[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori announced to the House of Bishops that the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will be visiting The Episcopal Church in April 2014 for personal visit with her.
“The Archbishop of Canterbury has contacted me and we are planning a private discussion next April,” Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori told the House of Bishops currently conducting its fall meeting in Nashville, TN (Diocese of TN).
Archbishop Welby plans a personal visit to the Presiding Bishop in 2014 to provide an opportunity for informal conversation. This planned visit is part of his effort to visit all the Primates of the Anglican Communion during the first eighteen months of his ministry.
Current plans call for the Presiding Bishop and the Archbishop to meet in Oklahoma City, OK (Diocese of Oklahoma).
The visit is expected to correspond with the churchwide conference, Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal gathering to challenge the epidemic of violence April 9 – 11, at the Reed Center and Sheraton in Oklahoma City, OK (Diocese of Oklahoma). The Archbishop has been invited to offer greetings at the beginning of the conference.
Additional scheduling details will be announced later.
[Diocese of Virginia] I write to you from the Fall Meeting of the House of Bishops. I know that all of us as the Diocese of Virginia remain very mindful of the tragic shootings at the Washington Navy Yard one week ago today, and I join you in the closest and most heartfelt prayers we can offer. We pray for those who were slain; may they rest in peace and rise in glory. We pray for those who were wounded; may they be restored to fullness of health. We pray for God’s grace and peace to embrace their families, friends and coworkers.
The Virginia connections to this tragedy are strong. Indeed, some of those lost lived in our midst – friends and neighbors to those in our community of faith. Perhaps that’s why the numbing pain of these losses seems so powerful.
As services honoring these men and women were held in Virginia and elsewhere, we were reminded of the terrible toll of violence in our society. There will be time later to discuss anew what we as caring Christians can do to help stop the scourge of killings that so sadly distinguishes our nation. Undoubtedly, there will be spirited debates on which proposed solutions offer the best chance of success. All I can say at this time is that yet again we see the personal toll and the social havoc visited upon us all by this epidemic of gun violence. As the Church, we do not have the luxury of remaining silent or on the sidelines of this crisis.
What I pray we all can agree on is that we, as Christians committed to peace, justice and reconciliation, must continue to do everything within our means to help end the seemingly endless violence. May God have mercy on us all, and may the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit enable and ennoble us to be who we were created to be for one another.
The Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston
[World Council of Churches press release] The World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit has expressed “heart-felt sorrow” at the heavy loss of life from the bombings at the All Saints Church in Peshawar calling it a “single worst loss of life among Christians in Pakistan”.
On Sunday, 22 September around 80 worshippers were killed at the All Saints Church, as a result of suicide bomb attacks, according to the recent media reports.
Tveit said that this is a “deliberate targeting of a vulnerable Christian community”.
“It has deeply saddened us to receive the news of this terrible attack,” he added.
In his message, Tveit expressed sympathies for the bereaved, offering prayers for the injured and those who have lost their lives in the attack.
Speaking on churches’ efforts for protection of minorities, Tveit mentioned a recent WCC consultation on “politicization of religion and rights of religious minorities”, where a Pakistani speaker shared about the on-going difficulties of the Christian community.
Affirming the WCC’s commitment to work for the wellbeing of the Christian community in Pakistan, Tveit called for an “end to the wanton violence” and asked the “government of Pakistan to protect all of its citizens from those who are bent on dividing the country and causing suffering to the innocent.”
Consultation brings rights of religious minorities into focus (WCC news release of 19 September 2013)
The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2012 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 110 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway.
The Taskforce for Reimagining The Episcopal Church (TREC), created by Resolution C095 of the 77th General Convention in July 2012, has issued an Initial Working Report on Identity and Vision. The full letter follows.
A Letter from Deputies Jen Adams and Tom Little
September 20, 2013
As you may remember, the Taskforce for Reimagining The Episcopal Church (TREC) was created by Resolution C095 of the 77th General Convention in July of 2012. Its dual mandate is to (a) reimagine The Episcopal Church and (b) present a plan to the 78th General Convention for reforming the Church’s structures, governance, and administration “to facilitate this church’s faithful engagement of Christ’s mission…in a way that maximizes the resources available for that mission at all levels of the church.”
As two deputies who are members of TREC, we are writing to update you on TREC’s work and ask for your comments, ideas and support in our upcoming churchwide engagement process. Today two bishops who are members of TREC–Bishop Andy Doyle and Bishop Sean Rowe–are providing a similar update to the House of Bishops at its meeting in Nashville.
Identity and Vision: Comments Requested
TREC believes that the Holy Spirit has led The Episcopal Church to a unique moment in our history, one in which we have an extraordinary opportunity to reform our structures and systems in order to participate better in God’s mission and proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom in a rapidly changing domestic and global context.
TREC began by discerning a set of principles to our work and by engaging the broader church, and we have tapped into significant research and writing on this topic to inform our thinking on the following questions:
■ Who are we as Episcopalians? What is our particular identity?
■ How is Episcopal identity being expressed and renewed in the context of the 21st century?
■ How has our churchwide organization evolved, and does the current paradigm best support our identity and calling in today’s context?
■ What do we need from a churchwide organization today and going forward?
In our discussions, it has become clear that any proposal for structural reforms must be grounded in a clear understanding of Episcopal identity and in a clearly articulated vision of what churchwide structures are for–how they best support the church in its work of engaging God’s mission.
A TREC working group, with the consensus of the entire task force, has completed a working draft of a paper titled “Initial Working Report on Identity and Vision,” which is available on our website. We encourage you to share your comments with us by visiting the TREC Website and/or the TREC Facebook page. The Identity and Vision paper is a living document, and we will regularly update and develop it through our discussions with fellow Episcopalians in the coming months. Our hope is that this paper, as well as the conversations that continue to shape it, will ultimately inform the specific proposals for reform that TREC will submit to the 78th General Convention.
On our Facebook page, we have posted a July 16, 2013 summary of our July meetings. We also commend the Episcopal News Service July 25 story about our work.
A TREC work group has been diligently developing proposals to change the structure and processes of TEC governance in keeping with the themes of the “Initial Working Report on Identity and Vision.” These areas of church governance include General Convention and the legislative process; Executive Council; the interim committees, commissions, agencies and boards known as CCABs; and the corporate and administrative structures of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society and of the Episcopal Church Center.
