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Los obispos se oponen por abrumadora mayoría a la desinversión en Israel y Palestina

ENS Headlines - Friday, July 3, 2015

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] La Cámara de Obispos envió un enérgico y claro mensaje el 2 de julio de que desinvertir de compañías y corporaciones que participan en algunos negocios relacionados con el Estado de Israel no responde a los mejores intereses de la Iglesia Episcopal, a sus asociados en Tierra Santa, a las relaciones interreligiosas y a las vidas de los palestinos en el terreno.

Los obispos rechazaron la Resolución sustituta D016, que le pedía al Comité sobre Responsabilidad Social Corporativa (CSR) del Consejo Ejecutivo que elaborara una lista de corporaciones estadounidenses y extranjeras que proveen bienes y servicios que apoyan la infraestructura de la ocupación de Israel “para supervisar sus inversiones y aplicar su política de CSR a cualesquiera posibles inversiones futuras” en tales compañías.

Aunque la resolución no usaba la palabra “desinversión”, algunos obispos expresaron su preocupación de que se encaminara en esa dirección. Otros recordaron a la Cámara que el arzobispo Suheil Dawani, de la Diócesis Episcopal de Jerusalén, ha instado a la Iglesia Episcopal a no adoptar una política que le hiciera más difícil a él administrar sus congregaciones y las más de 30 instituciones de servicios sociales [de su diócesis] en Israel, Jordania, El Líbano, Siria y los Territorios Palestinos. Esas instituciones incluyen escuelas, hospitales, clínicas y centros para individuos con discapacidades y sirven a personas de todas las fes.

“Cualquier amago de desinversión dificultará el ministerio del arzobispo Suheil Dawani y de sus sacerdotes y congregaciones en el Oriente Medio”, dijo el obispo Jay Magness, sufragáneo para los Ministerios Federales que sirvió en el Comité Legislativo sobre Justicia Social y Política Internacional que estudió las resoluciones. “El Tesorero nos aseguró que no tenemos ninguna inversión directa en las compañías que suelen mencionarse”, tales como Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, G4S y Motorola Solutions.

El obispo Prince Singh, of Rochester, presidente del comité, también confirmó que la Iglesia Episcopal no tiene actualmente ninguna inversión en corporaciones que afecten negativamente a los palestinos en el terreno.

El obispo Ed Little, de Indiana Norte, dijo que el texto de la resolución “clara e inequívocamente aboga por el boicot y la desinversión, y debemos rechazarla… Como anglicanos, tenemos el don y la capacidad de llegar a las personas de ambas partes del conflicto. Eso es lo que la Iglesia Episcopal está haciendo en el Oriente Medio. Nuestro actual liderazgo bajo la Obispa Primada nos está permitiendo ser pacificadores”.

La obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori condujo en enero una peregrinación interreligiosa a Tierra Santa, tal como recomendaba la Resolución B019 de la Convención General 2012, la cual exigía la inversión positiva “como un medio necesario de crear una economía sólida y una infraestructura sostenible” en los Territorios Palestinos.

Little reconoció también el rechazo del Consejo Ejecutivo de boicots, desinversiones y sanciones a través de su comité sobre CSR, el cual pone énfasis en la “inversión positiva” y en la “participación corporativa” para alentar un cambio positivo en el conflicto entre israelíes y palestinos.

El Rdo. Gary Commins, diputado de Los Ángeles y miembro del comité de política internacional, dijo a ENS que está decepcionado por el voto de los obispos, que él describió como “funcionando por temor, que nunca es algo bueno para gente de fe”.

Donna Hicks, coordinadora de la Red Palestina e Israel de la Fraternidad Episcopal de la Paz dijo: “Nos estimula el hecho de que los obispos y los diputados entiendan que este es un asunto apremiante y que la discusión en esta convención no se centró en si ha de tomarse una decisión, sino en cuál decisión resultaría más efectiva… Somos optimistas de que la votación de hoy es sólo otro paso en nuestro proceso para garantizar que no estamos lucrando de la ocupación y que le desinversión se aprobará en una Convención General en un futuro próximo”.

La Convención General aprobó dos resoluciones sobre pacificación. La Resolución sustituta B013, propuesta por el obispo Nick Knisely, de Rhode Island, “reafirma la vocación de la Iglesia como agente de reconciliación y de justicia restauradora” y reconoce que “una reconciliación significativa puede ayudar a engendrar una paz sostenible y duradera y que tal reconciliación debe incorporarse tanto a la acción política como a los empeños de base promovidos localmente”.

Knisely dijo que su resolución es parte de un proceso “que nos invita a todos nosotros a un conversación más amplia a lo largo del próximo trienio para dialogar mediante” una inversión positiva.

Él le recordó a los obispos que la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera invirtió $500.000 en el Banco de Palestina en 2013 para fines de desarrollo económico en los Territorios Palestinos.

El obispo Leo Frade, del Sudeste de la Florida, dijo que su experiencia de embargos y bloqueos, en particular el embargo de Cuba, es que “afecta a las mismas personas que creemos estar ayudando. Los empleos palestinos dependen de la inversión, no de la desinversión”.

La Resolución C018 expresa solidaridad y apoyo hacia los cristianos en Israel y en los territorios bajo ocupación israelí; afirma la obra de la Diócesis Episcopal de Jerusalén en recuperación, educación y cuidado pastoral; y respalda la labor de los cristianos comprometidos en hacer relaciones, en el diálogo interreligioso, en el adiestramiento en la no violencia y en la defensa de los derechos de los palestinos. La resolución insta también a los episcopales a mostrar su solidaridad haciendo una peregrinación a Israel y a los territorios ocupados por Israel y a aprender de los hermanos cristianos de la región.

Al tiempo que la Convención General se reunía el 25 de junio, el conflicto israelí-palestino era el foco de siete resoluciones para las cuales el Comité de Justicia Social y Política Internacional abrió el debate al testimonio público en tres audiencias legislativas.

Unas 50 personas testificaron sobre las resoluciones relacionadas con Israel y Palestina que iban desde pedir una inversión más a fondo en asociaciones en el Oriente Medio a pedir que la Iglesia boicoteara a las compañías y corporaciones dedicadas a ciertos negocios con el Estado de Israel y desinvirtiera de ellas.

Varias personas hablaron de la necesidad de ponerle fin a la ocupación israelí de tierras palestinas mediante presiones económicas, diciendo que la actual política de la Iglesia de inversión positiva había demostrado ser inadecuada. Otras subrayaron el imperativo cristiano del compromiso y el diálogo, citando temores de cualesquiera medidas que pudieran causar mayores dificultades para el pueblo palestino y para la Diócesis Episcopal de Jerusalén.

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

General Convention passes budget with money for evangelism, racial reconciliation

ENS Headlines - Friday, July 3, 2015

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] The General Convention adopted the 2016-2018 triennial budget July 2 after agreeing to add $2.8 million for evangelism work.

While the addition passed with relatively little debate in the House of Deputies, it faced some opposition in the House of Bishops.

The 2016-2018 triennial budget is based on $125,083,185 in revenue, compared to the forecasted $118,243,102 for the triennium that ends Dec. 31 of this year. The expenses are projected to be $125,057,351. The budget comes in with a negligible surplus of $25,834. Its revenue projection is based in part on asking the church’s dioceses and regional mission areas to give 18 percent of their income to fund the 2016 budget, 16.5 percent for the 2017 budget and 15 percent in 2018.

The version of the budget presented July 1 by the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) also included a major new $2 million initiative on racial justice and reconciliation, even as it reduces the amount of money it asks dioceses to contribute to 15 percent by 2018. The initiative remains.

The new money for Latino-Hispanic initiatives and church planting amounts to some but not all of that called for in resolutions A086 and D005 respectively. Together, the two resolutions called for $6.5 million.

The budget proposed by PB&F already contained $3 million for starting new congregations. The budget noted that PB&F anticipated a collaborative effort to assist underserved populations, including Hispanic communities.

The approved budget will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

The Rev. Frank Logue, a Georgia deputy and PB&F member, proposed adding the extra money for evangelism, saying “this convention stands at a potentially historic moment” having elected a “chief evangelism officer” when it elected North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry as its next presiding bishop. He said while both houses had concurred on resolutions A086 and D005, the proposed budget “does not meaningfully add to our evangelism effort.”

“But the good news is we have the means to match the will of this body,” he said, proposing the half-percent additional draw on investment income.

Doing so, he said, would “allow us to move out of this convention having provided our newly elected presiding bishop with the support he needs to assist us in reaching others for the love of Jesus Christ.”

While Logue suggested that the $2.8 million be gained through an added half-percent draw on income from the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s approximately $220 million in unrestricted invested assets, his amendment to the budget called for adding the money in a line named “Income from Unrestricted Reserves for Evangelism Initiatives.” The DMFS’ unrestricted invested assets and its short-term reserves are two different pools of money. The $2 million allocation for racial reconciliation and justice work is also due to come from short-term reserves.

The Rev. Susan Snook of Arizona, Resolution D005’s sponsor, told the deputies that “it is time for us as The Episcopal Church to put our money where our mouth is, to be bold, daring and passionate in the belief that we have something to offer every community, every culture, every place where we are The Episcopal Church.”

“No investment in changing lives is ever, ever wasted,” she said.

The deputies voted 571-257 to add the $2.8 million.

Deputies also agreed, 455-368, to move $150,000 out of the amount budgeted for the church’s development office and grant it to The Episcopal Network for Stewardship. The $266,530 the group received in the current budget had been viewed as a one-time grant, and PB&F did not renew it.

The Rev. John Floberg, deputy from North Dakota and a member of Executive Council and PB&F, then took to a microphone to urge deputies to stop changing the budget.

Calling this one of the most open budget processes the church has ever known, Floberg said: “It’s time for this house to allow the budget that was presented and is now amended to remain in place. This is not the time for deputies who haven’t been hearing all of the information about all of the requests that have come through to be pitting one thing up against another. It’s time for some trust.”

The budget then passed 799-24.

The House of Bishops debated the evangelism provision with most bishops calling for its acceptance.

“Sometimes you’ve just got to take the risk,” said Bishop Scott Hayashi, of the hosting diocese of Utah. “We have spoken that evangelism and racial reconciliation are important to us. If we really believe that, we need to find a way to do it.”

“To say yes, we’re in favor of evangelism but we’re not going to fund it would make us look pretty foolish,” said Arizona Bishop Kirk Smith, adding, “The mission of the church is not to balance the budget.”

Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Diane Bruce told her colleagues “it’s important that we remember we’re talking about God’s economics, not man’s or woman’s economics.”

The bishops approved the budget as sent to them by deputies on a voice vote.

The impetus for the budget’s racial justice and reconciliation initiative came from Resolution C019 that calls on the church to respond to systemic racial injustice. It asks for $1.2 million for that work.

“It was the sense of the (PB&F) committee that given the atmosphere we’re living in now – the shootings and the plight of African-American men – that we wanted to do more,” the Rev. Mally Lloyd of Massachusetts, PB&F chair, told ENS the day before the budget was presented. “Give them $2 million and a blank slate to really try something new for the church that we hope will have major impact.”

Lloyd said the committee decided to leave the dimensions of the work “for the movement of the spirit” to guide the church’s leaders.

The $2 million will come from the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s short-term reserves and is part of the $4.7 million surplus with which the 2013-2015 triennium is predicted to end.

“We’re taking a risk as a church that we don’t have an emergency that would call on those reserves,” Diocese of Maine Bishop Stephen Lane, PB&F vice chair, told ENS. “We’re seeing this as an extraordinary circumstance and an extraordinary opportunity and, therefore, using extraordinary means to support it.”

The original budget as proposed by PB&F is here. ENS’s coverage of PB&F’s budget presentation is here and includes more detail about what it contains.

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service. Tracy Sukraw, a member of the ENS General Convention team, contributed to this story.

Convention agrees to major structural changes

ENS Headlines - Friday, July 3, 2015

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] The General Convention has approved two resolutions making major changes to the structure of The Episcopal Church.

The deputies and bishops serving on the Committee of Structure and Governance, which considered the resolutions, “were united in love for this church and its mission,” Committee Chair Bishop Clifton Daniel of Pennsylvania told the House of Bishops July 2. “In the end the tone of our conversations brought hope as our church enters into a renewing process of change.”

Substitute Resolution A004, rewriting the rules governing the church’s Executive Council, rejected a proposal by the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church to halve council’s size. The resolution slightly expands Executive Council’s appointment power concerning three members of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s executive staff, including the chief operating officer, chief financial officer and chief legal officer (a position created in the resolution). The presiding bishop will conduct annual performance reviews with all three of those officers and share the results with council’s executive committee under the terms of the resolution.

The resolution also sets up a provision for those three officers, along with the presiding bishop and the House of Deputies president, to engage in a mutual ministry review every 18 months.

Deputies struck from the resolution a controversial provision proposed by the Legislative Committee on Governance and Structure that would have allowed council, by a two-thirds vote, to direct the presiding bishop to fire any of those three officers.

Substitute Resolution A006 reduces the number of the church’s standing commissions from 14 to two. The two would be the Standing Commission on Structure, Governance, Constitution and Canons, and the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music. The presiding bishop and House of Deputies president would appoint study committees and task forces to complete the work called for by a meeting of General Convention, with council’s approval. All of those bodies would expire at the start of the next General Convention unless they are renewed.

The resolution concerns standing commissions only and not committees, agencies or boards. As with all General Convention resolutions, the legislation will take effect in the next triennium, which begins Jan. 1, 2016.

Substitute Resolution A004
Substitute Resolution A004 calls for both the presiding bishop as chair and the president of the House of Deputies as vice chair to nominate people to serve as the church’s chief operating officer, chief financial officer and chief legal officer. People who hold those three positions also act as officers of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, along with the chair and vice chair.

Council would then vote to appoint those people. Currently the presiding bishop appoints the chief operating officer, with the advice and consent of the council. The churchwide staff reports to the chief operating officer who reports to the presiding bishop. The presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies, as chair and vice chair of council, jointly nominate the chief financial officer, whom the council then appoints.

During a Governance and Structure Committee hearing on June 25, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori took the unusual step of speaking in opposition to substitute Resolution A004, as well as D006 and D010, saying they would dilute the authority and responsibilities of the presiding bishop. Resolutions D006 and D010 went beyond the reorganization of the presiding bishop-Executive Council relationship of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society proposed by the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church.

“A board cannot be responsible for employment relationships,” she told the committee. “A board can set policy about employment relationships but a board cannot carry out the work of managing employment issues. I see that as one essential piece of the presiding bishop’s responsibility.”

Northwestern Pennsylvania Deputy the Rev. Adam Trambley kicked off the debate in the House of Deputies July 1 by trying to assure the house that the controversial provision to enable council, by a two-thirds vote, to direct the presiding bishop to fire the chief operating officer, the chief financial officer or the chief legal officer constitutes “very limited ability to provide some kind of accountability authority to the officers.”

Trambley, a member of the Legislative Committee on Governance and Structure, said if the council is going to appoint the officers after the chair and vice chair nominate them, then it ought to have a way to hold them accountable.

Meanwhile, the Rev. Ledlie Laughlin, deputy from Pennsylvania, provided the shortest testimony of the debate, saying simply “the authority should stay with the chair of Executive Council.”

Deputies voted 464 to 359 to strike the firing provision, and passed Substitute Resolution A004 on a 649-179 vote.

The House of Bishops concurred with the House of Deputies on Resolution A004.

There was, however, debate on the appointment provisions. The bishops committee on governance and structure amended the deputies-passed version of the resolution to give the presiding bishop the authority to appoint a COO, with the advice and consent of the council, as is the current practice.

After some concern that the committee’s amendments would mean referral back to deputies, a motion was put forth to change the resolution back, retaining the language passed by the deputies that all three nominations need to be made jointly by the chair and vice chair, and then appointed by a vote of council.

Bishop Ian Douglas of Connecticut spoke against the committee’s amendment and urged the bishops to concur with the deputies. “As I read it, it seems pretty clear to whom the staff and these officers are accountable,” he said. “Three times it says ‘accountable to the chair.’”

Bishop Dean Wolfe of Kansas said he believes “we are experiencing an unprecedented assault on the authority of the presiding bishop and bishops in general. It sounds like, ‘Wow, we are paranoid, but one time my mom told me the house is on fire and it was.’ So I want everyone to be careful about this. I want to give our next presiding bishop the best possible runway to take off.”

In the end, the bishops passed the resolution’s language as approved by the deputies.

When asked, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori confirmed that the resolution would take effect on Jan. 1, 2016, and that it does not affect the incumbents of those positions.

Substitute Resolution A004, which revises Canon 1.4 Sections 1-8, covers some of the ideas advanced in the original version proposed by the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church as well as in Resolutions C032, D006, D020 and D010.

Debate on Substitute Resolution A006
Deputies rejected a motion to refer the standing commission resolution, which covers Resolution A006 in its original form and A097, to the church’s Standing Commission on the Structure of the Church. Such a move would have postponed any actions on standing committees to at least the 2018 General Convention.

Diocese of the Virgin Islands Deputy Patricia Rhymer Todman, who made the motion to refer, said reducing the number of standing commissions amounts to the “indiscriminate destruction” of the church’s structure of committees, commission, agencies and boards, which operate between conventions to recommend policies and strategies for consideration by the next meeting of convention.

She said the church wants to focus on mission, evangelism and “our church needs a streamlined but suitable structure to fulfill its rich promise in mission.”

Diocese of Colorado Deputy L. Zoe Cole said that to adopt the reduction means “we become a church with a permanent structure devoted to rules and music.”

She added that it will take a long time during each triennium to determine what groups are needed, what they’re in charge of, and who will be appointed.

Deputies rejected a proposed amendment by California Deputy Sarah Lawton to add a Standing Commission on Mission, despite her argument that the church should not have only inwardly focused standing commissions.

North Dakota Deputy the Rev. John Floberg, who is also an Executive Council member, noted that the proposed 2016-2018 budget increases the amount of money available for the interim bodies as council might form. He said council needed the power to create interim bodies “in order for this church to more nimbly respond to the needs” that the church faces in society.

The Rev. Victoria Balling, chair of the Diocese of New Jersey deputation, said before rejecting the reduction, the church needs to remember that it is the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. “We need to live into the spirit of what the governance and structure committee has put forward and I believe that under the direction of Bishop Curry that this (idea of being members of a missionary society) will continue and (we will) not lose our identity as missioners.”

West Missouri Deputy the Rev. Stan Runnels, a member of Executive Council, told the house that “I want to assure the convention that the Executive Council in conversation in this last triennium, especially as the TREC report became more and more available to us, we are aware that this privilege to appoint task forces will require us to use the history of the CCABs as a guide and that many of the task forces that will be appointed will basically reflect the history of the CCAB structure.”

The house passed the resolution 649-114.

House of Bishops accepted the resolution on a voice vote.

Bishop Sean Rowe of Northwestern Pennsylvania, a member of the General Convention Legislative Committee on Structure and Governance, clarified that the resolution concerns standing commissions only and not committees, agencies or boards. As with all General Convention resolutions, the legislation will take effect in the next triennium, which begins Jan. 1, 2016.

Milwaukee Bishop Steven Miller proposed two amendments, one to call for the chair and vice chair of the two standing commissions to be appointed from different houses, and another to add a Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations.

The House of Bishops voted in favor of the first amendment but voted down the second by 69 to 71 votes.

However, following some debate, Miller asked the house to reconsider his amendment. The house voted to remove the amendment and consider the unamended Substitute Resolution A006, which passed by a straight majority vote. Had the amendment passed, the revised resolution would have required the concurrence of the House of Deputies.

Before the house revoked the amendment, Bishop Stacy Sauls, chief operating officer for The Episcopal Church, expressed appreciation for the resolution but concern about amending it and sending it back to the House of Deputies. “There are many people standing in line to add standing commissions back in,” he said. “I urge us to be very careful.”

Earlier, several other bishop members of the structure committee spoke about the resolution.

Bishop Mary Glasspool, suffragan of Los Angeles, said she is grateful for the work of TREC “for putting in some creative and loving thinking.”

The reduction in the number of standing commissions, she said, is the “most concrete and visible manifestation of change. It is very clear that we’re not ready for a unicameral legislature. We’re not asking for a decrease in the number of Executive Council members or deputies at General Convention. But the CCABs (the church’s committees, commissions, agencies and boards) is a starting place for an ongoing conversation. This is a marathon and not a sprint.”

Bishop Lawrence Provenzano of Long Island expressed concern about “the inward-looking focus of the two standing committees that remain.”

But he said he hopes it will allow Executive Council “to be more nimble in response to mission, evangelism, social justice, and then to fund some of these ministries, and then to sunset them as appropriate needs change.”

Matthew Davies and the Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg are editors and reporters for the Episcopal News Service.

Mind of the House of Bishops Statement: ‘Communion Across Difference’

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 2, 2015

We the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church wish to express our love and appreciation to our colleagues who identify as Communion Partners and those bishops who have affinity with the Communion Partners’ position as stated in their “Communion Partners Salt Lake City Statement.” Our time together in Salt Lake City, in conversation and in prayer, has demonstrated how profoundly the love of God in Jesus binds us together and empowers us for service to God’s mission. As we have waited upon the leading of the Holy Spirit in our deliberations, we have been reminded that the House of Bishops is richly gifted with many voices and perspectives on matters of theological, liturgical, and pastoral significance. This has been shown in our discernment with respect to doctrinal matters relative to Christian marriage. We thank God for the rich variety of voices in our House, in our dioceses, in The Episcopal Church, and in the Anglican Communion, that reflect the wideness of God’s mercy and presence in the Church and in the world.

We give particular thanks for the steadfast witness of our colleagues in the Communion Partners. We value and rely on their commitment to The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. We recognize that theirs is a minority voice in the House of Bishops in our deliberations with respect to Christian marriage; and we affirm that despite our differences they are an indispensable part of who we are as the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church. Our church needs their witness. Further, we appreciate that each of us will return to dioceses where there will be a variety of responses to Resolutions A054 and A036. The equanimity, generosity, and graciousness with which the Communion Partners have shared their views on Christian marriage and remain in relationship is a model for us and for the lay and ordained leaders in our dioceses to follow. We thank God that in the fullness of the Holy Trinity we can and must remain together as the Body of Christ in our dioceses, in The Episcopal Church, and in our relationships with sisters and brothers in Christ in the Anglican Communion. The bonds created in baptism are indeed indissoluble and we pray that we have the confidence to rely upon the Holy Spirit who will continue to hold us all together as partners in communion through the love of God in Jesus.

78th General Convention digest for July 2

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 2, 2015

Volunteer Charlotte Alexandre of Thornton, Colorado, calls out to attendees of the 78th General Convention as they make their way into the Salt Palace July 2, urging them to pick up any items they or friends may have lost since convention began. She said the items on the table are only a fraction of the things that volunteer sweeps have gathered after hours. The items include glasses, water bottles, jewelry and small electronics. Photo: Lori Korleski Richardson

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] Much happens each day during General Convention. In addition to Episcopal News Service’s other coverage, here are some additional news items from July 2, the eighth day of June 25-July 3 gathering.

Worship aims to show diverse church’s unity

One of the highlights of daily worship at General Convention occurred July 2, when Dominican Republic Bishop Julio Holguín presided, Haiti Deputy France Euphonise Vixamar read the second lesson and the Rev. Colin Mathewson of the Diocese of San Diego preached about the mistrust and deportation of Haitians occurring in the Dominican Republic, recounted the Rev. Sandy Webb of West Tennessee, one of the convention’s liturgy planners.

“The symbolism was that, in The Episcopal Church, all of those constituencies are represented, and that we can stand together at the Holy Table.”

All the services were designed to show the breadth of the church’s membership, even while highlighting different cultures, he said. The July 2 Eucharist, for example, emphasized Hispanic and Latino cultures but included someone reading in French and a child on the worship platform, showing other faces of the church.

“We try and say we are one church, and we can stitch together and weave together and be best in that way.”

For all except the Sunday Eucharist with UTO ingathering, 75 minutes is set aside for the daily Eucharist, and the worship team tries to complete the service within an hour, Webb said. “General Convention is just so frenetic, so when I can say, ‘Here’s 15 minutes that you didn’t know you had,’ it’s real Sabbath, which is just wonderful.”

That extra time also allows musicians assisting at the service to provide an impromptu post-Communion concert. On July 2, worshipers gathered around the choir and instrumentalists, clapping, singing and dancing during several spirited songs in Spanish before dispersing for the day’s morning legislative session.

Houses concur on fossil fuel divestment, environmental advocacy committee 

The House of Deputies on July 2 passed resolutions C045, “Environmentally responsible investing,” and A030, “Create ‘Task Force’ on Climate Change,” the latter being modified to create an advisory committee, concurring with the House of Bishops.

C045 calls upon the Investment Committee of Executive Council, the Episcopal Church Endowment Fund and the Episcopal Church Foundation “to divest from fossil fuel companies and reinvest in clean renewable energy in a fiscally responsible manner.”

Bishops voted to amend Resolution C045, one of four resolutions that called for fossil fuel divestment, to remove the Church Pension Fund from the resolution. An amendment introduced in the House of Deputies that would have removed the Episcopal Church Foundation from the resolution failed.

In testimony for the resolution, the Rev. Kirk Berlenbach, a deputy from Pennsylvania, said that with less than 10 percent of the church’s investments in fossil fuels, spread out over companies and funds, shareholder advocacy would be minimal.

Deputy Henry Baer, who serves as the treasurer of the Diocese of Oklahoma, testified against concurring with bishops on C045, explaining that 37 percent of its diocesan budget comes from royalties and dividend payments on a bequest of mineral rights and stocks in oil and gas. Half of that money is used to support rural and other missions, he said.

Resolution A030, which originally called for the creation of a task force, but was modified to call for the creation of a climate change advisory committee with one representative from each of The Episcopal Church’s nine provinces, and that also calls on each province to create a Regional Consultative Group composed “of no fewer than five experts in areas of environmental sustainability appropriate to the demographic, ecological, cultural and geographic specifics of each region,” passed without opposition testimony.

Province IX sustainability plan support reaffirmed

General Convention adopted Resolution A015 “Continue to Support Province IX Sustainability” which continues “dedication for the ongoing work of Mark of Mission II: To Teach, Baptize, and Nurture New Believers, especially as it pertains to the agreed-upon plan for Province IX Sustainability.”

As part of the sustainability plan, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society recently awarded a one-time focus grant totaling $950,000 to the Diocese of the Dominican Republic.

Since 2013, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society has been working with all Province IX dioceses – the Dominican Republic, Ecuador Central, Ecuador Litoral, Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras and Puerto Rico – to develop a plan for financial self-sustainability to further secure mission and ministry.

Each diocese is required to have a plan to secure financially its mission and ministry, and each receives support for the staff of the Domestic Foreign Missionary Society in structuring that plan. The Diocese of the Dominican Republic is the closest to securing its mission and ministry.

“The staff has been very good and very helpful to our diocese in providing the support necessary to complete the grant process. We are very grateful for the advice and counsel they have offered us,” said Dominican Republic Bishop Julio Cesar Holguín Khoury, following the distribution of the focus grant. “I think the experience with us regarding the process will serve as the basis for monitoring the Second Mark of Mission in the other Province IX dioceses.”

The 2016-2018 draft budget maintains block-grant funding at $2.9 million for Province IX.

Closing worship to have element of déjà vu

The closing Eucharist on July 3 will bring a déjà vu moment for the Rev. Sandy Webb of West Tennessee, one of the convention’s liturgy planners. He first met Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in 2003 when she was bishop of the Diocese of Nevada and then-Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold invited her to celebrate a convention Eucharist.

The current presiding bishop-elect, North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry, preached that day.

“They were on the platform side-by-side then as they will be tomorrow,” he said.

This is Webb’s fifth convention helping coordinate worship at General Convention. He started in 2003 as an undergraduate intern in the General Convention office, was on the General Convention office staff in 2006, served while a seminarian in 2009 and has been a worship consultant for the liturgies as a priest in 2009, 2012 and 2015.

“I, in a quite literal way, have grown up running worship in the General Convention,” said Webb, rector of Church of the Holy Communion in Memphis, whose founding senior warden was a 17-time deputy, Charles Crump.

Convention calls for closer relations with Cuban church

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 2, 2015

Marilyn W. Peterson, a visitor from the Diocese of Florida, Bishop of Cuba Griselda Delgado Del Carpio and El Salvador Bishop David Alvarado during a June 25 hearing of the Standing Committee on World Mission. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] The U.S.-based Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church of Cuba took a step toward closer relations during the 78th General Convention, meeting here June 25-July 3. Convention also passed a resolution calling for the U.S. government to lift its economic embargo against Cuba.

“As state-to-state diplomatic relations between the United States and the government of Cuba are quickly progressing, the focus of The Episcopal Church upon our relationship with the Episcopal Church in Cuba should be intensified wherever possible,” said the Rt. Rev. James Magness, bishop suffragan for the Armed Forces and Federal Ministries of The Episcopal Church, who visited Cuba recently and proposed Resolution B003.

“The Episcopal Church in Cuba, our Anglican Communion partner, is a clear multiplier when it comes to the spiritual, social and physical infrastructure of the country of Cuba, and therefore has the potential to be a significant partner for us as we move forward to enhance our relationships,” he said.

Resolution B003 called on General Convention to “acknowledge and affirm” the Cuban church’s decision to request membership as a diocese, and to identify and address the canonical issues, including offering pensions to clergy, involved with Cuba becoming a diocese.

Resolution B002 called for the embargo to be lifted, and directed The Episcopal Church’s Washington, D.C.-based Office of Government Relations “to concentrate its effort with respect to this issue toward lifting aspects of the embargo that impede The Episcopal Church’s partnership with The Episcopal Church in Cuba.”

The decades-long U.S. economic embargo and Cuba’s extra-provincial status has left the Cuban church feeling isolated, said the Rt. Rev. Griselda Delgado Del Carpio during a June 25 hearing on resolutions A053, which was later discharged, and B003 in General Convention’s Legislative Committee on World Mission.

“These have been tough times nationally and in the life of the church,” said Delgado, who became bishop of Cuba in 2010, adding that the last five decades under the embargo and as an extra-provincial diocese have been difficult.

During a March synod meeting the Episcopal Church of Cuba voted 39 to 33 in favor of returning to The Episcopal Church. The Cuban church was a diocese of The Episcopal Church prior to the Cuban Revolution, before Cold War politics inhibited travel and communication between the two churches.

The 78th General Convention could not formally welcome the Episcopal Church of Cuba back into the U.S.-based Episcopal Church during this convention, as such an action requires a study of the constitutional and canonical implications.

Despite the hardship and isolation, however, the Episcopal Church of Cuba has a mature, thriving ministry focused on evangelism, as evidenced in its strategic plan.

“The last decade has been one of creativity: Our churches (are) always open, always in prayer, and expanding in spirituality, and always believing we belonged to a larger family,” said Delgado during her testimony. “We, after these years, feel mature and solid in every aspect.

“We have an identity as a culture. And the Cuban people work with society, especially children and youth, focusing always on mission training for laity and clergy, and always preparing lay people so that they can become formed in Christianity. I believe that with our human resources and spirituality, we have something to offer the rest of the church.”

Following the Cuban church’s 1967 separation from The Episcopal Church, the Metropolitan Council, which includes primates of The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada and the Province of the West Indies, was created to govern the church as an extra-provincial diocese.

Resolution B003 also calls on the church to seek to strengthen relationships with the goal of creating “greater understanding and fellowship,” and that such efforts “seek to promote mutual ministry and understanding through cultural exchange, prayer, worship, fellowship, education, and humanitarian work – identifying and facilitating specific opportunities for exchange, including, but not limited to, travel so that an exchange may occur between Cuban and North American Episcopalians.”

The embargo and the strict travel restrictions didn’t stop some Episcopalians from the United States from organizing mission trips and traveling on religious visas to the island, the largest and most populated of the Greater Antilles.

For example, during her June 25 testimony in regard to strengthening the relationship between The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church of Cuba, the Rev. Yamily Bass-Choate, an alternate from the Diocese of New York and its missioner for Latino and Hispanic Ministry, described the personal impact of visiting Cuba.

“I went to Cuba 12 years ago and met Griselda when she was a priest. She had seven churches, and was my inspiration. For the last six years I have led 16 to 20 teens to Cuba every year. We have done little work but they have loved us,” said Bass-Choate.

“Our Episcopal Church of Cuba needs our support,” she said. “It is a magnificent church and they do a fantastic job. The ministry has transformed my life and my ministry. It is our church, we need to open our hearts and our doors to the diocese of Cuba.”

The warming of relations between the U.S. and Cuban governments, and the anticipation that the U.S. economic embargo imposed on Cuba could be lifted, has sparked new hope in the church.

On Dec. 17, 2014, President Barack Obama ordered the restoration of full diplomatic relations with the Cuban government, more than half a century after the United States severed relations with the communist government of then-President Fidel Castro. Prior to the Castro-led Cuban revolution, U.S. companies owned huge shares in Cuba’s economy, infrastructure, and utilities, and imported 90 percent of its sugar. Cuba is just 90 miles from Key West, Florida, and historically was a popular tourist destination for Americans.

In 1960, the United States placed an embargo on all exports to Cuba except food and medicine; by 1962 the embargo covered all imports and exports. Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, President John F. Kennedy imposed travel restrictions on Feb. 8, 1963. Despite a loosening of some travel and trade restrictions following Obama’s December announcement, the embargo cannot be lifted without congressional action. In February, the U.S. Senate introduced legislation to lift the embargo.

In October 2014, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to lift the embargo, with only the United States and Israel casting nay votes. It was the 23rd time a majority of the 193 member states voted to lift the embargo.

“The Episcopal Church has called for the lifting of the embargo before but nothing has happened to the suffering of the Cuban people that we in America are creating. I believe it is time now for this to happen. We are continuing our failed policies of 50 years ago,” said retired Bishop Leo Frade during a June 24 hearing of the Legislative Committee on Social Justice and International Policy. Frade was born in Cuba. “We are losing billions of dollars. … It will be ridiculous if this General Convention doesn’t make a statement about the question of the embargo. This injustice is created by the USA and we have been doing it for five decades. … it’s time to stop it.”

The Rev. Jose Luis MendozaBarahona of the Episcopal Diocese of Honduras, member of the international policy committee, spoke June 25 on behalf of lifting the embargo.

“About three years ago I went to Cuba and I was able to witness the suffering, the pain and limitations the Cuban people are experiencing. I believe our committee has created too many expectations. … We need to demand that both governments support the lift(ing) of the embargo. The Cuban government has imposed an internal embargo against its people and they are not free to have relationships with other countries … So I would like our committee to support this resolution,” he said.

Two currencies exist in Cuba, the peso and the convertible peso; the latter is used by foreign visitors and has a U.S. dollar equivalent. Professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, earn the equivalent of $20 per month.

Lifting the embargo, for the church, would mean more money for mission and ministry; for the Cuban people, “it would signify a radical change,” said Delgado during an interview with ENS. “First of all, both countries would be in closer relationship.”

Specifically, in terms of the Cuban church, she added, funds could be transferred directly to Cuba rather than routed through Canadian banks at a 10 percent fee.

The Episcopal Church’s 2013-15 budget allocated $106,000 to the church in Cuba.

For clergy ordained in Cuba before 1966, the embargo eliminated their pensions, explained Delgado; a few years ago, those still living began to receive some pension money. Clergy ordained since 1966 are not part of a pension plan.

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

Una vida santa: Hiram Hisanori Kano convirtió el campo de internamiento en campo de misión

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 2, 2015

Tamborileros de taiko actúan en la eucaristía del 1 de julio en honor del difunto Rdo. Hiram Hisanori Kano. La 78ª. Convención General aprobó una resolución por la que incluía a Kano y a otros en Una gran nube de testigos: calendario de conmemoraciones. Foto de Pat McCaughan/ENS.

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] El trueno fragoroso de los tambores taiko recordaba a los fieles que asistían a la eucaristía del 1 de julio de la intensidad de la vida y el testimonio del desaparecido Rdo. Hiram Hisanori Kano, que transformó su prisión en los campos de internamiento durante la segunda guerra mundial en un campo de misión.

Los asioamericanos se refieren a los campos de internamiento de la segunda guerra mundial donde recluyeron a japoneses y nipoamericanos como campos de concentración.

Con la aprobación de la Resolución A055, la 78ª. Convención General incluyó oficialmente las conmemoraciones de Kano y de otros tres hombre y una mujer en Una gran nube de testigos: Calendario de conmemoraciones [“A Great Cloud of Witnesses: A Calendar of Commemorations”] que se usará en el próximo trienio.

 

Las memorias del Rdo. Hiram Hisanori Kano, Nikkei Farmer on the Nebraska Plains, se publicaron en inglés en 2010.

El obispo Scott Hayashi, de Utah, presidió la eucaristía en que se le rindió tributo a Kano, que murió en 1988, a muy poco de cumplir cien años. El 24 de octubre será el día oficial para la conmemoración de Kano, quien escribió Nikkei Farmer on the Nebraska Plains [Un granjero nikeí en las llanuras de Nebraska], unas memorias que recorren los primeros años de su vida en Japón hasta que se muda a Estados Unidos (nikeí se refiere a los japoneses en la diáspora). Incluyó relatos de su época en los varios campos de internamiento donde más de 100.000 japoneses o de ascendencia japonesa fueron obligados a vivir durante la segunda guerra mundial. En los campos, Kano dirigía cultos, ministraba a los que se encontraban cerca de él y les enseñaba, incluidos sus carceleros, otros reclusos y alemanes prisioneros de guerra.

“Estuvo ausente tres años” recordaba su hijo Cyrus Kano, de 94 años, que junto con otros miembros de la familia y amigos asistieron al oficio religioso de la Convención.

El Rdo. Fred Vergara, misionero de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera para el ministerio asioamericano, dijo que es importante que voces y testimonios tales como el de Kano se conmemoren y se incluyan en las constantes conversaciones de la Iglesia para inspirar a las generaciones futuras.

Adeline Kano, de 87 años, dijo que ella seguía en directo la eucaristía desde la iglesia episcopal de San Pablo [St. Paul’s Episcopal Church] in Fort Collins, Colorado, donde su padre sirviera ocasionalmente cuando ya estaba jubilado.

Myrne Watrous, feligresa de San Pablo que asistió a la eucaristía de la Convención en Salt Lake City, recalcó que el honor era merecido. “Si uno se fija en la vida de los santos, así fue la suya”, dijo ella de Kano, a quien conoció. “Él abandonó una vida de riqueza para convertirse en un granjero de Nebraska y predicar la palabra de Dios, divulgar el mensaje y recorrer el camino”.

La nieta Susan Kano dijo que la sorprendía el tamaño del culto y la conmemoración. El único indicio que ella tuvo del papel de su abuelo en la comunidad fue la celebración de sus 50 años de matrimonio para él y su abuela, Aiko Ivy Kano. “La gente no cesaba de estrecharme la mano —cientos de personas— y de decirme ‘su abuelo es un santo’” recordaba ella.

Agregó que ella consideraba que el tiempo que el pasó en los campos [de internamiento] fue un don para su ministerio. “Él tuvo una vida maravillosa”, afirmó.

Las otras personas incluidas para la conmemoración litúrgica en la Resolución A055 fueron: Charles Raymond Barnes (a quien se le conmemoró en la eucaristía del 2 de julio), Artemisia Bowden, Albert Schweitzer y Dag Hammarskjold.

El Rdo. Hiram Kano

Cyrus Kano, ingeniero mecánico jubilado que vive en Cape Cod, Massachusetts, dijo que su padre querría ser recordado “como un hombre de Dios”.

Respecto a sus experiencias en el campo de internamiento, Kano convirtió la adversidad en territorio fértil para la misión: “Él dijo, bien, Dios me puso aquí, ¿qué es lo que Él quiere que yo haga?” recordaba su hijo.

Además de organizar un colegio en el campamento, donde enseñaba inglés y otros cursos, llevó a cabo estudios de la naturaleza y dirigió oficios de culto mientras estuvo encarcelado.

Kano inmigró a Estados Unidos después de haber tenido un encuentro juvenil con William Jennings Bryan en su natal Japón que despertó su sed de aventuras, según cuenta su hija, Adeline Kano. Sus orígenes eran privilegiados: “Mi abuelo era el gobernador de la prefectura de Kagoshina”, explicó Kano, de 87 años, durante una entrevista telefónica desde su hogar en Fort Collins.

Al principio, Kano obtuvo una maestría en economía agrícola en la Universidad de Nebraska y no tardó en convertirse en activista y líder entre los “issei” o la comunidad nipoamericana de primera generación, muchos de los cuales habían venido a laborar en la agricultura o en los ferrocarriles.

El Rvdmo. George Allen Beecher, entonces obispo de la Diócesis Misionera de Nebraska Occidental, oyó hablar del activismo de Kano en 1921, cuando los legisladores del estado estaban contemplando una legislación que excluía a los inmigrantes japoneses de poseer o heredar tierras, o incluso de arrendarlas por más de dos años. El proyecto de ley hasta les prohibía poseer acciones en compañías que ellos hubieran formado.

Kano y Beecher se conocieron y viajaron junto al capitolio estatal para hablarles a los legisladores, quienes finalmente aprobaron una medida mucho menos restrictiva, según cuenta Kano en sus memorias.

Beecher persuadió a Kano, varios años después, de que se convirtiera en misionero para la comunidad nipoamericana [de Nebraska], que entonces se calculaba en unas 600 personas. En 1925, Kano aceptó y la familia se mudó a North Platte. Tres años más tarde fue ordenado diácono y prestó servicios en dos congregaciones de misión. La iglesia de Santa María [St. Mary’s] en Mitchell y San Jorge [St. George’s] en North Platte. Fue ordenado al presbiterado en 1936.

— La Rda. Pat McCaughan es corresponsal de Episcopal News Service y forma parte del equipo de ENS que está reportando sobre la 78a. Convención General. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Bishops overwhelmingly oppose divestment in Israel, Palestine

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 2, 2015

Editor’s note: The quotes from Bishop James Magness have been changed to clarify the purpose of his message to the House of Bishops.

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] The House of Bishops sent a strong and clear message July 2 that divestment from companies and corporations engaged in certain business related to the State of Israel is not in the best interests of The Episcopal Church, its partners in the Holy Land, interreligious relations, and the lives of Palestinians on the ground.

The bishops rejected Substitute Resolution D016, which would have called on the Executive Council’s Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to develop a list of U.S. and foreign corporations that provide goods and services that support the infrastructure of Israel’s Occupation “to monitor its investments and apply its CSR policy to any possible future investments” in such companies.

Although the resolution didn’t use the word “divestment,” some bishops expressed concern that it was heading in that direction. Others reminded the house that Archbishop Suheil Dawani of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem has urged the Episcopal Church not to adopt a policy that would make it more difficult for him to manage his congregations and the more than 30 social service institutions throughout Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian Territories. Those institutions include schools, hospitals, clinics and centers for people with disabilities and serve people of all faiths.

“To say that this is a compromise resolution is an extreme. This is a part of a trio of resolutions that we produced on Israel and Palestine,” said Bishop Jay Magness, bishop suffragan for Federal Ministries who served on the Legislative Committee on Social Justice and International Policy that considered the resolutions.

“There was a significant difference of passion and opinion in the committee, and it would seem to be divided along two particular lines. One was … that any hint of divestment will hamper the ministry of Archbishop Suheil Dawani and his priests and congregations in Jerusalem and the Middle East. The other side of this, and in respect to Archbishop Suheil Dawani and his priests and congregations, was that we have to engage in socially responsible divestment,” Magness told the bishops. “We were assured by the treasurer that we don’t have any direct investments in the usually named companies,” such as Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, G4S, and Motorola Solutions.

Bishop Prince Singh of Rochester, chair of the committee, also confirmed that The Episcopal Church currently has no investments in corporations that negatively impact Palestinians on the ground.

Bishop Ed Little of Northern Indiana said the text of the resolution “clearly and unmistakably advocates boycott and divestment, and we must reject it. … As Anglicans, we have the gift and ability to reach out to people on both sides in the conflict. That is what The Episcopal Church is doing in the Middle East. Our current leadership under the presiding bishop is allowing us to be peacemakers.”

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in January led an interfaith pilgrimage to the Holy Land as recommended by Resolution B019 from the 2012 General Convention that called for positive investment “as a necessary means to create a sound economy and a sustainable infrastructure” in the Palestinian Territories.

Little also acknowledged Executive Council’s rejection of boycotts, divestment and sanctions through its CSR committee, which affirms “positive investment” and “corporate engagement” to encourage positive change in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

The Rev. Gary Commins, a deputy from Los Angeles and a member of the international policy committee, told ENS he was disappointed by the bishops’ vote, which he described as “operating out of fear, which is never a good thing for people of faith.”

Donna Hicks, convener of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s Palestine Israel Network, said: “We’re encouraged by the fact that bishops and deputies understand that this is a pressing issue, and that the discussion at this convention focused not on whether to take action, but rather what action would be most effective … We’re optimistic that today’s vote is just another step in our own process to ensure that we are not profiting from the occupation, and that divestment will pass at a General Convention in the near future.”

General Convention passed two resolutions on peacemaking. Substitute Resolution B013, proposed by Bishop Nick Knisely of Rhode Island, “reaffirms the vocation of the Church as an agent of reconciliation and restorative justice,” and recognizes that “meaningful reconciliation can help to engender sustainable, long-lasting peace and that such reconciliation must incorporate both political action and locally driven grassroots efforts.”

Knisely said his resolution is part of a process “inviting us all into a larger conversation over the next triennium to talk through” positive investment.

He reminded the bishops that the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society invested $500,000 in the Bank of Palestine in 2013 for the purpose of economic development in the Palestinian Territories.

Bishop Leo Frade of Southeast Florida said that his experience of embargoes and blocking, in particular the embargo of Cuba, is that “it hurts the same people we think we are helping. Palestinian jobs depend on investment, not on divestment.”

Resolution C018 expresses solidarity with and support for Christians in Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories; affirms the work of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem in healing, education, and pastoral care; and affirms the work of Christians engaged in relationship building, interfaith dialogue, nonviolence training, and advocacy for the rights of Palestinians. The resolution also urges Episcopalians to demonstrate their solidarity by making pilgrimage to Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories and learning from fellow Christians in the region.

As General Convention convened June 25, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the focus of seven resolutions for which the Social Justice and International Policy Committee opened the floor for public testimony at three legislative hearings.

Some 50 people testified on the resolutions related to Israel and Palestine that ranged from calling for deeper investment in Middle East partnerships to calling the church to boycott against and divest from companies and corporations engaged in certain business related to the State of Israel.

Several people spoke to the need to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land through economic pressure, saying that the church’s current policy of positive investment has proved inadequate. Others underscored the Christian imperative for engagement and dialogue, citing concerns for any action that might cause further widespread hardship for the Palestinian people and the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.

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

18 bishops sign minority report on marriage equality

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 2, 2015

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, in passing Resolutions A036 and A054, has made a significant change in the Church’s understanding of Christian marriage. As bishops of the Church, we must dissent from these actions.

We affirm Minority Report #1, which was appended to the text of Resolution A036:

The nature, purpose, and meaning of marriage, as traditionally understood by Christians, are summed up in the words of the Book of Common Prayer:

“The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation, and our Lord Jesus Christ adorned this manner of life by his presence and first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. It signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church, and Holy Scripture commends it to be honored by all people.

The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord” (BCP, p. 423)
The nature, purpose, and meaning of marriage are linked to the relationship of man and woman. The promises and vows of marriage presuppose husband and wife as the partners who are made one flesh in marriage. This understanding is a reasonable one, as well as in accord with Holy Scripture and Christian tradition in their teaching about marriage.

When we were ordained as bishops in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, we vowed to “guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church of God” (BCP, p. 518). We renew that promise; and in light of the actions of General Convention, and of our own deep pastoral and theological convictions, we pledge ourselves to “Maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). The bonds created in baptism are indissoluble, and we share one bread and one cup in the Eucharist. We are committed to the Church and its people, even in the midst of painful disagreement.

“Speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). When we disagree with the Church’s actions, we will do so openly and transparently and – with the Spirit’s help – charitably. We are grateful that Resolution A054 includes provision for bishops and priests to exercise their conscience; but we realize at the same time that we have entered a season in which the tensions over these difficult matters may grow. We pray for the grace to be clear about our convictions and, at the same time, to love brothers and sisters with whom we disagree.

“Welcome one another . . . just as Christ has welcomed [us]” (Rom. 15:7). Our commitment to the Church includes a commitment to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. We will walk with them, pray with and for them, and seek ways to engage in pastoral conversation. We rejoice that Jesus’ embrace includes all of us.

We are mindful that the decisions of the 78th General Convention do not take place in isolation. The Episcopal Church is part of a larger whole, the Anglican Communion. We remain committed to that Communion and to the historic See of Canterbury, and we will continue to honor the three moratoria requested in the Windsor Report and affirmed by the Instruments of Communion.

We invite bishops and any Episcopalians who share these commitments to join us in this statement, and to affirm with us our love for our Lord Jesus Christ, our commitment to The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion, and our dissent from these actions.

Communion Partner signatories:
The Rt. Rev’d John C. Bauerschmidt, Bishop of Tennessee
The Rt. Rev’d Gregory O. Brewer, Bishop of Central Florida
The Rt. Rev’d Daniel W. Herzog, Bishop of Albany, resigned
The Rt. Rev’d Paul E. Lambert, Bishop Pro Tem of Dallas
The Rt. Rev’d Edward S. Little II, Bishop of Northern Indiana
The Rt. Rev’d William H. Love, Bishop of Albany
The Rt. Rev’d Daniel H. Martins, Bishop of Springfield
The Rt. Rev’d Edward L. Salmon, Bishop of South Carolina, resigned
The Rt. Rev’d William J. Skilton, Assistant Bishop of Dominican Republic, resigned
The Rt. Rev’d Michael G. Smith, Bishop of North Dakota
The Rt. Rev’d Don A. Wimberly, Bishop of Texas, resigned
Other signatories:
The Rt. Rev’d E. Ambrose Gumbs, Bishop of Virgin Islands
The Rt. Rev’d Julio Holguin, Bishop of Dominican Republic
The Rt. Rev’d Alfredo Morante, Bishop of Ecuador Litoral
The Rt. Rev’d Jean Zache Duracin, Bishop of Haiti
The Rt. Rev’d Francisco José Duque Gómez, Bishop of Colombia
The Rt. Rev’d Orlando Guerrero, Venezuela
The Rt. Rev’d Lloyd Allen, Bishop of Honduras

La Convención General aprueba la igualdad matrimonial

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 2, 2015

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] A raíz del dictamen del Tribunal Supremo de EE.UU. el 26 de junio, en el que se legalizaba el matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo para todos los norteamericanos, la Convención General siguió el ejemplo el 1 de julio con cambios canónicos y litúrgicos a fin de ofrecerles igualdad matrimonial a todos los episcopales.

La Cámara de Diputados convino con la aprobación de la Cámara de Obispos el día antes de un cambio canónico que eliminaba el lenguaje que definía el matrimonio como entre un hombre y una mujer (Resolución A036) y autorizaba dos nuevos ritos matrimoniales para ser usados igualmente con parejas del mismo sexo o de sexos opuestos (Resolución A054).

Las resoluciones marcaron la culminación de un diálogo que empezara cuando la Convención General de 1976 dijera que “las personas homosexuales son hijos de Dios que tienen pleno e igual derecho, con todas las demás personas, al amor, la aceptación y el interés y cuidado pastoral de la Iglesia”, dijo el Muy Rdo. Brian Baker, vicepresidente del Comité Legislativo Especial sobre el Matrimonio. “Esa resolución comenzó un diálogo de 39 años acerca de qué aspecto tendría ese pleno e igual derecho. El diálogo ha sido difícil para muchos y doloroso para muchos”.

Las resoluciones A054 y A036 representaron compromisos a los que se llegaron después de devota consideración y conversación dentro del comité legislativo, y luego la Cámara de Obispos le dio cabida a todo el mundo, dijo Baker. “Sé que la mayoría de ustedes encontrará algo en las resoluciones … que le disguste y con lo que discrepe”, señaló, pidiéndoles a los diputados “que miraran a través de las lentes de cómo este compromiso le dio cabida a otras personas”.

Los diputados rechazaron un intento de enmendar cada una de las resoluciones. Luego de unos 20 minutos de debate por resolución, cada resolución fue aprobada en un voto por órdenes. La A054 fue aprobada 94 a 12 con dos diputaciones divididas en el orden clerical y 90-11-3 en el orden de los laicos. La A036 fue aprobada por 85-15-6 en el orden clerical y 88-12-6 en el orden de los laicos.

Además de autorizar dos nueva liturgias matrimoniales, la A054 aprueba también el continuo uso de “El testimonio y la bendición de un pacto de por vida” que aparece en Recursos litúrgicos I, que la Convención General aprobó para uso provisional en 2012 “bajo la dirección y con la autorización del obispo que ejerza la autoridad eclesiástica”.

A principios de la semana, los obispos dividieron, para fines del debate, la porción de la A054 que trata del rito existente de la que aborda las nuevas liturgias, votando finalmente la aprobación de ambas porciones. Aprobaron la A036 en una votación de viva voz, con 129 a favor, 26 en contra y cinco abstenciones.

“En mi primera Convención General en 1991, no creo haber soñado jamás que habríamos de tener tal resolución ante nosotros”, dijo Bruce Garneer, diputado de Atlanta al tiempo de que se iniciara el debate sobre la A054. “Vine a Salt Lake City como un ciudadano de segunda clase en mi nación y en mi Iglesia y espero irme de aquí como un ciudadano de primera clase en ambas”.

Entre las voces disidentes estuvo la de Holden Holsinger, de la Diócesis de Michigan Oriental y miembro de la Presencia Oficial de la Juventud, quien instó a rechazar la resolución “a fin de mantener la unidad de la Iglesia”.

Las dos nuevas liturgias, “El testimonio y bendición de un matrimonio” y “La celebración y bendición de un matrimonio 2” de Recursos litúrgicos 1: te bendeciré y serás una bendición, [versión] revisada y ampliada 2015, de los materiales suplementarios de la Comisión Permanente sobre Liturgia y Música que aparecen en el Libro Azul, están autorizadas a usarse a partir de este Adviento. Esos ritos ofrecen la opción de usar “mujer” “marido”, “persona” y “cónyuge”, haciéndolas de este modo aplicables a todas las parejas. Las liturgias pueden encontrarse en las páginas -151 aquí, de los materiales proporcionados a la Convención por la comisión permanente, incluido uno de ellos rechazado por los obispos en sus deliberaciones.

La A054 estipula: “Los obispos que ejerzan autoridad eclesiástica o, donde fuere apropiado, supervisión eclesiástica, facilitarán que todas las parejas que pidan casarse en esta Iglesia tengan acceso a estas liturgias. El uso experimental sólo estará disponible a discreción y con permiso del obispo diocesano”.

La resolución dice también que “los obispos pueden continuar ofreciendo generosa respuesta pastoral a las necesidades de los miembros de esta Iglesia”. Durante la discusión en su cámara, los obispos dijeron que esta [cláusula] tenía la intención de responder a situaciones de obispos en jurisdicciones fuera de Estados Unidos, tales como Italia y países de la IX Provincia, donde los matrimonios entre personas del mismo sexo seguían siendo ilegales.

Ambas resoluciones dicen que los clérigos conservan el derecho canónico de rehusar oficiar en cualquier boda.

La Resolución A036 revisa el Canon I.18 titulado “De la solemnización del Santo Matrimonio” (página 58 de los Cánones de la Iglesia Episcopal aquí). Entre muchas correcciones, elimina las referencias al matrimonio como contraído entre un hombre y una mujer. La primera versión revisada del canon dice ahora que el clérigo “se avendrá a las leyes del Estado que rigen la creación del estado civil del matrimonio, y también a estos cánones en lo concerniente a la solemnización del matrimonio. Los miembros del clero pueden solemnizar un matrimonio usando cualquiera de las formas litúrgicas autorizadas por esta Iglesia”.

En conformidad con el canon revisado, las parejas firmarían una declaración de intenciones, que el comité legislativo redactó para respetar las necesidades de parejas donde uno solo de sus miembros sea cristiano.

El Rdo. Joseph Howard, de Tennessee, dijo que votaba a favor de la A054 “porque pensaba que era una declaración de honestidad respecto adonde está la Iglesia y porque regulariza lo que estamos haciendo”. Pero se opuso a la A036 “como un voto contra el buen orden porque creo que asume una creencia que aún no ha llegado a estar clara en nuestra Iglesia”.

James Steadman, de Pensilvania Noroccidental, citó las palabras de la oración de postcomunión del Libro de Oración Común, y [luego] le dijo a los diputados: “Este es el momento. Usen el valor por el que han estado orando todos estos años y voten a favor de esta resolución”.

En otra resolución relacionada con el matrimonio, la Cámara de Diputados aprobó a principios de la semana la Resolución A037, luego de rechazar varias enmiendas, conviniendo con los obispos en continuar la labor del Equipo de Trabajo sobre el Estudio del Matrimonio.

La resolución pide a las congregaciones que estudien los materiales elaborados por el Equipo de Trabajo sobre el Matrimonio, los cuales están ahora a disposición de las congregaciones (a partir de la página 9 aquí), para que les ayuden a entender la teología del matrimonio y el largo historial del matrimonio, le dijo Baker a los diputados.

Autoriza también la continua labor del equipo de trabajo “porque la tarea no ha concluido”, explicó Baker. [La resolución] invita a la exploración de la diversidad teológica y cultural para llevar adelante la conversación, dijo él, añadiendo que con frecuencia el estudio se ha concentrado en la perspectiva anglooccidental “cuando somos una Iglesia que tiene personas de diferentes naciones”.

— Sharon Sheridan es corresponsal de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Colin Mathewson preaches at General Convention

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 2, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release]  “There is a single, eternal, and glorious Word whom we worship here today: the Word of God made flesh who dwelt among us, died on the cross of shame, and rose victorious,” the Rev. Colin Mathewson said in his sermon July 2 to the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. “Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection form the basis of a story that has changed each of us in this room.”

Presiding at the Eucharist was Bishop Julio Holguin of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic

Mathewson hails from St. Paul’s Cathedral,San Diego (Diocese of San Diego)

The following is the text of the sermon:

“For a Single, Beautiful Word”

“The general remembers the tiny green sprigs/ men of his village wore in their capes/ to celebrate the birth of a son. He will/ order many, this time, to be killed/ for a single, beautiful word.” Thus concludes the poem “Parsley” by Rita Dove, a piece remembering the so-called Parsley Massacre of 1937.

That was a year of economic struggle for the Dominican Republic as sugar prices plummeted.  Neighboring Haitians struggled too, and thousands crossed the porous border to work the cane fields for American conglomerates.  In response, the Dominican Republic’s dictator, Rafael Trujillo, instituted harsh deportation policies that didn’t seem to be working — for the demand for cheap labor on the fields remained.  In the face of growing unrest, scapegoats were needed to maintain control.  In September of that year Trujillo welcomed a Nazi delegation and publicly accepted the gift of Hitler’s Mein Kampf.  Trujillo’s dream of whitening the skin of Dominicans to bolster national pride at the expense of their darker-skinned Haitian neighbors had found its justification.

Just weeks later, while drunk at a party, Trujillo ordered the deaths of thousands of Haitian immigrants along the border.  When it wasn’t clear by skin color alone who was of Haitian descent and who was not, Trujillo’s men would ask the terrified detainee to pronounce the word “parsley” in Spanish: perejil.  Haitians could not roll their “r”s, and thus spoke “pelejil.” And so they were destroyed, their bodies dumped into the aptly-named Massacre River.

To be killed for a single word: a shibboleth, a word designed to distinguish us from them, first employed by the Gileadites at the fords of the Jordan River to murder 42,000 Ephraimites in the Book of Judges.

To be killed — and remembered — for a single, beautiful word.

The Rev. Charles Barnes arrived in the Dominican Republic at the age of 42, five years into Trujillo’s reign.  Charles’ church in the capital, Santo Domingo, had been rebuilt in the poor part of town, and his congregation included many struggling West Indian immigrants.  As he came to know their plight, which was related to the blackness of their skin and the fact that many could only spoke English, his eyes began to open to the racialized world in which he lived.  This realization enabled him to believe and investigate the rumors of the Parsley massacre, and make the decision to write to his American contacts about Trujillo’s crime.

I wonder what making that terrible decision was like. How long after Charles had heard of the massacre did he write his first letter?  Did he know that he was scratching out his own death sentence?  Did he agonize over the sealing of the envelope?  It was a Gethsemane moment, I imagine, for Charles Barnes.  He had been invited into Christ’s sacrifice for us, and, picking up his cross, he gave himself up and into its deep love.

To be killed — and remembered — for a single, beautiful string of words, words that stood courageously in the face of the powers of this world.  These words were struck down, and the Church resurrects them.

There is a single, eternal, and glorious Word whom we worship here today: the Word of God made flesh who dwelt among us, died on the cross of shame, and rose victorious.  Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection form the basis of a story that has changed each of us in this room.  God is the author of this Christian story, and we are its bearers and its witnesses and its tellers.  We take up its well-worn pages in awe and gratitude as the saints and martyrs have for centuries before us.  Even as we tell this saving tale to the world we are shaped by its grammar of grace and its language of love.  And as its words settle into our bones we can inspire us to act, like Father Barnes, in quite beautiful ways.

During the announcements the Sunday before I left for Salt Lake, I asked the Latino congregation with whom I serve to bless my travels.  The guest preacher said a blessing after everyone gathered around me in the center of the sanctuary. Then he marked the sign of the cross on my forehead, and, surprisingly, asked everyone else to do the same.  One parishioner after another, beginning with the kids, came up to me as I knelt down and looked into my eyes and blessed me with their hands and with their words.  I have never felt so loved by a community.  There is no us and them in God’s gracious story.

I wonder how well Charles Barnes spoke Spanish. Though. I’m not sure it really matters.  His actions, as did the tender blessings offered by my congregation, drew from a deeper language at the heart of the great Christian story to which we owe our lives.  This is the heart of mission.

To be killed for a single, beautiful word, a string of words that comprise the story that has captivated us so — reminds us that the powers of this world have little patience for truth and scarce use for history that cannot be molded to meet the immediate needs of kings on their thrones.  In the Dominican Republic, nearly 80 years after the Parsley Massacre, the government has begun a new program of Haitian deportations, including even those who have lived their entire lives on Dominican soil.  Once again, language is used to separate and destroy.  And the Dominican Episcopal Church, strong and growing stronger each year, stands as a truth teller in the gap between racial justice and political expediency.  Our memory of the saints and martyrs show us this way.  Indeed, every Sunday the congregants of the Episcopal Cathedral of the Epiphany in Santo Domingo take communion above the tomb of Charles Barnes.

In such moments of remembrance history cannot help but be pulled into the present, where God’s Spirit of truth and love can minister to the still-weeping wounds of violence, and send us out as bearers of the story to tell again and again and again the singular, beautiful, and loving words of God.

A sainted life: Hiram Hisanori Kano turned internment camp into mission field

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 2, 2015

Taiko drummers perform at the July 1 Eucharist honoring the late Rev. Hiram Hisanori Kano. The 78th General Convention passed a resolution including Kano and others in “A Great Cloud of Witnesses: A Calendar of Commemorations.” Photo: Pat McCaughan/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] The fierce thunder of taiko drums reminded worshippers at the July 1 Eucharist of the intensity of the life and witness of the late Rev. Hiram Hisanori Kano, who transformed his imprisonment in World War II internment camps into a mission field.

Asian Americans refer to the World War II camps that housed Japanese nationals, and Japanese Americans as concentration camps.

With the passage of Resolution A055, the 78th General Convention officially included commemorations for Kano and three other men and one woman in “A Great Cloud of Witnesses: A Calendar of Commemorations,” for use in the next triennium.

The late Rev. Hiram Hisanori Kano’s memoir, “Nikkei Farmer on the Nebraska Plains,” was published in English in 2010.

Bishop Scott Hayashi of Utah presided at the Eucharist that honored Kano, who died in 1988 just short of his 100th birthday. Oct. 24 will serve as the official day for the commemoration of Kano, who authored “Nikkei Farmer on the Nebraska Plains,” a memoir tracing his early life in Japan to his move to America (Nikkei refers to people in the Japanese diaspora). It included stories of his time in the various camps where more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent were forced to live during World War II. In the camps, Kano led worship, ministered to and taught those around him, including his jailers, other prisoners, and German prisoners of war.

“He was gone three years,” recalled his son Cyrus Kano, 94, who along with other family members and friends attended the convention worship service.

The Rev. Fred Vergara, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s missioner for Asiamerica ministries, said it is important for voices and witness such as Kano’s to be commemorated and included in the church’s ongoing conversations to inspire future generations.

Adeline Kano, 87, said she watched the live-streamed Eucharist from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, in Fort Collins, Colorado, where her father had served occasionally in retirement.

Myrne Watrous, a St. Paul’s parishioner who attended the Salt Lake City convention Eucharist, said the honor was fitting. “If you look at the lives of saints, it was him,” she said of Kano, whom she knew. “He left a life of wealth to become a farmer in Nebraska and to preach the word of God, to talk the talk and walk the walk.”

Granddaughter Susan Kano said she was amazed at the size of worship and the commemoration. The only inkling she had of her grandfather’s role in the community came at a 50th wedding anniversary celebration for he and her grandmother, Aiko Ivy Kano. “People kept shaking my hand – hundreds of them – and saying ‘your grandfather is a saint,’” she recalled.

She said that he considered his time in the camps a gift to his ministry. “He had an amazing life,” she said.

The others included for liturgical commemoration in Resolution A055 were: Charles Raymond Barnes (who was commemorated at the July 2 Eucharist), Artemisia Bowden, Albert Schweitzer and Dag Hammarskjold.

The Rev. Hiram Kano

Cyrus Kano, a retired mechanical engineer who lives in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, said his father would want to be remembered “as a man of God.”

About his camp experiences, Kano turned adversity into fertile mission territory: “He said, well, God put me here, what does he want me to do?” recalled his son.

In addition to organizing a camp college where he taught English and other courses, he conducted nature studies and led worship services while incarcerated.

Kano immigrated to the United States after a youthful encounter with William Jennings Bryan in his native Japan stirred his sense of adventure, according to his daughter, Adeline Kano. His background was that of privilege: “My grandfather was the governor of the prefecture of Kagoshina,” explained Kano, 87, during a telephone interview from her Fort Collins home.

Initially, Kano earned a master’s degree in agricultural economics at the University of Nebraska, and just as quickly became an activist and leader among the Japanese “Issei” or the first-generation Japanese-American community, many of whom had come to farm or to work on the railroads.

The Rt. Rev. George Allen Beecher, then bishop of the missionary Diocese of Western Nebraska, heard about Kano’s activism in 1921, when state lawmakers were considering legislation that would preclude Japanese immigrants from owning or inheriting land, or even leasing it for more than two years. The bill also would have forbidden them from owning shares of stock in companies they had formed.

Kano and Beecher met and traveled together to the state capitol to address lawmakers, who eventually passed a less restrictive measure, according to Kano’s memoir.

Beecher persuaded Kano several years later to become a missionary to the Japanese-American community, estimated at about 600. In 1925, Kano complied and the family moved to North Platte. He was ordained a deacon three years later and served two mission congregations, St. Mary’s Church in Mitchell and St. George’s Church in North Platte. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1936.

— The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a member of the Episcopal News Service team reporting about the 78th General Convention.

Music and dance showcase Utah’s cultural and religious heritage

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 2, 2015

The golden pipes of the Tabernacle organ make a backdrop for the American Festival Choir and Orchestra. Diocese of Utah/Chloe Nguyen

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] The Kenshin Taiko drummers from the Japanese Church of Christ in Salt Lake City got the July 1 Utah Showcase off to a thunderous start with a reverberating opening number representing a dragon wishing listeners a long life and good health.

The evening came to an equally powerful end with a performance by the 220-voice American Festival Choir and Orchestra, whose program of hymns included a famous one by frontier-era Mormon composer William Clayton, “Come, Come, Ye Saints.”

In between, there were choral performances by the Calvary Baptist Inspirational Choir; the Lux Singers, a religious ensemble in residence at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Provo; and El Coro Hispano, a choir from the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Madeleine that sings traditional religious music of Mexico and Central and South America.

Ballet Folklorico Citlali performed Mexican folk dances. Chloe Nguyen/Diocese of Utah

Ballet Folklorico Citlali performed several traditional Mexican folk dances. The men, wearing white from hat to toe, did intricate tap-style stepwork, while the women, in vivid frilled finery, swirled in a kaleidoscope of color around them.

Then the Pow Wow Family, whose members represent Ute, Navajo, Northern Shoshoni and Hopi tribes, demonstrated a series of traditional dances accompanied by a drum circle.

In the elaborate fancy-dress regalia worn in contemporary powwow competitions, the women and men did dances in Southern Plains and Northern Lakota styles, an Ojibwe jingle-dress dance, an Omaha grass dance and a Blackfoot prairie chicken dance, among others. The set culminated in a swift showmanship piece derived from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, with a solo dancer improvising to the voices of the drums.

There are 566 federally recognized Native American tribes at present, the Pow Wow Family’s leader told the audience. “We’re still here,” he said as the group left the stage to an ovation.

A dancer from Pow Wow Family demonstrates a Northern Lakota-style dance. Chloe Nguyen/Diocese of Utah

“In addition to religious diversity that visitors may sometimes find surprising, we here in Utah have a strong heritage of cultural and ethnic diversity that enlivens and strengthens our community,” Diocese of Utah Bishop Scott Hayashi said at the beginning of the program. “Tonight we are showcasing this rich heritage.”

The Diocese of Utah organized the nearly two-hour program of music and dance for General Convention-goers. Many of them had rushed from a late-running legislative session to get there.

The showcase was held in Temple Square at the Salt Lake Tabernacle, a historic landmark and home of the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The towering golden structure of the Tabernacle’s 11,623-pipe organ was a dramatic visual backdrop for the performers, all of whom donated their time and talent for the evening.

Elder L. Whitney Clayton, representing the Presidency of The Seventy, one of the senior governing bodies of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told the audience that the Tabernacle, built between 1864 and 1867 and known for its pin-drop acoustics, has an arched shape because it was designed by a bridge builder.

“They didn’t have a lot of the things that we would use today to build a building like this, but they had lots of wood, they had rawhide and they had gumption, and those three things put together made a pretty good building,” Clayton said.

Utah Bishop Scott Hayashi welcomes convention-goers to the Utah Showcase. Chloe Nguyen/Diocese of Utah

“I think the most important thing about the entire structure is that when the Mormon pioneers arrived here, they came in wagons, they came, some of them, on horseback, but many of them walked. When they arrived here, they started from scratch and built this wonderful city in which we live and which is home to so many of us,” Clayton said.

Clayton offered deep gratitude for Hayashi’s leadership. “I want to recognize him in a very personal way, for his friendship, for his cordiality, for his voice of inclusion and entertainment of other people’s views and ideas. His voice has been so critical to so many good things that have happened in this city and this state,” Clayton said.

“We believe that we are God’s children and that we are truly one family. As brothers and sisters in that family each of us has a wonderful opportunity – indeed, we’d say a divine duty – to treat each other with kindness and respect as we worship the Lord and follow his teachings according to the dictates of our own conscience and our own tradition,” Clayton said. “We pray that God’s blessing will be upon you throughout your convention.”

The American Festival Choir and Orchestra closed the program with “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.”

One audience member was overheard saying as he made his way out the door, “If you don’t feel good after that, something is wrong with you.”

— Tracy J. Sukraw is part of the Episcopal News Service team covering General Convention.

La obra en pro de la justicia racial es el plato fuerte del presupuesto 2016-2018

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 2, 2015

Chuck Stewart, diputado de Nueva York Central, estudia el presupuesto junto con su colega diputada, Rda. Georgina Hegney. Foto de Tracy Sukraw/ENS.

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] El Comité Permanente Conjunto sobre Programa, Presupuesto y Finanzas (PB&F) propuso el 1 de julio un presupuesto para la Iglesia Episcopal en el trienio 2016-2018 que incluye una nueva e importante iniciativa de $2 millones para justicia y reconciliación raciales, al tiempo que reduce la cantidad de dinero que se les pide a las diócesis que contribuyan a un 15 por ciento para 2018.

El presupuesto trienal 2016-2018 se basa en un ingreso de $122.243.102 para el trienio que termina el 31 de diciembre de este año. El comité proyectó gastos de $122.189.125. Por consiguiente, el presupuesto trae un superávit de $70.834, una cifra que el comité en el texto del presupuesto calificó de “insignificante en vista de las múltiples predicciones [que se presentan] en un presupuesto de tres años”.

El comité presentó el presupuesto en una sesión conjunta el 1 de julio. Tanto la Cámara de Obispos como la Cámara de Diputados deben aprobar el presupuesto, conviniendo en cualesquiera cambios apoyados por una o por la otra.

La obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori abrió la sesión con una oración: “Nos hemos reunido aquí para considerar la mejor manera de usar los recursos que nos has dado para la obra de tu mundo restituido. Mantennos receptivos de corazón y mente y espíritu para que podamos discernir la dirección de tu Espíritu”.

El obispo Stephen Lane, de la Diócesis de Maine y vicepresidente del PB&F, dijo a la sesión conjunta que el proceso presupuestario, diseñado conjuntamente por el PB&F y el Consejo Ejecutivo, era “colaborativo y amistoso [y]… era bueno para el PB&F y bueno para la Iglesia”.

El presupuesto está disponible como un PDF aquí en inglés y en español.

Los estímulos para la iniciativa de justicia y reconciliación raciales del presupuesto provienen de la Resolución C019 que le pide a la Iglesia que responda a la injusticia racial sistémica y solicita $1,2 millones para esa tarea.

“Fue el sentir del comité (PB&F) que —dada la atmósfera en que vivimos ahora con los atentados y las dificultades que enfrentan los afroamericanos— queríamos hacer más”, dijo a ENS la Rda. Mally Lloyd, de Massachusetts, presidente del PB&F, el día antes de que se presentara el presupuesto. “Denles $2 millones y una pizarra en blanco para que realmente traten de hacer algo nuevo para la Iglesia que esperamos tendrá un impacto importante”.

Lloyd dijo que el comité decidió no ocuparse de las dimensiones del trabajo “para que el movimiento del Espíritu” guíe a los líderes de la Iglesia.

Los $2 millones provendrá de las reservas de corto plazo de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera (DFMS) y forma parte del superávit de $4,7 millones con el cual se predijo que terminaría el trienio 2013-2015.

“Estamos corriendo un riesgo como Iglesia de no tener una emergencia que precise 0recurrir a esas reservas”, dijo Lane a ENS. “Vemos esto como una circunstancia extraordinaria y una oportunidad extraordinaria y, por consiguiente, estamos usando medios extraordinarios para sostenerla”.

Supuestos ingresos

El presupuesto supone el ingreso de $76,6 millones en compromisos de las diócesis de la Iglesia (renglón 2), aproximadamente $2,1 millones más de lo proyectado en el trienio actual. Cerca del 62 por ciento de los ingresos del presupuesto provienen de las promesas de las diócesis y zonas regionales de misión de la Iglesia. La contribución real en el trienio actual se espera que ascienda a $79,3 millones.

Sarah Neumann, diputada de Massachusetts, estudia el presupuesto por vía de la carpeta virtual en su iPad. Foto de Tracy Sukraw/ENS.

La contribución anual de cada año en el presupuesto de tres años se basa en el ingreso de una diócesis dos años antes, menos $120.000. A esas entidades se les pide actualmente que contribuyan con un 19 por ciento de sus ingresos de dos años antes, menos $120.000.

El presupuesto que el PB&F propone aumenta esa exención a $150.000. Su proyección de ingresos se basa en solicitar de las diócesis de la Iglesia y sus zonas de misión regionales que contribuyan con un 18 por ciento de sus ingresos para financiar el presupuesto de 2016, un 16,5 por ciento para el presupuesto de 2017 y un 15 por ciento en 2018.

Lloyd y Lane dijeron que el PB&F cree que el anteproyecto presupuestario del Consejo Ejecutivo para el trienio 2016-2018 se basaba en un investigación sólida cuando llegó a predecir cómo las contribuciones diocesanas responderían a una solicitud reducida. Lane dijo que él y el obispo de Ohio, Mark Hollingsworth, que preside el comité del Consejo que redactó el presupuesto dado al PB&F, también llevaron a cabo una encuesta informal de los obispos cuyas diócesis no cumplen con la solicitud del 19 por ciento.

“Encontramos un completo apoyo para el objetivo del 15 por ciento”, dijo él. “Encontramos un compromiso sustancial de parte de los que están por debajo del 15 por ciento de moverse en esa dirección en el transcurso del trienio. Tenemos confianza de que el objetivo del 15 por ciento está respaldado sólidamente por los obispos de la Iglesia”.

Lloyd añadió que ella cree que hay algunas diócesis “par las cuales este 15 por ciento nunca será alcanzable”. Sin embargo, agregó, el Comité de Revisión de Tasaciones Diocesanas planeado por el Consejo ayudará a que las contribuciones de un porcentaje “realista” de esas diócesis sea visto como “plena participación” en la financiación del presupuesto denominacional, en lugar de sentirse sancionadas y criticadas por no pagar el total de la solicitud.

Los ingresos del presupuesto se calculan partiendo del supuesto que aproximadamente un tercio de las diócesis que pagan un 19 por ciento o más decrecerán sus contribuciones para ponerse a la par de la solicitud anual, como aquellas que ahora pagan entre el 19 y el 15 por ciento.

Aquellas diócesis que dan menos del 15 por ciento se predice que aumenten su contribución anual dando un mínimo de un diez por ciento de su contribución cada año. Por consiguiente, si una diócesis está pagando un 9 por ciento, aumentará su contribución en el primer año a 9,9 por ciento y así sucesivamente.

La proyección de ingresos por concepto de compromisos diocesanos también se basa en que los ingresos percibidos en la esfera diocesana aumenten un medio por ciento, según las notas que aparecen en el renglón 1.

A pesar de que hay resoluciones pendientes que piden que las tasaciones [diocesanas] se reduzcan inmediatamente al 15 por ciento, Lloyd dijo que el comité había rechazado tales solicitudes al principio. “Creímos que era una reducción demasiado drástica y demasiado apresurada y que le presentaría al nuevo obispo primado la toma de algunas decisiones difíciles que no parecían justas durante su primer año”, apuntó ella.

La solicitud diocesana no es una tasación canónicamente obligatoria y el Equipo de Trabajo para Reinventar la Iglesia Episcopal pidió un cambio en su informe final. La Cámara de Diputados consideró sustituir la Resolución D013 (que ocuparía el lugar de su versión original y también el de las [resoluciones] A008, A110 y A111) y, entre otras cosas, cambiaría el carácter voluntario de la solicitud diocesana por una tasación obligatoria. El PB&F no cuenta con la autoridad para hacer obligatoria la solicitud.

De las 109 diócesis y tres zonas regionales, 49 diócesis pagaron la solicitud en su totalidad o más en 2014. Una lista de los compromisos diocesanos y pagos hechos en 2013 y de los compromisos de 2014 puede verse aquí.

Los ingresos del presupuesto incluyen también un aporte, o dividendo, del 5 por ciento de los ingresos provenientes de los aproximadamente $220 millones de la DFMS en valores invertidos irrestrictos. Las extracciones ascienden a $28,2 millones, en lugar de los $24,5 millones previstos en el trienio actual (renglón 3).

Además de los pagos diocesanos, la aportación del 5 por ciento y las reservas a corto plazo destinadas al programa de justicia racial, otros importantes renglones de ingreso incluyen casi $10 millones por concepto de alquileres [de espacios] en el Centro Denominacional de la Iglesia, $2,1 millones del programa de cobros de préstamos a refugiados del Ministerio Episcopal de Migración, una extracción de $1.100.000 para apoyar a la oficina de desarrollo y $1.200.000 en ingresos de la Convención General, junto con otras fuentes más pequeñas.

El lado de los gastos

Los gastos en el presupuesto 2016-2018 se han estructurado, al igual que en el presupuesto actual, en torno a las Cinco Marcas de la Misión de la Comunión Anglicana.

A fin de ajustarse a los requisitos canónicos para asignar gastos en las áreas de programa, canónicos y corporativos, cada renglón de gastos está codificado a uno de esas tres categorías, y la resolución habilitante del presupuesto, que aún no tiene número, resume los gatos de esa manera.

Los gastos de programa ascienden a $64,3 millones, los corporativos a $35,2 millones y los canónicos a $22,5 millones. Los montos por cada categoría en cada año se especifican en la resolución del presupuesto.

Hay cuatro tipos de asignaciones en el presupuesto que se propone:

  • Subvenciones de desarrollo/sostenibilidad a largo plazo que facilitan asociaciones con diócesis y el resto del mundo.
  • Subvenciones en bloque, cuyo uso lo decide el beneficiario con las auditorías y los informes situacionales que se requieren. Por ejemplo, se han presupuestado $1.500.000 para las diócesis de Alaska, Navajolandia, Dakota del Norte y Dakota del Sur para extender la obra con las poblaciones indígenas. Esas subvenciones representan un aumento en comparación con el trienio actual. El presupuesto incluye su subvención habitual a colegios universitarios tradicionalmente afroamericanos, que esta vez se ha reducido ligeramente a $1.600.000. Sin embargo, hay $400.000 adicionales para repartirse entre los dos centros de estudio ( Augustine’s College en Raleigh, Carolina del Norte, y Voorhees College en Denmark, Carolina del Sur) como subvenciones para el desarrollo, lo cual representa un aumento de $20.000 a la subvención total.
  • Subvenciones de nuevas iniciativas para enfoques experimentales en la edificación del cuerpo de Cristo. La subvención para Justicia y Reconciliación Raciales es uno de ellas.
  • Subvenciones de propósitos especiales para programas específicos con un propósito y un plan. Los $3 millones del trienio actual en subvenciones para Zonas de Empresa de Misión y Comienzo de Nuevas Iglesias son ejemplos de estas subvenciones. El presupuesto que se propone aumenta su financiación en $1 millón.

Otros puntos a resaltar del presupuesto

  • $750.000 para evangelización digital se han añadido al presupuesto de comunicaciones en respuesta al compromiso de Michael Curry, el obispo primado electo, con la evangelización (renglón 53b).
  • $1.200.000 como contribución de la Iglesia a la Oficina de la Comunión Anglicana, un aumento de $500.000 (renglón 193).
  • Por primera vez, el presupuesto refleja los costos operativos y el ingreso de00 la junta de la Ofrenda Unida de Gracias (renglones 265-268).
  • $1.100.000 (un aumento de $257.357) para el renglón 281a, (llamado anteriormente de Comités, Comisiones, Agencias y Juntas, y llamado ahora Organismos Interinos). El presupuesto asume una reducción de un tercio en el número de organismos interinos y reduce en un tercio a los miembros de cada uno de esos organismos, pero aumenta la financiación disponible para las reuniones o encuentros personales.
  • $300.000 para la preparación en el uso de los cánones disciplinarios del clero, Título IV de los Cánones de la Iglesia (renglón 281b).

Lloyd y Lane dijeron que apreciaban enormemente que tantas resoluciones que conllevaban financiación hubieran comenzado a moverse muy temprano a través de la Convención, ayudando así al proceso presupuestario del comité.

“Lo más difícil en un presupuesto operativo es reservar fondos para empeños nuevos y me siento particularmente gratificado que Programa, Presupuesto y Finanzas haya sido creativo y emprendedor en buscar modos de unificar recursos y en consecuencia este presupuesto sí ha contemplado de manera significativa [la inclusión] de nuevas tareas al tiempo de tratar de ser fiel al programa y estructura de la Iglesia Episcopal”, afirmó Lane.

Cualquier cambio en esa estructura promulgado por la Convención General “podría significar que el Consejo Ejecutivo tendrá que tomar el presupuesto que hemos aprobado y cambiarlo hasta un punto cual nunca antes ha tenido que hacerse”, reconoció Lloyd.

El PB&F tuvo que funcionar en conformidad con los cánones actuales, dijo ella, y no podía prever cambios canónicos.

“Siempre supimos que si la restructuración hubiera sido aprobada el segundo día [de la Convención] los cánones no habrían entrado en vigor hasta el 1 de enero, de manera que tuvimos que producir un presupuesto basado en el viejo modelo canónico”, apuntó.

El comité dijo en el texto que acompañaba las hojas de cálculo del presupuesto que se siente agradecido de que: los miembros del PB&F participaran en la creación del proceso que el Consejo Ejecutivo utilizó para crear su anteproyecto del presupuesto; de que los miembros fueran bienvenidos en todas las reuniones del Consejo y de que el Consejo compartiera [con el comité] la reacción que había solicitado de toda la Iglesia.

“La actitud colaborativa asumida por el Consejo Ejecutivo produjo un presupuesto convincente y balanceado”, dijo el comité en su texto. “Sin embargo, un presupuesto tan estrictamente balanceado no permite cambios fáciles. Grandes asignaciones en respuesta a la legislación resultan aun difíciles de contemplar”.

El texto del PB&F sugiere que el Consejo considera asignar una partida en bloque, sin especificar, de $2 a $5 millones en su anteproyecto presupuestario 2019-2021 al objeto de darle al PB&F mayor flexibilidad para responder a “las necesidades y las prioridades de la Convención General”.

— La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

 

General Convention approves marriage equality

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, July 1, 2015

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] In the wake of the June 26 U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage for all Americans, General Convention followed suit on July 1 with canonical and liturgical changes to provide marriage equality for Episcopalians.

The House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops’ approval the day before of a canonical change eliminating language defining marriage as between a man and a woman (Resolution A036) and authorizing two new marriage rites with language allowing them to be used by same-sex or opposite-sex couples (Resolution A054).

The resolutions marked the culmination of a conversation launched when the 1976 General Convention said that “homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance and pastoral concern and care of the church,” said the Very Rev. Brian Baker, deputy chair of the Special Legislative Committee on Marriage. “That resolution began a 39-year conversation about what that full and equal claim would look like. The conversation has been difficult for many and painful for many.”

Resolutions A054 and A036 represented compromises reached after prayerful consideration and conversation within the legislative committee, and then the House of Bishops to make room for everyone, Baker said. “I know that most of you will find something … to dislike and to disagree with” in the resolutions, he said, asking deputies to “look through the lens of how this compromise makes room for other people.”

Deputies defeated an attempt to amend each of the resolutions. Following 20 minutes of debate per resolution, each resolution passed in a vote by orders. A054 passed by 94-12 with 2 divided deputations in the clerical order and 90-11-3 in the lay order. A036 passed 85-15-6 in the clerical order and 88-12-6 in the lay order.

Besides authorizing two new marriage liturgies, A054 also approves for continued use “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” from “Liturgical Resources I,” which General Convention approved for provisional use in 2012, “under the direction and with the permission of the bishop exercising ecclesiastical authority.”

Earlier in the week, the bishops divided the portion of A054 dealing with the existing rite from that addressing the new liturgies for the purposes of discussion, ultimately voting to approve both portions. They approved A036 in a roll call vote, with 129 for, 26 against and five abstaining.

“At my first General Convention in 1991, I don’t think I ever dreamed that we would have such a resolution before us,” Atlanta Deputy Bruce Garner said as debate began on A054. “I came to Salt Lake City a second-class citizen in my nation and my church, and I hope to leave here a first-class citizen in both.”

Among the dissenting voices was Holden Holsinger from the Diocese of East Michigan, a member of the Official Youth Presence, who urged defeat “in order to maintain the unity of the church.”

The two new liturgies, “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Marriage” and “The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2” from “Liturgical Resources 1: I Will Bless You and You Will be a Blessing, Revised and Expanded 2015” from the supplemental Blue Book materials of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, are authorized for use beginning this Advent. Those rites offer the option of using “wife,” “husband,” “person” or “spouse,” thus making them applicable for all couples. The liturgies can be found on pages 2-151 here from the materials provided to convention by the standing commission, including one rejected by bishops in their deliberations.

A054 stipulates: “Bishops exercising ecclesiastical authority or, where appropriate, ecclesiastical supervision, will make provision for all couples asking to be married in this church to have access to these liturgies. Trial use is only to be available under the discretion and with the permission of the diocesan bishop.”

The resolution also says that “bishops may continue to provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church.” During their house discussion, bishops said this was intended to address bishops’ situations in jurisdictions outside the United States, such as Italy and countries in Province IX, where same-sex marriages remain illegal.

Both resolutions say that clergy retain the canonical right to refuse to officiate at any wedding.

Resolution A036 revises Canon I.18 titled “Of the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony” (page 58 of The Episcopal Church’s canons here). Among many edits, it removes references to marriage as being between a man and a woman. The revised first section of the canon now says that clergy “shall conform to the laws of the state governing the creation of the civil status of marriage, and also these canons concerning the solemnization of marriage. Members of the clergy may solemnize a marriage using any of the liturgical forms authorized by this church.”

Under the revised canon, couples would sign a declaration of intent, which the legislative committee crafted to respect the needs of couples where only one member is a Christian.

The Rev. Joseph Howard of Tennessee said he voted for A054 “because I thought it was a statement of honesty about where the church is and that it regularized what we have been doing.” But he opposed A036 as “a vote against good order because I believe it assumes a belief that has not yet become clear in our church.”

James Steadman of Northwestern Pennsylvania cited the words of the post-Communion prayer in the Book of Common Prayer, telling deputies: “This is the time. Use the courage that you have prayed for all these years and vote for this resolution.”

In other marriage-related legislation, earlier in the week the House of Deputies approved Resolution A037, after several failed amendments, concurring with bishops on the continued work of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage.

The resolution asks congregations to study resources that were created by the Task Force on Marriage to help understand the theology of marriage and the long history of marriage, which are now available to congregations (beginning on page 9 here), Baker told the deputies.

It also authorizes continued work of the task force “because the work is not done,” Baker said. It invites exploration of the cultural and theological diversity to move the conversation forward, he said, adding that too often the study has focused on an Anglo-Western perspective “when we are a church that has people from different nations.”

— Sharon Sheridan is an ENS correspondent.

Los diputados aprueban quitar la bandera confederada

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, July 1, 2015

El Muy Rdo. Gary Hall, dean de la Catedral Nacional de Washington, ha prometido remover el vitral de la catedral en que aparece la bandera confederada.

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] La Cámara de Diputados aprobó el 29 de junio en una abrumadora votación de viva voz la Resolución D044, que “insta enérgicamente a todas las personas, así como a instituciones públicas, gubernamentales y religiosas, a discontinuar el despliegue de la bandera de batalla confederada”.

Los diputados se suman a un creciente número de personas en organizaciones religiosas y seculares que han pedido la discontinuación de la bandera, entre ellos el presidente de EE.UU. Barack Obama.

Obama pidió la remoción de la bandera mientras hacía el panegírico del Rdo. Clementa Pinckney, uno de los nueve afroamericanos asesinados durante un estudio bíblico en Charleston, Carolina del Sur, por un autotitulado supremacista blanco.

En las últimas semanas, el Muy Rdo. Gary Hall, deán de la Catedral Nacional de Washington, también ha prometido eliminar las imágenes de la Confederación de la catedral, sede oficial del Obispo Primado.

La diputada Betsy Baumgarten, de Misisipí, instó a la cámara a apoyar la medida, haciendo notar que los símbolos “ayudan a formar nuestra creencia y nuestra permanente interpretación de Dios y del mundo. Seguir permitiendo que la bandera confederada tenga un lugar en nuestras iglesias dice algo acerca de la Iglesia episcopal”.

La bandera del estado de Misisipí incorpora la bandera de batalla confederada en su diseño, en tanto la del estado de Georgia es una modificación de la bandera confederada de las “estrellas y las barras”. La Catedral Nacional despliega las banderas de todos los estados en su nave.

Si bien reconociendo que el símbolo es para algunos un signo de su herencia, “para muchos más ha sido y sigue siendo un símbolo de esclavitud, de injusticia y violencia racial —y ahora más que nunca un signo del movimiento supremacista blanco. La bandera de batalla confederada no tiene ningún lugar en una Iglesia que llama a todas las personas bautizadas a respetar la dignidad de todo ser humano”.

La resolución dio un paso más allá al desafiarnos “a salir de nuestras iglesias y entablar una conversación con nuestras instituciones públicas y de gobierno acerca de que ese exótico símbolo de odio tenga algún lugar en nuestra actual vida cívica” dijo ella cuando presentó la media a la cámara.

Varios otros diputados, entre ellos la Rda. Susan Haynes, de Indiana Norte, y la Rda. Canóniga Victoria Heard, de Dallas, también exhortaron a la aprobación.

Recientemente, el Muy Rdo. Anthony P. Clark, deán de la iglesia catedral de San Lucas [Cathedral Church of St. Luke] en Orlando, Florida, dijo en un comunicado que, después de retirar las banderas para limpiarlas él no devolvería la bandera confederada al ámbito de la catedral, según el Rdo. Jabriel Ballentine.

“Si la Iglesia ha de ser una como se supone que sea, luego este es un tema que causa división”, dijo Ballentine, de 34 años, rector de la iglesia de San Juan el Bautista [St. John the Baptist Church] en Orlando. “¿Cómo podemos ser auténticos a menos que hagamos todo lo que podemos por desarraigarla de entre nosotros?

“Si un grupo dice que no se siente obligado por la oración de los fieles, cuando decimos que todos somos uno, ¿qué estamos realmente diciendo?”.

Baumgarten dijo que la remoción de la bandera “es sólo un paso en el comienzo de la difícil conversación que debemos tener sobre el racismo, y acerca de la aceptación de la diversidad en el desmantelamiento de instituciones que rebajan a algunos mientras ensalzan a otros.

“Muestra que la Iglesia Episcopal está en sintonía con la conversación que está teniendo lugar en la esfera nacional ahora mismo”, añadió Baumgarten.

“Como diputación de Misisipí, sentimos la necesidad de hablar de este tema. Pero no es sólo un asunto nuestro. Llamamos a toda la Iglesia como pueblo de Dios a unirse con nosotros para retirar este símbolo de odio y opresión y trabajar para llevar la igualdad a todas las personas”.

— La Rda. Pat McCaughan es corresponsal de Episcopal News Service y parte del equipo de ENS que está reportando sobre la 78a. Convención General. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Saints commemorations approved, but distribution in limbo

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Rev. Ruth Meyers, Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music chair, standing, addresses the Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music legislative committee, chaired by the Rev. Devon Anderson and Missouri Bishop Wayne Smith, right. Meyers served as consultant to the committee during General Convention 2015. Photo: Sharon Sheridan/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] General Convention approved making available a revised resource for calendar commemorations but stopped short of officially authorizing it as a liturgical resource for use in the next triennium. Amended Resolution A056 also establishes criteria to use when considering additions to the resource, “A Great Cloud of Witnesses: A Calendar of Commemorations,” and directs the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to review all the names within it in light of these criteria, reporting back any revisions and explanations for them to the next convention.

SCLM will use those same criteria to review commemorations and their accompanying collects added to the resource via A055 and to review suggested additional commemorations outlined in A057. The latter resolution includes the names of more women for possible inclusion in response to previous General Convention directives to increase the number of women commemorated in the church calendar.

“Great Cloud of Witnesses” revises and replaces a previously authorized resource, “Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints.” Created as part of a major revision of “Lesser Feasts and Fasts,” the church’s commemoration of various saints and occasions not included as major holy days on the calendar of the Book of Common Prayer, “Holy Women, Holy Men” added many new commemorations and was approved for trial use by the 2009 and 2012 conventions.

With the passage of the amended A056, “ ‘Lesser Feasts and Fasts’ continues to be the authorized supplemental calendar of commemorations,” said SCLM Chair the Rev. Ruth Meyers. “ ‘Great Cloud of Witnesses’ will supersede ‘Holy Women, Holy Men.’ ” It will include everyone that had been in “Holy Women, Holy Men” – including commemorations originally proposed for deletion in A055 but later restored for review under the new criteria.

But how precisely the new resource will be made available remains to be determined.

“The commission will need to work with the General Convention office to determine how to make (it) available,” Meyers said.

An additional resource for trial use was approved via A056: “Weekday Eucharistic Propers 2015,” containing all of the seasonal collects and lessons previously contained in “Lesser Feasts and Fasts” and “Holy Women, Holy Men.”

Dividing these propers from the other commemorations means creating two books of more manageable size for liturgical use and, with the “Eucharistic Propers,” creating a longer-lasting volume because the propers, unlike calendar commemorations, do not change, Meyers told ENS before the convention.

“Great Cloud of Witnesses” includes “tags” for different aspects of saints’ lives that those using the resource might want to emphasize about a commemorated individual – such as martyr, pastor or bishop – and expands the Scripture options for the commemorations.

The House of Bishops had approved the Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music legislative committee’s version of A056, which would have authorized “Cloud of Witnesses” for use during this triennium. But it ran into trouble in the House of Deputies, who approved the amended version that merely makes it available as a resource. Because it was amended, the resolution returned to the bishops, who concurred on July 1.

Describing the resource as “the next step in the development of the church’s calendar of commemorations,” Meyers told the House of Deputies on June 29 that “in 2003 the General Convention directed the SCLM to undertake a revision of ‘Lesser Feasts and Fasts’ to reflect our increasing awareness of the importance of the ministry of all people of God and the cultural diversity of The Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion and its ecumenical partners.”

After receiving feedback from across The Episcopal Church on “Holy Women, Holy Men,” she said, “Great Cloud of Witnesses” was developed “as a kind of family history of persons worthy to be remembered.”

Ohio Deputy the Rev. Jeremiah Williamson, a member of the legislative committee, opposed concurrence on the floor, saying adoption would establish “a set of criteria that fundamentally shifts our understanding of sainthood and baptism.”

He objected to paragraph 2, criteria 2, which changed the understanding of saints as “people made holy through their mutual participation in the mystery Christ.

“It defines holiness as a kind of good works; something earned rather than given us by God,” he said. “While there are certainly women and men outside the Christian church that are good people and do amazing things to better our world, they have often by their own choice not been baptized into the church. Therefore, it seems inappropriate to place them in the church’s calendar.”

Deputy Benjamin Shambaugh of Maine, chair of the legislative committee’s subcommittee on the calendar, said, “There are a variety of interpretations of sainthood.

“ ‘Cloud of Witnesses’ is the next evolutionary stage of ‘Lesser Feasts and Fasts’ and ‘Holy Women, Holy Men.’ It is a catechetical as well as a liturgical resource. It does, as pointed out, include criteria for inclusion against which all of those names will be judged and then those revisions will be brought to the next convention’s suggestions for revision.”

Deputy Melody Shobe of Rhode Island introduced the amendment, replacing the words “authorize in the next triennium” with “make available for publication and distribution by individuals and in congregations and in other church groups for devotional or catechetical use or use in public worship subject to the provisions for optional commemorations of page 18 of the Book of Common Prayer.”

She noted that The Episcopal Church is not of one mind about saints. “There are some who yearn to retain a core calendar and others who want to widen it. This helps us to balance that in a middle way,” she said.

Deputy Dante Tavalaro, also of Rhode Island, supported the amendment, saying that it spoke to the Episcopal ethos of “both-and” as opposed to “either-or.”

The amendment passed 571-244, and the amended resolution was approved 619-194.

— Sharon Sheridan is an ENS correspondent. The Rev. Pat McCaughan, also an ENS correspondent, contributed to this report.

Children’s program means everyone is present at General Convention

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Zofia Graham, 10, of San Antonio, Texas, snuggles up in a blanket on the floor in the children’s area of the General Convention worship space before the opening Eucharist. Photo/Sharon Sheridan/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] Much happens each day during General Convention. In addition to Episcopal News Service’s other coverage, here are some additional news items from July 1, the second day of the June 25-July 3 gathering.

The hot topic of debate on the morning of July 1 among the General Convention participants who have taken over the second floor meeting rooms at Salt Lake City’s Marriott Downtown was chocolate pudding.

The specific question at hand: Can we have more, please?

It was snack time at the children’s program, which has been serving about 20 to 30 infants and children through age 12, each day, according to Becky Ball. She is the local Salt Lake City organizer for the program, a collaborative effort between the Diocese of Utah and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s Office of Lifelong Formation.

“It’s a little crazy at times, but it’s a lot of fun and it’s going really well,” Ball, with a half-opened pudding cup in hand, said during a momentary break in the action.

Under the care of a dozen teenage counselors and as many adult volunteers, the children attend the daily Eucharist, enjoy age-appropriate activities and get to do something many adult convention-goers would be willing to trade their voting credentials for: They take naps. There also are field trips for the older kids. So far they’ve visited Salt Lake’s Museum of Natural History, the zoo and the food distribution ministry at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark.

The program enables parents, who might otherwise not be able to attend General Convention, to participate fully at the triennial gathering.

The program is about more than just childcare, according to its organizers. Its Christian formation component has the children exploring daily Scripture lessons in a hands-on way. Today’s gospel lesson was the parable of the lost sheep, so the little ones were making sheep out of paper plates and cotton balls; the older group was building a LEGO scene from the story.

There has been a children’s program at General Convention since 2006. Having children present, the program’s organizers say, means that the entire church community is present.

For the children, it means fun, learning and prayer — plus pudding.

— Tracy J. Sukraw is part of the Episcopal News Service team covering General Convention. 

General Convention takes a first step, admits: ‘Alcohol affects us all’

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, July 1, 2015

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] The House of Bishops on July 1 passed three resolutions, one with an amendment, on the issue of alcohol and drug abuse.

“I’m Mark and I’m an alcoholic,” said Bishop Mark Hollingsworth of Ohio, chair of the Legislative Committee on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, as he introduced the resolutions to the House of Bishops and acknowledged his own journey of addiction and recovery.

Hollingsworth said that the committee represented “hundreds of years of sobriety and recovery.” He expressed “profound gratitude” to the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies for establishing the committee and thanked all the bishops for their affirmation of the work.

Resolution D014 recommends that ordinands should be questioned at the very beginning of the discernment process about addiction and substance use in their lives and family systems.

The bishops also passed Resolution A159, which acknowledges the church’s role in the culture of alcohol and drug abuse.

Hollingsworth said A159 is intended to give direction in how the church can move forward in owning that reality of complicity and in healing.

Bishop Pierre Whalon of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe said that Europe is, in many ways, “far behind the U.S. in understanding alcohol and drug addiction.” The resolutions, he said, “will enable us in Europe to put forward the policy in our church…to address a culture of denial in many respects.”

Resolution A158, to create a task force to review and revise policy on substance abuse, addiction and recovery, passed with one amendment. The amended resolution will return to the House of Deputies for concurrence.

The amendment asks that when offering the sacrament, a nonalcoholic wine be provided. The original resolution had suggested a nonalcoholic alternative, but did not specify that it be wine.

Deputies examine ‘unhealthy and unholy’ relationship
A day earlier, deputies had overwhelmingly supported the resolutions, asserting the time has come to transform the church’s “unhealthy and unholy relationship” with alcohol and addiction.

“We have lived too much into the jokes of ‘where there are four Episcopalians, there is a fifth’ and ‘we are whiskey-palians’: we must redefine the norm,” said the Rev. Kevin Cross, a deputy from Easton, Maryland.

Deputy Mary June Nestler of Utah said that alcohol topped the list of diocesan inquiries during preparation for General Convention.

“The No. 1 question that came into our offices went like this: Can we get a drink in Utah? Will we be allowed to drink in our hotel rooms? Can our group hold an evening meeting and serve alcohol? Can I bring alcohol in from other states?’

“We must address this in our corporate culture.”

After Maryland: courage to change the things we can

Paraphrasing the prayer popularized by recovery ministries, Deputy Scott Slater of Maryland, told deputies June 30: “I ask God to grant me the serenity to accept legislative actions I cannot change. I pray that we as a church will have the courage to change the things we can.”

Slater, a member of diocesan staff, said former Suffragan Bishop Heather Cook’s drunken driving arrest for manslaughter in the Dec. 27, 2014, hit-and-run death of cyclist Tom Palermo, a 41-year-old husband and father of two, “has shaken so many of us and we have yearned for our denomination to take a hard look at this issue.”

Legislative Committee 22 on Alcohol and Drug Abuse was created by the presiding officers to do just that and “there was a clear charge to us to conduct our work with compassion for all affected by the devastating effects of alcohol misuse and addiction,” said deputy Steven Thomason of Olympia, a co-chair.

“Many members of the committee and several who testified in our hearings shared their experiences with alcohol. Many shared their shameful experiences of the church’s complicity in a culture of alcohol,” he said. “Some have even felt unwelcomed or stigmatized by the church simply because they are in recovery.”

The Rev. Steve Lane, treasurer of Recovery Ministries of The Episcopal Church, was stationed at a booth during General Convention and said he is excited to see the church finally beginning to face the challenges of addiction.

“Addiction is rampant in every congregation in our church, I believe, in one form or another,” he told Episcopal News Service.

“The best known solution for it is a spiritual one, but our church needs to be aware of it and see our own shortcomings and be aware of our own failures first before we can reach out and help others.”

Retired Bishop Chilton Knudsen of Maine, who will begin assisting in the Maryland diocese in October, is a recovering alcoholic, an experience that is central to her ministry, she told ENS recently.

“When the case in Maryland happened, my heart broke, as everybody’s did,” she said. “There’s some good leadership in Maryland, and good recovery, and those folks are part of the forward movement in the diocese.”

Advocating abstinence is not the answer – training is, she said, and understanding addiction not as a moral issue but as a health issue. “Many denominations that do advocate abstinence have the same rate of alcoholism as we do.”

Rather, she is advocating for a sense of “intentional awareness that some people are at risk, and to make our social life so hospitable that it’s not weird or strange if you decline to drink.”

Updated policies and training for seminarians and communities of faith are needed “the way we make anti-racism training mandatory, the way we make sexual misconduct training mandatory,” Knudsen said.

Otherwise, “the church can be helpful, or can really help foster somebody’s denial or support their being sick for awhile.”

And finally, she said, becoming healthy requires telling the truth about who we are and requires telling our stories. “The tragedy in Maryland presents us with an opportunity,” she said.

Deputy Doris Westfall of Missouri agreed. “The church holds out the hope of living into recovery, which is no less than resurrection,” she said.

When urging adoption of Resolution A159, Westfall said: “This resolution also recognizes that addiction is a complex disease, that it needs to be treated in its totality and with all the support and love that we can muster as the people of God.”

— The Rev. Pat McCaughan and Matthew Davies are part of the Episcopal News Service team reporting on the 78th General Convention.

Racial justice work is highlight of proposed 2016-2018 budget

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Central New York deputy Chuck Stewart studies the budget, with fellow deputy the Rev. Georgina Hegney. Photo: Tracy Sukraw/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] The Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) July 1 proposed a budget for The Episcopal Church in the 2016-2018 triennium that includes a major new $2 million initiative on racial justice and reconciliation, even as it reduces the amount of money it asks dioceses to contribute to 15 percent by 2018.

The 2016-2018 triennial budget is based on $122,259,959 in revenue, compared to a forecasted $118,243,102 for triennium that ends Dec. 31 of this year. The committee projected expenses of $122,189,125. Thus, the proposed budget comes in with a surplus of $70,834, a figure that the committee in the budget document called “negligible in view of the multiple forecasts in a three-year budget.”

The committee presented the budget to a joint session on July 1. Both the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies must approve the budget, agreeing on any changes supported by one house or the other.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori called the session to prayer. “We are gathered here to consider how best to use the resources you have given us for the work of your healed world. Keep us open in heart and mind and spirit that we may discern the leading of your spirit.”

Diocese of Maine Bishop Stephen Lane, PB&F vice chair, told the joint session that the budget process, jointly designed by PB&F and Executive Council, was “collaborative and friendly [and] … was good for PB&F and good for the church.”

The budget is available as a PDF here in English and Spanish.

The impetus for the budget’s racial justice and reconciliation initiative came from Resolution C019 that calls on the church to respond to systemic racial injustice. It asks for $1.2 million for that work.

“It was the sense of the (PB&F) committee that given the atmosphere we’re living in now the shootings and the plight of African-American men, that we wanted to do more,” the Rev. Mally Lloyd of Massachusetts, PB&F chair, told ENS the day before the budget was presented. “Give them $2 million and a blank slate to really try something new for the church that we hope will have major impact.”

Lloyd said the committee decided to leave the dimensions of the work “for the movement of the spirit” to guide the church’s leaders.

The $2 million will come from the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s short-term reserves and is part of the $4.7 million surplus with which the 2013-2015 triennium is predicted to end.

“We’re taking a risk as a church that we don’t have an emergency that would call on those reserves,” Lane told ENS. “We’re seeing this as an extraordinary circumstance and an extraordinary opportunity and, therefore using extraordinary means to support it.”

Income assumptions

The budget assumes $76.6 million in commitments from the church’s dioceses (line 2), about $2.1 million more than was projected in the current triennium. Nearly 62 percent of the budget’s revenue comes from pledges by the church’s dioceses and regional mission areas. The actual diocesan giving in the current triennium is forecast to amount to $79.3 million.

Massachusetts deputy Sarah Neumann studies the budget via the virtual binder on her iPad. Photo: Tracy Sukraw/Episcopal News Service

Each year’s annual giving in the three-year budget is based on a diocese’s income two years earlier, minus $120,000. Those entities are currently asked annually to contribute 19 percent of their income from two years earlier, minus $120,000.

PB&F’s proposed budget increases that exemption to $150,000. Its revenue projection is based on asking the church’s dioceses and regional mission areas to give 18 percent of their income to fund the 2016 budget, 16.5 percent for the 2017 budget and 15 percent in 2018.

Lloyd and Lane said that PB&F felt the Executive Council’s draft 2016-2018 triennium budget was based on solid research when it came to predicting how diocesan giving would respond to a reduced asking. Lane said he and Ohio Bishop Mark Hollingsworth, who chaired the council committee that drafted the budget given to PB&F, also conducted an informal poll of bishops whose diocese did not meet the 19 percent asking.

“We found complete support for the 15 percent goal,” he said. “We found substantial commitment on the part of those below 15 percent to move in that direction over the triennium. I have confidence that the 15 percent objective is solidly supported by the bishops of the church.”

Lloyd added that she believed there are some dioceses “for whom this 15 percent will never be reachable.” However, she said, council’s planned Diocesan Assessment Review Committee will help those dioceses’ “realistic” percentage contributions be seen as “full participation” in funding the church-wide budget, rather than feeling penalized and criticized for not paying the full asking.

The budget’s revenue is calculated on the assumption that the approximately one-third of the dioceses that pay 19 percent or more will decrease their contributions to match the annual asking, as will those who now pay between 19 and 15 percent.

Those dioceses that give less than 15 percent are predicted to increase their annual giving by a minimum of 10 percent of their giving each year. Thus if a diocese is paying 9 percent, it will increase its giving in the first year to 9.9 percent and so forth.

The diocesan commitments revenue projection is also based on income earned at the diocesan level growing by a half percent, according to the notes in line 1.

Despite pending resolutions calling for the assessment to drop to 15 percent immediately, Lloyd said the committee rejected such requests early on. “We felt it was too deep a drop too quickly and it would present the new presiding bishop with some tough choices to make that didn’t seem fair his first year,” she said.

The diocesan asking is not a canonically mandated assessment and the Task Force for Reimagining The Episcopal Church called in its final report for such a move. The House of Deputies considered substitute Resolution D013 (which would take the place of its original version and those of A008, A110 and A111) and would, among other things, change the voluntary diocesan asking to a mandatory assessment. PB&F does not have the authority to make the asking mandatory.

Out of 109 dioceses and three regional areas, 49 dioceses paid the full asking or more in 2014. A list of 2013 diocesan commitments and payments made, and 2014 commitments, is here.

The budget revenue also includes a 5 percent draw, or dividend, on the income from the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s approximately $220 million in unrestricted invested assets. The draw amounts to $28.2 million, compared with $24.5 million anticipated in the current triennium (line 3).

In addition to diocesan payments, the 5 percent draw and the short-term reserves draw for the racial justice program, other major income line items include nearly $10 million in rental income from The Episcopal Church Center, $2.1 million from Episcopal Migration Ministries’ refugee loan collection program, a $1.1 million draw to support the development office and $1.2 million in General Convention income, along with other smaller sources.

The expenses side

Spending in the 2016-2018 budget is structured around the Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission, as is the current budget.

To conform to canonical requirements to designate spending in the areas of canonical, corporate and program, each expense line is coded to one of those three categories, and the budget’s enabling resolution, which does not yet have a number, summarizes the spending in that way.

Program expenses are funded at $64.3 million, corporate at $35.2 million, and canonical $22.5 million. The amounts for each category in each year are specified in the budget resolution.

There are four kinds of grants in the proposed budget:

  • Long-term development/sustainability grants which facilitate partnerships with dioceses and the rest of the church.
  • Block grants, whose use is decided by the recipient with audits and progress reports required. For example, $1.5 million is budgeted for the Dioceses of Alaska, Navajoland, North Dakota, and South Dakota to enhance work with indigenous populations. Those grants represent an increase over the current triennium. The budget includes its traditional grant to historically black colleges, which is a slightly lower $ 1.6 million. However, there is an additional $400,000 to be divided between the two colleges (St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Voorhees College in Denmark, South Carolina) as development grants, increasing the total granting by $20,000
  • New initiatives grants for experimental approaches to building up the body of Christ. Racial Justice and Reconciliation is such a grant.
  • Special purpose grants for specific programs with a purpose and plan. For instance, the current triennium’s $3 million in Mission Enterprise Zones and New Church Starts grants are examples of these grants. The proposed budget increases their funding by $1 million.

Other highlights in the budget:

  • $750,000 for digital evangelism has been added to the communication budget in response to Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry’s commitment to evangelism (line 53b).
  • $1.2 million as the church’s contribution to the Anglican Communion Office, an increase of $500,000 (line 193).
  • For the first time, the budget reflects the operating costs and income for the United Thank Offering board (lines 265-268).
  • $1.1 million (an increase of $257,357) for renamed line 281a, (formerly called Committees, Commissions, Agencies and Boards, and now named Interim Bodies). The budget assumes a one-third reduction in the number of interim bodies, and a one-third reduction in the number of members on each but increases the funding available for face-to-face meetings.
  • $300,000 training in the use of the church’s Title IV clergy disciplinary canons (line 281b).

Lloyd and Lane said they were extremely appreciative that so many resolutions with funding implications began moving through convention very early, thus helping the committee’s budget process.

“The hardest thing in an operating budget is to reserve funds for new work and I am particularly gratified that Program, Budget and Finance has been creative and aggressive in seeking ways to pool resources and so this budget does have significant new work in it in the midst of trying to be true to the program and structure of The Episcopal Church,” Lane said.

Any changes in that structure enacted by General Convention “might mean that Executive Council will have to take the budget that we pass and rework it to a greater extent than it ever has had to before,” Lloyd acknowledged.

PB&F had to operate under the current canons, she said, and could not anticipate canonical changes.

“We knew all along that even if restructuring had passed on Day 2, the canons wouldn’t take effect until Jan. 1 so we had to produce a budget based on the old canonical model,” she said.

The committee said in a narrative it presented along with the budget spreadsheet that it is grateful that: PB&F members were involved in creating the process Executive Council used to develop its draft budget; how members were welcomed into every council meeting; and how council shared the feedback it solicited from the church at large.

“The collaborative approach taken by Executive Council produced a cogent and balanced budget,” the committee said in its narrative. “However, a budget so tightly balanced does not permit easy changes. Large allocations in response to legislation are even harder to come by.”

PB&F’s narrative suggests that council consider allocating an undesignated block of $2 million to $5 million in its 2019-2021 draft budget to give PB&F greater flexibility in responding to “the needs and the priorities of the General Convention.”

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.