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Deadline nears for Constable Fund Grants applications

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, October 14, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The November 1 deadline is nearing for applications for the Constable Fund Grants 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.

Anglican Archbishop of Hong Kong comments on protests

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, October 14, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] The following is a statement from Archbishop Paul Kwong of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (Anglican Church of Hong Kong) on the Occupy protests.

Many people have asked me about the present situation in Hong Kong, which has drawn the attention of people on the mainland and all over the world. As the situation continues to change and develop, I wish to respond in the following statement:

The past few weeks have been times of turbulence and unease in our city.  The Occupy Central movement has revealed the increasing polarisation in our society in terms of ideas about political reform, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the position of Hong Kong in China and the world.  Student groups in the Occupy movement are pressing for what they see as the need for more democracy and challenging the nomination process that has been laid down in the electoral framework for our Chief Executive Election in 2017.

The government says there can be no change in the National People’s Congress decision on the election procedures.  Men and women from all walks of life have taken different standpoints on the Occupy movement as communities, families, schools, and churches become increasingly divided over claims and counter-claims that have been made.

Many people have been inconvenienced by what is happening on the streets, and although the number of protesters has decreased over the past week, the conflict has not been resolved.  Events continue to unfold, and we are following the situation closely.

We are deeply saddened and distressed by the increasing social conflict. Fortunately, the violent confrontations and use of tear gas on the first night of the protest have not been repeated, and both the demonstrators and the police have been able to keep the peace. The police have been able to remove some of the barricades from the roads peacefully.

In order to engage in real dialogue, we need to develop greater trust in one another. However this is not yet happening.  Our clergy and laity, and all people in Hong Kong share the gravity of the situation, and acknowledge the present ordeal as an extraordinarily difficult time of trial.  We will face a situation of deep internal conflict and division for a long time to come.

The Church is called to a ministry of reconciliation and pastoral care for all.  In this time of uncertainty, we open ourselves to our community, as we seek to promote mutual understanding in the spirit of dialogue through both a recognition of differences and a commitment to the common good.  We seek to provide care for those who suffer injury in their spirit. We extend our love and prayers for those who take part in demonstrations, for those entrusted with maintaining public order, and for those who hold government office. We offer our unreserved assistance to those who are in need of support, as we recommit ourselves to working for peace and concord of the society of Hong Kong.

The Prophet Jeremiah writes, “But seek the welfare of this city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare, you will find your welfare.”

Let us work together for this territory and for our country as we seek to understand one another and resolve our differences.

Southeast Florida diocese announces 5 nominees for bishop coadjutor

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, October 14, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida press release] The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida has announced its slate of nominees for bishop coadjutor of the diocese. The nominees were presented to the Standing Committee by the Bishop Coadjutor Search Committee, which was tasked with leading the process, which began seven months ago.

The nominees are:

Detailed information about each nominee can be found online here.

A bishop coadjutor is elected to replace the diocesan bishop upon retirement. The Rt. Rev. Leopold Frade, the third (and current) diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Southeast Florida will retire in January 2016. The election of bishop coadjutor for the Diocese of Southeast Florida will occur in January 2015.

The next step in the process of the election is the petition period, which opens Oct. 14. During this time, clergy are able self-nominate as a possible additional nominee. This two-week petition process ends on Oct. 28. Complete information about this process and the application are both available on the diocesan website.

After the petition period ends, and additional nominees are vetted by the Standing Committee, a series of meet-and-greets, commonly called “walkabouts,” will be held around the diocese. This allows members of the diocese to learn more about the nominees for bishop coadjutor. The walkabouts will be announced at a later date and will be held at various locations around the diocese.

The Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida includes 76 congregations, with approximately 38,000 parishioners, from Key West north to Jensen Beach and west to Clewiston. The mission of the Diocese of Southeast Florida is to make known to all people the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, including all, excluding none.

Archbishop joins IMF/World Bank panel on ethics and finance

ENS Headlines - Monday, October 13, 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby joined a panel discussion on ethics and finance Oct. 8 at the 2014 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group in Washington.

Welby said “human flourishing, not just the rate of return” is the purpose of finance.

The archbishop joined Bank of England governor Mark Carney and IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, among others, on the panel.

Watch a video of the discussion on the IMF website

Varias diócesis responden al dictamen del Tribunal Supremo sobre la igualdad matrimonial

ENS Headlines - Monday, October 13, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopales de muchas diócesis a través de la Iglesia han estado contemplando cómo responder la decisión del Tribunal Supremo de EE.UU. que desbroza el camino para los matrimonios de parejas del mismo sexo a partir de Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia y Wisconsin.

El tribunal ratificó los dictámenes de los tribunales de apelación en tres distritos federales que habían anulado prohibiciones sobre matrimonios de personas del mismo sexo en esos estados. Si bien se predijo que el acceso al matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo no tardaría en extenderse a otros seis estados en esos circuitos, la situación dista de estar resuelta, y la confusión alcanza incluso el más alto nivel.

El magistrado del Tribunal Supremo Anthony Kennedy bloqueó erróneamente el comienzo de los matrimonios entre parejas del mismo sexo en Nevada por cuenta de una orden que sembró confusión entre los funcionarios del estado y desaliento en parejas que esperaban casarse, informó la Associated Press el 10 de octubre. Debido a la confusión, la AP reportó que 30 estados, “salvo algunas excepciones” permitían en la actualidad el matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo.

Entre tanto, el problema de cómo la Iglesia Episcopal debía responder al cambiante mapa legal a través de Estados Unidos debe discutirse en la 78ª. reunión de la Convención General en julio de 2015.

El Equipo de Trabajo sobre el Estudio del Matrimonio A050 publicó recientemente un informe sobre la labor realizada hasta la fecha, en el cual decía que estaba finalizando su informe a la Convención, en el que incluía el considerar una respuesta a su mandato a “abordar las necesidades pastorales de sacerdotes de oficiar en un matrimonio civil de una pareja del mismo sexo”.

El equipo de trabajo se creó en respuesta a un llamado (a través de la Resolución A050 (haga un clic en la versión actual “current version”)) a la 77ª. Convención General en julio de 2012 por un grupo de “teólogos, liturgistas, pastores y educadores a identificar y explorar las dimensiones bíblicas, teológicas, históricas, litúrgicas y canónicas del matrimonio”.

Esa misma reunión de la Convención autorizó el uso provisional de un rito para bendecir relaciones del mismo sexo. El uso de ese rito, Recursos litúrgicos I: Te bendeciré y serás una bendición [ Liturgical Resources I: I Will Bless You and You Will Be A Blessing] debe ser revisado por la Convención General en 2015.

Sigue aquí un vistazo estado por estado de las respuestas diocesanas que se han producido hasta ahora en las cinco jurisdicciones inmediatamente afectadas por el dictamen del Tribunal Supremo.

En la Diócesis de Indianápolis, la obispa Catherine Waynick le escribió al clero el 10 de octubre diciéndole que su política anterior de permitir que los sacerdotes bendijeran a relaciones del mismo sexo se aplicaría ahora en los condados de Indiana que le concedían licencias matrimoniales a tales parejas.

También alentó a cualquier parroquia diocesana que no lo hubiera brindado aún a sus miembros un estudio sobre el tema a que se dispusiera a hacerlo en el curso del año próximo. “Hubiese o no parejas del mismo sexo en la congregación, hubiese o no un sacerdote que se sienta capaz de presidir [estas ceremonias], el matrimonio de personas del mismo sexo es ya una realidad legal, y la Iglesia como un todo puede beneficiarse de reflexionar sobre el significado del matrimonio, cómo el rito provisional responde las necesidades de las parejas del mismo sexo (o no) y lo que está en juego cuando se toman decisiones respecto a la celebraciones [de uniones de personas] del mismo sexo”, dijo ella.

Su carta al clero apareció en la primera página del cibersitio de la diócesis.

Desde septiembre de 2012, Waynick ha permitido las bendiciones a parejas del mismo sexo teniendo en cuenta cada caso por separado, como han hecho sus predecesores a lo largo de los últimos 20 años. Ella aprobó el uso del rito provisional de la Convención General en 2012. Waynick también sentó las pautas para su uso opcional en la diócesis.

Aquí puede encontrarse información sobre la posición de Indianápolis hacia las bendiciones de parejas del mismo sexo.

Cuando el tribunal federal de apelaciones revocó la prohibición del estado a los matrimonios entre personas del mismo sexo, el obispo Edward Little, de la Diócesis de Indiana del Norte, le pidió al clero de esa diócesis que declinara cualesquiera solicitudes que recibieran de solemnizar tales matrimonios, porque el Libro de Oración Común define el matrimonio como la unión de un marido y una mujer y porque “nuestra interpretación litúrgica y constitucional del matrimonio permanecía inalterada”, le dijo él a Episcopal News Service en un correo electrónico.

“La política que se expresa en esa carta sigue estando en vigor”, afirmó él.

Cuando la Diócesis de Oklahoma pasó por un proceso de discernimiento en 2012 y 2013 que dio lugar a que el obispo Edward J. Konieczny autorizara el uso del rito provisional de la Convención General en esa diócesis, se convino que si la ley cambiaba en Oklahoma con respecto al matrimonio, y en el momento en que lo hiciera, la diócesis “deliberaría una vez más en nuestro discernimiento sobre cómo seguir adelante”, dijo Konieczny a ENS vía e-mail. Él informó que esa conversación comenzó el 7 de octubre durante la conferencia anual del clero de la diócesis.

Aquí puede encontrarse información sobre la posición de Oklahoma.

Las bendiciones de parejas del mismo sexo se han permitido en la Diócesis de Utah desde el Adviento de 2012. Los detalles de esa normativa se encuentran aquí.

El obispo Scott Hayashi le dijo al clero diocesano después del dictamen del Tribunal Supremo que él daría a conocer pronto una nueva normativa por la que le permitiría a los sacerdotes solemnizar matrimonios de parejas del mismo sexo. En un mensaje electrónico en que anunciaba algo de ese política, Hayashi le pedía a los sacerdotes que enmendaran el rito provisional de la Iglesia para declarar a las parejas unidas “en matrimonio según las leyes del Estado de Utah”.

Entre tanto le informó al clero que “debido a que vivimos en una red de relaciones, es muy importante que procedamos con delicadeza hacia todas las personas independientemente de su opinión sobre este asunto”.

“Recuerden también que la Iglesia Episcopal no ha tomado una decisión todavía sobre el matrimonio de personas del mismo sexo”, añadió. “Eso probablemente sucederá en la 78ª. Convención General aquí en Utah. Hasta entonces, se nos ha dado la opción de la ‘generosa respuesta pastoral’”.

Y, en un comunicado en la página web de la diócesis, el obispo reconoció que no todo nos alegraría con el dictamen del tribunal. Hayashi asistió a la Conferencia General de la Iglesia Mormona el fin de semana que antecedió a este dictamen e informó que Dallin H. Oaks, uno del quórum de los Doce Apóstoles, dijo a la asamblea que la Iglesia puede quedar entre los perdedores en el debate sobre el matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo. Él le advirtió a los miembros de la Iglesia “que aceptaran amablemente los resultados desfavorables y que practicaran la urbanidad con nuestros adversarios”.

Hayashi dijo que él se propone poner en práctica el consejo de Oaks y “ejercer no sólo la urbanidad, sino también la compasión”.

Poco después del dictamen del Tribunal Supremo, el obispo Shannon Johnston publicó unas directrices en que decía que los sacerdotes de la diócesis pueden oficiar en el matrimonio civil de personas del mismo sexo como una “generosa respuesta pastoral” a parejas de homosexuales, hombres y mujeres, que quieren casarse, y pueden bendecir su matrimonio civil.

Johnston dijo que los sacerdotes deben usar el rito de la Convención General y, al pronunciarlo, deben añadir las palabras “según las leyes del territorio de Virginia”, donde esto sea apropiado.

Él dijo expresamente que la Celebración y Bendición de un rito de Matrimonio del Libro de Oración Común no puede usarse porque la Iglesia no ha cambiado aún su definición canónica del matrimonio [como la unión] de un hombre y una mujer.

El obispo Mark A. Bourlakas, de la Diócesis de Virgina Sudoccidental, dijo a Episcopal News Service el 10 de octubre en una entrevista telefónica que “es una prioridad para mí que nuestras tres diócesis estén en la misma página [en lo concerniente al matrimonio de personas del mismo sexo] y por tanto nuestra normativa parecerá casi idéntica en todos los aspectos sustantivos”, como la de Virginia.

Esa normativa todavía no ha sido formalmente adoptada, pero Bourlakas dijo que él cree que Virginia ha asumido una “posición mesurada y no inconsecuente con lo que la que ya tenemos”, sobre el asunto.

Para Bourlakas el mayor interés que suscita la decisión del Tribunal Supremo es que la Iglesia Episcopal está aún discutiendo acerca de cómo responder y que el diálogo debe continuar dentro de la Iglesia.

“Mi esperanza es que las parroquias y el clero sostengan conversaciones acerca de su vida en común y busquen un entendimiento; eso es lo que yo quiero promover en esta diócesis”, afirmó. Uno de mis mensajes realmente más enérgicos, que sale de nuestro Pacto Bautismal de respetar la dignidad de todo ser humano, es que empecemos por escuchar e intentar buscar un entendimiento, y no antepongamos nuestros prejuicios. Y eso puede conducirnos a una variedad de direcciones, pero a menudo pienso que en estas discusiones empezamos con la gente ya atrincherada en sus posiciones”.

Algunos clérigos en la diócesis han podido bendecir a parejas del mismo sexo valiéndose del rito provisional de la Convención, desde la consagración de Bourlakas en julio de 2013.

Su política sobre las bendiciones a parejas del mismo sexo puede encontrarse aquí.

En la Diócesis de Virginia del Sur, el obispo Herman Hollerith está en descanso sabático hasta noviembre y no estuvo accesible para comentar el impacto del dictamen del tribunal sobre las normativas de esa diócesis. Sin embargo, Bourlakas dijo el 10 de octubre que Hollerith le había dicho que la política de Virginia del Sur sería semejante a la de Virginia y a la de Virginia Sudoccidental por razones de coherencia, en tanto la Iglesia Episcopal mantiene el diálogo acerca del matrimonio de personas del mismo sexo según se acerca la reunión de la Convención General en 2015.

Hollerith autorizó el uso del rito de bendiciones de la Convención General en enero de 2013. Los detalles de esa política y de medios afines de encuentran aquí.

El obispo Steven Miller de la Diócesis de Milwaukee le dijo a su clero el 8 de octubre que la Iglesia Episcopal está “aún enfrascada en una discusión relativa a la teología del matrimonio” y que el dictamen del Tribunal Supremo no cambia ni los cánones de la Iglesia ni las rúbricas sobre el matrimonio. El rito aprobado por la Convención General en 2012 no es una liturgia matrimonial, hizo notar él, “por tanto es inapropiado que los clérigos de esta Iglesia actúen como agentes del estado y firmen actas matrimoniales de parejas del mismo sexo”.

Miller había anunciado a fines de agosto que le permitiría al clero bendecir a parejas del mismo sexo que se hubieran casado por lo civil. Los sacerdotes deben usar un rito modificado que Miller ha autorizado. Su respuesta se produjo después de que el Comité Permanente diocesano le enviara un informe recomendándole que le permitiera al clero la opción de bendecir relaciones del mismo sexo.

El obispo, que firmó un testimonio no solicitado en que apoyaba la revocación judicial de la prohibición de Wisconsin al matrimonios de parejas del mismo sexo, objetó el rito de la Convención porque dijo que crea una “segunda clase de ciudadanos en la Iglesia”, que no pueden casarse, genera injusticia para aquellos que “sufrirían terribles consecuencias económicas” si se casaran, obscurece la enseñanza de la Iglesia de que el lugar para la intimidad sexual es el matrimonio y asume que la decisión anterior de la Convención había sido totalmente unilateral respecto a este asunto.

La posición de Miller sobre las bendiciones a parejas del mismo sexo puede encontrarse aquí.

El obispo William Lambert de la Diócesis de Eau Claire y el obispo Matt Gunter de la Diócesis de Fond du Lac no respondieron a la solicitud de ENS para que informaran sobre sus posiciones.

Las bendiciones de parejas del mismo sexo no se han permitido oficialmente en Fond du Lac. Cuando estaba nominado para obispo a principios de este año, Gunter dijo, en respuesta a una pregunta del comité de búsqueda, que la Iglesia “debe decidir por sí misma lo que es fiel” independientemente de la ley del estado, pero que si el matrimonio de personas del mismo sexo llegaba a ser legal en Wisconsin, “habrá una nueva urgencia en la diócesis de lidiar con sus divisiones” sobre el asunto.

