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Statement from Archbishop of Canterbury on Gaza

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

[Lambeth Palace press release] Following a recent update from staff at the Al Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza, a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, the Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken publicly (after many private contacts) of his concern for the deteriorating situation in Gaza.

Archbishop Justin Welby said today:

“You can’t look at the pictures coming from Gaza and Israel without your heart breaking. We must cry to God and beat down the doors of heaven and pray for peace and justice and security. Only a costly and open-hearted seeking of peace between Israeli and Palestinian can protect innocent people, their children and grandchildren, from ever worse violence.”

“My utmost admiration is for all those involved in the humanitarian efforts on the ground, not least the medical team and staff at Al Ahli Arab Hospital. Providing relief and shelter for those displaced is a tangible expression of our care and concern, and I encourage Church of England parishes and dioceses, as well as the wider Communion, to pray for them and support the Diocese of Jerusalem’s emergency appeal.

“While humanitarian relief for those civilians most affected is a priority, especially women and children, we must also recognise that this conflict underlines the importance of renewing a commitment to political dialogue in the wider search for peace and security for both Israeli and Palestinian. The destructive cycle of violence has caused untold suffering and threatens the security of all.

“For all sides to persist with their current strategy, be it threatening security by the indiscriminate firing of rockets at civilian areas or aerial bombing which increasingly fails to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants, is self-defeating. The bombing of civilian areas, and their use to shelter rocket launches, are both breaches of age old customs for the conduct of war. Further political impasse, acts of terror, economic blockades or sanctions and clashes over land and settlements, all increase the alienation of those affected. Populations condemned to hopelessness or living under fear will be violent. Such actions create more conflict, more deaths and will in the end lead to an even greater disaster than the one being faced today. The road to reconciliation is hard, but ultimately the only route to security. It is the responsibility of all leaders to protect the innocent, not only in the conduct of war but in setting the circumstances for a just and sustainable peace.

“While it is acceptable to question and even disagree with particular policies of the Israeli government, the spike in violence and abuse against Jewish communities here in the UK is simply unacceptable. We must not allow such hostility to disrupt the good relations we cherish among people of all faiths. Rather we must look at ways at working together to show our concern and support for those of goodwill on all sides working for peace.”

Echoing the prayer of Pope Francis, Archbishop Justin concluded by saying, “Let us pray to the Prince of Peace who so suffered in a land of violence that hearts may turn to peace and the innocent be helped.”

During recent weeks Archbishop Justin has expressed his concern about the violence in Gaza. He fully accepts that Israel has the same legitimate rights to peace and security as any other state and to self-defence within humanitarian law when faced with an external threat. At the same time he shares the despair, and acknowledges the growing anger felt by many, including Jewish people to whom he has spoken, at the recent escalation of violence by all involved. All this highlights the need for underlying issues to be addressed, whether the ongoing terror threat to Israel or the expansion of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The failure to find constructive paths to peace poses a threat to the future of all the peoples of the region.

Notes:

Read the statement on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s website: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5382/statement-from-archbishop-justin-on-gaza

Further information about the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem’s emergency appeal: http://www.anglicannews.org/news/2014/07/emergency-appeal-made-for-gaza-hospital.aspx

In-depth Philadelphia 11 reflections: Allison Cheek and Carter Heyward

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 29, 2014
[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.]

[Episcopal News Service -- Brevard, North Carolina] The Rev. Allison Cheek and the Rev. Carter Heyward reflect on the meaning and continuing challenge of the Philadelphia 11 ordinations. Cheek and Heyward were two of the 11 who were ordained without the Episcopal Church’s explicit permission on July 29, 1974.

A shorter version of this video is available here.

ENS coverage of the church’s 40th anniversary celebration of those ordinations is available here.

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

Philadelphia 11 reflections: Allison Cheek and Carter Heyward

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 29, 2014
[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.]

[Episcopal News Service -- Brevard, North Carolina] The Rev. Allison Cheek and the Rev. Carter Heyward reflect on the meaning and continuing challenge of the Philadelphia 11 ordinations. Cheek and Heyward were two of the 11 who were ordained without the Episcopal Church’s explicit permission on July 29, 1974.

A more in-depth version of this video is available here.

ENS coverage of the church’s 40th anniversary celebration of those ordinations is available here.

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

 

Philadelphia 11 reflections: Church still learning from ordinations

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 29, 2014

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.]

[Episcopal News Service --Phoenix, Arizona] Fredrica Harris Thompsett, the Mary Wolfe Professor Emerita of Historical Theology at the Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, reflects on the lessons taught to the church by the ordinations of the Philadelphia 11 40 years ago on July 29, 1974. She was the keynote speaker at a symposium July 26 that was part of an anniversary celebration in Philadelphia.

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

Where are the Philadelphia 11 – and their ordaining bishops – now?

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 28, 2014

Attending the July 26 celebration were, left to right, the Rev. Alison Cheek, retired Bishop of Costa Rica Antonio Ramos, the Rev. Carter Heyward, the Rev. Merrill Bittner, the Rev. Marie Moorefield Fleischer and the Rev. Nancy Wittig. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] The following are summaries of the lives and work of the priests known as the Philadelphia 11 since their “irregular” ordinations on July 29, 1974.

The Rev. Merrill Bittner, 67, served in the Diocese of Rochester from 1973 to 1976, including a 1973-1975 term as an associate at Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Webster, New York. She worked as a hospital chaplain and served at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Rumford, Maine from 2001-2006. She married Nancy Noppa, a college friend with whom she had traveled the United States, in 2013.

The Rev. Alla Bozarth, 67, founded Wisdom House, a Minneapolis-based interfaith spirituality center. After her husband died in 1985, she returned to her native Oregon and continued her ministry with Wisdom House West. She serves as resident priest of there and writing poetry and prose. She has written two books on grief, Life is Goodbye/Life is Hello ~ Grieving Well through All Kinds of Loss (1982) and A Journey through Grief (1990). Some of her poetry is on a blog here.

The Rev. Alison Cheek, 87, served at St. Stephen’s and Incarnation Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. After her husband died, she served at Trinity Memorial Church in Philadelphia before studying at the Washington Institute of Pastoral Psychotherapy and beginning her own counseling practice. She later joined the faculty of Episcopal Divinity School as director of feminist liberation theology studies. After retirement, she moved to Maine and became part of the staff of the Greenfire Retreat Center, then active in Tenants’ Harbor. She also affiliated with St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Rockland, and served as spiritual counselor, pastoral minister, and supply priest for St. Peter’s until she moved in 2013 to Brevard, North Carolina.

The Rev. Emily C. Hewitt, 70, worked for a short time at Andover Newton Theology School as an assistant professor of religion and education before earning a law degree from Harvard. She retired in 2013 as chief judge of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. She is an avid long distance race walker and won the U.S. National Race Walking medal in 1987.

The Rev. Carter Heyward, 68, was hired by Episcopal Divinity School, along with the Rev. Suzanne R. Hiatt, in January 1975. Heyward taught at EDS until 2005. She was the author of many books and scholarly papers. She moved back to her native North Carolina and now runs and teaches at a therapeutic horseback riding center.

The Rev. Suzanne R. Hiatt (1944-2002) taught on the faculty of Episcopal Divinity School from 1975 until her retirement in 1999. She was the author of many books and scholarly papers.

The Rev. Marie Moorefield Fleischer, 70, left the Episcopal Church in 1975 and became a United Methodist minister. She served as a chaplain in Methodist healthcare settings. She was recognized as an Episcopal priest in 1985 and since then served parishes and diocesan offices in Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, and Western New York. She served as canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of North Carolina from 2001-2006. Her husband, astronomer Robert Fleischer, died in 2001.

The Rev. Jeanette Piccard (1895-1981), served as an unpaid assistant at her home parish of St. Philip’s in Minneapolis. She was a popular speaker throughout that area. She and her husband, Jean Felix Piccard, were pioneering aviators and she was the first woman licensed as a hot air balloon pilot in the United States and the first woman to pilot a stratosphere-capable balloon to that height, and thus she has been called “the first woman in space.” She served as a consultant to NASA.

The Rev. Betty Bone Schiess, 87, was the executive director of the Mizpah Educational and Cultural Center for the Aging in Syracuse, New York, from 1973-1984. She later served in various campus ministry and parish positions in New York, where she still lives. She reported that she recently wrote a letter to her local newspaper about failed U.S. immigration policy, suggesting that the U.S. ought to return the Statue of Liberty to France. She says that she received more hate mail over the letter than she did during the time around her ordination.

The Rev. Katrina Welles Swanson (1935-2005) was hired by St. Stephen’s, a poor parish in St. Louis, Missouri, as an assistant for a dollar a year in 1975. In 1978, she became the first female rector in the tri-state New York metro area when she was hired as the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Union City, New Jersey, where she served until retiring in 1995. The website devoted to her memory, Katrina’s Dream, promotes the full inclusion of women in society and urges people to support passage of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Her husband, the Rev. George Swanson, continues to promote her causes.

The Rev. Nancy Hatch Wittig, 68, served parishes in the Diocese of Newark before a 20-year term as rector of the Church of St. Andrew in the Fields in Philadelphia. She moved to Ohio after retirement and is an assistant at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Lakewood, Ohio. In 2012, she married Pamela Darling, an author and lay leader in the Episcopal Church.

The ordaining bishops
Retired Colorado Bishop Suffragan Daniel Corrigan, retired Pennsylvania Bishop Robert L. DeWitt and retired West Missouri Bishop Edward R. Welles II (Katrina Wells Swanson’s father) have all died. Costa Rica Bishop Antonio Ramos, who assisted at the ordinations and who was the only one of the four who then was exercising jurisdiction in the church, is retired.

Sources: The Episcopal Clerical Directory (Church Publishing, 2013), Wikipedia entry, Religion News Service, The Story of the Philadelphia Eleven, Darlene O’Dell (Seabury Books, 2014).

Philadelphia 11 ordinations marked with calls for continued justice work

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 28, 2014

Among those who attended the July 26 celebration in Philadelphia were some history-makers. They included, left to right, the Rev. Alison Cheek (Philadelphia 11), retired Bishop of Costa Rica Antonio Ramos (who assisted at the Philadelphia 11 ordinations but did not participate in the laying on of hands), the Rev. Carter Heyward (Philadelphia 11), Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori (whose election in 2006 made her the first women primate in the Anglican Communion), the Rev. Merrill Bittner (Philadelphia 11), the Rev. Betty Powell (one of the Washington Four who were ordained in September 1975), the Rev. Marie Moorefield Fleischer (Philadelphia 11), the Rev. Nancy Wittig (Philadelphia 11) and retired Massachusetts Bishop Suffragan Barbara Harris (who is this year celebrating the 25th anniversary of her consecration as the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion). Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

An interactive timeline of the history of women’s ordination in the Anglican Communion is here.

[Episcopal News Service – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] A joyous celebration of the 40th anniversary of women’s priestly ordination on July 26 here included calls for people to realize that the dream of a more egalitarian and less patriarchal Episcopal Church – and society – that was embodied by the Philadelphia 11′s ordinations requires much more work.

“I wonder why we cannot speed up the work of gender justice and aligned oppressions in the days and years ahead,” Fredrica Thompsett Harris, Mary Wolfe Professor Emerita of Historical Theology at Episcopal Divinity School, asked during her keynote address to a symposium that kicked off a day meant to celebrate the July 29, 1974, ordinations of 11 women deacons at Church of the Advocate here. “This would be one way to honor our courageous sisters and those who stood with them.”

The Rev. Merrill Bittner, the Rev. Alison Cheek, the Rev. Alla Bozarth, the Rev. Emily C. Hewitt, the Rev. Carter Heyward, the Rev. Suzanne R. Hiatt, the Rev. Marie Moorefield, the Rev. Jeanette Piccard, the Rev. Betty Bone Schiess, the Rev. Katrina Welles Swanson and the Rev. Nancy Hatch Wittig were ordained on that day in 1974, slightly more than two years before the General Convention of the Episcopal Church gave its explicit permission for women to become priests.

Retired Colorado Bishop Suffragan Daniel Corrigan, retired Pennsylvania Bishop Robert L. DeWitt and retired West Missouri Bishop Edward R. Welles II (Katrina Wells Swanson’s father) were the ordaining bishops. They were joined by Costa Rica Bishop Antonio Ramos, the only one of the four who then was exercising jurisdiction in the church. Ramos did not participate in the actual ordination, but joined in the laying on of hands.

The group “40 Years Ordained – 2,000 Years in Ministry”, organized by the Diocese of Pennsylvania in conjunction with others throughout the church, designed the July 26 celebration not just to mark the Philadelphia 11’s ordinations – and those of the Washington Four on Sept. 7, 1975, at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. – but also to celebrate the ministry of all women, lay and ordained, in the past, present and future. The gathering included Holy Eucharist at Church of the Advocate, followed by a reception amid displays of various ministries in which women are engaged.

Speeding up the progress towards gender justice and eliminating other interlocking oppressions would be a good way to honor the first women ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church, says Fredrica Thompsett Harris, Mary Wolfe Professor Emerita of Historical Theology at Episcopal Divinity School, during her July 26 keynote address. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

“This celebration must not be honored by excluding others,” Harris Thompsett said during her keynote address. “It should not be sentimentalized by Hallmark [greeting] card theology, or trivialized by invoking a too-small God, a non-controversial, semi-engaged complacent divinity.”

She gave three challenges to the approximately 230 women and men who attended the symposium. The first was to honor the first ordinations of women by becoming “much more insistent advocates for baptism as being chief among Holy Orders,” warning against what she called “creepy theology out there in everyday use” which assumes that deacons, priests and bishops are somehow more connected to God and called to be more prophetic than lay people.

The second challenge was to live truly into the “embodied nature of Anglican theology” that emphasizes the goodness of all creation and the dwelling of the incarnate Christ in us and us in him. All people, she said, must claim their bodies “as sacred vehicles of spiritual authority.”

Harris Thompsett’s third challenge was very specific, calling for making the House of Bishops 30 percent female in the next 10 years. That would mean electing about 50 or more “highly and diversely qualified women bishops,” she said. To do so would require more attention being paid to discrimination and tokenism in all search processes, including those for the episcopate, she added.

The symposium at Temple University also featured a panel of lay and ordained women who responded to Harris Thompsett’s speech. Participants included Bishop Carol Gallagher, the Rev. Miguelina Howell, the Rev. Pamela Nesbit, the Rev. Sandye Wilson and educator and social worker Nokomis Wood. The panel was moderated by the Very Rev. Katherine H. Ragsdale, EDS dean and president. Philadelphia 11 member Wittig closed the symposium with a meditation.

Wilson, the rector of St. Andrew and Holy Communion in South Orange, New Jersey, echoed comments made by her fellow panelists and Harris Thompsett about interlocking oppressions. For years black women were invisible in the Episcopal Church, she said.

“When they spoke of women, they spoke of white women, and when they spoke of black, they spoke of black men,” she said, adding that “we have to name these things because if we don’t name them, we’re subject to repeat them.”

Wilson, who was the fourth African-American woman ordained in the Episcopal Church, said “we need to be sure that we are radically welcoming everyone and that no one is left out or left behind, that the table is set for everyone and that no one on a committee has to advocate for one group or another.”

Ragsdale told the symposium that she heard a recurring theme about the “celebration of diversity along with the painful and … grief-giving and infuriating reality of how far we have yet to go in the church and the world to really celebrate that diversity” and the justice that ought to come with it.

She added that she also heard a call for people to value all four orders of ministry and to recognize that those in ordained orders must listen to the stories of the work done by lay people outside the doors of the church and empower those ministers to carry on.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori during her sermon at Church of the Advocate uses a pair of red high heels to illustrate the expectations set upon ordained women. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, preaching and presiding at the celebratory Eucharist later in the day, said the entire Episcopal Church gives thanks that women now serve in all orders of ministry. As the congregation of about 600 roared its approval, she turned in the Advocate’s ornate pulpit and bowed to the five members of the Philadelphia 11 and one of the Washington Four who participated in the Eucharist.

Jefferts Schori reminded the congregation that women priests have been told that they should not wear high heels or dangly earrings in the pulpit or at the altar. After brandishing a pair of red high heels, she said “Women in all orders of ministry – baptized, deacons, priests, and bishops – can walk proudly today, in whatever kind of shoes they want to wear, because of what happened here 40 years ago.”

“We can walk proudly, even if not yet in full equality, knowing that the ranks of those who walk in solidarity are expanding,” she continued.

