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Seminary of the Southwest awards honorary degrees, honors trustee

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

[Seminary of the Southwest press release] Seminary of the Southwest held its sixty-fourth commencement on May 12 at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Austin.

The seminary awarded master’s degrees to 29 students completing the master of divinity, master’s in religion, master’s in counseling, master’s in chaplaincy and pastoral care and master’s in spiritual formation. Four students received diplomas in Anglican studies or in theological studies.

Photo from left: Dean and President Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, the Rev. Canon John Peterson, the Rt. Rev. Brian Seage, the Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, the Rt. Rev. Dena A. Harrison, chair of the board.

The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of Washington, preached at the Holy Eucharist. The seminary awarded honorary doctorates to Budde; the Rt. Rev. Brian Seage, bishop of the Diocese of Mississippi; and the Rev. Canon John Peterson, immediate past president of the Compass Rose Society and Anglican canon at St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem.

Mr. Robert C. Schorr received the 2015 Trustees’ Award for 17 years of “indefatigable service” on the seminary’s board of trustees.  Read the citation presented to Trustee Schorr who is pictured here as seminary faculty sing their farewell at a reception the evening before Commencement.

At their spring meeting on May 11, the seminary’s board of trustees elected three new trustees: the Rt. Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld, bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire; Teri Lawver, business leader with Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson and Johnson; and the Honorable Lora Jeanette Livingston, presiding judge, 261st District Court, Travis County, Texas.

The Rev. Bob Dannals, rector of St. Michael and All Angels, Dallas, and chair of the governance committee of the seminary’s board of trustees, reflected, “Seminary of the Southwest is committed to identifying and recruiting excellent lay and ordained leaders, and we are grateful for these outstanding men and women who are willing to serve.”

Dean and President Cynthia Briggs Kittredge’s homily at Evensong

Bishop Budde’s Commencement sermon

Citation for Bishop Budde’s honorary degree

Citation for Canon Peterson’s honorary degree

Citation for Bishop Seage’s honorary degree

Anglican leaders identify needs for Companion Link relationships

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Edmonton Bishop Jane Alexander and the Rev. Yohana Mtokambali at St. Alban’s Cathedral in Dar es Salaam. Photo: John Kafwanka

[Anglican Communion News Service] Mission-centered relationship and openness about the challenges faced in both the global north and global south of the Anglican Communion were the key needs identified in the Companion Link consultation involving 25 Anglican/Episcopalian leaders from 11 dioceses in Canada, Ghana, South Sudan and Tanzania that took place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on May 14-17.

Companion or church links are relationships among Anglican Communion churches that agree to work together to enhance their local and global mission by sharing resources, exchange visits, work and cultural experience. “Companion Link relationships should become the heartbeat of each diocese,” Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said at the Tanzania meeting.

Meanwhile, political instability in the country prevented Burundi Anglican leaders from two dioceses and their primate from participating in the consultation. Those who gathered expressed profound sadness and solidarity with their counterparts and the whole nation, and prayed for peace and co-existence among Burundians and the ability to settle differences and remain united.

The delegates discussed Companion Link achievements and areas for improvement to enhance cooperation among companion dioceses and parishes. The meeting provided an opportunity for the dioceses to know more about each other’s work and develop even closer partnerships.

Diocesan bishops shared personal stories of mission experience lived out in their contexts and across Companion Links. Bishop Jane Alexander from the Diocese of Edmonton in Canada talked of a church partnership with the local government to end poverty and homelessness, and highlighted the diocese’s vision to deal with the challenge to keep youth and young people in the church beyond confirmation.

Bishop Wilson Kamani of the Diocese of Iba in South Sudan talked about the high illiteracy levels and the role of the church in providing education, pointing out that the first school in the area was started by the church in 2007. Kamani also highlighted the vision for self-sustainability where more locally educated people and infrastructure support the work of the diocese so there is less need to depend on support from outside.

Some of the areas identified for future cooperation included regular communication of good practice stories and information as well as the crucial role of personal visits and exchange of theology students and young people to break down misconceptions and learning from each other’s culture.

Speaking at the meeting, the Rev. John Kafwanka, director for mission of the Anglican Communion Office, implored the delegates to look at Companion Link as a means of “serving together” as disciples of Jesus Christ. “Companion Link provides a platform for common witness to Christ’s love in God’s world, expressed through the common voice, vision, mission, and unity of purpose in a world that is so divided by sin,” he said.

Kafwanka also pointed out: “The Five Marks of Mission provides an avenue in which Companion Links can be intentional in serving together as partners in mission, and as global disciples.”

VTS celebrates first commencement ceremony in Immanuel Chapel

ENS Headlines - Thursday, May 21, 2015

[Virginia Theological Seminary press release] Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) celebrated its 192nd Commencement May 21, awarding 57 students with degrees of Master in Divinity, Master of Arts, Doctor of Ministry, the Licentiate in Theology, Diploma in Theology, and Diploma in Anglican Studies. This was the first Commencement from Immanuel Chapel.

The commencement address was given by the Rt. Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee, the 12th bishop of Chicago and author of Opening the Prayer Book in the New Church’s Teaching Series.

“As you go (into the world), I ask you to join me in listening to the needs and hopes and the heartaches and longings of the world we live in,” said Lee. “Listen to those who suspect that God has left the church behind. Listen. Listen and lead.”

The recipient of the 2015 Virginia Seminary Ford Chair, a gift of Susan Ford to a member of the graduating class who has exhibited a strong commitment to the community life and mission of the seminary, was the Rev. Jose Reyes from the Diocese of Western Massachusetts.

The recipients of the Harris Award, given each year to candidate for Holy Orders who has demonstrated academic excellence and leadership ability, was Zac Harmon, from the Diocese of Oregon.

The St. George’s College Prize awarded to a student who has demonstrated leadership and a commitment to the larger Church and the global Anglican Communion was given to Sarah Taylor from the Diocese of Texas, and the Dudley Speech Prize, awarded to a graduating student who, in the opinion of the faculty, has demonstrated excellence in the public reading and interpretation of the Scriptures and the Liturgy, was given to the Rev. Maxine Barnett from the Diocese of Long Island.

This year, the seminary conferred Doctors of Humane Letters, honoris causa, on Auguste Johns Bannard, head of St. Catherine’s School (1989-2007) and former member of the VTS Board of Trustees; Professor Herman Franklin Bostick, a graduate of the Virginia Theological Seminary’s Lay School of Theology who also served on the board of the Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys; and Linda Armstrong Chisholm, founder and first general secretary of the Colleges and Universities of the Anglican Communion and the founder and president of the International Partnership for Service-Learning. The seminary also conferred Doctor in Divinity, honoris causa, on the Rt. Rev. James Barnabas Almasi, the 9th bishop of the Diocese of Masas; the Very Rev. Canon Patrick Pervez, commissary to the archbishop of Sudan; and the Rt. Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee, the 12th bishop of Chicago.

“This really is an extraordinary, joyous occasion,” said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., dean and president of VTS. “My faculty colleagues and I have had the privilege of serving God as God does the hard and holy work of formation in the lives of those graduating today. Congratulations to the Class of 2015.  Special congratulations to the parents, friends, spouses, and children who are here today. You know that you played your part.”

For the 8th year in a row, the service was streamed live over the Internet through the VTS website. Click here to watch now.

Music director wins top honor in California competition

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dwight Stone on piano at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Walnut Creek, CA. Photo: Yau-Man Chan.

[St. Paul’s Episcopal Church] Dwight Stone, Director of Music Ministries at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Walnut Creek, has won first place for performance works in the 2015 Music Teachers’ Association of California Composition Competition with his piece for piano solo, “Eye on the Prize.” He will perform the work and accept the award at the MTAC state convention in San Jose on July 6, where world-renowned artists and teachers give recitals, lectures, presentations, and master classes.

“I am honored, excited and looking forward to presenting this composition to musicians and teachers from all across California,” said Stone. “I was inspired to write it in 2008 when I was in Austria, and I heard virtuoso guitarist Peter Taucher perform with his jazz-avant-garde trio. That style really connected with me, and I wanted to write something for them. ‘Eye on the Prize’ is the pianist’s version of this concept.”

Stone’s compositions reflect his experience in all facets of music, including vocal, choral, brass, orchestra, guitar and piano. An accomplished vocalist and performer on piano, and a conductor, with nearly a dozen recordings to his credit, Stone adds, “It’s especially nice to be recognized and acknowledged as a composer.”

Dwight Stone was born in California into a musical family and grew up in Missoula, Montana. He studied applied voice, piano, organ, composition, orchestration and conducting, along with the required theoretical and musicological aspects of music, obtaining a B. Mus. in voice. While completing his M.A. in composition at CSU Sacramento, he concurrently served as Director of Orchestras at Sacramento City College and Music Director at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in North Sacramento.

Stone received a graduate certificate in film scoring from USC and spent 20 years in Los Angeles scoring commercials and documentaries, composing for chorus and various ensembles, conducting, singing and accompanying. He served as organist/choirmaster for St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church in Canoga Park. He sang with the LA Jazz Choir, the LA Chamber Choir, the LA Master Chorale, and toured four times with the Roger Wagner Chorale in the U.S. and Orient. He served as Music Director of the Methodist Church in Pacific Palisades, and also of Temple Akiba in Culver City. His album “Reveries for Day and Night” grew out of his encounter with Dutch chromatic harmonica virtuoso Tim Welvaars, as well as the inspiration for the recent album of flute duets, “Amsterdam.” More information is on his web site, www.stonemusic.us , and Facebook page, DwightStoneConcerts.

The Music Teachers’ Association of California, incorporated in 1897, is a professional organization dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in music education. With over 4,700 members, there are more than 67 self-governing, affiliated branches throughout the state—from Humboldt County to San Diego County—which coordinate their own activities as well as participate in state-wide events. More information is at www.mtac.org.

Church in Burundi responds to people displaced by political tension

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, May 20, 2015

[Anglican Alliance] Recent political tensions in Burundi have increased uncertainty and fear of violence, leading to displacement in the country, with more than 100,000 people reported to have fled in recent days. The Church in Burundi is calling for prayers for peace, while it also responds to the needs of vulnerable people.

After several weeks of political tension, the situation escalated last week with an attempted coup and struggle over control of Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. The tensions began when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he would stand for a third term as president in elections at the end of June. The constitution limits the presidential tenure to two terms.

Recent weeks have seen violent street protests and a large exodus of people leaving the country concerned for their safety. This is considered the worst outbreak of violence since the civil war ended in 2005.

Last week’s events have resulted in a huge increase in displacement as people flee in fear. A UNHCR report on Friday, May 15, shows 105,000 people have left the country, with 70,000 refugees in Tanzania alone.

Oxfam reports that “new arrivals cite fear of violence and intimidation as primary reasons for leaving. Tens of thousands are in urgent need of clean water, adequate sanitation, health care, food and shelter. Without these basic needs being met, the risk of disease spreading among new arrivals is dangerously high.”

The Anglican Church in Burundi is among the Christian Aid partners that are preparing to respond to the needs of people affected by the ongoing situation in Burundi. Christian Aid reports that partners are now assessing the needs on the ground and coordinating their response. They have received funding to work alongside communities to support them to prepare local contingency plans that can be activated in the event of a crisis.

Christian Aid Country Manager for Burundi, James Robinson, said: “The situation is very volatile and things are tense in and around Bujumbura particularly. Many people have been staying indoors, not moving because of the threat of gunfire, wondering what will happen next. People are scared to leave their homes.

“Since the demonstrations began life for many Burundians has been paralyzed, with local trade, transport and public services all affected. As the protests continue, stocks of goods such as petrol, food, medicine and water are becoming scarce. Any further disruption threatens to leave communities both insecure and without essential items. With the high levels of poverty in the country, it’s the poorest who are the least able to cope.”

Before the attempted coup last week, Bishop Eraste Bigirimana of Bujumbura had already asked for prayers as the situation was becoming worse in Bujumbura city. Most of the offices and shops are now closed. Many people have been killed, others seriously injured and admitted to hospital. Five hundred are in jail, thousands have fled the country. “We are now receiving a big number of people, especially children, coming to our home seeking for security and protection,” Bigirimana says.

Mothers’ Union President Mathilde Nkwirikiye also asks for continued prayers, for tolerance and for discernment of God’s will for His people. Nkwirikiye has already taken in several children evacuated from the Rainbow Centre where the foster families are living in the danger zones, with other members doing likewise. The Rainbow Centre is planning a wider response to support vulnerable children during this uncertain period.

Presiding Bishop preaches at baccalaureate Eucharist

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, May 20, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori delivered the following sermon May 19 on the eve of commencement at General Theological Seminary’s Chapel of the Good Shepherd.

General Theological Seminary
Chapel of the Good Shepherd
19 May 2015

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

This community has had a challenging year, n’est-ce pas? I found myself wondering who chose the psalm for this service. It certainly sounds like someone felt duty-bound to have the last word:

“O God of vengeance, show yourself. Rise up, O Judge of the world; give the arrogant their just deserts…

“He who admonishes the nations, will he not punish? He who teaches all the world, has he no knowledge? …

Keep going, friends: “Happy are they whom you instruct, O Lord! …the Lord has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my trust.”[1]

You have not only survived this year, you have grown in ways that would not have been possible without the shock and conflict of this past year. This community has matured in its decision-making, its ability to manage constructive conflict, and its stewardship of the vocation God is asking of us all in this season.

This has been a year of dying and rising. It’s not the first such year and it won’t be the last, though I know many are praying for some respite. Those of you who have been active participants in this year of transformation have received a great blessing, though I know it hasn’t always felt that way. For many of you, it’s probably felt more like David being dragged in from his blessedly free-range life with the sheep. What do you suppose he had to say when Samuel summoned him? “Oh no, not me, leave me alone, I didn’t ask for this.”

Years ago I saw the joy of a free-range shepherd in the mountains of northern Nevada, carved on tree after tree after tree along the paths his sheep wandered: “Antonio Hidalgo, peruano, borreguero, con muchos cojones y poco dinero.”[2] David had to let go of that kind of free and open life on the range when Samuel laid hands on him. David wasn’t wholly successful in that endeavor… though he did eventually listen when Nathan came alongside and laid a hand on his shoulder.

God had told Samuel to search for the heart of a leader, not a matinee idol. David just happened to be handsome as well – though in the long run his good looks seem to have abetted his boundary issues. What the world values isn’t always what God finds most useful, but God will work with anyone and anybody.

God seems to be asking all of us to get over some of our boundary issues and to let go of some of the church’s hereditary ways. We can’t go on choosing leaders “the way we’ve always done it.” We need to be looking for leaders’ hearts – people who are courageous and maybe even a bit reckless, not risk-averse. God will work with the reckless, if they’re willing to die a little. But there isn’t much hope for growth toward the Reign of God if someone is constitutionally opposed to changing direction or meeting a different neighbor.

We live in a season when the call is about crossing old and favored bounds, when we need to leave our hermetic sanctuaries, and go looking for wandering sheep out there. There are some in here, too, and the Mennonites have helped retrieve a few.

Episcopalians will always treasure what we have loved about tradition and ancient ways, but the Good Shepherd is leading us out into the deserts and byways and cities to discover where the Spirit is working new creation. Jesus sent the 70 out to the same kinds of profane territory – and remember that at its root profane means “outside the Temple.” The risen Christ sends his disciples to Galilee in order to find him. Galilee means the district or neighborhood – and it, too, is Gentile and “unholy” territory. We can’t stay here in the safety of sanctuary if we want to discover what new thing the Spirit is up to. Jesus is not necessarily found in all the best homes – but he will certainly be found in the unholy places and the hells on earth. Where did he hang out when he walked the earth? Only very occasionally in the Temple, and far more often with drunks and party animals, tax collectors, foreigners, sailors, women of questionable reputation, the near dead and corpses…and anywhere hope and more abundant life were needed.

Seminaries and seedbeds like this one aren’t meant to be hothouses. This one receives transplants from across many of the different contexts of the Church. Yes, a little TLC is necessary at first, to counter “transplant shock.” But if it goes on too long the plant that results is only fit to grow in the greenhouse – and it’s not going to survive a radical change when it’s time to graduate to another climate. The plants that grow here need exposure to Lutheran weather – both wild and sedate; they need to experience evangelical wildfires, smoky Anglo-Catholic evenings, and the fresh breeze of Common Cathedral on a snowy street.

That’s a piece of what traveling light is all about. Adaptability is of God, and the diversity that results is creation’s reflection of the divine image. We insist that the Godhead is a Trinitarian society – unique persons who are also one. When we insist that God’s servants come in only one image, we become idolators. Welcome diversity and evidence of evolution as holy, even if it means swallowing your tongue or chewing up your fondest theological position. Give thanks that God keeps transforming us all. Give thanks for the remarkable leaders who will receive honorary degrees here tomorrow – and their witness to the creative and courageous spirit of God at work in varied climes and callings!

Travel light and open, and at each stop declare “peace to this house,” whatever sort and condition of human life it contains. Offer that peace, and stay long enough to discern the divine reflection and discover its particular gift. Receive that gift with gratitude, acknowledging its source. Listen and look for the hunger in that house, like a plant growing toward the sun – and offer your own reflection of the Son’s light. Be a healer, tell out the source of that healing, and where to find it, and the commonweal of God will indeed be near at hand.

Travel light, and don’t worry overmuch if you’re not welcomed too well. Let it go and move along unburdened by blame or anger. The simple fact of your visit has planted seeds, even if they don’t germinate for a while. Don’t forget to cover those seeds with some earth or dust or ashes – even manure helps. Move along and find some more good soil.

Travel light. BE travelling light; become light afoot and winging through the world. It moves faster than thought, for its source is there ahead of us.

When Jesus chides and confronts Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum he’s offering new frontiers and opportunities for those who can travel light and are unafraid to enter the wolves’ den. There is life and possibility there as well. You’ve found it here, haven’t you?

Go and risk who you are, and indeed you will find the commonweal of God around, within, and among you. As an alumnus of this place used to say, “get up, get out, and get lost!”[3]

[1] Excerpts from Psalm 94, the whole of which is assigned for Evening Prayer on Tuesday of the week of Easter 7. The alteration to the lectionary involves the other two readings. The gospel is assigned for this year, and 1Samuel for the alternate year.

[2] Antonio Hidalgo, Peruvian shepherd, with plenty of guts but not much money.

[3] Paul Moore, GTS 1949, Bishop of New York 1972-1989

Anglican mission calls for recognition of seafarers’ role in migrant rescue

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, May 20, 2015

[The Mission to Seafarers press release] The International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA), the International Maritime Health Association (IMHA) and the International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) have issued a joint press release calling on EU governments to recognize the key role of seafarers in the rescue of migrants at sea.

They have sent a letter to all heads of governments urgently requesting that more resources are mobilized for search and rescue in the Mediterranean.

The Mission to Seafarers, as one of 28 members of ICMA, fully supports this statement.

The Rev. Canon Ken Peters, Mission to Seafarers’ director of justice and public affairs, said: “All of the focus of public scrutiny and debate is of course about the plight of the poor, exploited migrants – men, women and children who are paying a terrible price for their attempts to get to freedom and safety. They are the tragic victims of war, religious persecution and heart-breaking brutality. This leads them to make such pitiful, desperate deals with criminal gangs who are running people trafficking rackets along the coasts of war torn states, particularly from Libya and more recently from Burma.

“Yet in the background of these crises there are hundreds of merchant seafarers whose moral and legal duty is to intervene in human tragedies at sea and attempt rescues, in the absence of coastguard and naval intervention. Seafarers put lives first. However, this too comes at great risk to their personal safety and indeed to their mental wellbeing.

“The Mission to Seafarers is working with seafarers who have been so traumatized by major incidents of shipping disasters involving great loss of human lives, that they need our help and support with post-traumatic stress counseling. The perilous predicament of seafarers should be emphasized because without them many more lives will be lost.  The world expects so much of seafarers in these rescue operations but don’t give them a thought in terms of the danger that this places them in.

“I make a plea to all governments who are trying to tackle this ever increasing problem humanely, to properly consider the safety and role of merchant seafarers, especially when they are discussing important international policy on migrant safety, human trafficking and slavery at sea.”

Alyson Barnett-Cowan to lead Canadian ecumenical body

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Rev. Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan (right) with her CCC predecessor Lt. Col. Champ. Photo: Bruce Myers

[Anglican Communion News Service] A new chapter of the Rev. Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan’s lifelong ecumenical engagement has begun with her installation as the new president of the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) on May 14.

The current interim secretary general of the Anglican Communion and its former director for Unity, Faith and Order, she was unanimously elected to a three-year term as CCC president by the council’s governing board. She succeeds Lt. Col. Jim Champ of the Salvation Army.

A priest of the Anglican Church of Canada, for which she served several years as ecumenical officer, Barnett-Cowan had previously served a term as one of CCC’s vice presidents. She brings with her a wealth of ecumenical experience, having been engaged with various inter-church dialogues and councils of churches at the local, regional, and international level.

“I am delighted and honored to have been chosen for this important voluntary position. It is wonderful to be able to put the experience I’ve gained working for the ecumenical life of the Anglican Communion to use in the service of the Canadian churches,” Barnett-Cowan said of her appointment.

“The CCC is one of the broadest ecumenical bodies in the world, and has much to offer to the Canadian landscape at this time,” she added.

The Canadian Council of Churches is the largest ecumenical body in Canada, representing 25 churches of Anglican, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Protestant, and Roman Catholic traditions.

Barnett-Cowan will conclude her short-term appointment as the Anglican Communion’s Interim Secretary General in June.

EDS names Thomas Eoyang Jr. as dean of students and community life

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, May 20, 2015

[Episcopal Divinity School press release] Episcopal Divinity School has announced the appointment of the Rev. Thomas Eoyang Jr. (MDiv ’03, DMin ’14) as the school’s dean of students and community life. Eoyang will begin his appointment on June 1, and will reside on the EDS campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“We are thrilled to welcome Thomas Eoyang back to EDS as dean of students and community life,” said the Very Rev. Francis Fornaro, interim president and dean. “As both an EDS alumnus and a pastoral leader, Thomas brings incredible insight and experience to the position. The dean of students and community life is so important in each student’s formation in lay or ordained ministry, and because Thomas has been there, both as an EDS student, as a scholar, and in parish ministry, I know he will be an invaluable asset to this community.”

Eoyang earned both his MDiv and DMin degrees from Episcopal Divinity School. For the last seven years, he has served as rector of Grace Epiphany Church in Philadelphia. Previously he served as interim rector at Trinity Memorial Church in Philadelphia and as assistant to the rector at St. Peter’s Church in Glenside, Pennsylvania. He was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Pennsylvania in 2004.

“I am very excited to return to the school that was so instrumental in my own formation,” said Eoyang. “As dean of students and community life I look forward to working closely with students, faculty, staff, and EDS alumni/ae and friends and help to strengthen and grow this vibrant theological community.”

Prior to his ordination, Eoyang worked in medical and health sciences publishing, most recently as editor-in-chief of nursing books in Philadelphia.

In addition to his EDS degrees, Eoyang holds an MA in comparative literature from Stanford University, and graduated cum laude from Harvard College, where he studied English history and literature.

The press release from Episcopal Divinity School is available here.

Greater love: They had to join

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, May 20, 2015

About three years ago, working through the Episcopal Church in Navajoland, I began meeting with a small group of Navajo military veterans in Arizona and New Mexico. Since then my work has evolved into a number of very positive relationships with a much larger group of Navajo veterans. Many of the older veterans had Vietnam service, while the younger vets had Cold War, Gulf War, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom service. Once in their midst, it is impossible for even the most detached stranger, to overlook the passion the Navajo vets have for their service to our country. I have experienced their unmistakable conviction that military service was both an obligation and an honor.

During my second trip to be with the Navajo veterans, they took me to one of their most esteemed locations: the veterans cemetery where the U.S. Marine Corps World War II veterans known as “Code Talkers” are buried. Most of what I know about the Code Talkers I learned from the 2002 movie “Windtalkers” which dramatized their very significant contributions to the war effort. In 1942, 29 Navajo men were recruited by the Marine Corps to serve as communicators in the Pacific Theater. Their job was to use the “Din-e” (Navajo) language to create a combat communications code that was unbreakable by the Japanese. Their service as communicators has come to be recognized as having been one of the important turning points in the Pacific for U.S. forces.

With this in mind, I had the idea that I would be seeing a carefully cared for national monument and cemetery. You know the type. So often on Memorial Day we see and hear tributes to the sacrifices of veterans against the background of Arlington National Cemetery. At all times Arlington is stunning with its rows uniform white grave markers and deep green manicured grass. I served on active duty for nearly 30 years and have seen my share of veteran’s cemeteries. Hence, I thought I knew what to expect. Did I ever get a shock when I arrived at the Navajo Veterans Cemetery!

Coming over a hill near Fort Defiance, Arizona, my first sight was an almost barren hill dominated by numerous American flags. The closer we got, the more I realized that not only were the flags of unequal size and quality, but also that many were significantly worn, and some even tattered. Then I saw the white grave markers, perhaps the only thing in common with an Arlington-like cemetery. Hardly any of them were aligned in rows. There was no grass covering the ground. Most of the ground surface was barren sand or dirt, with a smattering of gravel upon some of the graves. I was speechless. When we got to the area of the cemetery where the code talkers were buried, I found the condition of the graves to be only slightly better.

Though I could go into much greater detail about the condition of this veterans cemetery, I think you get the point. Is this any way for us to recognize the sacrifices of military members who risked their lives in service to their country? In a 2012 interview the late Code Talker Chester Nez, speaking about why he became a Marine, said, “I had no choice. The Japanese had attacked my country. I had to join the Marines and be a warrior.” As a country we have an obligation to honor such a depth of commitment.

Above all else I am a person of faith who belongs to a community of faith. As such, I believe that we have no choice but to honor such sacrificial service. A central theological axiom by means of which I attempt to live is to acknowledge that because God blesses us, and God does just that, we ought to use every opportunity to bless others by demonstrating our thanks to those who serve us. With the Navajo Code Talkers, though we may have said thanks to them and their survivors, we are far from any demonstration that our thanks is genuine.

As people of God we are the divine agents of the one who created and sustains us. This Memorial Day as we recognize the lasting contributions of others such as the Navajo Code Talkers, I encourage you to find ways to not only give thanks with your lips but also to demonstrate your thanks from the heart of your being. I know for a fact that the Navajo veterans are waiting to see how we will demonstrate our thanks and appreciation for their ancestors and for them. Do something!

— The Rt. Rev. James Magness is bishop suffragan for Federal Ministries of The Episcopal Church.

Eckstrom named communications officer of Washington National Cathedral

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, May 19, 2015

[Washington National Cathedral press release] Washington National Cathedral has announced that it has appointed Kevin Eckstrom as its new chief communications officer. Eckstrom will oversee all aspects of the cathedral’s public profile including the award-winning Cathedral Age magazine. He will also help find ways to introduce the cathedral’s mission and programming to new audiences. Eckstrom joins Washington National Cathedral from Religion News Service, where he currently serves as editor-in-chief. Eckstrom will start in his new role at the cathedral on Monday, June 1.

“Kevin brings a unique and vibrant vision and unparalleled experience to his new role,” said the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral. “His work over the last 15 years covering the world of religion from every perspective will be a great asset to the cathedral. I am thrilled to welcome Kevin onto the cathedral staff. I look forward to working with him on continuing our work to further interfaith cooperation and on being a witness in the American moral conversation.”

A committed Episcopalian and member of Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Bethesda, Maryland, Eckstrom comes to the cathedral from Religion News Service (RNS) where he has served as the editor-in-chief since 2006. During his tenure, RNS has been named Best Wire Service by the Associated Church Press for six of the past nine years. Eckstrom is also currently a news consultant for PBS’ Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly and a regular analyst for Interfaith Voices, which airs on public radio stations nationwide.

“For the past 15 years, I’ve tried to foster greater religious literacy in an increasingly pluralistic world. Now, I’m hoping to expand that work into the other important facet of good citizenship: religious civility,” said Eckstrom. “Washington National Cathedral is a unique institution in American life, an Episcopal cathedral in its religious practice and a house of prayer for all people in its outlook. I’m excited to join a team committed to creating a safe space for vitally important conversations about faith, citizenship and our common good.”

Eckstrom received 15 national awards for his reporting while serving as a national correspondent and associate editor at RNS between 2000-2006. He served as the president of the Religion Newswriters Association from 2007-2009.

Prior to joining RNS, Eckstrom worked as a general assignment reporter and then as the religion editor at the Stuart/Port St. Lucie News in Florida. He holds an M.S. from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and a B.A. in political communication from George Washington University.

EPPN: Support the Green Climate Fund

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, May 19, 2015

[Episcopal Public Policy Network Action Alert] The drastic impacts of climate change are evident across the globe. Coastal erosion, tremendous hurricanes, severe heat waves, and prolonged droughts often most harshly impact our vulnerable communities: the poor, the homeless, the elderly, and the young. Addressing climate change is a moral challenge of our generation.

Fortunately, the international community has launched a Green Climate Fund (GCF) that will help vulnerable countries to reduce their carbon emissions and to adapt to the devastating impacts of climate change. This initiative relies on the cooperation and financial backing of participating states, and the U.S. has a particularly critical role to play in funding this effort. For Fiscal Year 2016, President Obama has requested $500 million from U.S. Congress to help establish the GCF.

Episcopal Church policy urges the President and Congress to provide financial support and leadership for developing nations to control their emissions of greenhouse gases in order to reduce their vulnerability to climate change. Please call on your members of Congress today and ask them to fully fund the President’s request!

Go here to TAKE ACTION to voice your support for the Green Climate Fund!

Western Massachusetts bishop to make pilgrimage on foot

ENS Headlines - Monday, May 18, 2015

[Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts] Bishop Douglas Fisher, IX bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, is walking 50 miles through the Berkshires in four days – May 24-27, 2015.  This is his third walk through the diocese.  Bishop Fisher walked the Worcester corridor last October and the Pioneer Valley this past March.  When he reaches the finish line in Sheffield, MA, Bishop Fisher will have walked 170 miles of the sacred ground God has entrusted to his care.

In ancient days bishops walked their territories – staff in hand – as a visible sign of the universal Church embodied in its leader.  The Bishop continues to be that witness of presence and the bridge between local congregations and the larger Church.  Although Bishop Fisher has visited each of the 60 congregations at least once in the past two years, he is setting out on foot to:

  • LISTEN to the experiences and hopes of the people he meets
  • TALK about the Gospel informally
  • PRAY with people where they are – beyond church walls
  • BLESS all who serve the poor, the imprisoned, the sick, the homeless and all who seek his prayers

This pilgrimage will be supported by staff and Episcopal contacts throughout the Berkshire corridor.  Bishop Fisher will walk with members of local congregations who wish to join him along the way but he will walk much of this journey alone.  It is a contemplative endeavor as well as an opportunity for ministry.  His journey will begin and end in Episcopal churches, but all the stops in between reflect his desire to meet people where they are – especially those engaged in the mission of the Gospel.  Visit the pilgrimage page for more information. A highlighted itinerary is available here and local press is welcome to cover Bishop Fisher’s public stops.  Arrival times are flexible as his time each day may vary.  Please contact Victoria Ix to determine his ETA at a particular stop.

Dallas diocese elects George Sumner as next bishop

ENS Headlines - Monday, May 18, 2015

[Episcopal Diocese of Dallas] The Rev. Canon George Sumner was elected May 16 to serve as the next bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas, pending the required consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and standing committees of The Episcopal Church.

Sumner, 60, is currently the principal of Wycliffe College in Toronto, Canada, and was one of four nominees on the ballot for the diocese’s 7th bishop. He received 77 votes from clergy and 107 votes from laity on the fourth ballot during a special convention held at the Episcopal School of Dallas. In order to be elected, a candidate needed to receive a simple majority of votes within both the clergy order and the lay order on the same ballot.

“I am humbled and grateful to God for my election,” Sumner said. “It will be a great privilege to share in the ministry Christ has given us all together in the Diocese of Dallas. I would like to express my appreciation for my fellow candidates and the remarkable transition team. I ask for your prayers and help in the days to come.”

If Sumner receives the majority of consents from the bishops and standing committees of the dioceses in The Episcopal Church, he will be consecrated as bishop on Nov. 14.

Bishop Suffragan Paul E. Lambert has been serving as bishop pro-tem since the Rt. Rev. James Stanton retired May 2014 after serving for 21 years as bishop of Dallas.

Lambert said he is happily anticipating a renewed excitement and energy that a new bishop will bring to the diocese.

“I look forward to working with Bishop-elect Sumner as we move into our next period of transition, the consent process,” Lambert said. “The future of the diocese looks bright and is in good hands.”

The other nominees were the Rev. Mike Michie, the Rev. David Read and the Rev. Leigh Spruill.

Sumner has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard College, a Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School and a Ph.D. in theology from Yale University. He is married to Stephanie and has two children.

Elizabeth G. Maxwell installed as rector of The Church of the Ascension, New York

ENS Headlines - Friday, May 15, 2015

The Rev. Elizabeth G. Maxwell was installed on May13 as the 12th rector of The Church of the Ascension in New York City by the Rt. Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.

On Wednesday, May 13, 2015, The Rev. Elizabeth G. Maxwell was installed as the 12th Rector of The Church of the Ascension in New York City. She is the first woman Rector since the Manhattan church was founded in 1827. The first church was on Canal Street, but was destroyed by fire. The present site at Fifth Avenue and 10th Street was chosen for a new church designed by Richard Upjohn and consecrated on November 5, 1841.

Mother Liz has lived and worked in Manhattan for 25 years, first as Associate Rector of the Church of the Holy Apostles in Chelsea, including Program Director of the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, and then as Interim Pastor of St. Michael’s Church on the Upper West Side. She is a graduate of Duke University and Princeton Theological Seminary, and was ordained in the Diocese of Newark in 1983, serving there before coming to the Diocese of New York.

The sanctuary was filled as hundreds gathered in the church for her installation by The Rt. Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. The spirited procession included the vestry, search committee, church staff, clergy friends and colleagues, and the Ascension choir.

During the “induction” section of the service representatives of the congregation and the clergy of the diocese presented Mother Liz with gifts as symbols of Ascension’s ministries including: a Bible from the Sunday School, a vessel of baptismal water from the Bishop, a clerical stole from the acolytes and lectors, pantry food and tutoring books from Ascension Outreach, a book of prayer for spiritual formation, olive oil for healing, a hymnal companion from the choir, a pineapple as a sign of our “juicy” hospitality and fellowship, blueprints for stewardship of our historic buildings, the canons for ministry in the wider church, a book of sacred poetry for interfaith worship, a Canterbury T-shirt for ministry with the higher educational institutions that surround the church, a statue of St. Fiacre for the care of our gardens, bread and wine from the Altar Guild, a tray and cups symbolizing the church’s water table during the Gay Pride march every June, and a key to the “the church of the open door.” Following the Induction Mother Liz was welcomed as the new Rector and was greeted with thunderous and lengthy applause, after which she thanked everyone. She then introduced her family and extended family, offering special thanks to her daughter Mihret Lucy and their dog Finn.

The sermon was delivered by The Rev. Elizabeth A. Sherman, Rector, St. Francis’ Church, San Francisco and the Gospeller was The Rev. Edwin Chinery, Assisting Priest at Ascension. Jubilant and beautiful music was provided by Dr. Dennis Keene, organist and choir master, conducting the Ascension choir. The service was followed by an exuberant and festive reception in the Parish Hall.

As the first church to be built on Fifth Avenue, Ascension has long held an important and notable role in Lower Manhattan; parishioners have included many prominent New Yorkers who exhibited remarkable social concern early in the church. The church’s history as a leader in progressive causes included establishing the first day nursery for babies and young children of working mothers and several missions and chapels. The parish continues this tradition today offering a neighborhood food pantry, tutoring program, hosting support groups in the church facilities and sponsoring arts and cultural programs. The church is also known for its architectural, artistic and musical heritage, including the painting of “The Ascension of Our Lord” above the main altar by John La Farge (1835-1910). With the addition of The Manton Memorial Organ in 2011 the parish has one of the premier organs in the world and hosts concerts and an annual organ academy.

Michael Battle appointed GTS professor, director of Tutu Center

ENS Headlines - Friday, May 15, 2015

[General Theological Seminary press release] The General Theological Seminary has announced that the Very Rev. Michael Battle, Ph.D., has been appointed as the Herbert Thompson Professor of Church and Society. He will also assume the position of Director of The Desmond Tutu Center. As its new Director, Battle holds a unique connection to The Desmond Tutu Center, having lived in residence with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa for two years (1993-1994) and being ordained a priest in South Africa by Archbishop Tutu in 1993. He also presented the 2008 Paddock Lectures in the Tutu Center at General Seminary on the concept of Ubuntu, an African concept central to Archbishop Tutu’s worldview.

Battle served most recently as Interim Dean of Students and Community Life at the Episcopal Divinity School. He has served as Vicar or Rector at: St. Titus Episcopal Church, Durham, North Carolina; Church of Our Saviour, San Gabriel, California; and St. Ambrose Episcopal Church, Raleigh, North Carolina. He also served as the interim rector or as an associate priest with other churches in North Carolina and in Cape Town, South Africa. As part of some of his placements, he worked at churches located in ethnically changing neighborhoods to help them adapt and grow. Battle also has served as Provost and Canon Theologian for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. In 2010, he was given one of the highest Anglican Church distinctions as “Six Preacher,” by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. A distinction that goes back to 16th century England and Thomas Cranmer and is only given to a few who demonstrate great dedication to the Church.

Battle received his undergraduate degree from Duke University, and holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary and an S.T.M. from Yale University. He received his Ph.D. in Theology and Ethics also from Duke University. His academic experience includes service as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Vice President and Associate Professor of Theology at Virginia Theological Seminary; Associate Professor of Spirituality and Black Church Studies at Duke University’s Divinity School; and Assistant Professor of Spiritual and Moral Theology in the School of Theology at the University of the South. He has published nine books, including Reconciliation: the Ubuntu Theology of Desmond Tutu and the book for The Episcopal Church’s General Convention, Ubuntu: I in You and You in Me.

As part of his many roles in the Church, Battle has served as chaplain to: Archbishop Tutu, Congressman John Lewis, the House of Bishops, and, in 2008, he was chaplain to the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops. He is a featured keynote speaker and has led numerous clergy and lay retreats, including the bishops’ retreat of the Province of the West Indies. In addition, Battle has served as vice president to the Institute for Nonviolence.

Battle has kept close ties with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and has written about his studies and friendship with the archbishop in his books. Battle and his wife, Raquel, were married by Archbishop Tutu, and their two daughters, Sage and Bliss, and son, Zion, were all baptized by him as well.

