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Presiding Bishop visits Western North Carolina

ENS Headlines - Thursday, April 10, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori visited the Diocese of Western North Carolina April 6-8, leading a retreat where members of the diocese explored the theme, “Do Justice, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly in a 21st Century World.”

The retreat, held at Lake Logan Episcopal Center in Canton, North Carolina, focused on what mission means and how the church can be encouraged and inspired to do God’s work. Jefferts Schori stressed that missionary work is necessary at both the local and the global level. “The universe is connected in all scales in God’s transcendent, created reality,” she said. “The dream of God is that abundance is possible if we’re not selfish.”

Jefferts Schori’s address is available here.

A panel discussed mission work in far-flung places, like Haiti and India, as well as local projects that support the homeless, the hungry, and the under-educated. “We share the same destination, whether that is heaven or hell on earth,” Jefferts Schori said.

Western North Carolina Bishop G. Porter Taylor said that regardless of where we go to do missionary work, “we don’t go to tell them anything – we go there to discover and to be open to that power that transcends us.”

Jefferts Schori stressed that it’s not a decision about whether to do local work or global work – that we can think globally and locally, and take action in both. “We’re all called to do different things,” she said, encouraging everyone to find a passion and to connect to that ministry.

Taylor agreed: “If our theology is sound and we’re all connected, then we need to ask, ‘How can we react to that?’”

The presiding bishop used the Five Marks of Mission to describe how to approach mission work thoughtfully, but also encouraged everyone to “Fear not – be creative.”

The panel discussed what inspired them in their mission, with panel member Shawnee Irwin talking about the relationships she’s built in the companion diocese of Durgapur, India, and saying, “I keep hearing the voice of our Lord, and he keeps saying – ‘Go back, go back, they need you’ – and I need them.”

Jefferts Schori said her inspiration comes from hearing stories like the ones told during the retreat. “That’s a gift,” she said, “and then I can take those stories and share them wherever I go. That sustains me.”

– Chris Goldman is communications officer of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina.

Saint John the Evangelist in Newport reaffirms Episcopal identity

ENS Headlines - Thursday, April 10, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island press release] Saint John the Evangelist in Newport has reaffirmed its Episcopal identity by restoring its sign out front, after a decade of it reading “Anglican.”

The Vicar of St. John’s, Father N.J.A. Humphrey, will bless the restored sign at 9:00 a.m., following Morning Prayer on Friday, April 11th. Television, radio, and newspaper journalists are invited to be present for this special event at 61 Washington Street, between Poplar and Willow, in Newport.

In October, 2003, the former rector of Saint John the Evangelist Church in the historic Point neighborhood of Newport, Rhode Island changed the sign out front from reading “Episcopal” to “Anglican.” For the past decade, the former word “Episcopal” could still be seen faintly in the blacked-out background, over which the word “Anglican” was superimposed.

The 2003 sign change was intended as a protest against the consecration of Gene Robinson, a partnered gay man, as Bishop of New Hampshire. “I believe some people hoped that St. John’s would leave the Episcopal Church over this issue,” the current vicar, Father N.J.A. Humphrey, said. Fr. Humphrey has been the priest at St. John’s since August, 2013.

But St. John’s didn’t ever leave the Episcopal Church, and the term ‘Anglican’ on their sign gradually became misleading. Over the years breakaway churches across the nation began to claim the title ‘Anglican’ as a way of distancing themselves from the Episcopal Church, which is the official U.S. branch of the Worldwide Anglican Communion. Fr. Nathan Humphrey said  “As soon as I arrived, several people asked me what I was going to do about the sign. It wasn’t exactly my top priority, but I was bothered by the fact that it sent not just the wrong message, but a false one.”

A few months after Fr. Humphrey’s arrival, the governing board of the congregation authorized the sign’s restoration, and soon thereafter Fr. Humphrey raised enough money to cover the cost. “John Liptak of Liptak signs did a beautiful job,” Fr. Humphrey said.

This restoration is not intended to signal any recent change in the church’s ideology. Fr. Humphrey said “St. John’s is home to people on all sides of any given political or theological issue. We’re just like any other happy dysfunctional family in that regard…There are plenty of Anglicans who are progressive as well as plenty of Anglicans who are traditional in our theological and political outlook. He continued on to say “The plain fact of the matter is that to leave the word ‘Episcopal’ off of our sign was false advertising. We have been a member of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island since our founding as an Anglo-catholic congregation in 1875, and we have never ceased being anything other than a member of this diocese. Nor do we have any intention of changing that now or in the future.”

In fact, last Spring the governing board of St. John’s voted to request that the Bishop of Rhode Island, The Right Reverend W. Nicholas Knisely, make the parish a transitional mission congregation of the diocese, legally making the bishop the rector of the church. As Rector, Bp. Knisely appointed Fr. Humphrey, an experienced Anglo-catholic priest, to be his Vicar. The church consented. “I was recruited to help St. John’s reclaim its traditional identity as a joyful center of high church worship and caring outreach in Newport,” Fr. Humphrey said. “The denominational in-fighting of the past forty years effectively distracted many past members of St. John’s from our core identity as brothers and sisters in Christ, called to glorify God in reverent worship, to edify each other through attention to the Gospel of Jesus, and to embrace service to the world in Jesus’ name.

He continued “Our identity in Christ is the only identity that really matters, and anything, including what the sign says out front, pales in comparison to that. Thank God that St. John’s has members who have remained faithful to that core identity through thick and thin. Now is the time to broadcast that nothing will hinder us from proclaiming who we truly are: a Christian community in the Anglo-catholic tradition within the Episcopal Church.”

The Anglo-catholic movement began in the Church of England in the mid-nineteenth century. Soon, its emphasis on reverent beauty in worship and fidelity to the apostolic teaching of the early church was imported to many congregations within the Episcopal Church. “People like to say we are all about ‘smells and bells,’ but I prefer saying we have ‘all the pomp without the pope,’ though were the pope to visit us, we’d be pleased as punch to welcome him,” Fr. Humphrey quipped.

The sign change comes just in time for Holy Week, which begins with Palm Sunday on April 13th. “We are planning a procession from Storer Park to the church, beginning at 10 a.m. All are welcome to join our blessing of the palms in the park that morning, weather-permitting.” Fr. Humphrey continued, “I hope our neighbors and friends will join us, as well, on Maundy Thursday, April 17th, at 6:30 p.m. and Good Friday, April 18th, also at 6:30 p.m. On Saturday, Apirl 19th, Bishop Knisely will preside over the Great Vigil of Easter, at which the clergy and people of the other Episcopal Churches of Aquidneck Island and St. George’s School Chapel, Middletown will participate. St. Andrew’s, Little Compton will also join us, since they are in the same deanery as St. John’s.”

The Zabriskie Memorial Church of Saint John the Evangelist is located at 61 Washington Street in the historic Point neighborhood of scenic Newport, Rhode Island. The 139 year-old church was founded in the home of a free black man named Peter Quire from Maryland. In the late 1800s, Sarah Titus Zabriskie gave the current 13th century style stone gothic church overlooking the Narragansett Bay in memory of her mother, Sarah Jane Zabriskie. The church has been identified with the Anglo-catholic, or “high church,” tradition since its founding, and is known for its friendly, racially mixed and economically diverse congregation.

Canada: Welby explains gays and violence in Africa remarks

ENS Headlines - Thursday, April 10, 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop Fred Hiltz met for two hours at the convent of Sisters of St. John the Divine in Toronto. Photo: Michael Hudson

[Anglican Journal] After a 12-hour day of back-to-back engagements, a jet-lagged Justin Welby, the 105th archbishop of Canterbury, sat down for a 15-minute interview with the Anglican Journal late Tuesday evening, April 8.

Welby and his wife, Caroline, arrived in Toronto Monday afternoon for a one and a half day “personal, pastoral visit,” his first, to the Anglican Church of Canada. Welby, whose area of expertise includes conflict resolution, has said that these visits are part of a process for getting to know the primates (senior archbishops) and their churches. The Anglican Communion, which has been struggling with divisions over the issue of sexuality, has about 80 million members in 143 countries. Including Canada, the archbishop has visited 17 of the Communion’s 37 provinces and aims to visit them all by the end of the year or early 2015. He arrived April 9 in Oklahoma City, to visit The Episcopal Church.

Excerpts:

Q: How would you describe your first visit to the Anglican Church of Canada? What have you learned about this church that has been most unexpected?

A: Two things have been unexpected, that have been striking. One is the depth of commitment to the truth and reconciliation process, which I didn’t realize quite how deep that went into the life of the church. And, also, the commitment of the church to support the Council of the North dioceses…That’s all part of the same sense of commitment to those who the church has damaged or who are on the edge. The other thing that’s struck me has been the commitment to the Five Marks of Mission and that these are very much part of the strategy of the church, and that’s the vision of the church.

Q: You mentioned in your dinner remarks that your conversation with the primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, has been most useful in terms of how to move forward in the Communion.

A: We had two hours together and I find him a particularly helpful, thoughtful and challenging interlocutor, and someone who seems to be able to unlock and unpick issues that were weighing on my mind and to…enable more creativity. I don’t know if that’s part of his life as primate, but I felt that, as a result of the conversation, I was more creative than I was before it.

Q: Could you give us a sense of what you talked about?

A: There were these obvious things. We talked about the challenge of diversity in the Communion, that we have such breathtaking diversity across the Communion, that it’s a massive task to even think about how we can relate to each other effectively. We talked quite a lot about the companion dioceses and the value they are…the depth they get into.

Q: In 2016, the church’s General Synod will be presented with a resolution changing the marriage canon to allow same-sex marriage. Is this a cause for concern?

A: That’s a really tough question. Well, it’s got to be a cause for concern because this is a particularly tough issue to deal with…And, I hope that two or three things happen: I hope that the church, in its deliberations, is drawing on the wealth of its contribution to the Anglican Communion and the worldwide church, to recognize…the way it works and how it thinks, to recognize the importance of its links. And that, in its deliberations, it is consciously listening to the whole range of issues that are of concern in this issue. We need to be thinking; we need to be listening to the LGBT voices and to discern what they’re really saying because you can’t talk about a single voice anymore than you can with any other group. There needs to be listening to Christians from around the world; there needs to be listening to ecumenical partners, to interfaith partners. There needs to be a commitment to truth in love and there needs to be a commitment to being able to disagree in a way that demonstrates that those involved in the discussions love one another as Christ loves us. That’s the biggest challenge, that in what we do, we demonstrate that love for Christ in one another.

Q: Some people have reacted strongly to your statements about the issue of gay marriage in your interview with LBC radio.

A: Lots of people have.

Q: Were you in fact blaming the death of Christians in parts of Africa on the acceptance of gay marriage in America?

A: I was careful not to be too specific because that would pin down where that happened and that would put the community back at risk. I wouldn’t use the word “blame”— that’s a misuse of words in the context. One of the things that’s most depressing about the response to that interview is that almost nobody listened to what I said; they mostly imagined what they thought I said…It was not only imagination, it was a million miles away from what I said.

Q: So what exactly were you saying?

A: What I was saying is that when we take actions in one part of the church, particularly actions that are controversial, that they are heard and felt not only in that part of the church but around the world…And, this is not mere consequentialism; I’m not saying that because there will be consequences to taking action, that we shouldn’t take action. What I’m saying is that love for our neighbour, love for one another, compels us to consider carefully how that love is expressed, both in our own context and globally. We never speak the essential point that, as a church, we never speak only in our local situation. Our voice carries around the world. Now that will be more true in some places than in others. It depends on your links. We need to learn to live as a global church in a local context and never to imagine that we’re just a local church. There is no such thing.

Q: You’ve said the issue of same-sex marriage is a complex one that you wrestle with every day and often in the middle of the night…

A: I have about a million questions. I think really I’ve said as much as I want to on that subject.

Q: You recently released a video collaboration with Cardinal Vincent Nichols. What was the impetus for that?

A: It came about in the discussions we were having together. We meet together to discuss and pray quite regularly and out of that came the sense that we ought to do something public and visible that demonstrated what the church is already doing, to draw attention to that and that we’re centered both in prayer and social action. 

Q: Is there an Easter message you’d like to give to Canadian-Anglicans?

A: I would say that at the heart of my own thinking as we approach Easter is to recall the joy that is in the risen Christ.

Q: Is it harder for you now to be on Twitter because you’re the Archbishop of Canterbury?

A: Yes.

Q: Are you less candid?

A: I’m not necessarily less candid. It’s very interesting with social media, isn’t it? Every day I get loads of questions directed at me through a Twitter message—everything from “What’s your favourite book?” to “Are you really saying…whatever?” Sadly, there’s really no way I can respond to those—it’s just impossible. I would do nothing else all day, and then I wouldn’t get through it. One of the things I find difficult is ignoring responses to things that are tweeted because everything in me wants to respond to the people who’ve responded to me. But it’s just not possible. The other thing is that you just become aware of the dark side of all these things: that people feel that they can write things about other people, and not just about myself, which are really horrible. And so I have to say there are moments when you think, “I just don’t know if I want to put up something on social media because it will just unleash a torrent of abuse from some people.” But in the end you think, “Well, I won’t read it…there’s no point… I’m just going to get on with life.”

