[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs -- Press Release] The Episcopal Church House of Bishops, meeting in retreat in Kanuga Conference Center, Hendersonville, North Carolina, offers the following Word to the Church.
A Word to the Church:
Godly Leadership in the Face of Violence
O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen (Collect for Tuesday in Holy Week. Book of Common Prayer (BCP) p. 220)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Your House of Bishops has gathered in retreat from March 8-12 at Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC. The theme for our days together has been “Godly Leadership in the Midst of Loss.” We have heard moving reflections on loss in the wake of: the shootings in Newtown, Hurricane Sandy, the ongoing struggles in Haiti, historical trauma experienced by Native Americans in South Dakota, and physical illness. Being together in conversation, prayer and common worship, we have shared the reality of new life in the resurrected Jesus who has overcome death and redeems our losses.
Our time together has brought us to a new place of recognition with respect to how violence infects, and affects, our lives. We have considered how the reality of violence in our world, our society, our churches, our homes, and ourselves alienate us from God and each other. And we repent that we have too often neglected to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation. In this Lenten season we pray: “Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done: for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty.” (From the Litany of Penance for Ash Wednesday, BCP p. 268)
We particularly grieve those killed by senseless gun violence in the many contexts from which we come. We lament and have cried over the widely reported mass shootings in this country, recalling tragedies like Aurora, Oak Creek and Newtown. We are outraged by the too often unseen and unacknowledged daily massacre of our young people in cities such as Chicago, Newark, Baltimore, Port-au-Prince, and Tegucigalpa. This carnage must stop.
As bishops of The Episcopal Church we embody a wide variety of experiences and perspectives with respect to firearms. Many among us are hunters and sport-shooters, former members of the military and law-enforcement officers. We respect and honor that we are not of one mind regarding matters related to gun legislation. Yet we are convinced that there needs to be a new conversation in the United States that challenges gun violence. Because of the wide variety of contexts in which we live and our commitment to reasoned and respectful discourse that holds together significant differences in creative tension, we believe that The Episcopal Church can and must lead in this effort. In fact many in this Church are already doing so, for which we thank God.
At our ordinations as bishops we pledged to “boldly proclaim and interpret the Gospel of Christ, enlightening the minds and stirring up the conscience” of those we are called to serve. (BCP p. 518) We call all Episcopalians to pray and work for the end of gun violence. We commit ourselves to lead a new conversation in our nations as to the appropriate use and legislation of firearms. And we further commit ourselves to specific actions to this end.
Praying and working together we can be instruments of God’s restoring and reconciling love for the whole world. Glory to God whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)
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[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs]The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has been meeting in retreat at the Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC (Diocese of Western North Carolina) since March 8 . Today, March 12, is the last day of the retreat. The following is an account of the activities for Tuesday, March 12.
The theme for the spring retreat meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is Godly Leadership in the Midst of Loss. The schedule calls for prayer-filled sessions, and bishops participate in daily Bible study, reflection and worship.
The day began with Morning Prayer, with Bishop Jon Bruno, Diocese of Los Angeles, offering a meditation on Godly Leadership in the Midst of Personal Loss. Bishop Bruno reflected on his personal journey of loss from the perspective of his earlier vocation as a police officer, the loss he has experienced in his ministry as bishop, and his struggle with loss related to his personal health, particularly his recent battle with leukemia. He gave powerful witness to his faith in Jesus and being surrounded during loss by the community of faith that has made it possible for him to thrive in the midst of life-reorienting loss. Bruno noted that, “Loss breaks open the heart and moves you to a place where you belong; God wants us to be in a place as people of a whole heart.”
Emcee for the day was Bishop Diane Jardine Bruce, Diocese of Los Angeles.
During a town hall meeting on the final afternoon, Bishop Stacy Sauls, Episcopal Church Chief Operating Officer, provided an overview of the DFMS staff as it facilitates support for and networks with the diocesan and local staff in various areas: setting up partnerships, new ministry initiatives, mission enterprise zones, support for Province IX, new initiatives within the Young Adult Service Corps, revamping Jubilee ministries, encouraging state public policy networks, addressing domestic poverty and new environmental initiatives.
Elizabeth Lowell offered an overview of the DFMS Development Office.
Bishop Jay Magness of Federal Ministries spoke about military chaplains.
Bishop John Smylie of Diocese of Wyoming spoke about an interactive on-line vestry training resources.
Bishop Mark Lattime, Diocese of Alaska, talked about an upcoming climb of Denali in honor of the centennial of the original climb of Hudson Stuck, an Episcopal priest who is remembered in Holy Women, Holy Men on April 22, together with descendants of the original climbers. Bishop Lattime will be teaching and he can be tracked in real time during the June climb.
Bishop Carol Gallagher and Bishop Michael Smith, North Dakota, reported on the work of the Bishops’ Native Collaborative designed to reinvigorate native and indigenous initiatives. Together with Bishop John Tarrant of South Dakota and Bishop Mark Lattime of Alaska they are working particularly on the formation of clergy to serve native American Episcopal congregations.
Bishop Victor Scantlebury updated the House of Bishops about developments in the Diocese of Ecuador Central.
Announced/introduced were: new bishops; necrology; resignations; new provisional bishops; and renunciation.
Bishop Mark Beckwith, Diocese of Newark reported on the Episcopal Service Corps.
Bishop Pierre Whalon of Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe reported on the Ecclesiology Committee.
Bishop Neil Alexander provided a brief report on Church Investment Group.
Media Briefers for Tuesday, March 12
Bishop Neil Alexander, dean, School of Theology, Sewanee, The University of the South
Bishop John Smylie, Diocese of Wyoming
HOB on Twitter: #HOB2013
[Diolog] Singer Ana Hernández was helping to provide music during a small Christmas-morning service at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia, when one of the hymns made her weep. After the service, organist Dan Moriarty said, “You know what’s amazing? I push buttons on the organ, and water comes out of your eyes.”
“The water drops on the stone of the floor,” Hernández replied, “and the thought that comes into my head is: I wonder how many other tears have hit this floor?”
Moriarty looked at her and said, “Yeah.”
What started as a “goofy” exchange suddenly shifted “into something unbelievably important and huge and wondrous,” Hernández said. “The Spirit will turn on you like that, on a dime, in a second.”
For Hernandez, liturgy at its best inspires wonder – not only a sense of awe in experiencing the holy but also a sense of curiosity.
Author of “The Sacred Art of Chant,” Hernández is a composer, arranger and performer of sacred music and a member of the Episcopal Church’s Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music.
“I didn’t start out in the Episcopal Church, but I’ve been here since I was 17. …I fell in love with the liturgy, the music and the way it helped me access Spirit, the way it helped me access the things that I knew were important to me,” Hernández said. “I’m still figuring out what’s important to me, because I’m always curious … I’m always approaching life with that kind of, ‘Whoa! How does that work?’ or ‘How did she do that?’ It’s that curiosity, I think, that keeps me grateful for things I don’t have any clue about how to articulate.”
When we come to church, we bring our questions into a space with “something for every sense,” she said. “There’s [stained] glass to look at, and that causes wonder. There is sometimes … a really amazing sense of smell going on with incense, right? There’s the sense of taste and touch in the Eucharist.”
And we hear music and the words of the liturgy. “The flow of the words, the rhythm of the words themselves can cause wonder in people,” Hernández said. The prayer book can help you enter a sense of wonder “and enable you to form the questions that will guide your life.”
And while the words remain the same, our perspective on them changes week to week, she said. “You find different things in it because you are never really the same.”
“There is no one right way” to do liturgy, she added. “You go to church and we learn the drill from the book … but in that the Spirit is constantly working on us and the Spirit is working on our curiosity and our sense of wonder.”
For the Rev. Victor Thomas, “The most important part of worship is the showing up for it and knowing that it’s our responsibility and our role to give praise to God, that it’s not about us. …It’s really about showing up for God and, because of that, we’re showing up for one another.”
“But the wonder piece is important because when we show up for worship we have an experience with God,” said Thomas, rector of St. James’ Episcopal Church in Houston.
The liturgy helps people enter that experience in different ways, and different styles will be meaningful for different people. Each Sunday, St. James’ offers a Rite I Eucharist, a Rite II service with organ, choir and trumpet, and a noon contemporary worship service with a jazz influence.
“There’s some people that, if we only had worship in the 12 o’clock form, would not be members of this parish,” Thomas said. “There’s something that takes place at each one of those services and each one of those genres that really speaks to these people’s souls.”
The music, he added, is “not there to entertain us. It’s there to bring us deeper and more profoundly into the presence of God. The same thing with preaching.”
And at the center of the worship is the Eucharist. “The Eucharist is all about mystery, and that really does feed us,” Thomas said. “It’s not like we’re trying to have all the answers … The sense of mystery with the Holy Communion, I think that adds to the wonder in worship.”
“We’ve got the best tradition in the world,” he concluded, “because there’s so much to it and there’s so much depth and weight and, really, if you do it with passion and very intentionally, I think it’s meaningful for so many people.”
– Sharon Sheridan is an ENS correspondent. This article first appeared in the March issue of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas publication Diolog. Hernandez’ music can be found at anahermusic.tumblr.com.
[Lambeth Palace] The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has agreed to take over from Dr Rowan Williams as official patron of the the UK’s largest Christian-Muslim interfaith organisation, the Christian Muslim Forum.
Speaking after meeting the forum’s trustees last week, the Archbishop said: “I’m excited to support the important work of the Christian Muslim Forum, as Christian-Muslim relations is a key global issue which it is vital to get right – and can have tragic consequences if we don’t.”
The Christian Muslim Forum has just celebrated its seventh anniversary and remains uniquely placed, with its wide representation of both Muslim and Christian traditions, providing guidance on a range of issues such as inter faith marriage, and mission and evangelism (see the forum’s ‘Ethical Witness Guidelines’).
Archbishop Justin’s focus on reconciliation fits well within the forum’s framework of being a peace organisation, working to provide pastoral care and guidance in the community, puncturing prejudice and negativity.
The forum supports the role of women in faith and recently hosted the first national awards ceremony for Christian and Muslim women, celebrating their contribution to local and national interfaith initiatives. A copy of its ‘The Edge’ report on women’s initiatives was handed to the Archbishop.
Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, Co-Chair of the Forum and Assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: ‘We are very grateful to Archbishop Justin for meeting with us so early in his ministry and were encouraged by his keen interest in our work.’
Bishop Paul Hendricks, Co-Chair and Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark, added: “Christian-Muslim dialogue is essential. Our work in England can be a role model for Christians and Muslims around the world. Archbishop Justin is extremely well-connected with Christian and Muslim leaders in Nigeria and we look forward to continuing to engage with Nigerian communities.”
The Archbishop echoed the forum’s concerns for honest engagement between two different faiths, speaking of “passionate differences without passionate hatred”.
[Center for American Progress] President of the House of Deputies Gay Clark Jennings and retired New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson are among the faith leaders who have added their voices.
In response to the release of the 2013 House Republican budget blueprint—a plan that for the third year in a row puts the wealthiest few ahead of the most vulnerable Americans—a diverse group of distinguished faith leaders issued the following statements condemning the budget as immoral.
Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK and founder of Nuns on the Bus:
Last year we “Nuns on the Bus” traveled thousands of miles to connect directly with communities where the devastating effects of Rep. Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget proposal would be felt. We had already strongly protested his budget cuts since it was clear they would harm already struggling families. During our journey we listened to the personal stories of those families and our hearts were deeply touched. Today we are convinced more than ever that the voices of the people must be heard and that Rep. Ryan’s cuts to vital human-needs programs to benefit the wealthy must be defeated. We are a nation for the 100 percent, and his budget cuts are both immoral and counter to our values.
Bishop Gene Robinson, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress:
Every world religion describes a God who will judge us by the way we treat the most vulnerable among us. The prophets of the Jewish scriptures, and certainly Jesus, would have much to say about the impending cuts to the most vulnerable brought on by the Ryan budget. And it wouldn’t be pretty! People of faith need to stand up to a Congress that would “save” the economy on the backs of the poor, the disabled, and the vulnerable.
Rev. Dr. Brad Braxton, senior pastor at The Open Church, Baltimore, Maryland, and the Lois Craddock Perkins professor of homiletics at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas:
Every pastor knows that a budget is both a moral document and a financial document. The Ryan budget would not only cut lifesaving programs for the most vulnerable in our society, but it would also call into question the very moral fiber of this nation. This budget seeks not to expand liberty but to contract it—and, in the process, render null and void the social contract we have signed with our nation’s children and elders. We must write and pass a budget that lives up to the moral identity of our nation, not one that decimates our neighborhoods, despises our poor, and declares that the young and old of this country are on their own.
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, The United Methodist Church, Los Angeles area:
The House Republican budget cuts away at vital social services that affect the poor and those who are barely able to meet the basic needs of their families. Our national budget reflects our core moral values and we will not recover economically until we address our education fund unjust approach to budgeting. People living on the economic margins must be treated with care and dignity if we are to ever hope to have a just and effective national budget.
Rabbi Laurie Coskey, Ed.D., executive director of the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice, San Diego, California:
Our representatives in the House and Senate are elected, inaugurated, and anointed to the sacred responsibility of serving the common good through public office. As leaders of diverse faith communities, we urge them to protect the “least among us”—the children, the infirm, the poor, and the vulnerable. Members of our congregations depend upon our chosen representatives to hear their cries of suffering and to work collaboratively to pass a Moral Budget. May it reflect the highest values and priorities of family, community, state, and a just society.
Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies of The Episcopal Church:
Across traditions and cultures, people of faith are commanded to care for the poor and vulnerable among us. In the United States today, this means more than 32 million children who live in poor or low-income households. Our federal budget should fight the evil of childhood poverty by funding programs like food stamps, housing assistance, child care, and Medicaid at levels that children need to grow up healthy and strong. If the House Republican budget fails to care for our children, then it fails one of the greatest moral tests that God has given to faithful people.
Sr. Anne Marie Mack, CBS, Bon Secours Richmond Health System:
We look to our elected leaders to provide for the “common good” for all, including the most poor and vulnerable among us and we ask that our political parties support a budget that passes a “basic moral test.” Will it help lift up those most in need and help them to get out of poverty? We urge action against the House Republican budget as one of moral necessity. We must ensure that all individuals and families have access to the care they need throughout their lives regardless of their economic status and social condition.
Rev. Bryan Massingale, professor of theological ethics at Marquette University and a past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America:
Budget cuts that fall hardest on the working poor are simply irresponsible and immoral. I applaud Rep. Ryan’s interest in Catholic teaching, but it’s impossible to reconcile that concern with his budget proposals that would decimate vital social safety nets that Catholic leaders helped create and defend today.
Sr. Monica McGloin, OP, Ohio Nuns on the Bus, Cincinnati, Ohio:
Rep. Paul Ryan’s original budget proposal did not measure up to Catholic Social Teaching and it is unlikely that his third attempt will do better. Catholic Social Teaching stresses the community and the common good, which I understand to mean that we have a responsibility to care for and about one another. Privatizing Medicare and cutting social support programs while protecting the very wealthy in our society destroys the very fabric of community. Our budget must reflect our values and build the community our ancestors envisioned, “All people have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Brian D. McLaren, author, speaker, and activist:
A lot of people are talking about the “generational theft” inherent in an unsustainable budget deficit, and this is indeed a needed discussion. But too few are talking about “demographic theft,” by which the wealthiest people at the top of the pyramid own a larger and larger share of wealth, leaving the poorest among us with next to nothing. We must oppose all proposed solutions to “generational theft” that aid and abet “demographic theft,” and a good way to start is by guaranteeing, from the start, the most protection for the most vulnerable.
Vincent Miller, the Gudorf chair in Catholic theology and culture at the University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio:
Rep. Paul Ryan returns with yet another hard-hearted and shortsighted budget. This radical rejection of our government’s obligations to the common good denies our young workers Medicare’s guarantee of coverage in old age and sacrifices the most vulnerable to preserve unsustainable tax cuts for the wealthiest few. Rep. Ryan’s libertarian ideology would make Ayn Rand proud, but can never be justified by Catholic teaching or Gospel values.
Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, former moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.):
This budget, if pursued and passed, will send a message, in both tone and tactic, that our government is more concerned with protecting those who control wealth and privilege than supporting those upon whom that wealth and privilege has been built. As a person of faith, as a citizen of the United States, and as a human being, this is simply unacceptable and I urge Congress to reject Rep. Ryan’s budget.
[World Council of Churches] In a letter to Pakistani churches, the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit has condemned the attacks on Christians in Badami Bagh, Lahore, on Saturday, 10 March. More than a hundred houses were burned down following allegations of blasphemy.
“We share the pain of hundreds of innocent families who have become victims of atrocious acts, and we deplore such actions. We view this targeting of Christians within the context of Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws, frequently used to persecute religious minorities or settle personal disputes,” said Tveit.
He implied that these incidents were part of the series of attacks against Pakistan’s Christian minority, who has often been victimized by the blasphemy laws.
Tveit said that “Pakistan’s federal and provincial authorities should take a firm decision to undertake actions that introduce effective law enforcement mechanisms to protect all religious minorities.”
He assured the churches of “continuous prayers and solidarity with the Christians of the Badami Bagh community in Lahore” and recalled his visit to Lahore one year ago.
WCC calls for Pakistani government commission to probe abuse of blasphemy law (WCC news release of 19 September 2012)
The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway.
[Emory] Candler School of Theology at Emory University has named the Rt. Reverend Keith B. Whitmore, assistant bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, as director of its Episcopal Studies Program. Whitmore has served as interim program director since August 2012 and assumes the director role through the summer of 2015.
In addition, Bishop Robert C. Wright, 10th Bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta, has agreed to chair Candler’s Episcopal Studies Advisory Board.
“I am thrilled that this team of leaders will build on an already strong foundation in Episcopal Studies at Candler to move us in new and creative directions for the future,” said Candler Dean Jan Love.
Candler offers the oldest university-based Episcopal Studies program in the nation. More than 200 students have graduated since the program began in 1974, and they currently serve in churches, chaplaincies and social service agencies from California to Maine.
Bishop Whitmore says he hopes to expand the program’s curriculum offerings to reflect the needs of the 21st century church. “I hope to find creative ways to form women and men for ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church — to build on the already outstanding reputation of Candler School of Theology in preparing people to serve our living Lord and lead the Church in mission,” he explained.
Assistant bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta since 2008, Whitmore previously served as the 5th Bishop of the Diocese of Eau Claire in Wisconsin. Prior to being elected as bishop, he served congregations in Wisconsin, Missouri and Kansas. He received a master of divinity and a doctor of divinity from Nashotah House Seminary, Wisconsin.
“During this past fall semester, Bishop Whitmore ensured that Candler’s long-standing strength in Episcopal Studies was well-tended with substantial attention to the needs of students, the coherence of the curriculum, and strong relations with the Episcopal Church, not only in the Diocese of Atlanta but also across the country,” said Love. “I look forward to his continued creative and steady leadership through the next two academic years.”
One of 13 official seminaries of the United Methodist Church, Candler offers programs of study in several denominations and interest areas, including Baptist Studies, Black Church Studies, Episcopal Studies, Methodist Studies, Religious Education, and Women, Theology and Ministry. The current student body of nearly 500 represents 43 denominations from 15 countries and 35 states.
[Oficina de Asuntos Públicos] El Comité Nominador Conjunto para la Obispa Presidente de la Iglesia (por sus siglas en inglés, JNCPB) está solicitando comentarios sobre preguntas específicas antes de su próxima reunión.
