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Churches continue to fight, pray against Ebola

ENS Headlines - Monday, November 17, 2014

[Anglican Alliance] The Ebola epidemic is still raging through Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.  Anglican leaders and communities are joining other faith groups to take action and share accurate messaging to help in the fight against Ebola and prevent any further spread.

According to latest reports there are 13,042 confirmed, probable and suspected cases.  There have been 4,818 deaths so far (6 November 2014), mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.  Recent reports suggest that cases are declining in Liberia, but still on the rise in the other affected countries.

Local churches have used all their resources in responding to this crisis, and call for support through their partners:

Episcopal Relief & Development

Us (formerly USPG)

Anglican Board of Mission

Primates World Relief and Development Fund

Christian Aid

Prayer resources are also available through Christian Aid and Us.

On a recent visit to Ghana the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and his wife Caroline met with the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Repsonse and the Ministry of Health to discuss the key needs in the region.  Caroline Welby has asked the Anglican Communion to join them in prayer and action on these key needs:

  • For countries to send teams to staff the treatment centers that are being built
  • For traditional leaders (chiefs) as well as religious leaders to speak out with clear messages about Ebola.
  • For a simple liturgy to help the bereaved as traditional grieving practices cannot be used at the moment.
  • For Ghana and the current outbreak of cholera in Accra.

Dioceses in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are working closely with government agencies to support the response to the Ebola crisis. The central need is to strengthen and support health systems to focus on containing any outbreaks, while also working with the  wider community on prevention awareness. Anglicans are responding in many ways with their own resources and with support from Anglican/Episcopal agencies such as Us, Episcopal Relief & Development and Trinity Wall Street.

In the East End of Freetown, Bishop Thomas Wilson has provided land for the construction of a 21 bed Ebola isolation unit for Ola During Children’s hospital, responding to a request from hospital management and its partner NGO.  Freetown is one the cities worst affected by the Ebola outbreak, according to the World Health Organisation, and the isolation unit will allow children and parents there to be screened for Ebola and thus allow the hospital to continue its normal life saving activities.

Nagulan Nesiah, of Episcopal Relief & Development, recently shared about a valuable feeding programme that the Diocese of Liberia facilitated with technical advice from WHO at a newly opened Ebola Treatment Unit called Island Clinic in Monrovia, which was struggling to feed the patients.   The provision of a hot-nutritional meal for four weeks led to the full recovery of at least 150 patients.

Rt Revd Jacques Boston, Bishop of Guinea, wrote to Us recently and said, “Let me start by thanking all those who are supporting the Anglican Diocese of Guinea during this difficult time.  The diocese is working nationally alongside other institutions to sensitise people to the situation, to distribute protection kits, and to equip our church clinics with materials to meet the need of the population. This is possible thanks to the support of Us and other agencies.”

One of the key messages is that anyone who has come into contact with someone sick with Ebola should be quarantined for 21 days. In Liberia, the Very Rev. Herman Browne, the Dean of Trinity Cathedral in Monrovia, lived this reality.  He went into voluntary quarantine with his family when they learned that his wife had visited and comforted a friend who was sick with Ebola.

Very Rev. Browne told the public about their situation to reinforce the messaging that is being given out. One of the reasons Ebola continues to spread is that people who know they’ve been exposed to the virus often keep it a secret until they’re desperately ill and highly contagious. They fear the embarrassment, the stigma and the prospect of losing their income.

In this way the church is able to show communities how to work together to prevent Ebola.  As well as providing hand washing facilities, churches are making changes during their services: the embrace or hand shake when sharing the peace has changed to a bow; communion is given by intinction (dipping the wafer in the cup) rather using a shared cup.

Getting the messaging out as widely as possible is key to controlling the epidemic and seeing it come to an end in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Church leaders can have a real impact, as churches are one of the few places that people are still allowed to congregate. Church leaders, like other religious leader and traditional chiefs, are also trusted, which enables them to share correct messaging to communities at the grassroots. Simple messaging and communication is one of the key activities being planned and implemented by dioceses across these countries, with the support and funding from Episcopal Relief & Development, Us and Trinity Wall Street.  The messaging is taken out to communities along with hand washing facilities and food packages for the quarantined and vulnerable.

Other activities include using radio broadcast for messaging, providing accommodation for orphans and widows during their quarantine period using abandoned schools, and working with the UN and international NGOs to distribute hygiene kits, mother and child kits and other materials.

The epidemic is critically serious.  Despite the current international response the number of people infected is expected to continue to increase. Other countries are preparing in case Ebola spreads further afield.  Many of the most vulnerable, like those currently affected, have under-resourced health systems that will struggle to cope. Countries need to plan and prepare, with early detection and response systems in place.  That way if they do come into contact with an Ebola patient they can contain the disease, identifying all the patient’s contacts to contain the spread, and treating the person in an isolation unit with good infection control.

The Anglican Alliance is working to learn from the response of the Church in West Africa and share this learning across the Anglican Communion so that other countries can prepare in case Ebola comes to their country.  Anglican leaders recently gathered in the Caribbean, for an Anglican Alliance consultation of churches, requested this to help them prepare and respond effectively, should Ebola come to their shores.

Links and communication with other organisations are also being shared by the Anglican Alliance to support the local church’s response.  For example, talks with World Vision are taking place to consider how Anglicans can be a part of the training for their new Channels of Hope module on Ebola. This builds on World Vision’s experience of working with communities in these countries and with the Channels of Hope methodology on other health issues, including HIV.

Florida priest cited for feeding homeless wants his day in court

ENS Headlines - Friday, November 14, 2014

The Rev. Canon Mark H. Sims (wearing a stole), rector of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs, is issued with a criminal citation for feeding the homeless.

[Episcopal News Service] A Florida priest who was issued a criminal citation for feeding homeless residents in a local park is fighting back.

“I am suing the city of Fort Lauderdale for the right to continue to feed the homeless on city streets,” according to the Rev. Canon Mark H. Sims, rector of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs.

Sims told the Episcopal News Service Nov. 13 that he has hired local attorneys Bill Scherer, a well-known trial lawyer, and Bruce Rogow, a constitutional lawyer who teaches at Nova Southeastern University, to defend him “in court against a criminal citation I was issued.

“I want to fight the constitutionality of the ordinance that was passed. As someone issued a citation I have standing and I’m going to use that opportunity.”

Scherer told the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel that the city ordinance, passed Oct. 31, which bans feeding of homeless in public places, is unconstitutional and discriminatory.

Police arrive at Stranahan Park where Sims and others were feeding homeless residents.

Local law enforcement officials halted Sims and two others from feeding homeless residents in Stranahan Park on Nov. 2. Sims, 57, said he was detained by police, fingerprinted, issued the citation and released. He is awaiting a court appearance date and faces a $500 fine and a possible 60 days in jail.

“If I get sentenced to jail, I’m going to jail,” Sims said. “But, I’m willing to stay there [in jail] for the right to compassionately feed people who are living on the street,” he added.

City officials have said they want feeding programs moved indoors but Sims and others say there are simply not enough locations to accommodate growing numbers of homeless families and individuals.

“I am determined to allow people to be able to compassionately feed the homeless and people who are hungry on the streets of Florida. I don’t see how we can pass an ordinance that restricts human decency,” added Sims, who has created a legal defense fund on “gofundme.com” and expects “a tough challenge in court.”

