[Anglican Alliance] Cyclone Pam struck the islands of Vanuatu in the Pacific with devastating force on Friday night (March 13), ravaging many communities. As the Anglican Alliance, we encourage the Communion to come together at this time in prayer and support as the Church helps people affected by this tragic disaster.
The category five cyclone hit Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu on the central island of Efate, on Friday evening with winds of 250 km/hr and gusts up to 320 km/hr causing catastrophic destruction. The cyclone then moved south hitting Erromango and Tanna islands with similar catastrophic impact. Other islands in the Pacific have also been impacted by the current storms.
Vanuatu has a population of 267,000 people spread over 65 islands. About 47,000 people live in the capital of Port Vila.
At least half of the population, or about 130,000 people, has been affected, according to the Vanuatu Red Cross Society. UNICEF estimates that at least 60,000 children across the country could be at risk.
Much infrastructure has been damaged: most roads are flooded or blocked by fallen trees, 80% of power lines are estimated to be down in Port Vila, and most telephone, mobile and internet networks are not functioning. Even Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) HF radio system has been damaged, meaning that contact with the provinces has been lost. Although badly damaged, the main hospital in Port Vila is operational.
The entire country has likely been affected, to some extent, by the extremely damaging winds, heavy rainfall, storm surges and flooding. On Efate, the most populous island, UN OCHA reports an estimated 90 per cent of structures are either damaged or destroyed. Access to the most affected areas of Efate province is blocked as the Teouma bridge has been badly damaged and affected by a flash flood.
There is concern for the most southerly islands that were hit by the eye of the storm and are currently without communication.
Melanesian Church Responds
The Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM), with two dioceses in Vanuatu, has developed staff skilled in disaster preparedness and response, in collaboration with Anglican agencies. These skills brought both resilience and effectiveness to ACOM’s response to flash flooding in the Solomon Islands last year and will be invaluable as the Church now responds to the current terrible disaster in Vanuatu.
Archbishop David Vunagi, Provincial Primate based in the Solomon Islands, has been in touch with the Anglican Alliance to discuss the situation and how we can, as the Anglican family, stand in solidarity at this time through prayer and support.
Dr Abraham Hauriasi, ACOM General Secretary, writes to the Anglican Alliance: “It is profoundly distressing what we are seeing and hearing in the media, especially for our people in Vanuatu. We are still trying to get in touch with our offices in Vanuatu to see what immediate assistance we can provide. As with the floods last year, a coordinated response is required and it would be greatly appreciated if the Anglican Alliance could facilitate a similar conference call for all ACOM partners across the Communion. In the meantime, we shall try and gather as much information as we can get, including talking to our people on the ground as to how our response can be better coordinated and in what form.”
Anglican Partners Launch Appeals
Anglican partners have launched appeals, and will be working with ACOM and using their established Church networks in Vanuatu to respond.
Julianne Stewart, programs director of the Anglican Board of Mission (ABM) in Australia, writes: “ABM is working within a coordinated response with other ecumenical partners with whom we’ve worked for the last five years in development programs in Vanuatu under the umbrella of the Church Partnership Program. This enables churches and their Australian NGO partners to share expertise and really target the areas of greatest need, and avoid duplications, have economies of scale, share assessments, etc.
The Church Partnership Program have Australian staff present in-country, whose expertise and connections we can tap into, and support ACOM to tap into as well, and to be part of the overall coordination body, the Vanuatu Humanitarian Team, based in Port Vila.”
Julianne commented that Pentecost and Ambae islands are likely to be a focus for response. These are well populated northern islands that were hit by the cyclone as it moved south through Vanuatu.
Sabene Gomez, Pacific programs manager for Anglican Overseas Aid (AOA) in Australia, says they are trying to get through to the northern islands, and are raising funds to help cope with what they expect to find when they do. “The church really has the networks, so has the reach to the communities,” she said on ABC news today.
Anglican Missions (AMB) in New Zealand has launched a ‘Cyclone Pam Emergency Appeal’ to assist with relief efforts in the Pacific region, particularly in Vanuatu. They report that while details are still sketchy, it is clear this is one of the worst disasters ever experienced in the South Pacific region. AMB is working with churches and relief agencies to help coordinate relief efforts.
The Primate’s Fund for World Relief and Development (Cananda) has already made a significant pledge towards the Vanuatu response, through the ACT Alliance appeal.
In launching an appeal through the Melanesian Mission, Katie Drew writes “We have not been able to make contact with the Anglican Church in Vanuatu yet, but once we do, we want to be able to support those affected as soon as we can.”
Other Anglican and Episcopal agencies will likely follow up with their own appeals in coming days.
The Anglican Alliance will continue to connect closely with The Anglican Church of Melanesia and its two dioceses in Vanuatu – and will share this information and prayer requests with ACOM’s partners around the Communion, through media and conference calls.
[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop Samuel Azariah, primate of The Church of Pakistan (United), has strongly condemned the bombing of two churches in the Yohanabad area of Lahore. More than 20 people have reportedly died and more than 75 are injured, many severely.
The primate called the twin attacks on Christ Church and St. John’s Catholic Church a “cowardly and inhuman act of terrorists against a religious minority in Pakistan.”
Azariah asked for prayer and urged all Christian denominations in Pakistan to stand united in this time of trial and difficulty. “We shall overcome through our love and kindness upon those who believe in evil and inhuman acts,” he said.
The Rt. Rev. Irfan Jamil, bishop of Lahore diocese, said that a joint funeral service was being planned with the Roman Catholic church.
“I thank the Anglican Communion for its support and encouragement at this difficult time,” he said. “Please continue to pray for us now and in the challenging times ahead. [Pray] for security at [the] service.”
Azariah expressed deep concern about the insecurity of minorities in the Pakistani context. He said that it was the responsibility of the State to provide security and protection to all people and especially to those who were weak, marginalized and smaller in number.
The Nation newspaper reported that all missionary schools in the country will remain closed on Monday as a sign of mourning. Special prayers were to be held for those who had lost their lives in the blasts. Christian leaders have announced that they would hold protests until the perpetrators were arrested and brought to justice.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Interim General Secretary of the Anglican Communion Office the Rev. Alyson Barnett-Cowan have sent condolences to Jamil and assured him of the support and prayers of the Anglican Communion.
The Anglican Alliance is liaising with leaders in The Church of Pakistan and partners in the Anglican Communion to determine how best to respond.
Share your prayers for Pakistan on the prayer wall of the Anglican Communion website.
[Episcopal News Service] El Comité Permanente de la Diócesis Episcopal de la República Dominicana ha dado a conocer una lista de tres candidatos a la elección de obispo coadjutor.
* El Rdo. Ramón Antonio García De Los Santos, de 50 años, vicario de las misiones de San Lucas y La Anunciación in Santiago, director de una escuela y arcediano de la región norte del país.
* El Rdo. Moisés Quezada Mota, de 58 años, vicario de las misiones de Jesús Nazareno y Buen Samaritano, en San Francisco de Macorís, y director de una escuela; y
* El Rdo. Daniel Samuel, de 58 años, vicario de las misiones de Santa María Virgen, Divina Gracia y San Cornelio y director de una escuela.
El Comité Permanente dio a conocer los nombres durante la Convención Diocesana anual, que se celebró del 13 al 15 de febrero en la iglesia de San Esteban, en San Pedro de Macorís.
La Diócesis de la República Dominicana recibirá nominaciones de candidatos adicionales, a petición, hasta el 19 de marzo.
El obispo diocesano Julio César Holguín Khoury pidió la elección de un obispo coadjutor durante su alocución a la Convención Diocesana de 2014. Una convención especial para elegir al obispo coadjutor tendrá lugar el 25 de julio. El obispo coadjutor servirá con Holguín hasta la jubilación de éste, la cual, según la Constitución de la Iglesia Episcopal debe tener lugar en el transcurso de 36 meses después de la consagración del obispo coadjutor.
Detalles acerca de la elección y del proceso de petición se pueden encontrar aquí.
[Episcopal News Service] The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic has announced a slate of three candidates to stand for election as the diocese’s bishop coadjutor.
- The Rev. Ramon Antonio Garcia De Los Santos, 50, vicar of Misiones San Lucas and La Anunciacion in Santiago, a school principal and archdeacon in the north region of the country;
- The Rev. Moises Quezada Mota, 58, vicar of Misiones Jesus Nazareno and Buen Samaritano, in San Francisco de Macoris, and a school principal; and
- The Rev. Daniel Samuel, 58, vicar of Misiones Santa Maria Virgen, Divina Gracia and San Cornelio, and a school principal.
The Standing Committee released the names during the annual Diocesan Convention, held Feb. 13-15 at Iglesia San Esteban in San Pedro de Macoris.
The Diocese of the Dominican Republic will receive nominations by petition for additional candidates through March 19.
Bishop Julio Cesar Holguin Khoury called for the election of a bishop coadjutor during his address during the 2014 Diocesan Convention. A special convention to elect the bishop coadjutor will be held on July 25. The bishop coadjutor will serve with Holguin until his retirement, which according to The Episcopal Church’s Constitution must take place within 36 months of the consecration of the bishop coadjutor.
Details about the election and the petition process are available here.
[NAES press release] The National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES) has announced that member schools and friends have made gifts and pledges to its 50th Anniversary Gathering Fund campaign exceeding $950,000. As announced at the NAES Biennial Conference in November 2014, reaching this target now unlocks a special challenge gift of over $72,000 pledged by a group of 15 member schools.
Initially, it was hoped that the $950,000 mark would be reached at NAES’ 50th birthday on May 28, 2015. “We are thrilled to have progressed so far so quickly,” said the Rev. Daniel R. Heischman, NAES executive director. “The gathering of schools, individuals, church-related organizations, and foundations has been widespread and abundant, and we cannot thank them enough for being a part of this substantial and generous mosaic.
“One thing that has become clear to us is that there are many individuals and institutions that still want to be a part of this commemorative effort,” Heischman added. “The unique mixture of programs to be supported and the opportunity to make the most of this milestone encourage us to continue seeking contributions to this campaign in the three months remaining in our anniversary year. It is not a time to rest on our accomplishments, but to build on the positive response in the hope that we can bring together as many individuals and groups as possible in this effort.”
Founded in 1965, the National Association of Episcopal Schools serves those who serve the nearly 1,200 schools, early childhood education programs, and school establishment efforts throughout The Episcopal Church. Gifts to the 50th Anniversary Gathering Fund campaign will help support its work assisting the Episcopal Urban School Alliance, Haiti partnerships, and schools in financial need and in the areas of Episcopal school chaplaincy development and school leadership and governance.
Celebrating this legacy and looking toward a thriving future, supporters are invited to join the 50th anniversary celebrations by:
- Making a special contribution to one of the three 50th Anniversary Gathering Funds: Jubilee School Fund; Endowment for Chaplaincy Development; and The Rev. Peter G. Cheney Fund for Leadership and Governance.
- Following and participating in 50 Days to 50 Years, a social media event April 9-May 28, 2015 on Twitter and Facebook, using #naes50th.
- Celebrating with NAES at the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, June 25-July 3, 2015.
Information about the 50th Anniversary Gathering Fund campaign is available here.
For more information about the NAES 50th anniversary, please visit www.episcopalschools.org/about-naes/our-50th-anniversary.The National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES) is an independent 501(c)(3), voluntary membership organization that supports, serves, and advocates for the vital work and ministry of those who serve nearly 1,200 Episcopal schools, early childhood education programs, and school establishment efforts throughout The Episcopal Church. Chartered in 1965, with historic roots dating to the 1930s, NAES is the only pre-collegiate educational association that is both national in scope and Episcopal in character. The Association advances Episcopal education and strengthens Episcopal schools through essential services, resources, conferences, and networking opportunities on Episcopal school identity, leadership, and governance, and on the spiritual and professional development of school leaders.
[Episcopal News Service] Más de 100 anglicanos concurren en Nueva York para participar en la 59ª. Sesión de la Comisión de las Naciones Unidas sobre la Condición de la Mujer (UNCSW, por su sigla en inglés), que tendrá lugar del 9 al 20 de marzo.
Durante las dos semanas que dura la sesión anual de la comisión, representantes de estados miembros de la ONU, organizaciones de la sociedad civil y entidades de las Naciones Unidas se reunirán en la sede de la organización internacional en Nueva York, donde discutirán los progresos y lagunas de la puesta en práctica de la Declaración de Beijing y la Plataforma de Acción de 1995, el documento de política global sobre igualdad de género, y la 23ª. Sesión especial de la Asamblea General celebrada en 2000 (Beijing+5), así como nuevos problemas que afecten la igualdad sexual y la potenciación de las mujeres. Los estados miembros convienen en acciones ulteriores para acelerar el progreso y promover el disfrute de las mujeres de sus derechos en los terrenos político, económico y social. Los resultados y las recomendaciones de cada sesión se remiten al Consejo Económico y Social de la ONU para que le haga seguimiento.
La comisión debe adoptar una declaración política en ocasión del 20º. Aniversario de la Cuarta Conferencia Mundial sobre la Mujer en Beijing. El anteproyecto de esa declaración puede leerse aquí. A la sesión se le ha pedido también que adopte un anteproyecto de la organización y métodos de trabajo futuros de la comisión.
El secretario general de la ONU, Ban Ki-moon, en sus palabras de apertura el 9 de marzo, definió el 2015 como “un año vital para hacer progresar la causa de la igualdad de género”.
“Las mujeres siguen sufriendo desproporcionadamente a causa de la crisis económica, de los impactos del cambio climático, de los desplazamientos ocasionados por los conflictos, de la persecución y de tantas cosas más”, dijo. “Los grupos extremistas siguen atacando brutal y sistemáticamente a niñas y mujeres. La comunidad internacional debe traducir su indignación en ayuda, servicios, apoyo y justicia”.
Sin embargo, siguió diciendo Ban “las mujeres no son sólo víctimas; son agentes del progreso y del cambio.
“Potenciar a las mujeres y las niñas es el mejor vehículo de desarrollo, la mejor esperanza de reconciliación y la mejor defensa contra la radicalización de la juventud y la repetición del ciclo de la violencia”, afirmó.
El Secretario General ha presentado un informe a la sesión sobre el progreso alcanzado desde la reunión de Beijing.
Tradicionalmente, ha habido una notable presencia anglicana y episcopal en las anteriores sesiones anuales de la UNCSW y más de 100 participantes de provincias anglicanas de todo el mundo han acudido a Nueva York para la reunión de 2015. Hay 19 delegadas de la Comunión Anglicana acreditadas, cada una de ellas en representación de su provincia. La Rda. Joan Grim Fraser, de la Diócesis de Long Island, es la delegada provincial que representa a la Iglesia Episcopal en la delegación de la Comunión Anglicana.
Las delegadas de la Comunión Anglicana provienen de Australia, Hong Kong, Jordania (Jerusalén y el Oriente Medio), Malawi (África Central), Myanmar, Papúa Nueva Guinea, Aotearoa, Nueva Zelanda y Polinesia, Brasil, la Iglesia Episcopal Escocesa, Canadá, Ghana (África Occidental) e Inglaterra.
Muchas de las mujeres visitarán las misiones permanentes de sus países ante la ONU para abogar por el levantamiento de barreras a la activa participación de las mujeres en todas las esferas de la vida pública y privada con igual capacidad de decisión que los hombres, el objetivo fundamental de la Plataforma de Acción de Beijing.
“Las mujeres anglicanas están presentes en comunidades urbanas y rurales de todo el mundo”, dijo Ann Skamp, coordinadora de la Red Internacional de Mujeres Anglicanas que acompaña a la delegación. “Ellas saben lo que está sucediendo en la base y aportan conocimiento y perspectivas locales valiosas al diálogo. Aportan también los valores de su fe y su radiante esperanza para el futuro”.
Mujeres Ecuménicas, organización de la cual son miembros la Iglesia Episcopal y el Consejo Consultivo Anglicano (el principal organismo legislador de la Comunión), ha presentado una declaración oficial a la sesión en la cual dice que muchos de los objetivos de la Plataforma de Beijing siguen sin cumplirse.
“Los prejuicios de género de las estructuras institucionales generan desigualdades y discriminación, que siguen existiendo en sectores públicos y privados, en el mundo académico y en las estructuras religiosas”, dice la declaración, añadiendo que el grupo también está preocupado por los empeños de hacer retroceder los logros” alcanzados desde Beijing.
“Afirmamos que el mundo de Dios está llamado a ser un mundo de abundancia para todas las personas, con derechos fundamentales y dignidad para toda las mujeres y todos los hombres. Para [lograr] sociedades sanas y sostenibles, las mujeres deben ser parte integrante del proceso de toma de decisiones en el terreno de las leyes, las políticas y los programas de desarrollo”.
La Iglesia Episcopal cuenta con su primera delegación oficial desde que obtuviera un estatus consultivo especial en el Consejo Económico y Social en julio pasado
La Rvdma. Chilton Knudsen, obispa auxiliar de Long Island, predicó el 9 de marzo en la eucaristía de apertura para los participantes anglicanos y episcopales. La obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori presidió la eucaristía en la capilla de Cristo el Señor [Christ the Lord] en el Centro Denominacional de la Iglesia, que se encuentra a dos cuadras de la sede de las Naciones Unidas.
Sigue aquí el texto del sermón de Knudsen:
Sermón para la eucaristía de apertura de la UNCSW 2015, 14 de marzo
Centro Denominacional de la Iglesia Episcopal, Nueva York, NY
Texto: Juan 20: 11-18
María Magdalena fue a la tumba donde habían colocado el cuerpo de Jesús después de su muerte en la Cruz.
Ella fue a llorar su ausencia, a recordar. Quería cerciorarse de que podía encontrar esperanza para vivir el resto de su vida sin Jesús. Su querido amigo Jesús.
Jesús la había tratado con dignidad, la había sanado, la había realzado y había compartido con ella la Mesa de la Fraternidad. ¿Cómo podía ella seguir adelante sin Jesús?
Dos ángeles estaban sentados en la tumba, uno donde habían estado sus pies y el otro donde había reposado su cabeza.
—Mujer, ¿por qué lloras? —preguntaron los ángeles.
María Magdalena lloraba porque su corazón estaba quebrantado. Lloraba porque Aquel que ella amaba había sido brutalmente ejecutado. Sus lágrimas eran la señal de la profundidad de su amor, de que ella se había dedicado a la misión de compasión y justicia y paz que Jesús demostrara. Lloraba porque los seres humanos se hacen cosas horribles unos a otros. Los seres humanos siguen haciéndose unos a otros cosas horribles, porque los sistemas de dominación y de poder y de codicia y de violencia —entonces y ahora— trituran la bondad.
—Mujer, ¿por qué lloras?
Justo en el momento de responder, “porque se han llevado a mi Señor…”, se volvió y vio a alguien a quien no reconoció, tal vez era el hortelano.
Este misterioso extraño también le hizo la misma pregunta:
—Mujer, ¿por qué lloras?
Esta es una pregunta para toda la humanidad, en nuestro tiempo como en el tiempo de Jesús.
Venimos aquí a esta reunión de la Comisión de las Naciones Unidas sobre la Condición de la Mujer porque hay en nuestro mundo muchos motivos para llorar. Lloramos porque los niños son vendidos como esclavos. Porque mujeres y niños se mueren de hambre por falta de comida. Porque la violencia y la opresión siguen dominando, de manera que las mujeres se ven privadas de libertad y dignidad. Lloramos porque las mujeres son tratadas en sus sociedades como miembros de segunda clase.
—Mujer, ,por qué lloras?
María Magdalena responde otra vez, suponiendo que alguien se ha llevado el cadáver de Jesús: —Señor, si tú te lo has llevado, dime donde lo has puesto y yo lo llevaré.
En ese momento, Jesús la llama por su nombre, “¡María!”. Ella escucha esa voz familiar que dice su nombre. Enseguida, sabe que es Jesús, que está vivo en el glorioso poder de la resurrección.
¡La esperanza está viva! El mensaje de Jesús —de compasión y de justicia— vence sobre los sistemas de poder y codicia y opresión.
Jesús luego le pide dos cosas a ella: primera, que no se aferre a él, que no se quede en la alegría de su derrota de la muerte para vivir en la gloria de su resurrección. Segunda, Jesús le pide que vaya y le diga a otros que él está ahora maravillosamente vivo y que su misión continuará.
Jesús le confía a María Magdalena la proclamación de su resurrección de la muerte. ¡Jesús vive! ¡Su mensaje vive!
Este relato nos dice que la santa y misteriosa agenda de Dios le es dada a todos los creyentes. Como creyentes, hemos de propagar este Buena Nueva en todos los lugares del mundo.
La Buena Nueva de la resurrección de Jesús nos inspira a trabajar por la justicia y la paz para todas las personas.
Y por ser gente que llora, somos también gente de acción.
Estamos aquí, pues, rogando juntos por la fuerza para llevar adelante la misión de Jesús. Nuestro llanto ha creado en nosotros el fuego de la determinación. El poder de Dios está con nosotros, según pasamos del llanto a la acción. Al hacer esto nos unimos con nuestro hermana María Magdalena para proclamar que Jesús ha resucitado. Y porque Jesús ha resucitado, nuestra esperanza está cumplida y nuestra obra de resurrección está infundida del mismo poder que levantó a Jesús de la muerte.
Participemos de esa tarea de la resurrección. A partir de ahora en nuestro culto y en nuestra solidaridad.
– El Servicio de Noticias de la Comunión Anglicana [Anglican Communion News Service] colaboró con este artículo. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.
Hay actualmente cerca de 700 centros de jubileo en la Iglesia Episcopal. Los centros laboran para facultar a los pobres y oprimidos en sus comunidades proporcionándoles servicios directos, tales como alimento, albergue, atención sanitaria y abogando por los derechos humanos.
“Cuando uno va un centro de jubileo, uno no ve sólo lo que hace la agencia local de servicio social”, dijo el Rdo. Mark Stevenson, el misionero de la DFMS a cargo de [combatir] la pobreza nacional. “Uno no sólo ve lo que la iglesia hace el domingo por la mañana cuando [los feligreses] se reúnen para el culto. Uno no sólo ve a alguien escribiendo cartas a la legislatura estatal o sosteniendo conversaciones con líderes comunitarios. Uno ve una mezcla de todo eso junto desde una perspectiva de la Iglesia. Creo que eso es lo que el Jubileo hace muy bien”.
La Convención General, reunida en Nueva Orleáns en 1982, estableció el Ministerio de Jubileo para “retar y confrontar a los miembros de la Iglesia Episcopal y de otras iglesias… a entender las realidades de la pobreza y la injusticia, alentándoles a asumir un papel activo en responder a las necesidades de las personas pobres y oprimidas y en la lucha contra las causas de esos sufrimientos”.
La Convención emitió este reto a partir de la convicción que “un ministerio de discipulado conjunto en Cristo con las personas pobres y oprimidas, dondequiera que éstas se encuentren, para responder a necesidades básicas y edificar una sociedad más justa, está en el tuétano de la misión de la Iglesia”.
El Consejo Ejecutivo de la Iglesia designa los ministerios locales como centros de Jubileo luego que las organizaciones concluyen exitosamente un proceso de solicitud. El comité que revisa a esos solicitantes con frecuencia tiene una tarea difícil, dijo Stevenson, porque todos los solicitantes representan “realmente buenos ministerios”.
El fuerte del Jubileo radica en su naturaleza multifacética, apuntó él. “Es servicio a los pobres, es promoción social y es culto. Es la Iglesia en su expresión mejor”.
Al elegir qué ministerios reciben la designación de Centro de Jubileo, añadió “tenemos que destacar los programas que realmente unen todos eses factores de diferentes maneras y lo hacen bien”.
La Diócesis de Colorado ofrece un magnífico ejemplo de los empeños del Jubileo diocesano, dijo Stevenson.
La Rda. Rebecca Jones, diácona que sirve como la encargada del Jubileo de la diócesis, dijo que ella y su predecesor, el Rdo. Chris Johnson, han trabajado durante años por formar lo que ahora es una red de 35 centros de Jubileo extendidos a través de los 167.532 kilómetros cuadrados del estado. Esos ministerios oscilan entre los puramente urbanos como el Ministerio de Santa Clara, que sirve a indigentes y hambrientos en una barriada deprimida de Denver, hasta los que son rurales como la Cocina de Gracias y el Centro del Buen Samaritano que atiende a personas que viven en los alrededores de Cortez en la Ladera Occidental [Western Slope]. Dos ministerios con sede en Colorado operan internacionalmente: el Proyecto Haití de Colorado, que ayuda a salir de la pobreza a comunidades rurales haitianas, y el Proyecto Educación Sudán del Sur, que construye escuelas sostenibles y capacita a líderes comunitarios en una región devastada por la guerra.
En septiembre de 2013, cuando una devastadora inundación asoló el corredor urbano de Front Range en Colorado, tres centros de Jubileo —el Ministerio de Encrucijada en Estes Park, el Ministerio de Cooperación del condado de Logan y el Ministerio de Solidaridad en el condado de Morgan— “se convirtieron en el punto de contacto para que la Agencia Episcopal para Ayuda y Desarrollo acudiera en socorro”, dijo Jones.
El Ministerio de Jubileo es una parte visible de los empeños comunitarios de la diócesis. Jones le da crédito al firme apoyo del obispo Rob O’Neill por eso, diciendo que él “habla acerca de ello” dondequiera que va y la gente puede decir cuán orgullosa está la diócesis del Ministerio de Jubileo. Sus centros individuales están en el ciclo diocesano de oración, de manera que se ora por ellos con regularidad. “La gente comienza a asimilarlo aun sin darse cuenta”, dijo Jones refiriéndose a la labor de Jubileo en la diócesis.
Toda esa labor y visibilidad han significado que “en algún punto hemos alcanzado una masa crítica, y ahora se me acercan para decirme que quieren convertirse en un ministerio de Jubileo”.
Las personas que integran el Ministerio de Jubileo de la diócesis se reúnen dos o tres veces al año para compartir información, celebrar sus logros y aprender de oportunidades de colaboración, así como para enterarse de los retos por los cuales sus colegas necesitan orar.
Jones describió su trabajo en general como relacional. “Yo creo un espacio y lo mantengo abierto para que estos ministerios se reúnan y para que el Espíritu Santo realice la obra de hacer productivas esas conexiones”, dijo.
Los centros de Jubileo tienen derecho a subvenciones de apoyo de la DFMS para expandir su trabajo en un ciclo regular. En la última ronda de subvenciones, 14 destinatarios en 11 diócesis recibieron $49.965 en apoyo de su misión y ministerio.
En la Diócesis de Virginia Occidental, por ejemplo, al Centro de Aprendizaje y Desarrollo de la Casa de San Juan en Huntington le otorgaron una subvención de desarrollo de $32.200 para poner en práctica una nueva visión y estrategia de misión en varias áreas y programas.
El centro funciona desde 1991, después de que una mujer de la junta parroquial de la iglesia episcopal de San Juan [St. John’s Episcopal Church] instara a sus colegas a que reflexionaran sobre lo que la parroquia estaba haciendo por las personas que se encontraban de puertas afuera, dijo Jerry Coleman, director ejecutivo del centro. La parroquia no tardó en darse cuenta de que un proyecto de viviendas grande que quedaba cerca tenía niños que necesitaban un lugar seguro adonde ir después de la escuela.
Desde un apartamento vacío donde comenzó a funcionar y donde le brindaba a más de 80 niños meriendas y seguridad, el proyecto no tardó en trasladarse al centro comunitario de Marcum Terrace. Las instalaciones de su cocina significaban que los voluntarios podían servir una comida completa, y el espacio mayor de que ahora disponía, hacía posible que el programa fuese más grande. En los 24 años transcurridos desde entonces, el programa de aprendizaje, mentoría y alimentación del centro ha servido para robustecer la autoestima y la confianza en sí mismos de los niños, así como sus habilidades interpersonales y sus actitudes hacia la educación Al hacer esto, el ministerio ha tratado de contraatacar la adicción, la violencia, la encarcelación y la pobreza.
“Allí estaba la necesidad”, dijo Coleman. El ministerio que surgió del “llamado a despertar” —como él mismo lo definió— de una miembro de la junta parroquial, “prueba lo que una persona puede hacer”.
Coleman ha visto las actitudes de los niños cambiar completamente. Una niña vino al programa con un gran resentimiento, contó él. Se mantenía callada y resultaba difícil convencerla de que participara en las actividades del centro. Desde que el personal del centro descubrió que tenía serios problemas de aprendizaje y obtuvieron su colaboración, hubo un giro de 180 grados”, señaló. Ahora participa con entusiasmo.
Los líderes del centro se reunieron recientemente para discutir cómo usar la subvención para el desarrollo. Un programa de alfabetización para pre escolar encabezaba la lista, así como hacer una reunión de familia una noche al mes, actualizar el Wi-Fi y las computadoras, las tabletas, los muebles, los instrumentos musicales sencillos, los utensilios de jardinería y la seguridad. Lo último se necesita cada vez más en la medica en que el centro mejora su tecnología.
La subvención cubre costos de personal. Coleman dijo que había planes para crear un director de participación comunitaria de media jornada que sería el responsable de la recaudación de fondos, de coordinar el trabajo voluntario y de concientizar a la comunidad de Huntington acerca del programa de San Juan.
Sin embargo, agregó Coleman, la función del centro es más que su edificio y sus cosas. “En definitiva, más importante que las cosas que uno tiene en ese edificio son las personas que están en él”.
Por ejemplo, el centro ha creado una estrecha relación con la Universidad Marshall de Huntington, especialmente con su Departamento de Trastornos de la Comunicación, muchos de cuyos estudiantes trabajan de voluntarios [en el centro]. Ellos ayudan a los niños que tienen problemas de aprendizaje. Dos asistentes graduados obtuvieron dispensas de costos de matrícula en la universidad y pequeños estipendios del centro para ser directores del programa. Además, algunos estudiantes de dietética ayuda en la planificación de las comidas.
“Hablamos muchísimo acerca de lo que hacemos por los niños y el impacto que nuestro servicio puede tener en ellos, pero es también muy importante entender el impacto que los niños tienen en nuestro personal y en los voluntarios”, subrayó Coleman. “Existe un gran apego entre nuestros niños y nuestro personal que fluye en ambas direcciones. Los niños ciertamente nos enriquecen”.
Y el reconocimiento de que el ministerio funciona en ambas direcciones, transformando a todo el que participa en él, es un indicio de la amplia energía que dimana del tipo de ministerios que tiene lugar en los centros de Jubileo.
Jones en Colorado piensa que el futuro del Ministerio de Jubileo es muy vasto y puede verse como un instrumento que ayuda a la Iglesia Episcopal, así como a las comunidades en las cuales existe.
“Las parroquias que se identifican vivamente con el trabajo comunitario y con el Ministerio de Jubileo y la justicia social son invariablemente las parroquias que crecen y prosperan, y yo no creo que sea una coincidencia”, dijo ella. “Creo que el Ministerio de Jubileo representa al menos una senda viable hacia el futuro de la Iglesia Episcopal”.
El presupuesto 2013-2015 aprobado por la Convención General asignó $1 millón para lograr que los episcopales contribuyan a la erradicación de la pobreza nacional (en el renglón 108 aquí). Esa asignación, incluidos $100.000 en subvenciones del Ministerio de Jubileo hasta la fecha en el trienio, es parte de la manera en que la DFMS está respondiendo a la cuarta Marca de la Misión, que llama a los miembros de la Comunión Anglicana a transformar las estructuras sociales injustas, a denunciar la violencia de cualquier tipo y a buscar la paz y la reconciliación.
El Informe a la Iglesia, publicado recientemente, detalla la labor de la DFMS, sostenida por el presupuesto hasta la fecha en el actual trienio, incluida la Cuarta Marca de la Misión descrita en las páginas 56-59.
La Convención General estructuró el actual presupuesto trienal en torno a las Cinco Marcas de la Misión de la Comunión [Anglicana] y proporcionó sumas significativas no asignadas para nuevas obras orientadas en torno a cada una de las Marcas de la Misión. La intención era que la labor resultante se hiciera en nuevas asociaciones de colaboración con diócesis, congregaciones y otras organizaciones episcopales. La DFMS ha proporcionado el capital inicial o las subvenciones compartidas o ambas cosas, así como el apoyo y la experiencia del personal para la nueva tarea.
— La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.
[Episcopal Diocese of Kansas press release] Bishop Dean E. Wolfe on March 13 announced that the Rev. Torey L. Lightcap has been named canon to the ordinary for the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas. His ministry will begin on May 1.
Lightcap, 42, currently serves as transitions officer for the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa and as rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Sioux City, Iowa.
In making the announcement Wolfe said, “Father Torey Lightcap brings an exceptional skill set and a faithful passion for diocesan work. Everyone who met him during the search process was impressed by his creativity, warmth and his many gifts for ministry. I know that he, his wife Jacqueline and their children will be a tremendous asset to our diocesan community. I can’t wait for the clergy and lay leaders of our diocese to meet Torey, and I look forward to continuing together the exciting work to which we are so passionately committed.”
As canon to the ordinary, Lightcap will have responsibility for clergy deployment, oversight of the ordination process, support for clergy and congregations, and administration of the diocesan office.
The bishop also offered his thanks to the Rev. George Wiley, canon pastor, and Dave Seifert, missioner for transitions, for their ministry during the period between canons. Both will continue in those positions, with final details on their scope to be determined.
Lightcap said of his new ministry, “It’s a privilege to be able to join in the work of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas. I look forward to serving alongside Bishop Wolfe, the staff and the people of the diocese to further the work of witness to Christ in this time. This diocese is known and respected throughout The Episcopal Church for what it does and how it does it. Ministries here are as varied as they are enriching. God’s Spirit is truly present among the people of this land, and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
Lightcap is a 2004 graduate of the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. He received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Oklahoma Baptist University and a master’s degree in mass communication from Oklahoma State University.
He also served parishes in Texas and Colorado before moving to Iowa in 2009. In addition, he is a writer, a three-time fellow of the College of Pastoral Leaders and an alumnus of the “Recasting of Building Assets” program of the Episcopal Church Building Fund.
He is married to Jacqueline Whitney Lightcap, a native of Topeka. They have two children, Gabriel, 10, and Annie, 7. Lightcap said he and his family are delighted to be returning to their area roots – his mother lives in Wichita, and his wife’s mother and grandmother live in Topeka.
Stanford, a postulant to the priesthood from the Diocese of Oregon, earned a Master of Divinity degree from the University of Notre Dame, a Master of Theology degree from Harvard Divinity School and has completed coursework for Doctorate of Theology at Harvard. At CDSP, Stanford is enrolled in the Certificate of Anglican Studies program and will work on his dissertation.
The new Giving Tuesday scholarship, one of several new scholarships that CDSP offers for 2015-2016, was made possible by CDSP donors who participated in Giving Tuesday, an initiative that encourages people to give online on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. In 2014, CDSP’s Giving Tuesday raised more than $10,000.
“When we initiated Giving Tuesday at CDSP, an idea originating with [CDSP’s development director] Patrick Delahunt, we had no idea what to expect,” said Richardson. “It is exciting to know that the generosity of those who responded will have this kind of impact on a student’s life. We’re delighted to welcome Iain to CDSP, and grateful for the generosity of the donors who made our new Giving Tuesday scholarship possible. This is just one of several new scholarships now available from CDSP, thanks to the extraordinary generosity of alumni and donors who have contributed to funds through estate plans and endowed gifts.”
Other new CDSP scholarship opportunities include the full-tuition Bishop’s Scholarships, which are given on the nomination of students’ diocesan bishops; the Presidential Scholarship, which includes tuition, room and board, meal plan and books for an exceptional leader age 35 or under; and Excellence in Ministry scholarships that include full tuition and a stipend.
For his part, Stanford is thrilled to be in Berkeley. “One of the opportunities of being a student at CDSP is I get to go and experience different communities in the area. It’s a chance for me to get to know what’s available on the West Coast. I have an ability and opportunity just to experience the breadth of what the Episcopal Church can be.”
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church is meeting in retreat through March 17 at Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC. The following is an account of the activities for Sunday, March 15.
The theme for the spring meeting of The Episcopal Church House of Bishops is Fostering a culture of curiosity, compassion and courage in Christ.
The day began with Eucharist, celebrated by Bishop John Tarrant of South Dakota.
The emcee for the day was Bishop John Smylie of Wyoming.
The Eucharist was followed by a thoughtful meditation on Economics/Class presented by Bishop David Bailey of Navajoland. Through vivid stories Bishop Bailey took us through the sad history of how, beginning with the European Doctrine of Discovery and how it influenced our attitudes, we have mistreated and abused indigenous people through the taking of their land, culture and identity. His challenge to the bishops of the church is two-fold. The first challenge was to identify our complicity in what our predecessors and ancestors have done to indigenous people. The second challenge was to create and enact a strategy to rectify these actions through our selfless love of persons who are at risk of continuing to be invisible to the people of this church and the people of our country.
Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves of El Camino Real prepared the House for table discussion on Bishop Bailey’s meditation.
Throughout the afternoon, the period of Sabbath continued.
In the evening, all the bishops will gather for a fireside chat with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. This is a time of sharing and discussion among the bishops.
Follow the bishops on Twitter: #HOBLent2015
[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Canon Audrey Cady Scanlan was elected on March 14 as 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, pending the required consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and standing committees of the Episcopal Church.
Scanlan, 56, canon for mission collaboration and congregational life in the Diocese of Connecticut, was elected on the second ballot out of a field of three nominees. She received 79 votes of 147 cast in the lay order and 50 of 79 cast in the clergy order. An election on that ballot required 74 in the lay order and 40 in the clergy order.
The election was held during the diocese’s Electing Convention, held at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Pending a successful consent process, Scanlan will succeed Bishop Nathan Baxter, who retired last May after serving the Central Pennsylvania diocese for eight years. The Rt. Rev. Robert Gepert has since served as provisional bishop.
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.
Scanlan was born in New York, but has lived in Connecticut for the past 50 years. She has served that diocese in many ways, building leadership, addressing conflict, walking with parishes in all seasons of congregational life, as well as building networks and communities across a diocese of 168 parishes. She and her husband of 30 years, Glenn, have three children: Emma (27), William (25), and Harriet (22).
The ordination and consecration is scheduled to take place Sept. 12, 2015 at Downtown Hilton, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
“I am delighted to have been chosen to serve as the next bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania. I look forward to a challenging and fruitful time working alongside the faithful people of the diocese to join in building God’s Kingdom,” said Scanlan after hearing the news. “I am grateful to the discernment and transition committees for their diligent work, and for the prayers and support of so many. God is good and there is much joy in store for us.”
The other nominees were:
- The Rev. Canon David A. Pfaff, 49, former canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Milwaukee; and
- The Rev. Douglas Everett Sparks, 59, rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Rochester, Minnesota, in the Diocese of Minnesota.
Information about all the nominees is available here.
The Diocese of Central Pennsylvania is composed of 12,827 members worshiping in 65 congregations throughout central Pennsylvania.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church is meeting in retreat through March 17 at Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC. The following is an account of the activities for Saturday, March 14.
The theme for the spring meeting of The Episcopal Church House of Bishops is Fostering a culture of curiosity, compassion and courage in Christ.
Saturday began with Eucharist celebrated by Bishop Lloyd Allen of Honduras.
A meditation on Culture was presented by Bishop G. Wayne Smith of Missouri. He shared from experience, in light of events in Ferguson and of his personal history. Bishop Smith challenged the House saying, “The dominate culture denies that there is [white] privilege.” Noting that as a person of faith we live as a “stranger and alien wherever we go…. For the sake of salvation much will have to go, including privilege.”
Bishop Victor Scantlebury of Central Ecuador prepared the House for table discussion on Culture, based on Bishop Smith’s meditation.
After the meditation, the House shared in table groups about the bishops’ personal experiences of alienation and disconnection because of culture. The conversations continued, focusing on the Bishops’ current cultural contexts and the gifts and limitations that each brings to the episcopate from the culture of their upbringing.
The afternoon session focused on the work of the Marriage Task Force and the resolutions that will be presented at General Convention 2015. The conversation was led by Bishop Tom Ely of Vermont and Bishop Andrew Waldo of Upper South Carolina.
The bishops broke into Indaba groups, followed by a discussion by the whole House in plenary. These groups followed the pattern of conversation in which all voices can be heard and was used at the last Lambeth Conference in 2008. These conversations were honest, candid and fruitful as the bishops shared their varying contexts and viewpoints.