“Try to walk in the shoes of abused and trafficked women. Walk on to Zion carrying the children who are born and suffer in the midst of war,” the presiding bishop said. “Gather up the girls married before they are grown, gather up the schoolgirls still missing in Nigeria, and gather up all those lives wasted in war and prison. March boldly, proclaiming good news to all who have been pushed aside, and call them to the table of God, to Wisdom’s feast.”

Video and text of the presiding bishop’s sermon is here.

Attending the celebration from among the 11 members of the 1974 ordinations were the Rev. Alison Cheek, the Rev. Carter Heyward, the Rev. Merrill Bittner, the Rev. Marie Moorefield Fleischer and the Rev. Nancy Wittig.

Retired Bishop of Costa Rica Antonio Ramos, who assisted at the Philadelphia ordinations but did not participate in the laying on of hands that day, processed with the women, as did the Rev. Betty Powell, one of the Washington Four, and retired Massachusetts Bishop Suffragan Barbara Harris, who this year is celebrating her 25th anniversary of being the first female bishop in the Anglican Communion.

Speaking during the announcement time, Ramos told the congregation that on July 26, 1974, “we decided to disobey the order of the church for the sake of the orders of the church.”

“We decided to end a discriminatory set of canons to make all the orders of the church both equally inclusive for men and women,” he said.

Pennsylvania Bishop Provisional Clifton “Dan” Daniel had been a priest for a year when he decided to participate in the Philadelphia ordinations (priests are often invited to join the ordaining bishop or bishops in the laying on of hands). He reminded the gathering that while the ordinations changed the history of the Episcopal Church, it was also a very personal event for the 11 ordinands.

“At the time I think we had a very different sense of what was at stake for us and of how much we had to gain or lose,” Heyward told ENS in an interview. “I just knew it was an important step to take given where the church was and given where I was in my life.”

In the same interview, Cheek said her already-raised consciousness “got raised a lot higher after her ordination. “It was a real big turning point in my life and I think that that was because quite a few oppressed groups of folk then reached out to us and wanted us to come celebrate for them,” she said.

The Rev. Merrill Bittner, one of the Philadelphia 11 who was honored at the 40th anniversary celebration July 26, distributes communion at the Eucharist. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

In addition to experiencing the typical feelings of a person preparing for and then being ordained, before and after, the women were barraged with criticism that veered into outright threats. Called unprintable names, their appearances and their voices were examined and found wanting as were their personalities and intellects. Some were told they would be good for the church because it would be better to see them in the pulpit than ugly, old male rectors. They were accused of being immoral and self-indulgent. One received a length of fish cord with the suggestion that she use it to hang herself, according Darlene O’Dell in her new book “The Story of the Philadelphia Eleven.”

On the day of the ordinations, buckets were lined up along the church’s wall in case of bombs or fire, plain-clothed police officers were among the 2,000 congregants, a busload of police were stationed down the street and the congregation included a group of radical lesbians, some trained in crowd control and karate, O’Dell wrote.

The path to the Church of the Advocate and beyond
When, after years of struggle and rejection, the Philadelphia 11 broke the traditional prohibition against the ordination of women to the priesthood of the Episcopal and Anglican Churches they entered a sort of limbo. There was no canon in church law that specifically forbade women from being priests and there was no canon that said only men could become priests.

However, the canons did and do still outline a process leading to ordination first to the transitional diaconate and then to the priesthood. The final step of that process before priestly ordination is the approval by one’s standing committee. For women, that never happened.

While all 11 had been through the canonical process for ordination to the diaconate (which had been open to women only since 1970), just one of them had received the necessary Standing Committee approval for priestly ordination. Her bishop refused to ordain her. Another’s bishop said he would ordain her if the Standing Committee approved. It did not.

None of the eight bishops who had authority over the 11 agreed to the ordinations and the bishop of Pennsylvania objected to the ordinations taking place in that diocese. Bishops in the Episcopal Church are required to ordain only those people who have gone through the ordination process in their dioceses, or they must have the permission of the bishop who supervised that process. Thus, the Philadelphia 11′s ordaining bishops were seen to have violated church law as well as tradition.

Charles V. Willie, who preached at the Philadelphia 11 ordinations, is greeted during the peace by the Rev. Renee McKenzie, vicar and chaplain of Church of the Advocate. Willie was vice president of the House of Deputies and a member of the Episcopal Church Executive Council at the time of the ordinations but he resigned both positions in protest when, three weeks later, the House of Bishops invalidated the ordinations. Willie read one of the readings during the July 26 Eucharist. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

On Aug. 15, 1974, the House of Bishops, called to an emergency meeting that reportedly was by turns rancorous and confused, denounced the ordinations and declared that “the necessary conditions for valid ordination to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church were not fulfilled.” In effect, the bishops said, nothing had happened at the Church of the Advocate and the 11 were still deacons – to whom they offered pastoral care.

Charges were filed against the ordaining bishops and attempts, ecclesial and otherwise, were made to prevent the women from exercising their priestly ministries.

Still, women’s ordination movement continued. Resigned Rochester Bishop George W. Barrett ordained four women deacons on Sept. 7, 1975, at the Church of St. Stephen and the Incarnation in Washington, D.C., despite Washington Bishop William F. Creighton’s refusal to allow the action. About 1,200, including 50 priests, attended. The Rev. Lee McGee, the Rev. Alison Palmer, the Rev. Betty Powell, all of Washington, D.C., and the Rev. Diane Tickell of Anchorage, Alaska, became known as the Washington Four.

In September 1976, the General Convention approved the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate by adding a new section to the church’s ordination canons that read: “The provisions of these canons for the admission of Candidates, and for the Ordination to the three Orders: Bishops, Priests and Deacons shall be equally applicable to men and women.”

The House of Bishops, during the 1976 convention, at first ruled that the Philadelphia 11 and the Washington Four would have to be re-ordained, calling the first actions “conditional ordinations” similar to the conditional baptism allowed in emergency situations when one is not sure if a person was baptized. The women said they would refuse to be re-ordained and, the next day, the bishops voted unanimously for a “completion” ceremony that would avoid the laying on of hands.

The Rev. Betty Powell, one of the Washington Four who were ordained in September 1975 and who was honored during the 40th anniversary celebration July 26, asperges the congregation during the Eucharist that emphasized the ministry of all the baptized. All six of the first women who attended the service sprinkled the congregation members with water from the baptismal font. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The story was not yet over. In October 1977, the House of Bishops adopted “A Statement of Conscience” that assured that “No Bishop, Priest, or Lay Person should be coerced or penalized in any manner, nor suffer any canonical disabilities as a result of his or her conscientious objection to or support of the sixty-fifth General Convention’s actions with regard to the ordination of women to the priesthood or episcopate.”

The statement arose out of a meeting that began with Presiding Bishop John Allin saying he did not think “that women can be priests any more than they can become fathers or husbands,” and offering to resign as presiding bishop. The House of Bishops affirmed Allin’s leadership and adopted the “conscience clause” contained in a pastoral letter issued after the meeting.

Since the clause was never adopted by the House of Deputies, it had no canonical authority but a handful of bishops and their dioceses used it to bar women from the priesthood for 33 more years.

A more complete timeline of the history of women’s ordination in the Anglican Communion is here.

A statistical look at ordained women in the Episcopal Church today

  • Church Pension Group’s 2014 annual report shows 2,471 ordained women participating in the clergy pension plan, compared with 4,188 males.
  • Male clergy make up 62 percent of recently ordained employed clergy and 66 percent of all employed clergy, according to the organization’s latest State of the Clergy report from 2012.
  • Recently ordained female clergy consistently make between $1,000 to $7,000 less than male clergy of the same age. Also, as female clergy’s age at ordination increases, compensation steadily decreases. Plus, females can expect a $1,766 smaller salary increase when changing parish positions.
  • The report called this gap “striking” and said it points to “significant structural inequalities confronting female clergy when searching for new jobs.”
  • “Our findings reveal that women clergy are consistently realizing smaller gains from taking new jobs than males, regardless of the type of parish they serve,” the report concluded.

Also for 2012, the Church Pension Group’s annual Clergy Compensation report showed that

  • the median full-time compensation for all male priests, parochial and non-parochial, was slightly more than $10,000 higher than that for female priests ($75,747 for the 3,455 men compared with $65,438 for the 1,827 females).
  • the median full-time compensation for senior male priests was $103,660 compared with $93,566 for senior female priests (there were 572 men in such positions and 138 women)

Celebration organizers offered commemorative fans to each of the more than 600 people who came to Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia July 26 to celebrate the July 29, 1974, priestly ordinations of 11 women deacons slightly more than two years before the General Convention of the Episcopal Church gave its explicit permission for women to become priests. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Read more about it
The Story of the Philadelphia Eleven,”Darlene O’Dell, (Seabury Books, 2014)

Looking Forward, Looking Back: Forty Years of Women’s Ordination,” Fredrica Harris Thompsett, editor, (Moorehouse Publishing, 2014)

The Spirit of the Lord is Upon Me: The Writings of Suzanne Hiatt,” Carter Heyward and Janine Lehane, editors, (Seabury Books, 2014)

Forty Firsts,” an online series from Episcopal Commons and the Diocese of Los Angeles marking the 40th anniversary

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

Marriage task force releases study guide, resources in Spanish

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 28, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Episcopal Church Task Force on the Study of Marriage has released Dearly Beloved, resources for conversation and discussion, in Spanish.

Dearly Beloved (Querido Amado) is available here.

The Power Point is (Mantener Conversaciones) is available here.

Access the complete public website for General Convention’s A050 Task Force on Marriage here. 

The Episcopal Church’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage is enabled by Resolution A050 at the 2012 General Convention.

Resolution A050 is available in full here.

Task Force Facebook page.

Task Force YouTube

El Grupo de Trabajo sobre el Estudio del Matrimonio presenta a debate una guía de estudio y recursos en español

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 28, 2014

[28 de julio de 2014] El Grupo de Trabajo de la Iglesia Episcopal sobre el Estudio del Matrimonio ha publicado, Queridos Amados, unos recursos para la conversación y el debate, en español.

Queridos Amados está disponible aquí.

Mantener Conversaciones está disponible aquí en “power point”.

Acceda a la página web completa donde está El Grupo de Trabajo para la Resolución A050 Sobre el Matrimonio de la Convención General  aqui.

Grupo de Trabajo de la Iglesia Episcopal sobre el Estudio del Matrimonio está habilitado por la Resolución A050 de la Convención General de 2012.

La Resolución A050 está disponible aquí. 

La página de Facebook del Grupo de Trabajo.

Grupo de Trabajo  YouTube:

Survey on inclusion of people with developmental disability

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 28, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The sub-committee on Full Inclusion of People with Developmental Disability of The Episcopal Church Standing Commission on Health is seeking input through a survey available here.

“As chair of the Standing Commission on Health, I commend to you this important survey on Full Inclusion for those with Developmental Disability,” noted Bishop Marc Andrus of the Diocese of California. “The Rev. Stannard Baker and Ms. Mimi Grant, co-chairs of our sub-committee on Full Inclusion, developed it.  Please fill it out as soon as possible to do your part in bringing full inclusion in the liturgy and formation programs of The Episcopal Church for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Intellectual Disability and Attention Deficit Disorder.”

Deadline for the survey is August 17.

Para completar la encuesta de Plena Inclusión para Discapacidad de Desarrolloen en español por favor utilice este enlace – debe ser completado el 17 de agosto de 2014.
Aqui 

For more information contact Baker at stannard.baker@btrpsychotherapy.com

Interactive timeline of the history of women’s ordination

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 28, 2014

To interact with this timeline, close the introduction and use the slider at the bottom to scroll through the events. To explore an event, click on it. You will then have options to read the details, delve deeper and connect with related online resources.


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El Salvador Anglicans lead church, society in LGBT full inclusion

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 28, 2014

Lisbeth M. Meléndez Rivera, director of Latino/a and Catholic initiatives for the Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign, moderated a panel discussion following a showing of “Before God, We Are All Family,” a documentary film that explores the lives of five religious Latino families who learned to look beyond the church’s teachings to accept their LGBT family members. The panel included retired Bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson and Bishop of El Salvador Martin Barahona. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

[Episcopal News Service – San Salvador, El Salvador] When Bessy Rios’s brother Cruz Torres – then a college student – told her he was gay, she cried for three days.

At the time Rios, a lawyer, was a volunteer with a human rights organization looking for missing children displaced by El Salvador’s 12-year civil war, and a colleague said to her: “Your brother is still your brother. The only thing that is different is that you know something today that you didn’t know yesterday.”

In hindsight, Rios, who leads “Holding your Hand,” a support group for families of LGBT people that accompanies the Anglican-Episcopal Church of El Salvador’s sexual diversity ministry, grew up defending her brother, first from her father who recognized his son’s femininity and threatened to “shoot him between the eyes” if he was gay; later from bullies on the playground.

Still, her brother’s declaration floored her. For 15 years, she said, her brother hid his identity.

In El Salvador and the other countries belonging to the Anglican Church in Central America, or IARCA, its Spanish acronym, hiding one’s homosexual identity remains still somewhat common; the LGBT community suffers violence, threats and discrimination, the latter rooted in deeply held Roman Catholic and evangelical Christian teachings.

Homophobia, heterosexism and machismo, the cultural attitudes driving the deeply held societal beliefs that fuel hatred and discrimination in El Salvador, are what Rios, human rights organizations, the church’s sexual diversity ministry and other activists are working to change.

“I fell in love with the cause,” said Rios, a mother of four, who in addition to working full time advocates for LGBT rights and coordinates “Holding your Hand.”

Forming a family support ministry, regardless of Rios’s resolve, however, has been slow-going, she said, because family members still prefer to meet with her one-on-one rather than in groups, since they, too, want to protect their privacy and in some cases family reputations.

In early July, Rios shared her story with a group of 12 North Americans studying LGBT rights in El Salvador as part of an LGBT pilgrimage organized by Washington National Cathedral and Foundation Cristosal’s Global School.

“This is the first time that Cristosal has gotten involved in LGBT issues,” said Ernesto Zelayandia, coordinator of the Global School, whose curriculum fosters global citizenship. “Our main goal is to foster spaces for dialogue to solve today’s problems.”

Formed in 2009, the Anglican-Episcopal Church in El Salvador’s sexual diversity ministry offers a place for LGBT people to be themselves, find community and re-establish a relationship with a loving, rather than a condemning, God.

Bishop of El Salvador Martin Barahona was IARCA’s primate in 2003 when the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire elected Gene Robinson, now retired, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, an election that sent shockwaves throughout the Anglican Communion.

“I was the one bishop in Latin America who attended Gene Robinson’s consecration,” said Barahona, in an interview with ENS in San Salvador.

Following Robinson’s consecration, Barahona established pastorally inclusive ministries in three areas: people with physical disabilities, sexual diversity and at-risk youth. (The Anglican-Episcopal Church played a major role in negotiating the truce between El Salvador’s two most notorious gangs and the bishop has been known to minister to gang members.)

The sexual diversity ministry became a part of the Rev. Luis Serrano’s congregation at St. John the Evangelist in an area of San Salvador called “Savior of the World,” where a statue of Jesus Christ stands upon planet earth.

“We began to open the hearts, the doors of the church, and then the community began to have confidence in the church, and then they began to come,” said Barahona.

Since the ministry’s beginning, the bishop emphasized integration into the life of the parish, not the creation of a second, gay congregation.

“I explained to them that if you come from a discriminatory environment that you not create another discrimination group of the church,” he said. “You are just members of the church, and at this time I received more than 70 people asking to be Episcopalians.”

Whereas U.S. culture favors full inclusion and equal civil rights for gay and lesbian people, generally staying one step ahead of the church, in El Salvador the church is ahead of the culture, said Robinson, during an interview with ENS in San Salvador.

“[In the United States] the church in many ways is playing a game of catch up; we’re sort of the last to come along,” said Robinson. “Whereas here in El Salvador the culture is overwhelmingly judgmental and condemnatory toward LGBT people. And it’s the church here who is leading what I believe will become a nationwide effort to expand and include LGBT people in the life of society, but means they are up against much greater odds.

“They are literally the mustard seed that promises to flourish and grow into something much bigger and infect the culture with inclusivity … a much more intimidating task in a culture that is still so resistant to including LGBT people in the life of the culture.”

Pride parades and celebrations commemorating the Stonewall riots of June 1969, largely seen as the event that sparked the gay and lesbian rights’ movement in the United States, take place worldwide annually on June 28. Four people were murdered following this year’s pride parade in San Salvador, where more than 4,000 people marched in defense of LGBT rights.

