[Episcopal News Service – Washington, D.C.] Paddy Cavanaugh knows what it feels like to grow up in poverty and rely on food and other assistance.
One of two children raised by a single mother who worked as a teacher’s assistant, Cavanaugh’s family received support from the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, and at times received rental assistance from their church and subsidized school lunches.
Yet growing up in Pasquotank County where 18 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and many people receive public assistance, Cavanaugh didn’t think of himself as poor.
A cradle Episcopalian, Cavanaugh, 23, now an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, shared his personal story during “Advocacy to Challenge Domestic Poverty,” a May 12-14 conference to train young adults in the skills necessary to transform unjust structures of society, frame the issues of domestic poverty and to stand with and be advocates for the poor.
Fifty bishops and young adults, from 14 dioceses representing the Episcopal Church’s eight domestic provinces, gathered in the nation’s capital for the conference sponsored by the Episcopal Church and Bishops Working for a Just World, a caucus within the House of Bishops devoted to fulfilling the baptismal covenant to “strive for justice and peace and respect the dignity of every human being.”
A handful of bishops make annual visits to Washington, D.C., typically in the fall, to meet with elected officials on legislative issues ranging from immigration to gun control to environmental protection, advocating positions supported by General Convention resolutions.
A few years in the making, this three-day conference marked the first time bishops organized the training for young adults; it wouldn’t have been possible without a Constable Fund grant, said Connecticut Bishop Suffragan James Curry, convener of Bishops Working for a Just World.
The Constable Fund provides grants for mission initiatives that were not included in Episcopal Church’s triennial budget.
Attendees, mostly high school and college students and a few young professionals, spent May 13 at the Capitol Skyline Hotel in a daylong media training conducted by Auburn Media aimed at preparing them to engage the media and to craft their core message through narrative, Christian values-based storytelling.
Following the media training, they learned about the federal budget process and the difference between discretionary and mandatory spending; the 2015 fiscal outlook; and the basics of lobbying in preparation to meet with elected officials from their home districts in South Dakota, Massachusetts, Minnesota, South Carolina, Michigan, North Carolina, New Mexico, New York and Texas.
“It really is what the church is about, equipping the saints to do work of mission,” Curry, who will retire later this year, said in an interview with ENS. “My hope is that this network can keep in contact across the issues and can build networks at home.”
Much of the work undertaken by the Washington-D.C.-based Office of Government Relations has a state-level component, such as the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid Expansion, said Jayce Hafner, domestic policy analyst.
“Advocacy is part and parcel of our mission and we believe we won’t be whole as individuals until every member of Christ’s body has the same opportunity to be whole,” said Hafner. “Legislation is a powerful vehicle for promoting health and wholeness in our communities.”
With the House in recess, bishops and young adults met with senators and their staffers to talk specifically about six poverty-alleviation programs in the discretionary budget: supplemental nutrition; Meals on Wheels and other community-based supports for vulnerable seniors; federal unemployment benefits and allowances; Head Start and other education programs; low-income housing assistance and homelessness prevention; and the Second Chance Act, aimed at helping formerly incarcerated individuals rebuild their lives.
“We’re here today to bear the Rock of Ages up this hill,” said Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in a May 14 sermon preached at the start of the legislative lobbying day at the United Methodist Building’s Simpson Memorial Chapel across from the Capitol. “All Jesus’ followers are meant to be climbing up the hill to spread a vision of eternal and abundant life. And we also claim the hope that there will eventually be an end to climbing up the hill.
“Remember that none of us goes alone to this task – we go in company, as part of the body of Christ, and the company of all faithful people seeking that eternal vision of holy and healed community.”
And as Bishop Stacy Sauls, chief operating officer of the Episcopal Church, pointed out during an address at the May 12 opening of the conference, relationships and solidarity with the poor precedes advocacy.
During the next day’s media training it became obvious that the young adults, whose adolescence has been marked by the Great Recession, had nailed the relationship and solidarity piece; like Cavanaugh, many shared candid firsthand experiences with poverty or their work with the poor and disenfranchised.
Dalton Wakefield, 18, of the Diocese of Dallas and a student at the University of North Texas, said he wouldn’t have been able to attend the conference; he also took offense to the use of the term “poor,” as a label. Later he explained that during the Great Recession, his family went from middle class to working class, a change in economic status that, he says, has forced him to “grow up” more quickly than he otherwise would have.
Ebony Richardson, 26, of Long Beach, California, who now studies mathematics at Howard University, represented the Diocese of Washington at the conference. During the media training she volunteered that her current success can be attributed to second chance programs in her home state.
“I got caught up with a bad crowd and went to juvy [juvenile hall]. I could say I didn’t know any better; it was all that I saw around me. But when I went to juvy, I realized I had to change my life,” she later explained in an interview with ENS.
Crime and violence dominate life in Richardson’s hometown, but despite falling in with “the bad crowd,” she was a high-performing student, and she credits the mandatory counseling she received in juvenile hall and government-sponsored after-school programs with helping her change her life.
“I was getting all A’s in school … but I needed an overseer [counselor] to tell me I could change my life,” Richardson explained.
It’s been 10 years since Richardson spent time in juvenile hall; her problems with anger and the subsequent acting out were not just personal, but community problems, and when she goes home now she sees what cuts to social programs, like the ones she benefited from, are hurting the community.
Bernadette Karpf, a high school senior representing the Diocese of Connecticut, over the last five to 10 years has witnessed the downsizing of mostly white-collar jobs in her hometown of Newington, a suburb of the capital, Hartford.
“Unemployment benefits have been a blessing to my family and my community,” she said.
Without unemployment insurance extensions, the long-term unemployed face losing their homes: when mom and dad can’t pay the bills, children end up homeless, said Rolf Lowenberg-DeBoer, missioner for community engagement in the Episcopal Church of Minnesota.
Even in Minnesota, a progressive state with a strong social net, children represent 46 percent of the homeless population post-Great Recession, he said.
As evidenced by the conference of bishops and young adults, the church has a responsibility to identify and develop new leaders in the church, said
South Dakota Bishop John Tarrant who invited 19-year-old Cassie Boettcher, a college student and member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Watertown, South Dakota, to attend the conference.
But it’s not about preparing young adults to lead in the future, it’s to lead in the present, he said.
And as the Rev. Michael Angell, the Episcopal Church’s missioner for young adults and campus ministry, sees it, developing leaders is a way to bring millennials, the 80 million people born between 1980 and 1995, into the church.
Studies show millennials don’t see the church as either relevant to society, “all talk and no action” or they see it as too caught up in partisan politics. But in his experience with millennials, they have a “holy hunch,” meaning “the world as it is, is not the world that it should be.”
When viewed as a place where they can have a voice on issues of social and economic justice, young adults see the Episcopal Church as a place where they can not only become leaders, but where they can make a real difference in the world, Angell said.
“There is a real sense for young adults that the church is a place where you can lead and get things done.”
Cavanaugh’s family eventually left Elizabeth City, the town in rural Pasquotank County to move to Greenville, the 10th largest city in the state and home to East Carolina University, North Carolina’s second biggest university.
In his teens, Cavanaugh said he became aware of his economic situation, but he also become aware of his social position, and that being poor, yet being a poor white male, gave him social capital and access to networks that other poor people in his racially mixed community didn’t have.
And once the family moved to Greenville, he saw a way of life different from the rural poverty of his youth. Still, he hasn’t turned his back on his roots; with scholarships and financial aid Cavanaugh is able to study history and Christianity, with and eye toward social justice and ordination.
“I feel like this is where I come from, and I have an obligation to help the community,” he said.
– Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal Diocese of California] On Saturday, May 10, the Diocese of California held its first-ever Eco-Confirmation at St. Dorothy’s Rest in Camp Meeker, California. The confirmation took place with the annual Woods to Waves health camps fundraiser hike at St. Dorothy’s. Two people renewed their baptismal vows, one person was received into The Episcopal Church, and seven people were confirmed.
The Eco-Confirmation itself took place not in the chapel at St. Dorothy’s, but outside, with the gathered assembly surrounded by redwoods. The Eco-Confirmation service closely followed the Confirmation service from the Book of Common Prayer. California Bishop Marc Andrus presided. “The Earth’s story of itself is the sermon I think we needed to hear on this day, and in this place,” Andrus said during his brief remarks.
The Liturgy of the Word for the Eco-Confirmation was a local modification of the Cosmic Walk originally created by Sr. Miriam MacGillis. A large basin of water, sitting in the center of a spiral of red rope on the ground, was blessed before an abridged version of the history of the universe was read. The red rope emphasized the presence of the Holy Spirit for the occasion of confirmation.
The Prologue to John’s Gospel began the stations of the Cosmic Walk, and after the lesson from John, a reader shared the story of the Great Flaring Forth at the beginning of time. Other events noted in the history included the creation of stars, galaxies, and our sun; the formation of the Earth’s atmosphere; the appearance of redwoods; Jesus’ birth; and the founding of St. Dorothy’s Rest. At each station a walker poured water from the baptismal basin into bowls marking the passage of time between each event.
The red rope of the spiral also reminded the gathering that throughout all of history fire and heat have led to change, growth, and development, not all of which have been good or helpful. Bishop Andrus, who brainstormed the Eco-Confirmation concept, is an outspoken commentator on the role of humanity in global climate change and the need for an amendment of life of the whole human people to restore creation that has been commended to humanity’s care. Futhermore, he consistently asks if respondents will respect the dignity of the Earth as well as every human being when making or renewing the Baptismal Covenant.
The confirmations, receptions, and reaffirmations took place in the center of the spiral while those present for support sang the refrain “Veni Sancte Spiritus.” Confirmands, re-affirmers, and reception candidates were from St. James / Iglesia de Santiago, Oakland; St. Stephen’s, Orinda; Christ Church, Alameda; and Holy Trinity / La Santisima Trinidad, Richmond. The service was in Spanish and English, and those being presented represented racial and age diversity, one of the diocese’s marks of church vitality.
When all candidates had been confirmed, received, or reaffirmed their vows, the assembly exchanged signs of the peace of Christ, usually a handshake or hug, before praying the Lord’s Prayer. For a dismissal, those newly strengthened on their Christian journey joined the bishop in asperging — splashing with holy water — the rest of the congregation. Participants moved to the starting point of the Woods to Waves hike as they sang, “We are marching in the light of God.”
The focus on the baptismal water — with it at the center of the assembly, blessing it to begin liturgy, and having everyone splashed to remember their baptisms — emphasized that baptism is the source of all Christian ministry, including care for creation. The story of the universe in its almost 14 billion years of existence resonated deeply as the congregation was surrounded by large, towering redwoods.
Some from the Eco-Confirmation service participated with over 80 people in the Woods to Waves hike to raise money and awareness for health camps at St. Dorothy’s Rest. Hikers began at St. Dorothy’s and ended the 14-mile hike at Shell Beach. Over $20,000 was raised on Saturday, and donations are still being received and counted. Every summer, St. Dorothy’s provides two weeks of camps for children with cancer and children with organ transplants.
In the 113 years that St. Dorothy’s has been providing camps to critically ill children, no family has ever been charged a fee to attend. Camp St. Dorothy’s is fully funded by individual donations, outreach grants, and foundation grants. $1000 fully covers the cost for one child to attend Camp St. Dorothy’s. Further information is available here.
El Tribunal Supremo de Justiciade Venezuela declaró “improcedente” el recurso de la legisladora opositora María Corina Machado contra la decisión de ese cuerpo de despojarla de su investidura parlamentaria. Razón: “No se utilizó el debido proceso legislativo”.
En momentos en que se cumplen tres meses del inicio de las demostraciones estudiantiles en varias ciudades de Venezuela, la organización internacional Human Rights Watch ha hecho un largo informe en el que se menciona la situación de las cárceles en el país. Dice en parte el informe: “Las cárceles en Venezuela están entre las más violentas deAmérica Latina, allí existe una débil seguridad, infraestructuras en deterioro, hacinamiento por excesos de la población penal, guardias mal entrenados y corrupción rampante… los encargados han permitido que bandas armadas de malhechores tomen el control efectivo de las prisiones”.
Un documento emitido por los obispos católicos romanos de Argentina califica la presente situación del país como “enferma de violencia”, en donde los delitos han aumentado en cantidad y agresividad. La presidenta Cristina Fernández tomó las declaraciones como una crítica a su gobierno y dijo que se “pretende reeditar viejos enfrentamientos” como los sucedidos en los años 70. Observadores opinan que este documento rompe la cordialidad que existió entre ambas instituciones desde que Mario Bergoglio, arzobispo de Buenos Aires, asumió el cargo de papa. Los argentinos consideran la seguridad personal como la principal preocupación del país.
Luego de un aluvión de críticas por la realización de una misa negra satánica en el campus de la Universidad de Harvard en Cambridge, Estados Unidos, los organizadores del controvertido evento decidieron efectuarla fuera de sus instalaciones.
La secta nigeriana islamista Boko Haram ha dicho que está dispuesta a canjear las casi 300 jovencitas que fueron secuestradas hace pocas semanas, por los insurgentes arrestados por las fuerzas de seguridad del país. El líder del grupo añadió en un video que las niñas en su mayoría cristianas “han sido convertidas al islam”.
La Parroquia Anglicana de la Sagrada Familia en Tláhuac, estado de México, sirvió recientemente como anfitriona de una reunión con la comunidad ecuménica de Taizé. La reunión contó con jóvenes de todo México, 13 naciones de América Latina y Europa.LaComunidad de Taizées una comunidad monástica cristianaecuménica, fundada en 1940 por el teólogo suizo Roger Schutz, conocido como el Hermano Roger, en la localidad deTaizé,Francia, que continúa siendo su sede. Taizé es reconocida mundialmente como un foco deecumenismo entre los jóvenes.
Aldo Vara, ex capellán del Ejército Argentino, acusado de delitos de lesa humanidad durante la dictadura ha sido encontrado en una parroquia de Ciudad del Este. Dada su edad, 80 años y su salud cumple arresto domiciliario donde trabajaba durante los tres últimos años celebrando la Eucaristía y oyendo confesiones.
El Consejo Jurídico de la Iglesia Metodista Unida de Estados Unidos ha decretado que parejas del mismo sexo no pueden casarse en la iglesia pero si uno de ellos trabaja en una de las 13 agencias de la denominación puede recibir beneficios si el estado lo permite.
Los que defienden la Reforma Migratoria en Estados Unidos siguen “presionando” a los políticos que se oponen ella o no toman las medidas necesarias como el presidente Barack Obama. Lo que más le duele a la comunidad indocumentada latina son las deportaciones. Janet Murguía, presidenta del Concilio Nacional de la Raza, se refirió al presidente como “El Deportador en Jefe”. El senador Bob Menéndez y los congresistas Luis Gutiérrez y Mario Díaz-Balart se han puesto contra el presidente y públicamente le han pedido “que no destruya más familias” con las deportaciones.
Uhuru Kanyatta, presidente de Kenia, ha firmado una ley que autoriza la poligamia. La ley permite que un hombre pueda tener tantas mujeres como quiera siempre y cuando las pueda mantener. Kenia tiene 42 tribus y muchas no tienen límite al número de esposas que cada hombre puede tener.
