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Bishop Tengatenga on faith, controversy and the Anglican Communion

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

[Episcopal News Service – Charleston, South Carolina] Former Southern Malawi Bishop James Tengatenga, who chairs the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), says the Anglican Communion is still in the middle of painful struggles, but those struggles have made its members “think about who we are, what we are about, and not only think about it but actually talk about it and engage with it.”

“So, one hopes then that we are more intelligent about our faith and our being,” Tengatenga said during a recent interview with Episcopal News Service.

Tengatenga also spoke during the interview about the structure and importance of the ACC (the Communion’s main policy-making body), the possibility of an Anglican Congress and the influences on his religious life.

ENS spoke with Tengatenga during his visit to the Episcopal Church in South Carolina’s 224th annual convention. He was the preacher for the convention’s opening Eucharist.

Tengatenga was appointed in May as distinguished visiting professor of global Anglicanism at the University of the South’s School of Theology in Sewanee, Tennessee.

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An edited transcript of the rest of the ENS interview follows.

As chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, what do you identify as the mission priorities for the Anglican Communion at this time?

The first one is just being present with people in their circumstances – given all the pain, hatred and war, and the natural calamities that have befallen the world at the moment –either simply by prayer or by coordinating relief work; being the presence of Christ in the world in that way.

Secondly, and it is strange to put it second because it undergirds everything, the actual proclamation of the Gospel in word by evangelizing; continuously standing for the Gospel for the people of God and also bringing people to Christ because that’s our job individually and as Communion.

And, obviously, reconciliation in the glaring, controversial decade we have been through and also simply reconciling with our own humanity [which] I hope also then becomes a witness [to] the world, with creation, with wealth disparity, ideological disparity. We’re talking about a globalization which should resonate with catholicity but it doesn’t. The current globalization is hegemonic of a particular ideological kind. So the mission now of the church, I believe, is reconciling that and turning people back to God, to being reconciled with themselves, reconciled with nature, reconciled with the economic order.

How have you enjoyed this role since you took the helm of the ACC in 2009? I imagine there have been both moments of joy and frustration.

Former Southern Malawi Bishop James Tengatenga, chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, preaches Nov. 7, 2012 in the Auckland, New Zealand Holy Trinity Cathedral during the closing Eucharist of the ACC’s 15th meeting. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS

The church of God lives on in spite of our squabbles and misunderstandings and divisions. So the joy of being able to see the church catholic alive at work in the midst of all the confusion is priceless. And also I’ve now had two different archbishops [of Canterbury] with two different styles, each one so committed to lead the church and the people of God in the direction that will truly proclaim the Gospel … and continuing to build on that which we have received through Christ and through his church.

Of course, the pain is the continued declaration of cessation of relationships. I hear it – it hurts to hear that – and [I hear the] blames left, right and center about what causes that and where it’s going to be. I’ve yet to see the physicality of that because the theological reality of the body of Christ remains, albeit strained, but it is watching that strain that is painful and stressful because it eats on you when you see brother turning against brother and sister turning against sister, and beginning to demonize each other and forgetting the truth that we are saints.

Do you believe the Anglican Communion is in a healthier place than it was a decade ago?

Yes, because sometimes people confuse painlessness and health. I mean, I used to run once upon a time when I was young, and running in Texas heat in midday doing 10 kilometers just for the fun of it hurt, but it was fun and it was healthy. I think that’s where we are. We are in the middle of painful struggles, like I said, but it has made us think about who we are, what we are about, and not only think about it but actually talk about it and engage with it. So, one hopes then that we are more intelligent about our faith and our being.

Communion for those of us who have always been Anglican is something we’ve always taken for granted and that’s why it’s been difficult to define what holds us together. Paper doesn’t, law doesn’t, even sacraments don’t. It’s something beyond words that holds us together and that is Christ himself and his very spirit. So struggling to articulate that, which I hear all over the place, is for me a healthy sign.

And even for those who have chosen to leave, guess what they’re called? Anglican this, Anglican that. We are struggling to actually articulate what it is that we hold so dearly and can’t let go. So if I really don’t want this, I would quit and when I quit I wouldn’t want to be identified with it in any way, shape or form. So, why do you quit and want to continue to be identified with something?

It means there is something significant about the nature of the church and the struggle to find ourselves and our soul and where God is moving us to. If that is painful, I would want to think that it is painful in the kind of exercise pain [way] where you feel that healthiness of coming out of that struggle of self-identification and self-understanding in God. Whether someone will come and fully take [the] temperature and say ‘this is healthy,’ I always believe that’s God’s business, not human business. We can see signs, we can do something about them but it’s God’s business to actually declare the health of God’s people.

With centuries-old church structures being challenged and facing reform, do you think the Anglican Consultative Council, in its current make up, is the right model for the work it and the Communion have to do in the 21st century?

The Anglican Consultative Council last met Oct. 27-Nov. 7, 2012, mainly at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Auckland, New Zealand. The ACC includes bishops, clergy and lay people. One to three persons come from each of the Anglican Communion’s 38 provinces, depending on the numerical size of each province. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS

Currently, I would want to say yes and I don’t think it can be anything else from what it is now, in the sense of … we have a model. Now that we have that model, how do we perfect it and make it do what we intend for it to do in order to organize ourselves?

We can’t call ourselves ‘Communion’ and not have a physical reality of experiencing that. The only place we experience that – and I want to emphasize that – the only place currently where we experience that is the ACC. There is never any time when the Communion comes together in a visible form, physical representatives of each and every province, and each and every order, in the way that we organize ourselves [other than the ACC]. The question is how do we make it work better. How do we make it be that body that we have intended it to be?

I think for a long time the Communion in its life has lived as though [the ACC] didn’t exist. Not that it didn’t exist, but we lived as though it didn’t; it didn’t matter. I think that is why I am saying the church is in a healthier place now because it is actually looking at itself and the systems that it set in place to be able to fully minister and to fully reflect its catholicity and to fully reflect the Gospel in a way that is respectful of the uniqueness of each member individually, the uniqueness of each member in orders, uniqueness of each province – each church – because we are a communion of churches. It is this that facilitates that uniqueness and yet that unity at the same time.

Certainly, I am not saying that it is perfect, not only because I think perfection is for the future and is that which we work at every day, but because I think it’s a living organism. And was there ever a time when the church was continuously the same? No. From Jesus’ time we’ve been in transformation . . . morphing into what we have become.

I’m not sure we can do much better than where we are now. It would take a few decades to get anywhere because we work in triennials and sometimes in other places biennials in the different provinces. So, even if we were to say overnight we want to change this, it would take a minimum of six years even to define what it is that we want before we can begin to ask [if] we have defined it, now do we accept it. Then another six years before we can accept it.

A group of bishops from around the Anglican Communion recently met in New York and their communiqué asked whether it was time for another Anglican Congress. What is your reaction to that idea?

It’s always been time for another congress. The first one was in 1908 and as a Communion we intended not only to have another one, we intended to celebrate a century of that with the Lambeth [Conference] 2008, but the finances were wanting in that process. It failed us.

I was part of the planning of the last Lambeth Conference and our initial charge was to plan a congress – a gathering – alongside Lambeth Conference, which was almost an exact mirror of 1908.

Then, of course the next [Anglican Congress after the 1908 gathering] happened in ’54 in Minneapolis and the last one in Toronto [in 1963] and the idea was, that given the Toronto timing which was five years before the next Lambeth Conference, to be a possible pattern in which we could do congresses every five years.

Interestingly enough, I was dealing with this in my class earlier this week and talking about jamborees. I know there is a cynical view of jamboree but if you ask anyone who has been to a jamboree, given that the language that comes from the Boy Scout movement, which incidentally began in 1908, it has transformed their outlook not only of the Scouting movement but of their own personal being. That is what this is about.

“Communion for those of us who have always been Anglican is something we’ve always taken for granted and that’s why it’s been difficult to define what holds us together,”says Bishop James Tengatenga, who chairs the Anglican Consultative Council.
Photo: Diocese of Texas

[Anglican Congresses] are seminal in the sense that we think afresh, unencumbered admin[istration]. Admin is important and I don’t think, like some people have been saying, simply maybe we should replace the Lambeth Conference and just have congress instead. I think that’s a fallacy, really. You can’t do that; you will create another Lambeth-type thing because you can’t have an organization and not have leaders meeting and doing admin. [But there isn’t time there in those type of meetings] to get down to the roots of what we believe and what we may be looking at in a seminal way that congresses have done.

[Congresses] have marked our life . . . 1963 made us reflect on what does it mean to engage in mission in a multinational, multicultural body and in an unequal society where some have and some don’t. And is it true that some have and some don’t? Or is it the question that some have something else and others have something else, and together we are therefore mutually responsible to one another and mutually interdependent? [The 1963 Anglican Congress] gave us the language of mutual responsibility and mutual interdependence …

We became attentive and attuned to the fact that we are partnered with one another, but had never quite defined what that was, and how long it can be and what form it takes, and the givers and takers, and so forth. And we [had] never figured out what it was to be in mission so those that were involved in mission simply went to places to do what they thought was important to them. We can almost say that what we are working through is what we said in ‘Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence.’ And mutuality continues to be questioned; responsibility to one another [continues to be questioned].

So these [congresses] are seminal to the way we look at ourselves and engage in God’s work. I don’t think there will ever be a time when we don’t need one. I think the question is can we be responsible enough as Communion to figure out to organize one, foot the bill and make it work, and not turn it into showmanship.

You were at the center of a controversy last year when your appointment at Dartmouth College was withdrawn over comments you had made about homosexuality. What did you learn from that experience or are you still learning from it?

I don’t think there will be a time that I exhaust the learning from that experience; it’s fraught with all kinds of things. It was a painful experience.

Basically you find that people are still suspicious of the ‘different,’ whatever the different is, and, on the basis of that, make judgment calls that don’t hold substance, but unfortunately if you are so inclined as to believe yourself rather than the truth that’s facing you then you end up doing stuff.

And also learning to appreciate the love of God’s people because the response I got in my support after that experience, I cannot even begin to tell.

And also then obviously learning to be in the wilderness because at that point then, what next?

And then Sewanee came next. What is your focus at Sewanee?

Teaching mission studies – missiology – and teaching it, looking at it from my perspective, from the world I live in as a recipient – a product of – mission, and an agent of mission … It’s basically like, well, here’s time to share my story with Jesus and his work and what it has been, but in an academic sense and shaping people for ministry. And also talking about global Anglicanism.

It is a privilege, really, to be able to share my lived experience of the catholicity of the church and the way the councils of the church work. All of us imagine we know, but what we know is only what we have experienced or heard within the context of the controversy today, but to think that the Communion is bigger than that and is older than that. We may not have articulated it the same way, but we have seen it unfold before our eyes from way back when.

[I also ask about] how is that Anglicanism today an expression of God in the world, in the participation in God in the world, an expression of but one experience of the people of God in his catholic church. Being able to talk about that and also discovering with the students the humility of an Anglican stance, which is, from day one, Anglicanism never considered itself to be the full and sum total of the church catholic. It has always seen itself as but one expression of the church catholic and making us so disposed, therefore, towards the unity of the people of God and working towards it.

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

Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order met at the Ecumenical Centre, Chateau de Bossey, Switzerland, 3 to 10 December 2014.

For the first time an Anglican Communion Commission met in the ecumenical context of the historic city of Geneva. IASCUFO met with staff leadership of the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, and students and staff of the Bossey Ecumenical Institute, where the meetings were held.

On Sunday the members worshipped in three parishes: Holy Trinity Church (Diocese in Europe); Emmanuel Church (Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe); and St Germain (Swiss Old Catholic Diocese of the Union of Utrecht). They are all in full communion with each other. As always the Commission celebrated daily Eucharist, and prayed the offices. Bible study engaged the First Letter of John.

The Commission benefited from hearing stories from the provinces of the Communion represented, and time spent with the students and Director of the Bossey Institute. IASCUFO is grateful to all who showed hospitality to the Commission.

The ecumenical context shaped this meeting: we enjoyed hearing first-hand from the Rev. Dr Kaisamari Hintikka and her colleagues in the LWF Department of Theology & Public Witness about their work. This included plans for the commemoration of 2017 (marking the 500th anniversary of the publication of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses).

At the WCC members of IASCUFO heard about inter-religious dialogue, about mission and evangelism, and about the unity statement from the 2013 Busan, Korea Assembly of the WCC.

The WCC Deputy General Secretary, Yorgo Lemopoulos, spoke to the members of IASCUFO in light of the WCC Busan Assembly: Missionary Perspective in the 21st century. ‘We can understand ourselves as fortresses, and heritage concerns feed this, but the alternative is to see the Church as a missionary body going to the world. Hence the question, how can I better work with others?’

At Bossey the Commission heard from the Methodist co-chair of the Anglican-Methodist dialogue in Aotearoa New Zealand, the Revd Tony Franklin-Ross, currently a post-graduate student at the Bossey Institute. The Commission reviewed requests from the Church of Ceylon and the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia for advice on the deepening of ecumenical relations in their regions. The Commission prepared and adopted a report on the interchangeability of ordained ministries.

The Commission celebrated the Agreed Statement on Christology from the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission.

The working group devoted to Communion life considered how Anglicans read Scripture, commit to a life of prayer, and engage in mission. Reflecting on our Instruments of Communion we recognized the importance for our life together as a Communion of engagement with Scripture, the Eucharist, and prayer. The theme of communion and mission underlines the rhythm of being called into relationship and sent out to serve the world. The WCC document, The Church: Towards a Common Vision, reminded us of the insight that communion is the gift by which the Church lives as well as the gift God calls the Church to offer to a divided and wounded humanity.

The working group on theological anthropology has chosen to begin their theological inquiry with the question Where is humanity hurting? The report on theological anthropology is one of the resources being prepared for ACC-16 which will meet in the Province of Central Africa.

This was the last meeting for the Revd Canon Dr Alyson Barnett-Cowan as Director for Unity, Faith and Order. The Commission is enormously grateful for Alyson’s superb and dedicated leadership, support and guidance of the Commission from its inception.

The next meeting will take place 2–9 December 2015 in a place to be determined.

Present at the Bossey meeting

The Most Revd Bernard Ntahoturi, Province of the Anglican Church of Burundi, and Chair of the Commission
The Revd Professor Paul Avis, Church of England
The Revd Sonal Christian, Church of North India
The Revd Canon Dr John Gibaut, World Council of Churches
The Rt Revd Dr Howard Gregory, The Church in the Province of the West Indies
The Revd Professor Katherine Grieb, The Episcopal Church (USA)
The Rt Revd Kumara Illangasinghe, Church of Ceylon, Sri Lanka
The Rt Revd William Mchombo, Church of the Province of Central Africa
The Revd Canon Dr Sarah Rowland Jones, Church in Wales
The Rt Revd Victoria Matthews, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia
The Revd Canon Dr Charlotte Methuen, Scottish Episcopal Church/Church of England
The Rt Revd Prof Stephen Pickard, Anglican Church of Australia
The Revd Dr Jeremiah Guen Seok Yang, The Anglican Church of Korea
The Revd Canon Dr Alyson Barnett-Cowan, Director for Unity, Faith and Order
The Revd Neil Vigers, Anglican Communion Office.

Not present at the meeting:

The Rt Revd Dr Georges Titre Ande
The Rt Revd Prof. Dapo Asaju
The Revd Canon Clement Janda
The Revd Dr Edison Kalengyo
The Revd Canon Dr Simon Oliver
Prof. Andrew Pierce
The Revd Canon Dr Michael Nai Chiu Poon
The Most Revd Hector Zavala

Anglican-Lutheran International Coordinating Committee Communique

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglican-Lutheran International Coordinating Committee (ALICC) held its second meeting at the Mariners’ Club, Hong Kong, 19 to 25 November 2014, under the leadership of the Rt Revd Dr Tim Harris of the Anglican Church of Australia (acting co-chair as Archbishop Mauricio was unable to attend), and of Bishop Michael Pryse of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

The meeting was hosted by the Anglican Communion and the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui. The Committee warmly appreciated the generosity and the hospitality received from the Mission to Seafarers.

The Committee continued its work of mapping Anglican and Lutheran relationships around the world. In order to fulfill its role to be a catalyst for such relationships, it drew up a template of the differing patterns of relationships and the contexts in which they are lived out. For example, some are national churches meeting with other national churches, while others share the same geography. Some have relatively the same demographics, while in other places one church is much larger than the other. The Committee hopes to provide examples of the kinds of joint initiatives which might be appropriate for some rather than others.

The Committee is exploring the theological theme of ‘communion in mission’, and hopes to provide resources for deeper mutual engagement with this theme, which undergirds the living out of the ecumenical calling.

This meeting in particular developed plans for resources through which Lutherans and Anglicans can commemorate together the year 1517, a moment of greater direct significance for Lutherans, but one which launched a wider reforming movement into wrestling with what it means for the Church to be both catholic and reformed. The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) theme for the year 2017 is ‘Liberated by God’s Grace’ and includes the subthemes of ‘salvation not for sale’, ‘creation not for sale’ and ‘human beings not for sale’. ALICC will encourage Anglicans to use the resources being produced by the LWF in ways that are appropriate for them in their contexts. The Committee is also planning to produce a devotional resource for use by individuals and communities, using ALICC’s theological themes: communion in mission and diakonia, within the framework of the LWF themes (as above). Liturgical resources will also be developed.

On Sunday, members of the Committee were welcomed and enriched by attending the Sunday Eucharist at the Martinson Memorial Lutheran Church. In the afternoon it was their joy to participate in the consecration of The Revd Canon Dr Timothy Chi-pei Kwok as Bishop of Eastern Kowloon at St John’s Cathedral, and in the banquet that followed. They are deeply grateful to Archbishop Paul Kwong and to the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui for their generous hospitality.

The Committee appreciated a fruitful meeting with Dr Gareth Jones of Ming Hua Theological College and discussed matters relating to Anglican theological education.

The Committee was welcomed to the Lutheran Theological Seminary where Dr Nicholas Tai, one of its members, is on the faculty. They took part in morning devotions, heard about the history and development of the college and its contribution to the formation of church leaders in mainland China and in the Mekong Delta, and ate lunch with students and faculty.

The next meeting of ALICC will be in 2015, hosted by the Lutheran World Federation.

Members of ALICC:

Anglicans:

The Most Revd Maurício Andrade, Brazil (Co-Chair) Unable to be present
The Revd Dalcy Dlamini, Swaziland, Southern Africa
The Rt Revd Dr Tim Harris, Australia, (Acting Co-Chair)
The Revd Augusta Leung, Hong Kong
The Revd Canon John Lindsay, Scotland
The Revd Canon Dr Alyson Barnett-Cowan, Anglican Communion Office (Co-Secretary)
The Revd Neil Vigers, Anglican Communion Office

Lutherans:

Bishop Michael Pryse, Canada (Co-Chair)
Rev. Ángel Furlan, Argentina Unable to be present
Rev. Joyceline Fred Njama, Tanzania
The Ven. Canon Helene Tärneberg Steed, Sweden and Ireland
Rev. Anne Burghardt, Lutheran World Federation (Co-Secretary)
Prof. The Rev. Dr Nicholas Tai, Hong Kong China

EPPN: Urge US representatives to support anti-hunger legislation

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, December 9, 2014

[Episcopal Public Policy Network] This week, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Global Food Security Act of 2014 (H.R. 5656). The legislation will help millions of people who suffer from chronic food insecurity in developing countries.

The Episcopal Church is committed to fighting the injustice of extreme hunger and poverty. As our Baptismal Covenant reminds us, all human life must be valued, for we are children of God. Take a moment today to live out this call.

Go HERE to take action and tell your representative that you support the Global Food Security Act of 2014!

Additional resources:

H.R. 5656: Feed the Future Global Food Security Act of 2014

Feed the Future: The U.S. Government’s Global Hunger & Food Security Initiative

Human rights, dignity: An Episcopal priest in Brussels fights for justice

ENS Headlines - Monday, December 8, 2014

The Rev. Mark Barwick (second from right) presents findings of a report on human rights violations in Iran to the European Parliament. Photo courtesy of HRWF

[Episcopal News Service] Fulfilling God’s vision of a renewed creation “that respects the dignity and beauty of every individual person on this planet” may be a formidable goal, but the Rev. Mark Barwick lives for that dream of a reconciled world.

Based in Brussels, Belgium, the Episcopal priest says that his work as a policy adviser with Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF), a nongovernmental, nonreligious organization, “is a part of that recreation and renewal of human societies.”

As associate priest of All Saints in Waterloo, and vicar of a small congregation at Christ Church in Charleroi – parishes in Belgium that are part of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe – Barwick has always found the need for his faith to be expressed through justice, peace and human dignity for all people. “A faith that is not linked to these values is uninteresting to me,” he said. “St. James said that faith without works is dead. Faith without true commitment to human dignity is not credible.”

Founded in 1989, HRWF works closely with many of the European institutions, particularly the European Parliament, in organizing strategic conferences and training workshops, researching and sharing information, and working hands-on with policymakers on a myriad of human rights issues.

The European Union of 28 states “is primarily a project in peacemaking, to create a more humane community of nations based on justice, human dignity and respect of fundamental human rights,” said Barwick, 58, while sipping coffee next to Brussels’ Schuman metro station in the shadow of the European Parliament.

“The EU as we know it today was born out of war. The 20th century was the scene of terrible brutality,” he said, “Belgium was a blood field.”

Following World War II, a convergence of European nations united to say no more to the bloodshed “and to explore ways to create political and economic integration that makes sense in our diversity that can make a more peaceful and prosperous community,” said Barwick.

This was the vision of Robert Schuman, the mid-20th century French politician for which the Schuman metro station was named, and it is very much alive today with human rights placed as a top priority by the European Union, which turns to HRWF – an active member of the Human Rights and Democracy Network – as a key resource for advice and guidance as it prepares for political debates and sets policy.

Freedom of religion and belief, the promotion of democracy and the rule of law are all major priorities for HRWF, and many of Europe’s decision-makers find the organization’s work in these areas invaluable, said Barwick.

For instance, recently HRWF worked with others to provide training on freedom of religion or belief for the foreign ministry’s diplomatic staff. “It’s about freedom of thought really,” said Barwick, citing Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966, as being the foundation for his organization’s work. “This is one of our marching orders. It’s very clear that everyone should have dignity and freedom to think and believe as they wish.

“Freedom of conscience includes the belief system. That is the first freedom out of which all others come – freedom of association, expression, etc.,” he added. “Human dignity is a gift from God.”

But in many countries people are not free to change their religion, with some imposing death sentences. This reality makes Barwick’s work even more critical, especially amid misunderstandings about faith and culture, and with increased extremism and religious persecution permeating many Middle Eastern, Asian and African countries.

A major focus for HRWF this year has been on people who are imprisoned or subject to a death sentence because of their faith, in countries such as Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. The organization compiled a prisoners’ list naming hundreds of people who are behind bars because of laws forbidding or restricting their basic rights to freedom of religion or belief.

As a trainer in diversity issues, Barwick is committed to raising awareness and understanding of these human rights violations, and hopefully being a catalyst for advocacy and change.

Barwick moved to Brussels 12 years ago to take a post with the Roman Catholic peace movement Pax Christi, focusing primarily on African issues and conflict zones, and he has been working with HRWF for just over two years. He previously served as the regional director of Bread for the World, based in Washington, D.C.

In Brussels circles, Barwick is recognized for having expertise in the intersection between religion and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and he works to combat the polarization that exists between faith and sexuality.

“In political spheres, you often see the humanists and secularists on one side, and then cowering in the corner the small number of religious people, and I am trying to reconcile these groups,” he said. “But there are welcoming faith communities. We are working with this movable middle and also those with religious convictions and exclusionary attitudes to LGBT people. We are trying to change that … trying to find bridge values that apply to everyone.”

In the past year, Barwick also has served as a consultant and trainer for the Budapest Centre for the International Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities, work that focuses on violence prevention and alleviating tensions in Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Reflecting on his work with Pax Christi, Barwick said that a lot of his time in Africa involved stimulating dialogue among belligerent groups after war. In Liberia, for example, he worked through a local NGO to rebuild relations between the Lorma ethnic group, which included Christian traditionalists, and the Mandingo, which was predominantly Muslim. “Over time the groups would talk about how we could change this situation – not addressing problems in the past, but how can we mold a better future.”

Looking ahead, as an active member of the European Platform on Religious Intolerance and Discrimination, HRWF plans in 2015 to help sponsor a conference on freedom of religion or belief and democracy in the workplace, an issue that has been widely publicized as some European companies have moved to ban Muslim women wearing the hijab while at work.

“It’s not only about there being a visible expression of faith in the workplace, but it also touches on the environment of economic uncertainty,” he said. “We feel that [our work] will have some traction in the parliament. So we try to offer conferences that people will find useful to their own legislative agenda.”

Barwick said that he often wonders if the day-to-day work is making a difference, “but then things happen – a decision made, laws changing, our reports being quoted. The legal framework at the EU level is ever evolving, and we are a part of that. The EU institutions are mandated to listen to civil society, so we have a real opportunity to shape public policy that makes a humane world for us all.”

 — Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

Church continues to act in wake of recent grand jury decisions

ENS Headlines - Monday, December 8, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] An interfaith coalition of clergy, including Episcopalians, gathered at St. Paul’s Chapel on lower Broadway in New York City Dec. 8 for a prayer service in advance of a walk to City Hall where they delivered a clergy-signed letter to elected officials in response to a Dec. 3 grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner.

The letter made the following requests of the elected officials,

  • To join us in calling on New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to automatically appoint a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute all excessive force and wrongful death cases by police officers, and in particular, to immediately appoint a special prosecutor in the wrongful death of Eric Garner.
  • That the New York City Council would expedite a draft legislation making the chokehold illegal, with significant penalties for any officer who uses it (New York City police have been prohibited by department policy from using chokeholds for the past 20 years).

The New York grand jury’s decision came a little more than a week after a St. Louis County grand jury on Nov. 24 decided not to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting death of Michael Brown.

Protests, sometimes violent, have continued throughout the nation in the wake of both grand jury decisions.

Also, Episcopal News Service has compiled a list of diocesan statements made in the aftermath of either or both of the grand jury decisions. The statements include:

Diocese of Arizona
http://www.azdiocese.org/dfc/newsdetail_2/3168931

Diocese of California
http://diocal.org/pcn/news/statement-rt-rev-marc-handley-andrus-regarding-protests-ferguson-and-around-country

Diocese of Chicago
http://www.episcopalchicago.org/our-stories/2014/11/26/there-only-lamentation-bishop-lee-ferguson

Diocese of Connecticut
https://www.episcopalct.org/news/statement-from-the-bishops-of-the-episcopal-church-in-connecticut/

Diocese of Fort Worth
http://episcopaldiocesefortworth.org/bishop-high-on-immigration-ferguson/

Diocese of Kansas
http://www.episcopal-ks.org/bishop/Ferguson-Mo-Nov-2014.php

Diocese of Long Island
http://www.dioceselongisland.org/news_spotlightDetail.php?Public-Statement-on-Ferguson-Missouri-by-the-Right-Reverend-Lawrence-C.-Provenzano-90

Diocese of Massachusetts
http://www.diomass.org/diocesan-news/bishops-call-prayer-dialogue-and-renewed-dedication-following-ferguson-unrest

Diocese of Milwaukee
http://milwaukeebishop.wordpress.com/2014/11/25/ferguson-and-advent/

Diocese of Missouri
http://www.diocesemo.org/ministries/diocesan/ferguson/

Diocese of Nevada
http://bishopdansblog.blogspot.com/2014/12/healing-wound-of-ferguson-too-lightly.html

Diocese of New Jersey
http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2014/11/25/new-jersey-bishop-stokes-statement-on-ferguson-missouri/

Diocese of New York
http://www.dioceseny.org/news_items/286-bp-dietsche-on-the-garner-and-brown-grand-jury-decisions

Diocese of Newark
http://www.dioceseofnewark.org/bishops-blog/thanksgiving-reflections-ferguson

Diocese of Northern Michigan
http://www.dioup.org/dfc/newsdetail_2/3168744

Diocese of Olympia
https://bishoprickel.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/ferguson-and-happy-thanksgiving/

Diocese of Southern Ohio
http://www.diosohio.org/dfc/newsdetail_2/3168846

Diocese of Springfield
http://cariocaconfessions.blogspot.com/2014/11/as-bishop-i-am-quasi-public-figure.html

Diocese of Texas
http://texasbishop.blogspot.com/2014/11/prayer-for-united-states.html

Diocese of Washington and Washington National Cathedral
http://www.edow.org/article/statement-of-bishop-mariann-budde-and-dean-gary-hall-on-the-grand-jury-decision-in-the-case-of-michael-brown/

Diocese of West Missouri
http://www.diowestmo.org/dfc/newsdetail_2/3168752

Diocese of Western New York
http://episcopalwny.org/statement-to-the-diocese-on-the-aftermath-of-ferguson

Diocese of Western North Carolina
http://www.diocesewnc.org/dfc/newsdetail_2/3168868

Prayers needed for the Philippines in the wake of Cyclone Hagupit

ENS Headlines - Monday, December 8, 2014

[Anglican Board of Mission] Super typhoon Hagupit (Ruby), which has now been downgraded to a tropical cyclone, hit the central Philippines late on Dec. 6 with heavy winds destroying houses, bridges and other objects in its path.

Cyclone Ruby was expected to follow a similar course to last year’s super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) which killed over 7,000 people and left more than 1 million homeless.

The official death toll from the tropical cyclone is expected to rise with the cyclone moving very slowly west-northwest across the Philippines. Many people are still sheltering in evacuation centers as their homes have been destroyed or too dangerous to return to. There is the danger of flash flooding and landslides due to heavy rain caused by the cyclone.

Floyd Lalwet, the Episcopal Church in the Philippine’s (ECP) provincial secretary and national development officer, shared his thoughts with us about the communities which were affected by the previous super typhoon, now faced with another one:

“This bad news comes at a time when the Episcopal Church’s disaster response project in Yolanda-affected communities is proceeding very well, with many stories that uplift the spirit and inspire other communities.

“Let us pray that all our communities in the expected path of the storm be spared from devastation.”

Lalwet told ABM that a relief operation would be traveling to the region Dec. 8 to assess the situation.

Please continue to pray for the ECP and those affected by the cyclone in the Philippines, especially when they are still recovering from the devastation of typhoon Yolanda.

ABM will continue to provide updates on the website as they are received.

Celebrating 30 years of Korea-Japan Anglican mission partnership

ENS Headlines - Monday, December 8, 2014

[Nippon Sei Ko Kai ] The Japanese and Korean Anglican Churches, which began official partnership in 1984, celebrated their 30th anniversary from Oct. 20-23 on Jeju Island, Korea.

The Most Rev. Nathaniel Makoto Uematsu, primate of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (the Anglican Church in Japan), and the Most Rev. Paul Keun Sang Kim, presiding bishop of the Anglican Church of Korea, convened the meeting of bishops, clergy and lay participants (including representatives of shared missions, women’s and youth groups) from the three Korean and 11 Japanese dioceses.

Both churches have been addressing various aspects of cooperation, such as the implementation of bilateral youth seminars, social study tours in Korea, the organizing of the World Anglican Peace Council and offering positions for Korean mission partners in Japan, as well as mutual attendance at several bishops’ consecrations since 2004’s 20th anniversary of the Korea-Japan Anglican Mission Partnership Conference.

There do remain, however, various challenges that must be overcome between the two countries at large, including differing interpretations of history, the issue of “comfort women,” and territorial disputes. Recently and especially, the problem of “Hate Speech” and rising anti-Korean sentiment in Japan have even drawn some serious attention from the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. They have warned that a result of such anti-social activities is the increased risk of criminal acts against the Korean minority.

In this 30th anniversary year of the partnership, both churches discussed their roles within the East Asian region, under the banner theme of “Life, Justice, and Peace,” and declared that the Korea-Japan Anglican Mission Partnership should reinforce its alliance and good relationship. The conference adopted a statement laying out 11 key issues to aid this including various activities such as the continuing exchange of youth and women’s groups and defending the human rights of those in the minority.

The complete statement is due to be available on the NSKK homepage.

Southern Africa’s archbishop responds to extremist murders

ENS Headlines - Monday, December 8, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Archbishop of Southern Africa has spoken of his distress at the news of the murder of two hostages by Al-Qaeda in Yemen.

South African teacher Pierre Korkie and U.K.-born U.S. journalist Luke Somers were killed on Saturday by the al-Qaeda militants during a failed rescue operation by joint U.S. and Yemeni special forces in the southern Shabwa region.

Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba Dec. 8 issued a statement:

“Sad and shocked at the death of Pierre Korkie, we in the Anglican Church sends our condolences to his wife, Yolande, and their family.

“As we mourn his death and that of Luke Somers, we call on all nations involved to expose those who maintain the extremism of groups such as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

“We need to ask who benefits from their terror tactics and what is missing in our efforts to end such hostage-taking and killing. And we need also to address the grievances which fuel such extremism.

“May the hope of Advent prevail and surround the world.”

Presiding Bishop’s Christmas message 2014

ENS Headlines - Monday, December 8, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, in her Christmas Message 2014 prays: “May Christ be born anew in you this Christmastide.  May his light burn in you, and may you labor to spread it in the darkness.”

The following is the Presiding Bishop’s message:

Christmas message 2014

The altar hanging at an English Advent service was made of midnight blue, with these words across its top:  “We thank you that darkness reminds us of light.”  Facing all who gathered there to give thanks were images of night creatures – a large moth, an owl, a badger, and a bat – cryptic and somewhat mysterious creatures that can only be encountered in the darkness.

As light ebbs from the days and the skies of fall, many in the Northern Hemisphere associate dark with the spooks and skeletons of secular Hallowe’en celebrations.  That English church has reclaimed the connection between creator, creation, and the potential holiness of all that is.  It is a fitting reorientation toward the coming of One who has altered those relationships toward new possibilities for healing and redemption.

Advent leads us into darkness and decreasing light.  Our bodies slow imperceptibly with shorter days and longer nights, and the merriness and frantic activity around us are often merely signs of eager hunger for light and healing and wholeness.

The Incarnation, the coming of God among us in human flesh, happened in such a quiet and out of the way place that few noticed at first.  Yet the impact on human existence has been like a bolt of lightning that continues to grow and generate new life and fire in all who share that hunger.

Jesus is among us like a flitting moth – will we notice his presence in the street-sleeper?  He pierces the dark like a silent, streaking owl seeking food for hungry and defenseless nestlings.  He will overturn this world’s unjust foundations like badgers undermining a crooked wall.  Like the bat’s sonar, his call comes to each one uniquely – have we heard his urgent “come and follow”?

God is among us, and within us, and around us, encountering, nudging, loving, transforming the world and its creatures toward the glorious dream the shepherds announced so many years ago, toward the beloved community of prophetic dreams, and the nightwatch that proclaims “all is well, fear not, the Lord is here.”

May Christ be born anew in you this Christmastide.  May his light burn in you, and may you labor to spread it in the darkness.  The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, and it is the harbinger of peace for all creation.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Mensaje de Navidad de 2014 de la Obispa Primada de la Iglesia Episcopal

ENS Headlines - Monday, December 8, 2014

[8 de diciembre de 2014] La obispa primada de la Iglesia Episcopal, Katharine Jefferts Schori, ruega en su mensaje de Navidad de 2014: “Que Cristo renazca en ustedes en esta temporada navideña. Que su luz arda en ustedes y que laboren para propagarla en la oscuridad”.

Sigue aquí el mensaje de la Obispa Primada:

Mensaje de Navidad de 2014

En un oficio inglés de Adviento, las colgaduras del altar eran de azul oscuro y encima se destacaba este letrero: “Te damos gracias de que la oscuridad nos recuerda la luz”. Frente a todos los que estábamos reunidos allí para dar gracias había imágenes de criaturas de la noche —una mariposa nocturna, un búho, un tejón y un murciélago— criaturas crípticas y de alguna manera misteriosas que sólo pueden encontrarse en la oscuridad.

Mientras mengua la luz de los días y los cielos del otoño, muchos en el Hemisferio Norte asocian la oscuridad con los fantasmas y los esqueletos de las celebraciones seculares de Halloween. Esa iglesia inglesa ha recobrado la conexión entre el creador, la creación y la potencial santidad de todo lo que existe. Es una adecuada reorientación hacia la venida de Uno que ha alterado esas relaciones hacia nuevas posibilidades de restauración y redención.

El Adviento nos conduce a la oscuridad y la luz decreciente. Nuestros cuerpos imperceptiblemente asumen un ritmo más lento según los días se hacen más cortos y las noches más largas, y la alegría y la frenética actividad que nos rodea con frecuencia no son más que señales de una anhelante apetencia de luz y de restauración y plenitud.

La Encarnación, la venida de Dios entre nosotros en carne humana, ocurrió en un lugar tan tranquilo y apartado que pocos lo advirtieron al principio. Sin embargo, el impacto en la existencia humana ha sido como un rayo resplandeciente que sigue aumentando y generando nueva vida y fuego en todo el que comparte esa apetencia.

Jesús está entre nosotros como una inquieta mariposa nocturna —¿advertiremos su presencia en el indigente?  Él atraviesa la oscuridad como un búho silencioso que busca comida para sus pichones hambrientos e indefensos. Derribará los injustos cimientos de este mundo como los tejones que socaban una pared torcida. Como el sonar de un murciélago, su llamado nos llega a cada uno de nosotros en particular —¿hemos oído su apremiante “ven y sígueme”?

Dios está entre nosotros, y en nosotros y en torno nuestro, encontrando, alentando, amando y transformando al mundo y sus criaturas hacia el glorioso sueño que los pastores anunciaron hace tantísimos años, hacia la amada comunidad de sueños proféticos y la ronda nocturna que proclama “todo bien, no teman, el Señor está aquí”.

Que Cristo renazca en ustedes en esta temporada navideña. Que su luz arda en ustedes y que laboren para propagarla en la oscuridad. El pueblo que andaba en tinieblas ha visto una gran luz y es el heraldo de la paz para toda la creación.

Rvdma. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Obispa Presidente y Primada
De la Iglesia Episcopal

Presiding Bishop preaches at Christ Church, Little Rock

ENS Headlines - Monday, December 8, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached the following sermon on Dec. 7 at Christ Church in Little Rock, Arkansas.

 Christ Church, Little Rock, AR
175th anniversary
7 Dec 2014

 

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Happy Anniversary! 175 years for the first Episcopal congregation in this part of the world is quite a remarkable witness. Think about it – it’s almost a tenth of the history of Christianity. Dr. Witsell, who was the rector here for 20 years, wrote a history of this place that ended with his retirement in 1947. He started at the beginning, in 30-33 CE, with the founding of what he called “the Catholic Church of the Christian Ages, of which the Episcopal Church in the United States is an accredited branch.” His next milepost concerned Hernando DeSoto and his band of Spanish soldiers, who wandered through Arkansas in 1541 and “treated the natives cruelly, robbing, murdering and raping.” When DeSoto died his body was unceremoniously dumped into the Mississippi.[1]

Witsell’s timeline continues by noting the first Anglican presence in the Jamestown colony, and goes on with nods to the French missionaries and explorers who navigated the Mississippi River down into Arkansas.[2] Eventually he gets to the first Episcopal bishop in this part of the world, Leonidas Polk. Polk founded this congregation in 1839, a few months after he was ordained to serve the Missionary District of the Southwest, which included Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, the Republic of Texas, and Indian Territory. He had a slightly later counterpart who was the Bishop of the Northwest, and was affectionately known as the bishop of all outdoors.[3] Sons and daughters of the South probably know that Leonidas Polk soon became the Bishop of Louisiana, and some years later a Confederate general. He was killed by a cannonball in the Civil War.

This congregation he started has survived repeated fires and its community more than a few floods. This community has seen war and destruction, slavery, emancipation, desegregation, the division of Little Rock and attempts to heal those divisions. Today this community called Christ Church is actively working to make its surroundings into something that looks more like the reign of God. That’s what Isaiah begins to lay out when he proclaims comfort to people who have been lost. That level road through the desert is meant to be a message of hope to people who’ve been wandering in exile, who have lost their homes and community and even their confidence in God. And then Isaiah hears the challenge to “cry out!”

What he offers is a frank description of reality: ‘All people are grass, they are no more constant than wildflowers. 7The grass withers, and the flower fades, when God’s breath/wind blows on it; yes, the people are grass. 8The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God – that stands forever.’

A lot of grass and flowers have withered here in Little Rock, but the great and solid rock stands fast. This building has burned down, its members have seen lynchings[4] and ugly attempts to separate the members of this community,[5] yet God’s word continues to call humanity to a better way. That word is heard as challenge as well as comfort and hope. Isaiah is bound to cry out with both. If we’re going to walk the way of the Lord, that cry must become our own.

Cry out over the injustices that human beings commit, the division and hate that still bedevil us, cry out the reminder that God’s vision endures, in spite of the withering scorn some have for God’s handiwork. Cry out, proclaim assurance that God will draw all people home to a place of peace and dignity and justice.

Peter’s letter insists that God will do it, though individuals may wither away while they’re waiting – God is faithful, and the new heavens and new earth will come when we least expect their inbreaking. Wait, pray, work, and be ready – that day is coming.

Mark begins his gospel by saying, “the beginning of the good news.” God is not finished yet, there is more good news to tell and will be in the future. It may take longer than the lifetime of anyone here, but that new earth is coming, even like a thief in the night, sneaking up on us when we least expect it.

The coming in the night may be received as disaster or as blessing, and often they are mixed up together in the moment.

We should be astounded that there has not been national chaos in the aftermath of the decisions in Ferguson and in Staten Island. I am certainly grateful that so many people are beginning to awaken. Even the death and darkness of injustice can be a provocative sign to those with ears to hear and eyes to see and hearts to kindle with passion for love of neighbor that will bring justice for all. No human being should live in fear of life because of skin color, gender, national origin, religion, or who makes up that person’s family. We have all been equally created as children of God, heirs of that dream for peace that Isaiah proclaims. The road ahead is full of potholes and stones heaved out of place, but God is still at work.

We have heard the beginning of good news. This season of Advent is meant to enliven our hope for more of it – it’s not just idle waiting. Like the mother of the child whose birth we will celebrate in a few short weeks, it’s a time for active and expectant, care-filled readying. We’re meant to nurture the hope and possibility we meet around us, to feed the body with good food and rest for the soul, and reject what does not lead to health and liveliness.

John the Baptizer calls people around him to come and take a bath, as a sign of doing just that – letting go of what isn’t life-giving and healing. He chooses to live simply, and eat simply, and reject the hate that infests the society he lives in. Today many choose to live and eat simply, so that others may simply live – as a witness to the deep connections that bind us all as children of the same God, given only one garden to share. Living simply puts the essentials at the center – love of neighbor, life and God’s abundance for all.

The hate that surrounds us seeks to smother and snuff out signs of life that proclaim freedom or equality for all – but that hate will not prevail, not in the eternal framework of the One who creates us all. God’s presence among us in the flesh binds us together as brothers and sisters of the same family. We cannot escape that, in the long run, even though we may try. This building has come and gone, but the vision remains. God’s word is faithful, and life will prevail. Though it may change, it does not end.

As Advent advances toward that dream of life and liberation for all, what part of the road will you seek to smooth? It can only be done in company, and it needs gifts different from yours, for the road only becomes level as two create a bridge between them. Where will you reach across the brokenness in this community, nation, or the world? What repair of this world will you pray for, and work toward? Where are we willing we put our own selves and substance to fill a gaping pothole? The road toward home for us all is built by journeying in company, together with all God’s children. The one whose birth we await has taught us that human flesh can change the world. And that is just the beginning of the good news.

[1] William Postell Witsell, Christ Church, Little Rock, Arkansas, 1839-1947. Christ Church Vestry, Democrat Printing and Litho Company, p3

[2] Joliet, Marquette, LaSalle, who explored Arkansas between 1673 and 1682

[3] Josiah Cruickshank Talbot, consecrated in 1860

[4] The last one in the same year Dr. Witsell began as rector http://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/remember-the-1927-lynching-in-little-rock/Content?oid=2367957

[5] E.g., the school desegregation crisis of 1957. Cf. “The Little Rock Nine.”

Los Angeles: Bruno calls for election of bishop coadjutor

ENS Headlines - Monday, December 8, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles] In the context of his address to Diocesan Convention, Bishop J. Jon Bruno Dec. 5 requested the Standing Committee, with his consent, to call for the election in 2016 of the seventh bishop of Los Angeles, to succeed Bruno upon his retirement at age 72 in 2018.

A letter from Bruno was distributed to delegates and clergy at convention: it is available in English here and in Spanish here.

 

RIP: Former Chicago Bishop Suffragan William Wiedrich

ENS Headlines - Friday, December 5, 2014

In this 1994 photo, Diocese of Chicago Bishop Suffragan William Wiedrich, second from left, joins other Chicago-area faith leaders in an ecumenical service for those living with HIV/AIDS. Photo: Jack Spratt/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] Bishop William Wiedrich, suffragan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago from 1991 to 1997, died on Nov. 26 at an assisted living facility in Muskegon, Michigan.

He was 83 and had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for some time, according to an announcement from Diocese of Chicago Bishop Jeffrey Lee.

Wiedrich was born in 1931 in Stambaugh, Michigan, and in 1956 received his Master of Divinity degree from Bexley Hall Seminary. He was ordained a deacon in 1956 and a priest in 1957 by Diocese of Northern Michigan Bishop Herman R. Page Jr.

Wiedrich spent the first 25 years of his ministry in Northern Michigan, serving congregations in Newberry, Munising, Houghton and Sault Ste. Marie. In 1981, he became rector of the historic Grace Episcopal Church across from the state capitol in Madison, Wisconsin.

In October 1990, at age 59, he was elected bishop suffragan in Chicago, and he was ordained and consecrated on Feb. 23, 1991. When he was elected, then-Bishop of Chicago Frank Griswold (who later was elected the 25th presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church) said Wiedrich “brings with him a wealth of experience, particularly in small congregations…. He has a pastor’s heart and a wonderful way of weaving story into the proclaiming of the Gospel.”

Wiedrich is survived by his wife, Tress, and their sons, Tom and Bill. Funeral services are pending.

Central Gulf Coast diocese announces bishop nominees

ENS Headlines - Friday, December 5, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast] The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast has announced a slate of four nominees to stand for election as bishop of the diocese. The nominees were presented to the Standing Committee by the Bishop Search Committee on Dec. 3.

The nominees announced are:

Detailed information about each nominee can be found online at either the diocesean website or on the Diocese Bishop Search website.

The next step in the process of the election is the petition period, which opened Dec. 4 and closes on Dec. 11. Complete information about this process and the application are both available on the diocesan website.

A series of meet-and-greets, commonly called “walkabouts,” will be held around the diocese in January. This allows members of the diocese to learn more about the nominees for bishop. The walkabouts are currently scheduled to run Jan. 18-22.

The election is scheduled for Feb. 21, the closing day of the diocese’s 44th annual convention. Pending the subsequent required consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and standing committees of The Episcopal Church, the bishop-elect will be ordained and consecrated on July 25, 2015. The bishop-elect will succeed the Rt. Rev. Philip M. Duncan II, who is the third bishop of the diocese.

The Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast spans across southern Alabama and the panhandle of northwest Florida, encompasses 62 churches and includes approximately 20,000 parishioners.

South Carolina: Settlement reached in insurance lawsuit

ENS Headlines - Thursday, December 4, 2014

[The Episcopal Church in South Carolina] The Episcopal Church in South Carolina has reached a settlement with The Church Insurance Company of Vermont of its insurance coverage lawsuit.

The settlement brings to an end a dispute in U.S. District Court between TECSC and the insurance company, which is a captive insurance company affiliated with The Episcopal Church. Under the terms of the agreement, details of the settlement are confidential.

“We are pleased with the outcome of the settlement and grateful to have this matter resolved,” said the Right Rev. Charles G. vonRosenberg, Bishop of TECSC.

The insurance claim related to a lawsuit filed in Dorchester County in January 2013 by former church leaders who have left The Episcopal Church, but who continue to claim the right to the name and service marks of the “Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina.”

The insurance company initially denied coverage under the diocese’s commercial liability policy. TECSC filed a lawsuit in federal court, and in January, U.S. District Judge Patrick Michael Duffy ruled that CIC-Vermont had a duty to defend the diocese in the case. The judge affirmed that ruling in an order filed September 22.

In the Dorchester County suit, a three-week trial was held in July before Circuit Court Judge Diane S. Goodstein. The judge has instructed both sides to submit proposed orders for her to review by December 10, according to Thomas S. Tisdale Jr., chancellor of TECSC. A ruling could come at any time after those filings are complete.

New York bishop on grand jury decisions in deaths of Garner, Brown

ENS Headlines - Thursday, December 4, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of New York] The Rt. Rev. Andrew M. L. Dietsche, bishop of New York, on Dec.4 issued the following letter regarding the grand jury decisions in the police officer-involved deaths of Micheal Brown and Eric Garner.

The full letter follows:

My dear brothers and sisters,

Last week, after months of waiting, the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri failed or refused to indict the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown. The days since have seen the shock, anger and heartbreak of millions of Americans given expression across our country. Yesterday, the grand jury on Staten Island failed or refused to indict the police officer who choked Eric Garner and took his life. Again people poured into the streets. Through the night, above our city was heard the sound of helicopters, and everywhere people came together to share their grief and join their voices in outrage.

With no presumption of what verdict might be reached at trial in any particular case, nothing could be clearer than that at a minimum the demands of justice require that any such killings be fully investigated and that everyone involved be held to account. The long and ongoing pattern of refusing to indict police officers who take the lives of people of color, especially black men, continues to communicate to everyone that the lives of these whom we know to be the beloved children of our God do not in fact matter, that they are expendable, that their killings raise no question, and that they can be taken at no cost. What this says to the hearts and spirits of children of color growing up in our cities should break every heart. It breaks mine. And it must be said as well that these non-indictments also cast a shadow across the faithful service of the very many police officers who do their work well and are respectful of the communities they serve. These have been very, very costly days for our country, and now our own city, and costly for those of us who love Jesus and have been made free and strong by the love of God for every single person which we have come to know through him.

Less than two weeks ago at our diocesan convention we passed a resolution calling on every parish to engage the police in their community in conversation to improve and strengthen the bonds of church and police and citizen, that we may find a way to live better and freer together, and in mutual respect and trust. I ask that every parish review that reasonable resolution and take positive steps toward implementing it where you are.

Eric Garner lived and died on Staten Island. The Diocese of New York has ten churches on the island, and we count among our own members men and women from every community on the island. Among them are faithful police officers. Among them are faithful people of every color. We eat together the bread of heaven. We drink from the same cup. I ask your prayers for the clergy and congregations of Christ Church, the Church of the Ascension, Saint Paul’s, Saint Mary’s, Saint Andrew’s, All Saints, Saint Simon’s, Saint John’s, Saint Alban’s and Saint Stephen’s. May God grace them with wisdom and compassion for the days ahead. May God make them brave and strong and faithful for the work of justice-making and healing to come.

A general call has been voiced for people to come today at 5:30 to Foley Square, that we may be together in our frustration, anger and grief. People will gather for different reasons. I will be there to join again in the call for justice, to name before God our brother Eric Garner, and to recommit to the bonds of our shared humanity. Bonds of love. May we, in this hour, be graced to make the witness of our faith, and the love of God, before a city and a world and a people which so desperately needs to reclaim its hope.

The Rt. Rev. Andrew M. L. Dietsche
Bishop of New York

Episcopal Relief & Development announces new health programs

ENS Headlines - Thursday, December 4, 2014

[Episcopal Relief & Development] Episcopal Relief & Development will expand its maternal and child health programs in Ghana, Kenya and Zambia through the Empowering Rural Communities to Improve Child and Maternal Health project. The project’s goal is to end preventable child deaths by promoting life-saving behaviors and increasing the availability and use of high-impact health services in areas where people live far from medical facilities.

This expansion is made possible in part by a $1 million grant from the Margaret A. Cargill (MAC) Foundation.

“I am very grateful for this generous support of Episcopal Relief & Development’s local partnerships on maternal and child health,” said Rob Radtke, the organization’s President. “This grant will expand and strengthen existing integrated development programs that serve vulnerable populations in rural areas – particularly children under the age of five and families affected by HIV/AIDS. With this support, we can equip our partners to reach beyond the end of the road, where the need for community-based prevention and health care is greatest.”

Empowering Rural Communities to Improve Child and Maternal Health will equip mothers and community health workers to reduce child deaths and illness due to malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia. These preventable and treatable diseases are the top three killers of children under five in sub-Saharan Africa.

The project has three key strategies:

  • Prevention: helping families and communities take basic steps to prevent disease, such as using mosquito nets over sleeping areas and taking children for immunizations
  • Health Care-Seeking: equipping mothers and other primary caregivers to recognize symptoms, provide care at home, and know when to seek health services
  • Local Health Provision: promoting availability of basic health care through trained and equipped community health workers and other volunteers using Integrated Community Case Management

“Responding to the health needs of rural and deprived communities in Ghana is a complex challenge,” said Hilary Asiah, Health Coordinator for ADDRO (Anglican Diocesan Development Relief Organization), Episcopal Relief & Development’s partner in Ghana. “This grant will support ADDRO in implementing effective, low-cost interventions to address the multiplicity of health challenges many communities face, through preventive care, awareness raising, and reduction of psychosocial barriers such as stigma.”

This project builds on the health behavior change strategy honed by Episcopal Relief & Development’s award-winning NetsforLife® malaria prevention partnership, incorporating messaging and practices to target diarrhea and pneumonia. Health workers interact with mothers and other primary caregivers through home visits, community events and meetings of mothers’ and other groups. They provide basic treatment at the community level and refer serious cases to health facilities, using Integrated Community Case Management (iCCM). ICCM is current best practice for areas lacking medical facilities and trained health professionals, ensuring that more children have access to lifesaving treatments in their own communities.

Alongside ADDRO in Ghana, Episcopal Relief & Development is partnering with Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Development Services of Nyanza and the Health and Development Department of Zambia Anglican Council.

MAC Foundation support will strengthen Early Childhood Development activities in Zambia that are currently underwritten in part by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. The caregiver support and learning groups and playgroups provide a platform for education, as well as an opportunity for mothers and caregivers affected by HIV/AIDS to strengthen their own capacity and resilience while attending to their children’s developmental needs.

In Kenya, the MAC Foundation grant will enable ACK Development Services-Nyanza to add Early Childhood Development to its program, which serves many families affected by HIV/AIDS. “A vital and productive society with a prosperous and sustainable future is anchored on the foundation of healthy child development,” said Samuel Omondi, the agency’s Executive Director. “Children’s future well-being depends as much on having a supportive caregiver and a stimulating environment as it does on receiving food, health care and shelter.”

Along with increasing availability and access of care, the project aims to address barriers such as stigma, lack of transportation and cost of treatment. Improving families’ financial stability is one of the overall goals of Episcopal Relief & Development’s program partnerships, with savings and loan groups becoming widely successful. Additionally, the program in Kenya is promoting community health financing associations that negotiate service agreements with the nearest health facility. By collecting regular financial contributions, these associations ensure that farming families are able to pay for needed health services throughout the year, rather than just after harvest.

“Physical, economic and psychosocial health are deeply integrated, so our strategies for improving overall well-being must be also,” said Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Vice President of Programs. “Some programs may not seem directly related to health, and yet they can impact health in a variety of ways; for example, a micro-finance loan can support a growing business, which can contribute to household income, which can support better nutrition or cover medical expenses.”

Rapidísimas

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, December 3, 2014

México ha rendido el más grande homenaje póstumo de su historia a Roberto Gómez Bolaños, el simpático y famoso Chespirito. ¿Por qué tanta exaltación de un comediante? Sencillamente porque López Bolaños protagonizó miles de programas de “humor blanco” sin malas palabras, ni violencia, porque supo llegar al corazón de los niños como pocos lo han hecho. Un narrador de UNIVISIÓN dijo que mucha gente interpretó las solemnes ceremonias como “un bálsamo reparador” que pudiera sanar la tragedia de la violencia y la muerte que azota al pueblo mexicano. Aún siguen desaparecidos los 43 estudiantes normalistas en el Estado de Guerrero.

En su reciente visita a Turquía el papa Francisco meditó en la Mezquita Azul de Estambul en su afán de acercar el cristianismo y el islamismo. Durante su visita se detuvo unos minutos en la histórica basílica de Santa Sofía que otros tiempos fue una de las iglesias más grandes y poderosas del mundo. Esta iglesia fue convertida en mezquita tras la toma de Constantinopla por los turcos otomanos en 1453 y se transformó en museo en 1934 durante el régimen de Kemal Ataturk. Francisco también se reunió con Bartolomé I patriarca de la Iglesia Ortodoxa y en un gesto de compañerismo cristiano éste le besó la cabeza al papa.

Se dice que el poder no sólo corrompe, sino que también desgasta. Cuando Michelle Bachelet asumió la presidencia de Chile hace 8 meses un 76 por ciento de los chilenos tenía una buena imagen de ella. Hoy sólo la aprecia el 48 por ciento, y su gobierno sólo goza de un 37 por ciento de aprobación.

Un estudio realizado por el Hunter College de Nueva York revela que la Florida es el lugar preferido por los puertorriqueños para establecer su lugar de residencia. La inmigración puertorriqueña se caracteriza por tener gente joven, dinámica, profesionales y pequeños empresarios. En este año más de un millón de puertorriqueños se han establecido en el centro y norte de la península de la Florida. Los puertorriqueños por ley federal no necesitan visas para visitar o residir en Estados Unidos.

A pesar de las leyes que regulan los viajes de los ciudadanos de Estados Unidos para ir a Cuba, recientemente el crucero académico “M.V. Explorer” ha visitado la isla por cinco días llevando más de 600 estudiantes procedentes de 17 países. Durante su estadía en la isla, los universitarios tuvieron la oportunidad de visitar lugares históricos, centros educativos, y participar de conferencias y conciertos. Una encuesta general entre los visitantes reveló que la mayoría está a favor de normalizar las relaciones diplomáticas y levantar el embargo económico de Estados Unidos contra Cuba vigente desde 1962. En Miami varios comentaristas han criticado el viaje diciendo que ha sido una oportunidad para la propaganda oficial del régimen cubano.

La situación económica de España está marcada por el creciente número de personas sin trabajo y el poco crecimiento económico del país. Recientemente miles de españoles salieron a las calles de Madrid y otras ciudades en una marcha “por la dignidad” nacional. Los participantes, en su mayoría jóvenes, dijeron que “la austeridad y la corrupción” tienen asfixiado al país. En Madrid cientos de manifestantes se dirigieron a la emblemática Puerta del Sol agitando banderas republicanas.

María Corina Machado, diputada venezolana y una de las voces más críticas del gobierno de Nicolás Maduro, ha dicho que responderá a las preguntas que le hagan los fiscales chavistas pese a que puede ser arrestada el día de su comparecencia. María Corina tiene 47 años y es miembro de la Coalición Opositora Mesa de Unidad Democrática y hace pocos meses fue destituida de su asiento en la Asamblea Nacional. Durante las protestas que tuvieron lugar entre febrero y mayo 43 personas perdieron sus vidas. “Este gobierno es ilegítimo y tendrá que salir”, dijo la ex diputada en una demostración reciente.

En Kano una ciudad del norte de Nigeria un ataque terrorista en una mezquita durante la oración de los viernes arrojó un saldo de 120 personas muertas. Este es un incidente más en la ya larga lista de acciones terroristas en el país más poblado de África. Se cree que el ataque terrorista fue perpetrado por el grupo radical Boko Haram, que ha realizado similares acciones en diferentes partes del país.

VERDAD. Recuerda, Sancho, que los defectos más peligrosos de la vida son la soberbia y el rencor. Don Quijote de la Mancha.

Welby joins world faith leaders in pledge to end slavery

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby signs the declaration by world faith leaders to end modern slavery by 2020, Rome, Dec. 2, 2014.

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, joined world Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish leaders in Rome today to sign a historic declaration to end modern slavery.

The ground-breaking Global Freedom Network – which launched with backing from Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis in March 2014 [link] – brings together faith leaders in a commitment to eradicate modern slavery by 2020 throughout our world and for all time.

The Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders against Modern Slavery signed today underlines that modern slavery – in terms of human trafficking, forced labour and prostitution, organ trafficking, and any relationship that fails to respect the fundamental conviction that all people are equal and have the same freedom and dignity – is a crime against humanity, and must be recognised as such by everyone and by all nations.

The faith leaders affirmed their common commitment to inspiring spiritual and practical action by all faiths and people of goodwill everywhere to eradicate modern slavery.

In an address before the signing, Archbishop Justin described today’s declaration as “a profoundly significant moment”.

The leaders had gathered to “affirm a deep shared commitment for the liberation of those humiliated, abused and enslaved by their fellow-human beings,” he said.

“There are already close and trusting relationships between us as faith leaders. Our task now is to make these relationships work effectively for the well-being of all people.”

Archbishop Justin said faith leaders can make sure that every worshiping community knows about modern slavery and is ready to work to prevent and end such abuses.

“As we make this solemn commitment today, my prayer is that we shall by God’s grace play a key role in ending the inhuman practices of modern slavery – practices that disfigure our world and obscure the image of God in men, women and children. We have the will, we have the common purpose, this can be done; may God bless our action together,” he said.

Read the Declaration:

We, the undersigned, are gathered here today for a historic initiative to inspire spiritual and practical action by all global faiths and people of good will everywhere to eradicate modern slavery across the world by 2020 and for all time.

In the eyes of God*, each human being is a free person, whether girl, boy, woman or man, and is destined to exist for the good of all in equality and fraternity. Modern slavery, in terms of human trafficking, forced labour and prostitution, organ trafficking, and any relationship that fails to respect the fundamental conviction that all people are equal and have the same freedom and dignity, is a crime against humanity.

We pledge ourselves here today to do all in our power, within our faith communities and beyond, to work together for the freedom of all those who are enslaved and trafficked so that their future may be restored. Today we have the opportunity, awareness, wisdom, innovation and technology to achieve this human and moral imperative.

*The Grand Imam of Al Azhar uses the word “religions”.

The signatories:

• Roman Catholic: Pope Francis
• Hindu: Her Holiness Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma)
• Buddhist: Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) (represented by Venerable Bhikkhuni Thich Nu Chan Khong)
• Buddhist: The Most Ven. Datuk K Sri Dhammaratana, Chief High Priest of Malaysia
• Jewish: Rabbi Dr. Abraham Skorka
• Jewish: Chief Rabbi David Rosen, KSG, CBE
• Orthodox: His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (represented by His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France)
• Muslim: Mohamed Ahmed El-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar (represented by Dr. Abbas Abdalla Abbas Soliman, Undersecretary of State of Al Azhar Alsharif)
• Muslim: Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi al-Modarresi
• Muslim: Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Basheer Hussain al Najafi (represented by Sheikh Naziyah Razzaq Jaafar, Special advisor of Grand Ayatollah)
• Muslim: Sheikh Omar Abboud
• Anglican: Most Revd and Right Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury