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Voces indígenas episcopales se pronuncian sobre la autoagresión y el suicidio en un foro de la ONU

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Las tasas de suicidio y de autoagresión entre jóvenes indígenas de Estados Unidos y de todo el mundo han alcanzado niveles epidémicos, según los jóvenes —hombres y mujeres— que testificaron en la sesión del 21 de abril del Foro Permanente para las Cuestiones Indígenas de la ONU.

Las voces de indígenas episcopales, parte de una delegación organizada y apoyada por la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera (DFMS), se encontraban entre los que brindaron testimonios y recomendaciones durante la sesión general que se centró en la autoagresión y el suicidio, el segundo día del foro sobre cuestiones indígenas que tiene lugar del 20 de abril al 1 de mayo en la sede central de la ONU en Nueva York.

La DFMS [Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society] es el nombre con el cual la Iglesia Episcopal está incorporada, funciona empresarialmente y lleva a cabo la misión. Es también el nombre reconocido por las Naciones Unidas de la presencia consultiva oficial de la Iglesia Episcopal aquí.

“Como pueblos indígenas, nos consideramos conectados no sólo unos con otros como familia, sino también con la Tierra. Los efectos adversos de hábitos ambientales nocivos y de las industrias de extracción que provocan cambios en nuestro clima y en el medio ambiente equivalen a una autoagresión colectiva y social” dice una declaración de la Iglesia Episcopal presentada por Jasmine Bostock, de 24 años, joven adulta y presidenta del Comité sobre Ministerio Indígena del Consejo Ejecutivo.

“Estos hábitos destruyen nuestra comprensión de nosotros mismos como parte de la sacralidad de toda la creación. Nuestra relación con la tierra y el agua se ve interrumpida por la remoción de nuestras tierras y la violación de nuestros lugares sagrados. Les instamos a pensar en el mensaje social enviado a los jóvenes hawaianos nativos que están viendo como arrestan a sus mayores por [tratar de] impedir que se apropien de Mauna Kea, su montaña tradicionalmente sagrada, para fines científicos”.

Bostock, que es hawaiana nativa, de la Diócesis de Hawái, representó a la DFMS en la sesión, junto con Cohen Adkins, de 26 años, de la tribu chickahominy en la Diócesis de Virginia, quien presta servicios como asesor nativo de la Sociedad, y Frank Oberly, de 72 años, de las tribus comanche y osage, de la Diócesis de Oklahoma, quien también es parte del Comité sobre Ministerio Indígena.

El Foro Permanente sobre Cuestiones Indígenas de la ONU es un organismo asesor del Consejo Económico y Social, y su misión es discutir cuestiones indígenas relativas al desarrollo económico y social, la cultura, el medioambiente, la educación, la salud y los derechos humanos. A la Iglesia Episcopal le otorgaron un estatus consultivo especial en el Consejo Económico y Social en julio de 2014; más del 80 por ciento de la labor de la ONU tiene lugar en el Consejo, que también es el organismo a través del cual las organizaciones no gubernamentales tienen una afiliación y una relación oficiales con la ONU y sus agencias.

“Esta acreditación le permite a la Iglesia Episcopal, bajo el liderazgo y supervisión de la Obispa Primada, presentar declaraciones y hacer intervenciones orales en reuniones específicas de la ONU a tenor con la política y las posiciones de la Iglesia”, dijo Lynnaia Main, la funcionaria encargada de relaciones globales de la DFMS. “También le permite a la Iglesia traer delegados como observadores a ciertas reuniones de la ONU, entre ellas el Foro Permanente sobre Cuestiones Indígenas. El foro consta de expertos que consultan con los pueblos indígenas en asuntos de interés social y económico, y los expertos funcionan como un cuerpo asesor del Consejo Económico y Social de la ONU y los estados miembros”.

El foro, que se encuentra en su 14º. año, le brinda la oportunidad a los delegados indígenas de presenciar las sesiones, adquirir experiencia con las tareas del organismo internacional e identificar la manera en que las cuestiones indígenas que se discuten se relacionan con la Iglesia Episcopal. Aunque los episcopales han asistido a foros anteriores, como integrantes de las delegaciones de la Comunión Anglicana, esta ha sido la primera vez que la Iglesia Episcopal tiene una representación propia.

“Junto con la Sociedad Misionera, los delegados pudieron experimentar de primera mano el proceso global de diálogo mediante el cual los expertos del foro permanente escuchan y consultan a los representantes y organizaciones de los pueblos indígenas y a otras organizaciones no gubernamentales”, dijo Main.

Tener acceso a un foro global les ofrece a los episcopales una avenida adicional de hacer realidad el Pacto Bautismal de “buscar y servir a Cristo en todas las personas” y de cumplir las marcas tres, cuatro y cinco de las Cinco Marcas de la Misión: responder a las necesidades humanas con amoroso servicio, procurar la transformación de las estructuras sociales injustas y luchar por salvaguardar la integridad de la creación y por el sostenimiento y la renovación de la vida en la tierra, respectivamente, añadió Main.

“Todas estas marcas de la misión son compartidas en un espíritu común con los que se reúnen en las Naciones Unidas. La comunidad de Naciones Unidas proporciona un micrófono por el cual podemos exponer los asuntos que nos preocupan y compartir experiencias, un espacio común en el cual podemos relacionarnos y participar en diálogos sobre muchos asuntos importantes y [constituye] una plataforma de aprendizaje para las mejores prácticas y entrenamiento globales que podemos llevar de vuelta a nuestras comunidades”, afirmó ella.

El suicidio es la segunda causa de muerte entre jóvenes y jóvenes adultos indígenas, con edades entre 15 y 24 años, siendo la probabilidad de suicidarse tres veces más alta en las mujeres que en los hombres, según el Servicio de Salud Indio de EE.UU.

La ira, la depresión y la desesperanza son las emociones subyacentes que llevan a los jóvenes indígenas a autoagredirse y a suicidarse en tasas mayores que el promedio, dijo un joven indígena que habló durante el foro sobre autoagresión y suicido en la sesión matutina del 21 de abril.

Después de tratar de destruir físicamente al pueblo indígena, la mayoría blanca que domina la sociedad emprendió la destrucción de la cultura y la espiritualidad indígenas, prosiguió.

“La Iglesia desempeña un papel singular en reconocer y restaurar el quebranto del mundo; creo que eso es esencialmente bautismal y central a la fe cristiana”, dijo Bostock, durante una entrevista con ENS el 21 de abril antes de testificar en la sesión matutina.

“He visto al ministerio indígena una y otra vez buscando por dónde la espiritualidad indígena se entrecruza con nuestra identidad como cristianos, y para mí, obviamente, de manera más especifica, con nuestra identidad como episcopales. Y yo creo que este problema es aquel en que las dos realidades se intersectan. En nuestra declaración hablamos mucho de la espiritualidad indígena y de la comprensión indígena del ser de uno relacionándose con todas las cosas de la creación, siendo familia de todas las personas, siendo familia de todas las cosas —y de este modo viendo el suicidio y la autoagresión no como algo independiente de todo lo demás, sino como resultado directo de las diferentes maneras en que se han quebrantado nuestras relaciones con la tierra y las de unos con otros y con nosotros mismos”.

La DFMS, respondiendo al criterio colectivo de la Iglesia Episcopal, que incluyó el repudio de la Doctrina del Descubrimiento en su Convención General de 2009, ha participado activamente en una variedad de ministerios, orientados hacia los jóvenes, con vistas a sanar el trauma histórico y generacional.

“Restaurar las relaciones justas con los pueblos indígenas es una prioridad de nuestra Iglesia. Como cristianos, creemos que todos los seres humanos son creados a imagen de Dios y que nuestras escrituras, el camino de Jesucristo y nuestro Pacto Bautismal nos llaman a ‘buscar y servir a Cristo en todas las personas’. Nos dolemos y lamentamos con nuestros jóvenes indígenas, sus familias y sus comunidades cuando ellos sufren”, dice la declaración que la DFMS presentó ante la ONU.

Basándose en la experiencia y el testimonio de la Iglesia, la declaración hizo recomendaciones orientadas a erradicar “las nocivas raíces que le infligen dolor “ a los jóvenes dando lugar a que se autoagredan:

  • Promover imágenes positivas de los pueblos indígenas en entornos sociales y eliminar lesivas imágenes paternalistas, de manera que los jóvenes puedan enorgullecerse de su identidad indígena en lugar de sentirse devaluados por la sociedad en general.
  • Expandir el currículo escolar para incluir contribuciones positivas e importantes de los pueblos indígenas a las narrativas acerca de la formación, la historia y la sociedad de cada país.
  • Restaurar a los pueblos indígenas su justo lugar en las tierras y en las estructuras de gobierno, de manera que no estén oprimidos, marginados, injustamente representados o carentes de recursos y servicios.

Hay 566 tribus reconocidas federalmente a través de Estados Unidos, explicó Adkins, entre las cuales la Iglesia Episcopal tiene una pujante presencia entre los alasqueños y hawaianos nativos, los navajos, los lakotas, los oneidas, los ojibwas y otros.

Una de las formas en que la Iglesia y la DFMS laboran para reducir los índices de suicidios y de autoagresión es mediante la conexión con los jóvenes, en persona y a través de los medios sociales, dijo Cohen, añadiendo que la comunidad indígena se suscribe a una Iglesia de culto alto muy tradicional, de manera que los indígenas sienten el estigma asociado con el suicidio y la autoagresión más que otros.

