[Episcopal Diocese of Texas] Thousands of Episcopalians across the United States gathered in homes, restaurants and churches last Thursday, May 15, to share a meal and share stories of their faith. In the third year of Sharing Faith Dinners, the Dioceses of West Texas, Fort Worth, Northwest Texas, North Carolina and a few individual churches across the country and even Canada joined the Diocese of Texas for the annual event.
Sharing Faith began in 2012, fashioned after Houston Interfaith Ministries’ Amazing Faith Dinners, where people of different faiths gather for a simple meal and to answer questions about their faith experiences. The Diocese of West Texas joined in 2013 and the idea continues to spread.
“It’s funny that we have to plan an evening to talk to friends about our faith, but each time I’ve done Sharing Faith, it’s been a gift,” said Carol Barnwell, director of communications for the Diocese of Texas. “To enjoy the hospitality of people I may not know is always lovely. And to hear the very personal experiences of God from others is a humbling experience. Each time, I feel like I’ve received a gift and each story allows me to see God in a new way.”
The evening is designed to promote listening. A moderator provides guidance for the group, allowing each person to speak without interruption or crosstalk. Every year, participants share stories of great joy and pain, moments when they questioned their faith, and moments when they were affirmed in their beliefs. Friends often share tears and laughter as they learn about each other in a new, deeper way.
At an event in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood, parishioners of St. Stephen’s and St. James’ Episcopal churches gathered at the home of Carvel Glenn and Randall Lamb. A dozen participants shared jambalaya around a table and then chose cards that prompted each person with a question.
“It was a night of sharing heartfelt stories and everybody was feeling safe enough to feel vulnerable,” Lamb said in his distinctive southern drawl. “It’s like one of our dogs, Aretha. She loves to have her belly scratched, and she will flop on the ground to expose her belly to be scratched. I guess everyone was just sort of flopping and having their belly scratched.”
Stephanie Davidson, a member of St. Stephen’s, attended her first Sharing Faith Dinner at the home of Lamb and Glenn. “I learned something from every single person there,” she said. “Normally I’m the kind of person that would interject, but the format really allowed me to listen and learn. I really felt God’s presence among us.”
In North Carolina, organizers designed their own question cards and named the event “Go Speak! Sharing Your Faith” in order to coincide with a wider diocesan theme. On the night of the gatherings, tornado and flood watches were in effect for much of North Carolina, but it didn’t seem to hinder participation. More than 40 percent of churches in the Diocese of North Carolina joined the event.
North Carolina’s communications coordinator, Summerlee Walter, said the feedback has been extremely positive, especially among smaller churches. “We have a lot of very small, rural churches,” she said. “A large percentage of those churches participated. It was really nice to have a diocesan event that didn’t require travel and allowed those smaller parishes to feel they were a part of the wider diocese.”
In a video posted by the Diocese of North Carolina, participants talk about their experience immediately following their dinners. One participant, Reid Joyner, admitted he had little experience describing his faith, but the environment helped him share. “The questions were really helpful for this Episcopalian that doesn’t find it particularly easy to talk about his faith,” he said. “But telling my story was easy, and I was glad to do it.”
In homes and churches, and other creative places, Episcopalians learned a great deal about each other as well as themselves through the simple act of sharing a meal and sharing their faith.
[Anglican Communion News Service] Mothers’ Union leaders from around the world are this week meeting in Zimbabwe to learn how Anglicans there use the Community and Church Mobilisation Process (CCMP) to positively transform themselves and their communities.
The team of thirteen drawn from various countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa began the tour of the Diocese Harare on Sunday, May 18. It will end on May 23.
Juliet Ross, a Trustee and Coordinator for the Action and Outreach Unit Committee in the Mothers’ Union talked to ACNS soon after a tour of some of major CCMP sites in Harare.
She said: “I have heard so many moving stories about the Mothers’ Union and CCMP from Zimbabwe.
“It’s so dramatic what the program has done for the people here, and it seems the impact keeps growing from nothing to enormous. It’s so inspiring to see how the people are open, caring and willing to share information and success stories with others,” she added.
Lizzie Zimunya, the Mothers’ Union Community Development Coordinator in Harare Diocese, has been instrumental in the success of the diocese’s CCMP program.
She told ACNS: “This visit encourages us in Zimbabwe and helps us celebrate our successes. It also motivates many others willing to start the process in their own churches. This is also an indication that this programmis not only for Harare Diocese, because others are also willing to implement it.
Other members of the Mothers’ Union team include the Worldwide Coordinators Programme Officer Robert Dawes, the Head of Action and Outreach Worldwide Nicola Lawrence, and the Worldwide Regional Development Officer, Hannah Taylor.
The Community and Individuals Fundraising Officer, Naomi Mardon is also part of the team, as is the representative from the Mothers’ Union Literacy and Financial Education Program in South Sudan, Anne Gardner.
The team began by visiting three main sites within the city of Harare that are practicing CCMP including an old railway township called Rugare. Others included an old high-density suburb called Mabvuku and the farming town of Glendale on the outskirts of Harare.
CCMP as a community concept is inspired by the belief that poverty is a result of broken relationships between man and God, which can be restored through the word of God. It also challenges communities to build relationships, identify their own problems and to discover how they can use the readily available resources to address them.
It was only November 2012, when Zimbabwe Anglicans were able to reclaim the churches and other properties taken from them by a renegade bishop and his supporters.
“The problem of being in exile for our parish as well as the rest of the diocese made it difficult to bring back God’s flock. The youths were confused and did not understand why they could not worship in their own churches,” explained the Parish Priest of St Christopher’s Anglican Church in Rugare, the Revd Fresh Chamalenga.
“But through CCMP we were able to bring about unity and become one community which cares for one another. Using youth-friendly methodologies such as poetry and drama has made it possible to reach especially the young people in our community,” he said.
From the discussions, which the team had with the local CCMP participants, it was clear that this program has greatly impacted the various communities. Members from Mabvuku community, where St James Anglican Church is found, explained how they are usually faced with the challenge of water shortages, and how quarrels over sharing the little available water were once commonplace.
“CCMP has helped us in the fair distribution of work as well as resources,” said a local parishioner, Charity Matsiwe. “We challenge people in our community to help from as little as they have. We also teach communities how to love and care for each other and let them understand how to best help each other with the little available resources.”
A CCMP Facilitator from St James, Moreblessing Ruhukwa also made it clear that many other human resources such as mechanics, electricians and teachers can be put to good use for the Church.
At a time when many other poorer communities look for outside help to address their local challenges, CCMP is reminding Christians of the many resources that are already available to them like water, soil and human resources and how they can be put to good use within the community.
[Canticle Communications] The Rt. Rev. Sean W. Rowe, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania and bishop provisional of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, released the following statement on Judge John E. Jones III’s ruling that Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional:
“Today is a joyful day for Pennsylvanians who believe as I do that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry in our state. These couples work hard, raise children, volunteer for good causes and pay taxes. Pennsylvania would be poorer without them, and I am pleased that Judge John E. Jones III has moved them one significant step closer to equality under the law.
