[Episcopal News Service] En el intento de recaudar unos $300.000 de ingresos adicionales al año, la Catedral Nacional de Washington empezará a cobrar la entrada a partir del 1 de enero —con carácter experimental durante 6 meses— a los turistas que visiten el histórico edificio.
Aunque cobrar la entrada es una medida nueva, la catedral les ha cobrado antes a giras especializadas y de grupos, dijo Richard Weinberg, director de comunicaciones de la catedral, en una llamada a ENS el 26 de noviembre.
“El cambio que va a ser efectivo el 1 de enero es que se le cobrará la entrada a cualquiera que venga a hacer turismo, ya se trate de una visita autónoma o de un tour docente para ver lo más destacado”, dijo él.
A los visitantes adultos se les cobrará $10, y a las personas de la tercera edad, niños, estudiantes, veteranos y miembros de las Fuerzas Armadas se les cobrará $6, dijo David J. Kautter, presidente del Cabildo de la Catedral, en una declaración dirigida a los miembros, donantes y voluntarios [del santuario]. La catedral seguirá asequible [sin costo] para los que vengan a orar, a participar del culto o en busca de cuidado pastoral, y ofrecerá entrada gratuita los domingos, agregó.
“El Cabildo [o junta gobernante] y el liderazgo de la catedral tienen presente la principal identidad de la catedral como casa de oración y como comunidad de fe viva en la tradición episcopal. “Pese a las maravillas de arte y arquitectura que hay aquí, la catedral no es un museo”.
“Los voluntarios, los miembros de la congregación de la catedral y los miembros de la Asociación de la Catedral Nacional podrán entrar gratis”, añadió. “Volveremos a estar pronto en contacto, en la medida en que las políticas y los procedimientos para la fijar la tarifa de entrada concluyan a lo largo de los próximos meses”.
La decisión de cobrar la entrada se tomó “con renuencia”, dijo Gary Hall, deán de la Catedral, a Prensa Asociada en un artículo del 25 de noviembre, en el que hacía notar que las catedrales e iglesias en Europa cobran una tarifa de entrada a los turistas.
“Todo lo que cobramos es esencialmente por el turismo”, dijo Hall. “No cobramos por los servicios esenciales de la catedral”.
En 2012, 375.000 personas, además de los miembros de la parroquia y otros feligreses, visitaron la catedral; un aumento en relación con los 275.000 que la visitaron en 2011, cuando en agosto de ese año la catedral sufrió daños por valor de $26 millones debido a un raro terremoto de 5,8 de magnitud y se mantuvo cerrada durante más de 60 días. Desde entonces, la catedral ha recaudado $10 millones en fondos para la restauración.
Aunque es menos común cobrar la entrada a catedrales e iglesias en Estados Unidos que en Europa, al menos dos catedrales episcopales y una iglesia en el país les cobran a las excursiones.
La iglesia catedral de San Juan el Teólogo [Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine] en Nueva York no cobra por entrar en la catedral, pero sí cobra hasta $15 por sus visitas destacadas, verticales y prominentes [Highlights, Vertical and Spotlight tours]. La iglesia de La Trinidad [Trinity Church] en Boston, cobra $7 por las visitas guiadas o autónomas. La catedral de La Gracia [Grace Cathedral] de San Francisco, California, cobra $25 por su gran tour.
A la Catedral Nacional de Washington, que es la sede tanto del obispo primado de la Iglesia Episcopal como del obispo de la Diócesis Episcopal de Washington, D.C., con frecuencia se le llama el “hogar espiritual” de la nación. Está situada en la avenida Wisconsin, a unos 8 kilómetros al noroeste del Capitolio, que se levanta en el extremo oriental de la Explanada Nacional y los parques conmemorativos.
En 2012, Washington, D.C. recibió un récord de 18,9 millones de turistas, la mayoría de los cuales (16,9 millones) procedían del interior de Estados Unidos, según Destination DC, la oficina de turismo oficial de la ciudad.
Mientras el Capitolio y otros populares destinos turísticos e instituciones culturales patrocinadas por el gobierno (incluida la Galería Nacional, el Museo Smithsonian, los monumentos a Lincoln, Jefferson y a los Veteranos de Vietnam; el Monumento a Washington y el Cementerio de Arlington) ofrecen entrada gratis, la catedral se autosostiene y funciona con un presupuesto anual de $13,3 millones.
Esta independencia económica, resaltó Kautter, “aumenta la libertad de la catedral de expresarse libremente en la escena pública y de convocar a personas de todas las religiones. Pero también nos exige buscar otros medios que garanticen nuestra sostenibilidad”.
Luego de igualar ingresos y egresos en 2010, la catedral operó con un superávit de $400.000 tanto en 2011 como en 2012. Este año, la catedral operó con un déficit de $1,6 millones como resultado de una disminución de su recaudación anual, dijo Weinberg.
“Es digno de notar que la catedral depende de la filantropía para cubrir del 65 al 70 por ciento de sus réditos operativos anuales”, dijo él a través de un correo electrónico el 26 de noviembre en respuesta a preguntas de ENS. “Los gastos operativos para el año fiscal 2013 estuvieron acordes con nuestro plan para el año”.
En su declaración de principios, la catedral enuncia que “será un catalizador de la armonía espiritual en nuestra nación, de la renovación en las iglesias, de la reconciliación entre las fes y de la compasión en nuestro mundo”. Además de ofrecer aproximadamente 2.200 servicios de culto anualmente, la catedral se esfuerza por estar a la altura de esos principios al ofrecer una amplia variedad de conciertos y foros, algunos gratis, algunos a precios modestos, agregó Weinberg.
La Junta Nacional para la Preservación Histórica designó a la catedral un “tesoro nacional” en 2012. En agosto de ese año, la catedral recibió una subvención de $5 millones de la Dotación Lily para iniciar la restauración después del terremoto. En mayo de 2013, obtuvo el primer lugar en una competencia de Asociados en la Preservación [Partners in Preservation], por lo cual recibió una donación de $100.000 destinada a su restauración.
“Estamos llamados a preservar y restaurar un edificio que tiene más de un siglo y a ofrecer programas que tengan un impacto en nuestra ciudad, nuestra nación y el mundo”, dijo Kautter. Para sostener esa obra, debemos poner en práctica esta política de entrada tarifada cuidadosamente concebida, y creo que todos los que desean lo mejor para la catedral podrán entenderla”.
– Lynette Wilson es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.
Un viajero encuentra que los cristianos coptos aman a sus prójimos pese a los ataques que han sufrido
[Episcopal News Service] Por lo general, el oír que hay disturbios en un país no inspira a la gente a viajar allí. Pero cuando el Rdo. Gavin Roger se enteró de que docenas de iglesias cristianas estaban siendo incendiadas en Egipto, después de las protestas que provocó el derrocamiento del presidente Mohamed Morsi, su respuesta fue: “tengo que ir”.
Rogers, ministro de la iglesia de Cristo y ministro para las misiones, los jóvenes y las familias jóvenes en la iglesia episcopal de San Pedro [St. Peter’s Episcopal Church] en Kerrville, Texas, realizó recientemente dos viajes a Egipto para reunirse con la comunidad cristiana afectada y ver por sí mismo lo que estaba sucediendo. Estas fueron visitas con un propósito, aunque sin un itinerario.
“La gente dice ‘¿qué vas a hacer?’” mientras estés allí, dijo Rogers. “Bueno, realmente nada. Todo lo que hacemos es compartir la solidaridad. Sólo recordarnos mutuamente que ‘no están solos’”.
Rogers viajó a Egipto del 15 al 20 de septiembre y de nuevo del 2 al 15 de octubre. Pero, de algún modo, el viaje comenzó realmente cuando emprendió una peregrinación a Egipto en 2006 luego de estudiar cristianismo alejandrino mientras hacía su maestría en la Escuela de Teología de Duke, en Durham, Carolina del Norte. Se enteró de algunas de las “cosas radicales” que hacían los monjes en los monasterios del desierto para guardar la Cuaresma, tales como meterse en una cueva, ponerse una piedra en la boca y mantenerse en silencio. Una vez de regreso a su casa, una pregunta le había estado rondando la cabeza: ¿qué podía hacer él en Cuaresma que realmente lo “llevara a una situación límite”?
Se había graduado de Duke. Consiguió un empleo como líder de jóvenes y misiones en una iglesia bautista de San Antonio, Texas, que dirigía un centro comunitario en el centro de la ciudad. Y, en 2012, tuvo una inspiración: pasaría una Cuaresma sin hogar, viviendo como algunos de los “vecinos desamparados” a los que el centro les prestaba servicios.
“Fue una aventura sorprendente. En verdad llegué a sentirme cerca de algunos de mis prójimos”, contó él. “Todos ellos con diferentes experiencias vitales”.
Comenzó por dormir en un albergue municipal al aire libre, luego en lugares tales como edificios y furgonetas abandonados. “No le dije a nadie que yo era pastor”, dijo Rogers, que está ahora en el proceso de discernimiento en la Iglesia Episcopal. “En los 48 días que estuve en las calles nadie me preguntó por qué yo me encontraba sin hogar… Simplemente vivía entre ellos, quería ser parte de su ambiente, ser tratado de la misma manera que ellos”.
“Aprendí que todos tenemos una humanidad común y que en verdad la razón por la que a veces no reconocemos a los desamparados o a nuestros prójimos sin hogar es porque tememos resultar vulnerables”.
Durante los días que pasó sin casa, conoció a la Rda. Lorenza Andrade Smith, ministra de la Iglesia Metodista Unida, que estaba dedicando tres años a “vivir bajo las estrellas” como una persona sin hogar. “Ella no tiene dinero, no tiene agenda… Todos los días, hace sólo lo que ellos hacen, y se ocupa de ellos y ellos la cuidan. No es algo unilateral, como tantos de nuestros viajes misioneros”.
Los dos se hicieron amigos. Luego, en agosto de 2013, Rogers estaba trabajando en Camp Capers, un centro de conferencias de la Diócesis Episcopal de Texas Occidental, cuando vio un informe de CNN sobre las iglesias que estaban quemando durante el estallido de violencia en Egipto. “Me afectó por una razón”, dijo él. “Yo había estado allí”.
“Tres minutos después de haber empezado a leer el artículo, llamé a Lorenza… y le dije: ‘tenemos que irnos a Egipto’”.
Un mes más tarde, estaban en camino. “Aterrizamos y durante esa semana estuvimos a merced de las personas con que nos encontrábamos, intentando entrar en las ciudades y comunidades que fueron afectadas por estas tragedias, por estas iglesias que estaban quemando. Queríamos hablar con los sacerdotes o las hermanas o los ministros coptos que se veían afectados por todo esto. Todo lo que oíamos en la prensa era sobre lo mal que estaban”.
Les tomó cuatro días convencer a alguien que los llevara en auto a Minya, una zona a unas cuatro horas al sur del Cairo donde se decía que había ocurrido la mayoría de los ataques. Una vez allí, “todo lo que pudimos hacer fue tomar fotos”, dijo Rogers.
“Durante los dos primeros días de nuestro viaje, Lorenza y yo nos limitamos a conocer a taxistas y personas de la localidad y a escuchar sus historias y su opinión sobre todo”. Encontraron a un chofer llamado Muhammed que estuvo dispuesto a llevarlos a un monasterio copto que se había librado del ataque, pero no a los sitios de las iglesias quemadas. “Él nos dijo, ‘vuestra vida y la mía y la vida de mi familia son más importantes que el que ustedes lleguen a Minya’”.
Durante el trayecto, habló de su vida como musulmán. “Para nosotros, él era un musulmán muy moderado”, dijo Rogers. “Nos pareció muy genuino y muy preocupado por lo que respecta a su país”. Se refería a los cristianos y a los musulmanes, particularmente en Egipto, como parientes cercanos —hermanos o primos.
Si bien usábamos la palabra “copto” para significar cristiano en Egipto, dijo Rogers, el término originalmente significaba simplemente egipcio. En Egipto, “muchísimas personas tienen un sentido de unidad y de orgullo entre las dos fes”, agregó. “Eso me enseñó muchísimo. Incluso en las graves diferencias que probablemente son de vida y muerte para muchas personas, ¿cómo puede uno vivir con el otro o con tu enemigo o con el vecino que no te gusta o con quien no estás de acuerdo? En Egipto, logras ver el lado más hermoso de eso, porque a veces lo hacen bien. Pero también ves el lado violento de esa decisión”.
“Eso es algo que aprendí: muchísimas personas optan por amar a sus prójimos”, dijo, añadiendo que le gustaría cuestionar la noción dictada por la prensa y por los extremistas de que tal amor es imposible. “Querría creer que es posible. Cristo dijo que era posible”.
En el monasterio de Wadi Natrum, ellos vieron esto en acción, mientras su chofer y uno de los monjes compartían el té. Observando como los dos discutían problemas de fe, podían verles asentir con la cabeza, y luego disentir, pero ellos lo dejaban pasar”.
Muhammed y el monje terminaron su té, se abrazaron y posaron juntos para los fotógrafos. : ¿Qué podría lograrse bebiendo más té?, musitó Rogers.
Finalmente, hacía el final de su viaje, conocieron a Wael Fahim, un guía de turismo que se encontraba desempleado y que los llevó a Minya, donde fotografiaron algunos de los edificios afectados. Luego Rogers se fue a Texas, para hablar en un evento ya concertado, prometiendo regresar a Egipto tan pronto pudiera.
De regreso a Egipto
La oportunidad se le presentó más pronto de lo que él esperaba. Al final de su plática [en Texas], una mujer se le acercó y le dijo: “Auspiciaré su próximo viaje”.
Fue así que Rogers regresó a Egipto por dos semanas, esta vez acompañado de Matthew Aragonés, estudiante de cuarto año en la Universidad (católica) de San Eduardo [St. Edward’s (Roman Catholic) University] en Austin, a quien él había conocido durante su ministerio con los jóvenes. Rogers se reconectó con Fahim, quien los guió durante su viaje. Esta vez, “vimos todo”.
Eso incluyó una reunión de 15 minutos con el papa copto.
El papa copto Tawadros II les dio una cruz que dice en árabe: “El amor nunca falla”. Y él le pidió que los cristianos estadounidenses continúen orando por él y por la Iglesia, que no se olviden de lo que ha sucedido y que amen a las personas que tienen en su entorno, dijo Rogers. “¿Cómo ayudan a Egipto? Él en esencia dijo: ‘amen a su prójimo’”.
Rogers y Aragonés visitaron cuatro comunidades eclesiásticas, hablaron con monjes, sacerdotes y monjas cuyos edificios fueron atacados. Viajaron dos veces a Suez, una zona muy afectada por los ataques de la Hermandad Musulmana a las iglesias. Visitaron iglesias, un convento y un monasterio latino, “todos ellos quemados y destruidos”.
“Logré hablar con las hermanas [del convento] que estaban allí ese día cuando esto sucedió…cómo tuvieron que rescatar a los niños de la escuela”, contó Rogers. Sin embargo, mientras hablaba con ellas, fue como si estuvieran haciendo un recorrido por un edificio nuevo, explicó él. Yo estaba algo lloroso, y ellas estaban sonriendo y riéndose porque se sentían jubilosas”.
Las monjas se dieron cuenta de que, aunque sus atacantes pudieran intimidarlas, no tenían que imponerles su respuesta. “Ver eso fue completamente inspirador”.
Las monjas le dieron algunas páginas de un libro de oración y otros objetos quemados como recuerdos. “Cuando los miro, no veo el pesar. Veo la esperanza, veo la alegría y la confianza y la manera de actuar motivada por el amor. Resultó fascinante”.
En Suez, visitaron también la iglesia anglicana del Buen Pastor. “Fue la única iglesia que no quemaron”, explicó Rogers. Aunque fue atacada, fue la única iglesia sin tanques que la protegieran. “Ese sacerdote anglicano le pidió al Ejército que no la protegiera con tanques. La Hermandad Musulmana buscó los sitios que contaban con protección del Ejército y los incendió”.
Al final, Rogers cree haber tenido éxito en encontrar testimonios de esperanza y de amor, y de compartir solidaridad con los cristianos de Egipto. “Tal como dijo el papa [copto], el amor nunca falla. A veces es tan sencillo como ir allí y dar una vuelta. Partimos juntos el pan, nos dieron de beber y nos asomamos a su vida, y resultó sorprendente [comprobar] cuánto júbilo derivaron de esta [experiencia].
– Sharon Sheridan es corresponsal de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.
[Episcopal Diocese of Washington press release] Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington led a prayer service on the evening of Dec. 1 on the National Mall for Fast For Families, a campaign to persuade Speaker John Boehner to bring comprehensive immigration reform legislation to a vote in the House of Representatives.
The service was held near the U. S. Capitol.
“In June, the U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive, bipartisan immigration bill (S.744),” Bishop Budde said. “To date, Speaker John Boehner has refused to bring a similar bill to the House floor, saying that it is not yet time. A majority of Americans respectfully and urgently disagree. I am one of them. The time for immigration reform is now.”
Bishop Budde will also participating in the National Days of Fasting, December 1-3, and has invited members of her diocese and others to join her.
Thousands of people are expected to fast and pray for one day during the National Days of Fasting to support Cristian Avila of Mi Familia Vota, Eliseo Medina of the Service Employees International Union, and Dae Joong Yoong of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium, who have been on a water-only fast since November 12.
“By their witness and prayers, the fasters remind us that each day our elected leaders don’t vote on pending legislation, more than one thousand families are divided by deportations, millions of students remain trapped in limbo and anxiety for their futures, and workers are subject to exploitation unseen by the rest of our society,” the bishop said.
The fast is supported by an extensive network of faith-based and immigrants rights organizations.
[Episcopal News Service – Cannon Ball, Dakota del Norte] En la radiante aunque fría mañana del 23 de noviembre, aquí en la reserva india de Standing Rock, la congregación de la iglesia episcopal de Santiago [St. James] inauguró oficialmente una nueva iglesia que se asemeja a una tienda nativoamericana y que se percibe como si los feligreses se reunieran en un atrapasueños.
La temperatura rondaba en torno a los 6 grados F. (-14 C.) y un viento ligero soplaba del cercano río Misurí mientras los miembros de la congregación y los visitantes permanecían de pie en el estacionamiento de suelo de grava a la espera del comienzo del oficio.
Cantaban “Muchas y grandes [son] tus obras, oh Dios” [“Many and Great”] un himno que el Rdo. John Floberg, rector de Santiago, dijo que creía que había sido el primer himno cristiano escrito en lakota. Él le contó a la congregación que fue ese himno el que iban cantando los 38 dakotas el 26 de diciembre de 1862 camino del patíbulo en lo que habría de ser la mayor ejecución llevada a cabo en un solo día en la historia de Estados Unidos. Los reos habían sido declarados culpables de haber formado parte de una sublevación ese año.
“Que se abra la puerta” dijo Michael Smith, obispo de Dakota del Norte, llevando un penacho indio de plumas, en lugar de la mitra, mientras golpeaba sonoramente la puerta de la iglesia.
Cuando el Rdo. Neil Two Bears y la acólita Mia Two Bears abrieron la puerta, Smith proclamó: “Paz sea a esta casa y a todos los que entran en ella” al tiempo que usaba su báculo pastoral para trazar el signo de la cruz en el umbral.
La escena no tenía nada que ver con la noche del 25 de julio de 2012, Fiesta de Santiago, cuando un incendio deliberado se propagó por las estructuras de madera de la iglesia y del salón parroquial.
Phoenix Martínez, de 19 años, se declaró culpable de un cargo de incendió voluntario y fue sentenciado el 30 de septiembre a tres años y cuatro meses de reclusión en una cárcel federal, seguido por cinco años de libertad supervisada. También le impusieron que pagara una restitución de $354.100.
El único recuerdo visible de esa noche es la cruz que cuelga delante de una manta de retazos sobre el púlpito. Está hecha de dos toscos pedazos de madera chamuscados provenientes del piso del salón parroquial, la única madera que no se redujo a cenizas en el incendio.
“Es como un regreso al hogar”, dijo Florestine Grant, la guardiana mayor, antes del comienzo del oficio. “Soñamos con las cosas que podemos hacer por los niños, los ancianos y por la cultura”.
Una de sus hijas, Alex Spotted Elk, dijo que era una lástima que un incendio hubiera obligado a la congregación a tener que construir un nuevo edificio. Pero, agregó, al tiempo que miraba hacia el techo de la nueva iglesia, “este es un lugar para nuevos recuerdos”.
El Rdo. Terry Star, diácono que creció en [la congregación] de Santiago y que ahora es seminarista en Nashotah House en Wisconsin, recordaba durante su sermón cómo hace casi 100 años un obispo episcopal les dijo a los sioux de la zona que tenían que renunciar a sus adornos indios para ser cristianos. Esa actitud ha cambiado, afirmó Star, como resulta obvio de la decoración de la nueva iglesia de Santiago.
“Podemos ser dakotas; podemos ser quienes somos —para lo que Dios nos hizo— y no obstante seguir a Jesucristo”, afirmó.
Star dijo que esperaba que la iglesia hermosa y colorida llegara a convertirse en un símbolo pujante para las personas de la zona.
Él recordó un relato que le contaba su abuela acerca de Iya, un monstruo gigantesco cuyo nombre significa literalmente “boca”, y de Ikto, el embaucador que halagaba al monstruo para que éste confiara en él. Ikto fingió ser el hermano mayor del monstruo y le preguntó a éste que era lo que más temía. Iya le dijo que le temía al estruendo de cantos y tambores. Ikto fue hasta la próxima aldea y les dijo que empezaran a celebrar con cantos y tambores.
La treta funcionó; Iya se quedó paralizado por el miedo e Ikto aprovechó la oportunidad para matarlo. Cuando le abrieron el estómago a Iya, todas las personas que el monstruo se había tragado recobraron la vida.
“Hay una oscuridad que está devorando a nuestro pueblo” dijo Star. “Algo se está tragando a nuestra gente”.
Un paseo en torno a Cannon Ball, agregó, muestra una falta de “arte y colorido”, nada más que “casas pintadas de color malvavisco”, cuyos tonos no fueron escogidos por sus ocupantes.
“Tenemos una oportunidad en este edificio y a través del Evangelio y a través de nuestro culto en este edificio de devolverle color y celebración a la comunidad”, añadió. “Podemos ahuyentar al Iya que está devorando a nuestro pueblo”.
Star dijo que los miembros deberían invitar [a la iglesia] a artistas “que puedan escuchar estos pasajes del Evangelio y expresarle a la iglesia estos relatos evangélicos a través de su obra” y “mostrar que hay lugar aquí para ese clase de obra”.
Él también instó a la congregación a no ser tan sólo asistentes de Navidad y Pascua.
“Este edificio no funciona si sólo se usa en Navidad y Pascua; tenemos que estar aquí todo el tiempo”, enfatizó.
Y luego, “toda la alegría y la felicidad” que viene de adorar aquí en este espacio, dijo Star “no se supone que se quede aquí”.
“Se supone que las saquemos por esas puertas y las llevemos a la comunidad”, concluyó. “Matemos ese Iya y devolvámosle la alegría y la felicidad a nuestra comunidad”.
Star, que leyó el Evangelio en Dakota, epitomizó la confluencia del cristianismo occidental y de la espiritualidad sioux de la Iglesia. Él estaba revestido de sotana, sobrepelliz, esclavina y bandas de predicación, llevaba un medallón en que parecía bordado con mostacillas el crismón o cristograma [las dos primeras letras griegas del nombre de Cristo], una pluma de águila sujeta al cabello e iba calzado con unos mocasines con mostacillas. Star leyó su sermón en un iPad.
Una iglesia llena de artistas y donantes
La nueva iglesia de Santiago, todavía con los rincones un poco sin terminar y con cajas de revestimientos para el piso escondidas debajo de los bancos, y donde instalaron las barandas del comulgatorio en las primeras horas de esa misma mañana, está equipada con artículos y muebles de otras iglesias, junto con nuevas contribuciones.
Una colorida manta de retazos cuelga de cada una de las cuatro esquinas de la nave. Estas mantas con frecuencia se obsequian en funerales, ceremonias para darle nombre a alguien, bodas y otras celebraciones que representan la gratitud del dador hacia la persona que la recibe. Otra manta de retazos, que adornó el púlpito durante el oficio, también servirá de paño frontal del altar.
La pila bautismal, tallada por el artista local Charles McLaughlin, hecha de alabastro de Colorado, evoca una canoa de piel de búfalo, que se usaba para cruzar de una a otra orilla del río Misurí. Algunos sioux yanktonai que sobrevivieron a la masacre de White Stone Hill de 1863 cruzaron el río para vivir con otros dakotas asentados cerca de la desembocadura del río Cannon Ball.
White Stone Hill estará representada en un mural lateral del ápside que aún está por terminarse. Las montañas cercanas aparecerán representadas en el otro panel y, en el medio, la Nueva Jerusalén como una aldea india, dijo Floberg.
En la parte inferior del lateral donde han de pintarse las montañas cercanas, ya cuelga una gran pantalla plana de televisión.
Holly Doll, nieta de dos episcopales de abolengo de [la tribu de] Standing Rock, el Rdo. Innocent y Edna Goodhouse, diseñó y creó un evangelario de parfleche. Esto último es una bolsa de cuero crudo que los indios de las Grandes Planicies usaban tradicionalmente para guardar y llevar documentos importantes. La Biblia que se encuentra dentro de esta bolsa es una traducción al dakota del Nuevo Testamento.
Algunos episcopales de la zona donaron otros artículos y la iglesia de la Santa Trinidad [Holy Trinity] de Juneau, Alaska, otra iglesia que sabe lo que es perder su edificio en un incendio, donó la cruz procesional.
La Rda. Gay Clark Jennings, actual presidente de la Cámara de Diputados de la Iglesia Episcopal, donó los candelabros, los hachones procesionales y el Cirio Pascual en honor de su predecesora, Bonnie Anderson, que ayudó a recaudar el dinero para construir la nueva iglesia de Santiago.
La mayoría de los muebles principales, entre ellos el púlpito, las barandas del comulgatorio, los bancos y un retablo que contiene una pintura mural de la Ascensión, cuyo trasfondo puede ser una representación de las colinas que se encuentran fuera de la iglesia, vinieron de la iglesia luterana Houhlum en Lake Park, Minnesota. Floberg creció en Hawley, al oeste de Lake Park, y se enteró de la clausura de la iglesia en agosto de 2013 mientras leía el periódico local y [de inmediato] se puso en contacto con la congregación [luterana] para contarles del incendio en la iglesia de Santiago y del plan de reconstrucción.
El altar, sin embargo, es otra historia. Una simple mesa con los laterales cerrados, en cuyo frente se destaca la palabra Wakan (Santo) flanqueada por una cruz dorada, había servido a la congregación de Santiago —regalo de la iglesia congregacional de Big Lake— en la reserva india hasta los años 90. Cuando una iglesia episcopal en el vecino Park Ridge cerró y sus muebles vinieron a Santiago, el viejo altar se envió al Campamento San Gabriel [St. Gabriel’s Camp] en Solen. Ahora se encuentra de regreso en Santiago.
La construcción de una nueva [iglesia de] Santiago a los 16 meses del incendio ha sido un esfuerzo de primera magnitud. Un acuerdo con el seguro de la Iglesia [Church Insurance] sumado a algún dinero diocesano hizo ascender la recaudación a $359.392, aunque aún faltaba una diferencia. Anderson dirigió el Fondo de Reconstrucción Ikpanazin que reunió otros $67.532, junto con $5.000 en donaciones y promesas de la propia congregación de Santiago, dijo Floberg a Episcopal News Service. La Ofrenda Unida de Gracias le dio a la iglesia una subvención de $48.500 durante su asignación de fondos de 2013.
El empeño de recaudación combinado sobrepasó los objetivos y ahora está en marcha una segunda fase para construir un terreno de béisbol y áreas de picnic cerca de la iglesia.
Sin embargo, los fondos que se recogieron durante el oficio de consagración del 23 de noviembre se donarán. “En gratitud por todo lo que hemos recibido de los demás”, le dijo Smith a la congregación, el dinero se destinará al empeño de la Iglesia Episcopal de reconstruir la catedral destruida por el terremoto en Puerto Príncipe, Haití, la primera fase del cual se espera que cueste $15 millones.
La firma constructora Prairie Outpost Log Homes de Mandan, a unos 64 kilómetros al norte, construyó el encofrado de madera de la iglesia de Santiago luego de sugerir el concepto de troncos de balsa que suben en espiral para imitar los postes de una tienda india y con piezas en cruz que añaden el efecto del atrapasueños. Jordan Shelltrack, un joven miembro de la congregación que leyó un pasaje del Apocalipsis durante el oficio, bosquejó el plano del suelo. Más detalles acerca del proceso de la planificación pueden encontrarse aquí. Una colección de fotos de la página de Facebook de la congregación aquí recorre las faces de la construcción.
De mayo a septiembre, la congregación se reunió para el culto en un salón de banquetes de propiedad tribal, Prairie Knights Casino and Resort, a unos 16 kilómetros al sur de la iglesia, y los miembros acudieron después allí para una comida. El nuevo edificio ha sido utilizado por los 60 miembros del grupo de jóvenes de la parroquia para reunirse todos los miércoles por la noche.
‘Uno de los pueblos más difíciles de Dakota del Norte’
La congregación de Santiago se estableció en 1890 en Cannon Ball, que es parte de la Reserva Permanente de Indios Sioux de Cannon Ball, y ha sido el hogar de generaciones de episcopales, dijo Floberg.
Cannon Ball, en la parte centro sur del estado, fue el primer lugar en que se estableció la Iglesia Episcopal en la reserva de Dakota del Norte. Otras tres congregaciones remontan sus raíces a Santiago, según la página web diocesana. Los oficios incluyen himnos en legua dakota.
En la página web de la diócesis, la congregación dice encontrarse en “uno de los pueblos más difíciles de Dakota del Norte. Los niveles de alcoholismo y de desempleo son muy elevados. Pero no vamos a darnos por vencidos”. Ese pensamiento estaba escrito antes de que el incendiario hiciera su obra.
“La iglesia era una roca en el cimiento de la pequeña comunidad de la reserva”, dijo el Bismarck Tribune en un editorial del 21 de noviembre que alentaba a la comunidad en su continuo servicio a la gente del lugar.
Alrededor de 875 personas viven en la zona de Cannon Ball, de los cuales 813 son nativoamericanas, según el Censo de 2010.
Conforme a uno de los criterios, el ingreso promedio en 2011 fue de $25.504; en comparación con $51.704 del estado como un todo, y el ingreso per cápita es de $9.597, mientras el promedio del estado se acerca a $26.000.
La participación de la Iglesia Episcopal con los sioux comenzó de mediados a fines del siglo XIX después de la sublevación dakota de 1862 en la vecina Minnesota que dio lugar a que el gobierno de Estados Unidos los deportara a las reservas de Dakota del Sur. Inmediatamente después de la guerra de Secesión, el gobierno federal les ofreció tierras a varias denominaciones cristianas a cambio de su complicidad en el empeño de obligar a los indios a asimilarse a la cultura de los colonos blancos mediante el sistema de reservas del gobierno federal.
La Iglesia Episcopal ayudó a llevar a cabo ese plan, principalmente al este del río Misurí. La Convención General de 1871 creó el Distrito Misionero de Niobrara, que incluía partes o la totalidad de lo que son ahora Dakota del Norte, Dakota del Sur, Wyoming y Nebraska. Los episcopales que viven dentro de las fronteras de ese distrito anterior todavía se reúnen en convocación cada mes de junio.
– La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.
[Anglican Communion News Service] The Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) Synod has voted against the ordination of women following a heated debate on a motion seeking to allow individual dioceses ready to ordain women within the Province to go ahead.
The vote, which was carried out by the three Houses of Bishops, Clergy and Laity was only successful in the House of Laity where 14 delegates voted in favour of the motion as opposed to 10 that voted against.
Bishop Chad from the Diocese of Harare proposed that “Synod resolves that women be allowed into ordained ministry”.
“This matter has been discussed over the years at both Provincial and Diocesan levels,” said Bishop Chad. “There are women who have even decided to go to other countries to train and be ordained. [Therefore] we appeal to this Synod to allow those dioceses that are ready to go ahead.”
But Bishop of Northern Malawi, the Rt Revd Fanuel Magangani argued, “One person ordained in one diocese may get rejected in another thereby compromising the collegiality of the Province.” He added, “The ordination of women is not biblically backed and has also not proved to help the Church since inception in the 70s.”
However, during the debate session Provincial Youth Co-ordinator for CPCA, Fr Robert Sihubwa reminded the house that the Church of the Province of Central Africa is informed by tradition, scripture and reason and that the issue of women ordination should be addressed using reason.
“Women are the biggest evangelists in the Province,” he pointed out. “Women are a big resource to CPCA. When we talk about unity in the Province, it should be considered in terms of unity in diversity.”
A lay member from Harare, Patrick Mahari wondered why mothers and women in general are being discarded today despite having been the “first point of contact for the word of God for most the delegates present.”
“There is a lack of love for women in this room,” complained Doreen Nteta from Botswana. “People don’t want change and this issue is not about whether women are ready or not because in Botswana, we have been ready since the ’80s.”
“Women’s ministry is by far the biggest and not ordaining women would kill the Church in Botswana with only 11 priest priests having to cover the breadth and width of Botswana,” she said.
But despite the heavy debates and many passionate appeals from those dioceses that are ready to ordain women, the motion failed when it was subjected to a vote as required by the Synod Standing Orders.
[Women's Voices for Change] This article was originally published in Women’s Voices for Change.
“In Tanzania they don’t have a national Thanksgiving holiday,” says Sandra McCann, radiologist and Episcopal priest. “But every day is Thanksgiving there. Every single prayer starts with ‘Thank you, Baba.’ Each prayer starts with a litany of thanksgiving. When I first arrived in 2004, I found this annoying, especially in our small pastoral groups that meet only one time a week for 20 minutes. I would say, ‘Do you have any prayer requests?’—and before they could make the request, each one would have to go through the thanksgiving litany.
“But I’ve come to understand this and appreciate Thanksgiving on a deep level, because the most common prayer I hear is, ‘Thank you, Father, for protecting me through the night.’ And I learned that living through the night is not a given there. The mother might miss the snake when she goes around the house with a torch before bedtime. And so many diseases threaten them—especially malaria. (Sadly, little Martin Nyemo Mazengo died of malaria just four months after I baptized him.) So just making it through the night is something you give thanks for every day.
“They are thankful for every drop of rain, every little gift—a toothbrush, some medicine for malaria . . . They dance their offerings down the aisle every Sunday. And everyone must give. It can be an egg, a tomato, or a coin. A big gift would be a chicken or a goat. When they bring the offering plate up to the altar, they offer it to the priest, the deacon, to any important visitor. If you didn’t give, you would be left out. You would have lost your chance to say ‘Thank you.’”
Sandra McCann and her husband, Martin, are Episcopal missionaries. He is doing what he’d loved to do in the States—running a histopathology laboratory plus doing many needle aspiration biopsies and teaching. She is doing what she never dreamed she could ever do—working as a priest.
Taken by Surprise
Rev. Dr. Sandra McCann has switched careers abruptly—and with some amazement—all through her life. Ask her how she happened (“happened” is the apposite word) to become a doctor, then a radiologist, then a priest, and she’ll say, with a touch of wonder, “I was taken by surprise!”
Her first life-changing choice came in a flash in her sixth-grade classroom. Her teacher asked the students what they wanted to be when they grew up. Sandra wanted to be a nurse. “And this girl said, ‘I want to be a doctor.’ And I said, ‘Oh my gosh! Women can be doctors?’ When my turn came, I said, ‘I want to be a doctor.’
“And I never veered from that. Even though I didn’t know any woman doctors, I just decided that’s what I wanted to do. I essentially had blinders on from that very moment. I never thought about anything else.”
So she became a doctor. She met Martin McCann on the first day of her internship. Perplexed about which specialty to choose, she was certain she wouldn’t like radiology; fresh out of her internship, not knowing what she wanted to do, she accepted a slot in a radiology residency that had become available after a man was drafted to Vietnam. And found, to her surprise, that she loved this work.
Several years after marrying and having children, the McCanns became regular churchgoers, and Sandra, who relished learning, began taking theological courses at her church.
Martin was as devoted to his specialty as she was to hers. In their mid-fifties, both were at “the top of our game.” Martin was chair of the department of pathology at St. Francis Hospital in Columbus, Georgia, and Sandra was chair of radiology at Hughston Orthopedic Hospital.
“I never had a day when I didn’t want to go to work,” Sandra says. But in her fifties she noticed that “in the last few years, the interesting cases weren’t quite as fascinating to me. At that time I was working with a mission for homeless, mentally ill people‑—raising money for a home for them and doing services for them on Sunday. I was drawn to them. I enjoyed my Bible studies rather than getting out my medical journals. That was the only thing that I noticed . . . that my interests were slowly being drawn to my church activities.”
An Unexpected Calling
Then, in 1999, when Sandra was 55, Martin came back from a brief volunteer medical trip to Haiti and told his wife, “I think I’m ready to do this full time.”
Sandra was taken by surprise. And she wasn’t ready to retire. But when Martin phoned to tell her that he’d been accepted into the tropical-medicine program at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, “I hung up. Then I called my business manager and said, ‘I want to give my three months notice.’
“He was totally shocked.”
Why the change? Sandra hadn’t been cherishing a desire to be a doctor in a third-world country (except when, in fourth grade, she devoured the school library’s biography of Albert Schweitzer). Yet she had a new interest in mission, and had begun picturing herself happily taking courses at the Servant Leadership School of the Church of the Saviour in Washington, D.C.—if Martin could get into a tropical medicine course in the D.C. area. And now he had. “Crazy things happened. Within six weeks we had sold our house. We rented an apartment, and two weeks later we jumped into the car and went to Johns Hopkins, with Martin’s microscope, a box of books, and two suitcases. We felt completely free—like we were on our honeymoon again.”
Additional flash-fast changes ensued. At the end of that summer, Martin was scheduled to go to Peru to do field work. Sandra said she wasn’t about to quit the courses she found so fascinating. But when the plane headed for Peru, Sandra was on it. Although she had repeatedly said she was not going to Peru, the morning Martin was going to the travel doctor to get his immunizations, he asked if she were coming with him, and out of her mouth came “Yes.” This openness to change eventually led to Sandra’s ordination as a priest. When they returned from Peru, Sandra continued taking theological courses for the sheer love of learning. After she talked with her bishop about being available for a call to medical mission, he encouraged her to think about the priesthood. She had never considered this.
Africa at Last
Sandra graduated from Virginia seminary in May 2003. Four years after retiring to follow the call to do fulltime mission work, she and Martin were interviewed by the national mission office of the Episcopal Church in New York City, and were finally officially appointed as missionaries. After taking a course in the Swahili language in Tanzania, they spent the remainder of 2004 in Maseno, Kenya, before going to their permanent assignment in Dodoma, Tanzania. Martin was given space to set up a histopathology laboratory in the diocesan medical clinic. Sandra was posted to Msalato theological college.
She was, she admits, “a teacher who was only one page ahead of her students. It was wonderful for me. I studied day and night. I loved teaching.” Her job evolved from full-time teaching to becoming the college chaplain and communications director. Being the chaplain involves arranging the daily chapel services and Sunday schedules, as well as going out to village churches twice a month to preach and to encourage the local priests and catechists. Being communications director involves not only being a tourist director and raising money, but working to help it acquire accreditation. That has been accomplished. Msalato students can now earn a bachelor of theology degree without going abroad.
The McCanns live in “relative luxury” (a cement-floored house that features cold running water) on the college campus near Dodoma. “Where we are there are only a few thatched roofs. It’s relatively prosperous because people have jobs in Dodoma. More and more people are getting tin roofs, and there are some cement-block houses replacing mud huts. Everyone cooks outside on charcoal or wood. Eighty-five percent are subsistence farmers, so they grow what they eat. That’s why drought is a huge issue. What they don’t grow, they don’t eat.”
Nearly 10 years later, Martin and Sandra are still in Tanzania. “Martin is as terribly fulfilled as I am,” Sandra says. After Thanksgiving she will end a brief stay in the States and return to the land of thanksgiving.
“I think the greatest gift the people here have given me is gratefulness,” Sandra says. “There is such poverty. They suffer daily. But I’ll hear them singing as they walk 12 kilometers to get a bucket of dirty water. This joy in life struck me when I first went to Dodom. It brought me back to what my spiritual mentor, the Rev.Gordon Cosby, had said to me: ‘The lack of gratefulness blocks all other graces.’”
– Deborah Harkins, who co-edits WVFC‘s site, was an assigning editor at New York magazine for more than 20 years. She has also been the articles editor of The Modern Estate, a columnist for The New York Daily News, and associate editor at NYCityWoman.com.
[The Episcopal Church Office of Global Partnerships] The Episcopal Church has long been active in raising consciousness about the prevalence of violence against women and girls, one of the most prevalent forms of gender violence. A global dimension of this activism is its annual engagement at theUnited Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW). Since 1946, member states of the United Nations have convened annually or biannually at UNCSW to promote women’s political, economic, civil, social and educational empowerment, and to make recommendations on urgent problems regarding women’s rights.
UNCSW reached a turning point in 1995 with the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a global policy framework for gender equality and the empowerment of women. Beijing set out 12 critical areas of concern, one of which is violence against women. Sadly, many women and girls are not honored, loved or respected by their intimate partners, families and societies in the way that Jesus taught us by example. The statistics are sobering: in some countries, 7 in 10 women will be beaten, raped, abused or mutilated in their lifetimes, according to UN Women. Violence against women and girls takes place in all societies, regardless of history, culture, socioeconomic class or level of development.
Anglican and Episcopal women were at Beijing and have participated in UNCSW since 2000, joining forces to meet, worship, pray, network, attend events, offer workshops and advocate together. This past March, more than 80 Episcopalians and Anglicans, representing 18 countries from six continents, participated in the 57th session of UNCSW and its priority theme, “Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.” The Episcopal Church Center hosted these participants for two weeks of shared hospitality, joint worship, networking and advocacy.
A delegation from Ecumenical Women visiting the Permanent Mission of Liberia during UNCSW, March 2013
Advocacy at UNCSW is the centerpiece of The Episcopal Church’s and Anglican Communion’s partnership with Ecumenical Women (EW), an international coalition of Christian denominations and ecumenical organizations in formal relationship with the United Nations. EW’s reach is vast, with 14 member organizations representing more than 200 million people worldwide. It was established in 2000, after the United Nations’ Beijing +5 conference, to more effectively advocate at UNCSW, from a Christian perspective, for women’s equal participation in society – financially, socially, personally, and politically. Member organizations build grassroots capacity, develop advocacy talking points and strategy, contribute to a joint written statement, train their delegates coming to UNCSW and send them to advocate on EW’s behalf at the United Nations and back home on national and local levels. During UNCSW itself, Ecumenical Women organizes an orientation and advocacy training, visits with the permanent missions of UN member states, daily joint ecumenical worship, daily advocacy debriefs and two social dinners. Its activities continue year round in meetings with UN Women and related UN organizations, and are published via its website and social media.
Voices, opinions and perspectives from our local churches and ministries are vital to effectively represent Episcopalians and advocate on their behalf at the United Nations. Each year, Ecumenical Women provides a space for grassroots voices and advocacy by circulating a questionnaire to member organizations’ constituents. The questionnaire feedback becomes the grassroots input that, together with each institution’s official priorities, become the backbone for the joint written statement that EW submits to the United Nations. Episcopalians submitted 151 questionnaires, many writing about the services provided to victims of violence: counseling centers, hotlines, shelters and spiritual, financial and social support. It is clear that Episcopalians respond in direct service to those in need, and also advocate on behalf of women and girls worldwide with their local, state and federal level governments.
Besides collecting this grassroots feedback, The Episcopal Church participated in the formulation of the joint written statement that Ecumenical Women submitted to the UN. The statement and its priorities became the foundation not only by which delegates advocated, but also by which they added their own unique stories, reflections and concerns. The statement identified three priorities: addressing cultural, structural and economic factors underlying violence; education as a vital part of the societal change process, including education incorporating men and boys alongside women and girls; and giving particular attention to the needs of rural and minority populations and improving their access to resources and services. Prior to UNCSW, the statement was circulated to representatives of the member states that currently make up the Commission on the Status of Women. During UNCSW, Episcopalians and Anglicans took part in mission visits to ask permanent representatives to consider EW’s priorities as they formulate the outcome document of UNCSW, the Agreed Conclusions. Ecumenical Women has demonstrated strong leadership at UNCSW, for which it is coming to be recognized within the UN community.
The Episcopal Church recently accepted the honor of co-chairing Ecumenical Women with the Presbyterian UN Ministry. In gathering with other Christian organizations at UNCSW, Episcopalians are reminded that women and girls have always been important to Jesus. Women cared for him throughout his life, tended to his body after his crucifixion and Mary, mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and other women were the first to see him after his resurrection. Just as Jesus honored women, we too are called to pray for, care for and uplift our mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, cousins, neighbors, friends and enemies – indeed, women around the world. What better place to advocate for the just and loving care of women and girls around the world than at the United Nations?
– Lynnaia Main is the Episcopal Church’s officer for global partnerships.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have issued a joint statement for World AIDS Day 2013.
The text of the statement follows:
World AIDS Day, December 1, is both an annual commemoration of those who have lost their lives to the deadly pandemic, a time to stand with all persons living with HIV, and an opportunity to recommit to a future without AIDS. This year, World AIDS Day falls on the First Sunday in Advent, the first day of a new church year. Like Advent, World AIDS Day invites us to consider the ways in which we live between the tension of the present, in all its brokenness, and hope and expectation for a transformed future.
Signs of hope abound. Investment by the United States and other global partners is slowly but surely helping change the face of HIV and AIDS in the developing world. Earlier this year, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the birth of the one millionth baby born HIV-free as a result of our nation’s landmark global AIDS initiative created by President Bush ten years ago. That initiative, which generated significant debate when created in 2003 and renewed by Congress in 2008, was just last week reauthorized for another five years by towering bipartisan congressional majorities. Though the road to eradication of the pandemic around the world remains long, the signs of hope are clear.
Similarly, our nation’s shared efforts to transform the face of HIV and AIDS in the United States offer much promise even as they invite further commitments to action. We are now three years into this nation’s first comprehensive HIV and AIDS strategy, aimed at reducing new infections, increasing access to care, and eliminating HIV-related health disparities. The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), though challenging in ways worthy of continued government attention, offers new opportunities for access to health care and prevention and treatment services for millions of Americans, especially those most at-risk for HIV transmission. Changes to lifetime limits on insurance claims, the impact of pre-existing conditions as a consideration in insurance coverage, and other shifts resulting from the ACA will mean that many with HIV and AIDS will be eligible for care they were previously denied.
In ways that did not seem possible ten years ago, we can now see through the brokenness of the present toward a future without AIDS. It would be a mistake, though, to be complacent about the urgency of the work that remains before us. The present continues to challenge us to respond boldly and courageously.
Stigma remains a substantial issue in nearly all contexts around the world and at home, including in our own church communities. Are we truly welcoming to all people? How do we communicate our welcome to people who are not already part of our communities?
The disproportionate impact of the disease of ethnic minority communities presents a similar continuing challenge. African Americans account for almost 50% of all new HIV infection cases, and Hispanics account for 20%. Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders are less than 1 % of the population, but their infection rate is twice that of the white population. American Indians/Alaska natives have a 30% higher rate of HIV and AIDS infection than the white population.
Attitudes too present a challenge. Polls show that Americans increasingly see HIV as a manageable chronic infection rather than an urgent health crisis. This is leading to increased infection rates in many parts of the country, even as state funding for AIDS programs is declining in many places. Clearly, significant community education remains an imperative.
We are convinced that churches can be significant leaders in education and awareness, welcome and care, advocacy and ultimately the transformation of this disease’s impact.
Both The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have resources available to those committed to this work. The National Episcopal AIDS Coalition recently published HIV, Health, and Holiness: A Guide for the Episcopal Church to help communities engage. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has developed a comprehensive denominational strategy for HIV and AIDS.
Additionally, each church continues to be active in advocacy – both domestic and global – for an end to HIV and AIDS. Please join the Episcopal Public Policy Network or the ELCA E-Advocacy Network to get connected.
Finally, we invite Episcopalians and Lutherans to consider increased congregational cooperation in this work. Our churches’ full-communion relationship is more than ten years old, and local communities are now collaborating in varied and exciting ways. Can shared strategy toward AIDS-free communities be a part of this? Could congregations challenge themselves to see the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS – observed annually beginning the first Sunday in March – as an opportunity to begin?
“You know what time it is,” St. Paul writes to the Romans in the Epistle reading for this coming First Sunday in Advent and World AIDS Day, “now [is] the moment for you to wake from sleep.” In anticipation of the coming Redeemer, Advent invites us to keep alert, awake, vigilant and ready so that the comfort of the moment does not occlude our vision of the transforming and healing Sun of Righteousness dawning upon us. In the same way, let us recommit this World AIDS Day to activity and vigilance in order to hasten the coming of the transformation that is the future God dreams for all creation.
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
[Episcopal News Service] Instead of celebrating a Thanksgiving Eve Eucharist on the morning of Nov. 27, the members of St. Paul’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church remained stunned after a fire at the church the morning before killed two people, including their rector.
The Rev. David Dingwall, who would have turned 51 on Dec. 26, died hours after the fire occurred in the office area of the church at 3rd Street and Baltimore Avenue in Ocean City, Maryland.