Y esto es algo en que Oberly y otras personas han estado trabajando. Como ex presidente del comité sobre Ministerio Indígena del Consejo Ejecutivo y habiendo desempeñado papeles de liderazgo en la Iglesia durante mucho tiempo, Oberly creó el Instituto Indígena de Capacitación Teológica, el cual se ocupa de crear materiales para parroquias y otras organizaciones comunitarias que trabajan en áreas con índices elevados de suicidio y de autoagresión.

La Iglesia, dijo él, no sólo está hablando de trabajo, sino que lo está haciendo, lo cual la convierte en un sólido asociado de otras organizaciones e instituciones.

Es importante para la Iglesia Episcopal estar presente en foros como el que se presenta en las Naciones Unidas y participar en conversaciones y diálogos constructivos, afirmó Bostock, añadiendo que a ella le gustaría ver a la Iglesia convertida en una asociada al abordar los conflictos de los pueblos indígenas.

“La Iglesia no puede hacerlo sola”, dijo ella, y agregó que tanto la Iglesia como las Naciones Unidas tienen sus propios métodos y procedimientos para presentar resoluciones y adoptar normas, pero sólo mediante la colaboración pueden verse los resultados.

“Cuanta más colaboración podamos ver, tanto más feliz podemos ver al mundo. Si uno no está dispuesto a conectarse y a colaborar, uno siempre será una voz que clama en el desierto, y ése no es nuestro llamado”, afirmó Bostock. “Nuestro llamado es…buscar y reconocer a Cristo en todas las personas y servir a toda la gente”.

Responding in prayer to the situation in Baltimore

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, April 28, 2015

[Episcopal Diocese of Maryland] Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton said in an April 28 Facebook post, “Pray for Baltimore. Violence is not the answer, ever.”

With that in mind, please join with others in the diocese on April 28, at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, Baltimore:
11:30 a.m.-12 noon: Centering Prayer, Peace Chapel. Join Bishop Sutton in contemplative prayer.
12:15 p.m.-1 p.m.: Tuesday Eucharist
1 p.m.-2 p.m.: Open forum discussion on the current situation in the city.
2 p.m.-6 p.m.: Prayer Vigil, the cathedral will be open for prayer, reflection and solace throughout the afternoon.

At 6 p.m. Bishop Sutton will represent the diocese at an interfaith gathering being planned in Baltimore.

Blue Mass
6:30 p.m., St. John’s in the Village, Baltimore
The annual “Blue Mass” will be celebrated for Baltimore’s police, firefighters and paramedics. Plan to be present as we pray for the protection, guidance and encouragement of our men and women in blue.

The Prayer For Cities
Heavenly Father, in your Word you have given us a vision of that holy City to which the nations of the world bring their glory: Behold and visit, we pray, the cities of the earth. Renew the ties of mutual regard which form our civic life. Send us honest and able leaders. Enable us to eliminate poverty, prejudice, and oppression, that peace may prevail with righteousness, and justice with order, and that men and women from different cultures and with differing talents may find with one another the fulfillment of their humanity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Effects of earthquake ‘devastating’ reports Anglican Deanery of Nepal

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, April 28, 2015

[Anglican Communion News Service] Based on reports from Anglican Alliance.

The effects of the 7.9 Richter scale earthquake that hit Nepal 80 km northwest of Kathmandu Saturday just before noon local time and the aftershock an hour later have been “devastating,” said the Revd Lewis Lew, Dean of Nepal Deanery of the Diocese of Singapore of the Church of the Province of South East Asia.

At least 3,617 people are confirmed to have died, police say, and more than 6,500 people have been injured, according to the National Emergency Operation Centre. Dozens of people are also reported to have been killed in neighbouring China and India.

The death toll from the most powerful quake to hit the region in 81 years is likely to rise as information comes in from remote outlying areas of the mountainous country. Massive damage to property and infrastructure has been reported in Kathmandu and outlying villages, access to which has been cut off by landslides. Tremors were felt as far afield as Delhi and Dhaka.

“Many buildings in Kathmandu, especially those in old Kathmandu city, have collapsed,” said Dean Lew. “We are [having great difficulty] contacting our churches outside of Kathmandu, as communication is [nearly] totally cut off outside of Kathmandu. We are particularly concerned for our churches near the epicentre, those in Gorkha, Bhaktapur & Dhading districts. I am working with our brothers to see what kind of help is needed and how we can support them.”

The quake also hit Mt Everest, and resulted in many avalanches, he said. Authorities were still trying to account for the mountaineers.

The government of Nepal has appealed to the international community for emergency assistance as the scale of the disaster is beyond the response capacities of national authorities.

‘Nothing is standing’

Many of the Deanery’s churches are located in villages in the Dhading district which was badly hit by the quake. Buildings, houses, schools and churches have all collapsed. “Nothing is standing,” said one of the local priests.

“The death toll is expected to be high. The survivors are badly shaken. They are waiting for aid. There is a shortage of clean water and food and electricity has been cut off. This disaster has claimed so far more than 2000 lives and more than 8000 are injured. Tremors are still being felt every half an hour, even in Kathmandu,” said Dean Lew.

Many people are reportedly sleeping outside, even those who have not lost their homes, for fear of further tremors causing building collapse.

Gearing up to respond

Currently, work is being done to assess the situation on the ground in Nepal, according to Dean Lew.  “I hope to get more ground reports on [the needs] and how we can help practically, and also this will give me a chance to consult our bishops on how we can come alongside our folks in the deanery,” he said.

Churches and agencies around the Anglican Communion have launched appeals and preparing for the massive relief response that will be needed. The Anglican Alliance would be standing ready to give support, said Co-Executive Director Rachel Carnegie.

The Rt Revd Rennis Ponniah, Bishop of Singapore, reported that Bishop Kuan Kim Seng, Director of Missions of the Diocese of Singapore, had put the ACROSS Crisis Relief team in ‘ready to move’ mode. “We stand ready to come alongside with practical help. We long to be with you and will do so soon.”

Dean Lew asked for prayer for all those affected by the earthquake and for disaster and relief teams mobilising to respond.

The Interim General Secretary of the Anglican Communion Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan has assured the Church of the Province of South East Asia of the support of the Anglican Communion.

Notes

For more details on appeals and links to more information, please consult the Anglican Alliance website.

Share prayers for Nepal and the region on the Prayer Wall of the Anglican Communion website.

JNCPB sets process for presiding bishop nominations from the floor

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 27, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Episcopal Church Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB) has released the following concerning nominating bishops from the floor for the position of Presiding Bishop.

The Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB) wishes to announce its process for nominating bishops to the office of the Presiding Bishop from the floor at General Convention in June 2015.

The JNCPB is canonically charged with “establishing a timely process for any bishop or deputy to express the intent to nominate any other member of the House of Bishops from the floor at the time the Joint Nominating Committee presents its nominees to the joint session of the two Houses, and for each Bishop so nominated to be included in the information distributed about the nominees.” Canon I.2.1(e)(2)

The procedure established by the JNCPB for nominations from the floor is as follows:

Any bishop or deputy may indicate his/her intent to nominate a bishop who is not included on the list of nominees for Presiding Bishop which will be announced on May 1.

The intent to nominate period will be Friday, May 1 to Tuesday, May 12.

Any bishop or deputy wishing to nominate a bishop must have that bishop’s written permission to do so.

To indicate the intent to nominate a bishop, send the following information via email to both the co-chairs of the JNCPB, Bishop Edward Konieczny of Oklahoma and Sally Johnson, Esq. of Minnesota (bishoped@epiok.org and sallyjohnson53@gmail.com)

1.  Full name of the bishop you wish to nominate and contact information for him/her including:
•    Diocese (or other position) in which the bishop currently serves
•    Home address
•    Work address
•    Work/office phone number
•    Cell phone number
•    Work email address
•    Personal email address

2.  Copy of the written permission for nomination from the bishop.

3.  Full name of the bishop or deputy submitting the nomination with his/her intention to nominate a bishop including:
•    Diocese (or other position) in which the deputy or bishop currently serves
•    Work/office phone number
•    Cell phone number
•    Work or personal email address

In order to be nominated at General Convention, any bishop whose name is submitted in this process will have to undergo the same background screening process that the JNCPB completed for all of its nominees including, but not limited to, criminal records check, credit check, civil court records check, driver’s license check, psychological examination, and submission of a physical examination report.

In order to complete the background screening process in a timely manner, all bishops whose names are submitted through this process must complete extensive questionnaires by Friday, May 15 at 5 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

For that reason, the JNCPB encourages bishops and deputies to submit their intent to nominate information as soon as possible after May 1.

Thank you.

For more info: pbnominatingcommittee@gmail.com.

 

Episcopal Relief & Development issues statement on Nepal earthquake

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 27, 2015

[Episcopal Relief & Development] Episcopal Relief & Development is working with the ecumenical ACT Alliance in Nepal and local partners in northern India and southwest China regarding urgent needs and assessment efforts following the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck near Kathmandu on the morning of April 25.

The earthquake was centered east of Nepal’s capital, near the town of Pokhara, though the initial quake and subsequent aftershocks were felt as far away as Pakistan, more than 800 miles away. The death toll reported late April 27 exceeds 3,900, including 17 who died in an avalanche on Mt. Everest, with the number expected to rise over the coming days. Due to the rough terrain and isolated nature of communities in Nepal and across the Himalayas, search and rescue efforts are being carried out on foot and by helicopter.  Communications are still down across wide areas of the region, further hampering assessment and rescue efforts.

“The mountain communities that we suspect are in most need of help are also the hardest to get to, accessible only by foot under normal circumstances,” said Nagulan Nesiah, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Program Officer for Disaster Response and Risk Reduction. “Getting assessment teams there to gather information will be a challenge, as will transporting the relief supplies that are needed so urgently.”

Responding to immediate needs for food, clean water and shelter, as well as the need for accurate information through on-the-ground assessment, Episcopal Relief & Development will support ACT Alliance efforts implemented through a partner office in Kathmandu.  The ACT Alliance works in coordination with major international groups such as the UN Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs to maximize efficiency and impact of aid, mobilizing local networks to reach remote areas.

Episcopal Relief & Development is in contact with the Anglican Diocese of West Malaysia regarding support for the work of the Deanery of Nepal, which is part of the Diocese of Singapore.  The organization may also support other partners in the region including CASA, the humanitarian arm of the National Council of Churches in India, and the Amity Foundation, an independent Christian organization in China.

“It is a frightening time, with so many homes and buildings already destroyed and the threat of aftershocks causing others to collapse,” said Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Vice President of Programs. “People need spiritual support as they try to keep their families safe, or find and save those who are missing. We urge prayers for all those impacted by the quake, and for those who are bringing relief, support and encouragement to people in need.”

Please donate to the Nepal Earthquake Response Fund to enable Episcopal Relief & Development to support its partners’ emergency relief efforts and on-the-ground assessment in the region.

Indigenous Episcopal voices speak out on self harm, suicide at UN forum

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 27, 2015

[Episcopal News Service] Suicide and self-harm rates among indigenous youth in the United States and worldwide have reached epidemic rates, according to the young men and women who testified during the April 21 session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Indigenous Episcopal voices, part of a delegation organized and supported by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, were among those who offered testimony and recommendations during the general session which focused on self harm and suicide, on the second full day of April 20-May 1 forum on indigenous issues taking place at U.N. headquarters in New York.

The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is the legal and canonical name under which The Episcopal Church is incorporated, conducts business, and carries out mission. It is also the name recognized by the United Nations for The Episcopal Church’s official consultative presence there.

“As indigenous peoples, we consider ourselves connected not only to each other as relatives, but also to the Earth. The adverse effects of harmful environmental practices and extractive industries that provoke changes in our climate and environment are equivalent to collective, societal self harm,” read a statement on behalf of The Episcopal Church submitted by Jasmine Bostock, 24, a young adult and chair of the Executive Council Committee on Indigenous Ministry.

“These practices destroy our understanding of ourselves as part of the sacredness of all creation. Our relationship to land and water is broken by the removal of our lands and violation of our sacred sites. We urge you to think of the social message sent to native Hawaiian youth who are watching their elders be arrested for protecting their traditionally sacred mountain, Mauna Kea, from being appropriated for science.”

Bostock, who is a native Hawaiian from the Diocese of Hawaii, represented the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society at the session along with Cohen Adkins, 26, of the Chickahominy tribe in the Diocese of Virginia, who serves as an indigenous consultant to the Society, and Frank Oberly, 72, of the Comanche and Osage tribes, from the Diocese of Oklahoma, who also serves on the Committee on Indigenous Ministries.

The U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council; its mandate is to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. The Episcopal Church was granted special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council in July 2014; more than 80 percent of the U.N.’s work happens in the council, which also is the agency through which non-government organizations have official affiliation and relationships with the U.N. and its agencies.

“This accreditation allows The Episcopal Church, under the leadership and oversight of the presiding bishop, to submit statements and make oral interventions, in line with the church’s policy and positions as expressed at General Convention and Executive Council, at particular UN meetings,” said Lynnaia Main, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s global relations officer. “It also allows the church to bring delegates to observe certain U.N. meetings, including the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The forum consists of experts who consult with indigenous peoples on matters of social and economic concern, and the experts act as an advisory body to the UN’s Economic and Social Council and member states.”

Now in its 14th year, the forum presents an opportunity for the indigenous delegates observe sessions, gain experience with the workings of the international body, network and identify how the indigenous issues being discussed connect with The Episcopal Church. Though Episcopalians have attended previous forums, joining Anglican Communion delegations, it was the first time Episcopalians represented The Episcopal Church.

“Together with the Missionary Society, the delegates were able to experience firsthand the global process of dialogue by which the permanent forum experts listen to and consult with indigenous peoples’ representatives and organizations, and other non-governmental organizations,” said Main.

Having access to a global forum provides an additional avenue for Episcopalians to live out the Baptismal Covenant to “seek and serve Christ in all persons,” and to live out marks three, four and five of the Five Marks of Mission: to respond to human need by loving service; to seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation; to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth, respectively, added Main.

“All of these Marks of Mission are shared in a common spirit with those who gather at the United Nations. The United Nations community provides a microphone by which we can voice our issues of concern and share expertise, a common space in which we can network and take part in dialogues on many critical subjects, and a learning platform for global best practices and training that we can take back home to our communities,” she said.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for indigenous youth and young adults ages 15-24, with women three times more likely to commit suicide than men, according to the U.S. Indian Health Service.

Anger, depression, hopelessness: All are emotions that underlie the thoughts that cause indigenous youth to harm themselves and commit suicide at higher than average rates, said one indigenous youth member who spoke during the forum on self harm and suicide during the April 21 morning session.

After trying to destroy indigenous people physically, the majority white-dominated society turned to destroying indigenous culture and spirituality, he continued.

“The church holds a particular role in recognizing and healing brokenness in the world; I think that is so baptismal and so central to Christian faith,” said Bostock, during an interview with Episcopal News Service on April 21 before testifying at the morning session.

“I’ve seen in indigenous ministries time and time again this sort of search for where indigenous spirituality crosses with our identity as Christians, and for me obviously, more specifically our identity as Episcopalians. And I think this issue is one where the two really intersect. In our statement we talk a lot about indigenous spirituality and indigenous understanding of one’s self being related to all things in creation, being a relative to all people, being a relative to all things – and so seeing suicide and self harm not as independent from anything else, but as a direct result of the different ways in which our relationships to the earth, to one another and to ourselves have been broken.”

The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, responding to the collective discernment of The Episcopal Church, including the 2009 General Convention’s repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery, has actively engaged in a variety of ministries for healing historical and generational trauma, directed towards youth.

“Restoring right relations with indigenous peoples is a priority for our Church. As Christians, we believe that all human beings are created in God’s image and that our scriptures, the way of Jesus Christ and our Baptismal Covenant call us to ‘seek and serve Christ in all persons.’ We grieve and lament with our indigenous young people, their families and communities when they suffer,” read the statement submitted to the U.N. by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.

Based on the experience and witness of the church, the statement made recommendations aimed at eradicating the “harmful root causes that inflict pain” on young people causing them to harm themselves:

  • Promote positive images of indigenous peoples in social settings and remove harmful mascot images, so that young people can take pride in their indigenous identity rather than feel devalued by the larger society.
  • Expand school curricula to include the positive, meaningful contributions of indigenous peoples to the narratives about each country’s formation, history and society.
  • Restore to indigenous peoples their rightful place on lands and in government structures, so that they are not oppressed, marginalized, unfairly represented, or bereft of resources and services.

There are 566 federally recognized tribes spread across the United States, explained Adkins, with The Episcopal Church having a strong presence among Native Alaskans and Native Hawaiians, the Navajo, the Lakota, the Oneida, the Ojibwa and others.

One of the ways the church and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society are working to reduce suicide and self-harm rates is through connecting youth in person and through social media, said Cohen, adding that the indigenous community subscribes to a very traditional high church, so indigenous people feel the stigma associated with suicide and self harm more than others.

And it’s something Oberly and others have been working on. As the former chair of the Executive Council Committee on Indigenous Ministries and who has long served in leadership roles in the church, Oberly formed the Indigenous Theological Training Institute, which is working to develop a resource for parishes and other community organizations that work in areas where suicide and self-harm rates are high.

The church, he said, isn’t just talking about work, but is doing it, which makes it a strong partner for other organizations and institutions.

It’s important for The Episcopal Church to be present at forums like the one presented at the United Nations and to be involved in constructive conversation and dialogue, said Bostock, adding that she’d like to see the church utilized as a partner in addressing the indigenous people’s struggles.

“The church can’t do it alone,” she said, adding that both the church and the United Nations have their own methods and procedures for introducing resolutions and adopting policy, but only through collaboration can results be seen.

“The more collaboration we can see, the happier world we can see. If you are not willing to connect and collaborate, you will forever be a voice calling out in the wilderness, and that’s not our call,” said Bostock. “Our call is … to seek and recognize Christ in all persons and to serve all people.”

One candidate added to Dominican Republic bishop coadjutor slate

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 27, 2015

[Episcopal News Service] The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic has announced an additional candidate to stand for election as bishop coadjutor.

The Rev. P. Salvador Patrick Ros Suarez, 59, rector, Church of the Good Shepherd, Rahway, New Jersey, Diocese of New Jersey.