Engagement Process: Coming Soon
To inform the Church of TREC’s work to date and to facilitate TREC being informed by all voices in the Church at all levels, we are now poised to launch a church-wide engagement process. TREC has developed an “Engagement Kit” that will be available in early October to facilitate engagement in small, medium and large groups, in person and online. We expect that the engagement process will go viral, and plan that all engagement input and learnings will flow to TREC for discernment and reflection and will inform further and refined proposals consistent with the TREC mandates.
The theme of the engagement kit is “What can you imagine for The Episcopal Church?” The kit will present simple, thought- and prayer-provoking guides for engagement. The House of Bishops will spend time at its meetings this week doing a version of the engagement process.
Members of TREC (including us, our fellow deputy Judith Conley, and recent deputies the Rev. Craig Loya and the Rev. Marianne Ell) encourage each of you to pursue engagement on whatever level you find works the best for you and your congregation/diocese/province. When TREC rolls out the kit in early October, you will see training materials for group engagements and for interviews. We expect, too, that you will find creative ways of expanding the engagement process as you see fit in your own Church context. Please remember to follow up with TREC so that what you learn in this process can be digested and shared with the whole Church.
Those familiar with the full text of Resolution C095 may notice that TREC has not announced the in-person, churchwide consultation described in the resolution. This is driven by the cost of such an engagement (estimated to be at least $300,000), and the fact that the entire triennial budget for TREC is $200,000. TREC is exploring fund-raising with a churchwide consultation in mind.
Our goal is to continue to share as much of our thinking and working process as we can. Ultimately, any effective and faithful proposal for structural change in the church must involve as many voices as possible in the discernment. As your colleagues in the House of Deputies, we are grateful to you for your ongoing engagement with our work.
We are grateful for the honor of serving on this task force and look forward to hearing from all of you as we work together to re-imagine our Church.
Key findings for the future from the Report.
V. What Do We Need from a Churchwide Organization? Evolving Our Paradigm
A new paradigm for Episcopal Church organization must be rooted in our identity. The identity markers defined in the first section have implications for the church’s structure and organization, which we might begin to outline as follows:
• Structure should foster a shared identity and sense of community, while resisting attempts to unduly narrow the church’s life and witness. This is a key overarching organizational principle.• Structure honors and fosters a diversity of cultural expressions. Structure allows for centralized, decentralized, and distributive models of community life and mission. While maintaining clarity about organization, it should make room for new expressions and support new collaborations.
• In order that the sacraments may be accessible in the world, structure fosters mission: growth, creativity, innovation, and exploration; where it does not it is reformed.
• Structure encourages new liturgical expressions for mission rooted in the Anglican tradition and creates accessibility to a wide variety of materials for prayer and song.
• Structure fosters contextual engagement and enables regional and global collaboration on challenges that face the diverse communities of The Episcopal Church.
• Structure is organizationally lean for the new age of mission. Budgetary, canonical, and structural simplicity allow for ongoing adaptation and change. The church’s structure supports the work of God’s mission of reconciliation through evangelism and service.
[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans in Pakistan and around the world have expressed shock and sadness after two suicide bombers killed about 80 people and injured 200 at a church in Pakistan.
Within hours of the news of the deadly attack on All Saint’s Church in Peshawar, members of the Anglican Communion had spoken out against the attack, called for prayers, and, in India, even arranged a solidarity march.
On the Peshawar diocese website, Bishop Humphrey Peters condemned the attack and expressed his condolences to all the families who lost loved ones. He appealed for Christians in Pakistan and around the world to pray for the affected families.
In a Tweet, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby wrote, “Peshawar bomb reveals depths of human evil, yet those suffering speak of forgiveness as well as justice. That is the love of Jesus shown.”
He also wrote to the moderator of the Church in Pakistan, offering assurance of his prayers and fullest support. He said, “I am appalled to learn of the attack on All Saints’ Church in Peshawar as people had gathered there to pray. My heart goes out to all those bereaved and injured by this terrible attack. I pray for the peace of Pakistan and the protection of Christ’s people. With the people of Peshawar I join in calling for the Pakistan Government and all people of good will to ensure that communities may go about their daily lives in safety, and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.”
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori released a statement saying, “This act of violence is a reminder of the preciousness and fragility of life, and of our interconnectedness. We are all wounded, we have all lost family, friends, and fellow citizens of the world. We will continue to pray for the bereaved, for the injured, for the perpetrators, for their communities, and for this broken world.”
Diocese of South Western Brazil’s Bishop Francisco Silva prayed “that God would console the bereaved and strengthen the faith of those brothers and sisters who suffer the consequences of religious intolerance.”
Bishop of Amritsar in India Pradeep Samantaroy said, “The ghastly killing of Christians in Peshawar is shocking.” He had been unable to talk to Peters but did convey the diocese’s grief and solidarity to Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, Bishop Samuel Azariah.
Samataroy’s diocese also held a candlelight procession and prayer service yesterday evening to express their solidarity with Christians in Pakistan.
On social media, Anglicans and Episcopalians from around the world have been expressing their sympathy to Christians in Pakistan, in particular to a youth officer of the Church Pakistan, Insar Gohar, who was said to have lost his mother and children in the bomb blast.
In Pakistan, Christians affected by the attack expressed not only sadness, but also anger that they had not been afforded better protection against such violence. Peters said, “The attack on All Saint’s Church is the total failure of the new government of KPK and government has failed to provide security to the minorities in Khayber Pakhtunkhwa, Peshawar Pakistan.”
[Lambeth Palace press release] Archbishop Justin has prayed for ‘the peace of Pakistan’ and ‘the protection of Christ’s people’ after suicide bombers killed 78 Christians in Peshawar yesterday.
I am appalled to learn of the attack on All Saints’ Church in Peshawar as people had gathered there to pray. My heart goes out to all those bereaved and injured by this terrible attack. I pray for the peace of Pakistan and the protection of Christ’s people. With the people of Peshawar I join in calling for the Pakistan Government and all people of good will to ensure that communities may go about their daily lives in safety, and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.Please be assured of my prayers and fullest support as you provide leadership and care for your people at this difficult time.
I am appalled to learn of the attack on All Saints’ Church in Peshawar as people had gathered there to pray. My heart goes out to all those bereaved and injured by this terrible attack. I pray for the peace of Pakistan and the protection of Christ’s people. With the people of Peshawar I join in calling for the Pakistan Government and all people of good will to ensure that communities may go about their daily lives in safety, and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.