He vowed to continue to feed homeless people and on Nov. 12 joined others doing just that at a local beach.

“The Episcopal Church in this diocese feeds people every single day through one of several agencies,” Sims said. “We have on-site places that we use and there are so many social service agencies we have created in Southeastern Florida to help families and individuals as much as we can, but there are still not enough.”

As chair of the board of the Episcopal Charities of Southeastern Florida “we just funded for a two-year cycle $600,000 worth of grants to parishes with at least half of that going to programs that are caring for the feeding of hungry people, homeless people and the elderly,” Sims said.

Typically, during winter months families and individuals who are homeless migrate to Florida from colder climates, so there has been a noticeable uptick in their numbers locally, he said.

On Sunday, Nov. 9, members of his parish returned to the park and served a hot meal of sautéed chicken, rice, vegetables and dessert and distributed “takeout bags of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and apples. We saw more women than we normally see. It was a bit surprising and a bit sad,” Sims said.

But he added that “the city wants them off the streets. They don’t want to do anything to encourage them to be able to stay on the streets. The problem is, there’s no place else to go. They want to make it someone else’s problem.”

Feeding people who are homeless is nothing new for Sims, who said “this has been going on since I was in seminary in 1999 and before that when I was a parishioner in South Florida. I’ve been doing this for 20 years.”

His goal, he said, is for city officials to rescind the ordinance “and I want to sit down with a clean slate and help rework it.”

Meanwhile, local, national and international church communities have rallied in support of Sims, according to the Rev. Canon Donna Dambrot, Episcopal Charities executive director. She compared his legal struggle to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent resistance to unjust laws.

The area has “seen an amazing increase in homelessness and hunger needs,” Dambrot added. “When Fort Lauderdale adopted this ordinance there was already feeding going on in the streets. We’ve gotten … requests for additional funding because the need is so great and food pantries have run out of food and their access to government sources of food is not available.”

She said ECSF “serves hundreds of thousands of meals a year” through partner agencies and that she has noticed at least a 10 percent increase recently in numbers of meals served.

The issue of homelessness is complex and layered, she added. “We have people come out of the woods and the mangroves in the [Florida] Keys; there are homeless folks living in encampments. In Pompano Beach, they’re sleeping under the highway. We even have some people living in canoes in the water, who come ashore to food pantries in Key West.”

There are levels of homelessness, including those who are temporarily without housing who receive job skills and employment training and eventually find permanent living arrangements.

“There is also that layer of folks we serve at St. Lawrence Chapel and our Jubilee Center in South Broward, that will be chronically homeless,” she said. “It’s an ongoing challenge and we’ll be in this for a long time.”

Yet, she added that Sims’ advocacy has inspired others “to take those steps necessary to change what we perceive as unjust regulations.” Sims, the agency and the church community are all simply attempting to respond to Jesus’ directives to help others.

“We follow Matthew 25,” which emphasizes Jesus’s call to serve those in need, she said. “That is our road map. That is our intentional vocational mission.”

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

Anglican Communion voices speak out ahead of the G20 summit

ENS Headlines - Friday, November 14, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] Leading figures from the Anglican Communion are speaking out before and during this weekend’s G20 meeting in Brisbane, Australia, on a range of economic and development issues.

The G20 is a forum for the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies that are said to account for about 85% of the gross world product, 80% of world trade and two-thirds of the world population.

On the sidelines of the meeting will be people from countries not all represented in the G20, reminding world leaders that global growth should not come at the expense of the world’s poorest people.

The Anglican Board of Mission (ABM) reports that Archbishop of Polynesia Winston Halapua is asking the G20 to consider how they might cooperate to minimize the impacts of climate change which are already being felt by people in the Pacific Islands.

The Anglican Alliance regional facilitator for the Pacific will also be in Brisbane during the event. Tagolyn Kabekabe works with communities in the Solomon Islands that are experiencing the erosion of their homelands, poisoning of their food gardens by salt water and increasing exposure to extreme weather events.

Kabekabe represented the Anglican Communion, in particular those in the Pacific directly affected by climate change, at the C20 meeting – a civil society forum that met in June to feed in to the G20 discussions.

Archbishop Philip Freier, primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, has issued a statement in which he warns global leaders that “failure to address these issues of economic security and justice will lead to more international conflict and reduce the possibility of human flourishing.” [His full statement is below.]

ABM’s Greg Henderson has been organizing opportunities for people in Brisbane to meet Halapua and Kabekabe. He says that it is important for Australians to recognize that climate change is a justice issue, “because its impact is being felt most seriously by communities who have the least power to address the causes of anthropogenic warming.”

According to the G20 website, the meeting’s agenda has been built around the key themes of:

  • promoting stronger economic growth and employment outcomes;
  • making the global economy more resilient to deal with future shocks;
  • strengthening global institutions to ensure they reflect the new realities of the global economy.

Further information about the G20’s priorities are available here.

Statement by Archbishop Philip Freier, primate of the Anglican Church of Australia

The G20 meeting of the world’s 20 largest economies in Brisbane this weekend takes place in increasingly uncertain times. There are growing fears of global recession, rising international tensions and growing economic inequality between countries and within countries.

In the longer term there are vast challenges, such as managing climate change, global population growth and movement, international conflict, food security, water, and potential epidemics.

It is essential that the countries taking part look beyond their own short-term national interests and seek to address these challenges in a concerted and effective way.  I echo Pope Francis, who urged last week that the discussions move beyond declarations of principle to real improvements in the living conditions of poorer families and the reduction of all forms of unacceptable inequality.

It will require good will and trust on all sides if the G20 summit is to achieve real progress, and it is the nature of international politics that no one wants to go first on such a path. Yet without a clear-sighted optimism, real change will be impossible.

Failure to address these issues of economic security and justice will lead to more international conflict and reduce the possibility of human flourishing. They cannot be left to fester. The Anglican Church of Australia urges the G20 leaders to search for new and cooperative solutions that can work across the globe. To that end, we offer our support and prayers.

+Philip, Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia

Provincial, Episcopal delegates named for 2015 United Nations meeting

ENS Headlines - Friday, November 14, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has named the Rev. Joan Grimm Fraser of the Diocese of Long Island to serve as the provincial delegate to represent The Episcopal Church at the 59th Session of the 2015 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) meeting, March 9-20, 2015.

The Presiding Bishop has also named the churchwide delegates to represent The Episcopal Church at the event.  The UNCSW delegation is: Helen Achol Abyei, Diocese of Colorado; Nellie Adkins, Diocese of Virginia; (Lesley) Grace Aheron, Diocese of Virginia; Delores Alleyne, Diocese of Connecticut; Digna de la Cruz, Diocese of Dominican Republic; Jayce Hafner, Episcopal Church Domestic Policy Analyst; Julia Ayala Harris, Diocese of Oklahoma; Pragedes Coromoto Jimenez de Salazar, Diocese of Venezuela; Heidi Kim, Episcopal Church Missioner for Racial Reconciliation; Lelanda Lee, Diocese of Colorado; the Rev. Gawain de Leeuw, Diocese of New York; the Rev. Vaike Marika Madisson Lopez de Molina, Diocese of Honduras; Lynnaia Main, Episcopal Church Global Relations Officer; Hollee Martinez, Diocese of Texas; the Rev. Glenda McQueen, Episcopal Church Partnership Officer for Latin America & the Caribbean; Erin Morey-Busch, Diocese of Pittsburgh; Consuelo Sanchez Navarro, Diocese of Honduras; Barbara Schafer of Nevada; the Rev. Stacy Walker-Frontjes, Diocese of Chicago.

The provincial delegate and the churchwide delegates will be able to attend the official UNCSW proceedings at the UN and will represent The Episcopal Church/Anglican Communion in their advocacy at the UN, including joint advocacy with the coalition Ecumenical Women.

The 2015 UNCSW theme is a review of progress made in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Program for Action, 20 years after its adoption at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995.  See more here.

“The expertise, leadership qualities and diversity of the delegates chosen by our Presiding Bishop will insure that The Episcopal Church will be well-represented at the UNCSW meeting in March,” commented Lynnaia Main, Episcopal Church Global Relations Officer.  “We look forward to focusing as a team on the issues that will be presented to us as we review the progress made of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.”

For more information contact Lynnaia Main, Episcopal Church Global Relations Officer, lmain@episcopalchurch.org.

Rapidísimas

ENS Headlines - Thursday, November 13, 2014

La situación de México sigue en primera plana y los comentarios y críticas abundan en toda la prensa continental. Ya se ha dado por cierto que los 43 jóvenes fueron asesinados y sus cuerpos incinerados. Muchos padres se niegan a aceptar la verdad oficial y en más de un lugar se han organizado cuadrillas de voluntarios para continuar la búsqueda. Algunos observadores dicen que el secuestro de los 43 jóvenes es uno de los eventos de mayor relevancia en la historia reciente de México. Varias manifestaciones en el Distrito Federal y otras ciudades han portado carteles pidiendo la renuncia del presidente Enrique Peña Nieto que pese a la gravedad de la situación nacional se ha marchado del país para participar de una reunión internacional en China. Como si los problemas fueran pocos, se ha descubierto que el presidente y su esposa han adquirido una casa por valor de siete millones de dólares.

En muchas ciudades del mundo libre se ha recordado con especial interés la caída del Muro de Berlín que ahora cumple 25 años. Para muchos que pensaron que el Muro era propaganda de los países occidentales,  han visto en toda su crudeza lo que el muro significó para el pueblo que clamaba por libertad. Muchos perdieron sus vidas para poder cruzar el muro que estaba resguardado por policías armados con perros, alambradas electrificadas, y todo tipo de cámaras y equipos de torturas. En Miami los visitantes podrán ver un pedazo del muro que ha sido donado al Miami Dade College en el mismo centro de la ciudad. El muro fue construido por la Unión Soviética como un intento fallido de aislar a su pueblo del mundo occidental. El muro fue derribado el 9 de noviembre de 1989. En Miami algunos comentaristas han comparado el muro con el Estrecho de la Florida el mar que se interpone entre Cuba y Estados Unidos.

El Muro de Berlín fue construido súbitamente tras la división de Alemania después de la II Guerra Mundial. Berlín quedó dividido en cuatro sectores de ocupación (soviético, inglés, francés y norteamericano). En 1949 los tres sectores occidentales pasaron a formar la República Federal Alemana (RFA) y el sector oriental la República Democrática Alemana (RDA). Las relaciones entre ambos sectores tuvieron muchos problemas. La RDA decide levantar un muro “provisional” para evitar la pérdida de población y el 12 de agosto de 1961 éste se hizo realidad. Inmediatamente se colocó una alambrada de 1555 kilómetros.  Se cree que entre 1961 y 1989 más de 5,000 trataron de cruzar, 3,000 fueron detenidas y más de 200 perdieron la vida en el intento. El 9 de noviembre de 1989 la RDA decidió que el paso hacia el occidente estaba permitido. Gran alegría colmó al mundo entero. Por fin las familias podían reunirse y nadie sería perseguido por pasar de un sector a otro. Por eso este día es tan importante.

En su viaje por Europa el presidente colombiano Juan Manuel Santos dijo en Madrid que hay que terminar de “una vez por todas” con el conflicto de las FARC y añadió que la paz ayudará al crecimiento económico de Colombia y la región y pondrá fin a males tan terribles como el terrorismo.

En la reciente celebración del Día del Veterano en Estados Unidos se reveló que las guerras traen más dolor y angustia de lo que el pueblo conoce. Una cosa es ver una parada militar con música y otra la realidad de un campo de batalla donde fluye la sangre y abunda el dolor. Muchos soldados regresan con el síndrome post-traumático que los afecta emocionalmente y que los lleva a ser enfermos mentales y en último caso a terminar con su existencia. También se mencionó en programas de radio y televisión que el soldado que regresa “es un extraño” para su familia y amigos. Muchos necesitan asistencia médica que el gobierno no les da por la escasez y mala condición de los hospitales para veteranos. Otros soldados se ven abandonados por sus familias y sin trabajo y terminan convirtiéndose en hombres y mujeres “sin techo” viviendo de la caridad pública. “Es una vergüenza que personas que han dado lo mejor de sus vidas por el país, sean ignorados y hasta despreciados por otras personas”, dijo un veterano de Puerto Rico que prefirió no identificarse.

RETO: Busca la paz y síguela.

Advent resources from the Episcopal Church

ENS Headlines - Thursday, November 13, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Resources for observing the Advent season through spiritual avenues are now available from The Episcopal Church here.

Advent is the liturgical season that occurs four weeks prior to Christmas, beginning on Sunday, November 30.  Advent is a time of reflection and preparation.

The resources are ideal for personal, congregational and community planning and scheduling of Advent observances.

Devotions from leaders
The leaders of The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Anglican Church of Canada and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada have prepared devotions for each of the four weeks of Advent.

Downloadable devotions are available here.

Advent 1 (November 30) Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Advent 2 (December 7) The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church

Advent 3 (December 14) Bishop Susan Johnson, National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

Advent 4 (December 21) The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz, Primate, Anglican Church of Canada

Following the Star
www.d365.org
Daily online devotions take on a seasonal theme beginning with first Sunday in Advent on November 30. Following the Star is written for teenage youth and the adults who work with them. Subscribe to the website to receive a daily reminder or download the mobile app; d365 Daily Devotions by Passport, Inc. This service is a collaborative initiative of the Youth Ministries offices of The Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church USA, and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Advent Lectionary Reflection
The Episcopal Church Formation Missioners invite all to embark on a photo meditation throughout the Season of Advent. Each day will feature a word taken from the Sunday Lectionary readings that will be posted on social media sites for reflection. The goal is to meditate on that word throughout the day and, if you find a photo that captures that word for you, post it to your social media sites with the hashtag #episcopaladvent as well as a hashtag for the word for the day (for example: #joy). Posts will begin posting on the first Sunday of Advent, November 30 and will conclude on Christmas Day. For a preview of all the daily meditations, go here.

Follow on social media
Find Episcopal Church Formation on Twitter at:
@episcoformation
@episcoyouth
@EpiscoYAs

On Facebook at:
facebook.com/EpiscoFormation
facebook.com/episcopalyoungadultandcampusministries
facebook.com/EpiscoYouth

On Instagram at:
@EpiscoFormation
@EpiscoYouth
@episcoyas

Participate in #Giving Tuesday and donate to Navajoland

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, November 12, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] You can participate in #Giving Tuesday on December 2 and directly help the needs of the Episcopal Church in Navajoland.

This year marks the first time The Episcopal Church will participate in #Giving Tuesday, an international movement. Through the efforts of the Episcopal Church Development Office, donations can be made to the building of hogans in Navajoland.

Donations can be made here.

#Giving Tuesday is “a global day dedicated to giving back,” according to the website.

“#Giving Tuesday is defined as a charity-centered alternative to Black Friday, only four days prior,” explained Elizabeth Lowell, Director of Development.

The Navajoland Area Mission is 26,000 square miles, spreading over Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.  Hogans, a traditional Navajoland dwelling, cost $40,000 to build and are used for traditional ceremonies as well as educational purposes.

Donations for hogans will be accepted through June 2015.

For more information contact Lowell at elowell@episcopalchurch.org.

RIP: Former Bethlehem Bishop Mark Dyer dies at 84

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, November 12, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] The Rt. Rev. James Michael Mark Dyer, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem from 1982 to 1995, died Nov. 11 after battling multiple myeloma for several years. He was 84.

Bishop Provisional of Bethlehem Sean W. Rowe said that Dyer’s death “represents a significant loss to our diocese and to the church.

“Whether as an advisor to several archbishops of Canterbury, chief pastor to his diocese, mentor to countless priests and seminarians, or advocate for the poor, he represented the very essence of the servanthood that can be found at the heart of the episcopate,” Rowe said. “A master teacher, Bishop Mark drew on the joy and tragedy of the human condition, including his own, to bring to life the ministry of Jesus and the narrative of God’s work in the world in ways that made for real and lasting transformation. Those of us who had the privilege of sitting at his feet as students caught a glimpse of what it must have been like to sit at the feet of Jesus.”

The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS), said: “The sense of loss is palpable. I was among many who found tears in my eyes as I learned the news … Mark Dyer was a giant of this seminary. He was a profound gift to the church and to this seminary.”

Dyer joined the VTS faculty in 1996 as professor of systematic theology and director of spiritual formation. He also served as professor of theology and mission. While at VTS he was a senior consultant for the Center for Anglican Communion Studies. After his retirement from VTS, Dyer maintained a presence within the VTS community as an adjunct professor until his death.

A widely respected leader in the worldwide Anglican Communion, Dyer was called upon frequently by Robert Runcie, George Carey and Rowan Williams for significant assignments during their tenures as archbishop of Canterbury.Under Runcie, Dyer was the sole representative of the bishops of the Episcopal Church on an international committee of 20 Anglican bishops who prepared theological position papers for the 1988 Lambeth Conference of bishops.Carey named Dyer to the 12-member steering committee that planned the 1998 Lambeth Conference. In 1998, he also named Dyer to the Eames Commission that attempted to quell controversy in the communion over the decision by some provinces to ordain women to the priesthood and the episcopacy.

In 2004, Williams named Dyer to the Lambeth Commission on Communion, which attempted to restore unity in the communion during the ongoing controversy over the place of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians in the life of the church.

Dyer was also a committed and respected ecumenist, and his was an important voice in dialogues between the Episcopal Church and Lutheran and Orthodox churches in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s. He served as co-chair of the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue, which produced an agreed statement on the theology of the Church in 2006, published as The Church of the Triune God.

Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town Desmond Tutu, remembered his friend Dyer, who he worked with on many issues in the Anglican Communion. “He had a gentle manner. His mouth was always ready to laugh. And he was an affirming presence in every situation in which I encountered him,” said Tutu.

Born June 7, 1930 in Manchester, New Hampshire, Dyer served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War before studying contemporary philosophy at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in theology magna cum laude from New Hampshire’s St. Anselm College in 1959.The following year, he was professed a monk in the Order of St. Benedict at St. Anselm Abbey, on the college’s campus. He was ordained priest of the abbey in 1963. He earned a master’s in theology and licentiate in sacred theology at the University of Ottawa, Canada, in 1965, while teaching at St. Anselm seminary. He also taught theology at Queen of Peace Mission Seminary in New Hampshire and as an adjunct professor at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts.

He entered the Anglican Church of Canada in 1969 and was received as a priest in the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Massachusetts in 1971. He served the Massachusetts diocese as missioner to the clergy; priest in charge of Trinity Church, Bridgewater; and rector of Christ Church, Hamilton and Wenham, before being ordained bishop of the Diocese of Bethlehem in 1982.

In her 2008 book, “The Great Emergence,” Phyllis Tickle revised for a wide readership Dyer’s insight that the church’s history can be thought of as a series of “ecclesiastical yard sales.”

While bishop of Bethlehem in the early 1990s, Dyer wrote: “Christianity has had five significant yard sales. Each one has had to do with the church’s struggle to resist the temptation to domesticate God’s vision, to settle for change when God seeks transformation. The sixth is now. It’s something that seems to happen every three or four hundred years. In Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, God empowers the church to discover its roots and its center, and transform itself in new, exciting and wonderful ways. Jesus announced the first yard sale. Then Benedict, in the sixth century. Then the Franciscan Spring in the thirteenth century. Then Martin Luther and the reformers in the sixteenth century, the only yard sale led by an ordained person. It’s time once again for a massive yard sale, a transformation led by lay people. Our 400 years are up.”Dyer is predeceased by his son Matthew and survived by his children John and Jennifer Dyer; his stepchildren, Robyn and Amanda Gearey; two grandchildren, Sam and Ava Wandler; and his spouse, Amelia J. Gearey Dyer, Ph.D., who serves VTS as the James Maxwell Professor of Christian Education and Pastoral Theology, and director of the Ministry Resident Program. He is also survived by a sister, Patricia Cashin.

Dyer’s first wife, the Rev. Marie Elizabeth Dyer, died in 1999. She was an Episcopal priest and they were married 29 years.

– Adapted from various press releases and statements.

Anglicans invited to ‘celebrate Advent using your camera phones’

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The monks are inviting Anglicans and Episcopalians to join them in prayer, meditation and taking photos during Advent. Photo: SSJE

[Anglican Communion News Service] Members of Anglican Communion Churches worldwide are being invited to celebrate Advent through prayer, meditation and by contributing to a global Advent calendar on Instagram.

Advent — from Nov. 30 to Dec. 24 — is the season when Christians observe a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas.

The Anglican Communion Office and the Society of Saint John the Evangelist (SSJE) are teaming up to offer Anglicans and Episcopalians around the world a daily word, meditation and beautiful image sent to their e-mail inboxes.

Playing around with time
The brothers use technology that allows their daily Advent e-mail to arrive in people’s inboxes at 5 a.m. wherever in the world the recipient is.

“5 a.m. is about the time we get up to pray,” said SSJE’s Brother Jim Woodrum. “Of course you can look at your e-mail after 5 a.m., but we want to make sure it’s there when you wake up.”

Though people are used to the idea of monks involved in prayer and meditation, they might be surprised to know that monks have camera phones too.

“We are hoping that people will join us in praying with their phone this Advent,” said Woodrum. “After reading the meditation, we’d love for people to snap a picture that reflects the theme or their response to it and post it to Instagram.”

#Adventword
Participants are invited to take a photo with their phone or tablet to share their interpretation of the word for that day – these include #Abide, #Thrive, #Become, #Imagine – and post the picture to Instagram adding the day’s tag plus #Adventword.

“People need help with their daily spiritual practice,” said Brother Geoffrey Tristram, SSJE superior. “During Advent, we anticipate the coming of Christ, an event that awakens our deepest desires and longings. This Advent, we are inviting you to join us in looking clearly and honestly at our lives and taking action.”

Jan Butter, director for communications at the Anglican Communion Office, said, “It’s all too easy for Christians to be consumers in today’s world — especially during the Advent season. Here we have a chance to not only receive during Advent, but also take part in a global action; to give back to other Anglicans and Episcopalians worldwide by sharing our photos with each other.

“This is also a chance for people who might never have connected with an Anglican religious community before to benefit from the deep thought, meditation and prayer that emanates from such communities all around the world.” (Visit http://communities.anglicancommunion.org/ for a list of other Anglican Communion religious communities.)

To be part of this global Advent initiative, sign up at http://www.aco.org/adventword.cfm. The initiative starts on Nov. 30. To learn more about SSJE visit www.ssje.org/adventword

Veteran Friendly Congregations supports returning servicemen

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, November 11, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] The Brotherhood of St. Andrew is drawing on its rich history of supporting servicemen and women by leading the creation of Veteran Friendly Congregations.

Brotherhood President Robert Dennis cites too many instances of veterans struggling to get the help they need: jobs, disability payments, health care and treatment for such afflictions as post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, physical disabilities and military sexual trauma.

In the 12 years since American troops were first deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, more than 2.6 million veterans have returned home to a country largely unprepared to meet their needs.

“The suicide rate, broken families and unemployment among families is inconceivable to all of us,” Dennis said Nov. 11 upon the announcement of his organization’s attempt to promote Veteran Friendly Congregations in its chapters and churches.

“Some 37 percent of returning veterans suffer from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder and 62,619 are homeless,” Dennis said. “Their unemployment rate of 15 percent is twice the national average.”

The project began in 2009 at St. Peter and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Marietta, Georgia, when then-rector the Rev. Robert Certain was approached by IBM executive and West Point graduate Peter McCall, who sought a way to help what he saw as a major problem.

“Peter and his wife Cathy have been stalwart leaders in the creation of Veteran Friendly Congregations,” Certain says. There are about 200 VFCs throughout the southeastern U.S. and the Brotherhood has begun a major push to take the program nationwide.

A retired Air Force colonel, Certain is also the Brotherhood’s national missioner to the U.S. Armed Forces and can be reached at eagle@unchainedeagle.com.

St. Peter and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church offers training for mental health professionals regarding post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues, arranges living accommodations, provides financial support, helps veterans find employment and will help any veteran in any possible way.

The church and its Brotherhood chapter organized Care For The Troops, that provides information any chapter to get started caring for servicemen and women.

“We are delighted the Brotherhood is pushing this program,” Certain says. “It has spread to many other denominations here in Georgia and we would love for this to be expanded to other regions of the country. It started with the Brotherhood and the Brotherhood would be a good vehicle to get it going nationally.”

The Veteran Friendly Congregation initiative continues a long-standing Brotherhood commitment to helping returning servicemen.

At the conclusion of World War I, 729 churches out of the 1,165 that existed at the time organized church welcoming committees, thanks to the work of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, which kept a file on each and every serviceman. When a soldier returned home – many suffering from “shell-shock” and which is now called “post-traumatic stress disorder” – a local Brotherhood chapter knew about him.

Statistics from that era show that 56 percent of men asking to be baptized at Episcopal churches did so after initially being ushered into a church welcoming home committee organized by the Brotherhood of St. Andrew.

Building upon its success in World War I, the Brotherhood refined its methods of keeping up with servicemen, even as the task in the U.S.’s five-year involvement in World War II proved much more difficult. The Brotherhood’s helpfulness to the military in the First World War earned it a great deal of trust among the Army and Navy brass. To its surprise, the Brotherhood found itself being recommended by U.S. Army and Naval officers.

Due to the international stature of the Anglican Communion, Brotherhood chapters already existed in much of the English-speaking nations. But during – and especially after – World War II, Brotherhood chapters spread to non-English speaking countries and regions such as the Philippines, Korea and Japan, a legacy of the Brotherhood’s efforts that began in 1945 by helping wounded servicemen.

Offering injured servicemen a home in a Brotherhood chapter that can offer them substantial help for their afflictions – whether physical, psychological or both – can play an important role in the life of the Brotherhood as well as the lives of servicemen returning from the longest wars the U.S. has ever fought.

“There is no set way to accomplish this – every church and chapter is different,” Dennis notes. “Either way, you are transforming the life of a man who gave his all for his country.”

Muslim Friday prayers to be offered at Washington National Cathedral

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, November 11, 2014

[Washington National Cathedral] Washington National Cathedral and five Muslim groups have announced that the first celebration of Muslim Friday prayers (Jumaa) at the cathedral will be observed on Friday, Nov. 14.

“Leaders believe offering Muslim prayers at the Christian cathedral shows more than hospitality,” according to a cathedral media advisory. “It demonstrates an appreciation of one another’s prayer traditions and is a powerful symbolic gesture toward a deeper relationship between the two Abrahamic traditions.”

The prayers will be held between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and will be attended by the Rev. Canon Gina Campbell, director of liturgy for Washington National Cathedral, South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool, Masjid Muhammad of The Nation’s Mosque,
and representatives from the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Society of North America, Muslim Public Affairs Council.

The opportunity grew out of a “trusted relationship” between Campbell and Rasool, who met while planning the national memorial service for Nelson Mandela, the advisory said.

“Deep relationships come out of prayer,” said Campbell. “Different connections come out of being in prayer — beyond the political or academic.”

Rasool thanked Campbell for the cathedral’s generous offer to use Friday prayers as a beginning to a deeper conversation and partnership. “This is a dramatic moment in the world and in Muslim-Christian relations,” said Rasool. “This needs to be a world in which all are free to believe and practice and in which we avoid bigotry, Islamaphobia, racism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Christianity and to embrace our humanity and to embrace faith.”

The cathedral has welcomed Muslims in the past, often at interfaith services and events, as well as at the Interfaith Conference of Greater Washington’s annual concert and specific programs such as the 2008 Ramadan Iftar at the Cathedral College. But this is the first time the cathedral has invited Muslims to come and lead their own prayers in a space known as a house of prayer for all people.

Planners hope that the people around the world will take note of this service and the welcome extended by the cathedral so that Muslims everywhere will adopt a reciprocal welcome of Christians by Muslims.

The prayers will be offered in the north transept, an area of the cathedral with arches and limited iconography that provide an ideal space — almost mosque-like — with the appropriate orientation for Muslim prayers.

The prayers will also be webcast live from the cathedral’s website.

Robert Skirving ordained as bishop of East Carolina

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Robert S. Skirving offers a blessing following his ordination as the 8th bishop of the Diocese of East Carolina. Photo: Richard Schori

[Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina] The ordination and consecration of the Rev. Robert S. Skirving as the 8th bishop of the Diocese of East Carolina capped off a celebratory weekend of festivities, bringing people from all over North America to Greenville, North Carolina.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori served as the chief consecrator. The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel (East Carolina, Resigned), the Rt. Rev. Peter J. Lee (East Carolina, Provisional), the Rt. Rev. Julio Holguin (Dominican Republic), the Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley (Eastern Michigan), and the Rt. Rev. Graham Rights (Bishop of Moravian Unity) were the co-consecrators.