Un amable lector nos escribe que en una reciente nota sobre San Juan Pablo II se habla de encubrimiento de abusos sexuales y él piensa que más apropiado sería decir “supuestos” abusos sexuales. Tiene razón nuestro lector, pedimos disculpas y vaya aquí la aclaración.
El gobierno de Cataluña, España, ha decidido otorgarle el Premio Cataluña al obispo anglicano jubilado de Ciudad del Cabo, Sudáfrica, por “su vigorosa y constante lucha por la justicia social”. La entrega será hecha el 3 de junio en el Palau de la Generalitat.
VERDAD. Honor a quien honor merezca.
Justo González, Cuban American historian, theologian and author preached at the Holy Eucharist. The seminary awarded honorary doctorates to González, to the Rev. Alejandro Montes, the founding rector of Iglesia Episcopal San Mateo in Houston, Texas, the first Spanish speaking mission to become a parish in the United States, and to Mr. John Jockusch, philanthropist, lay leader and member of St. David’s Episcopal Church, San Antonio.
Chair of the seminary’s board of trustees, the Rt. Rev. Dena Harrison and Dean and President Cynthia Briggs Kittredge awarded 33 diplomas to seminarians completing the Master of Divinity, MA in Religion, MA in Counseling, MA in Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care, MA in Spiritual Formation and Diploma in Anglican Studies.
Lutheran Seminary Program in the Southwest (LSPS) presented certificates to graduates of their Theological Education for Emerging Ministries program.
[Episcopal News Service] In her many different roles as public servant but especially as secretary of labor in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s cabinet, Frances Perkins exemplified these words, working steadfastly and ceaselessly to ensure that the poor and needy in our land “be maintained in health and decency.”
“Like Jesus who fed the multitudes rather than turning them away,” the Rev. Lu-Anne Conner of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Newcastle, Maine said, “when Frances Perkins saw the breadlines during the Great Depression, she understood that her work was to ‘go and do likewise.’” And she did – by helping to create Social Security, secure a minimum wage, shorten the work day and by end child labor.
“Celebrating the [May 13] feast day of Frances Perkins,” said Conner, “is particularly meaningful at St. Andrew’s because Frances Perkins worshiped here for 60 years.
“This year our celebration was made even more memorable by the dedication of an icon, a gift of the Rev. Amelia Hagen,”added Perkins’ grandson, Tomlin Coggeshall, who is a St. Andrew’s parishioner and lives at The Brick House in Newcastle – the family home where his grandmother spent so much time.
“My grandmother would be both thrilled and humbled. The icon is absolutely beautiful. I feel that my grandmother’s persona will inhabit it more and more over time.”
Frances Perkins Center Executive Director Michael Chaney, who attended the dedication, said: “The Frances Perkins icon is a moving image that reminds us of how she placed her secular work in the context of working for God and for the greater good of all people.”
In 1905 Frances Perkins joined the Episcopal Church. For the next 60 years, she derived inspiration, solace, and courage from worship and contemplation to carry out her work and to face her personal struggles. During regular weekend retreats at the All Saints Convent in Catonsville, Maryland, she “spent hours pondering spiritual issues and how to lead a godly life in a secular world…. The nuns found her in the early morning hours in the chapel, praying on her hands and knees for guidance,” according to Kirsten Downey in her book about Perkins, The Woman Behind the New Deal. In Washington, she often attended early morning services during the week at the Parish of Saint James (now Saint Monica and Saint James).
Icons as invitation to contemplation and action
Upon seen the Perkins icon for the first time, Heidi Shott, canon for communications and social justice for the Diocese in Maine, said it “gave me tender pause. This beautifully written icon is a tangible object to remind me of what is possible when we use our gifts for God.”
And that is exactly what their purpose is, according to iconographer Suzanne Schleck, who wrote the icon.
“Icons,” said Schleck, “are an invitation to enter into relationship with God.”
Creating them involves artistry and inspiration. The process allows the “icons to come through our hands. As layer upon layer of light is added, a face emerges from the darkness. In both form and content an icon is a parable of hope, and faith in the redeeming love of our God,” Schleck wrote on her website.
Creating the icon of Frances Perkins, Schleck found inspiration in the fact that Perkins “put her beliefs and faith into action so effectively.”
“Taking care of others,” said Schleck, “is her message to us. when I look at it, it makes me laugh! Yes! It’s possible. You can live that way!”
Biographer Downey said “It is fitting that Frances Perkins has been immortalized in an icon. She was a profoundly spiritual woman who constantly sought God’s guidance to help give every person in America, as she said, ‘the best possible life.’”
The Rev. Charles Hoffacker, a member of the Frances Perkins Center board of directors, commented that “it’s great to see an inspiring icon of this twentieth century saint.”
“Her apparel in the icon recalls what she characteristically wore, including her famous hat. The scroll features words with which she described her mission as United States labor secretary and as a Christian called to public service at a time of national crisis.
“Saints are reminders to us of how the reign of God is manifest in many times and places. A saint from our society, who lived not so long ago, is a challenge for us to realize God’s mercy is among us now and we are to live in accord with that mercy.”
A personal glimpse
Christopher Breiseth knew Frances Perkins well. They met when she was a visiting professor at Cornell University and a grandmother.
Breiseth, who chairs the Frances Perkins Center board of directors, was a graduate student and president of the Telluride House at Cornell.
He and his housemates invited Perkins to live with them at Telluride. Perkins gladly accepted, remarking to friends, “Do you know what those boys have done? I feel like a bride on her wedding night!” Breiseth said here.
Breiseth added that Perkins treated everyone with respect, even very tough political and labor leaders. There was an inner confidence combined with humility that reduced barriers, he said. She did not wear her spirituality on her sleeve but one knew in watching her day after day how profoundly religious she was.
The celebration of Perkins’ feast day continued down the East Coast on the route she so often traveled by train from Maine to Washington. Speaking at the Episcopal Chaplaincy Mass at Princeton University Chapel, Donn Mitchell, author of “Frances Perkins: Architect of a Gracious Society”, remarked, “The icon signals that the work and witness of Frances Perkins continues to bless us. I hope that it will also inspire us to emulate her steadfast love of the community.”
In Washington, D.C., Tomlin Coggeshall delivered the homily at an evening service on May 13 at the Parish of Saint Monica and Saint James, where his grandmother worshiped when in Washington.
Coggeshall also met with Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. A portrait of Perkins hangs behind Secretary Perez’s desk. She is, he told Coggeshall, a “gold standard for labor secretaries.”
“Her portrait hangs over my desk, so that every day I can be inspired by the example she set and the legacy she left for the department,” Perez said in a statement later released by his office. “She is one of the most extraordinary women in American history, and a guiding light for us as we work to expand opportunity for all.”
– Christiana Adams, a parishioner at St. Andrew’s, is a communications consultant and ed
[Episcopal News Service] “We must be battering down the gates of heaven in prayer” for South Sudan, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says during an interview with Episcopal News Service.
During the past five months, South Sudan has faced its greatest challenge since becoming the world’s newest nation in July 2011, when it seceded from the north in a referendum on independence following almost half a century of civil war.
A separate conflict erupted last December after South Sudan President Salva Kiir accused his sacked former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup.
Welby visited South Sudan in late January and witnessed some of the atrocities of the conflict. In the interview with ENS, Welby relayed his visit to Bor, in Jonglei State, where he said he saw dead bodies lining the streets and where he consecrated a mass grave.
In the midst of evil, Welby said that he saw God “in the extraordinary fact that after half a century of civil war, and the hardening that that causes, that we could stand in Bor and see people weeping with compassion because the spirit of God still moves with love in their hearts.”
But even as hope emerged on May 9 when the two rivals agreed to a truce and to forming a transitional government ahead of fresh elections, fighting has continued in parts of South Sudan. The humanitarian crisis is vast and the South Sudanese are desperately in need of the world’s support. The conflict has left thousands dead and some 1.5 million people have been displaced.
The church in South Sudan has played a major role in peace and reconciliation. Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, chair of the national reconciliation program, was summoned to the May 9 meeting between the two rivals in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Before Kiir and Machar signed the peace deal, Deng held their hands and led a prayer.
Meanwhile, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has called the Episcopal Church to prayer and action for South Sudan, saying she would like Episcopalians “to learn more about the situation, to be in contact with their legislators, to pray, and to reach out to the Sudanese in their own neighborhoods.”
She was joined May 9 by heads of the North American Lutheran and Anglican churches in calling the church to prayer, especially as the Episcopal Church calendar commemorates the Martyrs of Sudan on May 16.
The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations provided a template for an advocacy letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, urging him to support peace and reconciliation in South Sudan.
For further information about the crisis in South Sudan and resources for prayer, study and action, visit: www.episcopalchurch.org/sudan.
– Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal Church Office of Pubic Affairs] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori delivered the following sermon during morning Eucharist May 14 at the Simpson Memorial Chapel in the United Methodist Building across from U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
Advocacy to Challenge Domestic Poverty
14 May 2014
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
Do you know the story of Sisyphus? He’s a character in Greek mythology who’s condemned to roll the same rock up the hill forever. Every time he gets to the top of the hill, the rock rolls right back down. His story has something in common with Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day, who has to repeat the same day until he gets things a little closer to right. The difference is that Sisyphus is stuck for eternity.
We are in the same sort of uphill business, but we’re in it for the sake of eternity. We’re here today to bear the Rock of Ages up this hill. Jesus insists that his job isn’t to judge the world but to save it – by speaking what he’s been commanded: eternal life. That’s the word and vision we’re supposed to bring up with us. All Jesus’ followers are meant to be climbing up the hill to spread a vision of eternal and abundant life. And we also claim the hope that there will eventually be an end to climbing up the hill.
This understanding of eternity is shorthand for the Reign of God fully present. It’s about humanity and all creation collaborating in an ecosystem of justice, living in freedom and holiness. The Navajo word for it is hozho, often translated as beauty or balance. Hebrew calls it shalom. It means knowing that we are all related and connected, and that how we live affects all others – that we will only find peace and justice when we live consciously interdependent lives. This is the vision that the prophets have always held up. Hear again Isaiah’s banquet on the hillside: “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples… he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces…”
That’s what needs to roll up the hill today – that image of a holy picnic, so that all the people of this nation might enjoy the feast. Go up that hill “as a light to the nations, that God’s salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Take your part in the body of Christ, and be that flaming vision of righteousness that Bishop Stacy referred to on Monday. A verse we didn’t hear:
I have seen him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read his righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
God’s day is marching on.