Q: Do you still compose your own tweets?

A: Yes.

Q: You don’t have a minder doing that for you?

A: No, no. I said it’s got to be authentic. It’s got to be me; that’s why there are sometimes gaps. I’ll go through a few days where nothing particularly occurs to me or I’m traveling. I’m not on Twitter today—I might just manage it today before I go to sleep. Some days, lots of things happen; other days, my mind is a perfect blank…

Q: You also need to be kind to yourself.

A: I do know about that, but you at least have to know when you’re going to bore people stiff.

Rapidísimas

ENS Headlines - Thursday, April 10, 2014

Las autoridades de Israel han cerrado el acceso a lugares de devoción para los cristianos como el Santo Sepulcro diciendo que es para mantener el orden y solemnidad de la Semana Santa pero grupos cristianos han interpretado la acción como un ataque a la libertad religiosa. El lugar del Santo Sepulcro se encuentra bajo el control de la antigua ciudadela y desde 1967 está en manos de Israel después de la guerra de los “Seis Días”.

El periódico francés “Le Monde” conocido por su línea liberal y pro revolucionaria, dijo recientemente en su editorial: “Los venezolanos llevan una lucha continua contra el despilfarro, la  corrupción y el autoritarismo político. Es un cóctel socio-nacionalista inspirado en el ejemplo cubano y el anti-imperialismo militante que saca sus fuerzas de un viejo fondo revolucionario latinoamericano. Es la herencia de un caudillo militar”.

Acaba de aparecer el libro “Chavistas en el imperio: secretos, tácticas y escándalos”  escrito por el periodista venezolano Casto Ocando que revela las inversiones secretas en los Estados Unidos y los negocios que han operado desde la llegada de Hugo Chávez al poder. El libro expone la doble cara del chavismo: por una parte una enemistad feroz contra el país del norte y  por otra las grandes inversiones secretas como empresas y edificios de lujo en el mismo. En una extensa lista el libro revela los nombres de los ministros, militares, parlamentarios y banqueros que están bajo investigación por el gobierno federal de Estados Unidos. El libro también revela los dineros del petróleo que han sido empleados para sobornar en el país y el extranjero.

Recientemente  hubo una reunión en Caracas con el fin de encontrar puntos comunes para la paz. La oposición pide la libertad de todos los presos políticos, el desarme de los grupos armados patrocinados por el gobierno, la libertad de prensa y reunión,  la destitución de funcionarios chavistas en la Asamblea Nacional, el Ejército, la Corte Suprema y otras instancias como la dirección de Ministerio del Tesoro. Estos puntos serán remitidos al ejecutivo mediante un delegado imparcial. Desde ya se cree que el gobierno rechazará discutir esos puntos. También se aceptó con beneplácito la medición del Vaticano.

A pesar de que las leyes brasileñas permiten que las iglesias no paguen impuestos  debido a su labor social hay iglesias evangélicas “que además de intentar llevar creyentes al paraíso celestial, también operan acciones para llevar dólares a paraísos fiscales”. Por esa razón,  Ministerios Públicos investigan a  templos que pudieran ser usados para lavado de dinero, ocultamiento de patrimonios y evasión fiscal.

Bob Coy, joven pastor que dirigió la segunda iglesia evangélica más numerosa del Estado de la Florida desde 1985, ha renunciado. La iglesia llamada “Capilla del Calvario” tiene 20,000 miembros y está situada en Fort Lauderdale, una ciudad cercana a Miami.  Coy dijo que renunciaba por razón de “dos fallas morales” que había cometido pero no dijo cuáles eran.

David White, que fue profesor del Seminario Evangélico de Teología de Matanzas, Cuba,  falleció el 1 de abril en su hogar de Nashville, Tennessee, a la edad de 92 años. Por varios años enseñó ética y otras materias en Matanzas. Hizo su tesis doctoral sobre el pensamiento de José Ortega y Gasset (intelectual español, 1883-1955). Sus alumnos lo respetaban por su carácter sobrio y sus conocimientos de varias materias teológicas. Al principio de la revolución en 1960 junto con otros misioneros norteamericanos en Cuba, escribió una carta al Presidente de Estados Unidos afirmando que la revolución era un “genuino movimiento nacionalista” sin conexión con las ideas socialistas de la época. Posteriormente cambió su posición al ver lo que pasaba en Cuba.

Bargeeta Almby, misionera evangélica sueca de 72 años fue víctima de un asalto a mano armada en Punjab, India, donde ha trabajado por 38 años. No perdió la vida pero está en estado crítico en un hospital local. Frans Van der Lugt, sacerdote jesuita holandés de 72 años fue asesinado en Siria por dos desconocidos.  Hace cuatro años se le ofreció salir del país pero rehusó diciendo “necesito estar con mi pueblo”. El sacerdote Juan Francisco Blandón, párroco de la Iglesia Concepción de María del Municipio de Wiwili, a 300 kilómetros al norte de Managua, Nicaragua, fue muerto tratando de mediar en una disputa matrimonial. Desde principios de año 24 mujeres han perdido la vida a manos de sus esposos o compañeros de vida.

PANCARTA. En una de las tantas manifestaciones de Caracas se podía leer la siguiente pancarta: “Fascista no es el pueblo que desconoce a su gobierno. Fascista es el gobierno que desconoce a su pueblo”.

‘Life becomes simple’ with lasting Lenten practices

ENS Headlines - Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hikers rest and reflect upon reaching the 40-foot Eaton Canyon waterfall in the San Gabriel Mountains near Pasadena, California. Photo: Pat McCaughan/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] The season of Lent may rapidly be coming to a close but some creative Lenten spiritual practices seem sure to linger on.

Like the ‘Fat-Tuesday’-inspired “Skinny Tuesdays” running club at Trinity Cathedral in Miami in the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida.

After the traditional Fat Tuesday pancake suppers “we figured everyone was going to need a skinny Tuesday,” joked the Rev. Grey Maggiano, assistant priest and a serious runner. “People enjoy it, it’s a neat way to have a diverse group of people gather.”

The ‘Skinny Tuesdays’ running group walks/runs about three miles weekly from Trinity Cathedral in Miami to Miami Beach and hopes to make Skinny Tuesdays a regular gathering. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Grey Maggiano

Altogether, about 50 people have joined in the runs at one time or another during Lent, with about a dozen participating regularly. “We meet on the cathedral steps at 6:15 p.m., stretch for 15 minutes, talk and catch up, pray and then we take off,” said Maggiano.

Participants are aged from 7 to 70; some do a two-mile walk, others a three-mile run along the Venetian Causeway from Miami to Miami Beach and back again. “We run along the water the whole way.”

The physical exertion helps clear out the clutter of the day, Maggiano added. “The rhythm and pacing of running has always given me something else to focus on so I can distract my mind … and that little corner opens up where I connect directly to God and pray as I’m running and life becomes simple. You focus on two things, God and the road and nothing else matters for that two-hour stretch,” he said.

It also has been a helpful spiritual practice because “Miami, like most cities, is so built up, we can forget how close we are to nature.

“Watching fish jump out of the water, and running by palm trees and reminding yourself that this once all was nature that we’ve taken over, is an important reflection for our call as Christians in this community,” he said. “To remember, that not only are we serving God and each other but we’re also serving this creation that surrounds us.”

The group has even attracted some runners who aren’t members.

“The thing that’s exciting for me as a priest is the people showing up and the conversations being had on the margins with folks about their lives and their kids and their spiritual lives and everything else.

“Now, one young runner wants to become an acolyte and to get more involved at the cathedral,” added Maggiano, 33. “Last week he brought a friend, so he and the friend raced while their moms walked and talked together. It’s exciting to see new people becoming familiar with the cathedral and the Episcopal Church through something as simple as running.”

Hiking in Los Angeles
Similarly, nature lovers from St. Luke’s Church in Monrovia, and Transfiguration Church in Arcadia, California who joined a Lenten “Wilderness Wondering/Wandering” Saturday morning meditation and hiking group want to extend it beyond Easter.

“Hiking is such a wonderful time to meditate, as well as focusing on health,” according to the Rev. Neil Tadken, St. Luke’s priest-in-charge, who is considering establishing hiking as a regular weekly time with parishioners.

Andy Dagis (in the foreground) follows the Rev. Neil Tadken along semi-rugged terrain during the weekly Lenten ‘Wilderness Wondering/Wandering’ on April 5. Photo: Pat McCaughan/Episcopal News Service

The hikers meet at the church and carpool to the hike location; the weekly treks are moderately paced, “and we’re learning what works and what doesn’t,” Tadken said. He selects the hiking paths in consultation with others and by checking hikespeak.com, a guide to California hiking trails.

Their first outing, a 5-mile jaunt along the Sam Merrill Trail to Echo Mountain in the San Gabriel Mountains, offered both physical and spiritual connections with that week’s gospel, “the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness where he is shown all the kingdoms of the world,” he said.

“We could see as far as from Camarillo to Palm Springs to Catalina Island” a sweeping panoramic 150-plus mile view of the Southern California landscape, according to Andy Dagis, an avid hiker and church member.

Wearing hiking boots, shorts and an Illinois sweatshirt, Dagis, a statistician for City of Hope and former Sierra Club member, also was along April 5 on a 3.5-mile hike to the 40-foot Eaton Canyon waterfall in the San Gabriel Mountains.

“Is the high road easier?” he mused as the group brushed past wild rosemary bushes, California pine and oak trees, navigating slippery rocks while crossing small flowing streams, up hill and down, alongside a winding creek, in semi-rugged terrain.

Much of the journey was single file, solitary, except for periodic stops to reflect on the next day’s Old Testament lesson, Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of the dry bones, prompting hikers to review the past and reflect on the future.

“When in your life have you felt all dried up?” Tadken asked hikers, in response to the Scripture. “What helped you renew your faith? If we say the future is nothing more than what the past has always been, then we can’t call something new into being.”

Yoga Nidra in Seattle: becoming still, still, still
For yoga instructors Wendy Townsend and Brenna Kramer, teaching ‘Yoga Nidra’ at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle, Washington, was to offer stillness and centering as a response to the way “our society is so driven to go, go, go, do, do, do and it leads you into a very deep place.”

Citing a Thomas Merton definition of Lent as “seeing our own true self in Christ, in the desert, in meditation” Townsend added that: “I think our own true self is sometimes hard to connect with because we’re so outer-focused.”

Participants have gathered in the dimly lit cathedral for the five-week series and during the hour-long class focused on “a starry night, a mountaintop, images that help you let go of your shopping list and what you have to do tomorrow, and go to your center,” she said.

“I like to talk about my favorite Bible quote, 1 Cor. 3:16, do you not know your body is a temple and that God dwells within you,” she said.

The cathedral backdrop aids “the sense of being in a holy place. It’s a wonderful place to practice yoga,” added Townsend, 71, a 14-year instructor.

Yoga “is not a competitive sport. It’s an individual experience. We invite people to close their eyes and go inside and find this being that they are. It brings you into a reflective awareness and I think people long for that,” she said.

Similarly, “coming out from a deep sense of reflection enables you to better live your life because you are coming from a deeper place,” she added. “We get very superficial and we’re getting it all done but I don’t know that we come from the deeper place of being connected.”

North Carolina: passing the Lent Baton
Passing the Lent baton has been a fun – and virtual way – to observe the season at Church of the Nativity in Raleigh, North Carolina, according to the Rev. Stephanie Allen, rector.

“It’s an idea of using Instagram and sharing the pictures of our lives and where we see God at work in our everyday normal lives outside of Sunday mornings,” Allen told ENS recently.

Imagine spending an entire day snapping camera phone selfies – Lent- and faith-focused ones – and then sharing six to eight of them, said Allen who took the first slot on Ash Wednesday and included bread as one of her images.

“Somebody brought me some bread as a little thank you gift and so I took a photo of it with my phone. You know, bread, bread of life, it took me to all kinds of places.”

Others have taken photos of their journals, daily Lenten readings, plants, candles, and people interactions.

For Allen, it’s become a spiritual discipline in that it helps remind us “that God is there, if we pay attention and if we take the time to really open our eyes … and you realize that’s really what we ought to be doing all the time.”

She admits to being an Instagram newbie until the Lent baton happened, “but there is a lot of potential for sharing … your image of the world and how you see it,” she said. “Everybody is an artist with their camera phone” and the wider community has also joined in.

Parishioner Mike Belmares, who facilitated the Lent baton, got the idea after seeing the popularity of the RDU Baton where “people in Chapel Hill and Raleigh, were signing up to take the baton to show parts of their lives, where they hang out, go jogging, eat. It has a two- to three-month wait list so he decided to adapt it to the church.

With a signup genius phone app, all participants have to do is “see it, snap it, share it,” he said. Nativity lends its account user name and password for a day, to participants.

“Lent is kind of this forgotten season, yet so pivotal to our faith,” he added. “It isn’t just about weeping and gnashing your teeth, or about your sins. It is a procession up to Easter. The idea was to kind of give life to a somewhat forgotten season, and to find fun ways to do it.”

He aims to continue the practice. “It is a matter of taking the message outside the brick and mortar of our congregations,” he said. “It’s about sharing faith. And I love the Episcopal Church and I think it has a lot to offer.”

The enthusiasm has caught on and “we’ve had other folks in our diocese jump on board. That was really neat to see. Folks we’ve never known have gotten involved from other congregations and it’s become a way for people to share their faith.”

“We just wanted to engage people and to share, that’s all. There is more power in all our hands than some of our hands.”

Seattle and the Ministry of ‘Worsted Wool’
While it’s true that Jonie Pritchard and Barbara Erickson are serial knitters, this year they invited others to enrich their faith during Lent by knitting baby blankets for a local pediatric clinic for the underserved.

It has also functioned as a kind of virtual ministry, in that the participants corresponded via the Internet, exchanging patterns – called ‘Jonie’s pattern’ – and e-mails, but worked in the solitude of their homes.

For Pritchard, performing the knit one, purl one, simple basket weave stitch is in itself a spiritual exercise, which she augmented “by praying as we’re knitting,” she told ENS recently. “We are bringing a new child into the world and this is a special thank you God for the ability to knit or crochet.”

Soft pastel worsted wool yarn is used and “we should have a big basket full of baby blankets to be blessed the Sunday after Easter.”

Along with six other members of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle, they participated in the ministry, dubbed the Ministry of Worsted Wool by Erickson.

“It dawned on me that the blankets we make are out of worsted wool yarn. So I decided to call it the ministry of worsted wool, and then I found a little lamb on Google and that’s become our little symbol,” Erickson said.

“It just felt like it was the right thing to do for the season,” she told ENS recently.

“We just knit, and I give away a lot of my knitted products. So, whenever I knit something it’s done with that spiritual intention.”

Knitting, for Erickson, “has a spiritual aspect. It’s a calming thing … To me, no matter what’s going on in the world if I just go and sit and knit I’m at peace.”

Added Pritchard, 76: “It’s a labor of love. I do this all year long but this time I have blocked out the other blankets I have requests for and am just doing this during Lent specifically with the idea in mind that St. Mark’s Cathedral will be knitting a bunch of blankets for the clinic.

“And I picture these little babies be there, and I pray it [the blanket] will comfort the new baby, and be of comfort to the mother, that the baby will be blessed by God and will turn to God. It’s all done with love and to the glory of God.”

– The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. She is based in Los Angeles.

Episcopalians gather to ‘challenge mythology of violence’

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Participants in the Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence conference on April 11 will visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum which memorializes the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building by Timothy McVeigh, an act of domestic terrorism that killed 168 people and injured 600 others. The Field of Empty Chairs includes a chair for each life lost, including 19 smaller chairs for the children who died that day. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma] An Episcopal Church effort to have “a dialogue that our society has not been able to accomplish” about violence in general and gun violence in particular began April 9 here.

Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence being held April 9-11 at the Reed Center and the nearby Sheraton Midwest City is meant to help Episcopalians renew their commitment to the Gospel call to make peace in a world of violence and “reclaim their role in society as workers for nonviolence and peace,” according to a press release from the church’s Office of Public Affairs.

The gathering of 220 people, including 34 bishops, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, is centered around four pillars: advocacy, education, liturgy and pastoral care as “key avenues to address the culture of violence within and outside of the church,” the release said.

“We have worshipped for far too long at the altar of the gun to solve our problems,” says
Diocese of Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton at the opening session of the April 9-11 Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence conference Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Diocese of Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton asked the participants to create a “condemnation-free zone” for the three-day conference that he said was a gathering of Episcopalians from “across the spectrum of geographical, political and theological differences to learn from each other, to pray with each other and to discern what the spirit might be saying to us as church leaders.”

Sutton invited people to “challenge the mythology of violence” in the United States that says violence will protect us from an unsafe and unpredictable world. Sutton said there is a “widely held myth that violence works and that non-violence is a pipe dream.”

“We have become intoxicated with violence as the only effective means to achieve our personal goals or national aspirations,” he said. “We have worshipped for far too long at the altar of the gun to solve our problems.”

Sutton said we have known for a long time that there is another way.

“The Christian gospel has proclaimed for thousands of years that there is a cure but we have lost confidence in our day that that ancient solution will work,” he said.

The gospel cure for violence is love, Sutton said, reminding people of Jesus’s commandment to love one’s enemies, bless those who curse you and pray for those who abuse you.

Non-violent movements broke British colonial rule in India, ended apartheid in South Africa and drove the civil rights movement in the United States, he said, citing examples.

The text of his remarks is here.

Diocese of Oklahoma Bishop Edward Konieczny, who says he favors the constitutional right to bear arms, hopes the April 9-11 Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence conference will be a “model and an example to others of how different voices with often very opposite passions can come together with honesty, charity and grace for a common purpose.” Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Diocese of Oklahoma Bishop Edward Konieczny told the gathering that he wasn’t expected to be invited into this conversation, much less be asked to host it. Konieczny, a former Southern California police officer who supports the constitutional right to bear arms, told the gathering that he has a concealed carry weapon permit.

“On occasion I have been accused of being a gun-toting bishop,” he said, adding that he sometimes carries a gun while traveling in Oklahoma.

Konieczny shared stories about his life as a police officer, including the time he switched shifts with a fellow officer who was killed by a man wielding a semi-automatic handgun on that shift.

Another time, he said, he responded to a call and a mentally ill man pointed a rifle at his head and pulled the trigger. The weapon misfired.

“But for the grace of God, I would not be standing here,” Konieczny said in an emotion-filled voice.

Rather than become more hardened by those experiences, the bishop said, “I refuse to feel powerless that I can’t make a difference or have an influence.”

Konieczny said he has seen many youths and adults be “renewed, reconciled and restored” by people who practiced the vows of what Episcopalians know as the baptismal covenant to respect the dignity of all people and strive for justice and peace.

“We don’t have to figure out what to do; we just have to do that which we have already promised,” he said, adding that “it is going to take generations” to reverse a cultural reliance on violence that has been built over generations.

“My hope is that this conference will be a model and an example to others of how different voices with often very opposite passions can come together with honesty, charity and grace for a common purpose,” he said.

Konieczny urged participants as they meet over the next days to keep in mind all victims of violence, especially the 20 students and a security guard who were stabbed by a 16-year-old high school student at a high school in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, about 20 miles east of Pittsburgh, early during the day on April 9.

The text of his remarks is here.

The rest of the conference

Following morning worship on April 10, Welby will address the gathering, followed by a press conference with Jefferts Schori. Concurrent workshops round out the morning. That afternoon the Rev. Chuck Jackson, associate pastor of South Grand Lake Christian Church, a Disciples of Christ congregation in Vinita, Oklahoma, will present an interactive discussion titled “Let It Begin with Me.” His presentation will be followed by a panel discussion on Episcopal responses to violence. The day concludes with workshop sessions in the afternoon and evening.

The April 10 sessions with Welby, Jackson’s presentation and the panel on Episcopal responses to violence are all due to be live streamed. The link is available here.

On April 11, the conference continues with a morning of worship, conversation and workshops. In the afternoon, participants will visit the Oklahoma City Memorial and Museum. The memorial and museum memorialize the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building by Timothy McVeigh, an act of domestic terrorism that killed 168 people and injured 600 others. Some survivors of the bombing are due to make a presentation to conference participants.

The gathering concludes with Eucharist at St. Paul’s Cathedral, less than two blocks from the site of the Murrah bombing. The cathedral was damaged by the 1995 blast. Jefferts Schori will preach. Dinner, featuring a concluding speech by Diocese of Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith, follows at the cathedral.

A schedule and list of workshop topics and presenters are here.

ENS and others are tweeting from the conference using #peaceokc.

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

Plenary sessions live-streamed from Episcopal Church peace event

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, April 9, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Four plenary sessions from Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence will be live streamed at no cost.

Violence in all its forms in American society and what can be done will be examined at the special Episcopal Church gathering April 9 – 11 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (Diocese of Oklahoma).

Live streaming is available here and click on Watch Live Broadcast.

Available for live viewing are:

April 9
6:30 pm Central (7:30 pm Eastern; 5:30 pm Mountain; 4:30 pm Pacific)
Bishop Ed Konieczny, Diocese of Oklahoma  on “Why Are We Here”
Bishop Eugene Sutton, Diocese of Maryland on “The Theology of Violence and Peace.”

April 10
9 am Central (10 am Eastern; 8 am Mountain; 7 am Pacific)
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

1:15 pm Central (2:15 pm Eastern; 12:15 pm Mountain; 11:15 am Pacific)
Dr Chuck Jackson – Let it Begin With Me

2:30 pm Central (3:30 pm Eastern; 1:30 pm Mountain; 12:30 pm Pacific)
Panel discussion: Episcopal Responses to Violence

Complete event information here.

The panel participants and the list of workshops are located here.

For more information email gospelofpeace@epiok.org

Magdalene St. Louis hires director of outreach and advocacy

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, April 9, 2014

[Magdalene St. Louis] Magdalene St. Louis is pleased to announce the hiring of Christine McDonald as Director of Outreach and Advocacy effective immediately.  McDonald has previously served on the Board of Directors for the organization and is well known for her role in shaping policy affecting victims of human trafficking.

Magdalene St. Louis is a St. Louis, Missouri-based nonprofit start-up that offers women who have survived lives of abuse, prostitution and addiction a safe place: two years of housing, support and education at no cost.  We invite women coming out of correctional facilities or off the streets into a compassionate and disciplined community where they can recover and rebuild their lives.

McDonald’s role will include developing awareness programs in the community, advocating on behalf of the organization at the state and local levels, and serving as a survivor voice for programming needs.

“Christine brings a wealth of life experiences to the table,” said Executive Director Tricia Roland-Hamilton.  “Her ability to be a strong voice for victims, her knowledge of the legislative process, nationwide trends and the needs of the women we will serve all combine to make her an important addition to the Magdalene St. Louis staff.”

McDonald survived nearly two decades of homelessness, street-corner prostitution, crack addiction and many stints in prison.  She is the author of Cry Purple, which details her life on the street, what led her there and where she is today. Christine was featured in this morning’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch for her work trying to eliminate the lifetime food stamp ban for drug felons. 

“I am so humbled to be in a position that my life’s journey has given me the knowledge and experience to be a voice and advocate for St. Louis’s most vulnerable and under-served population,” said McDonald.  “I am honored to work with this amazing organization.”

Magdalene St. Louis purchased its first home last week and plans to welcome its’ first five residents in the fall.

Presiding Bishop addresses conference in Western North Carolina

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Tikhon
7 April 2014
Do Justice, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly in a 21st Century World
Lake Logan Episcopal Center
Western North Carolina

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

            We’re celebrating the feast of Tikhon today.  I doubt that he’s a household word, unless you come from the Russian Orthodox Church.  He was a bishop in Alaska and North America a century ago, and he’s a model of what we’re here to talk about – a happy accident of the calendar!

He was born in 1865 to a Russian Orthodox priest and his wife, and went to seminary (more like a religious school) at the age of 13.  He graduated 10 years later and began to teach moral theology.  At the age of 26 he became a monk, and three years after that was ordained a priest.  In 1897 he became the Bishop of Lublin, in Poland, before he turned 33.  He was much loved by the people he served, and a year later, when he was sent to Alaska, his archdeacon wrote, “Even the Jews were amazed they would take such a good bishop away.”[1]

He continued to build bridges with other faith communities when he came to North America.  He was sent to serve as Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska, but his territory included the entire northern part of the continent.  In 1900 he reorganized, as the Diocese of Aleutians and North America.  He founded churches, started and blessed cathedrals, including two named St. Nicholas in New York – one for the Russian Orthodox and one for the Syrian Orthodox.  Today we’d call him a church planter and evangelist, as well as a pastor and parson – someone who served the whole community.  He had a strong ecumenical bent, and built solid relationships with The Episcopal Church.  He attended the consecration of the bishop coadjutor in Fond du Lac in 1900, and would have joined in laying on hands if he hadn’t been expressly forbidden by our House of Bishops.  The diocesan bishop, however, seated him in his own chair.  He had particularly strong relationships with the dioceses of California (think of the long Russian presence in northern California) and in New York.  He was so well-loved here that the United States gave him honorary citizenship.

In 1907 he was called back to Russia, and in 1917 elected primate – Patriarch of Moscow – in the midst of the Russian Revolution.  He publicly condemned the revolutionaries for executing the Tsar’s family and for attacking the church.  At the same time he urged his clergy to avoid political statements, in hopes of avoiding retribution against their people.  In 1921 a massive famine in the Volga region prompted Tikhon to sell some of the church’s art and treasures to buy food for the hungry.  The government noticed, and stepped in to confiscate the church’s assets, and people began to protest what they saw as sacrilege.  More than 10,000 members of the church were tried and executed for their temerity.  Tikhon himself was imprisoned for more than a year.  He was released in 1923, his health broken, and he died in March of 1925.  He was canonized by the Russian Church in 1989.

Tikhon is a saint of the wider church, a witness to walking humbly in search of justice and mercy – as light of the world and salt of the earth.

What is essential about Tikhon’s witness?  He loved the people around him, whether they were Polish Jews or Orthodox Christians, Arabs in New York, Aleuts, Eskimos, or Russians of all sorts.  He cared for people in their vulnerability – hungry, freezing, homeless, imprisoned, yearning for peace.  He had the courage to stand up and confront injustice, and little reluctance to use all the resources at hand to answer the need.

So what are we here for?

I spent the last couple of days with the Moravians at their synod – the equivalent of General Convention, which they hold once every four years.  The southern province, based in Winston-Salem, has some 56 congregations in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Florida., and companion relationships in Honduras and Nicaragua.  They were wrestling with a lot of the same issues The Episcopal Church is – restructuring, how to fund mission and ministry, how to engage the unchurched population around us in new and effective ways, and always, how to deepen our relationship with Christ.

One of the resolutions they passed was titled “Spiritual Solidarity with Sisters and Brothers in Honduras.”  It asks the Moravian Church in North America to speak out, advocate, pray, and act in response to the growing levels of violence in Honduras.  That violence is largely the result of drug trafficking, most of it to supply markets in the US.  Our own bishop in Honduras spoke to me last week about a lawyer the diocese had retained to respond to lawlessness in a housing project the diocese helped to build.  That lawyer was assassinated recently.  The bishop also spoke about the threats to his own life, and his need to change his travel patterns and visitation schedule as a result.  His own sister was murdered not long ago.

If we are to be salt of the earth and light of the world, what does this mean for us?  We might start by addressing addiction in our own neighborhoods.  Addiction is a substitute for love, it’s a cry of hunger for relationship, and it ensnares many.  We can look at our own addictions to consuming and status and other substitutes for living relationship.  We can address the violence in our language and polarization of issues, the violence in our culture and our politics, and the lack of true justice.  We still lock up addicts when what they need is healing, and we fail to lock up the real predators – or seek their healing as well.

How do we turn that lament and mourning into joy, or diminishment and deprivation into abundant life?  Peter’s letter gets at the essentials:  God has given us everything we need, particularly in response to what he calls lust – the hunger to accumulate and consume and possess what will never satisfy.  He didn’t have the word addiction in his vocabulary, but that’s what he’s talking about.  He does have a prescription, however – the kingdom of just and restored relationship is provided to those who seek support in communities of mutual affection and love.  The mission we’re here to talk about and be equipped for is about building communities like that in Asheville, Cullowhee and Durgapur, in Haiti and Hickory and Hendersonville.

That mission is fueled by passion – the reactive, transformative salt of the stories you’ve heard here.  That passion burns in transformed hearts, and it can be costly – Tikhon’s imprisonment, the death of so many of his people, the danger to those who work for justice and peace in Honduras.  When that passion becomes evident to the world, it can and often does generate resistance.  Arrests in Raleigh on Moral Mondays are a local consequence.  The passion of Holy Week is our cosmic example of costly transformation.  Life becomes more precious the more we taste of deep passion, and it leads to resurrection.  The light of the world is lit by passion.

Edna St. Vincent Millay put it this way:  My candle burns at both ends, it cannot last the night, but ah my foes and oh my friends, it gives a lovely light.[2]  I protest – the light of the world does outlast the night, which is why our light must continue to burn.  Let yours burn at both ends, with all the passion within you, planted there by the one who calls you beloved.  Burn!

[1] http://www.antiochian.org/Bishops/tikhon.htm

[2] A Few Figs from Thistles

Presiding Bishop preaches in Western North Carolina

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Western North Carolina, Evening Prayer
Lake Logan
6 April 2014
Exodus 3:16-4:12; Psalm 51; John 8:46-59

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

My grandfather died almost 50 years ago, but one of his sayings continues to be part of the family lore.  It may be apocryphal, but my mother insisted that when she or her siblings had done something wrong, he would confront them by saying, “we’re going to have words, and you’re not going to get to use any of yours.”

We’ve just heard two remarkable examples of using words in that sense – as means to an end, to punish or rebuke.  The interchange between Moses and God, as well as the one between Jesus and his religious opponents, is about using words as a shield, to avoid the deeper meaning of the message.  Moses keeps complaining that he can’t possibly carry out this mission – he doesn’t think Pharaoh will believe him, he can’t speak well enough to confront this mighty tyrant.  He’s afraid to say that he feels incompetent and afraid.  But Yahweh keeps responding creatively – and reminding Moses that he won’t be alone.  Moses remains anxious; he finds it hard to believe the word he’s hearing.

We only heard part of a long passage where Jesus talks over and over about “word” and God’s word.  It begins with Jesus saying “if you continue in my word, you really are my disciples, and you’ll discover truth in that word, and it will set you free – free from being slaves to sin.”[1]  And then he confronts the ones who are trying to kill him by saying that they’re not acting like children of Abraham or of God, so they must be illegitimate – their father is the devil because they believe only lies.  It’s strong stuff.  And then the part we heard begins with Jesus saying, “and you call me sinful?!”

It would be funny if it weren’t deadly serious.  At first blush it sounds like little kids on the playground throwing words at each other, calling names:  you’re sinful; no I’m not; yes you are!  Yet the conversation continues to push deeper.  Jesus tells them whoever is in relationship with God hears the words of God, and those who keep the word will never taste death.  But his debate partners literalize everything and miss the point.  They divert the conversation from its deeper truth – here is the living, creative Word of God in front of them, challenging them to live like the one in whose image they were created, and telling them that if they do they will taste the eternal in the here and now.  The last interchange is the choicest – Jesus says, “before Abraham was, I am.”  He’s not talking about when he was born, but about God’s eternal nature.  And they try to stone him.

The psalmist plays with literal and deeper meanings as well, when he points to the nature of sacrifice.  He’s talking about correct worship – in the way that we might talk about whether a service followed all the rubrics.  The psalmist reminds his hearers that godly worship is about a humble attitude and not the rules.

What is the power of words?  How do we use them?  Language, and our ability to be creative with it, is probably the most distinctive gift of human beings – it’s what makes us different from other creatures.  Words are always shorthand ways of trying to convey deeper meaning. They’re symbols that convey a constellation of meaning, even though we try to turn them into simple black and white signs.  Particularly when it comes to language about God, the challenge is always to look deeper, for the word itself can only point toward the reality it tries to represent.  If we try to fix each word with one and only one identity we make an idol out of it, rather than an icon.  We have always done this and probably always will, because we need fairly predictable sets of meaning around words or we wouldn’t be able to communicate.  Yet if we believe that God creates out of chaos, and that creation is not finished – in other words, that creation and resurrection are current realities, not just events that happened at a fixed time in the past, and that God is a living reality, then we have to sit humbly in the presence of language.  The word of God, and effective communication, live in sustained relationship.

We’re here for the next couple of days for a retreat – now, is it a retreat from the enemy, what’s dead and limited, or the letter of the law?  Is it a retreat for rest and refreshment to discover what God is still creating?  We’re here to consider how to Do Justice, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly in a 21st Century World.  Every part of that theme begs us to explore God’s ongoing creativity – “do justice” is about discovering more just ways to live in the world, not simply the lex talionis, eye for an eye limit to violence, instead of retribution.  We’re looking for the deepest possible sense of justice as restoring right relationship.

“Love mercy.”  Mercy is evidence of growth in human capacity to provide that kind of healing justice.  I recently heard a powerful story of a drug bust that gathered up an entire band of wrong-doers – the folks who brought drugs in small boats from Central America and brought them ashore on this coast, those who sold them, the cops who were paid to look the other way.  Most of them took plea bargains.  One person pled guilty – the fellow who had the least heinous part in the whole scheme.  He was an airport manager who happened to provide info to the smugglers about when they could expect air surveillance.  He said, I’m guilty and I’ll take my punishment.  All the others got off without jail time.  When time came for sentencing, the judge tore up the docket and told him he was free to go – otherwise, he said, there would be no justice whatsoever.[2]  That is mercy, for the reconciliation had already been accomplished.

Walking humbly remembers that we’re creatures of the earth, made of the same stuff as every other part of creation (humble and humus have the same origin).  When Moses remembered that, as when he encountered the burning bush, he found confidence, and the ability to be effective, to let the creative word work through him.

This 21st century world is still being created, still unfolding, not fully defined or capable of being fully understood, and we’re going to wrestle with what it means to give evidence of the living word of God.  Are we becoming signs of bread and drink and light for the world?

We’re going to have words here, and I encourage you to use yours and discover how others use theirs, for in the midst of it, where two or three or a hundred are gathered, we will discover the very Word of God – and we’ll find evidence of the love and mercy and justice of God at work.

[1] John 8:31-34

[2] Told by the Bishop of Florida

Video: The American Cathedral in Paris: A place of transformation

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, April 9, 2014

This article and video is the last in a four-part series on the ministry of cathedrals, featuring interviews with their deans. The first article, “Video: Inside St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, with Dean David Ison” is available here; the second, “Education always a part of Ashton Brooks’ vocation,” is available here; the third, “Los Angeles cathedral(s): ‘One ministry in two places,’” is available here. In 2013, ENS also published a series on cathedral deans, available here.

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.]

[Episcopal News Service] The American Cathedral in Paris, officially the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, was built in the 1880s to serve an expanding community of ex-pats and English-speakers abroad. It has since grown in its diversity and outwards in its ministry to the local community.

The Very Rev. Lucinda Laird, who has just completed her first year as dean and rector, speaks with ENS about the American Cathedral being a place of transformation and its commitment to social outreach and serving those on the fringes of Parisian society and beyond.

Located at 23 Avenue George V, the American Cathedral is a pro-cathedral, meaning it remains a parish church. It is the seat of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, presided over by Bishop Pierre Whalon.

Today, the cathedral congregation is composed of about 400 permanent parishioners and includes Americans, Britons and French as well as many other Europeans, Asians, Africans and Latin Americans.

Laird says: “If you’re an Episcopalian, the American Cathedral in Paris is your cathedral in Europe.”

Laird previously served as rector of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and as rector at St. Mark’s Church in Teaneck, New Jersey. Before that she was an assistant for college ministries at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City and curate of the parish of Christ the Redeemer in Pelham, New York.

A native of New Orleans, Laird is a graduate of Barnard College and the General Theological Seminary. She also studied acting at Temple University.

Within the Episcopal Church she has served on the faculty of the Preaching Excellence Program (Episcopal Preaching Foundation); as a member of the Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations; on the Advisory Board of the Church Pension Fund; on the Board of Trustees of the General Theological Seminary; and has been president of Associate Alumni/ae of the General Seminary.

– Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter of the Episcopal News Service.

Welbys visit Canadian offices

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, April 9, 2014

(Left to right) Cynthia Herrera and Emily Fe Honoridez chat with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby as their co-workers Margaret Davidson, Evelyn Hinchcliffe, Kathy Edgar and Teresa Mandricks wait to welcome him to the national offices of the Anglican Church of Canada in Toronto. Photo: Leigh Anne Williams

[Anglican Church of Canada] The national office of the Anglican Church of Canada in Toronto was abuzz with excitement as staff welcomed Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and his wife, Caroline, for a brief stop in a tightly scheduled visit to Canada from April 7 to 9.

Following a morning worship service and a meeting with Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, then a private luncheon in support of Canterbury Cathedral, the Welbys came to “Church House” in downtown Toronto, where there was a brief meeting with General Synod directors and management and reception with the staff.

Sharing her impressions from the meeting with management, Monica Patten, interim director of the Resources for Mission department, said, “There’s a sense of humility about him and clarity about what he sees and what his vision is and the areas of priority that I think he intends to work on.” She added that she was struck by the impression that “in a relatively short time he so deeply understands the Anglican Communion — both the opportunity and the potential as well as the challenges and he doesn’t actually seem to shy away from either of those.”

Henriette Thompson, director of public witness for social and ecological justice, who was also in the meeting, said, “One of the things that I am taking away from this archbishop’s visit is the wonderful degree of commitment he has to the Anglican church as a church of reconciliation and bridge-building. From his visits around the Communion, he described how the church is building bridges in so many different contexts.”

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald, who had met Welby previously in South Korea during the World Council of Churches meeting, said he appreciates Welby’s focus on reconciliation, particularly looking at the effects of colonization. “It was really gratifying to see his enthusiasm and excitement about what’s happening in the Anglican Church of Canada. I think he’s really aiming in the right direction. I think he’s going to have a big impact.”

Following the meeting, the primate introduced the Welbys to staff at a small reception in the lobby of the national office, and they gamely dove into the crowd to meet as many of the staff as possible in the brief time before they were due at an ecumenical vespers service at the Cathedral Church of St. James.

“I think it’s really admirable of him to spend a year traveling around the Communion meeting all the primates,” said Simon Chambers, communications coordinator for the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF).  “The travel must be exhausting and grueling, but he’s been very gracious.”

Many staff commented on the archbishop’s friendly and humble manner.

PWRDF public engagement coordinator Suzanne Rumsey said she and her late father, who was an Anglican priest, used to discuss brushes with fame. “He’d be very pleased about this one,” she said after meeting both the archbishop and his wife.

“We’re really grateful that he chose to come,” said Evelyn Hinchcliffe, after she and her pension office colleagues Kathy Edgar and Sonia Bernard chatted with the archbishop.