The Rev. Dr. Robert J. Owens, Professor of Old Testament, says Battle “will bring to General Seminary an impressive combination of theological scholarship, pastoral ministry, international and cross-cultural service in the Anglican communion, as well as his striking success as a teacher in some of the Episcopal Church’s leading seminaries. I think our students will be greatly blessed as they encounter his theological mind, his pastor’s heart, and his hopefulness for the church as a community of justice.”

Battle will begin his new position at General Seminary in fall 2015 and will teach Ethics and will lead the Graduate Anglican Seminar, as well as  intensive courses that will be offered, for credit or audit, through The Desmond Tutu Center.

Cynthia Moe-Lobeda is new ethics professor

ENS Headlines - Friday, May 15, 2015

Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, a well-known Lutheran ethicist, has accepted a joint appointment as professor of Christian ethics at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and Church Divinity School of the Pacific.

Moe-Lobeda has taught at Seattle University since 2004 and is co-author of the forthcoming book, “The Bible and Ethics in the Christian Life: A New Conversation.” Her other books include “Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation” and “Public Church: For the Life of the World.”

“Cynthia Moe-Lobeda is a widely recognized expert on the ethical dimensions of globalization, the environmental crisis and the impact of race, class and gender on moral decision-making,” said the Very Rev. W. Mark Richardson, dean and president of CDSP. “She will make an important contribution not only to the formation of our students at CDSP, but also to seminarians from Hong Kong and elsewhere in Asia and the Pacific who study with us here in Berkeley.”

“We are very pleased that Dr. Moe-Lobeda has chosen to cast her lot with the community at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary,” said Rev. Brian Stein-Webber, interim chief administration Officer at PLTS. “Her books are already an important part of our curriculum, and to have her wisdom and insight and care being delivered in person is as much as we could hope for! We pray for her and her husband Ron’s transitions in the coming months.”

Moe-Lobeda is well known in ecclesial, faith-based organizing and theological education circles. She received her Ph.D. in Christian Ethics from Union Theological Seminary in New York where she wrote her dissertation, on “…economic globalization and Luther’s Indwelling God as source of subversive moral agency.”

Moe Lobeda had previously received an M.T.S. from Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C., and an M.S.W. from the School of Social Work at the University of Washington, Seattle. She did her undergraduate work at St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota. She will assume the responsibilities of this PLTS/CDSP joint appointment in the fall semester.

“We’re delighted to welcome Dr. Moe-Lobeda,” said Alicia Vargas, interim dean at PLTS. “She will bring distinction, prophetic spark, and dedicated and world-engaged scholarship and teaching to PLTS. With this, Moe-Lobeda will contribute to the tradition of excellence and Lutheran strength of our seminary within the richness of the GTU.”

Churches coordinate relief efforts in South Sudan’s protracted conflict

ENS Headlines - Friday, May 15, 2015

Food supplies distributed by SUDRA include maize, beans, cooking oil, salt and other essentials. Photo: SUDRA

[Episcopal News Service] As the violent conflict in South Sudan continues into its 17th month, the Episcopal Church in the war-ravaged country and its global partners remain steadfast in their commitment to providing immediate relief to the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people and to the ultimate goal of peace and reconciliation.

“Amid conflict and tribulation, God cannot forget his people regardless of their disobedience,” the Rev. Joseph El-hag Abe Natana, general manager of the Sudanese Development and Relief Agency (SUDRA), told Episcopal News Service as the United Nations reported that more than 300,000 people are without “life-saving” aid in Unity State, along the border between Sudan and South Sudan, after heavy fighting has forced international aid agencies to withdraw.

“God always raises expectations with a message of hope that he will deliver his people. Hence, the humanitarian response, prayers and lobbying by many nations and people for peace, both regionally and internationally, is seen as God’s care, support and intervention,” said Natana, a priest of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan.

South Sudan became the world’s newest nation in July 2011, when it seceded from the north in a referendum on independence following almost half a century of civil war.

But a separate conflict erupted in December 2013 after South Sudan President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup.

While the conflict began from a political dispute within the ruling party, it quickly morphed into tribal warfare between the Dinka, allied primarily with Kiir, and the Nuer with Machar, now a rebel leader.

Despite several attempts at brokering peace between the two leaders, fighting has continued, and more than 1.5 million people remain internally displaced and in desperate need of humanitarian aid.

SUDRA helps to coordinate food rations for the internally displaced. Photo: SUDRA

In response to the current crisis, Anglican agencies and affiliated groups are supporting SUDRA, the relief and development arm of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan & Sudan, in providing emergency food to help internally displaced people throughout the south, particularly vulnerable children, women and the elderly. Food supplies include maize, beans, cooking oil, salt and other essentials.

The Anglican Alliance – which connects and strengthens the development, relief and advocacy activities of churches, agencies and networks of the Anglican Communion – recognizes SUDRA as the lead agency and primary partner for the church’s coordinated response to the conflict in South Sudan.

Episcopal Relief & Development is one of SUDRA’s long-standing partners, and continues to support its work in addressing the growing humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, especially in reviewing emergency assessments, planning program activities, preparing reports as well as conducting audits and evaluations.

Nagulan Nesiah, senior program officer for disaster response and risk reduction for Episcopal Relief & Development, said that the Anglican Alliance’s efforts in mobilizing all Anglican partners to support a coordinated process “has improved disaster response efforts by providing a way to consolidate funds donated by various partners to support a comprehensive strategy.”

Episcopal Relief & Development continues to work with SUDRA on strengthening disaster risk preparedness and response. It was among 12 Anglican agencies that together developed the “Pastors and Disasters” toolkit, a resource designed to improve disaster response efforts within the Anglican relief and development community.

“The situation in South Sudan continues to intensify,” said Nesiah. “Episcopal Relief & Development is grateful for the partnership with SUDRA and the Anglican Alliance as it continues to support the church’s ministry to care for underserved communities and people impacted by the ongoing crisis.”

Natana identified SUDRA’s priorities as providing emergency relief food, prayer and counseling, peace building and rehabilitation, and psychosocial support programs to the tens of thousands of internally displaced people. “These people are destitute and vulnerable, they need humanitarian assistance,” especially the children, women and the elderly, he said.

He praised the support and coordinating work of the Anglican Alliance that “has enabled SUDRA to be more effective in providing relief and support to internally displaced people throughout South Sudan.

“Global partnership is paramount because the crisis has not ended,” he said. “More fighting and displacement continues that demands relief delivery, peace building, lobbying and advocacy for a peaceful South Sudan.”