El Salvador has one of the highest murder rates  in the world and gang violence largely claims the lives of poor, marginalized people. Meanwhile, crimes against members of the LGBT community, particularly those committed against transgender women, the most visible and most vulnerable, typically are committed with impunity. Hate crimes and workplace discrimination force many members of the LGBT community to live in fear and isolation; for some it means not knowing what it truly means to be homosexual.

The majority of Christian ministries serving the LGBT community in El Salvador, if even they exist, focus on conversion therapy, trying to change the sexual orientation of gays and lesbians.

The conversion movement in El Salvador resonated with Mike Airhart, who spent close to a decade fact-checking and critiquing the U.S. ex-gay movement for two watchdog websites.

“In hindsight, I think that – like many people – I spent too much time criticizing the obvious missteps of movement leaders,” said Airhart, who attended the pilgrimage as part of group from Washington National Cathedral. “I think I overlooked, or just didn’t have time to pursue, the more pervasive and less visible work of large churches. So while we were among the first to protest antigay activists’ activities in Uganda in early 2009, some of us missed the day-to-day church teachings that affect 300 million people in Latin America.”

Still, despite advances in the United States, same-sex marriage is legal in just 19 states and only on July 21 did President Barack Obama amend an executive order signed in 1967 extending federal workplace protections to gay and transgender persons.

“In too many states and in too many workplaces, simply being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender can still be a fire-able offense,” said Obama. “I firmly believe it’s time to address this injustice for every American.”

In El Salvador and other Central American countries, gay men and lesbian women, often even if they are out with their friends and family, maintain a straight identity in the workplace, rather than risk discrimination or dismissal.

“As a gay man and a Christian born in the United States into tremendous privilege, I would say that I’m elated at the progress we are seeing domestically in our own country, particularly in regard to marriage equality,” said Richard Weinberg, who recently left his position as communications director at Washington National Cathedral to enroll in seminary.

Weinberg helped create the cathedral’s LGBT ministry group in 2012. As the LGBT movement has made progress in the U.S., the group has begun to look for ways to support international movements. However, Weinberg said, progress in the United States doesn’t compare with the everyday suffering, indignity and human rights violations experienced by LGBT persons worldwide.

“We’re talking about life and death, indignities that as Christians we are all called to respond to and help as well as we can,” said Weinberg.

Earlier this year, Weinberg took a sabbatical and volunteered as a missionary in the Episcopal Church of Costa Rica, where he organized a screening of “Before God, We Are All Family.” It was the first time Costa Rica Bishop Héctor Monterrosos and the church began to take steps toward welcoming the LGBT community into the church. (Read a reflection from Weinberg here.)

U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Mari Carmen Aponte and the Canadian and German ambassadors attending the screening of “Before God, We Are All Family, at the National Museum of Anthropology in San Salvador attended by more than 70 people. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

During the pilgrimage, Foundation Cristosal and the Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign, organized a screening of the film at the National Museum of Anthropology in San Salvador attended by more than 60 people.

The documentary explores the lives of five religious Latino families who learned to look beyond the church’s teachings to accept their LGBT family members.

The film seeks to address injustice and foster dialogue, said Lisbeth M. Meléndez Rivera, director of Latino/a and Catholic initiatives at the Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign.

“By collaborating with local faith communities we are able to show a different perspective, one that speaks to an inclusive church, expanding their reach and opening their doors to all versus the exclusive narrative currently in place which pushes marginalized communities further into the wilderness and away from our spiritual/religious homes,” said Meléndez Rivera.

“Before God is also a magnificent way in which to show that our families can indeed achieve acceptance both in family and faith around our complexities including our sexual orientation and/or gender identity,” she added.

For Rios, accepting her brother’s sexual identity has led to her own activism. In addition to doing pro bono legal work, she writes a blog about feminism and sexual diversity for El Faro, an online investigative news service.

In the end, as was Robinson’s experience with his own parents, “love trumps rules”; however, sometimes families need time. During a Q & A discussion following the documentary screening, Robinson urged those present to give their families time to come around. Read Robinson’s reflection on the visit here.

Time seems to have played a positive role in the other churches of Central America, as well. During the most recent IARCA synod meeting in El Salvador the church’s sexual diversity ministry made a presentation to the bishops from Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica, the other Central American Anglican and Episcopal churches. The meeting indicated a departure from the prevailing attitudes of 2003, according to those in attendance.

The ministry welcomes LGBT Salvadorans from all religious backgrounds, and encourages those who belong to other denominations to share its teachings. During a Saturday meeting, the more than 30 people gathered shared their experience of being gay and lesbian in El Salvador. One man, a longtime member of the group who’d been away for a couple of years, shared his experience as a Roman Catholic deacon, preaching against his own identity. Another talked about his diplomatic career, how he almost married a woman to maintain his cover and advance his career.

Over the five years since the ministry began, its members say it hasn’t always been easy, and that at times it’s been hard to draw lesbian woman, some of whom feel welcome in their own faith communities and others who identify strongly with feminism and reject the patriarchal nature of the church. Still, for those who have found a home in the ministry, it provides a safe place not only where their spiritual needs can be addressed but also a place where emotional and other health issues can be explored, and where people can come together in search of ways to minimize discrimination and other societal stigmas.

The Rev. Deacon Josh Shipman and the Rev. Josefina Beecher offer communion to Eduardo Mazariego during a service at St. Romero Anglican Church. Shipman, a student at Seminary of the Southwest, traveled to El Salvador to study LGBT rights with the help of a Seminary Consultation for Mission, or SCOM, grant. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

“I came here because of a friend, he asked me to come … and I decided to come because I thought this was a place where I could find God and truly be myself. This has been a great opportunity for me to grow up as a person, as a professional and also as a member of a gay community,” said Eduardo Mazariego, a member of the group that meets weekly at St. John the Evangelist Church in San Salvador.

The church’s ministry, he said, is important to El Salvador because there are a lot of people in the LGBT community who feel rejected by society and God, and that their sexual orientation is in opposition to the church’s teachings.

“This ministry is really important to my country because as I didn’t know a lot of things about being gay, there are a lot of people who don’t know that we are right, we were actually born this way because God wanted, so I think that this ministry is actually a great opportunity for El Salvador to open to the gay people,” said Mazariego. “I was born into a Catholic family and they think that being gay is a sin.”

Before becoming part of the group, Mazariego said he thought the concept of sexual orientation was, for him, a choice.

“When I was a little boy I used to say that I was wrong because my sexual orientation was against what God wanted,” he said. “I came here looking for hope, for a place where I can talk with people like me and actually when I came here I actually understood who I am and what it means to be gay.”

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

 

Witness and solidarity with the Living Stones

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 28, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] There are a few things in life that one should express gratitude to God for. Of course, the obvious are the usual — family, health, friends, inviting and openly welcoming church community, new ideas and old ones.

How often do we thank God for the gift of a new idea? One that makes us uncomfortable at times? Not often enough for me. Almost 15 years ago my new idea began as a result of meeting a young Arab Christian.

He is one of The Living Stones; Arab Christians who are born, get married, raise kids, die, and find life worth living in a hot, water deprived place for more than 2000 years.

Why would anybody want to live here? My lazy, spoiled Western mind asked. And since God is an all-knowing God, I got a reply to my question almost immediately.

I received a request to be a spiritual advisor to a struggling young Arab Christian who I had met during a tour of the Holy Land. As the saying goes, the rest is life changing history.

Working as a mental health professional at the time and freelancing part time as a journalist, I felt prepared to be of some minor assistance. Listening was critical, providing input was minimal, feeling as if I was making progress with him in hopes of a priestly vocation proved zero.

In subsequent visits over the years, with this young man and his family, now married with three children of his own, I have been thanked over and over for all of my help — a help, I truly felt was unworthy of so much gratitude. All I ever did was listen. How much help could that really be?

Meditating on my upcoming 15-year anniversary of relationship with this Arab Christian family, I realize it is not just “listening” as I think of listening that was so crucial. There was a deep communion between us, a shared communion. They are now my family, existing on the other side of the world, but still a vital part of my communion of saints.

The Arab Christians are no different than any other minority people who live on the fringes of their varied societies except for one thing. They are the keepers of the light of Christ; a deep mystery of hope that goes beyond the edges and Western frames of all my ideas. They have taught me what real hope is. What real witness is. What real solidarity is.

They are the placeholders of Christian history; a continuous, relentless witness to hope. They mirror Christ’s hope to their Muslim and Jewish brothers and sisters throughout a region where there is nothing but lack: no jobs, no water, and no freedom. This is why it is so devastating to be expelled, cast out, and killed. They know they are needed there, as one person told me, “We are the meat in the sandwich. Without us, it’s only bread.”

For them this moment is not totally of their own despair. It is about being heard, recognized, and valued as special participants in the worldwide Body of Christ.

It is the Arab Christians who witness for us in the places where Jesus rose and left relatives filled with a hope against all odds during a Roman occupation. This is what stones do. This is what diehards do. This is what saints do. They survive, retreat to safe havens, return when the coast is clear, and rebuild lives, families, churches, schools, hospitals, orphanages and clinics.

However, this is their moment of despair — that life is going into the gates of hell before them. What is our call at the end of the day?

To be their witness in the west. To join in a locked solidarity to them, with them and for them as they flee bombed homes and churches.

Don’t slide into a malaise with phrases like, “It’s always going to be like this,” or “There’s never going to be a solution.” Or worse — hitting the Facebook ‘Like’ button on a picture and think you’ve done something significant. You haven’t.

Instead, are we ready to reach into the depths of what it means to be a true witness and in true solidarity with them? Are we ready to mirror a face of hope back to them with resources, also known as money, time and talent?

Or will we in the west become distracted by yet one more day of our politicians’ pop cultural lives? Will we move on to the next big “thing”?

The people of hope are in despair. It is now our turn to be their people of hope.

– Sue Stanton is an author and freelance journalist.

For further information, please visit:

Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem

Episcopal Relief & Development

American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem

 

New Opportunities Grants awarded for Native American programs

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 28, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release]  Samuel McDonald, Episcopal Church Director of Mission and Deputy Chief Operating Officer, announced the recipients of the New Opportunities Grants, totaling $75,000.

The Episcopal Church Office of Indigenous Ministries and the Executive Council Committee on Indigenous Ministries invited Episcopal communities with Native American initiatives to submit proposals for the New Opportunities Grants, which provided funding for programs in 2014.

“The New Opportunities Grant was a project established to assist native people throughout the Episcopal Church to develop new and innovative approaches to their ministry,” explained Sarah Eagle Heart, Episcopal Church Program Officer for Indigenous Ministries.

Recipients
• Diocese of Alaska – Old Minto, Alaska Bible Camp: Summer 2014 :  $8,500.00
• Diocese of Alaska – Iona Mentor Training – BNC:  $8,000.00
• Diocese of Alaska – Memories and Recollections of Gwich’in Elders of the Episcopal Church:  $8,000.00
• Diocese of Arizona – Building Bridges: Inspiring and Empowering Native American community development/partnerships:  $8,000.00
• Diocese of Minnesota – Camping and Creation:  $8,000.00
• Diocese of Minnesota – Minnesota Healing Movement for Community Action:  $8,000.00
• Diocese of North Dakota – Pathways to Ministry:  $8,000.00
• Diocese of Olympia – Building Capacity in Indigenous Latin American Immigrant Episcopal Communities:  $3,500.00
• Diocese of South Dakota – Rosebud Episcopal Mission GLORY Program:  $8,000.00
• Diocese of South Dakota – Mending Broken Hearts: Healing from Unresolved Grief and Intergenerational Trauma:  $7,000.00

For further information contact McDonald smcdonald@episcopalchurch.org or Eagle Heart seagleheart@episcopalchurch.org

Chicago diocese ponders next move after Appellate Court loss

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 28, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of Chicago press release] On Thursday, July 24, the Fourth District Appellate Court for the State of Illinois upheld a lower court’s ruling that certain property of the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy belongs to a breakaway group, now organized as the Anglican Diocese of Quincy.

The position of the Episcopal Church is that individual parishes and dioceses hold their property in trust for the wider church, and that those who cease to be members of the Episcopal Church may not take the property with them. This position has been upheld in most similar cases decided throughout the country.

“We are disappointed by the decision of the court and believe that the decision is erroneous,” said Richard Hoskins, chancellor emeritus of the Diocese of Chicago. “We believe that the opinion misunderstands the polity of the Episcopal Church and misapplies the First Amendment. The attorneys representing us in the lawsuit are studying the opinion and will advise the diocese whether to petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.”

“We will respond to this decision in the appropriate legal manner,” said the Rt. Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee, bishop of Chicago. “While that process unfolds, our primary mission will continue to be fulfilling God’s vision for the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago and its newest deanery in Peoria.”

[In June 2013, the dioceses of Chicago and Quincy decided to reunite].

Historical Society announces grant awards

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 28, 2014

[Historical Society press release] The Historical Society of the Episcopal Church is pleased to announce grants it will award in 2014. Determination of grant recipients were made during the June Board meeting of the Society held at the Episcopal Theological School at Claremont, California. The Rev. Dr. Robyn M. Neville, Chair of the Grants and Research Committee, announced the recipients as determined by the committee. Applications were received from individual scholars and academic and ecclesiastical groups for grants to support significant research, conferences, and publications relating to the history of the Church of England, the Anglican Communion and Anglican and Episcopal Churches in North America.

The following grants were announced:

  • The Rev. Benjamin Anthony of Vanderbilt University, for his dissertation research on Phillips Brooks’ preaching;
  • The Grafton Commemoration project of the Diocese of Fond du Lac, a matching grant, to support a research paper competition that honors the Rt. Rev. Charles Chapman Grafton;
  • Dr. Judith Hull of Emerson College, for research that will complete her book project, Trinity Church Wall Street and Social Reform;
  • The Rev. Dane Neufeld of Wycliffe College in Toronto, for his dissertation research on the 19th century Anglican philosopher and theologian, Henry Mansel;
  • Dr. Scott Rohrer, independent historian and editor with the National Journal Group, for his book project, Religion and Revolution in the British Atlantic World;
  • Mr. Peter Walker of Columbia University, for archival research that will complete his dissertation, titled, Reform, Toleration, and Nation-Building: the CoE 1774-1829.

Grants are provided annually and are modest, ranging generally from $1,000-$2,000. Recipients are encouraged to publish their work, when appropriate, in Anglican and Episcopal History, the quarterly academic journal of the Society.

For over a century HSEC has been an association dedicated to preserving and disseminating information about the history of the Episcopal Church. Founded in Philadelphia in 1910 as the Church Historical Society, its members include scholars, writers, teachers, ministers (lay and ordained) and many others who have an interest in the objectives and activities of the Historical Society.

Presiding Bishop preaches at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Philadelphia

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 28, 2014

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

            If you were going to describe the kingdom of God, what sort of story would you tell? Can you see that goal we’re aiming for? What’s your image of that kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven?

The hints Jesus offers in this morning’s gospel draw in all sorts of creatures and parts of creation, in surprising juxtaposition. They are animate and inanimate, human and animal, plant and mineral. He’s left almost nothing out. It’s like a seed that grows into a bush or tree, with birds nesting in it. It’s like a woman mixing yeast and flour. It’s like valuable treasure in a field – can you see the folks out there with their metal detectors? It’s like an entrepreneur hunting for exquisite pearls. It’s like fishing with nets and sorting the catch – this is for sushi, that’s for bait, and this is for fertilizer. What story would you tell?

Let’s see. The kingdom of heaven is like a stream of refugees, fleeing war in their homeland, and they are taken in, sheltered, and welcomed by people from another nation.

The kingdom of heaven is like a prairie, filled with wildflowers and children playing.

The kingdom of heaven is like a vestry meeting filled with passionate debate.

The kingdom of heaven is like collecting the garbage – particularly when people begin to see the treasure it contains.

Jesus is prodding and confounding his hearers to see God at work in surprising people and parts of creation. What makes it a vision of the holy?

That’s what the dialogue with Solomon is about. Solomon asks for discernment to see God at work, and to better understand his own part as a co-creator of the kingdom of heaven and earth. He may be new at the job but he’s already got the presence of mind to admit that he doesn’t know it all, and that he’s willing to listen and learn.

Paul writes to a community in Rome who know they’re not living in a heavenly kingdom. Their experience is a lot more about an oppressive earthly one. Paul is encouraging the faithful in Rome to buck up – even if they don’t have the strength or words to pray. He says don’t fret, God’s own spirit is already within us, groaning in prayer when we can’t – trust in that. When we’re conscious enough, we can remember that we are greatly beloved and we have been made good, and that is what’s most important. We know that God is at work even when we can’t see beyond the mess of death in the world around us.