JNCPB realizará su segunda reunión en el centro de conferencias Barbara C. Harris Camp en Greenfield, NH, del 18 al 20 de marzo. La agenda incluye desarrollar una cronología y metodología para solicitar la visión y participación sobre cómo será la iglesia en el futuro y sobre las cualidades que la próxima Obispa Presidente debe poseer para obtener ese puesto.
Los invitados incluyen la Obispa Presidente Katharine Jefferts Schori quien reflexionará sobre la situación de la iglesia y la vocación del Obispo Presidente; el Obispo Clay Matthews, representante de Desarrollo Pastoral, que debatirá los mejores métodos en la búsqueda de obispos.
JNCPB invita a reflexionar especialmente antes de su reunión el 18 de marzo, sobre cualquiera de las siguientes preguntas:
- Ya sea la búsqueda de un rector o de un obispo, ¿cuál fue lo mejor que hiso para ese proceso?
- Ya sea la búsqueda de un rector o de un obispo, ¿cuáles fueron sus herramientas de comunicación? ¿con los candidatos o con los constituyentes?
- ¿Qué recomendaría que evitemos?
- ¿Hay alguna otra cosa que le gustaría compartir con el comité sobre su proceso de búsqueda?
Además, los miembros de la JNCPB solicitan oraciones para esta próxima fase de su proceso.
Para hacer comentarios: email@example.com.
Los miembros están listados aquí.
En Twitter: PB27Nominaciones o #JNCPB
En Facebook: www.facebook.com/pb27nominations
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church is meeting in retreat at the Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC (Diocese of Western North Carolina) from March 8 to March 12. The following is an account of the activities for Monday, March 11.
The theme for the spring retreat meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is Godly Leadership in the Midst of Loss. The schedule calls for prayer-filled sessions, and bishops participate in daily Bible study, reflection and worship.
The day began with Morning Prayer, with Bishop John Tarrant, Diocese of South Dakota, offering a meditation on Godly Leadership in the Midst of Emotional Loss.
Bishop Tarrant spoke of the ministry of the bishop in the midst of the prevalent alcoholism, poverty and trauma among the Native American population in South Dakota. Bishop Tarrant spoke of Jesus’ prediction that his disciples will be persecuted, hated, and killed by all nations. Historically, Native Americans, with and among whom his diocese serves today, have been hated by only one nation, the United States. The bishop spoke of being aware, as he travels in the diocese and makes his pastoral rounds, of the spirit of those peoples, victims of racism, injustice and genocide, and of being aware also of the Spirit of the Creator who never intended these lands to be possessed. “There is an emotional price to be paid for this awareness,” he said.
He said that over 50% of Episcopalians in South Dakota are Lakota, 60% of whom live below the poverty line. Unemployment is as high as 85%. He told several stories of contemporary Lakota women and men in his diocese, modern day Holy Women, Holy Men whose courage, perseverance and amazing generosity in such a difficult context are continually inspiring.
Bishop Tarrant spoke of feeling, at times, discouraged, angry, and in despair in this situation, but that he did not feel freedom to give in to such feelings. Instead, there is profound inspiration to be found in the witness of such God-imaged people, and we are called not to live out of our feelings but out of our being, called to be present in a hope-filled, loving, respectful, way. “I keep showing up, and when I do, I meet Jesus.” He added that we don’t have all the answers, but that is freeing. He continued that we need to be bold enough to say with conviction that nothing can separate us from the love of God which is ours in Christ Jesus. People who embrace the love of God will never settle for being treated as less than God’s beloved, or expect to live as other than totally dependent on Christ.
Emcee for the day was Bishop Lloyd Allen, Diocese of Honduras.
The afternoon was devoted to discussion groups and gatherings.
HOB on Twitter: #HOB2013
[Episcopal News Service] Hay más seres humanos viviendo en cadenas en la actualidad, dos veces más, que en el apogeo de la trata de esclavos, laborando en condiciones de trabajo forzado y de servidumbre sexual en lo que constituye un negocio de $32.000 millones anuales, inferior tan sólo al narcotráfico, dijo la obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori en sus palabras de apertura a una conversación denominacional de una hora de duración sobre la trata de personas que tuvo lugar el 6 de marzo.
De esos esclavizados, dijo ella, el 80 por ciento son mujeres y niñas, aunque los hombres y los niños también se ven sujetos a situaciones de trabajos forzados, de matrimonios impuestos, de fabricación de pornografía, de servidumbre doméstica, de extracción de órganos, de mendicidad infantil, de niños en los frentes de guerra.
Como cristianos, dijo Jefferts Schori, “estamos encargados de cuidar por los que viven en medio nuestro.”
Se calcula que 27 millones de personas en todo el mundo son víctimas de la trata, la mayoría de ellos para trabajo y explotación sexual, según el Informe sobre la Trata de Personas del Departamento de Estado de EE.UU. en 2012. Estados Unidos es el principal país destinatario de la trata de personas, según el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional.
Jefferts Schori dirigió la plática de una hora de duración, que se centró en la definición de la trata de personas y que mostró cómo se vincula con la violencia contra mujeres y niñas. El evento auspiciado por la Iglesia, se transmitió por Internet desde la capilla de Cristo el Señor [Chapel of Christ the Lord] en el Centro denominacional de la Iglesia en Nueva York, y fue una de las muchas reuniones fuera de la sede programadas para coincidir con la 57ª. Reunión anual de la Comisión de las Naciones Unidas sobre la Condición de la Mujer (UNCSW). El tema de este año es la eliminación y prevención de todas las formas de violencia contra mujeres y niñas.
Panelistas incluidos: Sarah Dreier, representante de legislación política internacional y promoción social de la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales de la Iglesia, sobre la promoción [del tema] en los niveles federal, estatal y local y la presencia de la trata de personas a través del mundo y [el papel de] la Iglesia Episcopal; el Rdo. Brian McVey, de la Diócesis de Iowa —cuya congregación participa en un ministerio de presencia en uno de las paradas de camiones de carga más frecuentados del país— para hablar de los ministerios que funcionan a través de toda la Iglesia Episcopal en respuesta a la trata de personas; la Rda. Terrie Robinson, coordinadora de redes de comunicación de la Comunión Anglicana y encargada del buró de la mujer, para discutir métodos y políticas en el ámbito de la Comunión; Laura Russell, abogada de la Diócesis de Newark, para abordar la políticas de la Iglesia y su aplicación basadas en las resoluciones de la Convención General; y Lynnaia Main, encargada de relaciones globales de la Iglesia, para hablar acerca de la respuesta de las Naciones Unidas a la trata de personas y la participación de la Iglesia Episcopal.
Dreier, que opera desde la oficina de la Iglesia en la zona del Capitolio en Washington, D.C., compartió la buena noticia de que el Congreso de EE.UU. había renovado la semana pasada, como parte de la Ley sobre la Violencia contra la Mujer, la Ley de Protección a las Víctimas de la Trata de Personas, la cual exige un aumento de la búsqueda de posibles víctimas en los aeropuertos internacionales —donde se da con mucha frecuencia este tráfico ilícito— y le permite a las víctimas obtener un estatus migratorio temporal en Estados Unidos.
“Pero eso no significa que hemos cumplido nuestra misión”, dijo ella, y añadió que, con excepción del estado de Wyoming, 49 estados de EE.UU. han aprobado leyes contra la trata de personas, y en 39 estados están presionando por imponer leyes más severas contra la trata.
La trata de personas, afirmó Dreier, existe en todos los países del mundo, y por tanto en todos los países y en todas las diócesis donde la Iglesia Episcopal está presente, y lo mejor que los episcopales pueden hacer es investigar las leyes [que existen al respecto] en sus estados y laborar por el fortalecimiento de esas leyes concebidas para “proteger, prevenir y enjuiciar [a los culpables]”.
McVey, que es el rector de la iglesia de San Albano [St. Alban’s] en Davenport, Iowa, sugirió que lo primero que la gente puede hacer para combatir la esclavitud en su entorno es orar, y lo segundo es comenzar a educar a la gente acerca de la existencia de la trata de personas.
En términos prácticos, sugirió él, educar a las niñas, que podrían ser presa de traficantes a través de la Internet, a través de Facebook o de otras redes sociales, acerca de los peligros [existentes]; decirles a los hombres que dejen de comprar pornografía e informar a los hombres que han sido arrestados por la compra de favores sexuales adonde va su dinero y cómo esto viola [la integridad] de las mujeres; dirigir a los agentes del orden público a los lugares donde existe este tráfico y cabildear con los legisladores para que impongan leyes más severas contra la trata de personas.
(Diócesis, parroquias e individuos episcopales a través del país, en lugares tan diferentes como el sur de la Florida e Iowa, están dedicados a combatir la trata de personas mediante la concienciación y la acción).
Russell, que ha trabajado con víctimas de trata de personas durante más de 10 años, señaló que los ciudadanos extranjeros no son las únicas víctimas de la trata de personas, y que personas del país que se escapan de sus hogares pueden terminar también atrapadas en ese tráfico.
El Departamento de Justicia de EE.UU. informa que de 100.000 a 300.000 niños y niñas, con edades promedio entre los 12 y los 14 años, están en riesgo de explotación sexual comercial —una forma de trata de personas— anualmente en Estados Unidos.
Russell habló también acerca de las cinco resoluciones de la Convención General —remontándose a la primera resolución aprobada en 2000—, que condenan la trata de personas, apoyan a las víctimas y piden campañas de educación pública [sobre el tema] a nivel de toda la Iglesia.
Main, que supervisa de cerca la labor de las Naciones Unidas y colabora con otras agrupaciones en lo tocante a la trata de personas, se refirió a la manera en que las Naciones Unidas respeta y acoge con beneplácito la voz de la Iglesia Episcopal, y cómo la participación de la Iglesia en combatir la trata de personas se remonta a cuando las Naciones Unidas, en 2000, adoptó el Protocolo para Prevenir, Suprimir y Castigar la Trata de Personas.
Main también se refirió a la importante labor de Anglican Women’s Empowerment en la lucha contra la trata de personas.