Several bishops lay their hands on Robert Skirving as he consecrated as the 8th bishop of the Diocese of East Carolina. Photo: Richard Schori

The dioceses of East Carolina and the Dominican Republic have shared a companion relationship since 2010. Skirving, through his previous parish of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Midland, Michigan, led many groups to the Dominican Republic.

Skirving says he hopes to strengthen the ties between the Episcopal Church and the Moravian Church in Eastern North Carolina. The two traditions are in full communion with each other. The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry (North Carolina) preached, telling the 1,200 worshipers that God’s mission for humanity is to tell people how loved they are.

The ordination and consecration took place at the Rock Springs Center. Clergy of the diocese had the opportunity to meet with the presiding bishop during a luncheon on Friday. She facilitated conversation about effective ministries throughout the church, including the Farmworker Ministry, a joint ministry with the dioceses of East Carolina and North Carolina.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori meets with campus ministers in North Carolina. Photo: Emily Gowdy Canady

Later in the afternoon, students and campus ministers from Episcopal Lutheran Campus Ministries at East Carolina University, Episcopal Lutheran Ministries at UNC-Pembroke, and Episcopal Campus Ministries at UNC-Wilmington had the opportunity to gather for coffee and conversation with the presiding bishop at St. Timothy’s, Greenville. The conversation included LGBT inclusion and each campus’ outreach efforts: ELCM at ECU sponsoring a partner program with the Muslim Student group, ELM at UNCP working with a Native American Literacy Project in their local Community, and ECM at UNCW working at the Farmworker Festival earlier in the fall. The students were deeply engaged by the presiding bishop, and she encouraged them to continue in their strong work of reaching out.

There was no day of rest for the new bishop. He preached and presided at three services at Christ Church, New Bern, on Sunday, Nov. 9. He performed three baptisms, 12 confirmations, four receptions, and seven reaffirmations.

Skirving was elected bishop on May 17 in a special convention. He was serving as rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Midland, Michigan, when he was elected. Prior to arriving at St. John’s in 2005, Skirving served as rector of Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church in London, Ontario, Canada. His work in Canada provided him experience working in churches of varying sizes, from small, rural congregations to large, program-sized parishes in suburban and urban areas.

He has served on the House of Deputies State of the Church Committee and represented the Diocese of Eastern Michigan on the Province V Executive Board. He was a deputy to General Convention in 2012 and has served his diocese as dean and chair of its Commission on Ministry.

He was awarded a BA from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada in 1982. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Huron University College in London, Ontario in 1986. He has completed additional course work towards advanced degrees in religious studies and congregational development at the University of Windsor, University of Notre Dame and Seabury Institute.

He and his wife Sandy have two grown children. When he can, he enjoys reading biography and historical fiction. He has also begun to learn Latin American Spanish to help in the missional partnership with the Episcopal Church in the Dominican Republic.

The Diocese of East Carolina is composed of nearly 70 parishes in 32 counties and covers the area from I-95 to the coast and from Southport up to Gatesville. The diocese is home to several major military bases, a large Hispanic community, and small congregations. The diocesan office is located in Kinston.

Prior Anders Litzell to oversee new community at Lambeth Palace

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Swedish Anglican priest the Rev. Anders Litzell will pioneer the Archbishop of Canterbury’s new community for young Christians at Lambeth Palace. Photo: Lambeth Palace

[Lambeth Palace press release] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has appointed the Rev. Anders Litzell as prior of the Community of St. Anselm, a radical new Christian community at Lambeth Palace.

Litzell, 34, is an Anglican priest from Sweden, who has experience of the Pentecostal and Lutheran traditions as well as three provinces of the Anglican Communion. He will pioneer the Community, which launches in September 2015, and direct its worship and work. He will work as prior under the auspices of the archbishop, who will be Abbot of the Community. Litzell will take up the role on Jan. 5, 2015.

The Community will initially consist of 16 people living at Lambeth Palace full-time, and up to 40 people, who live and work in London, joining as non-residential members. The archbishop hopes that the Community will be definitive in shaping future leaders to serve the common good in a variety of fields, as they immerse themselves in a challenging year of rigorous formation through prayer, study, practical service and community life.

Litzell was ordained in the Church of England in 2012. He is currently serving at St George’s, Holborn, in the Diocese of London, where his ministry focuses on students and adults in their 20s and 30s. At the same time he is pursuing a doctorate which focuses on the relevance of St. Benedict for contemporary leadership. He trained for ordination at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, U.K., including a sojourn at St. Agnes, Diocese of Natal in South Africa.

Litzell grew up in the Swedish Pentecostal Church. During his undergraduate studies at Wheaton College, Illinois, he discovered ‘high church’ Anglicanism through St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Glen Ellyn – where his journey to ordination began. Back in Sweden he served in the Lutheran church, Sollentuna Parish in Stockholm, while directing the Alpha Sweden office, before moving to London to work with Alpha International.

Welby said: “My vision for the Community of St. Anselm is that it be both ancient and postmodern: that young adults be steeped in the rich monastic traditions of the likes of Benedict, Francis and Ignatius, while discovering their striking relevance for the transformation of self and society today. I am delighted at the appointment of Anders Litzell who will help to work this out at Lambeth Palace.”

The archbishop’s chaplain, the Rev. Jo Wells, who has pioneered the setting up of the Community, said: “Anders brings an experience and hunger for spiritual formation which is both wide and deep – crossing a variety of continents and traditions. He brings much energy and imagination to the work, a work in which he will participate even as he leads.”

Litzell said: “I am hugely excited about taking on this role and, through God’s grace, turning Archbishop Justin’s vision for the community into reality. We pray that the Community will be identified by prayer, by learning, by love of each other and of the poor – all with one intention above all others: to become more like Jesus.”

Further information is available here.

SA Archbishop calls on youth for help with Communion eco-strategy

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Archbishop Thabo has long been leading the way in raising awareness of the impact of climate change.
Photo: The Anglican Church of Southern Africa

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglican youth worldwide have been called on to help determine the Anglican Communion’s strategy to protect the environment.

Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba, primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, has issued an invitation to young Anglicans and Episcopalians worldwide to use social media to let the eco-bishops know what they think should be in a Communion-wide strategic plan to address global climate change.

“I write to you today in order to strengthen our Christian witness in a difficult time and, by doing so, mobilizing the entire Anglican Communion around the urgent matter of global climate change,” wrote Makgoba, who is the chair of the Anglican Communion Environment Network.

“I have invited a few bishops from around the Anglican Communion to meet with me in South Africa in February 2015. These bishops have already begun conversations together involving an exchange of ideas and concerns, and information about the responses we have already made in relation to climate change, and those we hope to make.

“Wherever we live in the communion, each of us already feels the impact of climate change in our home provinces and dioceses – rising sea levels, stronger storms in some areas, longer droughts in others, shortages of food and clean water, waves of refugees.

“This could lead to social and political upheaval in many countries. Unless more direct and faithful action, in addition to the reduction of greenhouse gases, is taken soon, the consequences for the church and all of humanity will be even more profound.