Para hacerle frente a esa urgencia, dijo, “yo conduciría a la diócesis a través de un diálogo abierto junto con una reflexión bíblica y teológica sobre el asunto en sí”.

“Y entonces, suponiendo que la división se mantenga, ¿qué aspecto tiene vivir juntos a pesar de esas divisiones y qué decisiones puede tomar la diócesis, de manera que su fe y disciplina queden claras, aun aceptando un fiel ‘informe de la minoría’?

– La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora y reportera del Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Un ministerio que sirve a los obreros agrícolas mediante los sacramentos y la acción comunitaria

ENS Headlines - Monday, October 13, 2014

Los obreros agrícolas usan pantalones, mangas largas y guantes para trabajar en los campos, en parte para protegerse del contacto con pesticidas. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

[Episcopal News Service – Newton Grove, Carolina del Norte] En una mañana lluviosa y húmeda de mediados de septiembre, cinco horas antes de la eucaristía dominical del mediodía en la iglesia de la Sagrada Familia [Sacred Family], el Rdo. Tony Rojas se puso detrás del volante de una furgoneta blanca y comenzó a hacer las rondas para recoger a obreros agrícolas de los campamentos situados detrás de autopistas y carreteras. entre las casas rodantes, dobles y sencillas, y las más señoriales viviendas de ladrillo de la Carolina del Norte rural.

Recogió a hombres como Abraham Cruz, de 47 años, oriundo del estado de Tlaxcala, en la zona centro-oriental de México, que durante los últimos siete años ha viajado a Estados Unidos con una visa de obrero agrícola temporal para trabajar de ocho a 12 horas diarias en los campos, plantando y cosechando pepinos, sandías, tabaco y batatas. Las ganancias de Cruz sirven para sostener a su familia en México, a la que él ve dos o tres meses al año.

A lo largo de los últimos 18 años, Rojas ha levantado el Ministerio Episcopal del Obrero Agrícola, un ministerio conjunto de las diócesis de Carolina del Norte y del Este, con un terreno de más de 6 hectáreas en la calle Easy en Newton Grove. El ministerio sirve a obreros agrícolas de 47 campamentos esparcidos a través de los condados de Sampson, Harnett y Johnston.

La edad de los obreros agrícolas suele oscilar entre 18 y 19 años hasta más de 50. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

Los hombres llegan temprano en furgonetas o en autobuses escolares que han sido retirados del servicio para recibir, del ministerio, clases de inglés como segundo idioma, cortes de pelo, servicios de inmigración y asesoría legal o en materia de impuestos, y para jugar fútbol. Los obreros agrícolas, que pasan seis días trabajando en los campos con camisas de mangas largas y pantalones para protegerse del contacto con los pesticidas, los domingos cambian su atuendo a shorts, suéteres y zapatos de fútbol, preparándose para un torneo anual de un día entero de duración organizado por el ministerio.

El ministerio comenzó en 1982 cuando una sola asistente social identificó una necesidad y, desde su auto, comenzó a distribuir ropa y artículos de aseo personal a los obreros agrícolas. En la actualidad, con un ministerio sacramental que incluye tres congregaciones de misión y más de 20 programas de extensión social, el ministerio llega directamente a 3.500 obreros agrícolas y afecta positivamente la vida de otros mil.

Hay alrededor de 150.000 obreros agrícolas, la mayoría de ellos procedentes de México, que trabajan en los campos de Carolina del Norte; algunos documentados, algunos indocumentados. El ministerio atiende a todos ellos por igual.

El ofrecer sacramentos y asistencia social a los obreros agrícolas, independientemente de su estatus migratorio, se basa en el llamado del Pacto Bautismal a “luchar por la justicia y la paz entre todos los pueblos y a respectar la dignidad de todo ser humano”.

Al concentrarse en los sacramentos y en la extensión social, el ministerio sigue siendo “bipartidista”, dijo Michael Curry, obispo de Carolina del Norte, durante una entrevista con ENS en su oficina de Raleigh, la capital del estado. “Esa es la obra de Jesús que tanto republicanos como demócratas pueden hacer”.

Curry ha pedido públicamente una reforma migratoria que reuniría a las familias, pero la promoción social de la Iglesia en pro de la justicia para los obreros agrícolas o de la reforma migratoria a nivel del estado está coordinada a través del Consejo de Iglesias de Carolina del Norte, del cual las diócesis de Carolina del Norte Septentrional, Oriental y Occidental, son todas miembros.

Los obreros agrícolas se dirigen a los campos al amanecer a recoger batatas en grandes cantidades para llenar camiones como éstos. Foto de Christine McTaggart/Diócesis de Carolina del Norte.

La agricultura tiene un rico legado en Carolina del Norte que, en la actualidad, ocupa el quinto lugar en toda la nación con 3,39 millones de hectáreas dedicadas al cultivo y más de 50.000 granjas que producen $11.700 millones anualmente en productos agrícolas. Aunque el maíz, la soja y el algodón son cultivos que se cosechan con máquinas, el 85 por ciento de las frutas y las hortalizas —frijoles, melones, batatas, tabaco, fresas— se recogen a mano.

Cuando los miembros de la Asociación de Productores de Carolina del Norte son capaces de probar que la fuerza laboral es insuficiente para responder a las necesidades de producción de las granjas, pueden corregir el déficit a través del programa de obreros agrícolas temporeros H-2A del Departamento del Trabajo de EE.UU. Carolina del Norte tiene cerca de 7.000 obreros agrícolas H-2A, y se encuentra entre los primeros estados agrícolas que utilizan el programa. (El programa de visas ofrece ingreso legal para trabajar, pero los críticos lo ven como un medio de mantener bajos los jornales agrícolas).

Los productores pueden solicitar cualquier cantidad entre 20 y 200 obreros agrícolas, dijo Rojas.

En 2000, los latinos constituían hasta el 50 por ciento de los obreros agrícolas del estado; en la actualidad ese porcentaje es del 95, dijo Jennie Wilburn, asociada del programa con el Consejo de Iglesias de Carolina del Norte, con sede en Raleigh.

El historial del Consejo de Iglesias de Carolina del Norte de defender los derechos de los obreros agrícolas se remonta a décadas, encabeza las campañas de concienciación públicas en inglés y español y se vale de un currículo basado en la Biblia para hacer que las iglesias participen, dijo Wilburn.

Sin embargo, afirmó, “el clima político para los grupos vulnerables no es favorable”.

Wilburn dijo, “una cosa que ha captado muchísima atención recientemente es el informe de Human Rights Watch sobre el tabaco”.

Los obreros agrícolas viven en casas rodantes como ésta, estacionadas cerca de carreteras rurales. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

El informe de 138 páginas, publicado en mayo, documenta las peligrosas condiciones y el envenenamiento con nicotina a que se exponen los menores que trabajan en los primeros cuatro estados productores de tabaco, entre ellos Carolina del Norte.

Alice Freeman, que es miembro de la junta del ministerio de los obreros agrícolas, sabe los que significa trabajar en una hacienda tabacalera.

“Soy hija de aparceros… mi papá tuvo cinco hijas, su hermano tuvo cinco hijas, siempre trabajaron juntos, sin varones”, contó ella. “Cuando uno crece en una finca, una finca de tabaco con algodón, tabaco, soja, maíz, uno hace el trabajo. No teníamos hermanos para hacer el trabajo, no teníamos mucho dinero para contratar a otros obreros, hacíamos la labor de los campos. Sé lo que significa estar en los campos”.

El ministerio del obrero agrícola aborda una necesidad, procura tratar a las personas como seres humanos, ser compasivo. “Cuando uno está muy lejos de su hogar, un rostro amable, una mano de ayuda significa mucho”, dijo Freeman.

(Haga clic aquí para ver un vídeo de Alice Freeman hablando acerca del Ministerio del Obrero Agrícola y sus programas).

Además de trabajar durante largas horas bajo el ardiente sol, los obreros agrícolas migrantes y temporeros con frecuencia se alojan en viviendas de inferior calidad, en las que duermen en colchones mugrosos o en el piso; donde podrían compartir un inodoro o una letrina, una sola ducha y un lavadero para la ropa.

El Rdo. Tony Rojas, o “Padre Tony” llegó al Ministerio Episcopal del Obrero Agrícola hace 18 años. Rojas proviene de la tradición catolicorromana. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

Durante sus primeros tres años de ministerio a los obreros agrícolas y de ser testigo de las condiciones en que viven, Rojas dijo que tenía problemas para dormir. Él visitaría los campamentos a las 2 A.M. y todas las luces estarían encendidas y los obreros agrícolas estarían preparando sus almuerzos, que a veces se lo comerían debajo del autobús para escapar del sol del mediodía. Él ha visto a obreros agrícolas que padecen de intoxicación de nicotina —debido a la exposición de la piel a este tóxico— rodar por el suelo en agonía.

Aun después de 18 años de trabajar con los obreros agrícolas, Rojas no entiende todavía como pueden hacerlo. Al igual que los productores, que enfrentan los retos del cultivo y que con frecuencia soportan préstamos onerosos, el trabajo agrícola es una vocación. Los obreros agrícolas y los productores proporcionan a los seres humanos el alimento necesario para sostener el milagro que es la vida. “Sin alimento no podemos sobrevivir, no podemos conservar la vida”, afirma él.

En 1960, antes de que César Chávez fundara la Asociación Nacional de Obreros Agrícolas que atrajo la atención hacia las dificultades de los trabajadores del campo, el periodista radial Edward R. Murrow, coprodujo el documental Cosecha de vergüenza [Harvest of Shame], de una hora de duración, que examinaba la manera en que vivían los obreros agrícolas migrantes y la pobreza que marcaba sus vidas.

La película de Murrow muestra las vidas de obreros agrícolas en su mayoría blancos y afroamericanos; hoy los obreros agrícolas provienen mayoritariamente de México y Centroamérica. Salvo eso, las vidas de los obreros agrícolas migrantes ha cambiado poco, según Cosecha de la dignidad [Harvest of Dignity] un documental de 30 minutos que le sirve de secuela [al de Murrow], producido en 2011 en asociación con Acción Estudiantil con los Obreros Agrícolas, una organización que radica en Durham.

A los obreros agrícolas con estatus de trabajadores temporeros, o estacionales, les garantizan ciertos derechos laborales, el pago de su viaje —de ida y regreso— a Estados Unidos, vivienda y comida, y residen en la granja donde se les asigna. Los obreros estacionales dependen de los productores para volver a venir a trabajar año tras año, y pueden permanecer ociosos mientras esperan que lleguen los cultivos; los obreros indocumentados tienden a ser migratorios y siguen a sus líderes de grupo hasta donde hay trabajo.

Un informe del Instituto Nacional de la Salud, publicado en 2011, que estudia las condiciones de vivienda de los obreros agrícolas migrantes en Carolina del Norte, reveló normas de vivienda aplicadas inadecuadamente y a obreros agrícolas que viven en condiciones de inferior calidad y a trabajadores indocumentados que viven en peores condiciones que los trabajadores temporeros.

Rojas dijo que, a lo largo de los años, él ha visto mejorar algunas condiciones de vida de los campamentos. Y a través de iniciativas de base, como el Consejo de Iglesias de Carolina del Norte, la Acción Estudiantil con los Obreros Agrícolas y la Red de Defensa del Obrero Agrícola, más y más personas en zona urbanas, como Raleigh, Durham y Research Triangle Park, están cobrando conciencia de los obreros agrícolas que viven en un área que no dista más de 80 kilómetros de donde ellos se encuentran.

Por ejemplo, Cosecha de dignidad, dijo Wilburn, llevó al Departamento del Trabajo de Carolina del Norte, que inspecciona la vivienda de obreros agrícolas migrantes y estacionales, a exigir que los campamentos tengan un inodoro por cada diez personas y una ducha por cada 30 residentes.

(Jon Showalter y su familia, miembros de la iglesia de la Natividad [Church of the Nativity] en Raleigh, Carolina del Norte, han conducido durante una década el Trasporte Interreligioso de Alimentos a unos 64 kilómetros hasta el Ministerio Episcopal del Obrero Agrícola en Newton Grove, el primer sábado de cada mes. “Ha sido una bendición para nuestra familia el participar en este ministerio”, dijo Showalter. Haga un clic aquí para ver el vídeo del transporte de alimentos).

Demografía cambiante
“Firmes raíces, nuevo crecimiento”, dice un letrero a la entrada del Condado de Harnett, donde, a un lado de la Autopista 55, están las instalaciones de Stoney Run, de la Iglesia Bautista Pentecostal del Libre Albedrío [Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church] y de la otra la Iglesia de Dios Cristo Redentor.

Para la Iglesia Episcopal, dijo Rojas, tener una presencia en esta parte del estado es, en sí mismo, una anomalía, y afianzarse en medio de la población latina, con sus raíces católicas, no resultó fácil.

“Los latinos, por cultura y tradición, vienen de la Iglesia Católica Romana, que es [según ellos] la única Iglesia verdadera”, dijo. Para ellos, una Iglesia diferente “significa la llegada del Diablo.

Ahora, sin embargo, en el pico de la cosecha, la misión de la Sagrada Familia, que se reúne en una placa de concreto bajo un techo de zinc es la propiedad del ministerio, es una de las más grandes congregaciones episcopales de Carolina del Norte, que atiende a obreros agrícolas, así como a familias e inmigrantes que se han radicado en el estado.

El fútbol siempre ha desempeñado un importante papel en el ministerio de Rojas. Aquí el domingo por la mañana, antes de la eucaristía, los obreros agrícolas practican para un próximo torneo anual. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

A los 78 años, Rojas, ex sacerdote católico romano que fue jugador profesional de fútbol en su Colombia natal, mantiene una apariencia juvenil. Y cuando comenzó su ministerio en los campamentos, fue el fútbol el que le dio entrada, no la Biblia.

“Así fue cómo establecí una relación personal con los obreros agrícolas”, explicó. Después que se ganó su confianza, ellos comenzaron a pedirle bendiciones y sacramentos.

Le llevó siete años, trabajando durante tres de esos años con las mismas 18 personas.

Sin embargo, en la actualidad, dijo Rojas, se entiende que todos son bienvenidos y el mensaje es sencillo: “Cristo es nuestro Señor y Salvador… y vivir una vida cristiana [consiste en]: amar a Dios, amarse uno mismo y amar a los demás”.

Al padre Tony le conmueve administrar la eucaristía a hombres, como Abraham Cruz aquí, con manos callosas, porque en la cultura latina, es más probable que sean las mujeres las que se acerquen a comulgar, dijo él. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

Luego de hacer progresos en la comunidad latina y de levantar el ministerio del obrero agrícola, sirviendo durante un tiempo tanto como ministro sacramental que como director ejecutivo del ministerio, la próxima prioridad de Rojas es fortalecer la Sagrada Familia, que tiene su sede en las instalaciones administrativas del ministerio en Newton Grove, así como las otras dos congregaciones que él atiende, San José [St. Joseph’s] en Smithfield y San Francisco [St. Francis] en Goldsboro.

Después de la eucaristía del mediodía, Rojas lleva a algunos de los obreros agrícolas de regreso a los campamentos, y luego conduce unos 40 kilómetros hasta Dondsboro para una eucaristía a las 4:00 P.M. (Haga un clic aquí para ver un vídeo de Rojas reflexionando sobre su ministerio).

Desde el año 2000, la población hispana de Carolina del Norte ha aumentado en 111 por ciento, según un informe del Centro para el Progreso Americano, un instituto educacional bipartidista independiente con sede en Washington, D.C.

En las escuelas rurales, como la Escuela Intermedia Hobbton, en la cual la niña Idalia Rubio Trejo, de 12 años, cursa el sexto grado, casi la mitad del cuerpo estudiantil es latino, dijo Rubio Trejo.

El padre de Idalia es obrero agrícola y su madre es ama de casa. Idalia, que es completamente bilingüe, tiene tres hermanos y dos hermanas; la familia ha estado en Carolina del Norte durante 16 años y asiste a los oficios de la Sagrada Familia los domingos.

Además de Rojas, el Ministerio Episcopal del Obrero Agrícola está compuesto por Silvia Cendejas, directora auxiliar, y María Acosta, especialista en inmigración que ayuda anualmente a unos 3.000 inmigrantes a enfrentarse con el papeleo, las renovaciones de la visa de trabajo y las peticiones de reunificación familiar.

Un solo obrero agrícola debe recoger, como promedio, dos toneladas, o 4.000 libras, de batatas para ganar $50. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

Una necesidad que Cendejas y Acosta han identificado y que no está siento atendida es la de ofrecer ayuda a mujeres en situaciones de violencia doméstica. Las mujeres se enfrentan con tres o cuatro casos semanalmente.

El aumento de la población y el hecho de que con mayor frecuencia los obreros agrícolas y sus familias deciden permanecer en Carolina del Norte el año entero le ha impuesto mayores tareas al ministerio, dijo Patti Trainor, coordinadora de desarrollo para el ministerio del obrero agrícola de la Diócesis de Carolina del Norte.

Rolffs Pinkerton, psicólogo jubilado y miembro de la iglesia de la Sagrada Familia [Church of the Holy Family] en Chapel Hill, que hace 10 años comenzó a trabajar voluntariamente como traductor, lo planteó de esta manera: “se nos pide que sirvamos a los más necesitados de los necesitados”, dijo Pinkerton, un nativo de Carolina del Norte que creció en Venezuela. “Y esto es probablemente lo más cerca de eso a que uno pude llegar en Carolina del Norte; no conozco un grupo humano más necesitado”.

Para responder a las demandas de una creciente población latina y continuar sirviendo a los obreros agrícolas, la Diócesis de Carolina del Norte inició en 2013 la Cosecha para la Hospitalidad, una campaña concebida para recaudar $400.000 —el doble del presupuesto anual del ministerio— para junio de 2015.

Robert E. Wright, que copreside la campaña, dijo que la Cosecha para la Hospitalidad es una inversión: “Ellos [los inmigrantes] son parte de nuestra comunidad, y nosotros somos parte de la suya.

“Es un ministerio holístico, cuerpo, alma y espíritu; es realmente ver a las personas como personas, como seres humanos semejantes. Es [un programa] capacitador, no paternalista”.

Cosecha para la Hospitalidad también tiene por objeto introducir el ministerio del obrero agrícola en el siglo XXI, dijo la Rda. Lisa Fischbeck, que copreside la campaña con Wreight y que atiende como vicaria la iglesia del Intercesor [Church of the Advocate] en Chapel Hill.

Una campaña exitosa no sólo le proporcionará al ministerio los recursos económicos necesarios para la transformación —la contratación de un nuevo director ejecutivo y de una persona que sirva como enlace entre los productores y los obreros agrícolas—, sino que también captará a jóvenes, como participantes en el ministerio tanto como sostenedores económicos.

Ya hay jóvenes activamente dedicados al programa de visitación. En junio, por ejemplo, la agrupación de jóvenes en la iglesia episcopal Emanuel [Emmanuel Episcopal Church] en Southern Pines ayudó en un programa de ventaja [head start] para hijos de migrantes, hizo trabajo de jardinería y, junto con Rojas, visitó los campamentos distribuyendo ropas y objetos de uso personal a los obreros agrícolas.

Los participantes, dijo Paul Collins, ministro de los jóvenes en Emanuel, trajeron de vuelta sus experiencias y sus historias acerca de los obreros agrícolas y las compartieron; seguirán participando en esta labor e instruyéndose sobre los problemas que afectan a los obreros agrícolas. Después de todo, agregó, ellos son los futuros electores.

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

Obispos de la IX Provincia estudian el autosostén en las Filipinas

ENS Headlines - Monday, October 13, 2014

Obispos de la IX Provincia pasaron del 24 al 28 de septiembre en las Filipinas estudiando la trayectoria de la Iglesia hacia el autosostén en el contexto local. Foto de Lynette Wilson para ENS.

[Episcopal News Service – Manila, Filipinas] En talleres de costura, hogares y establos a cada lado de la carretera que llega hasta la cima de una loma donde se alza la iglesia episcopal de la Santa Fe [Holy Faith Episcopal Church] en la aldea de Igorot, los hombres tejen sombreros, bufandas y suéteres y las mujeres cosen etiquetas en prendas terminadas. Es una industria doméstica que comenzaran seis mujeres que venden artículos de punto a mayoristas. Eso mantiene la aldea activa.

La aldea fue fundada en los años 50 [del pasado siglo] sobre un terreno de 1,5 hectárea de tierra que una vez formó parte del rancho ganadero de igorrotes, o “montañeses” de Luzón, la provincia insular más grande y más septentrional de Filipinas donde los misioneros anglicanos establecieron su presencia a fines del siglo XIX. Localizada en las afueras de Manila, la aldea de chozas de bambú y hierbas, ahora es el asiento de 100 familias que viven en casas de concreto con techos de metal.

El Rdo. Echanes A. Codiogan posa con algunas mujeres de la cooperativa. Foto de Lynette Wilson para ENS.

En la medida en que se desarrollaba una comunidad, la [original] estación de predicación se convirtió en la misión de la Sagrada Familia, en parroquia ayudada y, finalmente, en 2010, solicitó un rector de jornada completa.

Sin embargo, en 2013, en un momento cuando la parroquia ya se autosostenía en un 80 por ciento, la congregación sintió que no podía alcanzar el objetivo del 100 por ciento para 2018. Es ahí donde tiene lugar la iniciativa singular de la Iglesia Episcopal de las Filipinas de el Desarrollo de la Comunidad Basado en Recursos, una estrategia que incluye el desarrollo congregacional aplicado. Al hacer inventario de los activos de la aldea, los líderes determinaron que los mayoristas venderían en consignación de tres meses, y entre tanto tomarían préstamos particulares para mantener las operaciones; y la Iglesia intervino para responder a una necesidad.

Con un préstamo de $11.000 de 22 comunidades de la Diócesis del Sur de Filipinas, la Santa Fe comenzó a hacer préstamos a los mayoristas con un interés del 1,5 por ciento, menos de la mitad de la tasa del 3 al 5 por ciento que imponen las entidades crediticias privadas. En una decisión en que todas las partes salieron ganando, los mayoristas invirtieron un porcentaje de los ahorros en la Iglesia. En febrero de 2014, los miembros de la Santa Fe solicitaron estatus parroquial pleno.

El trabajo en piedra de la iglesia de la Santa Fe se inspira en la provincia montañosa del norte, de donde provienen los igorrotes. Foto de Lynette Wilson para ENS.

La Santa Fe es sólo un ejemplo de la Iglesia Episcopal de las Filipinas donde el desarrollo comunitario y congregacional han marchado de la mano, creando una situación donde ambos [comunidad y congregación] prosperan.

Cuando la Iglesia comenzó a pensar en la autonomía y en el autosostén económico, invirtió en programas y proyectos para recaudar dinero, pero al final, sin el componente de desarrollo comunitario, las inversiones fueron un “completo fracaso”, dijo Floyd Lalwet, secretario provincial de la Iglesia, durante una reunión, el 24 de septiembre, en la oficina nacional de la Iglesia en la Ciudad de Quezón. Con el tiempo, la Iglesia comenzó a ver las comunidades y las congregaciones como una [sola entidad] y las cosas comenzaron a cambiar.

La trayectoria de la Iglesia Episcopal en las Filipinas hacia el autosostén económico sirve como ejemplo de la asociación pactada, que puede replicarse en otros contextos.

En las primeras horas de esa jornada del 24 de septiembre, siete obispos y dos cónyuges en representación de la IX Provincia viajaron a las Filipinas con el propósito de afirmar y fortalecer la relación de compañerismo entre la Iglesia Episcopal en las Filipinas y la Iglesia Episcopal en Estados Unidos, y experimentar la labor de la iglesia local como relacionada con su logro de alcanzar la plena autonomía económica y, más específicamente, la puesta en práctica de su Desarrollo Congregacional/Comunitario Basado en Recursos y la aplicación de su política “de receptores a dadores”.

Antes de viajar a las Filipinas para estudiar la trayectoria de la Iglesia hacia el autosostén económico, los obispos y sus cónyuges estuvieron del 17 al 23 en Taiwán asistiendo a la reunión de otoño de la Cámara de Obispos, en la cual el obispo primado [de Filipinas] Edward P. Malecdan habló acerca del contexto teológico y las dificultades a que se enfrenta la misión en las Filipinas.

Fieles al tema de “expandir la imaginación apostólica”, los obispos exploraron la misión y el ministerio de la Diócesis de Taiwán. Luego de terminada la reunión otros obispos y sus cónyuges viajaron a Japón, Hong Kong y Corea del Sur para continuar aprendiendo acerca de la misión y el ministerio de la Iglesia Anglicana.

Los hombres tejen sombreros, bufandas y suéteres en talleres como estos en la aldea Igorot. Foto de Lynette Wilson para ENS.

La visita de los obispos de la IX Provincia a las Filipinas estuvo preparándose durante tres años.

Clérigos y líderes laicos de las siete diócesis latinoamericanas de la Iglesia Episcopal, que se extienden por partes del Caribe, Centro y Sudamérica, conocieron por primera vez la historia de la Iglesia Episcopal de las Filipinas en una conferencia sobre autosostén que se celebro en Tela, Honduras, en 2011.

Las diócesis de la IX Provincia —República Dominicana, Honduras, Ecuador Central, Ecuador Litoral, Colombia, Venezuela y Puerto Rico—adoptaron el autosostén como punto focal en una reunión sinodal en 2012.

Cada una de las diócesis de la IX Provincia sigue su propio rumbo hacia el autosostén económico, de las cuales la República Dominicana, Honduras y Ecuador Central, con una reciente venta de tierras por $4 millones, están más cerca de alcanzarlo que las demás.

La estrategia global para la sostenibilidad económica en la IX Provincia está motivada por las necesidades de cada diócesis individual, y la estrategia parte de las diócesis mismas, dijo Samuel McDonald, subdirector de operaciones y director de misión de la Iglesia Episcopal.

“Aquí es dónde la teoría se pone a prueba”, afirmó.

En febrero de 2014, el Consejo Ejecutivo adoptó el Plan de Sostenibilidad de la IX Provincia [en conformidad con] la Segunda Marca de la Misión, que fue el resultado de una reunión en julio de 2013 de líderes laicos y ordenados de la provincia y del personal del centro denominacional.

Luego de la conferencia de Tela, dijo Lalwet, los obispos de la IX Provincia comenzaron a hacer preguntas específicas sobre la capacidad de la Iglesia de Filipinas de crear proyectos y procesos, específicamente sobre la manera en que las cooperativas han ayudado a las congregaciones a convertirse en parroquias de pleno derecho y sobre la Fundación Episcopal para el Desarrollo de San Marcos, una institución de préstamo que transformó la Diócesis de Santiago en el norte de Filipinas.

Hay unas 43 cooperativas inscritas y otras 65 cooperativas, asociaciones de agricultores y organizaciones para el desarrollo no inscritas que funcionan según el modelo de desarrollo eclesial y comunitario de la Iglesia. La Fundación Episcopal de Asistencia o ECARE, como se llama el modelo de desarrollo, aspira a colaborar, mediante la asociación, con comunidades para lograr que sus activos y recursos pasen del nivel de subsistencia al de autosuficiencia, al tiempo que ponen énfasis en compartir, asistir [a los necesitados], dar testimonio y ejercer la mayordomía medioambiental.

El concepto de cooperativa fue algo nuevo para el obispo Francisco Duque,, de la Diócesis de Colombia, quien también funge como presidente de la IX Provincia; algo, dijo él, que contemplaría poner en práctica en su propia diócesis una de las más jóvenes de la Iglesia Episcopal.

En Colombia, como en las Filipinas y en las otras diócesis de la IX Provincia, muchas iglesias episcopales están localizadas en comunidades pobres y marginadas, carentes de desarrollo económico y social.

Más del 25 por ciento de los 100 millones de filipinos vive por debajo del nivel de la pobreza, un porcentaje semejante al del Ecuador y Venezuela, aunque sus poblaciones son una fracción de la de Filipinas, según estadísticas del Banco Mundial. Cada una de las otra diócesis de la IX Provincia tiene un porcentaje mayor de personas, entre el 33 y el 65 por ciento, que vive por debajo del nivel de la pobreza.

“La realidad económica y política es que nuestra gente vive en la pobreza y que nuestras iglesias están situadas en comunidades marginales”, dijo Lalwet, añadiendo que al concentrarse en mejorar la subsistencia económica de las personas de la comunidad, éstas son más capaces de sostener la Iglesia.

Esta estrategia, sin embargo, necesita del consenso de la Iglesia y de la comunidad desde el comienzo, afirmó. “También sería un error separar el programa de desarrollo de la comunidad del desarrollo de la Iglesia”.

Eso significó también un cambio de mentalidad, en congregaciones que históricamente han sido receptoras y que debían convertirse en dadoras. “Estamos rompiendo con la mentalidad de que la Iglesia debe sostener a las congregaciones”, dijo Lalwet.

Trasfondo histórico
La Iglesia Episcopal estableció un distrito misionero en las Filipinas en 1898; en 1965, la Iglesia se convirtió en una diócesis misionera y, en 1990, la Iglesia Episcopal de las Filipinas llegó a ser una provincia autónoma de la Comunión Anglicana. Sin embargo, la autonomía llegó ante que el autosostén económico: en 1990, la Iglesia de las Filipinas aún dependía de la Iglesia Episcopal en los Estados Unidos para financiar el 60 por ciento de su presupuesto operativo.

En 1992, El Comité Conjunto sobre el Pacto Filipino propuso un plan de reducción escalonada de 15 años para reducir gradualmente, cada cinco años, el apoyo de la Iglesia Episcopal de $800.000 a $533.333 a $267.667. En 2003, la Iglesia Filipina alcanzó el mayor déficit presupuestario de su historia, 6,5 millones de pesos ($120.000 en ese momento). Y en 2004, la Iglesia decidió pedirle a la Iglesia Episcopal una extensión de tres años antes de cambiar el rumbo.

En 14 años de autonomía, todos siempre hablaban acerca del subsidio, contó Lalwet, hasta que finalmente alguien propuso: ¿Por qué no prescindimos de él?”.

Así lo hicieron, y el 1 de enero de 2005 “todo el mundo predijo que el déficit de 6,5 millones de pesos se duplicaría”, pero no sucedió. En lugar de eso, la Iglesia tenía por primera vez un superávit de $55.000.

Lalwet con frecuencia compara el período de 15 años de la atenuación del subsidio con el período de abstinencia inicial que atraviesa un adicto. “Hubo temporadas en que la gente estuvo seis meses sin salario”, agregó.

La relación de pacto entre la Iglesia Episcopal en los Estados Unidos y la Iglesia Episcopal en las Filipinas se mantenía intacta en 2005, pero en lugar de utilizar el subsidio para gastos operativos, el dinero se añadió al Fondo de Donaciones del Centenario, que se estableció en 2001.

Para alentar a que las seis diócesis de entonces contribuyeran al fondo, la Iglesia cambió la estructura del fondo. En lugar de consolidar el fondo de donaciones en un “fondo nacional” con dineros que fueran a sostener la Iglesia Episcopal de las Filipinas, la Iglesia dividió el fondo entre las diócesis, utilizó una subvención e ingresos por concepto de alquileres para proporcionar fondos complementarios y le prestó el dinero a las diócesis para inversiones locales, dijo Lalwet.

Además de eso, explicó Lalwet, en lugar de depender del subsidio para su presupuesto operativo, la Iglesia buscó apoyo en sus activos existentes y en instituciones; durante el período 2005-2008, con el apoyo del Centro Médico San Lucas en Quezón, se construyeron algunas de las iglesias más bellas de la provincia.

En la actualidad, hay más de 120.000 episcopales bautizados que asisten al culto en 400 iglesias de las siete diócesis de la Iglesia Episcopal en las Filipinas que abarca todo el archipiélago en el océano Pacífico.

Cooperativas de desarrollo
En los años 60 y 70 [del pasado siglo], cuando la Iglesia comenzó a considerar la autonomía por primera vez, empezó a fundar cooperativas, lo cual resultaba peligroso durante el período de la ley marcial, de 1972 a 1981, puesta en vigor por el presidente Ferdinand Marcos.

“Las cooperativas se consideraban subversivas”, dijo Lalwet, añadiendo que la Iglesia, específicamente la Diócesis de Luzón Norte, al frente de la cual estaba el obispo Richard Abellon, que se convertiría en el primer filipino en llegar a Primado [de esa Iglesia]. “El obispo se convirtió en el enemigo público número uno”.

A pesar del acoso y de las amenazas que dirigían contra Abellon y otros, la Iglesia continuó fundando cooperativas porque el liderazgo creía que ése era el camino a seguir.

Tras un vuelo de 40 minutos rumbo norte, de Manila a Tuguegarao, más otras dos o tres horas en una furgoneta a lo largo de una calzada de dos carriles que se adentra en los grandes arrozales del país, donde el maíz amarillo para alimento del ganado y el arroz se secan en el estrecho borde de la carretera o en cualquier trozo de pavimento que no se use y que tenga acceso directo a la luz solar, los obispos llegaron a Santiago, donde la inversión local ha definido el éxito de esa diócesis.

Los obispos Julio Cesar Holguín, Orlando Guerrero y Luis Ruiz posan con miembros de la cooperativa de San Pedro. Foto de Lynette Wilson para ENS.

La Diócesis de Santiago, que anteriormente formaba parte de la Diócesis de Luzón, fue fundada en 2001, y en ese tiempo el 90 por ciento de su sostén provenía de fuera de la diócesis.

“Esta diócesis se formó durante los años económicamente más difíciles de nuestra Iglesia, cuando el apoyo de la Iglesia Episcopal empezaba a reducirse, cuando estábamos pasando por [el síndrome de] la abstinencia”, dijo Lalwet. “Esta diócesis sufrió porque era muy dependiente de la Iglesia Episcopal de las Filipinas.

No fue fácil, explicó Lalwet, ya que las relaciones, algunas de ellas amistades de mucho tiempo, se pusieron muy tensas como un resultado de la eliminación del subsidio.

Sin embargo, al final, la diócesis comenzó la Fundación Episcopal para el Desarrollo de San Marcos, la institución de préstamo que ha acumulado una carpeta de préstamos de $1.900.000 en 10 años, y que, entre otras cosas, ha permitido que los agricultores adquieran 30 hectáreas de tierra. Pero también es la mayor fuente de apoyo para la Diócesis de Santiago, a la que contribuye con $56.000 anuales.

Además de visitar la oficina diocesana, donde se informaron acerca de la Fundación de San Marcos y compartieron una comida con el clero y los líderes laicos de las diócesis de Luzón Norte y de Santiago, los obispos visitaron dos cooperativas en muy diferentes etapas de desarrollo.

La primera fue la Del Pilar, en Alicia, donde la mayoría de los 3.000 habitantes de la comunidad son agricultores que trabajan manualmente de 1 a 4 hectáreas de tierra con búfalos de agua. La Iglesia en 2002 estableció la Cooperativa de Ahorros y Crédito San Pedro con 15 miembros, los cuales desde entonces han ascendido a 39. La cooperativa le permite a los agricultores negociar mejores precios para las semillas, alquilar un espacio para el secado (el acceso al espacio para secar arroz y maíz es escaso) y ha construido una nave donde los granos pueden almacenarse y venderse según lo dicten los precios del producto. La cooperativa también tiene una finca arrocera de nueve hectáreas.

La de San Pedro siguió el patrón de la segunda cooperativa, Misión y Cooperativa para fines múltiples del Espíritu Santo, que se inició en 1995 y que sigue funcionando, explicó el Rdo. Ralph Dampo, que presta servicios como director de la parroquia y administrador de la cooperativa.

Dampo, que ha sido entrenado tanto de teología como de administración de empresas con el apoyo de la Iglesia, comenzó la misión con el objetivo simultáneo de mejorar las vidas y la subsistencia económica de los agricultores en la comunidad y la vida de la estación misionera.

Después de llevar a cabo la primera evaluación rural: un tasación de la tierra, el número de familias, idiomas, acceso a servicios sociales y educacionales, la cooperativa comenzó con 16 agricultores de subsistencia, cada uno de los cuales contribuyó con un quinto de su ingreso anual, alrededor de 1.000 pesos o $22. “Fue difícil” dijo Dampo.

La iglesia del Espíritu Santo fue construida en 2009. Foto de Lynette Wilson para ENS.

En la actualidad, la cooperativa tiene más de 100 miembros, 10 empleados regulares, un almacén, un suelo de secado y camiones. Contribuye el 10 por ciento de sus ingresos al fondo parroquial y a otros fondos, paga el 70 por ciento del salario de Dampo, al tiempo que sostiene el ministerio infantil del Espíritu Santo y tiene un programa de alimentación y un ministerio de ayuda y rehabilitación.

La primera iglesia se construyó en 1997 y un edificio moderno en 2009. El Espíritu Santo tiene 200 miembros, la mitad de ellos miembros también de la cooperativa, y la asistencia dominical promedio es de 70, dijo Dampo.

Desde su base en la ciudad de Quezón, los obispos viajaron luego al sur, una hora y media en avión, para llegar a la ciudad de Cotabato donde se reunieron con Danilo Bustamante, obispo de la Diócesis del Sur de Filipinas, visitaron la iglesia de San Francisco y la Cooperativa de Objetivos Múltiples Hillside en Upi, en la provincia de Magindanao en la Región Autónoma del Mindanao Musulmán, donde, por constituir tan sólo el 30 por ciento de la población, los cristianos son la minoría.

El grupo también se reunió con el alcalde de Upi, Ramón A. Piang, en su oficina municipal , donde él les dijo que el gobierno local apoya a los líderes religiosos, y que ha instituido paneles cívicos, en los que participan líderes religiosos y de la sociedad civil. Y coordina con ellos sobre programas para la reducción de la pobreza en la provincia donde el 98 por ciento de las personas son campesinas.

Ver las cooperativas en acción en las Filipinas le hizo pensar al obispo Orlando Guerrero, de Venezuela, en la plantación de café, de aproximadamente 35 hectáreas, que su diócesis posee en el noreste del país, una plantación que no está produciendo al máximo de su rendimiento. Más que poner a funcionar la plantación con fuerza laboral de la localidad, Guerrero dijo que estaba considerando la creación de una cooperativa y darles parcelas a las familias locales para que las trabajen.

La Cooperativa de Objetivos Múltiples Hillside en Upi tiene una plantación de gomeros. Foto de Lynette Wilson para ENS.

El gobierno de Venezuela, añadió, trabaja también con organizaciones religiosas para fortalecer a las comunidades, pero que hasta la fecha la Iglesia Episcopal, a diferencia de las iglesias evangélicas y Católico Romana, no se ha aprovechado de esa oportunidad.

Las cooperativas también llevaron a pensar al obispo Lloyd Allen, de la diócesis de Honduras, en el modo en que la actual cooperativa de su diócesis podría reestructurarse para proporcionarle a cada uno de los 10 deanatos de Honduras más autoridad local.

El programa del Sur de Filipinas en Upi, al igual que en el norte, incluye secado de granos e instalaciones de almacenamiento, pero también una plantación de gomeros y un vivero, este último en asociación con la Diócesis de Olympia en Seattle, Washington, que distribuye semilleros a familias individuales.

Se hace camino al andar
“Estamos aquí como una sola Iglesia… venimos aquí de América Latina para ver con nuestros propios ojos”, dijo la Rda. Glenda McQueen, funcionaria encargada de asociaciones globales de la Iglesia Episcopal para la América Latina y el Caribe, durante un sermón que predicó en la iglesia de San Francisco en Upi, en la mañana del 28 de septiembre.

“Cambiar el rumbo es decirle que sí a la vida, abandonar el pasado, la manera en que se hacían las cosas, y asumir el riesgo del futuro”.

McQueen habló acerca de cómo las iglesias anglicanas y episcopales plantaron la simiente que hoy es la Iglesia en las Filipinas, y cómo, al igual que los gomeros, así como injertar una rama de un árbol maduro en un vástago robustece al árbol nuevo y lo hace más resistente a las enfermedades, el que las Filipinas comparta su trayectoria hacia el autosostén económico fortalece a las iglesias latinoamericanas que están en una senda semejante.

“Somos ese vástago, y ustedes nos han dado el ejemplo de esa nueva Iglesia que asumió el riesgo”, dijo McQueen, y explicó a los presentes que en América Latina se dice “se hace camino al andar”, lo cual describe la trayectoria que los obispos de la IX Provincia y sus diócesis han emprendido ahora.

El avanzar hacia el autosostén en cada diócesis de la IX Provincia requerirá de una persona o de un equipo que supervise el proceso de desarrollo, dijo McQueen posteriormente en una entrevista con ENS.

El obispo Danilo Bustamante, de la Diócesis de Filipinas Sur, y la Rda. Glenda McQueen, encargada de asociaciones globales para América Latina y el Caribe, en Cotabato. Foto de Lynette Wilson para ENS.

Visitar la Iglesia en las Filipinas le proporcionó a los obispos los principios que sostienen el proceso —“necesitan tener ese cimiento”, dijo ella.

Es importante, añadió, que las iglesias latinoamericanas expresen su propia visión de futuro, y que juntas miren lo que tienen como provincia.

Reflexionando sobre la visita a la Iglesia de las Filipinas, el obispo de la República Dominicana Julio César Holguín dijo que él creía en el espíritu empresarial del clero y el laicado frente a la falta de apoyo de la Iglesia Episcopal y que el Espíritu les permitía a ellos continuar su [proceso de] desarrollo.

“Creo que el liderazgo emprendedor asumido tanto por el clero como por el laicado de la iglesia en Las Filipinas, ha tenido mucho que ver con los logros alcanzados en el aspecto de su sostenibilidad. Cuando los recursos económicos  procedentes de la Sociedad Misionera, la Iglesia Episcopal, dejaron de llegar ellos no se sentaron a lamentarse ni a llorar, sino que elaboraron un plan estratégico viable, que les permitió mantener la continuidad en el desarrollo de la obra misionera que tienen por delante, basada en el empoderamiento y en una buena mayordomía por parte de cada uno de los miembros de la Iglesia. Creo que el modelo de la Iglesia en Las Filipinas, puede servir de gran ayuda e inspiración, para que tanto las diócesis de la IX Provincia, como de otras latitudes de la Comunión Anglicana, nos animemos a lanzarnos a alcanzar la meta de la sostenibilidad, para llevar a cabo con mas eficiencia, la tarea de la Gran Comisión que nuestro Señor Jesucristo nos ha encargado”.

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

SA Anglicans challenged to find out why young people are leaving church

ENS Headlines - Monday, October 13, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA) has been challenged to conduct a study to find out exactly why young people are leaving the church and the extent to which it is affecting the different communities within the church.

In a motion raised at the recent annual Provincial Standing Committee meeting held in Johannesburg from Sept. 21-24, the proposer, the Rev. Jacques Pieterse, said that a study should be conducted to “establish the extent to which young people are leaving the church, and their reasons for doing so.”

The conversations that ensued after the motion saw different points of view being raised with others suggesting that such a study should also include older members among those that may be leaving the church.

Barney Pityana, committee member and rector of the province’s College of Transfiguration, raised another important perspective when he suggested that trends might be different in the white and black communities revealing that when he visited parishes in the black areas, he found “a burgeoning ministry among young people” and that the phenomenon may “only affect white Anglicans.”

He added that there should be a study of whether there was “a flight of white people from the Anglican Church, and if so, we need to come to an understanding of why this is happening.”

In an interview with ACNS, Tony Lawrence, the provincial youth coordinator, said, “It is imperative that the study is done. One needs to regularly evaluate our effectiveness as an organization and people leaving would be one of the key indicators of our efficacy,” he said.

Lawrence also suggested that a reputable institution be approached to do the study. “I would be very interested in the question list that will be developed to determine why people are leaving, as well as what approaches will be taken to get the information from the people who have left.”

The question was also put out to members of the church through the youth Facebook page. Most of those that responded agreed that a study is needed.

Demakatso Malele Mashile, a young person from the province, said from what she has seen in her parish, “the youth leave because of the elders failing to address or talk to them.”

Recently, the Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba, primate of the province, agreed that “the church now realizes that young people need to be given an opportunity [to take part in mission]” but challenged the youth not always to seek permission from adults all the time but rather take the initiative to get things done.

He concluded, “Young people should not be undermined because they are also equally called as a child of God.”

Presiding Bishop preaches at Trinity Church, Washington, DC

ENS Headlines - Monday, October 13, 2014

Trinity, Washington, DC
120th anniversary and Homecoming Sunday
12 October 2014

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

Happy anniversary and welcome home! This celebration seems to have been as big an organizational problem and every bit as complex as a society wedding. A whole lot of guests have been invited, and I think almost every single one showed up at the feast on Friday night. There were no empty seats to be seen. I didn’t get the instructions about black tie and evening dress, but nobody threw me out into the darkness.

At that feast of friends and fellowship and prophecy on Friday night we noted that it was a pretty good image of the heavenly banquet that Isaiah sets out: “On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.” We had a taste of that rich food and good wine, and Michael Blake’s[1] prophetic words to us evoked more of Isaiah’s dream, that God will destroy the shroud of death spread over all people, wipe away the tears from every face, and swallow up death forever. Isaiah speaks to people who yearn for rebuilt cities, and homes where they can live in peace, with abundant hope – without any of the shame or disgrace that besets humanity.

This congregation is set in a community that was founded with similarly lofty aspirations. Takoma Park was named for the big mountain in the other Washington – the one in the upper left-hand corner of your map. Takoma is the Salish Indian name for Mt. Rainier, and the person who chose it for the local train stop thought it meant “high up” or “near heaven.”[2] It’s a fitting dream for this part of the world – and every part of the world.

You claim Fr. James (C.) Dorsey as the founder of this congregation.[3] He is the same James (Owen) Dorsey who learned a number of Native American dialects and became one of the first members of the Bureau of Ethnology at the Smithsonian.[4] His ill health repeatedly brought him back here from the Dakota Territory, to Takoma Park, after working with the Ponka and Omaha Indians. This missionary knew something of human injustice – and he, too, dreamed of building a community nearer heaven.

The congregation grew, and eventually Takoma Parish opened here in 1893 – and while it appears that “high up” still describes the worship here, the bigger dream is for a heavenly city, fit for all people to live in, where all God’s children might dwell in peace, and flourish.

How will you sing the dream song of that restored city? You have claimed this for your homecoming prayer, ‘Sing to the Lord a new song, proclaim the good news of healing and wholeness every day of your lives.’[5] While this weekend has a lot to do with that great feast on the mountainside, we can’t simply stay here on the mountain and sing, expecting that city to appear like Brigadoon. We have to sing that song on our daily rounds in this city – on the bus and the Metro, driving across town, in the voting booth, while we’re drafting contracts, teaching children, healing wounds, and rebuilding the broken. That song has to penetrate our sometimes stony hearts, soak into us along with baptismal water, and become the bread of justice we share at this table and every table.

‘Sing to the Lord a new song, proclaim the good news of a heavenly city every day of your lives.’ That song is neither simple nor impossible to learn, but it does require all we are and all we have and the whole of our lives. It begins down by the riverside, ‘Ain’t gonna study war no more.’ It continues until ‘every voice is lifted to ring with the harmonies of liberty,’ to “sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us, sing a song full of the hope the present has brought us.”[6]

Sometimes it sounds like the blues, lamenting the brokenness around us and within us. It is also the sound of rejoicing, when we discover where God has set the table and invited the guests and shared a miraculous feast.

Will you sing the lament over Ferguson, and all the young black and brown men rotting in our prisons? Will you sing and grieve over those falling to Ebola, a virus born of poverty, and meager food supplies in Africa’s bush, that is now spreading in poor and crowded cities? Will you mourn and grieve and cry aloud over the increasing divide between rich and poor?

Will you sing with joy over every child who finds adults who care for his or her future? Will you raise loud hosannas for every woman who leaves the street to find wholeness and healing? Will you rejoice over ever human being who discovers the transforming power of meeting Jesus in the poor, starting right here?

We will continue to sing of possibility and dreams and the new thing God continues to do in our midst, even if we’ve never imagined doing it that way before. We will, with God’s help!

That parable of the wedding feast points us to the new things God is up to – and our reactions to the invitation to the feast of healing. The guests who don’t RSVP, the ones who opt for idle distractions or distracting idols, and the guests who respond to the invitation by snuffing the messenger all receive what they sowed. They find their cities destroyed. But others get invited, even dragged in, to the party. The host wants every seat and space to be filled with singers of that dream of restored cities.

But what of the unfortunate guest who comes without wedding garb? I cannot imagine that it is really about dressing up. I do believe that it’s about the state of one’s heart. Are you ready to rejoice at the feast? Or do you still have on your sour face, having been dragged in off the street to join a rowdy group of strangers who want you to sing a new song you’ve never heard before? That can be pretty tough, especially if the music is unfamiliar, or you don’t know any of those folks at the party.

I wandered into the hotel lobby last night, and found a pretty unusual scene. Mobs of young adults and not-so-young adults were on their way to the ballroom, most of them in costume, or something closer to suits worn in the Garden of Eden. I wasn’t invited, but they all looked like they were having a very good time. This morning there was a lot of glitter and sequins scattered around. I could just imagine hearing someone say, ‘well, if they’re in heaven, I’m not going!’ I asked the desk clerk this morning what was going on last night. It was a contest for “Miss Adams-Morgan,” and all about drag queens!

Well, our gospel host has invited all the usual suspects to the feast. You know who they are – everybody who’s ever been suspected of being unacceptable or inappropriate or beyond the pale. When no one else will come, the stewards and messengers are sent out to round up everyone they can find. Luke puts it this way: “go out into the streets and the lanes and compel them to come in.” The beggars of Jesus’ day, the homeless of our own day – particularly the women you are working with, the forgotten and ignored and unseen, the immigrants with papers and those without, the refugees who’ve come with nothing but the clothes on their backs, and even tipsy revelers.

Sing that song – come to the feast, sing a new world into being, rejoice at the wholeness of mercy and loving-kindness, and dwell in a city of peace. Keep building that city, one invitation at a time, with a homeless person housed, each child offered mentoring and companionship, and every city councilor or state assemblyman, mayor or president or police chief elected to do justice.

Come to the feast – you have most certainly been invited. Many are called, but few choose to answer. The reason that robeless guests get tossed out is that they are only prepared to hang out with the teeth gnashers, the ones who can only cry, “ain’t it awful what he/she/they have done,” “they’re beneath my notice,” or “see that scum of the earth!” Put on your robe of hope and possibility and help to make a feast for all God’s children. The teeth-gnashers are invited too, as soon as they’re ready.

Come to the feast, and lift your voices to sing it into being.

[1] Assemblyman-elect, New York 79th District; former member of the Obama administration

[2] Takoma actually means “snow-covered mountain” or “mother of waters.”

[3] http://www.trinitychurchdc.org/history.html

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Owen_Dorsey

[5] Psalm 96:1-2, free translation.

[6] “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” James Weldon Johnson, 1871-1928.

Presiding Bishop addresses Acolyte Festival

ENS Headlines - Monday, October 13, 2014

“I know it can be hard to get up early in the morning you’re serving, and it can be challenging to learn all the different ways that worship is done – and believe me, every church does it differently! But we need to show others that it’s good to be a friend of Jesus, not a drag,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori tells participants in the Oct. 11 Acolyte Festival at Washington National Cathedral. Photo: Danielle Thomas/Washington National Cathedral

Acolyte Festival
Washington National Cathedral
11 October 2014

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

Have you ever had something go wrong during worship? The day after I was ordained a deacon the bishop came for a visitation. It was my job to read the gospel. We took the gospel book down the aisle, opened it, and I started to read, “The Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, according to John.” I quickly realized something was wrong, but I wasn’t sure what. Then a parishioner came up behind me and whispered, “That’s last week’s gospel.” Whoops! So I turned the page and went on, “A continuation of the Gospel according to John.” Afterward the parish deacon said to me, “Every week I make a mistake. By the end of my life, I may have made them all.”

We’re celebrating the feast of Philip today. Jesus called Philip to be one of his disciples about the same time he called Andrew and Simon Peter to leave their fishing nets. Philip appears several times in the gospels. Once when they met a big crowd – more than would fit in this cathedral – Jesus asked Philip how they were going to feed them all. Philip answered, “Well, even six month’s wages wouldn’t be enough” to feed this bunch! But a boy’s lunch was blessed and became enough for all.

Later, when Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Passover (during the events we remember during Holy Week), some foreigners – Greek visitors – come up to Philip to ask for a meeting with Jesus.[1] Philip and Andrew go off to find Jesus, and when he hears the request, he responds by telling them he’s going to die, and that if they want to find their lives they’re going to have to lose them. During the final supper Jesus has with his disciples, Philip asks to see the Father, and Jesus reminds him that they’ve been looking at him for quite a while and they should have begun to get some idea of what God is like.

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, his followers began to gather in groups in to remember, tell stories, and eat a blessed, holy meal. Those communities had plenty of poor and hungry people in them, and they started to designate some of their number to ensure the hungry were being fed. Philip was a member of the first group to be named to that ministry – they were called deacons. Deacon is a word that means servant or minister, and we understand that every baptized person shares in that kind of ministry. Acolytes are a great example.

Most of what we know about Philip is related to feeding people and introducing people to Jesus. The second story we heard today is another example. Philip and another deacon, Stephen, were in Jerusalem, where Stephen had been preaching about Jesus. After a while, Stephen moves from preaching to meddling, as they say. He accuses some of the leaders in the Jerusalem community of being less than faithful, and they respond by dragging him out and stoning him to death. Philip leaves Jerusalem and goes up north to Samaria. He’s been preaching there with greater success, and his community in Jerusalem has sent others to Samaria to follow up, and teach these newcomers more about Jesus. That’s where Philip gets a call to head south toward Gaza.

He runs across this Ethiopian court official, riding along in his chariot, reading from Isaiah. In the ancient world everybody read aloud, so it’s easy for Philip to recognize what he’s reading. It’s like seeing the video the next car’s passengers are watching, and running over to talk about it. The Ethiopian has been in Jerusalem to worship at the Temple, but because he’s a eunuch he can’t be a full member of the Jewish community. He knows about God, but he hasn’t met anybody who will invite him into a deeper relationship. Here’s Philip’s chance to teach somebody what he learned from Jesus when he asked Jesus to “show us God.”

The eunuch asks who the prophet Isaiah is writing about. Surely he’s heard the prophet’s words as a description of him and his condition: “in his humiliation justice was denied him… his life was taken away from him.” Philip begins to tell him good news of Jesus, the friendship he offers to those who follow him, and the ways he proclaims liberty to captives and freedom to the oppressed.[2]

It was a minor fault, but that’s what the deacon did for me when I got it wrong. We can all do that kind of work. Everybody here is meant to be a Philip or a Philippa – feeding their neighbors and telling or showing them good news.

That’s what being an acolyte is all about – being a friend of Jesus who can show the people around you what Jesus is like. He was a friend to anybody who needed one. You have a remarkable opportunity here today to make new friends from another part of the country or a different church – wow! When you’re on your way home, you might talk about what the person you shared lunch with showed you about Jesus. Philip became a friend to somebody who wasn’t welcome at a lot of dinner tables or in church. Have you ever done that?

The way you serve as an acolyte can be an invitation to come closer and become a friend – or it can be a real turn-off. Do you think your ministry as an acolyte is joyful enough to invite somebody else – or is it only a DISMAL BURDEN? If you find no joy, then I would suggest you go looking for another way to be a friend of Jesus’. There isn’t just one way to show people what God looks like, but all those ways have to show the love that God has for us. I know it can be hard to get up early in the morning you’re serving, and it can be challenging to learn all the different ways that worship is done – and believe me, every church does it differently! But we need to show others that it’s good to be a friend of Jesus, not a drag.

Those two people who reached out to me on my first Sunday as a deacon showed me that even when we get it wrong, we still have friends in Jesus’ community.

When Jesus says to his friends that they’re supposed to go and make disciples everywhere and baptize them and teach them what he’s taught them, that’s what he means. Go and make friends like the friend he’s been to them, someone who loves and forgives and encourages and sets free. That is a privilege and a joy, and there are a whole lot of different ways to do it, including swinging thuribles and lighting candles and herding cats.

And don’t take yourself too seriously. We’re supposed to do our best, remember that we are forgiven even before we ask, and that we won’t get it all perfect until the Second Coming of Jesus – at which point it won’t matter. So remember to find joy in what you’re doing. God loves you – now show the world! God loves you, Jesus is your friend, Jesus is your homie, now go find some more! Discover new friends here, and new skills, and let the world see your joy – shout it out! Jesus is my friend – let me be your friend, too!

[1] John 12:20ff

[2] Luke 4:18-19

Editors’ note: A video recording of this sermon is available here and the order of service is here.


ENS Headlines - Monday, October 13, 2014

Una disputa entre la facultad y los profesores del más antiguo seminario de la Iglesia Episcopal ha conmovido los cimientos del Seminario General fundado en 1817 en la ciudad de Nueva York. Ocho de los diez profesores a tiempo completo han enviado carta a la junta de síndicos protestando por el estilo rígido del deán, su hábito de “usar lenguaje vulgar” y utilizar amenazas de dejar cesante a los que no estén de acuerdo con sus decisiones. Varias reuniones entre las partes litigantes no han producido resultados positivos. Los cinco profesores han sido avisados de que sus servicios ya no son necesarios. La situación es tal que posiblemente el asunto sea llevado a la corte. Observadores de la escena dicen que la cuestión de la sexualidad humana es parte del problema. “No queremos que este seminario sea conocido como un seminario gay”, dijo un profesor. El seminario ha graduado unos 7 mil estudiantes desde su fundación.

Katharine Jefferts Schori, obispa primada de la Iglesia Episcopal, ha anunciado que no tratará de servir otro mandato de nueve años, aunque los cánones lo permiten. Ella fue electa en el verano de 2006 por la Cámara de Obispos y ratificada por la Cámara de Diputados en la misma Convención General celebrada en Columbus, Ohio. La obispa tiene 60 años de edad. Desde ya se están haciendo los preparativos para elegir a su sucesora o sucesor.

Un año después de la masacre se ha sabido que una bomba explotó en la Iglesia Anglicana de Todos los Santos en Peshawar, Pakistán, matando a 127 personas e hiriendo a 170. Las víctimas fueron principalmente mujeres y niños. El obispo Samuel Azariah dijo que se cree que los autores fueron extremistas religiosos. Añadió que pese a la situación y las amenazas la iglesia sigue creciendo. Los cristianos constituyen el 1.5 por ciento de los 189 millones de habitantes de Pakistán.

Una sentencia judicial que ordena en Sudán la flagelación y pena de muerte para Meriam Yehia Ibrahim Ishag ha suscitado una ola de protestas alrededor del mundo. La mujer de 27 años ha sido acusada de convertirse del islam al cristianismo y haber cometido adulterio al casarse con un hombre cristiano. Uno de los signatarios de la protesta es el Secretario General del Consejo Mundial de Iglesias, Olav Fykse Tveit.

Que una aerolínea atrase la salida de un vuelo no es noticia. No así lo que le pasó a un vuelo de El Al la aerolínea israelí saliendo de Tel Aviv. Un pasajero judío rehusó sentarse porque iba a tener de compañera de viaje a una mujer y eso era contrario a su religión ultra-ortodoxa. Después de una discusión la azafata logró encontrarle un asiento al caballero que no quería contacto con las mujeres. Hay de todo en este mundo.

Kieran Conry, obispo católico romano de 63 años de la diócesis de Arundel y Brighton en Irlanda ha sido destituido por el papa Francisco por su propia admisión de que tenía amores con una dama de su diócesis. “Siento mucho que he faltado a mis promesas de ordenación”, dijo el obispo. Semanas más tarde el tabloide The Mail publicó fotos del prelado vestido de civil y de brazos con una dama 20 años más joven que él. Tan malo es pasarse como no llegar.

Recientemente, Ronald Gainer, obispo católico romano de Harrisburg, Pensilvania, decretó que en su diócesis “no están permitidos” juegos de fútbol entre equipos masculinos y femeninos de colegios católicos porque esto da “la posibilidad de contacto físico inmodesto”.

El prefecto de la Congregación para la Doctrina de la Fe, cardenal Gerhard Müller, ha dicho que la Conferencia de Liderazgos de Mujeres Religiosas (LCWR, por su sigla en inglés), que promueven el feminismo radical y posturas contrarias a la doctrina católica en Estados Unidos, podrían extinguirse si no cambian de actitud.

El dictador haitiano Jean-Claude Duvalier ha fallecido a la edad de 63 años en Puerto Príncipe de un ataque al corazón. Gobernó al país caribeño con mano dura desde 1971 hasta 1986, cuando fue derrocado por una revuelta popular. Antiguo estudiante de Medicina, heredó el poder de su padre, el dictador François Duvalier, a los 19 años, lo que le valió el sobrenombre de ‘Baby Doc’. Regresó por sorpresa a Haití en el 2011 después de 25 años de exilio en Francia. Estaba acusado de crímenes de lesa humanidad y desvío de fondos públicos entre 300 y 800 millones de dólares.


Primate calls for prayers as Canada joins Iraq mission

ENS Headlines - Monday, October 13, 2014

[Anglican Journal] As more Canadian troops prepare for deployment to Iraq to join the combat mission against the militant Sunni group known as the Islamic State (ISIS), Archbishop Fred Hiltz urged Anglicans to pray for the people of Syria and Iraq and for the members of the Canadian Armed Forces and their families.

“Once again we are at a moment in history when the world God loves is on high alert,” said the primate of the Anglican Church in Canada in a statement. “The world has witnessed horrific crimes against humanity and in the considered opinion of global leaders ISIS poses a very real threat to international security.”

The statement follows a vote in the Canadian parliament on Oct. 7 to join a U.S.-led coalition in airstrikes against ISIS. The vote, which passed 157-134, was not uncontroversial. Opposition leader Thomas Mulcair expressed concern that Canada was committing to a prolonged war with an insufficient plan, and suggested instead that Canada provide support to moderate forces already engaged in fighting ISIS and increase its humanitarian response.

The question of what to do in response to the violence of ISIS is a troubling one for many Canadians. Even as he recognized that there are many views within the Anglican Church of Canada as to the appropriateness of military actions such as this, Hiltz did not himself take a position. He instead emphasized a pastoral response, saying that “While I am deeply aware of the significant debates among people of faith with respect to ‘just war,’ it is not my intent at this moment to draw us into that but rather to call us to prayer.”

More than 5,500 people have been killed and 1.8 million others have been displaced since the ISIS attacks began in Iraq in June, according to a recent U.N. report.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has already thrown his support behind the United Kingdom’s participation in the coalition, but has also challenged his government to provide a more robust response that counters the underlying ideologies and social conditions that give rise to terrorism.

Hiltz closed his statement with a sobering call for Canadians to keep Syria and Iraq in mind over the Thanksgiving weekend. “Let us be mindful of all the blessings we enjoy, including religious freedom. Let us remember those who are denied this freedom and persecuted for their faith.”

Dioceses respond to marriage equality decision by U.S. Supreme Court

ENS Headlines - Friday, October 10, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians in many dioceses across the church have been considering how to respond to Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court action clearing the way for same-sex marriage to start in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The court let stand appeals court rulings in three U.S. federal court districts which had overturned bans on same-sex marriage in those states. While it was predicted that access to same-sex marriage could soon be extended to six other states in those circuits, the situation is far from settled, with confusion at even the highest level.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy mistakenly blocked the start of same-sex marriage in Nevada in an order that spawned confusion among state officials and disappointment in couples hoping to be wed, the Associated Press reported Oct. 10. Due to the confusion, AP reported that 30 states, “give or take a few,” currently allow same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile, the issue of how the Episcopal Church ought to respond to the changing legal map across the United States is due to be discussed at the 78th meeting of General Convention in July 2015.

The A050 Task Force on the Study of Marriage recently issued a report on its work to date, saying that it was finalizing its report to convention, including considering a response to its mandate to “address the pastoral need for priests to officiate at a civil marriage of a same-sex couple.”

The task force was formed in response to a call (via Resolution A050 (click on “current version”)) from the 77th General Convention in July 2012 for a group of “theologians, liturgists, pastors and educators to identify and explore biblical, theological, historical, liturgical and canonical dimensions of marriage.

That same meeting of convention authorized provisional use of a rite to bless same-sex relationships. Use of that rite, Liturgical Resources I: I Will Bless You and You Will Be A Blessing, is due to be reviewed by the General Convention in 2015.

Here is a state-by-state look at the diocesan responses thus far in the five jurisdictions immediately affected by the Supreme Court’s decision:


In the Diocese of Indianapolis Bishop Catherine Waynick wrote to clergy on Oct. 10 saying that her previous policy of allowing priests to bless same-sex relationships would now apply in those Indiana counties that are granting marriage licenses to such couples.

She also encouraged any diocesan parish that has not yet provided a study of the issue for its members to arrange to do so during the coming year. “Whether or not there are any same gender couples in the congregation, whether or not a priest feels able to preside, same gender marriage is now a legal reality, and the Church as a whole can benefit from reflection on the meaning of marriage, how the provisional rite meets the needs of same gender couples (or not) and what is at stake when decisions about same gender celebrations are made,” she said.

Her letter to clergy is posted on the front page of the diocesan website.

Since September 2012, Waynick has allowed the blessing of same-sex relationships on a case-by-case basis, as have her predecessors over the last 20 years. She approved diocesan use of the General Convention provisional rite in 2012. Waynick also laid out conditions for its optional use in the diocese.

Information about Indianapolis’ approach to same-sex blessings is here.

When the federal appeals court overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, Diocese of Northern Indiana Bishop Edward Little asked clergy in that diocese to decline any requests they received to solemnize such marriages because the Book of Common Prayer defines marriage as the union of husband and wife and because “our liturgical and constitutional understanding of marriage remains unchanged,” he told Episcopal News Service via e-mail.

“The policy articulated in that letter remains in place,” he said.


When the Diocese of Oklahoma went through a discernment process in 2012 and 2013 that resulted in Bishop Edward J. Konieczny authorizing use of the General Convention provisional rite in that diocese, it was agreed that if and when the law changed in Oklahoma with regard to marriage, the diocese “would once again be deliberate in our discernment of how to move forward,” Konieczny told ENS via e-mail. He reported that that conversation began Oct. 7 during the diocese’s annual clergy conference.

Information about Oklahoma’s approach is here.


Same-sex blessings have been allowed in the Diocese of Utah since Advent 2012. Details of that policy are here.

Bishop Scott Hayashi told diocesan clergy after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that he would soon issue a new policy allowing priests to solemnize same-sex marriages. In an e-mail advance of issuing that policy, Hayashi asked priests to amend the church’s provisional rite to declare couples united “in marriage according to the laws of the State of Utah.”

Meanwhile he told clergy that “because we live in a web of relationships it is very important that we proceed forward with care for all people regardless of their opinion in this matter.”

“Remember also that The Episcopal Church has not yet decided on the matter of same-sex marriage,” he added. “That will most likely happen at the 78th General Convention here in Utah. Until then, we have been given the option of the ‘generous pastoral response’.”

And, in a statement on the diocesan website, the bishop acknowledged that not all would be happy with the court’s decision. Hayashi attended the Mormon Church’s General Conference the weekend before the court’s decision and he reported that Dallin H. Oaks, one of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, told the assembly that the church may come out on the losing side of the same-sex marriage debate. He advised church members to “accept unfavorable results graciously, and practice civility with our adversaries.”

Hayashi said he plans to exercise Oaks’ advice and will “practice not only civility but also compassion.”


Shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling, Bishop Shannon Johnston issued guidelines saying priests in the diocese may officiate at the civil marriage of a same sex couple as a “generous pastoral response” to lesbian and gay couples seeking to be married, and may bless their civil marriage.

Johnston said priests should use the General Convention rite and, at the pronouncement, should add the words “according to the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia” where appropriate.

He expressly said that the Book of Common Prayer’s Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage rite may not be used because the church has not yet changed its canonical definition of marriage of that between a man and a woman.

Diocese of Southwestern Virginia Bishop Mark A. Bourlakas told Episcopal News Service Oct. 10 in a telephone interview that “it’s a priority for me that our three dioceses are on the same page [on policies towards same-sex marriage] and therefore our policy will look almost identical in every substantive way” as Virginia’s.

The policy has not yet been formally adopted but Bourlakas said he thinks Virginia has taken a “measured approach and not inconsistent with where we’ve already been” on the issue.

For Bourlakas the wider c0ncern prompted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision is that the Episcopal Church is still talking about how to respond and that the conversation must continue within the church.

“My hope is that parishes and clergy will have conversations about their common life and seek understanding; that is what I want to promote in this diocese,” he said. “One of my really strong messages, coming out of our Baptismal Covenant to respect the dignity of every human being, is that we begin by listening and trying to seek understanding, and we don’t begin with our prejudices. And that can lead us in a variety of directions but oftentimes I think in these discussions we start with people already in their corners.”

Clergy in the diocese have been able to bless same-sex couples, using the convention provisional rite, since  Bourlakas’ consecration in July 2013.

His policy on same-sex blessings is here.

In the Diocese of Southern Virginia, Bishop Herman Hollerith is on sabbatical until November and was not available to comment on the impact of the court’s decision on policies in that diocese. However, Bourlakas said Oct. 10 that Hollerith told him that day that Southern Virginia’s policy will be similar to those of Virginia and Southwestern Virginia for consistency’s sake as the Episcopal Church continues its conversation about same-sex marriage as it approaches the 2015 meeting of General Convention.

Hollerith authorized the use of the General Convention blessing rite as of January 2013. The details of that policy and related resources are here.


Diocese of Milwaukee Bishop Steven Miller told his clergy on Oct. 8 that the Episcopal Church is “still involved in a discussion relative to the theology of marriage” and that the Supreme Court’s decision did not change either the church’s canons or rubrics on marriage. The provisional rite approved by the General Convention in 2012 is not a marriage liturgy, he noted, “therefore it is inappropriate for clergy of this Church to act as agents of the State and sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples.”

Miller had announced in late August that he would allow clergy to bless same-sex couples who had been married civilly. Priests must use a modified rite that Miller has authorized. His response came after the diocesan Standing Committee sent him a report recommending that he allow clergy the option to bless same-sex relationships.

The bishop, who signed an amicus brief that supported overturning Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriage, objected to the convention’s rite because he said it creates a “second class of citizens in the church” who cannot marry, creates injustice for those who “would suffer dire economic consequences” if they married, obscures the church’s teaching that the place for sexual intimacy is marriage and assumes that previous convention action has all been on one side of the issue.

Miller’s policy on same-sex blessings is here.

Diocese of Eau Claire Bishop William Lambert and Diocese of Fond du Lac Bishop Matt Gunter did not respond to ENS’ request for information about their positions.

Same-sex blessings have not been officially allowed in Fond du Lac. As a nominee for bishop, Gunter said in reply to a question from the bishop search committee earlier this year that the church “must decide for itself what is faithful” regardless of the law in the state but that if same-sex marriage did become legal in Wisconsin, “there will be new urgency for the diocese to deal with its divisions” on the issue.

To meet that urgency, he said, “I would lead the diocese through open conversation along with biblical and theological reflection on the issue itself.”

“And then, assuming division remains, what does it look like to live together in spite of those divisions and what decisions can be made by the diocese such that its faith and discipline are clear even while acknowledging a faithful ‘minority report’?

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

Integrity elects new president

ENS Headlines - Friday, October 10, 2014

[Integrity USA press release] Integrity USA is pleased to announce the special election of Matt Haines as President of the Board of Directors.

Haines will guide Integrity as it celebrates its 40th anniversary year, leading into the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church to be held in Salt Lake City, Utah June 25-July 3, 2015. Prior to this position, he held the title of Vice President of Local Affairs for Integrity USA.

For the first time in several years, Integrity has elected a non-ordained individual to lead the board. His service to Integrity and the LGBTQ community has been extensive: he has also served as the Provincial Coordinator for Province VIII, Portland Diocesan Organizer, Lead Facilitator and Ex-Officio Board member of Rainbow Youth of Salem Oregon, and much work at the diocesan and parish level.

The election featured Haines and the Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Kaeton, both of whom recognized the desire to celebrate Integrity’s successes of that past 40 years with the needs and mission of the coming 40 years. Haines specifically spoke of renewal and the inclusion of all members of the LGBTQ community, in addition to the issues of marriage equality, and the involvement at all levels of the Episcopal Church.

Haines will serve out a vacancy created by the departure of Rev Dr. Caro Hall, and will retain his position through October 1, 2015. He has released a statement “Renewal in Grace and Communion” at the “Walking With Integrity” blog. You may find it at this link.

Integrity is a member-supported nonprofit organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender [LGBT] Episcopalians and straight friends. Since its founding by Dr. Louie Crew in 1974, Integrity has been the leading grassroots voice for the full inclusion of LGBT persons in the Episcopal Church and equal access to its rites. Integrity activities include advocacy, worship, fellowship, education, communication, outreach, and service to the church. Through Integrity’s evangelism, thousands of LGBT people, estranged from the Episcopal Church and other denominations, have returned to parish life.

Votes are in: 2014 Episcopal Church Christmas card contest winner

ENS Headlines - Friday, October 10, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Joan Covell’s depiction of the nativity scene was the top vote-getter in the 2014 Episcopal Church Christmas card contest.

A total of 11531 votes were cast in this first-time contest. Forty-eight artists submitted 70 entries expressing a local understanding of God’s incarnation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

Covell, a professional artist, resides in Flat Rock, NC, where she and her husband attend St. John In The Wilderness Episcopal Church, Diocese of Western North Carolina. Her works have been exhibited extensively in studios and showings, and she recently illustrated a children’s book.

“The Baby Jesus is intentionally at the most important place in the composition,” Covell noted. “All the lines of perspective lead to the Christ Child.”

Her image, she explained, included the variety of plants that would have existed in that time – cypress, pomegranate, olives, figs and date palms.

Learn more about Covell here.

The printable PDF of the card will be available shortly.

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

Ministry serves farmworkers through sacraments, outreach

ENS Headlines - Friday, October 10, 2014

Farmworkers wear long pants, sleeves and gloves to work in the fields partly to protect themselves from pesticide exposure. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

[Episcopal News Service – Newton Grove, North Carolina] On a rainy, humid mid-September morning five hours before the Sunday noon Eucharist at Sacred Family, the Rev. Tony Rojas got behind the wheel of a white van and began making the rounds to pick up men from the farmworker camps set back on highways and county roads among the single- and double-wide trailers and more stately brick homes of rural North Carolina.

He picked up men like Abraham Cruz, 47, of Tlaxcala state in east-central Mexico, who for the last seven years has traveled to the United States on a temporary agricultural worker visa to work eight- to 12-hour days in the fields planting and harvesting cucumbers, watermelons, tobacco and sweet potatoes. Cruz’s earnings go to support his family in Mexico, whom he sees two to three months a year.

Over the past 18 years, Rojas has built up the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry, a joint ministry of the dioceses of North and East Carolina, with a 16-acre campus on Easy Street in Newton Grove. The ministry serves farmworkers in 47 camps scattered across Sampson, Harnett and Johnston counties.

The men arrive by van or decommissioned school buses early for the ministry’s free ESL classes, haircuts, immigration services and tax and legal advising, and to play soccer. Farmworkers, who spend six days laboring in the fields wearing long sleeves and pants to protect themselves from pesticide exposure, on Sundays change into shorts, jerseys and cleats, practicing for an annual daylong soccer tournament organized by the ministry.

Farmworkers typically range in age from 18 or 19 to more than 50 years old. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

The ministry began in 1982 when a single outreach worker identified a need and from her car began distributing clothing and personal care items to farmworkers, then mostly Haitian migrants. Today, with its sacramental ministry that includes three mission congregations and its 20-plus outreach programs, the ministry reaches 3,500 farmworkers directly and impacts the lives of thousands more.

There are some 150,000 farmworkers, the majority of them from Mexico, working in North Carolina’s fields; some documented, some undocumented. The ministry serves them all.

Providing sacraments and outreach to farmworkers, regardless of their immigration status, is rooted in the Baptismal Covenant’s call to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.”

By focusing on the sacraments and social outreach, the ministry remains “bipartisan,” said North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry during an interview with ENS in his office in Raleigh, the state’s capital. “That’s the work of Jesus that can be done by Republicans and Democrats.”

Curry has publicly called for immigration reform that would reunite families, but the church’s official advocacy for farmworker justice or immigration reform on the state level is coordinated through the North Carolina Council of Churches, of which the dioceses of North, East and Western North Carolina all are members.

Farmworkers head to the fields early in the morning picking sweet potatoes by the bucket load to fill trucks like these. Photo: Christine McTaggart/Diocese of North Carolina

Agriculture has a rich legacy in North Carolina which today ranks fifth nationally with 8.4 million acres under cultivation and more than 50,000 farms producing $11.7 billion annually in agricultural commodities. Though corn, soybeans and cotton are machine-harvested crops, 85 percent of fruits and vegetables – beans, melons, sweet potatoes, tobacco, strawberries –are picked by hand.

When members of the North Carolina Growers Association can demonstrate the local labor force is insufficient to meet the production needs of the farms, they can fill the gap through the U.S. Department of Labor’s H-2A temporary agricultural worker program. North Carolina has close to 7,000 H-2A agricultural workers, and ranks high among agricultural states using the program. (The visa program provides legal entry to work, but critics see it as a means to keep farm wages low.)

Growers can ask for anywhere between 20 and 200 farmworkers, Rojas said.

In 2000, Latinos made up 50 percent of the state’s farmworkers; today that percentage is 95, said Jennie Wilburn, a program associate with the Raleigh-based North Carolina Council of Churches.

The North Carolina Council of Churches, its history advocating for the rights of farmworkers going back decades, runs public awareness campaigns in English and Spanish and uses a Bible-based curriculum to involve the churches, said Wilburn.

Still, she said, “The political climate for vulnerable groups isn’t great.”

Wilburn said, “One thing that’s gotten a lot of attention recently is the Human Rights Watch report on tobacco.”

Farmworkers live in trailers like this set back off rural, county roads. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

The 138-page report released in May documents the hazardous conditions and nicotine poisoning faced by children working in the top four tobacco producing states, including North Carolina.

Alice Freeman, who serves on the farmworker ministry’s board, knows what it’s like to work on a tobacco farm.

“I am the daughter of sharecroppers … my dad had five girls, his brother had five girls, they always farmed together, no boys,” she said. “When you grow up on a farm, a tobacco farm with cotton, tobacco, soybeans, corn, you do the work yourselves. We didn’t have brothers to do the work, we didn’t have so much money to hire other workers, we did the work in the fields; I know what it’s like to be in the fields.”

The farmworker ministry addresses a need, seeks to treat people as humans, to be compassionate. “When you are a long way from home, a friendly face, a helping hand goes a along way,” said Freeman.

(Click here for a video of Alice Freeman talking about the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry and its programs.)

In addition to working long hours under the hot sun, migrant and seasonal farmworkers often live in substandard housing sleeping on filthy mattresses or the floor; there might be a shared toilet, or an outhouse, a single shower for bathing and a washtub for laundry.

The Rev. Tony Rojas, or “Father Tony,” came to the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry 18 years ago. Rojas himself comes from the Roman Catholic tradition.  Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

During his first three years of ministry to farmworkers and witnessing the living conditions, Rojas said he had trouble sleeping. He’d visit camps at 2 a.m. and all the lights would be on and the farmworkers would be preparing their lunches, which sometimes they’d crouch under the bus to eat to get out of the mid-day sun. He’s seen farmworkers suffering nicotine poisoning through their exposed skin rolling on the ground in agony.

Even after 18 years of working with farmworkers, Rojas still doesn’t understand how they do it, he said. Like the growers, who face the challenges of farming and often carry heavy loan burdens, farm work is a vocation. The farmworkers and the growers provide human beings with the food necessary to sustain the miracle that is life. “Without food we cannot survive, cannot keep the life,” he said.

In 1960, before Cesar Chavez founded the National Farmworkers Association bringing attention to the plight of farmworkers, broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow, a native North Carolinian, co-produced an hour-long documentary “Harvest of Shame,” which examined the lives of migrant farmworkers and the poverty that marked their lives.

Murrow’s film depicts the lives of primarily white and African-American farmworkers; today’s farmworkers come mostly from Mexico and Central America. Otherwise, the lives of migrant farmworkers have changed little, according to a follow-up, 30-minute documentary, “Harvest of Dignity,” produced in 2011 in association with the Durham-based Student Action with Farmworkers.

Farmworkers with temporary worker status, or the seasonal workers, are guaranteed certain employee rights, their travel to and from the United States paid for, housing and food provided, and they live on the farm to which they are assigned. Seasonal workers rely on the growers to bring them back to work year after year, and can sit idle while waiting for crops to come in; undocumented workers tend to be migratory and follow their crew leaders to where the work is.

A report released in 2011 studying migrant farmworkers’ housing conditions in North Carolina conducted by the National Institutes of Health found housing standards inadequately enforced and farmworkers living in substandard conditions, with undocumented workers living in worse conditions than temporary workers.

Over the years Rojas said he’s seen some camps’ living conditions improve. And through grassroots efforts, like those of the North Carolina Council of Churches, Student Action with Farmworkers and the Farmworker Advocacy Network, more and more people in urban areas, like Raleigh, Durham and Research Triangle Park are becoming aware of the farmworkers living within 50 miles of them.

For instance, “Harvest of Dignity,” said Wilburn, led the North Carolina Department of Labor, which inspects migrant and seasonal farmworker housing, to require camps to have one toilet per every 10 and one washtub per every 30 residents.

(Jon Showalter and his family, members of Church of the Nativity in Raleigh, North Carolina, have for a decade driven the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle some 40 miles to the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry in Newton Grove, the first Saturday of every month. “It has been a blessing for our family to be involved in this ministry,” Showalter said. Click here for video of the food shuttle.)

Changing demographics

“Strong roots, new growth,” reads a sign at the entrance to Harnett County, where on one side of Highway 55 is the campus of Stoney Run Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church and on the other is Iglesia de Dios Cristo Redentor, or Christ the Redeemer Church of God.

For the Episcopal Church, said Rojas, to have a presence in this part of the state is itself an anomaly, and building it up among the Latino population, with its Catholic roots, wasn’t easy.

“Latinos by culture and tradition come from the Roman Catholic Church, that’s the one true church,” he said. For them, a different church “means the devil is coming.

Now, however, at peak harvest, the Sacred Family mission, which meets on a concrete slab under a metal roof on the ministry’s property, is one of the largest Episcopal congregation in North Carolina, serving migrant farmworkers, families and immigrants who’ve made the state home.

Soccer has always played a strong role in Rojas’s ministry. Here on a Sunday morning farmworkers practice for an upcoming annual tournament before the Eucharist. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

At 78, Rojas, a former Roman Catholic priest-cum professional soccer player in his native Colombia, maintains a youthful appearance. And when he first began his ministry in the camps, it was the soccer ball that gave him entrance, not the Bible.

“That was how I built a natural relationship with the farmworkers,” he said. After he’d gained their trust, he said, they began asking for blessings and the sacraments.

It took seven years, working for three of those years with the same 18 people.

Today, however, Rojas said, it’s understood that all are welcome and the message is simple: “Christ is our lord and savior … and to live a Christian life: love God, love self and love the other.”

It touches Father Tony to administer the Eucharist to men, like Abraham Cruz, here,  with calloused hands, because in Latino culture, women are more likely to present themselves for the Eucharist, he said. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

After making inroads into the Latino community and building up the farmworker ministry, for a time serving as both the sacramental minister and the ministry’s executive director, Rojas’ next priority is to fortify Sacred Family, which is housed on the ministry’s administrative campus in Newton Grove, and the two other congregations he serves, St. Joseph’s in Smithfield and St. Francis in Goldsboro.

After noon Eucharist, Rojas drives some of the farmworkers back to the camps, and then drives some 25 miles to Goldsboro for a 4 p.m. Eucharist. (Click here for a video of Rojas reflecting on his ministry.)

Since the year 2000, North Carolina’s Hispanic population has increased by 111 percent, according to a report by the Center for American Progress, a Washington, D.C.-based bipartisan, independent educational institute.

In rural schools, like Hobbton Middle School, where 12-year-old Idalia Rubio-Trejo is a sixth grader, the student body is almost half Latino, Rubio-Trejo said.

Idalia’s father is a farmworker and her mother is a homemaker. Idalia, who is fully bilingual, has three brothers and two sisters; the family has been in North Carolina for 16 years and attends services at Sacred Family on Sundays.

In addition to Rojas, the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry is staffed by Silvia Cendejas, assistant director; and Maria Acosta, an immigration specialist who annually assists some 3,000 immigrants navigate paperwork, work visa renewals and petitions for family reunification.

One need Cendejas and Acosta have identified that is not being met is to provide assistance to women in domestic violence situations. The women are confronted with three or four cases weekly, they said.

An individual farmworker on average must pick two tons, 4,000 pounds, of sweet potatoes to earn $50. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

The population increase and the fact that more often farmworkers and their families are choosing to remain in North Carolina year-round has put increased demands on the ministry, said Patti Trainor, the Diocese of North Carolina’s development coordinator for the farmworker ministry.

Longtime volunteer Rolffs Pinkerton, a retired psychologist and member of Church of the Holy Family in Chapel Hill, who 10 years ago began volunteering as a translator, framed it this way: “We’re asked to serve the neediest of the neediest,” said Pinkerton, a North Carolinian who grew up in Venezuela. “And this is probably as close as you can come in North Carolina; I don’t know of a population more in need.”

To meet the demands of a growing Latino population and to continue to serve farmworkers, in 2013 the Diocese of North Carolina initiated the Harvest for Hospitality campaign aimed at raising $400,000 – double the ministry’s annual budget – by June 2015.

Robert E. Wright, who co-chairs the campaign, said Harvest for Hospitality is an investment: “They [immigrants] are a part of our community, and us, a part of theirs.

“It’s a holistic ministry, body, soul and spirit; it’s really seeing people as people, as fellow human beings. It’s empowering, not paternalistic.”

Harvest for Hospitality also aims to bring the farmworker ministry into the 21st century, said the Rev. Lisa Fischbeck, who co-chairs the campaign with Wright and serves as vicar of Church of the Advocate in Chapel Hill.

A successful campaign will not only to provide the ministry with the financial resources necessary for transformation – the hiring of a new executive director and a person to serve as a liaison between the growers and the farmworkers – but also engage young people, both as participants in the ministry and financial supporters.

Already, young people are active in the ministry’s visitation program. In June, for example, the youth group at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Southern Pines helped out at a nearby Head Start program for children of migrants, did yard work, and with Rojas, visited the camps distributing clothing and personal care items to farmworkers.

The participants, said Paul Collins, the youth minister at Emmanuel, took their experiences and their stories about farmworkers home with them and shared them; they’ll continue to engage in the work and educate themselves about issues affecting farmworkers. After all, he said, they are the future voters.

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

Texas church helps preserve rare prairie

ENS Headlines - Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Rev. Peter Conaty blesses the Nash Prairie at a special service with church members and The Nature Conservancy. Photo: Diocese of Texas

[Episcopal News Service] St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in West Columbia, Texas, sits in the midst of a once majestic coastal prairie that stretched from Louisiana, across the rolling grasslands of the Gulf Coast, and nearly to Mexico at the Rio Grande.

Less than 1 percent of this extensive tall-grass Eden remains and only a tiny fraction of that is as pristine as when humans first set foot on the vast landscape. Today, 400 acres of it are being preserved for posterity through the joint efforts of St. Mary’s and The Nature Conservancy, the international land preservation organization.

This piece of ecologically rare land – called the Nash Prairie – is considered the largest remnant of the original prairie on the upper Texas coast. Except for the occasional cutting of hay for livestock, it has never encountered the cut of a plow. Plus, “it is one of the most diverse prairies left in Texas,” said Dan Snodgrass, associate director of land conservation for The Nature Conservancy in Texas.

Scientists have identified more than 300 species of plants – some rare and one even thought extinct in Texas – and over 120 species of birds on this biological treasure box.

St. Mary’s rector, the Rev. Peter Conaty, his wife Susan and the church’s parishioners are in large measure responsible for ensuring that this priceless prairie will never be covered up by a subdivision spilling over from Houston, 60 miles northeast.

A Texas A&M University botanist explains the plant life on the Nash Prairie on a guided tour. Photo: Diocese of Texas

The Nash Prairie was carved out of the 12,000-acre KNG Ranch, a sprawling spread named after the owners’ daughter, Kittie Nash Groce. A Houston socialite and Episcopalian, she took over management of the ranch after her father died in 1930. A major contribution from her helped fund the construction of St. Mary’s Church and Parish Hall. At her death in 1957, her will left the ranch to St. Mary’s, the local hospital district and a series of heirs. The ranch completely reverted to the church and hospital district in 2006 when the last of the heirs passed away.

Conaty and his wife suspected the Nash Prairie portion of the ranch, some 20 miles from St. Mary’s, deserved special protection for its historical and biological significance. Scientists studied the land and confirmed their hunches. Following conversations with various preservation organizations, The Nature Conservancy eventually purchased the prairie from the beneficiaries in 2011.

Since the Conservancy’s staff members live more than an hour away, the Conatys, church members and other community volunteers keep an eye on the preserve and “spend a lot of time helping with the management,” Snodgrass said. This includes harvesting seeds from the plants that are used in other prairie restoration projects.

In 2004, even before the Conservancy acquired the prairie, the Bishop Quin Foundation of the Diocese of Texas granted $300 to St. Mary’s to create a Prairie Prayer Garden on the church’s campus and planting it with seeds and grasses from Nash. The garden brings the prairie into town as a community educational tool, serves as an outdoor worship space and provides a prayerful spot for people when the church is locked or “they really don’t feel comfortable in a church,” Conaty said.

Preserving the prairie ties in with the Episcopal Church’s mission of protecting the environment, Conaty said. “God created the earth and we should honor God for this earthly creation,” he said.

St. Mary’s work on the prairie also addresses the Episcopal Church’s endorsement of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal of ensuring environmental sustainability. “St. Mary’s is fulfilling one of those goals since we are blessed with the coastal prairie in our back yard,” he said.

He also believes in what theologians call a “thin place” where heaven and earth meet. “To me, the Nash Prairie is that place,” he said.

With the funds it has received from the KNG Ranch, St. Mary’s has worked to encourage environmental awareness among school children by sending 5th graders from West Columbia Elementary School to the Discovery Program, an environmental and leadership program.

St. Mary’s is not finished with preserving the KNG Ranch property, Conaty said. “Preserving the Nash Prairie was just the first step,” he said. Eventually, the church would like to preserve a section of the ranch that encompasses a stretch along the Brazos River that is a major flyway for migrating birds.

– Mike Patterson is a San Antonio-based freelance writer and member of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Blanco, Texas.

Misioneros del YASC comparten sus experiencias de servir en el extranjero

ENS Headlines - Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dieciséis misioneros del Cuerpo de Servicio de Jóvenes Adultos pasaron del 2 al 4 de octubre en Nueva York para la reunión de reingreso anual de este programa de la Iglesia Episcopal. Foto de David Copley.

[Episcopal News Service] Servir en el extranjero como misionero del Cuerpo de Servicio de Jóvenes Adultos (YASC) es más que un trabajo, es un viaje de descubrimiento de uno mismo, de la fe y de la Comunión Anglicana.

“El YASC ofrece una experiencia de apoyo realmente provechosa a personas que quieren ver o experimentar otra parte del mundo u otra parte de la Iglesia”, dijo Becky Gleason, de 26 años, que prestó servicios en Tela, Honduras, enseñando inglés a estudiantes y maestros en la escuela episcopal del Espíritu Santo y dirigiendo los oficios de la capilla de la escuela secundaria.

A diferencia de otros programas internacionales que les ofrecen a los jóvenes la oportunidad de servir en puestos voluntarios en el extranjero, el Cuerpo de Servicio de Jóvenes Adultos de la Iglesia Episcopal, al que comúnmente se le menciona como YASC (sigla en inglés), brinda un apoyo familiar de que otros programas carecen: la Iglesia.

“El YASC ofrece una oportunidad de experimentar parte del mundo con respaldo, y un cierto nivel de familiaridad debido a la Iglesia”, dijo Elizabeth Boe, la encargada de interconexiones globales. “El programa se basa en relaciones y asociaciones alrededor del mundo”.

Dieciséis misioneros del Cuerpo de Servicio de Jóvenes Adultos pasaron del 2 al 4 de octubre, en el Centro Denominacional de la Iglesia Episcopal en Nueva York, asistiendo a una reunión de “reingreso” que tiene por objeto juntar a los jóvenes adultos luego de concluido su servicio en el exterior para compartir sus experiencias, sus triunfos y los retos a los que se enfrentaron.

“El momento en que uno los ve regresar es el más gratificante”, dijo David Copley, el líder del equipo para asociaciones globales de la Iglesia Episcopal. “Uno ve cómo se han desarrollado y cómo han sobrevivido los problemas”.

El YASC está abierto a jóvenes adultos con edades entre 21 y 30 años a los que se les brinda la oportunidad de servir de misioneros, inicialmente por un año, explorar nuevas formas de vida, mientras prestan servicios a través de la Comunión Anglicana. En la actualidad hay 17 misioneros del YASC —seis de los cuales en su segundo año— provenientes de 18 diócesis que trabajan en iglesias anglicanas de 15 países, desde el Uruguay hasta las Filipinas, pasando por España y Sudáfrica.

El proceso de solicitud del YASC 2015 comenzará pronto, con la meta de reclutar 30 misioneros entre los jóvenes adultos, afirmó Copley.

Todo lo que requiere, agregó él, es una solicitud y la asistencia a un fin de semana de discernimiento.

(Haga un clic aquí para tener acceso a una reflexión para el fin de semana de discernimiento, de Ashley Cameron, que pasó un año en las Filipinas sirviendo en la Diócesis de Santiago).

Carlin Van Schaik, de 23 años, de la iglesia episcopal de San Cristóbal [St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church] en Lubbock, Texas, de la Diócesis de Texas Noroccidental, decidió, cuando tenía 15 años, que quería servir como misionera del YASC.

Su decisión, explicó, estuvo de algún modo influida por [el pasaje de] Mateo 19:21, el relato del joven rico a quien Jesús le dijo que vendiera todo lo que tenía; una lección que Van Schaik ha aplicado a su propia vida. “Yo quería seguir ese llamado”, dijo.

El YASC también atraía a Van Schaik porque, según dijo, “estaba interesada en la idea de la ‘Iglesia mundial’ y lo que significa para una Iglesia estar en asociación con otra Iglesia”.

Van Schaik prestó servicios en la Iglesia Anglicana de Corea en la Diócesis de Seúl, donde trabajó para un programa urbano de cuidado de ancianos y para un programa rural de actividades extraescolares.

El idioma, contó ella, constituía un reto, pero aprendió que el cristianismo trasciende la cultura; y ella llegó a creer en la sinceridad de la expresión. Durante ese año en Corea del Sur, Van Schaik dependió de un diccionario para comunicarse. Eso y la sinceridad pueden llevarte lejos, afirmó.

Van Schaik es una de los seis miembros del YASC que regresan al campo misionero por otro año, esta vez a la Diócesis de Luzón del Norte en la Iglesia Episcopal de las Filipinas.

Otro de los [misioneros] del YASC que regresa al servicio es Alan Yarborough, de la iglesia episcopal de La Trinidad [Trinity Episcopal Church] en Ashville, Carolina del Norte, en la Diócesis de Carolina del Norte Occidental, quien estará un segundo año en la iglesia del Buen Salvador en Cange, un pueblo pequeño de la planicie central del país.

A Yarborough le asignaron un trabajo en proyectos de desarrollo económico, dijo, pero realiza gran parte de su trabajo sirviendo como intérprete del creole al inglés y viceversa.

Durante el año pasado en el servicio, Yarborough ha aprendido “a depender más de otros y de mí mismo; he crecido en confianza y en comunicación”.

La interpretación, explicó él, es más que una traducción idiomática. “Es ser capaz de interpretar la cultura, el contexto histórico y el temperamento”.

Sin embargo, una cosa que, según él, le ha resultado difícil de sobrellevar es la falta de privacidad y el ser reconocido dondequiera que va. No obstante, le gusta vivir en Haití y su deseo de volver surge de las relaciones que estableció con haitianos y con asociados estadounidenses, así como de la percepción de que su labor no ha concluido aún.

Después del año de servicio en Honduras, Gleason regresó al sur de California, donde está trabajando para la Diócesis de San Diego, atendiendo el ministerio latino/hispano de la misma. También presta servicios en la iglesia de San Miguel del Mar [St. Michael’s By-the-Sea] en Carlsbad, California, donde se ocupa del ministerio de los niños.

“Siento como si esto fuera lo que Dios me llama a conocer”, dijo. “Siempre me mantengo en oración para ver adónde Dios me conduce”.

(ENS ha producido una serie de perfiles en vídeo sobre los misioneros del YASC que sirven en distintos lugares, entre ellos Roma, Italia; Sudáfrica y en los archivos de la Iglesia Anglicana de Hong Kong; en una misión para servir a trabajadores migrantes y en otra para servir a marinos. La página web de la Iglesia Episcopal incluye vídeos sobre cómo servir como un misionero del YASC así como reflexiones de los misioneros del YASC.

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

Province IX bishops study self-sustainability in the Philippines

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Bishops from Province IX spent Sept. 24-28 in the Philippines studying the church’s journey to financial self-sustainability in the local context. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

[Episcopal News Service – Manila, Philippines] In sewing workshops, homes and sheds on either side of the road reaching to the top of a hill where Holy Faith Episcopal Church sits in Igorot Village, men weave hats, scarves and sweaters and women sew labels on finished goods. It’s a cottage industry started by six women who sell knitwear to wholesalers; it keeps the village humming.

The village was founded in the 1950s on 1.5 hectares of land that was once part of a cattle ranch by Igorots, or “mountain people,” from Luzon, the largest, northernmost island province of the Philippines where Anglican missionaries established a presence in the late 19th century. Located on the outskirts of Manila, the village of former bamboo and grass huts, now is home to more than 100 families living in concrete homes with metal roofs.

As the community developed, a preaching station became a mission congregation, an aided parish, and in 2010 called a full-time rector.

The Rev. Echanes A. Cadiogan poses with some of the co-op’s women. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

Yet in 2013, at a time when the parish already was 80 percent self-supporting, the congregation felt it couldn’t reach the goal of 100 percent by 2018. That’s where the Episcopal Church of the Philippines’ unique approach to Asset-based Community Development, an approach that includes congregational development, applied. In taking stock of the village’s assets leaders determined that wholesalers were selling on three months’ consignment meanwhile taking out private loans to maintain operations; and the church stepped in to address a need.

With an $11,000 loan from 22 communities in the Diocese of the Southern Philippines, Holy Faith began making loans to the wholesalers at 1.5 percent interest, less than half the 3 to 5 percentage rate charged by private lenders. In a win-win, the wholesalers invested a percentage of the savings into the church In February 2014, Holy Faith members requested full-fledged parish status.

Holy Faith is just one example in the Episcopal Church of the Philippines where community and congregational development have gone hand-in-hand, creating a situation where both thrive.

Holy Faith’s stone stonework is modeled after that in the north’s mountain province, where the Igorot people are from. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

When the church first began thinking about autonomy and financial self-sustainability it invested in programs and projects to raise money, but in the end, without the community development component, the investments were a “complete failure,” said Floyd Lalwet, the church’s provincial secretary, during a Sept. 24 gathering at the church’s national office in Quezon City. Over time the church began to see the communities and the congregations as one, things began to change.

The Episcopal Church in the Philippines’ journey toward financial self-sustainability serves as an example of covenant partnership, one that can be replicated in other contexts.

Earlier that day on Sept. 24 seven bishops and two spouses representing Province IX traveled to the Philippines with the purpose of affirming and strengthening the companionship between the Episcopal Church in the Philippines and the U.S.-based Episcopal Church, and to experience the work of the local church as related to its attainment of full-financial autonomy and, more specifically, the implementation of its Asset-Based Congregational/Community Development program and the application of its “from receivers to givers” policy.

Prior to traveling to the Philippines to study the church’s journey to financial self-sustainability in the local context, the bishops and spouses spent Sept. 17-23 in Taiwan attending the fall House of Bishops. meeting, where Prime Bishop Edward P. Malecdan spoke about the theological context and mission challenges in the Philippines.

Staying true to the House of Bishops’ meeting’s theme of “expanding the apostolic imagination,” bishops explored the mission and ministry of the Diocese of Taiwan; following the meeting other bishops and spouses traveled in groups to Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea to continue learning about mission and ministry of the Anglican Church.

The Province IX bishops visit to the Philippines was three years in the making.

Men weave hats, scarves and sweaters in workshops like these in Igorot Village. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

Clergy and lay leadership in the Episcopal Church’s seven Latin American dioceses, covering the Caribbean, Central and South America, first became acquainted with Episcopal Church of the Philippines’ story during a 2011 conference on self-sustainability in Tela, Honduras.

The Province IX dioceses – the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Central Ecuador, Ecuador Litoral, Colombia, Venezuela and Puerto Rico – adopted self-sustainability as a focus in a 2012 synod meeting.

Each of the Province IX dioceses are on their own path to financial self-sustainability, with the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Central Ecuador, with a recent $4 million land sale, closer than the others.

The comprehensive approach to financial sustainability in Province IX is driven by the needs of each individual diocese, and the approach has come from the diocese’s themselves, said Samuel McDonald, the Episcopal Church’s deputy chief operating officer and director of mission.

“Here’s where the rubber meets the road,” he said.

Executive Council in February 2014 adopted the Second Mark of Mission Province IX Sustainability Plan, which was the result the result of a July 2013 meeting of lay and ordained leaders of the province and church center staff.

Following the Tela conference, said Lalwet, the Province IX bishops began asking for specifics regarding the Philippines’ church’s capacity building projects and processes, specifically how cooperatives have aided congregations in becoming full-fledged parishes and the Episcopal Development Foundation of St. Mark’s, a lending institution which transformed the Diocese of Santiago in the northern Philippines.

There are some 43 registered cooperatives and about 65 un-registered co-ops, farmers associations and development organizations operating under the church’s church and community development model. The Episcopal Care Foundation, or ECARE as the development model is called, strives through partnerships to work with communities to leverage their assets and resources to move from subsistence to self-reliance, while emphasizing sharing, caring, witness and environmental stewardship.

The cooperative concept was something new to Diocese of Colombia Bishop Francisco Duque, who also serves as the Province IX president; it’s something, he said, he’ll look at implementing in his own diocese, one of the youngest in the Episcopal Church.

In Colombia, as in the Philippines and the other Province IX dioceses, many Episcopal churches are located in poor, marginalized communities in need of economic and social development.

More than 25 percent of the Philippines’ 100 million people live below the poverty line, a percentage similar to Ecuador and Venezuela, though their populations are a fraction of that of the Philippines’, according to World Bank statistics. Each of the other Province IX dioceses has a higher percentage of people, between 33 and 65, living below the poverty line.

“The economic and political reality is that our people live in poverty and that our churches are located in marginalized communities,” Lalwet said, adding that by focusing on improving the economic livelihood of people in the community the people are better able to support the church.

This approach, however, from the outset necessitates church and community consensus, he said. “It would also be an error to separate the community development program from church development.”

It also meant a change in mindset, congregations that historically had been recipients, needed to become the givers. “We were breaking the mindset that the church should support the congregations,” said Lalwet.

Historical background

The Episcopal Church established a missionary district in the Philippines in 1898; in 1965 the church became a missionary diocese and in 1990 the Episcopal Church of the Philippines became an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion. However, autonomy came before financial self-sustainability: in 1990 the Philippines’ church still relied on the U.S.-based Episcopal Church to finance 60 percent of its operating budget.

In 1992, the Joint Committee on the Philippine Covenant proposed a 15-year stepped reduction plan to gradually reduce every five years’ the Episcopal Church’s support from $800,000 to $533,333 to $267,667. In 2003, Philippine Church ran its highest-ever budget deficit of 6.5 million pesos ($120,000 at the time). And in 2004, the church decided to ask the Episcopal Church for a three-year extension before reversing course.

In 14 years of being autonomous all anyone ever talked about was the subsidy, said Lalwet, until finally someone proposed, “Why don’t we do away with it?”

So they did. And on January 1, 2005, “everyone predicted that the 6.5 million peso deficit would double,” he said, but it didn’t. Instead, for the first time ever, the church had a $55,000 budget surplus.

Lalwet often equates the 15-year period of the subsidy’s attenuation as an addict going through withdrawal. “There were times when people didn’t receive a salary for six months,” he said.

The covenant relationship between the U.S.-based Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church in the Philippines remained intact in 2005, but rather than use the subsidy for operating expenses the money was added to the church’s Centennial Endowment Fund, established in 2001.

To encourage the church’s then-six dioceses to contribute to the fund, the church changed the fund’s structure. Rather than position the endowment fund as a “national fund” with monies going to support the Episcopal Church of the Philippines, the church split the fund between the dioceses, used a grant and rental income to provide matching funds and loaned the money back to the dioceses for local investment, said Lalwet.

Additionally, Lalwet explained, rather than rely on the subsidy for its operating budget, the church looked to its existing assets and institutions for support; during the period from 2005-08, with the support of St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City, some of the province’s most beautiful churches were built.

Today there are more than 120,000 baptized Episcopalians worshipping in 400 churches across the Episcopal Church in the Philippines’ seven dioceses covering the archipelago in the Pacific Ocean

Development cooperatives

In the 1960s and ‘70s when the church first began to consider autonomy it started founding cooperatives, which during the period of martial law from 1972 to 1981 implemented by President Ferdinand Marcos, was dangerous.

“Co-ops were considered subversive,” said Lalwet, adding that the church, specifically in Diocese of Northern Luzon, where Bishop Richard Abellon, who would become the first-ever Filipino prime bishop. “The bishop became public enemy number one.”

Despite the harassment and threats directed at Abellon and others, the church continued to found cooperatives because the leadership believed it was the way forward.


A 40-minute flight north from Manila to Tuguegarao and another two to three hours by minibus along a two-lane highway deep in the country’s rice basket, where yellow corn for livestock feed and rice dry along the road’s narrow shoulder and on any unused pavement with access to direct sunlight, the bishops arrived in Santiago, where local investment has defined the Diocese of Santiago’s success.

Bishop Julio Cesar Holguin, Bishop Orlando Guerrero and Bishop Luis Ruiz pose with members of St. Peter’s co-op. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

The Diocese of Santiago, formerly a part of the Diocese of North Luzon, was founded in 2001, and at the time received 90 percent of its support from outside the diocese.

“This diocese was formed during the most difficult financial years of our church, when the Episcopal Church support was being reduced; when we were in withdrawal,” said Lalwet. “This diocese suffered because it was very dependent on the Episcopal Church of the Philippines.”

It wasn’t easy, explained Lalwet, as relationships, some of them longtime friendships, were strained as a result of the subsidy’s elimination.

Yet, in the end, the diocese started the Episcopal Development Foundation of St. Mark’s, the lending institution that has accumulated a $1.9 million loan portfolio in 10 years, and among other things has enabled farmers to acquire 30 hectares of land. But it is also the biggest source of support for the Diocese of Santiago, contributing $56,000 a year.

In addition to visiting the diocesan office, where they learned about the Foundation of St. Mark’s and shared a meal with clergy and lay leaders from both the North Luzon and Santiago dioceses, the bishops visited two cooperatives, each in very different stages of development.

The first was Del Pilar in Alicia, where the majority of the community’s 3,000 inhabitants are farmers working from a few to a dozen acres of land, mostly by hand and using water buffalos. The church in 2002 established St. Peter’s Savings and Credit Co-op with 15 members, which has since grown to 39. The co-op allows the farmers to negotiate better prices for seed, to rent a drying pavement (access to space for drying rice and corn is scarce), and has constructed a warehouse where grains can be stored and sold as commodity prices dictate. the co-op also has a nine hectare rice farm.

St. Peter’s was modeled after the second cooperative, Holy Spirit Mission and Multi-Purpose Cooperative, which was begun in 1995 and is further along, explained the Rev. Ralph Dampo, who serves as the parish’s director and manager of the cooperative.

Dampo, who was trained in both theology and business management with support from the church, began the mission with the simultaneous goal of improving the lives and economic livelihoods of the farmers in the community and the life of the mission station.

After first conducting a rural assessment: a survey of the land, number of households, linguistics, access to social and educative services, the cooperative started with 16 subsistence farmers, each of whom contributed one fifth of their annual income, about 1,000 pesos, or $22. “It was hard,” said Dampo.

Today, the co-op has more than 100 members, 10 regular employees, a warehouse, drying pavement, trucks. It contributes 10 percent of its income to the parish’s endowment and other funds, pays 70 percent of Dampo’s salary, while supporting the Holy Spirit’s children’s ministry, and has a feeding program, and a relief and rehabilitation ministry.

Holy Spirit Church was built in 2009. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

The first church building was constructed in 1997 and a modern building in 2009; Holy Spirit has 200 members, half of them members of the co-op, and an average Sunday attendance of 70, said Dampo.


From their base in Quezon City, the bishops then traveled south an hour and a half by airplane to Cotabato City where they met Diocese of the Southern Philippines Bishop Danilo Bustamante, visiting St. Francis Church and the Hillside Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Upi, in the province of Maguindanao in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, where at 30 percent of the population Christians are the minority.

The group also met with Upi Mayor Ramon A. Piang at his municipal office, where he told them that the local government supports church leaders, and has instituted civic panels, including religious and other civil society leaders, and coordinates with them on poverty reduction programs in the province where 98 percent of the people are farmers.

Seeing the cooperatives in action in the Philippines made Bishop of Venezuela Orlando Guerrero think about the 35 hectare coffee plantation his diocese owns in the country’s northeast, a plantation that isn’t producing to its full yield. Rather than work the plantation with local labor,Guerrero said, he’s considering forming a cooperative and giving local families parcels to work.

The Venezuelan government, he added, also works with religious organizations to empower communities, but that to date the Episcopal Church, unlike the Evangelical and Roman Catholic churches, has not taken advantage of that opportunity.

Hillside Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Upi has a rubber tree planation. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

The co-ops also got Diocese of Honduras Bishop Lloyd Allen thinking about how his diocese’s existing cooperative might be restructured to provide each of 10 deaneries in Honduras with more local authority.

The Southern Philippines program in Upi, like in the north, includes grain drying and storage facilities, but also a rubber tree plantation and nursery, the latter a partnership with the Diocese of Olympia in Seattle, Washington, that distributes seedlings to individual households.

Build the road as you walk it

“We are here as one church … we are here from Latin America to see with our own eyes,” said the Rev. Glenda McQueen, the Episcopal Church’s global partnership officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, during a sermon she preached at St. Francis Church in Upi, on the morning of Sunday, Sept. 28.

“To change direction is to say yes to life, to leave the past, the way things were done, and take the risk into the future.”

McQueen talked about how the Anglican and Episcopal churches planted the seed that today is the church in the Philippines, and how like the rubber trees, where grafting a branch from a mature tree onto a seedling makes the young tree stronger and more resistant to diseases, the Philippines’ sharing its journey toward financial self-sustainability gives strength to the Latin American churches who are on a similar path.

“We are that new tree, and you have given us the example of that new church that took the risk,” said McQueen, and she explained to those present that there’s a saying in Latin America Se hace el camino al andar or “build the road as you walk it”; it describes the journey the Province IX bishops and their dioceses now are on.

Moving forward with self-sustainability in Province IX, each diocese will need a person or a team to give oversight to the development process, McQueen said later in an interview with ENS.

Diocese of the Southern Philippines Bishop Danilo Bustamante and the Rev. Glenda McQueen, the Episcopal Church’s global partnership officer for Latin America and the Caribbean in Cotabato. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

Visiting the church in the Philippines provided the bishops with the principles that hold the process together — “you need to have that foundation,” she said.

It’s important, she added, the Latin American churches articulate their own vision for the future, and that they together look at what they have as a province.

Reflecting on the visit to the Philippines’ church, Dominican Republic Bishop Julio Cesar Holguin said he believed the clergy’s and laity’s entrepreneurial spirit in the face of losing the support of the Episcopal Church and that spirt allowed them to continue in their development.

“I believe that the Philippines’ model can serve as a great help and inspiration for all of the dioceses of Province IX, as in other parts of the Anglican Communion,” said Holguin.

“We are encouraged to throw ourselves into the goal of sustainability, and to carry out with more efficiency, the task of the Great Commission that our Lord Jesus Christ has charged us with.”

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

William Brosend to resign Episcopal Preaching Foundation post

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Rev. William F. Brosend II

[University of the South School of Theology press release] The Rev. William F. Brosend II has announced his decision to step down as executive director of the Episcopal Preaching Foundation (EFP), effective June 30, 2015.

Brosend, who has served as executive director since 2010, will continue as professor of homiletics at The School of Theology and director of the School’s Doctor of Ministry in Preaching program.

“I told the Board of Directors when I accepted their invitation that my goal was to grow the position into an important and interesting full time job. It happened, to be honest, more quickly than I expected.”

Founded by A. Gary Shilling, an investment manager and Episcopalian,  in 1988, the Episcopal Preaching Foundation has sponsored the annual Preaching Excellence Program, a week-long preaching intensive for rising senior Episcopal seminarians, for 27 years. Since Brosend moved from board member to executive director the work of the foundation has expanded significantly, holding annual national Episcopal Preaching Conferences since 2010 and providing programs for more than 20 diocesan clergy conferences.

This year, the foundation, with support from a grant from the Robertson Foundation, launched a new conference for the recently ordained, and has begun supporting peer groups for sermon preparation and evaluation. They have also put in place plans for a one-on-one mentoring program for preachers.

“Bill Brosend led the expansion of the EPF’s work from its original annual preaching conference for seminarians to diocesan conferences co-sponsored by bishops, national preaching conferences, and preaching conferences for Episcopal and Lutheran military chaplains,” Shilling commented. “He has achieved my long-held hope for the expansion of our efforts and the formation of career-long relationships with preachers.”

Brosend confirmed the need for a full time executive director, and it is his intention to remain involved in the work of the Episcopal Preaching Foundation. “We have taken significant strides in the last few years, but it is time for the foundation to identify new leadership to take us even further. If asked, I will do everything I can to support my successor in those steps.”

Commenting on Brosend’s decision, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said, he has “brought the Episcopal Preaching Foundation to new levels of effectiveness as it has reached out to established preachers as well as emerging ones. His creative initiatives have yielded a harvest so large that it now demands more hours and hands. I can only say, ‘well done, good and faithful servant!’ and at the same time offer deep thanks for his insightful, visionary, and productive leadership. Bill has helped The Episcopal Church respond to changing contexts and realities so that the Word might grow in new fields.”

Jefferts Schori continued, “I first encountered the Preaching Excellence Program as a seminarian invited to what was then the annual conference. It was a challenging, informative, and extremely helpful experience. Gary Shilling has had a bee in his bonnet for decades about improving the preaching quality in The Episcopal Church, and his efforts have yielded significant results. He knows that, like the bees he keeps, preachers spread the Word and help it become fruitful across the vineyard.”

The foundation hopes to have a new executive director in place in time for the next Preaching Excellence Program set for May 25-30, 2015 at the Roslyn Conference Center in the Diocese of Virginia.