Robinson, que trabaja a través de la Comunión Anglicana, habló acerca de una resolución sobre la trata de personas aprobada por el Consejo Consultivo Anglicano, durante su reunión en Auckland, Nueva Zelanda, en octubre pasado, y de crear y compartir métodos prototípicos de prevención y rehabilitación de víctimas.
“Tenemos un lugar especial en este asunto porque somos el cuerpo de Cristo en el mundo”, dijo Robinson, y añadió que eso incluye no sólo compartir el trauma asociado con la trata de personas, sino también las Buenas Nuevas.
Al final del diálogo, cada uno de los panelistas encomendó a los presentes, tanto en el salón como a los que lo seguían por Internet, no sólo recordar a las víctimas, sino también reconocer su propio papel en la trata de (Visite http://slaveryfootprint.org/ para calcular cuántos esclavos trabajan para usted.)
Otros eventos fuera de la sede relacionados con la Iglesia Episcopal y programados en conjunción con la UNCSW el 6 de marzo incluyeron un panel internacional sobre la eliminación de todas las formas de violencia contra las mujeres y las niñas, auspiciado por L.O.V.E. un equipo de trabajo sobre la Vida No Violenta, en la iglesia de la Santa Trinidad en Manhattan. Sarah Eagle Heart, la encargada del programa de la Iglesia para el Ministerio Nativoamericano e Indígena, estaba programada para participar en el panel.
– Lynette Wilson es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.
[Diócesis Episcopal de Los Ángeles] Un grupo de unos 25 líderes interreligiosos de Los Ángeles viajaron a San Diego y cruzaron la frontera hasta Tijuana el 26 y el 27 de febrero para estar más al tanto de cómo las políticas migratorias de EE.UU. afectan a los pobres de México. Y quedaron impuestos, ciertamente, con una fuerte impresión que les dejó decididos a encontrar medios para alentar una reforma migratoria efectiva.
El grupo, que incluía a Mary D. Glasspool, obispa sufragánea de la Diócesis Episcopal de Los Ángeles, representaba al Consejo de Líderes Religiosos de Los Ángeles (LACRL, sigla en inglés) y estaba encabezado por el rabino Mark Diamond, presidente del Consejo y director regional de AJA-LA una rama local de una organización mundial dedicada a la promoción social.
Entre los viajeros también se contaban representantes clericales y laicos de la Arquidiócesis Católico Romana de Los Ángeles, la Conferencia de California-Pacífico de la Iglesia Metodista Unida; la Conferencia de California Sur-Nevada de la Iglesia Unida de Cristo y el Presbiterio del Pacífico de la Iglesia Presbiteriana.
A partir de las presentaciones del primer día, Diamond le recordó al grupo del LACRL que el Antiguo Testamento constantemente le manda a los hebreos —y a los cristianos— a recibir al extranjero. Él citó [en apoyo de esto] Levítico 19:33-34: “Cuando algún extranjero se establezca en el país de ustedes, no lo traten mal. Al contrario, trátenlo como si fuera uno de ustedes. Ámenlo como a ustedes mismos, porque también ustedes fueron extranjeros en Egipto. Yo soy el Señor y Dios de Israel”.
Aunque hay una amplia variedad de opiniones en el terreno político de EE.UU. respecto al complicado tema de inmigración, dijo Diamond, “en 2013 tenemos una tentativa seria de una reforma migratoria global”.
Carmen M. Chávez —abogada de inmigración y directora ejecutiva del Centro Legal Casa Cornelia, un ministerio catolicorromano en San Diego que se ocupa de problemas de inmigración— se mostró de acuerdo.
“Creo por primera vez que mis colegas, no sólo en Casa Cornelia, sino en ejercicio como abogados de inmigración, tanto en el sector privado como en el sector sin fines de lucro, por primera vez en mucho tiempo están hablando de una reforma migratoria como si pudiera llegar a producirse realmente en nuestro tiempo”, le dijo ella a los líderes religiosos.
“No sabemos qué aspecto tendrá, pero sí tenemos que decir que va a llegar a todos nosotros”, afirmó, señalando que la aplicación de cualquier nueva ley va a tomar muchos años.
El papel de las comunidades religiosas en encontrar soluciones humanas factibles será enorme, agregó.
“Será la comunidad religiosa —como siempre ha sido— la que responderá al llamado de las personas cuando necesiten ayuda y que se les tienda una mano. Será la comunidad religiosa la que aporte, con suerte, no sólo civilidad, sino un cierto grado de apertura a la realidad de esta migración, que es un migración global”.
Casa Cornelia trabaja con los que buscan asilo en Estados Unidos por ser víctimas de persecución en sus países de origen. También atiende a víctimas de violencia doméstica, así como a niños que intentan cruzar solos la frontera. La mayoría son varones entre los 14 y los 16 años, pero Casa Cornelia ha llegado a atender a niños hasta de 2 años de edad.
La búsqueda de asilo
“Carlos,” que huyó de la persecución en su natal Nicaragua, dijo al grupo de L.A. que estuvo detenido en una instalación dirigida por la Corporación de Correccionales de América (CCA), una agrupación con fines de lucro que administra varias prisiones en EE.UU.
“Vine para salvar mi vida y lo que encontré fue una cárcel”, dijo a través de un intérprete.
En Estados Unidos, explicó la abogada Elizabeth A. López, de Casa Cornelia, el derecho migratorio es un derecho administrativo, no penal, y los migrantes indocumentados —incluso niños— no tienen [por consiguiente] derecho a que un abogado los represente. Unos pocos pueden encontrar servicios legales a bajo costo o gratuitos que brindan organizaciones caritativas o religiosas. Otros intentan asumir su propia defensa.
Carlos, que no disponía de recursos económicos y de ninguna asesoría legal, actuó como su propio abogado. La prisión tenía una biblioteca pequeña y desactualizada sin acceso a Internet, y fue allí que Carlos intento elaborar una defensa para que no lo deportaran. Le daban sólo cinco horas a la semana en la biblioteca —y a menudo se las reducían a tres.
Aunque no hablaba inglés y no contaba con representación legal, Carlos fue capaz de defender su caso y, aunque no le concedieron el asilo formal, pudo quedarse legalmente en Estados Unidos. “Gracias a Dios”, dijo él “que el juez entendió que moriría si regresaba a mi país.
“Con los pocos recursos de que disponía, pude probar que tenía credibilidad y que necesitaba quedarme en Estados Unidos”.
“Carlos representa a la mayoría de los que buscan asilo y de los inmigrantes que no tienen recursos para contratar a un abogado”, dijo López, quien agregó que sólo el 3 por ciento de los que optan por la autorrepresentación logran obtener la residencia legal en EE.UU. “Él es elocuente, capaz de exponer su caso. La mayoría no tienen esas ventajas”.
López también mencionó que las prisiones privadas constituyen una industria de enorme crecimiento, con una poderosísima presencia en Washington, D.C. Quieren que las leyes migratorias sean más estrictas y punitivas, agregó, para tener más presos a fin de ganar más dinero.
Testigos en la frontera
“Según nos acercamos al muro verán la patrulla fronteriza que nos protege del pueblo mexicano”, dijo el Rdo. Carlos Correa, de la Iglesia Unida de Cristo, a los visitantes del LACRL mientras cruzaban la frontera entre EE.UU. y México para dirigirse a Tijuana.
“Gracias a Dios” añadió, con una risa irónica.
Correa Bernier es un ministro auxiliar para el ministerio fronterizo y latino, de la Conferencia de California-Nevada de la IUC, y director ejecutivo del Centro Romero, un ministerio de inmigración localizado en San Isidro, California. El Centro Romero trabaja con obreros migrantes en ambos lados de la frontera y ofrece experiencias de inmersión a los que quieren entender mejor los problemas de inmigración.
Mientras el grupo examinaba un segmento del muro, Correa Bernier hacía notar que tales barreras eran medios ineficaces de control fronterizo, porque si las pueden construir, también las pueden violar o evadir.
“He visto fotos de una furgoneta que pasa por encima del muro —levantaron carriles de cada lado de la frontera”, agregó. “Como suelen decir, si ustedes tienen un muro de 50 pies de alto, todo lo que necesitamos es una escalera de 51 pies.
“De manera que la política de construir muros no funciona. Nunca funcionó ni va a funcionar”.
Correa Bernier esbozó para el grupo las dificultades que enfrentan los que quieren ingresar en Estados Unidos, así como los que han sido deportados.
Él guió al grupo hasta una zona a 1,6 kilómetros aproximadamente de la frontera donde vieron docenas de enormes fábricas a las que llaman en el español de México “maquiladoras”, o “plantas de ensamblaje” En esos edificios sin ventanas, jóvenes mexicanas, que trabajan supervisadas por hombres, ensamblan diferentes artículos que van directamente al mercado norteamericano.
Las mujeres, explicó Correa Bernier, trabajan por unos pocos dólares diarios, seis días a la semana. No les conceden recesos laborales, les descuentan del sueldo cualquier tiempo que pasen en el baño o almorzando. Están sujetas a perder el empleo cuando cumplen 30 años; la razón oficial es que los administradores creen que [después de esa edad] ya no pueden mantener el ritmo de trabajo, gran parte del cual es hacer televisores de gran pantalla y otros artículos electrónicos para el mercado norteamericano. Las mujeres también están sujetas a despido si salen embarazadas.
Al preguntársele por qué no se le puede imponer a las compañías que paguen mejores salarios y tengan mejores condiciones laborales, Correa Bernier tuvo como respuesta una sola palabra: NAFTA.
El Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte, explicó él, permite que las compañías exploten la mano de obra barata en México para fabricar esos artículos. Cualquier compañía que aumente los salarios tendrá que aumentar los precios para encontrar compensación, y pocos están dispuestos a hacerlo en los mercados extremadamente competitivos de EE.UU. En el papel, las compañías son responsables de tratar bien a sus obreros, pero la aplicación es muy laxa, agregó Correa Bernier.
“Nuestra posición en el Centro Romero es que EE.UU. no necesita un tratado de libre comercio” dijo, “necesitamos un tratado de comercio justo”.
Y añadió: “la gente trabaja en las maquiladoras, esencialmente, para mantener mi estilo de vida en Estados Unidos, porque yo quiero que todos mis trastos domésticos sean baratos y accesibles.
“Como solía decir mi padre, nadie es culpable, y todos somos responsables”.
Un pueblo de desesperanza
Un momento particularmente emotivo para los líderes religiosos fue una visita a Chilpancingo, una villamiseria que no aparece en el mapa, pero donde viven miles de personas que intentaron cruzar ilegalmente la frontera de Estados Unidos, o que han sido deportadas, y ahora se encuentran trabadas aquí, sin recursos suficientes para dirigirse a ninguna otra parte. Algunas de ellas trabajan en las maquiladoras cercanas, pero los empleos suelen ser escasos.
A Chilpancingo se llega cruzando el lecho, bordeado de cemento, que canaliza las aguas del río Tijuana. Correa Bernier dijo que ha visto como el agua ha cambiado de color debido a los productos químicos tóxicos que vierten en ella las fábricas. Mientras el grupo miraba del otro lado del río unas 10.000 chabolas construidas de fragmentos de madera y metal, podían verse a los niños que jugaban junto a las aguas contaminadas. No hay ninguna escuela en la zona, dijo Correa Bernier; en cualquier caso, estos niños no podrían costear las cuotas que exigen tanto las escuelas públicas como las privadas.
“Los niños se quedan abandonados durante el día, porque mamá y papá están trabajando”, subrayó él. “Se ven expuestos a las drogas, al abuso sexual, al abuso emocional, al abuso físico y a otras cosas por el estilo. En consecuencia, se trata de un círculo vicioso”.
Un joven que viven en Chilpancingo y que andaba cerca con su esposa y su hija, le dijo al grupo que él había crecido en la zona sur-central de Los Ángeles desde que era un bebé, y lo había deportado recientemente. En fluido inglés explicó que había sido enviado a prisión, aunque negó que hubiese comedido algún delito.
“Pagué la culpa de otro” dijo.
Apenas si tiene 24 años. Tenía documentos, pero se los quitaron y lo deportaron a México cuando cumplió su sentencia de prisión. Sus padres aún viven en Los Ángeles con sus cinco hermanos y una hermana, que son ciudadanos estadounidenses.
Explicó que el único trabajo que ha encontrado es peleando gallos. “No puedo conseguir un empleo debido a mis tatuajes y mis antecedentes. Conseguir un empleo es difícil”.
“Aquí la cosa es dura” afirmó.
Un miembro del grupo también trabó conversación con Oscar, un niño de unos ocho años que explicó que había vivido en Estados Unidos toda su vida, pero que vino a México con sus padres que fueron deportados.
Él dijo en inglés que quería ir a la escuela, pero que su madre y su padre no tenían dinero para enviarlo a él o a sus hermanos. Había intentado seguir sus estudios en el año y medio transcurrido desde que llegaron a Tijuana, pero le ha resultado difícil.
“¿Qué hacen durante el día?” le preguntó un miembro del grupo.
Sin ironía, Oscar le respondió que “limpiaban la casa”. Y le señaló hacia el hogar de su familia que, al igual que todas las casas de Chilpancingo, está construida de objetos encontrados.
¿Te gustaría regresar a Estados Unidos?
“Sí”, respondió sin dudar, pero no sin su familia. “La vida es dura en Chilpancingo”.
“No ha sido una buena experiencia,” añadió en tono triste.
Casa de Las Pobres
El grupo del LACRL se detuvo en la Casa de Las Pobres, un ministerio que desempeñan cuatro monjas catolicorromanas que proporcionan comida, ayuda y atención sanitaria a los pobres de Tijuana, muchos de los cuales son migrantes. En un tiempo daban tres comidas al día, pero, por razones económicas, se han visto obligadas a reducirlas tan sólo al desayuno. También ofrecen bolsas de alimentos, la mayoría de las cuales son donadas por tiendas de víveres de San Diego.
Correa Bernier, que tienen una larga relación de trabajo con Las Pobres, contó una historia de haber visitado el lugar, donde se encontró a una de las hermanas, que se sentía angustiada porque estaban a punto de servir una comida, pero no tenían tortillas (un elemento esencial de la dieta mexicana). Correa Bernier les mostró lo que él les había traído: un camión lleno de tortillas donadas.
Correa Bernier sirvió de intérprete mientras una de las hermanas le decía al grupo que el ministerio recibe “sólo un pequeño apoyo” de la Iglesia.
“Los que nos ayudan son los ángeles y la gente que trabaja aquí, y la providencia de Dios”, dijo ella.
El grupo del LACRL hizo una última escala en lo que Correa Bernier llama “El parque que ya no es de la amistad”. Explicó que hace pocos años el muro estaba más abierto, y las personas podían encontrarse y tocar a sus amigos y parientes del otro lado de la frontera. En los últimos años le han instalado [al muro] una gruesa malla metálica que impide todo contacto directo.
De regreso a San Diego, los miembros del grupo estaban conscientes de la enormidad de la tarea de la reforma migratoria, pero estaban determinados a trabajar juntos para encontrar medios de aliviar los sufrimientos humanos de los inmigrantes.
“Sobre todo y en primer lugar, podemos mostrarle a la gente que éste no es un problema episcopal, un problema católico, un problema judío, sino que es un problema humano”, dijo el P. Alexei Smith, que sirve como funcionario de relaciones ecuménicas e interreligiosas de la Diócesis Católica Romana de Los Ángeles. “Con todas las tradiciones religiosas que tenemos representadas en este viaje, podemos dar un testimonio unificado de la verdad a que nos enfrentamos, de lo que debemos hacer.
“Creo que tenemos que empezar por mirar a las personas humanamente”, continuó Smith. “Tenemos que reconocer que cada uno de nosotros fue creado a imagen y semejanza de Dios, y para nosotros, desde un punto de vista cristiano, en ese extraordinario evangelio del juicio final, Jesús dice con bastante claridad, ‘fui forastero y me recogisteis’; ‘fui forastero y no me recogisteis’ —y sabemos las consecuencias. Y creo que tenemos que vivir a la altura de eso.
“Creo que el objetivo debe ser lograr una legislación para una reforma migratoria radical”, dijo la obispa Glasspool de la Diócesis de Los Ángeles. “Una de las cosas que aprendí de nuevo es que en esto tenemos una larga tarea por delante. No se trata tan sólo de redactar una ley o de aprobar algunas resoluciones. Es un proceso largo. Incluso mientras escucho [los comentarios] entusiastas, particularmente del personal de Casa Cornelia, sobre la posibilidad de una acción legislativa en este año 2013, oigo también que han de tomarse hasta ocho años en efectuar los cambios que se expresen inicialmente a través de la ley.
“Todo lo cual hace más urgente que la ley se apruebe lo antes posible, porque va a tomar tiempo cambiar la manera en que hacemos las cosas”.
– Janet Kawamoto es directora de The Episcopal News, una publicación de la Diócesis de Los Ángeles. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.
Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy
8 March 2013
House of Bishops opening Eucharist
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Churc
Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy was a priest of the Church of England who volunteered to serve as an army chaplain in the First World War. He was a notable and skilled poet, not unlike his predecessors George Herbert and John Donne, well rooted in the glory of God’s created order as well as the labors of a parish priest. His later poetry reflected his war experience and his deeply Christian pacifism.
Waste of muscle, waste of brain
Waste of patience, waste of pain
Waste of manhood, waste of health
Waste of beauty, waste of wealth
Waste of blood and waste of tears
Waste of youth’s most precious years
Waste of ways the Saints have trod
Waste of glory
Waste of God
Remember that in the very same era our predecessors and brothers ousted Bishop Paul Jones from this house because they thought his pacifism was profoundly un-Christian. When Studdert Kennedy died in 1929 the Dean of Westminster refused to bury him because he was a socialist.
Studdert Kennedy is better known by his wartime nickname, “Woodbine Willie.” Woodbine was a well-known cigarette brand, and the chaplain was famous for passing them out to soldiers while on his pastoral rounds.
As we began today, we prayed:
Glorious God, we give thanks not merely for high and holy things, but for the common things of earth which you have created: Wake us to love and work, that Jesus may set our hearts ablaze and that we may recognize you in your people and in your creation…
Woodbines and their ilk aren’t included in chaplains’ kits today because we know so much about the evils of tobacco smoking. We’d probably take seriously a charge of conduct unbecoming for anybody who did this today, or insisted that Jesus might “set our hearts ablaze” with cigarettes. Yet we have lost the ability to see Nicotiana tabacum and its relatives as one of the “common things of earth which God has created.” If we’re willing to look, it might be easier to recognize God in this common thing of earth than it is with mosquitoes.
Tobacco has been revered for eons by indigenous peoples of this hemisphere as an agent of healing and prayer. Nicotine, which is the most significant active agent in tobacco, is a stimulant at small doses and at higher doses a sedative and anaesthetic. It improves concentration and memory, counters depression, and reduces pain. At higher levels it mimics opiates, increases serotonin output, and can promote psychoactive states. Its use in prayer technically makes it an entheogen, like peyote, something used as an aide to promoting inward awareness of the presence of God. Extracts of tobacco leaves promote wound healing and can cure a raft of skin diseases. Tobacco is a potent vermifuge and an active insecticide. The Europeans who first encountered it called it “the holy herb.” Like many other good gifts of creation, it is also capable of being grossly misused, which is how we most often encounter it today. Smoke-filled casinos and sleazy bars are filled with people seeking something beyond themselves but settling for reeking from an excess of the common things of earth. Some would make their god the one in the verses of 2 Samuel we omitted: “Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations of the heavens trembled and quaked, because he [God] was angry. Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him” (2Sam 22:8-9).
Studdert Kennedy dispensed Woodbines to answer the terror, pain, and despair of the men around him. But he didn’t just pass out cigarettes. He slogged through the mud and sat in the trenches with others who were freezing, bored, and frightened, and he scaled the walls of those trenches to retrieve the wounded and dying. When he crawled out to one detail laying barbed wire and the sentry asked, “who goes there?” he responded, “the church.” The next question: “what’s it doing out here?” “Its job.” To those men he was a human witness of “God with us,” Immanuel. He took their pain into himself and let it be joined to transformation.
The Good Samaritan is remembered for similar efforts. He encountered the wounded and used some good things of creation – wine, oil, and a beast of burden – to heal his neighbor. Oil and wine are not just for dressing salads – both have some antiseptic qualities, and promote healing outwardly as well as by ingestion. Consider the power of human touch (like the hugs we’ve heard referenced today) as the Samaritan gathered up that half-dead man and set him on his donkey. And he kept spending himself in his neighbor’s interest, as the healing and companioning presence of “God with us.”
Gathering the good and healing gifts of God’s creation, human and otherwise, does offer outward and physical healing, and it also brings healing to the inner person. It is a powerful antidote to violence – which literally means the sapping and destruction of the life-force within us. Hope is restored as God’s presence is brought to awareness in the “common things of creation,” together with the image of God in a caring and healing neighbor.
Studdert Kennedy’s pacifism grew out of a deep awareness of the violence of war, and the ways human beings are deformed and diminished in its exercise. His transformation into Christian pacifism and socialism resulted in a vigorous and prophetic voice for social justice, prompting Christians to get out of churches and into the streets. One of his book chapters is titled The Church Is Not a Movement but a Mob. He took up the healing of societies and nations, still in thrall to the powers and principalities of greed and domination.
We have similar work to do – our nations are still at war with others, we are still exploiting the poor, and human violence continues to terrorize the defenseless. When we study war no more, when we no longer forge weapons of violence, and when we have begun to truly share God’s good creation, perhaps our souls will be healed enough that we can use the common things of the earth in ways that bless their goodness, rather than trying to exploit them as pseudo-gods. Until then, this mob has abundant work to do in responding to all sorts of violence with care and solidarity and healing. Here is Studdert Kennedy’s version of that ministry:
Easy does it — bit o’ trench ‘ere,
Mind that blinkin’ bit o’ wire,
There’s a shell ‘ole on your left there,
Lift ‘im up a little ‘igher.
Stick it, lad, ye’ll soon be there now,
Want to rest ‘ere for a while?
Let ‘im dahn then — gently — gently,
There ye are, lad. That’s the style.
Want a drink, mate? ‘Ere’s my bottle,
Lift ‘is ‘ead up for ‘im, Jack,
Put my tunic underneath ‘im,
‘Ow’s that, chummy? That’s the tack!
Guess we’d better make a start now,
Ready for another spell?
Best be goin’, we won’t ‘urt ye,
But ‘e might just start to shell.
Are ye right, mate? Off we goes then.
That’s well over on the right,
Gawd Almighty, that’s a near ‘un!
‘Old your end up good and tight,
Never mind, lad, you’re for Blighty, 
Mind this rotten bit o’ board.
We’ll soon ‘ave ye tucked in bed, lad,
‘Opes ye gets to my old ward.
No more war for you, my ‘earty,
This’ll get ye well away,
Twelve good months in dear old Blighty,
Twelve good months if you’re a day,
M.O.’s got a bit o’ something
What’ll stop that blarsted pain.
‘Ere’s a rotten bit o’ ground, mate,
Lift up ‘igher — up again,
Wish ‘e’d stop ‘is blarsted shellin’
Makes it rotten for the lad.
When a feller’s been and got it,
It affec’s ‘im twice as bad.
‘Ow’s it goin’ now then, sonny?
‘Ere’s that narrow bit o’ trench,
Careful, mate, there’s some dead Jerries,
Lawd Almighty, what a stench!
‘Ere we are now, stretcher-case, boys,
Bring him aht a cup o’ tea!
Inasmuch as ye have done it
Ye have done it unto Me.
 Slang for Britain, from Persian wilayah, came into use during the Raj. A Blighty wound got you out of action and back to good old England.
[Episcopal Church in South Carolina, Charleston] With a focus on gratitude and service, about 250 Episcopalians from across the eastern part of the state gathered here Friday and Saturday for the Annual Diocesan Convention of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.
The theme of the convention was “To Love and Serve the Lord.” The Bishop’s convention address on Saturday morning encouraged people to live out that theme by choosing a life of gratitude and giving thanks. “The choice of gratitude will enable faithfulness, as we follow the way of Jesus Christ and as we seek ‘to love and serve the Lord,’” Bishop vonRosenberg said. “And it will be a whole lot more fun as well!” (The full text of the Bishop’s address is here.)
A spirit of joy and celebration opened Saturday’s business session, as about 30 members of St. Mark’s Port Royal, a worship community near Beaufort, gathered outside the front doors of Grace Episcopal Church on Wentworth Street, where the Convention was taking place. Dressed in red and carrying crosses, banners, and flags bearing the symbolic lion of St. Mark, the group waited for the official vote that granted them “mission” status, with seat and vote at the Convention.
Approval came by acclamation as the Convention crowd stood and applauded for the group from St. Mark’s. At the announcement, they marched in behind a processional cross and an Episcopal Church flag, singing a hymn and circling the nave with handshakes, hugs and a few tears.
The theme of gratitude continued in the Bishop’s address as he gave thanks to the faithful within the diocese for their service and perseverance, and to those in The Episcopal Church beyond our borders who have given their support. Workshops, training sessions, youth events, continuing education for clergy, and other opportunities are being made available, and the diocese has much to be thankful for, Bishop vonRosenberg said.
The Convention is the annual gathering of the diocese in eastern South Carolina that is continuing as a part of The Episcopal Church. Because of a lawsuit filed by a group that has left the Church, the diocese is using a working name, “The Episcopal Church in South Carolina,” at this time.
On Saturday, delegates took steps to adopt amendments to make the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina to be consistent with the 2007 version and to conform with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church.
Changes to the canons received the required approval by a two-thirds vote in both the lay and the clergy orders of delegates, and their adoption is final. The amendments to the constitution were approved on first reading, and must be given final approval at the next annual convention in order to take effect.
Delegates were presented with a balanced budget for the Diocese of $378,000 for the year ending in March 2014. Income for 2013 includes $203,000 contributed by parishes, missions, worship groups and others, and $175,000 from a grant approved last month by the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church. The Treasurer of the Diocese, the Reverend Jim Taylor, said this is a one-time grant; assistance from TEC in any future budgets would come in the form of a loan. If such a loan is needed in 2014, Fr. Taylor said, the diocese hopes it would be only a small one. “We hope we can meet our goal of becoming self-sufficient,” he said.
Ten parishes and 11 missions were represented at the Convention, including the newest, St. Mark’s, Port Royal. Also represented were eight “continuing parishes and missions,” groups of people who are remaining with The Episcopal Church at places where the leaders of their parish or mission have said they are leaving TEC.
Six worshiping communities also attended. These are groups that have formed to provide opportunities for worship and fellowship for people displaced from their churches. They are St. Anne’s (formerly the Conway Worship Group), Edisto Worship Group, Episcopalians of the Florence Deanery, the Continuing Episcopal Church in Summerville, East Cooper Episcopalians, and West Ashley Episcopalians. For now, these groups could not vote at this Convention, but some are on their way toward mission status and hope to be recognized at the 2014 Convention.
Trustees of the Diocese were elected. Lay members are Jan Gilbert, Grace, Charleston; Betsey Walker, St. Stephen’s, Charleston; Robert Moffitt, St. Thomas, North Charleston; Robert Pinkerton, St. Mark’s, Port Royal; and Dr. Charles Carpenter, Episcopalians of the Florence Deanery. Clergy members are the Reverend Jim Taylor, the Reverend Jack Nietert and the Reverend Bruce Evenson.
Members of the Ecclesiastical Court also were elected. Lay members are T. David Hoyle, St. Stephen’s, Charleston; and Carrington S. Wingard, Episcopalians of the Florence Deanery. Clergy members are the Reverend George Tompkins, the Reverend Jean McGraw and the Reverend David Williams.
The Convention also:
- Heard reports from York Place Episcopal Home for Children, Voorhees College, two groups that have been associated with The Episcopal Church throughout their history.
- Heard from Episcopal Relief and Development’s diocesan coordinator, Harmon Person. ERD is the worldwide humanitarian agency of The Episcopal Church. Support for ERD is getting more focused attention in the reorganized diocese.
- Approved a resolution that the offering from Friday’s Choral Eucharist be used to establish a Discretionary Fund for the Bishop.
- Received a gift of $3,000 donated by The Episcopal Forum of South Carolina to help pay for work to convert classroom space into new offices for the Bishop and his staff at Grace Church, Charleston.
- Announced that the next Annual Diocesan Convention will be held February 21-22, 2014 at All Saints, Hilton Head Island.
[Episcopal News Service] The Very Rev. Mark David Bourlakas, dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Louisville, Kentucky, has been elected as sixth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia, pending the required consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and standing committees of the Episcopal Church.
Bourlakas, 49, was elected March 9 out of a field of five nominees. He was elected on the third ballot by the Electing Council meeting at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Roanoke.
The other nominees were:
* The Rev. Jeanne Finan, 62, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Asheville, North Carolina;
* The Rev. Gail Greenwell, 57, rector of St. Michael and All Angels in Mission, Kansas;
* The Rt. Rev. David Rice, 51, bishop of the Diocese of Waiapu in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia; and
* The Rev. David Cox, 65, rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Hot Springs, Virginia.
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.
Pending a successful consent process, the ordination is scheduled for July 20 at the Roanoke Performing Arts Theatre.
The sixth bishop will succeed the Rt. Rev. Neff Powell, who has served as the diocese’s fifth bishop since 1996.
Bourlakas earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1985 and a Doctor of Ministry degree in 2012 from the School of Theology at University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee; and a Master of Divinity from Seabury Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois in 1997.
Before becoming dean of Christ Church Cathedral in 2007, Bourlakas served parishes in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
He enjoys painting, walking, playing basketball and watching auto racing.
Bourlakas is married to Martha and they have three daughters.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church is meeting in retreat at the Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC (Diocese of Western North Carolina) from March 8 to March 12. The following is an account of the activities for Sunday, March 10.
The theme for the spring retreat meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is Godly Leadership in the Midst of Loss. The schedule calls for prayer-filled sessions, and bishops participate in daily Bible study, reflection and worship.
Eucharist was celebrated by Bishop Robert R. Gepert, Diocese of Western Michigan. Preacher was Bishop Oge Beauvoir, Diocese of Haiti, who continued the retreat meditations with Godly Leadership in the Midst of Chronic Loss.
Bishop Beauvoir identified the most pressing need for Haiti today as Godly Leadership, leadership that brings the people of Haiti into unity and solidarity. He reviewed the history of Haiti from the moment of liberation in 1804, when it was the unity of the people gained the freedom of the country from Napoleon’s army, to 1806 when the first president of freed Haiti was killed.
Since that time in 1806, Bishop Beauvoir said, there has been chronic loss in Haiti, flowing from the loss of a kind of leadership he calls “Godly.” Patterned on the Gospel lesson for this Sunday, Bishop Beauvoir said that Godly Leadership is that which both recognizes one’s own and one’s communities’ failings, or unworthiness, but also recognizes the quality of the loving father in one’s self and one’s community, welcoming, forgiving, encouraging.
Haiti today is losing its young families and young adults, and its working force – they are leaving Haiti for Canada and the United States. Young people in Haiti are being lost to addiction and violence because they feel they have lost their futures.
The Episcopal Church in Haiti has been playing a role of Godly Leadership already by being a generous church, a bridge-building church. Bishop Beauvoir believes that the Church in Haiti is providing Godly Leadership, and is united, its bishops, clergy and people being in unity and solidarity. From this source reconciliation and healing will continue to grow, Bishop Beauvoir concluded.
The afternoon will be Sabbath time. The bishops will gather for discussion after dinner, followed by Compline.
HOB on Twitter: #HOB2013
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church is meeting in retreat at the Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC (Diocese of Western North Carolina) from March 8 to March 12. The following is an account of the activities for Saturday, March 9.
The emcee for the day was Bishop Todd Ousley, Diocese of Eastern Michigan.
Continuing the theme of Godly Leadership in the Midst of Loss, the reflection during Morning Prayer was on Leadership in the Midst of Natural Disaster, presented by Bishop George Councell of the Diocese of New Jersey. His diocese and the neighboring dioceses of Newark, New York and Long Island were profoundly assaulted by Hurricane Sandy. Bishop Councell observed that in other times, and still in certain industries, such natural disasters were called “acts of God,” and described that as a slur on God. Instead, he said, we are called “to show the world in times of natural disaster just what an act of God looks like; acts of compassion, acts of ‘going there.’”
The bishops gathered at lunch according to Provinces for discussion and planning.
During the afternoon, the bishops will gather in small groups for reflection and for planning future initiatives.
HOB on Twitter: #HOB2013
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church is meeting in retreat at the Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC (Diocese of Western North Carolina) from March 8 to March 12. The following is an account of the activities for Friday, March 8.
In their first meeting since General Convention in July 2012, a sense of unity and good spirit among the bishops was evident.
Morning Prayer included a reflection on Godly Leadership in the Midst of Acute Loss, presented by Bishop Laura Ahrens, Diocese of Connecticut. Bishop Ahrens spoke powerfully of her experience as a pastor and church leader in the days following the tragic shootings in Newtown. “There’s no one to impress when your heart is broken,” she said. “The cross reveals violence and speaks forgiveness offering new life. The love revealed in the life and witness of Jesus speaks to a peace.”
The emcee for the day was Bishop Dean Wolfe, Diocese of Kansas.
The afternoon was devoted to a presentation and panel discussion on Gun Violence. Vincent DeMarco of Johns Hopkins University and national coordinator of Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence made a presentation. DeMarco invited the bishops to bear witness to the need to confront violence in our society. He listed four characteristics of the church which contribute to the power of its voice: moral authority, grass roots presence, diversity of its membership, and the media pays attention to religious voices.
The participants in the panel discussion had a variety of experiences but a common commitment to ending violence. The panelists were: Bishop Mark Beckwith, Diocese of Newark; Bishop Mariann Budde, Diocese of Washington; Bishop Ian Douglas, Diocese of Connecticut; Bishop Ed Konienczny, Diocese of Oklahoma; Bishop Jeff Lee, Diocese of Chicago, and Bishop Eugene Sutton, Diocese of Maryland.
The panelists shared personal stories and pastoral observations on various aspects of guns and issues that are associated with them. Following the presentations, the bishops engaged in table talk focusing on three questions: What might we do together as bishops of The Episcopal Church to challenge gun violence? Short term? Long term?
Bishop Steven Miller of Diocese of Milwaukee discussed a pastoral teaching on violence in our culture.
Bishop Laura Ahrens spoke about the March 25 Stations of the Cross in Washington DC. More information is forthcoming.
Bishop Jim Curry, Diocese of Connecticut, addressed advocacy opportunities.
Bishop Sutton talked about a nation-wide summit on gun violence that is being planned; date will be determined.
Alex Baumgarten of the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations spoke about efforts underway in Washington DC.
The day concluded with the Opening Eucharist, with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori celebrating and preaching.
HOB on Twitter: #HOB2013
The Rev. William Bailey, who in 2004 became the first vocational deacon ordained in the Episcopal Diocese of Newark in more than a quarter century, died March 6 at his home in Morris Plains, New Jersey, after a long illness. He was 81.
“All my life, I had wanted to be a priest,” Bailey told Episcopal Life in 2007. “I had always wanted to do that but never had the discipline to go to school and do the things I needed to do.”
Instead he married, had four children and “did everything else” a layman could do. “Almost every place we moved, I ended up somehow a warden,” he said.
As a young man, Bailey worked as a live-in counselor at the St. Peter’s Home for Boys in Detroit. After marrying, he and his wife, Evelyn, lived rent-free in the rectory of the city’s St. Thomas Episcopal Church, which then had no clergy. Hired as the janitor, he became involved in pastoral work and was named the church’s missioner. Over the next three or four years, he conducted morning prayer services, launched a neighborhood basketball team and helped the parish grow from 13 parishioners to 33.
Meanwhile, Bailey spent 27 years working for a division of General Motors that manufactured equipment for diesel transmissions. He spent a lot of time on the road, calling on potential clients such as fire departments and municipalities — what he called “engineering sales.”
“We didn’t have an end product,” he explained. “We didn’t have a truck. We just had pieces, and you went and tried to convince people that these pieces that you had were what they needed to satisfy their needs.”
“What I do [as a deacon] is what I was doing then,” said Bailey. “It’s dealing with people, trying to discover their needs and helping them. … Our product happens to be our Lord and Savior.”
Because the call to ordination never left Bailey. Not during his GM years. Not while he subsequently taught mechanics and sales for a distributor who serviced diesel products (“I called it the care and feeding of diesels and transmissions.”) Not after he retired in 1993.
He joined an Education for Ministry class at his parish, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown, New Jersey, thinking it would help in him lay ministry. Then he discovered he could use it in place of seminary — and that his diocese was reinstituting the vocational diaconate. He “buckled down” to his studies and participated in Stephen Ministry. As a result of his clinical pastoral education, he because a chaplain at an area hospital.
And on June 5, 2004, at age 72, he became the first of five vocational deacons ordained that day by then-Bishop Jack Croneberger – the first in the Diocese of Newark in more than 27 years, Bailey recalled.
Bailey subsequently served as deacon at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Millington, New Jersey, and as a hospital chaplain and served on the diaconal ordination committee of the diocese’s Commission on Ministry. After retiring from All Saints’ in 2010, he continued to serve as deacon and pastoral associate at his home parish, St. Peter’s.
Diocese of Newark Mark Beckwith will preach and celebrate at a worship service celebrating Bailey’s life on March 13 at 11 a.m. at St. Peter’s. Bailey is survived by his wife, four children, five grand children and five great-grandchildren.
Looking back in 2007, Bailey said he saw God’s hand in all his family’s moves and ministries.
“A call is real,” he said. “I think I felt this call from the time I was a boy.”
Bailey said he didn’t regret not becoming a priest. “In fact, I’m so pleased that I’m not, because I’m doing the pastoral things that priests often don’t have an opportunity to do. They’re running churches. They’re worrying about budgets. They’re working with vestries. All of the things it takes to run a church is a major, major job. A part of it, as I see it, is being able to give the canonical blessings, to make sacred that which is not.”
“But I am with the people where they are,” he said. “I do that servant ministry, which I really love. … It’s the ministry of every lay person. A deacon really should be the icon to the rest of the congregation, that this is how you live the lay life.”
“It’s a wonderful ministry, absolutely a wonderful ministry,” he concluded. “And you get called reverend!”
[Office of Public Affairs -- Press Release] Human Trafficking: A Churchwide Conversation, a March 6 forum hosted by Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, is now available on line here.
The hour-long Human Trafficking: A Churchwide Conversation originated from the Chapel of Christ the Lord in the Church Center in New York City and featured Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori’s address, “What Is Human Trafficking and How Does It Link with Violence against Women and Girls.” (text printed in full below)
Panelists spoke about aspects of human trafficking: Sarah Dreier, Legislative Representative for International Policy and Advocacy, addressing advocacy aspects on the federal, state and local levels; the Rev. Brian McVey of the Diocese of Iowa on what ministries are operating around the Episcopal Church in response to human trafficking; the Rev. Terrie Robinson from the Anglican Communion on communion-wide actions and policies; Laura Russell, Esq. from the Diocese of Newark on the church’s policies and implementation based on General Convention resolutions; and Lynnaia Main, on the UN’s response to human trafficking and Episcopal Church involvement.
An encompassing list of resources on this topic is available here.
For more information contact Main at firstname.lastname@example.org
Presiding Bishop’s Address
The following is Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori’s address:
Human Trafficking: A Churchwide Conversation
6 March 2013
Chapel of Christ the Lord
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
At the height of the 19th century transatlantic slave trade, about 10 million persons were enslaved. Today there are more than twice as many, even though slavery is illegal everywhere.
Human trafficking is defined by the use of force, fraud, or coercion. It may or may not include transporting a victim, physical force or abuse, but it always involves threat and the loss of freedom. Trafficked persons are women and men, girls and boys, foreigners, immigrants, and citizens – all of whom have been forced or tricked into working for another person’s profit. That stolen profit amounts to $32 billion annually, second only to global drug-running. Half of slavery profits are realized in the industrialized nations of the world. This criminal activity is driven by cheap prices for human beings, impunity, and easy profits.
Trafficking is a fundamental act of violence against the dignity of human beings made in the image of God. Their labor, creativity, personal integrity and safety, and their ability to choose are stolen from them for someone else’s use. As descendants of Moses and Abraham, we are charged to care for the sojourners in our midst, remembering that our ancestors were slaves in Egypt.
Sexual exploitation accounts for 60-80% of all trafficking reports. While other forms of trafficking are likely under-reported, they include forced labor, debt bondage, forced marriage, domestic servitude, the harvesting of organs, and the use of children as soldiers, beggars, and sexual commodities. Infants and children are also trafficked for adoption, and for the production of pornography.
Labor or debt slaves include some 12 million persons worldwide, primarily in Asia and Africa, though there are certainly some in the United States. Of those, 2.5 million are enslaved by governments or rebel military forces. The rest are in bondage to private persons and entities, working in mines, sweatshops, fisheries, agriculture, homes, and restaurants. An average slave’s labor brings the “owner” a profit of tens of thousands of dollars annually.
Every year about 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders. Half are children. About 80% are female. In Asia, girls are sold by parents who cannot feed all their children, even knowing that their children’s intended labor in restaurants or factories is likely a sham. They end up in brothels, bars, and massage parlors, to be used and abused by adult males, many of whom are quaintly called “tourists.” Nearly 2 million children, including a smaller percentage of boys, are enslaved as sexual commodities around the globe. Nearly every country in the world is involved in trafficking in some way. Asia sends victims to the greatest number of other countries; Europe receives trafficked human beings from the most source nations.
Around 15,000 persons are trafficked into the United States every year, nearly half of whom work in the sex industry. A quarter are in domestic service as housekeepers and child care workers, and 10% in agriculture. Another 240,000 American children have already been tricked or coerced into the sex industry. Girls are induced into this form of slavery at an average age of 12.8 years; boys are even younger.
There are several effective ways in which we can respond to human trafficking, including reducing demand for the products of slave labor. Almost all of us buy items involving forced labor – coffee, smart phones, cotton clothing. We can also work to reduce demand for commercial sex – Super Bowl weekend is deemed the largest annual trafficking incident in the U.S. We can also increase enforcement of anti-slavery and trafficking laws. There is good news in the growing legal ability to prosecute traffickers across the globe, yet there is also abundant room for greater willingness to do it effectively. All such responses depend on increased awareness about inhuman practices. We can help to set the prisoners free and deliver today’s slaves from oppression and bondage if we’re willing to learn and respond.
We will explore some of those responses in the rest of this program. Perhaps the most basic concerns the image of God and how we receive or encounter someone caught in slavery. Can we befriend, welcome, and accompany a person who has been so abused, in the same way we’d welcome the Crucified One or the Suffering Servant? Trafficked persons are often imprisoned by shame and rejected by the wider community. They are also traumatized by their dehumanization. Building relationships is the first step in healing the outcast and caring for someone who has been treated as less than human. When Jesus charged his followers to care for the “least of these” he certainly included the trafficked.
Human trafficking, modern slavery, is one of the most pervasive kinds of violence against women and girls here and around the globe. The good news is that people of faith are responding to this violence. President Obama named a group of religious and community leaders, who have chosen human trafficking as a central issue where public-private partnership can make a real difference. This afternoon you will hear more about how The Episcopal Church continues to expand awareness, ministry, policy, and advocacy with local and national governments. Our final speaker will put this work in context around the Anglican Communion, and then we’ll open a broader conversation with those in attendance here and in cyberspace.
Violence, particularly against women, continues to haunt our world. It is possible to change attitudes. Liberia radically reduced the post-civil war violence through roadside signs with pictures of injured and violated women with captions like, Is this your mother? or She could be your sister!
The slaves of this world are our sisters and brothers, and their mothers. Jesus announced his work this way: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” That work is ours as well. Learn to recognize the signs of trafficking, how to respond, and then act. May we be able to say in our own day, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
[Washington National Cathedral -- Press Release] Washington National Cathedral announced today that it will bring together religious leaders, policy makers, victims of gun violence, youth and people of faith at the nationwide Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend, which will take place March 14 through 17. Organized in partnership with Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, a coalition of nearly 50 denominations and faith-based organizations, the events will provide an opportunity for open discourse on gun violence prevention with particular focus on how faith-based efforts can encourage changes in gun control policy.
The program begins Thursday, March 14, with a discussion of effective gun prevention strategies, and culminates on Sunday morning, March 17, at a worship service in which the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral, will preach and encourage continued action by people of faith. Participants include members of Congress, gun control advocates, law enforcement officials, medical and mental health professionals, and leaders of many faiths.
The climactic event of the weekend will take place at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 16 as the Cathedral hosts a national conversation about faith-inspired public policy to eradicate gun violence. Special guests who will attend the conversation include James and Sarah Brady of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty who represents Newtown, Conn., as well as other preeminent leaders of faith communities nationwide. Media are encouraged to attend the conversation as the central event of the weekend.
To support the weekend’s nationwide Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath, the Cathedral and its partners are offering spiritual and educational resources and recruiting hundreds of houses of worship across the country to participate in the Sabbath weekend in their respective settings.
These unique series of faith-based events will foster unity and hope among participants, who will be given the chance to reflect on gun-related incidents, comment on the shocking prevalence of gun violence and the inadequacies of current gun laws, and propose viable solutions to diminish gun violence and ensure the safety of the American people.
Media is invited and press coverage of all these events is welcome. To attend, please RSVP to Meredith MacKenzie at (202) 265-3000 or email@example.com at least two days in advance of each event.
Thursday, March 14
7:00 p.m.: Speaking From Experience: Seasoned Leaders Offer Solutions
The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, and the Cathedral community will discuss the complexity of gun violence with seasoned leaders. Participants include R.T. Rybak, mayor of Minneapolis, Dr. Arthur Kellerman, director of the Rand Institute and Assistant Chief Patrick Burke, Washington, D.C. Police Department.
Friday, March 15
8:45 a.m.: Assembling the Cathedral Close Community (Closed Press)
Washington, D.C.’s nationally recognized Police Chief Cathy Lanier will join Mayor Rybak and Dr. Kellerman for a discussion moderated by Bishop Budde on gun violence in our community and beyond. This event will convene students, faculty, and staff of the two Cathedral upper schools, Cathedral and Foundation staff for a time of reflection and togetherness for the community on this important subject.
10:00 a.m.: Prayers for the Nation
Throughout the day, the Cathedral will be open to visitors for private reflection. Special prayers for an end to gun violence and for the nation will be offered every hour at the 45-minute time.
Saturday, March 16
11:00 a.m.: Opening Worship
A special service will give participants time to reflect and pray on the serious problem of gun violence as well as mourn through song and scripture those who have been killed by guns.
11:20 a.m.: Discussion on Violence in our Local Communities
In this session, urban faith leaders from Washington, D.C., Prince George’s County, Md., and Chicago will discuss how their communities have been plagued by gun violence and recommend solutions to uphold safety within their cities. Panelists include the Rev. Dr. Delman L. Coates, senior pastor of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Md.; the Rev. Carol Reese, Episcopal chaplain at Stroger Hospital in Chicago and the Rev. Alvin Herring of the PICO National Network.
CENTRAL GATHERING– 12:30 p.m.: National Conversation—Faith-Inspired Public Policy on Gun Violence
To eradicate the rampant gun violence that has beleaguered many communities, common sense gun legislation is necessary. The Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral, joins with James and Sarah Brady of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty and Congressman Chris Van Hollen to call for swift legislative action on gun violence. Along with national interfaith leaders, the hour will explore national gun policy initiatives through a faith-based perspective.
1:30 p.m.: Interfaith Discussion Featuring Prominent Faith Leaders
This discussion, moderated by Bishop Budde, will explore how faith’s teachings compel believers to act on issues like gun control. The interfaith leaders including Sojourners’ Jim Wallis, Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America, Dr. Rajwant Singh, founder of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, and the Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary, will discuss the importance of uniting practices across diverse religious traditions to inspire collective action.
2:30 p.m.: Closing Prayer
This interfaith worship concluding the Saturday events will integrate prayer and music, motivating each of us to take action rooted in faith.
Sunday, March 17
10:10 a.m.: Sunday Forum – The Roots of Gun Violence
Whether it is discord in a family or violence in a community, the place of reconciliation in the social sphere is rife with complexity and divergent appeals to justice. Who is to blame? What should happen to the offender—and the offended? These and other related questions are addressed daily in our school and legal system. Psychologist and advocate Lauren Abramson will speak about restoration in our society as well as to the hope that such restoration might offer to people in conflict.
11:15 AM: Sunday Worship Service
As part of the local Cathedral community’s own response, the weekend concludes with the regular Sunday service of Holy Eucharist at which Dean Hall will provide another bold call to action on the topic of gun violence.