“Our goal will be to develop a Communion-wide strategic plan that meets the challenges ahead and builds ‘confidence in God’s future’ for present and future generations.”

Calling on future leaders
The archbishop stressed that he needed to hear from Anglican youth worldwide because it was they who would soon be the leaders of the church and “nations in which we we minister in these important matters.”

“What do you want to say to a group of eco-bishops? I ask you to post a selfie or record a video on your smartphone or mobile device. Speak in English, French, Spanish or other language. If you are on Facebook visit our Anglican eco-bishops community page.”

Makgoba invited visitors to the social media platform to post comments, pictures and short videos there and see what others had posted also.

Further information about the Anglican Communion Environment Network is available here.

Anglicans need ‘deeper understanding of Islam’

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, November 11, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans need a deeper understanding of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations so they can better pray and respond to interfaith situations.

Chair of the Anglican Network for Inter Faith Concerns (NIFCON) and Archbishop of Dublin the Most Rev. Michael Jackson made the comments in a letter to primates and provincial secretaries of the Anglican Communion.

Writing to promote the latest NIFCON Christian Muslim Digest he said, “As the events in Syria and Iraq, and in other countries where Muslims are in a majority, impact upon increasingly wider areas, we are reminded that within all of the provinces of the Anglican Communion we need to have a deeper knowledge of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations so that we can reach a better understanding of the issues and how they might impact upon us and other Anglicans, and will be able to pray more effectively.”

Andrew Sharp has spent the past few months, on behalf of NIFCON, monitoring worldwide news coverage of Christian-Muslim affairs and has subsequently compiled the Christian Muslim Digest.

The present issue looks at the activities of Islamic State and the responses to these from other Muslims. It also features the story of Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman who was sentenced to death for apostasy, acquitted, and granted asylum in the United States.

It can be read online or downloaded as a pdf, and is accessible at http://nifcon.anglicancommunion.org/digest/docs/digest22.cfm. To be put on the circulation for future editions email nifcon@anglicancommunion.org

Kisare named legislative representative for international affairs

ENS Headlines - Monday, November 10, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Bishop Stacy F. Sauls, Chief Operating Officer of The Episcopal Church, has announced that Patricia O. Kisare has been named Legislative Representative for International Affairs for both The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

“We welcome Patricia to this position and also rejoice in our deepening partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,” Bishop Sauls stated.  “Both will further God’s mission in the world.”

As Legislative Representative for International Affairs, Kisare will serve jointly on the staffs of both The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations and the ELCA Washington Office, and will be responsible for the federal legislative and policy advocacy of both churches on U.S. foreign policy and international issues, representing the shared positions of the churches to Congress and the Administration; conducting legislative research and analysis; producing legislative correspondence and communications; and building and leading advocacy coalitions.

“With the appointment of Patricia Kisare to jointly serve the advocacy offices of the Missionary Society of The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, we are continuing with an important ecumenical milestone in the life of full communion between the two churches,” noted Alexander D. Baumgarten, Episcopal Church Director of Justice and Advocacy Ministries. “Patricia is the second professional to hold this post, and our joint decision to continue in this manner is a testament to the gifts we believe each Church has received from the other in expanding and strengthening our witness in Washington.”

“Not only is the ELCA delighted that Patricia Kisare brings to the position an experience and expertise that will undoubtedly contribute to our ministry of advocacy, but her appointment further demonstrates the shared commitment both denominations have for living out our full-communion partnership in ever more concrete ways,” said Stacy Martin, Director of Advocacy for the ELCA. “Patricia’s presence helps to ensure that the mainline Christian voice is one that strives for further coordination and, as such, greater impact.”

Kisare’s position within the Missionary Society is as a member of the churchwide Justice and Advocacy Ministries staff.  She is based in Washington, DC.

She boasts important experience in the legislative field. Most recently served as the Legislative Associate for International Affairs for the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), Washington, DC. Previously she was a Research Assistant for the U.N International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (UNICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania.

She holds a Master of International Affairs from The Pennsylvania State University and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from Millersville University, Millersville, PA

Kisare began her new position in October. She can be reached at pkisare@episcopalchurch.org.

New research document available: Episcopal Congregations Overview

ENS Headlines - Friday, November 7, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Based on data received from a comprehensive survey of churches, the Episcopal Congregations Overview featuring updated facts and figures about congregations, programs and practices in the Episcopal Church have been posted here.

This information, available for downloading at no fee, can provide important and needed data to congregational efforts for growth, stewardship, fundraising, recruitment etc. Copies are being sent to all participating congregations and dioceses.

The research was compiled by Dr Kirk Hadaway, Episcopal Church Congregational Research Officer, khadaway@episcopalchurch.org.

Topics included in the Episcopal Congregations Overview include: Parishes and their Settings; Worship; Members; Recruitment and Evangelism; Programs Practices and ministries; Conflict; Leadership; and Congregational Identity.

Available documents
Along with Survey Reports: Episcopal Congregations Overview: 2014, other documents available include:
Domestic Fast Facts: 2013
Domestic Fast Facts Trends: 2009-2013
Statistical Totals for the Episcopal Church by Province: 2012-2013
Statistical Totals for the Episcopal Church by Province and Diocese: 2012-2013
Membership and Attendance Totals for the Episcopal Church: 2013

Additional information is located on the Episcopal Church Research page here.

 

Video: Missionary in Romania embraces social, ecumenical role

ENS Headlines - Friday, November 7, 2014

[Episcopal News Service, Huși, Romania] The Rev. Dorothee Hahn is well into her third year as an Episcopal Church missionary in Romania. The former lawyer from Germany is committed to supporting struggling families and otherwise walking alongside the rural community in Huși, near Iași.

A priest in the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, Hahn’s missionary work began through a partnership between the Romanian Orthodox Church and her former parish in Munich, Church of the Ascension.

Ordained in 2005, being an Episcopal priest is an important part of Hahn’s identity, so she’s rarely seen in anything but her clerical attire. Most people in the Romanian Orthodox Church respect that identity, understanding that she is there to serve in partnership and common mission and not to evangelize or proselytize.

Hahn’s ministry in Romania is multifaceted. At the cathedral in Huși, she sings in the choir. She also steps in from time to time as the official photographer for important events in the Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Huși. In Hârșova and Vaslui, she offers weekly classes, teaching German to local children, knowing that languages will only serve to broaden their opportunities in life.

Every week or two, the Rev. Dorothee Hahn visits Cosmin and his family near Huși, Romania. Cosmin suffered an undiagnosed illness when he was about 18 months old and has been disabled every since. Photo: Matthew Davies

Following the fall of communism in 1989, the levels of poverty in Romania exploded, particularly in rural communities. While the country has seen some economic improvements since it joined the European Union in 2007, most people still struggle to make ends meet.

Given those economic hardships, Hahn’s work out in the community is deeply valued.

The Rev. Margaret Rose, the Episcopal Church’s ecumenical officer, visited Hahn in September to learn more about her ministry and the unique Episcopal-Orthodox partnership.

Through her ecumenical work, Hahn is “helping the church to come together in a way that is, in my mind, deeper than doctrine,” says Rose. “It is in the practice of the love of Jesus.”

Partnership and common mission are at the very heart of this ecumenical story. And for Hahn, all of her skills are being applied in this context. It’s a shining example of the Episcopal Church’s missionary program. It’s about sharing God’s gifts and walking together in mission.