The fire began when a person on fire entered the church’s Shepherd’s Crook ministry offices, located in the 1923 rectory building that is part of the church’s property. Shepherd’s Crook provides food and clothing Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings.
Diocese of Easton Bishop James “Bud” Shand told the Episcopal News Service in a telephone interview Nov. 27 that he had been told a person whose clothes were on fire ran in from the street to the church office. The Town of Ocean City in a press release issued midday on Nov. 27 identified the man as John Raymond Sterner, 56, of Ocean City.
Sterner “embraced” a woman volunteer who was there preparing to open up for the Tuesday food distribution, Shand said. A man in the office “tried to kind of knock him down so he would roll and put him out but he couldn’t get near him because the heat was too intense.”
The man who tried to stop Sterner was also burned, Shand said.
Officials did not confirm those details in their release and did not identify the woman who is still being treated for burns or the other man. Sterner was declared dead at the scene. No other information about Sterner was released.
Dingwall was in his office on the second floor when the fire broke out, according to Shand, and suffered smoke inhalation. The town said that Dingwall was found “during a primary search of the second floor of the building, where they experienced heavy smoke and heat conditions.” The unconscious priest was quickly removed from the building, treated on the scene by paramedics and transported to Atlantic General Hospital, where he later died, the town said.
While the exact cause of the fire is still under investigation, the press release said investigators suspect an accelerant was involved in the quick spread of the fire.
“Initial damage assessments indicate significant fire damage of the first and second floor office, in addition to smoke and overhaul damage throughout the first floor of the rectory building,” the town said in its press release.
A number of area Episcopal priests responded to news that St. Paul’s was on fire, Shand said. The priest from Church of the Holy Spirit, another Ocean City Episcopal church, came to the scene to minister to responders, according to the bishop, and others went to the hospital were the victims were taken. One of those priests anointed Dingwall that afternoon, Shand said.
Shand, who came to the church after the fire, was in route from visiting one burn victim at another hospital to Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin, Maryland, to see Dingwall again when he received word that the priest had died.
The parish is “shocked” and “reeling” the day after the fire, the bishop said. The junior warden was meeting with the church’s insurance company this morning to discover the extent of the damage. The town said the church had “minimal to no significant damage.” News reports said the sanctuary was intact but had suffered smoke damage.
“We don’t know what goes through people’s minds, why people do what they do and why they inflict pain and hurt on other people like they do. Why did that man do that? I don’t know,” Shand said. “But we have to live with the good and the bad, the dark and the light … there will be resurrection experiences out of this. It might be hard, but we will move on. This congregation will become more resilient as time goes on.”
The Gothic Revival wood-shingled St. Paul’s Church dates from 1900 but, Episcopal services began in Ocean City in 1878, just three years after the first hotel opened on the island, according to a history on the church’s website.
The building where the fire occurred also houses the Red Doors Community Center, a St. Paul’s ministry.
“We mourn the loss of our rector and priest, Father David Dingwall, and pray also for everyone affected,” including the other unidentified victims, one who died and one who suffered life-threatening injuries, the community center said on its Facebook page.
The town said the community center experienced “minimal to no significant damage.”
Much of Ocean City was mourning as well. St. Paul’s parishioners, as well as other members of the Ocean City community, will gather for a prayer service at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church on the evening of Nov. 27. Shand said he and the Rev. Heather Crook, the canon to the ordinary, will be at that service “to be there for the folks of St. Paul’s-by-the-Sea.”
Amy Morgan, St. Peter’s office manager, told Episcopal News Service in a telephone interview that one of the Lutheran church’s parishioners was a first responder to the scene and was “pretty shaken up by it all.” Out of her conversation with that woman, Morgan said, came the idea from her and Pastor Gregg Knepp for St. Peter’s to offer to host a prayer service for St. Paul’s members and “for the community just to come out a show our support.”
Morgan contacted the Rev. Penelope Morrow, St. Paul’s deacon, to see if the parish would want to have such a service, and she said she also called Cook. “We didn’t want to be intrusive; we didn’t want to step on any toes. We just wanted to show our love and support,” she said.
The service will include a “love offering” to be given to the diocese for use at St. Paul’s, Morgan said.
Morgan said the hours after the fire have been “surreal” because, while one hears on the news about “bizarre” things like this happening elsewhere, “you never think it’s going to happen here.”
“It made me go home and hug my daughter tight,” said Morgan, who often had to pause to compose herself during the interview.
Ocean City is popular resort town located at the southern tip of Fenwick Island, a barrier island off the coast of Maryland that stretches north along Delaware. It has a year-round population of about 7,100 people, but swells to more than 300,000 in the summer. The town is “tight-knit,” Morgan said, and area churches often come together to serve community needs.
“When there’s a need, you really see the heart of this community come out,” she said. “That’s why I love this place.”
Ocean City Fire Chief Chris Larmore called Nov. 27 “a very tragic day for our community.”
“We are thankful for the numerous agencies that assisted us during our response and especially thankful for all of the public safety personnel who helped prevent this fire from claiming more lives,” he said in the town’s press release.
St. Peter’s Lutheran Church and many other area churches have offered their worship space to St. Paul’s, Shand said, and near-by St. Mary Star of the Sea-Holy Savior Roman Catholic Church offered to host the priest’s funeral. That service will probably occur sometime early next week, the bishop said, depending on when law enforcement officials release of Dingwall’s body.
Staff at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Maryland in Baltimore are conducting autopsies “to determine the manner and cause” of Dingwall’s and Sterner’s death, the town said in its release.
Shand said the entire Episcopal Church and other denominations have been “very generous” in their offers of help and prayers.
Dingwall moved to the Eastern Shore of Maryland in 2003 after serving three parishes in the Canadian province of British Columbia where he grew up. He was received into the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Church of Canada in 2005, according to his biography on the church’s website. “He is particularly thankful for this time as the people of the parish provided him with a gracious introduction to life in The Diocese of Easton, The Episcopal Church and, perhaps most importantly, to life on the Eastern Shore,” the biography says.
Dingwall is survived by his wife Brenda, their three sons and their dog Minnie. Their children all live in the area, according to Shand.
“Everyone is in shock. Everyone is devastated for his family,” Amanda Cropper, a vestry member who’s in charge of the church’s building and grounds, told the Associated Press. “He was a strong advocate for those who are not lucky in life.”
She added: “He’ll be greatly missed, but for me it will be on the more personal side. … He had a devastatingly wicked sense of humor.”
The congregation was “devoted” to Dingwall and his leadership, the bishop said, and the priest “reached out to the community in big ways.”
“David brought home to them the commands of our Lord” to feed the hungry, to give shelter to those who need it and give clothing and water to those going without.
St. Paul’s had a “tremendous ministry to the misplaced, the displaced people of Ocean City and there’s a lot of them,” Shand said.
For years, the parish has served a Christmas Day dinner and last year’s meal hosted between 600-700 dinners with about a 1,000 meals served take-away style, according to Shand.
The fire, especially coming just two days before Thanksgiving, “will leave an indelible mark in the minds of Ocean City, St. Paul’s” the bishop said.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal News Service] Global religious leaders including Episcopalians and Anglicans from Latin America and the Caribbean committed Nov. 22 to work together to resist rising hostility toward the “other” in their declaration: “Welcoming the Other — A Multi-Religious Vision of Peace,” according to Religions for Peace press release.
“All faith traditions make clear that it is a religious imperative to welcome the other,” said William F. Vendley, Secretary General of Religions for Peace. “This commitment can guide multi-religious action for peace, the antidote to the
rising tide of hostility.”
The 9th World Assembly of Religions for Peace concluded with more than 600 religious leaders — including Bishop Julio Hoguin, of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic, who for the second time was elected honorary president; Bishop Francisco Duque of the Diocese of Colombia; Bishop Julio Murray of the Episcopal Church of Panama; and Bishop Martin Barahona of the Anglican-Episocpal Church of El Salvador — and people of faith, representing all historic faith traditions and every region of the world, calling attention to an urgent new threat to peace — rising hostility toward the “other.” The Declaration states, in part:
“Rising hostility, in society and within and among religious communities, takes the form of intolerance, and too often violence. . . . Victims of hostility are often vulnerable populations, including members of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities; migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced and stateless persons . . . . A growing number of governments are placing restrictions on religious beliefs and practices. . . . Sectarian and communal violence is dividing societies, fueling conflict, and destroying innocent lives.”
Religious leaders called on all people of faith to “welcome the other” by preventing violence before it erupts, by advocating for “a more robust notion of citizenship that acknowledges basic human rights, including freedom of religion or belief,” and by advancing human development that respects the earth.
Religious leaders urged religious communities to work together to reverse the rising tide of hostility through multi-religious action. In particular, the Vienna Declaration calls on religious leaders and people of faith to “speak out on behalf of vulnerable individuals and groups”; on governments to “provide legal remedies for victims of intolerance”; and on all sectors of society to work together to “eliminate all forms of intolerance and discrimination by states, by non-state actors, by civil society, by religious groups and leaders, and by individuals.”
Holguin also attended the KAICIID Global Forum on the Image of the Other in Interreligious and Intercultural Education, organised by Vienna-based dialogue centre KAICIID, which focused intracultural and interreligios education.
[The Dominican Development Group] On a hot, humid day in mid-June 2013 a group of intrepid Episcopalian missioners from Michigan arrived in the Dominican Republic to continue the building of the San Simon church in San Marcos.
An amazing discovery awaited one of the missioners, Tammy Mazure, for she found a small, 6-8 weeks old, approximately 5 pounds puppy, dehydrated, malnourished and with a healed dislocated hip under a pile of discarded wood. Had the puppy been abandoned there or had she sought sanctuary?
The rest of the story:
Tammy immediately took the puppy under her wing and bought her dry puppy food and made sure she got adequate water. However, Tammy was scheduled to leave several days later so when the next group of 8 missioners arrived from Michigan, she sought out Norma York-Bremer and Janine Dekker to ask if they would continue caring for her, which of course they agreed to do.
On the Monday of their mission, Padre Bienvenido advised that he would be unable to be at the site the following morning for morning prayer, but that Deacon Lourdes would be there instead. Nobody realized at that time what an impact this change would have on the puppy.
Norma and Janine realized that their group was possibly the last missioner group until the following January and Janine bemoaned this fact to Deacon Lourdes during a waterbreak at which time she said “Mio esposo esta medico veterinario” and the next day she brought her husband, Hector, to the site. Norma indicated the many things that would need to be done before even thinking of bringing the puppy back (a long shot at that time). Hector answered to each item “no problemo” and so he took the puppy with him. As it turned out, Wednesday was the last day of work at that site.
Norma went online to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to find that she could bring the puppy into the United States if there was a rabies certificate and if she signed a commitment to quarantine the puppy for one month.
Saturday morning, 90 minutes before the missioners left for the airport, Deacon Lourdes arrived with the puppy (now named Graciela Amor) in a lovely travel bag and a lovely little dress. Michael Marks, the group’s Spanish speaker, called American Airlines to find that the Dominican Republic would charge 400 pesos (US$10) for an exit permit and the American Airlines would charge US$148 to bring Graciela on as carryon – she even got her own ticket. Janine Dekker gave Graciela a shot to keep her sleepy on the way home and we were on our way.
Here are some additional details to the story from Tammy Mazure: “I told my husband, ‘while we are here this puppy is going to have a full belly and fresh water to drink!’ Being an animal lover, I was passionate about making a difference in her life, even amidst people’s discouragement! When we arrived at the site each day I climbed the stairs to the second floor of the church and found her hiding in a corner or under a wood pile. I cried myself to sleep our last night there…I prayed and prayed for God to bring some kind of miracle….thinking we would have to leave her behind…hungry. I’d like to believe there was some evangelism going on when I talked with Norma and Janine…I think this a beautiful example of how our sharing of God’s love and His stories with others can change lives, even a dog’s life!”
This was truly a gift of love from so many missioners and others over that 2-week period. God did indeed watch over all of us including the 9th missioner, who now has a second name of Taco Belle because Graciela Amor was too long to put on her name tag!
[Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania] The Community Café at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in State College, Pennsylvania, was born out of a desire by parishioners to fill the outreach void that was left when the State College Area Food Bank, which was housed at the church for many years, outgrew its space. For the past five years, St. Andrew’s also has provided a free Thanksgiving Dinner – on Thanksgiving Day.
It began the first year the café served food, even when that food was simply soup and bagels. “We had a discussion that included all the negatives,” said Ron Rovansek, St. Andrew’s parishioner and café volunteer. “We knew volunteers might be lacking because of family commitments. We didn’t know if patrons would come in to eat. We weren’t sure where the food was going to come from. But that discussion lasted about 10 minutes.”
It was a leap of faith, and one that was rewarded. The turnout was enormous. They had more volunteers than they could imagine. Patrons thanked them for being open on a holiday; volunteers talked about how meaningful the experience was and how they were happy to have a place where they could start their kids on the road to community service.
Throughout the year, the food comes mainly through donations from the parish and local grocery stores. There are regular volunteers who pick up bread, salad greens, vegetables and various desserts, and Trader Joe’s donates twice a week. For Thanksgiving, parishioners donate turkeys and desserts.
“It’s a bit hard to say how many people we will serve,” said Rovansek. “If the past is any indication though, it may be up to 150-200 people.”
The Community Café “takes its name very seriously,” added Rovansek. “If you were to walk into Canterbury Hall on any given Thursday, you would find a bustling, lively group of patrons who look forward to seeing each other and volunteers who do not want to be known for merely shoving plates of food through the kitchen window. The regulars know each other, but what makes it really special is that new folks are heartily welcomed. With the mission of food and companionship in mind, the need for those things doesn’t go away over the holidays. In fact, loneliness and feelings of lonesomeness can increase, and so we feel blessed that Thanksgiving every year falls on a Thursday. There was never a question of the café not operating on Thanksgiving Day.”
– Linda Arguedas is canon for events and communications in the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania.
[Episcopal News Service] Instead of power-shopping the Thanksgiving day-after sales, Robyn LaRocca and her teenage daughters will be doing laundry, and preparing and serving meals to Houston-area homeless.
They are teaming up with about 20 members of St. John the Divine Episcopal Church in Houston for “Bless” Friday, a Nov. 29 alternative to the traditional “Black” Friday’s unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season.
She hopes her daughters, Rachel, 18, and Sarah, 14, “will appreciate serving as opposed to shopping and, hopefully, once they get there, they’ll be transformed. It’s a real time to teach a value to them,” said LaRocca, St. John’s executive assistant for outreach and special ministry.
And values, not bargains are what “Bless” Friday is all about, says Charles Fox, who founded the event four years ago.
Inspired by a Thanksgiving season sermon, he realized that “we’ve got to do something about the way we’re starting our Christmas celebration,” said Fox, 53, an oil and gas engineer.
“We’re focusing on buying things and getting things and taking our focus off Jesus,” he said. “I got the idea that we needed to change the day after Thanksgiving from Black Friday to Bless Friday so we could start our season of worship, acknowledging what Jesus would have us do as an alternative to the frenzied shopping.”
This year, participation rose from five area churches of varying denominations to seven, and Fox is determined to keep it simple, he said.
“What we’re trying to do is to get churches and Christian organizations to schedule service opportunities the day after Thanksgiving in order to help start their season with service to prepare their hearts for a season of worship,” he said.
Anyone, anywhere can join in, individually or collectively, he said. “We suggest just keeping it simple,” Fox added.
“Just go to a local food bank or soup kitchen, or assist in any place set up to aid the community or where you already volunteer.”
John Kenner, and about 15 others from St. Francis Church in Houston heeded the call and signed onto this year’s efforts.
Black Fridays usually meant, for Kenner, staying home to watch football on television “while his wife power-shopped,” he said.
Instead this year, Bless Friday will mean helping in the clean-up of a local park, he said, during a recent telephone interview with ENS.
“We’ll have something to do together and give back, and it’s a better experience for the both of us, to spend some time together,” said Kenner, 48, owner of an electric submersible pump manufacturing business.
“I like it because you can go out and give back and do it in a fairly simple fashion,” he said, adding that “if the weather holds up for us, we will go to one of the local schools and clean up there, too, if there’s time. It’s great to get a little momentum and do some good.”
Similarly, in Milwaukie, Oregon, St. John’s Church, is doing good on Bless Friday by hosting a blood drive on Nov. 29 with a goal of participation from at least 45 donors, according to a note on the church’s website.
“The Red Cross is in desperate need of blood donations – especially during the winter months and holiday season,” according to the announcement.
Jennifer White, administrative and development coordinator for Christ Church Cathedral’s The Beacon outreach ministry, said Bless Friday volunteers “will help with preparing and serving a cafeteria style meal and with cleanup.
“They’ll help in the laundry, as far as washing and drying clothes for our clients,” as well as assisting in the intake area, where clients come in to register for daily services.
“Volunteers will all have a chance to mingle with clients,” White said. “There will definitely be one-on-one communication,” which will make for a meaningful experience for both volunteer and recipient, she said.
“From a client perspective, the homeless are often looked upon as the lowest of the low,” she added. “Many people see a homeless person sitting on the sidewalk and walk right past them as though they don’t exist,” she said during a recent telephone interview with ENS.
She expects the day’s blessings to go both ways, she added.
“Just on a regular day, not even around the holidays, the thanks we receive from people who get services here, is overwhelming,” White said.
“People are so appreciative of how they’re treated because we’re big on dignity and respect. We address everyone by name. We want them to feel they are important when they walk through our doors and that they’re welcome here. We treat them as family,” she said.
Those kinds of connections are what LaRocca, of St. John the Divine, hopes to experience with her daughters. “I really enjoying serving others and it’s a wonderful way for my family to connect, a wonderful way to see others connect.”
–The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. She is based in Los Angeles.
[Diocese of Easton] Editor’s note: This story was updated at 7:20 p.m. on Nov. 26 to report the death of the Rev. David Dingwall, according to local news report. More information is now available in a more recent story here, which was posted mid-afternoon Nov. 27.
The fire occurred in the rear office area of the church, located on North Baltimore Avenue, when a person on fire entered the Shepherd’s Crook ministry offices, according to the diocese’s website.
According to local news reports, he is believed to be the other person who died. A third person remains hospitalized.
“Volunteers and witnesses say that the man, engulfed in flames, possibly ran into the church for help, and set draperies inside the building alight,” reported WJLA. “Fire officials still do not have an exact cause for the fire.
“After searching through the charred wreckage, firefighters discovered the man’s body in the section of the church that provides food and other services to the homeless.”
Another local news outlet, WMDT, reported that an adult female victim was transported to John’s Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, while an adult male was taken to Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin, Maryland, in critical condition.
Dingwall began his ministry at St. Paul’s-by-the-Sea in 2005, according to the parish’s website.
[The Episcopal Church Office of Global Partnerships] There are many blessings that come with being a member of the worldwide family of churches known as the Anglican Communion. One of them is how we can all come together and work towards affecting positive change around the world. Today we’d like to use our blog post to lift up some resources and stories from our partners around the Communion.
This year the Anglican Communion Office has released a fantastic resource for the 16 Days of Activism against Violence against Women and Gender Violence. As the Rev. Terrie Robinson, the Women’s Desk Officer in the Anglican Communion Office, writes“Each year, more and more Anglican churches and dioceses around the Communion are using the international 16 Days of Activism against Violence against Women to break the silence, challenge harmful attitudes, and engage women and men in taking action to prevent and end gender based violence.” We highly recommend reading through this document and learning more!
In 2011, the Primates of the Anglican Communion met in Dublin, Ireland. During this meeting they heard testimony about gender based violence and were moved to write aLetter to the Churches reflecting commitment to engaging with this issue. They wrote,“We acknowledged with grief that gender based violence is a global phenomenon and that all but a very small percentage of such violence is perpetrated by men against women, with devastating effects on individuals, families and society. In considering the pervasive nature of violence against women and girls, our churches must accept responsibility for our own part in perpetuating oppressive attitudes towards women. In penitence and faith we must move forward in such a way that our churches truly become a living witness to our belief that both women and men are made in the image of God. To think and behave in ways that do not live out this belief but disempower and marginalise, is to mar the divine image and therefore to offend humanity and God.”
We continue to give thanks for the leadership of the Communion Primates on this issue, and give special thanks for our own Primate, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori. If you missed her sermon from yesterday, please click here to read it!
Here are just two examples of how churches around the Communion are getting involved in the 16 Days of Activism:
In England, Bishop Andrew Watson, the Bishop of Aston, in the Diocese ofBirmingham, and the Church of England’s Chair of the Panel for World Mission and the Anglican Communion, participated in the White Ribbon campaign and visited with women who have been victims of abuse. More information about the Church of England’s commitment to eliminating gender violence can be found in this Anglican Communion News Service article and in Bishop Andrew’s interview and statement on the White Ribbon campaign.
In Malawi, the Anglican Church is participating in the 16 Days of Activism for the first time. In the Diocese of Southern Malawi, Anglicans participated in a 12 kilometer march through the city of Blantyre to mark the beginning of the 16 Days. Fr. Willard Kamandani of the Diocese of Southern Malawi said, “Our participation is meant to address the lack of women’s voices in society as well as in the Church.” A full news article from ACNS is available here.
We look forward to sharing more reflections, news, and resources throughout the rest of the 16 Days of Activism.
– Elizabeth Boe is the Episcopal Church’s officer for global networking.
[Episcopal News Service] Seeking to raise an estimated $300,000 in additional annual revenue, Washington National Cathedral on Jan. 1 will launch a six-month trial of charging tourists to visit its historic building.
Though charging admission is a new policy, the cathedral has charged for specialty and group tours, said Richard Weinberg, the cathedral’s director of communications in a Nov. 26 phone call with ENS.
“The change that’s coming effective Jan. 1 is that anyone coming for sightseeing, self-guided or a docent-led highlights tour, will be charged,” he said.
Adult visitors will be charged $10, and senior citizens, children, students, veterans and members of the military will be charged $6, said David J. Kautter, chair of the Cathedral Chapter, in a Nov. 25 statement to members, donors and volunteers. The cathedral will remain open to those visiting for prayer, worship and pastoral care, and it will offer free admission on Sundays, he said.
“The Cathedral Chapter [governing board] and leadership are sensitive to the cathedral’s foremost identity as a house of prayer and as a living faith community in the Episcopal tradition,” Kautter said. “Despite the wonder of the art and architecture here, the cathedral is not a museum.”
“Volunteers, members of the cathedral’s congregation and members of the National Cathedral Association will be admitted without charge,” he said. “We will be in touch again soon as our policies and procedures for the fixed admission are finalized over the coming months.”
The decision to charge admission was made “reluctantly,” Cathedral Dean Gary Hall told the Associated Press in a Nov. 25 article, noting that cathedrals and churches in Europe charge tourist admission fees.
“All we are charging for is tourism essentially,” Hall said. “We’re not charging for the essential services of the cathedral.”
In 2012, 375,000 people, in addition to parish members and other worshipers, visited the cathedral, up from 275,000 in 2011, when in August of that year the cathedral suffered $26 million worth of damages from a rare 5.8-magnitude earthquake and remained closed for more than 60 days. The cathedral since has raised $10 million in funds toward restoration.
Though it is less common to charge admission to cathedrals in churches in the United States than in Europe, at least two domestic Episcopal cathedrals and one church charge for tours.
The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York does not charge admission to enter the cathedral, but it does charge up to $15 for its Highlights, Vertical and Spotlight tours. Trinity Church in Boston, charges $7 for its guided and self-guided tours. Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California, charges $25 for its grand tour.
Washington National Cathedral, which is the seat of both the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, often is referred to as the “spiritual home” of the nation. It is located on Wisconsin Avenue, about five miles northwest of the Capitol Building, which sits at the eastern head of the National Mall and Memorial Parks.
Whereas the Capitol Building and other popular, federal government-sponsored destinations and cultural institutions (including the National Gallery; the Smithsonian; the Lincoln, Jefferson and Vietnam Veterans memorials; the Washington Monument; and Arlington National Cemetery) offer free admission, the cathedral is self-supporting and operates on a $13.3 million annual budget.
This financial independence, Kautter noted, “increases the cathedral’s freedom to speak freely in the public square and to convene people of all faiths. It also requires us to seek other means of ensuring our sustainability.”
After breaking even in 2010, the cathedral operated with a $400,000 surplus in both 2011 and 2012. This year, the cathedral operated at a $1.6 million deficit as a result of a shortfall in annual fundraising, said Weinberg.
“It is worth noting the cathedral relies on philanthropy to provide 65 to 70 percent of its annual operating revenues,” he said via a Nov. 26 e-mail in response to questions from ENS. “Operating expenses for fiscal year 2013 were in line with our plan for the year.”
In its vision statement, the cathedral states that it “will be a catalyst for spiritual harmony in our nation, renewal in the churches, reconciliation among faiths, and compassion in our world.” Besides offering approximately 2,200 worship services annually, the cathedral strives to accomplish that vision by offering a wide assortment of concerts and forums, some free, some at modest prices, Weinberg said.
The cathedral was designated a “national treasure” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2012. In August of that year, it received a $5 million Lily Endowment grant to jumpstart the post-earthquake restoration. In May 2013, the cathedral won first place in a Partners in Preservation competition, receiving a $100,000 grant toward its restoration.
“We are called to preserve and restore a building that is more than a century old and to offer programs that have a distinctive impact on our city, our nation and the world,” Kautter said. “To support that work, we must implement this carefully developed fixed-admission policy, and we believe it can be understood by all who have the cathedral’s best interests at heart.”
– Lynette Wilson is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Virginia Theological Seminary press release] Upon recommendation of the Dean and President, the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., the Virginia Theological Seminary Board of Trustees unanimously appointed five members of the Seminary faculty to endowed chairs at their November 13 meeting.
“Without exception, all these professors have published significant works and served the Church with distinction. The Board was pleased to vote in favor of the resolution that authorized these chairs,” said Markham. “Please join me in congratulating these recipients on this appropriate recognition. Their contributions and accomplishments make VTS a strong and vibrant seminary.”
The Rev. Anne Katherine Grieb, Ph.D. was appointed to the Meade Chair in Biblical Interpretation. Grieb came to Virginia Theological Seminary in 1994 and is Professor of New Testament. After graduating from VTS in 1983, she earned a doctorate degree at Yale and taught at Bangor Theological Seminary before returning to teach at VTS. In her twenty years of service at Virginia Theological Seminary she has been a participant in the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission, a member of the Anglican Communion Covenant Design Group and now serves on the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order. Grieb is the author of The Story of Romans: A Narrative Defense of God’s Righteousness (Westminster John Knox Press, 2002) as well as co-editor for The Word Leaps the Gap (Eerdmans, 2008).
The Rev. James Barney Hawkins IV, Ph.D. was appointed to the Arthur Carl Lichtenberger Chair in Pastoral Theology and Continuing Education. Hawkins came to VTS in 2000 as Professor of Pastoral Theology and Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program. Currently, he is Vice President for Institutional Advancement and oversees the Lifetime Theological Education office at VTS. Hawkins also serves as President of the North American Committee of St. George’s College, Jerusalem, and honorary associate at Immanuel Church-on-the Hill, Alexandria, Va. The author and editor of several books, including Episcopal Etiquette & Ethics: Living the Craft of Priesthood in the Episcopal Church (Church Publishing, 2012) as well as The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to the Anglican Communion (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), Hawkins has an M.Div. from Duke Divinity School and a Ph.D. in American Religious Studies from Duke University.
The Rev. Joyce Mercer, Ph.D. was appointed to the Arthur Lee Kinsolving Chair in Pastoral Theology. Mercer came to Virginia Theological Seminary in 2006 after serving as a faculty member of Graduate Theological Union in California and Union Theological Seminary in the Philippines. Mercer is currently Professor of Practical Theology. She completed a doctorate at Emory University, earned a D.Min. from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago; a Master of Social Work from the University of Connecticut; and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. An ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church USA for twenty-eight years, Mercer is the author of several books including GirlTalk Godtalk: Why Faith Matters to Adolescent Girls-And Their Parents (San Francisco, Jossey Bass, 2008) and Welcoming Children: A Practical Theology of Childhood (St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2005).
The Rev. Katherine Sonderegger, Ph.D. was appointed to the William Meade Chair in Systematic Theology. Sonderegger came to Virginia Theological Seminary in 2002 and is currently Professor of Theology. In her eleven years of service at VTS, Sonderegger has published work on assessing the thought of Karl Barth and is currently writing the first volume of her systematic theology. In addition, she serves on the editorial board for International Journal of Systematic Theology, New Studies in Dogmatics. She completed her doctorate at Brown University; earned a D.Min. and STM from Yale and an A.B. in Medieval Studies from Smith College. Sonderegger is the author of several articles and papers, and the book That Jesus Christ was Born a Jew: Karl Barth’s ‘Doctrine of Israel’ (Penn State Press, 1992).
The Rev. John Yueh-Han Yieh, Ph.D. was appointed to the Molly Laird Downs Chair in New Testament. Yieh serves as Professor of New Testament having joined the faculty in 1995. In his eighteen years of service, he has written and contributed to a number of books, articles and essays on the Gospel of Matthew, Johannine Epistles, Revelation and Chinese biblical interpretation. Yieh earned a Ph.D., M.Phil. and an M.A. in religious studies specializing in New Testament from Yale University; an M.Div. from Taiwan Theological Seminary; and an M.A. from Fu-Jen Catholic University. An ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, Yieh is currently the President of the Ethnic Chinese Biblical Colloquium and is Moderator of the Chesterbrook Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Falls Church, Va. An associate editor of the Chinese Union Study Bible series, Yieh is also the author of Conversations with Scripture: The Gospel of Matthew (Morehouse Publishing, 2012).
With a combined seventy years of service to Virginia Theological Seminary, the five professors receiving an endowed chair join a distinguished history of Christian educators at VTS who have received this honor, including current colleagues Stephen L. Cook, Ph.D., Amelia J. Gearey Dyer, Ph.D., the Rev. Robert W. Prichard, Ph.D. and Timothy F. Sedgwick, Ph.D.
“I would also like to extend my thanks to the Rev. Melody Knowles, Ph.D., our vice president for academic affairs,” added Markham. ”She spoke movingly about the ways in which faculty can be recognized by an institution and explained that beyond tenure and movement from assistant to associate to full professor, the highest accolade that an institution can bestow is the invitation to occupy an endowed chair.”
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] “Advent is a quieter time of the year in the Church’s understanding,” Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori says in her Advent Message 2013. “It’s a time to be still and listen, listen deep within to what is growing, ready to emerge into new life.”
The Presiding Bishop’s Advent Message 2013, videotaped in the Chapel of the Christ the Lord at the Episcopal Church Center in New York City, is available here.
In the liturgical calendar, Advent is the season leading up to Christmas. The first Sunday of Advent is December 1.
The following is the text of Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori’s Advent Message 2013.
Presiding Bishop Advent Message 2013
Advent is a time of waiting and for many people it’s a time to reflect on what Mary must have experienced as she waited for the birth of this unusual child.
You may never have been pregnant or lived with someone who was, but put yourself in her place for a while. Consider what it would have been like to have a new life growing within you. And reflect on what new is growing within you this season of Advent.
What new concern is growing for the people around you? What new burden is on your heart for the woes of the world? What new possibility do you see emerging in the world around you, and how might you be part of that?
Advent is a quieter time of the year in the Church’s understanding. It’s a time to be still and listen, listen deep within to what is growing, ready to emerge into new life.
And as the season for the birth of the Christ Child arrives, I would encourage you to consider how you yourself will be present in the world in a new way this year. How will you give evidence of love incarnate to the world around you?
I pray that you have a blessed and joyful and peace-filled Advent. God be with you.
Mensaje de Adviento del 2013 de la Obispa Presidente:
“Es tiempo para estar quieto y escuchar”.
[26 de noviembre de 2013] “La temporada del Adviento es la más tranquila del año en el conocimiento de la Iglesia”, en su mensaje de Adviento del 2013 la Obispa Presidente Katharine Jefferts Schori dice lo siguiente. “Es un tiempo para estar quieto y escuchar, escuchar en lo profundo lo que está creciendo, y listo para emerger a una nueva vida”.
El mensaje de Adviento del 2013 de la Obispa Presidente, grabada en la Capilla del Cristo Señor en la oficina principal de la Iglesia Episcopal en la ciudad de Nueva York, está disponible aquí.
En el calendario litúrgico, el Adviento es el tiempo previo a la Navidad. El primer domingo de Adviento es el 1 de diciembre.
A continuación está el texto del mensaje de Adviento del 2013 de la Obispa Presidente Jefferts Schori.
Mensaje de Adviento del 2013 de la Obispa Presidente
El Adviento es un tiempo de espera y para muchas personas es un tiempo para reflexionar sobre lo que María debe haber experimentado mientras esperaba el nacimiento de este niño extraordinario.
Puede que usted nunca haya estado embarazada o vivido con alguien que lo estaba, pero póngase en su lugar por un momento. Considere lo que hubiera sido tener una nueva vida que crece dentro de usted. Y reflexione sobre lo nuevo que está creciendo dentro de usted en esta temporada de Adviento.
¿Qué nueva preocupación está creciendo en la gente que le rodea? ¿Qué nueva carga está en su corazón sobre los problemas del mundo? ¿Qué nuevas posibilidades ve usted que surgen en el mundo que le rodea, y cómo puede usted ser parte de eso?
El Adviento es el momento más tranquilo del año en el conocimiento de la Iglesia. Es un tiempo para estar quieto y escuchar, escuchar en lo profundo lo que está creciendo, y listo para emerger a una nueva vida.
Y a medida que la temporada para el nacimiento del Niño Jesús se aproxima, les animo a que consideren cómo usted va a estar presente en el mundo de una manera nueva este año. ¿Cómo va a prestar declaración del amor encarnado en el mundo que le rodea?
Rezo para que usted tenga una temporada de Adviento bendita, alegre y llena de paz. Que Dios esté con vosotros.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The House of Bishops (HOB) Primer on Ecclesiology is now available in three languages.
“A Primer on the government of The Episcopal Church and its underlying theology” was presented by the Ecclesiology Committee of the House of Bishops to HOB at its most recent meeting.
Members of the Ecclesiology Committee are: the Rt. Rev. John Buchanan; Mills Fleming, Esq.; the Rt. Rev. Dr. William Gregg; the Rev. Dr. Charles K. Robertson; and the Rt. Rev. Pierre W. Whalon.
For more information contact Bishop Whalon at email@example.com.
[Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh] Bishop Dorsey McConnell has granted permission for clergy in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh to bless same-sex relationships. In a Nov. 25 pastoral letter, McConnell announced that the decision of whether or not to bless same-sex relationships may be made by each pastor, in his or her own parish. The pastoral letter is accompanied by McConnell’s assessment of the provisional rite for blessing same-sex relationships, as authorized for trial use by the Episcopal Church’s General Convention in 2012, along with guidelines and other resources.
November 25, 2013
Dear Friends in Christ,
As you know, the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, meeting in Indianapolis in 2012, authorized at the discretion of the bishop, a provisional rite for blessing a lifelong covenant between persons of the same sex. Prior to that, I had announced my intention to conduct a series of conversations in the diocese to give me a sense of the faithful and to lay the groundwork for our continuing unity. These conversations have occurred, and I include a report as part of this letter. Beyond that process, I have listened to many other voices, reflected deeply on Scripture, consulted broadly, and prayed throughout, asking that God would guide me toward a decision consistent with His will. The purpose of this letter is to convey not only that decision, but also my hope in our future together and the scope of some of the pastoral considerations I believe we will need to keep in mind going forward.
As I have listened to you, I have heard many passionate, and sometimes contradictory, hopes and fears. Some have insisted they will not tolerate any permitted use of a blessing liturgy in this diocese, while others have insisted they will accept nothing less than sacramental marriage for same-sex couples. Between these poles I have heard a host of nuanced positions, usually accompanied by the sincere desire for the unity of the Church and a deep hope that, whatever my decision, we would find a way to hold onto one another in Christ, setting an example for the world by our love.
This unity in diversity has been in the forefront of expressed values since the earliest days of the rebuilding that took place in this diocese after 2008. Our “Mission, Vision & Values” covenant from that time speaks of our commitment to each other, despite differences and disagreement, being united in greater measure by our faith expressed in the Creeds; by the authority of Scripture, tradition and reason in our common life; and by a commitment both to the order of the Episcopal Church and the fellowship of the Anglican Communion. While that covenant does not explicitly name the issues concerning human sexuality, it has been understood that these matters are part of the diversity in the diocese, expressed in the character of local communities of faith, some congregations in the aggregate being more conservative on issues of sexuality, others more progressive, and a few quite mixed.
Since this local character exists in variety of conviction, I find it reasonable that this variety should be allowed to express itself in local practice, by allowing the decision of whether or not to use this rite to be made by each pastor, in his or her own parish. This “local option” will allow each rector or priest-in-charge to minister pastorally according to his or her commitments and conscience, while putting none under constraint or duress.
Having said this, I must also be clear, both as your bishop and from my own place in this spectrum of belief, that I have serious reservations concerning the theology and intention of the rite, for reasons I have specified in an assessment that appears below. I know that at least a few of the clergy inclined to use this rite share some of my concerns about it; I also know they see it as a way of offering public recognition and pastoral support to same-sex couples in whom qualities of mutual devotion and fidelity, care and nurture, and faithful participation in the life of the Church are clearly visible. It is out of respect for their local pastoral authority, as well as out of my own pastoral regard for the free conscience of all who are under their care, that I will allow the use of this rite according to the guidelines that also appear below.
As for the somewhat related matter of ordained ministry, I believe the principal determining factor in regard to my role as ordinary rests in my discernment, in concert with the Church, as to whether God is calling any given individual to Holy Orders. Therefore, I will not alter the non-discrimination policy begun under Bishop Price; an individual’s being in a committed same-sex partnership will not, in and of itself, be a barrier either to ordination or call in this diocese.
I have previously acknowledged that these policy decisions, along with the accompanying materials, will not satisfy everyone. However, I believe we are called into one Body, as Christ’s members, and in and through that Body are called to bear with one another, not out of obligation, but out of joy in the gift God has given us through one another, perhaps especially in the gift of those who differ with us and yet whom we embrace as sisters and brothers in Christ. In an increasingly polarized and contentious world, let us pray that our forbearance with one another in love will show forth the character of Jesus the Reconciler, whose heart of peace yearns over all our wars.
Finally, I know that even to open this topic exposes the most tender areas of human identity and affections, the deepest questions of our aspirations and purpose in life, our acceptability before God and others, our call to holiness, and our need for grace. Mindful that we all must one day render an account before the judgment seat of Christ, especially for those who were kept from the mercy of God by anything we have done or said, I ask your particular prayers and consideration, in the coming days, for the following:
Those gay, lesbian, or transgendered people who have not found a welcome in the Church; as well as those who rejoice that their committed relationships may now be celebrated.
Those of homosexual or heterosexual orientation who are committed to lives of holy celibacy, as a matter of obedience to God and faithfulness to Scripture.
All who are married; especially those struggling, seeking the grace of God and the support of a Christian community to heal their relationship and reconcile them to their spouse.
Those whose marriages have ended badly and who bear old burdens of grief or guilt.
The divorced and remarried who may still encounter a spirit of condemnation in the Church.
I have often said that I believe I was called to be the bishop of the whole diocese, not merely a part of it. That remains my commitment. I am available to talk and pray with you around any concerns you may have regarding any part of this letter. I only ask again that, as we move forward, you hold in your own heart and prayers those whose views may be utterly different from your own, but who share with you the same hope in Christ.
May the coming holy season of Advent serve as a time to renew our souls, quicken our repentance, and refresh our joy as together we await the celebration of the Savior’s birth.
Faithfully your bishop,
(The Right Reverend) Dorsey W.M. McConnell, D.D.
The Bishop of Pittsburgh
Guidelines for the Use of the Rite
The rite is permitted for local use as of The Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 2014, by the rector or priest-in-charge of a parish, or by an assisting priest acting under the authority of that rector or priest-in-charge, within that parish.
No priest may be compelled to use this rite in violation of his or her own conscience.
The rite may be used outside the diocese by clergy canonically resident in the Diocese of Pittsburgh only by joint permission of the Bishop of Pittsburgh and of the bishop in the hosting diocese.
The rite must be used according to its rubrics and may only be adapted within their provisions. No other liturgy may be used for the blessing of same-sex covenants.
It shall be the responsibility of any pastor contemplating the use of this rite to assess the likely pastoral and liturgical implications, and to address them with the couple, the parish leadership, and the bishop well in advance of the prospective date of its use.
The Provisional Rite: An Assessment
The new rite for blessing a lifelong covenant between people of the same sex is entitled “I Will Bless You, and You Will Be a Blessing.” If I am correct in interpreting both the extensive prefatory material included in Resolution A049, as introduced and approved at the 2012 General Convention, as well as many public statements on the part of members of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, the intent of the Commission is eventually to establish this rite as matrimonial. Consistent with this intention, the rite appears to follow the pattern of the celebration of matrimony as set forth in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: an opening announcement, readings, an exchange of vows and rings, prayers and a final blessing over the couple.
Beyond this general form, however, the similarities disappear. The rite does not give a coherent statement of the nature and purpose of the covenant being celebrated. It does not base its authority in Scriptural warrant. There is no reference to bodily union. Its understanding of the role of procreativity, while helpful in one regard, is ultimately compromised. And the “theology of blessing” that pervades the liturgy is inadequate to establish the sacramental character of the rite. I will briefly expand on these points in order, through a comparison of the 1979 rite of matrimony and the provisional rite of blessing.
The rite of matrimony is clear in establishing the purpose of the covenant: lifelong union of man and woman “in heart, body and mind” for mutual joy, help, comfort, and procreation of children. The authority of the rite is located in four specific Biblical warrants (Genesis, John, Ephesians and Hebrews) incorporated into the text of the opening instruction, and by several readings that refer specifically to marriage. The bodily nature of the union is referred to at least twice (in the opening instruction and in the prayer for the couple “made one flesh in holy matrimony”), as is the procreation of children and the role of the parents as primary teachers of the Gospel. Finally, the governing theology of the rite from beginning to end is rooted in the classical narrative of redemption – a good creation, fallen through sin, dead under the Law, redeemed by the Cross of Jesus Christ, and given new life through His Resurrection. The couple signifies the totality of humanity, representing the image of God – once shattered in Eden – now restored in Christ. The sacramental character of marriage, as with all sacramental rites, is shown to be transformative: the couple is changed, embodying the hope that we all may be changed, transformed by grace into a new creation.
The provisional rite is unclear from the outset as to its nature and purpose. The opening instruction mentions certain qualities the parties are supposed to demonstrate – such as strength and bravery – but the “love” that is referred to as the basis for the covenant is not further defined. Is it sexual love? Familial love? Friendship? A diverse set of Scriptures, beginning with the responsory reading from 1 John, are brought in to develop the general theme of “love,” but none sheds any light on the question of the covenant’s nature or purpose, and none rises to the level of a Biblical warrant. Sexual congress is assumed, judging from the extensive prefatory material which includes guidelines for counseling the couple, but never actually mentioned. Procreativity is referenced in the inclusion of existing children in the liturgy – to my mind the rite’s greatest strength – but the couple’s role in raising them is unclear. (For example, the children are to go “from strength to strength” but no mention is made of them being raised to know God, nor are the responsibilities of the adults toward them further defined.)
Further, the “theology of blessing” throughout the provisional rite seems to be a deliberate departure from the classical narrative of redemption. In the provisional rite, the creation remains wholly good, we are made to be a “blessing,” and the couple become (again, in a way unspecified) an affirmation and reminder of that good creation. Some language from the narrative of redemption is sporadically used (e.g. “grace,” “new creation,” and even in one instance, the “saving work of Jesus”). However, since in this “theology of blessing” all is apparently well and good, it is uncertain what that redemptive language means in this new context, what we might need to be saved from or saved to. No transformation is necessary. Since the very nature of sacrament entails transformation by means of grace, I am not sure what place sacraments could have in such a world.
I note that Resolution A049 specifically charges the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to review its work in the light of classical systematic theology. This is hopeful. However, if the intention of the rite is to establish a persuasive theological and liturgical case for the sacramental blessing of same sex unions, that case is at best unproved. If it is further to establish a rite that may be used, at some point in the future, for matrimony of heterosexual couples, the replacement of a theology of redemption with a theology of blessing represents a clear departure from our historic understanding of the Gospel.
I will be conveying my thoughts to the Commission during this period in which it is seeking comment and feedback on the rite, and encourage others in the diocese to do the same.
Summary Report: Conversations on Human Sexuality and Communion
In January 2013, the Diocese of Pittsburgh began a process of dialogue among its members. This process had two primary goals. The first was to learn a non-confrontational manner of discussing issues where there was disagreement. The second was to bring diverse people together to discuss issues concerning the blessing of same-sex covenants and the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy, and the larger topic of our life together.
Two groups were formed to assist in the process: a Steering Committee, which worked in the early stages to help design the overall plan; and a prayer team, which provided on-going spiritual support. The format was structured by the Public Conversations Project, a consulting group that specializes in addressing topics where there is a deep divide among people. The dialogue design was tested by the Steering Committee, adjusted, used with two pilot groups in March and April, and then, following training of a corps of facilitators, rolled out to the diocese in June.
During the period from June 27 through September 28, dialogues were held at St. Peter’s, Brentwood; St. Paul’s, Mt. Lebanon; St. Thomas, Oakmont; St. Mark’s, Johnstown; and St. Michael’s, Ligonier. An invitation to participate was sent out in Grace Happens. While 143 people signed up in response to this, about one-third of those were unable to participate, generally due to schedule constraints. The ability to devote a full day was difficult for many.
Thirty-two people participated in the January through April phase of the project. An additional 92 participated in the nine sessions held from June through September.
Following an opening prayer provided by our prayer team, each session began with an explanation of the differences between debate and dialogue, with emphasis that the sessions were not for arguing or swaying the minds of others, but rather, hearing diverse views in a safe and confidential manner. Participants then split into two groups, each containing those of similar views. This allowed participants to practice the dialogue format of listen, think, speak before engaging with others who had different views. The two groups were mixed for the afternoon session, which concluded with the question, “What could happen in the diocese over the next year that might enable moving forward together as the body of Christ?” Responses were written on a flip chart, typed, and forwarded directly to Bishop McConnell for his review as part of his personal discernment on the issues.
What did the participants convey to the bishop? Six key themes emerged:
The diocese needs to avoid making issues of human sexuality THE defining issue of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. All need to focus on our common ground rather than on polarizing issues. Diocesan goals and activities towards those goals need to be clear.
Education is needed across the diocese on Episcopal polity at the congregational, diocesan, and national levels. Education is also needed on the various interpretations of scriptural references to homosexuality and on current knowledge of human sexuality and sexual identity.
No one should be marginalized due to their position on issues regarding human sexuality. As a diocese, we have more than a decade of experience with marginalizing those who disagree. This is not a Christian response. Everyone needs to be heard and to feel that they have been heard.
We need more time together. Many commented on how fragmented we have become and how many parishes have isolated themselves from the diocese during the last decade. If we are to become a strong diocese with a common focus, we need to devote the time to being together. The more time we spend together, the more common ground and Christian love for each other we feel. We need to do this through district and diocesan meetings. We might develop sister parishes with whom we share worship, music, mission and outreach, and regular fellowship.
What could happen? Participants envisioned homosexuals being welcomed and heterosexuals not feeling threatened, because in thought, word and deed, all seek to make others comfortable and part of our worship community; that we realize the majesty of the faith we share makes our differences less consequential; and, that parishes would have latitude to operate within the historic Episcopal traditions of diversity and welcome, accepting the wisdom of the past while respecting the wisdom of the present. It was also noted that some people may leave no matter what the decision.
The conversations need to continue. There was almost unanimous sentiment that this type of dialogue is good and needs to continue. Suggestions were made that it happen at the district and congregational levels through the next year, both to help us discuss these issues as the diocese moves ahead and to allow a forum for other difficult topics to be discussed in a healthy way.
We, the undersigned co-chairs, are grateful for the members of the Steering Committee who were so instrumental in helping us initially plan and refine our process: the Rev. Nancy Chalfant-Walker, Greg Davis, Alan Lewis, Mary Roehrich, and the Rev. Philip Wainwright. We appreciate the support of the prayer team, led by Carol Gonzalez and the Rev. Kathy LaLonde. We also thank our facilitators from PCP, Bob Stains and Mary Jacksteit. And above all, we are indebted to the participants of these dialogue sessions for coming to them with open minds and caring hearts, and to all who supported the process in spirit and in prayer.
(The Right Reverend) Dorsey W.M. McConnell, D.D.
The Bishop of Pittsburgh
Dana M. Phillips
A guide for those who wish to do further study of the provisional rite or to access materials referenced in this Pastoral Letter and accompanying documents:
Resolution A049 to Authorize Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Gender Relationships:
“I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing” (purchase or free download of the rite with one page theological summary): www.churchpublishing.org/products/index.cfm?fuseaction=productDetail&productID=9743
Full SCLM theological statement (prefatory material) as prepared for the 77th General Convention: https://www.ctepiscopal.org/images/customer-files/I_Will_Bless_You_Corrected.pdf
The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music: http://www.generalconvention.org/ccab/roster/399
To contact SCLM: firstname.lastname@example.org
SCLM Online Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SCLMSame-SexResourceFeedback
Mission, Vision & Values Statement of the Diocese of Pittsburgh: