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NW Pennsylvania bishop nominated to serve Bethlehem

ENS Headlines - Friday, January 17, 2014

[Diocese of Bethlehem press release] The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, a group of elected clergy and lay leaders, announced today that the Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania, is the nominee for provisional bishop of Bethlehem. The convention at which the diocese’s clergy and lay representatives will vote on Bishop Rowe’s nomination is set for March 1.

The Diocese of Bethlehem comprises fourteen counties in northeastern Pennsylvania, including the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Hazleton, Reading, Scranton, and Wilkes-Barre.

Rowe would continue as bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania under the proposed arrangement, which would continue for three years. “The Standing Committee chose Bishop Sean as our nominee for provisional bishop because of his stable, forward-thinking leadership in Northwestern Pennsylvania,” said the Rev. Canon Andrew T. Gerns, president of the Standing Committee in Bethlehem and rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Easton. “He has a strong track record of building relationships with clergy and lay leaders and proven skill at resolving conflict directly and effectively. We’re pleased that the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania has so readily agreed to undertake this innovative arrangement with us.”

“I am honored to be nominated as provisional bishop of the Diocese of Bethlehem,” said Rowe. “Across the Episcopal Church, dioceses are seeking innovative ways to pursue 21st century mission and ministry. I am pleased to have this opportunity to help transform the church by fostering collaboration and developing new models for mission that will strengthen the witness of the Episcopal Church in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the work of God’s people in our communities.”

The Diocese of Bethlehem’s previous bishop, the Rt. Rev. Paul V. Marshall, retired on December 31 after a terminal sabbatical. On January 1, the Standing Committee announced its plan to call a provisional bishop for a three-year term. “We believe that calling a provisional bishop is the best way for the Diocese of Bethlehem to undertake a healthy, productive period of reflection and discernment about the mission to which God is calling us,” said Gerns. “We’re delighted that Bishop Sean’s skills and proximity make this new arrangement possible.”

If elected, Rowe will take up his new duties immediately and by August 2014 spend half of his time in each diocese. He, his wife, Carly, and their one-year-old daughter, Lauren, will have a home in both suburban Erie and in Bethlehem.

Rowe was ordained bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania, which comprises thirty-three congregations in thirteen counties, in 2007. He is known for developing transformational leadership and is a Ph.D. candidate in organizational learning and leadership at Gannon University. He is a 2000 graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary and a 1997 graduate of Grove City College. He serves as parliamentarian for the House of Bishops, chair of the Episcopal Church Building Fund, and member of the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church, the Council of Advice to the President of the House of Deputies and the General Board of Examining Chaplains.

The March 1 electing convention will take place at 10 am at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, 321 Wyandotte Street in Bethlehem. Clergy of the diocese and lay leaders from each congregation will vote on the nomination of Rowe as provisional bishop.

La Iglesia le envía un memorando al presidente y al Congreso de EE.UU. sobre la crisis de Sudán del Sur

ENS Headlines - Thursday, January 16, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] Un memorando enviado el 10 de enero por la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales de la Iglesia Episcopal con sede en Washington, D.C. al gobierno de Obama y a los miembros del Congreso de EE.UU. resume la crisis actual de Sudán del Sur y hace recomendaciones en las que instan al gobierno y a la comunidad internacional a asociarse con los líderes cívicos y religiosos de Sudán del Sur para frenar la oleada de violencia y construir la paz.

El memorando de seis páginas, basado en los relatos de primera mano de líderes de la Iglesia sobre el terreno en Sudán del Sur y sus asociados episcopales y anglicanos en todo el mundo, expresan la interpretación que hace la Iglesia de la crisis actual que ha envuelto a la nación más joven del mundo. El memorando aborda específicamente cuatro áreas: representación pública del conflicto y responsabilidad; asistencia exterior; protección de los derechos humanos y prevención de atrocidades masivas; y construcción de un futuro de paz.

“Los episcopales en Estados Unidos y en todo el mundo han mantenido largas y estrechas relaciones con los episcopales de Sudán del Sur”, dijo Alexander Baumgarten, director de relaciones internacionales de la Iglesia Episcopal. “Como resultado, tenemos una responsabilidad de compartir las singulares y apremiantes perspectivas de los asociados en Sudán del Sur que desempeñan un papel de pacificadores en medio de [un clima de] agitación y violencia extraordinarias”.

Entre otras cosas, advierte el memorando “si bien las tensiones étnicas son reales y reflejan los frutos de décadas de agitación y conflicto, no son la fuerza motriz fundamental de la violencia actual” y afirma que la representación que hacen los medios de prensa y, en cierta medida, el gobierno de EE.UU., de la violencia un [conflicto] entre grupos tribales y étnicos es “engañoso” “simplista” y “podía acarrear funestas consecuencias”.

Advierte también que la nación centroafricana podría estar al borde de la guerra civil, y que EE.UU. y los demás [actores internacionales] tienen la responsabilidad de prevenir las atrocidades masivas y las violaciones de los derechos humanos. Haga un clic aquí para leer el texto completo del memorando al Presidente y al Congreso.

Se calcula que la cifra de muertes había llegado a 10.000 personas para el 9 de enero. Unas 200.000 personas se han visto desplazadas internamente dentro de Sudán del Sur y decenas de miles de refugiados han cruzados las fronteras hacia los países vecinos.

El conflicto estalló en Juba, la capital de la nación, el pasado 15 de diciembre, luego de una disputa política entre el presidente Salva Kiir y su ex vice, Riek Machar. En las semanas transcurridas desde entonces, este conflicto se ha extendido a siete estados y ha creado una crisis humanitaria en la novísima nación.

“Nuestros informes más recientes indican que la violencia sigue extendiéndose y que la urgente necesidad de alimentos, medicinas y albergue podría continuar durante meses. La situación refleja la pavorosa época anterior al Acuerdo Global de Paz del Sudán en 2005, en la cual una guerra civil interminable costó la vida de millones de personas y desarraigó a millones más de sus hogares”, dice la introducción del memorando.

Baumgarten hizo notar que los episcopales y anglicanos de todo el mundo con lazos misioneros con Sudán y Sudán del Sur han estado celebrando llamadas de conferencias en las semanas transcurridas desde que estalló la violencia a mediados de diciembre, y que el personal de su oficina ha estado compartiendo información vital, en la medida en que la reciben, con funcionarios del gobierno de EE.UU. que están coordinando la respuesta humanitaria y pacificadora.

“Este es un ejemplo de un área en la cual el activismo de los episcopales puede significar un diferencia sustancial”, dijo Baumgarten.  “No hay ninguna institución cívica en Sudán del Sur con una impronta mayor que la Iglesia, y nuestra experiencia es que los funcionarios del gobierno en Estados Unidos y en cualquier parte  están bastante dispuestos a escuchar a los asociados de la Iglesia en el terreno.

La Iglesia Episcopal de Sudán del Sur y el Sudán, con 2 millones de miembros, tiene 31 diócesis, 26 de ellas en Sudán del Sur, donde es una de las organizaciones no gubernamentales más grande de la nación y donde ha desempeñado un papel en la reconciliación luego de la guerra civil de dos décadas  que se libró en gran medida entre el norte árabe y musulmán y los rebeldes del sur animista y cristiano, conflicto que dejó 2 millones de muertos y, según algunos cálculos, 7 millones de desplazados. Sudán del Sur obtuvo su independencia del norte el 9 de julio de 2011.

Las partes beligerantes del Sudán firmaron el Acuerdo Global de Paz en 2005.

El memorando señala que “Los líderes del nuevo Estado no emprendieron vigorosamente la tarea de abordar los desafíos [que conlleva] desarrollar una nación unificada y sanar las pasadas divisiones”… Y esa unificación y esa restauración son centrales a los empeños de pacificación.

(En mayo de 2013, el presidente de Sudán del Sur nombró al arzobispo Daniel Deng Bul para presidir el comité de reconciliación nacional, el cual planeó una campaña nacional de cuatro o cinco años que tenía por objeto alcanzar y fomentar la paz y la reconciliación).

El memorando encomia al gobierno de Obama por su promesa del 3 de diciembre de [contribuir] con $50 millones adicionales de ayuda humanitaria, pero insta a hacer un “examen” de su estrategia de ayuda y de la del Congreso. El 9 de enero, los informes noticiosos sugerían que Sudán del Sur corría el riesgo de perder cientos de millones de dólares en ayuda de EE.UU. si el gobierno y las fuerzas rebeldes no le ponían fin a la violencia.

Entre tanto, episcopales y anglicanos a través de la Comunión Anglicana, incluidos Ayuda y Desarrollo Episcopales y el Fondo de Ayuda y Desarrollo Mundial de los Primados, en colaboración con asociados locales en Sudán del Sur, han comenzado a responder a la crisis.

“La Iglesia Episcopal, junto con sus asociados episcopales y anglicanos del mundo, ha organizado su propia respuesta de sostén económico, acompañamiento material y oración por el pueblo de Sudán del Sur. Creemos firmemente que la Iglesia Episcopal de Sudán del Sur y otros grupos religiosos allí se cuentan entre los actores potenciales más fructíferos en conducir y facilitar la paz, la asistencia humanitaria y la recuperación”, dice el memorando.

El permanente apoyo de la Iglesia Episcopal al Sudán se manifiesta a través de sus asociaciones y de sus relaciones de diócesis compañeras, de los programas sostenidos por Ayuda y Desarrollo Episcopales y de la labor de promoción de la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales, la cual se afinca en las resoluciones de la Convención General.

Dos misioneros de la Iglesia Episcopal que estuvieron sirviendo en Sudán del Sur, Ed Eastman y Noah Hillerbrand, dedicados a la tarea de seguridad de alimentos, fueron evacuados de Renk a Nairobi, Kenia, el 20 de diciembre.

- Lynette Wilson es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Atlanta’s bishop joins sanitation crew to mark Dr. King’s birthday

ENS Headlines - Thursday, January 16, 2014

On Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Atlanta, Bishop Rob Wright works the morning trash pickup. Photo: Don Plummer/Diocese of Atlanta

[Diocese of Atlanta]  Atlanta’s Bishop Rob Wright took a page out of history Wednesday and spent Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday with city sanitation workers.

“Dr. King spent his last hours on earth advocating for garbage workers, and it only seems right that I mark his birthday by spending it with those in similar circumstances,” Bishop Wright said at the 7 a.m. roll call.

Bishop Rob Wright leads a prayer for sanitation workers before their shift begins. Photo: Don Plummer/Diocese of Atlanta

After speaking to and praying with workers, Wright joined a sanitation truck crew for several hours on busy downtown streets. He emptied garbage cans, rode  on the bumper of a truck as it went between stops, and learned how to work the truck’s compactor.

Wright is marking his tenure with events on the streets working with the poor and forgotten. Prior to his bishop ordination and consecration in October 2012 he washed and massaged people’s feet at the foot-health clinic operated by the diocese’s ministry to Atlanta’s homeless.

Wright’s commitment to engage with people about their everyday needs can be traced back to years he spent as a Howard University student working for the Children’s Defense Fund and the city of Washington, D.C.’s community centers.

“Church and religion aren’t just a Sunday thing; Jesus lived and worked every day among people whose lives were hard and who needed the presence of someone who cared about them,” Wright said at the workers’ pre-dawn gathering where three sanitation workers shared their life stories.

One of them, E. Nelson Williams, talked about an exhibit he developed and titled “Image Is” on the contributions of black Americans. Williams called on his colleagues to identify their own black heroes as a way of honoring Dr. King.

“The continued advancement of humanity is inevitably linked to our predecessors, who by example serve as inspirational reminders to persevere … for a brighter future,” Williams said.

Last fall Wright announced a plan increasing community-based ministries and refocusing the diocese’s permanent diaconate on the needs of the poor and other people living on the margins of society.

Bishop Rob Wright notes the irony of one discarded item. Photo: Don Plummer/Diocese Atlanta

“The work of a deacon on behalf of the church in the world is too important to conflate with other tasks,” he said. “There is a ‘harvest’ in the world, Jesus has said.  The permanent diaconate, for our church, is the eyewitness and herald of this harvest.”

Currently the diocese, which consists of 109 worshiping communities in middle and north Georgia, supports ministries providing health care, food, workplace training and assistance to those dealing with abuse and mental illness.

– Don Plummer is communications consultant for the Diocese of Atlanta and is a member of St. Teresa’s Episcopal Church, Acworth, Georgia.

Church ‘on call’ to assist missionaries in the field

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ashley Cameron, a Young Adult Service Corps missionary serving in the Episcopal Diocese of Santiago in the Philippines, Elizabeth Boe, the Episcopal Church’s global networking officer, and Ryan Abrams, a former YASC missionary who served in the Episcopal Diocese of Costa Rica during a May 2013 Global Episcopal Mission Network conference in Bogotá, Colombia. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] For Episcopal Church adult and Young Adult Service Corps missionaries serving throughout the Anglican Communion, help is simply a phone call, an e-mail, text message or Skype conference away.

“We do make great efforts to be on call and available 24/7 for all our missionaries,” said the Rev. David Copley, mission personnel and global partnerships officer.

Most recently, on Dec. 20 in the wake of the outbreak of violence in South Sudan, Copley assisted in the evacuation of Ed Eastman and Noah Hillerbrand, two missionaries who were serving in the Diocese of Renk in the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan.

“After the fighting started it was decided we needed to evacuate immediately, as the one available Medair flight was only available the next day, then no more flights,” said Eastman in an e-mail to ENS from Tanzania. “David Copley got in touch with me by phone and informed me of this. It was 11 p.m. his time and he was making the arrangements from his home because of the emergency situation [thank you, David].”

Fighting erupted in Juba, the nation’s capital, on Dec. 15 following a political dispute. Renk is in northeastern South Sudan in Upper Nile State near the border of Sudan, and though it remained quiet in the first days and weeks of violence, the fighting has spread to the upper Nile region.

The U.S. Embassy in South Sudan began evacuating staff in December and further reduced its staff in early January, when it also urged all U.S. citizens to leave the country.

The Episcopal Church’s Mission Department doesn’t operate an emergency relief and development organization and doesn’t send missionaries to active war zones. That said, there have been cases where missionaries have been evacuated from countries following natural and other disasters, political and social unrest and armed conflict.

“We don’t sent people into insecure areas, normally, but the reality is you can’t guarantee any place as perfectly safe,” Copley said.

Following the Jan. 12, 2010, devastating magnitude-7 earthquake whose epicenter was 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Young Adult Service Corps missionaries Mallory Holding and Jude Harmon, left the country. Steven Hart, a YASC missionary serving at the Asian Rural Institute in 2011 after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

When protests erupted in Tahrir Square during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution against former President Hosni Mubarak, the Rev. Paul Gorden-Chandler, a missionary, was serving as rector of St. John the Baptist Church in Cairo.

The Episcopal Church has 60 adult and Young Adult Service Corps missionaries serving in more than 20 countries throughout the Anglican Communion, from Haiti to Brazil to Hong Kong to South Africa to the Philippines, in developing and developed nations.

In addition to pastoral care, regular check-ins, logistical and other support provided by the Mission Department, missionaries receive health coverage and evacuation insurance.

Missionaries, ordained and lay, some professionals with years of experience, and others having recently graduated college, serve in a variety of roles, priests, teachers, doctors, nurses, web designers, administrators, accountants, farmers, welders, musicians.

Often times, people will say “I can’t be a missionary because I’m not a doctor,” said Copley, officer for mission personnel and global partnerships, adding that part of his job is to facilitate discernment. “Everyone has gifts.

“Sometimes is just convincing people that a ministry of presence is as important as a technical skill.”

Serving as an adult or Young Adult Missionary of the Episcopal Church serves not only to strengthen local ministries and programs, but also connects Episcopalians to the large, 85 million-member Anglican Communion, reinforcing common bonds. The church sends missionaries to serve and assist in programs that fit with the strategic priorities of a province or diocese, and those that strengthen new or existing companion relationships.

For instance, the late Michael Tedrick, a missionary from the Diocese of California, served in the Anglican Diocese of Curitiba in Brazil facilitating the companion diocese relationship, added Elizabeth Boe, the church’s officer for global networking.

Before deploying a missionary, the church’s Mission Department staff conducts a broad assessment of the placement, including safety and security; the availability of adequate accommodations; the existence of meaningful work; and especially in the case of young adults, the presence of a mentor, said Copley.

The Episcopal Church can send missionaries, “just about anywhere, that said, we do look at places where we have an exit strategy,” said Copley, adding that even though mission groups regularly visit the Republic of the Congo, it’s not currently a country to which the church would send missionaries.

The Diocese of Renk, given its isolated location, isn’t a spot where the church typically sends missionaries either, said Copley, but Eastman and Hillerbrand both had planned to go anyway so the Mission Department “adopted” the missionaries.

Eastman, a member of Church of the Holy Family in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, arrived in Renk on Dec. 10 and planned to begin spearheading construction of a fence on a 25-acre farm belonging to the diocese, which is part of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan.

“The materials were purchased in Juba and put on a barge to Renk just before the fighting erupted,” said Eastman, adding that the farm is critical in providing food for students and staff of Renk Theological College and income for the diocese.

“We were hoping the fighting would get under control and we could go back, instead it has gotten much, much worse,” said Eastman, who’d planned to return to the U.S. this week. “I have been invited back to South Sudan by Bishop Joseph [Atem] when peace occurs. This may not be in the near future.”

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

Innovative, free formation resource for Lent 2014

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, January 15, 2014

[The Society of Saint John the Evangelist press release] For Lent 2014 the Brothers of The Society of Saint John the Evangelist (SSJE) have developed an easy-to-use video series and accompanying workbook “Love Life: Living the Gospel of Love.” The daily series runs from Ash Wednesday, March 5th, to Palm Sunday. Subscribers will be emailed each morning with a mobile-friendly video and evocative question. The daily email subscription is free, as are all the supporting materials which are available to download for free.  A printed version can be purchased through www.SSJE.org/lovelife.

“Love Life: Living the Gospel of Love” is an offering from the Brothers of SSJE that delves deeply into the gospel that shapes their community life. The Brothers believe that spending time praying and pondering with the Gospel of John can help us all to live more abundantly: the life of love to which we are called. John’s message of love can unlock our own hearts and transform the communities where we belong.

This series is designed so that everyone in a community can participate. Churches can offer “Love Life” for groups that meet in person and for people who prefer to access the series electronically, via a smart phone or computer.

The Episcopal Diocese of Texas and the Anglican Church of Canada will be featuring Love Life during Lent. “When I learned about “Love Life,” it was a natural decision to coordinate our Lenten issue of the diocesan magazine, Diolog, with a similar focus. We are promoting the 5-week program and videos to our membership and churches as well. Our Christian Formation team is also very excited about the program, which can be very personal or approached from a group standpoint. I have found that collaboration with SSJE allows us to expand what my small staff can provide with quality programming while modeling what being part of a broader Church is all about,” said Carol E. Barnwell, Communication Director of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas

The series begins on March 5th with three short videos introducing John as the Gospel of Love and explaining their intentions and hopes for the series.  After the introductory videos, the series explores five themes, which the Brothers find in John’s Gospel and in their lives: Revelation, Invitation, Participation, Collaboration and Vocation. Each Sunday there will be a video reflecting on the theme for that week, which will then be explored in five short daily videos (M-F) and in the worksheet that accompanies them. Each video ends with a thought-provoking question to be pondered over the course of the day, then answered on the worksheet or at www.SSJE.org/lovelife. On Saturday there will be a catch-up video with that week’s videos replayed together.

More information is available at  www.SSJE.org/lovelife. Resources for group and church leaders and educators are available at www.SSJE.org/loveliferesources.

Rapidísimas

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Noruega ha prohibido a Arabia Saudita financiar mezquitas mientras no permitan construir iglesias en su país. Jonas Gahr Stor, ministro de Asuntos Exteriores, ha dicho que se rechazarán las donaciones millonarias de Arabia Saudita y varios empresarios musulmanes para financiar la construcción de mezquitas en Noruega. Añadió que “sería ridículo aceptar las fuentes de financiación de un país donde no hay libertad religiosa”.

En Argentina han conmemorado el Día de las Mujeres Migrantes en memoria de Marcelina Meneses, una mujer indígena que fue arrojada de un tren en movimiento “por ser boliviana” el 10 de enero de 2001. Hasta el momento sus asesinos viven en la impunidad. Pero hay casos mucho más extremos.

Venezuela vivía una crisis de seguridad en la década de los 90s que se ha incrementado desde 1998. El gobierno afirma que sólo hay 39 muertes por cada 100 mil habitantes mientras el Observatorio de Violencia, una entidad privada, dice que son 79 los homicidios. De cualquier modo se habla de 11 mil a 25 mil venezolanos muertos por la violencia cada año. Las recientes muertes de Mónica Spear y su esposo Henry Berry han llenado de luto a la sociedad venezolana. ¿Hasta cuándo, Señor?

Tres cosas le han sucedido a la Iglesia Episcopal del Espíritu Santo en Miami que los llena de alegría. Primero su sacerdote encargado, Rafael García, ha sido instalado como rector de la congregación cargo que le otorga más poder y responsabilidades; segundo Salvador Arce, un joven cubano graduado de una escuela de canto coral en La Habana ha fijado residencia en Miami y ha comenzado a ensayar con el coro actual de la iglesia; y tercero la celebración de los primeros 100 años de vida de Ángeles (“Angelita”) Rial que ha dedicado su vida a servir en la iglesia. Nacida en Guantánamo, canta en el coro y está dispuesta a realizar cualquier tarea. No usa bastón, nunca se ha enfermado y cuando se le preguntó si se había casado dijo con una sonrisa: “Tuve mis pretendientes pero ninguno valía la pena”. La fiesta terminó con un espléndido almuerzo a los acordes de música de mariachis.

En Moscú se ha revelado que Mijail Kalashnikov, inventor del fusil AK47 y fallecido recientemente, había escrito a Cirilo, patriarca de la Iglesia Ortodoxa Rusa confesándole que “el dolor en mi alma es insoportable por las muertes causadas por mi invención”. Añadió que el fusil fue inventado para defender a la Patria pero se ha usado con fines perversos.

“¡Dichosa prensa!” Dijo el presidente de Francia, François Hollande por haber revelado sus amoríos con Valerie Trierweiler, una bella actriz francesa que trabaja en la oficina del presidente. Después de este gran cintillo periodístico la prensa de París no hace otra cosa que hablar del tema. Muchos opinan que Hollande tendrá que rendir cuentas ante las autoridades judiciales.

En Chile las críticas han llovido desde que se supo que Ricardo Ezzati, arzobispo de Santiago, es uno de los 19 cardenales recientemente nombrados por el papa Francisco. Víctimas de abusos sexuales por parte de sacerdotes acusan al arzobispo de encubridor. Un caso en cuestión es el de Fernando Karadima, pastor de una importante iglesia en Santiago. Los países latinoamericanos que tienen nuevos cardenales son Chile, Brasil, Haití y Nicaragua.

En una sorprendente decisión el gobierno de Cuba ha permitido que 15 jóvenes cubanos activistas o hijos de disidentes puedan gozar de becas otorgadas por Miami Dade College en la ciudad que tiene mayor número de exilados. Los nuevos estudiantes tomarán clases de inglés, computación, administración de negocios y estudios sociales por seis meses antes de regresar a Cuba. La prensa radial y escrita ha dado la bienvenida a los “novatos cubanos”.

DUDOSA DEFINICIÓN: Proclamo en voz alta la libertad de pensamiento y muera el que no piense como yo. Voltaire (1694-1778) Filósofo y escritor francés.

Massachusetts announces nominees for bishop election

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, January 15, 2014

[Diocese of Massachusetts press release] The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts announced Jan. 15 its slate of nominees for election as bishop.  They are:

  • The Rev. Holly Antolini, 61, rector, St. James’s Church, Cambridge, Mass.;
  • The Rev. Ronald Culmer, 49, rector, St. Clare’s Church, Pleasanton, Calif.;
  • The Rev. Alan Gates, 55, rector, St. Paul’s Church, Cleveland Heights, Ohio;
  • The Rev. Ledlie Laughlin, 54, rector, St. Peter’s Church, Philadelphia, Penn.; and
  • The Rev. Sam Rodman, 54, project manager for campaign initiatives, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

More information about each of the nominees is available at http://mabishopsearch.org/candidates_for_bishop.

A petition process for submitting additional names opens with and will close on Jan. 31.  Complete information about the petition process and the petition form are available at http://mabishopsearch.org/petition_process.

The slate is the result of a seven-month discernment process conducted by a Discernment Committee comprising lay and clergy members from across the diocese and reporting to the diocesan Standing Committee. With the announcement of the slate, a Transition Committee, also comprising lay and clergy members from across the diocese, implements the next stages of the election process, also reporting to the Standing Committee.

The nominees will participate in a series of open meetings around the diocese March 14-19, giving the people of the diocese an opportunity to meet and learn more about the nominees.  Details will be announced.

The election will take place on Saturday, April 5 at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston.  All canonically resident clergy of the diocese and lay delegates (two elected from each of the diocese’s parishes and missions) vote separately as “orders”; a majority of votes on the same ballot from both the clergy and lay orders is required for election.

Pending consent from a majority of the Episcopal Church’s diocesan bishops and a majority of dioceses (via their Standing Committees), the consecration of the bishop-elect is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Sept. 13 at the Agganis Arena at Boston University, with the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding.

The current bishop, the Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE, became the 15th bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts in January 1995. In preparation for retirement, he plans to resign his office at the time of the new bishop’s consecration in September.

The Diocese of Massachusetts, among the Episcopal Church’s oldest and largest, in terms of baptized membership, comprises 183 parishes, missions, chapels and chaplaincies in eastern Massachusetts.

Canterbury Cathedral to host first-ever girls’ choir

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

[Religion News Service -- Canterbury, England] Canterbury Cathedral, mother church of the 85 million-member worldwide Anglican Communion, will have its first girls’ choir perform since it was rebuilt nearly 1,000 years ago.

On Jan. 25, worshippers will hear the voices of 16 girls between the ages of 12 and 16 at a historic Evensong service, which will include the music of English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Until now, only male voices have been heard at the cathedral’s services.

Twenty years ago, Salisbury Cathedral was the first English cathedral to allow girls to sing in choirs at services. That set the ball rolling. There are now 765 girls in cathedral choirs across England, compared with 1,008 boys.

Winchester Cathedral formed a girls’ choir in 1998, and Choirs Administrator Sue Armstrong said it is extremely popular.

The cathedral is world-famous for its magnificent boys’ choir, which has made many recordings and toured most of Europe and parts of the Commonwealth.

“I am delighted to hear that the mother church of the Anglican Communion is finally following suit,” said Armstrong.

The formation of the girls’ choir at Canterbury comes as fewer boys show much interest in singing in church choirs.

“What we need is a film that does for choral singing what ‘Billy Elliot’ did for ballet,” wrote Alan Titchmarsh, a former choirboy, in The Daily Telegraph.

Some Church of England traditionalists insist choirs in cathedrals should be all male.

The website of the Campaign for the Traditional Cathedral Choir insists it is not anti-girl but adds “ … cathedrals [that] use girls should take the opportunity of creating their own style. Their own tradition separate from the historic all-male.”

The CTCC was formed in January 1996 in response to the decline of the robed, all-male choir and the declining number of boy choristers nationwide. Its aim is to champion the ancient tradition of the all-male choir.

In medieval days, all-girl choirs flourished in convents. Italian composers Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and Claudio Monteverdi wrote for them. But those choirs never sang with men at church services, and CTCC would like to keep it that way.

“At Winchester Cathedral, girls and boys sing together at Easter and Christmas,” said Armstrong. “We haven’t received any complaints yet.”

Anglican seafarers’ agency announces strategic reorganisation

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

[Mission to Seafarers] The Mission to Seafarers has announced a ‘Strategic Reorganisation’ which is designed to refocus charitable activity on the global ‘regionalisation’ of maritime welfare service provision for seafarers. It will also realise substantial savings and increased efficiency.

A number of the Mission’s global regions already operate independently, within a context of strong mutual support, common purpose and shared identity. As from April 2014 The Mission to Seafarers in Africa, The Middle East and East Asia will become new regions, and further regionalisation will follow. Changes will also take place in the UK and near-Europe.

The Revd Andrew Wright, the Secretary General, commented: “This process of regionalisation has many benefits; ensuring closer support for local teams, tapping into regional energies, engaging regions more actively in policy-making and encouraging a greater sense of local responsibility in relation both to funding and to service delivery.”

The strategy also gives renewed focus to the Mission’s “Global Review” process which is currently looking carefully at the level of Mission resource allocated to individual ports.

Andrew Wright said: “There have been significant changes in shipping patterns and it is vital that we ensure that Mission activity in ports is in proportion to shipping operations. We are committed to carrying out the necessary analysis and to following through on the implications. The Mission has a commitment to developing chaplaincy teams in new or growing ports, especially where there is evidence that there is no alternative welfare provision. A number of ports are currently under active exploration.”

The new strategy also contains a strong financial element. Executive Director, Martin Sandford said: “Our Trustees felt it was essential to reduce our costs and ensure that we set ourselves on a realistic path to a balanced budget within an acceptable time frame – this strategy will do that.”

Robert Woods, Chairman of the Trustees, said: “The Mission has seen many changes in its 158 year history. We are absolutely confident that the new strategy will take us forward in our ability to deliver a strong, flexible, modern and focused welfare and support service to the seafarers to whom all of us within The Mission to Seafarers remain absolutely dedicated.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

The Mission to Seafarers

Founded in 1856, and entirely funded by voluntary donations, today’s Mission to Seafarers is a registered charity that offers emergency assistance, practical support, and a friendly welcome to crews visiting over 260 ports around the world in 71 countries.

Whether caring for victims of piracy or providing a lifeline to those stranded in foreign ports, we are there for the globe’s 1.3 million merchant seafarers of all ranks, nationalities and beliefs.

The Mission to Seafarers’ Patron is Her Majesty The Queen and our President is Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal.

To find out how we help those facing shipwreck, abandonment, loneliness and danger, visit our website: www.missiontoseafarers.org

Reimagining Our Church

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

[Diocese of Fort Worth press release] Five years after reorganizing the diocese in the wake of the departure of the former bishop and other leaders, the people and clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth have a chance to share what they’ve learned with the wider church.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, and the Rev. Gay Jennings, president of the House of Deputies of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church, will join in the commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the reorganization of the diocese on Feb. 8 at University Christian Church in Fort Worth.

“Reimagining Our Church” will begin at 9:30 am and end with Eucharist at 3 pm. Teens and young adults especially are invited to participate.

Registration is $25.00 and includes lunch. Participants should register by Feb. 3.

On Feb. 7, 2009, the Special Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth began and ended in joyous worship. Delegates, called to order by Jefferts Schori, elected the Rt. Rev. Edwin F. “Ted” Gulick, Jr. to be the provisional bishop, and set to work. More than 450 people were present. Many more watched via live streaming as the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth reorganized and began a new adventure.

In the years since then, the bishops, people, and clergy of the diocese have perforce been experimenting, rebuilding, and reimagining new ways to be church.

On Feb. 8 participants will share the fruit of those five years of experience as they take part in the church-wide Engagement Process of the Task Force to Reimagine The Episcopal Church (TREC). The task force was established by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church in 2012 and charged with engaging the whole church in discussions about reimagining The Episcopal Church.

Sign in will begin at 9:30 am. Lunch will be from 12-1:30, during which the presiding bishop will meet with diocesan youth. Other participants will be invited to gather at tables with various topics for discussion.

Following lunch, there will be a panel discussion aimed at connecting the reimagining ideas from the morning session with the Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission:

  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

The gathering will close with Eucharist at 3 pm. The Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., bishop of Fort Worth, will celebrate and the presiding bishop will preach.

On Feb. 9, Jefferts Schori will celebrate and preach at St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church and Jennings will celebrate and preach at St. Luke’s in the Meadow Episcopal Church.

John Perris named rector of Christ the King, Frankfurt

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Christ the King Anglican/Episcopal Church of Frankfurt announces the arrival of Fr. John Perris as its new rector. Fr. Perris will celebrate his first service of Holy Eucharist at Christ the King on February 2 at its regular Sunday service at 11am. All are welcome.

Christ the King Anglican/Episcopal Church has served the needs of English-speaking Christians in Frankfurt since 1957. It belongs to the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. Currently CtK has about 150 regular parishioners who attend Sunday services.

Archbishop of Canterbury meets Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

[Lambeth Palace] The Archbishop of Canterbury affirmed his commitment to the reconciliation of Eastern and Western churches during a meeting with His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew yesterday.

The Most Revd Justin Welby was meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew during a two-day visit to Istanbul.

During their meeting Archbishop Justin said that Patriarch Bartholomew had been “an example of peace and reconciliation, politically, with the natural world, and in your historic visit to the installation of His Holiness Pope Francis I.

“Such reconciliation [is] very dear to my heart and is one of my key priorities. It is the call of Christ that all may be one so that the world may see. I will therefore be taking back with me the warmth of your hospitality and also, after our discussions today and tomorrow, a renewed and refreshed focus for greater unity and closer fellowship. We want to carry the cross of our divisions, but be filled with the hope and joy that comes from the grace and the love of Jesus.”

Archbishop Justin traveled to Istanbul on Monday at the invitation of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who, as Archbishop of Constantinople and New Rome, occupies the First Throne of the Orthodox Christian Church.

His visit included an official reception in the Chamber of the Throne, a discussion with the Synodical Committee for Inter-Christian Affairs, and a visit to the Holy Theological School of Halki.

Archbishop Justin told Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew it would be a privilege to welcome him to London in 2015.

Photos of the visit can be downloaded at the link below. Credit: Mr Nikolaos Maginas

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lambethpalace/11948971805/

Common statement issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury and His-All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew:

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and His Grace the Most Revd and Rt Honorable Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury met at the Phanar, Istanbul from 13th-14th January, 2014, for their first meeting since the Most Revd Justin Welby was enthroned as the Archbishop of Canterbury about one year ago. The meeting took place in an atmosphere of friendship and warmth. Both leaders agreed to focus on the continuation of close relations, the importance of the ongoing theological dialogue, and the commitment of the Anglican Communion and the Orthodox Church to greater cooperation for a common witness in an increasingly secular and pluralistic world, particularly in Europe. They expressed concern for the injustice in many parts of the world and prayed especially for the poor, the oppressed, and those caught in war, for peace and justice in the entire world, particularly in the Middle East, but also in other parts of the globe, and for ourselves to be sustained by the help and joy of Jesus Christ. They further agreed to explore avenues for raising greater awareness on environmental issues as well as upholding Christian values of human dignity and religious rights.

Welcome by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to His Grace Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury (Phanar, 13 January 2014)

Your Grace Archbishop Justin, Beloved Brother in Christ:

‘Christ is in our midst!  He is and shall be!’

It gives us the greatest joy to welcome Your Grace as the honoured guest of the Ecumenical Throne, on this your first pilgrimage to the Patriarchate.  We hope that Your Grace will be very happy during your time in Constantinople, and that your visit will strengthen the bond of mutual love that exists between our two Churches, the Orthodox and the Anglican.

The friendship between our Churches is not new, but has deep roots in past history.  As long ago as the early 17th century Cyril Lukaris, Patriarch first of Alexandria and then of Constantinople, had many contacts with the English Church and State.  As a token of his esteem, he sent to King James I the Codex Alexandrinus, one of the three most ancient manuscripts of the Greek Bible, which is now one of the greatest treasures at the British Library in London.  Personal contacts between our two communions have been promoted more recently by the Eastern Church Association, founded in 1864 – now known as the Anglican and Eastern Churches Association – and by the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius, founded in 1928.  These two societies have fostered countless ecumenical friendships; and without such ecumenical friendships, on the direct and personal level, we cannot hope to build a firm foundation for Christian unity.

Since 1973, as Your Grace will be well aware, there has been an official dialogue, world-wide in scope, between our two ecclesial families.  The International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue has so far produced three weighty reports: the Moscow Agreed Statement (1976), the Dublin Agreed Statement (1984), and most recently the very detailed Cyprus Agreed Statement (2006), entitled ‘The Church of the Triune God’.  The International Commission is now preparing a fourth agreed statement on the Christian understanding of the human person.  This will consider, among other topics, the Christian teaching on marriage, and also our human responsibility for the environment, a matter to which we personally, throughout our time as Patriarch, have always attached particular importance.  We are fully confident that, under the inspiration of Your Grace, our Anglican-Orthodox dialogue will continue to flourish and to make positive progress.

In its formal title, this dialogue is entitled ‘theological’.  But it is of course essential that our theology should always be a living theology.  Doctrinal discussion must never be separated from a practical interest in social and philanthropic issues.  At this present moment, as Anglicans and Orthodox, we share in particular a joint concern for the situation of Christians in the Middle East, who are confronting increasing problems and, in many places, are undergoing a veritable persecution.

In the past, the rapprochement between our two Churches has been greatly assisted by the exchange of students, and we trust that this will continue.  Our Theological School at Halki used to offer scholarships to Anglicans, and when it is reopened – as will happen in the near future (so it may be hoped) – we shall certainly wish to revive this tradition.  These exchange students have frequently gone on to become leaders in their respective Churches, and their early inter-Church experience has enabled them to further the cause of Christian unity in highly constructive ways.

Dear Archbishop Justin: during the course of the visit of Your Grace we shall have the opportunity to speak further about these and other subjects.  It is a great joy to us that, so soon after your elevation to Canterbury, Your Grace has found it possible to visit the sacred centre of Orthodoxy, the Ecumenical Patriarchate.  Indeed Your Grace is more than welcome: please feel entirely at home.  From our encounter during these two days, may great benefit come to our Churches.  In that spirit we conclude with words from the Divine Liturgy, proclaimed immediately before the recitation of the Creed: ‘Let us love one another, that with one mind we may confess the Trinity one in essence and undivided.’

Archbishop of Canterbury’s response to welcome message by the Ecumenical Patriarch:

Your All-Holiness, Beloved Brother in Christ,

I thank you most warmly for your welcome and greetings and at the outset bring the greetings from the Anglican Communion and the Church of England. I realise that this is an initial and very short visit, but it is a vital opportunity so soon after my enthronement for us to be able to share and be strengthened through this more personal visit. Your All Holiness has once mentioned that in a world “becoming smaller and smaller distance-wise, the need for personal communication has become imperative.” I see my short visit in that light. To be with you in this holy and historic place is indeed a great privilege. The warmth of your welcome adds to my deep sense of privilege at meeting you.

This city has left its mark in a diversity of ways upon Christianity as a whole. It was from this city that manuscripts of the Bible in the original languages were received in the West. This city (also renowned as the New Rome) is your seat as the Ecumenical Patriarch, and we continue to benefit from the insight of what the secular and Christian leadership through this link has taught the world church about the relationship between Christianity and the application of worldly power over the years. Your history is more and more important in the increasing confrontations of the world in which religion is used as a pretext for violence that in reality comes from greed and the pride of human beings.

You have demonstrated over the centuries the martyrdom to which we are called in scripture, the call to witness in word and life, a call more important than life itself. The cost of that martyrdom is seen in so many places today. Closest to here we remember and seek the mercy of Christ and intercession of the Blessed Mother on Syria, especially for His Eminence Metropolitan Yohanna Ibrahim of Aleppo of the Syrian Patriarchate of Antioch, and His Eminence Metropolitan Boulos Yazigi of Aleppo and Alexandrette of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, for whom we pray daily. You yourself have been an example of peace and reconciliation, politically, with the natural world and in your historic visit for the installation of His Holiness Pope Francis I.

Istanbul is at the crossroads between Europe and Asia. It is the place where two great faiths meet. Its significance for trade is enormous and continues to remind us of Turkey’s importance as an industrial and commercial nation. Commerce and trade may be objects of greed, but may in the Grace of God open the way to dialogue between nations.

Your All Holiness, my distinguished predecessors, Archbishop Robert Runcie in 1982, Archbishop George Carey in 1992 and Archbishop Rowan Williams in 2003 all visited this holy place and have been blessed by the encounter and engagement. As Archbishop Rowan has emphasised during his last visit, our roots go back to the Christian missions of the days of Constantine. He furthermore expressed a particular concern for Eastern and Western traditions of the Church to be reconciled.

Such reconciliation is also very dear to my heart and is one of my key priorities. It is the call of Christ that all may be one so that the world may see. I will therefore be taking back with me the warmth of your hospitality and also, after our discussions today and tomorrow, a renewed and refreshed focus for greater unity and closer fellowship. We want to carry the cross of our divisions, but be filled with the hope and joy that comes from the grace and the love of Jesus.

This can be further developed through the ongoing conversations in the International Commission for Anglican Orthodox Theological Dialogue and through the more informal talks that happen. I can assure you that I will provide the necessary encouragement for our ecumenical journey together.

During the last years we have seen the world changing in a diversity of ways. We have had an economic crisis through a banking system which had lost its way, seeking its own good at the expense of nations and their peoples. There is conflict in many regions of the world, acute poverty, unemployment and an influx of oppressed people driven away from their own countries and seeking refuge elsewhere. In Southern Europe terrible suffering has seized the people, most especially the poor for whom we weep and cry to God. The churches are rising to the challenge, empowered by the Holy Spirit and filled with his compassion. Hence in standing with the poor in love, we may work together. How can we strengthen and help each other bear one another’s burdens?

Your Holiness, I am aware that you are known as the ‘Green Patriarch’. We are grateful for your energy and efforts to raise awareness for preserving and protecting our environment. You have been the leading voice expressing concerns and have initiated a number of seminars and dialogues, also in co-sponsorship with His Royal Highness Prince Philip, to mobilise spiritual and moral forces to achieve harmony between humanity and nature. This third millennium has made us realise that environmental issues require our day to day attention. We are witnesses to global calamities. The Christian Orthodox theological understanding points us all to our natural environment as part of Creation and characterised by sacredness. This is a responsibility for all of us and your contributions will enable us to speak out more intentionally on environmental issues at an individual, national and international level. Abuse and destruction of the environment denies the grace of God. Economic crises tempt governments and people to look to the short term and forget the needs of the generation to come.

Finally, it is clear to me that our theological dialogues today do face new challenges and I do recognise that there are also some issues that raise difficulties, but I take courage from your words to one of my predecessors:

In spite of such obstacles, we cannot allow ourselves to congeal the love between us which is also manifested in dialogue so “let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us” with the good hope that the Lord of powers and mercy “will not let us be tested beyond our strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that we may be able to endure it” (1Cor. 10:13).

Your All Holiness, this is a vital visit for me and it would be my privilege to be able to welcome you in 2015 to London. I look forward to the remaining time with you and the Patriarchate. There is much that unites us and as we continue to strengthen the bonds of friendship our understanding of each other’s traditions will grow. It is therefore in this spirit that I greet you and ask for your prayers for our ministry.

Video: One young adult…and a mission for migrant workers

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, January 14, 2014
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[Episcopal News Service] Sara Lowery from the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama is spending one year as a Young Adult Service Corps volunteer working with Hong Kong’s Mission for Migrant Workers. The mission helps some of the 300,000 domestic workers who sometimes encounter abuse or exploitation in their workplace. It operates an open-door policy for women in need, runs two shelters and offers a variety of services such as case management and legal assistance. Lowery’s ministry there is a partnership between the Episcopal Church and the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui.

Church in Egypt grateful for support in its mission

ENS Headlines - Monday, January 13, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa has expressed its gratitude to the many Christians in Egypt and around the world for their monetary and material support towards helping the “poorest of the poor.”

This was contained in a report compiled to account for the first disbursement of the more than US$80,000 raised following a Special Appeal for Egypt to help the poor as well as to help build capacity for young adults in Egypt.

“I would like to thank you so much for all your support during last year,” said Bishop Mouneer Anis, who launched the appeal. “With your support, we were able to help many people, especially during the hard times which Egypt is going through.”

The last few months have been traumatic for Egyptians after they witnessed much bloodshed and vandalism on their streets. Last year saw the destruction of churches and government buildings.

Anglican, Roman Catholic and Coptic churches, as well as Christian schools, were burned down during the attacks in August last year. Despite efforts to restore peace, there is still a lack of security on the streets and the economy continues to decline.

The money raised was used mainly for food packages for disadvantaged Egyptian and Sudanese families, school fees and supplies for orphans and vulnerable children as well as for medical assistance.

A seven-year old Egyptian boy, Magdy, said he was grateful for the school bag he was given. “Yesterday I had a dream that I had a bag. It is the same bag that I was given at church. I asked my dad for a bag for school and he told me God will send it.”

Khawaja Muhammad, a Muslim from Sudan who is now living in Egypt said, “My husband is in Sudan. We have a family of four and I thank God that the Church is interested in helping us.”

She added: “I was always so preoccupied on what I would do and how I would provide for my family [thanks to the help received] I had the first joyous morning in a long time.”

The Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa serves all people regardless of religion or race, especially the disadvantaged and marginalized, through educational, medical, and community development ministries.

EYE14 registration now open

ENS Headlines - Monday, January 13, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Registration is now open for the popular Episcopal Youth Event (EYE) scheduled for July 9-13, 2014 at Villanova University in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Drawing hundreds of youth from throughout the Episcopal Church, EYE14 is being planned in partnership with the Diocese of Pennsylvania.

The 2014 event marks the twelfth EYE and remains a popular and well-attended event. EYE 2014 is geared for youth in grades 9-12 during the 2013-2014 academic year and their adult leaders.

Bronwyn Clark Skov, Episcopal Church Youth Ministries Officer, explained: “EYE is an opportunity for the youth of the church to meet their peers and church leaders in a richly diverse environment, actively engaging the Five Marks of Mission while in Philadelphia.”

Each diocese is allowed up to 24 youth participants and six adult participants. Registration is $325 per participant (youth and adult) which includes meals and lodging. Diocesan delegations may also opt to participate in 3 Days of Urban Mission in Philadelphia immediately following the event for an additional $275 per participant.

Skov pointed out, “Diocesan delegations should represent all aspects of the diocese: ethnic, socio-economic, and cultural diversity, and a range of liturgical and theological expressions. They should be able to handle traveling away from home, honoring the community covenant, participating in all aspects of the event, and taking their learning home to their diocese, congregation, and community.”

Registration materials, available in English and Spanish, are here.

For information contact Skov at bskov@episcopalchurch.org.

Planning team
Planning team members are:
Youth

  • Thomas Alexander, Diocese of Arkansas, Province 7
  • Madeline Carroll, Diocese of Milwaukee, Province 5
  • Whitney Chapman, Diocese of West Virginia, Province 3
  • Ariana Gonzalez-Bonillas, Diocese of Arizona, Province 8
  • Lillian Hardaway, Diocese of Upper South Carolina, Province 4
  • Angela Hudnell, Diocese of Ohio, Province 5
  • Cydney Jackson, Diocese of San Diego, Province 8
  • Casey Nakamura, Diocese of Hawaii, Province 8
  • Kayden Nasworthy, Diocese of Massachusetts, Province 1
  • Joseph Prickett, Diocese of Nebraska, Province 6
  • Justin Thao, Diocese of Minnesota, Province 6
  • Hauseng Vang, Diocese of Minnesota, Province 6
  • Roger Villatoro, Diocese of  Southeast Florida, Province 4
  • Rosanna Vizcaino, Diocese of the Dominican Republic, Province 9

Adults

  • Arlette Benoit, Diocese of Atlanta, Province 4
  • Vincent Black, Diocese of Ohio, Province 5
  • Randy Callender, Diocese of Maryland, Province 3
  • Cookie Cantwell, Diocese of East Carolina, Province 4
  • Randall Curtis, Diocese of Arizona, Province 7
  • Earl Gibson, Diocese of Los Angeles, canonically resident in Diocese of Arizona, Province 8
  • Andrew Kellner, Diocese of Pennsylvania, Province 3
  • Shannon Kelly, Diocese of Southern Ohio, canonically resident in Diocese of Milwaukee, Province 5
  • Abigail Moon, Diocese of Florida, Province 4

 

Ecumenical Patriarch calls for Orthodox, Anglican student swap

ENS Headlines - Monday, January 13, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Ecumenical Patriarch said today he hoped for a continuing exchange of Orthodox and Anglican students to aid the two Churches’ relationship.

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who occupies the First Throne of the Orthodox Christian Church, was speaking today during his welcome of the Anglican Communion’s spiritual head Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

He said, “In the past, the rapprochement between our two Churches has been greatly assisted by the exchange of students, and we trust that this will continue. Our Theological School at Halki used to offer scholarships to Anglicans, and when it is reopened – as will happen in the near future (so it may be hoped) – we shall certainly wish to revive this tradition.

“These exchange students have frequently gone on to become leaders in their respective Churches, and their early inter-Church experience has enabled them to further the cause of Christian unity in highly constructive ways.”

Welby is on what has been described as an ‘intensive two-day visit’ that will include official reception in the Chamber of the Throne, and a discussion with the Synodical Committee for Inter-Christian Affairs.

It was clear from both the Orthodox leader’s welcome speech and his official toast that he very much welcomed the visit: “It is a great joy to us that, so soon after your elevation to Canterbury, Your Grace has found it possible to visit the sacred center of Orthodoxy, the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”

His All-Holiness also celebrated the growing relationship between the two Churches: “In the year 1837 the English traveler Robert Curzon visited the Ecumenical Patriarch at the Phanar, and was greatly surprised to find that His All-Holiness had never heard of the Archbishop of Canterbury. ‘Archbishop of what?,’ said the Patriarch with some skepticism. ‘Who is he?’

“Today, we are happy to affirm, our two Churches are somewhat better acquainted! You come here, dear Archbishop Justin, not as a stranger but as a friend, as a valued colleague and ally whom with all our heart we welcome most warmly. We hope that this will be the first of many visits.”

He also made reference to the shared theological dialogue the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue whose drafting committee are coincidentally meeting together in the Anglican Communion Office in London this week.

Welby has said he hopes the visit will help to develop greater fellowship between the two churches and contribute to the goal of Christian unity.

Church sends memo to US President, Congress on South Sudan crisis

ENS Headlines - Monday, January 13, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] A Jan. 10 memo to the Obama Administration and members of U.S. Congress sent by the Episcopal Church’s Washington, D.C.-based Office of Government Relations outlines the current crisis in South Sudan and makes recommendations urging the government and the international community to partner with South Sudanese civic and faith leaders to stem the tide of violence and build peace.

The six-page memo, based on the firsthand accounts of church leaders on the ground in South Sudan and Episcopal and Anglican partners worldwide, conveys the church’s understanding of the current crisis that has engulfed the world’s newest nation. The memo touches on four areas specifically: public representation of the conflict and accountability; foreign assistance; human rights protection and the prevention of mass atrocities; and building a future of peace.

“Episcopalians in the United States and around the world have maintained long and close relationships with Episcopalians in South Sudan,” said Alexander Baumgarten, director of government relations for the Episcopal Church.   “As a result, we have a responsibility to share the unique and compelling perspectives of partners in South Sudan who are playing a peacemaking role in the midst of extraordinary upheaval and violence.”

Among other things, the memo warns “While ethnic tensions are real and reflect the fruits of decades of upheaval and struggle, they are not the primary driving engine for the current violence,” and stresses that the media’s, and to an extent, the U.S. government’s portrayal of the violence as between ethnic and tribal groups is “misleading,” “simplistic,” and “could carry dire consequences.”

It also warns that the east African nation could be on the brink of civil war, and that the U.S. and others bear the responsibility of preventing mass atrocities and human rights violations.  Click here to read the full memo to the president and Congress.

The estimated death toll had reached 10,000 people by Jan. 9. Some 200,000 people have been internally displaced inside South Sudan and tens of thousands of refugees have crossed borders into neighboring countries.

Fighting erupted in Juba, the nation’s capital, on Dec. 15 following a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar. In the weeks since, the crisis has spread to seven states and has created a humanitarian crisis in the fledgling nation.

“Our most-current reports indicate that violence is still spreading and that the urgent needs for food, medicine, and shelter could continue for months to come.   The situation mirrors the dire time before Sudan’s 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, in which interminable civil war killed millions and uprooted millions more from their homes,” the memo’s introduction states.

Baumgarten noted that Episcopalians and Anglicans around the world with mission ties to Sudan and South Sudan have been hosting regular conference calls in the weeks since violence erupted in mid-December, and that his office’s staff have been sharing vital information as they learn it with U.S. government officials coordinating the humanitarian and peacemaking response.

“This is an example of an area in which the advocacy of Episcopalians can make a vital difference,” said Baumgarten.  “There is no civic institution in South Sudan with a larger footprint than the church, and our experience is that government officials in the United States and elsewhere are quite eager to hear perspectives from church partners on the ground.

The Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan, with 2 million members, has 31 dioceses — 26 of them in South Sudan where it is one of the nation’s largest non-government organizations and has played a role in reconciliation in the aftermath of a two-decades-long civil war fought largely between the Arab and Muslim north and rebels in the Christian-animist south, that left 2 million people dead and an estimated 7 million displaced. South Sudan gained its independence from the north on July 9, 2011.

Sudan’s warring parties signed the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, ending the civil war that killed more than 2 million people and displaced an estimated 7 million more. South Sudan officially gained its independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011.

The memo points out that, “The leaders of the new state did not vigorously undertake the task of addressing the challenges of developing a unified nation and healing past divisions.” And that unification and healing are central to peacemaking efforts.

(In May 2013, South Sudan’s president appointed Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul to chair the national reconciliation committee, which planned a four-to five-year national campaign aimed and fostering peace building and reconciliation.)

The memo praises the Obama administration for its Dec. 3 pledge of an additional $50 million in humanitarian aid, but urges an “examination” of its and Congress’s aid strategy. On Jan. 9, news reports suggested that South Sudan risks losing hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid if government and rebel forces do not end the violence.

Meanwhile, Episcopalians and Anglicans across the Anglican Communion, including Episcopal Relief & Development, and Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, working with local partners in South Sudan, have begun responding to the crisis.

“The Episcopal Church, along with Episcopal and Anglican partners around the world, has mounted its own response of financial support, material accompaniment, and prayer for the people of South Sudan. We believe strongly that the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan and other faith groups there are among the most fruitful potential actors in leading and facilitating peace, humanitarian assistance, and healing,” the memo states.

The Episcopal Church’s long-standing support for Sudan is manifested through its partnerships and companion diocese relationships, programs supported by Episcopal Relief & Development, and the advocacy work of the Office of Government Relations, which is rooted in General Convention resolutions.

Two Episcopal Church missionaries who were serving in South Sudan, Ed Eastman and Noah Hillerbrand, both engaged in food-security work, were evacuated from Renk to Nairobi, Kenya, on Dec. 20.

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

Aplazan la misión médica a Sudán del Sur auspiciada por la UTO

ENS Headlines - Monday, January 13, 2014

Una madre carga a su hijo enfermo en un hospital del campamento de Tomping, cerca de Juba, capital de Sudán del Sur, donde las Naciones Unidas le han dado albergue a unas 15.000 personas desplazadas que huyeron de sus hogares. 7 de enero de 2014. Foto de James Akena para REUTERS.

 [Episcopal News Service] Un grupo de cinco médicos destinado a un campamento de refugiados en Sudán del Sur ha aplazado su misión sanitaria como resultado del intenso conflicto armado en que han perdido la vida más de 1.000 personas y que ha desplazado a otras 200.000 en la recién nacida nación centroafricana.

El grupo de misión, compuesto en su mayor parte por episcopales de la Diócesis de Colorado, tenía planeado visitar Yida, un campamento de refugiados del estado Unity, Sudán del Sur, donde residen cerca de 70.000 personas que huyeron de la violencia preexistente que, al lo menos durante dos años, plagó la rica región petrolera de las montañas de Nuba, una zona cuya población era mayoritariamente aliada de Sudán del Sur, pero que se encontraba bajo el control del gobierno del Sudán, en el norte.

Yida, es considerada un puesto de avanzada por los episcopales, laicos y clérigos, de la Diócesis de Kadugli, localizada en Kardofor Sur, en el lado norte de la frontera, donde el ejército sudanés y las fuerzas rebeldes separatistas han librado un conflicto armado desde junio de 2011.

En 2013, la Diócesis de Colorado, que tiene una estrecha e informal relación de compañerismo con la Diócesis de Kadugli,  recibió  una subvención de $26.625 de la Ofrenda Unida de Gracias (UTO, por su sigla en inglés) para brindarles adiestramiento de atención sanitaria básica a trabajadoras de la salud de Kadugli en Yida.

“[La intención] era comenzar a crear un equipo de personas que adiestraran a otras”, dijo Anita Sanborn, miembro del grupo de misión y presidente de la Fundación Episcopal de Colorado, la cual administra la subvención de la diócesis.

El grupo de la misión tenía programado salir para Sudán del Sur el 5 de enero y comenzar la labor de adiestramiento en el campamento —donde muchas de las personas desplazadas de la región entran y salen— el día 10, pero el viaje se ha aplazado debido al conflicto más reciente.

La lucha armada estalló en Juba, capital de la nación, el 15 de diciembre, luego de una disputa política entre el presidente Salva Kiir y su ex vice, Riek Machar. En las tres semanas que ha durado el conflicto, la crisis se ha extendido a siete de los 10 estados del país y ha creado una crisis humanitaria en Sudán del Sur.

El equipo planea reagruparse y llevar a cabo la labor de adiestramiento en otro campamento que atiende a refugiados sudaneses, ya sea en Kenia o en Uganda, probablemente en marzo o abril, una vez que el obispo de Kadugli, Andudu Adam Elnail, quien ha pasado gran parte de los últimos dos años en el exilio y que por el momento se encuentra en Colorado, regrese a la región e identifique una ubicación alternativa.

Muchas de las personas que viven en los campamentos carecen de instrucción y desconocen los principios generales de la salud, y cuando se trata del cuidado de recién nacidos, las cosas que uno hace en los primeros cinco minutos de la vida de un bebé pueden aumentar su tasa de supervivencia, dijo el Dr. Michaleen “Mickey” Richer, miembro del grupo y pediatra con más de 25 años de experiencia en salud global, la mayoría de los cuales los ha pasado en Sudán y en Sudán del Sur.

Andudu Adam Elnail, obispo de of Kadugli, tomó esta foto de unos niños en el campo de refugiados de Yida, en el estado Unity, durante su última visita al campamento.

Andudu Adam Elnail, obispo de of Kadugli, tomó esta foto de unos niños en el campo de refugiados de Yida, en el estado Unity, durante su última visita al campamento.

La subvención de la UTO le permitirá al equipo de la misión preparar a las mujeres que viven en campamentos de refugiados y en cuevas, donde el acceso a profesionales de la medicina es limitado o inexistente, con los rudimentos de atención médica e higiene necesarios para sobrevivir, según el resumen de la adjudicación.

“Muy a menudo vemos cosas en las noticias y no sabemos cómo ayudar, nos sentimos inútiles; la UTO es una manera de participar diariamente en cambiar el mundo que nos rodea”, dijo la Rda. Heather Melton, coordinadora de la UTO. “Cuando echas monedas en la cajita [azul] y das gracias por algo bueno en tu vida, esas monedas sirve para ayudar a personas que están allá en nombre nuestro intentando transformar estructuras injustas de la sociedad.”

La Iglesia Episcopal del Sudán, hogar de 2 millones de miembros, tiene 31 diócesis —26 de ellas en Sudán del Sur, donde es una de las más grandes instituciones no gubernamentales y donde ha desempeñado un papel en la reconciliación luego de dos décadas de guerra civil librada en gran medida entre el norte árabe y musulmán y los rebeldes del sur cristiano y animista.

“La Iglesia en Sudán del Sur está presenciando los retos del desarrollo”, dijo Elnail el 8 de enero en una entrevista telefónica con ENS, añadiendo que está operando con recursos limitados.

Además de ministrar a sus fieles, que ahora se encuentra dispersos por Egipto, Uganda, Kenia, Sudán del Sur y el Sudán, el obispo ha abogado por la paz y la reconciliación, hablando tanto en África como en América del Norte. La solución del conflicto, dijo, “radica en el diálogo político, no en la lucha armada”.

Las partes beligerantes en el Sudán firmaron un Acuerdo Global de Paz en 2005, poniendo fin a la guerra civil que había causado más de 2 millones de muertos y había desplazado, según cálculos estimativos, a otros 7 millones. Sudán del Sur obtuvo oficialmente la independencia el 9 de julio de 2011. En febrero de 2012, estalló la violencia tribal en el estado de Jonglei, Sudán del Sur.

La Diócesis de Colorado ha apoyado durante mucho tiempo a los refugiados sudaneses, que comenzaron a llegar a Colorado hace más de una década. Muchos de los refugiados pertenecían a la Iglesia Episcopal del Sudán y se orientaron hacia las iglesias episcopales, como la catedral de San Juan en Denver, que tiene una congregación sudanesa, dijo Sanborn.

Cuando Sudán del Sur obtuvo su independencia, la diócesis cambió el foco de su interés, de ayudar a la diáspora  al sostén de escuelas, la preparación de líderes y el apoyo al clero de la nueva nación en desarrollo, así como a la participación en campañas promocionales en Estados Unidos.

Además de proporcionar la ayuda y el adiestramiento necesarios, es importante para los estadounidenses y para los fieles de la Iglesia Episcopal dar testimonio y ofrecer información de los empeños promocionales basados en EE.UU., dijo Sanborn, que es ex miembro de la junta [directiva] de los Amigos Americanos de la Iglesia Episcopal en el Sudán, o AFRECS (por su sigla en inglés) como comúnmente se le conoce.

“Conozco como los norteamericanos somos de prácticos, y la gente con frecuencia pregunta: ‘¿qué bien le hace a usted irse allá y hacer dos semanas de adiestramiento?’”, dijo ella. “Lo que es inmensurable es la esperanza que nuestra presencia suscita en personas que se sienten traicionadas por sus propios líderes. Podemos llevar un mensaje a las personas que se encuentran allí que no sigan adelante, que no serán olvidadas”.

– Lynette Wilson es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Episcopales que opinan sobre la oración: ‘simplemente ora’

ENS Headlines - Monday, January 13, 2014

Algunas personas oran, el 3 de agosto de 2008, en la capilla de los Santos y Mártires de Nuestro Propio Tiempo de la catedral de Cantórbery, luego de que los nombres de siete hermanos religiosos melanesios fueran instalados en la capilla. Después de haber trabajado en las Islas Salomón para proporcionarles suministros a personas inocentes atrapadas por el conflicto étnico, de negociar la liberación de rehenes y de buscar desaparecidos, lesionados y muertos, los hombres fueron asesinados en 2003 por un grupo militante. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg para ENS.

[Episcopal News Service] Cuando las condiciones de la sequía preocuparon a agrupaciones ambientalistas de Oklahoma City, Ferrella March y el obispo Steven Charleston organizaron una reunión para orar por la lluvia. Y llovió a torrentes.

En Detroit, la iglesia episcopal de San Juan [St. John’s] celebró un oficio de oración para que los Tigres [Tigers], el equipo de béisbol local, ganara la temporada.  Y el equipo estuvo a un paso de las eliminatorias.

En Los Ángeles, el obispo Jon Bruno contó con gran emoción —el 7 de diciembre en un reunión de la convención diocesana— que, mientras batallaba contra la leucemia, “los médicos me dieron un uno por ciento de supervivencia y yo estaba perfectamente feliz de irme”.

Luego vino un torrente de oraciones por su curación, de parte de familiares, amigos y la comunidad diocesana y denominacional. Ahora, un año más tarde, los médicos lo han declarado “metabólicamente libre” del cáncer y él dice “haber sentido todas las oraciones”.

Todo esto suscita interrogantes sobre cómo funciona la oración ¿Cómo entendemos nuestra relación con Dios si al parecer nuestras oraciones no obtienen respuesta? ¿Cómo, cuándo y por qué orar, y si una oración es demasiado breve o demasiado larga? Para comenzar a dar respuesta a algunas de estas preguntas, una serie de episcopales a través de la Iglesia compartieron sus experiencias y su concepto de la oración con Episcopal News Service.

En último término, dicen ellos, simplemente ora, ora y confía en Dios.

Oklahoma: ‘ora, enseña, actúa’

March, feligresa de la catedral de San Pablo [St. Paul’s Cathedral] en Oklahoma City, trabaja para  la  Asociación de Distritos de Conservación de Oklahoma, una organización de socios conservadores de recursos naturales del estado, y ayudó a organizar una serie de días de oración por la lluvia cuando una extensa sequía ocasionó racionamiento de agua, mató a los peces debido a la disminución del nivel de agua en los embalses y afectó los cultivos, el ganado y la calidad de la vida.

“En nuestro evento de mayo, tronó en medio del oficio, llovió y luego hubo una hermosa puesta de sol”, recordaba ella. “Después de eso, al menos en Oklahoma central, tuvimos una tormenta detrás de otra, un clima bastante severo, al extremo que la gente decía ‘tienen que dejar de orar ahora por la lluvia’”, dijo riendo.

Charleston, que junto con March fundó la Comunidad de Toda la Creación, un ministerio medioambiental en Facebook de unas 700 personas que siguen una regla de vida, bromeo que incluso “nuestros amigos del norte de Texas me escribieron para decirme ‘gracias, vuestras oraciones han funcionado aquí también’”.

Aunque agradecidos por la lluvia, ninguno de los dos está convencido de que tenga algo que ver con sus oraciones.

Y eso está bien, según dijo March. “Si llovió, estupendo”, afirmó. “Pero, si no hubiera llovido, [el evento] aún servía para crear conciencia. Fue una situación en la que todos salieron ganando. Algo verdaderamente episcopal”.

Pero añadió que, la oración es lo que uno hace primero, siempre. Luego, actúas.

“Ese es el concepto integral de la Comunidad de Toda la Creación. Primero oramos, luego enseñamos y después de nuestras oraciones y de nuestro aprendizaje saldrá la acción. La oración no debe ser el último recurso, por lo cual tan a menudo oímos decir ‘todo lo que pude hacer fue orar’. Eso debe ser lo primero”.

Charleston convino en ello: “Las oraciones por la lluvia tuvieron un impacto en todo el estado; estamos asociados ahora con el estado a través de las organizaciones de conservación para funcionar anualmente, para edificar y concienciar a la comunidad e intentar que la gente se concentre espiritualmente en el medioambiente. Y tenemos ahora una creciente red interreligiosa. Nuestro plan es: el agua este año; el año próximo, la tierra y luego el aire”.

Charleston, decano jubilado de la Escuela Episcopal de Teología en Cambridge, Massachusetts, enseña religiones nativoamericanas en la Escuela de Teología de San Pablo en [St. Paul’s School of Theology] en Oklahoma City y es fundador de Red Moon Publications. La oración que no funciona es con frecuencia la mejor respuesta “y no siempre debemos llegar a la conclusión de que todas las oraciones deben ser respondidas o que fallamos o que nuestro Dios nos ha fallado”, apuntó él.

“Dios no es una dispensadora de chicles que le ponemos un moneda y sale lo que queremos”, agregó. “La manera en que juzgamos la respuesta de una oración exige una profunda participación de parte nuestra de escuchar cuidadosamente”.

Béisbol, buena vecindad y oración persistente en Detroit

El gran amor del Rdo. Steven Kelly por el béisbol y un extravagante sentido del humor se tradujo en organizar un servicio público para orar por el equipo local, los Tigres de Detroit, al objeto de que tuvieran una temporada victoriosa.

“Empezamos esto en 2001 y fue completamente risible cuando, en 2002, los Tigres estuvieron a un partido del peor récord en el béisbol de las grandes ligas”, dijo Kelly en una entrevista telefónica con ENS.

“La gente decía: ‘bueno, caramba, las oraciones de ustedes no funcionan’ y nosotros respondíamos que a los israelitas les llevó 40 años atravesar el desierto; puede que a los Tigres les tome ese tiempo también”.

Los miembros de la iglesia de San Juan [St. John’s Church], que ya tiene 150 años de fundada, celebraron su oficio anual de ‘Orar por los Tigres” al comienzo de la temporada de béisbol de 2013 y, cuando el equipo entró en las eliminatorias, celebraron otro con la especial intención de que ganara la Serie Mundial.

Finalmente, los Tigres perdieron ante los Media Rojas de Boston, pero Kelly tomó las cosas deportivamente, haciendo notar que las oraciones tenían que ver menos con el triunfo y más con el amor al prójimo [el vecino] puesto  que el equipo juega en Comerica Park, localizado a menos de 200 metros de la iglesia.

“Ciertamente, oramos que, si era la voluntad de Dios, obtuvieran un montón de victorias, pero oramos también, y fundamentalmente, por el dueño, por los jugadores, por la salud [del equipo], por los fanáticos, por los obreros y los vendedores”, algunos de los cuales son feligreses de la iglesia, dijo.

“La importancia de la oración radica en la persistencia”, añadió él. También es importante llevar un diario de oración. “A veces, uno puede repasarlo más tarde y ver de qué manera Dios respondió a esas oraciones…O bien uno se da cuenta de que ‘no puedo creer que algo fuera tan importante para preocuparse por ello”.

 ‘Nuestros acercamientos a la oración son innumerables’


Para el Rdo. Canónigo Malcolm Boyd, de 90 años, columnista de Huffington Post y autor del libro de oraciones, Are You Running with Me, Jesus? [¿Corres conmigo, Jesús?] publicado en 1961. “Nuestros acercamientos a la oración son innumerables. Creo que, virtualmente, todo el mundo ora en un momento u otro”.

Él oró toda la noche en 1961, “la noche antes de que tuviera que tomar la decisión de participar o no en una Caravana de la Libertad. Estaba asustado. No tenía la menor idea de lo que era una ‘caravana de la libertad’ [freedom ride]. Sin embargo, debía responder a la mañana siguiente”.

Aunque el célebre activista de los derechos civiles dijo: “No creo que [Dios] responda a nuestras oraciones como si fuera una máquina dispensadora de chicles”, él siguió adelante y se convirtió en miembro de la Caravana de la Libertad así como promotor de otras causas, incluida la plena inclusión de la comunidad LGBT (homosexuales, bisexuales y transexuales).

Las oraciones, afirmó “pueden ser ‘respondidas’ misteriosamente y en el futuro y al parecer fuera de secuencia. ¿Cómo sabemos si nuestras oraciones no son respondidas? ¿Quieres decir que no conseguiste ese empleo que querías? La oración no es como el mostrador de una farmacia”.

Y añadió que “mi oración a veces era difícil, cuando yo debatía con Dios o simplemente me sentía indigno de orar en absoluto. Los cumpleaños a veces han sido difíciles, en particular cuando cumplí 90 hace poco. ¿Sería mi último cumpleaños? De ser así, ¿sobre qué debería orar?”

El Rdo. Martin Smith, jubilado recientemente de Santa Columba, en Washington, D.C. y autor de numerosos libros sobre la oración, dijo que oramos “para expandir nuestra experiencia de comunión con Dios, que es amor, para ser receptivo a la misericordia y la transformación por la gracia de Dios y para tomar parte en su obra de restauración al ofrecerle nuestro anhelo de que su reino de amor llegue a ser real en las vidas de todos los seres humanos”.

Hemos de entender nuestra relación con Dios cuando parece que no responde a nuestras oraciones, dijo, porque “el vínculo con Dios que se desarrolla en la oración profundiza nuestro sentido de puro misterio.

“No sabemos y no podemos saber más que una fracción de cómo nuestras acciones amorosas activas desempeñan un papel en la venida del reino de Dios en la tierra”, agregó. “Aprendemos a amar sin dependencia de muchos resultados tangibles inmediatos… Oro como miembro del Cuerpo de Cristo, estoy actuando dentro de la red de vidas interconectadas llamada la comunión del Espíritu Santo.

“Aprendo a vivir sin poder ejercer mucho control sobre ninguna cosa, sencillamente haciendo de mi capacidad de amar y desear una continua ofrenda a Dios cuyo misterio escapa al alcance de mi entendimiento”.

Por qué orar. ¿Es importante la oración instructiva?

Claire Littlefield, de 17 años, alumna de último año de la escuela secundaria Pittman y feligresa de la iglesia de San Francisco ‘[St. Francis], en Turlock, California, en la Diócesis Episcopal de San Joaquín, dijo que ella ora a lo largo de sus jornadas, tratando “de acordarse siempre de dar gracias por todas las bendiciones que recibo cada día y todos los días”  y durante las situaciones tensas así como antes de las competencias de atletismo.

“Siempre nos reunimos y oramos antes de nuestras carreras para pedirle a Dios que nos dé fuerzas para hacerlo lo mejor que podamos, y para acordarnos de que Dios está con nosotros. Orar me calma y me concentra. Siempre reafirmo la presencia de Dios conmigo cuando oro”.

Para Ryan Macías, de 17 años y feligrés de la iglesia de San Jorge [St. George’s] en Laguna Hills, California, la oración surge como una respuesta a Dios. “Constantemente, Dios se nos está dando a conocer de muchas maneras diferentes, en los sacramentos, en la belleza de la creación que nos rodea, en su Palabra y de otras muchas formas.

“Es muy importante considerar las diversas formas de responderle a Dios”, añadió Macías, quien dijo que se había enamorado de las oraciones del Libro de Oración Común cuando lo descubrió.

“Muchas veces necesito estructura, necesito ayuda para concentrarme. Me encuentro sin palabras. Oro por las pequeñas cosas como por las grandes, por las bendiciones y por las cargas. Nada es demasiado grande, y nada demasiado pequeño para ponerlo ante Dios. Él oye nuestras peticiones. Él oye nuestras alabanzas y acciones de gracia, de ello estoy convencido”.

La notable escritora y conferenciante Phyllis Tickle se vale de una metáfora literaria para describir una oración no peticionaria.

“Lo que en verdad hago es pasar a través de una suerte de ojo de cerradura o de puerta que está en alguna parte dentro de mi mundo no objetivo y salgo al otro lado a una especie de plaza de mercado [por carecer de una palabra mejor] donde hay actividad y donde las ideas y las frases y las percepciones  se muestran como en una gran galería comercial”, escribió Tickle en un correo electrónico dirigido a ENS el pasado 12 de diciembre. “Y yo voy a comprar, tomando lo que necesito o lo que quiero o aquello que me atrae, pero el “comprador” no soy yo, porque “yo” sigo estando del otro lado del ojo de la cerradura, a la espera.

“El comprador, más bien, es un ser guiado, de quien yo soy sólo una parte… o de quien mi autoconciencia es sólo una parte. Yo/nosotros, recojo lo que me atrae [porque inevitablemente lo necesitaré en el otro lado], o lo que me complace, aunque no sé por qué, o lo que simplemente me encanta y se basta a sí mismo por esa razón. Luego, el yo lo lleva todo de vuelta a través del ojo de la cerradura o a través de la puerta y hace de eso la esencia del arte y de la vida, porque ese es el resultado final para el que está concebido”.

Ella añadió que “la oración a horas fijas, como la oración ritual, es el hogar del alma… los lugares [porque la oración es siempre un lugar] donde somos orientados, instruidos y definidos por otra agenda que no es la nuestra”.

 ‘La oración misma es un milagro’

Un accidente automovilístico ocurrido hace varios años le suscitó dudas sobre la oración al Rdo. Ernesto Medina, rector de la iglesia de Santa Marta  [St. Martha’s Church] en Papillion, Nebraska.

Él se recuperó de lesiones graves y “la gente decía cosas como, Dios debe tener un propósito para ti en la tierra. ¡Cómo si los que se mueren no tuvieran ningún propósito en la tierra!

Toda la idea de un Dios que responde a la oración “me molesta”, añadió Medina. “Es como decir: si te responden a las oraciones, estás dentro; si no te las responden, te quedas fuera”.

“Por otra parte, existe la presunción de que uno hace algo para que te respondan las oraciones. Si no estudias el día antes de un examen, y ruegas que Dios te dé la sabiduría para contestar las respuestas correctas, probablemente no vas a salir muy bien en el examen”.

Pero la oración misma es un milagro, añadió. “El milagro que la oración contiene es que la oración es útil cuando te ayuda a entender lo que estás poniendo ante Dios, algo de lo que haces dejación, que entiendes por ti mismo no tienes poder alguno sobre eso. De manera que la acción, lo sepas o no, que presentas ante Dios, un poder superior, es el milagro”.

Incluso más, “cuando oras por otra persona te vinculas de manera encarnada con la comunión de los santos, de suerte que si oro contigo me vinculo a ti y ese es el milagro.

“Se trata de si confías o no en Dios. Si tratamos de manipular la oración no confiamos. Pero si realmente vivimos  en ‘hágase tu voluntad’, probablemente sea ésta la única oración”.

Dolores Conyer, de Pomona, California, sabe algo de milagros. Su hijo Timothy Gaines nació con una grave discapacidad física y mental, con pie zambo bilateral, que exigió de numerosas cirugías correctivas. “No me di cuenta de cuánto yo dependía de la oración hasta después”, recordaba Conyer durante una entrevista telefónica con ENS.

“Estuvo sometido a todas estas cirugías y, durante ellas, sufrió un paro cardíaco de causa desconocida. Sentí que la oración y la fe eran las razones por las que había sobrevivido. Él solía decir que ‘la dama de blanco’ venía a verlo. Creo que la dama de blanco era la oración, era la fe, y todo eso era bueno”

Pero Timothy fue asesinado a la edad de 35 años en 2001; su asesinato sigue sin resolver y a Conyer, de 72 años, le diagnosticaron recientemente un cáncer avanzado de pulmón. Pero su fe permanece inconmovible y aunque ella siempre tendrá interrogantes respecto a los porqués del asesinato su hijo y a sus propios quebrantos de salud “no tengo ninguna necesidad de hacer nada más que mantener mi fe, y sólo continuar orando”, dijo.

“Pensaba en todo el dolor y el sufrimiento por el que Tim pasó y en el porqué tuvo que morir de la manera en que murió, solo, y una voz me dijo: ‘no, él no lo estaba, él no estaba solo’. De manera que aquí aparece esa dama de blanco”.

Entre tanto, “pienso como cuando Tim era chiquito”, dijo Conyer. “Me dijeron que él no sobreviviría los cinco años. Así que, si él amanecía, yo hacía un plan para el día. Vivíamos día a día.

“Siempre he sido una persona arriesgada”, añadió ella. “Nunca le he temido a la aventura y a intentar nuevas cosas. Ando por este otro trayecto y, juzgado con optimismo, a pesar de que se acaba, habrá sido un buen viaje. La fe y la oración desempeñan un papel en eso. Si no contara con la fe y la oración, no sería capaz de hacer nada, estaría perdida”.

–La Rda. Pat McCaughan es una corresponsal de Episcopal News Service que está radicada en Los Ángeles. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Four years later long-term recovery continues in Haiti

ENS Headlines - Friday, January 10, 2014

[Episcopal Relief & Development] As the anniversary of the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake approaches we are reminded of people’s painful losses as well as their long journey toward recovery.

M. Vernet, 63-year-old man, widower, looks through the window of his hardware kiosk in Carrefour, Haiti. Photo/Episcopal Relief & Development

Monsieur Vernet sells hardware from a kiosk he made out of shipping container parts. “I used to sell from a ‘real’ shop,” he sighed. Then pointing across the dirt street to one of the many walled off and vacant Carrefour lots where collapsed buildings used to be, he continued, “Right over there is where I rented a shop, before the earthquake, that is.”

Vernet has been selling hardware for “years”. Before the earthquake he had not only hardware tools and parts, but also electrical supplies, car tools and car parts. He built up his inventory over time with the help of CEDDISEC (the relief & development arm of the Episcopal Diocese in Haiti).  Vernet is a former client – “in good standing,” he says with a smile and pride – of CEDDISEC’s microcredit service.  Prior to the earthquake he had taken and paid back in full several loans that permit him to build his business by increasing and diversifying his stock.

But on January 12th 2010 he lost it all.
He recalls the day and the months that followed, with an expression that masks his deep pain – pain from not the loss of his store, but from the loss of his wife.

When the earthquake hit, Vernet’s wife was at their home in Gressier. Gressier is a border community to Carrefour that was at the epicenter of the quake. Vernet’s wife was in their house when it collapsed. She managed to escape, but in the process was hit from a falling block, and seriously injured on her head.  Vernet, amidst the chaos in Haiti, put her in a car and took her to a hospital in the neighboring Dominican Republic (DR).

While in the DR, Vernet received several calls from his family and friends informing him that his hardware store in Carrefour had also collapsed, and that his merchandise was being looted. “My wife was more important to me than that store” he shared, “I just hung up… what else could I do?”  Shortly thereafter, Vernet’s wife of 40+ years passed away.

M. Vernet and Dol Jean Estervall, Micro-credit Program Manager, discuss his 2014 application.
Photo Credit: Episcopal Relief & Development

Last year Vernet restarted his business. He pieced together his kiosk and bought his initial stock with small funds he borrowed from close friends. He has chosen to restart in Carrefour right across from his prior shop because this is where “his” customers are.

As a former client of the church’s pre-earthquake microcredit program, Episcopal Relief & Development has prioritized Vernet’s application for a new 2014 loan. Vernet’s plan is to once again build and diversify his inventory. Vernet is one of 43 potential clients in line to receive loans in 2014.

When asked why he has not applied for a loan from one of the many loan agencies in Haiti today, he replied, “Because the people of the church were there for me in the past, and I know they will be there for me now and in the future.”

He then added with another smile, “And because they have the best [lowest] interest rate in town!”

Tammi Mott is a program officer with Episcopal Relief & Development.

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