The U.S.-based Episcopal Church has long-standing partnerships with the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan, through companion diocese relationships, Episcopal Relief & Development programs, the advocacy work of the Office of Government Relations, and the support and solidarity of the Office of Global Relations.

Current companion relationships include Albany (New York) with the Province of Sudan; Bethlehem (Pennsylvania) with Kajo Keji; Chicago with Renk; Indianapolis with Bor; Missouri with Lui; Rhode Island with Ezo; Southwestern Virginia with the Province of Sudan; and Virginia with the Province of Sudan.

Partnerships also exist through various networks such as the American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and Hope With South Sudan.

“As brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, we remain committed to supporting the people of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan as they work to deliver relief to the suffering South Sudanese, while at the same time working for peace with justice,” said the Rev. Ranjit K. Mathews, officer for global relations and networking for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. “There are a number of strong diocesan relationships between The Episcopal Church and the ECSSS and they will continue to be a place where information is shared, and more importantly where prayer and solidarity is offered.”

AFRECS is providing emergency relief to several Sudanese bishops whose displacement from their dioceses has resulted in their relocation, both within South Sudan and to neighboring countries, “leaving them with virtually no resources with which to support themselves and their families or to extend pastoral care to their dispersed congregations and clergy,” Richard Parkins, executive director of AFRECS, told ENS.

While the security situation in Juba, the nation’s capital, is relatively stable, border regions such as the oil-rich Upper Nile and Kadugli are heavily impacted by conflict, as well as the destabilizing efforts of the Khartoum government in the north.

AFRECS has been helping to fund the work of Bishop Andudu Elnail as he recruits and trains pastors in the Diocese of Kadugli “where the people of the Nuba Mountains continue to live in fear because of Khartoum’s ongoing assault on the Nuba people,” Parkins said.

A pilot project of peace building in Bor (Upper Nile), a region that has experienced some of the most painful suffering resulting from intertribal conflict, will begin in late May. The project is a collaboration between the Anglican Alliance, U.K. and U.S. church partners and the Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Commission of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan.

AFRECS, along with other U.S. partners, also is helping to support peace and reconciliation initiatives in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, home to thousands of refugees who have the same tribal identities of those who fight each other in South Sudan, Parkins explained. “These efforts are designed to test the means of bringing warring factions together with the hope that reconciliation formed in the camp will provide a model for what might be accomplished in South Sudan when peace initiatives can be realistically carried out,” he said.

The South Sudan Council of Churches, an ecumenical movement that brings together the country’s various Christian denominations, has pressed for a place at the negotiating table but found its pleas for a ceasefire and an end to the suffering largely ignored, Parkins explained. Meanwhile, AFRECS and other partners in the United States and the United Kingdom “continue to encourage peacemaking efforts as a means of bringing hope to a war-weary nation where thousands are suffering and held hostage to the intransigence of the government leaders and their rebel adversaries.”

One consequence of a decades-long civil war between the north and south followed by an internal conflict fueled by political differences “has been the emergence of a culture of violence that is not tied to the tribal/ethnic war that has occupied so many parts of South Sudan, but which results in violent expressions of revenge and retaliation among other tribes and subtribes,” he added. “This proliferation of violence could seriously frustrate future peacemaking efforts. This situation also makes the end of fighting all the more urgent.”

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

HOD State of the Church Committee issues statement, offers bulletin insert

ENS Headlines - Thursday, May 14, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Episcopal Church House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church has issued a statement following the conclusion of its work for the triennium:

The House of Deputies State of the Church Committee (SOTC) has concluded its work for the triennium. The report, submitted as part of the Blue Book, is available here.

The charge of the House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church, the oldest committee of the Church, is to prepare a report for the House of Deputies that shows an accurate picture of The Episcopal  Church and to approve the form of the Annual Parochial Report. Its mandate states: “CANON I.6.5(b) A Committee of the House of Deputies shall be appointed following the close of each General Convention, to serve ad interim, and to prepare and present to the next meeting of the House of Deputies a report on the State of the Church; which report, when agreed to by the said House, shall be sent to the House of Bishops.”

The Committee on the State of the Church has partnered with Forward Movement , working together to offer an overview, or “snapshot,” of the 38- page report.  This summary report is available as a PDF document in two formats — as an 8 1/2 x 11 full sheet here or as a half-sheet suitable for use as a bulletin insert, available at no fee here. Congregations are encouraged to print and distribute this information so that Episcopalians across the church will gain an awareness of the state of our Church.


Peter David Eaton consecrated bishop coadjutor of Southeast Florida

ENS Headlines - Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Rt. Rev. Peter David Eaton was ordained and consecrated bishop coadjutor in the Diocese of Southeast Florida on May 9. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori served as chief consecrator. Photo: Barbara Lawless/Diocese of Southeast Florida

[Diocese of Southeast Florida] Peter David Eaton was ordained and consecrated bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Southeast Florida on May 9 in a service held at Trinity Cathedral in Miami, Florida.

Eaton will be the fourth bishop of the Southeast Florida, succeeding the Rt. Rev. Leopold Frade, who will retire in January 2016 after 16 years of service to the diocese.

Over 1,200 people witnessed the service in person at the cathedral and via live stream video from a nearby hotel. Bishops from all over the country and the world attended the service. A historic occasion, this was the first time four bishops from churches in full communion with The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion participated in a service and together were co-consecrators of an Episcopal bishop. The Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht in Europe, the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar in India, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Moravian Church in North America were all participants.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori led the service as chief consecrator and the Rt. Rev. Stephen Conway, the bishop of Ely, and one of Eaton’s classmates at Cambridge University, preached. The ecumenical representation from Christian churches from around the world made this consecration a significant event within The Episcopal Church. Frade recognized the significance of their presence as they greeted the crowd. A representative of the Armenian patriarch of Jerusalem and the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople processed along with other leaders of the church. “We have come here from the holy city of Jerusalem to participate in this holy day and our happiness increases greatly to see the day when Peter has been made a bishop,” said the representative of theArmenian patriarch.

Other interfaith and ecumenical representatives were the Roman Catholic bishop of Palm Beach, the archbishop of Miami, and the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem.

At the end of the service, guests cheered the consecration choir for their joyful, melodic voices, which brought most to their feet. The group included choristers from parishes around the Diocese of Southeast Florida. The music for the day, which included traditional songs in Spanish, French and English, also included special arrangements by several organists and the choir’s conductor, Matthew Steynor.

The Rt. Rev. Peter David Eaton will be enthroned on Jan. 30 at Trinity Cathedral in Miami.

— Altoria White is director of communications for the Diocese of Southeast Florida.