“The Episcopal Church has struggled faithfully with the issue of same-sex relationships for more than three decades, and in that struggle most of us have come to understand that same-sex couples and their families are blessings to their communities and to their neighbors and friends. Like opposite-sex couples, their love draws them more clearly into fidelity to one another and service to the world. Like opposite sex couples, they are signs and sacraments allowing us to see the boundless love of God more clearly.
“I am aware that faithful Episcopalians in the Dioceses of Bethlehem and Northwestern Pennsylvania disagree with me on this issue. I want to assure them that our dioceses will remain places where people of good conscience can differ charitably and remain united in the hope and healing of Jesus Christ.
“After reflection and consultation, I will write to both dioceses with guidance for clergy who want to officiate at same-sex marriages. For today, I am grateful to live in a state that has taken a step toward justice.”
The Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem comprises 63 congregations in the 14 counties of northeastern Pennsylvania. To learn more, visit www.diobeth.org.
The Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania comprises 33 congregations in the 13 counties of northwestern Pennsylvania. To learn more, visit www.dionwpa.org.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] On October 22, The Episcopal Church will host and produce a groundbreaking forum on an important topic in our society: Civil Discourse in America: Finding Common Ground for the Greater Good.
The 90-minute live webcast will originate from historic Christ Church, Philadelphia (Diocese of Pennsylvania), the birthplace of the Episcopal Church and the home of our country’s beginnings. In partnership with the Diocese of Pennsylvania, Civil Discourse in America will begin at 2 pm Eastern (1 pm Central, noon Mountain, 11 am Pacific, 10 am Alaska, 9 am Hawaii).
“This nation’s life is remarkably polarized in the current season,” commented Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. “We have largely forgotten or ignored the need to value the well-being of others as a significant contributor to our nation’s quality of life. We see the evidence in increasing economic inequality, the decreasing quality of public schools, continuing high levels of unemployment and underemployment, and rabid rhetoric that blames the suffering for their own plight. Some of the current polarization is certainly generated by fear – often stirred up for particular ends – fear of the other, whether of other faith traditions or none, immigrants both documented and not, or those who inhabit different social locations – economic, geographic, or cultural. We have forgotten what it is to know our neighbors as human beings with equal rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
The forum will be moderated by well-known journalist and commentator Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Executive Religion Editor for the Huffington Post. Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori will present the keynote address. Two panel discussions will focus on main themes: Civil discourse and faith; and Civil discourse in politics and policy.
Raushenbush noted, “It is encouraging that The Episcopal Church is focusing on civil discourse in America and is recognizing the crucial role spiritual and moral discipline plays in finding common ground for the greater good. At this time of deep divisions within our country and the world, we can only repair the rifts when we encounter the other with respect and openness. I’m honored to be a part of this discussion and fully expect to leave the event better equipped to be the kind of prophetic peacemaker that each of us is called to be, filled with a spirit of hope that we can move forward together in peace.”
Panelists will be recognized leaders from faith groups, NGOs, the media, academia and government. Viewers will be able to submit questions to the participants during the live webcast.
The forum is ideal for live group watching and discussion, or on-demand viewing later. It will be appropriate for Sunday School, discussion groups, and community gatherings.
The event supports Mark 4 of the Anglican Marks of Mission: To seek to transform unjust structures of society.
“People of faith claim to know something about how to respect the dignity of people created in the image of God,” the Presiding Bishop said. “Our own tradition teaches us to be “repairers of the breach, and restorers of cities fit to live in (Isaiah 58:12).” We will consider both how to learn that wisdom more deeply and how to share it in our communities.”
Resources such as bibliography, on-demand video, materials for community and individual review, discussion questions, and lesson plans will be available.
For more information contact Neva Rae Fox, Public Affairs Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Episcopal News Service] Espíritu sin Fronteras, or Spirit without Borders, began with seven women of Amatepec’s Episcopal Church, San Andrés, informally gathered around a kitchen table learning to make candles from a YouTube video. Two years later, they have grown to ten active members of various ages and dispositions, meeting every day from 2 to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, to share, work on the latest crafts, learn new techniques, and most importantly, to drink coffee. Because, as Rosita explained matter-of-factly, “una reunión sin café no es una reunión” (a meeting without coffee isn’t a meeting).
I first met with the women of Espíritu sin Fronteras with Olivia Amadon, Co-Coordinator of the Global School at Foundation Cristosal, a human rights and community development NGO based here in San Salvador. We went to meet with the cooperative at its store in Amatepec, an urban area on the outskirts of San Salvador, to invite them to participate in an upcoming Global School course on gender equality and women’s empowerment. (The courses are weeklong training and exchange opportunities for North Americans and Salvadorans to come together in El Salvador and engage on specific themes related to human rights).
As I sat in my plastic, wobbly chair listening to Olivia and the cooperative members tell their stories, I remembered how I had first imagined my future life as a Young Adult Service Corps volunteer in El Salvador. I had dreamt of working with women’s groups and empowering the poor… phrases I had stolen from white papers I read as an undergrad, studying development out of a textbook and PowerPoint lectures. Yet it wasn’t until nine months after I began my work with Cristosal that those images became a reality… nine months until I was ready to be in this meeting, truly listening and understanding (in Spanish!) instead of waiting to speak.
Women’s empowerment is one of those catch phrases we hear a lot these days. Cristosal takes a particular point of view, as Olivia explained in the meeting: “There are more ways that women need to empower themselves besides economic. One person cannot empower another. People must empower themselves.” The ten cooperative members vigorously nodded in agreement, and said their biggest obstacle to feeling empowered or confident is timidez (shyness). “We live in a society of men,” Wilma said. There is no precedent to show that women deserve a place in the marketplace, that they have just as much a right as men to sell high-quality goods, to run a store, or to demand a fair and equal wage. None of the women in the cooperative have a fixed job and most lived day-to-day, subsisting on informal, unpredictable incomes.
When I learned about cooperatives and women’s empowerment in Sustainable Development 101, I memorized definitions like “triple bottom line” and “positive externalities.” Yet nothing in those books prepared me for the enthusiasm and pride described in that small room. Despite the apparent cultural and generational differences, each member agrees these daily meetings are the highlight of their week. “Estaba deprimida… I was depressed” Norma said of her years before joining the cooperative. “I was home alone all day and it was really hard to find work. Here, more than anything, we share.” Compartimos, she said. “We share the word of God, we share work, and we share community. This group changed my life.”
When the meeting began, the women showed this same timidez in speaking to Olivia and I, and admitted they were nervous to share this small space with two gringa women. Yet as each woman told her story, the ten cooperative members inched forward in their chairs, their voices got louder, broad smiles matching even broader gesticulations. Roxanna, a young, spunky participant and one of the newest in the group, eagerly told the story of how she first arrived at Espíritu sin Fronteras. “I showed up one day and sat in the corner, watching the women making scarves. I came out of curiosity, and soon someone invited me to learn how to make my own. I was so proud of that first scarf, even though it wasn’t very good, but then I was making hats and jewelry. Now this is my other family.”
When it came time to design the Gobal School course itself, it was clear we needed to focus not only on information exchange and learning, but also on building the women’s experience and confidence as independent entrepreneurs. We had to mesh our goals with theirs, mirroring the cooperative’s objective as a communal space not only to learn new skills in arts and crafts, but also an invitation for each individual to experiment, risk, and share as budding businesswomen. “We don’t come here to earn, we come to learn,” Rosita explained.
After those three hours Olivia and I spent with the cooperative – sitting in a circle watching the conversation bounce around the room like a hyperactive tennis match, sipping coffee from mismatched mugs and cradling warm pan dulce or pastelitos – I remember walking away as if filled with something more than food and drink. It was palpable hope, something often amiss in communities where decades of exclusion, violence, and poverty have the power to squelch it out of even the strongest and most stubborn optimists. It was also a true sense of being useful, of lending my skills as a North American while leaving the space required for others to, as Olivia said, empoderarse (to empower themselves). Norma perhaps said it best: “[This work] makes us happy. We can do something here. We can do anything if we apply ourselves and work hard to make it happen.”
– Hannah Perls is a YASC Volunteer from the Diocese of Olympia. She will be serving a second year in El Salvador with Foundation Cristosal.
[Anglican Taonga] The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has become the first province in the Anglican Communion to pledge to divest from fossil fuels.
The provincial synod May 14 passed a resolution that requires the church “to take all reasonable steps” to divest its shares in fossil fuel companies by its next synod, in mid-2016.
Rod Oram, who moved the proposal, told synod that it “gives us the opportunity to offer leadership on, and to make a practical response to, climate change.
“Thus, it speaks to two marks of our Christian mission: care of creation and righting unjust social structures.
“Of all the ways in which we live unsustainably,” he said, “it is climate change that is causing the gravest harm – right now, here and around the world – to the very ecosystem on which our existence depends.”
And climate change, he said, is being driven “simply by pumping a rapidly rising volume of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases” into the atmosphere.
Oram, who is a journalist specializing in economic issues, said one of the key needs was to “shift the weight of investment away from fossil fuels into sustainable forms of energy” – and that had led to a worldwide campaign to persuade investors to sell their shares in fossil fuel companies.
While the ethical imperatives for divesting are clear, Oram said, there are also a number of practical financial reasons – to do with safeguarding returns for investors – for doing so.
The motion drew impassioned support from Tikanga Pasefika speakers, most notably Bishop Api Qiliho, who said the survival of Pacific Island people was at stake.
There were notes of caution, however, from Mark Wilcox, general manager of the Anglican Pension Board.
He told synod that the pension board manages $160 million of funds on behalf of its members, many of whom are retired or serving clergy.
Wilcox said the board took its ethical investment philosophy seriously, and had wrestled with how to respond “to the growing tide of sentiment around the world for divestment of fossil fuel investments.”
But it also had to take its fiduciary obligations to its members equally seriously.
“Very broadly, if a divestment program risks having a significant financial detriment, we cannot legally divest.”
In other words, if the pension board can’t reinvest the funds into other investments that offer a similarly good return/risk profile, “then we can’t do it.”
Wilcox advised that the board had recently analyzed its portfolio and determined that divestment within two years may not be possible. However, the situation would be monitored on an ongoing basis.
Two of synod’s Tikanga Pasefika members proposed an amendment (carried) which asked synod to set up a group to advise on reinvesting the divested funds into conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity “in regions that are vulnerable to climate change and sea level rise.”
The debate came to an unusual end. Because of one particularly long speech, it had continued well past the afternoon tea break and looked likely to go on a good deal longer.
But the Rev. Michael Wallace called a point of order, asking for the motion to be put to the vote, there and then.
It was – as standing orders require – and was passed.
[Lambeth Palace] The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has said foreign support in tackling Boko Haram should be offered to Nigeria “humbly and respectfully”.
Writing in this week’s Church Times the Archbishop says that defeating Boko Haram, who last month kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls from their school in Chibok, northern Nigeria, will take a combination of local police work, winning the hearts and minds local populations, and “careful spiritual and economic development”.
Archbishop Justin, who has condemned the kidnapping, says: “External intervention is always difficult. In the first place, our history as the colonial power, and the role of the USA in Iraq and Afghanistan, makes both countries (and indeed much of the ‘Christian West’) suspicious for many Muslims.”
Lamenting a crisis that has claimed “many lives”, the Archbishop says help must be offered “humbly and respectfully to a people suffering in a country of great talent and potential.”
“Above all, we are called to identify with the poor and suffering in prayer – and then to act as God calls us to be the answer to the prayer we pray.”
Well-armed and well-funded, Boko Haram’s stated aim is to establish a radical and extremist Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria, which would next be extended to the rest of Nigeria and beyond.
Both Christians and Muslims, and their places of worship, have been attacked, with several Anglican dioceses especially severely affected.
The Anglican Church of Nigeria is “intimately involved” in seeking a solution, through interfaith dialogue and other efforts, says the Archbishop.
Speaking to Radio 4 last Sunday, the Archbishop said even though Boko Haram was a disparate and “irrational” group, the Nigerian authorities should try to negotiate with them.
“[Boko Haram] are very difficult to deal with and utterly merciless. [They] have a very difficult inner core and negotiation there is extremely complicated, though I think you need to try.”
[Lambeth Palace press release] The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Cardinal Vincent Nichols met with delegates from the Peace in the Great Lakes campaign at Lambeth Palace last Thursday.
The campaign brings together Roman Catholic and Anglican leaders from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi and Rwanda to encourage a grass-roots movement for peace in the Great Lakes region, which for decades has been affected by political instability and armed conflicts, porous borders and humanitarian crisis, along with tensions over natural resources.
The initiative, which was formally launched in December 2013, reaches out to those most affected by the conflict and longing for peace, including women and girls who have experienced trauma and sexual violence.
During the meeting, which began with Morning Prayer in Lambeth Palace chapel, the delegation emphasised the need to foster a climate of confidence and cooperation in the region, stressing the importance of governments respecting the international accords and conventions they had signed.
Disarming armed groups was essential, they said, adding that building peace in the region was closely connected with transparent and effective use of natural resources for the common good.
The upcoming global summit on Preventing Sexual Violence, which will include reflection on the role of faith leaders in building peace and security, was also discussed.
One delegate said: “This campaign, which brings together Catholics, Anglicans and other faith leaders, is a very important step and an example on building peace. We need assistance to accompany this process. The process must involve sharing stories, listening to the suffering of others moves people to pity and compassion. The Church seeks a justice which reconciles and builds peace.”
Archbishop Justin commended the campaign’s vision to work for peace and reconciliation, saying he hoped other partners – such as CAFOD and Christian Aid – will continue to lend their support.
“This initiative is inspirational in bringing together different denominations and in working together across the region of the Great Lakes region to build peace,” he added.
Cardinal Vincent said: “It is important we learn more in this country of your work together – to hear of your joint work of reconciliation and the healing of memories and hearts.”
The delegation, which is visiting the UK and Ireland, included: Bishop Augustin Mvunabandi and Bishop Kambanda Antoine from Rwanda: Consolate Baranyizigiye from Burundi; and Bishop Fridolin Besungu Ambongo, Denise Mbuilu Malueki and Father Leonard Santedi from DRC.
[Episcopal Diocese of New York] The Rev. Allen K. Shin was ordained and consecrated as bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of New York on May 19 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
The chief consecrator was Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. Co-consecrating bishops included the 16th Bishop of New York, Andrew M. L. Dietsche, retired bishops of New York Richard F. Grein and Mark S. Sisk, retired suffragan bishop Catherine S. Roskam, Bishop Lawrence C. Provenzano of Long Island, Suffragan Bishop Diane Jardine Bruce of Los Angeles, Bishop Robert A. Rimbo of the Metropolitan New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Bishop Marian Blair Couch of the Northern Province of the Moravian Church. The sermon was preached by retired presiding bishop, the Rt. Rev. Frank T. Griswold III.
Shin most recently served as rector of St. John’s Church, Huntington, Long Island.
[Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina] The Rev. Robert Skirving, rector of St. John’s Church in Midland, Michigan, was elected as the 8th bishop of the Diocese of East Carolina on May 17, pending the required consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and standing committees of the Episcopal Church.
Skirving was elected on the third ballot, receiving 48 of the 70 clergy votes and 97 of the 165 lay votes. Thirty-six clergy votes and 84 lay votes were needed for an election. The first ballot was invalidated due to a procedural error.
The election was held during a reconvened session of the 131st Convention held at Christ Church, New Bern, North Carolina.
Pending consents, the consecration and ordination of the bishop-elect is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Nov. 8, at the Rock Springs Center in Greenville, North Carolina, with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori presiding. Under the canons (III.11.4) of the Episcopal Church, a majority of bishops exercising jurisdiction and diocesan standing committees must consent to the bishop-elect’s ordination as bishop within 120 days of receiving notice of the election.
“Sandy and I are excited that God has called us to East Carolina to journey forward with you,” Skirving said in a phone call broadcast through the nave shortly after his election was announced. “I am grateful for the trust you have placed in me, and I am confident God will give us everything we need to do the work of the church.”
Skirving has been rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church since 2005. He currently serves on the House of Deputies State of the Church Committee and represents the Diocese of Eastern Michigan on the Province V Executive Board. He was a deputy to General Convention in 2012 and has served his diocese as dean and chair of its Commission on Ministry.
Previously, Skirving served as rector of Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church in London, Ontario, Canada. His work in Canada provided him experience working in churches of varying sizes, from small rural to large, program-sized congregations in suburban and urban areas.
He was awarded a BA in Philosophy from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada in 1982. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Huron University College in London, Ontario in 1986. He has completed additional course work towards advanced degrees in religious studies and congregational development at the University of Windsor, University of Notre Dame and Seabury Institute.
He and his wife Sandy have two grown children. He has begun to learn Latin-American Spanish to help in his congregation’s ongoing mission partnership with the Episcopal Church in the Dominican Republic.
The other nominees were:
- The Rev. Mary Cecilia (Mimi) Lacy, rector, St. Timothy’s Church, Greenville, North Carolina;
- The Rev. Canon David Pfaff, canon to the ordinary, Diocese of Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and
- The Rev. Stephen Smith, rector, St. Patrick’s Church, Dublin, Ohio.
The Diocese of East Carolina is composed of nearly 70 parishes in 32 counties and covers the area from I-95 to the coast and from Southport up to Gatesville. The diocese is home to several major military bases, a large Hispanic community, and small congregations.
[Anglican Communion News Service] A new Christian university planned by Anglicans in Burundi aims to promote inter-tribal harmony across the nation through the teaching of the Gospel.
Burundi is one of the five poorest countries in the world with one of the lowest per capita GDPs of any nation in the world. The country has suffered from warfare, corruption and poor access to education.
The country’s Anglican Church is hoping to address some of that by building a new university that will teach students how to think for themselves and to see what God has to say about peace, justice and reconciliation.
In an interview with ACNS, the university’s vice chancellor, the Rev. Canon Donald Werner, said the plan was to provide students with a university-level education and encourage them to bring that learning back to their towns and villages.
“The church needs educated Christians who can communicate the ethical teaching of Jesus Christ,” he said. “We encourage children in education and in the practice of thinking for themselves rather than blindly following a strong personality in whatever they say.”
The Anglican Church is complementing the government’s effort to improve the education sector in a country still suffering from years of civil war. The conflict was the result of long-standing ethnic divisions between the Hutu and the Tutsi tribes in the country.
The university is also a response to a growing desire for education among local people, which has put pressure on existing facilities and, in some cases, has resulted in the shortage of education facilities and study materials.
For many years, the Anglican Church of Burundi has wanted to provide a university-level course in pastoral theology as part of the preparation for lay or ordained ministry in the country.
“The university has the full strong support of all the diocesan bishops and the archbishop of Burundi,” the vice chancellor said. “But we are also asking for prayer and financial support from the wider world.
“While I am keen to see the Church of Burundi owning the venture by giving as much financial support as possible, it would be unrealistic to expect the Church to contribute more than a small fraction of the cost,” said Werner.
To show its commitment to the success of this project, however, the Diocese of Bujumbura has donated the old cathedral building which is in a prime site in the center of the capital city. It will be converted into three lecture rooms, library, offices and a worship area.
“We are starting small, with just a theology faculty, and then we will add other faculties,” said the vice chancellor. “This was the way taken by what is now regarded as the best university in Burundi, that now has thousands of students and many faculties.”
Werner said he was also encouraged by the fact that six lecturers from England have offered to visit the country to teach some units of the university’s syllabus.
The Burundi Christian University (BCU) is scheduled to open in September this year.
[Episcopal News Service] In a preliminary decision, a California court has ordered the return of 27 properties held by a breakaway group to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin and has said that dioceses cannot opt to leave the Episcopal Church.
St. James Cathedral, the former diocesan offices, the Episcopal Camp and Conference Center near Yosemite National Park, the diocesan investment trust and 25 other church properties, valued at about $50 million, are included in the May 5 decision.
In the 41-page opinion in a case brought by the Episcopal Church and its Diocese of San Joaquin, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Donald S. Black also said that “because a diocese is a geographical construct of the Church, it makes no sense that a diocese can ‘leave’ the Church; it does not exist apart from the Church.”
While individuals may exercise their right of freedom of religion to leave and form a new church in another religious denomination, “they cannot tell the Church that it no longer has a diocese in a particular geographical area such as San Joaquin,” Black concluded.
He also noted that church property is held in trust for the mission and ministry of the wider church. A former bishop lacked authority to transfer church property into the “Anglican Diocese Holding Corporation”, an entity created for the express purpose of preventing the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin access to it, according to the decision.
San Joaquin Bishop Provisional David Rice said that while the ultimate result of the litigation “will inform and influence our exploration, our discernment, and yes, our prayers, it will not completely define who we are, nor how we respond missionally.”
Rice, who was elected bishop provisional March 29, 2014, added that: “We are diligently working on deeper understandings of what it means to be welcoming, inclusive and reconciling.
“We are exploring and discerning and praying through the ways in which we are being called to serve in our communities and to join God in what God is already doing in people’s lives. We have much to do as Episcopalians throughout this place called San Joaquin.”
Diocesan chancellor Michael Glass said he believed Black’s decision to be one of the clearest and most comprehensive judicial explanations as to why a diocese cannot leave the Episcopal Church, “which we hope will be helpful to our fellow Episcopalians in the Diocese of Ft. Worth, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, and the Diocese of Quincy.”
“The court said the diocese did not and could not disaffiliate, because the accession of a diocese to the Church may not unilaterally be retracted,” Glass said. “It’s very clear that once you’re a diocese and you’ve acceded to the canons of the church, there’s no going back.”
The decision will become final within the next sixty days or so, depending on whether the defendants will seek to have the trial court modify the decision from its tentative form, he said. Once the decision is finalized, the defendants will have approximately sixty days to file an appeal with the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Fresno.
The Rt. Rev. Eric Menees, bishop of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, in a statement posted on the diocesan website, called for a May 17 meeting to discuss those options.
“Please understand that, should this tentative ruling be formalized into a judgment, we will not have to immediately vacate our properties,” according to the statement. “Under these circumstances there will be time for an orderly departure.
“Even if we were to accept the ruling and choose not to appeal, we believe there would be a window of time to negotiate the timing and manner in which the churches of the Diocese would surrender their property, allowing time for us to make plans for the future.”
Glass said that the Episcopal diocese remains open to discussions with the defendants to address any pastoral concerns in any transitions resolving the property disputes.
The disputes erupted over theological differences when Bishop David Schofield attempted to disaffiliate the diocese from the Episcopal Church in Dec. 2007.
The House of Bishops deposed Schofield March 12, 2008. A month later, he transferred the diocesan property into a holding company he created, according to court documents.
Meanwhile, property disputes involving three incorporated parishes have yet to be resolved. Trials are scheduled in two of the cases, concerning St. Paul’s, Visalia and St. John’s, Porterville, for November 20l4. A third property, St. Columba’s, Fresno, does not yet have a trial date.
Other disputed properties have been returned to the diocese as a result of favorable court rulings, including: St. Michael’s, Ridgecrest; St. Paul’s, Bakersfield; St. John’s, Stockton; St. Francis, Turlock; Hope-Redeemer, Delano and St. James, Sonora. Another church, St. Paul’s, Modesto, was returned prior to litigation.
–The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.
The ceremony will take place in the St. Margaret’s Courtyard on CDSP’s campus in Berkeley, California and is open to the public. The event will be streamed live over the Internet at www.cdsp.edu beginning at 10:30 am Pacific.
Jenny Te Paa-Daniel, an Anglican Communion leader and former principal of Te Rau Kahikatea, a constituent of the College of St. John the Evangelist in Auckland, will give the commencement address and receive a Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa.
Te Paa-Daniel, who will be a visiting scholar at CDSP during the fall 2014 semester, earned her PhD from the Graduate Theological Union in 2001. She is the first Maori person to earn a PhD in theology.
“Jenny is personally engaging and a passionate communicator,” said the Very Rev. W. Mark Richardson, CDSP’s dean and president. “She is an advocate of a strong Anglican Communion that recognizes the gifts of all regions and cultures. She presses toward full inclusion of women in the church, and she is a strong advocate of theological education for all.”
The Rt. Rev. Thomas Breidenthal ‘81, bishop of Southern Ohio, and the Rt. Rev. Edward Konieczny ’94, bishop of Oklahoma, will receive honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees.
Breidenthal, who was elected bishop of Southern Ohio in 2006, is a distinguished pastor and theologian who holds a DPhil from Oxford University. In 2013, he created one of the inaugural CDSP bishop’s scholarships, which are full-tuition scholarships for students identified as leaders by Episcopal bishops who will return to their home dioceses after graduation.
Before his election, Breidenthal was dean of religious life and of the Chapel at Princeton University and John Henry Hobart Professor of Christian Ethics and Moral Theology at General Theological Seminary in New York City. He is the author of Sacred Unions: A New Guide to Life-Long Commitment, published in 2006, and Christian Households: The Sanctification of Nearness, published in 1997.
Konieczny was elected bishop of Oklahoma in 2007 and has served churches in Texas and Colorado. Before attending seminary at CDSP, he was a law enforcement officer for seventeen years. He holds a DMin in congregational development from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary.
Church Divinity School of the Pacific, a seminary of the Episcopal Church and a member of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, educates students in an ecumenical and interreligious context to develop leaders who can proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world through traditional and emerging ministries. Learn more at www.cdsp.edu.
Further ENS coverage on South Sudan, including recent video interviews with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, is available here.
[Episcopal News Service] Almost three months have passed since Sudanese Angelina Rambang last heard from her husband. He’d been working with a bank in Juba, South Sudan, when fighting erupted last December after President Salva Kiir accused his sacked former deputy turned rebel leader Riek Machar of plotting a coup d’état.
The resulting conflict has forced some 1.5 million people to flee their homes to escape the violence, and thousands have died, a harsh reality as the Episcopal Church commemorates the Martyrs of Sudan on May 16. Kiir and Machar agreed to a truce on May 9, but fighting has continued in some parts of South Sudan and 5 million people are now in urgent need of humanitarian aid.
Rambang is taking each day as it comes. But the mother of four, a member of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in San Jose, says: “I am a Christian. I have faith in God that maybe [my husband] is hiding somewhere and maybe there will be a time he will call.”
The current conflict is “devastating, inexplicable,” she said, speaking by telephone one morning from her San Jose home during a brief break between returning from the school run and heading out to classes at Mission College, where she is a pre-nursing student.
“Too many people are dying, suffering,” she said of her East African homeland. “It must come to an end.”
Gabriel Tor, also a member of the Sudanese diaspora living in the U.S., describes the conflict in similar terms. “It’s needless, heartbreaking,” he told ENS during a recent telephone interview.[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.]
After South Sudan separated from the Islamic north following decades of civil war and as the result of a 2011 independence referendum, “we had high hopes that we were going to be peaceful, a better economy, modernizing ourselves and building the civilization that we have missed for years,” said Tor, also a member of Trinity Cathedral in the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real.
Tor was five years old in 1987 when he and his elder brother fled to Ethiopia to escape Sudan’s civil war. Four years later, they returned to their home in Twic East, Jonglei State, but within months the wrath of the Khartoum government had forced them to flee again. Months later, they reached the Kenyan border. The Red Cross came to their rescue and drove them to the Kakuma Refugee Camp where they lived for 12 years, fighting malnutrition and outbreaks of disease.
“I give thanks that by the grace of God I have made it this far,” he said.
Like many Sudanese currently in their 30s who moved to the U.S. as part of a resettlement program and came to be known as the Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan, Rambang and Tor share similar stories of survival; talk of their deep, unwavering faith; and dream of a lasting peace in their homeland.
Rambang also left her parents at a very young age to escape the violence in southern Sudan. Like Tor and thousands of others, she walked hundreds of miles to Ethiopia, back to Sudan, and ended up at Kakuma, where she stayed for 10 years. She married her husband Joseph in 2002; they were resettled to San Jose in 2004. Many of the Lost Boys and Girls were resettled with the support of Episcopal Migration Ministries, the refugee resettlement program of the Episcopal Church.
After half a century of civil war, and all of the joy and hope that accompanied a 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the formation of the new nation, the Sudanese diaspora has watched in shock as their homeland has been plunged back into conflict.
President Kiir is from the Dinka tribe and rebel leader Machar is Nuer, representing the two main Sudanese ethnic groups, which has led to claims that the conflict is tribal.
Rambang is Nuer and Tor is Dinka. Yet, like many of their fellow Sudanese, they share the same view that the current conflict stems primarily from political differences.
In many places, Tor said, Nuer and Dinka “are not in conflict because they realize that the issues are mostly political … The abuse came when both men [Kiir and Machar] used their tribal names to establish their claims.”
Even though there have been ethnic elements to the conflict and several instances of intertribal fighting, “it is the government and the rebels telling them to do this,” said Rambang, adding that in South Sudan, many Dinka and Nuer live peacefully and attend the same churches. “If you tie something to a rock and drag it, it will follow you. That is what the leaders are doing. They are the ones leading the killing of the people. The leaders of the country [are responsible] and they must bring this to an end.”
But Tor also acknowledged that the situation is very complicated, varies from region to region, and that it is challenging for accurate information to permeate all the communities of South Sudan, as well as the rest of the world.
For example, Tor said, “there are still Nuer generals standing with the army saying that this is not tribal and who some are calling traitors because they have not joined the rebellion against the government. But there are still many who are uneducated or uninformed who do not understand how this started or where it is going, and they are making it tribal.”
Bul Garang Mabil agrees.
“What is currently happening in South Sudan is not a tribal or ethnic issue but a failure of the post-war development programs in which tribal and ethnic affiliations have been exploited and manipulated,” said Mabil, who was resettled in 2000 to Jackson, Mississippi, after several years at Kakuma. Fourteen years later he is an active member of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral in Jackson and works for the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
“What is not being reported in the media is the level of propaganda that both sides to the conflict have been using to rally or scare others into supporting their causes for the violence,” he told ENS in a recent interview.
“Since Christians in the United States pressed so hard for an independent South Sudan and have spoken consistently against the actions of the Government of Sudan [in the north], we must speak with equal clarity and consistency and frequency against violence within [the] largely Christian South Sudan,” he said, underscoring the need for Americans to speak out on the issue and write to President Barack Obama and members of Congress. “To say nothing, or so say little too late, is to be complicit in evil. We must speak loudly and clearly against the killing, terror, and starvation and do what we can to nurture peace.”
The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations on May 16 provided a template for an advocacy letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, urging him to support peace and reconciliation in South Sudan.
The Rev. Zachariah Jok Char also moved to the U.S. in 2000 at the age of 19, after calling Kakuma his home for 13 years.
He paid his way through college in Michigan, working as a dishwasher and at a meat factory, and earned a bachelor’s degree in social work and biblical studies.
He now works in the refugee department at Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and has served as pastor of the Sudanese Grace Episcopal Church in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan since 2007.
He was visiting South Sudan in December 2013 when the conflict erupted and was forced to abandon his mission to build a medical clinic in his home village of Duk Padiet.
“When I heard the sound of guns, the night of Dec. 15, I was so sad and ashamed because I was not expecting the South Sudanese to fight one another,” he said.
Before he was evacuated by the U.S. Embassy on Dec. 19, he was able to visit the hospital to donate blood for the wounded, especially the civilians, he said. He spent a week in Kenya, expecting that the fighting would cease and he’d be able to return to South Sudan. When it was clear that the war was escalating, he flew back to the U.S. on Dec. 30.
Like Bul, Char holds the politicians responsible and says that the only way to ensure a lasting peace is from relentless pressure from the international community.
The Rev. Thon Chol, deacon of the Sudanese congregation at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Virginia, said that the scale of human suffering and the scale of political greed among the leaders have not been sufficiently reported by the media.
Chol described his congregation, which is primarily Dinka but also includes other Sudanese ethnicities, as “very inclusive. If you talk to the average Dinka or Nuer, we all have the same dreams. Our politicians are sometimes the ones who don’t get along, and when this happens they go back to their tribal affiliation [and] … brainwash people to achieve their personal goals.”
The current crisis, Chol said, has taken a new emotional toll on the south Sudanese. “It was different when we were fighting the common enemy [the Khartoum government]. We thought that when we get independence everything would be OK. This latest conflict has somewhat killed our hope. We are fighting ourselves now … Right now a lot of people are very hopeless, but still as a Christian, as a pastor, I say we need to look to God. During the war God was our main protector.”
Chol, who was resettled in Michigan in 2000, was an ambassador for the Partners in Peace project in 2011 that worked among several villages in Jonglei State to build a society of reconciliation.
“There is a need for true reconciliation in South Sudan,” he said. “People need to talk and come to full admission and acceptance for a way to move forward. Here in the diaspora we also need reconciliation and dialogue. We need to open a new chapter.”
Chol raised concerns that some of the messages and responses from the Sudanese diaspora throughout the recent conflict have not always been helpful. “We have contributed to the current problem in South Sudan because there is inconsistency in what we’ve been saying. There has been so much propaganda and lies; a lot of hateful messages, very demeaning and targeting particular tribes. So we have been trying to address that. A lot of people pick up just pieces of information.”
The Rev. Ross Kane, associate rector at St. Paul’s, serves alongside Chol and says he’s heard tragic stories from members of the Sudanese congregation there, “many of whom have lost loved ones and have seen tremendous suffering.”
As a former Episcopal Church missionary in South Sudan, working with the New Sudan Council of Churches, Kane wishes that the church’s work for peace and reconciliation there would get more attention. “It profoundly changed the landscape in the region and should be a source for hope in overcoming the current conflict,” he said.
Episcopalians and Roman Catholics account for the vast majority of the population in South Sudan.
Episcopal Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul was summoned to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to take part in the May 9 negotiations between Kiir and Machar. Deng led the two men in prayer before they signed the peace deal.
Deng was appointed chairperson of the national reconciliation committee by Kiir in April 2013, a move that highlights the central role that the church plays in peacebuilding and helping to heal the mental wounds in South Sudan following decades of civil war with the Islamic north.
Kane believes the path to peace can be found through the church, and in particular through the pioneering work of the New Sudan Council of Churches, an ecumenical body which facilitated grassroots peace negotiations in the 1990s, bringing together Dinka and Nuer chiefs, politicians and religious leaders in order to name past atrocities and to seek restitution.
“The peace process spread across southern Sudan, building unity among southern Sudanese; such unity proved vital in ending Sudan’s civil war and in securing South Sudan’s independence,” he said.
One of the challenges he senses with today’s conflict is that the government and other leaders “still behave like it’s a rebel movement, so there is a desire for wholesale political reform but no sense of how to do it without destabilizing things even more,” he said.
Kane says he feels “profoundly sad to see that the people who struggled for so long to find self-determination…are now undergoing such a tragedy.”
But he doesn’t lose hope. “When I see the people of South Sudan who are putting their lives on the line to accept refugees of different ethnicities in their home; when I see southern Sudanese church leaders putting their lives on the line for the sake of peace; when I see the way churches are collaborating with [tribal] chiefs and non-Christians, Muslims to try to form a peaceful movement … That is where I see God. The spirit is moving and there are witnesses for peace, but as much as they don’t make headlines, they are a major part of South Sudanese culture.”
Kane describes the Sudanese as “a proud people. They are, to me, the best representation of the indomitable human spirit. They’ve lived through decades of civil war, and they do not lose hope. There is something profoundly inspiring in that to me.”
Meanwhile, Rambang and Tor, Nuer and Dinka, along with their fellow Sudanese in the diaspora, continue to pray together for a lasting peace in their homeland.
The Rev. Jerry Drino has dedicated the last 10 years to supporting and mentoring people like Rambang and Tor, through his ministry at Trinity Cathedral in San Jose and his education and outreach agency Hope With South Sudan. He says he has shared in their suffering, but has been inspired equally “by their resilience, faith and optimism that God had not abandoned them and that God was in their suffering, in their struggles, in their dying and in their rebirth.”
“I almost have the feeling that there is no place to be overwhelmed and paralyzed by what is happening, because as long as there is the smallest sliver of light coming through the darkness, that is sufficient,” he said.
Over the years, Drino says he’s “participated in the weaving of a safety net for all of us, Sudanese and others, so that when disaster hits the impact is absorbed by the whole community.
“I am humbled to be a part of this community that will not be defeated, but in love look beyond the chaos to see a new society, a new church waiting to be restored and made new.”
– Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter of the Episcopal News Service.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has called the Episcopal Church to prayer and action for South Sudan. For further information and resources for prayer and action, visit: www.episcopalchurch.org/sudan
The U.S.-based Episcopal Church has long-standing partnerships with the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan, through companion diocese relationships, Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) programs and the advocacy work of the Office of Government 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.
[Episcopal News Service] Eliza Marth represented the Diocese of North Carolina during “Advocacy to Challenge Domestic Poverty,” a May 12-14 conference to train young adults in the skills necessary to transform unjust structures of society, frame the issues of domestic poverty and to stand with and be advocates for the poor.
Marth is a caseworker at Samaritan Ministries of Greater Washington, a nonprofit organization started by 12 D.C.-area Episcopal churches. Here she talks about the importance of unemployment benefits.
[Episcopal New Service] Graham Simpson represented the Diocese of Western Massachusetts during “Advocacy to Challenge Domestic Poverty,” a May 12-14 conference to train young adults in the skills necessary to transform unjust structures of society, frame the issues of domestic poverty and to stand with and be advocates for the poor.
Here he talks about his work with inmates in his local county jail and the importance of the Second Chance Act.
[Episcopal New Service] Coreen Walsh represented the Diocese of San Diego during “Advocacy to Challenge Domestic Poverty,” a May 12-14 conference to train young adults in the skills necessary to transform unjust structures of society, frame the issues of domestic poverty and to stand with and be advocates for the poor.
Walsh works coordinating the farm, garden and agroecology program at Camp Stevens, an Episcopal Camp and Conference Center in Julian, California. Here she talks about food security and the importance of supplemental nutrition programs.
[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.]
[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori delivered the following sermon during morning Eucharist May 14 at the Simpson Memorial Chapel in the United Methodist Building across from U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
She was among 50 bishops and young adults, from 14 dioceses representing the Episcopal Church’s eight domestic provinces, gathered in the nation’s capital for “Advocacy to Challenge Domestic Poverty,”a conference sponsored by the Episcopal Church and Bishops Working for a Just World.
[Episcopal News Service – San Pedro Sula, Honduras] Las escuelas episcopales de la Diócesis de Honduras no solamente desempeñan un papel en el movimiento de la iglesia hacia el auto-sostenimiento; si no también desempeñan un papel en la transformación de las comunidades.
“Los niños se benefician de la educación, se emplean a los profesores, los estudiantes reciben una educación de la iglesia episcopal, el cual es también parte del programa de evangelización”, dijo la Rda. Canóniga Lura Kaval, Canóniga de la diócesis para desarrollo y nombrada misionera por la Iglesia Episcopal.
Las escuelas son la principal fuente de ingreso para la diócesis; estas administran siete escuelas bilingües basada en la fe, y sirven a 1,500 estudiantes desde jardín infantil hasta el 11vo grado, que es el grado final requerido en Honduras.
“En su conjunto, ellos están en negro; unos están en mejores condiciones que otros, pero todos se dirigen en la dirección correcta, con gran posibilidad de crecimiento”, dijo Kaval
Por ejemplo en La Escuela Episcopal Santa Maria en Tegucigalpa, el Rdo. Canónigo Joe Rhodes y su esposa, Tina, misioneros enviados por la Sociedad de Misioneros Anglicanos y Emisores, están trabajando para hacer que la escuela rinda más beneficios.
“Tenemos 158 estudiantes ahora, necesitamos 200 para obtener más rentabilidad”, explicó Rhodes a un grupo de La Iglesia Episcopal de San Barnabas en DeLand, Florida, que estuvieron de visita en marzo durante un viaje para explorar posibles asociaciones.
Como partidarios que apoyan la diócesis desde hace mucho tiempo, los Rhodes en los últimos años han dirigido una misión de corto plazo a Honduras mientras que Joe Rhodes sirvió como rector de La iglesia Espíritu Santo en Baton Rouge, Luisiana. Ellos han servido la escuela en los últimos 18 meses.
Al obispo Lloyd Allen fundó la escuela Santa María en 1994 mientras servía en la Iglesias Santa María; el obispo personalmente solicitó a los Rhodes que se muden a Tegucigalpa para ayudar a la escuela a tiempo completo.
En los últimos años, Allen ha trabajado para centrar la atención de la diócesis para lograr el auto-sostenimiento para el año 2019; además del plan de auto-sostenimiento de la Diócesis, las escuelas tienen una estrategia independiente destinada a la autosuficiencia.
Como parte del plan, los administradores están trabajando para alcanzar la acreditación internacional con la ayuda de Steven Robinson, presidente de la Asociación Sureña de Escuelas Independientes, una escuela de acreditación de los Estados Unidos.
“Las escuelas aquí son realmente fascinantes, yo creo que ellas sirven un gran propósito, algunas de las escuelas tienen mucho camino por recorrer, pero el emblema, [El] Buen Pastor, en San Pedro Sula, es probablemente elegible ahora o si no está muy cerca de eso”, dijo Robinson, en una entrevista por teléfono con la ENS.
La acreditación no significa que todas las escuelas sean iguales; eso en gran parte depende de los recursos que tienen”, dijo Robinson. “Lo que significa que están sirviendo la misión que se propusieron servir”.
En el centro de la misión de cada escuela episcopal hay un compromiso con la educación Cristiana y la Diócesis se ha comprometido a traducir del inglés al español el Currículo de los Niños Episcopales, desarrollado por el Seminario de Teología de Virginia, para que lo pueda compartir con otras personas en busca de recursos de educación cristiana en español, dijo Kaval. La Diócesis utiliza el currículo tanto en la escuela como en la escuela dominical.
Robinson empezó a participar con las escuelas episcopales en Honduras en el 2010 cuando conoció a Andrea Baker en una conferencia de la Asociación Nacional de Escuelas Episcopales en San Antonio, Texas.
“Ella vio mi etiqueta con mi nombre y preguntó, ‘¿usted acredita? Y ¿podemos hablar?’” dijo Robinson.
Baker invitó a Robinson a visitar Honduras, lo cual él hiso. “Yo me enamore de las escuela y el trabajo del obispo Allen”, dijo, agregando que lo que las diócesis están haciendo con las escuelas es “el centro principal de lo que las escuelas deben ser”.
Desde entonces, Robinson ha estado involucrado con las escuelas y este verano planea llevar a cabo un taller de desarrollo profesional en Honduras. Es una cuestión de trabajar con las escuelas para entender dónde ellos se encuentran, dónde necesitan estar, y ayudarles a medida que crecen y se dirigen hacia la acreditación, dijo.
El Buen Pastor, la escuela que Robinson hizo referencia en San Pedro Sula, fue fundada en 1984 y desde entonces ha crecido con más de 500 estudiantes desde jardín infantil hasta el 11vo grado. Algunos estudiantes de El Buen Pastor se han ido a los Estados Unidos para asistir a esas universidades.
Otras escuelas, como la escuela episcopal de San Juan en [St. John’s Episcopal School] en Siguatepeque, una ciudad pequeña en las montañas centrales, recién acaban de empezar.
Rick Harlow, jefe del proyecto de la diócesis y un misionero nombrado de la Iglesia Episcopal, explicaron que las escuelas sirven a 48estudiantes de grados de jardín infantil hasta el cuarto grado, el próximo año la escuela agregara el quinto grado y más espacio para los estudiantes de jardín infantil. La escuela tiene actualmente una capacidad para 80 estudiantes.
Las escuelas episcopales funcionan en el mismo calendario escolar de 10 meses que en las escuelas de los Estados Unidos, pero no de las escuelas públicas que tiene un calendario de noviembre a febrero, normal para las escuelas privadas del país. Por esta razón, las escuelas tienden a crecer de año a año ya que los estudiantes se gradúan de un nivel escolar a otro, y también debido a los nuevos estudiantes que se inscriben en pre- jardín infantil y jardín infantil.
Una manera de reclutar estudiantes es hacer que la escuela sea más atractiva. En marzo, por ejemplo, la construcción estaba en marcha en una calzada en forma de herradura, donde los padres pueden dejar y recoger a sus hijos en frente de la escuela en vez en la calle concurrida en frente de la iglesia.
El camino de entrada y el espacio adicional del aula constituyen la primera fase de la construcción; la segunda fase incluirá la cafetería, una concina y aulas adicionales.
“Hemos trabajado año tras año con los recursos disponibles”, dijo Harlow, agregando que los equipos de las iglesias en los Estados Unidos hasta han ayudado con la construcción del edificio de la escuela y aún hay una necesidad.
No muy lejos de San Juan, también en Siguatepeque, el Rda. Vaike Madisson de Molina empezó una clínica de primeros auxilios que tres años más tarde se convirtió en una escuela de enfermería reconocida por el Ministerio de Salud. En el 2009, Allen le dijo a su clero que ellos necesitarían ver a sus comunidades y crear algo para dirigir a sus misiones hacia la auto-sostenibilidad, entonces de Molina, inspirada por la leyenda de Florence Nightingale se dirigió a la asistencia sanitaria.
El Centro Episcopal de Formación de Auxiliar de Enfermería Nightingale abrió en diciembre del 2011 y graduó a sus primeros 14 estudiantes en diciembre del 2013.
Teniendo en cuenta el éxito de la escuela, de Molina tiene planes para un edifico de dos pisos que albergara aulas y un laboratorio junto a su iglesia San Bartolomé Apóstol, que trasladara la escuela fuera del salón de la parroquia.
“este proyecto, me encanta”, dijo ella durante una entrevista en su casa. “Creo que Jesucristo está feliz… algunos miembros de la iglesia son incluso estudiantes ahora”.
De Molina eligió la escuela de enfermería, ella dijo, en parte porque a ella le gusta la historia de Florence Nightingale, el fundador de la enfermería moderna, el cual ella piensa que encaja muy bien con la historia de la Iglesia Anglicana, pero además porque ella reconoce la necesidad de tener una clínica médica permanente en la comunidad. Al ver la escuela de una manera que pueda dar a las mujeres, muchas de ellas son madres solteras, y esto les brindaría un medio de mantenerse por sí mismas.
Josselin Flores, 18, es una de esas estudiantes. Flores trabaja en la iglesia y estudia en la escuela de enfermería, mientras que su madre cuida a su bebe de 18 meses.
“Quiero tener una vida mejor y cuidar de los demás”, dijo Flores en una entrevista en la iglesia.
Sesenta por ciento de los 7.9 millones de personas en Honduras viven al nivel de la pobreza, de acuerdo a las estadísticas del Banco Mundial. El promedio de adulto tiene 6.5 años de educación, de acuerdo a los datos del programa de Desarrollo de las Naciones Unidas.
Fundar una Universidad Episcopal en Honduras es una meta a largo plazo del Obispo, especialmente en un mundo después del 9/11 donde es cada vez más difícil para los estudiantes asegurar visas para estudiar en los Estados Unidos y el índice del cambio de moneda el Lempira de Honduras y el dólar americano ponen el costo fuera del alcance para la mayoría de los estudiantes que viene de un país de bajos ingresos.
“No solo es el compromiso del Obispo tener el modelo reforzado de autosuficiencia y no el de la dependencia… las escuelas no solo desempeñan un papel enorme, pero es a través de la educación de la Iglesia Episcopal que se está en condiciones de cambiar una nación”, dijo Robinson.
De su experiencia y viajes, Robinson no ha visto otro sistema de escuelas independientes equilibrado que de un rendimiento de alto nivel al invertir.
“Soy muy bendecido y afortunado al trabajar con casi 400 de las mejores escuelas en el mundo, incluyendo 40 escuelas episcopales, y viajar por todo el mundo y hablar de una gran variedad de temas”, dijo. “No sé de ningún lugar donde escuelas episcopales buenas y fuertes tengan un impacto en toda la nación. Honduras puede ser impactada por el sistema escolar y no digo esto ligeramente”.
– Lynette Wilson es una editora/ reportera para Episcopal News Service