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Churches coordinate relief efforts in South Sudan’s protracted conflict

ENS Headlines - Friday, May 15, 2015

Food supplies distributed by SUDRA include maize, beans, cooking oil, salt and other essentials. Photo: SUDRA

[Episcopal News Service] As the violent conflict in South Sudan continues into its 17th month, the Episcopal Church in the war-ravaged country and its global partners remain steadfast in their commitment to providing immediate relief to the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people and to the ultimate goal of peace and reconciliation.

“Amid conflict and tribulation, God cannot forget his people regardless of their disobedience,” the Rev. Joseph El-hag Abe Natana, general manager of the Sudanese Development and Relief Agency (SUDRA), told Episcopal News Service as the United Nations reported that more than 300,000 people are without “life-saving” aid in Unity State, along the border between Sudan and South Sudan, after heavy fighting has forced international aid agencies to withdraw.

“God always raises expectations with a message of hope that he will deliver his people. Hence, the humanitarian response, prayers and lobbying by many nations and people for peace, both regionally and internationally, is seen as God’s care, support and intervention,” said Natana, a priest of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan.

South Sudan became the world’s newest nation in July 2011, when it seceded from the north in a referendum on independence following almost half a century of civil war.

But a separate conflict erupted in December 2013 after South Sudan President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup.

While the conflict began from a political dispute within the ruling party, it quickly morphed into tribal warfare between the Dinka, allied primarily with Kiir, and the Nuer with Machar, now a rebel leader.

Despite several attempts at brokering peace between the two leaders, fighting has continued, and more than 1.5 million people remain internally displaced and in desperate need of humanitarian aid.

SUDRA helps to coordinate food rations for the internally displaced. Photo: SUDRA

In response to the current crisis, Anglican agencies and affiliated groups are supporting SUDRA, the relief and development arm of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan & Sudan, in providing emergency food to help internally displaced people throughout the south, particularly vulnerable children, women and the elderly. Food supplies include maize, beans, cooking oil, salt and other essentials.

The Anglican Alliance – which connects and strengthens the development, relief and advocacy activities of churches, agencies and networks of the Anglican Communion – recognizes SUDRA as the lead agency and primary partner for the church’s coordinated response to the conflict in South Sudan.

Episcopal Relief & Development is one of SUDRA’s long-standing partners, and continues to support its work in addressing the growing humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, especially in reviewing emergency assessments, planning program activities, preparing reports as well as conducting audits and evaluations.

Nagulan Nesiah, senior program officer for disaster response and risk reduction for Episcopal Relief & Development, said that the Anglican Alliance’s efforts in mobilizing all Anglican partners to support a coordinated process “has improved disaster response efforts by providing a way to consolidate funds donated by various partners to support a comprehensive strategy.”

Episcopal Relief & Development continues to work with SUDRA on strengthening disaster risk preparedness and response. It was among 12 Anglican agencies that together developed the “Pastors and Disasters” toolkit, a resource designed to improve disaster response efforts within the Anglican relief and development community.

“The situation in South Sudan continues to intensify,” said Nesiah. “Episcopal Relief & Development is grateful for the partnership with SUDRA and the Anglican Alliance as it continues to support the church’s ministry to care for underserved communities and people impacted by the ongoing crisis.”

Natana identified SUDRA’s priorities as providing emergency relief food, prayer and counseling, peace building and rehabilitation, and psychosocial support programs to the tens of thousands of internally displaced people. “These people are destitute and vulnerable, they need humanitarian assistance,” especially the children, women and the elderly, he said.

He praised the support and coordinating work of the Anglican Alliance that “has enabled SUDRA to be more effective in providing relief and support to internally displaced people throughout South Sudan.

“Global partnership is paramount because the crisis has not ended,” he said. “More fighting and displacement continues that demands relief delivery, peace building, lobbying and advocacy for a peaceful South Sudan.”

The U.S.-based Episcopal Church has long-standing partnerships with the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan, through companion diocese relationships, Episcopal Relief & Development programs, the advocacy work of the Office of Government Relations, and the support and solidarity of the Office of Global Relations.

Current companion relationships include Albany (New York) with the Province of Sudan; Bethlehem (Pennsylvania) with Kajo Keji; Chicago with Renk; Indianapolis with Bor; Missouri with Lui; Rhode Island with Ezo; Southwestern Virginia with the Province of Sudan; and Virginia with the Province of Sudan.

Partnerships also exist through various networks such as the American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and Hope With South Sudan.

