[Episcopal News Service] El Rdo. canónigo William Geisler (“Jay”) ha bautizado durante un mitin de motociclistas, ha celebrado bodas con la pareja vestida con trajes de cuero negro y ha provocado vítores cuando dijo a los dolientes [de un funeral] que “sólo hay dos clases de motociclistas: los que han caído y los que caerán”.
“Alguien se levantó [en un funeral] y preguntó ‘¿dónde está Billy?’ y yo comencé a hablar del amor de Dios por todos nosotros. Les dije que él está con Dios, por supuesto”, recordaba Geisler durante una entrevista reciente. “Todo el mundo prorrumpió en aplausos de júbilo, porque a ellos les han dicho que son malas personas”.
Geisler, un entusiasta motociclista de 57 años y rector de la iglesia episcopal de San Pedro [St. Peter’s Episcopal Church] en Pittsburgh, se dio cuenta de la necesidad de un ministerio para motociclistas luego de que uno de estos le dijera: “usted no sabe lo que es parecerse a Frankenstein y tener el corazón de Shirley Temple”.
Él y otros sacerdotes motociclistas dicen que su amor por las motocicletas ha abierto nuevas vías para proclamar el Evangelio a una comunidad ignorada y desatendida.
Misas de motocicletas en Maryland
El Rdo. Steve McCarty se sintió inspirado a comenzar un ministerio de motocicletas luego que otro motociclista le preguntara sobre el escudo episcopal que él lleva en su chaqueta.
“Le dije, ‘sí, soy un sacerdote episcopal’”, recordaba McCarty, motociclista desde los 16 años. “Pasamos hora y media conversando acerca de su fe y de cómo lo habían excluido de la iglesia en la que estaba, cómo no lo aceptaron, y que él creía que no era lo bastante bueno para ir allí.
“Él conocía la Escritura. Me dijo, ‘necesito algún lugar donde pueda ser aceptado tal como soy’. Yo pensé que podría hacer algo al respecto”, dijo McCarty, vicario de la iglesia de San Andrés [St. Andrew’s Church] en Clear Springs, Maryland.
Empezó a celebrar misas de motocicletas un sábado por la noche al mes en junio de 2012 en la iglesia de San Marcos [St. Mark’s Church] en Lappans. Los oficios han llegado a tener hasta unos 30 feligreses regulares.
Después de la eucaristía, “si el tiempo es bueno, hacemos una carrerita hasta algún lugar para comer”, agregó McCarty, de 53 años y policía estatal jubilado de Maryland.
No todos los que asisten al oficio de motocicletas una vez al mes son motociclistas, pero todas las ofrendas —que se recogen en un casco de motocicleta— se donan a bancos de alimentos, albergues y otras agencias benéficas locales que ayudan a la comunidad.
McCarty, que usa una Harley Davidson, dice que ha podido levantar una “buena comunidad” por tener también un quiosco en los mítines de motociclistas de la localidad. “La gente se acerca —tipos tatuados de pies a cabeza— y dicen que habían intentado encontrar una iglesia que los aceptara, pero que las iglesias siempre les dicen que se cubran los tatuajes.
“Un tipo me dijo, ‘yo tengo tatuajes, pero mi alma no está tatuada. Me pidió una bendición y le dije que sí, que puedo dársela”.
Él ha llegado a ser conocido como el “sacerdote motociclista” y bromeando reconoce que a veces habla el llamado “lenguaje Harley”. Sin embargo, las apariencias pueden ser engañosas. Su barba y su bigote con frecuencia “alejan a la gente”, añadió McCarty. Es divertido. Y a veces, sabes, me da material para sermones, al estilo de no juzguéis”.
Para Geisler, el haber pasado tiempo en la cárcel es “una cosa buena” para su ministerio de motocicletas porque lo hace “mucho más humano” para su rebaño, dice.
El nativo de Pittsburgh es un ex obrero siderúrgico y ex sacerdote catolicorromano, que fue encarcelado en los años ochenta en las protestas por el cierre de las acerías y la pérdida de beneficios y empleos de los trabajadores. Sacerdote episcopal desde 1999 y motociclista por casi 40 años, su ministerio ha crecido debido a que los “motociclistas conocen a otros motociclistas”.
Al igual que McCarty, él dice que un sello de su iglesia en su motocicleta BMW a menudo suscita curiosidad y conduce a peticiones de cuidado pastoral.
“Con frecuencia me contactan para hacer funerales para motociclistas que se han alienado de la iglesia”, dijo durante una reciente entrevista telefónica para ENS. “Intento llevarle al público la proclamación del Evangelio en su lengua”.
Describiéndoles a los deudos, en un funeral reciente, cómo sería el infierno, les dijo: sería como si estuvieran en medio de la lluvia, completamente solo con una moto y que no pudieran echarla a andar. Y ustedes lo siguen intentando, pero no arranca y se sienten frustrados”.
Por otra parte, “el cielo es un lugar donde todos estamos juntos como familia y celebrando todas las cosas que disfrutamos”.
Geisler, y su congregación, son una serie de contradicciones. La iglesia mezcla riqueza y pobreza, privilegio y marginalidad, lo urbano y lo suburbano. “Hay personas aquí con dinero y educación, y otros con picardía de la calle”, agrega. “Tengo inmigrantes de Rumania, refugiados de la antigua Yugoslavia y un grupo de Etiopía”.
Él oficia en una bendición anual de las motos y también es mentor de clérigos nuevos, entre ellos el Rdo. Frank Yesko, psicólogo y entusiasta de las Harley. Yesko fue ordenado el 15 de junio y comenzará a servir como diácono encargado de la iglesia de San Bernabé [St Barnabas] en Breckenridge, Pensilvania, en Septiembre.
“Ha sido una trayectoria increíble”, dijo Yesko, de 56 años y profesor de psicología de una universidad comunitaria, quien reconoció que la mentoría de Geisler impulsó lo que podría haber sido un improbable camino a la ordenación.
“Según seguí desarrollándome y nos acercamos más, lo consideré mi mentor o consejero espiritual”, recordaba. “Comencé a estar activo en la iglesia, y eso ha ido creciendo cada vez más”.
Él ve su motocicleta como “un vehículo para llegar a otros. Intento ser receptivo en lo que concierne a la oportunidad de servir a Dios”, afirmó.
“Trato de no descartar ninguna posibilidad. Creo que servir a Dios abarca la totalidad de mi vida, incluido el andar en motocicleta. El romper esos estereotipos es una forma maravillosa de servir a Dios”.
‘Aleluyas de Harley’ en Mississippi
La Rda. Ann Whitaker dice que le echa de menos el dirigir sus misas de motociclistas ahora que ha pasado a servir de la iglesia episcopal del Creador [Episcopal Church of the Creator] en Clinton, Mississippi, a la iglesia de San Pedro [St. Peter’s] en Oxford.
“Creo que extrañamos algo cuando no lo ofrecemos, hay muchísimos motociclistas ahí afuera”, dijo ella durante una reciente entrevista telefónica desde Oxford.
Ella no es motociclista, pero hizo un recorrido de 241 kilómetros a la grupa de uno de ellos en 2008. “Me hizo recordar al Espíritu Santo” rememoraba Whitaker en una reflexión que tituló “Aleluyas de Harley”.
“Al principio, sólo quería sujetarme de las barras laterales. No podía ver por encima de Pete Jr., o alrededor de él y ciertamente no a través de él. Si yo iba a disfrutar el paseo, sencillamente tenía que confiar en que él me mantendría segura”, escribió ella.
Su marido iba detrás de ellos en un auto durante todo el trayecto, pero “sólo una vez me sentí realmente insegura. Un camión cargado de troncos que venía en dirección contraria provocó un viento fortísimo; más tarde me reía y decía que todavía me estaba sacando astillas de la cara”, contaba en su texto. “Era asombroso lo distinto que huelen las cosas en el asiento trasero de una moto en plena carretera; ¡en verdad percibes el olor del bosque en esos camiones de troncos de una manera cercana y personal! Al adentrarnos en Vicksburg, el olor a tocino frito se sentía a lo largo del camino”.
“Vi muchos paralelos en este lugar de donde tenemos que confiar en Dios con todas las fibras de nuestro ser”, añadió Whitaker en una reciente entrevista con ENS. “Tuve que aprender a no luchar con él. Si él se inclinaba hacia la derecha en el momento de doblar una curva, yo tenía que inclinarme con él; de lo contrario nos hubieran barrido”.
La experiencia también suscitó interrogantes sobre “¿cómo atraer a personas que no están vinculadas a ninguna iglesia?”, dijo Whitaker. “¿Cómo atraer a personas que podrían no sentarse regularmente en la iglesia el domingo por la mañana y qué tienen que decirnos? Ello tiene mucho que decir respecto a la manera en que encontramos a Dios”.
‘Bendición de ruedas’ en Oahu
El 25 de agosto, el Rdo. Paul Klitzke bendijo ruedas de todas clases —patinetas, patines, bicicletas, autos, furgonetas, motos e incluso un andador— en la iglesia de San Nicolás [St. Nicholas Church] Kapolei [en la isla de Oahu], en la Diócesis Episcopal de Hawái.
Klitzke, de 33 años, cree que, si bien sus tatuajes y su Kawasaki Vulcan pueden “cambiar en algo al público y la dinámica en la Iglesia, fundamentalmente sirven para abrir la puerta del diálogo con toda clase de personas. Eso me da la oportunidad de conocer a gente que de otro modo no conocería”.
Comenzó a rodar motos “gracias a un tipo de mi iglesia” mientras servía en la diócesis de Alaska. “Me dijo que si tomaba el curso básico de conducir, me prestaba una moto para que empezara”.
Él tiene tatuajes de: una cruz de Jerusalén; un triqueta, que simboliza la Trinidad; un árbol de la vida y una paloma, [esta última] en representación del Espíritu Santo. “Luego este año le añadí alrededor de la cruz, para representar los cuatro evangelios, los símbolos de los evangelistas: una persona alada [Mateo], un toro alado [Lucas], un león alado [Marcos] y un águila [Juan]”, explicó.
Tanto sus tatuajes como su moto suelen ser motivos para iniciar una conversación y para eliminar estereotipos.
“Con frecuencia, la gente se sorprende de oír que soy sacerdote”, recuerda él. “Me hablan porque les gustan mis tatuajes o porque ando en moto. Es un sentido diferente de comunidad, pero cuando me preguntan por mis tatuajes me están preguntando acerca de mi relación con Dios, y quieran o no, inician una conversación acerca de la Iglesia y de la fe.
Ambas cosas ayuda a disipar estereotipos.
“El mundo estereotipa a los creyentes y el mundo estereotipa a las personas con tatuajes y perforaciones y motos”, dijo Klitzke.
“Pero, cuando le damos un giro a esas imágenes, la gente con tatuajes puede tener que revisar sus suposiciones acerca de la Iglesia y las iglesias pueden tener que revisar sus suposiciones acerca de los motociclistas y de la gente con tatuajes”.
–La Rda. Pat McCaughan es corresponsal de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.
[Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina press release] The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina is pleased to announce that the Diocesan Profile has been posted to the Episcopal Transition webpage. The Search Committee will be accepting applications through Sept. 27 for those asking to enter into the discernment process.
If you are beginning to hear God’s call into a period of discernment regarding the 8th bishop of East Carolina, we are grateful for your willingness to open yourself up to this vocation. We invite you to read and spend time with the Diocesan Profile, located under the tab on the Search and Transitions webpage. If you would like to formally place yourself into consideration the application forms are found on the “Application” tab. We also invite you to join in prayer with us as we continue moving forward in this journey towards God’s hope for his people in this part of the world.
The bishop diocesan election is scheduled to take place on May 17, 2014 at Christ Church, New Bern, and the ordination and consecration of the new bishop is planned for Nov. 8, 2014.
For information and updates about the bishop election process, visit http://bishopsearch.ecdio.org, the search and transition webpage.
[Church of England press release] The Joint Implementation Commission (JIC) of the Church of England and Methodist Church in Britain has called for “Church leaders and decision-making bodies to make the Covenant a priority in order to bring our Churches closer together in mission and holiness.”
In a major Report published this week the JIC calls on both Churches to consider the impact that the 10-year-old Anglican Methodist Covenant has made on their relationship; to rejoice in the progress that has been made; and to face together the challenges of mission.
The Report, entitled “The Challenge of the Covenant: Uniting in Mission and Holiness”, provides numerous examples of where the Churches have worked well together over the past 10 years, including areas of education, ethical investment, mission, theological education, safeguarding and Fresh Expressions. There are now 533 local ecumenical partnerships between Anglicans and Methodists across the country. However, the Report also identifies a number of continuing challenges, such as the need for further collaboration, consultation and decision making at both national and local levels.
In setting out new ways of future working, a Quick Guide to the Report urges “Church leaders and decision-making bodies to make the Covenant a priority in order to bring our churches closer together”. It also expresses the need for “local Anglicans and Methodists to worship and work together more closely to make the Covenant ‘real’.” It states that “We are called to holiness and to be sent on mission in the world. Our unity is an essential part of that. When we are not one ….. our faith and mission are seriously compromised”.
Jointly launching the report today, Professor Peter Howdle, the Methodist Co-Chair of the JIC, said: “We are pleased to present this Report. The JIC sees many signs that the Covenant between our two Churches has strengthened during this period. However, there is still a long way to go before our two churches are acting, and are seen as acting, together in visible unity for the mission of the church.
I believe both churches will need to act ever more graciously towards each other as they seek to overcome the obstacles which prevent a deepening of our Covenant relationship. Our Report challenges our churches to greater efforts in their search for this visible unity.”
The Church of England Co-Chair, the Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Revd. Christopher Cocksworth said:
“John Wesley’s passion and project to ‘reform the nation…and to spread scriptural holiness over the land’ is in urgent need of renewal. This important Report challenges the Church of England and the Methodist Church to work wherever possible in common purpose and to take definite steps towards a common life in Christ, and in his ministry and mission.”
The Report notes the outstanding questions preventing even closer working and highlights the JIC’s hopes that progress towards visible unity in mission and holiness will not involve one Church being absorbed by the other. “We have common roots and shared history,” states the Quick Guide. “Yet we are very different culturally and structurally. We do not match each other in the ways we are organised. These difficulties are sometimes the source of misunderstanding and frustration, but they can also be the source of much enrichment and rejoicing.”
The JIC is inviting feedback on the findings of the Report. Over the next few months, the various national and connexional bodies of the two Churches will be reflecting on the Report in order to discern how to move forward into the next phase of the Covenant journey. Comments and submissions are being invited by 31 January 2014. The JIC will then bring proposals for the next phase of implementation of the Covenant to the General Synod and the Methodist Conference in July 2014.
The JIC Report: “The Challenge of the Covenant: Uniting in Mission and Holiness” , the Quick Guide and a Draft Report to the Methodist Conference and the General Synod in 2014 will be available for download from 6th September at: http://www.anglican-methodist.org.uk/
- The Joint Implementation Commission (JIC) was first established by resolution of the General Synod and Methodist Conference in 2003, and was charged to monitor the implementation of the Covenant and to undertake further work to remove obstacles to visible unity. The first five yearly report was published in 2008 (Embracing the Covenant). In its second phase the JIC has included Anglican and Methodist representatives from Wales and Scotland.
- Alongside the Report: The Challenge of the Covenant: Uniting in Mission and Holiness, the JIC is also publishing this week a Draft Report to the Methodist Conference and the General Synod in 2014, which outlines what steps need to be taken to meet the challenges identified in the Report. The JIC will bring a revised version of this document, including proposals for the next phase of implementation of the Covenant, to the General Synod and Methodist Conference in July 2014. In addition, a Quick Guide accompanying the Report provides an introduction to the material in both reports.
[Diocese of Peshawar's The Frontier News] The healing ministry of the Diocese of Peshawar in Pakistan organized an open-air two-day healing services program at St. John’s Cathedral Church lawn at the end of August.
These healing services were jointly organized by the Rev. Samson Anwar, who is in charge of the diocese’s healing ministry, and Pastor Anwar Fazal from Isaac TV, Lahore.
The basic theme of the program was taken from the parable of the courageous woman, a widow who kept on seeking justice from an unjust judge. Eventually her resistance against injustice, her hope, and waiting meant she was rewarded with justice (Luke 18:1-8).
The priests during the healing services encouraged people to keep on praying continuously, saying, “Jesus assures his followers that God will do justice in the end.”
Hundreds of people attended the services; large crowds of the faithful came from all over the province to hear the word of God.
A good number of non-Christians were there as well, seeking His blessings and were looking forward to receive healings, and to witness the miracles in the Holy name of Jesus Christ.
Anwar and Fazal, along with other priests of the Peshawar diocese, prayed constantly for the sick, disabled, and for people possessed with demons and evil spirits. Religious songs and hymns were sung with great conviction and commitment.
[Episcopal Peace Fellowship press release] The Episcopal Peace Fellowship (EPF) unequivocally opposes a military strike against Syria.
Still resonating from recently honoring the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – who called the U.S. “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world” – we at EPF base our opposition to a military strike on our EPF Pledge to Nonviolence.
“This is a nonviolence that connects the dots, as Dr. King did, between our opportunistic wars and the inherent violence of our social/economic system that rewards unbridled greed while condoning the injustices and suffering of poverty, racism and diminishing opportunities for abundant life together in community,” said Linda Gather, chair of the EPF national executive council.
“We are also glad that an argument can be made against an attack on the basis of the Just War Theory,” she said.
The Rev. George Clifford, an ethicist and writer who was a U.S. Navy chaplain for 24 years, has written a 1,624 word exploration of President Barack Obama’s call for some military attack on Syria based on the Just War Theory, posted on the EPF website here.
“Under international law,” the Rev. Clifford – an EPF member and consultant – points out, “a nation can legally attack another nation under only two conditions: self-defense or United Nations (UN) authority. The deplorable state of affairs in Syria does not include anything that one can realistically construe as an attack on the United States or EU. Thus, the U.S. cannot legally justify attacking Syria as an act of self-defense.”
“No matter how well intentioned an attack against Syria – attempting to end the use of outlawed chemical weapons, for example – responding with violence may beget more rather than less violence,” the Rev. Clifford points out.
“The overarching purpose of a just war is to stop evil and to move the world closer to God’s peace. Military intervention in Syria seems likely to achieve neither. Therefore, Christians need to raise their voices in protest against possible action now before it becomes too late. Instead of waging an unjust war, the U.S. and EU should aid refugees and work non-violently to end the killing,” he said.
[National Council of Churches press release] As the United States considers a military response to the use of chemical weapons by the government of Syria, the National Council of Churches has issued the following statement:
1. In any political dispute, we deplore the use of military solutions. Since its founding in 1950 in the wake of World War II and at the beginning of the Korean War, the NCC has declared its conviction that war is always contrary to the will of God.
2. We particularly deplore the horrendous violence unleashed by both sides in the Syria civil war that has resulted in a dismaying loss of life and property, and has placed severe burdens on the entire region as thousands of refugees seek safety outside the borders of Syria.
3. In particular, we condemn the use of chemical weapons by the government of Syria that has killed and maimed thousands of innocent children, women, and men. This senseless, evil act is horrifying, even against the background of the unspeakable carnage each side has already wrought against the other. All who have been responsible for this chemical attack, from the President of Syria to the soldiers following orders to unleash the attack, must search their consciences and ask God for forgiveness and for the courage to refuse to participate in future attacks.
4. We welcome the resolve of President Obama and other leaders to stop future chemical attacks against an innocent populace. However, we are deeply skeptical that U.S. military action against Syria will prevent future attacks. Indeed, we fear such action may have consequences beyond U.S. planning and control, including more death and widespread destruction.
5. We acknowledge the courage of British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has said the United Kingdom will not participate in punitive attacks on Syria because of the clearly stated opposition of the British people and the House of Commons. We call on President Obama to listen carefully to similar debates in the U.S. Congress and among the U.S. public.
6. We urge President Obama to use restraint in deciding upon military solutions, and to renew his efforts to build a political coalition within the United Nations to continue to isolate the Syrian government from the family of nations and place irresistible moral and economic pressure on Syria to refrain from the use of chemical weapons against innocent people.
7. We call on all persons of faith to pray for all leaders who are faced with the terrible decisions of war, including the President of the United States whose clear intention is to protect the innocent.
[Diocese of Fort Worth press release] The Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., bishop of Fort Worth; the Standing Committee, and the Board of Trustees of the Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth are disappointed by the August 30, 2013, opinion of the Texas Supreme Court that failed to uphold the summary judgment of the 141st District Court, Tarrant County, Texas. That judgment granted the Local Episcopal Parties’ and The Episcopal Church’s Motions for Summary Judgments. The opinion can be seen here. and the dissenting opinion can be seen here.
Bishop High has issued a letter to the diocese that can be seen, which follows in full. When we have more thoroughly reviewed the opinion, the Diocese of Fort Worth may issue further statements. In the meantime we hold all Episcopalians in our prayers as well as former Bishop Iker and his colleagues, and we bid your prayers as we move forward.
30 August 2013
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
On August 30, 2013 the Texas Supreme Court issued an opinion that sent our case back to the lower court for reconsideration. While it is a disappointment not to have a definitive decision, as followers of Jesus Christ, we live in hope.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori joins me in acknowledging our disappointment and urging all of us to be gentle with one another during this trying time, with the important goal of continuing our worship of God and our ministries in this community in as uninterrupted a manner as possible.
Now I, other diocesan leaders, and our legal team, including representatives of the Church and its legal team, have to make decisions about our next steps.
For now, we all must don the mantle of patience and forbearance. I ask for your prayers and urge us all to stay focused on the saving gospel of Jesus Christ in the days ahead.
I remain convinced that we are right in our affirmation that we are the continuing Diocese of Fort Worth and that I am its bishop.
But in the wake of this opinion, as always, we remain committed to preaching that gospel as we celebrate the sacraments, care for those in need, and strive for justice and peace. When we began this litigation in 2009, we did so as heir and steward of the legacy of generations of faithful Episcopalians.
Let us move forward together with grace and love, guided by the Holy Spirit.
The Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High Jr.
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth
[Diocese of Kansas] Three refugee families from Burma who were beginning to make a new life in the U.S. are trying to adjust to the loss of all their possessions in a two-alarm fire that destroyed their apartments Aug. 27.
Beyond that, they are struggling with a sense of despair, feeling that tragedy has followed them from their war-torn homeland to Wichita, Kansas, the place they now call home.
The families came to this country through a refugee resettlement program of the U.S. government. They were sponsored by Episcopal Migration Ministries and its local Kansas affiliate, the Episcopal Wichita Area Refugee Ministry, known as EWARM. The Kansas agency was formed less than two years ago and began welcoming refugee families in July 2012, providing them with a variety of services to help them adjust to their new lives in the U.S. Two of the families displaced by the fire were the first to be assisted by EWARM, and the third arrived in Wichita just a month ago.
An appeal for funds by Episcopal Diocese of Kansas Bishop Dean E. Wolfe already has started to provide some of the help they will need.
The fire was discovered about 5:30 a.m. by Saw Moe, one of the refugees, who at first attempted to extinguish the blaze but quickly called the emergency services. In spite of minor burns to his hands, he got his family out of the building and began to alert other residents. None of those in the 48 units suffered anything more than minor injuries, but the building is a total loss. Residents reported to various news media that they were able to escape with only the clothes they were wearing.
Six other refugee families live in an adjacent apartment building, and they and other residents were evacuated for much of the day and were able to return home that evening. They now are hosting the eight people in the three families who lost everything.
Aid arrives quickly
Shannon Mahan, EWARM’s executive director, said aid came quickly after the fire was reported. Episcopal and Lutheran volunteers who have been helping the families arrived at the scene within an hour, providing support and comfort. Donations of needed items also started to arrive.
Wolfe surveyed the scene the day after the fire and expressed compassion for all that the families have been through since coming to Kansas.
“The families we have helped resettle from Burma are people with very few possessions who have come at the invitation of our government to start a new life,” said Wolfe. “Many of them lived in refugee camps for long periods of time before being able to come to the United States. Many of them have heroic stories of faith and perseverance. I hope we can show these brothers and sisters who we are and what we value by our generous response to this crisis.”
Episcopal Migration Ministries also was in quick contact, and officials said they were providing support. Deb Stein, EMM director, said a financial contribution was on its way. She called the fire “a very sad event, especially given the hardship and trauma that these families have already endured.” But, she said, “the embrace of the community and the diocese” will be a big help, as well as the fact that “refugees are incredibly resilient.”
Fire conjures up past violence
Mahan said the Red Cross offered what may be some of the most valuable help in the form of crisis intervention mental health specialists. They met with all the affected refugee families on the evening of the fire, to help them cope with memories of the past that had been awakened by this new tragedy.
In Burma, also known as Myanmar, refugees had to flee decades of violence, including the military junta going from village to village, burning down everything in sight and then planting land mines so no one could return home. “They could tell where the troops were by looking for smoke on the horizon,” Mahan said.
Besides dealing with dreadful memories of the life they had fled, Mahan said some of the refugees now talk of feeling cursed. “They feel that the tragedies they felt in Burma now have followed them to this place,” she said. “They feel great grief and a tragic sense of loss. They have worked so hard for what little they had, and now it’s gone.”
What few possessions the refugees were able to bring with them often were family heirlooms and photos, as well as items reflecting their ethnic heritage. Many of the refugees are Karen, one of the dozens of ethnic Burmese groups. They hosted their American friends earlier this year for a celebration of Karen New Year. Mahan said she already has started looking into what she can do to help replace some of those things, such as flags and items of native dress.
Additionally, they have lost all documents that prove they are legal permanent residents of the U.S. EWARM is working with federal agencies to obtain duplicates, and with EMM to see if international documents also can be located.
Saw Moe, the man who discovered the fire, especially is grieving the loss of a video he made last Sept. 1 on the day his son, Joseph, was born, just weeks after his parents arrived in the United States. In it he tells his newborn child how proud he is that the family now lives in America, Mahan said.
Mahan said all but the newest refugees have found jobs, and she is working with their employers to allow them some time off to cope with their loss.
New apartments soon
Mahan said that in the last year EWARM has become adept at gathering what is needed to establish a new refugee family in an apartment, so doing it again for these families shouldn’t take long. Managers at the apartment complex already have arranged for the three displaced families to have new apartments in the remaining building, a fact that Mahan said is key. “They are such a communal people,” she said. “They want to stay together.”
She said the three families are expected to move into their new apartments with basic necessities by Sept. 2.
Mahan said that if money donated to help the refugee families exceeds the actual cost of newly outfitted apartments, it will be used to help fund apartments for other refugee families. EWARM welcomed five families in July, totaling 14 people, with another three families due to arrive in just a few weeks.
– Melodie Woerman is director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas.
[The Episcopal Church in South Carolina press release] More than 100 South Carolina clergy have been notified that they have been removed from the ordained ministry of The Episcopal Church and are “deprived of the right to exercise… the gifts and spiritual authority conferred in ordination.”
“Notice of Removal” letters signed by the Right Reverend Charles G. vonRosenberg, Bishop of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, were issued this week to individuals who are “canonically resident” in the diocese, meaning they are under the authority of Bishop vonRosenberg within The Episcopal Church.
Many of those affected by the removal have publicly announced that they are no longer affiliated with the Church, and have aligned themselves with a breakaway group led by Mark Lawrence. Bishop Lawrence was removed from the ordained ministry in December 2012, and is no longer recognized as a bishop in The Episcopal Church.
In the hope of an eventual reconciliation, Bishop vonRosenberg exercised an option available to him under the Constitution and Canons of the Church, and “released and removed” the affected clergy, rather than allowing them to be “deposed” on the grounds of abandonment of the church.
While both actions result in the loss of authority to act as ordained ministers, being released and removed allows options for a person to return to the ministry of The Episcopal Church, something that would be more difficult for clergy who have been deposed.
All the affected clergy were sent a “Notice of Restriction” at the end of June, informing them that they were restricted from acting as ordained ministers. The Standing Committee voted June 21 to determine that the clergy had abandoned the church, triggering the restriction. At that point, the restricted clergy had 60 days “to transmit to the Bishop a retraction or denial, indicating your intention to abide by the promises made at ordination.” Those promises include the declaration, “I do solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church.”
The Bishop could have allowed the 60 days to expire, and clergy who had not responded would have been deposed. Instead, on August 13 the Standing Committee held a special meeting and unanimously approved the Bishop’s recommendation for removal. Under Title IV, Canon 16 (B), Section 4 of The Canons of The Episcopal Church, the action required the advice and consent of the Standing Committee.
The Notice of Removal specifically states that the Bishop “is satisfied that no previous irregularity or misconduct is involved” and that the removal is “for causes which do not affect the person’s moral character.”
Bishop vonRosenberg and members of the Standing Committee have expressed sadness that the removal of clergy became necessary. The Bishop attempted to contact all the clergy of the diocese beginning in April, sending letters by certified mail and offering to meet with them personally to talk about their decision to either remain with The Episcopal Church or separate from it. The majority of the clergy in the breakaway group have chosen not to respond to the letters.
To assist the public in identifying priests and deacons who continue to be part of The Episcopal Church in this region of South Carolina, a list of Clergy in Good Standing is available on the diocesan website.
[Episcopal News Service] Without a local formation program like Waiolaihui’ia in the Episcopal Diocese of Hawai’i, potential priests like Malcolm Kealanu Hee could likely never see ordination.
Hee, 50, juggles two teaching positions with busy family and other responsibilities. But every other month, he spends an intense 72-hour weekend at a local retreat center, learning the academics and practicalities of ordained church leadership.
“Local formation is important for Hawai’i because we need to raise up our own priests,” Hee wrote in an e-mail to ENS.
“Currently, there is only one priest of Hawaiian descent. All the other priests have been transplants; many return to their homes, eventually leaving Hawai’i. Raising up our own priests will increase the likelihood of them staying here.”
Similarly, in the Diocese of Los Angeles, Carlos Ruvalcaba, 42, says the Spanish language Instituto de Liderazgo, which trains laity, propelled him to local lay leadership and now, onward to discernment for ordination.
“The Instituto is very important for our diocese and for the church as a whole, because we serve one of the largest Hispano/Latino populations countrywide, and we have so many people with a huge desire to serve God and their neighbors,” he said. “But, we are a community that needs to be educated and prepared to understand the structure, government, history, beliefs and life of the Episcopal Church.
“It’s important that we continue supporting programs like this, since our actual systems fail to identify potential church leaders from poor and immigrant communities,” added Ruvalcaba, who was born in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Like Los Angeles and Hawai’i, dioceses across the church are increasingly offering alternative programs to overcome the career, family, financial and cultural challenges inherent in more traditional formation of lay and ordained leaders.
Hawai’i: a case of local formation
One such alternative is local formation, according to the Rev. Canon Liz Beasley, who is canon to the ordinary in Hawai’i. The diocese launched Waiolaihui’ia in January with three students and another person auditing part of the coursework, she said.
Waiolaihui’ia means “the gathering of waters,” according to Hee, who teaches preschoolers with disabilities and also instructs university students preparing for teaching careers.
“We chose this because we come from all over the state and together we are intermingling and learning. Water or “wai” is important in our culture as it sustains the taro that we grow. Water is also important in our church as an important part of the baptismal covenant. That’s how we came up with our name.”
The curriculum comes from the Iona Initiative, which is based on the Iona School for bivocational priests and deacons in the Diocese of Texas. The three-year local training program for priests and deacons is currently in use in eight rural and remote dioceses, including: Wyoming, Oklahoma, Arkansas, West Texas, Northwest Texas, Northeast Texas and Mississippi, in conjunction with the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest.
“People in the program already have significant jobs and families they’ve raised and they don’t have the capability to go to seminary for three years,” Beasley said during a telephone interview. “It also doesn’t make sense for someone to spend the money to go to seminary and come back and have maybe a part-time job. That doesn’t seem financially responsible,” she added.
Although the current students are all native Hawaiian and their “experience and cultures do come into the discussion and the learning” the curriculum is adaptable to any group, she said. Diocesan clergy are trained to serve as teachers and mentors; students live in community during the intensive weekend sessions. Some coursework is available on videotaped and power-point presentations and students complete substantial amounts of homework in-between sessions, she added.
The cost is about $2,000 per year for students with the diocese absorbing other costs for the three-year program. It aims to prepare second-career priests for local ordination but is not a replacement for the traditional path to seminary; the diocese still sends recent college graduates to residential seminaries, she said.
“We’re really excited about this,” Beasley said. “We want priests who know what it means to live in Hawai’i and are committed to being here. This is a long-range view, we figure if we’re raising up people who already call this their home, they’re more likely to stay.”
The Bishops’ Native Collaborative—local formation regionally
For the Rt. Rev. Carol Gallagher, an assisting bishop in North Dakota, another possibility is making local formation available on a larger regional scale, especially within cultural contexts.
A member of the Cherokee Nation, she has been serving in Alaska recently, and crafting the Bishops Native Collaborative, (BNC) a consortium established by the bishops of Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Navajoland, to provide training for lay and ordained leaders by sharing resources for theological education.
Most of the dioceses have offered local training separately; this is the first attempt to do so collaboratively, she said.
“It has been a struggle to raise up native leaders and part of that is not only the cost, as it is for everybody, but the radical removal from their traditional learning methodology,” Gallagher said.
The BNC hopes to find “ways to do that locally but also to share our resources through technology, so that folks in Alaska can be learning alongside folks in Navajoland, even though they might be using different languages to talk about common issues,” she said during a telephone interview.
Generally speaking, “Native people—and I don’t like to use universals because we’re very different, tribe to tribe, but in terms of educational processes—it’s really important to have a cohort group to be working with,” Gallagher said.
“One of the challenges of going to one of our denominational seminaries often is, there’s no one there who speaks your language or understands your experience.”
Additionally, church processes, such as commissions on ministry, may also tend to deter Native Americans, who rely on more communal support and feel isolated, she said.
The BNC as currently envisioned would include local mentors and teachers and would present coursework via teleconferencing and other educational materials. Students could gather every month or six weeks for intensive sessions. Gallagher hopes to launch it next year.
South Dakota Bishop John Tarrant said the diocese has historically trained clergy locally through the Niobrara School for Ministry but is hoping to perhaps reinvent that training via the BNC.
It is also a pragmatic way of stretching limited resources as “our goal is to make it extraordinarily affordable,” Gallagher added.
All of which is welcome news for Marla Liggett, 59, of Winner, South Dakota, who “keeps plugging away and hopes to be ordained eventually.”
The challenges she faces exemplify those of many second-career potential clergy. She is the full-time treasurer for both Tripp and Todd counties and her family life—including grandchildren and daily visits to a local nursing home to check on her ailing 93-year-old mother—occupy much of her time.
She is studying both the Old and New Testaments via an online Yale University course and meets with a local mentor on Wednesdays. On weekends, she assists at the altar at Trinity Church in Winner with the Rev. Stan Woolley.
Liggett, who is part-Lakota, hopes to acquire an audio version of the Yale coursework, to listen to while driving. She is nonetheless excited about the opportunities created by the local training “to do something really new. I just did a sermon about the bent over woman and how we are kind of like that now,” she said. “Before, you just didn’t see a lot of women in the priesthood.”
Engaging mission and making disciples in Los Angeles
Los Angeles Suffragan Bishop Diane Bruce, who has taught classes at the diocesan Spanish language Instituto de Liderazgo, said the program works because “congregations are being strengthened by it.”
With about 30 congregations engaging Hispanic ministry, the diocese benefits from the three-year program, which empowers students for ministry, in both church and community, she said.
“We have lay leaders who know what’s going on and what needs to happen,” Bruce said. “Clergy are getting assistance. They are also talking about having members of the congregation go out and work in other congregations while they’re going through the Instituto to get exposed to different ways of doing church.”
That’s exactly what happened for Carlos Ruvalcaba, and more. A parishioner at St. Mark’s Church in Van Nuys, California, in his third year of Instituto studies and planning to begin formal discernment for ordination in the fall.
“I’ve learned a lot about my church, about the basics for almost every ministry you can get involved in, in your congregation, but the most important thing is, I’ve had the opportunity to discern some deeper questions, like is God calling me? What is he looking for me to do? What can I offer to the service of God?” Ruvalcaba said.
He and others, like the Rev. Eric Law, founder and executive director of the Kaleidoscope Institute, say that current formal church structures may unintentionally deter people of color and culturally sensitive training is helpful for formation. The Kaleidoscope Institute is a Los Angeles-based consulting firm whose mission is to create inclusive and sustainable churches and communities.
“Most leadership training materials in the Episcopal Church and in churches in general, come from a European and in our case English-speaking foundation. There’s nothing wrong with that, except it doesn’t work in places that are multicultural or non-European-based,” Law said.
For example, a European context assumes that participants in class discussions “who have something to say” will automatically volunteer their opinions. But, in many non-European cultures, “people were trained not to speak as an individual but to speak on behalf of the community and are therefore reluctant to offer their individual thoughts right away,” according to Law. “Very often, they (non-Europeans) end up not speaking and were perceived that they didn’t want to participate,” he said.
The Instituto currently has about 50 students enrolled in classes, which meet once a month on Saturdays at various locations across the diocese. Costs are kept at about $100 per student per semester, for basic expenses, according to the Rev. Roberto Martinez, vicar of La Iglesia Magdalena in Glendale, California, an Instituto co-director. Local clergy and educators serve as teachers and mentors. The classes are taught in Spanish.
Subjects offered range from liturgy and preaching to church history, pastoral care, evangelism and Christian education, Martinez said. “The idea is the lay leader goes back to his congregation and is empowered to work with the priest to develop the congregation.”
The Rev. Vincent Schwahn, rector of St. Mark’s, Van Nuys and a co-director of the Instituto, said sheer demographics make the Instituto an important and necessary undertaking not just for the L.A. diocese, but for the entire church … “because what we’re about in our essence is doing mission and creating disciples.
“Los Angeles, is the second largest Mexican city in the world, after Mexico City, and that doesn’t even include the rest of the Latino population here,” says Schwahn.
“Many of our neighborhoods are between 70 and 90 percent Hispanic,” he added. “We’re trying to adapt to our surroundings instead of ignoring immigration as a real fact of life in our neighborhoods and parishes. We have a responsibility to reach out to the community because that’s where our buildings are. Otherwise our buildings should be somewhere else.”
He added that: “It’s such an exciting project it’s so wonderful to see people’s lives being changed and transformed and people getting excited about being members of their community; the Instituto has that kind of vision.”
– The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. She is based in Los Angeles.
[St. Paul’s Episcopal Church press release] St. Paul’s Episcopal Church [on K Street in Washington, D.C.] this week welcomes The Right Reverend James Jelinek as its Interim Rector. Jelinek will lead the parish during the transition until its tenth rector is called, a process that will take approximately 15 months.
“I am very excited to join this wonderful parish and look forward to walking with the people of St. Paul’s during this time of transition,” said Bishop Jelinek. “St. Paul’s is an extraordinary parish known for its beautiful liturgy, nationally-recognized music program, and commitment to mission.”
Bishops do not ordinarily come out of retirement to lead a parish as interim rector, but the Bishop Jelinek said that he was called to do so because of St. Paul’s reputation.
Jelinek served for 17 years as Bishop in the Diocese of Minnesota from 1993 to 2010. Prior to that, he served as Rector at St. Aidan’s Church in San Francisco, California, and St. Michael and All Angels in Cincinnati, Ohio. A Wisconsin native, Jelinek is a graduate of Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and The General Theological Seminary in New York City.
Jelinek’s position as a bishop played little role in his selection as interim rector. Rather, said Matthew Leddicotte, Senior Warden, “Bishop Jelinek’s energy and commitment to St. Paul’s future success was quite evident. We are excited to have him join us as Interim Rector.”
St. Paul’s is a healthy and vibrant urban parish, with robust attendance. In the coming weeks, Jelinek intends to meet as many parishioners as possible in small groups.
“The parish views celebration of Mass together as the heart of St. Paul’s community life,” noted Jelinek. “It is the lifeblood that keeps it going. That’s why it is so important to me to get to know the congregation.”
Working with the parish, Bishop Jelinek will help the congregation articulate what is important to the parish, and guide them through the core questions that will need to be answered during their search to call the next rector.
“When I first visited the congregation,” Jelinek explained, “I was deeply moved by the reverence of the liturgies, the beauty of the music, both very ancient and very modern, and the heartfelt participation of the congregation in the responses and in the singing. Few congregations, as a whole, sing with such fervor. The sense of community is very strong among this quite diverse group of people.”
St. Paul’s is a parish of the Diocese of Washington within the Episcopal Church, which is itself a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The nationally-known parish is only one of a handful of Episcopal churches in the country to hold Mass 365 days a year, in addition to being one of only two parishes to hold the Anglican service of Evensong every week.
Según observadores las grandes potencias mundiales tendrán que intervenir en Siria para evitar males mayores. La agencia EFE informa que París está dispuesto a intervenir, no así los Estados Unidos que teme a una acción bélica de consecuencias imprevisibles. El parlamento británico votó en contra de la idea del primer ministro. Lo más triste del conflicto en Siria es la situación de los niños. Se cree que un millón de niños han huido de la guerra en su país y se han refugiado en países vecinos. Estos niños suman la mitad del total de refugiados sirios según el Alto Comisionado para Refugiados de las Naciones Unidas. Hay más de dos millones de niños desplazados en el interior del país. Líderes de la ONU consideran que la comunidad internacional ha fallado en ayudar a una generación de personas verdaderamente necesitadas.
Una convención especial para la elección de un nuevo obispo para Puerto Rico ha sido pospuesta hasta nuevo aviso por decisión de las autoridades de la iglesia. Esta es la tercera vez que una convención especial para elegir obispo es suspendida a última hora en Puerto Rico. Un miembro prominente se limitó a decir que “en estos momentos el clima diocesano no es propicio”.
En iglesias y centros comunitarios se celebrará el 50 aniversario del famoso discurso de Martin Luther King, Jr. que pronunciara en Washington en agosto de 1963 y conocido más por su título “Yo tengo un sueño”. El discurso fue pronunciado ante una manifestación de más de 200,000 personas en pro de los derechos civiles para los negros de Estados Unidos pero hizo historia en la nación y otros lugares. Su hija menor, Bernice, pastora bautista, dijo en una entrevista con CNN que el sueño de su padre se ha realizado en muchas formas pero que “todavía está lejos” de ser una realidad tangible para millones de personas.
El famoso tren de carga conocido popularmente como “La Bestia” se descarriló en Tabasco, México, en una zona de difícil acceso con un saldo de 11 muertos y 22 heridos. El tren es usado regularmente por cientos de inmigrantes, especialmente centroamericanos, para llegar a la frontera con Estados Unidos. Los modernos polizones arriesgan sus vidas y con frecuencia han muerto al caerse del techo de los vagones. Muchos critican que las autoridades mexicanas no hacen lo suficiente para impedir que se monten en el monstruo de hierro. Una inspección preliminar permite sospechar que el accidente se produjo por la falta de un raíl en la línea.
Guzmán Carriquiry, laico uruguayo secretario de la Pontificia Comisión para América Latina, afirmó recientemente que “no hace falta una teología de la liberación” para cuidar a los pobres, sino basta con vivir el evangelio y “dar el abrazo de la caridad”. En otra ocasión reciente dijo que la iglesia requiere liberar la fe de “incrustaciones mundanas” para volverla nuevamente atractiva.
La posesión de un terreno en San Cristóbal de las Casas, México, ha provocado un enfrentamiento entre católicos romanos y evangélicos. El obispo Felipe Arismendi dijo que “el que usa la violencia en nombre de la religión no ha entendido el evangelio”. Y añadió además que “Jesús nos enseña a abrir el corazón y los brazos, incluso a los enemigos, con más razón a los hermanos de sangre y de fe cristiana”. El obispo exhortó a todos a que oren para que haya “paz y reconciliación, con justicia y verdad”.
Un Congreso Misionero Americano católico romano reunirá a 4,000 misioneros procedentes de América Latina y se llevará a cabo el próximo otoño en Maracaibo, la segunda ciudad de Venezuela, bajo el lema “Discípulos misioneros de Cristo desde América en un mundo multicultural y secularizado”. Su misión será ofrecer a las fuerzas misioneras del continente un espacio propicio para compartir y profundizar en la reflexión, la espiritualidad y las vivencias misioneras”. El ecumenismo está entre los temas a tratar.
Fallecimientos: Razziel Vázquez, prominente pastor metodista cubano falleció en Miami a la edad de 91 años el 22 de agosto. Nació en Matanzas y cuando joven fue carpintero. Considerado un elocuente predicador con frecuencia conducía campañas evangelísticas. Le sobreviven dos hijos mayores. Su esposa Isaura falleció hace varios años. Marta Verdecia, profesora y líder metodista natural de Preston en la provincia de Oriente, Cuba, falleció de una falla cardíaca el 21 de agosto. Tenía 78 años. Le sobreviven su esposo Luis Felipe, tres hijos y su hermano Carlos Verdecia. En ambos casos se celebraron servicios fúnebres privados.
ORACIÓN: Dales, Señor, el descanso eterno y que brille para ellos la luz perpetua.
[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans and Episcopalians worldwide with access to the Internet have a chance to take part in what is thought to be the first ever cross-province webinar.
Anglican Alliance, the platform that supports development, relief and advocacy across the Anglican Communion, is hosting the online debate on Wednesday, Sept. 4. Taking part in the event is Brazil’s Archbishop Mauricio Andrade, Burundi’s Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, and former U.N. Deputy General Secretary and former U.K. Africa Minister Baron Malloch-Brown.
The organizers claim it “will be a chance for you to hear from leading Anglicans and to put forward your views in the discussion of the new goals for world development after 2015.”
The online debate will last for an hour starting at 6 a.m. in Brasilia, Brazil, 10 a.m. in London, U.K., and 11 a.m. in Bujumbura, Burundi (5 a.m. Eastern Time). People who sign up to take part here will be able to send in their questions throughout the debate for the panel to answer.
Anglican Alliance is holding this online debate as the world’s leaders prepare to agree the new goals for world development that will replace the Millenium Development Goals that end in 2015.
The Alliance has already been part of the discussions about the future direction of world development through its participation in the discussions on “The World We Want” by the UNDP. Hundreds of Anglicans worldwide have already voted on the online ballot set up by the UNDP for new global priorities. The UNDP highlighted the innovative work by the Church of Bangladesh to give women in rural areas a say in the global debate by organising a special paper ballot for them.
For more information contact Anglican Alliance on firstname.lastname@example.org
[Anglican Communion News Service] The construction of a much-needed clinic has resumed five years after a property-grab by an excommunicated bishop forced the Anglicans in Harare to abandon the project.
The Memorial Clinic project was initiated by members of the Anglican Wabvuwi Guild and Anglican clergy following the death of five members in a road traffic accident in November 1997 at a turnoff close to St. Clare’s Mission.
Construction was halted in 2007 when Nolbert Kunonga, a former bishop of the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA), and his supporters seized CPCA church properties including buildings, schools and orphanages. He then denied Anglicans access to any of the seized properties including the project site and the nearby church building.
Kunonga, however, failed to carry on with the clinic’s construction and so stalled a development that had been approved by the Murewa Rural District Council (MRDC), the local traditional leadership, and the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare.
St. Clare’s Memorial Clinic is a US$150,000 project expected to serve around 30,000 people living in Murewa, a Zimbabwean village located about 70 kilometers northeast of Harare. It will offer key health services such as a maternity department and outpatient services for adults and children.
In a statement delivered on Aug. 27, Bishop of Harare Chad Gandiya said, “The initiative to build a health center in Murewa is work in progress for the Anglican diocese as we rebuild the church following five years of persecution by enemies of progress.
“More support is still required from the corporate world and individuals to ensure that the project is completed on time and begins to serve the Murewa community in the delivery of standard health services.
“To date we have spent US$30,850 and have since reached window level. We expect that, with proper support from corporate world and other well-wishers, the process can be expedited and completed by August 2014.”
Gandiya praised the local communities for contributing their labor and time towards the project. “In line with its mission, the Anglican Diocese of Harare (CPCA) commends the work being done at the project site,” he said. “This project links directly with our various health initiatives across the diocese where we have HIV/AIDS projects, orphanages and functional institutions within the education sector.”
In December last year, the Supreme Court in Zimbabwe ruled that the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) was the rightful owner of the properties. However, after five years of neglect by Kunonga and his followers, most of its buildings had been run down and many construction projects stalled. Refurbishing or finishing construction work is costing the diocese thousands of dollars.
[Anglican Journal] In response to the suicide crisis affecting some native communities in western Canada and in the Arctic, the Anglican Church of Canada’s indigenous ministries department has appointed a new suicide prevention coordinator for that region.
The Rev. Nancy Bruyere, a non-stipendiary priest in the Diocese of Keewatin, has been named to the position. Bruyere is associate priest at Christ Church Sagkeeng First Nation in Fort Alexander, and also serves in Little Black River First Nation, Hollow Water First Nation, and Manitgotagan, all in Manitoba.
Bruyere said she thought hard before accepting the position. “A lot of people don’t really like talking about it [suicide]…They think it would cause more young people to take their own lives,” she said in an interview with Anglican Journal.
However, Bruyere said she realized that she could draw on her own personal experience to help people deal with the issue. Bruyere attempted suicide as a child and then again as a young mother at 21. “I can relate to the feelings of hopelessness, depression, shame,” she said in a biography she gave to the Journal.
She grew up in a home “where life was not perfect” and there was “lots of alcohol, fighting, fear and abuse.” This kind of family situation is not uncommon, said Bruyere, particularly in those communities affected by the Indian residential school experience.
“A lot of our people who went to residential schools are talking more and more about their experiences, including the lack of love,” said Bruyere. Many grew up feeling afraid and ashamed of their culture, she added. For instance, they were taught in schools that their dances were evil. “But I learned that when our people danced,” she said, “they were dancing for healing when someone was sick.” Bruyere said she intends to incorporate in her work aspects of her people’s once-denigrated culture.
Suicide and self-inflicted injuries are the top causes of death in Canada for First Nations youth and adults up to age 44, according to a 2003 Health Canada study. Aboriginal youth commit suicide about five to six times more often that non-aboriginal youth; Inuit youth, in particular, commit suicide at 11 times the national average.
While manning the indigenous ministries booth at the recent Anglican-Lutheran Joint Assembly in Ottawa, Bruyere said that bishops and priests came by with stories about recent suicides. “It’s painful to hear about suicide, even with people I don’t know,” she said. One particular area she would like to explore is how to provide ministry to a growing aboriginal community in urban centers.
Bruyere said she feels honored to have been chosen for the job by the Rev. Canon Ginny Doctor, and for the opportunity to work with the Rev. Cynthia Patterson, suicide prevention coordinator for eastern Canada and a deacon in the Diocese of Quebec.
“What really impresses me about Nancy is her pastoral care and her ministry in her community,” says Doctor. ” She works without pay to make sure her people have the spiritual care needed. Our prayer is that we can raise enough resources to have suicide prevention coordinators in every diocese where there are significant Indigenous communities.”
Bruyere described her new ministry as “a blessing from God,” and a “continuing learning life experience about who God is and who we are as aboriginal people in Christ.”
Ordained a deacon on July 22, 1997 by Bishop Gordon Beardy, Bruyere became a priest in 1999.
Bruyere is married to the Rev. Richard Bruyere, who, like her, is a non-stipendiary priest in the Diocese of Keewatin. They have four children and 25 grandchildren.
[Lambeth Palace] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby delivered the following speech on Aug. 29 in the House of Lords on the situation in Syria.
My Lords, I very much welcome the opportunity to have been able to speak later in this debate because of the extraordinary quality of many of the contributions that have been made, and how much one can learn by listening to them. Like many noble Lords I have some experience in the region, partly from this role that I have and recent visits and contacts with many faith leaders of all three Abrahamic faiths, and also through 10 years of, from time to time, working on reconciliation projects.
I don’t intend to repeat the powerful points that have been made on international law which is itself based on the Christian theory of Just War, and that has been said very eloquently. But I want to pick up a couple of points – first is, it has been said, quite rightly, that there is as much risk in inaction as there is in action. But as in a conflict in another part of the world, a civil conflict in which I was mediating some years ago, a general said to me “we have to learn that there are intermediate steps between being in barracks and opening fire”. And the reality is that until we are sure that all those intermediate steps have been pursued, Just War theory says that the step of opening fire is one that must only be taken when there is no possible alternative whatsoever, under any circumstances. Because, as the noble Lord Lord Alli just said very clearly and very eloquently, the consequences are totally out of our hands once it has started. And some consequences we can predict – we’ve heard already about the Lebanon and about Iran, particularly the effect that an intervention would cause on the new government in Iran as it is humiliated by such an intervention.
But there is a further point, talking to a very senior Christian leader in the region yesterday, he said “intervention from abroad will declare open season on the Christian communities”. They have already been devastated, 2 million Christians in Iraq 12 years ago, less than half a million today. These are churches that don’t just go back to St Paul but, in the case of Damascus and Antioch, predate him. They will surely suffer terribly (as they already are) if action goes ahead. And that consequence has to be weighed against the consequences of inaction. In civil wars, those who are internal to the civil conflict fight for their lives, necessarily. Those who are external have a responsibility, if they get involved at all, to fight for the outcome, and that outcome must be one which improves the chances of long term peace and reconciliation. If we take action that diminishes the chance of peace and reconciliation, when inevitably a political solution has to be found, whether it’s near term or in the long term future, then we will have contributed to more killing and this war will be deeply unjust.
In consequence my Lords, I feel that any intervention must be effective in terms of preventing any further use of chemical weapons. I’ve not yet heard that that has been adequately demonstrated as likely. That it must effectively deal with those who are promoting the use of chemical weapons. And it must have a third aim which is: somewhere in the strategy, there must be more chance of a Syria and a Middle East in which there are not millions of refugees and these haunting pictures are not the stuff of our evening viewing.
[Anglican Communion News Service] Nigerians will soon be able to tune into programming from the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) thanks to the launch of the church’s very own cable TV channel.
The channel has been several years in the planning. Back in December 2012, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, primate, told the church’s Standing Committee that progress was being made on the TV project.
Writing for the Diocese of Amichi website, the Rev. Canon Chukwuebuka Chukwuemeka said the primate told the Standing Committee in Abuja, “The work on the studio is progressing steadily. We have made the first line of payment and the technical committee of experts has been inaugurated.
“The new vision of the Church of Nigeria, revised in 2010 stated that to expand mission work media facilities – such as cable television, radio and print media - should be established and existing ones fully utilized.”
In May of this year, the primate announced to synod members that there was a test transmission for ACNN TV showing on Channel 91 of MyTV.
On Tuesday a job advert appeared on the province’s website: “The Anglican Cable Network Nigeria (ACNN TV) hereby invites applications from suitably qualified candidates to fill the position of the General Manager” indicating that the launch date is now perhaps only a few months away.
The province’s communications director, the Ven. Foluso Taiwo, told ACNS that the channel would be a tool for evangelism. “The vision is to reach the unreached. The main focus is salvation,” he said adding that the Church of Nigeria wanted to deliver the “undiluted Word of God.”
ACNN TV will be good news in the province for Anglicans such as the Rev. Uche Nwoye who, writing on the Diocese of Offa’s website, welcomed the initiative saying the church would be “lost in space” without a television station. Without such a medium, he warned, the church would fail to reach an “already moving generation.”
Others on the same web forum were also positive about the plans, but called for careful consideration about the ongoing costs of such a project.
[Dioceses of Chicago press release] The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee, bishop of Chicago, and the Rt. Rev. John C. Buchanan, provisional bishop of Quincy, announced today that the two dioceses will reunite on Sunday, September 1.
The conventions of the two dioceses, which had split in 1877 to accommodate growth, had unanimously agreed to the reunion on June 6. The canons of the church require that a majority of bishops and standing committees of elected lay and clergy leaders from other dioceses in the Episcopal Church consent to the reunion. Those consents were received during the summer.
“Along with many of you, we have waited, worked and prayed for this day for more than a year,” wrote Lee and Buchanan in a letter to the people of the two dioceses. “During that time, the Holy Spirit has led us toward a shared understanding of God’s call to the people of Chicago and Quincy and how we should order our common life to respond. Now we are free to go about that work.”
The reunified diocese, to be known as the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, will include the 125 congregations and chaplaincies and more than 36,000 members of the existing Diocese of Chicago in northern Illinois, and the nine congregations and 755 members of the Diocese of Quincy in west central Illinois.
The bishops also announced that in early 2014, Buchanan will assume duties as a part-time assisting bishop in the reunited diocese. He will work primarily with the congregations of the former Diocese of Chicago, thereby making it possible for Lee and the diocese’s other part-time assisting bishop, the Rt. Rev. C. Christopher Epting, to spend more time with the parishes in the former Quincy diocese, which will now be known as the Peoria deanery.
The first convention of the reunited diocese will take place November 22-23 in Lombard, Illinois. The Rev. Alberto Cutie will be the keynote speaker for the event, which is titled “Behold! We are Doing a New Thing.”
Since 2008, the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy has been forging a new identity. After its former bishop and about 60% of its members broke away to become founders of the theologically conservative Anglican Church of North America, the diocese elected Buchanan, retired bishop of West Missouri, as provisional bishop in 2009. In 2012, the diocese’s leaders approached Lee about the possibility of reunion.
The Episcopal Diocese of Chicago includes more than 36,000 Episcopalians in 125 congregations and chaplaincies across northern Illinois. The Episcopal Bishop of Chicago is the Rt. Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee. To learn more, visit www.episcopalchicago.org.
The Episcopal Diocese of Quincy, established in 1877, is a continuous diocese in union with The Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church welcomes all who worship Jesus Christ in 109 dioceses and three regional areas in 16 nations of the world. The Provisional Bishop of Quincy is the Rt. Rev. John C. Buchanan. To learn more, please visit www.thedioceseofquincyonline.com.
[Episcopal News Service] Si usted no vive en el Nordeste o en los estados del Atlántico Medio de Estados Unidos, el huracán Sandy, que devastó esas regiones hace casi 10 meses, puede ser un recuerdo remoto. Sin embargo, ese no es el caso para muchos que viven en esas zonas y para los episcopales que aportan su ayuda en lo que apenas es el comienzo de un proceso de recuperación de muchos años.
En tanto los noticieros nacionales podrían mostrar escenas de reconstrucción y hablar de estados que están gastando millones de dólares para afirmarles a los tradicionales visitantes del verano que —dicho en las palabras de la campaña de Nueva Jersey— “somos más fuerte que la tormenta”, la vida en partes de Nueva Jersey, Nueva York y Maryland dista de ser normal. La tormenta del 29 de octubre de 2012 causó daños que se calculan en $65.700 millones, incluida la destrucción o afectación de 650.000 casas, según un informe federal reciente.
No obstante, a los episcopales que querían ayudar inmediatamente después de la tormenta, con frecuencia les decían que no había nada que ellos pudieran hacer.
“La gente al principio creía que habíamos emprendido una reconstrucción masiva y de que iba a haber toda clase de oportunidades de misión aquí”, le dijo Keith Adams, coordinador de recuperación de desastres de la Diócesis de Nueva Jersey, a Episcopal News Service durante una entrevista reciente.
Ha habido oportunidades de misión —los voluntarios se han puesto a trabajar en otras tareas, tales como ayudar a almacenar donaciones para programas de alimentación—, pero en los últimos meses se ha presentado la oportunidad de una nueva y permanente etapa de reconstrucciones e incluso de construcciones de viviendas.
Adams habló con ENS en la Iglesia Faro de Luz de la Alianza Comunitaria en Tuckerton, Nueva Jersey, que sirve como centro de la campaña ecuménica de reconstrucción organizada por una asociación ministerial de la localidad. En los meses transcurridos desde el azote de Sandy, la Operación Bendición limpió más de 100 casas, muchas de las cuales necesitaban reparaciones y reconstrucción. La diócesis y la asociación se comprometieron con reconstruir por lo menos 30 casas durante el verano de 2013. El día que Adams se reunió con ENS, un equipo de misión de la iglesia episcopal de La Gracia [Grace Episcopal Church] en Alexandria, Virginia, llevaba media semana trabajando en alguna de esas casas.
La nueva serie de oportunidades de misión se ha presentado porque la mayoría de las personas han llegado al momento decisivo en el típico ciclo de los empeños de ayuda y recuperación que suceden a un desastre. El proceso para que los propietarios de viviendas soliciten y reciban ayuda de la Agencia Federal de Administración de Emergencias [FEMA, por su sigla en inglés] terminó en mayo. El final de julio era la fecha tope para solicitar ayuda económica de varios programas de socorro a propietarios de viviendas financiados con dinero federal de un Paquete de Subvenciones para el Desarrollo.
“Lleva muchísimo, pero muchísimo, tiempo empeñarse proceso de recuperación a largo plazo”, dijo Adams.
Durante esos meses de limbo, “las personas no saben si se van a quedar, si van a reconstruir o que cantidad van a recibir de sus compañías de seguro”, dijo Adams, un experto federal en gestión de desastres ya jubilado y con más de 30 años de experiencia.
Además, muchos propietarios, amparados por el Programa Nacional de Seguro de Inundaciones han aprendido la dura lección respecto a una pequeña cláusula de sus pólizas que niega el amparo si las inundaciones desplazan el suelo en torno a sus casas y ese desplazamiento resquebraja los cimientos.
Y a esto se añade un motivo de frustración y retraso, según el Rdo. Michael Sniffen, rector de la iglesia de San Lucas y San Mateo [Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew] en el barrio de Clinton Hill de Brooklyn, Nueva York. La FEMA y otras compañías de seguros privadas les han dado información contradictoria a los propietarios sobre quién pagará cuál reclamación primero.
“Se convierte en un círculo interminable y en el ínterin están sin electricidad, sin agua, sin un lugar adecuado donde vivir”, dijo Sniffen, cuya parroquia ha participado en los empeños de recuperación de Sandy desde poco después que azotara la tormenta.
No todos los propietarios de viviendas saben todavía cuál de los programas de los que han solicitado ayuda les otorgará dinero, ni se han enterado que sus solicitudes fueron denegadas o no cubiertas del todo. A principios de este mes, Asbury Park Press, de Nueva Jersey, solicitó relatos de personas a quienes el mayor de esos programas, programa de Reconstrucción Rehabilitación, Elevación y Mitigación, con un presupuesto de $600 millones, le hubiera denegado ayuda y que, por consiguiente, se propusieran abandonar sus hogares afectados por Sandy. El 23 de agosto, el periódico publicó un artículo acerca de una pareja obligada a elegir entre reconstruir o abandonar su casa.
Para ayudar a los residentes a salir adelante en su entorno después de Sandy, Ayuda y Desarrollo Episcopales apoya el trabajo de los coordinadores de recuperación de desastres, tales como Adams en las diócesis de Easton (Maryland), Nueva Jersey y Nueva York. Estos coordinadores trabajan con congregaciones episcopales, ecuménicas y agrupaciones comunitarias de base y con toda una gama de agencias del gobierno para evaluar las necesidades y organizar actividades de respuesta, según un comunicado de prensa de Ayuda y Desarrollo Episcopales.
La labor, que apenas empieza, está teniendo lugar fundamentalmente a través de lo que se conoce como Grupos de Recuperación a Largo Plazo (vea un ejemplo aquí). Hay 16 en el estado de Nueva Jersey y una de las principales funciones de los grupos es servicio de asesoría de casos para ayudar a familias e individuos damnificados por Sandy a resolver sus necesidades no satisfechas.
Es una enorme tarea. Los grupos tienen un total de poco menos de 100 asesores de casos en Nueva Jersey. En el condado de Monmouth, uno de los más afectados por Sandy, pero sólo uno de los nueve condados que resultaron afectados, 35.000 personas necesitan una cita con un asesor de casos, explicó Adams.
“Luego, esto no va a ser cosa de un par de meses o de un par de años”, afirmó. “Esto va a seguir probablemente durante varios años”.
Adams recientemente le hizo un llamado por e-mail a todos los episcopales de la diócesis para que se ofrecieran de voluntarios a fin de ayudar a esos grupos con su trabajo.
Además de la labor en Tuckerton, los episcopales han ayudado a rehabilitar cerca de 100 hogares en Staten Island y hay otras 60 casas a la espera de ser rehechas en el área de Atlantic City, según explicó Adams.
“Esperamos seguir adelante y vamos a tener cada vez más casas [en cola para la labor]”, añadió. “Este año probablemente no va a ser la gran temporada de reconstrucción. El año próximo probablemente tendremos la mayor parte de eso”.
Y el mensaje para los episcopales es claro: “Va a haber toneladas de oportunidades el próximo año”, según Adams.
Él predijo cinco o seis sitios a través de las diócesis de Nueva Jersey y Nueva York para la labor de reconstrucción y construcción.
Sniffen dijo que “durante años vamos a seguir necesitando equipos de manos amigas con toda suerte de destrezas”.
El trabajo en las áreas afectadas por Sandy no es del todo igual a las tareas recientes en otras zonas de desastres, explicó Adams.
En muchísimos casos, “no va a haber una oportunidad de reconstruir casas” porque muchas estructuras han sido condenadas y están siendo derribadas, afirmó. Los solares yermos que van quedando como resultado [de las demoliciones] con frecuencia los compran personas que buscan construir casas más grandes que las que se perdieron. Además, algunos propietarios se enfrentan a decenas de miles de dólares en costos de reconstrucción adicionales para levantar sus casas por encima del nivel de inundación que puede ser hasta de 12 pies, a fin de cumplir con las nuevas regulaciones federales de los seguros de inundación. Esas presiones han comenzado a excluir a algunas personas del mercado [inmobiliario].
La Diócesis de Nueva Jersey quiere ayudar a mitigar esa situación mediante la construcción de viviendas costeables en los terrenos que una vez ocuparon iglesias que ahora están cerradas. Adams discute esos planes en un vídeo que aparece a continuación.
Ayuda y Desarrollo Episcopales también ha ayudado a crear una coordinación regional de voluntarios para conectar equipos de misión con proyectos en diócesis afectadas. Las diócesis de Easton, Nueva Jersey y Nueva York han establecido una página web aquí para episcopales que buscan oportunidades como voluntarios después de Sandy. Las tres diócesis —así como la Diócesis de Long Island donde está localizada la iglesia de Sniffen— están albergando equipos de misión.
Elizabeth Keenan, coordinadora regional de voluntarios, se cerciora de que cada lugar de trabajo consiga voluntarios “de manera que no todo el mundo quiera venir a Nueva Jersey al mismo tiempo y Nueva York no tenga voluntarios o Maryland no los tenga”, dijo ella a ENS.
El verano es la gran estación del voluntariado, dijo Keenan, debido a las vacaciones escolares y al hecho de que muchas personas planean tomar vacaciones del trabajo durante el verano. Pero ella espera que los voluntarios sigan viniendo cuando termine la estación.
“Hay una gran necesidad [de personas] que vengan de voluntarios o no vamos a poder reconstruir y no vamos a sobrevivir realmente a la tormenta”, subrayó Keenan, nativa de Nueva Jersey que vive en Medfor, ciudad de ese estado, que trabajaba para Americorps cuando Sandy azotó y que ayudó a FEMA a comenzar las solicitudes de asistencia al desastre el día antes de que la tormenta azotara el 29 de octubre de 2012.
Keenan agregó que su trabajo había robustecido su fe. “Uno realmente ve la obra de Dios en los voluntarios”, afirmó.
Y muchos de los voluntarios del viaje de misión dicen que han sido transformados por sus experiencias.
La parroquia de Sniffen albergó recientemente a un grupo de jóvenes y sus asesores adultos provenientes de la parroquia episcopal de los Fieles Difuntos [All Souls Episcopal Parish] en Berkeley; la iglesia de San Timoteo [St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church] en Danville; la iglesia de San Pablo [St. Paul’s Episcopal Church] en Walnut Creek; y la iglesia de la Resurrección [Episcopal Church of the Resurrection], en Pleasant Hill, todas ellas de California. Los voluntarios asistieron al culto en la parroquia de Brooklyn el 4 de agosto y uno de los jóvenes habló durante el oficio acerca de cómo habían aprendido acerca de la justicia retributiva y restaurativa.
“Se me abrió la mente”, dijo Sniffen. “Hablaban de querer participar en esta campaña de ayuda de un modo que trajera consigo justicia restaurativa, es decir restauración para todos los que participan”.
Este grupo (cuyos miembros han publicado fotos de su viaje aquí) y sus predecesores les dijeron a los miembros de San Lucas y San Mateo que si bien vinieron a ayudar y suponían que iban a inspirar a los sobrevivientes de la tormenta, su experiencia fue multidimensional.
“Ellos estaban tan entusiasmados de venir y ayudar y ser una especie de animadores y resulta que fueron transformados por las comunidades que visitaban y a las que vinieron a ayudar”, dijo Sniffen. “En esos viajes se produce una gran inspiración y un aliento espiritual mutuos. Todos nos sentimos estimulados”.
La parroquia ha estado necesitada de algún incentivo porque, si bien la mayoría de los miembros no fueron afectados por Sandy, alguien incendió deliberadamente la iglesia dos días antes de la Navidad de 2012. Desde entonces los fieles han estado adorando en el salón parroquial.
“La congregación es una especie de comunidad desplazada y estamos sirviendo a personas que están desplazadas. Y las personas que están aquí en estos viajes están desplazadas por elección propia durante un tiempo”, apuntó Sniffen. “Luego todo el mundo se relaciona con los demás en un nivel humano básico y todo el mundo está motivado por un amoroso deseo de servir. Es en verdad una oportunidad de reunirnos salvando muchas diferencias”.
Las iglesias siempre han desempeñado un papel clave en ayudar a las personas a recobrarse de desastres, pero Sniffen recalcó que el trabajo después de Sandy le ha enseñado a él y a la congregación algunas lecciones. Hay empresas de socorro que surgen en torno a estos desastres. A veces eso puede ser muy útil y en algunos aspectos o bien son de poca ayuda o incluso pueden ser lesivas”, explicó.
“Las comunidades religiosas pueden ayudar a orientar eso. En lugar de constituir otra capa, podemos vernos como prójimos. No somos una agencia a la que alguien viene a rellenar un formulario; sencillamente acompañamos a las personas a través de estos diferentes procesos”.
Otra lección aprendida en las secuelas de Sandy, dijo Sniffen, es cuánto más podrían hacer las iglesias episcopales, si llevaran a cabo algunos cambios fundamentales. Por ejemplo, la junta parroquial de San Lucas y San Mateo está contemplando renovar su cocina y sus baños, incluso añadir duchas, para hacer que la iglesia sea más fácilmente adaptable como albergue de desastres y facilitar el hospedaje de grupos de trabajo.
En la actualidad, siempre que un grupo de misión se hospeda en la iglesia, [la falta de] las duchas es un mayor problema y Sniffen tiene que llamar al YMCA de la localidad para ver si los voluntarios pueden ducharse allí. O, si el grupo es lo bastante pequeño, Sniffen les deja que se duchen en la rectoría, e intenta conseguir la misma hospitalidad de otras iglesias episcopales. El grupo de East Bay se duchaba en la iglesia episcopal de San Juan [St. John’s Episcopal Church], también en Brooklyn.
Mirando al largo plazo, Sniffen se pregunta si la Iglesia Episcopal debe contemplar la designación de parroquias específicas como centros regionales para servicios de recuperación de desastres.
Y, ya se trate de cambios de infraestructura o cambios de actitud, Sniffen y Adams dicen que los que se encuentran en la primera línea en la recuperación de desastres están aprendiendo cosas que pueden compartir con la Iglesia Episcopal en general en tanto ésta debate las formas de ser más “diestra” y más sensible al mundo al que sirve.
“Si miramos a cosas como los desastres naturales y las crisis comunitarias como nuestros maestros, aprendemos muy rápidamente a reaccionar con agilidad porque la necesidad nos resulta muy obvia”, añadió Sniffen. “En consecuencia, las lecciones que hemos aprendido mientras prestamos ayuda en los desastres son lecciones que espero podremos incorporar en todos los otros aspectos de nuestra vida colectiva”.
– La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.
[Diocese of Washington] There was a real sense of excitement as the Dean of the National Cathedral, parishioners and visitors gathered at the corner of 21st St. NW and Constitution Ave. early on Saturday morning before the Commemorative March on Washington. The weather was bright and clear and seemed to coincide with the mood of the marchers. But, while some would say that the sense of urgency didn’t match that of the original march, many would disagree.
As the National Cathedral members held their lavender banner and signs up, they mingled with a sea of signs that decried the current state of the nation’s jobless, oppressed and ill-treated. “Justice for Trayvon Martin,” “What do we want…JOBS, When do we want them…NOW!” were a just a few of the signs that bobbed up and down among an undulating sea of people who made their way to the Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Many in attendance felt a sense of nostalgia as they retraced the footsteps of the civil rights activists of the past. Deborah Shepard, a long time National Cathedral parishioner, remembers watching the events surrounding Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement with her grandmother and singing freedom songs. “It was our special activity,” reminisced Shepard. “It’s part nostalgia, but also part of wanting to walk for those who can’t walk for themselves,” said Shepard.
The Cathedral was an integral and historical part of the original March that took place half a century earlier and the current Dean, Gary Hall, expressed the importance of the commemorative march both historically and for our current times. “Just four days before King was assassinated he gave his final sermon at the Cathedral,” said Dean Hall, “The Dean at the time, Dean Sayre, was very much a part of the Civil Rights movement,” Hall continued. But despite the strides that the Nation has made since the original march, like the election and re-election of the first African American President, Dean Hall says that much more still needs to be done. “Racial justice is still the single most important social issue of our time,” said Hall. The Dean hopes that just like it was in 1963 that “in the 21st Century, the Cathedral will be a part” of the solution to racial and social injustice as well. In addition to Saturday’s Commemorative March, the Cathedral also has several events taking place on Sunday in commemoration of the march.
Just as leaders of the civil rights movement led the march against inequality fifty years ago, leaders like Dean Hall continue to walk in the footsteps of their predecessors. As long as inequality, oppression and injustice remain, activists, Church leaders and citizens have much work to do. But, honorable leaders have always been important on the road to equality. Patty Johnson, the Cathedral’s Canon Missioner says that having a leader like Dean Hall, the Cathedral’s 10th Dean, makes a huge difference. “[Dean Hall] really understands and it’s not only the words that he speaks, he walks the walk.” And, as Hill walked in the path that Dr. King walked years before, his parishioners and thousands of marchers followed him as the path toward equality continues to be paved.