Please be assured of my prayers and fullest support as you provide leadership and care for your people at this difficult time.
Two suicide bombers targeted Christians leaving Sunday Mass at the historic All Saints Church in Peshawar, northwestern Pakistan, killing 78 and injuring more than 100.
Writing to the Church of Pakistan last night, the Archbishop said his heart ‘goes out to all those bereaved and injured by this terrible attack’.
‘I pray for the peace of Pakistan and the protection of Christ’s people,’ he added.
The attack is the latest in a series of assaults on Pakistan’s Christians, who represent about 1.6% of the country’s population.
Archbishop Justin wrote: ‘I pray for the peace of Pakistan and the protection of Christ’s people. With the people of Peshawar I join in calling for the Pakistan Government and all people of good will to ensure that communities may go about their daily lives in safety, and that the perpetrators are brought to justice. Please be assured of my prayers and fullest support as you provide leadership and care for your people at this difficult time.’
In a tweet this morning, the Archbishop said: ‘Peshawar bomb reveals depths of human evil, yet those suffering speak of forgiveness as well as justice. That is the love of Jesus shown.’
[Church of Ireland] The House of Bishops of the Church of Ireland, meeting Sept. 19 in Dublin, appointed the Rev. Pat (Patricia) Storey as the new bishop of Meath and Kildare, to succeed the Most Rev. Richard Clarke, who is now archbishop of Armagh. Storey, currently rector of St. Augustine’s Parish Church in Londonderry, is the first woman in the Church of Ireland to be appointed a bishop.
Clarke described Storey as “a person of great warmth, intelligence and spiritual depth and I am certain that her ministry in the dioceses of Meath and Kildare and the wider church will be a blessing to many. We remember her and her family in our prayers.”
Storey said she is “both excited and daunted by this new adventure in our lives. I have had an extraordinarily happy experience in St. Augustine’s and in this wonderful city which I will be sad to leave. However, I count it an enormous privilege to begin a new phase of my ministry with the people of Meath and Kildare, and I look forward to working with the team of clergy who are already there. I would sincerely ask for your prayers for myself and my family, who are the best family in the world.”
Storey, 53, has been rector of St. Augustine’s since 2004. She is married to the Rev. Earl Storey and has two adult children, Carolyn and Luke, and a son–in–law Peter. Having grown up in Belfast and studied French and English at Trinity College, Dublin, she trained at the Church of Ireland Theological College (now Institute) and was ordained deacon in 1997 and priest in 1998. She served as a curate in Ballymena (Connor) and was a team vicar in Glenavy (Connor) and a part time youth worker coordinator with the Church of Ireland Youth Department. She is a member of the Standing Committee of the General Synod.
The consecration of the new bishop will take place in due course, followed by enthronement in the diocesan cathedrals thereafter.
The Most Rev. Michael Jackson, archbishop of Dublin and bishop of Glendalough, welcomed the appointment, saying it “brings delight to many within the dioceses, across the Church of Ireland and throughout the Anglican Communion. Pat herself brings to this work of God a warm personality and a breadth of spiritual gifts to share generously in the church and in the community. I look forward to having Pat as a colleague and neighbor and I encourage everyone to pray for her, for Earl and for their family as she embarks on this fresh journey of service and leadership of God’s people.”
[Anglican Taonga] The dioceses of Wellington and Waiapu have voted to remove all of their investments in companies that extract or produce fossil fuels.
The Wellington decision came at the annual synod in Palmerston North last weekend and follows a similar decision by the Diocese of Auckland earlier this month.
Wellington diocese says the church is concerned about the effect of carbon emissions on climate change and also about the long-term health of investments in the fossil fuel industry.
Its share holdings will be divested within the next two years.
The Rev. Tim McKenzie proposed the motion, telling delegates a low-carbon economy cannot be created at once and small significant steps like this decision are needed.
“I don’t think we can afford to wait to see if the worst-case scenarios about climate change turn out to be true,” he said.
“This is a small step that we can take now towards a low-carbon economy and therefore we should take it now before the climate situation gets really drastic.”
Waiapu decided to divest over the next three years.
The divestment applies to shares of around NZ$960,000 (US$804,030) or 5 percent of the diocese’s NZ$19.5m (US$16.3m) portfolio.
The decision was made at the annual synod in Tauranga Sept. 14-15, following a debate that attracted the greatest number of speakers and the greatest intensity of feelings.
During the debate the target was changed from “fossil fuel companies” to “companies whose primary focus is in the extraction and processing of fossil fuels.”
Synod was told that passing such a motion could impact on returns that the board of trustees provides for parish investments.
However, the motion passed overwhelmingly.
“This is a catastrophe for the Christian community of Pakistan,” my secretary Ashbel Taj said to me a few minutes ago. He had just returned from visiting the wounded at Lady Reading Hospital after today’s bombing at All Saints’ Church in the heart of the old city of Peshawar.
Despite having the largest trauma unit in the world, the hospital scene was chaotic, he said, as staff struggled to treat the 200 or more wounded. Information is still emerging, but numerous conversations with colleagues in Peshawar – I’m in the USA at the moment – indicate that 150 or more people were killed.
I’ve tried to reach Bishop Humphrey Sarfaraz Peters, but he is fully occupied in visiting the wounded in hospital. He was on visitation at the parish in Bannu, in Waziristan, but rushed back upon news of the bombing.
Among the dead are students and alums of Edwardes College, the number yet to be determined. I am told that William Ghulam, who translated for me when I preached at All Saints’, was killed, as were a daughter and son of his. William was head of a high school in Peshawar and an Edwardian. His daughter was a current student at Edwardes, his son an alum who was in medical school. William had an active mind and was a keen observer of changing times in Pakistan. He would come to tea with me to discuss translation details of an upcoming sermon. We once discussed Edwardes opening an Education Department, and he was keen to be involved, especially as he was working toward an MPhil degree in Education.
The litany goes on. A woman student of ours named Mehrab, articulate and mature, who attended Morning Prayer frequently at the College. The sister-in-law of the presbyter-in-charge at St. John’s Cathedral. Naeem, the charismatic music director at All Saints’, who led us so inspirationally as we processed through the old city of Peshawar last Easter morning. And so many others killed or maimed.
I’ve preached at All Saints’ a number of times and have always found it to be an inspiration: a packed sanctuary; latecomers coming to the front to offer their devotions individually before squeezing into a place somewhere; robust Urdu singing; the strong leadership of Pastor Ejaz Gill.
Every Sunday’s liturgy is followed by a sharing of rice pulau – chawal – in the church yard after the service. Today, it seems, the huge pot of hot rice was brought in not through the usual side gate but in a Suzuki vehicle through the main gate. What I have heard is that the two suicide bombers came in at the same time dressed in police uniforms. Then began the mayhem.
An irony is that the 1883 church was designed by CMS missionary Worthington Jukes in the architecture of a mosque and thus as an affirmation of Muslim style in worship space. And now it is specially targeted.
This bombing came a year and a day after the burning of St. Paul’s Church in Mardan on the Day of Love for the Prophet that was declared on 21 September 2012 amid concern in the Muslim world about a notorious video about the Prophet Muhammad.
We keep the affected families, the All Saints’ community, and the Christian community of Pakistan in prayer. And we pray that – somehow, sometime, by the grace of God, and through faithful perseverance in our own work – interfaith harmony may ultimately prevail in Pakistan.
– Titus Presler is principal of Edwardes College, Peshawar.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued the following concerning today’s tragic bombing at All Saints Anglican Church, Peshawar, Pakistan, causing fatalities and injuries.
This act of violence is a reminder of the preciousness and fragility of life, and of our interconnectedness. We are all wounded, we have all lost family, friends, and fellow citizens of the world. We will continue to pray for the bereaved, for the injured, for the perpetrators, for their communities, and for this broken world. May all the faithful departed rest in peace, and may God receive them with arms of mercy and compassion.
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affair] The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church is meeting in Nashville, TN (Diocese of Tennessee) from September 19 to September 24. The following is an account of the activities for Sunday, September 22.
The theme for the fall meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is Transforming Loss into Possibilities.
The Bishops, along with spouses and partners who are meeting concurrently, joined in worshipping in local congregations in the host Diocese of Tennessee. Most of the bishops worshipped at Christ Church Cathedral , or All Saints in Smyrna, or Church in the Yard at Holy Trinity, Nashville.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori presided and preached at Christ Church Cathedral. “Lord, send us out from this service as instruments of your peaceable kingdom, send us in the name of the One who has ensured that our debts are forgiven,” she concluded in her sermon. “Send us to go and make real peace. Send us, O Lord, to serve you.”
Following the services, the bishops, spouses and partners enjoyed fellowship, sharing, and hospitality with the diocesan congregations.
Sabbath is observed on Sunday afternoon.
A Fireside Chat is slated for the evening followed by Compline. The discussions at the Fireside Chat are private.
Media Briefers for Sunday, September 22
Bishop Oge Beauvoir, Diocese of Haiti
Bishop Martin Field, Diocese of West Missouri
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached the following sermon Sept. 22 at Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville, Tennessee, on the fourth day of the House of Bishops’ Sept. 19-24 meeting.
22 September 2013
Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville, TN
Diocese of Tennessee
House of Bishops
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
In my youth three things were considered inappropriate for dinner-table conversations: religion, politics, and money. Sex didn’t merit listing because it wasn’t even mentioned in “polite society.” The Church has been having that conversation, even if one wag has said that “only bishops could make sex so boring!” Even the pope is insisting that other subjects are far more urgent. So, what about the other three?
Conversations about religion and faith seem to have re-entered the public sphere, in ways that seem increasingly healthy. We don’t hear quite so much dogmatism in public discourse about religion, and many are asking questions of far deeper significance. The political discourse still leaves a great deal to be desired, and it is frequently dogmatic, but few people are hesitant about having the discussion, except maybe in church.
It’s the topic of money that many people see as the third rail. That is an urgent public conversation, and a great part of it recently has been about transparency and accountability in financial matters, both here and globally. We are increasingly aware that our economic systems are interconnected – that our livelihoods quite literally depend on others, here and abroad. Plenty of pixels and sound bites are devoted to debt and bailouts in Europe – and China’s economic muscle is always of interest.
Money matters are still the most challenging to talk about in church. A stewardship sermon or two every fall is pretty much expected, but we don’t often tackle the really hard economic issues. It’s like the letter I received about ten years ago, when a parishioner complained about “politics in church” because there was a plug in his parish’s Easter bulletin about the need for health care for all. We still haven’t solved that one – mostly because it’s related to deeper economic issues.
Yet Jesus talks about money far more than he talks about the things most people think he’s concerned about (or think he should be concerned about). Marriage and sexual behavior only come up four times. He does say rather more about faith and faithfulness. Money and wealth comes up over and over – in 11 of the parables, and in this gospel of Luke, in one verse of every seven. He actually says more about the subject than about heaven and hell combined – and most of the times he talks about heaven it’s about what heaven on earth is supposed to be, a society without poverty or violence. Amos offers a brief example, in a vision of hell, when the wealthier members of the community use their free time to plot profit-making and extortion schemes – that’s what God’s future will eliminate. The psalmist echoes, ‘the Lord God… rescues the poor from the ashes and makes them like royalty,’ and unlike Cinderella, their glory and dignity don’t end at midnight.
Jesus walked the earth at a time when economic stability was a major concern, right up there with Roman occupation and religious oppression (that trio of religion, politics, and money again). Economic inequality was pretty extreme. The humble people around him usually didn’t own any land – and more and more of those who did have land were being foreclosed for nonpayment of taxes. Slaves and tenants worked for the few landowners (remember his parable about workers in the vineyard). The crowds who came to listen to him probably included a lot of homeless people and day laborers; his comment about the son of man having no place to lay his head is about his solidarity with the poorest people around him. But his followers weren’t just the poor. The wealthy members of the community were definitely involved as well – Joseph of Arimathea, Zacchaeus, dinner party hosts, and the wealthy women who supported and welcomed the early Christian communities into their own homes.
The story Jesus tells in this gospel may have one of the more familiar tag lines in the gospels – ‘you can’t serve two masters, you can’t serve both God and wealth.’ But as a whole it may be the most ambiguous parable of all. It’s not easy to decide whether he’s condoning unethical behavior. That just might be the most important aspect of the story – we have to think and explore and discuss and ponder over it. We can’t just listen once and get it and go on about our business.
A rich man hears rumors about his manager’s poor business practices (wasting the boss’ assets), and asks for a final audit before he’s fired. The executive sees what’s coming, and starts working his network. He makes deals with the different accounts, telling one guy to cut his bill in half – just 50 jugs of oil, instead of 100. He cuts a deal with another one for 80% of what’s owed. The owner’s network is pretty good, too, and when he gets wind of this, he calls in the executive and congratulates him on his savvy. He may not keep his job, but at least he’s set himself up for the next move. The owner is apparently glad to get a major portion of what he’s owed before the manager leaves. The accounts are glad to get off for less than they’d contracted to pay. Everybody seems to benefit, yet this has been called squandering and waste.
And yet… this manager has not fulfilled his fiduciary duty to the owner. He hasn’t kept the contracts originally made, and there won’t be a clean audit. This is where Jesus’ commentary makes us start to squirm. “If you haven’t been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust you with the true riches? Whoever is dishonest in little things is also dishonest in the important ones… you can’t serve both God and wealth.”
Who’s who in this zoo? Is the rich man a figure for God? One of the bedrock understandings of our faith is that God forgives debts. Is the executive perhaps a godly actor, releasing debtors from their obligations? Does faithfulness here mean forgiving debtors and relieving poverty rather than worrying about dual-entry bookkeeping? Whom do Jesus’ disciples serve?
We live in a society that proclaims its interest in financial transparency and accountability, and we make laws about undue influence and insider trading because we rightly see the need to limit the opportunities for the kind of exploitation Amos rails against. In Jesus’ society those rules often looked equally scrupulous – give 10% of your grain to the religious institution, pay your taxes to the government, and if you don’t do both, then you’re not an upstanding member of the community and you’re not fit company at any decent person’s table. For a lot of people in that context serving two masters looked like never going to the wedding because you didn’t have the appropriate garments, and not having a place to lay your head because you’ve spent all your earnings on food and taxes. For those on the other end of the economic spectrum it might look like spending all your energy on creative bookkeeping and judging the prudence of spending on the ultimate advantages of charitable contributions.
Parables don’t always have neat and tidy answers or interpretations. They are meant to make us ponder and wrestle and feel uncomfortable. Consider that the loudest public rhetoric in this country right now is about reducing government spending, a quarter of which goes to relieve the plight of poorest – food stamps, public assistance, and health care. Consider that this rhetoric is mostly led by those who represent the wealthiest micro-tier of this nation’s wealthy. Consider that the economic disparity in this nation today is the greatest in its history; it’s about 2.5 times what it was in Jesus’ day, which was an empire built on slave labor. Consider that while we outlawed slavery here 150 years ago, we have more people in prison than any other nation, and they are overwhelmingly poor and non-white. Consider that the average wage and real personal wealth have been decreasing for 80% of Americans for the last three decades, producing a vast underclass of economic debt-slaves, who have little real hope for escape. The poverty level continues to rise and living wage jobs are disappearing. Where do we find ourselves in that parable, and what does it mean to serve God?
Our hope is the good news of our continued prayer: Your kingdom come, O Lord, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us – all of us – this day our daily bread. Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Send us out as instruments of your peaceable kingdom. Send us in the name of the one who has ensured that our debts are forgiven. Send us out to make real peace – and to serve the Lord.
 He does speak about divorce (he prohibits it) and adultery (Matthew 5:27-28, in the context of lust, and in John 8:1-11, when he pardons a woman about to be stoned). He also has a conversation with the Samaritan woman about her marital situation (John 4:16-18).
 The wealthiest 1% had about 16% of the wealth http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/12/19/391998/income-inequality-rome/
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church is meeting in Nashville, TN (Diocese of Tennessee) through September 24. The following is an account of the activities for Saturday, September 21.
The theme for the fall meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is Transforming Loss into Possibilities.
The day began with Eucharist, celebrated by Bishop Rob Wright, Diocese of Atlanta; HOB chaplain the Rev. Simon Bautista of the Diocese of Washington preached.
The emcee for the day was Bishop Andrew Dietsche, Diocese of New York.
The first session focused on Formation for Mission led by Bishop Thomas Breidenthal of Southern Ohio. Bishop Breidenthal’s presentation was met with tremendous enthusiasm and provoked deep discussion about theology and ministry. One image that captured the House’s imagination was Baptism as not only washing us from sin but also “expelling us –like birth- away from a life of safety and security and into the vulnerable places of the world.” He noted, “Mission is not what we do but what God does and we are invited to get swept up into it.”
Episcopal Church Chief Operating Officer Bishop Stacy Sauls presented the innovative Diocesan Partnership Program. He started by explaining that The Missionary Society is the simplification of the corporate name of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. It represents the effort of reorienting the work of the churchwide staff to work with the dioceses and to be facilitators of mission. This happens as the staff offers (1) support for diocesan ministry (2) leveraging resources for this ministry (3) makes connections throughout the church. Bishop Sauls stressed that this is in contrast to a “corporate headquarters” model of church where money flows upward and program flows downward.
The Church Pension Group presented information to HOB. Bishop Wayne Wright of Delaware and a member of the CPG board introduced: Mary Kate Wold, CPG President and Chief Executive Officer; the Rev. Patricia Coller, Executive Vice President and Chief Ecclesiastical Officer; and Frank Armstrong, head of the Medical Trust. The presentation centered on the growing positive impact of the Denominational Health Plan, seeking to offer the best care at the best rates. They are aware and looking at the challenges and opportunities of the Affordable Health Care Act as it affects how we care for our clergy and employees.
The session concluded with Noonday Prayer. Sabbath began after the prayer.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church is meeting in Nashville, TN (Diocese of Tennessee) through September 24. The following is an account of the activities for Friday, September 20.
The theme for the fall meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is Transforming Loss into Possibilities.
The day began with Morning Prayer, observing John Coleridge Patteson and His Companions.
The emcee for the day was Bishop Diane Jardine Bruce, Diocese of Los Angeles.
The morning discussion focused on Bridge-building Mission. Presenters were:
- Bishop Suheil Dawani of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem on Bridge-building Ministry of the Diocese of Jerusalem.
- Dr. Hisham Nassar, MD, Bishop’s Coordinator for Healthcare in the Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East, on the services of the Diocese.
- Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, on Christian-Jewish Partnerships.
- Canon David Porter, Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director of Reconciliation, on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Vision for Reconciliation
Each table of Bishops was asked to engage in discussion on how their dioceses might engage the work of peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land. The House of Bishops thanked the presenters with a standing ovation for their work and their presentations.
In the afternoon, Bishop Andy Doyle of Texas, Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina and Bishop Sean Rowe of Northwestern Pennsylvania presented a report from the Task Force to Reimagine the Episcopal Church (TREC). Following an overview of work to date, the bishops were provided with questions for small group discussion: What do you want to hold on to? Let go of? What is the best possible Episcopal Church future? What initiatives are needed for the Episcopal Church to reach this future state? What is our role as a bishop and as the HOB? They also talked about an engagement kit that will be released in October.
A report was provided to HOB from the Ecclesiology Committee. Following table discussion, a panel answered questions from HOB – Bishop John Buchanan of Chicago; Bishop Bill Franklin of Western New York; Bishop Bill Gregg of North Carolina; Bishop Pierre Whalon of Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe; and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies. The House discussed the importance of the founding of the church and its past as primer for the conversation about the future of the church.
The day concluded with Eucharist, celebrated by Bishop George Councell of New Jersey; HOB chaplain the Rev. Stephanie Spellers of the Diocese of Long Island, preached.
Media Briefers for Friday, September 20
Bishop Rob Wright, Diocese of Atlanta
Bishop George Young, Diocese of East Tennessee
[Episcopal News Service] Say what you will about the Affordable Care Act – and many people have a lot to say – it seems fairly likely that enrollment in the program will open as scheduled Oct. 1 and two Episcopal Church-related organizations, National Episcopal Health Ministries and the Episcopal Public Policy Network, are working together to help people understand the complicated law.
That work went on even on Sept. 20, the day that the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives led the passage of a bill to strip all funding for the law that is meant to make preventive health care — including family planning and related services — more obtainable for uninsured Americans.
The bill, which is not expected to pass the Senate in its present form, ties that so-called “defunding” of the Affordable Care Act to needed Congressional action to keep the government operating at its current funding level. (Republicans oppose the ACA because, they say with its requirement that all Americans have some sort of health insurance it will increase health care costs, cause premiums to rise, hurt the quality of health care and raises taxes while adding to the national debt.)
Matthew Ellis, chief executive officer of National Episcopal Health Ministries, was one of five presenters during a Sept. 20 White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships conference call meant to showcase some of the best practices for partnerships that are helping to prepare uninsured Americans to begin signing up Oct. 1 to purchase private health care coverage through insurance marketplaces known as exchanges.
Ellis discussed how his organization has been making information about the Affordable Care Act available to people in churches. Ellis also described the resources NEHM has assembled and the partnership the organization has forged with the Episcopal Public Policy Network, which is part of the church’s Office of Government Relations.
As the call progressed, the White House office released a toolkit about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act geared specifically for use in community- and faith-based organizations. The kit, and other resources, is here.
Episcopal Health Ministries is one of many agencies across the United States that have applied for and received certification by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a “Champion of Care” for its efforts to educate people about how the law will work, and how to enroll for coverage.
The mission of NEHM, a non-profit group that is not an official agency of the Episcopal Church, is to promote health ministry in Episcopal congregations and thus “assisting them to reclaim the Gospel imperative of health and wholeness,” according to its website.
“We are called to care for those who struggle to care for themselves,” Ellis told Episcopal News Service before the conference call. “There are numerous examples of healing in the Bible, so anything that we can do to facilitate that healing process is important for us to participate in.”
Episcopal Church congregations, through their mission work, have access to a lot of people without health insurance, in addition to those members who may be uninsured, he said.
“So, for us to not participate simply because of some political concerns just seems like the wrong thing to do,” Ellis said, adding that the group felt that it was “on firm ground” because the Episcopal Church has a history of supporting the basic principles of health-care reform.
“The way that people access health care in our country is primarily by having health insurance so if we can help more people get health insurance, we going to be really helping our communities and everyone at large,” he said.
“Is it perfect?” Ellis asked of the law. “No, not by any stretch of the imagination but, it is the system we have right now and we need to make sure we’re using it to the best of its abilities.”
To make use of what the law offers, NEHM has encouraged Episcopal congregations to get involved at their own comfort level. For some, it might be simply posting information on a bulletin board, he said. The other end of the spectrum is for a congregation to work with what are known as trained “navigators” who can run workshops and enrollment session at the church. Typically, navigators are trained employees of universities, social service agencies, hospitals, advocacy groups, private businesses and other organizations who may not receive compensation from insurance companies.
Ellis also cautioned against making assumptions in congregations that few if any members will be eligible for the Affordable Care Act. “People lose health insurance or are underinsured for many, many reasons, not all of them specific tied to income or their current employment,” he said.
A congregation might never know whether, after posting information about the HealthCare.gov website on a bulletin board or in a restroom, someone in the church might get insurance because, Ellis said, “most people are not running around advertising that they don’t have health insurance, especially if they look like they should.”
And, Ellis advised be careful about shutting off conversation about the law by the way it is described. “We call it the Affordable Care Act,” he said. “We never, ever, ever refer to it as ‘Obamacare.’”
That is “just such a loaded term whether you are for it or against it” that “if you use the term Obamacare when you’re discussing this, you’re immediately going to set people up to have an emotional reaction,” Ellis said.
The first explains why NEHM and OGR were helping with implementation of the ACA. The second gives more details about NEHM is participating in the implementation and how it has been working for health-care reform.
Ellis commended the NEHM partnership with EPPN, saying the network contacted them to see how the two groups could work on the Affordable Care Act “and it’s been a really terrific partnership.”
The relationship helped NEHM gain visibility for the resources it has been putting together.
“What we always hear about in the church is how our different organizations, our different departments, our different groups should be working together … here’s an example of tow that are actually doing it,” he said.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Diocese of Texas] Joyce Banda, president of Malawi, introduced the joys and challenges her African nation experiences through heartfelt words while several other Malawian guests told their stories and sang their songs during an almost two-hour rollicking service at Central Presbyterian Church in downtown Austin, Sept. 18.
The Dioceses of Texas and Southern Malawi are in the third year of a partnership that gives folks in both places a broader knowledge of how Church is experienced in different parts of the world. St. David’s Churchin Austin teamed up with Warm Heart International to host the Wednesday evening service with President Banda.
Fresh off a long charter bus ride from South Bend, Indiana, earlier that day, Banda showed how faith-based organizations have teamed with her government to enhance Malawi since she was elected president in April 2012 – the first woman in her country’s history.
“Faith-based organizations operate about one-half of 172 healthcare facilities in our country. They provide a range of healthcare from safe birth deliveries, family planning, vaccinations against TB and HIV/AIDS and mental health counseling,” Banda said. “In past years, up to 1,250 women died while giving birth. That number is down to 460 now and our goal is to eliminate deaths.”
“Our government is teaming with faith-based organizations to open 76 new medical clinics. Our goal is to have a clinic within five kilometers of all Malawians,” she said.
Banda has been fighting for women’s rights as well as championing the underprivileged in Malawi throughout most of her life according to her Joyce Banda Foundation website. She survived an abusive early marriage of 10 years and found herself a single mother with three children to support – a condition common to many Malawian women.
“Our government, the Joyce Banda Foundation and the 100X Foundation continue to work together to improve the education of Malawian children and youth and the state of living in our poor nation,” Banda said. The president’s foundation – run by her sister Rosemary – has created 35 orphan centers each housing about 70 children aged 3 to 5 around the country, in addition to opening two free schools so far. Of the hundreds of students that attend the schools – a large majority are orphans. Many students walk more than two hours to get to school every morning and girls make up more than half the school’s enrollment, according to the foundation website.
Banda also pointed to her country’s need for more reliable sources of clean water and sanitation, in addition to improving farm to market opportunities for Malawian subsistence farmers who make up 75 percent of the country’s population.
Central Presbyterian Church was ablaze with a variety of music before and after Banda’s talk. The delightful service combined contemporary, traditional and Malawian worship music with Malawians traveling with their president – most in the United States for the first time – alternating singing with the choirs of Central and Church of the Hills Presbyterian churches in Austin.
The Warrior Gospel Band from Bishop Sterling Lands II’s Greater Calvary Bible Church in East Austin funked up – Gospel style – the evening service. The seven-member band includes – at times – a toddler beating on a drum two-thirds his height.
The Rev. Katie Wright, of St. David’s Church, gave the service’s final prayer and attendees then walked across the street to a reception at St. David’s.
Texas Bishop Andy Doyle and former Southern Malawian Bishop James Tengatenga signed the diocesan partnership in 2012. Since then many diocesan churches have helped grow their Malawian partner diocese through material and financial donations, in addition to several church mission trips that Bishop Doyle describes as “pilgrimages.”
Tengatenga, former chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, knows the Texas diocese well. He is a 1985 graduate of the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest and he and his wife Jocelyn were married at St. David’s Church, Austin.
– Bob Kinney did communications for the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin for 24 years. He is now a board member and communications consultant for the Episcopal Peace Fellowship.
[Diocese of Texas] In a day when we use our bank cards for everything from putting money in the parking meter to buying a car, St. David’s in Austin couldn’t help but feel the pinch when an age-old tradition started feeling, well, too age-old.
“When we added up the numbers, it was startling,” said Parish Administrator Terry Nathan. “Our plate offerings dropped 50 percent in the past two years. It’s clear that passing the plate through the pews is as outdated as the proverbial buggy whip. Our parishioners have quit using currency as their primary means of doing commerce, and the proverbial checkbook has all but disappeared.”
In August, St. David’s took online giving a step further and unveiled an electronic Giving Kiosk. Placed in the church’s lobby, the Giving Kiosk allows a parishioner or visitor to make an offering despite not having cash or a checkbook. The first time someone uses the kiosk, they are asked to enter their phone number, name and address. (They have the option of skipping this step if they wish to donate anonymously but, if not, their donation can be linked with their giving record.) With the swipe of their bank card, users are prompted to select the giving category and the amount. Receipts are sent via e-mail.
The Rev. David Boyd, rector, admits there was initial concern over how modern technology would fare, or clash, with daily prayer and worship, especially in such a historic church as St. David’s.
“Some people felt like it was money-changers in the temple, but that’s not what we’re doing here,” Boyd explained. “Just like giving and doing transactions online, we think this will become the norm. It’s a convenient way for people to be faithful in their giving.”
St. David’s purchased the kiosk from SecureGive, a company founded in 2003 by a Georgia pastor. The kiosk can also be programmed to accept a pledge or pledge payment, and allows the user to make a donation to a specific project or purchase tickets to a church event. The Giving Kiosk can also be programmed to make direct deposits and generate financial reports.
“It is awesome from an accounting perspective,” said Nancy Parish, St. David’s accountant. “It’s easy to get the reports and to change and add giving options. It didn’t get a lot of use the first few Sundays, but I remember when we started taking credit cards 10 years ago– it takes a while for people to catch on.”
With heavy advertising, parishioners now know the kiosk is an option and are learning all the different capacities in which they can use it. In the past few months, usage of it has doubled on a weekly basis with positive feedback from those signing in and donating. St. David’s anticipates the Giving Kiosk will become an integral part of giving and giving campaigns in the future, leaving one small problem to be solved: Is there a church out there that would like to buy some well-used, brass collection plates?
– Jeanie Sablatura is communication director at St. David’s, Austin.
[Trinity Episcopal Church - Arrington, Virginia] How does a small Episcopal Church with a total membership of just over 50 parishioners offer hospitality to a Goliath-sized musical festival, drawing a crowd of 25,000 who arrive not just for the day but for four days and four music-filled nights? Trinity Episcopal Church in Arrington, Virginia, not only met the giant but welcomed and embraced it in ways that leave no doubt about the truth of the sign at the gate: The Episcopal Church Welcomes You!
Trinity Episcopal Church in Arrington is like many of the churches in the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia: historic, family-sized, with a heart as big as the mountain sky. The 1830 brick church is located on four acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, between Lynchburg and Charlottesville. A carefully tended graveyard includes tombstones dating back to the 1830s as well as new plots and a scatter garden. Magnificent oaks populate the property, offering grace and stately dignity to the red brick gem situated at the highest point of the gentle slope.
Adjacent to the church is Oak Ridge Estate, a vast property of nearly 5,000 acres, with a 50-room mansion and numerous outbuildings, including a chapel and a former train station. Over the years, the property has been home to merchants, farmers, and a Wall Street business tycoon. In recent years, Oak Ridge has served as a venue for horse races, Camp Jeep, community festivals, and numerous weddings and private parties.
The largest event to date, however, was the recent Lockn’ Music Festival. The event featured nearly 30 bands, including greats like John Fogerty and The Black Crowes as well as jam bands, Widespread Panic and Furthur. (Think R & B and lots of tie-dye.)
When preparations for the music festival began to manifest in the form of added fencing, widened expanses on nearby gravel roads, fiber optic cable installation, and imported lighting, Trinity’s new priest-in-charge, the Rev. Mark Furlow and his vestry members worked with festival organizers to provide a safe space. From the beginning, Furlow, who also is technical director of the theatre at Lynchburg College, knew Trinity would be a welcoming presence. “We don’t need to be the church cowering in the corner,” he told a local reporter. “That’s not who we are. We’re a church that’s lively, active, we care about local people. We care about guests that are coming our way from across the country.”
The existing AA chapter at the church offered a logical relationship. The church provided a safe space—and coffee for several AA meetings each day. Soberlockn’ welcomed upwards of 350 people to church grounds throughout the course of the four-day festival.
Worship is a natural part of the rhythm of church life. With parishioners camping out on church grounds, days began with Morning Prayer at 9:30 and ended with Compline in the evenings. While the evening services tended to be populated mostly by the church community and friends, the Morning Prayer services and a Sunday Eucharist service welcomed visitors from as far afield as Illinois as well as some from just down the road—one, a cradle Episcopalian from nearby Altavista, Virginia, said he felt welcomed home to the familiar language of his childhood. In addition to formal worship, a newly created labyrinth offered place and space for spiritual meditation, along with a pamphlet to provide guidance for labyrinth newbies. PrayerLockn’ fed the members of the church community and welcomed festival goers alike.
An additional partnership generated WaterLockn’. The James River Float Company ran buses to a nearby swimming hole on the property of Trinity parishioners William and Eve Yagel. Mason Basten, owner of the for-profit float company, donated a portion of its proceeds to Trinity’s Outreach Projects: a feeding program for local school children and a clean water initiative in Haiti. Festival-goers arrived at the church to catch a shuttle and returned an hour (sometimes two) later, refreshed, clean, and ready for the next set of music.
Parishioners at Trinity took shifts to help with promotion of SoberLockn’ and WaterLockn’. They invited visitors to walk the labyrinth and led tours of the historic church. Adults and children helped with worship and prepared meals together. They greeted visitors and answered questions. Several families, including the priest and his wife, camped out on the church grounds. Others filtered in and out from nearby homes. The community discovered each other in the process of welcoming others into their midst.
Throughout the four dizzying days of traffic, 25,000 concertgoers, and music that played well into the starlit nights, Trinity locked arms and held onto one another. In that spirit of love, they embraced all who came to their door. And on Sunday morning, the last day of the festival, the congregation in full force, joined by a handful of visitors from across the road, sang together the words that so many visitors to SoberLockn’, PrayerLockn’, and WaterLockn’ knew to be true:
There’s a sweet, sweet Spirit in this place,
And I know that it’s the Spirit of the Lord;
There are sweet expressions on each face,
And I know they feel the presence of the Lord.
– Nina Vest Salmon is a lay member of the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia, a deputy to General Convention, a member of the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop and the State of the Church CCAB.
[Church of the Redeemer - Kenmore, Washington] During a Sept. 17 Day of Caring Resource Exchange event at Seattle Center, Washington, 34 volunteers washed the feet of about 200 homeless people.
Organized by United Way of King County, the volunteers provided advanced foot care.
Emily Austin of Church of the Redeemer, Kenmore, Washington, helped to coordinate the effort. About half of the volunteers were from Redeemer; others included friends, neighbors, people from several other churches in the Diocese of Olympia, and the United Way.
The Day of Caring Resource Exchange connects people experiencing homelessness with all kinds of resources.
Volunteers worked a morning or afternoon shift. Of the 200 or so people who had their feet washed, about 40 received advanced foot care, which includes nail trimming and caring for corns and calluses. Everyone received clean socks from the volunteers.
Austin speaks about the initiative in a video here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XIU2pjOpMY).
[Episcopal Diocese of West Texas] Trey McCarty, the youth minister at Grace Episcopal Church in San Antonio, Texas, lives with a passion to serve others. He took this passion to Haiti this summer on a collaborative mission trip to an orphanage with members from other Episcopal churches in the Diocese of West Texas.
McCarty also lives with a passion for recording music and producing videos. His stage name is JFM3, for his given name, Joseph Franklin McCarty III. He said, “Recording music and video is an avenue where I can be real and transparent about what I’m passionate about.”
With this passion, and along with friends Paul V. Hernandez and Robert Russell, McCarty created Hope Sound. Hope Sound is an organization, a branch off of Hernandez and Russell’s company MystikMuzikProductions, that is fueled by the talents of the three friends and meant to shed light on people living in poverty throughout the world. “Hope Sound is still in the process of being formed, but I believe it has a lot of potential to help a lot of people. It’s meant to give them hope,” said McCarty.
Upon returning from Haiti this summer, the images of poverty resonated deeply with McCarty. He recalls driving through Port Au Prince and seeing the destructive conditions in which people live day to day. “Miles and miles of families live in tin houses smaller than most of our garages,” he said.
The mission team traveled to Haiti Children’s Rescue Missions, an orphanage which houses approximately 75 children. Most of the children living at the orphanage lost their family members in the January 2010 earthquake that devastated the country. While there, the team hosted a Vacation Bible School, built a basketball hoop and a swing set, built bunk beds, and were simply present with the children. “Witnessing these children enjoying themselves with us amidst the devastation gave me hope,” said McCarty.
McCarty returned home and carried the hope he had found into the next project for Hope Sound. “What I saw while in Haiti reminded me that, as Americans, we can all get too comfortable with our lifestyles and forget about our neighbors in need. But seeing the hope in the children’s eyes, I was also reminded that Jesus was resurrected and that death is dead,” he said. Longing to bring hope to the children and people he met in Haiti, McCarty wrote the song “A New Day,” and Hope Sound produced the video message.
The “A New Day” video is available here.
The mission of Hope Sound is to not only educate on poverty and bring our neighbors hope, but also to inspire support from those who feel called. For more information on Hope Sound, contact McCarty at email@example.com.
– Laura Shaver is the communications officer for the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas.