of lives. Love thy neighbor is a notion that has been forgotten.”

The film hopes to “inspire people to look beyond faith as a defining characteristic upon which to base relationships,” he said.

Chandler said the film intends to encourage understanding and respect for one another and to help “overcome the all-too traditional prejudices toward the other” as well as addressing the critical issues of peace-building … “in some ways like an ‘English Patient,’ but with a deeper kind of purpose within it.”

–The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.

TREC issues A Word To The Episcopal Church

ENS Headlines - Monday, December 15, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Taskforce for Reimagining the Episcopal Church (TREC) has issued A Word To The Episcopal Church concerning the release of the final report here http://www.generalconvention.org/trecreport

The members of TREC commend our report to the whole church, and specifically to the 78th General Convention. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to serve the church in this way. While we have consulted widely, listened deeply, and debated vigorously over the past two years, we also understand that our proposals are a first step in the ongoing process of re-imagining the church. The conversation that takes place at many levels of the church between now and the 78th General Convention will inevitably challenge, enhance, supplement, and change our proposals. We trust the Holy Spirit will be present in this ongoing process, and will help us all to follow Jesus most faithfully in our own day.

We recognize that our call to action for the Church to engage in a deep discernment process around the reimagination of dioceses, clergy preparation, the use of our sacred buildings, and other issues is broad and in some cases general.  We hope that the resolutions we proposed will be a jumping off point for this discernment process, which we hope will engage Episcopalians both within the General Convention context and far beyond. 

We will be sharing our specific proposed changes to the constitution and canons with experts in canon law in the coming weeks and months to help ensure internal and technical consistency. We felt it was important to share our report with the whole church now, even though some of the more highly technical aspects might need further perfecting between now and next year’s General Convention.

We are also pleased to announce that the first of the online courses on the changing nature of church leadership in the 21st Century we mention in our report, which we have sponsored and which have been produced by ChurchNext, will be available starting today here https://www.churchnext.tv/school/catalog/course/reimagining-leadership-with-trec/ The other courses will be made available in the coming weeks.

For more info, questions or comments, contact TREC members at reimaginetec@gmail.com

Presiding Bishop preaches in Haiti

ENS Headlines - Monday, December 15, 2014

Advent 3B
Paroisse Saint-Esprit, Cap-Haïtien, Haïti
14 December 2014

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

On the third Sunday of Advent some churches use pink vestments and a pink candle in the Advent wreath, instead of darker purple ones. In some places they say it’s because Mary wanted a girl. But its roots lie in the desire for a break in the penitential season. This is a time of rejoicing in the midst of waiting. The prophet Isaiah says he is bringing joyous news to the humble. Paul says, rejoice always, keep praying, and give thanks in all things. This is a time for joy, for we know that God is among us, and God’s reign of justice is coming.

Rejoice, lift up your voices; remember the dream, and rejoice. Our voices are essential to rejoicing – as these beautiful choirs continue to show us. Others use the voices of instruments, like drum and violin, to share both joy and lament. I remember that very soon after the earthquake, a music teacher gathered her students in Port-au-Prince, with as many of the instruments they could find that still worked. And they played in the streets, encouraging people around them to give voice to lament and hope.

We use our voices collectively to call for change, the same kind of change Isaiah is urging, transformation toward a world where no one goes hungry, and people don’t live with fear because the abundance God gives us is being shared. When people show that kind of love for one another, it’s called justice.

All the stories about our relationship with God have something to do with voices. Creation begins with God saying, “let there be light,” “let the darkness be separated from the light.” And at the end of each day of creation, God speaks of its goodness and blessing. The second creation story tells of words misused to damage the relationship between God and creation.

The prophets, like Isaiah, speak out loud what God intends for all of creation. Sometimes the prophets challenge and confront the sin and injustice in their communities, and sometimes they speak words of comfort and assurance, that God is with you, even when the things look darkest. But more often, they do both, speaking lament for what is and hope for what will be.

John the Baptist comes to offer testimony, as John’s gospel puts it. He’s asked to identify himself, and he responds that he’s not the anointed one, and he’s not the prophet they already know. He says he is the voice – the voice they’ve heard before, “make a straight road in the desert for God.” His work is to prepare the way – by inviting others to use their voices and respond with action. When the people in his neighborhood come to be baptized in the Jordan, they are entering a river of transition. They start down a new road toward the world of justice God has promised. That is still what we do today in baptism. We take a new road toward the kingdom of God, by word and deed.

Mary used her voice as well, saying yes to this strange and wonderful invitation. ‘Yes, I will do what God has asked, and I recognize that the world will change as a result.’ Joseph does the same when he accepts his unlikely vocation as foster-father.

God’s voice is heard again at Jesus’ baptism, “this is my beloved, in whom I am well pleased.” Then Jesus goes to the desert wilderness, to struggle with one who speaks words that are untrue and untrustworthy. Jesus finds his own voice in confronting those temptations. And then he goes home to the synagogue, where he read this word of hope from the prophet Isaiah. “God has sent me to speak good news to the poor, to heal the blind, to set the captives free, and to speak a word of God’s hope for the world.”

God speaks the same to each one of us in baptism, “you are my beloved, in you I am well pleased.” And God sends us to use our voices and our lives to be good news in the world around us. What sort of good news are you speaking and doing?

We’ve been in the Dominican Republic the last few days to learn more about the need for good news in the face of what the courts there have said about people of Haitian descent who live there. The legal decisions seem to say that even if you were born there, if your parents or grandparents came from Haiti to work there, you have no right to have your birth recorded or your citizenship guaranteed. Many people have been caught between the two nations, effectively unclaimed by either one. Those without a recognized status cannot work, go to school, travel out of the country, or gain recognition for their own children.

The roots of this injustice are many – racism, colonial history, a lust for power, even official incompetence and neglect. They are the same sinful realities that have confronted human beings from the beginning – we don’t always choose to love our neighbors as ourselves.

The good news is that all of us are claimed by the nation called the Reign of God.

Together, we can decide to use our voices and actions to change the world’s bad news. God’s prophets will lead us through the river of transformation, across the borders that divide God’s children. It may be a hard and perilous journey, but it is the only way to true life, abundant life, and the life of justice for which we were created. The journey begins in remembering that we are all children of the same God, and that ultimately, our salvation depends on how we love our neighbors – and all the children of God are our neighbors.

When you see lost and forgotten neighbors, raise your voice in lament and challenge. When you see the hungry fed, captives liberated, and those who don’t belong anywhere finding a home, it’s time to life your voice and rejoice.

The world asks the same question of us that it asked John, “who are you?” Will you be the voice of one crying in the wilderness, “make straight the way of the Lord?” We are baptized into the same work – be a voice that all God’s people may find their way home.

TREC presenta el informe final para su consideración en la Convención General de 2015

ENS Headlines - Monday, December 15, 2014

[15 diciembre de 2014] El Grupo de Trabajo para “Re imaginar” la Iglesia Episcopal (TREC) ha presentado su informe final a la 78a Convención General y a la Iglesia, y para su inclusión en los informes de la Convención General, comúnmente conocido como El Libro Azul.

El informe, disponible en inglés y español, está colocado aquí.

El trabajo de TREC fue ordenado por la Resolución C095, aprobada en la 77ª Convención General del 2012, con la misión específica de  preparar recomendaciones para la 78a Convención General sobre la “re imaginación” y reestructuración de la Iglesia.

La 78a Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal, del 25 de junio al 3 de  julio del 2015 se llevará a cabo en el Centro de Convenciones de Salt Palace en Salt Lake City, UT (Diócesis de Utah).

La Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal se celebra cada tres años, y es el órgano de gobierno bicameral de la Iglesia. Se compone de la Cámara de los Obispos, con más de 200 obispos activos y jubilados y la Cámara de los Diputados, con el clero y los laicos representantes elegidos de las 109 diócesis de la Iglesia, con un total de  más de 800 miembros.

TREC presents final report for General Convention 2015 consideration

ENS Headlines - Monday, December 15, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church (TREC) has presented its final report to the 78th General Convention and to the Church, and for inclusion in Reports to General Convention, commonly referred to as The Blue Book.

The report is available in English and Spanish.

Also on Dec. 14, TREC also released A Word to the Episcopal Church about its final report.

TREC’s work was directed by Resolution C095, which was approved by the 77th General Convention in 2012, with the specific task of preparing recommendations to the 78th General Convention for reimaging and restructuring the church.

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.

The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It is comprised of the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay representatives elected from the 109 dioceses of the Church, at more than 800 members.

Western NY Episcopal, Roman Catholic bishops speak with one voice

ENS Headlines - Monday, December 15, 2014

Overlooking evidence of construction and new life in Buffalo, New York, Roman Bishop Richard J. Malone, left, and Episcopal Bishop R. William Franklin met recently to discuss their final thoughts about the historic joint pastoral letter they co-authored. The letter, which calls for the new prosperity taking root in Buffalo to be shared with all, was read in churches on the Third Sunday in Advent. Photo: Diocese West New York

[Episcopal Diocese of Western New York] Bishop R. William Franklin of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York and Bishop Richard J. Malone of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo are asking members of their respective churches to do what they can to insure that the new economic growth and opportunity in Western New York is shared among all people.

The joint pastoral letter, co-written by both bishops, was issued on the Third Sunday of Advent, Dec. 14. It is believed to be the first joint pastoral letter in the history of the two dioceses. [The complete text of the letter is here].

“A new generation of Western New Yorkers is envisioning new opportunities and making them a reality. With regard to education, medicine, technology and quality of life, this is the time for which we have all waited and prayed and worked. This wave of prosperity benefits not only the city, but the entire region,” they wrote. “Yet at this time not everyone is benefiting. Blacks and Hispanics still live in poverty in greater proportion than do other groups in our population. Children still go to bed hungry. Jobs and security elude too many families. And because some are left out and locked out, the rest of us are poorer. We fail to benefit as much as we might from this new golden age.”

In announcing the letter, Malone explained that their goal “is really to raise consciousness among our own parishioners, both in the Catholic and Episcopal dioceses. Perhaps in a humble way to suggest, here is a lens that the two bishops are providing to which we as Christians can look, both at the reasons for hope right now with the development happening in our area, but also to see the challenges and opportunities to make sure what is happening becomes inclusive of the broad spectrum of our people.”

“I think we’re saying this is a great moment of renewal for Buffalo and the region, but it’s also a moment of renewal of Christian values, of dignity and opening dignity to all people,” Franklin added. “We are speaking as bishops to our own people, but we’re also speaking to business and political leaders to say, ‘Let us not lose this opportunity to create a new city, which is beyond a new city of hotels and apartment buildings, but a new city of justice.’ We think it’s a fantastic opportunity for growth, not just economically, but spiritual growth for our region.”

“This is consistent with both our churches’ teachings for centuries,” Malone said. “It speaks to the relationship of the church with the modern world. We see it as a time for breaking down barriers and answering the question, ‘Who is my neighbor?’”

“Too many barriers remain,” said Malone. “It is like there is a wedge in the community.”

In the City of Buffalo the poverty rate in 2013 increased to 31.4% overall according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Even more shocking is the 50.6% poverty rate reported for children under the age of 18.

Overall poverty rates in some of the region’s more rural counties are also high — 19.1% in Chautauqua, 17.2 in Cattaraugus and 17.1% in Allegany.

“We are really talking about a wall that we sometimes forget,” said Franklin. “This moment of economic opportunity allows us an opportunity to address that wall and say that all can rise together. This is part of the message of the Gospel.

“Economic opportunity leads to human dignity. That’s a reality,” he said. “So it’s a spiritual value to open the workforce to a more diverse population. It’s good business, because it’s opening a perspective of people who may be left out of a boardroom or a workplace.”

The bishops acknowledge that many people are already reaching out to less fortunate people. But great needs remain — needs that must be addressed in our spiritual lives, community circles, the business sector and the civic arena. Franklin cited Terry Pegula and his wife Kim as two businesspeople who strive to make their workforce inclusive of women and minorities. The Pegulas own three sport franchises in Buffalo, the Buffalo Sabres, the Buffalo Bandits and the Buffalo Bills. They are also the developers of the new HarborCenter in Buffalo’s Waterfront district.

“Every single Christian, whether they are in a position of leadership or not, I think, is called upon to tend to the concerns we put out there, said Malone. “This is to support those who are already moving in that direction and also to stimulate the attention and commitment of others.”

The bishops envision this letter being a springboard for conversations in parishes.

“A letter like this one, I think, is an invitation to everybody who reads it and those who have written it, to an ongoing examination of our own consciousness around these issues,” Malone said.

“It’s probably never happened between our two dioceses, and probably rarely happened in any other parts of the United States, that an Episcopal bishop and a Roman Catholic bishop have issued a joint pastoral,” said Bishop Franklin. “That has an importance because when bishops issue a pastoral like this, we’re saying you really need to read this or make this available. It’s a solemn moment when two bishops speak like this. I think the fact that we feel comfortable to speak together is a sign of the kind of energy that we want our region to project. We’re trying to symbolize bringing our communities together to speak together, so that in other ways communities may be brought together.”

Sharing the same Gospel values and deep love and concern for their adopted home paved the way for the writing of the letter.

“It’s a chance to strengthen the human community that is the common factor. Generally, [our two dioceses are] the same territory with the same issues, the same challenges, and the same opportunities and hopes,” Malone explained. The Episcopal Diocese of Western New York includes New York State’s seven most western counties: Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo covers the same seven, plus the largely rural Allegany County.

The genesis of the letter began months ago. That it is issued now, when streets in many American cities are filled with protestors seeking racial equality and justice, is a coincidence.

Today’s protests take Franklin back to his childhood in segregated Mississippi in the 1950s. It was, he says, illegal for him to interact with half the population of his state. In the face of laws that forbade black and white citizens from sitting down together in public places, his grandmother organized meals in her home that brought individuals of both races together.

“As a boy I saw black and white holding hands together at my grandmother’s dining room table, so in a way I am following the inspiration I already saw in the 1950s of holding out our hands to one another.

“We’ve come a long way in our region and in our churches,” Franklin added, “and yet [Bishop Malone and I] are saying the job is not over.”

Alison O’Reilly Poage named interim director of the Booher Library

ENS Headlines - Monday, December 15, 2014

[Seminary of the Southwest press release] Academic Dean Scott Bader-Saye has announced the appointment of Alison O’Reilly Poage to serve as interim director of the Booher Library at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. Poage’s presence “will strengthen our current library staff, provide fresh eyes in a time of transition, and allow the search committee to continue its work with confidence that the library is fully staffed and in good hands,” according to a seminary press release.

Poage served most recently as director of the Cutchogue New Suffolk Free Library in Cutchogue, New York. She has lived in Austin before, having worked for the Austin Public Library system from 2007-2010. She received her Masters of Library Science from City University of New York in 2001.

“She brings great experience, enthusiasm, and vision to this position, and I am sure she will assist us well in her time here,” said Bader-Saye.

Poage will begin her work at Southwest on Jan. 5, 2015.

Washington National Cathedral holds vigil for victims of gun violence

ENS Headlines - Monday, December 15, 2014

Vigil worshipers light candles to remember the victims of gun violence in Newtown, Connecticut, and all across the country. Photo: Donovan Marks

[Washington National Cathedral] A Prayer Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence was held on Thursday, Dec. 11 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at Washington National Cathedral. The interfaith vigil marked the second anniversary of the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Presented by Faiths United against Gun Violence, States United to Prevent Gun Violence, the Newtown  Foundation, and Washington National Cathedral, the service was the flagship vigil among more than 195 vigils in 35 states across the country last week.

Victims and family members of gun violence gathered at the cathedral from more than 18 states and the District of Columbia to remember those lost and injured by gun violence, to give visibility to the more than 60,000 gun violence deaths in the United States since the shooting in Newtown in 2012, and to re-commit to the urgent work of stemming this national epidemic.

According to recent statistics, there have been at least 95 school shootings, including fatal and nonfatal assaults, suicides, and unintentional shootings, since the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. In the two years since Newtown, there has been nearly one school shooting per week.

Participants included victim family members, community and organizational leaders,  and interfaith leaders. Music was offered by the choir Mosaic Harmony and by composer/pianist Doug Hammer and cellist Velleda Miragias. The Rev. Matt Crebbin, senior minister of Newtown Congregational Church, offered the Prayer of Gratitude and Grace.

The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, and the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral, hosted the service.

Presiding Bishop preaches in the Dominican Republic

ENS Headlines - Monday, December 15, 2014

Iglesia Santa Cruz
San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic
12 December 2014

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

Several years ago I visited a Diocese on Ash Wednesday. I have powerful memories of that day, kneeling in the front of the church to put ashes on the foreheads of a long line of three year olds. Those children were very solemn. They were also very clearly at home in that school – and they knew they were loved. The teachers who cared for those little ones day after day had given many cups of cold water and other acts of service, and they were certainly being rewarded every day, in the love shared with those children.

Jesus says that anyone who cares for one of the little ones receives the Lord himself. We meet God in our neighbors, whether they are children, the poor, or someone whose life has gone awry. When we discover a person in difficulty, or respond to a need with compassion, we meet the God who is love.

The people of this island have a long and difficult history. Most of the original inhabitants died of disease and violence when this was a French and Spanish colony. Their descendants struggle to understand their common history and their relationship as children of the same God and the same land, even when they speak different languages. The injustices of centuries are still being played out as some try to prevent others from having the basic stuff of life – whether it’s a name and identity, education, or the ability to work and marry.

Jesus’ words about enemies are haunting in the current season – ‘your enemies will be those of your own household’ he says. Who are the members of our household? Does he mean the people who live on the other half of the island? Are they people who speak a different language? Or are they our own relations who try to drive out strangers or people with a different heritage?

The sad truth is that division within families and communities is as old as Cain and Abel. As Christians, we’re meant to bridge those divisions, to build connections of solidarity with those who need cold water or a place in this world, even if it makes enemies of those closest to us. Jesus is challenging us to see that our primary loyalty is to those in need. That offends our primal sensibilities when family or friends call on us to serve only them or support their sense of fear and scarcity. We find Jesus in the suffering, the poor, the despised and beaten. Go there, he says, and answer their cries. You will find Jesus, and you will find your life, given back to you – full measure, pressed down, and overflowing – that is abundant life.

Who are the little ones around you, crying out for cold water? How are the children in your community? In Africa, among the Masai tribe, that is a traditional greeting – “how are the children?” If the children are well-fed, healthy, learning and growing, then the whole community is undoubtedly healthy and whole – and saved. That’s the reward or blessing that Jesus speaks about.

What if we asked the same about all the people? How are the least of these, how are the little ones, how are the forgotten and hungry? It does tend to cause some upset when we start looking after strangers who are hungry. It happens every time the church starts talking about justice and immigration policies. We discover that some in the church, and plenty of people outside it, begin to think they are being personally threatened. As if greater justice for some means that other people are going to lose their access to justice. It’s not a game where there is just one winner. In God’s economy, when justice increases, everyone benefits. The Reign of God is coming when the children are well, and the forgotten are reintegrated into the community, and the hungry enjoy a feast, and all who lived in scarcity have found abundance.

For the love of God, keep asking, “how are the children, how are the children of God here?”

January-April 2015 consecrations, elections and consents

ENS Headlines - Friday, December 12, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] In the next four months – January 1 to April 30 – The Episcopal Church will witness one new bishop coadjutor, the elections of three bishops, and the consent process of one bishop.

February 28: Diocese of West Texas, Bishop Suffragan David M. Reed, elected October 25, pending successful approval of consents, will be recognized as Bishop Coadjutor

During January – April, three bishop elections are scheduled:

January 31: Diocese of Southeast Florida

February 21: Diocese of Central Gulf Coast

March 14: Diocese of Central Pennsylvania

Canonical Consent Process
Currently there is one canonical consent processes underway for January to April. The deadline is:

March 18 – Bishop David M. Reed, elected Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of West Texas on October 25


The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org
Diocese of Central Gulf Coast www.diocgc.org
Diocese of Central Pennsylvania www.diocesecpa.org
Diocese of Southeast Florida www.diosef.org/
Diocese of West Texas http://www.dwtx.org/

EPF responds to US Senate’s findings of brutal torture of prisoners

ENS Headlines - Friday, December 12, 2014

[Episcopal Peace Fellowship press release] Responding to the release of the U.S. Senate’s findings of brutal torture of prisoners following 9/11 by the CIA, the Episcopal Peace Fellowship (EPF) calls for the prosecution of those responsible on all levels.

“The long-awaited and no doubt redacted in places release of the U.S. Senate’s investigation into our horrific treatment of Guantanamo Prison inmates violates both the Gospel and the Constitution of our country,” said the Rev. Allison Liles, EPF executive director.

“When Jesus told us to love our enemies, I don’t think he meant we should torture and kill them – and then attempt to hide the horror. The incessant CIA torture of prisoners in both Guantanamo and the secret U.S. dungeons throughout the world shreds our nation’s Bill of Rights,” she said.

“It is very troubling that our nation now joins countries like China and North Korea – who we have justifiably called out for decades – in its unspeakable mistreatment of people. All those who created a culture of prisoner torture in the wake of 9/11 must be held responsible – no exceptions.”

“The International Convention on Torture, which the United States has ratified, holds everyone accountable from the torturers, to policy makers, to those who define the policies and implement them. EPF expects our leaders to pursue our moral and legal obligations under the Convention,” said Liles.

Episcopal Church Women board announces new scholarship

ENS Headlines - Friday, December 12, 2014

[Episcopal Church Women press release] The Episcopal Church Women (ECW) National Board Memorial Scholarship Fund was recently established with a gift of $50,000 from the board. Those women who wish to engage in graduate study in areas related to church work, special ministries, and helping professions are eligible to apply for scholarship grant awards.

Scholarship applicants may apply for a $3,000 maximum annual award for a period of up to 3 years. Applicants must complete an application form and submit a recommendation from a clergy member of The Episcopal Church. Completed applications are due March 31, 2015. Awards will be announced at the 2015 Triennial Meeting in late June.

Contributions made to the Memorial Scholarship Fund during the 2012-2015 Triennium will be specially recognized at the 2015 Triennial Meeting. Contributions should be made payable to DFMS with ECW Scholarship Fund in the memo line and mailed to Kathy Mank, ECW National Board Treasurer, 9559 Kelly Drive, Loveland, OH  45140.

An application form is posted on the ECW National Board website along with an Information Sheet describing the Scholarship Fund.


Questions please email Kathy Mank at treasurer@ecwnational.org.

Derechos humanos y dignidad: un sacerdote episcopal en Bruselas lucha por la justicia

ENS Headlines - Thursday, December 11, 2014

El Rdo. Mark Barwick (segundo de derecha a izquierda) presenta ante el Parlamento Europeo los resultados de un informa sobre violaciones de los derechos humanos en Irán. Foto por cortesía de DHSF.

[Episcopal News Service] Llevar a cabo la visión de Dios de una creación renovada “que respete la dignidad y la belleza de toda persona individual en este planeta” puede ser una meta tremenda, pero el Rdo. Mark Barwick vive en función de ese sueño de un mundo reconciliado.

Radicado en Bruselas, Bélgica, el sacerdote episcopal dice que su trabajo como asesor político de Derechos Humanos sin Fronteras (DHSF), una organización no gubernamental y no religiosa, “es parte de esa recreación y renovación de las sociedades humanas”.

Como sacerdote asociado de Todos los Santos [All Saints] en Waterloo, y vicario de una pequeña congregación en Charleroi —parroquias en Bélgica que forman parte de la Convocación de Iglesias Episcopales en Europa— Barwick siempre ha encontrado la necesidad de que su fe se exprese a través de la justicia, la paz y la dignidad humana para todas las personas. “Una fe que no esté vinculada a estos valores carece de interés para mí”, afirma “[El apóstol] Santiago dijo que la fe sin obras es muerta. La fe sin un auténtico compromiso con la dignidad humana no es creíble”.

Fundada en 1989, DHSF colabora estrechamente con muchas instituciones europeas, en particular con el Parlamento Europeo, en organizar conferencias estratégicas y talleres de capacitación, en buscar y compartir información y en trabajar directamente con los responsables de la política en multitud de asuntos que atañen a los derechos humanos.

La Unión Europea, compuesta por 28 estados, “es fundamentalmente un proyecto de pacificación, para crear un comunidad de naciones más humana y basada en la justicia, la dignidad humana y el respeto a los derechos humanos fundamentales”, expresa Barwick, de 58 años, mientras bebe café a sorbos junto a la estación del metro Schuman, a la sombra del Parlamento Europeo.

“La UE como la conocemos hoy nació de la guerra. El siglo XX fue la escena de una terrible brutalidad”, dice. “Bélgica fue un campo de sangre”.

Luego de la segunda guerra mundial, una convergencia de naciones europeas se unió para decir ‘no más’ al derramamiento de sangre ‘y para explorar las formas de crear una integración política y económica que tenga sentido en nuestra diversidad y que pueda formar una comunidad más próspera y pacífica”, dice Barwick.

Esta fue la visión de Robert Schuman —el político francés de mediados del siglo XX que le da nombre a la estación del metro Schuman— que está muy vigente en la actualidad cuando los derechos humanos se sitúan como una primera prioridad para la Unión Europea, la cual convirtió a DHSF —miembro activo de la Red de Derechos Humanos y Democracia— en un instrumento clave de asesoría y orientación mientras prepara debates políticos y estableces normas a seguir.

La libertad de cultos y creencias, la promoción de la democracia y el imperio de la ley son importantes prioridades de DHSF, y muchos responsables de [la política] europea encuentran inapreciable la labor de la organización en estos terrenos, agrega Barwick.

Por ejemplo, recientemente, DHSF colaboró con otros [organismos] al objeto de ofrecer [talleres de] capacitación sobre libertad de cultos o creencias para el personal diplomático del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores. “Es acerca de la libertad de pensamiento en realidad”, apunta Barwick, citando el Artículo 18 del Pacto Internacional sobre Derechos Civiles y Políticos, adoptado por la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas en 1966, como el fundamento de la labor de su organización. “Éste es uno de nuestros caballos de batalla. Resulta muy claro que todo el mundo deber tener dignidad y libertad de pensar y creer lo que desee.

“La libertad de conciencia incluye el sistema de creencias. Esa es la primera libertad de la cual se derivan todas las otras: libertad de asociación, de expresión, etc.”, añade. “La dignidad humana es un don de Dios”.

Pero en muchos países las personas no son libres de cambiar de religión, y en algunos les imponen sentencias de muerte. Esta realidad hace el trabajo de Barwick aún más importante, especialmente en medio de los malentendidos respecto a fe y cultura y del creciente extremismo y persecución religiosa que impera en muchos países del Oriente Medio, así como asiáticos y africanos.

Un objetivo principal de DHSF este año ha sido el de las personas que se encuentran encarceladas o sujetas a sentencias de muerte debido a su fe, en países como Irán, Pakistán, Arabia Saudita y Sudán. La organización compiló una lista de prisioneros que incluye a centenares de personas que se encuentran tras las rejas debido a leyes que prohíben o restringen sus derechos básicos a la libertad de cultos o de creencias.

Como instructor en temas de diversidad, Barwick está comprometido a aumentar la conciencia y comprensión de estas violaciones de derechos humanos, y espera resultar un catalizador para el cambio y la defensa social.

Barwick se mudó a Bruselas hace 12 años para asumir un cargo en el movimiento catolicorromano Pax Christi, que se concentra fundamentalmente en problemas africanos y en zonas de conflicto, y ha estado trabajando con DHSF sólo durante dos años. Con anterioridad ha fungido como director regional de Pan para el Mundo, [institución] que tiene su sede en Washington, DC.

En los círculos de Bruselas, a Barwick se le conoce por su experiencia en el encuentro entre religión y personas homosexuales, bisexuales y transexuales, y él se esfuerza en combatir la polarización que existe entre fe y sexualidad.

“En esferas políticas, uno ve con frecuencia a los humanistas y los secularistas de un lado, y luego, arrinconado y medroso, el pequeño número de personas religiosas, y estoy tratando de reconciliar a estos grupos”, afirmó. “Pero hay comunidades de fe acogedoras. Trabajamos con ese movible estamento intermedio y también con aquellos con convicciones religiosas y actitudes excluyentes hacia personas LGBT. Estamos intentando cambiar eso… tratando de encontrar valores conectivos que puedan aplicarse a todo el mundo”.

En el curso del último año, Barwick ha servido también como asesor e instructor del Centro de Budapest de Prevención Internacional de Genocidio y Atrocidades Masivas, cuya labor se centra en la prevención de la violencia y en la reducción de tensiones en Hungría, Polonia, la República Checa y Eslovaquia.

Reflexionando sobre su trabajo con Pax Christi, Barwick dijo que gran parte de su tiempo en África estaba dedicado a estimular el diálogo entre grupos beligerantes después de la guerra. En Liberia, por ejemplo, él trabajó con un ONG local para reconstruir las relaciones entre el grupo étnico lorma, que incluye a tradicionalistas cristianos, y el mandinga, que es predominantemente musulmán. “Con el tiempo estos grupos dialogarían sobre cómo podíamos cambiar esta situación —no abordando los problemas del pasado, sino la manera en que podíamos moldear un futuro mejor”.

Mirando hacia delante, como miembro activo de la Plataforma Europea sobre Intolerancia y Discriminación Religiosas, DHSF planea, en 2015, ayudar a auspiciar una conferencia sobre libertad de cultos o creencias y democracia en el centro laboral, un tema que ha tenido gran notoriedad cuando algunas compañías europeas han tomado la iniciativa de prohibirles a las mujeres musulmanas que usen la hijab mientras están en el trabajo.

“No se trata sólo de que haya una visible expresión de fe en el centro de trabajo, sino que también afecta el ambiente de la incertidumbre económica”, apunta. Percibimos que [nuestra labor] ejercerá alguna [fuerza de] tracción en el Parlamento. De manera que intentamos ofrecer conferencias que la gente encuentre útil en su propia agenda legislativa”.

Barwick dice que con frecuencia se pregunta si el quehacer diario produce algún cambio significativo, “pero luego suceden cosas: toman una decisión, cambian leyes, citan nuestros informes. El marco legal en el ámbito de la UE siempre está evolucionando, y somos parte de eso. Las instituciones de la UE deben escuchar a la sociedad civil, de manera que tenemos una auténtica oportunidad de configurar la política pública que humanice el mundo para todos nosotros”.

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

Indigenous Theological Training Grants announced

ENS Headlines - Thursday, December 11, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Samuel McDonald, Episcopal Church Director of Mission and Deputy Chief Operating Officer, has announced the awarding of the Indigenous Theological Training Grants for 2015.

Two grants totaling $127,600 were awarded:

• Spanish-Quechua Worship Booklet: $17,500 to Forward Movement in partnership with Diocese of Ecuador Central.

• Bishop’s Native Collaborative: $110,100 to Diocese of Montana.

The grants are dedicated for programs focusing on spiritual formation, leadership development, or ordination.

“The grants are crucial in forwarding theological education of the Indigenous ministries in innovative ways,” commented Sarah Eagle Heart, Episcopal Church Missioner for Indigenous Ministries.

The applications were reviewed by a three-member committee including a bishop, an Executive Council member and a member of the Executive Council Committee on Indigenous Ministries.

For more information contact Eagle Heart, Missioner for Indigenous Ministries, seagleheart@episcopalchurch.org.

Indigenous Ministries

No te pierdas el plazo de solicitud para el Cuerpo de Servicio de Jóvenes Adultos de la Iglesia Episcopal

ENS Headlines - Thursday, December 11, 2014

[11 diciembre de 2014] No te pierdas el plazo de solicitud para el Cuerpo de Servicio de Jóvenes Adultos. Comúnmente conocido como YASC, ahora se están aceptando solicitudes de jóvenes adultos  entre las edades de 21 a 30 años para el año 2015-16 del Cuerpo de Servicio de Jóvenes Adultos.

La solicitud está disponible en línea aquí.  El plazo de solicitud es el viernes, 2 de enero del 2015.

La Iglesia Episcopal ofrece innumerables oportunidades a los jóvenes adultos para vivir, trabajar y orar con los hermanos y hermanas de toda la Comunión Anglicana a través YASC.

Los miembros actuales de YASC  se pueden encontrar a lo largo de la Comunión Anglicana. Están trabajando en la administración, la agricultura, el desarrollo, la educación y la tecnología. Están sirviendo en Brasil, Burundi, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Haití, Hong Kong, Italia, Japón, Kenia, Filipinas, Sudáfrica, España y Uruguay.

Lee sus pensamientos y reflexiones en sus blogs aquí.

Entre las posibles ubicaciones para el 2015-16 se encuentran Brasil, Burundi, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haití, Honduras, Hong Kong, Japón, Kenia, México, Panamá, Filipinas, Sudáfrica, Corea del Sur, Taiwán, Uruguay y Zambia.

Para más información póngase en contacto con Elizabeth Boe, Oficial de la Red Global en eboe@episcopalchurch.org.

Anglican Communion agencies launch ‘Pastors and Disasters’ Toolkit for Disaster Risk Reduction

ENS Headlines - Thursday, December 11, 2014

[Episcopal Relief & Development press release] Episcopal Relief & Development and a working group of twelve international partner agencies have published “Pastors and Disasters: a Toolkit for Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction & Management” to improve disaster response efforts within the Anglican relief and development community.

This toolkit is the culmination of three years of collaborative effort to create, adapt and field-test resources that can be used in a variety of contexts, based on local resources and expertise. The working group included partners from Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Latin America and the United States.

“I am extremely proud of the work the group has done, convening online and in person to share the knowledge, successes, challenges and stories that shaped the toolkit into what it is today,” said Nagulan Nesiah, Program Officer for Episcopal Relief & Development. “I am also very proud that Episcopal Relief & Development was able to provide the framework for creating this resource. It is my hope that bringing communities together around disaster risk reduction will seed relationships and practices that can grow to support sustainable development year-round.”

The contents of the toolkit include:
* Anglican Theological Reflections: Scriptural reflections from Church leaders in El Salvador, Sri Lanka and Burundi
* Core Competencies: Descriptions of the four skill sectors necessary for disaster risk reduction and management (Community Mobilization, Risk Assessment, DRR Implementation and Disaster Response)
* Capacity Assessment Worksheet: A survey designed to be used continually during a local committee’s work to assess current strengths and identify areas of growth
* Tools: 24 modules designed to boost skills, knowledge and practice in the four Core Competency areas

It also features additional case studies, a comprehensive list of references and a helpful glossary of terms and definitions.

“Everyone from the working group invested a large amount of time, despite their other regular responsibilities. They shared their thoughts, reviews and efforts into the process, which is how the tool manages to really represent the combined wisdom of partners from across the globe,” said Léonidas Niyongabo, Provincial Development Officer for the Anglican Church of Burundi.

“We approached it very methodically, thinking about what tips and resources will work across contexts, and testing our ideas broadly to make sure we were not making assumptions about what might be available or possible in different areas. In addition to producing the toolkit, we have also formed a very valuable relationship with each other, which, God willing, can continue to grow.”

In addition to Episcopal Relief & Development, the working group included churches and agencies from Sri Lanka, Burundi, El Salvador, Mozambique, Myanmar, Melanesia, South Sudan, Brazil, Australia (Anglican Board of Mission), China (The Amity Foundation) and the UK (Anglican Alliance).

The “Pastors and Disasters” Toolkit is available in PDF format (US and A4 sizes) from Episcopal Relief & Development’s website. Currently, the toolkit is being translated into Spanish, French and Portuguese, with these editions to be published digitally in 2015.

“In a context of seemingly larger and more frequent natural disasters like Typhoon Ruby in the Philippines, as well as global health concerns such as Ebola in West Africa, the importance of working together to exchange knowledge and reduce disaster risk is difficult to overstate,” said Rob Radtke, President of Episcopal Relief & Development. “By building relationships at every level – regional, church-wide and within communities – we become stronger and quicker to mobilize both before and in the aftermath of disasters. This toolkit is an incredible gift to our global community, nurturing partnership and solidarity to ensure the security of those most vulnerable.”

VIDEO: Dr. Daniella Flamenco explains how the toolkit was created and its usefulness for communities worldwide.

Don’t miss application deadline for Young Adult Service Corps

ENS Headlines - Thursday, December 11, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Don’t miss the deadline for application for the Young Adult Service Corps.

Commonly known as YASC, applications for 2015-16 are now being accepted for the Young Adult Service Corps from young adults between the ages of 21-30.

The application is available online here. The application deadline is Friday, January 2, 2015.

The Episcopal Church offers untold opportunities for young adults to live, work and pray with brothers and sisters around the Anglican Communion through YASC.

Current YASC members can be found throughout the Anglican Communion. They are working in administration, agriculture, development, education, and technology. They are serving Brazil, Burundi, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Haiti, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Kenya, the Philippines, South Africa, Spain and Uruguay.

Read their thoughts and reflections on their blogs here.

Among the possible placements for 2015-16 are Brazil, Burundi, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Panama, the Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Uruguay and Zambia.

For more information contact Elizabeth Boe, Global Networking Officer, at eboe@episcopalchurch.org


ENS Headlines - Thursday, December 11, 2014

Los problemas en México y en especial su presidente Enrique Peña Nieto se agravan sin que se vislumbre una solución en un futuro cercano. Las manifestaciones de protesta por todo el país siguen en aumento y la prensa no cesa de hablar de los problemas de Ayotzinapa y la nueva y lujosa Casa Blanca que ocupa la pareja presidencial. Televisa el gigante de las comunicaciones en México y Estados Unidos parece alejarse del presidente y porque “no deja de criticar su actuación”. Por otra parte, han aparecido restos de un jovencito que según los expertos en ADN corresponden a uno de los 43 estudiantes desaparecidos.