Ros joins three other candidates who were announced in March. They are:

  • The Rev. Ramon Antonio Garcia De Los Santos, 50, vicar of Misiones San Lucas and La Anunciacion in Santiago, a school principal and archdeacon in the north region of the country;
  • The Rev. Moises Quezada Mota, 58, vicar of Misiones Jesus Nazareno and Buen Samaritano, in San Francisco de Macoris, and a school principal; and
  • The Rev. Daniel Samuel, 58, vicar of Misiones Santa Maria Virgen, Divina Gracia and San Cornelio, and a school principal.

Bishop Julio Cesar Holguin Khoury called for the election of a bishop coadjutor during his address during the 2014 Diocesan Convention. A special convention to elect the bishop coadjutor will be held on July 25. The bishop coadjutor will serve with Holguin until his retirement, which according to The Episcopal Church’s Constitution (Article II, Section 1 here) must take place within 36 months of the consecration of the bishop coadjutor.

Details about the election are available here.

Episcopalian gives $1 million for journalism education on LGBT issues

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 27, 2015

Timothy Blair

[University of Missouri press release] The University of Missouri has received a $1 million gift to support journalism education and research into the connection between American journalism and the advancement of human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from Timothy Blair, an alumnus of the MU School of Journalism and a member of All Saints Parish in Beverly Hills, California.

Blair says he is giving the gift to MU — the first gift of its kind among American universities — to advance the education of students of the world’s first school of journalism on the role media have played in reinforcing stereotypes and shaping new understandings of LGBT people in American culture.

“We at the School of Journalism are deeply grateful for this gift,” said Dean Mills, dean of the MU School of Journalism. “It will support teaching and research on topics that have been historically under-covered or covered badly. Mr. Blair’s family has had a long legacy at Mizzou, and it is wonderful that Mr. Blair has chosen to continue that legacy with his generosity.”

MU is still in initial planning stages as to how the Blair Fund will be implemented. Possibilities include attracting faculty interested in LGBT journalism; supporting research and travel for media coverage of LGBT issues; creating fellowships, internships and workshops; and developing course curricula to better educate students on how media coverage shapes and reinforces social, political and legal issues across the nation and world.

Timothy Blair, a native of Joplin, Missouri, graduated from the MU School of Journalism in 1973.  Seven generations of his family are MU graduates; four generations are graduates of the School of Journalism. Blair’s grandfather, Clay Cowgill Blair, an alumnus of the MU School of Journalism, was chairman of the board of the Joplin Globe.

Blair began his career in journalism when he was 15 years old, as a copy boy at the Joplin Globe. After graduating from MU and earning a master’s degree at Washington University in St. Louis, he worked in marketing and public relations for several St. Louis-based companies.  In 1993, he moved to Los Angeles and launched BlairPR Inc.

A lifelong Episcopalian, he has been deeply involved in many activities in his church, including service as a licensed lay minister, hospital chaplain and a member of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern California Bishop’s Commission on LGBT Ministries.
Blair also has spent much of his life as a member of advocacy organizations to provide low and moderate-income housing to underserved minorities and gay and lesbian senior citizens.
The MU School of Journalism, founded by Walter Williams in 1908, is the world’s first and oldest journalism school.

Presiding Bishop preaches at St. Mary’s, Falmouth

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 27, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on April 26 preached at Episcopal Church of St. Mary in Falmouth, Maine, in celebration of its 125th anniversary.  

St. Mary’s, Falmouth, ME
125th anniversary
26 April 2015

 

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

There’s something profoundly tender and moving about celebrating your long presence and faithfulness on Good Shepherd Sunday. This congregation began with the death of a young woman on the cusp of adulthood, and it’s named for another young woman whose vocation was to bear a child also destined to die young. Each has been a shepherd, for Mary gave us a Good Shepherd in the flesh, and Alida’s death began to gather this flock.[1]

I don’t know how many sheep there are around here. This part of the world is far more famous for lobsters, seagulls, and bluefin tuna, none of them easily herded, in spite of local free-range lobster![2] Yet the lives of beloved children of God have shaped this community for a life of shepherding. We’re all sheep – and when we hear the Good Shepherd calling us to come and follow, we become shepherds. If we’re going to love God fully, and love our neighbors as ourselves, then we’ve got to go searching for the lost and sick and wandering, and help them find a place in the fold.

You are shepherding young people at Long Creek Youth Development Center, and here through RAY and Godly Play. Preble Street Kitchen and Souper Supper feed hungry sheep, and your ministry in Haiti guides the young toward right pathways, still waters, and green pastures.

St. Mary’s began with a fairly small fold of sheep and shepherds that primarily welcomed familiar and closely-related sheep. The Brown family and their friends and relatives made up most of the congregation for quite a long time. This was an enclave of sheep who “belonged.” It would likely still be filled with those 99 sheep Jesus says are already safely ensconced in the corral, if some here hadn’t begun to go searching. What helped you go searching for the lost ones?

Alida’s untimely death was part of the original DNA of this place, even if those genes weren’t robustly expressed for a while. Today the care and nurture of children characterizes a lot of your ministry, both within and beyond this congregation. Healthy and growing congregations almost always make that a priority.

Jesus notes that sometimes wolves get into the sheepfold, or hired hands fail to notice their presence, and the sheep suffer. The other sheep in the fold share a responsibility to keep the wolves at bay, and to care for those who are injured. If we ignore the wolves, or don’t tell the truth about their presence, there will never be real healing, growth, and wholeness. Jesus and the disciples had to deal with Judas and his legacy. So must we.

It takes discernment and wisdom to tell the difference between intruders with evil intentions and sheep who simply represent the diversity of God’s creation. Christians, and indeed most human beings, are usually surprised by the presence of sheep who seem to be other. Loving our neighbors as ourselves implies we see the image of God before anything else. There must be a place for every other kind of sheep in the fold, and Jesus is clear about it: “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.” That includes the ones who go astray – that’s what forgiveness and seeing the image of God are about. There’s a wonderful understanding in Orthodox Christianity that between the crucifixion and resurrection Jesus went down into hell and searched and searched until he found Judas and dragged him out. That’s part of our shepherding work, too.

The sheep in this fold have all been called to help shepherd others. We all have one Good Shepherd, who asks us to come and follow, to seek the lost and serve the least. There will always be more sheep of other folds to discover, meet, befriend, feed, and heal. Sometimes that lost sheep is you or me. When we’re feeling lost, who brings us home again? It’s usually a friend or a loved one, who knows our name and says, come on, come in, come home, you are well loved, treasured, God’s own beloved.

The Brown family might be surprised to learn about the diversity of this congregation today, and perhaps even more by the sheep you’re discovering in Haiti and Preble Street. Who has surprised you?

What about those who have no close friend to show them a loving God with skin on?

When I go out early for a run in the city, I almost always discover sleepers on the street, or park benches, or tucked in behind a bush. Sometimes I have to look a little harder in places where the camouflage is better. Is that a person wrapped in a blanket in that dark corner? I can’t see a face, but I’m fairly sure it is. Are those bags of treasured possessions or is it garbage? And I wonder – where will this one break his fast? Where will she sleep tonight?

Sheepfolds like Preble Street[3] begin to gather and care for lost sheep. The bishop of Costa Rica tells of a small group of women who came to the city regularly for medical treatment, and had no place to wait or rest. They asked for shelter in church after church, who turned them away. Finally, one congregation opened its doors to those whom some see as pariahs.[4] Today those first eight women have become 200, who go back into their communities to help others heal and find hope after learning they have AIDS.

A congregation in North Carolina was closing its doors for lack of members. Its shepherds found the courage to look outside those doors, and today that building houses a church of “holy chaos,” a truly catholic mix of homeless and housed, rich and poor, black, brown, and white, sober and not so much, and even a few dogs who bring their owners.[5] They worship on Wednesdays; host AA groups; cultivate a vegetable garden and run a clothes closet; feed all comers a bounteous gourmet feast; and they offer eight respite beds so that those without homes may recover from hospitalization or medical treatment. Sheep of all sorts are finding a home.

There’s some powerful shepherding work going on in Maine that is seeking to heal relationships between the Abenaki, the first people of this land, and descendants of later immigrants. We have often treated one another as predators rather than fellow sheep, and we have miles to go before we all sleep in one fold.[6]

The heart of the gospel is about the immensely abundant love of God for all his children and creatures. It’s summed up in that wonderful song, “All God’s creatures got a place in the choir.”[7]

All God’s creatures got a place in the choir,
Some sing low and some sing higher,
Some sing out loud on a telephone wire,
Some just clap their hands, or paws, or anything they’ve got now…

There is a place for every child of God, and a fold for every sheep, where each is welcomed as Christ himself, fed and watered, safely housed, and encouraged to grow toward the abundant, loving way of life for which we were created. That’s why St. Mary’s exists, and why it has endured for more than a century, and why it will continue into the future, if it keeps answering the voice of one who says, “follow me.”

What kind of shepherd are you? What sheep are you tending or searching for? Where do you look for your own shepherding?

And perhaps most important, how will the flock of shepherds here keep searching for the lost and the least? Keep on looking until the very last one has found a home in the sheepfold.

[1] http://www.smary.org/our-history/

[2] https://www.freerangefish.com/

[3] http://www.preblestreet.org/

[4] http://www.epicenter.org/costa-rica-partnership/

[5] Haywood Street Congregation, Asheville, NC https://www.faithandleadership.com/welcome-church-holy-chaos

[6] http://bangordailynews.com/2015/04/23/living/blogs-and-columns-living/aroostook-county-residents-work-to-ally-with-wabanaki-people/

[7] http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/celticthunder/aplaceinthechoir.html

La primada predica en Costa Rica

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 27, 2015

Sesquicentenario de la Iglesia Anglicana/Episcopal en Costa Rica
22 abril 2015
El Buen Pastor, San José, CR, 7 de la noche

 

La Rvdma. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Obispa Presidente y Primada
Iglesia Episcopal

El Buen Pastor ha estado buscando ovejas sin pastor durante 150 años. Esta congregación comenzó porque algunas ovejas inesperadas vivían aquí – ovejas que no eran necesariamente Católica Romana. La fundación de esta comunidad reconoció que el buen pastor que conocemos en Jesús tiene “otras ovejas que no son de este redil, y él debe traer los también, porque también ellos oyen su voz.”

Cristianos, aun la gente de toda clase y condición, son frecuentemente sorprendidos por la presencia de otras ovejas. Está claro que en los últimos años Costa Rica ha sido sorprendida por el número de inmigrantes de Nicaragua y otras partes de América Latina. La diócesis que creció desde los inicios en Buen Pastor hoy está cuidando a las necesidades de muchas ovejas que han sido invisibles u olvidados por el mundo. Las Hogar Escuelas están trayendo corderos al dentro del redil, donde se les ama y alimentado, enseñados y preparados para ser pastores a los demás. Familias enteras están descubriendo un poco más de la vida abundante en el amor compartido por la gente de la iglesia en Costa Rica. Las madres en particular se les recuerda que son valoradas y que son atesoradas hijas de Dios, dignas de respeto y dignidad.[1]

Ese es un tema que sigue resonando a través de la historia del Buen Pastor y muchos de sus pastores. Varias partes de la Comunión Anglicana son responsables de la vida del rebaño aquí. La Iglesia de Inglaterra le ayudó a fundar; ministerios de capellanía de Inglaterra y las Indias Occidentales le ayudó a crecer y perdurar; la obra fue trasladado a TEC en la década de los 50s, con la intención de nutrir una iglesia indígena; y Costa Rica se convirtió en parte de IARCA cuando se inició en 1998.

David Richards fue el primer obispo residente en 1951 y sirvió hasta 1968, y luego pasó a ser pastor para otros pastores en TEC. Todavía ofrece asesoramiento a las mujeres y los hombres en busca de sanación y la integridad – y a la edad de 94 años, sigue como ejemplo asombroso de fiel pastoreo, sobre todo en busca de las ovejas pérdidas o errantes.

Tony Ramos era el sucesor de Obispo Richards, cuando vino a ayudar a esta diócesis desarrollar el liderazgo indígena. Su buen pastoreo es en parte la razón por qué las mujeres están sirviendo hoy como pastores ordenadas. Él era el único obispo activo dispuesto a participar en la primera ordenación de mujeres como sacerdotes en TEC. Yo no estaría aquí hoy si no hubiera estado allí, en 1974 – y yo no estaría aquí esta noche sin su persistencia en pidiéndome que encontrar una posible fecha. Doy gracias por su narración urgente de buenas noticias sobre todas las mujeres líderes que están conectados a esta congregación – la primera mujer piloto en Costa Rica, que es el miembro más antiguo de este rebaño; el primer congresista en Costa Rica, y las muchas y los muchos fieles ministros en el mundo y la iglesia que han nutridos en esta comunidad por un siglo y media.

La realidad es que las ovejas en estos rediles han todos sido llamados para ayudar a pastorear a los demás. Todos tenemos un Buen Pastor, que nos invita a venir y seguir, para buscar a los perdidos y servir a los más pequeños. Siempre habrá más ovejas de otros rebaños para descubrir, conocer, alimentar y ser amigos con los demás. A veces esa oveja perdida es usted o yo. Cuando nos sentimos perdidos, ¿quién nos trae a casa otra vez? Por lo general es un amigo, una persona querida, que conoce nuestro nombre y dice, “vamos, entrar, volver a casa, estás bien amado, atesorado, y la propia amada de Dios.”

Pero ¿qué pasa con aquellos que no tienen un amigo cercano para mostrarles un Dios amoroso con actual piel humano?

Cuando salgo muy temprano en la mañana para correr y orar en la ciudad, casi siempre descubro gente que duermen en la calle, o en los bancos del parque, o escondido detrás de un arbusto. Aquí en San José estaba un poco más difícil, para el camuflaje es mejor. ¿Es eso una persona envuelta en una manta en ese rincón oscuro? No puedo ver una cara, pero estoy bastante seguro de que es un durmiente. ¿Contienen esas bolsas preciadas posesiones o es basura? Las calles están tan bien barridas que debe ser ropa y lo poco que esta persona llama a su propia cuenta. Y yo me pregunto – donde ésta oveja va a romper su ayuno? ¿Dónde se ha de dormir esta noche?

En medio de mí preguntando, lo recuerdo. Obispo Monterroso me ha hablado de un pequeño grupo de mujeres que acuden a la ciudad para recibir tratamiento médico, y que no tenía lugar para esperar o descansar. Pidieron a varias iglesias, quienes les dieron la espalda. Una congregación ha abierto sus puertas a ellas que algunos ven como parias – se llama apropiadamente Ascensión.[2] Hoy en día las ocho que comenzaron son ahora unos 200, que regresan a sus comunidades para ayudar a otras a sanar y encontrar esperanza después de aprender que tienen SIDA.

Hay otros ejemplos de pastores buscando ovejas perdidas. Una congregación en Carolina del Norte, anteriormente Metodista, estaba muriendo y listo para cerrar sus puertas por falta de miembros. Sus pastores tuvieron el coraje de mirar fuera de sus puertas, y hoy ese edificio alberga una iglesia de “caos santo,” una mezcla verdaderamente católica de personas sin hogar y las con casas; ricos y pobres; negro, marrón y blanco; sobrio y no tanto; e incluso algunos perros que traen a sus amos. Se celebran el culto el miércoles; reciban a los grupos de Alcohólicos Anónimos; cultivan un huerto; ofrecen ropa limpia a los que no le tienen; se alimentan todos los interesados un banquete generoso y rico; y mantengan ocho camas de respiro para que los que no tienen hogares pueden recuperarse de hospitalización o tratamiento médico. Ovejas de todo tipo están encontrando un hogar.[3]

Oí otra historia poderosa sobre los pastores en esta diócesis. Cuando otro perdió su cargo remunerado, el clero de la diócesis pastoreaban uno de los suyos por compartir un porcentaje de sus propios salarios con él durante 6 meses, mientras que se encontró una nueva posición.

El corazón del evangelio es sobre el inmenso amor abundante de Dios para todos sus hijos y criaturas. Se resume en una canción popular, “Todas las criaturas de Dios tienen lugar en el coro.”

Todas las criaturas de Dios tienen lugar en el coro
Algunos cantan bajo y algunos cantan alto,
Algunos cantan alta sobre cable telefónico,
Algunos sólo aplaudir sus manos o patas, o cualquier cosa que tienen ahora…[4]

Hay un lugar para cada hijo de Dios, y un rebano para cada oveja – una casa donde cada uno es acogido como Cristo su mismo, donde recibe alimento y agua, alojamiento seguro, y alentó a crecer hacia la abundante, cariñosa forma de vida para que estábamos creado. Por eso El Buen Pastor comenzó, por eso ha florecido durante un siglo y medio, y por eso podemos esperar que la iglesia costarricense continúe en siglos del futuro, si seguimos en este papel, oyendo la voz de lo que dice, “sígame.”

Nuestro ministerio pastoreo también tiene que cuidar el pasto y agua que las ovejas necesitan para prosperar. Estamos empezando a recordar que este jardín es para todas las criaturas de Dios, y tiene que ser atendido, también. Recientemente me di cuenta de una hermosa planta verde en una olla que se estableció por una ventana con barrotes. La hoja mayor de la planta estaba asomada a través de la ventana en la brisa fresca. Alguien había puesto esa planta cerca de lo que se necesita – la luz y el aire – y se garantiza que llegó el agua y los nutrientes que necesita para prosperar. Como el jardinero resucitado, somos pastores de cada criatura del mundo.

¿Qué clase de pastor estás? ¿Cuáles ovejas estamos tendiendo o buscando? ¿Cómo y dónde y por quién encuentras el cuidado de un pastor?
Y quizás lo más importante, ¿cómo va el rebaño de pastores aquí seguir buscando a los perdidos y los más pequeños
Seguir buscando las ovejas perdidas hasta que el último ha llegado a casa, a la grey de Dios.

[1] http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2013/08/23/un-grupo-de-carolina-del-norte-explora-su-colaboracion-en-costa-rica/

[2] http://www.epicenter.org/costa-rica-partnership/

[3] Haywood Street Congregation, Asheville, NC https://www.faithandleadership.com/welcome-church-holy-chaos

[4] http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/celticthunder/aplaceinthechoir.html traducción por KJS.

Advancing to General Convention: Eucharist presiders and preachers, worship, prayer opportunities announced

ENS Headlines - Friday, April 24, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The daily Eucharist presiders and preachers for The Episcopal Church 78th General Convention have been named. Additionally, opportunities for prayer both for those attending General Convention as well as those following from afar have been announced.

The Episcopal Church’s 78th General Convention, June 25 – July 3, will be held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah (Diocese of Utah).

The Rev. Sandy Webb, Diocese of  West Tennessee and a member of the General Convention Worship Committee team, spoke about worship at the General Convention: “The worship space is designed to celebrate the beauty of God’s creation as reflected in Utah’s grand and mountainous landscape. The lectionary celebrates the saints in ages past who inspire us to live more fully the life of faith. The liturgies, and the people who will lead those liturgies, reflect The Episcopal Church’s diversity, reminding us that we are one Church, gathered in Christ’s name. The Prayers of the People will be the prayers of God’s people, rising up from around the world over the Internet.”

Daily Eucharists
Eucharist will be celebrated daily at 9:30 am Mountain, except Sunday, June 28 at 10 am Mountain and Friday, July 3 at 8:30 am Mountain. Eucharist will be live webcast on the Media Hub which will be available here.

Thursday, June 25: Opening Eucharist
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will preside and preach.

Friday, June 26: honoring Isabel Hapgood, women poets and musicians
Presider: Bishop Suffragan Mary Glasspool of Los Angeles
Preacher: the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies

Saturday, June 27: honoring Native American Cornelius Hill;
Presider: Bishop Michael Smith of North Dakota
Preacher: The Rev. Cathlena Plummer of Navajoland

Sunday, June 28: United Thank Offering Ingathering
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will preside and preach.

Monday, June 29: honoring St. Peter and St. Paul
Presider: Bishop Mike Klusmeyer of West Virginia
Preacher: Archbishop Vicken Aykazian of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church in America

Tuesday, June 30: honoring James Weldon Johnson
Presider: Bishop Wendell Gibbs of Michigan
Preacher: The Rev. Kimberly Jackson, chaplain and vicar of the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center, Emmaus House Chapel, Atlanta

Wednesday, July 1: honoring Hiram Hisanori Kano
Presider: Bishop Scott Hayashi of Utah
Preacher: The Rev. Becca Stevens, founder of Magdalene and Thistle Farms

Thursday, July 2: honoring  Charles Barnes
Presider: Bishop Julio Holguin of the Dominican Republic
Preacher: The Rev. Colin Mathewson, St Paul’s Cathedral, San Diego (Diocese of San Diego)

Friday, July 3: Closing Eucharist
Presider: Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori
Preacher: the Presiding Bishop-Elect

Prayer near and far
The Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE) has developed a social media campaign for General Convention to connect people near and far in prayer during General Convection. The General Convention’s home base for interactive prayer is www.prayersofthepeople.org.

Each day’s prayers will follow one of nine themes, seven of which are the forms of prayer identified in the Book of Common Prayer: life, thanksgiving, praise, intercession, adoration, oblation, penitence, petition, and celebration. Prayers can take the form of words or images, and will be received through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Hashtag is #prayersof with individual hashtags to be established for each day’s theme. A selection of the prayers received through social media will be prayed at the Salt Palace, and privately by prayer networks across The Episcopal Church.

SSJE will provide another way to connect to the themes of daily worship through morning and evening meditations. Each eight- to 10-minute podcast will include a prayer, a brief reflection, and a chant.

General Convention
The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 109 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.

Kayla Massey receives first UTO/YASC Internship

ENS Headlines - Friday, April 24, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Bishop Stacy Sauls, Chief Operating Officer of The Episcopal Church, has announced that Kayla Massey of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina has been named the first Julia Chester Emery United Thank Offering/Young Adult Service Corps intern.

Massey currently serves as a Young Adult Service Corps (YASC) volunteer in the Diocese of Santiago in the Philippines.

“Kayla was selected for her dedication to mission and ministry in the example of the principles of United Thank Offering,” Bishop Sauls said.

The United Thank Offering is a ministry to promote thankfulness and mission in the whole Church. Known worldwide as UTO, the United Thank Offering awards grants for projects that address human needs and help alleviate poverty, both domestically and internationally in The Episcopal Church.

This new internship is an innovative collaborative effort among the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society and General Theological Seminary. Massey will be based in New York City and will reside at General Seminary.  Her focus will be two-way: with the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers in the Mission and Reconciliation Program at General  Theological Seminary; and with the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society supporting the work of the Global Partnerships team and United Thank Offering.  Massey will serve as a Young Adult Ambassador for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society supporting the ministry of the United Thank Offering at specific events, including General Convention, during her internship year.

“The fact that this collaboration has resulted in the creation of an internship for a young adult is a fine model for partnership throughout the Church,” Bishop Sauls noted.

YASC is a ministry for Episcopal young adults, ages 21 – 30, who are interested in exploring their faith in new ways by living and serving in communities around the Anglican Communion. Previously the United Thank Offering awarded grants to support the YASC program.

“In 2014, the Board decided to use this tradition as an opportunity to include young adults in the ministry of the United Thank Offering and give a returning YASC volunteer an opportunity to continue their ministry among us by naming a specific volunteer as the Julia Chester Emery United Thank Offering/Young Adult Service Corps volunteer,” explained the Rev. Heather Melton, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s Missioner for the United Thank Offering.  “Kayla was chosen for this position because she embodies what Julia Chester Emery exemplified: outgoing; prayerful; hardworking; innovative and dedicated to mission.”

Julia Chester Emery, honored on January 9 in The Episcopal Church’s Holy Women Holy Men, is credited with creating the United Thank Offering in 1916.

For more information contact Melton, hmelton@episcopalchurch.org

New Jersey offers resources from first formation conference

ENS Headlines - Thursday, April 23, 2015

[Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey press release] More than 400 people from throughout the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey participated in the April 18 FORMATION: The Bishop’s Spring Conference, an inaugural event held at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Trenton.

The conference featured three leaders in the field of Christian formation. More details on the conference are available here; a full range of resources and materials from the conference, including a video presentation, audio downloads of the complete conference, PowerPoint presentations, photography and more, is available here.

Conference leaders included the Rev. Canon Angela S. Ifill, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s missioner for black ministries; the Rev. David W. Anderson, an ecumenical and international presenter on faith formation; and John Roberto of LifelongFaith Associates and  editor of the journal Lifelong Faith. Audio recordings of all three leaders’ presentations are available at the above links, as well as a high-definition multi-camera video of Roberto’s presentation, “Reimagining Church in a Digital World.”

Roberto’s presentation was streamed live on the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey’s website. Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s New Jersey Synod and the Episcopal Diocese of Newark watched the streamed presentation together at a viewing held at Cross Roads Camp and Retreat Center in Califon, New Jersey.

“It’s really about a cultural change going on in our diocese and our church that will help us deepen faith in our congregations and beyond,” said New Jersey Bishop William H. (Chip) Stokes. “I hope that vestries and Christian formation committees will watch or listen to the talks and then engage in conversations about them.  I hope we will find ways to implement what we learned into our congregation’s practices. It’s an exciting time to be the church. “

The Bishop’s Spring Conference was the result of a year’s worth of planning by the Diocese of New Jersey’s Lifelong Christian Formation committee. Susan Stokes, Bishop Stokes’ wife, chaired the event. The momentum created at the conference will continue in diocesan initiatives throughout the year; weekly updates will be included in “Good News in the Garden State,” the diocesan newsletter, emailed every Thursday. Interested parties may sign up for the newsletter here.

The diocese’s new church growth program, The Way of St. Paul, will also explore and expand upon themes presented at the Bishop’s Spring Conference. More information about this new program can be found here.

Central Maryland faith leaders speak on the death of Freddie Gray

ENS Headlines - Thursday, April 23, 2015

[Central Maryland Ecumenical Council press release] Faith leaders of central Maryland released a statement April 23 on the death of Freddie Gray, who was injured while in Baltimore City Police custody and later died.

Members of the Baltimore Interfaith Coalition, the Ecumenical Leaders Group of Maryland and the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council gathered on the steps of the Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation in Baltimore to give their statement.

The statement follows.

As leaders of Baltimore’s faith communities, we have followed with increasing concern the unfolding events surrounding the tragic and untimely death of Freddie Gray. We appeal to the members of our faith communities and to all citizens of good will to remain calm and to express their anger and frustration in peaceful and constructive ways, allowing the various investigations now underway to proceed so that all of us will soon have the answers we seek.

This latest incident threatens to deepen the divide between the community and law enforcement, and, regardless of the eventual outcome of the current investigations, prompts renewed questions about how the Baltimore City police relates to citizens in certain areas of the city. While deeply troubling and deserving of the increased scrutiny currently taking place, these issues are but symptoms of much larger problems plaguing our City. As faith leaders present with congregations and services that help to anchor the neighborhoods of Baltimore, we fear the other widespread effects of the lack of access to quality education and employment opportunities, as well as to quality health care. The issues before us will not be satisfactorily resolved until every man, woman, and child in our city and nation are treated with the human dignity deserving of all God’s children, and until all vestiges of the sins of discrimination, prejudice and racism are wiped from the face of the earth.

Specifically, as religious leaders in metropolitan Baltimore, we …

  • offer condolences and prayers for the family and friends of Freddie Gray, giving thanks to God for his life, commending his spirit to our gracious and merciful Lord and praying for comfort and peace of mind for those who knew and loved him;
  • commend the many citizens who have turned out in protest over these past several days for their peaceful demonstrations and restraint. Protests are a natural and necessary part in a democratic society, giving voice to a frustrated community and hopefully leading to action on the part of those who provide leadership in the city;
  • pray for our mayor, police commissioner, state’s attorney and other city leaders and law enforcement officials and call on them to facilitate open, thorough and public investigations that lead to real answers in a short time frame;
  • pray for the six police officers who have been suspended in the wake of these tragic events, in accordance with Christian charity and our belief as Americans that all  are presumed innocent until proven guilty and that they are, even if guilty, still children of God;
  • call on the members of all churches, synagogues and mosques to pray for a timely  and peaceful resolution to this incident during worship services this weekend, and to engage constructively in conversation about racial injustice;
  • invite the faith community before or after worship services this weekend, as a group, to step outside their buildings and assemble in front of the entrance to their houses of worship as a visible sign of solidarity  with the surrounding community and to observe a minute of silence and reflection.

The challenges facing our city are immense. Too many feel unvalued, and the absence of adequate economic opportunities, affordable housing, drug treatment resources and other social safeguards have resulted in a growing sense of hopelessness in our community. Now, more than ever, there is the need for deliberate conversation, accountability, respect, and unity of purpose.

We, as leaders of Baltimore’s faith communities, have come together to call upon all segments of the community, inclusive of the corporate leadership and philanthropic leadership, to work with us to undertake an earnest and immediate dialogue in pursuit of long-term solutions to the pervasive cycle of poverty and violence that besets the otherwise beautiful City of Baltimore.

We profess that every life is precious to God, and are committed to building a city marked by peace, unity and opportunity for all.

May our gracious God bless us all!

Baltimore Interfaith Coalition
Bishop Denis Madden, Bishop Doug Miles, Co-Chairs

Central Maryland Ecumenical Council
The Rev. Fred Weimert, President

CMEC Ecumenical Leaders Group
Bishop Wolfgang D. Herz-Lane, President

Massachusetts Episcopal Church bishops speak against death penalty

ENS Headlines - Thursday, April 23, 2015

[Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts press release] As the jury convenes this week in the sentencing phase of the trial of convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the bishops of the Episcopal Church’s two Massachusetts dioceses April 23 issued the following statement against the death penalty.

As bishops of the Episcopal Church in Massachusetts, we join with others in the Commonwealth and across the nation in offering our continued prayers for all those affected by the traumatic legacy of the Boston Marathon bombing, and for those administering justice in the Tsarnaev trial.

We take this opportunity to affirm our church’s opposition to the death penalty, a position which has been articulated by the Episcopal Church since 1958, and reaffirmed repeatedly by resolution of the wider church and by our two dioceses in Massachusetts.

The wanton disregard for life displayed by the Marathon bombing is repugnant and morally inexcusable. Evidence offered in the trial has served only to deepen our awareness of the calculated mercilessness of this act.

Moral reasoning, however, often requires us to transcend our emotional and visceral responses. The church’s teaching insists that institutionalized violence neither answers nor prevents other forms of violence, and that execution is an unjustified violation of the prohibition against taking a human life.

As the family of bombing victim Martin Richard has movingly asserted, justice will be fully served by a life sentence without parole.

The laws of Massachusetts have rejected state-sponsored execution.  We affirm that position and reaffirm our opposition to the death penalty in this and every case.

The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
The Rt. Rev. Douglas J. Fisher, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts
The Rt. Rev. Gayle E. Harris, Bishop Suffragan, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts

NetsforLife® doubles malaria net total, expands volunteer capacity

ENS Headlines - Thursday, April 23, 2015

[Episcopal Relief & Development press release] In 2014, Episcopal Relief & Development‘s NetsforLife® program partnership doubled the number of long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) distributed since the program’s inception in 2006, helping to bring malaria protection to new communities and replace worn-out nets from previous distributions.

Between 2006 and 2013, trained local volunteers known as Malaria Control Agents (MCAs) delivered and installed 11.3 million nets across sub-Saharan Africa. In 2014 alone, MCAs in 12 countries promoted and tracked the installation of more than 10.6 million nets – double last year’s goal – bringing the total to almost 22 million.

“The key to NetsforLife®’s success is working through Anglican Communion and other faith groups to train a network of skilled, committed volunteers who educate and equip their communities to prevent malaria,” said Shaun Walsh, NetsforLife®’s Senior Director. “Since 2006, the program has trained an amazing 111,000 volunteers in countries across sub-Saharan Africa, who have collectively reached more than 41 million people in some of the most remote areas on the globe. Our evidence-based approach has reduced malaria cases by up to 45% in participating communities, leading five countries to adopt the NetsforLife® hang-up approach as national net distribution policy”

The NetsforLife® methodology, implemented in collaboration with host governments and through faith-based networks, has three parts: education, installation and follow-up. Communities select MCAs to receive training on key prevention and awareness-raising methods, and MCAs deliver targeted malaria messaging before, during and after net distribution in order to maintain a “net culture” where nets are valued and their use is the norm. Periodic follow-up visits, to check the condition of the nets and gather information on potential or confirmed malaria cases, help ensure that the nets are maintained or replaced as necessary in order to sustain the gains made so far against the deadly disease.

“It used to be that a child died every 30 seconds from malaria, and now it is down to one every minute, but that still means more than 430,000 preventable child deaths – and 90% of these are in Africa,” said Gifty Tetteh, Strategic Outreach Officer for NetsforLife®. “We need sustained efforts to ensure that malaria does not regain any footing, so to improve child health more broadly MCAs in several countries are already including general health checks when they visit homes to see about the nets. Thanks to NetsforLife®, an estimated 112,235 children are alive today who would have died from malaria, and I am excited that our volunteers are seeing larger opportunities to help families keep their little ones growing strong.”

According to the World Health Organization, three of the greatest health threats to children in sub-Saharan Africa currently are malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia. Addressing these concerns in a cohesive strategy is essential; therefore, in five countries, Episcopal Relief & Development is leveraging local faith-based networks and NetsforLife® volunteers to expand maternal and child health programming through an approach called iCCM (Integrated Community Case Management). Select MCAs receive additional training, along with kits containing testing and treatment supplies, to act as Community Health Workers, providing front-line care and referring complicated cases to health facilities.

“Recognizing that no problem exists in a vacuum, we are shifting toward more integrated approaches in program development, looking for natural connections and interventions that will reinforce work being done in other areas,” said Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Vice President of Programs. “The iCCM approach builds on the existing strong networks developed through NetsforLife® and empowers the volunteers to make an even greater impact on child health in their communities. By actively tracking children’s development and helping families recognize when to seek medical care for potentially debilitating illnesses, volunteers are reducing barriers and saving lives.”

More information on Episcopal Relief & Development’s integrated health programs is available online, along with details about the organization’s NetsforLife® program partnership. Originally piloted in Zambia in 2006, NetsforLife® expanded to 17 sub-Saharan African countries, partnering with foundations, corporations, faith-based organizations and national government agencies to engage communities in the fight against malaria. As a result, the number of malaria cases has dropped by up to 45% in areas where NetsforLife® is active.

United Thank Offering experiences record year of generosity

ENS Headlines - Thursday, April 23, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is pleased to announce that the United Thank Offering has experienced a record year of generosity, marking a 2.14% increase for 2014-2015 over the previous year.

The United Thank Offering is a ministry to promote thankfulness and mission in the whole Church. Known worldwide as UTO, the United Thank Offering grants are awarded for projects that address human needs and help alleviate poverty, both domestically and internationally in The Episcopal Church.

“The generosity we are witnessing in the ingathering is a testament to the donors and to the effectiveness of United Thank Offering,” remarked Bishop Stacy Sauls, Chief Operating Officer. “We are thankful, and all those who benefit from the grants are thankful for this support.”

The information is based on a report prepared by the Rev. Heather Melton, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s United Thank Offering Missioner.  In it she tracked the United Thank Offering Ingathering donations, grants amounts and contribution patterns over the past two grant cycles as well as tracking each diocese’s ingathering since 2000.

According to Melton:

  • Noting that requests for grants often outnumber the amount available, the United Thank Offering was able to fund 35% of requests in 2014.
  • 38 dioceses of The Episcopal Church increased their Ingathering amounts in the past year.
  • Six of the nine provinces increased their overall Ingathering amounts.  Melton added that Anglican Communion donations also increased over last year.
  • For 2014-2015, the total amount available for grants was $1,558,006.85
  • Of the Ingathering, a remarkable 79% was derived from the Blue Boxes.

“Putting coins in the Blue Box gives me a real sense of giving back,” commented Peg Cooper from the Diocese of Missouri and the United Thank Offering board member from Province V. “I put a quarter in my Blue Box for every grant application that was submitted to the United Thank Offering. I thank God for what that diocese and its grant project wants to do to help those in need. What a blessing to be able to give God thanks in this special way.”

For more information contact Melton at hmelton@episcopalchurch.org.

Presiding Bishop committee writes following final discernment meeting

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Episcopal Church Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB) has released a statement following its final discernment meeting.

The Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB) concluded its discernment process at a two-day meeting in Fort Worth, Texas, April 19 and 20.  The nominees will be announced on May 1 on the General Convention website and via press release and social media.

JNCPB co-chairs, Bishop Ed Konieczny, Diocese of Oklahoma, and Sally Johnson, Esq., Diocese of Minnesota, commented, “In the process of discernment, we developed a great sense of community. We came together to work prayerfully around the task in the context of worship and fellowship. We are very pleased with the work of the Committee and would look forward to serving with any one of nominees.”

The process for nominations from the floor by bishops and deputies will be forthcoming shortly. The JNCPB will release names of any additional nominees, if any, in early June.

After nearly two years of conducting its work electronically, JNCPB met in person three times in the last four months to discern the list of nominees. More than 165 people representing over 60 dioceses submitted names during the nomination period last fall.  Video conferencing and face-to-face interviews afforded the opportunity for JNCPB to get to know the candidates.

The JNCPB is composed of a lay member, a priest or deacon, and a bishop elected from each of the nine provinces of the Episcopal Church, plus two youth representatives who were appointed by the President of the House of Deputies, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings. The General Convention deputies and bishops serve a three-year term to conclude at the close of General Convention 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah (Diocese of Utah).

For more info: pbnominatingcommittee@gmail.com.

Anglican bishop expresses horror at ISIS killing of Ethiopian Christians

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

[Diocese of Sydney] The Anglican bishop for Ethiopia has hailed as martyrs 28 Ethiopian Christians shot or beheaded in Libya by members of the terrorist group known as ISIS or ISIL.

“I have just learned the horrifying news that as many as twenty-eight Ethiopian Christians have been shot or beheaded in Libya by members of the terrorist group known as ISIS or ISIL. This alarming act of violence against those that ISIS calls ‘people of the cross’ comes just two months after twenty-one other Christians – twenty Egyptians and one Ghanian, were beheaded on a Libyan beach.” Bishop Grant LeMarquand said in a letter to be read in Ethopian churches and distributed overseas.

LeMarquand is Anglican Area Bishop for the Horn of Africa (Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and Ethiopia) and Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

“It is too early to learn the names of these newest martyrs. It is also too early to know what churches they came from.” the bishop said.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has more than 30 million members, but there are also many other churches Ethiopia, including at least 15 million Protestant Christians

“Personal details about the men who have died may emerge. For now we can note the most important things to be said about these victims. Their names are known to God and they are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 13:8). Their denominational affiliation is no longer of any importance: they are among the unnumbered throng from every nation, tribe, people and language gathered before the throne and the Lamb (Rev 7:9) who have come out of the great persecution (Rev 7:14) and have had every tear wiped away from their eyes (Rev 7:17).” LeMarquand said.

In his letter to Ethiopian churches, the Anglican leader also warned against hate. “How are we Christians (those of us in Ethiopia as well as around the world) to react to this most recent atrocity?” he asked.

“First, we must look up to God in thanksgiving for the lives of these brothers who loved not their own lives, but followed Jesus in the way of the cross. Second, we must ask for the Holy Spirit to strengthen us to abandon the temptation to hate. Instead we must follow Jesus, who not only suffered death on the cross, but also prayed for his executioners to be forgiven. If we are turned to hatred, the terrorists have won. Finally, we must continue to reach out to a world desperate for the love of Jesus.” the letter says.

“Make no mistake, the terrorists who executed these martyrs of Ethiopia have exhibited the worst of human depravity, but they have also revealed their desperate need of a Saviour. The apostle Paul, a great persecutor of the church of God, was turned to love by his experience of meeting Christ on his way to the Syrian city of Damascus. May God use his church to so act and speak of and from the love of Christ that many former or potential persecutors may be turned and have their named written in the book of life.”

Immediate support came from Kenya, where Islamic terrorists struck at Easter, singling out Christians and killing 147 students at the Garissa College.

“We share with you and the people under your pastoral care the pain of such a great loss.” said Kenyan Anglican Primate Eliud Wabakula, in a message to LeMarquand. “Coming so soon after a similar loss here in Kenya,we are united in your prayer in the faith that we follow the example of our savior and Lord Jesus Christ.” the archbishop said.

In Sydney, Archbishop Glenn Davies also sent a message of support.

“We mourn with you and the Ethiopian church.  Our hearts are heavy at the suffering caused by such depraved acts.  As the company of martyrs grows, we cry out ‘How Long, O Lord?”.  Be assured we hold you in our prayers at this trying time.” Davies told  LeMarquand.

Canadian Anglicans called to 22 days of reconciliation

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

[Anglican Journal] Anglicans across Canada are being called to demonstrate in the 22 days following the closing event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that this ending is only the beginning of healing and reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous people.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald issued a call to the whole church today to participate in #22days, a campaign that will stretch from the start of the closing TRC event in Ottawa on May 31 to National Aboriginal Day on June 21.

First conceived of by a group of cathedral deans from cities in which a national TRC event was held and “heartily endorsed” by the House of Bishops,

Anglicans are being called to take time during the 22 days to participate in a range of activities. They include listening to the story of a survivor of Indian residential schools, praying for all those affected by the “long shadows” of the schools, ringing church bells for murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls, considering how they might continue the work of restoring right relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada, and sharing stories of their own commitments and efforts to support healing and reconciliation.

Hiltz said in an interview that it was “a very significant moment” at the meeting of the House of Bishops last week in Niagara Falls, Ontario, when he saw all the bishops get behind this call. “Hopefully, it is another sign to the TRC and to Indigenous people that our church is serious about its ongoing work beyond supporting the mandate of the TRC itself.”

MacDonald said that he was “really pleased that the cathedral deans and others came together and wanted to signal that we are moving into a new phase of truth and reconciliation.” He added that although there were invitations for Anglicans to attend and participate in past TRC events, he felt that this call—“when we are all ringing bells”—has a different character. “I pray and believe [that] it will be a real taking to heart what we have learned and what we still need to do.”

Henriette Thompson, General Synod’s director of public witness for social and ecological justice, said that #22days is an opportunity to really get the attention of the church. “It is hitching its energy to the closing events, [which] themselves will attract a lot of mainstream media and attention, and [it is] speaking directly to our church.”

Dean Shane Parker of Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa said the campaign had its genesis at a meeting he convened with Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada. All the deans of cathedrals in cities where national TRC events have been held over the last six years were invited. “We were wondering what cathedrals could do since…many of our churches are in prominent places and our role tends to be one that intersects very much with civic society.” Picking up on one of the closing event’s themes that the ending of the TRC is only the beginning, they decided to encourage cathedrals to do some specific things during the 22-day period between the beginning of the event and National Aboriginal Day.

Parker explained that they thought it was important to let each cathedral and community find an expression that was appropriate to its context. “Not everyone is at the same place on the truth and reconciliation journey,” he said, adding that in some places, the actions taken may be basic education and awareness-raising events about the history and legacy of residential schools. “In other places, it may be much deeper. So for example, [you could] find out what treaty land your church is built on or who are your local Aboriginal leaders? Why not pray for them when you pray for your municipal leaders?”

Dean Peter Elliott of Christ Church Cathedral, diocese of New Westminster, said renovations to the cathedral put its congregation in the unusual position of not being able to use their building during the 22 Days. So on May 31, the congregation will join with other churches in downtown Vancouver for joint worship “and we hope a major community gathering,” he said. Anglicans, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, Baptists and members of the United Church will work together to have two services—one in the morning, one in the afternoon—focused on reconciliation and prayer, to coincide with the beginning of the TRC.

“My hope is that we’ll multiply the number of Anglicans who are aware of and have a sense that they can participate in and contribute something to the need for reconciliation and healing in our country,” said Thompson. “I think that this is a national issue. It’s not just a church issue and it is certainly not just an Indigenous issue.”

To accommodate efforts across the country, the General Synod communications team has created a web page — 22days.ca — that will offer resources, including 22 videos featuring former residential school students describing their experiences in the schools as well as some former staff talking about their time in the schools.

The video testimonies have been gleaned from Anglican Video’s extensive archive of interviews with former residential school students. Senior producer Lisa Barry said she hopes the videos will help Anglicans understand and connect with the experiences of survivors, many of whom experienced physical and sexual abuse as children in the schools, beyond the systemic abuses that included punishment for speaking their own languages and enforced, lengthy separation from their families.  “What I heard repeatedly from people who had attended TRC hearings was that before, they might not have been clued in, but when they went and heard stories of survivors of residential schools, that’s what struck a chord,” said Barry.

Barry noted that all of the people interviewed expressly asked that their stories be shared, in the hopes that they would help others. The videos are not the typical sort of “30-second sound bytes” people are used to viewing on television; they are about 15 to 20 minutes each, in order to tell the stories in a more whole and sensitive way, said Barry. “We hope people will stay with them.” One video will be added daily to the website during the 22-day period. Each video will be also accompanied by a prayer, written by various people in the church, including Hiltz and MacDonald.

The web page will also offer 22 suggestions for ways that people can participate and share what they are doing through their social media networks, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest, using the hashtag #22days. General Synod web manager Brian Bukowski explained that instead of hosting all of the submissions on the anglican.ca page, the site will use a tool that “scours the Internet for the hashtag” and brings in all the visuals from postings on a virtual wall. “The power of it, though, is [that] because they’ll be sharing it in their own social networks, all their friends will see it…people will be tagging and sharing on their own network [and] it becomes exponential.”