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Laurel Johnston to leave the Episcopal Network for Stewardship

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 7, 2014

[The Episcopal Network for Stewardship press release] The Rev. Laurel Johnston, Executive Director of The Episcopal Network for Stewardship (TENS) is stepping down from that position effective August 31, 2014. Prior to serving as Executive Director beginning January 2013, Johnston served on the Board of Directors in her capacity as Program Officer for Stewardship for The Episcopal Church from 2008-2012.

The Episcopal Network for Stewardship is a network of individuals working in congregations and on the diocesan level to train, educate, nurture and support efforts to advance a culture of generosity and faithful giving. TENS is supported through diocesan memberships which entitle every congregation within the member diocese to access a stewardship narrative series as well as other resources, especially around annual campaigns. TENS hosts an annual conference at various sites throughout the U.S. During Johnston’s service as Executive Director, the plenary speakers and one track of workshops were also webcast.

“Laurel birthed the stewardship narrative series: Blessed to be a Blessing, Flourishing in Faith, and Walking the Way, which have proved enormously helpful to local congregations.   She was also the driving force behind the development of the webcast. The whole Church owes her a great big thank you for her ministry in the generosity movement,” said The Rev. Angela Emerson, member of the Board of Directors, in making the announcement at the annual conference in Atlanta, Ga., June 7, 2014.

In a letter to Bishops, other constituents, partners and members, Johnston expressed an optimistic outlook for the future of TENS pointing both to programmatic developments, a dramatic increase in memberships, and financial soundness. “I cannot be more proud of the work that we have collectively done together to create a model of equipping stewardship ministry teams.”

Johnston will take advantage of a discernment leave to determine her next step.

The Board of Directors is finalizing a job description for the next Executive Director and plans to begin advertising for the position no later than August 1, 2014. Job description and process for applying for the position will be posted on the TENS website: www.tens.org.

Scholar-Priest Initiative offers free videos on Eucharist, Scripture

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 7, 2014

[Scholar-Priest Initiative press release] The Scholar-Priest Initiative (SPI) — a new initiative within The Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada whose mission is “to welcome theology home” — has released two videos that inaugurate a project titled New Tracts for Our Times.

One video features the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry (11th Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina) reflecting on the Eucharist.  Curry, who sits on the Taskforce for Re-imagining the Episcopal Church (TREC) and recently published a book of sermons titled Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus (Morehouse, 2013), suggests the Eucharist is “the principal act of worship” that “summons up and points toward the deep mystery of God.”  Musing on Matthew 11:28, often recited before Holy Communion, Curry notes: “Jesus said ‘Come unto to me all ye who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.’  That is the invitation to the Eucharist.  Jesus says: ‘Come unto me, all you who are weary….  Sometimes beaten down by the realities of life.  Sometimes struggling to just make it.  Sometimes trying to see a vision that’s greater than what you normally see in life.  Come unto me.’”

The other video, featuring Dr. Ellen Davis (Amos Ragan Kearns Distinguished Professor of Bible and Practical Theology, Duke Divinity School), focuses on Scripture.  “Perhaps what the Bible does best is surprise us,” notes Davis, who regularly teaches at Renk Theological College in the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan and served on the Steering Committee of the Anglican Communion’s ‘Bible in the Life of the Church’ project.  Her latest book is Biblical Prophecy: Perspectives for Christian Theology, Discipleship, and Ministry (Westminster John Knox, 2014).  Added Davis: “The Bible is always pushing against and sometimes exploding what we think of as the limits of our experience.  And telling us there is much more that is possible, if we only open our eyes and hearts to that possibility.”

Together, the two videos are the first iterations in an ongoing series aimed at addressing various aspects of Anglican/Episcopalian belief and practice. The Scholar-Priest Initiative is currently seeking funds for future iterations.

“The New Tracts series roots us in Scripture and Tradition,” said the Rev. Jason Ingalls, director pro tem of the Scholar-Priest Initiative and rector of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Waco, TX. “It starts conversations that free the Church to participate in God’s mission in our world.”

The videos were produced by Joseph Wolyniak, member of the SPI Leadership Team, Episcopal Church Foundation Fellow (2012), and lay member of Saint John’s Cathedral in Denver, CO.  Said Wolyniak: “The New Tracts are intended to communicate clearly and compellingly what Anglicans believe and do.  To show and tell our way of life and faith, with everyday Episcopalians addressing and exemplifying what we believe and how that belief shapes the way we live.” Pilar Timpane, who filmed, directed, and edited the videos, added: “Working on this project has been fascinating and exciting.  Bringing theological ideas into visual light is a gift of this particular time in culture and technology.  I hope the Church as a whole will be able to use and share these videos both within and outside of our faith communities.”

Since their release in the first week of June (2014), the project has attracted over 6,000 views on YouTube and received an overwhelmingly positive response on social media.  The videos will remain freely available for downloading or embedding on parish websites and will soon be accompanied by study guides for parish use.

Initial funding for the project came from the Evangelism in the 21st Century (E-21) program of the Episcopal Evangelical Education Society (EES).  Day Smith Pritchartt, Executive Director of EES, noted: “EES is thrilled to have been involved in the development of these videos and excited about the way in which they bring the Good News to people who might not hear it otherwise.”

New Tracts (#NewTracts) can be found on YouTube (http://youtube.com/newtracts), Facebook (http://www.fb.com/NewTracts), and Twitter (http://twitter.com/NewTracts, @NewTracts).  The Scholar-Priest Initiative can also be found on the web (http://scholarpriests.org/), on Facebook (http://www.fb.com/ScholarPriests), and Twitter (http://twitter.com/ScholarPriests, @ScholarPriests).

RIP: The Venerable Anthony Turney

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 7, 2014

Surrounded by family and friends, the Venerable Anthony Turney died peacefully on July 4, 2014 at Coming Home Hospice in San Francisco following three years living with cancer. He was 76 years old.  His death came on the 38th anniversary of his becoming a United States citizen.

Throughout his esteemed and varied career, and most recently as Archdeacon for the Arts at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, Anthony epitomized what it was to be a servant minister, both in the church and in the wider community. He was a profoundly gifted man, a lover of the arts, a gardener, a Brit, and a committed leader in non-profit endeavors. His career included positions as Deputy Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC; Executive Director of the Dance Theater of Harlem; Administrative Director of the San Francisco Opera; and CEO of the NAMES Project Foundation. He was ordained to the Episcopal diaconate in 1996 and continued to serve through his work at Grace Cathedral and in the Diocese of California.

Anthony was born in Sutton, England, on December 23, 1937, second oldest of three children within a family that soon broke up. His first years were spent in a Church of England children’s home for ‘waifs and strays,’ although he claimed he was never certain which of those he truly was. At the age of four, he was adopted by the Turney family who lived in Aylesbury, about 40 miles northeast of London. That same year marked the beginning of the Blitz, thus defining his childhood in wartime England.  In his mid teens, he served as a police cadet and thought of joining the force. Then at the age of 17, Anthony joined the Grenadier Guards, an infantry regiment of the British Army and the most senior regiment of the Guards Division. Besides serving in the Guards’ iconic ceremonial duties outside of Buckingham Palace, Anthony also saw distinguished service under fire during the Suez Crisis. Afterwards, he spent his 20s at various jobs in London, “lost in the wilderness,” as he put it.

Anthony spoke often of the defining moments in his life, and the most significant of these was his move to the United States in 1968. He jumped right in to the non-profit world, discovering his talent for leadership in the arts. First establishing himself in New York City, Anthony made a name for himself as an independent event producer, especially proud to have once presented Buckminster Fuller at Carnegie Hall.  Over the years he also lived in St. Louis, Atlanta, Washington, DC, and finally, San Francisco. He became a United States citizen on July 4, 1976, the bicentennial of his adopted country.

With the onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, Anthony’s life changed course once again. In mid 1991, he quit his work to care for his partner, James Brumbaugh, who was dying from AIDS-related complications. It was a devastating loss. In 1992, after completing Jimmy’s AIDS Memorial quilt panel, he asked, “What would you have me do now, God?” Within months, he moved permanently to San Francisco, was appointed CEO of the NAMES Project Foundation, and after only three years, would bring more than 42,000 panels of the Quilt to Washington, DC for display on the National Mall. It was viewed by 1.2 million people.

In 1996, Anthony was appointed to the San Francisco Arts Commission. In 2000, he was a consultant to the United States Agency for International Development, assisting in the agency’s efforts to partner with faith-based organizations in responding to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa.

In San Francisco, Anthony found his spiritual home at Grace Cathedral, where he served as parishioner, as Canon for Development, and then, through his vocational calling, as clergy. Several years before his retirement, Anthony was appointed Archdeacon of the Diocese of California, as such serving the whole community of deacons, administratively and pastorally, and was very much a person on whom the Bishop relied centrally and heavily.  Afterwards, Anthony was named Archdeacon for the Arts at Grace Cathedral. He also served as Chaplain to the Dean’s Search Committee for Grace Cathedral. As an openly gay member of the clergy and a vocal advocate for marriage equality and other social justice issues, Anthony was a tireless champion of the LGBT community. An energetic volunteer and traveler, Anthony spent a month walking across Spain along the Camino de Santiago and successfully biked, three times, from San Francisco to Los Angeles as part of the AIDS LifeCycle. After Hurricane Katrina, he volunteered with a group from Grace Cathedral to assist in rebuilding a home for a young woman who had lost her home.

As accomplished as he was, his friends and family will remember Anthony most fondly for his commanding personality. He filled a room with grace and dignity – and then used his keen humor to destroy any remaining decorum. Anthony was an extraordinary friend and companion, always caring for those around him. He listened intensely and valued each person who came into his life. His friends and colleagues were blessed by his giving nature. Those who loved and admired Anthony continue to do so with passion and loyalty.

A final gift that Anthony bestowed on his friends and family was the way in which he lived out his dying. He did so with integrity, dignity and humor. Those who witnessed his journey learned with him. Dying often reveals a great many things about a person, especially those who are in the public arena. We watched him from a distance as he made his private journey, and, when invited, we walked part of that pilgrimage alongside him. We are grateful for both the public and the private blessings.

Anthony is survived by his San Francisco, St. Louis and Los Angeles family; his Episcopal Church friends and colleagues; beloved friends from across the world; his canine companion, Drew; and his newly found – and greatly loved – biological family in England and in Canada.  His, truly, was a life well lived: in love, friendship and grace.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Anthony’s memory may be made to one of the following: The Sacred Dying Foundation, The Rainbow Honor Walk, the Ghiberti Foundation, the arts and culture foundation at Grace Cathedral or the San Francisco Opera Archive.

A funeral and celebration of Anthony’s life will be held at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral (1100 California Street) on Monday, July 14 at 11am. Anthony’s body in closed coffin will lay in the Cathedral’s AIDS Interfaith Chapel beginning at 7am for all those wishing to pay their respects prior to the funeral.

Olav Fykse Tveit to continue as WCC general secretary

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 3, 2014

[World Council of Churches press release] The Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit was appointed to a second five-year term as general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) on 3 July, during the WCC Central Committee meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. The 53-year-old theologian and pastor from the Church of Norway has served as general secretary since January 2010.

Tveit called his appointment a “great privilege” and a “continuation of a meaningful journey”. He said that the last five years have been the “most blessed years, offering opportunities, challenges and accomplishments in his work with the churches”.

“This decision is heartening. I feel grateful and motivated,” he said.

“A shared faith in what the WCC can accomplish in its quest for Christian unity, justice and peace in the world, a concern that lies at the heart of the ecumenical movement, is immensely inspiring for me as I continue working with the churches.”

WCC Central Committee moderator Dr Agnes Abuom said, “We, as members of the Central Committee, are delighted at the appointment of Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit. The Central Committee has strongly affirmed the leadership gifts which he brings to his role. We look forward with a high degree of confidence to the next five years of working together with Rev. Olav and all the WCC staff.”

Tveit has played an active role in the past two decades in strengthening global church relations, while contributing to churches’ work for the cause of justice and peace. Before being appointed as the WCC general secretary, Tveit previously served as general secretary of the Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations, as well as being a member of the WCC’s Faith and Order Plenary Commission and also the board of directors and executive committee of the Christian Council of Norway.

The WCC is a fellowship of 345 churches from around the world.

Biographical information on Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit

Information on previous WCC general secretaries

More information about the Central Committee meeting

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2013 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 140 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway.

RIP: Fred Howard

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 3, 2014

Fred Howard, a member of Presiding Bishop Edmond L. Browning’s staff and head of chaplains for the Diocese of Long Island hospital ministry, died July 1 at his log cabin home in Hinsdale, Pennsylvania. He was 80. He had suffered several strokes and for the past year had been confined to a wheelchair. Fred had lived in Hinsdale, where he and his wife, Sylvia, intended to retire. She was also a member of the Episcopal Church Center staff and died in the late 1990s.

Fred was instrumental in securing permission from the various Anglican provinces for the startup of a churchwide communications system, which eventually morphed into the Internet.

Massachusetts notified of successful canonical consent process

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 3, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Office of Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has notified the Diocese of Massachusetts that Bishop-Elect Alan Gates has received the required majority of consents in the canonical consent process.

As outlined under Canon III.11.4 (a), the Presiding Bishop confirmed the receipt of consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction, and has also reviewed the evidence of consents from a majority of standing committees of the Church sent to her by the diocesan standing committee.

In Canon III.11.4 (b), Standing Committees, in consenting to the ordination and consecration, attest they are “fully sensible of how important it is that the Sacred Order and Office of a Bishop should not be unworthily conferred, and firmly persuaded that it is our duty to bear testimony on this solemn occasion without partiality, do, in the presence of Almighty God, testify that we know of no impediment on account of which the Reverend A.B. ought not to be ordained to that Holy Office. We do, moreover, jointly and severally declare that we believe the Reverend A.B. to have been duly and lawfully elected and to be of such sufficiency in learning, of such soundness in the Faith, and of such godly character as to be able to exercise the Office of a Bishop to the honor of God and the edifying of the Church, and to be a wholesome example to the flock of Christ.”

The Rev. Alan Gates was elected on April 5.  His ordination and consecration service is slated for September 13; Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori will officiate.

A recap of the process                                                  

Upon election, the successful candidate is a bishop-elect.  Following some procedural matters including physical and psychological examinations, formal notices are then sent by the Presiding Bishop’s office to bishops with jurisdiction (diocesan bishops only) with separate notices from the electing diocese to the standing committees of each of the dioceses in The Episcopal Church. These notices require their own actions and signatures.

In order for a bishop-elect to become a bishop, Canon III.11.4 (a) of The Episcopal Church mandates that a majority of diocesan bishops AND a majority of diocesan standing committees must consent to the bishop-elect’s ordination and consecration as bishop. These actions – done separately – must be completed within 120 days from the day notice of the election was sent to the proper parties.

If the bishop-elect receives a majority of consents from the diocesan bishops as well as a majority from the standing committees, the bishop-elect is one step closer. Following a successful consent process, ordination and celebration are in order.

Anglicans, Episcopalians from five continents on WCC’s governing body

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 3, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans and Episcopalians from countries including Burundi, Japan, Uganda and Melanesia are in Geneva for the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) Central Committee meeting.

Members of the Anglican Communion make up 11% of the WCC’s elected governing body – second only to Reformed and Eastern Orthodox Christian traditions.

The committee, which consists of 150 members from around the world, is responsible for carrying out the policies adopted by the WCC 10th Assembly, reviewing and supervising WCC programs and the budget of the council.

The WCC Central Committee will hold meetings every two years until the next Assembly. The last Assembly took place in Busan, Republic of Korea, in October and November 2013.

At yesterday’s opening of the meeting, WCC Central Committee moderator and Kenyan Anglican Dr Agnes Abuom reflected on the significance of the theme “pilgrimage of justice and peace”, which is based on a call issued by the WCC Assembly.

Her address put a special focus on the engagement of youth in the ecumenical movement. “To bring back prophetic dynamism and emphasis into the ecumenical movement, we need to let the young generation own and define the ecumenical movement,” she said.

Abuom shared aspirations for ecumenical spirituality to extend its boundaries to be more inclusive of the needs of churches and communities.

“A revitalized ecumenical spirituality must not be bound by narrow and tradition-bound religious, ecclesial and dogmatic frameworks if they have proven to be unhelpful to addressing the present needs. Rather, it must embrace a prophetic posture for justice, for peace-making and for the diaconal care for all living beings,” she said.

Abuom reflected on global issues related to poverty and inequality, weak governance, proxy conflicts and wars, as well as unemployment among youth. She spoke about the changing ecclesial and religious landscapes and challenges they pose. To address these issues, she stressed the importance of a transformation of ecumenism and revitalization of spirituality.

The members of the WCC Central Committee from Anglican Communion Member Churches are:

  • Bishop Mark MacDonald, Anglican Church of Canada (A President of the WCC Central Committee)
  • Dr Agnes Abuom, Anglican Church of Kenya (Executive  committee member and Central Committee moderator)
  • Bishop Yona Mwesigwa Katoneene, Church of Uganda
  • The Rev. Jeanne Françoise Ndimubakunzi, Eglise Anglicane du Burundi
  • Mrs Jesca Bireri Laki Lukudu, Episcopal Church of the Sudan
  • Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje, Province de l’Eglise Anglicane du Rwanda
  • The Rev. Renta Nishihara, Anglican Church in Japan
  • The Most Rev. Phillip Aspinall, Anglican Church of Australia
  • The Rev. Rex R. B. Reyes, Jr., Episcopal Church in the Philippines
  • Mrs Elenor I. Lawrence, Church in the Province of the West Indies
  • The Rev. Sarah Rogers, Church in Wales
  • The Rt. Rev. Peter Forster, Church of England
  • The Rev. Canon Leslie Nathaniel, Church of England
  • The Rev. Aida Consuelo Sanchez-Navarro, The Episcopal Church
  • Mrs Tagolyn Kabekabe, Church of Melanesia

The Most Rev. S. Tilewa Johnson Church of the Province of West Africa who had been elected a member of the WCC’s Central Committee passed away in January of this year.

For the latest from the Central Committee meeting visit http://www.oikoumene.org/en

Church jargon jettisoned for better communication

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 3, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Scott Claassen of thads describes himself as “a Monday through Saturday follower of Jesus who worships on Sunday.”

He believes it conveys a clearer understanding of what his faith means to him than “Episcopalian” or even “Christian”.

“The main point is, it inverts our sense of discipleship from saying being a disciple means I go to church on Sunday,” Claassen, 35, told ENS recently. “Instead it says being a disciple means I practice this Jesus way throughout all of my life and I happen to get together with a bunch of other people on Sunday who do that, too.”

Call it semantics, but Claassen isn’t alone. Increasingly, individuals, congregations and even dioceses across the Episcopal Church are shifting language subtly – and not so subtly – to clarify identity and meaning and to make cultural and contextual connections.

Churches and congregations are becoming known as “communities of faith” and “centers of mission” and the word diocese has been dropped in favor of “The Episcopal Church in” places like Minnesota and Connecticut.

None of which is meant as “a strategy to get people to come to church, it’s just who we are at the core,” according to the Rev. Jimmy Bartz. He founded thads eight years ago as an “experimental community, or in church-speak, a mission station” of the Diocese of Los Angeles, he said.

“We’re about spreading love and making a difference wherever we are because that’s what Jesus was about and we’re committed to doing it together,” Bartz said. “It’s like that old country song, ‘be real baby, be real.’”

Becoming tradition ‘translators’
Helping the uninitiated navigate insider church-speak, complex liturgies and specific Episcopalianisms often involves becoming “translators, of sorts,” according to Bartz and others.

“It comes from this great gift that’s been afforded by learning the language of the Episcopal Church and its liturgy and tradition and wanting the culture to understand those gifts but having some sense that it’s too great of an expectation for me to demand that the culture learn the language that I’ve learned,” Bartz said.

The Rev. Becky Zartman, when reaching out to the largely millennial population in Washington, D.C.’s Dupont Circle neighborhood, talks “about networks, about groups of people in relationship with each other who love each other and who are trying to be faithful Christians together.

“That’s what I think of when I think of church. But some people think of it as a building or an institution or cathedral or something you only do on Sunday morning,” said Zartman, 29, assistant rector at St. Thomas, Dupont Circle, who blogs as the Vicar of H Street.

And when she blogs, “if I ever use a church word I define it or explain what it means. Better yet, I don’t use it. I might write an entire reflection on the Incarnation and never use the word. People either don’t know what it means or think they do and they don’t.”

And much of the time, “I’m starting in the negative,” she adds. “Because people have a negative connotation of the church or think that Christians are stupid. The problem is, church is such an umbrella term.

“In talking to millennials who have no positive experience with the institutional church, I’m still trying to figure out how do I explain this thing that we’re doing. I’m trying to be accessible, but to go deeper at the same time.”

St. Thomas’ vestry member Catherine Manhardt agreed.

“We have this really amazing church and liturgy and worship and common prayer and it’s central to who we are, once we get there,” she said. “But when you say I’m Episcopalian because the Eucharist is really important to me, that’s not going to resonate with people, and you want people to understand what you’re talking about.”

Rather than telling friends she serves on the vestry, “I say board of directors,” adds Manhardt, 25. Evangelism becomes “community engagement.

“For me, the most important part about church is the community … I don’t want to make who we are a barrier to the kind of people who could become part of our community.”

‘Communities of faith becoming centers of mission’
Through the New Visions Initiative (NVI) which partners thriving historically African American congregations with struggling ones, the Rev. Angela Ifill, the Episcopal Church’s missioner for black ministries, has witnessed language shifts re-energize congregations.

“Language plays a huge part in the way parishioners think of themselves,” Ifill said in a recent e-mail to ENS.

Her invitation to a New Visions group “to think of themselves as communities of faith becoming centers of mission, brought the question, ‘You mean we have to be doing something?’” she recalled. “It was a break-through in better understanding their purpose for being.”

Similarly, “praying communities” and “Episcopal presences” are the way Bishop David Rice describes “who we are, by talking about what we do … because the reality for me is that the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin is a praying community and within that are many praying communities,” he said.

“The primary intent is Luke 10, being sent out, hearing the stories of people, responding to needs, and building relationships, but not as a roundabout way of ensuring that we get people into church.”

Since his March 2014 election, “the typical question I ask everywhere is, ‘what does an Episcopal presence look like in this context? What do people say about the Episcopal Church where they are” including those who don’t attend church, he said.

Bishops Ian Douglas of Connecticut and Brian Prior of Minnesota each recognized a name change was in order when they realized the word “diocese” conveyed images of buildings and bishops rather than a sense of community, inclusion, and corporate identity.

A recent shift to “the Episcopal Church in Connecticut” actually reclaims tradition and common identity, Douglas said. “It was the original name of who we were when Samuel Seabury, the first bishop in the Episcopal Church, signed the Concordat with the three nonjuring bishops in the Episcopal Church of Scotland in 1784,” Douglas said.

The word “diocese” came along in the late 1830s and became associated with the bishop’s office and staff rather than “the united witness of the 168 parishes and worshiping communities participating in the mission of God together,” he said.

A move to a new, flexible shared workspace with an open floor plan accompanied the name change. It’s known as the Commons of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, echoing the New England metaphor of the village green as a center of activity. Initial feedback has been extremely positive, Douglas said.

Similarly, “the Episcopal Church in Minnesota” conveys the reality “that our faith communities come in all sizes and shapes and contexts” including churches, senior housing, schools, campus ministries and other agencies who worship corporately, according to Bishop Brian Prior.

Yet, “we’re really clear in our language and in the big picture that the Episcopal Church in Minnesota (ECIM) is a diocese of The Episcopal Church; there’s never been a question about that.”

Language shifts prompted structural changes, he said. “I joke that there is no bishop’s staff here,” Prior says. “The only staff I have is the one I carry in procession.”

The diocese consists of “mission areas”, invited “to get clear about their identity and context, about what God’s up to in their neighborhood and to find a sustainable model for living into God’s mission in their context.”

As a result, Prior said. “More Minnesota Episcopalians know about the world’s needs and how to bring their gifts to meet the world’s needs to engage God’s mission” on local and individual levels, rather than trying “to get everybody into church.”

He hopes to revise parochial reports to measure, in addition to budgets and average Sunday attendance (ASA), levels of community impact.

For example, “there’s a faith community here with an ASA of 19 who feeds a hundred people every Friday. They have a huge impact on their community. That’s vibrancy. That’s really engaging in God’s mission, and that’s of more interest to us.”

‘No one-size-fits-all’
Language shifts notwithstanding, no one-size-fits-all; Episcopal identity still encompasses a wide spectrum, from evangelicals to Anglo-Catholics, say Prior and others.

Personally, says Bartz, “it drives me crazy that I hear from Episcopalians all the time, that ‘I can go anywhere in the country and get the same thing in church,’” he said.

“I think that’s a devastating indictment about how shallow our church has become, that we really don’t expect anything from people other than the execution of a particular liturgy in a particular way on Sunday morning. I understand it, but it drives me crazy.”

But for Broderick Greer, 24, a former Missionary Baptist and current Virginia Theological Seminary student, the liturgy’s poetic language was a way into the church. “I had run out of words in my personal prayer life and the church was able to say words it had been saying for centuries that I just couldn’t find for myself.”

Consistently asking the questions of faith – as individuals, as churches, as dioceses – is a given, and the challenge of inaccessible language can be overcome by the church “educating its people and those outside it,” he said.

“We say the Nicene Creed every week but we know that it doesn’t mean the same thing to us as to the people who wrote it. And so that’s why there is value in saying the same words that people have always said but knowing that those words are not static. They are living and offer life and new meaning for us and part of the task of the church is constantly interpreting what these words mean.”

About 40 Twitter followers responded to his recent tweet ‘what first drew you to the Episcopal Church?’ which he compiled into a Storify. For many, liturgy and language were the attractions.

“I thought to myself … why are we not tapping into this gift we have and sharing it with the world?” Greer said. “We think it’s so great and yet we don’t tell anyone about it and don’t tell anyone about the Christ we encounter in it.”

– The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.

2,000 Christians gather in South Africa for Anglicans Ablaze

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 3, 2014

The energetic “blazing band” accompanies sung worship at Anglicans Ablaze conference.
Photo: Bellah Zulu/ACNS

[Anglican Communion News Service] About 2000 Christians from Southern Africa and beyond are in Johannesburg for one of the continent’s most popular Christian gatherings: Anglicans Ablaze.

Day one was characterized by lively praise and worship songs led by Bishop Martin Breytenbach of the Diocese of St. Mark the Evangelist (Limpopo Province of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa), backed by an energetic “blazing band.”

The bishop told attendees: “People are spiritually thirsty and desperate for a living God” and he encouraged participants to be “engaged and meet God despite the different styles of praise and worship” at the conference.

The Anglican-run conference, with the theme Hope is Rising, runs from July 2-5, and will address various topics ranging from re-imagining mission, the environment, social justice, discipleship and leadership, among many others. Speakers have been drawn from various backgrounds, denominations and countries mostly from Africa.

Hope, an anchor for the soul
‘Hope’ was a common thread to many of the presentations throughout the first day. “Christian hope is not wishful thinking,” one speaker said, “but our confident expectation in Christ.”

In his charge, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA), drew extensively from Scripture and various theologians on the meaning and the need for hope in the church.

“Hope is the belief that we’re called and invited to be ready to respond to the love of God,” he said. “Anglicans should be witnesses with a difference, and nothing, not even death shall separate us from the love of God.”

Makgoba addressed many other issues within the church and the country. He spoke of “the need to care for the environment” and the current efforts to organize local clean-up campaigns and even lobby government for an eco-conference. He also bemoaned the disparities that exist between the rich and the poor, the employers and the employees.

Theological education also took center stage in his charge. The archbishop has been outspoken on the need for improved education in the country and the way it could impact the nation in general and the church in particular. He said: “Theological education of parishioners is important in addressing the many challenges the church faces today.

“Theological education is a must for Southern Africa and equips us to embody and proclaim the message of God’s redemptive hope. Education boosts the levels of trust among Christians,” he said. “Unfortunately distrust is taking over in South Africa due to lack of transparency in the nation and therefore, the church needs to act to bring about a renaissance of trust.”

Re-imagining mission
Steve Maina is a charismatic Anglican priest who heads up CMS in New Zealand. He gave a rousing speech on “re-imaging mission” in 21st century Africa. He said, “As Anglicans we sometimes get caught up in the debates and forget what our core essence is. The Kingdom of God is not only about the seed or weed, but the whole story.”

He added, “It’s about the small seed becoming the big tree and therefore Anglicans should not despise small beginnings. Breakthroughs don’t always happen at the center but at the fringes.” He encouraged Christians not to be scared to be in “obscure places because that’s where the renewal and expansion of the church is happening.”

“It’s time for Africa to evangelize the world,” he proclaimed. There is need for quality and depth in churches and discipleship. Boundaries should be broken to re-imagine mission and share the gospel of Christ.”

However he explained that African Anglicans need a plan to successfully evangelize the world. He explained the various opportunities that the church can take advantage of in order to effectively evangelize.

“Children present a wonderful opportunity for sharing the Gospel with others,” he said. He wondered why the African church had ignored Christians in diaspora. “Those should be commissioned and prayed for,” he said.

He explained that this missionary model is not capital intensive since the people are already out there and hence the church does not need to spend to take them there.

A different form of worship
Nancy Nyagi is a social development leader from Kenya. She addressed young Anglicans in a special workshop on social development. She said: “Social justice is a different form of worship. Let justice roll in our countries.”

She related social justice to the teaching in the Gospel of Matthew. “We need to care enough for our neighbors as Jesus taught us,” she said. “We need to build relationships and break bondages of injustice.”

Nyagi emphasized that the church needs to break the bonds of injustice and set people free. “The church should break the bondages of dehumanizing poverty and let justice roll while doing away with oppression,” she said.

In conclusion, she warned: “However, giving aid only is like trying to be God and trying to fix everything in the world without understanding the source of the problems.”

The Anglicans Ablaze conference has been organized by Growing the Church, the province’s growth institute. It is a follow up to a similar conference held in 2012 which saw the participation of about 1,400 Christians. This year, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, will be the keynote speaker.

Video: UBE youth Morenike Oyebode talks about church involvement

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, July 2, 2014

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[Episcopal News Service] Morenike Oyebode, president of the youth group at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Hempstead, New York, attended the annual Union of Black Episcopalians conference to participate in the worship services, but also she was looking for ways to get more young people involved in the church.

PB election committee provides update, presents first of three essays

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, July 2, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Episcopal Church Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB) has issued the following information.

The Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB) is continuing its work to prepare The Episcopal Church for the election of the 27th Presiding Bishop at General Convention in 2015.

Between now and August 1, the JNCPB will publish three short educational essays.

This first essay describes the basic timeline and steps for the nominating and election process.  (The first essay is presented below.) The second essay will outline the current roles, functions, and responsibilities of the Presiding Bishop.  The third essay will discuss how the office of Presiding Bishop has changed and evolved from being the senior bishop by consecration who presides over meetings of the House of Bishops to the complex multifaceted position it is today.

It is the hope of the JNCPB that all members of General Convention and all Episcopalians will take the time to read these brief essays to learn the importance of what we will do next summer at General Convention.  Should you have any questions or comments about these essays or the work of the JNCPB please contact pbnominatingcommittee@gmail.com.

The JNCPB is comprised of a lay member, a priest or deacon, and a bishop from each of the nine provinces of The Episcopal Church elected by the House of Deputies and House of Bishops respectively, plus two youth representatives, appointed by the President of the House of Deputies. The members serve a three-year term that concludes with the close of 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah).

Election of the Presiding Bishop in 2015:  Essay #1
June 2014

Over the course of the next weeks of the summer the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop will share three short educational pieces with the Church.  This first essay describes the basic time-line and steps of the nominating and election process.  The second essay will outline the current roles, functions, and responsibilities of the Presiding Bishop.  The third essay will discuss how the role of the office has changed and evolved from being the senior bishop by consecration presiding over meetings of the House of Bishops to the complex multifaceted position it is today.

1. The Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop

At the 2012 General Convention of the Episcopal Church, the House of Deputies elected one clerical and one lay member from each Province as a member of the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB).  The House of Bishops also elected one bishop from each Province as a member of the Committee.  The JNCPB includes two youth representatives, ages 16-21, appointed by the President of the House of Deputies.  All of these members serve a three-year term that concludes with the close of the 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah).

Since November 2012 the JNCPB has been meeting as a whole, and in sub-groups to prepare for the selection of nominees for Presiding Bishop.  In 2013 the JNCPB crafted and circulated a church wide survey which invited broad-based feedback on the desired qualities and gifts of the next Presiding Bishop.  The JNCPB received more than 5,200 responses and the data collected offers the JNCPB an overview and understanding of the wishes of the Church which the JNCPB will utilize as it prepares a Profile and Call for Candidates.  The JNCPB has also issued further updates to the Church on its timeline.

2. Review of the Nomination and Election Processes

The Nomination Process
• The Profile and Call for Candidates for Presiding Bishop will be issued around August 1, 2014.  At that time the JNCPB will provide specific information for those wishing to submit names of Bishops for consideration.

• The Committee will receive names of candidates from October 1 through October 31, 2014.

• In the months following the identification of candidates, the JNCPB will do the work of discerning which candidates to nominate for Presiding Bishop.

• The JNCPB will announce its nominees in early May 2015.

• For two weeks after the May announcement of the JNCPB’s nominees, any deputy to the 78th General Convention or bishop may indicate their intent to nominate other bishops from the floor at the 2015 General Convention in accordance with a process that the JNCPB will announce.  In the spring of 2015 the JNCPB will provide further information on the process by which bishops and deputies can nominate additional bishops.

• The identity of the additional nominees will be made available to the Church in early June 2015.

The Election Process
• On the day before the first legislative day of General Convention, the JNCPB will present both its nominees and those of other bishops and deputies to a joint meeting of the House of Deputies and House of Bishops.  At that meeting the JNCPB will facilitate conversation and questions and answers with the nominees.

• Early in General Convention there will be a Joint Session of both Houses at which the names of the nominees of the JNCPB and any others by bishops or deputies will be officially entered into nomination.

• On the day following that Joint Session, the House of Bishops will elect one of the nominated bishops to be Presiding Bishop by a vote of a majority of all bishops, excluding retired bishops not present.

• After election by the House of Bishops, a report of the result of the election, including the number of votes cast for each nominee on each ballot, will be made to the House of Deputies.  The deputies will then vote to confirm or not to confirm the bishops’ choice of Presiding Bishop.

• The term of office of the Presiding Bishop will be nine years, beginning on November 1, 2015.

A Holocaust pilgrimage

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, July 2, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] Sometimes life takes you down a path that surprises, even shocks you. I’ve always believed that we are all “wilderness people,” members of the community making its way to Canaan from Egypt. Up the mountains, down the valleys and all about for forty years, when the journey could have taken a week — well I’m exaggerating. But that’s been what life has been like for me, anyway, praying to discern God’s will and following God in the clouds by day and fire by night, placing my trust that I’ll get to that place where I’m meant to be at some time, some point in my life. Or at the least, like Moses, I’ll have a view of that place from afar.

I grew up in a Jewish family. My mother’s parents kept a kosher home, and my grandfather would go to synagogue on Saturdays and return, touching the television, which was still warm from my grandmother having it on as she watched it, waiting for his return. “Faye,” he would say, “I know you’ve been watching!” But my parents were more reform, culturally Jewish. My father ‘s family was extraordinarily poor, and my father’s father came from Warsaw, leaving behind his cousins, many of them.

But growing up I only knew our immediate family of origin; a small, dysfunctional one.  Only the immediate family, because conflict embraced our family and the cousins that were there, somewhere, I never got to know.

One Christmas eve when I was in the fifth grade I went to a Roman Catholic mass with my friend, also named Donna. I felt at home. I wanted to join her as she went on the confession line but she said I couldn’t. Something stirred my heart but I couldn’t name it at the time. The feeling didn’t leave me, and when I asked my mother to convert later on in high school she sent me off on a Jewish Teen Tour of Israel, where I was mesmerized by the Christian holy sites. Sometime along the way, as I started visiting various church services, in grace I found the Episcopal Church and it found me. I was baptized in 1982. Even then I remember sending away to the General Theological Seminary for catalogs every year,  I never did much with them other than to read through them and dream about attending GTS one day. It took years in my wilderness journey, but I graduated with my M. Div. in 2000, was ordained deacon, then priest.

I didn’t think much about my blood relatives over the years. But one day a few years ago, really as a lark, I put my family tree up on www.geni.com. I listed myself, my partner (now wife) Lisa, and our two dogs. I put down my mother, father and brother, and even my half-brother that I really never knew.  And that was that.

Then one day I received an email from a ‘cousin David’ telling me that we were related, that our family had many cousins, and could he merge my little family tree into his? He lived out in Los Angeles. He served on the board of directors of the Holocaust Museum there.

I learned from my cousin David that the family story of our being from Poland with our name shortened was just that, a story. We were German, our name was always Dambrot and we were probably bakers [Dam= hard, Brot = bread]. Aha! My carbohydrate addiction had its roots in my DNA! More than that, the Dambrot family was a small one, and we had cousins who perished in the Holocaust.

I remember once many years ago my mother telling me that she had heard that my father’s family had received letters from family in Europe in the 1930s asking for help getting out of the Europe after that the Nazis had taken over. And that my father’s family ignored the letters. My mother doesn’t remember that now. But as I grew up, no one ever spoke about cousins in Europe, or the Holocaust.

Did we not know?

Did we not want to know?

I became fascinated with finding out more about my roots. I went to the Yad VaShem database and there it was, 32 Dambrots listed by name; some were part of the Paris deportations to Auschwitz, others perished in the Lodz ghetto or perhaps the Chelmno gas chambers or Auschwitz, depending upon how long they survived.

It was as if I smelled the burning bush and turned to enter the sacred space where God resided in my family history. I had a burning desire to make a pilgrimage to these sites, to smell the air and feel the ground beneath which were buried the ashes and bones of my blood, and all those who died in the first and hopefully last plan of industrial extermination of a people.  It was as strong a call to journey as any I have ever had.

And so, the week after Easter this past April, I joined a March of the Living group and, among 11,000 others from around the world, we descended on Poland to visit concentration camps, mass gravesites and ghetto remnants.  March of the Living gathers groups to visit Poland during the week of Holocaust Memorial Day. In my group were many children of survivors, and two who survived as children, one by hiding with her sister under sacks of potatos in a convent in Belgium, one born in a cave in Greece. Some of our group of 25 just felt called to be there. We were all on a pilgrimage together, for different reasons but as one.

How grateful I am to have had the blessing of this journey to honor my blood relatives, to pray where they perished, and where so many others died. To learn more about them, and about the history of this most terrible moment in the narrative of human history. And how blessed to realize that resurrection life abounds, in those who survived to build families, in the hearts of those who did what they could to save innocent men, women and children, and in the knowledge that the heart carries within it that seed of evil that has only to be watered to grow.

And for me, a life made fuller by knowing my family history, witnessing to its murder, and telling its story.  I blogged my way through the journey at http://ddambrot.wordpress.com/. I hope some of what I have written has import for you should you read through it.  For me, my life has forever changed. Thanks be to God.

– The Rev. Canon Donna Lise Dambrot is president and executive director of Episcopal Charities of Southeast Florida and canon for social outreach for the Diocese of Southeast Florida. 


ENS Headlines - Wednesday, July 2, 2014

La situación venezolana parece tomar un nuevo rumbo. El presidente Nicolás Maduro ha arremetido contra miembros de su propio partido por críticas recibidas. Según despachos de prensa Maduro considera cualquier crítica como “una traición a la patria”. Entre los críticos se encuentran algunos miembros de alta graduación de las Fuerzas Armadas.

Informes de organizaciones internacionales aseguran que la corrupción es el peor mal de los países latinoamericanos, que detiene el desarrollo económico y mina la confianza de la ciudadanía en sus líderes políticos. Ahora la corrupción ha llegado hasta la Madre Patria: la infanta Cristina y su esposo Iñaki Urdangarín están siendo procesados por presuntos “delitos fiscales y blanqueo de capitales”. Cristina es hermana del nuevo rey de España Felipe VI.

La televisión española informó de dos casos de “delitos de odio”, ocurridos recientemente, uno en el metro de Barcelona en la que un joven ruso atacó a otra persona sin mediar palabra sólo porque le parecía extranjero. El otro caso ocurrió en una playa nudista en la que una pareja de ancianos gay fue insultada y golpeada. Ambos casos fueron reportados a las autoridades.

La Iglesia Presbiteriana de Estados Unidos cambió su definición del matrimonio para que en lugar de éste “es un pacto en el que un hombre y una mujer son llamados a vivir juntos su vida”, ahora diga en su lugar que éste “involucra un compromiso único entre dos personas tradicionalmente entre un hombre y una mujer”. La enmienda requiere el voto afirmativo de los 172 presbiterios y llevaría un año el proceso de votación.

La Corte Europea de Derechos Humanos ha decidido mantener la decisión de Francia de prohibir a las mujeres musulmanas el uso del niqab el velo que cubre todo el rostro. En Francia hay cerca de cinco millones de musulmanes de los cuales 20000 son mujeres. La medida traerá serias consecuencias, dicen los expertos.

El arzobispo polaco Jozef Wesololowki que ha sido nuncio (embajador) del Vaticano en la República Dominicana, ha sido despojado de sus órdenes eclesiásticas por delitos de abuso sexual. El ex clérigo de 65 años fue encontrado culpable por la Congregación de la Doctrina de la Fe y ahora tendrá que someterse a la justicia civil. En Santo Domingo muchas personas piden que sea traído a la República Dominicana para que sirva el tiempo de su condena.

Una buena noticia. Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, la joven sudanesa que ha sido condenada a recibir latigazos por “adulterio” y morir en la horca por “apostasía” por haberse casado con un cristiano. Meriam ha salido de la cárcel de Omdurman al ser declarada inocente por un tribunal de apelaciones. Dio las gracias a Amnistía Internacional por su defensa y todos los que la apoyaron alrededor del mundo. Ahora está en su casa con su esposo y sus dos hijos. Sudán es un país situado en África Oriental cuya capital es Yuba.

Il Messaggero, periódico local de Roma ha publicado una entrevista con el papa Francisco en la que afirma que algunas personas lo consideran marxista por criticar el capitalismo y pedir reformas radicales. El pontífice dice en la entrevista que es una injusticia que haya tantos pobres en el mundo mientras otros tienen mucho más de lo que necesitan. Añade que “la preocupación por los pobres es el tema central del evangelio de Cristo” y cita muchos pasajes bíblicos que hablan de los pobres, los necesitados y los enfermos.

En Buenos Aires ha fallecido Arnoldo Canclini distinguido historiador y pastor bautista a la edad de 88 años. Participó en innumerables organizaciones eclesiásticas y escribió varias obras en las que se destacan Hasta lo último de la tierra y Cristianismo y existencialismo.

Jamie Coots, pastor pentecostal de Kentucky de 42 años de edad, falleció recientemente víctima de la mordida de una serpiente cascabel durante un servicio religioso en su iglesia. La congregación lo animaba a hacer la prueba de fe que aparece en la Biblia en la que dijo “que creía literalmente”. Una cosa es tener fe y otra ser fanático. ¡Qué pena!

PENSANIENTO. La vida la da Dios y por eso hay que cuidarla.

Video: Lorraine C. Miller delivers UBE keynote address

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 1, 2014

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[Episcopal News Service] Lorraine C. Miller, former interim president and CEO of the NAACP, delivered the keynote address June 30 during the 46th Annual Conference of the Union of Black Episcopalians. More then 250 people are attending the multigenerational conference June 29 – July 3 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

UBE conference underway in Atlantic City

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Gospel Choir of the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, performed during the June 29 opening Eucharist of the Union of Black Episcopalians 2014 Annual Conference. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

[Episcopal News Service – Atlantic City, New Jersey] It’s a “family reunion” like no other: 250 adults, young and older, are gathered at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino for 46th annual meeting and conference of the Union of Black Episcopalians, a confederation of more than 35 chapters and groups in the U.S. and the Caribbean, with members in Canada, Africa and Latin America.

The conference brings together African American Episcopalians and those from the African and Caribbean diaspora for five days of worship, workshops, addresses and fellowship.

“Some of our constituents belong to historically black churches, others come from multicultural churches, and others come from the Midwest and the West where there are fewer black Episcopalians, so this is one place where they come together,” said Annette L. Buchanan, UBE national president, and a member of St. Augustine’s Church in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

“Not only is it intergenerational, but it is across the African diaspora; we understand that we are one community and that we can learn from each other.”

The Rev. Canon Sandye Wilson, rector of St. Andrew and Holy Communion Episcopal Church in South Orange, New Jersey, preached the sermon during the June 29 opening Eucharist of the 46th annual Union of Black Episcopalians conference June 29-July 3 at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

True to the conference’s theme “Renewing our Commitment to the Work and Ministry of Social Justice” the June 29 to July 3 assembly includes workshops such as “Eliminating Racism and Renewing Our Commitment to Each Other, to Church and to Community” and “Awake, Arise: Blueprint For A Vibrant Congregation.”

“We like to talk a good story about being open and welcoming places … but were not always so good about inviting people in and having a place for people who are different than we are,” said the Rev. Canon Sandye Wilson, rector of St. Andrew and Holy Communion Episcopal Church in South Orange, New Jersey, in a sermon delivered during the June 29 opening Eucharist.

“And the reality is that we’ve got some internal work do so that we can do the work of the Gospel.”

Wilson referred to the song “God Has Work for Us to Do”:

“Till all the jails are empty and all the bellies filled;
Till no one hurts or steals or lies, and no more blood is spilled;
God has work for us to do, God has work for us to do…”

“So my friends, if there is anything I would say to you tonight as we begin to recommit ourselves to social justice is that God has work for us to do,” said Wilson, adding that it’s first the hard work of  “looking in the mirror and recognizing that we’ve been created in the image of God.”

“The beauty of the body of Christ gathered as the church is that there is space for all parts of the body to thrive and when those parts are working together, some amazing things happen,” she said.

The design of the multigenerational conference includes:

  • workshops
  • time to socialize and network
  • ways to facilitate sharing at home diocese and churches
  • a focus on lifting up young adult and youth leadership.

“We wanted to make sure that those who paved the way, our seniors, that they are here and we honor them, … and they serve as role models to the middle tier and youth and young adults,” said Buchanan. “We have young people who because they have been to the conferences strive to become … clergy and leaders within the church because they … have been given leadership roles as well.”

Bishop Barbara Harris, the first woman bishop in the Episcopal Church, and Diane Pollard, a long-time General Convention deputy from the Diocese of New York and a trustee of the Church Pension Fund, during the opening Eucharist of the Union of Black Episcopalians 2014 Annual Conference. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

UBE traces its history back to Absalom Jones, the first African-American priest. For more than 200 years, the black leadership has led the fight against racism in the Episcopal Church and UBE continues to work collaboratively as an advocate for social and economic justice.

Recommitting to social justice serves as a reminder for members not to “rest on their laurels in terms of whatever gains we’ve made,” said Buchanan.  The theme also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the advent of the civil rights movement, and the parallel struggle for rights in church.

“The struggle is still ahead,” said Buchanan.

In regard to the church, one thing UBE is concerned about is the vitality of its more than 330 historically black congregations, a large percentage of which, Buchanan said, “are not healthy.”

It was something the Rev. Canon Edward Rodman, the John Seeley Stone professor of pastoral theology and urban ministry at Episcopal Divinity School, pointed out during his workshop “Black Folk and the History of the Episcopal Church: A 21st Century Perspective”: Churches that are not self-sufficient and that don’t pay their diocesan assessment lose their voice.

In her June 30 keynote address, Lorraine C. Miller, who recently finished a seven-month term as interim president and CEO of the NAACP, talked about social justice and how churches can work together and with other nongovernment organizations to initiate change in their communities.

“The cause of social justice is needed more than ever,” said Miller, who prior to serving the NAACP was the 35th clerk to the U.S. House of Representatives, the third woman and first African American to serve in the position.

Annette L. Buchanan, UBE national president, foreground, and Lorraine C. Miller, former interim president and CEO of the NAACP, who delivered the keynote address June 30 during the 46th Annual Conference of the Union of Black Episcopalians. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

Miller outlined three issues to consider as UBE evaluates its social justice engagement strategy: the need for greater civic participation, particularly to address the assault in recent years on voter rights; the scourge of HIV and AIDS that disproportionately affects the African American population in the United States; and community efforts to engage minority men between the ages of 18 and 25, a group that is disproportionately unemployed and overrepresented in the criminal justice system.

Miller remembered a song she sang in church as a child growing up in Fort Worth, Texas – “Brighten the Corner Where You Are” – and how its meaning wasn’t clear to her until later in life.

“I had no real idea of what that meant until I became an adult … it means I may not individually be able to change the world but I can certainly make a difference in my sphere of influence, in my home and my neighborhood, I can make a difference, so what we do with HIV/AIDS, we do with young men, we do with voter participation it’s up to us, we are, you are the leaders,” said Miller.

“You are sitting in this room because you are a leader and God has given you the wisdom and power to know what to do.”

Anita George, who is renowned in the Episcopal Church for racial justice work, conducted a workshop, “Eliminating Racism and Renewing Our Commitment to Each Other, the Church and Our Community” on June 30 during the Union of Black Episcopalians 2014 Annual Conference. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

What today is the UBE was founded on Feb. 8, 1968, at St. Philip’s Church in New York by 17 black priests as the Union of Black Clergy and Laity. Its goal was to remove racism from the church and society and to stimulate the growth of black membership; another of UBE’s concerns, said Buchanan, is being intentional about raising up leaders and clergy leadership “in our churches, identifying young people who have that gift and helping them to discern that.”

The Rev. Canon Nan Peete, who is retired but serves as priest-in-charge of Church of Our Savior in Washington, D.C., echoed Buchanan: “UBE has always prided itself on including and welcoming young people. … They have a stake in the future if they have a stake in the present. It’s up to the elders to let them know they have value now and in the future.”

The conference’s focus on social justice from an historical perspective and how it affects youth and young adults today is one way to prepare new leaders, said Alexizendria “Zena” Link, UBE’s national youth adviser.

As a member of St. George’s Episcopal Church in Hempstead, New York, and president of the church’s youth group, Morenike Oyebode, 16, attended the conference to participate in the worship services, but also she was looking for ways to get more young people involved in the church.

“Here at the conference we are learning to become one and work together as kids and become part of the church because many times outside the church kids don’t really know how to be involved,” she said. “I want to find new ways to keep the youth involved in our church because many times we don’t have youth in our church. Our youth are like 15 kids and that’s it, so I would like to bring more people to our church.”

The outcome of the conference for those who’ve been around a while, Buchanan said, is “a personal recommitment to the work of racial and social justice in their own vineyard locally.”

“You’re in the vineyard, you’re working hard, and then you are like, ‘Why am I doing this? I’m not seeing any progress,’ but you come back together with the preaching with the music, the workshops, and it kind of recharges you, like when you are at the end of the service and sent out again into the world to the work, that’s what this is, the sending out. “

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

National Cathedral, We Serve, Inc. partner to serve veterans

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 1, 2014

[Washington National Cathedral press release] Washington National Cathedral and We Serve, Inc., today announced their new partnership to honor those who serve. Together, We Serve and National Cathedral will give veterans a voice by bringing attention to the programs and people working to heal veterans in body, mind, and spirit. The first component of the partnership is the We Serve Awards, which will recognize non-profit organizations helping our nation’s veterans. Nominations for the awards open today, July 1, and awards will be announced at a program at the Cathedral in November.

“We Serve is very excited to be working with the National Cathedral,” said Matthew Beaghley, President/Co-Founder of We Serve, Inc., and Navy veteran. “Currently, we have no national-scale event dedicated to the service of veterans on Veterans Day. We hope that our partnership will help shine a light on the small- and large-scale nonprofits across America doing the best work to heal veterans.”

“This Cathedral has long served as a central place for honoring and commemorating those who have selflessly fought for freedom and protected our country,” said Cathedral Dean Gary Hall. “Outreach to veterans is a top priority for the Cathedral through programs that seek to recognize and pay tribute to them. Our collaboration with We Serve provides yet another way to show our commitment to those who have served our nation.”

The goal of this partnership is to bring attention to the often-overlooked element of spirit in the healing of veterans. Beginning July 1, We Serve, Inc., will conduct a campaign series of nominations and voting, allowing only veterans, active-duty military, and their families to nominate and vote for the veteran organizations (501c3 charity) they believe have been the most helpful to them. To nominate a veteran organization for a We Serve Award™, visit www.2014weserveawards.org

Please more information visit www.nationalcathedral.org and www.weserveawards.org

Original artwork invited for 2014 Episcopal Church Christmas card

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 1, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Submissions are invited for original artwork that will be used for the 2014 Episcopal Church Christmas card.

The original artwork should express a local understanding of God’s incarnation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

“The deep significance of God’s presence among us in human flesh can only be understood in particular human contexts,” noted Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. “We are not generic human beings, and because each human being is unique, we can’t make sense of this reality in a generic human image of the divine.  This is an invitation to share your understanding with the wider Church, so that all of us might have our own local image expanded and deepened.  Do you see Jesus born in a stable, a cave, or under mid-winter stars?  What did his earthly parents look like?  What kind of plants fed the animals that gathered round?  What did the celebration of their human herders look like?  From what foreign cultures did the wise ones (Magi) come to learn and pay their respects?  We all want to see Jesus – show us the birth of God in human flesh.”

Deadline for submitting original artwork is August 15. Voting will occurSeptember 1 to September 15 with the winner announced on October 1.

A printable PDF of the card with the winning artwork will be made available online to all congregations.  The greeting inside the card will appear in English, Spanish, French, Creole and Navajo.

Submitting images

• Images must be no larger than 256mb for submission.  Final Hi-Res images should be available upon determination of winner.

• Images may be submitted here.

For information about submitting images contact Ana Arias, aarias@episcopalchurch.org, or Barry Merer, bmerer@episcopalchurch.org.

For information on the Christmas Card Image Contest, contact Neva Rae Fox atpublicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org.

Office of Finance issues updated report on diocesan commitments

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 1, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Episcopal Church Office of Finance has issued a mid-year updated report on diocesan commitments.

N. Kurt Barnes, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer, announced that all Episcopal dioceses located in the United States and nearly every non-United States diocese have committed to the 2014 budget of The Episcopal Church.

He indicated that
• 42 dioceses have committed to the full 19% asking level adopted by General Convention 2012.

• 39 dioceses are contributing between 10% and 19%.

• Commitments have been received from every diocese except one.

“The commitments from the dioceses for 2014 total $26.8 million,” Barnes said. “The revised budget assumed $25.8 million. We are especially thankful for those dioceses that are able to make commitments at the full 19% asking level established by a vote of the General Convention, and we appreciate those dioceses that are striving to increase their commitments each year.”

A complete list of diocesan commitments appears here.

The 2014 revised budget adopted by Executive Council is here.
Barnes also noted that trust funds, income from which accounts for 25% of the annual budget, continued their exceptional performance.  “Annual returns after all fees and expenses were 15.2%, 16.5% and 7.2% for the one-, five- and 10-years ending March 31, 2014 – ranking within the top quartile of all foundations with assets over $50 million,” he said. “We invite any Episcopal entity to co-invest with the DFMS.” 

Additional information appears here.

Episcopal Church Finance Office

Archbishop begins visit to Central and Southern Africa

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 1, 2014

[Lambeth Palace] The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby arrives in Zambia today for a week of visits to fellow primates in the Anglican provinces of Central and Southern Africa.

The visits, which form part of Archbishop Justin’s commitment to visit every primate in the Anglican Communion during his first 18 months in office, will focus on spending time with church leaders and communities and seeing the work of Anglican churches in their local context. He will be accompanied throughout the visits by his wife, Caroline.

Today the Archbishop arrives in the Zambian capital of Lusaka, where he will spend two days as a guest of the Archbishop of Central Africa and Bishop of Northern Zambia, Albert Chama. This evening he will address Anglicans in Lusaka at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

Tomorrow Archbishop Justin will travel with Archbishop Albert to Central Zambia, where he will be meet local Christians and preach at Kitwe’s St Michael and All Angels Anglican Cathedral.

On Wednesday the Archbishop will travel to South Africa, where he will be staying with the Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba.

During three days in the country Archbishop Justin will visit Alexandra township outside Johannesburg, where Nelson Mandela lived in 1941. The Archbishop will address the congregation St Michael and All Angels Church, before performing the Walk of Witness to the Mandela First residence in Johannesburg. He will also address the Anglican Ablaze conference in Brynston, and meet with a local Anglican youth group.

For the final leg of the visit, on Friday the Archbishop will travel to Mauritius to stay with the Primate of the Indian Ocean, Archbishop Ian Ernest.

The Archbishop will visit a new Anglican-run hostel for people with mental health issues, the first of its kind in the country. He will also attend 160th anniversary celebrations at St James’ Anglican Cathedral, where he will preach in French at a service to be attended by the President, the Prime Minister, and members of the Chemin Neuf community.