Be the flaming lamp that gives light to the world we share. Take your light up that hill, light fires in those who have grown cold or dead, and let it combine with others, to bring light to this and every nation.
This hill could help build a city that sheds light on the nations. That’s certainly what our forebears here hoped for. We may doubt that this hill will ever induce the nations to stream in and learn righteousness, beauty, and balance in human relationships. It’s been something of the opposite in recent years. But the dreams you bear up here can help to warm cold hearts and remind us all of our interconnectedness. As the psalmist puts it, when the people practice justice, God blesses it, and the nations stand in awe of it. Consider your travels this day like marching to Zion, the beautiful city of God: “Come, we that love the Lord, and let our joys be known; join in a song with sweet accord, and thus surround the throne.”
This hill is much like the one Jesus climbed when he went to confront the powers in Jerusalem. It is the hill of Calvary as well. It is a place of sacrifice, where each of us can offer something of ourselves for the life of the whole body. May your offering this day bring healing and holiness. Be like the widow seeking justice – keep knocking at the door of justice.
Remember that none of us goes alone to this task – we go in company, as part of the body of Christ, and the company of all faithful people seeking that eternal vision of holy and healed community. Barnabas and Saul were sent out by a band of leaders and advocates in the church in Antioch, who represented the diversity of the Mediterranean world: Simeon the Black, Lucius from Libya, and even Manaean, a member of Herod’s court (some say he was Herod’s foster-brother) – quite a range of ethnicities and social locations. They sent them off to Cyprus and Greece to share this vision with the whole world. You don’t climb this hill alone. You go as part of the company of saints, on behalf of the forgotten in this land. The message you carry today is an essential piece of bringing true peace everywhere.
Our hope lies in expecting to find God there ahead of us, already at work transforming hearts and minds toward that vision of eternity. I would challenge you to expect to meet the image of God in your visits this day – in people who disagree with you, or seem not to listen. Search for God’s image anyway. Share what you know of the image of God in the poor, in yourself and in your neighbor. You’ve had a remarkable experience of meeting the image of God in this gathering, which has now become a body of friends. Can you share that light with those you meet today?
This Congress has had enormous difficulty recently in seeing the holiness of all sorts of others – those with different positions and strategic approaches to the nation’s problems, those with little voice in national politics, the hungry and poor for whom we used to claim the door was fully open. You might take with you the torch of freedom, an image born of the more cosmic one we know as the eternal light of the world:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning,
And her name, Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome…
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, Tempest-tost to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
The Mother of Exiles welcomes the poor. Anselm of Canterbury put it this way in the 11th century: “Jesus, as a mother you gather your people to you; you are gentle with us as a mother with her children. Often you weep over our sins and our pride, tenderly you draw us from hatred and judgment. You comfort us in sorrow and bind up our wounds, in sickness you nurse us and with pure milk you feed us.”
Bear the torchlight up the hill, spread its flame, and open the door of true and holy freedom for all.
 Isaiah 25:6-8a
 Isaiah 49:6
 Battle Hymn of the Republic, Julia Ward Howe, v 2
 Matthew 5:15
 Isaac Watts, “We’re Marching to Zion.”
 Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus.” Inscription on the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.
 Canticle Q, “A Song of Christ’s Goodness,” Anselm of Canterbury. Enriching Our Worship 1 39
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopalians have a great opportunity to aid and participate in the ministry for Native Americans through a special offering that will assist the ongoing mission work in Navajoland.
The Navajoland Area Mission is 26,000 square miles that spreads over Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
“For over 100 years The Episcopal Church has had a presence in Navajoland,” Bishop David E. Bailey stated in an April letter sent to all congregations. “As we work to reclaim our traditional spirituality and culture, we must simultaneously address the damage incurred by our history. Some of that damage is emotional and some of it is physical.”
Among the requests cited by Bishop Bailey is the construction of new hooghans, a traditional Navajoland dwelling. He is asking for funds to build the ceremonial and educational hooghan at St. Christopher Mission in Bluff, Utah, one of the churches of Navajoland.
Hooghans cost $25,000 to build and are used for traditional ceremonies as well as educational purposes.
“I hope that you will consider joining us in prayer and giving to this Special Offering which promises new life for our people,” Bishop Bailey said.
Donations can be made online here or send checks to The Development Office, The Episcopal Church Center, 815 Second Ave., NY NY 10017.
For more information contact Cornelia Eaton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Comité de Solidaridad] Seis semanas después de la ronda de consultas del presidente Danilo Medina a sectores políticos y religiosos y a casi ocho meses de la infausta sentencia 168-13 del Tribunal Constitucional (TC), es tiempo más que suficiente para que se materialice la solución humanitaria y acorde con los principios fundamentales de la Constitución y el derecho internacional que ha sido reiteradas veces prometida. Por encima de toda consideración está el sufrimiento y daño causado a decenas de miles de personas que tienen suspendidos sus derechos fundamentales.
1.- En primer lugar debemos señalar que este Comité de Solidaridad está constituido por más de 500 dominicanos y dominicanas de diversos sectores sociales con el objetivo de contribuir a una solución humana que reivindique los derechos constitucionales y los compromisos de la nación con los preceptos fundamentales del derecho internacional, con ánimo de entendimiento y respeto de la diversidad, no para estimular la confrontación, la exclusión y el odio que algunos tratan de sembrar.
2.- En cumplimiento de ese objetivo hemos tocado todas las puertas donde podíamos encontrar interlocutores, desde el presidente de la República y sus más cercanos colaboradores, al presidente del Partido de la Liberación Dominicana, el expresidente de la República Leonel Fernández, hasta el liderazgo político, empresarial, religioso y social. Es relevante que en todos ha habido comprensión sobre la justeza y necesidad de una solución que restituya los derechos conculcados, aunque por diversos caminos. Ello incluye a los dos mayores líderes del partido gobernante y que tiene absoluta mayoría en las cámaras legislativas, y de manera relevante a todos los líderes empresariales y religiosos con los que hemos conversado.
3.- Vale precisar que en la reunión que sostuvimos con el doctor Leonel Fernández hace cinco semanas, él nos informó de un consenso que había alcanzado con el presidente Medina para reconocer mediante ley las actas de nacimiento registradas por los oficiales del Estado Civil antes de la sentencia 168-13, lo que revocaría las desnacionalizaciones. Aunque compartiendo los criterios del TC que las ha considerado improcedentes, entiende que no se puede hacer pagar el “error del Estado” a personas que no han intervenido en su materialización.
4.- Seguimos sosteniendo que la sentencia viola una docena de preceptos constitucionales y reiteramos nuestra preferencia por una solución dominicana al conflicto originado por la circular 12-07 de la JCE y la sentencia del TC, partiendo del planteamiento del numeral 2 del Artículo 18 de la Constitución que reconoce la ciudadanía a “quienes gocen de la nacionalidad dominicana antes de la entrada en vigencia de esta Constitución”, así como del Artículo 110 de la misma Constitución que ratifica el principio jurídico de la no retroactividad de la ley: “En ningún caso los poderes públicos o la ley podrán afectar la seguridad jurídica derivada de situaciones establecidas conforme a una legislación anterior”.
5.- Sin embargo, si somos incapaces de hacer prevalecer los principios constitucionales en torno a los derechos de la nacionalidad de los nacidos en el país antes de la Constitución del 2010 que cambió el marco jurídico al respecto, tenemos la posibilidad de apelar a una opinión consultiva de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH), prevista en el artículo 72 de su reglamento y en el 64 de la Convención Americana de los Derechos Humanos, instrumentos ratificados por el Estado dominicano y que son parte del bloque de constitucionalidad de acuerdo con el artículo 74.3 de la Constitución de la República.
6. La prolongación de este grave conflicto solo sirve para que la nación dominicana siga siendo cuestionada en todos los ámbitos del derecho internacional y sigamos recibiendo acusaciones de xenofobia y racismo de organismos y organizaciones, así como de medios de comunicación social de todo el mundo. Esos cuestionamientos, en vez de disminuir como algunos esperaban, han estado en permanece crecimiento con el paso de los meses. Con el agravante de que al final nos espera un dictamen revocatorio y vinculante de la CIDH considerado inevitable a la luz de su jurisprudencia, especialmente por la sentencia del 2005 sobre el caso Yan y Bosico.
7.- Como planteamos en comunicado del 29 de noviembre, “La superación de este conflicto, que ha dividido profundamente a la sociedad dominicana, permitirá centrar la atención en la recién presentada propuesta de “Plan Nacional de Regularización de Extranjeros en Situación Migratoria Irregular”, discutido durante casi dos años. Esta propuesta parece más realista y viable, y supera considerablemente las dos versiones anteriores. La misma contempla las medidas fundamentales para iniciar el control de la desproporcionada inmigración haitiana. Saludamos este esfuerzo normativo que deberá proseguirse con otros de carácter nacional y bilaterales, al tiempo que reclamamos que no se le contamine pretendiendo ahora aplicarlo a nacionales dominicanos, nacidos en el país, como ocurre en el Párrafo del Artículo 8 del Proyecto.”
Superemos definitivamente este diferendo y permitamos que el gobierno concentre toda su atención en los grandes propósitos que presentó al electorado hace dos años.-
Santo Domingo, 13 de mayo del 2014.
Equipo de Coordinación
Miguel Ceara Hatton Carmen Amelia Cedeño
Juan Bolívar Díaz Mons. Julio César Holguín K.
Víctor Víctor Wilfredo Lozano
Eulogia Familia Cristóbal Rodríguez
Rev. Mario Serrano Ana Selman
Guadalupe Valdez Pavel Isa Contreras
Roque Félix Sergia Galvan
Guillermo Esterlín Manuel Robles
[Episcopal City Mission press release] Episcopal City Mission (ECM), an agent for social and economic justice with headquarters in Boston, MA, has decided to divest its endowment from fossil fuels. The unanimous vote of the ECM Board of Directors took place at the May 8 meeting after months of research, reflection and deliberation that included diligent analysis of the potential financial impact of divestment on its investments. The Finances Committee and the Board of Directors were satisfied that ECM’s portfolio manager has designed an investment strategy with comparable returns so that their fiduciary responsibilities for the endowment can be exercised without exposure to fossil fuels.
The action of the ECM Board comes in part in response to a Resolution passed by the 2013 Diocesan Convention on “Environmentally Responsible Investing.” The Diocesan Resolution calls for a freezing of direct investments in the Carbon Tracker top 200 fossil fuel companies; its asks that the Trustees of the Diocese, congregations, and other affiliated institutions research and identify “best in class” fossil fuel companies and that assets of the Diocesan Investment Trust only include “best in class” fossil fuels companies after November 2013, and it calls for the design of “an alternative investment vehicle that is free from fossil fuel production companies.” ECM, an institution affiliated to the Diocese, had already limited its exposure to fossil fuels only to “best in class” companies prior to November 2013. After the November 2013 Diocesan Convention, ECM began to work with its portfolio manager to explore an alternative instrument, free of fossil fuels. On May 8, 2014 ECM adopted it.
After the vote, the Chair of the Board of Episcopal City Mission, The Rev. Noah H. Evans, said: “It is my hope the ECM’s actions here will encourage other Episcopal organizations, including our own Diocese’s Trustees of Donations and other investors, to take a hard look at their portfolios and whether they are in line with their faith commitments, including social justice and caring for creation.”
ECM’s Executive Director, Dr. Ruy O. Costa, quoted the teachings of the apostle Paul in his letter to the Christians in Rome that “creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God,” and commented: “I hope that what is manifested in our work and through our investments is a theology of caring: caring for our neighbors, caring for the future, and caring for nature.”
Episcopal City Mission works for social and economic justice with special attention to the needs of the urban poor. ECM mobilizes Episcopal parishes, individuals and resources in partnership with other community organizations for social structural change. ECM supports community organizing, mission-related investments in affordable housing, community economic development, and public policy advocacy.
[Anglican Taonga] General Synod on May 14 passed a resolution that will create a pathway towards the blessing of same-sex relationships – while upholding the traditional doctrine of marriage.
It will appoint a working group to report to the 2016 General Synod on “a process and structure” that would allow those clergy who wish to bless same-sex relationships – using a yet-to-be developed liturgy – to do so.
The working group will also be charged to develop “a process and structure” to ensure that clergy who believe that same-sex blessings are contrary to “scripture, doctrine, tikanga or civil law” to remain fully free to dissent.
The “process and structure” in their case would mean these clergy would not only be exempt from performing these same-sex blessings – but that their “integrity within the church” would be assured, and they would have full protection for their dissent in any relevant human rights legislation.
Synod has therefore upheld the traditional doctrine of marriage – but also moved to find ways to respond to committed relationships between two people, regardless of gender.
In effect, it has also established a four-year timeline for change to take effect: the working group will present its recommendations to the 2016 General Synod, and any constitutional and canonical changes would then have to be reported back to episcopal units before confirmation at the 2018 General Synod.
New liturgy to be developed
The working group has been asked to propose a liturgy to “bless right-ordered same-gender relationships” – and to develop a process and legislation (whether church or parliamentary) by which such a new liturgy might be adopted.
Synod has also asked the group (which is yet to be formed) to report to the next synod on the impact of its work on the church’s theology of marriage, and of ordination.
The preamble to the resolution adopted by the General Synod also includes an unreserved apology to the LGBT community:
“Over many years,” this reads, “our church has become increasingly aware of the pain of the LGBT community. All too often our church has been complicit in homophobic thinking and actions of society, and has failed to speak out against hatred and violence against those with same-gender attraction.
“We apologise unreservedly and commit ourselves to reconciliation and prophetic witness.”
‘Recognition’ now for couples
In the last part of the resolution, synod says it is “acutely aware of the desire of some clergy to make further response pastorally and prayerfully to LGBT people in their faith communities.”
It therefore says such clergy should be permitted “to recognize in public worship” a same-gender civil union or state marriage of members of their faith community – provided the permission of the licensing bishop is gained, as well as the permission of their vestry.
Such “recognition,” however, “cannot be marriage or a rite of blessing of a same-gender relationship.”
“We recognize that this may cause even further distress,” the resolution says. But noting the commitment of the church to move forward, “we ask the LGBT community to recognize that any process of change within our church takes time.”
Archbishops commend spirit of debate
The archbishops say that by adopting the resolution, synod has shown its commitment to protecting diversity in the church.
And they have expressed their gratitude for the way synod has debated the issues and come to its resolution.
Archbishop Winston Halapua says synod has shown “it is committed to ongoing talanoa as it considers change” and is following “the mandate of Christ to love one another at all times.”
Archbishop Philip Richardson was equally moved by the way debate flowed:
“We have witnessed across the church,” he says, “a depth of extraordinary trust and respect. There is a unity in Christ in conversations that have enabled us to get to this point.
“There is a hope that this trust we have seen with faith, hope, and love will continue as change is considered.”
• The full, unedited text of the General Synod resolution is available here.