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Church groups mobilize to address West Africa Ebola outbreak

ENS Headlines - Thursday, August 14, 2014

Volunteers lower a corpse, which is prepared with safe burial practices to ensure it does not pose a health risk to others and stop the chain of person-to-person transmission of Ebola, into a grave in Kailahun, Sierra Leone. Photo: Reuters/WHO/Tarik Jasarevic

[Episcopal News Service] Two Episcopal Church priests with deep personal and professional roots in two of the countries being devastated by Ebola say that efforts to stem the deadly virus’ spread are being hampered by a slow response, lack of medical supplies, illiteracy, poverty and misinformation.

“The problem we have had is Liberians not taking preventive measures,” the Rev. James Tetegba Yarsiah told ENS Aug. 13, adding that up to a few weeks ago many Liberians were not paying attention to this “deadly disease.”

“It is now that they are getting very serious about it,” said Yarsiah, who is the chaplain and vicar at Voorhees College where he is also an assistant professor of religion and philosophy. He also is a leader in the Liberian Episcopal Community in the United States of America.

Yarsiah’s parents, siblings and mother-in-law plus other relatives and friends live in Liberia, which along with Sierra Leone and Guinea is at the heart of the worst outbreak of Ebola in history. He has been urging them to take preventive measures to protect themselves against the virus, he said.

They are “being very terrified and horrified by the way [Ebola] has ravaged and killed people in West Africa, so they are coming to the realization that this is very dangerous.”

“And they also see the suffering that it has brought upon the land,” he said.

James Yarsiah

Up until very recently, the Episcopal Church of Liberia, which has its roots in the U.S.-based Episcopal Church and is now a part of the Anglican Church of the Province of West Africa, has not been doing much about Ebola, Yarsiah said.

“And the reason for that is this is something that has caught the entire country unexpectedly, and has moved so quickly and has caused so much havoc and death,” he explained, adding that the Episcopal Church in Liberia does not have the needed materials, facilities and medical supplies that are needed. The church, however, is trying to educate people, especially in rural areas, about how to protect themselves.

Archbishop Jonathan Bau-Bau Bonaparte Hart, who was elected in 2008 as the bishop of Liberia and became the archbishop of the Internal Province of West Africa in the Church of the Province of West Africa last month, told Yarsiah of the suffering and fear he sees in Liberia.

“He is fearful for his parishioners throughout the diocese,” Yarsiah said.

Ministering to an area affected by such a disease as Ebola is, Yarsiah said, “a burden on him and all the clergy and all the church.”

He said he has heard from fellow graduates of Cuttington University, founded in 1889 in southern Liberia by the U.S.-based Episcopal Church, who have lost family members to the virus. Some professional nurses who were Cuttington graduates have died, Yarsiah said.

That sort of news brings Ebola “close to home” for those living in the United States, he said. It makes people worry that they will soon hear bad news about their loved ones back home.

Yarsiah believes that while many Episcopal churches in Liberia are being touched by Ebola, most are still functioning. “This is a time that churches need to open their doors and help education people, help comfort and counsel people,” he said.

In an Aug. 8 call for prayers for the people of West Africa the Anglican mission organization Us., formerly known as USPG (United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel), reported that Hart had told its staffers “we have joined hands with the council of churches, the government and other organizations in the fight against Ebola. Churches are educating our members to avoid contact with infected people, wash hands with chlorine, and not to panic.”

“We encourage the public to keep their environments clean,” Hart said, adding that the church is repeating the message of the health authorities in calling on Episcopalians also to “avoid hand shaking and, as much as possible, refuse unnecessary bodily contact.”

“We need disposable surgical gloves, chorine and basic hygiene kits to safeguard against Ebola,” Hart told Us.

Yarsiah said that the Liberian Episcopal Community in the United States of America is trying to help the church gather those supplies, using a list provided by the Liberian Council of Churches, of which Hart is the president, and another list posted on the website of the Liberian embassy in Washington, D.C.

More information about that effort is available on the organization’s website.

In late July, the Liberian Council of Churches called for three days of national “indoor fasting and prayer” Aug. 6-8. The call, which was reported in Liberian newspapers, began by saying that “God is angry with Liberia, and that Ebola is a plague. Liberians have to pray and seek God’s forgiveness over the corruption and immoral acts (such as homosexualism, etc.) that continue to penetrate our society. As Christians, we must repent and seek God’s forgiveness.”

Ebola in Sierra Leone
In the Diocese of Texas, the Rev. Johannes George, a native of Sierra Leone, said he is hearing other kinds of misinformation about Ebola.

George has been in contact with friends and family daily for updates. Along with his congregation at Christ the King Episcopal Church in Houston, George has gathered a larger group of Africans in southwest Houston, to pray and raise money to help, the diocese reported Aug. 12. He also meets online each Saturday with Muslims and Christians across the country to pray for victims and health workers in Africa.

George said he has talked to people in his home town of Kenama, which is under quarantine.

“Nobody trusts anyone. They don’t trust the health workers; you don’t even trust your own family,” George said during the Diocese of Texas video interview.

“There is a conflict between the health workers and the traditional people,” he said, growing out of the people’s tradition of washing and anointing the dead and “giving them the final hug” before burial and medical workers’ efforts to keep people of having such contact with those whom Ebola has killed.

People, he said, need to be sensitized to the fact that they must behave differently during an epidemic. That fact is lost on some people, especially in rural villages, George said.

“They don’t believe that this is something coming from within,” he said. “The belief is that this is coming from the outside, coming from the West and that the West is infecting them with this.”

They do not understand that Ebola comes from eating monkey, insects and other “bush animals,” which George said the people eat for lack of other food. Disseminating information about Ebola and how it is spread is difficult because so many people are illiterate. Most do not have working radios or televisions, he added.

A New York Times’ story recently painted a grim picture of the virus’s spread in Njala Ngiema, where George once served and preached. The village of 500 has lost more than 10 percent of its population, many of whom are subsistence farmers.

George is worried that quarantines imposed to halt the spread of the disease will hurt the poverty-stricken population by cutting off what little food and water supplies villagers have. They will resort to drinking from polluted streams and eating more bush meat, he said.

The Times has reported that experts acknowledge that any cordon must let food, water and medical care reach those inside.

Ade Renner-Thomas, chancellor for the Diocese of Freetown, Sierra Leone, told Us. on Aug. 8 the Sierra Leone government has declared a state of public health emergency, which means there are quarantines in the areas most affected. Movements are restricted in certain areas, and gatherings of more than five people are prohibited.

“When we have met as a church, there are no more handshakes when we share the peace, etc.,” he told Us. “We need as much prayer as you can offer.”

Episcopal Relief & Development is working with its partners in both Liberia and Sierra Leone supporting awareness-raising efforts and providing personal protection equipment and disinfectants to under-resourced hospitals and clinics in the affected areas, according to an Aug. 6 press release.

The breadth of the outbreak
The current Ebola outbreak began in Guinea in December 2013 and now involves Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, according to a statement from the United Nations’ World Health Organization.

On Aug. 14, WHO said there were 1,975 cases of Ebola and 1,069 deaths reported in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

WHO has called the outbreak “the largest, most severe and most complex” since the disease was first seen in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 1976. The disease killed 280 during that outbreak, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In his interview with the Diocese of Texas, George called for experimental drugs to be made available immediately. And on Aug. 13, the World Health Organization endorsed such use, with caveats.

The endorsement came after the organization convened a group of ethicists to consider the implications of responding to calls to use such drugs to try to save the lives of patients and to curb the epidemic even though they have not been evaluated for safety and efficacy in human beings.

“There was unanimous agreement among the experts that in the special circumstances of this Ebola outbreak it is ethical to offer unregistered interventions as potential treatments or prevention,” Marie-Paule Kieny, the World Health Organization’s assistant director general, said.

If and when the drugs are used to treat patients, “there is a moral obligation to collect and share all data generated,” the group said in an Aug. 12 summary of its discussion the previous day.

“There was unanimous agreement that there is a moral duty to also evaluate these interventions (for treatment or prevention) in the best possible clinical trials under the circumstances in order to definitively prove their safety and efficacy or provide evidence to stop their utilization,” the group said.

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

Presiding Bishop, faith leaders welcome Israel-Hamas ceasefire

ENS Headlines - Thursday, August 14, 2014

[National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East press release] As leaders of American Jewish, Christian, and Muslim national religious organizations, united in the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East (NILI), we welcome the ceasefire agreement of Israel and Hamas, and the negotiations to make it permanent.  We were appalled by the kidnappings and murders of Israeli and Palestinian teenagers. We believe the loss of even one human life is a tragedy that grieves God.  In the recent weeks of war between Hamas and Israel, we mourn the innocent civilians killed.  We offer our prayers as well for the wounded and for the families of all the victims of violence.

This tragic escalation of violence demonstrates once again that there is no such thing as a stable status-quo in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ideas being promoted in some circles for returning to the previous status quo or managing the conflict are dangerous.  Acknowledging the recent failed negotiations, we call on Israeli and Palestinian political leaders to renew negotiations to achieve a two-state peace agreement, the only realistic resolution of the conflict in which both people can live in peace, security, and mutual recognition. The crucial choice leaders on both sides face now is between negotiating a two-state peace agreement with a new sense of urgency or condemning Palestinian and Israeli children and youth to continued conflict — more violence, more suffering, and more deaths.

We strongly supported Secretary of State Kerry’s efforts to achieve a negotiated peace agreement, and urge the United States to renew efforts to reach a two-state agreement as soon as possible.  Recalling President Obama’s words in Jerusalem, “Peace is necessary…peace is also just…and peace is possible,” we believe the outline of a possible two-state agreement is widely known, including ideas drawn from previous official and informal negotiations for fair, realistic compromises.  While none of the previous plans present a complete outline, the Taba Agreement (2000), the Arab Peace Initiative (2002), People’s Voice Initiative (2003), Geneva Accord (2003), and the (unofficial) Israeli Peace Initiative (2011) are sources for principled and practical ideas to help resolve all the issues, including borders and security, settlements, refugees and Jerusalem.

It is more urgent than ever that the United States and the international community press for a two-state peace agreement. While appreciating that maintaining a sustainable ceasefire is now the priority, we would welcome an early opportunity to meet with Secretary of State Kerry to discuss how we can assist with renewed U.S. efforts to achieve a negotiated two-state peace agreement. We pledge to mobilize active public support from members of synagogues, churches and mosques across the country for active, fair and determined U.S. leadership for peace.

NILI Statement Welcoming the Ceasefire
In Israel and Gaza – August 2014
List of Endorsers

Christian Leaders:
Bishop Richard E. Pates, Chairman, USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace
Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington
Archbishop Vicken Aykasian, Director, Ecumenical Affairs, Armenian Orthodox Church in America
Archimandrite Nathanael Symeonides, Ecumenical Officer, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Jim Winkler, President/General Secretary, National Council of Churches of Christ USA
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Bishop Warner H. Brown Jr., President, Council of Bishops, United Methodist Church
Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church
Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Reverend Geoffrey Black, General Minister & President, United Church of Christ
Reverend Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister, President, Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ)
Reverend Leighton Ford, President, Leighton Ford Ministries, Board Member, World Vision US
David Neff, former Editorial Vice-President, Christianity Today
John M. Buchanan, Editor and Publisher, Christian Century

Jewish Leaders:
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President, Union of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Rick Block, President, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Steven A. Fox, Chief Executive Officer, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Ph.D. Rector and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, American Jewish University
Rabbi Burt Visotzky, Jewish Theological Seminary
Rabbi Jason Klein, President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Rabbi Deborah Waxman, President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Rabbi Amy Small, Past President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus, Past President, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Peter Knobel, Past President, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Paul Menitoff, Executive Vice President Emeritus, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Alvin M. Sugarman, Rabbi Emeritus, The Temple, Atlanta Georgia

Muslim Leaders:
Imam Mohammed Magid, President, Islamic Society of North America
Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, National Director, Islamic Society of North America
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Founder of the ASMA Society and Chairman of the Cordoba Initiative
Dawud Assad, President Emeritus, Council of Mosques, USA
Imam Yahya Hendi, Founder and President, Clergy Beyond Borders
Eide Alawan, Interfaith Office for Outreach, Islamic Center of America
Iftekhar A. Hai, Founding Director, United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance

Turning from fear to prayer: Archbishop of Canterbury in Auckland

ENS Headlines - Thursday, August 14, 2014

Photos of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s visit to Auckland, New Zealand, are available here.

[Anglican Taonga] More than 400 Kiwi Anglicans crammed into Auckland’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre last evening to see and hear The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev Justin Welby, during his racing stopover in New Zealand.

Archbishop Welby, who is in New Zealand for just 24 hours, preached on a night when the beautifully-restored 135-year old wooden Gothic Revival church creaked and shuddered like a Spanish galleon in the teeth of a late winter blast.

He’d spent the afternoon with the three Archbishops of this province, and their wives, talking about the challenges facing the communion – they’d touched on everything from slavery to the persecution of Christians in strife-torn places like Iraq and northern Nigeria, he said – and he’d learned something about the life of the church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

Archbishop Welby told journalists after the service that “the most challenging thing for me… has been hearing about the extraordinarily radical way in which the Anglican Church in New Zealand is structuring itself to represent its communities.

“Giving integrity to each one, yet being woven together as one – and it’s a real blessing for the rest of the Anglican communion.”

The evening service itself bore out what Archbishop Welby had earlier been told by the local archbishops – with hymns and Bible readings in Maori, English, Samoan and Tongan, and performances by Pacific Island choirs and action songs by a Maori kapa haka troup.

Archbishop Welby told the journalists that he was well familiar with multicultural settings – but not with the degree of interweaving he’d just seen at Holy Sep: “It’s much more bound together here,” he said. “There seems to be a really deliberate sense to it, which is very exciting.

The absurdity, the insanity of the cross…

Archbishop Welby drew his sermon from the texts for the evening – Psalm 72, Proverbs 8: 22-31 and John 19: 23-27 – reflecting on the impulse to fear in the world, and the overcoming of that fear that is the Christian’s birthright.

He acknowledged too, that this is the bicentenary year for the church in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“Even after 200 years of the gospel,” he said, “it is good to remember the absurdity, the insanity of the cross.

“In John’s gospel the cross is the place of exaltation, of triumph. John himself says that that was only clear to the disciples after the resurrection.

“For everyone else apart from Jesus, the spectacle, the sight of a man on the cross led them to get Jesus wrong.

“For the soldiers, playing dice at the foot of the cross, the error was to see nothing out of the ordinary.

“The world is being saved around them. By this figure, at whose feet they gamble.

“And they gamble… to make the most of a dull day.

“The disciples, those who have not run away, huddle in despair, and anguish and defeat. Their error is only to see their crucified rabbi.

“They do not see triumph. The throne of the cross.

“The world passed on its way, that day, as it would every other day – and as probably we would have done, if we’d been going into Jerusalem on that day.

“Across the Holy Land, the dying died, the suffering suffered, all over the world. Many other deaths happened, unremarked, that day. And this day was much unremarked, among those who were there.

“And yet only this one death made human history, made cosmic history, completely different.

“And the challenge for us as the family, that was created through and after that event – God’s family – is to be the sort of people who enable the mistakes that were made then, and are still made today to be set right, so that the light may shine.

“Because for Christians, all our actions should be governed by this figure. And by the way of his death.

“A figure on the cross. By the empty tomb. By the gift of the spirit of God – by our vocation to be Christ in this troubled, and for many, this terrible world.

A world propelled to fear

“This evening, the appalling events of Iraq, the equally terrible killings in Northern Nigeria and in Syria, the war in the Ukraine, and in so many other parts of the world…

“The seemingly endless repetitions of the terrible tragedies of Gaza and the whole of Israel and Palestine… all these events and movements propel the world towards fear.

“And fear takes people to self-protection, and self-protection takes people to actions that only make things worse.

“There must of course be actions. We are an active people.

“Christians are called by God to serve, to transform.

“Yet the pattern of our action is set by the figure on the cross.

“There are millions of reasons for fear. There’s probably about six and a half billion in this world at the moment – and they are every single human being.

“We look at human sin and violence, and that gives us reason to fear.

“We look at natural disasters – and you know so much more than we do about that – and we see millions and billions of reasons for fear.

“Against those millions and billions, there is only one reason for courage, for hope – and that is God.

“The God of cross and resurrection.

“And that one reason overwhelms every other reason for fear.”

Maui’s ‘A Cup of Cold Water’ pours hope into homeless community

ENS Headlines - Thursday, August 14, 2014

ACCW volunteer driver BJ Santiago offers food and other personal care items to Charles near Lahaina. Photo: Keith Yamamoto

[Episcopal News Service, Maui, Hawaii] The blue and white van bounced slowly, a bumpy ride along the rocky beach, bringing water, food, clothing, first aid and personal care items to isolated homeless communities along the mouth of Maui’s Wailuku River in Hawaii.

Nearing a small encampment of several cars and trucks sheltered by trees and bushes, Lawrence Kauhaahaa carefully maneuvered the van to a stop. He tapped the horn lightly as his mother, Juanita Kauhaahaa, 75, threw open the van’s sliding door and called out: “A Cup of Cold Water!”

Along with grandson Joseph, 18, she bagged canned meat, fruit cups, cheese crackers, pop-top puddings, granola bars and other snacks to hand out as a line quickly formed at the door. Other brown paper sacks were filled with personal and first aid items: toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash, Band-Aids, lotion, and soap and – because of the extreme July heat – cold water, lots of water.

Requests – for toilet paper, socks, slippers, shorts, T-shirts, hats, sheets, towels, laundry detergent – are granted as available, and grace abounds in the personal exchange.

“I haven’t seen you for awhile. I wondered where you’d gone,” Juanita called out to a family whose two young children perch inside the van. In return, a young man offers her a box of almost-ripe bananas with a simple request to “spread them around.”

“Everybody shares what they have,” said Lawrence Kauhaahaa, a retired 20-year veteran of the Maui police department who considers the once-monthly Wednesday morning run a family affair. And it’s not just because three generations of his family participate together. They have come to know many “uncles” and “aunties” along the route through Central Maui.

“They’ve gotten to know us and trust us,” he said.

Volunteers and supporters work together to help Maui’s homeless community.

A little ‘elbow-grease’ Christianity
Estimates of the numbers of homeless people on Maui range as high as 2,000, about half of whom are “hard-core homeless” with little access to assistance on weekends, according to Kekuhaupio “Keku” Akana, a parishioner at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Wailuku.

“Helping them was always something that I felt compelled to try and be part of the hand of Christ in,” according to Akana, 57, a retired Maui deputy police chief, the inspiration and driving force behind A Cup of Cold Water (ACCW), which takes its name from Matthew 10:42.

“The old-timers used to call us peace officers and that’s what I considered myself,” he said. “But it was always very difficult when you had to respond and move on, respond and move on, and you couldn’t give quality time to somebody in need,” he told ENS. “I was a cop for 25 years; I drove into a lot of despair.”

So with “a little elbow-grease Christianity, age-old compassion and love,” diocesan support and generous donations he formed a committee of dedicated supporters. They began organizing, fundraising, recruiting and training volunteers from Good Shepherd and the island’s other Episcopal churches: St. John’s, Kula; Holy Innocents, Lahaina; and Trinity-by-the-Sea, Kihei. The first run happened in November 2013.

Since then, the ministry has distributed some 34,000 items during more than 4,300 encounters and it has attracted volunteers from Catholic, Nazarene, Congregational, New Hope Chapel, Grace Bible, Hawaiian Church and other local communities of faith. Akana hopes it will expand beyond the current three weekly runs: Wednesdays in Central Maui, Saturdays in Lahaina and West Maui, and Sundays in Kihei and South Maui.

The ministry relies on donations to help others survive, he said. ACCW partners with other local agencies and hands out resource cards, and upon request, Bibles and prayer books.

“For us, it’s giving hope and love, moment by moment, person to person,” Akana said. “It’s giving a little bit of hope to someone in despair, connected to addiction, mental illness or whatever the circumstances, giving hope that someone’s going to come because they care.”

Good old-fashioned compassion
On a steamy Saturday morning, B. J. Santiago restocks the van with water, food and supplies from the storage space at Good Shepherd Church and pauses for prayer with other ACCW volunteers.

A line has already formed in the church parking lot at the sight of the van. Each person’s needs are addressed before the van departs for the West Maui run.

“There are lines waiting when we get back from the run, too,” according to B.J. Santiago, a longtime Good Shepherd member and one of nine volunteer drivers. “Some of our guests are homeless, some work but have a hard time making ends meet.”

Stops along the route are scheduled and unscheduled: “If I see people who look like they need help, and there’s room to pull the van over, I do.”

With a tropical storm threatening, he is eager to assist as many people today as possible. He parks at the first scheduled stop, along Highway 30 west. One, two, three quick beeps of the horn and he goes to check on the elderly “uncle” who has built a wooden shelter on top of a truck, beside the tent where a family of six live.

Typically, there are three volunteers per run. A driver records items distributed and keeps track of mileage. Two others distribute food and personal items and “talk story” with guests, which just seems natural to volunteers like Kit Hart, a parishioner at St. John’s, Kula.

“We just take people at face value. Just the fact that we’re here, engaging them as people about whatever they want to share, helps,” according to the retired family therapist. “They need food and other things, yes, but they need smiles and conversation, too.”

“Mickey” was among the first to line up as the van parked near the Lahaina courthouse, alongside the town’s iconic 60-foot high, block-long banyan tree.

“I lived in Ohio and California. I came here to work and got hurt,” according to the former restaurant employee. “I have a place to stay, but the food helps. Every little bit helps.”

Andrew, who requests and receives a pair of slacks, says he left Saginaw, Michigan, in search of “a peaceful environment. I kept moving west.”

But “things have been up and down financially,” he said. “A Cup of Cold Water is a blessing to me. It’s the only thing available this day of the week. The food helps out a lot.”

Food is the main thing, agreed Joel, 48, who said the past two years have been tough ones. “I lost my dad. My camp just got bulldozed. I had a Volkswagen but someone stole the engine. It’s been two years now and I’ve just left it all in God’s hands.

“But,” he smiled, “it’s great that A Cup of Cold Water comes out here, and helps us. Every little bit helps and I’m thankful to God. I mean to give to others, too.”

He points ACCW volunteers in the direction of “Charles” who is dozing on and off in a wheelchair and whose legs are covered with infected sores. He promises Santiago to keep a watchful eye on Charles.

A little further along the route, Deborah Duffy hesitates when Santiago and Hart beckon her toward the van.

Seated at a park picnic table near the ocean, she is at first cautious. But after watching Hart interact with others, she approaches, eager to interact, to share her story.

“I haven’t been in a house for four years,” she said. “I lost my wallet. I had to give up my apartment and I’ve been hoping to get back in. I’m trying to make some money so I can eat.”

For now, the food and attention allays at least some of her anxiety. “I didn’t know anything like this existed,” according to the 59-year-old. “I think you’re blessed. When do you come back?”

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

Archbishops of Canterbury and Australia issue joint statement on Iraq

ENS Headlines - Thursday, August 14, 2014

[Lambeth Palace] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of Australia Philip Freier made a joint statement on the crisis in northern Iraq during press conference in Melbourne, Australia yesterday.

The press conference took place at The Chapter House at St. Paul’s Cathedral before the inauguration of Archbishop Philip Freier as the Anglican Primate of Australia.

Archbishop Justin Welby said: 

“Ever since the war to end all wars ended in 1918, humankind have been saying “never again”, then we wring our hands as genocide unfolds in some distant corner. But what is happening right now in northern Iraq is off the scale of human horror.

“In a globalised world where even distant nations are our “neighbour”, we cannot allow these atrocities to be unleashed with impunity. And while the behaviour of the ISIS jihadis in Syria and northern Iraq is particularly savage, it is also part of rising and increasingly serious persecution of Christians and other groups in many countries.

“These groups are, rightly, rejected by the vast majority of Muslims. The struggle being faced is one for a world that can cope with diversity, and disagree without destruction. ISIS, Boko Haram and their equivalents seek only destruction for their own ends.

“The international community must document the human rights abuses in northern Iraq so that the perpetrators can later be prosecuted.

“As Anglican leaders, we cry to God for peace and justice and security throughout the world, and especially for Christians and other minority groups suffering so deeply in northern Iraq.”

Archbishop Philip Freier said:

“As Anglican Primate of Australia, I have written to the Prime Minister, Mr Tony Abbott, appreciating Australia’s rapid response  in providing aid to the displaced thousands in Iraq. I have asked him to emulate France in offering asylum to the Christians of northern Iraq who are facing forced conversion or death. I have also written to the Immigration Minister, Mr Scott Morrison, making the same request.

“I have also launched an appeal through Anglican Overseas Aid  to help provide succour and relief for those fleeing the ISIS fighters. It is reported that more than 1.2 million people have been forced to flee, plus another 200,000 Syrians who have sought refuge in northern Iraq. More than 200,000 people have been displaced in the past fortnight, including all the residents of Iraq’s largest Christian town, Qaraqosh, and a large number of the Yazidi minority group.

“Aid agencies cannot cope with the influx, and the suffering is immense. The refugees need food, water, clothes, medical supplies and much more. I ask Anglicans and others to give sacrificially.”

Read more: 

Statement from Archbishop Justin Welby on Iraq 

Iraq crisis: Archbishop’s interview on Radio 4 

Nominating committee issues call, profile for 27th Presiding Bishop

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, August 13, 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 Call for Discernment and Profile for the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.

The Call for Discernment and Profile is located here.

The Spanish version is here and the French version is here.

Between now and September 30, any member of The Episcopal Church may submit a name of a bishop to JNCPB whom they believe should be considered for nomination through the email listed in the Call for Discernment and Profile.  JNCPB will inform bishops whose names have been presented and advise them that if they wish to engage the discernment process, they must submit their materials as specified in the Call for Discernment and Profile between October 1 and October 31. The JNCPB will announce its nominees in early May 2015.

The election will take place during the 78th meeting of General Convention June 25-July 3, 2015 in Salt Lake City. The current draft of the convention schedule shows the election taking place on June 27.

According to JCNPB, the Call for Discernment and Profile is intended to paint a picture of the skills, qualities and gifts the church seeks in its next presiding bishop in light of what the church may look like in the next decade, to assist bishops, deputies and prospective nominees in discerning which bishops may be called to the ministry of presiding bishop and to assist the committee in discerning potential nominees. To assist in that process, last year the the committee crafted and circulated a church-wide survey. The synthesis of the more than 5,200 responses helped develop the profile.

The committee is composed of a lay member, a priest or deacon, and a bishop elected from each of the nine provinces of the Episcopal Church, plus two youth representatives, appointed by the President of the House of Deputies, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings. The General Convention Deputies and bishops serve a three-year term to conclude at the close of General Convention 2015 in Salt Lake City. The current members are listed here.

On Twitter at:  @PB27Nominations or #JNCPB

On Facebook at: www.facebook.com/pb27nominations

Due to an editing error an earlier version of this story contained an incorrect date (July 27) for the presiding bishop election. The correct date is June 27, 2015.

El Comité Conjunto de Nominaciones emite una Convocatoria de Discernimiento y Perfil para el 27 Obispo Presidente Episcopal

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

[El 13 de agosto de 2014] El Comité Conjunto de Nominaciones de la Episcopal Iglesia para la Elección del Obispo Presidente (JNCPB) ha publicado una Convocatoria de Discernimiento y Perfil para la 27º Obispo Presidente de la Iglesia Episcopal

El perfil se encuentra aquí  y en español aquí   y Frances

Entre hoy y el 30 de septiembre, cualquier miembro de la Iglesia Episcopal puede presentar el nombre de un obispo al  Comité [JNCPB] a quien crean deba ser considerado para la nominación, a través del correo electrónico que aparece en una Convocatoria de Discernimiento y Perfil. El JNCPB informará a los obispos cuyos nombres se han presentado y les informará de que si desean participar del proceso de discernimiento, deberán presentar sus materiales, según se especifica en una Convocatoria de Discernimiento y Perfil, del 1 al 31 de octubre El JNCPB anunciará sus nominados a principios de mayo de 2015.

Según el JNCPB, el perfil tiene la intención de pintar un cuadro de las habilidades, cualidades y dones que la Iglesia busca en su próximo Obispo Presidente a la luz de lo que la Iglesia puede parecer en la próxima década, para ayudar a los obispos, diputados y posibles candidatos a que disciernan qué obispos pueden ser llamados al ministerio de Obispo Presidente y para ayudar al JNCPB en el discernimiento de los potenciales candidatos. Para ayudar en este proceso, el año pasado el JNCPB elaboró y distribuyó una encuesta en toda la iglesia. La síntesis de las más de 5.200 respuestas ayudó a desarrollar el perfil.

El JNCPB está compuesto por un miembro laico, un sacerdote o diácono, y un obispo elegido de cada una de las nueve provincias de la Iglesia Episcopal, además de dos representantes de la juventud, designados por el Presidente de la Cámara de los Diputados, la Revda. Gay Jennings. Los diputados de la  Convención General y los obispos sirven un término de tres años para concluir en la clausura de la Convención General de 2015 en Salt Lake City.


ENS Headlines - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

La guerra que se ha desatado entre Israel y Hamás, se deteriora constantemente. Los muertos, los heridos y los desplazados se cuentan por cientos sino miles. Las naciones vecinas se han caracterizado por su silencio, dicen comentaristas. Se estima que las Fuerzas Armadas Israelitas han causado más de 1,800 bajas en la Franja de Gaza. El primer ministro Benjamín Netanyahu dijo a la agencia francesa de prensa que Israel podrá vivir en paz después que se destruyan los túneles cavados por las milicias palestinas.

Justin Welby, arzobispo de Cantórbery, ha dicho en un mensaje radial dijo que los “horribles eventos” que están ocurriendo en Irak deben ser preocupación y acción de todos los cristianos y personas de buena voluntad. Añade el primado anglicano que miles de cristianos y otras minorías religiosas están siendo ejecutadas causando gran dolor e indignación. El arzobispo añade que los países europeos deben ejercer su influencia para que cesen estos crímenes y se castigue a los autores. Además, deben ofrecer protección a las víctimas desplazadas junto con sus oraciones.

Comentaristas internacionales afirman que los problemas de violencia de las maras (pandillas) en Centro América comenzaron en Los Ángeles cuando cientos de niños y jóvenes tomaron refugio en Estados Unidos debido a la guerra en sus países y cuando ésta se terminó fueron deportados a sus países de origen sin el debido respaldo y casi siempre sin sus padres.

El 10 de agosto siete diáconos fueron ordenados en la Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba por su obispa Griselda Delgado del Carpio en la Catedral de la Santísima Trinidad de La Habana. Esta es el mayor grupo de diáconos ordenados de que se tenga memoria. Después de más estudios y entrenamiento los diáconos serán examinados para poder ser ordenados al presbiterado o sacerdocio. Enhorabuena.

La comunidad judía de Miami se encuentra pasando por un momento difícil. Primero el rabino ortodoxo Joseph Raksin de Nueva York que visitaba la ciudad y que se dirigía al templo cumpliendo con las leyes del sabat en North Miami Beach fue asaltado por dos jóvenes afroamericanos para robarle. El rabino no cargaba ni prendas ni dinero. La policía no cree que fue un “crimen de odio” si no un delito común.  Segundo, en varios lugares de la ciudad se han visto suásticas y escritos en las paredes con palabras ofensivas a la comunidad judía. En Caracas el gobernante Nicolás Maduro pronunció un discurso a favor de los palestinos y contra los judíos que ha dado lugar a grafitis como “haz patria, mata a un judío”. En América Latina, Caracas tiene la segunda comunidad judía en número después de Buenos Aires.

Robin Williams el conocido actor y comediante norteamericano apareció muerto en su casa de California el 11 de agosto a la edad de 63 años. Las investigaciones forenses indican que su muerte fue un suicidio debido a una gran depresión que sufría. Participó en 72 películas, una de las más conocidas fue Moscú en el Hudson con la actriz cubano-venezolana María Conchita Alonso. Williams era miembro de la Iglesia Episcopal desde su infancia. En una ocasión dijo que su iglesia “era muy similar a la romana pero con la mitad del sentido de culpa”.

El misionero español Miguel Pajares, de 75 años, falleció en un hospital de Madrid luego de ser expatriado de Liberia, África, donde contrajo el virus del ébola. Ninguno de los fármacos conocidos tuvo efecto en la detención de la enfermedad.  En Liberia se quedaron ingresados tres religiosos españoles infectados con el virus. El director del centro médico donde fue internado, Patrick Nshamdze, falleció recientemente de la misma enfermedad. La Organización Mundial de la Salud dijo que otros países de África Occidental han sido contagiados.

Grupos extremistas yihadistas de Siria mataron a una mujer acusada de adulterio. La mujer vestida de negro y con la cara cubierta fue apedreada en una plaza pública sin que ninguna persona u organización interviniera a su favor. Un clérigo leyó el veredicto antes de la llegada de un camión cargado de piedras. La población se siente atemorizada ante esta ola de extrema violencia.

Juan Carlos Tejedor, el presentador de 46 años del programa noticioso estelar de la televisión cubana, ha decidido no regresar a su trabajo en Cuba después de unas vacaciones en el extranjero. Añadió que parte de su ausencia de Cuba se debe a que es creyente cristiano y que además quiere ser libre.

VERDAD. Conoceréis la verdad y la verdad os hará libres. Juan 8:32

Video: Escaping persecution, Iraqi Christians find new lives in Paris

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] ENS produced the following video in June 2013 about the persecution of Iraqi Christians and the Episcopal Church’s role in helping them to resettle in France. Although at the time the French government had closed its doors to Iraqi refugees, it has recently announced it is ready to offer asylum again to those escaping persecution from Islamist militants.

The Association d’entraide aux minorités d’Orient, of which Bishop Pierre Whalon has been president since 2008, welcomes the refugees at the airport, takes them to the transit centers for asylum seekers, and helps see them through the process until they are settled. This is the second round of AEMO’s work. Between 2008 and 2012, AEMO facilitated the resettlement of 1300 refugees in France.

Church questionnaire requests info for 2015 UNCSW

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Input is requested from members of The Episcopal Church for a questionnaire that will form the foundation of the church’s presence and participation at the 2015 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) meeting, March 9-20, 2015.

The questionnaire is located here.

In 2015, UNCSW will undertake a review of progress made in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action  beijing20.unwomen.org/ , 20 years after its adoption at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995.

As in previous years, The Episcopal Church will be joining the Anglican Communion and  Ecumenical Women www.ecumenciacalwomen.org a coalition of 17 faith-based member organizations, in joint advocacy at UNCSW.

“The Episcopal Church and Ecumenical Women invite all to participate in deciding on the advocacy priorities at UNCSW 59 by filling out the Ecumenical Women questionnaire,” explained Lynnaia Main, Episcopal Church Officer for Global Relations. “The questionnaire can be answered by anyone affiliated with The Episcopal Church or another member organization of Ecumenical Women. Answers will be gathered and considered in forming The Episcopal Church’s and Ecumenical Women’s advocacy priorities at UNCSW in 2015, and will also form the basis for stories related to The Episcopal Church’s engagement with the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and women and girls more generally.”

The questionnaire

The questionnaire was prepared jointly by Ecumenical Women with input from The Episcopal Church and other faith denominations.

The questionnaire can be completed either by individuals or by a group.

Deadline to participate in the survey is September 15.   

Data from the questionnaires will be submitted automatically to The Episcopal Church and Ecumenical Women upon submission. From the answers, advocacy priorities will be formulated and written statements will be prepared to be submitted to UNCSW for the 2015 event.

For more information contact Lynnaia Main, Episcopal Church Officer for Global Relations, lmain@episcopalchurch.org.

Ya está abierto el proceso de solicitud para las becas del Fondo Constable de la Iglesia Episcopal La fecha límite es el 1 de noviembre

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

[12 de  agosto de 2014] El proceso de solicitud está abierto para las becas del Fondo Constable del ciclo 2014-2015.

El Fondo Constable ofrece becas para financiar iniciativas de misión que no estaban previstas en el presupuesto de la Convención General de la Sociedad Misionera/Doméstica y Extranjera de la Iglesia Episcopal (DFMS).

Anne Watkins, miembro del Consejo Ejecutivo, pertenece a la Diócesis de Connecticut y es presidente del Comité de Revisión de becas del Fondo Constable, señaló que las  recientes becas Constable van de 5,000 a 200,000 dólares
Las solicitudes pueden presentarse a través de: (1) una oficina programática de  DFMS; (2) uno de los CCAB  (comité /comisión/agencia/junta directiva) de la Convención General; o (3) una de las Provincias de la Iglesia Episcopal.

Las directrices específicas, sugerencias, formulario de solicitud y el calendario están disponibles aquí.

La fecha límite para las solicitudes es el 1 de noviembre. Las  becas serán revisadas en diciembre y las recomendaciones remitidas al Consejo Ejecutivo para su decisión en la reunión de enero de 2015. Los beneficiarios serán notificados tras la clausura de esa reunión.

Para obtener más información contacte  a Watkins en annemw630@gmail.com, o a Samuel McDonald, Adjunto Director de Operaciones de la Iglesia Episcopal y Director de Misión, smcdonald@episcopalchurch.org.

Llamadas así por la señorita Constable
Las Becas Constable recibieron el nombre de  la señorita Mary Louise Constable, que fue una filántropa visionaria. Watkins señaló: “El suyo es un ejemplo de testimonio fiel y de generosidad en respuesta a un entendimiento, obviamente, maduro y profundo de sí misma como discípula de Jesucristo y como mayordoma de las bendiciones que Dios le otorgó”.

En 1935, en medio de la catástrofe económica conocida como la Gran Depresión, la señorita Constable hizo un regalo monetario a la Iglesia Episcopal para establecer el Fondo Constable. Su deseo e intención de añadir periódicamente al fondo durante su vida se realizó y culminó con un último regalo muy generoso en el momento de su muerte en 1951.

Watkins además explicó: “Las estipulaciones para el uso del fondo también fueron visionarias y generosas, al reconocer y confiar en que los que vinieran después de ella  cumplirían con sus deseos, al paso que les ofrecía flexibilidad a fin de llevar a la misión de Dios a través de la Iglesia de Dios hacia adelante en nuevos tiempos”.

El lenguaje del testamento de la señorita Constable afirma que el fondo existe “a perpetuidad… para que se dedique la ganancia neta a los fines de la Sociedad, de preferencia para el trabajo en la educación religiosa no prevista en el presupuesto de la Sociedad”.

“Es el deseo del Comité de Revisión del Consejo Ejecutivo del Fondo Constable que el ejemplo de la señorita Constable de mayordomía, generosidad, flexibilidad y  creatividad sean valores que se continúen  honrando”, Watkins concluyó.

Application process now open for Constable Fund Grants

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The application process is now open for the Constable Fund Grants for the 2014-2015 cycle.

The Constable Fund provides grants to fund mission initiatives that were not provided for within the budget of the Episcopal Church General Convention/Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS).

Anne Watkins, an Executive Council member from the Diocese of Connecticut and chair of the Constable Fund Grant Review Committee, noted recent Constable Grants have ranged from $5,000 to $200,000

Applications can be submitted by: (1) a programmatic office of the DFMS; (2) one of the General Convention CCABs (committee/commission/agency/board); or (3) one of the Provinces of the Episcopal Church.

Specific guidelines, suggestions, application form and timetable are available here.

Deadline for applications is November 1. Grants will be reviewed in December and recommendations forwarded to the Executive Council for action at its January 2015 meeting. Recipients will be notified at the close of that meeting.

For more information contact Watkins at annemw630@gmail.com, or Samuel McDonald, Episcopal Church Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Director of Mission, smcdonald@episcopalchurch.org.

Named for Miss Constable

The Constable Grants were named for Miss Mary Louise Constable, who was a visionary philanthropist.  Watkins pointed out, “Hers is an example of faithful witness and generosity in response to an obviously mature and deep understanding of herself as both a disciple of Jesus Christ and as a steward of the blessings bestowed upon her by God.”

In 1935, in the midst of economic catastrophe known as the Great Depression, Miss Constable made a monetary gift to the Episcopal Church to establish the Constable Fund.  Her desire and intent to add periodically to the fund during her lifetime was realized and culminated with a very generous final gift at the time of her death in 1951.

Watkins further explained, “Stipulations for use of the fund were also visionary and generous, recognizing in and trusting those who came after her to comply with her wishes while allowing them flexibility in order to carry the mission of God through God’s Church forward into new eras.”

The language of Miss Constable’s will states that the fund exists “in perpetuity … to apply the net income for the purposes of the Society, preferably for the work in religious education not provided for within the Society’s budget.”

“It is the desire of the Executive Council Constable Fund Review Committee that Miss Constable’s example of stewardship, generosity, flexibility, and creativity be values that continue to be honored,” Watkins concluded.

Presiding Bishop calls for prayer for Iraq on Sunday, August 17

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has urged Episcopalians to observe Sunday, August 17, as a day of prayer for those in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East living in fear of their lives, livelihoods, and ways of living and believing.

Her call for prayer is in response to violence in Iraq that has included the slaying of Christians, Yazidis, and other Iraqi religious minorities; the destruction and looting of churches, homes, and places of business; and the displacement of thousands under the threat of death.

“Pray that all God’s children might live in hope of the world of peace for which we were created,” she said.

The following collect, which may be used as part of the Prayers of the People or elsewhere in the liturgy, appears on page 815 of the Book of Common Prayer:
Eternal God,
in whose perfect kingdom
no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness,
no strength known but the strength of love:
So mightily spread abroad your Spirit,
That all peoples may be gathered
under the banner of the Prince of Peace,
as children of one Father;
to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Questions about how best to support the Christian community of Iraq may be directed to the Rev. Canon Robert Edmunds, Middle East Partnership Officer for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society: redmunds@episcopalchurch.org

Archbishop of Canterbury interviewed about Iraq crisis

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 about the Iraq crisis.

During the interview, the archbishop said there is “a sense of near despair at the fact that we’ve got to this point, and a longing to be able to do something because that’s always our instinct”.

He added: “I was noting this morning when I was praying about that sense of helplessness and looking at one of the Psalms speaking about, the Psalmist saying to God: ‘Where are you? What are you doing?’”

The archbishop repeated his backing for the call made by three Church of England bishops last week for the U.K. government to offer refuge to Iraqi Christians.

“France, as we know, has opened its doors, and I think that is something we could do, we have the resources to do. It’s a humanitarian thing, to recognize people in the extremes of despair and helplessness and to provide a beacon of hope. We’ve done that throughout our history; it’s a good thing if we go on doing it,” he said.

Asked if he had concerns about the possible implications of the Iraq crisis for Christian-Muslim relations around the world, the Archbishop said he was concerned but stressed that Muslim leaders throughout the United Kingdom have been condemning the atrocities in northern Iraq.

“This is an incredibly complex conflict, and it is a particular group that is carrying out the attacks that many Muslim leaders deny has any real theological validity. I mean, the great trial and challenge to Christians is Jesus saying to us ‘forgive your enemies, love your enemies.’ That may not solve problems, but in the end it changes the world. It may not be a quick fix, but it is the right thing in the end.

“Clearly ISIS, IS, are an enemy. How do we deal with them? It’s very, very hard to say. But what we mustn’t do in blanket terms is condemn all Muslims as though they were all members of this group, because very, very clearly the overwhelming, enormous majority of them have no sympathy with what is going on at all.”

Listen to the full interview on the Radio 4 website (starts at 32min 42secs)

Robin Williams: The death of our captain

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

[Religion News Service] I’m not sure what year it was that I first saw Dead Poets Society. IMDB tells me it was released in 1989, so it must have been at least another six or seven years before I saw it, but the timeline doesn’t really matter. For a young and highly sentimental lover of language, that film gave me a place to belong. It had been preceded by Hook and Aladdin, and later I would see Good Morning Vietnam! and Good Will Hunting and recognize that it wasn’t an accident that all these films that told stories of the world’s strange beauty happened to display the talents of this one man.

He was the genie who made magic; the therapist who could tell you it wasn’t your fault; the dad-turned-nanny who loved his children so much he couldn’t stand to be away from them.

This is what makes Williams’s death by suicide at 63 such a shock: He brought magic into so many people’s lives; he seemed to believe and communicate so many things that were good about the world. It’s days like today when I wish for nothing more than a time machine; our proximity in time to when Williams was alive seems so close that it’s unfair that we can’t go back in time to tell him that he will be okay, that depression doesn’t last forever even when it seems to, that there are realities outside of his own mind’s darknesses.

But it never is that easy. It is also one of the most important things we as religious people need to understand, that depression is a real illness–not a battle to be won or lost, nor a mental condition to be overcome. It is just as real a disease as any, and God cares for and loves and is with all those who struggle with it, even now.

Williams was born in Chicago and raised in the Episcopal Church, which he described in a standup routine thusly: “I don’t understand the whole fundamentalist thing; you see, I’m an Episcopal; that’s Catholic Lite. Same religion, half the guilt!” He married three times and has three adult children; the thought of them being left fatherless now is devastating.

He was one of only two students admitted to an advanced program at Julliard his freshman year; the other was his good friend Christopher Reeve. Williams told PARADE in September 2013 that his two divorces had cost him a lot: “It’s ripping your heart out through your wallet.” He listed his Napa ranch for sale and lived primarily in the San Francisco area with his wife Susan Schneider, whom he married in 2011.

Williams was on the advisory council for Walden House, a recovery center in San Francisco, having himself gone through several bouts with drug use, alcoholism, and sobriety. Speaking to The Guardian about addiction in 2009, Williams said “There’s nothing romantic about it. This idea that as an artist you have to push yourself and explore the dark side? I went there. You can do a lot more interesting stuff when you’re not messed up.”

It’s hard to pick a favorite scene of his. Williams had a gift for making moments: Mrs. Doubtfire’s run-by fruiting. Adrien Cronauer’s decision to lock himself in the studio and report on the explosion at the restaurant. In real life, when he called Steven Spielberg during the filming of Schindler’s List to cheer him up. But I don’t know if there is any moment I have thought of more than this.

If you find yourself struggling with depression, know that you are not alone, and never hesitate to ask for help. This is the website for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or you can call 800.273.TALK.

Three Episcopal Campus Ministry awards presented

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

 [Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Three Episcopal Church 2014 Campus Ministry awards have been presented for outstanding service and dedication.

The awards were presented by the Rev. Michael Angell, Episcopal Church Missioner for Young Adult and Campus Ministries during the recent Kindling conference.

The awards and recipients are:

Distinguished Leadership: The Rev. Jonathan Melton, Chaplain, St. Francis House, University of Wisconsin, Madison

The award for Distinguished Leadership recognizes a campus minister who is “leading the field, showing exemplary work,” Angell explained. “The Rev. Jonathan Melton has made incredible strides in re-establishing a strong ministry at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  His impressive use of social media is coupled with a knack for community building that is helping college students connect with The Episcopal Church.”

Distinguished Service: The Rev. Daniel Brown, former chaplain, The Episcopal Center at the University of Georgia

The award for Distinguished Service recognizes the work of a campus minister who has served the wider Episcopal Campus Ministry Community.  “The Rev. Daniel Brown served as Provincial Coordinator for Province IV for a number of years, and also represented the office of Young Adult and Campus Ministries ecumenically on a number of occasions,” Angell said. “He helped provide continuity and support for Campus Ministries.”

Sam Portaro Award for Creative Expression and Intellectual Inquiry: Steve Mullaney, Missioner for Young Adult and Campus Ministry, Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota.

Steve was selected for his creativity in inspiring several new forms of campus ministry on campuses across the Diocese of Minnesota.  “As Missioner for Young Adult and Campus Ministries, Steve Mullaney has unleashed the creative potential of student leaders and leaders in local congregations in engaging with college campuses,” Angell said.  “A testament to this work was also seen in the number of campus ministry grants received by Minnesota this year.”

The Sam Portaro Award is named for the Rev. Sam Portaro, longtime chaplain at the University of Chicago and widely published author.  The award was inspired by Portaro’s consistent commitment to creativity and intellectual inquiry, expressed principally in his books.

The Provincial Coordinators for Campus Ministry reviewed the nominations and recommended the recipients.

For more information contact Angell mangell@episcopalchurch.org.


RIP: Vianney (Sam) Carriere, Canadian director of communications

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Vianney (Sam) Carriere was the consummate writer, editor and photographer. Photo: General Synod Archives

[Anglican Journal] Sam Carriere, the Anglican Church of Canada’s director of communications and information resources, and its director of resources for mission, died peacefully at his home in Toronto on Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014. He was 67.

A graduate of Toronto’s York University, Carriere first joined the Anglican Journal in 1990 as news editor, bringing to the paper the experience of many years in national newspaper journalism. Ten years later he became Journal editor and two years later, General Synod’s director of communications and information resources. In 2010 Carriere was also appointed interim director of philanthropy and in 2013 became director of resources for mission, while retaining the position of director of communications and information resources.

Carriere was also editor of MinistryMATTERS, a quarterly magazine for Canadian Anglican leaders.

He was known for his leadership skills and his willingness to take on any task. “For the General Synod meeting in Halifax in 2010, Sam stepped into the breach and served as acting general secretary. It was one of the best-run synods we ever had,” said Archdeacon Paul Feheley, principal secretary to the primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz.

At first glance, Carriere’s outward persona could be deceptively brusque. “Sam had that gruff exterior, but when you got him to sit down and talk, you got way beyond the exterior to an incredibly kind and giving person who always wanted the very best out of you,” said Feheley. “Sam’s gift to me was pulling out my very best.”

After he fell ill late last year, General Synod staff produced the book Dear Sam in tribute and thanks to his long and multifaceted service to the church and illustrated it with his breathtaking photographs.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, wrote that one of his favourite images of Carriere was at Geneva Park, where the management team of General Synod held retreats in the last several years. “The sun has  just come up and the grass is still heavy with dew. I see you roaming the  property. You walk some and you stop. Something catches your eye and up  comes the camera. There are a few seconds of absolute stillness and then with one quick click  you capture forever the beauty you beheld. You have an eye not only for marvels of nature, but also for those graces by which God enriches  our lives,” said Hiltz.

“…You’re Barnabas, an icon of encouragement. When you see a gift in someone, you say so, and the encouragement begins. You create opportunities to exercise and develop the gift, and the encouragement continues, ” wrote Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary and acting director of communications.

Before joining the national church, Carriere served for 22 years as a writer and editor at the Globe and Mail and its “Report on Business,” teaching journalism at Toronto’s Ryerson Polytechnic University as well.

Carriere was also known for his teaching skills. “Sam was the consummate professional journalist and he taught me much of what I know about writing and editing,” said former Journal editor Leanne Larmondin, who worked with Carriere for 15 years. “He also had a huge capacity for generosity, both in his time and his creativity. Even when we disagreed, and we often did, he respected my choices and decisions with a grace that often left me speechless.”

Echoing Larmondin John Sewell, former mayor of Toronto who wrote a daily column on municipal politics under Carriere’s editorship at the Globe in the1980s, said: “Sam was an excellent editor, always trying to improve, not change, what I was trying to say. He gave me great confidence in my transition from being a civic politician to a civic journalist.”

Carriere was “a poet, in his words and in his pictures,” said Solange De Santis, former staff writer for the Journal and former editor of Ecumenical News International.

Like many good teachers, Carriere was unassumingly unaware of the impact he had on other’s development. “When I exchanged emails with him four or five months ago, he seemed surprised to realize how important his approach was for a writer, but that was Sam, very modest and restrained,” said Sewell.

A man of broad-ranging interests and abilities, Carriere was also a skilled and passionate photographer, whose work can be viewed here.

Carriere is survived by his wife, Linda Doohoo, a retired nurse manager and director of care for Toronto Homes for the aged.

A memorial service will be held in the Chapel of the Apostles at the national office of the Anglican Church of Canada in early September. Details are still being finalized.

To read tributes to Carriere from the many who knew him, click here.

Anglicans, Oriental Orthodox prepare for theological breakthrough

ENS Headlines - Monday, August 11, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] Senior theologians in the Anglican Communion and Oriental Orthodox churches are to confirm an agreement on their understanding of Christ’s Incarnation.

The co-chairs and co-secretaries of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission who met near Beirut, Lebanon last week reviewed responses to the 2002 Agreed Statement on Christology, which had been sent to the churches of the two church families for consideration.

The statement considered the question of how the two natures, human and divine, were united in one human being: Jesus Christ.

Noting overwhelming approval for the agreement from both sides, the steering committee considered minor adjustments and will prepare a Preamble for consideration by the Commission.

His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy of the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Rt Rev. Geoffrey Rowell of the Church of England, Archbishop Nareg Alemazian of the Armenian Orthodox Church were joined by the Rev. Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, director for unity, faith and order for the Anglican Communion, who said, “Such an agreement on the fundamental theological question about the Incarnation marks a breakthrough in over 1600 years of division.

“It is a blessing that the churches can proclaim together in such a time as this the great good news that God in Christ became human in order to enter into and save our world.”

Barnett-Cowan said that throughout the meeting the group was conscious of the violence breaking out in so many places in the Middle East.

“Anglicans and Oriental Orthodox alike, together with Christians worldwide, are united in prayer for the peace of God to come again to the region.”

The committee was received by His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Cilicia, who expressed gratitude for work which brings Christians together in solidarity.

The Anglican members were also received by His Holiness Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church, who was at his summer residence in Beirut.

“There we heard more about the suffering of so many people in Syria and Iraq,” said Barnett-Cowan, “and of the need for Christians and people of good will to assist with relief efforts, but also to encourage the powers of the world to ensure security.

“The Patriarchs of local churches issued a joint statement on August 7 about the situation, and Anglicans everywhere are encouraged to read it and take action as they are able.”

This statement, together with a statement of Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem from July 23, are available here and here.

The next full meeting of the Commission will take place in Cairo October 13-17, 2014.


ENS Headlines - Monday, August 11, 2014

Un grupo de líderes religiosos fue arrestado recientemente frente a la Casa Blanca en Washington cuando pedían cese de deportaciones de extranjeros indocumentados y la aprobación de una amplia ley de reforma migratoria. Entre los arrestados estuvo Minerva Carcaño, obispa de la Iglesia Metodista Unida de la conferencia California-Pacífico. La obispa dijo que “estas protestas son importantes para alcanzar una voz moral, porque no se escucha ni al Congreso, ni a la Casa Blanca”. Carcaño de 60 años y nacida en Texas es la primera mujer electa al episcopado metodista.

El periódico español El Mundo informó que ahora que el rey Juan Carlos de Borbón ha perdido su inmunidad judicial tendrá que hacerle frente a la denuncia formulada por Alberto Solá Jiménez, nacido en 1956, que pide ser reconocido como hijo biológico del ex-monarca. El periódico añade que este caso no es totalmente extraño en el ambiente de las cortes europeas.

Miguel D’Escoto, popular sacerdote católico romano durante el primer gobierno sandinista en Nicaragua, ha sido reinstalado al sacerdocio por decisión del papa Francisco. Según la amplia información sobre este caso el sacerdote de 81 años miembro de la orden Maryknoll, pidió ser reincorporado al ministerio sacerdotal para poder celebrar misa y participar de otras actividades pastorales. D’Escoto fue ministerio de relaciones exteriores de Nicaragua y todavía sigue siendo miembro del Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional.

Hirania Luzardo, editora y reportera del periódico cibernético Huffington Post, describe así la situación entre Israel y Hamás: “Llevo casi un mes que no paro de ver, escoger, editar, publicar fotos de niños muertos, heridos, de mujeres gritando de desesperación y corriendo sin rumbo, en busca del próximo escondite, donde probablemente perderán la vida. Confieso que tanta sangre me ha afectado. Confieso que en las noches reproduzco en sueños las imágenes de las agencias de prensa. Pienso que si yo fuera una de esas periodistas en la zona de conflicto, probablemente me pondría a llorar enfrente de una cámara. Estoy consciente, no estoy ajena, ni ingenuamente insensible, a que todos los días están muriendo miles de niños en otras parte del mundo y por otros motivos: hambre, tráfico de drogas, de órganos, inmigración. Y que no sentimos la magnitud de la tragedia porque no es la noticia del día. Pero ahora el conflicto que está encima de mi escritorio, delante de mis ojos, tocando mi corazón, tiene un nombre: Israel-Hamás. Y cuando veo a una niña muerta, envuelta en una sábana, pienso en la mía. Cuando veo un bebé que ni siquiera pudo llegar a su primer año de vida me quedo muda, petrificada en la silla de trabajo. Me es difícil separar los sentimientos de mujer, madre, de la objetividad periodística o frialdad con la que debo revisar y procesar ese material”.

Thomas Wenski, arzobispo de Miami, dijo en una entrevista con respecto a la situación de los niños de la frontera que “éstos merecen un trato más considerado” e informó que el gobierno de Estados Unidos está planeando “50 juicios por día por espacio de 15 minutos lo cual creemos es un trato cruel”.

Miles de gitanos de toda Europa se congregaron recientemente en los campos de concentración de Auschwitz-Birkenau en Polonia donde sus antepasados fueron exterminados en las cámaras de gas del régimen de Adolfo Hitler. Se cree que unos 220,000 gitanos de 14 países fueron asesinados por el régimen nazi. Historiadores afirman que los gitanos emigraron del norte de la India, posiblemente de la región de Rajasthan en el año 1,000 de nuestra era. Los gitanos han influenciado con su música la cultura de los pueblos donde se han asentado.

La agencia española EFE informa que expertos políticos afirman que después de 20 años de la primera protesta popular en Cuba llamada “El Maleconazo”, las cosas siguen “casi igual”. Añade además que “la represión y la miseria” son los principales instrumentos de poder del gobierno.

El maestro José Antonio Molina, director de la orquesta sinfónica nacional de la República Dominicana, ha dicho que “el llamado género urbano es un veneno para la sociedad cuyas letras incitan a la violencia”. Añadió que “nadie puede llamar a eso música en el buen sentido de la palabra”.

PERSONAL: Nina Soto, esposa del obispo Onell Soto y brazo derecho de este noticiero, ha sido diagnosticada con cáncer del seno derecho. Ahora tendrá que someterse a un tratamiento de quimioterapia por 16 semanas y posteriormente a una operación quirúrgica. Gracias a todos por sus notas de aliento y sus oraciones. Un abrazo, +OAS

Anglican Vicar of Baghdad: ‘Child I baptized cut in half by ISIS’

ENS Headlines - Friday, August 8, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] The five-year-old son of a founding member of Baghdad’s Anglican church was cut in half during an attack by the Islamic State1 on the Christian town of Qaraqosh.

In an interview Aug. 8, an emotional Canon Andrew White told ACNS that he christened the boy several years ago, and that the child’s parents had named the lad Andrew after him.

Canon Andrew White Photo: Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East

“I’m almost in tears because I’ve just had somebody in my room whose little child was cut in half,” he said. “I baptized his child in my church in Baghdad. This little boy, they named him after me – he was called Andrew.”

The fact that Andrew’s brother was named George after St George’s Anglican Church in Iraq’s capital demonstrates the strong ties the family had to the church there. The boy’s father had been a founder member of the church back in 1998 when the Canon had first come to Baghdad. White added, “This man, before he retired north to join his family was the caretaker of the Anglican church.”

Baghdad is part of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, which is included in the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, a member church of the Anglican Communion.

Though the move north should have proved safer for the Iraqi Christian family, the Islamic State made sure that it became a place of terror. “This town of Qaraqosh is a Christian village so they knew everybody there was part of their target group,” said White. “They [the Islamic State] attacked the whole of the town. They bombed it, they shot at people.”

The Islamic State group captured Qaraqosh overnight Aug. 6/7 after the withdrawal of Kurdish forces.

ISIS, which has been called a “brutal, extremist group” and which claims to have fighters from across the world, announced the creation of a “caliphate” – an Islamic state – across its claimed territory in Iraq and Syria a month ago. There is a BBC background report here and one from the New York Times here.

The boy’s family, along with many other townspeople, has now fled to Irbil. However, news reports suggest this may be the Islamic State’s next destination.

Anglicans at the forefront of relief
The violent takeover of parts of Iraq by the Islamic State is threatening to bring about what the United Nations has said would be a “humanitarian catastrophe” in the beleaguered nation.

White said that Anglicans there have been working hard to provide a lot of support for the Christians who have fled Mosul and Nineveh to the north, as well as the many other minority groups targeted by the Islamic State.

“Anglicans are literally at the forefront of bringing help in this situation and there’s no-one else,” he said adding that the church is supplying much-needed food, water, accommodation and other relief items thanks to financial contributions from supporters overseas. The church’s activities are led by a Muslim, Dr. Sarah Ahmed.

“We need two things: prayer and money. With those two we can do something. Without those we can do nothing.”

As regards prayer, White said, “I have three ‘P’s that I always mention which is for protection, provision and perseverance. We need protection, we need to provide for those people and we need to keep going.”

It’s clear from social media posts on Facebook and Twitter that members of the Anglican Communion right across the world are praying for this situation. Many have also indicated their support for persecuted Christians in Iraq by changing their social media avatars to the Arabic symbol for “N” denoting Nazarene, which ISIS has been using to identify Christian homes.

Leaders speak out
In recent days, Anglican leaders from countries including Egypt, Wales, Brazil and South Africa have all expressed their dismay at the situation unfolding in Iraq.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby issued this statement Aug. 8 on the situation in Iraq, shortly before he travelled from the Philippines to Papua New Guinea.

Other Christian leaders have also spoken up about the situation in Iraq including Roman Catholics, who, in England and Wales, have designated Aug. 9, as a Day of Prayer for Christians in Iraq. The Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Aug. 7 wrote to the United Nations, following an emergency meeting of patriarchs, calling on the UN Security Council to “fulfill their responsibilities in stopping this genocide.”

Those wanting to assist the church in Baghdad can find more information here.