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Charleston David Wilson joins the Church of the Redeemer

ENS Headlines - Friday, May 9, 2014

[Church of the Redeemer -- Sarasota, Florida] The Rev. Charleston David Wilson has joined the Church of the Redeemer, as a new Priest Associate with the parish. Fr. Wilson will be assisting Redeemer’s Rector, The Very Rev. Fredrick A. Robinson, in the areas of Evangelism and Outreach.

“Fr. Fred is a nationally — and internationally — recognized and proven leader in the Anglican Communion,” said Fr. Wilson. “To be able to sit at his feet and learn from him is a great blessing.”

Fr. Wilson was ordained at Redeemer in December, 2014. He earned a degree in Religion from Samford University and a Master of Divinity from Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Nashotah, Wisconsin, where he also served as the Associate Dean of Institutional Advancement.

A member of the Board of Directors for SOMA, an international Anglican missionary organization, Fr. Wilson is also a member of the Board of Trustees of The Anglican Digest. He and his wife, Malacy, have two children: 5-year-old Robert Augustus and 3-year-old Mary Camille.

Upper South Carolina: Bishop releases reflection on same-sex blessings

ENS Headlines - Friday, May 9, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina] The Right Reverend Andrew Waldo, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina,  May 8 released “In Dialogue with Sacred Tradition:  A Pastoral and Theological Reflection on Same-Sex Blessings.”

Bishop Waldo will allow the blessings of same-sex relationships in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina under conditions outlined in the report released today.

  “My decision to allow the blessing of same-sex relationships is deeply rooted in scripture, tradition and reason and comes after four years of dialogue throughout the Diocese and a year-and-a-half of deep study and dialogue by a task force of clergy and lay persons who represent deeply diverse positions,” said Waldo.

Accompanying Bishop Waldo’s reflection is the work of his Task Force on Unity and Faithfulness, which he formed in September 2012 as a response to the General Convention 2012 passage of resolution A049, which allows provisional use of a liturgical rite for same-sex blessings.

The Task Force’s work, In Dialogue With Each Other, is a curriculum for congregations and encourages dialogue among clergy and parishioners, regardless of their beliefs on this issue.  Completion of the curriculum is mandatory for congregations that desire to bless same-sex relationships.
“Both my reflection and the curriculum seek to embody a robust dialogue focused on the ministry of reconciliation to which Christ calls us. This work seeks not so much to change minds but to challenge perspectives held by people on various ends of the theological spectrum and to deepen relationships across the Diocese,” Waldo said.

The entire document is available on the Diocesan website: www.edusc.org.

ECS programs tackle poverty on multiple fronts

ENS Headlines - Friday, May 9, 2014

From left, Aquill Palmer, Tyron Morrison and Brittany Palmer show off computers provided to the Youth Center at Episcopal Community Services in Philadelphia thanks to St. Thomas Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Participants in the center’s program, which helps teens and young adults complete their education and find jobs, decorate the blackboard behind them with sayings and drawings. Photo: ECS

[Episcopal News Service] Tyron Morrison has plans: finding a job, attending community college, parenting his infant son, pursing a career in music. He also has faced challenges, including three years in a juvenile detention home, that not everyone can see past. He found the help he needed through the Youth Center at Episcopal Community Services in Philadelphia.

“Normally, other places that I’ve come in contact with, they tend to judge me off of … things that have happened in my life,” he said. “This program here, they accepted me with open arms. They listened to me.” He feels like he’s known center director Beatrice Fulton “all my life. … I feel really safe and secure.”

Across the country, Episcopal Community Services programs provide hands-on assistance to people needing a hand up. The organizations operate under various names, working independently from each other. Some are diocesan agencies, others separate nonprofits. Their common focus is poverty and those affected by it.

Through the Episcopal Community Services in America, a network of health and human-services organizations affiliated with the Episcopal Church, some of these agencies are working to strengthen their connections to share resources and raise the visibility of the work they do. In early June, representatives of ECSA and other related agencies will meet with the Rev. Canon Mark Stevenson, Episcopal Church domestic poverty missioner, in the Diocese of Western Texas to talk about ways to move forward.

“Over the years, many of the dioceses had multiple types of programs to help people who are destitute, who are homeless,” said the Rev. Canon Phillip J. Rapp, president and CEO of ECSA. “It’s a significant part of the heritage of the Episcopal Church. But in all that time, there never was an overall desk or agency … associated with the church that coordinated the activities.”

Mostly, dioceses or parishes ran the programs, but they were unconnected, with no denominational-level information collected about them, he said. “The Church Pension Group has all of the information about every clergy person in the church. They have it about every parish. They have it about every diocese. But they have little or nothing about the institutional ministries of the Episcopal Church.”

Thus, when the Journal of Philanthropy publishes its annual index of health- and human-service-based agencies, “when it comes to the Episcopalians, there’s just a [blank] line there because there is no composite knowledge of the amount of money that is spent on services, the amount of full-time employees that the church has in that related situation and, more importantly, I think, the amount and the diversity of … clients who are served.”

Twelve years ago, 14 or 15 agencies came together to form Episcopal Community Services in America, Rapp said. General Convention formally recognized the network in 2006, and the church provided a grant to develop a database of all the related agencies within the church, he said. ECSA identified 565 in more than 80 dioceses spending cumulatively more than $2 billion, but it ran out of money to continue or update the analysis, he said.

According to its website, ECSA’s vision is “to alleviate the systemic causes of domestic poverty and to help those in need by strengthening the work of Episcopal health and human-service organizations.” Three years ago, it supported a three-day conference in Newark, New Jersey, on the church’s response to domestic poverty. The June 5-6 meeting in San Antonio, Texas, will bring together Stevenson and members of various groups within the church, including ECS programs, the Church Pension Group, Jubilee Ministries and National Episcopal Health Ministries, to talk about ways to bring the ministries together and “to proclaim domestic action” against poverty, and programs that could be replicated and expanded, Rapp said.

Not just a safety net

In the Diocese of Pennsylvania, ECS has been reorganizing and reevaluating its programs to focus on finding and funding the most effective ways to alleviate poverty.

“The challenge is that the city funding and the state funding were going through tremendous change, and it’s pretty clear that that funding is volatile at best and nonexistent more than likely,” said Executive Director David Griffith ECS is preparing to launch a capital campaign and is creating two for-profit entities: consulting services to help parishes “build capacity and outreach muscle” and a home-care program, he said.

Two other focal points are St. Barnabas Mission and the youth program.

St. Barnabas is a shelter for abused young women with children that ECS hopes to expand into a community outreach program offering food banks, community centers, day care and housing, Griffith said. “A shelter is not the best way to cure homelessness.”

This reflects the general ECS vision: “We never want to be a safety net. We want to be a mechanism where we lift up and we lift out individuals in poverty,” he said.

The youth program uses a cognitive-therapy model to help 14- through 23-year-olds stay in school and find meaningful jobs with benefits, so that “they’re safe, they’re stable and … they become contributing members of the region,” Griffith said.

A $100,000 grant funded a pilot program called Teens Takin’ Over, which began as a workshop series for about 40 teens. A second $100,000 grant will help the program expand to serve 250 to 300 teens and young adults this year, working toward a goal of 1,500 served by 2020, Griffith said.

Youngsters in the Ark preschool for homeless children operated by Episcopal Community Services of Maryland had an opportunity to play in the snow during a monthly field trip to the Irvine Nature Center outside Baltimore. Photo: ECS

Fifteen years ago, ECS was providing grief counseling for families with AIDS, Fulton recalled. “The work was really about working with the families because the parents were dying, and sort of having planning for the teens, the children who would be left behind – who also had AIDS.”

ECS staff would make sure the teens kept appointments at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “One of the issues on the table when we’d go to these doctor meetings is, the kids were not taking their medications,” Fulton said. “We asked ourselves: What would a future look like that you’d be willing to take your medication? That was sort of the beginning of the vocational work we’re doing now.”

Today, young people who walk into the center complete a vocational assessment – identifying something they’re passionate about – and then look at the education they’ll need to achieve that kind of job. They learn to envision and articulate what a day on the job would be like: what they’ll do, what they’ll wear, who they’ll talk to. They discuss what would prevent them from obtaining this job and, using cognitive-therapy techniques, discern what they need to change in order to achieve their goals. “We get them to connect their thinking about the situation to how they’re feeling and, more important for our purposes, their behavior,” Fulton said.

Participants – more than 100 in the past year – also work on resumes, applications, proper work attire. Ultimately, they join the center’s 191 club, earning $100 for clothing and a $91 transit pass. Morrison recently picked out “nice dressy pants, some nice shoes,” a button-down shirt and a bow tie in preparation for an interview at a local McDonald’s. In the fall, he’ll begin studying at the Community College of Philadelphia.

Morrison, 21, arrived at the center about eight months ago on a friend’s recommendation. “I just needed a little bit more guidance and some information on how to approach certain situations, like filling out a resume,” he said. “The 191 program is … teaching you things that you’re really going to use in real life. So I’ve mastered it now. I can approach every situation with a lot of confidence.”

“The program is Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. I’m here every day,” he said. “I love it. The atmosphere, it’s peaceful. I can laugh. I can be myself.”

Long tradition, changing structure

Episcopal Community Services of the Diocese of Long Island also is reorganizing. It traces its origins to an upstate New York home for “wayward girls – basically unwed mothers” – and the parish-based Church Mission of Help network started by Holy Cross Monastery founder the Rev. James Otis Huntington and photojournalist Jacob Riis in 1913, said the Rev. Charles McCarron, ECS executive director and vicar of the Episcopal Church of St. Lawrence of Canterbury in Dix Hills, New York.

The network grew to about 20 programs across the church, with many changing their names to Youth Consultation Service in the 1960s. The Long Island mission underwent several name changes before becoming ECS – part of an effort to improve recognition for Episcopal service agencies – and five years ago shifted from an independent agency to a diocesan corporation, McCarron said. It now is restructuring, including looking at how ECS might work more closely with the related Episcopal Charities, which raises funds, and Episcopal Health Services, he said.

Through the years, ECS has introduced new programs to meet new needs. Following a devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, ECS trained volunteers to help Haitian nationals complete temporary protective status forms to allow them to remain and work in the United States.

After Hurricane Sandy hit the diocese in 2011, ECS worked with an evangelical congregation in the Rockaways (where there was no Episcopal church) to provide meals, set up job co-ops, run summer and after-school programs, and help day laborers from the mostly immigrant population to achieve OSHA certification to do construction work, McCarron said. In Mastic Beach, home of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, the diocese operated a weekly meal program and continues to host volunteer groups to help with construction and rebuilding, including working with the Poospatuck Reservation community. The diocese now is establishing a permanent program in Mastic Beach.

“As the Sandy needs are changing, we’ve just been awarded a grant from New York state to being kind of a youth center there and focus in on creating a mentoring program,” McCarron said. The $130,000, two-year grant will provide for a clinical social worker.

Addressing poverty’s injustices

Episcopal Community Services of Maryland offers both vocational and children’s programs aimed “to help people navigate the obstacles of homelessness, poverty and re-entry into society.”

“We’re addressing the injustices brought on by severe poverty,” said Beth Margulies, communications manager. “All the programs are growing.”

That includes Jericho, a re-entry program for released state prisoners that focuses on workforce development and job placement. “When you’re coming out of a prison setting, you need several things … to make your new life work or to avoid recidivism, and one of the primary things you need is a job, so we start by focusing on really the work skills that you’re going to need,” Margulies said.

ECS has a commercial kitchen, which provides a job-training environment for Jericho participants. It recently partnered with a local nonprofit coffeehouse that focuses on helping unemployed local youth.

“They’re all kind of learning from each other, so we now have a social enterprise called Cups Coffeehouse and Kitchen, and we’re moving into event catering,” Margulies said. Students work on teams and take turns as sous chef, so on any given day a Jericho adult or an Urban Alliance youth may be in charge.

ECS also operates The Club at Collington Square, an after-school and summer-camp program for at-risk students, and the Ark, a preschool for homeless children.

Located in a city school, the Ark enrolls up to 15 children at a time. “It’s so clear to me that these children who come to our doors have some great potential, but they’re already behind,” said Director Nancy Newman. “They need a lot of stimulation and care to catch up.”

“We do see a lot of behavior challenges and developmental problems,” she said. “Most all of our kids are language-delayed. … After kids settle in, we do a developmental screening.”

The full-day program annually serves 40 to 45 children, who stay 16 weeks on average, Newman said. This accounts for a small percentage of the 450 children younger than 5 counted as homeless in Baltimore last year, she noted.

All services are free, including transportation, dental and other screenings, and daily breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack. Once a month, the students and their parents take a field trip to a local nature center with an outdoor classroom.

“These children deserve the highest-quality care and education,” Newman said, “so they can move ahead and get past this traumatic period.”

– Sharon Sheridan is an ENS correspondent. 

Presiding Bishop on abducted schoolgirls in Nigeria

ENS Headlines - Thursday, May 8, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued the following statement:

The Episcopal Church is horrified at the violence perpetrated against innocent schoolgirls in Nigeria, and the willingness of those who should be addressing this to look the other way.  The unfortunate truth is that girls and women are still deemed dispensable in much of the world, or at least of lesser value than members of the other sex.  The necessary response is education – of girls and boys, in equal numbers and to an equal degree, that all might take their rightful place in societies that serve all their citizens with equal respect and dignity.  I pray that all Episcopalians, and all people of faith and good will, will pray and plead with their political leaders to find the kidnappers, liberate these girls, and restore them to the safety they deserve.  May God have mercy on us all.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop and Primate

The Episcopal Church

We need an alleluia

ENS Headlines - Thursday, May 8, 2014

We are in the fifty days of Easter, but I am having a hard time saying “Alleluia.”

We learned today that eight more girls were kidnapped from their school in Nigeria.  This adds to the 276 that we are aware of. Faces of grief, anger, and fear cover the screens of our televisions, computers, smart phones and Twitter feeds.  The angry reaction is palpable.

The social media world is buzzing.  Bring back our girls.


Our girls?  Why are they our girls?  They live in a place far away from the world I know.  I live in a middle class subdivision in a bedroom community just outside of Columbia, SC.  I drive almost 30 minutes to work every day.  I listen to NPR or sing out loud to some band that is piped from my iPhone through my car’s speakers.

Today I didn’t feel like singing.

I am a dad.  I have a daughter who is 12 years old.  She is a happy child . . . most of the time. Her emotions shift like the wind. One moment she is laughing and joyful. The next she is a sobbing mess. She is 12-years-old.  This is normal.  I have to constantly remind myself of this.

The missing girls in Nigeria range in age from 12-15. These children were ripped from their lives – from their families. My girl is in the kitchen spreading Nutella on toast.  These girls are being sold as slaves; their bodies are likely being ravaged my men twice their age.

I have an enlarged heart. It is filled with the faces and names of children I have served and loved.  It is filled with the faces of the children who were taken from their families and loved ones in Sandy Hook.  It is filled with the faces and names of the ones who remain.

My enlarged heart is close to breaking.  There are now 284 more children I grieve for.  284 more children to love and pray for.

They are our girls because they need us.  They are our girls because they are our sisters, daughters, and friends.  They are our girls because they are in trouble. They are our girls because we are all children of God.

Bring back our girls.

Bring back our girls.

Bring back our girls.

We need an Alleluia. I’m ready to shout it from the rafters.

Just not yet.

– Roger W. Hutchison is Canon for Children’s Ministries at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral n Columbia, South Carolina, Diocese of Upper South Carolina.

Honduras: Schools play a role in self-sustainability, society

ENS Headlines - Thursday, May 8, 2014

Miriam Rivkin, a member of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in DeLand, Florida, visited St. Mary’s Episcopal School in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in March during a trip to explore potential partnerships. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

[Episcopal News Service – San Pedro Sula, Honduras] Episcopal schools in the Diocese of Honduras not only have a role in moving the church toward self-sustainability; they also play a role in transforming communities.

“Children profit from education, teachers are employed, students receive an Episcopal Church education, which is also part of our evangelism program,” said the Rev. Canon Lura Kaval, the diocese’s canon for development and an Episcopal Church-appointed missionary.

Schools are a main source of income for the diocese; it operates seven, faith-based bilingual schools serving 1,500 students from prekindergarten through 11th grade, the final grade level required in Honduras.

“As a whole they are in the black; some of them are in better shape than others, but all are headed in the right direction with great potential for growth,” said Kaval,

For instance, at St. Mary’s Episcopal School in Tegucigalpa, the Rev. Canon Joe Rhodes and his wife, Tina, missionaries sent by the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders, are working to bring the school toward profitability.

“We have 158 students now, we need 200 to be profitable,” explained Rhodes to a group from St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in DeLand, Florida, who visited in March during a trip to explore potential partnerships.

Longtime supporters of the diocese, the Rhodes over the years have led many short-term mission teams to Honduras while Joe Rhodes served as the rector of Holy Spirit Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They have served the school for the last 18 months.

Bishop Lloyd Allen founded St. Mary’s School in 1994 while serving St. Mary’s Church; the bishop personally asked the Rhodes to move to Tegucigalpa to assist the school full time.

The Diocese of Honduras operates seven, faith-based bilingual schools serving 1,500 students from prekindergarten through 11th grade. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

In recent years, Allen has worked to focus the diocese’s attention on achieving self-sustainability by 2019; in addition to the diocese’s self-sustainability plan, the schools have a separate strategic aimed at self-sufficiency.

As part of the plan, administrators are working toward international accreditation with the help of Steven Robinson, president of the Southern Association of Independent Schools, a U.S.-based accrediting agency.

“The schools there are really fascinating and I think they serve a tremendous purpose, some of the schools have a long way to go, but the flagship, [El] Buen Pastor, in San Pedro Sula, is probably eligible now if not close,” said Robison, in a telephone interview with ENS.

Accreditation at its core means a school is fulfilling its mission; and that a school is financially sustainable and has good governance, explained Robinson.

“It [accreditation] doesn’t mean all schools are equal; that’s largely dependent on the resources they have,” said Robinson. “It means they are serving the mission they set out to serve.”

A young girl prays during Sunday school at St. Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church in Brick Bay in Roatán, Honduras. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

At the heart of each Episcopal school’s mission is a commitment to Christian education and the diocese has committed to translating from English to Spanish the Episcopal Children’s Curriculum, developed by Virginia Theological Seminary, so that it can share it with others looking for Christian educational resources in Spanish, said Kaval. The diocese plans to begin using the curriculum in both the schools and its Sunday schools in the fall.

Robinson became involved with the Episcopal schools in Honduras in 2010 when he met Andrea Baker at a National Association of Episcopal Schools conference in San Antonio, Texas.

“She saw my nametag and asked, ‘do you accredit? And can we talk?’” said Robinson.

Baker invited Robinson to visit Honduras, which he did. “I fell in love with the schools and the work of Bishop Allen,” he said, adding that what the diocese is doing with its schools is “at the heart of what education should be.”

Since then, Robinson has been involved with the schools and this summer plans to run professional development workshops in Honduras. It’s a matter of working with the schools to understand where they are, where they need to be, and assisting them as they grow toward accreditation, he said.

El Buen Pastor, the school Robinson referred to in San Pedro Sula, was founded in 1984 and has since grown to more than 500 students grades pre-k through 11. Some of El Buen Pastor’s students have gone on to attend universities in the United States.

Other schools, like St. John’s Episcopal School in Siguatepeque, a small town in the central mountains, are just getting started.

Rick Harlow, the diocese’s project manager, and Episcopal Church-appointed missionary, explained that the school serves 48 students grades prekindergarten through fourth grade, next year the school will add fifth grade and more space for prekindergarten students.  The school currently has an 80-student capacity.

Episcopal schools operate on the same 10-month calendar as schools in the United States, not the public schools’November to February calendar, normal for the country’s private schools. For this reason, the schools tend to grow from year to year as students graduate from one grade level to the next, and from new students enrolling in prekindergarten and kindergarten.

One way to recruit new students is to make the school more appealing. In March, for instance, construction was underway on a horseshoe-shaped driveway where parents can drop off and pick up their children in front of the school instead of on the busy street in front of the church.

The driveway and additional classroom space constitute the first phase of construction; the second phase will include a cafeteria and kitchen and additional classrooms.

“We have to work year by year by year with the resources available,” said Harlow, adding that teams from churches in the United States have thus far helped with the school building’s construction and there’s still a need.

Not far from St. John’s, also in Siguatepeque, the Rev. Vaike Madisson de Molina started a first-aid clinic that three years later has turned into a nursing school recognized by the Ministry of Health. In 2009, Allen told his clergy they’d need to look at their communities and create something to move their missions toward self-sustainability, so de Molina, inspired by Florence Nightingale’s legend, turned to healthcare.

The Nightingale Centro Episcopal de Formación de Auxiliar de Enfermería opened in December 2011 and graduated its first 14 students in December 2013.

The Rev. Vaike Madisson de Molina shows architectural renderings for the nursing school to the Rev. Canon Lura Kaval, the dioceses canon for development. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

Given the school’s successes, de Molina has plans for a two-story building that will house classrooms and a laboratory alongside her church, San Bartolomé Apóstol, moving the school out of the parish hall.

“This project, I love it,” she said during an interview in her home. “I think Jesus Christ is happy … some members of the church are even now students.”

De Molina chose the nursing school, she said, partly because she likes the story of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, which she feels fits nicely with the history of the Anglican Church, but also because she recognized a need for a permanent medical clinic in the community. And she saw the school as a way to give women, many of them single mothers, a means of supporting themselves.

Josselin Flores, 18, is one such student. Flores works at the church and studies at the nursing school, while her mother cares for her 18-month-old baby.

“I want to have a better life and to care of others,” said Flores in an interview at the church.

Sixty percent of Honduras’7.9 million people live at the poverty line, according to World Bank statistics. The average adult has 6.5 years of education, according to United Nations Development Program data.

Founding an Episcopal university in Honduras is a long-range goal of the bishop, especially in a post-9/11 world where it has become increasingly difficult for students to secure visas to study in the United States, and the currency exchange rate between the Honduran Lempira and the U.S. dollar puts the cost out of reach for most students coming from a low-middle income country.

“Not only is the bishop committed to self-sufficiency model of empowerment rather than dependency … the schools not only play a tremendous part it that, but through education the Episcopal Church is in a position to change a nation,” said Robinson.

From his experience and travels, Robinson hasn’t seen another independent schools system poised for such a high return on investment.

“I’m very blessed and fortunate to work with almost 400 of best schools in the world, including 40 Episcopal schools, travel the world and talk on a variety of issues,” he said. “I don’t know of any place where good, strong Episcopal schools could have an impact on the entire nation. Honduras could be impacted by the school system and I don’t say that lightly.

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

2014 Standing Committee Bulletin day 1 + 2

ENS Headlines - Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Standing Committee plus Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Canon Kenneth Kearon
Photo: Neil Vigers/ACNS

[Anglican Communion News Service]

Standing Committee Day 1

[The members of the Standing Committee can be seen at http://bit.ly/1fRoMNT]

All but one member of the Standing Committee were able to attend this year’s meeting. Only Bishop James Tengatenga was unable to travel to London because of visa issues.

Much of the first day was taken up with business matters. The Anglican Consultative Council’s (ACC) legal advisor Canon John Rees began with a brief orientation for the Standing Committee members. The committee then moved on to discussions about membership. With the elevation of Sarah Macneil (Australia) to Bishop the committee needs to appoint a replacement.

Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi (Burundi) was re-elected as the member of the Crown Nominations Commission and Archbishop Thabo Makgoba (Southern Africa) was re-elected as the alternate. Archbishop Emmanuel Egbunu (a diocesan bishop in Nigeria) was also re-elected the Anglican Communion’s ‘constant member’ of the group that appoints the Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe.

Highlights from the Secretary General’s annual report included informal talks with the Vatican, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Lutheran World Federation; the WCC General Assembly in Busan, Korea; and visits to Anglican Communion Churches in West Africa, Brazil, the USA and Zambia.

Copies of Transforming Communities, the report of ACC-15, were circulated to members and will be sent to ACC members, Primates and Provincial Secretaries. The report can be bought online at http://shop.anglicancommunion.org/.

In response to a paper on Muslim-Christian relations submitted for consideration, the committee began an informal conversation about the issue. The paper will be considered in more detail later in the meeting.

Day 2

Canon Dr Phil Groves, Director for Continuing Indaba, presented an update on the project.

He said that Archbishop Welby’s focus on reconciliation had added fresh impetus to the initiative adding, “I think we have an interesting future ahead”. He said the vision of the Communion as a “place of reconciled reconcilers” remained and told the committee that a guide to implementing the principles of Indaba, as well as a new website www.continuingindaba.com had been produced in 2013/4. A further publication, Living Reconciliation, will be published in September this year, gathering together theological resources from the project’s pilot programme and reflecting on reconciliation.

Canon Groves said that principles of Indaba were being taking up in a many parts of the Communion including Kenya, the USA, and England. He said, “The Indaba journey is growing and developing, we’re providing process resources, and theological resources, and we’re getting them out into the hands of Anglicans who are changing their world.”

Archbishop Daniel Deng (Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan) noted the need for internal reconciliation and highlighted a need for a conversation with the GAFCON* group. Canon Groves thanked the Primate for his comments and noted that several theological advisors to the GAFCON group had contributed material to the Living Reconciliation book.

The Revd Rachel Carnegie and the Revd Andy Bowerman then presented the Anglican Alliance company trustees’ audited annual report. The committee received the report and also approved the appointment to the Board of Trustees of Canon David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director for Reconciliation, to succeed Mr Chris Smith as the Archbishop’s representative.

Mr Michael Hart, consultant to the Finance & Administration Committee and its vice chair, then presented its report. The Committee’s report included reference and administrative details of the Charity; its trustees and advisors; a list of Officers of the ACC; the annual report of the Trustees; the Independent Auditor’s report to the Trustees; a statement of financial activities to 31 December 2013; a balance sheet and notes to the financial statements; and a schedule of contributions to the Inter Anglican Budget.

The budget was described by Helen Biggin (Wales) as “tight and well managed”, but she noted that there needed to be more thinking given to future funding, particularly for those projects reliant on grants.

The day ended with a presentation by Director for Communications Jan Butter who presented the committee with five Church communications wins, five challenges and five ‘big ideas’ to make the committee to think big about how the Anglican Communion could look to the future.

The wins included more Churches getting to grips with digital media; thinking about ministry and witness in digital spaces; sharing more best practice online; speaking for themselves rather than relying on the media; and reaching a younger generation through social media and digital technology. However, he said that, when it came to the Anglican Communion having basic communications tools in place, too little had improved: strategic communication was still not in many Provinces’ DNA; neither clergy nor laity receive formal training on how to live as a Christian online; and there are still too few Member Churches/extra-Provincials with qualified, senior communicators in place.

He also said that, as a Communion of 85 million people, we were not leveraging our collective voice, power and resources – particularly through digital channels. He pointed to Kickstarter and Change.org as two sites that should be models for the way the Anglican Communion uses its collective power for good.

His ‘big ideas’ included a Kickstarter Sunday to raise money for projects around the Communion; setting up a global network of volunteers to translate Communion documents, news and information into a range of languages; and having the Anglican Communion lead a global forum on the future of being and doing Church in a digital age.

*The Global Anglican Future Conference

‘Come and see the new Honduras’

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Bishop Lloyd Allen confirmed 11 people and received 13 more into the Episcopal Church on March 9 at La Misión San José in El Cedral, Honduras. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

[Episcopal News Service] What does it mean to be the church in Honduras?

It’s a question Bishop Lloyd Allen and others in the Diocese of Honduras have begun asking themselves as they fine-tune their 2019 self-sustainability plan and move away from more than 150 years of dependency.

Although financial independence and self-sustainability may sound like invigorating concepts to North Americans, moving away from a century and a half of dependence — needs influenced and met by outside support — doesn’t come easy in Honduras, or more broadly in Latin America, where a deeply embedded culture of dependence dates back to the Spanish occupation, and in the church to when Anglicans established their first colonial mission outposts.

“Like it or not, as difficult as this may seem, I think it’s time for the diocese to begin to walk away from that legacy of dependency,” said Allen in a 2012 address to the Diocese of Central Florida’s convention, echoing words he’d spoken a year earlier during his own diocese’s annual meeting.

In Central Florida, a longtime companion diocese, the crowd applauded Allen’s words. Back in Honduras, however, his proclamation had not been as well received. “I may not be the most popular person in the Diocese of Honduras now,” he said.

Moving away from dependency, Allen soon realized, would require changing a deeply held mindset, and wasn’t something that could be accomplished by inviting in consultants and conducting workshops.

“We are on the road; I don’t know how long it’s going to take,” he said. “ … we’re on our way, cost us what it may. Growth doesn’t come easy.”

At the center of that growth is a complete overhaul of the relationship between the diocese and its missions and preaching stations. As it is and has always been, money flows from the diocese to the 124 congregations. The flow must be reversed; when that’s accomplished, the diocese can begin to send its support to the Episcopal Church, reversing that longstanding relationship of dependency.

“That’s a real change in dynamics,” said the Rev. Canon Lura Kaval, the diocese’s development officer and an Episcopal Church-appointed missionary based in San Pedro Sula.

In addition to the $227,000 the diocese receives from the Episcopal Church, the diocese operates seven, bilingual schools, a conference center, a warehouse and EpiscoTours, which handles the travel arrangements and itineraries for mission teams, all of which generate revenue. The diocese also has incorporated a nonprofit organization in the United States, the Honduras Development Network, to raise funds.

Historical perspective  

The Church of England transferred jurisdiction of the missionary outposts in Central America and the Caribbean to the U.S.-based Episcopal Church following World War II. Two decades later in the 1960s, the trend across the Anglican Communion was to examine the church’s missionary work in a post-colonial world, moving away from “paternalistic treatment of the overseas ‘missionary districts,’ ” according to archived documents.

The 1964 General Convention established Province IX “to foster relationships among districts in Latin America that would lead toward self-support.”

Honduras is the only Episcopal diocese in Central American belonging to Province IX; the others — El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua — belong to the Anglican Churches in Central America, or IARCA its Spanish acronym, a province of the Anglican Communion.

The other Province IX churches include, in South America, Ecuador Central, Ecuador Litoral, Colombia, and Venezuela, and in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

In February, on the recommendation of the Second Mark of Mission working group, a group convened by the staff of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council agreed to an 18-year plan for “self-sufficiency,” to move to sustainable mission and ministry in Province IX

The Episcopal Church historically has supported the Province IX churches through a block grant program, which provides the dioceses with operating funds amounting to $2.9 million in the current triennium.  The triennial budget also included an additional $1 million for Province IX with the goal of “strengthening the province for sustainable mission.” This money will be made available to the dioceses to further their progress toward self-sustainability.

In 2009 General Convention budget slashed the block grant program, decreasing the amount dioceses received by a third; although the abrupt cuts came as a surprise, they weren’t totally unexpected.

In the first years of his episcopacy, Allen served on the church’s Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance and “saw the writing on the wall,” he said.

“I would come home and share my thoughts and concerns with the clergy, and I would say we need to look forward and try to walk away from dependency.”

Ordained and consecrated in 2001, Allen hired an outside consultant to assist the diocese in creating a strategic plan, the first of which was introduced in 2004 and updated in 2007; the 2019 plan for self-sufficiency builds on those previous plans.

Following Hurricane Mitch, a Category 5 hurricane that killed more than 7,000 people and caused more than $2 billion in damage when it hit Honduras in late October 1998, billions of dollars in international aid money poured in and teams of volunteers began arriving to help in the rebuilding of the Central American country.

In development terms, the country’s then-president said Mitch set back Honduras 50 years; Mitch also marked a turning point in which Honduras’ gangs became better organized and the country’s security situation began to deteriorate.

Eventually, the media coverage and the outpouring of funds and assistance dwindled. Yet the Episcopal Church remained, and began to retool and to grow, and the 2019 plan, “Come and see the new Honduras,” took shape.

Engaging leadership

Fast-forward to March 2014 and a daylong parochial report conference held at Iglesia de Espiritu Santo in Santa Rita de Copán, where 60 leaders gathered from 26 of some 30 missions and preaching stations in the Copán and Maya deaneries covering the country’s far southwest.

“Everything we need in the Diocese of Honduras God has given us,” said Kaval. “Part of this is to help the people see what we have.”

The four-page parochial report records demographics, revenue and expenses, clergy, baptism, confirmation and educational information, and is intended for mission planning. The diocese plans to use the information gathered by the parochial reports to apply the principals of asset-based community development to help its missions and preaching stations become self-sustaining. Additionally the Five Marks of Mission form an integral part of the diocese’s self-sustainability plan; they provide a road map to determine what it means to be the church in Honduras and as the basis for leadership development and stewardship.

The 2019 self-sustainability plan, Venga y ver la nueva Honduras, or “Come and see the new Honduras,” begins with empowering the clergy and laity. In the spring of 2013, the diocese formed lay leaderships teams providing them with the Five Marks of Mission and the diocese’s goals for financial independence and self-sustainability, with the intention being that the clergy and lay leaders would hold each other accountable.

From scarcity to abundance

In a country where 60 percent of 7.9 million people live in poverty, Copán is the third poorest department in the country, which in land area is about the size of Kentucky. Still, the 46 missions in the Copán and Maya deaneries are some of the most resourceful and least dependent on the diocese.

“These two are way ahead on stewardship, and they are building their own churches,” said Allen, adding that they’re a model for the other deaneries. “There’s very little that we [the diocese] do for them.”

Bishop Lloyd Allen confirmed 11 people on March 9 at La Misión San José in El Cedral, Honduras. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

An hours’ drive up the mountain from La Entrada, a literal fork in the road in southwest Honduras that in one direction leads to the Mayan ruins in Copán, sits La Misión San José, a relatively new mission of the Diocese of Honduras, but one that grew March 9 when 11 people were confirmed and 13 received into the Episcopal Church.

Allen preached and presided at the service that day, the first Sunday of Lent, where parishioners had hung balloons and scattered purple and white flower petals down the aisle. Allen recently asked the congregation, now officially a mission, to look to the Book of Common Prayer, the saints and feasts, to choose a name. They chose San José.

Misión San José is led by Yolanda Portillo, a lay leader who has grown the church.

“I’m a firm believer in women’s ministry; she has turned the church around,” said Allen, on the drive to La Cedral, where 2,500 people live in and around the community, largely employed in the coffee industry.

The church has grown, Portillo said, through preaching the Gospel door-to-door.

At the start of Allen’s episcopacy, the diocese had 87 congregations served by 22 priests, almost half of them foreign. Over a two-day period in 2005, he ordained 25 deacons. Today the diocese has 156 missions served by 56 priests and 16 deacons, the majority of them Hondurans. The number of Episcopalians has reached 65,000.

Examples of congregational growth, self-sustainability and community outreach can be seen throughout the diocese. Another example is Parroquia Manos de Dios in Danlí, a town 60 miles southeast of Tegucigalpa, the capital, near the border with Nicaragua.

The Rev. Roberto Martinez Amengual, Bishop Lloyd Allen and Victor Manuel Velasquez at Manos de Dios in Danli. Manos de Dios serves as a model of self-sustainability for the rest of the diocese. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

Led by Victor Manuel Velasquez, Manos de Dios began as a house church in 2000, but with the help of the Anglican Agency for Development in Honduras, or Aanglidesh as it is called, and its partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development, has grown to include a large facility with a community center, space for workshops, a computer lab and an income-generating store that sells supplies to students attending a nearby technical school.

It’s that kind of entrepreneurship that Allen says serves as a model for other congregations in the diocese, and one that the Rev. Roberto Martinez Amengual, Aanglidesh’s administrator, said demonstrates the power of partnerships.

Manos de Dios also provides space for a savings and loan program and microcredit serving women and families in Danlí.

“Our partnership with Aanglidesh in rural Honduras is a strong example of the asset-based approach we promote throughout our work worldwide,” said Kirsten Laursen Muth, Episcopal Relief & Development’s senior director of international programs.

On a tour of Manos de Dios, Velasquez explained that a $5,000 revolving loan, along with the help of mission teams from the United States, made the building possible.

“You can see where the investment went,” he said. “We will become a parish really soon.”

The diocese already has moved four missions to parish status: St. Mary’s in Tegucigalpa, Holy Trinity in La Ceiba, Good Shepherd in San Pedro Sula and Holy Spirit in Tela. Thirteen of 156 missions have been identified for “supported-parish status,” meaning they’re close to being able to pay 50 percent of the clergy costs. Most of the diocese’s urban congregations have schools, and have realized they can support their own clergy, said Allen.

“There will be missions out in the rural areas that will never become (parishes); maybe two or three will have to come together,” said Allen.


Protestant and evangelical churches are gaining on the Roman Catholic Church in Honduras, where it’s not uncommon for a Roman Catholic priest to visit a parish once or twice a year, and when the priest does come, he must be paid, said Allen, explaining part of the reason for growth in his diocese. Additionally, as demonstrated in Danlí, Episcopal missions often address societal needs in the community. Still, Episcopal clergy aren’t always comfortable asking for support from their parishioners.

The Rev. Vaike Madisson de Molina, the vicar San Bartolomé Apóstol in Siguatepeque, worked with the Ministry of Health to establish a nursing school at her church. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

For instance, at San Bartolomé Apóstol in Siguatepeque, a small town in the Central Mountains on the main route between San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, the Rev. Vaike Madisson de Molina, the vicar, worked with the Ministry of Health to establish a nursing school and completed the coursework despite the fact that she’s too old to be licensed; yet when the topic of self-sustainability and asking for support from the congregation is broached, she becomes visibly uncomfortable.

Diocesan leaders say it’s this mindset that needs to change in order for the missions to become self-sustaining and to contribute money to the diocesan budget; clergy need to embrace stewardship, and begin asking their congregations for support.

“The clergy need to make people understand that they are the church … it’s not about going to church, it’s about being the church,” said Rick Harlow, the diocese’s project manager and an Episcopal Church-appointed missionary.

The diocese recently hosted a clergy conference focused on stewardship, where the Rev. Gary C. Hoag, co-author of  “The Sower,” presented concepts and workshops aimed at “developing faithful stewards.”

At Misión San Fernando Rey in Omoa, where Ana Reid, a missionary serving in Honduras as part of the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders, or SAMS, stewardship, building on the local evangelical influence, is an integral component to rebuilding a mission station that had otherwise been neglected and gone to rack and ruin.

“In the evangelical church, it’s taught you need to give your 10 percent; it’s ingrained in you as a responsibility as a Christian,” said Reid, who is from Danvers, Massachusetts. “They are very strong on the teaching that through giving, you receive.”

Ana Reid, a missionary serving in Honduras as part of the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders, or SAMS, is helping to rebuild Misión San Fernando Rey in Muchilena. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

For Reid, however, she continued, it’s all about education and training. For those who’ve come from the Roman Catholic Church, the practice has been to put small change in the offering plate because historically the priest was paid by someone else; parishioners were not required to participate in the life of the parish and support it financially. She says the Episcopal Church hasn’t been strong on teaching tithing, either.

“It’s a spiritual discipline,” she said, adding that there are clergy who themselves don’t tithe. “If they themselves are not doing it, they cannot preach it.”

In addition to teaching about stewardship in rebuilding San Fernando Rey, Reid has helped David Dominguez, the lay leader, to offer English classes at the parish, which is also planning to operate an Internet lab after conducting a market study to determine the need and the desire for one in the community. The parish also plans an outside café that will cater to tourists.

“I’m not the priest, I’m not the person in charge, I’m just here to help,” said Reid, adding that she’s not just telling the people what to do, but doing it herself. “I get my hands dirty.”

Ultimately, Reid’s plan is to empower lay leaders and work herself out of a job.

Back to the church’s beginnings

The Honduran government official recognized the Episcopal Church 150 years ago, however the Anglican-Episcopal presence in Honduras dates back 400 years to 1639, when buccaneers brought the Anglican Church to Roatán, the largest of Honduras’ bay islands, and established Emmanuel Anglican Church on Port Royal.

Allen sent the Rev. Nelson Mejia and his wife, the Rev. Kara Mejias, to Roatán to re-establish an Episcopal Church presence on the largest of Honduras’ Bay Islands, a 90-minute ferry ride from the mainland, which they’ve done already in an area called Brick Bay. A second church, made possible with a grant from church planting and ministry redevelopment, is in the first phases of construction. 

The Rev. Nelson Mejia and Rick Harlow, the diocese’s project manager and an Episcopal Church-appointed missionary review plans for the new church plant in Roatán. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

The new church, which will be called Emmanuel for the church the buccaneers founded in 17th century, is planned for Coxen Hole, a growing community of 20,000 people. Construction began on the site in August 2014; before that the congregation met in homes and later rented a small room in town, said the Rev. Nelson Mejia.

The permanent building will be concrete with reinforced beams, and in addition to the sanctuary, there will also be a parish hall and a sewing room to support a micro-business.

For now, church takes place under a temporary, wood-framed shelter, a heavy tarpaulin serves as the roof; the floor is dirt. Bathrooms, needed for the church to host events, are off to the side, along with a storage shed where plastic chairs, the podium, a keyboard, projector and other supplies for the service and Sunday school are stored. Mejia and his family arrive a few minutes before the service to set up.

Companion relationships, mission teams

The 2019 plan also invites participation from North American partners, who are invited to join a mission team, share professional expertise or to support a clergy member through its Clergy Partnership Program.

The diocese began operating short-term mission trips in 1992 without incident. But the rise of gangs and international headlines portraying the violence have lead to an almost 50 percent drop in the number of mission teams in recent years.

“The increase in violence has really affected us greatly,” said Allen. “A lot of people ask me if [short-term missions] are still safe.” The diocese in Honduras provides mission teams with 24/7 guides and drivers, from arrival to departure.

Larry Tate, a member of Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, Texas, who over the years has led many short-term mission teams to Honduras, and who was in Honduras in March scouting his team’s next trip, said his No. 1 priority is keep team members safe.

“We won’t put people in danger,” he said, adding he keeps an eye on the news. “We listen to what the bishop tells us and we ask questions.”

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


Los Angeles bishop calls for unity as property litigation ends

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, May 7, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles]

To the People and Congregations of the Diocese of Los Angeles

This new Easter season unites us in responding to the ways in which God is calling us into new, resurrected life in Christ. We enter this Eastertide as a united diocesan community, joined together in daily ministry and shared service in our neighborhoods. This unity has been strengthened through the years by coming together around challenging issues and seeking common ground for understanding as we are led by the Holy Spirit.

Vitality continues to emerge from the firm stands the Diocese of Los Angeles has taken in respecting the dignity of every human being – the calling of our Baptismal Covenant. It is wonderful again to live within the full Christian promise of Easter.

After a May 7, 2014, appearance in Orange County Superior Court brought final resolution to the litigation, the Episcopal Church of St. James the Great, Newport Beach, will continue in ministry free of the challenge of appeal by parties who left the parish in August 2004. This action follows the California Supreme Court’s January 2009 decision affirming that all Episcopal Church parish properties are held in trust for the present and future ministry of the local diocese and wider denomination.

In steadfastly supporting this position, the Diocese of Los Angeles has secured assets given by generations of Episcopalians and assisted in establishing favorable precedent for the future, and particularly for other dioceses to prevail in similar cases.

Invested in this position is more than $8 million in costs incurred on behalf of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the Episcopal Church by the Bishop as Corporation Sole. This expenditure resulted in retaining multimillion-dollar properties in Newport Beach, La Crescenta, Long Beach and North Hollywood, and in establishing important legal precedent. While the congregations of St. James the Great, Newport Beach, and St. Luke’s of the Mountains, La Crescenta, continue in ministry within the Episcopal Church, congregations will not be restarted as All Saints, Long Beach, or St. David’s, North Hollywood. The Corporation Sole currently holds title to the church property in Long Beach – a city where there are three neighboring Episcopal Church congregations – and a negotiated settlement allows the present congregation to worship on site while remunerating the Diocese for use of those facilities. Meanwhile, the Oakwood School has purchased the North Hollywood property, a fitting use in the mission of local secondary education.

As we move forward I ask your prayers that understanding will continue to grow among us as we experience resurrection anew in Christ. In that Easter spirit, we are called to look forward and, as leaders of local congregations, to strengthen the work that our parishes and missions are called to do. We can also share in current diocesan initiatives, including the Seeds of Hope nutrition and wellness program, the Hands in Healing outreach to youth and young adults, and Horizons & Heritage, the upcoming observance of the Episcopal Church’s 150th year in Southern California.

It is important that we remain in community, not in isolation, and that in charity we create space for people whose views may differ from our own. We are not here to judge one another but rather to be in joy with each other in the name of Jesus. As resurrection people, we are looking forward to doing those things that would reflect the will of Jesus Christ, working to include people of all views and positions, making the Diocese of Los Angeles a beacon of inclusive, loving, joyful action in Christ Jesus.

So I call each of you to renew your local ministries and to share in the ministries of the Diocese. The door to the future is open. We will participate in our diocesan community by continuing to develop Hands in Healing and taking seriously reconciliation. Through Seeds of Hope we will keep nurturing new ministries in this Diocese for food security and care of our environment through curriculum in our primary, secondary and Sunday schools. We will continue to dwell in the new life and abundance of our diocesan community.

Within the Episcopal Church, we go through careful processes to examine what is best for the whole community. In General Convention, we come to places of corporate decision, and whether we agree or disagree, we move forward in joy. We do the same in our Diocese, where there will be no declarations of “I told you so” or “we won” regarding important deliberations. Here I think of times when General Convention meetings have observed times of silence and prayer before the announcement of significant votes taken, and it has been through such prayer that God has guided us from positions of separation to being made whole.

I call you to pray for one another and for the unity of the entire Episcopal Church.

Almighty God, whose blessed Son before his passion prayed for his disciples that they might be one, as you and he are one: Grant that your Church, being bound together in love and obedience to you, may be united in one body by the one Spirit, that the world may believe in him whom you have sent, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
-The Book of Common Prayer, Collect for the Unity of the Church

Together in Christ,
+ J. Jon Bruno
Sixth Bishop of Los Angeles


Why Serve 2014 registration deadline extended to May 15

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, May 7, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The registration deadline has been extended for the popular Episcopal Church retreat, Why Serve 2014: A Discernment Conference for Young Adults of Color.

Sponsored by Diversity and Ethnic Ministries of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS), Why Serve 2014 will be held Thursday, June 5 to Sunday, June 8, hosted by Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) in Berkeley, CA.

Registration deadline is now May 15.

The theme of Why Serve 2014 is Discernment Pilgrimage: My Story, Our Story and God’s Story.

Invited to attend this conference of fellowship, training, discernment, and self-care are young adults (age 18-30) from the Asian, Black, Indigenous and Latino communities of the Episcopal Church, Lutheran Church (ELCA), and other churches in communion with the Episcopal Church, including the Moravian Church, the Old Catholic Churches, the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, the Mar Thoma Church and the Churches of South India (CSI) and North India (CNI).

The conference is sponsored by Church Divinity School of the Pacific; the DFMS Asiamerica Ministries, Black Ministries, Indigenous ministries, Latino/Hispanic Ministries, and Young Adult Ministries; and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Cost is $70 which includes meals, lodging, conference fees and materials.  Travel is not included.

Why Serve 2014 conference info and registration here.

For more information please contact Angeline Cabanban at 212-716-6186 or acabanban@episcopalchurch.org.

For those from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), contact the Rev. Albert Starr at albert.starr@elca.org.

Archbishop of Canterbury condemns abduction of Nigerian schoolgirls

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, May 7, 2014

[Lambeth Palace] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby today condemned the abduction of over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls from their boarding school three weeks ago, and has asked that people join him in praying for their safe release.

Archbishop Justin said:

“This is an atrocious and inexcusable act and my prayers and thoughts go out to the young people and their families at this upsetting time. I appeal to those who have taken these schoolgirls to release them immediately and unharmed. This is in a part of Nigeria I have visited and in a country whose people are close to my heart. Let your hearts be open in compassion and mercy to those who have suffered so much.”

Blessed Tomorrow aims to empower people of faith on climate change

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, May 7, 2014

[Blessed Tomorrow] Today marks the launch of Blessed Tomorrow, a new national interfaith coalition of religious leaders committed to inspiring and engaging people of faith to lead on climate solutions in their congregations, communities and homes.

Blessed Tomorrow brings together some of the nation’s most preeminent religious leaders from the Evangelical, Muslim, Jewish, Catholic and Protestant faiths who are personally dedicated to leading by example on stewardship within their organizations and engaging their faith communities to respond to climate change.

“Faith leaders and their communities have been at the forefront of moving America forward throughout our nation’s history. From abolition to human rights, we have been there to answer our call to care for all of God’s creation. Blessed Tomorrow builds on that tradition by bringing together a diverse group of leaders from across the country who are committed to making an impact on one of the greatest moral imperatives of our time — climate change,” said Joel Hunter, senior pastor of Northland, a Church Distributed, and founding leader of Blessed Tomorrow.

The goal of Blessed Tomorrow is to make leading on climate change effective by providing leaders and people of faith with a platform to participate in climate solutions that aligns with their faith tradition and values. Blessed Tomorrow offers a community for faith leaders who are compelled to lead on climate based on the needs of their congregations. It provides simple, proven resources faith leaders can use right away to empower their members and communities. Central to this initiative is helping congregations create a Path to Positive plan, which will guide them to be better stewards of God’s creation, for the sake of the most vulnerable populations and future generations.

Learn more about how people of faith and congregations can create their own Path to Positive: http://blessedtomorrow.org/path-to-positive

Blessed Tomorrow founding faith leaders are:

Rev. Dr. Jim Antal: United Church of Christ Massachusetts Conference
The Rev. Canon Sally Bingham: Interfaith Power and Light
Mr. Joshua DuBois: Values Partnerships
Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley: Retired from the Providence Missionary Baptist Church
Ms. Tyler Edgar: Creation Justice Ministries
Dr. Chris Elisara: World Evangelical Alliance
Mr. Jay Faison: ClearPath Foundation
Rabbi Steve Gutow: Jewish Council for Public Affairs
The Rev. Fletcher Harper: GreenFaith
Dr. Joel Hunter: Northland: A Church Distributed
The Rev. Stephanie Johnson: Province 1 of the Episcopal Church
Imam Mohamed Magid: Islamic Society of North America
Bishop Vashti McKenzie: African Methodist Episcopal Church
Mr. Jonathan Merritt
Mr. Dan Misleh: Catholic Coalition on Climate Change
Rev. Gabriel Salguero: National Latino Evangelical Coalition
Dr. Matthew Sleeth: Blessed Earth
Mr. Richard Stearns: World Vision
Rabbi Warren Stone: National Religious Coalition on Creation Care
Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins: Disciples of Christ
Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson: Metropolitan Community Churches

About Blessed Tomorrow

Blessed Tomorrow is a coalition of diverse religious partners united under a call to be faithful stewards of creation. As people of faith in America, they are committed to engaging their communities and calling on fellow leaders to support practical solutions to create a healthy future for us all. As a key initiative of MomentUs and ecoAmerica, Blessed Tomorrow provides a program by people of faith, for people of faith, offering ideas, tools, resources, and language that are familiar, compelling, and effective for engaging congregations in climate solutions. Learn more: http://blessedtomorrow.org/


ENS Headlines - Wednesday, May 7, 2014

El Tribunal Supremo de Justicia de Estados Unidos  rechazó la propuesta que iniciar las reuniones de organismos oficiales con una oración esté en conflicto con la Constitución del país. La decisión se produjo después que dos ciudadanas, una atea y otra judía,  protestaron que las reuniones del ayuntamiento comenzaran cada mes con una oración cristiana dando así la impresión de que el estado protegía una iglesia con perjuicio de las demás.  El juez Anthony Kennedy dijo que las oraciones son un acto ceremonial que está en consonancia con las tradiciones de la nación.

Un informe publicado por la Oficina de Derechos Humanos en La Habana revela que el número de personas disidentes en Cuba se ha duplicado en los últimos cuatro meses de este año llegando a la cifra de 3,821 personas arrestadas de todas clases sociales y profesiones. La cifra para el año pasado en el mismo período llegó a 1,588. Observadores dicen que las detenciones revelan “el creciente descontento popular” con el presente gobierno.

El líder de la secta nigeriana Boko Haram que secuestró 276 jovencitas en una escuela de Borno, Nigeria, hace varias semanas ha dicho que está “poniendo a la venta” buena parte de ellas al mejor postor. Del grupo total 53 lograron escapar pero el resto sigue en posesión de la secta. Muchas de las niñas han sido obligadas a practicar la prostitución o hacer tareas de trabajo forzado.  El Boko Haram es una secta islamista extrema que opera en varios países africanos. Algunas de las niñas sólo tienen 9 años.

Francisco Flores hasta ahora presidente de El Salvador caracterizó su gobierno por las necesidades de los pobres y la disminución de la violencia, pero las cosas han cambiado en las últimas semanas: Flores está prófugo de la justicia bajo acusación de haberse apropiado de 15 millones de dólares donados por Taiwán. Se cree que el joven ex presidente se ha refugiado en Panamá. Un periódico dijo que estaba allí bajo la protección de Mireya Moscoso pero la ex presidenta negó que eso fuera cierto.

¿Ayuda el internet a la difusión de noticias cristianas? La realidad es que antes del advenimiento del moderno sistema de comunicación muchas diócesis y parroquias producían boletines que  llegaban regularmente a manos de los usuarios. Hoy, las noticias llegan más rápidamente pero sólo a un selecto número de lectores que pueden comprar y mantener los caros equipos que se requieren para utilizar el sistema. A este servidor llegaban antes decenas de publicaciones de todo tipo que hoy brillan por su ausencia. Además, se necesita cierta destreza para operar los equipos.  ¿Cuál es la solución?

En una cena de los corresponsales de la Casa Blanca en Washington donde abundó el buen humor y las críticas solapadas el maestro de ceremonias dijo que Hillary Clinton debía ser la próxima presidente porque de esa manera la nación podía ahorrarse 30 por ciento de su salario ya que para vergüenza de todos las mujeres ganan 30 por ciento menos que los hombres realizando el mismo trabajo.

Una reciente encuesta realizada por la firma privada Datanálisis de Venezuela revela que “la mayoría de los venezolanos reprueba la gestión de Maduro”. Ocho de cada 10 venezolanos piensan que la situación del país es negativa y casi un 60 por ciento repuebla la gestión del presidente socialista. Desde febrero Venezuela es escenario de protestas  contra el gobierno alimentadas por la crisis económica, la creciente inflación, la escasez de productos básicos, la inseguridad y la falta de libertades individuales. Los jóvenes universitarios han sido los principales protagonistas de las protestas.

Cada día unas 800 madres y 18,000 niños menores de edad mueren en el mundo por causas que pudieran evitarse, revela un estudio realizado por la Fundación Bill y Melinda Gates de Microsoft. El informe llamado “Estado Mundial de las Madres” en 96 páginas detalla la situación de las madres que son las que más sufren la escasez y las enfermedades. El informe también revela que las mujeres y los niños corren un riesgo 14  veces mayor que los hombres de morir de un desastre natural.

Gene Robinson, el primer obispo episcopal abiertamente homosexual en la Comunión Anglicana ha anunciado que él y su esposo Mark Andrew han decidido terminar su relación después de 25 años de vida conyugal. La elección de Robinson sacudió a la Iglesia Episcopal y muchos fieles abandonaron sus filas como protesta, se jubiló de la diócesis de New Hampshire en el 2013 y ahora trabajará en un cargo secular en Washington, DC.

VERDAD. Si el presente trata de juzgar el pasado, perderá el futuro. Winston Churchill,  Político británico (1874-1965).

Hundreds gather to be ‘Enthusiastically Episcopalian in South Carolina’

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, presides at Holy Eucharist at the altar of Holy Cross Faith Memorial Episcopal Church, Pawley’s Island, South Carolina, with clergy and acolytes from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Among the altar party is Bishop Provisional Charles G. vonRosenberg to Jefferts Schori’s right. Photo: Holly Behre/The Episcopal Church in South Carolina

[The Episcopal Church in South Carolina] More than 300 people came up a road lined with Episcopal flags to worship, pray, give thanks and plan for the future of their diocese with each other and with help from leaders from across The Episcopal Church at the “Enthusiastically Episcopalian in South Carolina” Conference on May 3 at Holy Cross Faith Memorial Episcopal Church in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, President of the House of Deputies Gay Clark Jennings and a team from the Diocese of Pittsburgh led by that diocese’s former Provisional Bishop Kenneth Price joined the gathering as keynote speakers and workshop leaders.

The all-day educational conference was sponsored by The Episcopal Forum of South Carolina, a not-for-profit organization that supports The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, The Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion primarily through educational offerings.

It was the presiding bishop’s first visit to South Carolina since January 2013, when she convened a special reorganizing convention after the former bishop of the diocese, Mark Lawrence, announced he was leaving The Episcopal Church. At that convention, local Episcopalians elected the Rt. Rev. Charles G. vonRosenberg as bishop provisional to lead The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

Jefferts Schori presided at the May 3 event’s opening Eucharist. As the procession began to gather, she visited with the lay ministers, choirs and clergy, seeking out the young acolyte team inside the church to share a few words before the service began. She also paused many times for people who wanted their photograph taken beside her.

In his sermon, the Rev. William J. Keith, rector of Holy Cross Faith Memorial, spoke of the many volunteers who came together to organize the day. “You are legion – the good kind of legion!” he said. He spoke of the difference between volunteer recruiting today, where potential helpers are told “everything will be set up for you, all you have to do is show up,” and how Jesus appointed the seventy in Luke 10:1-9 – the Gospel reading for the day – to be sent like lambs in the midst of wolves with no purse, bag or sandals.

For The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, “no sandals” might be the equivalent of starting a church with no prayer books or buildings, he said.

“Jesus wasn’t asking for volunteers … Jesus is and will always be sending us out, not as volunteer. He appoints us,” Keith said. “But we are not unprepared. We have what we need.”

‘The State of the Diocese’

VonRosenberg was greeted and thanked with a long standing ovation from the people who were packed into the church. Later, as he delivered his keynote address, he noted that the identity of the diocese is one that embraces a wide variety of conditions, traditions, and theological beliefs. We are both progressive and conservative; we are both sad and feeling liberated, he said.

“We are ‘both-and’ people rather than’ either-or’ people. We are Anglican Episcopalians, and we are enthusiastically so,” he said. “We have a wonderful opportunity to build a future. The foundation has been laid. Now, what do we want to build on it?”

Rather than build on old models, he said, we must “build whatever the spirit of God leads us to build in our day.”

The bishop spoke of ways in which the diocese can reclaim its identity. One way is by recalling its history, he said. At that point he concluded his address by introducing a surprise: Two actors presented a brief scene from an upcoming play based on the martyrdom of previous South Carolina Bishop William Alexander Guerry.

In the last year, the diocese has brought renewed attention to the story of Guerry, who was gunned down in his office in Charleston in 1928 after taking a stand for racial justice. Actors Robin Burke and Bradley Keith played the parts of Guerry and the Rev. Albert Thomas in “Truth in Cold Blood,” a play by Tom Tisdale (who is the chancellor of the diocese) that is being performed at the historic Dock Street Theatre June 16-20.

VonRosenberg’s full address is here.

‘Connecting to the wider church’

The presiding bishop spoke of how all connections are grounded in creation.

“The care and stewardship of those connections and relationships are the basis of all justice. … Righteousness is about the proper care of those relationships,” she said. The ministry of Jesus “is toward that garden where all live in peace because justice prevails…. That green and growing garden is an image of Jesus’ work in restoring the whole creation.”

She reviewed the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals that The Episcopal Church adopted to help guide ito s work talleviate worldwide poverty. While the goals were far from perfect, “they have been an enormous prod to the world and the church to do a better job of loving our neighbors in concrete ways,” she said.

The presiding bishop said that the Anglican Communion has developed a broader framework for thinking about mission: the Five Marks of Mission.

“God’s mission needs the gifts of the whole body working in constructive collaboration, because none of us can do it all, and none of us can do it in isolation,” she said. “Mission focuses on connecting and supporting the diverse parts of the Body of Christ.”

Work centered on the Five Marks of Mission can only happen, she said, through networking, partnering and collaborating in the Anglican community.

Jefferts Schori noted that The Episcopal Church has been formally called the “Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society” since the 1830s, and every Episcopalian is a member of it. She urged local churches to discover opportunities for mission by listening to the hungers and yearnings in their congregations: who has a passion for healing, for justice? What gifts are present in the people and relationships?

“Where does injustice offend you? That is the Spirit speaking. Draw in companions and resources from beyond your congregation to respond. Even the basic work of building those relationships for missions is a reconciling move,” she said.

“You have abundant gifts here, just look at this room. I know there is passion burning within you. Connect those gifts and that passion, and you will discover in your presence the reign of God. Mission is the fire of the church: Burn, my friends! Burn, and let your light shine!”

‘Leadership in challenging times’

The president of the House of Deputies said she reflected as she prepared her talk that “here in South Carolina, you all already know more than a few things about leadership in challenging times. You are persevering through legal, financial, logistical, spiritual and practical challenges, and your enthusiasm, grace and dignity in the face of it all inspires me and many other deputies and leaders around the church.”

“I am grateful for your service and your commitment to our common life. You are the epitome of what it means to be enthusiastically Episcopalian,” she said.

She quoted theologian Paul Tillich, in a work titled “On the Boundary,” to talk about the times the church is facing.

“In so many ways, all of us who are leading today’s church, whether we are 18 or 80, are standing on a boundary line that marks the end of the old, institutional church and the beginning of what the church of the 21st century is becoming. It is our job to stand on that boundary and help others across. Some of us, like Moses, won’t get there ourselves. Others of us are becoming the leaders who will turn the hope into reality. But all of us are on the boundary together.”

Jesus, Jennings said, on his way to Jerusalem was on the border between Samaria and Galilee.

“Jesus was often on the border between the old and the new, between death and new life, between the old covenant and the new covenant, between the cultural norms of the time and an expansive understanding of who is worthy and has value,” she said.

“Jesus teaches us that leadership is a choice you make rather than a position you occupy.”

As a fan of David Letterman, Jennings offered a “Top Ten” list of traits of leaders in challenging times. Number One on her list: “You know, deep in your heart, that the unity we all want so very much is found in our common life grounded and centered in Jesus Christ.”

Jennings’ full address is here.

‘Lessons learned, lessons shared’

Price, who was bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Southern Ohio when he was elected in 2009 as bishop provisional of the Diocese of Pittsburgh to lead that diocese through the aftermath of a time of schism when a majority of members left The Episcopal Church, told the gathering that in previous times, decisions had been made in isolation, and the reorganized diocese made a commitment to total transparency and collaborative decision making.

They focused on telling their own stories positively, and refrained from disparaging those who had left the church. As time passed, he said, people began to return.

“They had a weariness… they no longer wanted to hear the litany of how bad things were every Sunday,” said Price, who retired from his work in Pittsburgh in 2012. They wanted to hear the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Over time, 10 churches that initially had left the church have come back; 55 percent of the congregations in the diocese are now part of The Episcopal Church, Price said. The diocese includes a wide spectrum of beliefs, traditions and practices, but shares an abhorrence of a narrow view, he said.

“Always remember that you are in the Body of Christ, and in that you find your true identity,” Price said.

In addition to Price, the members of the Pittsburgh team who led workshops on “Rebuilding While Rejoicing” and “Showing the Way While Staying the Course” were the Rev. Nancy Chalfant-Walker, rector of St. Stephen’s, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh; Russ Ayres, member of the Board of Trustees of the Diocese of Pittsburgh; the Rev. Kris McInnes, priest-in-charge of St. David’s

, Peter’s Township; and Rich Creehan, diocesan communications director.

– Holly Behre is director of communications for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina.


Anglican Women call for action on kidnapped Nigerian girls

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Protestors in Nigeria demand action on behalf of the more than 200 girls kidnapped from a government by Islamic militants who have said they should not have been in school and who now threaten to sell them into slavery. Photo: Facebook/Bring Back Our Girls

[Anglican Communion News Service] Leaders of the International Anglican Women’s Network have called on women around the Anglican Communion to do what they can to help the more than 200 girls kidnapped in Nigeria by terrorist group Boko Haram.

IAWN Steering Group convener Anne Skamp has written to members encouraging them not to forget the girls some of whom, the media is reporting, have been forced to marry by their captors.

“Three weeks ago now, over 200 girls were kidnapped from their school in the northern Nigerian city of Borno. As we continue to keep the girls, their families and communities in our prayers please consider what we can do to support them,” she said.

Skamp suggested that Anglican/Episcopalian women could sign an online petition at http://www.change.org/petitions/over-200-girls-are-missing-in-nigeria-so-why-doesn-t-anybody-care-234girls

She added: “Why not contact your local political representatives to ask that your government express our deepest concern for the girls to the government of Nigeria and in other international forums?

“Please request that your parish, diocese and province include prayers for the girls and their families be at worship this Sunday 11 May, which also is celebrated as Mothers’ Day in many of our communities.”

To this end, Skamp offered a prayer written by Elizabeth Smith from the Diocese of Perth, Anglican Church of Australia.

Prayer for the kidnapped Nigerian girls May 2014

O God, we cry out to you
for the lives and the freedom
of the 276 kidnapped girls in Nigeria.
In their time of danger and fear,
pour out your strong Spirit for them.
Make a way home for them in safety.
Make a way back for them
to the education that will lift them up.
Hold them in the knowledge
that they are not captive slaves,
they are not purchased brides,
but they are your beloved daughters,
and precious in your sight.
Change the hearts and minds of their kidnappers
and of all who choose violence against women and girls.
Cast down the mighty from their seat,
and lift up the humble and meek,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

The girls were taken from a school in the northern state of Borno on 14 April. Their whereabouts remain unknown and there is mounting anger and frustration in Nigeria at the failure of the government to find them.

WCC encourages ‘swift’ action to restore Nigeria’s missing girls

ENS Headlines - Monday, May 5, 2014

[World Council of Churches press release] The abduction of more than 250 young women by the Boko Haram fighters in Nigeria has prompted “profound concern” from the World Council of Churches (WCC), Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit. In his letter to Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, Tveit encouraged a “swift and peaceful” action to restore these students back to their homes.

The letter from the WCC general secretary was issued on Monday, 5 May.

“This tragic situation is devastating not only to the immediate community, but also to all Nigerians praying and working for peace. It touches the World Council of Churches directly, as many who have lost their daughters are members of our church families in Nigeria,” said Tveit.

He added that the WCC’s concern for the abducted Nigerian students is “intensified in the face of increasing global sexual exploitation of girls and women, and the possibility that these abducted students may become victims of just such injustice and violence.”

“Following the rescue of these children for which we pray, the impact of exploitation may require long-term accompaniment of the young women and their families by the Nigerian government, faith communities and local networks of care and support,” he added.

Assuring the WCC’s support to the Nigerian government, Tveit said that the WCC is ready to assist in “mobilizing the inter-religious and international communities to seek effective and peaceful means towards safely restoring these students to their homes, loved ones and communities.”

‘War in South Sudan must end now,’ says WCC general secretary

ENS Headlines - Monday, May 5, 2014

[World Council of Churches press release] “The senseless war in South Sudan must end now,” said the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, following the pastoral visit of a high-level ecumenical delegation to local churches in Juba, South Sudan on 2 May.

“It is shocking to see how leaders in both parties involved in the conflict have led their own people to such pain and suffering,” Tveit said. “From the stories I was told, it is impossible to comprehend the scale of killings and atrocities taking place.”

Tveit stressed the need for leaders on both sides to use the negotiations resuming this week as an opportunity to agree and implement a ceasefire immediately. This will enable aid groups, including ACT Alliance, to respond effectively to the humanitarian crisis resulting from the violence.

The ecumenical delegation, led by the WCC Central Committee moderator Dr Agnes Abuom, included: the ACT Alliance general secretary John Nduna; general secretary of the World YWCA Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda; the WCC’s former general secretary and ecumenical special envoy for South Sudan and Sudan, Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, who also represented the All Africa Conference of Churches; and the WCC programme executive for advocacy for Africa, Dr Nigussu Legesse.

During their visit the group expressed solidarity with the local churches, advocated for a cease-fire, urged progress in the ongoing peace talks and encouraged support to humanitarian initiatives in the country. They first met with the South Sudan vice-president, James Wani Igga, the UN representative to South Sudan, Hilde Frafjord Johnson and four political detainees from the opposition in Juba, released recently by the South Sudanese government.

Calling on South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir and rebel commander Riek Machar to engage in peace talks, the group said the leaders must find a political solution to end the conflict, as enough damage has already been done.

Tveit said that thousands of people have been killed and many have been displaced. Unless people can plant their seeds in the coming months, “they will be faced with an acute threat of famine,” he warned.

Standing in solidarity with South Sudanese churches

One goal of the pastoral visit was to encourage the churches in Sudan to keep pressing for an end to the violence. The delegation also brought the message that there are churches around the world who stand in solidarity with them. “The people and the churches in South Sudan should know they are not left alone as they cry for peace and justice,” Tveit said. “The world cannot leave South Sudan alone.”

“As we have supported South Sudanese in their struggles for independence, we must support them in this time of crisis. The international community must address the risks of famine and hunger,” Tveit added.

Tveit expressed his appreciation for humanitarian efforts by the United Nations and the ACT Alliance in South Sudan, saying that he hopes to see visible results from an upcoming meeting in May in Oslo aimed at providing an increase in humanitarian aid to the country.

Speaking about the South Sudanese churches, the delegation recognized that the churches there have “rich spiritual resources to help find a way towards peace”.

“Churches in South Sudan have a significant role in national dialogue affirming unity and a sense of nation-building by strengthening a process of reconciliation,” Tveit said. “In this process of reconciliation, youth and women must be empowered.”

“We will pray and work with the churches in South Sudan, while they continue addressing these struggles in their pilgrimage for justice and peace,” Tveit added.

Tveit also urged that justice be restored after peace is established. He said that there should be a justice mechanism both at the national and international levels which should investigate atrocities in South Sudan and pave the way for reconciliation.

The delegates also met with South Sudanese Bishop Michael Taban Toro, Rev. Mark Akec Cien, and representatives of the ACT Alliance, Finnish Church Aid, Caritas Internationalis and Norwegian Church Aid in Juba.

ACT Alliance appeal: Donate for humanitarian assistance in South Sudan

Read WCC Central Committee Minute on South Sudan

WCC member churches in South Sudan

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 2013 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 140 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.

Video: South African monastery builds community, locally and globally

ENS Headlines - Monday, May 5, 2014

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[Episcopal News Service] The brothers at Holy Cross Monastery in Grahamstown, South Africa, observe a holy routine. With six services and an extended period of silence every day, it’s a life of prayer and worship, of community and of deep devotion to God.

But while living in community may be central to the brothers’ vocation, building global partnerships is critical to their ministry here.

For the past 10 years, Holy Cross has partnered with the Episcopal Church’s Young Adult Service Corps program. The young missionaries, age 18-30, live at the monastery and assist at the affiliated Holy Cross School, founded by the brothers to provide education to the children of local farm workers.

Another fruit of the global partnerships is the annual Reading Camp, a ministry begun in the Diocese of Lexington and replicated in Grahamstown to help children who are struggling to read and write.

The Mariya uMama weThemba Monastery, as it is known locally, is one of four communities throughout the world that form the Order of the Holy Cross. The others are Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, New York; Mount Calvary Retreat House & Monastery in Santa Barbara, California; and Holy Cross Priory in Toronto, Canada.

Founded in 1884 by Episcopal priest the Rev. James Huntington. The order lives by the rule of St. Benedict, which says: “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ.” As such, hospitality is a key part of community life and the brothers routinely host guests for retreats.

– Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter of the Episcopal News Service.

Former New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson and partner divorce

ENS Headlines - Monday, May 5, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] Former Diocese of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson has announced that he and his partner of 25 years Mark Andrew recently decided to get divorced.

In a message to the diocese announcing the decision, Robinson said: “As you can imagine, this is a difficult time for us, not a decision entered into lightly or without much counseling. I’m sure that you will understand the private nature of this change in our lives and our commitment to keeping those details appropriately private.”

Robinson became the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion in 2003 and served as the Diocese of New Hampshire’s episcopal leader until his retirement in January 2013.

“Our life and ministry among you continues to be something that both of us count as an honor and blessing,” Robinson wrote to the diocese. “We ask for your prayers, that the love and care for each other that has characterized our relationship for a quarter century will continue in the difficult days ahead.”

Incumbent New Hampshire Bishop Rob Hirschfeld asked the diocese to “keep both Gene and Mark close in your prayers as they seek God’s deep peace and healing. We love them both dearly, and our gratitude for their ministries is profound. May the God who can turn our sorrows and tribulations into freedom and life through Christ visit each of them in their journeys ahead.”

In an article for The Daily Beast, titled “A Bishop’s Decision to Divorce,” Robinson wrote that “all of us sincerely intend, when we take our wedding vows, to live up to the ideal of ‘til death do us part.’ But not all of us are able to see it through.

“As my marriage to Mark ends, I believe him to be one of the kindest, most generous and loyal human beings on earth,” Robinson wrote. “There is no way I could ever repay the debt I owe him for his standing by me through the challenges of the last decade.”

Robinson wrote that his “favorite piece of bumper-sticker wisdom” right now is: “In the end, all will be well. If all is not well, it is not yet the end.”

Robinson, who served as canon to the ordinary in the New Hampshire diocese from 1988 until his ordination as bishop coadjutor in November 2003, has two daughters from his first marriage to Isabella McDaniel, which ended amicably in the mid-1980s.

“Life keeps on coming at you, ready or not. And sometimes life brings pain and seemingly impossible choices,” he wrote in The Daily Beast article. “So, for me, all is not well right now; but I believe – no, actually I know – in the end, it will be.”

Mississippi diocese elects Brian R. Seage as bishop coadjutor

ENS Headlines - Monday, May 5, 2014

The Very Rev. Brian Seage and his wife, the Rev. Kyle Seage. Photo: Jim Carrington

[Episcopal News Service] The Very Rev. Brian R. Seage was elected on May 3 as bishop coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi, pending the required consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and standing committees of the Episcopal Church.

Seage, 50, rector of St. Columb’s Episcopal Church in Ridgeland, Mississippi, was elected on the fifth ballot out of a field of five nominees. He received 121 votes of 182 cast in the lay order and 67 of 115 cast in the clergy order. An election on that ballot required 92 in the lay order and 58 in the clergy order.

The election was held during the diocese’s reconvened 187th annual convention at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Jackson, Mississippi.

Pending a successful consent process, Seage will succeed the Rt. Rev. Duncan M. Gray, III, who will retire in February 2015.

Under the canons (III.11.4) of the Episcopal Church, a majority of bishops exercising jurisdiction and diocesan standing committees must consent to the bishop-elect’s ordination as bishop within 120 days of receiving notice of the election.

Seage has been rector of St. Columb’s in Ridgeland since 2005. He holds an undergraduate degree from Pepperdine University and a Master of Divinity degree from the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. He has been a priest since 1998.

From 1997-98, Seage served as curate at St. John’s, Ocean Springs, and then as rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Diamondhead from 1998-2005, growing both attendance and programming in the parish. A successful building program was completed and average Sunday attendance doubled during his ministry at St. Thomas.

In 2005, Seage moved to St. Columb’s in Ridgeland, a rapidly growing area of the diocese. St. Columb’s attendance and programming has grown, and a large building project has been completed.

Before entering the priesthood, Seage served as director of youth ministry for St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in his native Thousand Oaks, California, where he managed a team of volunteers to support both the junior high and senior high youth groups, assisted with chapel at St. Patrick’s Day School, and coordinated the congregation’s Habitat for Humanity program.

In the Diocese of Mississippi, Seage serves as a Fresh State Facilitator, a post he’s held since 2007. He served on the Executive Committee from 2006 through 2009 and was also part of the diocese’s Restructure Task Force. He has been a summer camp director at Camp Bratton Green each summer since 2006 and also served on the Gray Center Board of Managers. While at St. Thomas, he served on the board of trustees for Coast Episcopal School. He has also been part of search committees for leadership roles at Gray Center and Coast Episcopal.

He and his wife, Kyle, who is rector at St. Philip’s in Jackson, are parents to two daughters, Katie and Betsy.

The ordination and consecration is due to take place Sept. 27 at The Jackson Convention Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will be the chief consecrator.

“To be called to this office by the people of the Diocese of Mississippi on behalf of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is humbling beyond words,” said Seage. “The people of this diocese have ministered to my family and me in so many amazing ways. It is an honor to join with the faithful of this diocese in this new relationship.”

The other nominees were:

  • The Very Rev. Michael J. Battle, vicar, St. Titus Episcopal Church, Durham, North Carolina;
  • The Rev. Marian Dulaney Fortner, rector, Trinity Episcopal Church, Hattiesburg, Mississippi;
  • The Rev. R. Stan Runnels, rector, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Day School, Kansas City, Missouri; and
  • The Rev. Ruth Woodliff-Stanley, rector, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Denver, Colorado.

Information about all the nominees is available at the diocesan website.

The Diocese of Mississippi is composed of approximately 19,000 active baptized members worshiping in 83 congregations throughout the state.

– The Rev. Scott Lenoir is the editor of the Mississippi Episcopalian.