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Unprecedented numbers of children detained crossing the border

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Immigrants from Central America arrive at the local refugee center in McAllen. One is carrying travel information to where various relatives live in the United States. Photo: Trish Motheral

[Episcopal News Service] Sixteen boys aged 14 to 17 gathered July 6 around a map of the Americas, each writing his first name on a sticky note and placing it first next to his home country, with the majority landing on Guatemala, followed by Honduras.

Then, the Rev. Susan Copley asked the teenagers to move the sticky notes to the next place they are going. Some said they would be staying with relatives in New York; others were headed to Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland and California.

One month earlier, on June 5, Copley and volunteers from her church began visiting the unaccompanied minors at Abbott House, a regional community-based human services agency headquartered in Irvington, New York, a small, Hudson River Valley town just south of Tarrytown, where Copley is the rector of Christ Church and San Marcos Mission.

In addition to making weekly visits, where they play games with the boys and conduct an abbreviated Eucharist in Spanish, church members pray for the children and mobilize to support them. In one afternoon, its English- and Spanish-speaking congregations raised $1,000 to buy shoes for the children, some of whom arrived at Abbott House without any footwear.

Not only is it about providing the children with “positive exposure to people who care about them,” by inviting different members of the Christ Church and San Marcos community, it helps to counterbalance some of the negativity that accompanies their stories, said Copley.

Since early June, the record numbers of unaccompanied minors crossing the southwestern border – primarily from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – and the associated humanitarian crisis have been in the news, with politicians shifting blame, and protestors making headlines.

With the exception of unaccompanied minors from Mexico and Canada, who can be returned home immediately under a 2008 U.S. immigration law, unaccompanied minors must be taken into U.S. custody and given a deportation hearing, which can take years. An unaccompanied minor is defined as a person under the age of 18 who is separated from both parents and is not under the care of a guardian or other adult.

To accommodate the influx of migrant children, the government has set up makeshift shelters at military bases and has contracted with transitional homes, like Abbott House, where children can be cared for before being released to a relative, with whom they’ll stay until they can get an immigration hearing.

Abbott House provides unaccompanied minors with room and board, case management, individual counseling, medical and educational services, recreation and leisure activities, acculturation, legal services, transportation and access to religious services, before they are placed with relatives or in foster care, according to a June 4 press release.

Churches respond on the border
In a July 3 appeal to the Diocese of West Texas, Bishop Gary Lillibridge described the humanitarian needs in his diocese, particularly in the border towns of McAllen and Laredo.

St. John’s Episcopal Church in McAllen, with assistance from Episcopal Relief & Development, has joined a larger effort, the McAllen Faith Community for Disaster Recovery, a group of churches and government agencies that have come together to respond to the crisis, in assisting with meals and laundry for individuals and families sheltering inside and in tents around Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

St. John’s began preparing backpacks of hygienic items, with travel-size soaps, shampoos, and conditioners, a comb, a toothbrush, and other items, as well as packs of nutritional snacks, such as peanut butter crackers and cereal bars.

“We will hold ‘packing parties’ at the church every Sunday and Wednesday and put together as many packs as we can, and we will assemble these packs as long as they are needed,” said the Rev. Nancy Springer, assistant rector of St. John’s.

Similar efforts are taking place in Laredo, where parishioners at Christ Church are assembling backpacks, also containing hygienic and nutritional items, to deliver to the children and families flowing into their city.

And in Arizona, where women and children were reportedly dropped off at bus stations in Tucson and Phoenix, the church also has joined interfaith efforts to respond.

The crisis in Central America’s Northern Triangle, however, is not just about children but about adults and families as well. In recent weeks, tens of thousands of women with children and other family units fleeing the pervasive violence of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras have arrived in Texas and Arizona, as a recent Episcopal Public Policy Network immigration advocacy update explains.

“When women and children flee their homes in these numbers it signals a humanitarian crisis, not a security threat,” said Katie Conway, the Episcopal Church’s immigration and refugee policy analyst. “Episcopalians across the country have responded to this crisis with compassion and loving service and we are calling upon the president and Congress to do the same. We believe that the United States is capable of meeting this challenge without compromising our values or our safety, and without turning our backs on vulnerable mothers and children seeking peace and protection.”

(On June 25, Conway, and Alexander Baumgarten, director of the Episcopal Church’s Washington, D.C.-based Office of Government Relations, submitted testimony to Congress concerning the crisis on behalf of the church.

In March, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed its concern for the increasing number of children crossing the border “propelled by violence, insecurity and abuse in their communities and at home,” and called on government agencies “to take action to keep children safe from human rights abuses, violence and crime, and to ensure their access to asylum and other forms of international protection.”

UNHCR based its concern and its call to action on a 120-page report “Children on the Run,” based on interviews with more than 400 unaccompanied minors from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico held in federal custody. The report indicates that many of the children believed they were unsafe in their own countries and would be picked up by authorities who would evaluate their need for international protection along the way.

The report also stated that many of the young people interviewed were part of “mixed migration” movements, which include both individuals in need of international protection and migrants looking for work.

“It’s critical to note that the vast majority of these children may actually be asylum seekers,” said Deb Stein, director of Episcopal Migration Ministries. “To talk about deporting them back to the very dire circumstances from which they fled for safety without the opportunity to seek protection is to ignore their rights under the 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention, to which the U.S. is a signatory. This gets lost in the heated rhetoric of deporting them simply because they entered the country illegally, when in fact it is not illegal to request asylum.”

Beginning in October 2011, the U.S. Government began noticing a dramatic rise in the number of unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, which by fiscal year 2013 had gone from 4,059 to 21,573. As of June 15, 2014, the number had reached 51,279 for this fiscal year. Since 2009, UNHCR has been recording an increase in asylum claims from the same three countries.

Episcopal Migration Ministries, The Episcopal Church’s Justice and Advocacy Ministries, and Episcopal Relief & Development are working together to connect Episcopalians interested in creating and/or sharing information, resources, and mutual support for immigration advocacy and ministry.

– Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service. Laura Shaver, communications officer for the Diocese of West Texas, contributed reporting.

Christopher Agnew receives Davis Award

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 8, 2014

[National Episcopal Historians and Archivists press release] At NEHA’s annual meeting June 17-19 in Salt Lake City, the Rev. Dr. Christopher M. Agnew received the association’s Canon John W. Davis Award, for outstanding contributions by a NEHA member to the organization and/or Episcopal Church history and archives.

Named for its first recipient, longtime NEHA President Canon John W. Davis, the award pays tribute to outstanding contributions a NEHA member has made to the organization and/or the fields of Episcopal Church history and archives. Duffy is a longtime NEHA member and previously served on the Board of Trustees.

Dr. Agnew, past-president of NEHA and former board member of the Historical Society of The Episcopal Church, is Ecumenical Officer of the Diocese of Virginia and is Ecumenical Coordinator of Province III.

The Rev. Dr. Christopher M. Agnew grew up in various parts of the world as the son of military parents. He received his MA and Ph.D. in history, University of Delaware; and his Master of Sacred Theology from General Theological Seminary. Prior to ordination he was a college history professor.