La violencia policial se ha incrementado en Estados Unidos como consecuencia de la muerte de dos ciudadanos afro-americanos a manos de la policía. Por lo menos diecisiete ciudades del país han visto las manifestaciones de la comunidad afro-americana exigiendo justicia y mejor protección de los cuerpos armados. En casi todas las ciudades la proporción entre policías blancos y negros es grande y activistas de la causa racial dicen que eso da lugar a los abusos y excesos de poder de la policía.

Según un informe divulgado por la Organización Mundial de la Salud, cada año en América Latina y el Caribe un total aproximado de cuatro millones de mujeres recurren al aborto por diferentes motivos. De ese total 1,4 millones corresponden a Brasil. El informe añade que una de cada 400 mujeres muere a causa de prácticas ilegales, muchos abortos “ponen en riesgo su salud reproductiva e imponen una severa presión a los sistemas de salud y hospitales ya sobrecargados”. El aborto inducido se encuentra penado en casi todos los países con excepción de Cuba y algunos países del Caribe. Existe además un alto nivel de abortos clandestinos que aumenta paulatinamente cada año. Países como México y Colombia han reducido el número de abortos mediante el uso de anticonceptivos.

A fines de noviembre más de 570 maestros, directores y administradores de escuelas, además de obispos y capellanes se reunieron en Los Ángeles para intercambiar ideas sobre la misión y ministerio de las escuelas y colegios episcopales. La ocasión dio lugar a la celebración del 50 aniversario de la Asociación de Escuelas Episcopales, la organización que reúne a la gran mayoría de las 1,000 instituciones educativas relacionadas con la Iglesia Episcopal.  Entre esas instituciones existen cuatro antiguas universidades fuera de Estados Unidos: Cuttington University en Liberia, África; Rikkio University en Japón; St. John´s University en Shanghai, China y Trinity University en Filipinas. “Nuestra misión debe ser formar hombres y mujeres que trabajen en la creación de un mundo mejor, más humano y más cristiano”, dijo un grupo de trabajo.

El arzobispo de Cantórbery Justin Welby y el papa Francisco acaban de participar de un grupo de líderes de las principales religiones del mundo con el fin de terminar para 2020 todas las formas de esclavitud humana existentes en el mundo de hoy. Un informe dijo que la esclavitud moderna se manifiesta principalmente en el tráfico humano, el trabajo forzado y la prostitución. Una declaración conjunta al final de la reunión dice en parte que “todos los seres humanos tienen la misma libertad y dignidad”. En la reunión participaron cristianos, hindúes, budistas, judíos y musulmanes entre otros.

En una audiencia con la Comisión Teológica Internacional el papa Francisco dijo “los teólogos deben escuchar más al pueblo de Dios y auscultar, discernir e interpretar con la ayuda del Espíritu Santo” las necesidades del pueblo. Añadió que de esta manera la verdad revelada  podrá ser percibida y entendida en forma más adecuada. El papa mostró su agrado porque en la comisión ha aumentado la presencia de mujeres que pueden  con su inteligencia y experiencia interpretar mejor las necesidades de esa gran parte del pueblo de Dios.

El presidente de Estados Unidos Barack Obama anunció recientemente que es necesario imponer sanciones  punitivas al gobierno de Venezuela por la constante violación de los derechos humanos en esa nación suramericana.

El plan de la Unión Democristiana de Ángela Merkel ha esbozado en un proyecto de ley en un congreso celebrado en Colonia que “todo aquel que piensa vivir indefinidamente en el país debe aprender a hablar alemán, tanto en los espacios públicos como en su casa”. Pese a las innumerables críticas al plan, aliados de la Merkel dicen que la idea prosperará por el voto de la mayoría. Un periódico dijo en su editorial en tono de guasa que si eso se hace “tendremos que colocar cámaras en las casas de nuestros inmigrantes”.

VERDAD. Libertad es el derecho que tiene todo ser humano de pensar y hablar sin hipocresías.  José Martí (patriota cubano, 1852-1895)

Central Pennsylvania diocese announces 3 nominees for bishop

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania has announced a slate of three nominees to stand for election as the 11th bishop of the diocese.

The nominees were presented to the Standing Committee by the Bishop Search Committee on Dec. 1.

The three are:

The Rev. Canon David A. Pfaff, 50, canon to the ordinary, Diocese of Milwaukee;

The Rev. Canon Audrey Cady Scanlan, 56, canon for mission collaboration and congregational life, Diocese of Connecticut;

The Rev. Douglas Everett Sparks, 58, rector, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Rochester, Minnesota (Diocese of Minnesota).

The announcement of the slate opens a nomination-by-petition process for possible additional nominees that begins Dec. 11 and closes Dec. 18. Information about that process is here.

The next bishop will be elected March 14 at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral in Harrisburg. Pending the subsequent required consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and standing committees of The Episcopal Church, the bishop-elect will be ordained and consecrated on Sept. 12, 2015 at the Harrisburg cathedral.

The bishop-elect will succeed the Rt. Rev. Nathan Baxter, who retired in May. Since that time, retired Diocese of Western Michigan Bishop Robert Gepert has been serving as the diocese’s bishop provisional.