Hahn is one of 47 appointed Episcopal Church adult missionaries serving throughout the world.

Further information about the Episcopal Church’s missionary program is available here or by contacting the Rev. David Copley, mission personnel officer, at dcopley@episcopalchurch.org.

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

Pakistan Christian couple burned in kiln over debt, not blasphemy

ENS Headlines - Friday, November 7, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Church of Pakistan has said a Christian couple beaten and burned in a brick kiln was revenge for unpaid bills, not because they had damaged a Qur’an.

A member of the united church, that comprises several Christian denominations including Anglicans, yesterday sent a message to supporters to clarify media reports about the murders.

The statement, from Raheel Sharoon, development officer of the Diocese of Raiwind, clarified that the crime was motivated by revenge after a disagreement over a debt rather than any blasphemy against Islam on the part of these young parents.

“By this time you might have heard through media about the brutal killing of a Christian couple in Kot Radha Kishan (close to Raiwind) on the pretext of desecration of Holy Quran. This family lived close to Clarkabad, which is a Christian village about 25 km from the city of Raiwind. Today I, along with Bishop Samuel Azariah and some other colleagues, visited the family for condolence and to investigate the real facts. So here are our findings:

“On Tuesday, November 04, 2014 at 06:00 a.m. (01:00 a.m. GMT) a mob of 1500-1600 people, from the Muslim Religious Community of nearby villages, gathered near the village of Clarkabad. This mob was gathered on the pretext that a Christian couple belonging to the said village and working as brick kiln workers had allegedly desecrated the pages of Holy Qur’an by burning them in the brick kiln furnace.

“The couple, Shehzad and Shamaa [Bibi], were pulled out of their house. Family of the victims called the police through emergency number, on which five policemen from the local police atation arrived and tried to pull away Shehzad and Shamma from the clutches of the crowd. Their efforts went in vain as they were overwhelmed by the mob which snatched away the victims.

“After that, the mob gathered around the brick kiln where Shehzad and Shamaa used to work and where the alleged desecration took place. They tore away the clothes of Shehzad and Shamaa, and paraded them naked around the brick kiln twice before attacking them and beating them to near death. At the time of this happening Shamaa was four months pregnant.

“After thoroughly beating both the victims, they threw them in the furnace of the brick kiln and burned them alive. When the family of the victims went to claim the dead bodies, all they found were few bones.

“The real story is that the owner of brick kiln, Yousaf Gujjar, lent some money to the couple and when he asked for the money to be returned there was a confrontation since majority of brick kiln workers cannot return their loans in cash but do it by working at the brick kiln. After which he started spreading rumors of desecration of the Holy Qur’an.

“The role of police is of total negligence since all this went on for quite a while and this place is about 25 minute drive from Lahore; while the local media only shared this news as a Christian couple being burned by an angry mob without sharing the pretext of the misuse of religious fervor. As for local Government they only played their role to make sure this story does not reaches the masses and becomes big.”

Sharoon also shared links to videos in which the brother of the deceased couple, Iqbal, and their cousin, Javed Shahbaz, sharing the details of the ordeal.

Rapidísimas

ENS Headlines - Friday, November 7, 2014

El martes 4 de noviembre se celebraron en Estados Unidos las elecciones para elegir senadores, representantes y gobernadores. Como en otras ocasiones la asistencia a las urnas fue moderada. Los republicanos que tienen ideas más conservadoras que los demócratas controlan las dos cámaras. Según observadores la situación se hará más difícil para el presidente Barack Obama que pertenece al partido demócrata.  Muchos ciudadanos estarán contentos que haya terminado esta jornada que debido a la propaganda por todos los medios de comunicación, tenía ensordecida al resto de la población. A diferencia de elecciones anteriores la religión no fue un factor decisivo en la justa electoral. Saira Blair, una bonita joven de 18 años se ha convertido en la legisladora más joven de Estados Unidos. Es republicana y ha obtenido un curul en la Cámara de Delegados del estado de Virginia Occidental. La resolución autorizando el uso de la marihuana con fines médicos o recreativos, no pasó en la Florida.

La joven Brittany Maynard que sufría de un cáncer cerebral incurable y planeó su muerte con anticipación ha generado polémica en círculos evangélicos y católicos romanos. Una encuesta realizada antes de su muerte reveló que el 78 por ciento de los encuestados dijo que no le parecía “una buena idea” y que ellos mismos no se someterían al mismo proceso. La respuesta más frecuente entre los creyentes fue que “Dios da la vida y que nadie tiene derecho a acabar con ella”. El director de la Academia Pontificia para la Vida, Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, calificó el acto de “irreprensible” y añadió que “la dignidad no es poner fin a la propia vida”.

La Defensoría del Pueblo de Colombia dijo que estaba preocupada por la vulneración de los derechos humanos de la población por parte de organizaciones al margen de la ley, especialmente en la costa del Pacífico. En un informe público se hizo referencia a las bandas criminales de “Los Urabeños” y el clan del narcotráfico “Los Usuga” que están activas en 168 municipios de los 27 departamentos del país.

La universidad jesuita Creighton de Omaha, Nebraska, está en medio de una controversia por haber decidido reconocer los derechos de los compañeros o compañeras de los matrimonios gay que trabajan en la universidad, aún cuando el estado no lo ha aprobado. En el país hay 21 otras universidades jesuitas que proveen beneficios a los matrimonios del mismo sexo que se hayan casado legalmente según las leyes del estado.

David Hope, anterior arzobispo anglicano de York en Inglaterra, ha renunciado a su cargo de obispo auxiliar honorario por no haber denunciado a la policía que uno de sus clérigos abusaba de menores en una escuela de la iglesia. Hope ha pedido excusas por du falta pero aún así tendrá que someterse a la justicia. Denunciar delitos de pedofilia es parte del código civil y eclesiástico en Inglaterra.

La Iglesia Anglicana de la República Democrática del Congo ha recibido buena prensa por ayudar al pueblo pigmeo del Congo donde se estima que unos

600 mil personas viven en medio de la selva bajo condiciones primitivas sin auxilio del gobierno o de ninguna otra fuente. Un visitante al hogar de los pigmeos quedó muy impresionado con el carácter jovial y amistoso de este grupo étnico y también por el número de cada núcleo familiar. El visitante también pudo saber que muchos de los hombres vivían en esclavitud y que habían sido maltratados por el gobierno.

En México sigue la violencia. El más reciente hecho lo constituye el arresto del ex alcalde de Iguala, José Luis Abarca, y su esposa, María de los Ángeles Pineda, en  una casa de Iztapalapa tras un operativo de la Policía Federal. Las autoridades federales no cesan de buscar a los 43 estudiantes que desaparecieron hace más de un mes. Los jóvenes se preparaban para ser maestros.

En la fraternidad judía de la Universidad de Emory en Atlanta desconocidos pintaron esvásticas en sus paredes al día siguiente de la celebración de Yom Kippur, una de las más principales fiestas judías. Las esvásticas son símbolos del gobierno nazi que exterminó a millones de judíos. El Yom Kippur o Día del Arrepentimiento es el día más santo del año judío. La fraternidad judía en Emory fue fundada en 1920.

VERDAD. La jerarquía en la iglesia más que un honor es un servicio. Papa Francisco