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United Thank Offering grant applications now accepted for 2014-15

ENS Headlines - Monday, January 6, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Applications are now accepted for the 2014-2015 United Thank Offering grants.  The application forms are available here.

The focus for the 2014-2015 United Thank Offering grants is The Gospel of Love proclaimed by Jesus Christ.

Guidelines for applying for the grants are here.

Important notes

The United Thank Offering will accept:

• one grant application per diocese within The Episcopal Church;

• one additional application for a companion diocese grant from a diocese of The Episcopal Church may be submitted. This relationship may be formed with a diocese from The Episcopal Church or The Anglican Communion. The sponsoring diocese will be responsible for the accounting of the grant.

The United Thank Offering will not fund:

• project site/programs two consecutive years;

• capital campaigns or debt reductions;

• deferred maintenance (repairs or upgrades to the physical plant or facility must be tied to the specific ministry or project of the current application);

• operational budgets (meaning the proposed budget and program is the same as the year before)

• debts obligated or incurred before the date of the grant award;

• purchase of consumable items (e.g., food, medicine, paper goods, toiletries, fuel, etc.);

• scholarships, tuition, camp fees, and attendance incentives;

• emergency response.

In Episcopal dioceses within the United States, the United Thank Offering will not fund:

• a vehicle with a 12 or 15 passenger chassis (due to stability and insurance matters);

• previously funded requests;

• programs regarded to be diocesan operating budgets.

In 2014, the United Thank Offering will not fund grants (even if they are within criteria) to dioceses or provinces that have past grants still open (with the exception of 2013 awarded grants and grants currently operating under an extension).

For more information about these guidelines contact the Rev. Heather Melton, United Thank Offering coordinator, hmelton@episcopalchurch.org

Anglican Communion responds to South Sudan crisis

ENS Headlines - Monday, January 6, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans and Episcopalians around the Communion are responding to first-hand accounts of conflict and the growing humanitarian crisis in Africa’s newest country, South Sudan.

Since hostilities broke out on 15 December different factions of the South Sudanese army have been fighting each other and killing civilians, says the UN. The UN believes that thousands have been killed and as many as 180,000 displaced in the violence.

Eye witness accounts of the conflict shared by clergy from the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan (ECSSS) over the past few weeks have fueled calls for prayers and support for the beleaguered country.

‘It’s a war zone’

The most disturbing reports came from the Bishop of Bor Ruben Akurdit Ngong, now in Juba, who spoke to several media outlets about the situation in the town.

In a recent BBC interview he described it as “really terrible, it’s horrible. You cannot even describe it.

“Two days, we came out of the UNMISS compound and it seemed to be alright. But suddenly things turned around and we heard gunshots and the rebels running towards Bor town. So everyone started fleeing in different directions. They ran into the bush. Some came into the town. Some went to the River Nile, others towards Lakes State and Juba.

“It’s a war zone. You find dead bodies everywhere. When you are in Bor town, you move around closing your nose because of the smell. Bor is in anarchy because the government is not in control. The rebels are not in control. What they are doing is fighting each other. There is no system, no way that help can come to the civilian population. There is no way even to get medicines to the vulnerable. It is just a really terrible situation.”

On New Year’s Eve, the Rev. Daniel Kon Malual, Secretary in the Office of the Bishop of Bor reported that, “Most of the Diocese of Bor Congregation is displaced and all villages of the archdeaconry of Baidit, Tong, Mathiang are all burned down by the Lau Nuer Youth. [The] Majority of the people are under trees in Awinrial County of Lake State. Other population flew to swarm area West of Baidit Payam and are under threat of attack from Lau Nuer Youth.”

Making their escape

Four days earlier South Sudan priest the Rev. John Daau had written to supporters to explain that he, like so many others, had made the difficult decision to flee South Sudan–his overriding concern was the safety of his heavily pregnant wife who was only two weeks away from giving birth.

Daau laid out the challenges facing the tens of thousands trying to leave the country and his guilt at making the decision to escape to family in Kenya in a relative’s vehicle.

“Those [who could] preferred to leave the country for fear of what may happen next despite the assurance from the government that all will be alright soon. I saw thousands of South Sudanese and foreigners (mainly Kenyans and Ugandan) crowded at the [Ugandan] border…Perhaps, over 2000 private vehicles were parked by the time I was at the border, all going through clearance on both side of Ugandan-South Sudan border as drivers scrambled in the long queues to clear and receive visas.”

People are dying

On January 3, the Primate of ECSSS, Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, wrote in a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, that the situation was increasingly desperate.

“I myself and the head of SUDRA (our Church’s local Relief and Rehabilitation Agency) visited the area and [saw] over 75 thousand people (and more are still coming) mainly women and children, some occupying churches, schools and other living under trees.

“The situation is more desperate as there is no clean water to drink, little food to eat, no good sanitation and lack of health facilities.”

Archbishop Deng Bul explained that, as a response to the crisis, he has formed an Emergency Crisis committee with the Bishop of Bor as its chairman. The committee is working with SUDRA to consolidate a proposal for the humanitarian response in the affected dioceses.

The Archbishop called on relief agencies and the wider Communion to help the Province in its work to alleviate the suffering of people affected by the conflict: “Some of them are now dying of hunger and diseases, particularly the children … as the humanitarian crisis has reached a breaking point.”

One response by Archbishop Justin Welby has been to write to all Primates of the Anglican Communion sharing with them ECSSS’s request for prayer and support.

Collaborating on aid

Over the Christmas and New Year period, Anglican/Episcopal agencies including Episcopal Relief & Development, the Anglican Alliance and the Anglican Board of Mission met on conference calls. Together, with members of ECSSS, they have been working on developing a coordinated humanitarian response through the local churches.

According to Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail of ECSSS’s Kadugli Diocese, whatever relief goods are required, he believes there will also be a need to train pastors for reconciliation and peacebuilding.

The consolidated proposal is expected in a few days and will be posted on the Anglican Alliance’s website.

Prayers for peace

Elsewhere in the Anglican Communion, South Sudanese living in Melbourne, Australia turned an annual service of thanksgiving for the past year into a national day of mourning and anxiety on New Year’s Day.

More than 200 adults and 70 children gathered at the Anglican Church of the Apostles, Sunshine, for a regular thanksgiving service. But because most of those present come from the vicinity of Bor, the prayers reflected the anxiety and concern about relatives back home.

Prayers for ‘peace in South Sudan and wellbeing of all civilians’ were led by the Rev. Abraham Angau. Prayers for the future were led by the Rev. Daniel Gai Aleu.

The Anglican Church in Melbourne has 17 congregations worshiping in the Dinka language, scattered from Sunshine to Dandenong.

In Uganda, the Primate Archbishop Stanley Ntagali also used part of his Christmas message to call for a dialogue to end the conflict in South Sudan.


ENS Headlines - Monday, January 6, 2014

Que los estadounidenses tengan una mala opinión sobre el trabajo de sus congresistas en Washington no es noticia nueva, lo que sí es novedoso es que la mayoría califique al Congreso 2013 que acaba de terminar sus sesiones como el peor que les ha tocado vivir…o lo que para muchos es “el peor de la historia de Estados Unidos”. Así lo revela una encuesta de CNN/ORC International que demostró que el 73% de los encuestados cree que “los congresistas hicieron un pésimo trabajo”. Las luchas partidistas y la poca cooperación entre los partidos, son las causas principales según la encuesta.

En una conferencia sobre racismo en los países europeos y Estados Unidos, se mencionaron los siguientes hechos históricos: Las estrellas amarillas y los triángulos rosados del régimen nazi, la prohibición a las mujeres musulmanas del uso de su velo religioso en Francia, la encarcelación de ciudadanos japoneses en Estados Unidos durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, la ley de exclusión de ciudadanos chinos para inmigrar a Estados Unidos en 1882, las diferentes categorías del régimen de apartheid en Sudáfrica, la violación de los derechos humanos en Cuba, la exclusión de la ciudadanía de descendientes haitianos en la República Dominicana, la remoción de niños indígenas de sus lugares de origen para enseñarles a “ser blancos”, la remoción de negros de las leyes de inmigración, la esclavitud y sus consecuencias.

Eggoni Pushpalalitha, presbítera de la Iglesia del Sur de la India ha sido designada primera obispa días después que Patricia Storey de la Iglesia Anglicana de Irlanda electa obispa para servir en la diócesis de Meath y Kildare. Su esposo es Earl Storey, clérigo irlandés. La pareja tiene dos hijos mayores.

Carlos M. de Céspedes, vicario general de la arquidiócesis de La Habana, afirmó en una conferencia que los “actuales cambios” de Raúl Castro parecen conducir a “un socialismo más participativo y democrático”, dijo en la revista Espacio Laical. Añadió que en Cuba “muchos experimentan la imposibilidad transitoria de construir una sociedad de acuerdo con su visión de la misma” y “se sienten incómodos en la sociedad cubana contemporánea, socialista en movimiento”. Apuntando a disidentes y exiliados, sin mencionarlos explícitamente, dijo que “esto los lleva a una apatía social o al distanciamiento geográfico”.

El asesino mandatarios de Corea del Norte, Kim Jong-Un, ha amenazado con “desastre nuclear” en la península coreana si hay una nueva guerra, y advirtió a Estados Unidos que en caso de conflicto no saldrá indemne. “Si estalla de nuevo una guerra en esta tierra, traerá consigo un desastre nuclear masivo, y Estados Unidos nunca estará seguro”. Kim ejecutó a su tío recientemente.

Los expertos analistas económicos de América Latina dijeron en varias ocasiones el año pasado que “el gobierno de Nicolás Maduro no llegará al nuevo año”. Parece que se equivocaron aunque el nivel de inflación es de 50.6 hace pensar que la economía no anda muy bien.

Al marcar el año 55 de la llegada al poder de los Castros, el jefe mayor ha alertado a la ciudadanía a que “graves peligros” se acercan y que “poderosas fuerzas subversivas dentro y fuera de la lista” están al asecho de destruir lo que se ha creado con tanto esfuerzo por el pueblo cubano. Ese cuento se ha escuchad muchas veces. ¿De qué isla hablará el líder que prometió libertad, justicia y educación para todos? Nada, que no hay peor ciego que el que no quiere oír.

El papa Francisco ha recibido una visita oficial de una delegación de la Federación Luterana Mundial y los miembros de la Comisión Luterana-Católica para la Unidad. “El ecumenismo espiritual constituye el alma de nuestro camino en dirección a la plena comunión, y nos permite probar, incluso ahora cualquier fruto, aunque sea imperfecto”, dijo el pontífice.

La terapista familiar Virginia Satir, dice en una de sus conferencias: los hispanos somos conocidos porque no podemos hablar ni saludar sin tocar al otro. Si hay confianza, lo nuestro es abrazar y besar. Si no la hay, se nos zafa la palmadita, poner la mano en el hombro o dar el apretón de manos. A los hijos, sobrinos y nietos, desde bebés, los abrazamos y los apretamos. ¿Seremos expertos en repartir salud? Añade que los abrazos “producen seguridad, confianza, sentido de protección y comunicación honesta” y sanan los sentimientos de ira, soledad y aislamiento”. El abrazo se ha hecho una forma generalizada de saludarse durante la paz en la Iglesia Episcopal.



Requiem set for retired North Carolina Bishop Robert C. Johnson

ENS Headlines - Friday, January 3, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] A requiem Eucharist will be celebrated Jan. 11 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Durham, North Carolina, for retired North Carolina Bishop Robert C. Johnson.

Johnson, 75, who was the 10th bishop of the diocese died early on Jan. 3.

He served the diocese as bishop from 1994 to 2000. He came to the episcopate having served in the diocese for 30 years as a deacon and a priest, including 19 years as the rector of St. Luke’s, Durham, where he developed a reputation as a preacher and a pastor, according to a biography on the diocesan website.

Born on July 18, 1938 in Georgia, he was raised a Southern Baptist and ordained at an early age.

While at Yale Divinity School in the early 1960s, he came to seek Holy Orders in the Episcopal Church and was ordained by then-North Carolina Bishop Thomas Augustus Fraser in 1965.

“As Bishop, Johnson encouraged the Diocese to engage in healthy and hospitable practices and to honor the ministries of all the baptized, including gay and lesbian members,” his diocesan biography says. “He spoke out strongly against capital punishment and racist behavior and on behalf of weak and marginalized members of society.”

In response to growing controversies in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion, the diocese said, Johnson appealed to the unity of the church and mutual forbearance.

Johns held what his biography calls “the solemn but painful duty” of serving on the House of Bishops’ Ecclesiastical Court which heard, and then dismissed, charges against a fellow bishop, Walter Righter. (Episcopal News Service coverage of that decision is here.

Pained by what he saw as signs of a lack of charity at the 1998 Lambeth Conference, the biography says, he subsequently announced his retirement and called for the election of his successor in 2000.

Requiem set for retired Pennsylvania Bishop Suffragan Franklin Turner

ENS Headlines - Friday, January 3, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] A requiem Eucharist for retired Diocese of Pennsylvania Bishop Suffragan Franklin Delton Turner is set for Jan. 11 at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral.

Turner, 80, died on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve in Philadelphia.

Turner, a former staff officer for black ministries at the Episcopal Church Center in New York from 1972-1983, was assistant to then Bishop of Pennsylvania Allen Bartlett in 1988 when he was elected suffragan bishop for that diocese.

Out of some 900 men who had up to that point in time been elected bishop in the Episcopal Church, Turner was approximately the 27th black priest elected. He was also the first black bishop of the then-205-year-old diocese. A total of nine candidates were in the running, including the Rev. Nancy Van Dyke Platt of Maine who, if elected, would have been the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion (that distinction fell in early 1989 to the Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris).

Newly consecrated Bishop Suffragan of Pennsylvania Bishop Franklin D. Turner, left, receives his crosier, a gift from Mityana diocese in Uganda, from Pennsylvania diocesan Bishop Allen L. Bartlett, right center. Co-consecrator, Bishop John D. Walker of Washington, is at left center. The Very Rev. Thomas L. McClellan, right, was master-of-ceremonies at the Oct. 7, 1988, consecration. Photo: Archives of the Episcopal Church

Speaking in Nov. 6, 1992, at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Philadelphia during a service to rebury the remains of Absalom Jones — the first African-American ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church — nearly 200 years after his death, Turner said that “we have indeed come this far by faith.”

“We can be justly proud of our sojourn in the Episcopal Church, although it has been an uphill struggle,” he said.

Turner officially retired as suffragan in 2000 and also served the diocese as an assisting bishop.
Turner was born in Norwood, North Carolina, on July 19, 1933. He earned his A.B. degree from Livingstone College and his S.T.B. degree from Berkeley Divinity School (from which he also held a D.D. degree); he pursued further graduate study at General Theological Seminary. He was ordained deacon, and later priest, in 1965. Turner was vicar of the Church of the Epiphany in Dallas (1965-1966) and rector of St. George’s Church in Washington, D.C. (1966-1972).

While in Washington, D.C., he founded the Washington Episcopal Clergy Association. He was also on the board of directors for the Kanuga Conference Center, and was a trustee of Berkeley Divinity School. Turner founded the Organization of Black Episcopal Seminarians. He was also the editor of the hymnal Lift Every Voice and Sing I. He served on the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council.

At the Jan. 11 requiem, Bartlett will preside and be assisted by Pennsylvania Bishop Provisional Clifton Daniel III. The Rev. Harold T. Lewis, rector of Calvary Church, Pittsburgh, who succeeded Turner at the Church Center, will preach.

Turner is survived by his wife, Barbara, and their children.

Service set for retired Diocese of Utah Bishop E. Otis Charles

ENS Headlines - Thursday, January 2, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] The burial office for retired Diocese of Utah Bishop E. Otis Charles will held Jan. 11 at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco.

Charles, 87, died Dec. 26 at Coming Home Hospice in San Francisco. He had moved to the hospice in early December.

Charles ashes will be interred at a later date in the Diocese of Utah’s Cathedral Church of St. Mark in Salt Lake City.

The eighth bishop of Utah, Charles was the diocese’s first bishop after it transitioned from being a Missionary District in 1971. He served until 1986.

“With few resources, he led the diocese through a period of growth in southern Utah, the calling of priests from congregations, and the church’s opposition to the Vietnam War,” the diocese said in announcing Charles’ death.

Charles also served the church during a time of change, the diocese noted, citing the ordination of women and the adoption of a new Book of Common Prayer. Charles championed of the new prayer book, having served on the Standing Liturgical Commission, which authored it, the diocese said.

Current Utah Bishop Schott Hayashi called Charles a “friend, companion, guide and mentor.”

“He carried the diocese forward during a time of great challenge and few resources, Hayahsi said. “Where others might see scarcity, Bishop Charles saw an abundance of spiritual resources from God and in the hearts and wills of the people of the Diocese of Utah. Bishop Charles demonstrated fidelity to the vows of Baptism.  He steadfastly modeled, proclaimed by word and example, and strove always ‘for justice and peace among all people,’ and he ‘respected the dignity of every human being.’”

Hayashi reported that Charles was “especially joyful” when a federal judge struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage just before Christmas.

“As a bishop, I have been privileged to be with Otis as a fellow bishop, colleague and friend,” Hayashi said. “My prayers are being offered for Otis and all his family and friends who, like me, will always be grateful for his life and witness, and who will miss him terribly.”

Born in Norristown, Pennsylvania, in 1926, Charles was ordained a priest in 1951 and served churches in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York prior to being called to Utah.

While serving in Utah, Charles helped organize opposition to the MX missile, cost-effective health care, the first Utah hospice, housing for elderly and handicapped citizens, and advocacy for minorities, women, the handicapped poor and unemployed.

Charles and his then-wife, Elvira, raised five children during his episcopate. He also served for two years as the bishop in charge of the Navajoland Area Mission during its inception.

After he left the Diocese of Utah, he was named dean of Episcopal Divinity School which he served until 1993.

“Otis’s 60 years of pastoral leadership — at EDS, in the Diocese of Utah, and at Oasis California — leave an indelible legacy. In every community he worked, in every life that he touched, Otis embodied this seminary’s ideal of working to advance God’s mission of justice, compassion, and reconciliation,” said the Very Rev. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, EDS’s current president and dean.

Just after he retired from EDS, Charles sent a letter to his colleagues in the House of Bishops telling them that he was gay. The bishops discussed his disclosure during their meeting in Panama in September 1993. He was the first Christian bishop of any denomination to come out as gay.

He married Felipe Sanchez-Paris in 2008 (who died in August 2013) and continued living in San Francisco, where he had moved in mid-1993. Charles remained in active parish ministry. He also continued regular attendance at the House of Bishops until this year.

Charles is survived by his former wife, Elvira Nelson of Salt Lake City, five children, 10 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.


ENS Headlines - Thursday, January 2, 2014

La oficina de Inmigración y Extranjería de Cuba ha anunciado que durante el año 2013 más de 257,518 cubanos han viajado fuera de la isla, muchos viajaron en más de un ocasión. Dada la situación precaria de la economía cubana los viajes fueron subvencionados por familiares o amigos residentes de Estados Unidos. Cerca de la mitad de los viajeros regresaron a la isla, dijo la información oficial.

El balneario de Varadero, en la provincia de Matanzas, Cuba, considerado primer polo turístico de sol y playas en la isla caribeña. Ha perdido entre 70 centímetros y un metro de línea costera en el último año debido a la erosión provocada por la elevación del nivel del mar, informaron medios oficiales. La playa de Varadero es considerada una de las playas más lindas del mundo.

En una reciente encuesta realizada por la organización Gallup el clero de Estados Unidos goza de mayor respeto de los conservadores que entre los demócratas. Observadores piensan que el clero, la policía y los oficiales del ejército gozan de esa preferencia porque muchas de esas personas trabajan en instituciones tradicionales de la sociedad Norteamericana que normalmente se inclinan por una ideología conservadora. Los entrevistados recibieron un 63 por ciento mientras que los demócratas 40 por ciento.

José Mujica, presidente de Uruguay se ha ganado la admiración internacional por su modesto modo de vida, su falta de protocolos presidenciales y su apoyo a políticas liberales como la reciente legalización de la marihuana, el aborto y el matrimonio gay entre otras. Mujica nació en 1935, hijo de un padre campesino y una madre hija de inmigrantes italianos, en la década de los 60 formó parte de la guerrilla llamada Los Tupamaros de inspiración castrista y el Frente Amplio. Fue electo por un período de cinco años en el 2010. Goza de amplia popularidad entre los uruguayos.

Frank Schaefer, el pastor metodista que casó a su hijo con otro hombre ha sido depuesto de su dignidad como pastor. Tras la ceremonia dijo que “la iglesia comete un gran injusticia” al no permitir bodas del mismo sexo.

El sacerdote jesuita español Jesús Herrero Gómez falleció, a causa de un infarto, el pasado 10 de diciembre a los 71 años de edad en Lima. Fue coordinador general de la red de colegios Fe y Alegría en Perú de 1988 a 1998, y en el momento de su muerte era el presidente del Consejo Nacional de Educación.

El inventor del famoso fusil de asalto soviético AK-47, Mijail Kalashnikov, ha fallecido a los 94 años en Udmurtia en los Montes Urales, Rusia. El fusil fue inventado en 1919 y siempre su inventor se sintió orgulloso de su obra destinada a “defender nuestra patria” aunque también lamentó “ver a todo tipo de criminales disparar con mis armas”. Se calcula que más de 100 millones de unidades se vendieron legalmente aunque muchas más fueron vendidas en forma clandestina.

La prensa internacional informa que los bombardeos de la aviación siria han dejado por lo menos 300 muertos en los últimos días en Alepo, la principal ciudad de Siria. Se estima que en los ataques murieron  87 niños, 30 mujeres y 30 rebeldes.

Todos estamos de acuerdo en que gran número de instituciones sociales necesitan la ayuda de la población para subsistir y cubrir la necesidades básicas de sus miembros. Todos sabemos que es “mejor dar que recibir” y que la ayuda es nuestra ofrenda por nuestra vida y nuestras posesiones. Pero la proliferación de agencias pidiendo dinero nos confunde y empaña nuestras mejores intenciones al desconocer el destino de nuestra ofrenda. Desde esta columna sugerimos a las autoridades que regulen esas campañas para que haya transparencia económica y se castigue a los desalmados que comercian con la generosidad y la buena voluntad de los ciudadanos.

La Iglesia de Inglaterra (anglicana) se mantiene firmemente y sin ambages en la posición católica sostenida por la iglesia a través de los siglos: “La Sagrada Escritura contiene todas las cosas necesarias para la salvación, de suerte que cuanto no esté contenido en ella, ni pueda probarse por ella, no debe obligarse a hombre alguno a creerlo como artículo de fe, ni debe creerse como requisito o necesario para la salvación” (Stephen Neill, El Anglicanismo)

DESEO. Que este año que comenzamos sea uno de paz, libertad, alegría, trabajo fecundo y amistad entre todos los habitantes de la tierra. AMÉN.

Archbishop of Canterbury gives first New Year message

ENS Headlines - Thursday, January 2, 2014

[Lambeth Palace] Starting somewhere new is always a bizarre experience. There’s so much to get used to, and things come at you at such a pace. It’s been a huge year of contrasts. It’s had some incredible high points. One of them being the baptism of Prince George, and to be honest I had to pinch myself to think I was actually there.

And another one was my installation at Canterbury Cathedral, a wonderful service in a packed cathedral, very exciting, and a weight of history coming down on one’s shoulders.

And then there’s been other real high points, and one of them is today, coming here to this Church Urban Fund-supported center, the Ace of Clubs [where he recorded his New Year message for broadcast in the United Kingdom].

They care for people on the very edge. They enable people to find their way back into the mainstream of life when they want to. And that’s one of the greatest excitements of this job – being part of an organization that is in many places that’s holding the whole of society together.

Whenever Christians speak out on issues of poverty or social issues of all kinds, we always get letters saying “Why don’t you just talk about God and stop getting muddled up in other subjects?”

When I go to my Bible and think, okay, what’s God saying and how do I talk more about God and get closer to God, and encourage other people to get closer to God, the thing I find is that God says: Love me, and show you love me by loving your neighbor. And if you love your neighbor you’re going to be deeply concerned in the things that trouble them, whether it’s about heating bills, whether it’s about insecurity in families and the need for good community life.

The church is involved in those because we want to demonstrate that we have freely received the love of God and we want to share that with others. It’s not about politics, it’s about love.

I know it’s the New Year, and I don’t want to sound like Scrooge, but I never make New Year resolutions, I’m just hopeless at them. It’s not that they aren’t a very good thing, it’s just that I know I’m not going to keep them, and I have this vague sense that there’s no point in doing them.

Except there’s one I want to think about this year. I want to suggest this year that each of us makes a resolution to try and change the world a bit where we are.

Nelson Mandela said that dealing with poverty is not an act of charity, it’s an act of justice. He said every generation has the chance to be a great generation, and we can be that great generation.

I look around and I see many signs of hope, but also there are many communities, many families, many individuals struggling.

Perhaps our New Year’s resolution is therefore not just to do something slightly differently, but to set our eyes on changing the world around us. That would really change our country in the most amazing way.

Brazil primate issues statement in solidarity with flood victims

ENS Headlines - Thursday, January 2, 2014

[Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil] The Most Rev. Francisco de Assis da Silva, primate, in the wake of torrential rains in southeastern Brazil that have left more than 40 people dead and some 70,000 homeless issued a statement Dec. 30 expressing the church’s solidarity with flood victims.

 Message from PrimateSolidarity with flooding victims
in Minas Gerais & Espirito Santo

Santa Maria, 30 of December, 2013

 “Rescue me from the mire,
do not let me sink;
deliver me from those who hate me,
from the deep waters!” (Ps. 69:14)

The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil (IEAB) expresses its solidarity, care and commitment to flooding victims, especially in the states of Espirito Santo and Minas Gerais. That “the Spirit of God be with you” is our wish and prayer. Solidarity is a human need, but it is also an ethical and spiritual requirement for us Christians to be stirred to action and help people affected by this disaster. “I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you clothed me , sick and you visited me , imprisoned and you visited me … every time you did it to one of these my brethren , you did for me ” (Matthew 25:35-36.40 ) . The Church must always be a spiritual home and space of care and hospitality especially for those who have no place at this time. We should meet the victims, lower ourselves, touch, welcome, collect and lead to a safe place and provide financial resources for life to be restored (Lk 10:29-37).

The IEAB also shows concern that these kinds of situations have become commonplace in Brazil. Floods and their results are not simply natural phenomena that affect the population and territory randomly. Human intervention, or more precisely the lack of it, is quite well-known (in Brazil)— in terms of prevention and environmental and public housing policies, besides the corruption in which we live—it is also important to consider the occurrence of urban flooding, and its role in causing diseases, displacement, and fatalities.
We raise our voice to ask for urgency in attending to the victims, for transparency in resource management, from both humanitarian and public giving. And we will continue in active hope that such situations may occur less and less frequently until it does not happen ever. We continue fighting and joining with the voices of angels and saints (social movements, churches, people of faith, governments and people of goodwill) that are present and active in the care and active insistence that justice be done and life always continue (Lk 18:1-8).

St. Benedict reminds us that “if we want peace, we must seek it,” we must move and leave our meeting places. That the God of life and tenderness be always with us all, and alight in our lives the insatiable desire to encounter him, especially in the victims of this tragedy who clamor for food, water, housing, justice, care, and permanent policies.

++ Francisco de Assis da Silva
Primate of Brazil & Diocesan bishop in Santa Maria


Video: One young adult…and a mission to seafarers

ENS Headlines - Thursday, January 2, 2014

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[Episcopal News Service] Will Bryant from the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina has decided to spend a year as a Young Adult Service Corps volunteer working with the Mission to Seafarers in Hong Kong.

Every day Will visits the seafarers either in port or out at the anchorage, bringing them the latest news in their own language, phone cards so they can call home, and a welcome respite from their sometimes dangerous and often lonely lifestyle.

Many of the seafarers spend 8-10 months each year away from home to provide for their families. Hong Kong is just one of 260 ports throughout the world where Mission to Seafarers has a presence. Established in 1856, it is one of the oldest Anglican mission agencies, bringing much-needed support to those who work at sea.

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

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