The kingdom of heaven is like a little kid who keeps asking for a pony for his birthday. The day comes, he looks out the window and all he can see is a big manure pile. “Whoopee! I know there’s a pony in there somewhere!”

We know that all things work together for good when we’re loving God and loving neighbor. I trust that little boy is going to let other kids ride the pony, and share the pony’s love with all comers. One of the women who was ordained here 40 years ago is actually doing just that. Carter Heyward retired from teaching at the Episcopal Divinity School to start a center for therapeutic horseback riding.[1] The kingdom of God is like horses helping human beings heal.

Paul goes on to remind his hearers that the love of God surrounds us in ways that are beyond our mortal imagining, and that nothing whatever, including suffering and death, can separate us from that love.

The kingdom of heaven is like a funeral, with grateful thanks for love shared, and hope that life is changed, not ended.

The kingdom of heaven is even like the funeral for a child dead of cancer, or a family killed by violence, when the love of God and neighbor is evident in shared suffering and yearning for healing.

The kingdom of heaven is like that haul of fish, and sorting out the life-giving from the deadly and life-denying. Treasure what builds up and contributes to abundant life, and put it in a basket to share. Turn your back on the other sort, let it go, use it to catch fish that are good to eat, or put it on the compost pile to turn into fertilizer.

Jesus says that workers for the kingdom of heaven are like those who treasure what is new and what is old – keep the best of what you’ve known as life-giving, and be willing to be surprised by new possibilities.

That sort of hopeful attitude underlies all sorts of changes and growth toward more abundant life. The ordinations we’re celebrating this weekend are an example. I came along 20 years after those brave women and bishops, but when I was first ordained there were a couple of elderly women in the parish who said, “we don’t believe in women’s ordination, but you’re all right.” That attitude was pretty common, for a long time. People said similar things about this 35 year old prayer book, and they’ve said it about gay and lesbian people. They took out of their treasure something old, were willing to re-examine it, and found the life-giving parts of both the old and new treasures.

Maybe more than anything else, the kingdom of heaven is about a willingness to leave the final judgment to the angels, and to keep our eyes and ears and hearts open to what God is up to all around us – and within us.

Where is that pony?

[1] http://freereincenter.com/

Video available: 40th anniversary of women’s ordination celebration

ENS Headlines - Sunday, July 27, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The video of the special celebration of the 40th anniversary of women’s ordination on July 26 is now available at no fee here.

The Diocese of Pennsylvania hosted a celebration of the 40th anniversary of women’s ordination to the priesthood in The Episcopal Church at the Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia, the site of the ordinations in 1974.  Working in partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, the Office of Communication videotaped the event.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached at the service; her sermon text is listed below.

For more information contact Mike Collins, Episcopal Church Manager of Multimedia Services, at mcollins@episcopalchurch.org, or Henry Carnes at the Diocese of Pennsylvania, henryc@diopa.org.

Presiding Bishop’s sermon
40th Anniversary of the Ordination of Women Priests
Church of the Advocate, Philadelphia
26 July 2014
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

The whole of The Episcopal Church gives thanks today that women serve in all orders of ministry.

The recent decision of the Church of England to finally open the doors for women bishops has brought great rejoicing.  It’s also brought reflections about – what else – what bishops should wear.  A New York Times editorial titled “Give us a Bishop in High Heels” [1]  actually offers the liberating perspective that while these women may still appear in dog collars they don’t have to look like male bishops.  I hope you wore your dangly earrings today.

The gospel singer Yolanda Adams offered a prescient take on this on her morning radio show two months ago[2]. She invited her friend Bishop Secular to talk about his plan for the women of the church. Bishop Secular noted that the women in his church were tottering around on their high heels last Sunday and could use some lessons. He wants to bring in some ladies of the night to work with the ladies of the light, and he notes that it should be mutually beneficial [3]. Particularly in a church context that kind of meeting can result in real solidarity, if not solid walking – and solidarity is what Jesus is all about.

A week ago, a long investigative report on campus rape told the painful story of a woman at Hobart and William Smith Colleges whose story of violation and violence were quickly dismissed by campus investigators, and later by the civil authorities [4].   The most hopeful part of the report showed the colleges’ beginning to change the culture and educate men about rape and sexual assault.  It showed men and a few women walking around campus in high heels, as part of an awareness-raising campaign called “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.”[5]   That just might build some solidarity along with the blisters.

One of the forebears we’re celebrating today, Pauli Murray, used to talk about her “proud shoes.” [6]  The first high-heeled shoes were worn by Persians for horseback riding in the 9th century, to keep their feet from sliding out of the stirrups.  Men and women have worn them as fashion statements in the centuries since then.  If you heard about what went on at Johns Hopkins for some years, you might begin to believe that wearing high heels in stirrups today might be a good defense against inappropriate picture taking.[7]

I am told that today REALLY high heels are understood as jewelry, rather than footwear.  For some women, high heels are a sign of leisure and freedom, and not having to run anywhere – not for fear of pursuers, or to escape violence, or to the kitchen sink, or to feed a crying child.  Moses took his shoes off when he stood on holy ground; I think Miriam probably put on her high heeled sandals when she danced and sang her song of liberation.

Women in all orders of ministry – baptized, deacons, priests, and bishops – can walk proudly today, in whatever kind of shoes they want to wear,  because of what happened here 40 years ago.  We can walk proudly, even if not yet in full equality, knowing that the ranks of those who walk in solidarity are expanding.  Wisdom is afoot everywhere, freeing her people from oppressors, and she enters all sorts and conditions of human beings bound for the glory of justice and peace.  Together, we are marching upward to Zion.

Wisdom continues to give voice to the liberated and newborn.  She has helped them say yes, she has helped them say “she” and “her” in the same sentence as leader, priest, bishop, deputy – and president of each of those houses.  She is a prophet, she is a healer and a chaplain, she is a leader of her people, and we don’t just mean Deborah the judge, but Sandra, Ruth, Sonia, Elena – and Emily.  She is the image of God, which is probably the most liberating part of the work started here 40 years ago – the balancing of centuries of narrow assertions and faulty theology about the divine and its holy and creative work.

In our second lesson, as always, Peter sounds naively optimistic when he says, “the end of everything has come.”  Well, at least it is well begun.  The end of categorical exclusion has begun, and once the gates open, the flood begins to burst through.  That flood of birthwaters washes away fences of division, judgments that grieve and cleave – and becomes a flume delivering new life into this world.  It has its origin in Wisdom, God’s creative co-worker, in Shekinah overshadowing Mary, in the delivery of a holy child for the healing of this world.  That child is born in a flood of blood and water, blessed and emboldened in his cousin’s baptismal waters, and brought to die in thirst and abandonment.  Yet at the last, a flood gushes forth once more – living water and life blood poured out for all.  Jesus gives birth to a new people of solidarity with outcast, oppressed, enslaved, imprisoned, and deprived.  The gates of hell have not just been destroyed – they have been rusted open – as living water floods up from the depths and showers the world with grace.

The green blade riseth, all around.

Peter gets the response to this ending and beginning right – radical hospitality to self and other.  Be confident and clear in your prayers, in your vision of the Zion toward which we are all bound.  Discover and claim the love God has for you, and love yourself in the same way – as treasured possession and infinitely precious.  Likewise love one another, as equal friends of God, and discover heaven in your midst.  Welcome and serve one another, using the gifts the spirit has planted within you.  Speak with the strength of Wisdom herself.  Do you suppose Peter learned this from his mother-in-law?  When Jesus healed her fever she got up and began to serve.  As our fevered oppression is healed, pray that we are doing the same – serving Jesus in the least around us, in the forgotten children on our borders and the panicked ones in Gaza, and the imprisoned ones wasting away in our jails.  Speak out in truth at the injustice of this world, use the memory of that fever to call down rolling rivers of justice and upspringing streams of righteousness!

That is losing your life and gaining the whole and healed and holy world created at the beginning.

Remember to take your shoes – boots made for walking[8], shoes for marching or slippers for dancing.  Try to walk in the shoes of abused and trafficked women.  Walk on to Zion carrying the children who are born and suffer in the midst of war.  Gather up the girls married before they are grown, gather up the schoolgirls still missing in Nigeria, and gather up all those lives wasted in war and prison.  March boldly, proclaiming good news to all who have been pushed aside, and call them to the table of God, to Wisdom’s feast.  Dance upward in glory, listening for Miriam’s song and Sarah’s laughter, calling to us from the hillside.  A banquet awaits.  Go.

Put on your shoes and take up those crosses.  We’re marching upward to Zion.

Come, we that love the Lord, And let our joys be known;
Join in a song with sweet accord, Join in a song with sweet accord
And thus surround the throne, And thus surround the throne.
We’re marching to Zion, Beautiful, beautiful Zion;
We’re marching upward to Zion, The beautiful city of God.[9]

1 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/21/opinion/church-of-england-female-bishops.html?_r=0
2 Gospel singer and radio host, WBLS, New York.
3 http://theyolandaadamsmorningshow.com/862517/high-heel-training-for-women-of-the-church/
4 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/us/how-one-college-handled-a-sexual-assault-complaint.html
5 http://www.walkamileinhershoes.org/
6 The Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray, Proud Shoes.
7 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/22/us/johns-hopkins-settlement-190-million.html?_r=0
8  “These Boots Were Made for Walking” written by Lee Hazlewood, first recorded by Nancy Sinatra, 1966.  An image of standing up to, and walking out on, all sorts of oppression.
9 “We’re Marching to Zion,” Lift Every Voice and Sing, Church Pension Fund, 1993.

Video: 40 Years Ordained – 2,000 Years in Ministry sermon

ENS Headlines - Sunday, July 27, 2014

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[Episcopal News Service -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]  Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preaches the sermon during the July 26 celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Philadelphia 11 ordinations. the celebration took place at the Church of the Advocate, the North Philadelphia church where the ordinations were held on July 29, 19774. Video: Episcopal Church Multimedia Services

Video of the entire service is available here.

Text of the presiding bishop’s sermon follows.

40th Anniversary of the Ordination of Women Priests

Church of the Advocate, Philadelphia

26 July 2014

 

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop and Primate

The Episcopal Church

 

The whole of The Episcopal Church gives thanks today that women serve in all orders of ministry.

The recent decision of the Church of England to finally open the doors for women bishops has brought great rejoicing. It’s also brought reflections about – what else – what should bishops should wear. A New York Times editorial titled “Give us a Bishop in High Heels”[1] actually offers the liberating perspective that while these women may still appear in dog collars they don’t have to look like male bishops. I hope you wore your dangly earrings today.

The gospel singer Yolanda Adams offered a prescient take on this on her morning radio show two months ago. [2] She invited her friend Bishop Secular to talk about his plan for the women of the church. Bishop Secular noted that the women in his church were tottering around on their high heels last Sunday and could use some lessons. He wants to bring in some ladies of the night to work with the ladies of the light, and he notes that it should be mutually beneficial.[3] Particularly in a church context that kind of meeting can result in real solidarity, if not solid walking – and solidarity is what Jesus is all about.

A week ago, a long investigative report on campus rape told the painful story of a woman at Hobart and William Smith Colleges whose story of violation and violence were quickly dismissed by campus investigators, and later by the civil authorities.[4] The most hopeful part of the report showed the colleges’ beginning to change the culture and educate men about rape and sexual assault. It showed men and a few women walking around campus in high heels, as part of an awareness-raising campaign called “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.”[5] That just might build some solidarity along with the blisters.

One of the forebears we’re celebrating today, Pauli Murray, used to talk about her “proud shoes.”[6] The first high-heeled shoes were worn by Persians for horseback riding in the 9th century, to keep their feet from sliding out of the stirrups. Men and women have worn them as fashion statements in the centuries since then. If you heard about what went on at Johns Hopkins for some years, you might begin to believe that wearing high heels in stirrups today might be a good defense against inappropriate picture taking.[7]

I am told that today REALLY high heels are understood as jewelry, rather than footwear. For some women, high heels are a sign of leisure and freedom, and not having to run anywhere – not for fear of pursuers, or to escape violence, or to the kitchen sink, or to feed a crying child. Moses took his shoes off when he stood on holy ground; I think Miriam probably put on her high heeled sandals when she danced and sang her song of liberation.

Women in all orders of ministry – baptized, deacons, priests, and bishops – can walk proudly today, in whatever kind of shoes they want to wear,    because of what happened here 40 years ago. We can walk proudly, even if not yet in full equality, knowing that the ranks of those who walk in solidarity are expanding. Wisdom is afoot everywhere, freeing her people from oppressors, and she enters all sorts and conditions of human beings bound for the glory of justice and peace. Together, we are marching upward to Zion.

Wisdom continues to give voice to the liberated and newborn. She has helped them say yes, she has helped them say “she” and “her” in the same sentence as leader, priest, bishop, deputy – and president of each of those houses. She is a prophet, she is a healer and a chaplain, she is a leader of her people, and we don’t just mean Deborah the judge, but Sandra, Ruth, Sonia, Elena – and Emily. She is the image of God, which is probably the most liberating part of the work started here 40 years ago – the balancing of centuries of narrow assertions and faulty theology about the divine and its holy and creative work.

In our second lesson, as always, Peter sounds naively optimistic when he says, “the end of everything has come.” Well, at least it is well begun. The end of categorical exclusion has begun, and once the gates open, the flood begins to burst through. That flood of birthwaters washes away fences of division, judgments that grieve and cleave – and becomes a flume delivering new life into this world. It has its origin in Wisdom, God’s creative co-worker, in Shekinah overshadowing Mary, in the delivery of a holy child for the healing of this world. That child is born in a flood of blood and water, blessed and emboldened in his cousin’s baptismal waters, and brought to die in thirst and abandonment. Yet at the last, a flood gushes forth once more – living water and life blood poured out for all. Jesus gives birth to a new people of solidarity with outcast, oppressed, enslaved, imprisoned, and deprived. The gates of hell have not just been destroyed – they have been rusted open – as living water floods up from the depths and showers the world with grace. The green blade riseth, all around.

Peter gets the response to this ending and beginning right – radical hospitality to self and other. Be confident and clear in your prayers, in your vision of the Zion toward which we are all bound. Discover and claim the love God has for you, and love yourself in the same way – as treasured possession and infinitely precious. Likewise love one another, as equal friends of God, and discover heaven in your midst. Welcome and serve one another, using the gifts the spirit has planted within you. Speak with the strength of Wisdom herself. Do you suppose Peter learned this from his mother-in-law? When Jesus healed her fever she got up and began to serve. As our fevered oppression is healed, pray that we are doing the same – serving Jesus in the least around us, in the forgotten children on our borders and the panicked ones in Gaza, and the imprisoned ones wasting away in our jails. Speak out in truth at the injustice of this world, use the memory of that fever to call down rolling rivers of justice and upspringing streams of righteousness!

That is losing your life and gaining the whole and healed and holy world created at the beginning.

Remember to take your shoes – boots made for walking,[8] shoes for marching or slippers for dancing. Try to walk in the shoes of abused and trafficked women. Walk on to Zion carrying the children who are born and suffer in the midst of war. Gather up the girls married before they are grown, gather up the schoolgirls still missing in Nigeria, and gather up all those lives wasted in war and prison. March boldly, proclaiming good news to all who have been pushed aside, and call them to the table of God, to Wisdom’s feast. Dance upward in glory, listening for Miriam’s song and Sarah’s laughter, calling to us from the hillside. A banquet awaits. Go.

Put on your shoes and take up those crosses. We’re marching upward to Zion.

Come, we that love the Lord, And let our joys be known;

Join in a song with sweet accord, Join in a song with sweet accord

And thus surround the throne, And thus surround the throne.

We’re marching to Zion, Beautiful, beautiful Zion;

We’re marching upward to Zion, The beautiful city of God.[9]

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/21/opinion/church-of-england-female-bishops.html?_r=0

[2] Gospel singer and radio host, WBLS, New York.

[3] http://theyolandaadamsmorningshow.com/862517/high-heel-training-for-women-of-the-church/

[4] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/us/how-one-college-handled-a-sexual-assault-complaint.html

[5] http://www.walkamileinhershoes.org/

[6] The Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray, Proud Shoes.

[7] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/22/us/johns-hopkins-settlement-190-million.html?_r=0

[8] “These Boots Were Made for Walking” written by Lee Hazlewood, first recorded by Nancy Sinatra, 1966. An image of standing up to, and walking out on, all sorts of oppression.

[9] “We’re Marching to Zion,” Lift Every Voice and Sing, Church Pension Fund, 1993.