“As brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, we remain committed to supporting the people of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan as they work to deliver relief to the suffering South Sudanese, while at the same time working for peace with justice,” said the Rev. Ranjit K. Mathews, officer for global relations and networking for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. “There are a number of strong diocesan relationships between The Episcopal Church and the ECSSS and they will continue to be a place where information is shared, and more importantly where prayer and solidarity is offered.”

AFRECS is providing emergency relief to several Sudanese bishops whose displacement from their dioceses has resulted in their relocation, both within South Sudan and to neighboring countries, “leaving them with virtually no resources with which to support themselves and their families or to extend pastoral care to their dispersed congregations and clergy,” Richard Parkins, executive director of AFRECS, told ENS.

While the security situation in Juba, the nation’s capital, is relatively stable, border regions such as the oil-rich Upper Nile and Kadugli are heavily impacted by conflict, as well as the destabilizing efforts of the Khartoum government in the north.

AFRECS has been helping to fund the work of Bishop Andudu Elnail as he recruits and trains pastors in the Diocese of Kadugli “where the people of the Nuba Mountains continue to live in fear because of Khartoum’s ongoing assault on the Nuba people,” Parkins said.

A pilot project of peace building in Bor (Upper Nile), a region that has experienced some of the most painful suffering resulting from intertribal conflict, will begin in late May. The project is a collaboration between the Anglican Alliance, U.K. and U.S. church partners and the Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Commission of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan.

AFRECS, along with other U.S. partners, also is helping to support peace and reconciliation initiatives in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, home to thousands of refugees who have the same tribal identities of those who fight each other in South Sudan, Parkins explained. “These efforts are designed to test the means of bringing warring factions together with the hope that reconciliation formed in the camp will provide a model for what might be accomplished in South Sudan when peace initiatives can be realistically carried out,” he said.

The South Sudan Council of Churches, an ecumenical movement that brings together the country’s various Christian denominations, has pressed for a place at the negotiating table but found its pleas for a ceasefire and an end to the suffering largely ignored, Parkins explained. Meanwhile, AFRECS and other partners in the United States and the United Kingdom “continue to encourage peacemaking efforts as a means of bringing hope to a war-weary nation where thousands are suffering and held hostage to the intransigence of the government leaders and their rebel adversaries.”

One consequence of a decades-long civil war between the north and south followed by an internal conflict fueled by political differences “has been the emergence of a culture of violence that is not tied to the tribal/ethnic war that has occupied so many parts of South Sudan, but which results in violent expressions of revenge and retaliation among other tribes and subtribes,” he added. “This proliferation of violence could seriously frustrate future peacemaking efforts. This situation also makes the end of fighting all the more urgent.”

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

HOD State of the Church Committee issues statement, offers bulletin insert

ENS Headlines - Thursday, May 14, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Episcopal Church House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church has issued a statement following the conclusion of its work for the triennium:

The House of Deputies State of the Church Committee (SOTC) has concluded its work for the triennium. The report, submitted as part of the Blue Book, is available here.

The charge of the House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church, the oldest committee of the Church, is to prepare a report for the House of Deputies that shows an accurate picture of The Episcopal  Church and to approve the form of the Annual Parochial Report. Its mandate states: “CANON I.6.5(b) A Committee of the House of Deputies shall be appointed following the close of each General Convention, to serve ad interim, and to prepare and present to the next meeting of the House of Deputies a report on the State of the Church; which report, when agreed to by the said House, shall be sent to the House of Bishops.”

The Committee on the State of the Church has partnered with Forward Movement , working together to offer an overview, or “snapshot,” of the 38- page report.  This summary report is available as a PDF document in two formats — as an 8 1/2 x 11 full sheet here or as a half-sheet suitable for use as a bulletin insert, available at no fee here. Congregations are encouraged to print and distribute this information so that Episcopalians across the church will gain an awareness of the state of our Church.


Peter David Eaton consecrated bishop coadjutor of Southeast Florida

ENS Headlines - Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Rt. Rev. Peter David Eaton was ordained and consecrated bishop coadjutor in the Diocese of Southeast Florida on May 9. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori served as chief consecrator. Photo: Barbara Lawless/Diocese of Southeast Florida

[Diocese of Southeast Florida] Peter David Eaton was ordained and consecrated bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Southeast Florida on May 9 in a service held at Trinity Cathedral in Miami, Florida.

Eaton will be the fourth bishop of the Southeast Florida, succeeding the Rt. Rev. Leopold Frade, who will retire in January 2016 after 16 years of service to the diocese.

Over 1,200 people witnessed the service in person at the cathedral and via live stream video from a nearby hotel. Bishops from all over the country and the world attended the service. A historic occasion, this was the first time four bishops from churches in full communion with The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion participated in a service and together were co-consecrators of an Episcopal bishop. The Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht in Europe, the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar in India, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Moravian Church in North America were all participants.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori led the service as chief consecrator and the Rt. Rev. Stephen Conway, the bishop of Ely, and one of Eaton’s classmates at Cambridge University, preached. The ecumenical representation from Christian churches from around the world made this consecration a significant event within The Episcopal Church. Frade recognized the significance of their presence as they greeted the crowd. A representative of the Armenian patriarch of Jerusalem and the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople processed along with other leaders of the church. “We have come here from the holy city of Jerusalem to participate in this holy day and our happiness increases greatly to see the day when Peter has been made a bishop,” said the representative of theArmenian patriarch.

Other interfaith and ecumenical representatives were the Roman Catholic bishop of Palm Beach, the archbishop of Miami, and the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem.

At the end of the service, guests cheered the consecration choir for their joyful, melodic voices, which brought most to their feet. The group included choristers from parishes around the Diocese of Southeast Florida. The music for the day, which included traditional songs in Spanish, French and English, also included special arrangements by several organists and the choir’s conductor, Matthew Steynor.

The Rt. Rev. Peter David Eaton will be enthroned on Jan. 30 at Trinity Cathedral in Miami.

— Altoria White is director of communications for the Diocese of Southeast Florida. 

Maryland diocese names Chilton R. Knudsen as assistant bishop

ENS Headlines - Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has named former Bishop of Maine Chilton R. Knudsen as its assistant bishop. A statement from the diocese about the appointment and a biography of Knudsen follows.

Statement from Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton

It is with great pleasure that I have announced, with the concurrence of the standing committee, the appointment of the Right Rev. Chilton R. Knudsen as assistant bishop in the Diocese of Maryland.

Bishop Knudsen is well known throughout the Episcopal Church as a leader and an expert in addiction and recovery with clergy and congregations. Her depth of knowledge and experience will benefit the Diocese of Maryland as we continue to learn more about this issue. Our plan and prayer is to be the mission focused diocese we aspire to be and Bishop Knudsen brings gifts that will help us.


The Right Reverend Chilton R. Knudsen, DD
8th Bishop of Maine (retired), The Episcopal Church

Bishop Knudsen is the oldest of four siblings in a Navy family. She grew up overseas (Panama, Guam/Marianas Islands, the Philippines, Japan); here began her commitment to world-wide mission. She studied biology/ecology at Chatham College in Pittsburgh, PA, earning a BA in 1968. During graduate study at the University of Pittsburgh (1969-1972), she taught at her alma mater, developing interdisciplinary courses in Behavioral Biology and Ecosystem Analysis. She later taught in the Nursing Program at a community college, and was a counselor at maternal health clinics in Pittsburgh, PA, and in Wheaton, IL.

Called to the priesthood in early adolescence, long before the Episcopal Church ordained women, she enrolled in 1977 at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, receiving the M. Div. in 1980. She was ordained deacon in 1980 and priest in 1981, first planting/pastoring a new mission in Bolingbrook, IL. In 1987, she was called as Pastoral Care Officer (later Canon for Pastoral Care) in the Diocese of Chicago. During her diocesan tenure in Chicago, she offered pastoral care to clergy, their families and congregations in crisis. She was a faculty member in Christian Ethics in the program for the Diaconate. She developed and managed the Employee Assistance Program for the Diocese of Chicago.

Elected a Trustee of the Church Pension Fund (CPF), she chaired the Benefits Policy Committee during the system-wide revision of CPF’s pension and medical insurance programs. She served on diocesan teams overseeing the ordination screening / formation process, and became qualified as an Interim Pastor. She became a recognized expert in congregational healing, authoring a chapter in RESTORING THE SOUL OF A CHURCH (Alban, 1995).

Elected Bishop of Maine in 1997, she served until retirement in September 2008, leading the diocese in mission work in New Orleans, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The Diocese of Maine formally entered into a mission partnership (Companion Diocese Covenant) with the Diocese of Haiti in 2002, and she has spent much time in Haiti over the last decade. Important accomplishments during her episcopacy include: restoration of the Vocational Diaconate, creative ministry development in small rural congregations, a successful capital campaign, inauguration of campus ministry, and important work in reconciliation/peacemaking as the diocese struggled with church-wide controversies. From 2003-2008, Bishop Knudsen was President of the Episcopal Province of New England (Province One) and sat on the Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice.

Bishop Knudsen has extensive experience in conflict resolution, organizational development, and issues of addiction/recovery, especially regarding systems (congregations, dioceses, organizations) impacted by addiction – in all its forms — in clergy or lay leaders. Her audiotape Christianity and the Twelve Steps (1985) was produced by Cowley Publications. In November 2010, Morehouse-Barlow/Church Publishing released a widely-used book SO YOU THINK YOU DON’T KNOW ONE? Addiction and Recovery in Clergy and Congregations, co-authored with Nancy VanDyke Platt. She and Canon Platt also co-authored DEPENDING ON THE GRACE OF GOD: A Spiritual Journey through the Twelve Steps (Forward Movement, 2014).

She has received a number of awards and honors, including:
Outstanding Woman Leader, Chicago area YWCA 1970
Sabbatical Fellowship, Russian Orthodox Theology/Iconography 1994
Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, Seabury-Western 1999
Maine Council of Churches honoree for Religious Leadership 2000
Maine Women’s Hall of Fame Inductee 2006
Lambeth Conference Designation as Indaba Group Leader 2008

In retirement, she served as a Trustee of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, a Board member of the Tutu Institute for Prayer and Pilgrimage, a popular guest preacher, a consultant to religious organizations, a retreat/conference leader, an advocate and mission-team trainer for Haiti and a personnel/human resources advisor in church and non-profit contexts, especially in matters of addiction and recovery.

Bishop Knudsen was a missionary in the Diocese of Haiti (2009). She served as Bishop-in-Residence in the Diocese of San Diego (resident at St. Paul in the Desert, Palm Springs, CA) in early 2011. She was the Presiding Judge on the Court of Review for the Trial of a Bishop (2010-2011).

Coming out of retirement, she served as Interim Bishop in the Diocese of Lexington, KY, (2011-2012), then as Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of New York (2013-2014). She currently serves as Assistant Bishop of Long Island, with special responsibility for establishing Episcopal Ministries of Long Island, a successor organization to previous development and outreach programs in the diocese. She continues a ministry of retreat leadership and spiritual direction. She is the Bishop Visitor to the Community of the Gospel, a dispersed co-educational Benedictine community recognized by the House of Bishops. Bishop Knudsen is liturgically and pastorally competent in French and Spanish.

Travelling is a joy, and she finds long car trips relaxing. She observes a discipline of prayer and silent meditation, spiritual reading, and working a 12-Step program. Golf, swimming, hiking, opera and classical music, and spending time with family and friends, support balance and wholeness. She and her husband, Dr. Michael J. Knudsen, a retired computer scientist and musician, make their home in Bath, Maine.

Bishops United Against Gun Violence plans prayerful procession at General Convention

ENS Headlines - Thursday, May 14, 2015

[Canticle Communications press release] Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a group of more than 60 Episcopal bishops, will sponsor a prayerful procession through the streets of Salt Lake City during the church’s General Convention. The gathering is intended to urge people of faith to seek common ground in efforts to curtail gun violence.

The event, called Claiming Common Ground Against Gun Violence, will begin at 7:15 a.m. on Sunday, June 28, outside the Salt Palace Convention Center on the northwest corner of West Temple and South 200, said Bishop Mark Beckwith of Newark, a co-convener of Bishops United.

The service will last roughly one hour and cover a one-mile route, Beckwith said. It will include opening prayers, a stop for testimony in nearby Pioneer Park, and concluding prayers outside the Salt Palace.

Bishop Scott Hayashi of Utah, who survived a gunshot wound as a young man, will be among the speakers. Bishop Jeff Lee of Chicago, Dent Davidson, music chaplain for the House of Bishops, and the Rev. Lester Mackenzie, chaplain to the House of Deputies, will lead prayers and music during the procession.

“The debate over gun violence in our country has become polarized, but it need not be that way,” Beckwith said. “There is broad agreement among people who own guns and people who don’t that universal background checks and other common sense measure save lives while protecting the right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms. We want to focus the attention of our church and the broader public on these common sense reforms, and muster the political will to see them enacted.”

Beckwith convenes Bishops United with Bishops Ian Douglas of Connecticut and Eugene Sutton of Maryland. The group formed after mass shootings at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.

Bishops United supports:
·    Expanding the federal background checks system to cover gun shows, internet and commercial sales
·    Making gun trafficking a federal crime
·    Encouraging the development of “smart gun” technology to reduce accidental shootings—especially among children
·    Requiring that guns be stored safely
·    Improving access to mental healthcare for all Americans.

Bishops United Against Gun Violence is an ad hoc group of nearly 60 Episcopal bishops who have come together to explore means of reducing the appalling levels of gun violence in our society, and to advocate for policies and legislation that save lives. Bishops United works against gun violence by forming relationships and coalitions with interfaith colleagues, fellow advocates, and families whose lives have been touched by gun violence; giving voice to voiceless gun violence victims through public liturgy, advocacy, and prayer; and supporting each another in efforts to end gun violence in local communities.

Malcolm Young named as 9th dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco

ENS Headlines - Thursday, May 14, 2015

[Grace Cathedral press release] The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, bishop of California, and the Board of Trustees of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, have announced that the Rev. Malcolm Clemens Young has accepted their nomination and call to become the 9th dean of Grace Cathedral.

Young is a Harvard-trained theologian who currently serves as the rector of Christ Church, Los Altos, California. During his time at Christ Church, Young founded the Ventana School, an Episcopal day school for students from pre-school to 5th grade.

Young is married to Heidi Ho, and they have two teenage children, Micah and Melia.

Young is expected to join Grace Cathedral on Aug. 1 and will succeed the Very Rev. Jane Shaw, 8th dean of Grace Cathedral, who became the dean for religious life at Stanford University in autumn 2014.

Anglicans continue emergency assistance following second Nepal quake

ENS Headlines - Thursday, May 14, 2015

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglican agencies have renewed appeals for support after a second earthquake hit Nepal causing further death and destruction, the Anglican Alliance reports.

The 7.3 magnitude quake struck around 12.30 p.m. local time on Tuesday, May 12, killing at least 82 people, including 17 in neighboring India and one in Chinese Tibet. It came on the heels of the 8.1 magnitude quake on April 25 in which some 7,700 died.

“The [first] quake has claimed more than 7,000 lives, and many more thousands injured. We have lost many members, including a dear pastor, [Laxman Tamang],” said the Rev. Lewis Lew, Anglican dean of Nepal.

Eighteen Anglican church buildings had been destroyed, as well as more than 8,000 homes in the communities where the church was present, according to Lew, who underlined the need for emergency assistance: “More than 30,000 in these affected areas are displaced. Many are still needing temporary shelters, food supplies and medical aids.”

Since the first earthquake, the Anglican Alliance has kept in close touch with the Deanery of Nepal and with the various relief and development agencies around the Anglican Communion. Many, including Episcopal Relief & Development, launched appeals immediately following the first earthquake and are continuing to fund emergency assistance to meet urgent needs for food, clean water and shelter.

A first medical response team was to travel to the disaster area May 6-11, said ACROSS, a crisis relief ministry under the Diocesan Mission Board of The Diocese of Singapore.

According to Anglican Overseas Aid, ACT Alliance partners have distributed tarpaulins, hygiene kits and ready-made food to families in Kathmandu and are assessing the situation in remote communities, with the aim of providing water, sanitation and hygiene materials, as well as emergency shelter to people who lost their homes or who are staying outside for fear of aftershocks.

Local clergy, pastors and church leaders gathered in Kathmandu on May 11 for a time of prayer and encouragement. “This will be an important time for the Anglican Church in Nepal, and we need your prayers, for myself and the clergy team from Singapore, as we stand together with our brethren,” said Lew.

To support the Nepal Earthquake Response Fund, please visit episcopalrelief.org.

Yemen: Situation in Aden ‘terrible,’ says Anglican bishop

ENS Headlines - Thursday, May 14, 2015

Photo: Christ Church Aden

[The Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf] The Rt. Rev. Michael Lewis, bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf (The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & The Middle East), has said that the situation in Aden, Yemen, remains very difficult but that staff of the clinic associated with Christ Church were safe despite property damage due to blast waves from shelling in the area.

He writes:

“As of today [May 12] the situation in Aden is that all the windows of Christ Church, its associated clinic, and the guesthouse have been blown out as a result of blast waves from sustained shelling on the mountain that dominates our compound in Tawahi. But we are told that all our staff are safe so far, and for that we thank God.

“The general state of Aden is terrible: lack of fuel means lack of electricity, and telecommunications and even basic movement around the large city have become hugely difficult. Food is limited, and money to buy it even more so.

“Our administrator is very thankful for the many prayers that he knows have been made for him, for all who work at Ras Morbat, and for the people of Aden and the Yemen as a whole, a country sorely abused by those with the power, if they chose to use, to promote the common good to the glory of God.”