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Anglican seafarers’ agency announces strategic reorganisation

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

Notes to Editors

The Mission to Seafarers

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

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

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

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

Reimagining Our Church

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Perris named rector of Christ the King, Frankfurt

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

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

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

Archbishop of Canterbury meets Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Grace Archbishop Justin, Beloved Brother in Christ:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your All-Holiness, Beloved Brother in Christ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Church in Egypt grateful for support in its mission

ENS Headlines - Monday, January 13, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EYE14 registration now open

ENS Headlines - Monday, January 13, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For information contact Skov at bskov@episcopalchurch.org.

Planning team
Planning team members are:
Youth

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

Adults

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

 

Ecumenical Patriarch calls for Orthodox, Anglican student swap

ENS Headlines - Monday, January 13, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENS Headlines - Monday, January 13, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENS Headlines - Monday, January 13, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Episcopales que opinan sobre la oración: ‘simplemente ora’

ENS Headlines - Monday, January 13, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oklahoma: ‘ora, enseña, actúa’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Béisbol, buena vecindad y oración persistente en Detroit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 ‘Nuestros acercamientos a la oración son innumerables’


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Por qué orar. ¿Es importante la oración instructiva?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 ‘La oración misma es un milagro’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four years later long-term recovery continues in Haiti

ENS Headlines - Friday, January 10, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four years later, Haiti’s resurrection continues

ENS Headlines - Friday, January 10, 2014

Casera Bazile’s Baptism of Our Lord mural, which he painted inside the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti’s Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-au-Prince, in 1951 was one of three of the original 14 murals which, in part, survived the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake that leveled the cathedral. Since this photo was taken about five weeks after the quake the murals have been removed and stored. Photo: Dave Drachlis/Diocese of Alabama

[Episcopal News Service] The remains of the two most iconic symbols of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, — its murals and its bells — are entombed today on the cathedral grounds awaiting resurrection.

Episcopalians have an opportunity on Jan. 12, the fourth anniversary of the earthquake that devastated wide swaths of the country, to hasten that resurrection. Already, there is new life in other parts of the diocese’s ministries.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has called on the church to “pray and give” in a special offering that day to help the Diocese of Haiti rebuild Holy Trinity Cathedral.

Noting that cathedral housed 14 ground-breaking murals depicting Haitian religious life and the life of Christ in Haitian motifs that were regarded as a “national treasure,” Jefferts Schori said in her invitation that “rebuilding the cathedral offers hope not only to Episcopalians but to the nation as a whole – a sign that God is present, that God continues to create out of dust, and that God abides in the spirit of his people.”

A bulletin insert with the presiding bishop’s invitation is here.

The Episcopal Diocese of Haiti’s Holy Trinity Cathedral in downtown Port-au-Prince as it stood in October 2006, a little more than three years before it was destroyed by the magnitude-7 earthquake that struck at 4:53 p.m. local time on Jan. 12, 2010. The quake’s epicenter was 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince. Photo: Dave Drachlis/Diocese of Alabama

The magnitude-7 earthquake, whose epicenter was 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, struck at 4:53 p.m. local time on Jan. 12, 2010, and was immediately followed by two aftershocks of 5.9 and 5.5 magnitude. Close to 300,000 people were killed. About a third of Haiti’s approximately 9 million people lived in Port-au-Prince at the time of the quake. Of those, 1.6 million people in the capital and elsewhere were left homeless on streets filled with the rubble of 80,000 destroyed buildings.

After Holy Trinity Cathedral shook and swayed and collapsed, three murals survived on three standing fragments of walls. The murals were later purposely reduced to pieces by Smithsonian-backed art conservators and stored in a container on the cathedral grounds as part of a hoped-for restoration in a new cathedral.

Fifteen bronze bells, known in carillon parlance as a “chime,” sounded from Holy Trinity’s tower from the time of their installation in the 1950s until Jan. 12, 2010. It is thought that 14 survived the quake. Two later went missing.

Elizabeth Lowell, the Episcopal Church’s director of development, was present on the cathedral grounds on a hot November day when diocesan chief operating officer Sikumbuzo Vundla and Haitian architect designer J-Hervé Sabin peeled back part of a cement vault’s corrugated tin covering to find just nine bells. However, the survivors each revealed a part of the story.

Sabin climbed into the vault and, with tracing paper and a pencil, gathered the name of each bell’s donor as well as the company that cast the bells.

John Taylor & Co., the British bell foundry that cast the cathedral’s bells, marked each of them with their name. The foundry has since supplied important information about each bell. Photo: Dave Drachlis/Diocese of Alabama

As roosters milled about and the Holy Trinity choir practiced “For Unto Us a Child is Born” in the background, Vundla searched the web via his iPad and discovered that John Taylor & Co., the company that cast the bells, is a British firm with an extensive archive of its work. Lowell said archivist George Dawson has since given her copies of the initial correspondence with then-diocesan Bishop Alfred Voegli about the bells (Voegli also commissioned the murals). Dawson also provided Lowell with the details of each bell’s diameter, weight, tone and cost.

The plan for the new cathedral includes space for the bells. That plan was unveiled in October 2012. At the time it was estimated to cost $21 million to build the entire cathedral project – the so-called “Full Vision” – immediately and that price could increase to $25 million if it took three years to build, said architect Thomas Kerns of Kerns Group Architects, in Arlington, Virginia.

The project no doubt will be constructed in phases, Kerns told the church Executive Council during his October presentation, with the first being the main worship space which would cost $15 million, including a three-year cost-escalation estimate. Construction on the cathedral has not yet begun and worshippers continue to gather in covered, open-air church on the grounds.

Lowell, who with her colleagues is helping raise money for the project, agreed that rebuilding the cathedral “is going to be a very long-term piece,” noting that very few cathedrals, past or present, have been built in short periods of time. Cathedral fund-raising details are here.

Rebuilding Holy Trinity has been a priority for diocesan Bishop Jean Zaché Duracin since shortly after the devastating quake. He has predicted the new cathedral will be “the iconic symbol of the Episcopal Church in Haiti.”

More than 1,200 worshippers would sit in a circular fashion around and above a central altar platform, with the new altar positioned in the exact location of the previous altar of the previous cathedral. Artist rendering: Kerns Group Architects

Lowell said in a recent interview that “it’s the Haitians who are asking for this [new cathedral], and with good reason because to them it’s a national treasure and it’s a symbol of their faith.”

“This is food for the soul; this is food for their lives. It’s what they are asking for and it is what we could give them,” she said. “Arts feed the soul. This church feeds the soul. This cathedral is the center of the 254 schools and the two hospitals and the 13 clinics and everything else that we’re doing for the people of Haiti, without regard to their denomination.”

While the diocese lost 80 percent of its infrastructure, all of its schools have been open since April 2010, serving Haitians from kindergarten to university. Not all schools are up to their pre-quake complement of students and staff, and work remains.

In the Haitian capital, the quake destroyed the Holy Trinity primary, secondary, music and trade schools and the Convent of the Sisters of Saint Margaret (all on the cathedral complex), as well as St. Vincent’s School for the Handicapped, the Episcopal University of Haiti, College Saint Pierre (a secondary school) and income-producing rental properties.

There is a proposal to build an income-producing property in the Turgeau section of Port-au-Prince on land that once held the diocesan bishop’s house that was destroyed in the quake. The project would include office rental space, condominiums, apartments, a guesthouse with restaurant and a supermarket with a rooftop cafeteria catering to students at a nearby university.

The Holy Trinity primary, secondary and music schools are operating in makeshift conditions on the grounds of the cathedral with plans to rebuild. The music school has plans for an expanded school in Cange and a new school in Cap Haitien in the north, as well as a new facility near the Port-au-Prince campus itself, according to information here.

The trade school has re-opened in a new, smaller facility in nearby Croix des Bouquets and now trains 600 students compared to the previous 1,700.

The diocese’s Faculté des Sciences Infirmières (http://www.fsil.org/), its nursing school, continues to train students in the country’s only four-year baccalaureate program. Photo: Laurie Lounsbury’s profile photo
Laurie Lounsbury/Haiti Nursing Foundation

And all of the diocese’s churches and other institutions such as medical clinics are operating – albeit many in far less-than-ideal conditions. Still, there are bright spots and hope for the future. In Léogâne, the diocese’s Faculté des Sciences Infirmières, its nursing school, was relatively undamaged by the temblor and continues its four-year baccalaureate program (the only one in the country) for registered nurses. Twenty of its graduates are enrolled in a master’s level nurse practitioner program run in partnership with Hunter College in New York.

The Léogâne school will soon have a new neighbor in the form of an Episcopal University-approved four-year occupational and physical therapy training program. Those students will intern at St. Vincent’s School for the Handicapped.

St. Vincent’s was the first such school in Haiti when it was built in 1945 and is still the only place offering education for the blind in the country. Its prosthetics clinic has been rebuilt and some of the older deaf children are learning a trade there. Plans for rebuilding are coming together which call for an increased enrollment of 525 students (165 of them residential). St. Vincent’s is also home to Haiti’s only hand bell choir – all whose members are blind.

Outside Port-au-Prince, 33 of the diocese’s schools, rebuilt to international hurricane and earthquake resistant standards, were community shelters when Hurricane Sandy hit the island. Another 13 schools are being constructed now. Each school educates between 400 and 800 students.

Episcopal Relief & Development, which had a strong partnership with the Haitian diocese before the quake and has been involved in in post-quake work since, is part of an international effort to “green” some of the newly built Episcopal schools along with two public schools. That work includes equipping them with bio-digester sewage systems. The systems produce compost that is used in school gardens, hillside reforestation and the growing of fruit trees for transplantation near people’s homes. The methane produced by the systems fuels cooking stoves in the school’s kitchens. Another part of the effort involves collecting rainwater for use at hand washing stations and latrines.

Those involved in the schools effort, in addition to Episcopal Relief & Development, include the Presbyterian Church, which has had a long-standing relationship with the diocese-run nursing school and Holy Cross Hospital in Léogâne, and Scandinavian and German church-affiliated organizations, according to Lowell.

The latter group, she said, recognizes that the Episcopal Church “plays a huge role in education and so their way of helping is saying ‘we’ll build the building but, it’s your school, you run it.’”

An Episcopal Relief & Development report on its current work in Haiti is here.

It is such work that makes Lowell want to tell people that Haiti is “not all bleak and dark.”

She takes it as part of her job to “help change people’s mindset about Haiti … there are some really extraordinary things happening there.”

Lowell, who has traveled to Haiti many times since the earthquake, often in the company of other Episcopalians to whom she wants to tell the post-quake story, says the signs of hope in Haiti reach beyond the work of the Episcopal Church. They include such things as a concerted effort to pick up garbage in some parts of Port-au-Prince and the installation of solar-powered street lights. In Pétionville, what was once a 15,000-tent camp three blocks from the diocesan offices is now a well-used urban park and a soccer stadium that once housed 45,000 tents has been refurbished into a state-of-the-art soccer stadium. Six new governmental building are going up in the Haitian capital.

A child stands inside the Carra Deux Camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photo: Logan Abassi/United Nations

Still, there is work to be done. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 172,000 people were living in 306 tent camps in September 2013 and faced deteriorating conditions. The office said in late 2013 that those numbers are down from a total of 1.5 million displaced in July 2010 and living in 1,555 camps. However, 600,000 Haitians faced severe food insecurity, and an additional 2.4 million lived in moderate food insecurity at the end of 2013.

The UN also said that there had been a 50 percent drop in the incidence of cholera since the 2010 outbreak that was later traced to UN peacekeepers. Still, the disease, once unknown in Haiti, persists and the UN humanitarian office predicts 45,000 new cases of the disease this year, acknowledging that the country still hosts half of the world’s suspected cholera cases.

The UN’s humanitarian plan for Haiti this year is here.

Meanwhile, Haiti vies for the world’s continued attention in the midst of several new and on-going humanitarian crises. UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos recently said that an unprecedented number of people are beginning 2014 either internally displaced or as refugees who have been driven from their homes by violence and bloodshed or uprooted by devastating natural disasters.

She said conflicts in Syria, the Central African Republic and South Sudan, as well as in the Philippines, which was devastated by typhoon Haiyan in 2013, , head the list. Amos noted crises in Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and eight other countries in the band across the continent that marks the transition of Saharan to sub-Saharan Africa. And, she added, the UN is still concerned with on-going humanitarian issues in Afghanistan and Myanmar, as well as Haiti.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

Jubilee Ministry grants awarded for church programs and mission work

ENS Headlines - Friday, January 10, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Eleven Episcopal Church Jubilee Grants totaling $50,000 have been announced to support mission and ministry in 11 dioceses.

Jubilee Ministries are congregations or agencies with connections to the Episcopal Church, designated by diocesan bishops and affirmed by Executive Council, whose mission work affect the lives of those in need, addressing basic human needs and justice issues.

Grants were awarded in two categories:  Program Impact and Program Development.

Ten Program Impact Grants at $1,500 each were awarded to initiatives of Jubilee Centers that make a positive and measurable impact in the lives of those in need.

  • Diocese of Alabama: Banks Caddell Partnership – Elementary School Homework Program and Backpack for Food Program
  • Diocese of Arizona: Good Shepherd of the Hills – Neighborhood Tutoring Program
  • Diocese of Colombia: Youth Leadership Development – cultivating leadership among youth through spiritual development and socio-economic, legal and cultural education
  • Diocese of Colorado: Evergreen Christian Outreach – job skills training
  • Diocese of Haiti: Haiti Program Development – educational assistance for children
  • Diocese of Iowa: Jubilee Community Center, Muscatine, IA – ministry to families with special needs children
  • Diocese of New Jersey: Trinity School for Arts – ministry to at-risk youth through music education
  • Diocese of Newark:  All Saints Community Service and Development – “Fresh and Fit,” a health education, healthy meals, and fitness project
  • Diocese of Northern Michigan: Camp New Day – ministering to youth ages nine to 14 whose lives have been disrupted by the incarceration of a parent or immediate family member
  • Diocese of Southwest Florida:  Cornerstone Kids – empowering “Teens in Action” to assist in the educational, spiritual and emotional development of neighborhood at-risk five to 11 year olds

One Program Development Grant for $35,000 was awarded to a Jubilee ministry that has demonstrated a new or re-visioned strategy and methodology to make an impact both locally and beyond itself.

  • Diocese of Kansas: St. Paul’s, Kansas City – “Youth in Transition,” providing a meaningful learning and life skills environment for urban poor and underserved youth in transition.

“The Youth in Transition program was developed in consultation with members of the community that will benefit greatly from the work,” commented Episcopal Church Domestic Poverty Missioner the Rev. Canon Mark Stevenson. “The program utilizes the treasures (skills) of the worshiping community, has partnerships outside of the church itself, and has a strong educational component – a component that once fully developed can be replicated in or shared with other communities.”

A five- member committee with representatives from throughout the church reviewed 114 applications for grants.

The next Jubilee granting cycle and procedure will be announced in fall 2014.

For more information, contact Stevenson at mstevenson@episcopalchurch.org.

UTO-supported medical mission to South Sudan postponed

ENS Headlines - Thursday, January 9, 2014

A displaced mother carries her sick child at a United Nations hospital at Tomping camp, where some 15,000 displaced people who fled their homes are sheltered by the UN, near South Sudan’s capital Juba Jan. 7, 2014. REUTERS/James Akena

[Episcopal News Service] A five-member group bound for a refugee camp in South Sudan has postponed its medical mission as a result of intense fighting that has killed an estimated 10,000 people and displaced 200,000 more in the fledgling Central Africa nation.

The mission group, mostly Episcopalians from the Diocese of Colorado, had planned to visit Yida, a refugee camp in Unity State, South Sudan, home to upwards of 70,000 people who’ve fled the pre-existing violence that has for at least two years plagued the oil-rich Nuba Mountains region, an area mostly allied with South Sudan but under the control of the government of Sudan, to the north.

Yida, considered an outpost for Anglicans, lay and clergy, from the Diocese of Kadugli, is located in South Kardofor on the Sudan side of the border, where the Sudanese army and separatist rebel forces have engaged in armed conflict since June 2011.

In 2013, the Diocese of Colorado, which has a close, informal companion relationship with the Diocese of Kadugli, received a $26,625 grant from the United Thank Offering to carry out primary medical care training for women health workers from Kadugli at Yida.

“[The intention] was to begin to build a cadre of people to train other people,” said Anita Sanborn, a member of the mission group and president of the Colorado Episcopal Foundation, which is administering the grant for the diocese.

The mission group was scheduled to leave for South Sudan on Jan. 5 and to begin training at the camp, where many of the region’s displaced people come and go, on Jan. 10, but postponed the trip because of the most recent conflict.

Fighting erupted in Juba, the nation’s capital, on Dec. 15 following a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar. In the three weeks since, the fighting has spread to seven of 10 states and has created a humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.

The group plans to regroup and carry out the training in a different refugee camp serving Sudanese refugees, either in Kenya or Uganda, likely in March or April, once Bishop of Kadugli Andudu Adam Elnail, who himself has spent much of the last two years in exile and for the moment is in Colorado, returns to the region and identifies an alternative location.

Many of the people living in the camps are uneducated and don’t know general health principles, and when it comes to caring for newborns, the things you do in the first five minutes in the life of a baby that can increase their survival rate, said mission team member Dr. Michaleen “Mickey” Richer, a pediatrician with more than 25 years’ experience in global health, the majority of it in Sudan and South Sudan.

Bishop of Kadugli Andudu Adam Elnail took this photo of children in the Yida refugee camp in Unity State on his last visit to the camp.

The UTO grant will allow the mission team to empower women living in refugee camps and caves, where access to medical professionals is limited or nonexistent, with the basic health-care skills and hygiene skills needed for survival, according to the award summary.

“So often we see things on the news and we don’t know how to help, we feel hopeless; UTO is a daily way to participate in changing the world around us,” said the Rev. Heather Melton, UTO coordinator. “When you put coins in the [blue] box and give thanks for something good in your life, those coins go to help people who are out there on our behalf trying to transform unjust structures of society.”

The Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan, home to 2 million members, has 31 dioceses — 26 of them in South Sudan, where it is one of the nation’s largest non-government organizations and has played a role in reconciliation in the aftermath of a two-decades-long civil war fought largely between the Arab and Muslim north and rebels in the Christian-animist south.

“The church in South Sudan is seeing the challenges of development,” said Elnail in a Jan. 8 telephone call with ENS, adding that it is operating with limited resources.

In addition to ministering to his people, who now are spread across Egypt, Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and Sudan, the bishop has advocated peace and reconciliation, speaking out both in Africa and North America. The solution to the conflict, he said, “lies in political dialogue, not in fighting.”

Sudan’s warring parties signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, ending the civil war that killed more than 2 million people and displaced an estimated 7 million more. South Sudan officially gained its independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011. In February 2012, tribal violence erupted in South Sudan’s Jonglei State.

The Diocese of Colorado has long supported Sudanese refugees, who began arriving in Colorado more than a decade ago. Many of the refugees belonged to the Episcopal Church of Sudan and found their way to diocesan churches, like St. John’s Cathedral in Denver, which is home to a Sudanese Congregation, said Sanborn.

When South Sudan gained its independence, the diocese shifted its focus from helping the diaspora to fostering schools, training in leadership development, and support for clergy in the newly developing nation, as well as engaging in advocacy efforts at home.

In addition to providing necessary assistance and training, it’s important for Americans and people of the Episcopal Church to bear witness and provide information for U.S.-based advocacy efforts, said Sanborn, who is a former board member of the American Friends of the Episcopal Church in Sudan, or AFRECS, as it is commonly known.

“I know as Americans we are really practical, and people often ask ‘what good does it do for you to go over and do two weeks of training?’’’ she said. “What is un-measurable is the hope that our presence stimulates in people who feel betrayed by their own leaders. We can bring a message to the people who are there to keep going, they will not be forgotten.”

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

Church of England considers changes to baptism service

ENS Headlines - Thursday, January 9, 2014

[The Tablet] The Church of England is trialling a new version of its baptism service, in which parents and godparents are no longer asked to “repent of sins” and “reject the Devil”.

The new wording – which is being piloted in more than 400 parishes until April – was devised in response to requests to couch the ceremony “in culturally appropriate and accessible language”.

Anglican baptisms are recognised by the Catholic Church, and vice versa.

In the current version of the CofE service, which dates back to 1998, the vicar asks: “Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?”. The candidate, or parents and godparents acting on his or her behalf, reply: “I reject them.”

Parents and godparents are then asked: “Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?”, to which the reply is: “I repent of them.”

Instead of this formula, reference to the devil or sin is dropped and parents and godparents are instead asked to “reject evil, and all its many forms, and all its empty promises”.

The amended version currently has no formal status because it has not been formally approved by General Synod. The reforms are backed by Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

But it has already attracted criticism. The former bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali, and Bishop of Willesden Pete Broadbent accused the church of dumbing down.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Bishop Nazir-Ali said: “The need is not [for the Church of England] to eliminate crucial areas of teaching but to explain them”, warning that the CofE should “call a halt to this perhaps well-meant effort before it further reduces the fullness of the Church’s faith to easily swallowed soundbites.”

The Bishop of Willesden, Pete Broadbent, took issue with a raft of proposed text changes, concluding in a blog: “This is crass. It’s baptism lite. It will not do.”

But Revd Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, a vicar in Durham who has been asked to use the new texts in baptism ceremonies until the end of April, said: “This is a first draft, for experimental use. It will doubtless get better as people write in with stories of what worked and what didn’t. But the aim, to have elements of the service that even those of low literacy can understand, is entirely laudable.”

Four-way dialogue deepens

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, January 8, 2014

(L to R, from back): Archbishop Fred Hiltz, US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, ELCA Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and ELCIC Bishop Susan Johnson. Photo: Bruce Myers/Anglican Church of Canada

[Anglican Journal] The heads of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have agreed to co-ordinate their responses to “events that transcend” their borders, such as natural disasters.

They could, for instance, issue a joint pastoral letter in response to a natural calamity and invite their members to contribute to relief and recovery efforts through one of their four relief agencies, said Archdeacon Bruce Myers, the Anglican Church of Canada General Synod’s coordinator for ecumenical and interfaith relations. Myers served as staff support at the meeting.

Leaders of the four churches reached this agreement when they met for a day and a half of informal talks last December in Winnipeg. Since 2010, the heads of these four churches have met for informal talks, “becoming colloquially known as the ‘Four-Way,’ ” said Myers.

The Anglican Church of Canada’s primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, ELCIC Bishop Susan Johnson and Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori were joined in the meeting by the new presiding bishop of the ELCA, Elizabeth Eaton.

“Broadly speaking, these informal conversations are aimed at exploring ways to extend the implications of our Anglican-Lutheran full communion partnerships across the international boundary,” said Myers. “What more could we be doing as North American churches in full communion?” The Anglican Church of Canada and the ELCIC have been in full communion since 2011, as have the ELCA and the Episcopal Church.

The leaders also agreed to explore ways of addressing the Doctrine of Discovery

“as a step towards reconciliation with indigenous people in North America,” said Myers. The Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church have both repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery.

The Anglican church, however, “has only begun to try to give tangible expression to that renunciation,” said Myers. When it renounced the Doctrine of Discovery at the 2010 General Synod, the church pledged a review of its policies and programs to expose the doctrine’s historical impact and end its continuing effects on indigenous peoples. The Doctrine of Discovery was a principle of charters and acts developed by colonizing Western societies more than 500 years ago.

[The Episcopal Church renounced the doctrine at its 2009 meeting of General Convention.]

At the meeting, Hiltz also informed the other bishops about his church’s recent decision to designate the seventh Sunday of Easter as Jerusalem Sunday. In response, the other three churches “pledged to explore the possibility of making it a common observance,” said Myers.

Each leader also agreed to prepare a devotional piece for different Sundays in Advent, to be made available for individual or congregational use in their churches during the 2014 Advent season.

They also agreed to look at what they might be able to say collectively in response to an ecumenical convergence text on ecclesiology called The Church: Towards a Common Vision. The document was issued March 2013 by the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches (WCC). Described by Myers as “groundbreaking,” the text addresses what churches might say together in areas such as peace and justice in the world, and how they might grow in communion and overcome past and present divisions. Theologians “from the widest range of Christian traditions and cultures” produced the text for the WCC.

Colorado church installs ‘induction hearing loop’

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Laura Hansen of Assist2Hear, LLC, installed the induction loop under the carpet. Photo: Christine Burke

[Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church press release] Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church, in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, has installed a new system that sends the sounds of its church services directly to hearing aids and cochlear implants.

The system, called an induction hearing loop, is widely used in Europe, and is becoming more popular in the United States. It consists of a flat copper wire that is installed under the carpet to surround the pews. The loop is connected to a special amplifier that gets its input from the church’s sound system. Sermons, music, readings, prayers, and announcements are all transmitted by the loop via a magnetic signal.

A hearing aid that that is equipped with a telecoil or “T-coil” device can receive the signal. The majority of hearing aids sold today have T-coils. By consulting with one’s audiologist, the user can have the T-coil enabled and optimized for loop listening, and learn how to activate it.

For hearing aid users, no headset is required in order to benefit from the hearing assistance system. For hearing impaired people without hearing aids, headsets are available.

“We realized that some of our church members were unable to clearly hear the service,” said the Rev. Harrison Heidel, rector at St. Barnabas. “The church leadership chose to make this investment not only for current members, but also for future members and other folks in the community who may want to use our facility.”

Episcopalians on prayer: ‘just pray’

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, January 8, 2014

People pray Aug. 3, 2008, in Canterbury Cathedral’s Chapel of Saints and Martyrs of Our Own Time after the names of seven Melanesian Brothers had been installed in the chapel. After working in the Solomon Islands to get supplies to innocents trapped by ethnic conflict, negotiating the release of hostages and search for the missing, injured and dead, the men were killed in 2003 by a militant group. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] When drought conditions worried Oklahoma City environmental groups, Ferrella March and Bishop Steven Charleston organized a gathering to pray for rain.

There was a downpour.

In Detroit, St. John’s Episcopal Church held a worship service to pray for a winning season for the local baseball team, the Tigers.

The team came within reach of the playoffs.

In Los Angeles, an emotional Bishop Jon Bruno told a Dec. 7 diocesan convention gathering that, while battling leukemia, “doctors gave me a one percent chance of living and I was perfectly happy to go.”

Then came an outpouring of prayers for healing from family, friends and the diocesan and church-wide community. Now, a year later, doctors have declared him “metabolically clear” of cancer and he says he “felt all the prayers.”

All of which raises questions about how prayer works, or does it? How do we understand our relationship with God if it appears our prayers aren’t answered? How, when and why to pray, and whether any prayer too small or too large? To begin to start to answer some of these questions, a range of Episcopalians across the church shared their experiences and understanding of prayer with the Episcopal News Service.

Ultimately, they said, just pray, pray and trust God.

Oklahoma: ‘pray, teach, act’

March, a parishioner at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Oklahoma City, works for the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, a membership organization for statewide natural resource managers, and helped organize a series of days of prayer for rain when widespread drought caused water rationing, killed fish because of low reservoirs, affected crops, livestock and quality of life.

“At our May event, it thundered during the middle of the service, rained and then we had a beautiful sunset,” she recalled. “After that, at least in central Oklahoma, we had rainstorm after rainstorm, pretty severe weather, and at that point, people were saying, ‘you have to quit praying for rain now,’” she laughed.

Charleston, who along with March founded the Whole Creation Community, a Facebook environmental ministry of about 700 people living a rule of life, joked that even “our friends in north Texas wrote to me and said ‘thank you, your prayers are working here, too.’”

While grateful for the rain, neither is convinced it had anything to do with their prayers.

And that’s okay, according to March. “If it rained, great,” she said. “But, if it didn’t, it [the event] still promoted awareness. It was a win-win. That’s really Episcopalian.”

But she added that, prayer is what you do first, always. Next, you act.

“That’s the whole concept of Whole Creation Community. First we pray, then we teach and then action will come from our prayers and education. Prayer shouldn’t be the last resort; so often you hear people say, ‘all I could do was pray.’ It should be the first thing you do.”

Charleston agreed: “The prayers for rain had a statewide impact; we are partnered now with the state through conservation organizations to work annually now, to bring community building and awareness and to try to spiritually focus people on the environment. And we have a growing interreligious network now. Our plan is, water this year, next year, land, and then air.”

The retired dean and president of Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Charleston teaches Native American religions at St. Paul’s School of Theology in Oklahoma City and is founder of Red Moon Publications. Prayer that doesn’t work is often the best answer “and we don’t always need to jump to the assessment that every prayer thought must be answered or that we failed, or our God has failed,” he said.

“God is not a gumball machine that we put in a quarter and out comes what we want,” he added. “The way we judge how prayer is being responded to requires a deep participation on our part of listening carefully.”

Playing ball, being neighborly and persistently praying in Detroit

The Rev. Steven Kelly’s deep love of baseball and extravagant sense of humor translated into organizing a public prayer service to pray for the hometown team, the Detroit Tigers, to have a winning season.

“We started this in 2001 and were laughed at roundly when in 2002 the Tigers were one game short of the worst record in major league baseball,” Kelly said in a telephone interview with ENS.

“People said, ‘well, gee, your prayers aren’t working’ and we’d respond that it took the Israelites 40 years to get through the wilderness; it may take the Tigers that long, too.”

Members of the 150-year-old St. John’s Church held their annual ‘Pray for the Tigers’ service at the start of 2013 baseball season and, when the team entered the playoffs, they held another one with special intention for a World Series win.

Ultimately, the Tigers lost to the Boston Red Sox, but Kelly took the defeat in stride, noting that the prayers were less about winning and more about love of neighbor since the team plays at Comerica Park, located about 200 yards from the church.

“Yes, we pray that, if it’s God’s will they will get lots of victories but primarily we also pray for the owner, the players, for health, for the fans, for the workers, the vendors” some of whom are parishioners at the church, he said.

“The importance about prayer is persistence,” he added. It’s also important to keep a prayer journal. “Sometimes, you can go back later and see how God answered those prayers,” he said. “Or, you realize that, ‘I can’t believe something was so important to worry about.”

‘Our approaches to prayer are legion’

For the Rev. Canon Malcolm Boyd, 90, a Huffington Post columnist and author of the 1961 book of prayers, Are You Running with Me, Jesus? “our approaches to prayer are legion. I feel virtually everybody prays at one time or another.”

He prayed all night in 1961 “the night before I had to make a decision about whether or not to participate in a Freedom Ride. I was scared. I didn’t have any idea what a ‘freedom ride’ was. Yet, I must answer the next morning.”

While the celebrated civil rights activist said: “I don’t think our prayers are ‘answered’ as if by a slot machine” he went on to become a Freedom Rider and to herald other causes, including full inclusion for the LGBT community.

Prayers, he said, “can be ‘answered’ mysteriously and in the future and seemingly out of sequence. How do we know if our prayers don’t get answered? You mean you didn’t get that job you wanted? Prayer isn’t like a prescription counter at a drugstore.”

He added that, “my prayer was at times difficult when I was arguing with God or simply felt unworthy to be praying at all. Birthdays have sometimes been hard, maybe especially my recent 90th one. Would it be my last? If so, what should I be praying about?”

The Rev. Martin Smith, recently retired from St. Columba’s, Washington, D.C., and the author of numerous books about prayer, said we pray “to expand our experience of communion with God, who is love, to be open to mercy and transformation by God’s grace, and to take part in his work of healing by offering to him our longing for his reign of love to be made real in the lives of all human beings.”

We are to understand our relationship with God when it appears our prayers are not answered, he said, because “the bond with God that grows in prayer deepens our sense of sheer mystery.

“We don’t know and can’t know more than a fraction of how our active loving plays a part in the coming of the reign of God on earth,” he added. “We learn to love without dependence on many immediate tangible results … I pray as a member of Christ’s Body, I am acting within the web of interconnecting lives called the communion of the Holy Spirit.

“I learn to live without being able to control much of anything, just making my capacity to love and desire a continual offering to God whose mystery lies beyond the grasp of my understanding.”

Why Pray; prayer how-to, does it matter?

Claire Littlefield, 17, a senior at Pittman High School and a parishioner at St. Francis Church in Turlock, California, in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, said she prays throughout her days, trying “to remember to always give thanks for all the blessings that I receive each and every day” and during stressful situations as well as before track meets.

“We always come together and pray before our races to ask that God will give us the strength to do our very best, and to remind ourselves that God is with us. Praying calms me and gives me focus. I am reassured of God’s presence with me always when I pray.”

Prayer comes as a response to God, for Ryan Macias, 17, a parishioner at St. George’s Church in Laguna Hills, California. “God is constantly making himself known to us in so many different ways, the sacraments, the beauty of the creation around us, his word and so many more.

“It is so important to consider the diverse forms of responding to God,” added Macias, who said he fell in love with the prayers in the Book of Common Prayer when he encountered it.

“Many times I need structure, I need help focusing. I find myself at a loss for words. I pray about the little things as well as the big things, the blessings and the burdens. Nothing is too big, and nothing too small to lay before God. He hears our petitions. He hears out thanksgivings and praises, this I am convinced of.”

Noted writer and lecturer Phyllis Tickle uses a writing metaphor to help describe non-petitionary prayer.

“What I really do is push through some kind of keyhole or door somewhere inside my non-objective world and come out on the other side into some kind of marketplace [for lack of a better word] where there is activity and where ideas and phrases and insights are on display as if in a grand mall,” Tickle wrote in a Dec. 12 e-mail to ENS. “And I go shopping, taking what I need or want or am drawn to, but the ‘shopper’ is not me, for ‘me’ is still on the other side of the keyhole, waiting.

“The shopper, rather, is a guided being of whom I am only a part … or of whom my self-consciousness is only a part. I/we gather what I am nudged toward [for inevitably, I shall need it on the other side], or what delights me, though I don’t know why, or what simply charms and is sufficient unto itself for that reason. Then, the I who carries it all back through the keyhole or door and makes from it the stuff of art and life, for that is the end result for which it is intended.”

She added that “fixed-hour prayer, like ritual prayer, is the soul’s home … the places [for prayer is a place always] where we are tutored and schooled and sculpted by an agenda other than our own.”

‘Prayer itself is a miracle’

A car accident several years ago raised questions about prayers for the Rev. Ernesto Medina, rector of St. Martha’s Church in Papillion, Nebraska.

He recovered from serious injuries and “people were saying things like, God must have a purpose for you on earth. Like someone who dies doesn’t have a purpose on earth?”

The whole idea of God answering prayer “bothers me,” Medina added. “It’s like, if the prayers are answered, you’re in; if they’re not, you’re out.

“On the other hand, there’s the assumption that you do something so your prayers can be answered. If you don’t study the day before a test, and pray that God gives you the wisdom to put the right answers down anyway, you’re probably not going to do very well on the test.”

But prayer itself is a miracle, he said. “The miracle contained within prayer is that prayer is helpful when it helps you understand that you’re turning it over to God, that you let go, that you understand that you yourself don’t have power over it. So that action, whether you know it or not, that you’re turning it over to God, a higher power, is the miracle.”

Even more so, “there’s something about when you’re praying for someone else you somehow are linked in an incarnational way with the communion of saints, so if I’m praying with you I’m linked to you and that’s the miracle.

“It’s about whether we trust God or not. If we’re trying to manipulate the prayer we’re not trusting. But if we’re really living into thy will be done, it probably is really the only prayer.’

Dolores Conyer of Pomona, California, knows something about miracles. Her son Timothy Gaines was born severely mentally and physically disabled, with bilateral club feet, requiring numerous corrective surgeries. “I didn’t realize how much I relied on prayer until later,” Conyer recalled during a telephone interview with ENS.

“He was having all these surgeries and during them, he suffered cardiac arrest, the cause unknown. I felt that prayer and faith were the reason he survived. He used to say  ‘the lady in white’ came to him. I think the lady in white was prayer, was faith, and all that was good.”

But Timothy was murdered at age 35 in 2001; his murder remains unsolved and Conyer, 72, recently was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. But her faith remains unshaken and although she will always have questions about the whys of her son’s murder and her own health challenges, “there’s no need to do anything other than to maintain my faith, and just keep on praying,” she said.

“I think about all the pain and suffering Tim went through and why he had to die the way he did, alone, and a voice said to me, ‘No, he wasn’t. He was not alone’. So, here comes that lady in white.”

For the mean time, “I’m thinking in terms of when Tim was little,” Conyer said. “They told me he wouldn’t live past five years old. So, if he woke up, I made a plan for the day. We lived each day at a time.

“I’ve always been an adventurous person,” she added. “I’ve never been afraid to venture and try new things. This is another journey that I’m on and, hopefully, however it ends, it will have been a good ride. Faith and prayer play a role in that. If I didn’t have faith and prayer I wouldn’t be able to do anything, I would be lost.”

–The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. She is based in Los Angeles.

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