After receiving his Ph.D. in history in 1979, he taught history on the secondary and college levels, including the adjunct faculty of Virginia Theological Seminary. He has served as manuscript librarian of the Historical Society of Delaware and Registrar and Archivist of the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware. In 1985 he oversaw the mounting of a seven room Winterthur exhibit telling the history of the Diocese. He is a past-president of the National Episcopal Historians and Archivists and he has served on the Board of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church.

Dr. Agnew has served on the staff of the Presiding Bishop as Associate Ecumenical Officer. He currently serves as Ecumenical Officer of the Diocese of Virginia and is Ecumenical Coordinator of Province III of the Episcopal Church. He is the chair of the Faith and Order Commission of the Virginia Council of Churches and a member of the board of the North American Academy of Ecumenists. He was editor of The Ecumenical Bulletin, 1989-1994, and Chair of the National Workshop on Christian Unity for the 2009 workshop in Phoenix.

He has held leadership positions with the Virginia Council of Churches, and received the 2013 Faith in Action Award of the Council. He served as vice president of the Episcopal Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers. He has served in numerous ecumenical roles including staff for the Anglican Ron1an Catholic Consultation- USA, the Episcopal Russian Orthodox Joint Coordinating C0111mittee, and the Lutheran Episcopal Joint Coordinating Committee. He served on the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches. He was the founder of the National Council of Churches Interfaith Relations Commission and served as chair of the National Council of Churches Christian­Jewish Relations Committee from 1991 to 1999.

Dr. Agnew is editor and compiler of the Forward Movement Publication, “Anglican Statements on Ecclesiology. He also is an Early Music supporter.

He is married to Elizabeth and they have several children.

Founded in 1961, NEHA has focused on practical matters of archivists and historians in the Episcopal Church since it held its first meeting and continues to provide a forum for exchanging ideas, giving mutual support, and defining its role as an archival and historical network for those who participate in preserving, exploring and sharing the historical dimensions of the Episcopal Church. NEHA encourages every congregation, diocese, and organization in the Episcopal Church to collect, preserve and organize its records and share its history.

The National Episcopal Historians and Archivists is a network of over 200 members from across the Episcopal Church whose purpose is to encourage every diocese, congregation, and organization in the Episcopal Church to collect, preserve, and organize its records and to share its history.

Historians groups celebrate unsung heroines of the church

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 8, 2014

[National Episcopal Historians and Archivists press release] In sickness and in health, amid poverty and plenty, at home and abroad, ordained and non-ordained women of The Episcopal Church played major roles in forming and practicing the mission, ministry, liturgy and music of The Church.

Celebrating some of those women’s stories, the National Episcopal Historians and Archivists met for their annual conference June 17-20 hosted by, and held at, the Cathedral Church of St. Mark, Salt Lake City, in association with the Episcopal Women’s History Project.

The spirit of Episcopal women’s work was honored in the following presentations:

John Rawlinson – Deaconess Emma Britt Drant
The Rev. Phillip Ayers – the Community of St. John the Baptist
L. Teresa Di Biase – Deaconess Margaret Peppers
Julia Allen – Anna Rochester and Grace Hutchins
Susan Witt – An Affectionate Look at the Community of the Holy Cross
The Rev. Dr. Sean Wallace – Sung, Yet Unsung; Women Poets, Translators, and Composers in the Episcopal Hymnal
Jeannie Terepka – Faithful in their Untiring Efforts; the Women of St. Michael’s Church and St. Jude’s Chapel in the first half of the Twentieth Century
Julia Randle – Through a Stained Glass Wall; Miss Sallie Stuart, the Virginia Branch of the Women’s Auxiliary and Women’s Ministries in the Diocese of Virginia
The Rev. Chris Agnew – Susan Hutt
Sue Rehkopf and Kurt Cook – A presentation on their “work in progress” on The Three Foote Sisters and how the sisters assisted the Rt. Rev. Daniel S. Tuttle in Utah and Missouri.

“The sessions illustrated the breadth and the depth of women’s ministries from the very beginning of the Episcopal Church through the present day,” said incoming NEHA President Susan Stonesifer. “The presenters used a variety of fascinating media to illustrate these threads of our history. Kurt Cook, historiographer of the Cathedral of St. Mark, was a gracious host, even providing a snowfall on the mountains to further beautify them. NEHA was fortunate to have a foretaste of the wonderful hospitality awaiting the entirety of the church for General Convention 2015.”

Wednesday’s banquet at the Aerie Restaurant at Snowbird Ski Resort featured guest speaker Craig B. Wirth, Communications Director for the Diocese of Utah, winner of four Emmy Awards and a 2012 inductee to the Utah Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame.

On Friday the 20th a presentation was made by Ancestry.com on their digitization program. Also on Friday, under the supervision of Sue Rehkopf, a “lightning round” allowed presenters who had sent in pictures of notable women to speak briefly on these remarkable individuals.

NEHA’s annual conference is held in the summer in various locations around North America. The purpose of the conference is to offer practical insights into the recording, preservation, writing and sharing the institutional history of the Episcopal Church. Conferences include a variety of workshops, speakers, and time for prayer, worship and fellowship.

This year’s conference theme was to honor the work and accomplishments of women who have received far less attention than men in The Church. This NEHA Conference aimed to give additional voice to Episcopal lay and clergy women – wives, deaconesses, nuns, missionaries – who quietly dedicated their lives to serving others and to promoting the work of our branch of the Church Catholic.

Conference attendees also enjoyed field trips and site tours around Salt Lake City, including:

*This is the Place Heritage Park
* The University of Utah’s Marriott Library’s archival storage facility.
* The LDS Church’s Church History Library.
* All of the Cathedrals in Salt Lake City: The Cathedral of the Madeleine; Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral, and an in-depth presentation on Bishop Daniel S. Tuttle’s flagship cathedral, the Cathedral Church of St. Mark.
* The Episcopal Church Center of Utah, the home of the Diocese of Utah and its associated Wasatch Retreat Center.

John W. Davis Award
At NEHA’s annual meeting, the Rev. Dr. Christopher M. Agnew received the association’s Canon John W. Davis Award, for outstanding contributions by a NEHA member to the organization and/or Episcopal Church history and archives.

Dr. Agnew, past-president of NEHA and former board member of the Historical Society of The Episcopal Church, is Ecumenical Officer of the Diocese of Virginia and is Ecumenical Coordinator of Province III.

Laurence D. Fish Award for Best Parish History
NEHA bestowed its first Fish Award this year.  It is given annually in memory of Laurence D. Fish, one of the founders of NEHA. He was Archivist for the Diocese of New Jersey for many years. The award is to recognize the best parish-history book. This year’s Fish Award went to St. Peter’s Church, Philadelphia, for St. Peter’s Church: Faith in Action for 250 Years.

The authors were Cordelia Frances Biddle, Elizabeth S. Browne, Alan J. Heavens, and Charles P. Peitz.  It was published by Temple University Press in 2011. The judges for all nine entries were A. Margaret Landis, G. Michael Strock, Peter W. Williams and Phillip Ayers.

The annual NEHA meeting also recognized and thanked retiring board members Rev. Dr. Bindy Snyder, Ms. Paula Allen, and Mr. Matthew Payne.

Financial reports reflected stable finances. A number of new members have recently joined.

Elected to the NEHA board were:

* Matt Carmichael, Archivist and Historiographer for the Diocese of Eastern Oregon;
* Amy Cunningham, archivist for Nashotah House Theological Seminary;
* Dr. Peter Williams, Diocese of Southern Ohio, author of several books, including Popular Religion in America and Houses of God: Region, Religion and Architecture in the United States.

At board meeting immediately following the conference, Susan Stonesifer was elected board president. Phillip Ayers agreed to remain as board vice president and Elizabeth Allison agreed to remain as board secretary. The board regretfully accepted the resignation of Michael Strock and appointed Matthew Payne to fill Mr. Strock’s unexpired term, and elected him as Treasurer.

Testimony on unaccompanied alien children and refugee populations

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 8, 2014


JUNE 25, 2014

We thank Representative Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Ranking Member Conyers for the opportunity to submit this testimony. Today we express our concern for the violence in Central America pushing tens of thousands of vulnerable immigrant children to flee, and recommend that Congress and the Administration continue to provide appropriate, child-centered care for these children, while maintaining access to protection and services for all refugee populations. The Episcopal Church has been engaged in the work of providing humanitarian aid abroad and refugee resettlement domestically since the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief was established in 1940, and we continue those services today.

The Northern Triangle of Central America, comprised of the countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, is one of the most dangerous regions in the world. Honduras boasts the world’s highest murder rate, with El Salvador and Guatemala also within the top five. In Honduras alone, violence against women and girls has risen 346% since 2005, while the murder rate for men and boys has risen 29%[2]. In all three countries, gangs, transnational criminal organizations, and narcotraffickers commit acts of violence with near impunity, while local police forces are either unable or unwilling to offer protection[3] to the public. Stemming from this pervasive and inescapable violence, asylum claims from the Northern Triangle to the neighboring countries of  Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Belize, have risen 345%  since 2009[4], mirroring the rise in asylum claims at the U.S. Mexico border.

Within these communities of diminishing protections and escalating violence, children, single women, and women heads of household with young children are the most vulnerable and are therefore prime targets for violence and exploitation by the organized crime syndicate, gangs, and security forces. The widely acknowledged tactic of targeting young children for gang recruitment, and the lack of citizen security for civilians to seek protection or resolution when persecution or violence occurs, has triggered a regional humanitarian crisis years in the making, and has driven tens of thousands of children from their homes. Over the past three years, humanitarian aid, human rights organizations, churches, refugee resettlement agencies, and children’s rights advocates have watched as more and more children have been forced from their homes, exchanging the known dangers at home for the unknown dangers of a journey to the United States, in a desperate search for peace and protection.

Once children arrive at the United States border, the mandate for their care resides with Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Established in 2003, the purpose of the Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) program is to provide holistic, child-centered care for children from noncontiguous countries who arrive alone at U.S. borders. Since 2012, however, ORR has served ever-growing number of UACs that have stretched both the UAC program and the refugee program as a whole to its financial and capacity limits. Arrivals nearly doubled from FY12 (13,625) to FY13 (25,498), and UAC arrivals for FY14 are projected to reach nearly 90,000. In addition to serving 25,498 UACs in FY13, ORR also served 70,000 newly arriving refugees, 2,871 Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants (individuals who aided U.S. government efforts in those countries), an estimated 46,000 asylees and Cuban and Haitian entrants, over 500 victims of human trafficking, 6,750 survivors of torture, and continued services to some clients who arrived in previous years.

The financial burden of caring for vulnerable children should not rest with ORR alone. Our nation has made a laudable commitment to providing these children with child appropriate care and with compassion, but that care requires increased funding and resources beyond the scope of one single office or agency.  Given the unique and international aspects of this crisis, the funding burden should be shouldered by multiple agencies and should not be obtained at the expense of ORR services to other vulnerable populations to whom the United States has made a commitment. We must address overseas crises and crises in our hemisphere with the same dedication to protection and commitment to keeping borders open to vulnerable refugees, or risk damaging our ability to react effectively and humanely to other emerging refugee situations and protracted refugee situations where partners like Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon are hosting millions of Syrian refugees.

As we do abroad, the United States must lead by example regionally, providing child-centric approaches to this crisis and demonstrating effective burden sharing with other nations in the region able to assist such as Panama, Costa Rica, and Belize. Like our responses to humanitarian emergencies around the world, however, responding to this crisis should in no way diminish our capability to address the needs of refugees elsewhere, and we must uphold our commitment to domestic refugee resettlement.

We support the Administration’s interagency response to the international scope and unique protection needs of this humanitarian migration crisis, and look to Congress to provide the federal government with the necessary resources to implement child-centered solutions that address the immediate needs of unaccompanied immigrant youth and the root causes that force vulnerable children to undertake this perilous journey alone. The Episcopal Church stands ready as a partner in service to vulnerable refugees, and is prepared to welcome the newest generation of refugees to a life a of peace and safety in our communities.

Thank you for carrying the costly burden of public service, and for the opportunity to submit these views to the Committee.

[1] Alexander D. Baumgarten is the Director of Government Relations, and Katie Conway is the Immigration and Refugee Policy Analyst for The Episcopal Church, a multinational religious denomination based in the United States with members in 15 other sovereign nations.


[3] Gonzalez, Rosmery Austria deniega permiso de venta de armas a gobierno de Otto Pérez, El Periodico, (May 2, 2014) available at http://elperiodico.com.gt/es/20140502/pais/246662/


Olympia diocese, departing members reach amicable settlement

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 8, 2014

[Canticle Communications] The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia and two Anglican churches that left the Episcopal Church in 2004 have reached an amicable settlement that returns all property to the diocese while making it possible for all parties to continue with their ministries.

St. Charles Church, Poulsbo and Grace by the Sea, Oak Harbor disassociated from the Episcopal Church in 2004 and placed themselves under the authority of an Anglican bishop in Brazil.

The path toward a settlement that required no court action began in December 2006 when the diocese and the two churches signed a covenant agreement that provided for 7½ years in which no action was taken regarding property. The agreement also provided time for the worldwide Anglican Communion to address serious issues over which its members are not in agreement.

During the period of the covenant agreement, St. Charles Church, Poulsbo remained in the building that is now returning to the Diocese of Olympia. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Oak Harbor and Grace by the Sea Church shared the Oak Harbor property, which will continue to be the home of St. Stephen’s.

St. Charles Poulsbo is now worshipping at 19351 8th Ave. NE, Suite 205, in Poulsbo, WA. Thanks to the gracious assistance of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle, Grace by the Sea will be worshipping at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Coupeville, WA, and at St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church in Oak Harbor, WA. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church remains at 555 SE Regatta Drive, Oak Harbor, WA.

The end date of the covenant agreement, which has now been honored by all parties, is June 30, 2014.

It’s here! EYE14 kicks off

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 7, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Almost 1000 youth along with more than 200 adults are gathering for the popular Episcopal Youth Event 2014 (EYE14), July 9-13 at Villanova University in suburban Philadelphia, PA.

Youth in grades 9-12 during the 2013-2014 academic year and their adult leaders will hail from 84 dioceses, including international friends from the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Taiwan.

Bronwyn Clark Skov, Episcopal Church Youth Ministries Officer, noted: “EYE14 is an amazing opportunity for youth to experience The Episcopal Church on a vastly different scale than that of their local faith communities. They will be immersed in music, scripture, worship, and fellowship as they discern their own call to engage in the Five Marks of Mission.”

EYE14 is presented in partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.

In addition to the camaraderie, opportunities abound for learning, prayer and mission work.

  • The opening Eucharist on July 10 will be live webcast along with two plenary sessions; Friday evening prayer; and the July 12 closing Eucharist.

For information contact Skov.

The 2014 event marks the twelfth EYE and remains a popular and well-attended event.

Follow the action

  • Twitter Hashtag is #EYE14

(all Eastern times):

  • Opening Eucharist – Thursday, July 10 at 9:30 am; the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, Canon for Missional Vitality, Diocese of Long Island preaching and President of the House Of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings presiding
  • Plenary – Thursday, July 10 at 7:30 pm; the EYE14 Mission Planning Team
  • Evening Prayer – Friday, July 11 at 8:30 pm (approximate); Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preaching and officiating
  • Morning Plenary – Saturday, July 12 at 9:30 am; the Rev. Becca Stevens, founder of Magdalene and Thistle Farms
  • Closing Eucharist - Saturday, July 12 at 8 pm; Bishop Michael Curry of the Diocese of North Carolina preaching and Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori presiding.
  • App. Links:




The Collect for EYE14

Ever loving God, you have brought us together and empowered us to serve as your disciples. We ask you to guide and bless us as we strive to tell the Good News of your love; teach and nurture all believers; tend to the human condition; transform and reconcile the world as Christ has shown us; and treasure your creation and our salvation through Jesus Christ. May we be engulfed in your love and blessings as we live out the mission and work you have given us, through Jesus Christ, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.


Before EYE14: New Community youth event

Prior to the inauguration of EYE14, there will be a New Community event July 7-9.

The purposes for the New Community event at the EYE14 is to gather youth from the various ethnic constituencies for conversations around the social issues of the day; to build capacities for their personal interaction; and to become agents of transformation to participate in forming the model of the beauty of the church and in reconciling the world to God and one another in Christ.

Following the conference, New Community Youth participants will join their diocesan delegations for EYE14.

After EYE14: 3 Days of Urban Mission
Following EYE14, on July 13 – 16, more than 350 will participate in 3 Days of Urban Mission, an opportunity for many to engage mission in an urban environment. Activities include hands-on labor, which might include everything from painting and hauling debris to childcare and preparing meals. Info here


Planning team

Planning team members are:



  • Thomas Alexander, Diocese of Arkansas, Province 7
  • Madeline Carroll, Diocese of Milwaukee, Province 5
  • Whitney Chapman, Diocese of West Virginia, Province 3
  • Ariana Gonzalez-Bonillas, Diocese of Arizona, Province 8
  • Lillian Hardaway, Diocese of Upper South Carolina, Province 4
  • Angela Hudnell, Diocese of Ohio, Province 5
  • Cydney Jackson, Diocese of San Diego, Province 8
  • Casey Nakamura, Diocese of Hawaii, Province 8
  • Kayden Nasworthy, Diocese of Massachusetts, Province 1
  • Joseph Prickett, Diocese of Nebraska, Province 6
  • Justin Thao, Diocese of Minnesota, Province 6
  • Hauseng Vang, Diocese of Minnesota, Province 6
  • Roger Villatoro, Diocese of  Southeast Florida, Province 4
  • Rosanna Vizcaino, Diocese of the Dominican Republic, Province 9


  • Arlette Benoit, Diocese of Atlanta, Province 4
  • Vincent Black, Diocese of Ohio, Province 5
  • Randy Callender, Diocese of Maryland, Province 3
  • Cookie Cantwell, Diocese of East Carolina, Province 4
  • Randall Curtis, Diocese of Arizona, Province 7
  • Earl Gibson, Diocese of Los Angeles, canonically resident in Diocese of Arizona, Province 8
  • Wendy Johnson, Diocese of Minnesota, Province 6
  • Andrew Kellner, Diocese of Pennsylvania, Province 3
  • Shannon Kelly, Diocese of Southern Ohio, canonically resident in Diocese of Milwaukee, Province 5
  • Abigail Moon, Diocese of Florida, Province 4

Episcopal Church Youth Ministries

Diocese of Pennsylvania

Villanova University

Laurel Johnston to leave the Episcopal Network for Stewardship

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 7, 2014

[The Episcopal Network for Stewardship press release] The Rev. Laurel Johnston, Executive Director of The Episcopal Network for Stewardship (TENS) is stepping down from that position effective August 31, 2014. Prior to serving as Executive Director beginning January 2013, Johnston served on the Board of Directors in her capacity as Program Officer for Stewardship for The Episcopal Church from 2008-2012.

The Episcopal Network for Stewardship is a network of individuals working in congregations and on the diocesan level to train, educate, nurture and support efforts to advance a culture of generosity and faithful giving. TENS is supported through diocesan memberships which entitle every congregation within the member diocese to access a stewardship narrative series as well as other resources, especially around annual campaigns. TENS hosts an annual conference at various sites throughout the U.S. During Johnston’s service as Executive Director, the plenary speakers and one track of workshops were also webcast.

“Laurel birthed the stewardship narrative series: Blessed to be a Blessing, Flourishing in Faith, and Walking the Way, which have proved enormously helpful to local congregations.   She was also the driving force behind the development of the webcast. The whole Church owes her a great big thank you for her ministry in the generosity movement,” said The Rev. Angela Emerson, member of the Board of Directors, in making the announcement at the annual conference in Atlanta, Ga., June 7, 2014.

In a letter to Bishops, other constituents, partners and members, Johnston expressed an optimistic outlook for the future of TENS pointing both to programmatic developments, a dramatic increase in memberships, and financial soundness. “I cannot be more proud of the work that we have collectively done together to create a model of equipping stewardship ministry teams.”

Johnston will take advantage of a discernment leave to determine her next step.

The Board of Directors is finalizing a job description for the next Executive Director and plans to begin advertising for the position no later than August 1, 2014. Job description and process for applying for the position will be posted on the TENS website: www.tens.org.

Scholar-Priest Initiative offers free videos on Eucharist, Scripture

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 7, 2014

[Scholar-Priest Initiative press release] The Scholar-Priest Initiative (SPI) — a new initiative within The Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada whose mission is “to welcome theology home” — has released two videos that inaugurate a project titled New Tracts for Our Times.

One video features the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry (11th Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina) reflecting on the Eucharist.  Curry, who sits on the Taskforce for Re-imagining the Episcopal Church (TREC) and recently published a book of sermons titled Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus (Morehouse, 2013), suggests the Eucharist is “the principal act of worship” that “summons up and points toward the deep mystery of God.”  Musing on Matthew 11:28, often recited before Holy Communion, Curry notes: “Jesus said ‘Come unto to me all ye who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.’  That is the invitation to the Eucharist.  Jesus says: ‘Come unto me, all you who are weary….  Sometimes beaten down by the realities of life.  Sometimes struggling to just make it.  Sometimes trying to see a vision that’s greater than what you normally see in life.  Come unto me.’”

The other video, featuring Dr. Ellen Davis (Amos Ragan Kearns Distinguished Professor of Bible and Practical Theology, Duke Divinity School), focuses on Scripture.  “Perhaps what the Bible does best is surprise us,” notes Davis, who regularly teaches at Renk Theological College in the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan and served on the Steering Committee of the Anglican Communion’s ‘Bible in the Life of the Church’ project.  Her latest book is Biblical Prophecy: Perspectives for Christian Theology, Discipleship, and Ministry (Westminster John Knox, 2014).  Added Davis: “The Bible is always pushing against and sometimes exploding what we think of as the limits of our experience.  And telling us there is much more that is possible, if we only open our eyes and hearts to that possibility.”

Together, the two videos are the first iterations in an ongoing series aimed at addressing various aspects of Anglican/Episcopalian belief and practice. The Scholar-Priest Initiative is currently seeking funds for future iterations.

“The New Tracts series roots us in Scripture and Tradition,” said the Rev. Jason Ingalls, director pro tem of the Scholar-Priest Initiative and rector of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Waco, TX. “It starts conversations that free the Church to participate in God’s mission in our world.”

The videos were produced by Joseph Wolyniak, member of the SPI Leadership Team, Episcopal Church Foundation Fellow (2012), and lay member of Saint John’s Cathedral in Denver, CO.  Said Wolyniak: “The New Tracts are intended to communicate clearly and compellingly what Anglicans believe and do.  To show and tell our way of life and faith, with everyday Episcopalians addressing and exemplifying what we believe and how that belief shapes the way we live.” Pilar Timpane, who filmed, directed, and edited the videos, added: “Working on this project has been fascinating and exciting.  Bringing theological ideas into visual light is a gift of this particular time in culture and technology.  I hope the Church as a whole will be able to use and share these videos both within and outside of our faith communities.”

Since their release in the first week of June (2014), the project has attracted over 6,000 views on YouTube and received an overwhelmingly positive response on social media.  The videos will remain freely available for downloading or embedding on parish websites and will soon be accompanied by study guides for parish use.

Initial funding for the project came from the Evangelism in the 21st Century (E-21) program of the Episcopal Evangelical Education Society (EES).  Day Smith Pritchartt, Executive Director of EES, noted: “EES is thrilled to have been involved in the development of these videos and excited about the way in which they bring the Good News to people who might not hear it otherwise.”

New Tracts (#NewTracts) can be found on YouTube (http://youtube.com/newtracts), Facebook (http://www.fb.com/NewTracts), and Twitter (http://twitter.com/NewTracts, @NewTracts).  The Scholar-Priest Initiative can also be found on the web (http://scholarpriests.org/), on Facebook (http://www.fb.com/ScholarPriests), and Twitter (http://twitter.com/ScholarPriests, @ScholarPriests).

RIP: The Venerable Anthony Turney

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 7, 2014

Surrounded by family and friends, the Venerable Anthony Turney died peacefully on July 4, 2014 at Coming Home Hospice in San Francisco following three years living with cancer. He was 76 years old.  His death came on the 38th anniversary of his becoming a United States citizen.

Throughout his esteemed and varied career, and most recently as Archdeacon for the Arts at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, Anthony epitomized what it was to be a servant minister, both in the church and in the wider community. He was a profoundly gifted man, a lover of the arts, a gardener, a Brit, and a committed leader in non-profit endeavors. His career included positions as Deputy Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC; Executive Director of the Dance Theater of Harlem; Administrative Director of the San Francisco Opera; and CEO of the NAMES Project Foundation. He was ordained to the Episcopal diaconate in 1996 and continued to serve through his work at Grace Cathedral and in the Diocese of California.

Anthony was born in Sutton, England, on December 23, 1937, second oldest of three children within a family that soon broke up. His first years were spent in a Church of England children’s home for ‘waifs and strays,’ although he claimed he was never certain which of those he truly was. At the age of four, he was adopted by the Turney family who lived in Aylesbury, about 40 miles northeast of London. That same year marked the beginning of the Blitz, thus defining his childhood in wartime England.  In his mid teens, he served as a police cadet and thought of joining the force. Then at the age of 17, Anthony joined the Grenadier Guards, an infantry regiment of the British Army and the most senior regiment of the Guards Division. Besides serving in the Guards’ iconic ceremonial duties outside of Buckingham Palace, Anthony also saw distinguished service under fire during the Suez Crisis. Afterwards, he spent his 20s at various jobs in London, “lost in the wilderness,” as he put it.

Anthony spoke often of the defining moments in his life, and the most significant of these was his move to the United States in 1968. He jumped right in to the non-profit world, discovering his talent for leadership in the arts. First establishing himself in New York City, Anthony made a name for himself as an independent event producer, especially proud to have once presented Buckminster Fuller at Carnegie Hall.  Over the years he also lived in St. Louis, Atlanta, Washington, DC, and finally, San Francisco. He became a United States citizen on July 4, 1976, the bicentennial of his adopted country.

With the onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, Anthony’s life changed course once again. In mid 1991, he quit his work to care for his partner, James Brumbaugh, who was dying from AIDS-related complications. It was a devastating loss. In 1992, after completing Jimmy’s AIDS Memorial quilt panel, he asked, “What would you have me do now, God?” Within months, he moved permanently to San Francisco, was appointed CEO of the NAMES Project Foundation, and after only three years, would bring more than 42,000 panels of the Quilt to Washington, DC for display on the National Mall. It was viewed by 1.2 million people.

In 1996, Anthony was appointed to the San Francisco Arts Commission. In 2000, he was a consultant to the United States Agency for International Development, assisting in the agency’s efforts to partner with faith-based organizations in responding to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa.

In San Francisco, Anthony found his spiritual home at Grace Cathedral, where he served as parishioner, as Canon for Development, and then, through his vocational calling, as clergy. Several years before his retirement, Anthony was appointed Archdeacon of the Diocese of California, as such serving the whole community of deacons, administratively and pastorally, and was very much a person on whom the Bishop relied centrally and heavily.  Afterwards, Anthony was named Archdeacon for the Arts at Grace Cathedral. He also served as Chaplain to the Dean’s Search Committee for Grace Cathedral. As an openly gay member of the clergy and a vocal advocate for marriage equality and other social justice issues, Anthony was a tireless champion of the LGBT community. An energetic volunteer and traveler, Anthony spent a month walking across Spain along the Camino de Santiago and successfully biked, three times, from San Francisco to Los Angeles as part of the AIDS LifeCycle. After Hurricane Katrina, he volunteered with a group from Grace Cathedral to assist in rebuilding a home for a young woman who had lost her home.

As accomplished as he was, his friends and family will remember Anthony most fondly for his commanding personality. He filled a room with grace and dignity – and then used his keen humor to destroy any remaining decorum. Anthony was an extraordinary friend and companion, always caring for those around him. He listened intensely and valued each person who came into his life. His friends and colleagues were blessed by his giving nature. Those who loved and admired Anthony continue to do so with passion and loyalty.

A final gift that Anthony bestowed on his friends and family was the way in which he lived out his dying. He did so with integrity, dignity and humor. Those who witnessed his journey learned with him. Dying often reveals a great many things about a person, especially those who are in the public arena. We watched him from a distance as he made his private journey, and, when invited, we walked part of that pilgrimage alongside him. We are grateful for both the public and the private blessings.

Anthony is survived by his San Francisco, St. Louis and Los Angeles family; his Episcopal Church friends and colleagues; beloved friends from across the world; his canine companion, Drew; and his newly found – and greatly loved – biological family in England and in Canada.  His, truly, was a life well lived: in love, friendship and grace.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Anthony’s memory may be made to one of the following: The Sacred Dying Foundation, The Rainbow Honor Walk, the Ghiberti Foundation, the arts and culture foundation at Grace Cathedral or the San Francisco Opera Archive.

A funeral and celebration of Anthony’s life will be held at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral (1100 California Street) on Monday, July 14 at 11am. Anthony’s body in closed coffin will lay in the Cathedral’s AIDS Interfaith Chapel beginning at 7am for all those wishing to pay their respects prior to the funeral.

Olav Fykse Tveit to continue as WCC general secretary

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 3, 2014

[World Council of Churches press release] The Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit was appointed to a second five-year term as general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) on 3 July, during the WCC Central Committee meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. The 53-year-old theologian and pastor from the Church of Norway has served as general secretary since January 2010.

Tveit called his appointment a “great privilege” and a “continuation of a meaningful journey”. He said that the last five years have been the “most blessed years, offering opportunities, challenges and accomplishments in his work with the churches”.

“This decision is heartening. I feel grateful and motivated,” he said.

“A shared faith in what the WCC can accomplish in its quest for Christian unity, justice and peace in the world, a concern that lies at the heart of the ecumenical movement, is immensely inspiring for me as I continue working with the churches.”

WCC Central Committee moderator Dr Agnes Abuom said, “We, as members of the Central Committee, are delighted at the appointment of Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit. The Central Committee has strongly affirmed the leadership gifts which he brings to his role. We look forward with a high degree of confidence to the next five years of working together with Rev. Olav and all the WCC staff.”

Tveit has played an active role in the past two decades in strengthening global church relations, while contributing to churches’ work for the cause of justice and peace. Before being appointed as the WCC general secretary, Tveit previously served as general secretary of the Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations, as well as being a member of the WCC’s Faith and Order Plenary Commission and also the board of directors and executive committee of the Christian Council of Norway.

The WCC is a fellowship of 345 churches from around the world.

Biographical information on Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit

Information on previous WCC general secretaries

More information about the Central Committee meeting

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2013 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 140 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway.

RIP: Fred Howard

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 3, 2014

Fred Howard, a member of Presiding Bishop Edmond L. Browning’s staff and head of chaplains for the Diocese of Long Island hospital ministry, died July 1 at his log cabin home in Hinsdale, Pennsylvania. He was 80. He had suffered several strokes and for the past year had been confined to a wheelchair. Fred had lived in Hinsdale, where he and his wife, Sylvia, intended to retire. She was also a member of the Episcopal Church Center staff and died in the late 1990s.

Fred was instrumental in securing permission from the various Anglican provinces for the startup of a churchwide communications system, which eventually morphed into the Internet.

Massachusetts notified of successful canonical consent process

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 3, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Office of Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has notified the Diocese of Massachusetts that Bishop-Elect Alan Gates has received the required majority of consents in the canonical consent process.

As outlined under Canon III.11.4 (a), the Presiding Bishop confirmed the receipt of consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction, and has also reviewed the evidence of consents from a majority of standing committees of the Church sent to her by the diocesan standing committee.

In Canon III.11.4 (b), Standing Committees, in consenting to the ordination and consecration, attest they are “fully sensible of how important it is that the Sacred Order and Office of a Bishop should not be unworthily conferred, and firmly persuaded that it is our duty to bear testimony on this solemn occasion without partiality, do, in the presence of Almighty God, testify that we know of no impediment on account of which the Reverend A.B. ought not to be ordained to that Holy Office. We do, moreover, jointly and severally declare that we believe the Reverend A.B. to have been duly and lawfully elected and to be of such sufficiency in learning, of such soundness in the Faith, and of such godly character as to be able to exercise the Office of a Bishop to the honor of God and the edifying of the Church, and to be a wholesome example to the flock of Christ.”

The Rev. Alan Gates was elected on April 5.  His ordination and consecration service is slated for September 13; Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori will officiate.

A recap of the process                                                  

Upon election, the successful candidate is a bishop-elect.  Following some procedural matters including physical and psychological examinations, formal notices are then sent by the Presiding Bishop’s office to bishops with jurisdiction (diocesan bishops only) with separate notices from the electing diocese to the standing committees of each of the dioceses in The Episcopal Church. These notices require their own actions and signatures.

In order for a bishop-elect to become a bishop, Canon III.11.4 (a) of The Episcopal Church mandates that a majority of diocesan bishops AND a majority of diocesan standing committees must consent to the bishop-elect’s ordination and consecration as bishop. These actions – done separately – must be completed within 120 days from the day notice of the election was sent to the proper parties.

If the bishop-elect receives a majority of consents from the diocesan bishops as well as a majority from the standing committees, the bishop-elect is one step closer. Following a successful consent process, ordination and celebration are in order.

Anglicans, Episcopalians from five continents on WCC’s governing body

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 3, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans and Episcopalians from countries including Burundi, Japan, Uganda and Melanesia are in Geneva for the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) Central Committee meeting.

Members of the Anglican Communion make up 11% of the WCC’s elected governing body – second only to Reformed and Eastern Orthodox Christian traditions.

The committee, which consists of 150 members from around the world, is responsible for carrying out the policies adopted by the WCC 10th Assembly, reviewing and supervising WCC programs and the budget of the council.

The WCC Central Committee will hold meetings every two years until the next Assembly. The last Assembly took place in Busan, Republic of Korea, in October and November 2013.

At yesterday’s opening of the meeting, WCC Central Committee moderator and Kenyan Anglican Dr Agnes Abuom reflected on the significance of the theme “pilgrimage of justice and peace”, which is based on a call issued by the WCC Assembly.

Her address put a special focus on the engagement of youth in the ecumenical movement. “To bring back prophetic dynamism and emphasis into the ecumenical movement, we need to let the young generation own and define the ecumenical movement,” she said.

Abuom shared aspirations for ecumenical spirituality to extend its boundaries to be more inclusive of the needs of churches and communities.

“A revitalized ecumenical spirituality must not be bound by narrow and tradition-bound religious, ecclesial and dogmatic frameworks if they have proven to be unhelpful to addressing the present needs. Rather, it must embrace a prophetic posture for justice, for peace-making and for the diaconal care for all living beings,” she said.

Abuom reflected on global issues related to poverty and inequality, weak governance, proxy conflicts and wars, as well as unemployment among youth. She spoke about the changing ecclesial and religious landscapes and challenges they pose. To address these issues, she stressed the importance of a transformation of ecumenism and revitalization of spirituality.

The members of the WCC Central Committee from Anglican Communion Member Churches are:

  • Bishop Mark MacDonald, Anglican Church of Canada (A President of the WCC Central Committee)
  • Dr Agnes Abuom, Anglican Church of Kenya (Executive  committee member and Central Committee moderator)
  • Bishop Yona Mwesigwa Katoneene, Church of Uganda
  • The Rev. Jeanne Françoise Ndimubakunzi, Eglise Anglicane du Burundi
  • Mrs Jesca Bireri Laki Lukudu, Episcopal Church of the Sudan
  • Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje, Province de l’Eglise Anglicane du Rwanda
  • The Rev. Renta Nishihara, Anglican Church in Japan
  • The Most Rev. Phillip Aspinall, Anglican Church of Australia
  • The Rev. Rex R. B. Reyes, Jr., Episcopal Church in the Philippines
  • Mrs Elenor I. Lawrence, Church in the Province of the West Indies
  • The Rev. Sarah Rogers, Church in Wales
  • The Rt. Rev. Peter Forster, Church of England
  • The Rev. Canon Leslie Nathaniel, Church of England
  • The Rev. Aida Consuelo Sanchez-Navarro, The Episcopal Church
  • Mrs Tagolyn Kabekabe, Church of Melanesia

The Most Rev. S. Tilewa Johnson Church of the Province of West Africa who had been elected a member of the WCC’s Central Committee passed away in January of this year.

For the latest from the Central Committee meeting visit http://www.oikoumene.org/en

Church jargon jettisoned for better communication

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 3, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Scott Claassen of thads describes himself as “a Monday through Saturday follower of Jesus who worships on Sunday.”

He believes it conveys a clearer understanding of what his faith means to him than “Episcopalian” or even “Christian”.

“The main point is, it inverts our sense of discipleship from saying being a disciple means I go to church on Sunday,” Claassen, 35, told ENS recently. “Instead it says being a disciple means I practice this Jesus way throughout all of my life and I happen to get together with a bunch of other people on Sunday who do that, too.”

Call it semantics, but Claassen isn’t alone. Increasingly, individuals, congregations and even dioceses across the Episcopal Church are shifting language subtly – and not so subtly – to clarify identity and meaning and to make cultural and contextual connections.

Churches and congregations are becoming known as “communities of faith” and “centers of mission” and the word diocese has been dropped in favor of “The Episcopal Church in” places like Minnesota and Connecticut.

None of which is meant as “a strategy to get people to come to church, it’s just who we are at the core,” according to the Rev. Jimmy Bartz. He founded thads eight years ago as an “experimental community, or in church-speak, a mission station” of the Diocese of Los Angeles, he said.

“We’re about spreading love and making a difference wherever we are because that’s what Jesus was about and we’re committed to doing it together,” Bartz said. “It’s like that old country song, ‘be real baby, be real.’”

Becoming tradition ‘translators’
Helping the uninitiated navigate insider church-speak, complex liturgies and specific Episcopalianisms often involves becoming “translators, of sorts,” according to Bartz and others.

“It comes from this great gift that’s been afforded by learning the language of the Episcopal Church and its liturgy and tradition and wanting the culture to understand those gifts but having some sense that it’s too great of an expectation for me to demand that the culture learn the language that I’ve learned,” Bartz said.

The Rev. Becky Zartman, when reaching out to the largely millennial population in Washington, D.C.’s Dupont Circle neighborhood, talks “about networks, about groups of people in relationship with each other who love each other and who are trying to be faithful Christians together.

“That’s what I think of when I think of church. But some people think of it as a building or an institution or cathedral or something you only do on Sunday morning,” said Zartman, 29, assistant rector at St. Thomas, Dupont Circle, who blogs as the Vicar of H Street.

And when she blogs, “if I ever use a church word I define it or explain what it means. Better yet, I don’t use it. I might write an entire reflection on the Incarnation and never use the word. People either don’t know what it means or think they do and they don’t.”

And much of the time, “I’m starting in the negative,” she adds. “Because people have a negative connotation of the church or think that Christians are stupid. The problem is, church is such an umbrella term.

“In talking to millennials who have no positive experience with the institutional church, I’m still trying to figure out how do I explain this thing that we’re doing. I’m trying to be accessible, but to go deeper at the same time.”

St. Thomas’ vestry member Catherine Manhardt agreed.

“We have this really amazing church and liturgy and worship and common prayer and it’s central to who we are, once we get there,” she said. “But when you say I’m Episcopalian because the Eucharist is really important to me, that’s not going to resonate with people, and you want people to understand what you’re talking about.”

Rather than telling friends she serves on the vestry, “I say board of directors,” adds Manhardt, 25. Evangelism becomes “community engagement.

“For me, the most important part about church is the community … I don’t want to make who we are a barrier to the kind of people who could become part of our community.”

‘Communities of faith becoming centers of mission’
Through the New Visions Initiative (NVI) which partners thriving historically African American congregations with struggling ones, the Rev. Angela Ifill, the Episcopal Church’s missioner for black ministries, has witnessed language shifts re-energize congregations.

“Language plays a huge part in the way parishioners think of themselves,” Ifill said in a recent e-mail to ENS.

Her invitation to a New Visions group “to think of themselves as communities of faith becoming centers of mission, brought the question, ‘You mean we have to be doing something?’” she recalled. “It was a break-through in better understanding their purpose for being.”

Similarly, “praying communities” and “Episcopal presences” are the way Bishop David Rice describes “who we are, by talking about what we do … because the reality for me is that the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin is a praying community and within that are many praying communities,” he said.

“The primary intent is Luke 10, being sent out, hearing the stories of people, responding to needs, and building relationships, but not as a roundabout way of ensuring that we get people into church.”

Since his March 2014 election, “the typical question I ask everywhere is, ‘what does an Episcopal presence look like in this context? What do people say about the Episcopal Church where they are” including those who don’t attend church, he said.

Bishops Ian Douglas of Connecticut and Brian Prior of Minnesota each recognized a name change was in order when they realized the word “diocese” conveyed images of buildings and bishops rather than a sense of community, inclusion, and corporate identity.

A recent shift to “the Episcopal Church in Connecticut” actually reclaims tradition and common identity, Douglas said. “It was the original name of who we were when Samuel Seabury, the first bishop in the Episcopal Church, signed the Concordat with the three nonjuring bishops in the Episcopal Church of Scotland in 1784,” Douglas said.

The word “diocese” came along in the late 1830s and became associated with the bishop’s office and staff rather than “the united witness of the 168 parishes and worshiping communities participating in the mission of God together,” he said.

A move to a new, flexible shared workspace with an open floor plan accompanied the name change. It’s known as the Commons of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, echoing the New England metaphor of the village green as a center of activity. Initial feedback has been extremely positive, Douglas said.

Similarly, “the Episcopal Church in Minnesota” conveys the reality “that our faith communities come in all sizes and shapes and contexts” including churches, senior housing, schools, campus ministries and other agencies who worship corporately, according to Bishop Brian Prior.

Yet, “we’re really clear in our language and in the big picture that the Episcopal Church in Minnesota (ECIM) is a diocese of The Episcopal Church; there’s never been a question about that.”

Language shifts prompted structural changes, he said. “I joke that there is no bishop’s staff here,” Prior says. “The only staff I have is the one I carry in procession.”

The diocese consists of “mission areas”, invited “to get clear about their identity and context, about what God’s up to in their neighborhood and to find a sustainable model for living into God’s mission in their context.”

As a result, Prior said. “More Minnesota Episcopalians know about the world’s needs and how to bring their gifts to meet the world’s needs to engage God’s mission” on local and individual levels, rather than trying “to get everybody into church.”

He hopes to revise parochial reports to measure, in addition to budgets and average Sunday attendance (ASA), levels of community impact.

For example, “there’s a faith community here with an ASA of 19 who feeds a hundred people every Friday. They have a huge impact on their community. That’s vibrancy. That’s really engaging in God’s mission, and that’s of more interest to us.”

‘No one-size-fits-all’
Language shifts notwithstanding, no one-size-fits-all; Episcopal identity still encompasses a wide spectrum, from evangelicals to Anglo-Catholics, say Prior and others.

Personally, says Bartz, “it drives me crazy that I hear from Episcopalians all the time, that ‘I can go anywhere in the country and get the same thing in church,’” he said.

“I think that’s a devastating indictment about how shallow our church has become, that we really don’t expect anything from people other than the execution of a particular liturgy in a particular way on Sunday morning. I understand it, but it drives me crazy.”

But for Broderick Greer, 24, a former Missionary Baptist and current Virginia Theological Seminary student, the liturgy’s poetic language was a way into the church. “I had run out of words in my personal prayer life and the church was able to say words it had been saying for centuries that I just couldn’t find for myself.”

Consistently asking the questions of faith – as individuals, as churches, as dioceses – is a given, and the challenge of inaccessible language can be overcome by the church “educating its people and those outside it,” he said.

“We say the Nicene Creed every week but we know that it doesn’t mean the same thing to us as to the people who wrote it. And so that’s why there is value in saying the same words that people have always said but knowing that those words are not static. They are living and offer life and new meaning for us and part of the task of the church is constantly interpreting what these words mean.”

About 40 Twitter followers responded to his recent tweet ‘what first drew you to the Episcopal Church?’ which he compiled into a Storify. For many, liturgy and language were the attractions.

“I thought to myself … why are we not tapping into this gift we have and sharing it with the world?” Greer said. “We think it’s so great and yet we don’t tell anyone about it and don’t tell anyone about the Christ we encounter in it.”

– The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.

2,000 Christians gather in South Africa for Anglicans Ablaze

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 3, 2014

The energetic “blazing band” accompanies sung worship at Anglicans Ablaze conference.
Photo: Bellah Zulu/ACNS

[Anglican Communion News Service] About 2000 Christians from Southern Africa and beyond are in Johannesburg for one of the continent’s most popular Christian gatherings: Anglicans Ablaze.

Day one was characterized by lively praise and worship songs led by Bishop Martin Breytenbach of the Diocese of St. Mark the Evangelist (Limpopo Province of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa), backed by an energetic “blazing band.”

The bishop told attendees: “People are spiritually thirsty and desperate for a living God” and he encouraged participants to be “engaged and meet God despite the different styles of praise and worship” at the conference.

The Anglican-run conference, with the theme Hope is Rising, runs from July 2-5, and will address various topics ranging from re-imagining mission, the environment, social justice, discipleship and leadership, among many others. Speakers have been drawn from various backgrounds, denominations and countries mostly from Africa.

Hope, an anchor for the soul
‘Hope’ was a common thread to many of the presentations throughout the first day. “Christian hope is not wishful thinking,” one speaker said, “but our confident expectation in Christ.”

In his charge, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA), drew extensively from Scripture and various theologians on the meaning and the need for hope in the church.

“Hope is the belief that we’re called and invited to be ready to respond to the love of God,” he said. “Anglicans should be witnesses with a difference, and nothing, not even death shall separate us from the love of God.”

Makgoba addressed many other issues within the church and the country. He spoke of “the need to care for the environment” and the current efforts to organize local clean-up campaigns and even lobby government for an eco-conference. He also bemoaned the disparities that exist between the rich and the poor, the employers and the employees.

Theological education also took center stage in his charge. The archbishop has been outspoken on the need for improved education in the country and the way it could impact the nation in general and the church in particular. He said: “Theological education of parishioners is important in addressing the many challenges the church faces today.

“Theological education is a must for Southern Africa and equips us to embody and proclaim the message of God’s redemptive hope. Education boosts the levels of trust among Christians,” he said. “Unfortunately distrust is taking over in South Africa due to lack of transparency in the nation and therefore, the church needs to act to bring about a renaissance of trust.”

Re-imagining mission
Steve Maina is a charismatic Anglican priest who heads up CMS in New Zealand. He gave a rousing speech on “re-imaging mission” in 21st century Africa. He said, “As Anglicans we sometimes get caught up in the debates and forget what our core essence is. The Kingdom of God is not only about the seed or weed, but the whole story.”

He added, “It’s about the small seed becoming the big tree and therefore Anglicans should not despise small beginnings. Breakthroughs don’t always happen at the center but at the fringes.” He encouraged Christians not to be scared to be in “obscure places because that’s where the renewal and expansion of the church is happening.”

“It’s time for Africa to evangelize the world,” he proclaimed. There is need for quality and depth in churches and discipleship. Boundaries should be broken to re-imagine mission and share the gospel of Christ.”

However he explained that African Anglicans need a plan to successfully evangelize the world. He explained the various opportunities that the church can take advantage of in order to effectively evangelize.

“Children present a wonderful opportunity for sharing the Gospel with others,” he said. He wondered why the African church had ignored Christians in diaspora. “Those should be commissioned and prayed for,” he said.

He explained that this missionary model is not capital intensive since the people are already out there and hence the church does not need to spend to take them there.

A different form of worship
Nancy Nyagi is a social development leader from Kenya. She addressed young Anglicans in a special workshop on social development. She said: “Social justice is a different form of worship. Let justice roll in our countries.”

She related social justice to the teaching in the Gospel of Matthew. “We need to care enough for our neighbors as Jesus taught us,” she said. “We need to build relationships and break bondages of injustice.”

Nyagi emphasized that the church needs to break the bonds of injustice and set people free. “The church should break the bondages of dehumanizing poverty and let justice roll while doing away with oppression,” she said.

In conclusion, she warned: “However, giving aid only is like trying to be God and trying to fix everything in the world without understanding the source of the problems.”

The Anglicans Ablaze conference has been organized by Growing the Church, the province’s growth institute. It is a follow up to a similar conference held in 2012 which saw the participation of about 1,400 Christians. This year, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, will be the keynote speaker.