The day’s session concluded with a presentation by the Most Reverend Joris A.O.L. Vercammen, Archbishop of Utrecht and Chairman of the International Old Catholic Bishops’ Conference. “The Episcopal Church is our sister church in this part of the world,” he told the House, and he presented the history of mutuality between the two Churches. In addition, Dr. Harald Rein, Bishop of the Old Catholic Church of Switzerland, emphasized in a brief address that The Episcopal Church is the only recognized sister church of the Old Catholics in the United States. The House offered its appreciation for the presence of three additional Old Catholic bishops: Mag. Dusan Hejbal of the Czech Republic, Dr. John Okoro of Austria, and Dr. Dirk Jan Schoon of Haarlem.
Follow the bishops on Twitter: #HOBLent2015
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church is meeting in retreat March 13-17 at Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC. The following is an account of the activities for Friday, March 13.
The theme for the spring meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is Fostering a culture of curiosity, compassion and courage in Christ.
The emcee for the day was Bishop Todd Ousley of Eastern Michigan.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori welcomed the bishops and opened the HOB session addressing the theme of the retreat. “Go with courage, curiosity, and compassion for yourself and your neighbor, and discover God in the difference,” she concluded.
Morning Prayer was followed by a stirring meditation by Bishop Robert Wright of Atlanta on Race/Color. Bishop Wright challenged the House to a holy curiosity that opens ourselves to our own inner struggles with difference and motivates us to confront the structures of racism in the world.
The Rev. Canon Eric Law of Los Angeles set the theme for the table conversations and discussion by asking the bishops to name challenges and affirmations, based on the theme.
Bishop Mariann Budde of Washington led the table conversations for mutual conversation based on four questions.
In the afternoon, the Bishops screened Traces of the Trade: The Story of the Deep North, a documentary about Rhode Island’s De Wolf family’s involvement in the slave trade. The screening was followed by bishops sharing compelling memories facilitated by Dain and Constance Perry.
Eucharist was celebrated by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori; preacher was HOB Chaplain the Rev. Stephanie Spellers of Long Island.
The evening is devoted to a discussion, “Traces of the Trade” Meets Ferguson. Facilitators are Dain and Constance Perry and HOB Chaplains Spellers and the Rev. Simone Batista of Texas.
Media Briefers for Friday March 13
Bishop Gayle Harris of Massachusetts
Bishop Jake Owensby of Western Louisiana
Bishop Robert Skirving of East Carolina
Follow on Twitter #HOBLent2015
[Anglican Alliance] As the terrible torment of the Syrian people continues into its fifth year, the #withSyria coalition of international agencies calls on world leaders to fulfill their commitments to bring an end to the conflict and suffering.
The Syrian crisis is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world today. More than 200,000 people have been killed and more than half of all Syrians have been forced to abandon their homes. More than 7.5 million people are displaced within Syria and four million have fled to neighboring lands in Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan.
In total, 12 million people are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. The United Nations calls it “the worst humanitarian crisis of our time.” Recent freezing winter conditions have made vulnerable families ever more at risk, particularly children, the elderly and people with disabilities.
The #withSyria coalition has launched a global petition calling on world leaders to do more to end the suffering of the Syrian people.
#withSyria calls for:
- a significant increase to the humanitarian response
- asylum safety for refugees
- an end to attacks on civilians
- a political solution respecting human rights
The campaign highlights the horror of the situation but also the courage and resilience of the Syrian people. Dr. Hassan, who is a surgeon in Aleppo, Syria, said: “Marwan was on the operating table when the lights blinked and fizzed out. The nurse pulled her mobile phone from her pocket – generating the only light in the pitch-black basement. Others followed suit, producing just enough light to allow me to finish repairing his broken little body.”
Raya, a mother of four who fled from Dara’a to a refugee camp in Jordan, said: “One should never give up hope. I hold on to any bits of hope because I do not want to fall. Even if I do fall, I must stand up on my feet again in order to support and protect my children.”
Among others in the international community, many Anglican and ecumenical agencies are involved in the humanitarian response, through their ACT Alliance sister agency, the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), to reach people with food, bedding, water clothes, shelter, healthcare and education.
PWRDF has also responded to the needs of Syrians affected by the conflict as part of Canadian Foodgrains Bank’s (CFGB) $4 million response which provides food for some 55,000 displaced people and refugees in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan each month.
To date they have reached more than two million vulnerable people working often in the most volatile areas.
Episcopal Relief & Development (USA) is responding through the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches’ (FMEEC) relief efforts in Syria.
The Jerusalem and Middle East Church Association is supporting refugees in Amman, Jordan.
PWRDF has also written to the Canadian government out of a growing concern over the plight of Syrian refugees.
Christian Aid’s partners in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria are working to provide vital assistance to thousands of displaced families by distributing food, fuel for cooking, hygiene and sanitation kits, water containers, cash assistance and psychosocial support.
Us (formerly USPG), through their Rapid Response Syria appeal, are supporting an education program, run in partnership with Embrace Middle East, for children whose families have fled the turmoil in Syria.
The Anglican Alliance asks that we all people come together to pray and act for peace in Syria and for humanitarian support to its suffering peoples.
Sign the petition at www.withsyria.com and support the appeals linked above.
[St. Hilda’s House] Saint Hilda’s House is an intentional community of young adults in New Haven, Connecticut, living together and working with the disinherited as part of the Episcopal Service Corps. Throughout this year, the members of Saint Hilda’s have been working hard to turn their community into a resource for the whole Church, by writing about their experiences in case they can serve as a point of reflection or inspiration for others. This writing has also become an important way for them to process their life in community, and an essential part of their discernment and formation.
As a part of this initiative, Saint Hilda’s House recently released their Winter Quarterly, a collection of 10 essays written exclusively by young adults connected to the community in the hope that their voices might serve the Church. Each of these essays had previously appeared on the St. Hilda’s blog, and together they make up a powerful document representing a diverse array of perspectives.
The Saint Hilda’s Winter Quarterly may be downloaded here.
The Saint Hilda’s Blog updates on Mondays and Thursdays with stories about how the life of community is forming these young adults as members of the Church. Follow Saint Hilda’s House on Facebook here to see more of what they’re up to in New Haven.
[Episcopal News Service] Harry Bielskis thought he was American until the day he was deported.
For the past 2 years, the former bus driver from Portland, Oregon, has been forced to recycle his life in Germany, a country he’d not stepped foot in for almost 60 years. He didn’t even speak the language.
In 1956, when Harry was 4 years old, his mother decided they should leave their German homeland in search of a better life. One week later, America was their new home. In all that time, Harry had never sought U.S. citizenship. He never thought he would need it. But after a brush with the law, on paper and in the eyes of U.S. Immigration, Harry was German and his destiny already set.
Christ the King Episcopal Church in Frankfurt helps people like Harry rebuild their lives through a ministry called Heimkehrer, which means homecomer. Social workers and volunteers offer them support and guidance, and many of the returnees, as they’re known at Christ the King, become valued members of the community.
During the commission’s annual two-week session, representatives of U.N. Member States, civil society organizations and U.N. entities gather at the U.N. headquarters in New York. They discuss progress and gaps in the implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the key global policy document on gender equality, and the 23rd special session of the General Assembly held in 2000 (Beijing+5), as well as emerging issues that affect gender equality and the empowerment of women. Member States agree on further actions to accelerate progress and promote women’s enjoyment of their rights in political, economic and social fields. The outcomes and recommendations of each session are forwarded to the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council for follow-up.
The commission is due to adopt a political declaration on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. The draft of that declaration is here. The session is also being asked to adopt a draft plan of the commission’s future organization and methods of work.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in opening remarks on March 9, called 2015 “a vital year for advancing the cause of gender equality.”
“Women continue to suffer disproportionately from the economic crisis, from the impacts of climate change, from the displacement caused by conflict, persecution and so much else,” he said. “Extremist groups continue to viciously and systematically attack girls and women. The international community needs to translate its outrage into aid, services, support and justice.”
However, Ban said, “women are not just victims; they are agents of progress and change.
“Empowered women and girls are the best drivers of growth, the best hope for reconciliation, and the best buffer against radicalization of youth and the repetition of cycles of violence,” he said.
The secretary general has submitted a report to the session on the progress since the Beijing meeting.
There has traditionally been a strong Anglican and Episcopal presence at past UNCSW annual sessions and more than 100 participants from Anglican provinces around the world are in New York for the 2015 gathering. There are 19 accredited Anglican Communion delegates, each officially representing her province. The Rev. Joan Grimm Fraser of the Diocese of Long Island is the provincial delegate representing The Episcopal Church to the Anglican Communion delegation.
The Anglican Communion delegates are from Australia; Hong Kong; Jordan (Jerusalem & the Middle East); Malawi (Central Africa); Myanmar; Papua New Guinea; Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia; Brazil; the Scottish Episcopal Church; Japan; the Church of Ceylon; Swaziland and South Africa; The Episcopal Church; Canada; Ghana (West Africa) and England.
Many of the women will visit their permanent country missions at the UN to advocate for the lifting of barriers to women’s active participation in all spheres of public and private life as equal decision-making partners, the core aim of the Beijing Platform for Action.
“Anglican women are present in urban and rural communities all over the world”, said Ann Skamp, convener for the International Anglican Women’s Network who is accompanying the delegation. “They know what is happening at grassroots and bring valuable local knowledge and insights to the table. They also bring the values of their faith and bright hope for the future.”
Ecumenical Women, of which The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Consultative Council (the Communion’s main policy-making body) are members, has filed an official statement to the session saying that many of the goals of the Beijing Platform for Action remain unfulfilled.
“Gender biased institutional structures create inequalities and discrimination, and still exist in public and private sectors, academia, and religious structures,” the statement says, adding that the group is also concerned with “the efforts to roll back gains” made since Beijing.
“We affirm that God’s world was meant to be one of abundance for all people, with fundamental rights and dignity for all women and men. For healthy sustainable societies, women must be integral to the decision-making processes in law, policies and development programs.”
The Episcopal Church has its first official delegation since being granted special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council last July.
Diocese of Long Island Assistant Bishop Chilton Knudsen preached March 9 at the opening Eucharist for Anglican and Episcopal participants. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori presided at the Eucharist celebrated in the Chapel of Christ the Lord in the Episcopal Church Center, which is two blocks from the United Nations.
The text of Knudsen’s sermon follows.
Sermon for the Opening Eucharist UNCSW 2015
Episcopal Church Center, New York City, NY
Text: John 20: 11-18
Mary Magdalene came to the tomb where the body of Jesus was placed after his death on the Cross.
She came to mourn his absence, to remember. She wanted assurance that she could find hope to live the rest of her life without Jesus. Her precious friend Jesus.
Jesus treated her with dignity, healed her, taught her, lifted her up, and shared with her in Table Fellowship. How would she go on without Jesus?
Two angels sat in the tomb, one where his feet had been and one where his head had been.
“Woman, why are you weeping?” the angels asked.
Mary Magdalene was weeping because her heart had broken. She wept because the One whom she loved had been brutally executed. Her tears were a sign that she loved deeply; that she had devoted herself to the mission of compassion and justice and peace which Jesus demonstrated. She wept because human beings do terrible things to each other. Human beings continue to do terrible things to one another, because systems of dominance and power and greed and violence — then and now — crush goodness.
Woman, why are you weeping?
Just as she answered “They have taken away my Lord…” she turned and saw someone she did not recognize, maybe it was the gardener.
This mysterious stranger also asked her the same question: “Woman, why are you weeping?”
This is a question to all of humanity, in our time as well as in Jesus’ time.
We come here to this meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women because there is much in our world which causes us to weep. We weep because children are sold as slaves. Women and children starve for want of food. Because violence and oppression continue to dominate, so women are deprived of freedom and dignity. We are weeping because women are treated as second-class members of their society.
Woman, why are you weeping?
Mary Magdalene answers yet again, assuming that someone has taken away Jesus’ body: “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where so I can take his body myself.”
At that moment, Jesus calls her by name, “Mary!” She hears that familiar voice speaking her name. At once, she knows it is Jesus, who is now alive in the glorious power of resurrection.
Hope is alive! The message of Jesus — about compassion and justice — is victorious over the systems of power and greed and oppression.
Jesus then asks two things of her. First, that she not cling to him: not to hold onto the joy of his beating death to live in resurrection glory. Second, Jesus asks that she go and tell others that he is now wonderfully alive, and his mission will continue.
Jesus entrusts to Mary Magdalene the proclamation of his rising from death. Jesus lives! His message lives!
This story tells us that the holy and mysterious agenda of God is given to all believers. As believers, we are to spread this Good News widely into every part of the world.
The Good News of Jesus’ resurrection inspires us to work for justice and peace for all people.
And because we are people who weep, we are also people of action.
So here we are, praying together for the strength to carry on the mission of Jesus. Our weeping has built in us a fire of determination. God’s power is with us, as we move from weeping to action. By this we join with our sister Mary Magdalene to proclaim that Jesus is risen. And because Jesus is risen, our hope is fulfilled and our resurrection work is blessed with the very power that raised Jesus from death.
Let us be about that resurrection work. Beginning now in our worship and our solidarity.
– The Anglican Communion News Service contributed to this story.
[Lambeth Palace] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has set out his vision for a Church in which every Christian shares “the revolutionary love” of Jesus Christ.
The archbishop was giving the inaugural Lambeth Lecture, a new series of talks which will feature guest speakers addressing key issues for the Church.
Video of the Archbishop’s lecture will be available shortly. The full text follows below.
I want to start by saying just two simple sentences about the Church. First, the church exists to worship God in Jesus Christ.
Second, the Church exists to make new disciples of Jesus Christ. Everything else is decoration. Some of it may be very necessary, useful, or wonderful decoration – but it’s decoration.
When I talk about making disciples as we go through, of course I’m not only talking about words; I’m also talking about actions, and we’ll come back to that in a little while.
The best decision anyone can ever make, at any point in life, in any circumstances, whoever they are, wherever they are, whatever they are, is to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. There is no better decision for a human being in this life, any human being.
When I started this role a couple of years ago, after some prayer and thought and reflection, three priorities, in the period between the announcement and when I got going as it were, lodged themselves in my mind. These were the three. First of all, prayer and the renewal of the Religious life. And my guess is that there were nods of assent and interest but hardly surprise.
At the news that reconciliation was my second priority there was probably mild interest and murmurs of approval that this was a Good Thing, but that someone was going to have their work cut out.
When I introduced my third priority as evangelism and witness I imagine some, maybe a minority, were high-fiving, while others stopped and stared into space with a look of horror, thinking, ‘Oh golly, here we go again’. I won’t ask you which group you fall into.
This evening it’s that priority that I want to talk about. To make the case for it not just a priority for any old spare Archbishop with not enough to do; but as the priority of the church of Jesus Christ, something which is testified to in the first of the Five Marks of Mission of the Anglican Church: ‘To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom.’
I’ll try to define my terms, then set this in the context of what the Church is called to, and from there I hope to approach the scope and motives of evangelism, before addressing some of practice.
I will then seek to root this in the life and witness of the local church and most specifically in the life and witness of every Christian – not only the professionals.
This is our particular passion, priority and focus. In fact all we endeavour to do is done with the intention that we serve and enable the lives of every follower of Jesus to be faithful witnesses to the transforming love of God.
I am under no illusion as to the seismic shift that needs to take place in order for this to happen. But a seismic shift is what we need. For this country will not know of the revolutionary love of Christ by church structures or clergy, but by the witness of every single Christian.
Of course there were others words available to avoid the dreaded ‘e’ word of evangelism. Why not talk of ‘mission’? It’s so much more inclusive and encompassing, and something we are all, me included, passionate about. That was my reason for steering away from it.
I have nothing against mission – quite the reverse: the recent renewal of the Church’s appropriation of the term has been heartening. But such is the widespread use of the term that my sense of this talk being committed to mission would be to say that I was committed to everything.
No, I wanted the call to be focussed on the specific proclamation of the Good News. What does it look like for the Church in this country to find its voice in these days?
There is obviously a huge amount that has been written about the content of the Good News, the Gospel, and there’s a good amount more that will be. We will never plumb the depths of the wonder of the Gospel; there will always be more to be said.
I am not going to enter that debate, apart from saying that the Gospel is the Good News of Jesus Christ. It’s the announcement of a person in history, and what God has done in this one life for everyone who has ever lived and ever will live.
I wonder if I might use a painting to represent the Gospel. The painting is The Calling of Saint Matthew and was painted by Caravaggio in around 1599. Art historian Sir Kenneth Clark considered it the piece of art that changed the history of painting:
It’s a representation of the scene in Matthew’s Gospel (Chapter 9) when Jesus calls the tax collector Matthew to follow him. The painting shows Matthew in the middle surrounded by four colleagues.
Notice the finery of those around the table in contrast to Jesus and Peter’s clothing and bare feet on the right. Two of the tax collectors, at the far left of the picture, do not even look up, so intent are they on counting their money.
Between these five men and Jesus you will notice a barrier of darkness. All the light has come in with Jesus – the figure on the far right of the picture – as you will notice that from him, and not the window in which we see the cross, the light is coming.
Evangelism is the Good News of the coming of Jesus Christ into this dark world. And it is news not simply because without this light we are in the dark, but also because it comes to us unwarranted, unsought, without our initiation.
Jesus comes to us. This is the free work of God to bring light into the darkness. It’s not technique, it’s not manipulation, it’s not organisation, it’s not systems… it’s God. It’s raw God.
The men in the picture were not looking for Jesus; He came to them and transformed their world. In fact He caused great disruption. Jesus is the light of every person; He comes to all and for all. Apart from him there is only darkness. He comes not just to those who might seek him, or to those who have an interest in that kind of thing.
Caravaggio brings the drama into the painting through the outstretched hand of Jesus. This hand singles out Matthew. It’s a definite choosing – a particular invitation. Jesus comes and reaches out to each of us.
And those who first saw the painting could be in no doubt as to what Caravaggio was implying – notice the similarity between the hand of Jesus and the hands in his scene from the roof of the Sistine chapel.
The hand of Jesus is both the hand of the second true Adam and of God. The Gospel is the call of God himself through the true man Jesus Christ. It is an act of creation, and recreation; a bringing into being, a life-giving calling, which is only possible because of the initiative of God.
We do not bring about this alteration, but it has been accomplished – it is done – apart from us, in the death and resurrection of Jesus. We did not contribute to it; but we are alive because of it.
We all know that. But it is as we get hold of that truth that we are impelled outwards into the world. Because it’s as that truth grabs us that we remember that this isn’t us, it’s God. This is no survival strategy for the Church. It’s God. It’s raw God.
Matthew clearly can’t quite believe that this invitation and command are addressed to him. Could he be so lucky? Surely there has been some mistake. You can see him thinking that – ‘Me? What, me? You’re kidding. Wrong guy. There’s another Matthew down the road.’ What on earth could he have done to have warranted this action of God on his behalf?
Pope Francis said: “That finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew. That’s me. I feel like him. Like Matthew. It is the gesture of Matthew that strikes me: he holds on to his money as if to say, ‘No, not me! No, this money is mine.’ Here, this is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze.”
Does that ring bells with people? That beautiful, wonderful moment when you realise that Jesus looks on you, on me, and doesn’t hate, doesn’t despise, is not indifferent, but utterly compelled and compelling in love, says ‘follow me’.
As a Christian it is my deepest conviction that in Jesus Christ, God comes to call every one He has made. Everyone has been summoned in Jesus Christ. For in Jesus Christ, God has poured out his love and his grace, his forgiveness and his mercy, his faithfulness. God would not be doing this without you or I.
Evangelism is then a joyful proclamation of what has happened. It’s the news of Jesus Christ. His life as the light breaking into this dark world for us. His death as the fount of our redemption. His resurrection as the hope of all. This news must be told, or how will people know?
We live in a world where hope is in increasingly short supply. Cynicism about politics is the opposite of hope. Fear is the opposite of hope. Where there is no hope we turn on each other to give ourselves security – temporarily, briefly. When we’re filled with hope, all things become manageable, even the greatest fears. Who can keep quiet about such a fact?
In 1525 William Tyndale, rumoured at one point to have been locked up by one of my predecessors in a tower at the top there, said this: ‘Euangelio (that we call gospel) is a greke word, and signifyth good, merry, glad and joyful tidings, that maketh a mannes hert glad, and maketh hym synge, daunce, and leepe for joye.’
But before I join Peter and continue Jesus’ ministry of calling everyone to follow, I must be one myself who has heard the call. I am a recipient of this light that has broken into my darkness. It is as one who has received that I offer this gift.
This requires my constant, daily conversion. One of the great phrases of Ignatian spirituality is the call to daily conversion. To receive daily, as Cyprian termed it, ‘one great gulp of grace’.
For me, grace is the most beautiful word in the English language. It is so evocative of all. The fact that the Gospel comes afresh to me as a sinner and astounds me with the news that I am loved, accepted, forgiven, redeemed and chosen in Jesus Christ.
My spiritual director came here on Tuesday, an extraordinary Swiss monk with whom I speak from time to time, and he celebrated Mass down in the Crypt Chapel. It was a wonderful moment when those among us who are not Catholics received a blessing and the Catholics received the Eucharist – the opposite to what has been the normal pattern here. And we felt that pain of the Church’s separation.
And he spoke and he said: “We can do nothing except by grace.” It’s his great phrase: “C’est tout grâce.” It is all grace.
Each day the Gospel comes afresh to me as a sinner and astounds me with the news that I am loved, accepted, forgiven, redeemed and chosen in Jesus.
We must open ourselves and the Church to the continual conversion which the Spirit works in us. The Church must continually be converted from the reduction of the Gospel into its fullness.
We cannot leave things as they are, but we experienced grace best by bowing before it and allowing it, every time, to begin with us as though it were for the first time. Even tonight I must receive His grace again.
And if every Christian knew only to receive His grace afresh each day, what transformation would there be? That we can do.
Having received the goodness of God in Jesus Christ it obviously becomes a priority for us as his Church to let others know of what God has done for them.
Of course the church is called to orientate everything around God – that is called worship. But because of who this God is, we are also compelled to be for others the Good News that made this community and instructs this community.
While the Church always exists in time and space, in a locality with particular people, in a particular culture, it is this particular Church. Wonderfully this is God’s work, done by His Spirit. And God initiates this in every church, in every place.
I was, as you might know, Bishop of Durham for a few minutes. My predecessor was Tom Wright. He has the most helpful analogy as to the work of the Church. Imagine a new Shakespeare play was discovered, but it only had four acts and the last one was missing.
What would we do? It wouldn’t simply be discarded. We would call on the greatest directors and producers, the finest actors, to immerse themselves in the first four acts and to engage with the plot and development, and to work together on what the fifth act might be.
This is the position of the Church. We have the first four acts, we have the plot and characters, and now it’s over to us.
But we are not left alone. The director, the artistic producer, the prompt and writer with us is the Holy Spirit. It’s the Spirit that makes the Church, every day, afresh.
In this fifth act, what does the Spirit compel us to do? To invite people to become, like ourselves, participants in the drama of God.
Karl Barth, one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century said this: ‘No other task is so urgent as that of spreading the news on earth and making it known.’
It is God’s initiative. We cannot as his Church proclaim his Good News in our own strength or inspiration. The Spirit goes before us, preparing the ground for the seed. Of course the wine of the Spirit takes the form of the wineskin, and so we as a Church must do the job of clearing ground of thistles and weeds, or rocks and trodden-down paths. But only the Spirit makes it possible.
A few years ago I heard it reported that it was the practice in large supermarkets to pump through the air conditioning system the smells from the bakery. So on entering the shop we, the unsuspecting public, would be met by the aroma of freshly baked bread, and we would therefore desire bread.
It seems to me this is a rather unsophisticated way of interpreting one of the crucial drivers of the New Testament when it comes to evangelism: it’s the work of the Spirit, the ‘go-between God’ [Taylor], to prepare the hearts, desires, minds and senses of people that they might receive the message of God. It’s why we pray – that God would prepare.
Simon Tugwell, a Roman Catholic charismatic theologian was one of those who coined the title of ‘the speech-giving Spirit’ for the Holy Spirit. The Spirit enables the joyful proclamation of the Church, in the telling of the Good News of Jesus Christ – news that is literally ‘new’ to people.
Tugwell traced the early Christian tradition that linked salvation to the opening of the mouth by the Holy Spirit. Again the New Testament sets this out: it’s the Spirit that calls us to say “Abba father” and “Jesus is Lord”. But why do this?
We know how important motives are in detail and the big picture. Gandhi said: “The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted.”
How often have we looked at the Church and wondered what they’re really up to? Or we’re really up to? Or I’m really up to?
Yet the Church gets so many reputations for mixed motivation.
Talleyrand, the great French diplomat, who managed to work for the French royal family until the Revolution in 1789, to work for the Revolutionaries, to work for Napoleon, and to come back to working for the French royal family in 1815 at the Congress of Vienna, died at the Congress of Vienna. And when Metternich, the Austrian Chancellor, was so clever at his manoeuvring that he was told that Talleyrand had died he said: ‘Hmm, what does he mean by that?” [laughter]
Our motive driving this priority for the Church is not, not, not – never, never, never – that numbers are looking fairly low and the future is looking fairly bleak. Never. This is not a survival strategy.
This is not to say I am in any way nonchalant about the seismic challenge facing the church. But evangelism is not a growth strategy.
Of course we want to see full churches. But this is not anxiety for an institution, or worst still self-survival.
Martin Luther’s definition of sin as a heart curved in on itself is instructive for us here. The Church which is concerned primarily for its own life or survival, a church that is curved in on itself, is signing its own death warrant.
As the wonderful missiologist Lesslie Newbigin said: ‘A church that exists only for itself and its own enlargement is a witness against the gospel.’ One could say both a lack of action and too much frantic action thinly mask a lack of confidence in the sufficiency of God.
What compels this priority is the same motive that compelled the first proclaimers; that compelled Archbishop William Temple’s great report in 1945, ‘Towards the conversion of England’; that compelled evangelist Billy Graham; that compelled the decade of evangelism; and all the reports and publications from the General Synod; and Pope Francis’ wonderful encyclical Evangelii Gaudium.
It is summed up in 2 Corinthians 5: 14-15: ‘For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.’
It is the love of Christ that compels us. Every time I think of that, I reflect on how often I have failed to act in the love of Christ, and how unsurprising therefore that there is little response.
Everyone has a right to hear the Gospel, and as Christians we have a duty to proclaim the Good News without excluding anyone.
The only qualification for hearing the Good News is that you don’t know Christ – and that’s not just good news; it’s true news. Indeed it’s only because it’s true that it’s good. And if it’s true, it’s true for all, and must not be concealed from any.
The love that has found us in Christ compels, or constrains us to speak. So does our love for everyone God has made.
John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople who died in 407AD, said something similar:
“Nothing is more deadly than a Christian who is indifferent to the salvation of others. Indeed I wonder if such a person can be a true Christian. To become a disciple of Christ is to obey his law of love; and obedience to the law brings joy beyond measure and description. Love means to want the best for others, sharing with them the joy of love. So the Christian feels compelled to speak to others about the law of love, and the joy of obeying this law. Of course, many people are shy about speaking to others; in their case actions motivated by love will be a most eloquent testimony. But those who are not shy will surely want to express their joy at every opportunity. There is no need to use fine words or elegant phrases.”
The Gospel is anything but formulaic. Becky Pippert says: ‘evangelism is not memorising techniques to use on unsuspecting victims.’ Nor is it an inter-church competition – and yet we make it so. But it is God who does it.
The same Spirit who gives us speech enables the proclamation of the Gospel to be always fresh and always distinct. This is the Spirit who, as Eugene Peterson says, ‘always has an address’.
At Pentecost, the speech-giving Spirit enables the news of all that has been opened up to be proclaimed in a tangible and comprehendible way. This is a gospel, Luke is saying to us, for the whole world.
If the Gospel is best and most authentically spoken from person to person in a way which is particular to the hearer, as at Pentecost, the task of translating the gospel into graspable words and concepts is essential. And the process of gospel translation is profoundly interactive. We don’t simply arrive with a set of words grammatically related, or a system of ideas. It is a story that makes history, and we must pay attention to what God is already doing and stirring, for God’s work does not begin with us. It begins with him.
In every respect Jesus Christ is the plumb line for our announcing, for he remains not just the central fact of the Christian faith, but the determining point.
Our constant care must be to proclaim the Good News in ways that are appropriate and fitting to Jesus. It’s obvious, but so often we fit it to what we need. Like the bed in the ancient legend of Procrustes – when he had guests at his castle, if they were too short for the bed, he’d put them on a rack to stretch them, if they were too long he’d cut them down to size.
So often we want to fit people who are not Christians into our church, not make the church fit for new Christians.
The Gospel can be proclaimed in a way that denies the very one it proclaims. We can do the right thing in such a wrong way that it becomes the wrong thing. Anything manipulative or coercive, anything disrespectful or controlling, is ruled out because of who Jesus is.
Having said that, it is clear that God gloriously puts up with all kinds of ways of announcing the Good News which are less than ideal. For example, he uses me. [Laughter]
Having insisted that we take care to speak the Good News in ways that are good news, I am persuaded that the confession of faith in all languages and to all cultures is possible because of the distinctive character of God’s action.
Christian good news must not become bad news for people of other faiths, but we must not shy away from true engagement.
It is not unethical to present the Gospel with love, grace and gentleness borne of true assurance. The privilege of living in a free and mature democracy is that we can both be held accountable for what we do and what we profess, while having the freedom to pray expectantly and to speak intentionally of what we know to be the transforming love of Christ.
That is a freedom to cling to. If our motivation is truly of love and of divine calling, then we must share our experience of Christ with one and all.
Having laid out the motive for evangelism, let us think about how we might go about it.
The old adage is attributed to St Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times, where necessary use words.” Lay it aside, put it down, forget it. Don’t even think about it. Mainly for the reasons that he almost certainly didn’t say it, and even if he did, he was wrong. As T.S. Eliot’s character Sweeney said: “I gotta use words when I talk to you.”
But in order to know how to speak and proclaim, we must listen and converse. We are those who have listened to the Gospel, and our reception of the Good News has formed us.
Luke Bretherton of Duke University in North Carolina says this:
“The merciful command to listen first is ever present, as we cannot presume to know what needs to be said and done with these people, in this place, at this time if they are to truly hear and dwell within the Gospel. Listening to God and neighbor is the prerequisite of proclaiming the Word that, as a human word, can only be heard in dialect.”
The listening and speaking to God is where we start. This is God’s work. Ears only open, eyes only see, hearts only open, hands only receive when the Spirit works. At my installation service the anthem sung took early words from the Rule of St Benedict: “Listen, listen O my child…”
The importance of prayer cannot be overestimated. As St Paul testifies: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has made it grow.” [1 Corinthians 3: 6]
In prayer we actively acknowledge that and practice it, by imploring the Spirit to work powerfully before and behind us, in our stumbling words and efforts.
The subject of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 is that his friends “may have power, together with all God’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know that love that surpasses knowledge”.
For example, there is no evidence of any revival of spiritual life taking place in a society in the Western Christian tradition without the renewal of prayer and the Religious life. How much more would the Lord do if we do but ask Him?
Hospitality, openness and a deep desire to love and accept the other who has not heard and responded to the gospel are fundamental to our proclamation.
At times I wonder about Bonhoeffer’s letter to Eberhard Bethge, in which he set out the idea that common theological language is so misunderstood we could do with ceasing to use it for a generation and then reintroducing it to fresh ears – so that we might be able to define our terms without any of the baggage these words have accumulated. Words like ‘evangelism’, ‘evangelical’, ‘gospel’, and so on and so forth.
However, that’s not what we can do. Wherever we bring the Gospel, we are certain that we do not know the full implications of what it means to say: “Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ will come again.” And when we set forth the Gospel invite, there are always fresh nuances and gifts for us to receive in how each person receives it.
Years ago, in a church we were worshipping at, there was someone who came to Christ quite unexpectedly. The impact of that on that church was profound. The vicar found a whole new desire to evangelise, as he saw the transformation in that person’s life, which he has never lost since. And this was well over 20 years ago. [That person] struggled with faith, but so many people saw what it was to become a Christian and therefore saw their own hope that they had.
The best evangelism takes place when the evangelist and the evangelised learn something new about Christ.
Anything that is tired or worn, blasé or bland, hasn’t begun to cope with the Gospel. The Spirit inspires us to greater and more inspiring creativity and imagination, co-opting every medium possible to extend the invitation, always compelling, definitely arresting – calling on all our senses to be open to His love.
Having said that the Gospel is profoundly personal, I want to mention the corporate element.
The Gospel also has the most profound of public implications. Lesslie Newbigin again: “A serious commitment to evangelism means a radical questioning of the reigning assumptions of public life.”
That’s not a party political statement, just for the record. It is clear in many of the comments that are made regularly in the media that the Church’s basis of faith is not grasped. The starting place for all thought and action is Jesus Christ, who was, and is, and is to come. He cannot be accommodated or co-opted. We can’t say, “well we’ll put him on this to make it more attractive”.
The simple truth is that the resurrected one cannot be accommodated in any way of understanding the world unless He is the starting point.
And finally we think about those whose task it is to proclaim the Good News.
There are of course those who have the gift of setting this forward in ways which are most compelling and constraining. We call those people evangelists.
The church, however, is essential for evangelism. Not just in action and prayer, in activity and engagement, but as the place where the Gospel is seen to make sense.
The American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr asked in the middle of the last century why the lives of most Christians looked like celebrities who endorsed products you knew they didn’t use themselves.
And of course Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium said why is it that so many people go to evangelise looking as though they’ve just come from a funeral?
That is, why should people believe what we say about forgiveness and grace, reconciliation and sacrifice, love and commitment, welcome and acceptance, if when they look at the life of the Church they see something so diametrically opposed to it?
Lesslie Newbigin, as we know, said “the church is the hermeneutic of the gospel.” The tool of interpretation. For our words must be backed up by integrity.
The institutional life of the Church must reflect, enable, promote and speak of the Good News.
How does our structural life reflect and empower our proclamation? We must insist that all of our structures and committees, budgets (which are merely theology in numbers) and plans are appropriate to Jesus Christ, and the imperative to make him known.
What the Church has to do must not be determined by its institution; its institution must be determined by what it has to do. Evangelism is good for us, it is necessary for a healthy church, because by it the Gospel takes a fresh hold of us and Jesus Christ increases his presence and joy among us.
And that is a priority for every Christian. Luke says the last words of Jesus to the disciples: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses.” [Acts 1: 8]
He is not describing what they’ll do – witness is not a verb, it is a noun. He is describing what they are. The question is not whether we want to be witnesses; it is whether we are faithful witnesses. We are all witnesses; it’s just whether we live that out. It is such a strong concept.
For a witness simply says what they have seen and experienced. We say what we know. Each witness is unique; no two witnesses can witness in the same way.
In 1945, the report which William Temple instigated came out, ‘Towards the conversion of England’. In it they were uncompromising: there would be no significant turning to God in the nation apart from the witness of every Christian. In 1985, the Church of England published the report, ‘All are called – Towards a theology of the laity’. It argued that by virtue of baptism every Christian was called to witness to Jesus Christ.
The man acclaimed as the best theologian in North America, Stanley Hauerwas, goes as far to say: “Witness names the truth that the only way we can know the character of the world, the only way we know ourselves, the only way we know God, is by one person telling another.”
Do our lives reflect that call? It’s the biggest hill for the Church to climb. That is the one that we have not cracked. Professional evangelists are wonderful; thank God for them. They are utterly necessary, totally essential – but they are not sufficient. Every Christian is required to be sufficient.
To go back to Chrysostom as we come the end:
“Don’t tell me ‘it is impossible for me to influence others.’ If you are a Christian, it is impossible for you NOT to influence others! Just as the elements that make up your human nature do not contradict each other, so also in this matter – it belongs to the very nature of a Christian that he influences others. So, do not offend God. If you say, ‘the sun cannot shine,’ you offend Him. If you say, ‘I, a Christian cannot be of service to others,’ you have offended Him and called Him a liar. It is easier for the sun not to shine than for a Christian not to do so. It is easier for light itself to be darkness than for a Christian not to give light. So don’t tell me it is impossible for you as a Christian to influence others, when it is the opposite that is impossible. Do not offend God. If we arrange our affairs in an orderly manner, these things will certainly follow quite naturally. It is impossible for a Christian’s light to lie concealed. So brilliant a lamp cannot be hidden.”
This is not easy or without cost for any of us. As we remind ourselves that the Greek word for witness is martyr, we are more and more, in these days, confronted with the fact that the word has come to have the associations it has with death, because of the price the first witnesses were prepared to pay to be faithful.
A couple of weeks ago we know 21 Christians were murdered in Libya. I was talking to Bishop Angaelos, the Coptic Bishop in England, who I went to see to offer condolence. He told me that from one who escaped they heard that as each one was killed, most savagely, they cried out, “Jesus Christ is Lord”. Their last words were witness.
As I finish let us return to Caravaggio’s painting. Notice, if you will, down at the bottom of the picture, another hand that mirrors the calling hand of Jesus. It’s that of Peter. You see him hesitant, not confidant, and seeming to look not at Matthew but one of his friends.
Jesus involves us in His work of calling people to follow him. This is the work of evangelism.
However weakly, however hesitantly, He calls us to extend our hands and our hearts, to use our words and lives, to echo His call to every person to follow Him.
For it is the best decision anyone can ever make is to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Amen.
[Diocese of Chester] The Rt. Rev. Libby Lane – the first female bishop in the history of the Church of England – was formally installed as the eighth bishop of Stockport at Chester Cathedral on International Women’s Day, Sunday, March 8.
More than 1,900 people from across the county of Cheshire attended the installation, which was part of a service of Choral Evensong.
The occasion started with a procession and the choir singing the Introit, followed by Bishop of Birkenhead Keith Sinclair welcoming Lane and inviting others to express their greetings.
Bishop of Chester Peter Forster then invited Dean of Chester Gordon McPhate to install Lane as the bishop of Stockport, a suffragan (assistant) bishop in the Diocese of Chester.
Lane took her place in her stall and the dean called for the blessing of God to rest upon her in all her duty and charge. She was presented with her pastoral staff and welcomed by the civic and faith communities from across the Diocese of Chester. During the service she preached on the theme of the confidence that humans have, knowing that they are loved by God.
Among the guests were: the chief executive officer of Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council; the mayors of Trafford, Tameside, Cheshire East, Stockport, and Chester boroughs; and the High Sheriffs and Lord Lieutenants of Cheshire and Greater Manchester.
The installation marked the formal start of Lane’s new ministry in the diocese. She said: “I treasure the remarkable welcome extended to me in my new ministry as bishop of Stockport by people across the Diocese of Chester.
“The service of installation during evensong at the cathedral felt like a homecoming. It was wonderful that so many wanted to share that occasion, and I particularly extend my appreciation to those who could not be present because requests to attend outstripped even the cathedral’s capacity, but who supported me in prayer nonetheless. Our whole family is very grateful for the love and support that we have received.
“I look forward now to settling into this new ministry. On the day of my announcement I expressed my gratitude – to the Diocese of Chester for the confidence placed in me, to those who have gone before me, to God for His faithfulness to us, to Christ, whose love for me is the source of all am and all I will be doing. I continue to feel deeply grateful for the honor of this calling and the privilege of exercising it in this place.
“Expectations are high, and I too am excited by the possibilities and challenges ahead. I echo what I said in my statement at my announcement – the church faces wonderful opportunities, to proclaim afresh, in this generation, the Good News of Jesus and to build His Kingdom. I am delighted to be engaging with that task in an area I know and love and among people I value so highly. But I do know I’ll need people to be patient and understanding – about the time it will take for me to address all that is already waiting for me, and for the mistakes I will inevitably make on the way. So I ask for continued prayer – God our Father, hear our prayer for all your faithful people, that, each in our vocation and ministry may be an instrument of your love, and give to us the needful gifts of grace.”
Lane, 48, was previously vicar of Hale and Ashley in the Chester diocese from 2007-14. She is married to the Rev. George Lane, coordinating chaplain at Manchester Airport. They were one of the first married couples in the Church of England to be ordained together. She has also held other roles in the diocese, including: team vicar in the Stockport South West Team; assistant diocesan director of ordinands; family life officer for the diocesan Committee for Social Responsibility; and chair of the diocesan Children’s Committee.
McPhate, said: “We were honored to welcome the bishop of Stockport and her supporters to the installation service at the cathedral. It was a day of worship and celebration – for men and women alike – as a new chapter was created in the Church of England.”
Lane was ordained and consecrated as the first female bishop in the history of the Church of England on Jan. 26 during a service at York Minster.
Lane was appointed Dec. 17. Her appointment and the ordination and consecration on Jan. 26 followed more than a decade of often-emotional debate accompanied by various stages of legislative action. The Church of England voted in July to allow women to become bishops, a decision that was later approved by the U.K. Parliament and given the assent of Queen Elizabeth II. The approvals were required because the church’s decision effectively changed English law. (The Church of England is an officially established Christian church with Queen Elizabeth II as its supreme governor.)