[Episcopal News Service – Newton Grove, North Carolina] On a rainy, humid mid-September morning five hours before the Sunday noon Eucharist at Sacred Family, the Rev. Tony Rojas got behind the wheel of a white van and began making the rounds to pick up men from the farmworker camps set back on highways and county roads among the single- and double-wide trailers and more stately brick homes of rural North Carolina.
He picked up men like Abraham Cruz, 47, of Tlaxcala state in east-central Mexico, who for the last seven years has traveled to the United States on a temporary agricultural worker visa to work eight- to 12-hour days in the fields planting and harvesting cucumbers, watermelons, tobacco and sweet potatoes. Cruz’s earnings go to support his family in Mexico, whom he sees two to three months a year.
Over the past 18 years, Rojas has built up the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry, a joint ministry of the dioceses of North and East Carolina, with a 16-acre campus on Easy Street in Newton Grove. The ministry serves farmworkers in 47 camps scattered across Sampson, Harnett and Johnston counties.
The men arrive by van or decommissioned school buses early for the ministry’s free ESL classes, haircuts, immigration services and tax and legal advising, and to play soccer. Farmworkers, who spend six days laboring in the fields wearing long sleeves and pants to protect themselves from pesticide exposure, on Sundays change into shorts, jerseys and cleats, practicing for an annual daylong soccer tournament organized by the ministry.
The ministry began in 1982 when a single outreach worker identified a need and from her car began distributing clothing and personal care items to farmworkers, then mostly Haitian migrants. Today, with its sacramental ministry that includes three mission congregations and its 20-plus outreach programs, the ministry reaches 3,500 farmworkers directly and impacts the lives of thousands more.
There are some 150,000 farmworkers, the majority of them from Mexico, working in North Carolina’s fields; some documented, some undocumented. The ministry serves them all.
Providing sacraments and outreach to farmworkers, regardless of their immigration status, is rooted in the Baptismal Covenant’s call to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.”
By focusing on the sacraments and social outreach, the ministry remains “bipartisan,” said North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry during an interview with ENS in his office in Raleigh, the state’s capital. “That’s the work of Jesus that can be done by Republicans and Democrats.”
Curry has publicly called for immigration reform that would reunite families, but the church’s official advocacy for farmworker justice or immigration reform on the state level is coordinated through the North Carolina Council of Churches, of which the dioceses of North, East and Western North Carolina all are members.
Agriculture has a rich legacy in North Carolina which today ranks fifth nationally with 8.4 million acres under cultivation and more than 50,000 farms producing $11.7 billion annually in agricultural commodities. Though corn, soybeans and cotton are machine-harvested crops, 85 percent of fruits and vegetables – beans, melons, sweet potatoes, tobacco, strawberries –are picked by hand.
When members of the North Carolina Growers Association can demonstrate the local labor force is insufficient to meet the production needs of the farms, they can fill the gap through the U.S. Department of Labor’s H-2A temporary agricultural worker program. North Carolina has close to 7,000 H-2A agricultural workers, and ranks high among agricultural states using the program. (The visa program provides legal entry to work, but critics see it as a means to keep farm wages low.)
Growers can ask for anywhere between 20 and 200 farmworkers, Rojas said.
In 2000, Latinos made up 50 percent of the state’s farmworkers; today that percentage is 95, said Jennie Wilburn, a program associate with the Raleigh-based North Carolina Council of Churches.
The North Carolina Council of Churches, its history advocating for the rights of farmworkers going back decades, runs public awareness campaigns in English and Spanish and uses a Bible-based curriculum to involve the churches, said Wilburn.
Still, she said, “The political climate for vulnerable groups isn’t great.”
Wilburn said, “One thing that’s gotten a lot of attention recently is the Human Rights Watch report on tobacco.”
The 138-page report released in May documents the hazardous conditions and nicotine poisoning faced by children working in the top four tobacco producing states, including North Carolina.
Alice Freeman, who serves on the farmworker ministry’s board, knows what it’s like to work on a tobacco farm.
“I am the daughter of sharecroppers … my dad had five girls, his brother had five girls, they always farmed together, no boys,” she said. “When you grow up on a farm, a tobacco farm with cotton, tobacco, soybeans, corn, you do the work yourselves. We didn’t have brothers to do the work, we didn’t have so much money to hire other workers, we did the work in the fields; I know what it’s like to be in the fields.”
The farmworker ministry addresses a need, seeks to treat people as humans, to be compassionate. “When you are a long way from home, a friendly face, a helping hand goes a along way,” said Freeman.
(Click here for a video of Alice Freeman talking about the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry and its programs.)
In addition to working long hours under the hot sun, migrant and seasonal farmworkers often live in substandard housing sleeping on filthy mattresses or the floor; there might be a shared toilet, or an outhouse, a single shower for bathing and a washtub for laundry.
During his first three years of ministry to farmworkers and witnessing the living conditions, Rojas said he had trouble sleeping. He’d visit camps at 2 a.m. and all the lights would be on and the farmworkers would be preparing their lunches, which sometimes they’d crouch under the bus to eat to get out of the mid-day sun. He’s seen farmworkers suffering nicotine poisoning through their exposed skin rolling on the ground in agony.
Even after 18 years of working with farmworkers, Rojas still doesn’t understand how they do it, he said. Like the growers, who face the challenges of farming and often carry heavy loan burdens, farm work is a vocation. The farmworkers and the growers provide human beings with the food necessary to sustain the miracle that is life. “Without food we cannot survive, cannot keep the life,” he said.
In 1960, before Cesar Chavez founded the National Farmworkers Association bringing attention to the plight of farmworkers, broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow, a native North Carolinian, co-produced an hour-long documentary “Harvest of Shame,” which examined the lives of migrant farmworkers and the poverty that marked their lives.
Murrow’s film depicts the lives of primarily white and African-American farmworkers; today’s farmworkers come mostly from Mexico and Central America. Otherwise, the lives of migrant farmworkers have changed little, according to a follow-up, 30-minute documentary, “Harvest of Dignity,” produced in 2011 in association with the Durham-based Student Action with Farmworkers.
Farmworkers with temporary worker status, or the seasonal workers, are guaranteed certain employee rights, their travel to and from the United States paid for, housing and food provided, and they live on the farm to which they are assigned. Seasonal workers rely on the growers to bring them back to work year after year, and can sit idle while waiting for crops to come in; undocumented workers tend to be migratory and follow their crew leaders to where the work is.
A report released in 2011 studying migrant farmworkers’ housing conditions in North Carolina conducted by the National Institutes of Health found housing standards inadequately enforced and farmworkers living in substandard conditions, with undocumented workers living in worse conditions than temporary workers.
Over the years Rojas said he’s seen some camps’ living conditions improve. And through grassroots efforts, like those of the North Carolina Council of Churches, Student Action with Farmworkers and the Farmworker Advocacy Network, more and more people in urban areas, like Raleigh, Durham and Research Triangle Park are becoming aware of the farmworkers living within 50 miles of them.
For instance, “Harvest of Dignity,” said Wilburn, led the North Carolina Department of Labor, which inspects migrant and seasonal farmworker housing, to require camps to have one toilet per every 10 and one washtub per every 30 residents.
(Jon Showalter and his family, members of Church of the Nativity in Raleigh, North Carolina, have for a decade driven the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle some 40 miles to the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry in Newton Grove, the first Saturday of every month. “It has been a blessing for our family to be involved in this ministry,” Showalter said. Click here for video of the food shuttle.)
“Strong roots, new growth,” reads a sign at the entrance to Harnett County, where on one side of Highway 55 is the campus of Stoney Run Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church and on the other is Iglesia de Dios Cristo Redentor, or Christ the Redeemer Church of God.
For the Episcopal Church, said Rojas, to have a presence in this part of the state is itself an anomaly, and building it up among the Latino population, with its Catholic roots, wasn’t easy.
“Latinos by culture and tradition come from the Roman Catholic Church, that’s the one true church,” he said. For them, a different church “means the devil is coming.
Now, however, at peak harvest, the Sacred Family mission, which meets on a concrete slab under a metal roof on the ministry’s property, is one of the largest Episcopal congregation in North Carolina, serving migrant farmworkers, families and immigrants who’ve made the state home.
At 78, Rojas, a former Roman Catholic priest-cum professional soccer player in his native Colombia, maintains a youthful appearance. And when he first began his ministry in the camps, it was the soccer ball that gave him entrance, not the Bible.
“That was how I built a natural relationship with the farmworkers,” he said. After he’d gained their trust, he said, they began asking for blessings and the sacraments.
It took seven years, working for three of those years with the same 18 people.
Today, however, Rojas said, it’s understood that all are welcome and the message is simple: “Christ is our lord and savior … and to live a Christian life: love God, love self and love the other.”
After making inroads into the Latino community and building up the farmworker ministry, for a time serving as both the sacramental minister and the ministry’s executive director, Rojas’ next priority is to fortify Sacred Family, which is housed on the ministry’s administrative campus in Newton Grove, and the two other congregations he serves, St. Joseph’s in Smithfield and St. Francis in Goldsboro.
After noon Eucharist, Rojas drives some of the farmworkers back to the camps, and then drives some 25 miles to Goldsboro for a 4 p.m. Eucharist. (Click here for a video of Rojas reflecting on his ministry.)
Since the year 2000, North Carolina’s Hispanic population has increased by 111 percent, according to a report by the Center for American Progress, a Washington, D.C.-based bipartisan, independent educational institute.
In rural schools, like Hobbton Middle School, where 12-year-old Idalia Rubio-Trejo is a sixth grader, the student body is almost half Latino, Rubio-Trejo said.
Idalia’s father is a farmworker and her mother is a homemaker. Idalia, who is fully bilingual, has three brothers and two sisters; the family has been in North Carolina for 16 years and attends services at Sacred Family on Sundays.
In addition to Rojas, the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry is staffed by Silvia Cendejas, assistant director; and Maria Acosta, an immigration specialist who annually assists some 3,000 immigrants navigate paperwork, work visa renewals and petitions for family reunification.
One need Cendejas and Acosta have identified that is not being met is to provide assistance to women in domestic violence situations. The women are confronted with three or four cases weekly, they said.
The population increase and the fact that more often farmworkers and their families are choosing to remain in North Carolina year-round has put increased demands on the ministry, said Patti Trainor, the Diocese of North Carolina’s development coordinator for the farmworker ministry.
Longtime volunteer Rolffs Pinkerton, a retired psychologist and member of Church of the Holy Family in Chapel Hill, who 10 years ago began volunteering as a translator, framed it this way: “We’re asked to serve the neediest of the neediest,” said Pinkerton, a North Carolinian who grew up in Venezuela. “And this is probably as close as you can come in North Carolina; I don’t know of a population more in need.”
To meet the demands of a growing Latino population and to continue to serve farmworkers, in 2013 the Diocese of North Carolina initiated the Harvest for Hospitality campaign aimed at raising $400,000 – double the ministry’s annual budget – by June 2015.
Robert E. Wright, who co-chairs the campaign, said Harvest for Hospitality is an investment: “They [immigrants] are a part of our community, and us, a part of theirs.
“It’s a holistic ministry, body, soul and spirit; it’s really seeing people as people, as fellow human beings. It’s empowering, not paternalistic.”
Harvest for Hospitality also aims to bring the farmworker ministry into the 21st century, said the Rev. Lisa Fischbeck, who co-chairs the campaign with Wright and serves as vicar of Church of the Advocate in Chapel Hill.
A successful campaign will not only to provide the ministry with the financial resources necessary for transformation – the hiring of a new executive director and a person to serve as a liaison between the growers and the farmworkers – but also engage young people, both as participants in the ministry and financial supporters.
Already, young people are active in the ministry’s visitation program. In June, for example, the youth group at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Southern Pines helped out at a nearby Head Start program for children of migrants, did yard work, and with Rojas, visited the camps distributing clothing and personal care items to farmworkers.
The participants, said Paul Collins, the youth minister at Emmanuel, took their experiences and their stories about farmworkers home with them and shared them; they’ll continue to engage in the work and educate themselves about issues affecting farmworkers. After all, he said, they are the future voters.
– Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal News Service] St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in West Columbia, Texas, sits in the midst of a once majestic coastal prairie that stretched from Louisiana, across the rolling grasslands of the Gulf Coast, and nearly to Mexico at the Rio Grande.
Less than 1 percent of this extensive tall-grass Eden remains and only a tiny fraction of that is as pristine as when humans first set foot on the vast landscape. Today, 400 acres of it are being preserved for posterity through the joint efforts of St. Mary’s and The Nature Conservancy, the international land preservation organization.
This piece of ecologically rare land – called the Nash Prairie – is considered the largest remnant of the original prairie on the upper Texas coast. Except for the occasional cutting of hay for livestock, it has never encountered the cut of a plow. Plus, “it is one of the most diverse prairies left in Texas,” said Dan Snodgrass, associate director of land conservation for The Nature Conservancy in Texas.
Scientists have identified more than 300 species of plants – some rare and one even thought extinct in Texas – and over 120 species of birds on this biological treasure box.
St. Mary’s rector, the Rev. Peter Conaty, his wife Susan and the church’s parishioners are in large measure responsible for ensuring that this priceless prairie will never be covered up by a subdivision spilling over from Houston, 60 miles northeast.
The Nash Prairie was carved out of the 12,000-acre KNG Ranch, a sprawling spread named after the owners’ daughter, Kittie Nash Groce. A Houston socialite and Episcopalian, she took over management of the ranch after her father died in 1930. A major contribution from her helped fund the construction of St. Mary’s Church and Parish Hall. At her death in 1957, her will left the ranch to St. Mary’s, the local hospital district and a series of heirs. The ranch completely reverted to the church and hospital district in 2006 when the last of the heirs passed away.
Conaty and his wife suspected the Nash Prairie portion of the ranch, some 20 miles from St. Mary’s, deserved special protection for its historical and biological significance. Scientists studied the land and confirmed their hunches. Following conversations with various preservation organizations, The Nature Conservancy eventually purchased the prairie from the beneficiaries in 2011.
Since the Conservancy’s staff members live more than an hour away, the Conatys, church members and other community volunteers keep an eye on the preserve and “spend a lot of time helping with the management,” Snodgrass said. This includes harvesting seeds from the plants that are used in other prairie restoration projects.
In 2004, even before the Conservancy acquired the prairie, the Bishop Quin Foundation of the Diocese of Texas granted $300 to St. Mary’s to create a Prairie Prayer Garden on the church’s campus and planting it with seeds and grasses from Nash. The garden brings the prairie into town as a community educational tool, serves as an outdoor worship space and provides a prayerful spot for people when the church is locked or “they really don’t feel comfortable in a church,” Conaty said.
Preserving the prairie ties in with the Episcopal Church’s mission of protecting the environment, Conaty said. “God created the earth and we should honor God for this earthly creation,” he said.
St. Mary’s work on the prairie also addresses the Episcopal Church’s endorsement of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal of ensuring environmental sustainability. “St. Mary’s is fulfilling one of those goals since we are blessed with the coastal prairie in our back yard,” he said.
He also believes in what theologians call a “thin place” where heaven and earth meet. “To me, the Nash Prairie is that place,” he said.
With the funds it has received from the KNG Ranch, St. Mary’s has worked to encourage environmental awareness among school children by sending 5th graders from West Columbia Elementary School to the Discovery Program, an environmental and leadership program.
St. Mary’s is not finished with preserving the KNG Ranch property, Conaty said. “Preserving the Nash Prairie was just the first step,” he said. Eventually, the church would like to preserve a section of the ranch that encompasses a stretch along the Brazos River that is a major flyway for migrating birds.
– Mike Patterson is a San Antonio-based freelance writer and member of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Blanco, Texas.
[Episcopal News Service] Servir en el extranjero como misionero del Cuerpo de Servicio de Jóvenes Adultos (YASC) es más que un trabajo, es un viaje de descubrimiento de uno mismo, de la fe y de la Comunión Anglicana.
“El YASC ofrece una experiencia de apoyo realmente provechosa a personas que quieren ver o experimentar otra parte del mundo u otra parte de la Iglesia”, dijo Becky Gleason, de 26 años, que prestó servicios en Tela, Honduras, enseñando inglés a estudiantes y maestros en la escuela episcopal del Espíritu Santo y dirigiendo los oficios de la capilla de la escuela secundaria.
A diferencia de otros programas internacionales que les ofrecen a los jóvenes la oportunidad de servir en puestos voluntarios en el extranjero, el Cuerpo de Servicio de Jóvenes Adultos de la Iglesia Episcopal, al que comúnmente se le menciona como YASC (sigla en inglés), brinda un apoyo familiar de que otros programas carecen: la Iglesia.
“El YASC ofrece una oportunidad de experimentar parte del mundo con respaldo, y un cierto nivel de familiaridad debido a la Iglesia”, dijo Elizabeth Boe, la encargada de interconexiones globales. “El programa se basa en relaciones y asociaciones alrededor del mundo”.
Dieciséis misioneros del Cuerpo de Servicio de Jóvenes Adultos pasaron del 2 al 4 de octubre, en el Centro Denominacional de la Iglesia Episcopal en Nueva York, asistiendo a una reunión de “reingreso” que tiene por objeto juntar a los jóvenes adultos luego de concluido su servicio en el exterior para compartir sus experiencias, sus triunfos y los retos a los que se enfrentaron.
“El momento en que uno los ve regresar es el más gratificante”, dijo David Copley, el líder del equipo para asociaciones globales de la Iglesia Episcopal. “Uno ve cómo se han desarrollado y cómo han sobrevivido los problemas”.
El YASC está abierto a jóvenes adultos con edades entre 21 y 30 años a los que se les brinda la oportunidad de servir de misioneros, inicialmente por un año, explorar nuevas formas de vida, mientras prestan servicios a través de la Comunión Anglicana. En la actualidad hay 17 misioneros del YASC —seis de los cuales en su segundo año— provenientes de 18 diócesis que trabajan en iglesias anglicanas de 15 países, desde el Uruguay hasta las Filipinas, pasando por España y Sudáfrica.
El proceso de solicitud del YASC 2015 comenzará pronto, con la meta de reclutar 30 misioneros entre los jóvenes adultos, afirmó Copley.
Todo lo que requiere, agregó él, es una solicitud y la asistencia a un fin de semana de discernimiento.
(Haga un clic aquí para tener acceso a una reflexión para el fin de semana de discernimiento, de Ashley Cameron, que pasó un año en las Filipinas sirviendo en la Diócesis de Santiago).
Carlin Van Schaik, de 23 años, de la iglesia episcopal de San Cristóbal [St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church] en Lubbock, Texas, de la Diócesis de Texas Noroccidental, decidió, cuando tenía 15 años, que quería servir como misionera del YASC.
Su decisión, explicó, estuvo de algún modo influida por [el pasaje de] Mateo 19:21, el relato del joven rico a quien Jesús le dijo que vendiera todo lo que tenía; una lección que Van Schaik ha aplicado a su propia vida. “Yo quería seguir ese llamado”, dijo.
El YASC también atraía a Van Schaik porque, según dijo, “estaba interesada en la idea de la ‘Iglesia mundial’ y lo que significa para una Iglesia estar en asociación con otra Iglesia”.
Van Schaik prestó servicios en la Iglesia Anglicana de Corea en la Diócesis de Seúl, donde trabajó para un programa urbano de cuidado de ancianos y para un programa rural de actividades extraescolares.
El idioma, contó ella, constituía un reto, pero aprendió que el cristianismo trasciende la cultura; y ella llegó a creer en la sinceridad de la expresión. Durante ese año en Corea del Sur, Van Schaik dependió de un diccionario para comunicarse. Eso y la sinceridad pueden llevarte lejos, afirmó.
Otro de los [misioneros] del YASC que regresa al servicio es Alan Yarborough, de la iglesia episcopal de La Trinidad [Trinity Episcopal Church] en Ashville, Carolina del Norte, en la Diócesis de Carolina del Norte Occidental, quien estará un segundo año en la iglesia del Buen Salvador en Cange, un pueblo pequeño de la planicie central del país.
A Yarborough le asignaron un trabajo en proyectos de desarrollo económico, dijo, pero realiza gran parte de su trabajo sirviendo como intérprete del creole al inglés y viceversa.
Durante el año pasado en el servicio, Yarborough ha aprendido “a depender más de otros y de mí mismo; he crecido en confianza y en comunicación”.
La interpretación, explicó él, es más que una traducción idiomática. “Es ser capaz de interpretar la cultura, el contexto histórico y el temperamento”.
Sin embargo, una cosa que, según él, le ha resultado difícil de sobrellevar es la falta de privacidad y el ser reconocido dondequiera que va. No obstante, le gusta vivir en Haití y su deseo de volver surge de las relaciones que estableció con haitianos y con asociados estadounidenses, así como de la percepción de que su labor no ha concluido aún.
Después del año de servicio en Honduras, Gleason regresó al sur de California, donde está trabajando para la Diócesis de San Diego, atendiendo el ministerio latino/hispano de la misma. También presta servicios en la iglesia de San Miguel del Mar [St. Michael’s By-the-Sea] en Carlsbad, California, donde se ocupa del ministerio de los niños.
“Siento como si esto fuera lo que Dios me llama a conocer”, dijo. “Siempre me mantengo en oración para ver adónde Dios me conduce”.
(ENS ha producido una serie de perfiles en vídeo sobre los misioneros del YASC que sirven en distintos lugares, entre ellos Roma, Italia; Sudáfrica y en los archivos de la Iglesia Anglicana de Hong Kong; en una misión para servir a trabajadores migrantes y en otra para servir a marinos. La página web de la Iglesia Episcopal incluye vídeos sobre cómo servir como un misionero del YASC así como reflexiones de los misioneros del YASC.
– Lynette Wilson es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.
[Episcopal News Service – Manila, Philippines] In sewing workshops, homes and sheds on either side of the road reaching to the top of a hill where Holy Faith Episcopal Church sits in Igorot Village, men weave hats, scarves and sweaters and women sew labels on finished goods. It’s a cottage industry started by six women who sell knitwear to wholesalers; it keeps the village humming.
The village was founded in the 1950s on 1.5 hectares of land that was once part of a cattle ranch by Igorots, or “mountain people,” from Luzon, the largest, northernmost island province of the Philippines where Anglican missionaries established a presence in the late 19th century. Located on the outskirts of Manila, the village of former bamboo and grass huts, now is home to more than 100 families living in concrete homes with metal roofs.
As the community developed, a preaching station became a mission congregation, an aided parish, and in 2010 called a full-time rector.
Yet in 2013, at a time when the parish already was 80 percent self-supporting, the congregation felt it couldn’t reach the goal of 100 percent by 2018. That’s where the Episcopal Church of the Philippines’ unique approach to Asset-based Community Development, an approach that includes congregational development, applied. In taking stock of the village’s assets leaders determined that wholesalers were selling on three months’ consignment meanwhile taking out private loans to maintain operations; and the church stepped in to address a need.
With an $11,000 loan from 22 communities in the Diocese of the Southern Philippines, Holy Faith began making loans to the wholesalers at 1.5 percent interest, less than half the 3 to 5 percentage rate charged by private lenders. In a win-win, the wholesalers invested a percentage of the savings into the church In February 2014, Holy Faith members requested full-fledged parish status.
Holy Faith is just one example in the Episcopal Church of the Philippines where community and congregational development have gone hand-in-hand, creating a situation where both thrive.
When the church first began thinking about autonomy and financial self-sustainability it invested in programs and projects to raise money, but in the end, without the community development component, the investments were a “complete failure,” said Floyd Lalwet, the church’s provincial secretary, during a Sept. 24 gathering at the church’s national office in Quezon City. Over time the church began to see the communities and the congregations as one, things began to change.
The Episcopal Church in the Philippines’ journey toward financial self-sustainability serves as an example of covenant partnership, one that can be replicated in other contexts.
Earlier that day on Sept. 24 seven bishops and two spouses representing Province IX traveled to the Philippines with the purpose of affirming and strengthening the companionship between the Episcopal Church in the Philippines and the U.S.-based Episcopal Church, and to experience the work of the local church as related to its attainment of full-financial autonomy and, more specifically, the implementation of its Asset-Based Congregational/Community Development program and the application of its “from receivers to givers” policy.
Prior to traveling to the Philippines to study the church’s journey to financial self-sustainability in the local context, the bishops and spouses spent Sept. 17-23 in Taiwan attending the fall House of Bishops. meeting, where Prime Bishop Edward P. Malecdan spoke about the theological context and mission challenges in the Philippines.
Staying true to the House of Bishops’ meeting’s theme of “expanding the apostolic imagination,” bishops explored the mission and ministry of the Diocese of Taiwan; following the meeting other bishops and spouses traveled in groups to Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea to continue learning about mission and ministry of the Anglican Church.
The Province IX bishops visit to the Philippines was three years in the making.
Clergy and lay leadership in the Episcopal Church’s seven Latin American dioceses, covering the Caribbean, Central and South America, first became acquainted with Episcopal Church of the Philippines’ story during a 2011 conference on self-sustainability in Tela, Honduras.
The Province IX dioceses – the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Central Ecuador, Ecuador Litoral, Colombia, Venezuela and Puerto Rico – adopted self-sustainability as a focus in a 2012 synod meeting.
Each of the Province IX dioceses are on their own path to financial self-sustainability, with the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Central Ecuador, with a recent $4 million land sale, closer than the others.
The comprehensive approach to financial sustainability in Province IX is driven by the needs of each individual diocese, and the approach has come from the diocese’s themselves, said Samuel McDonald, the Episcopal Church’s deputy chief operating officer and director of mission.
“Here’s where the rubber meets the road,” he said.
Executive Council in February 2014 adopted the Second Mark of Mission Province IX Sustainability Plan, which was the result the result of a July 2013 meeting of lay and ordained leaders of the province and church center staff.
Following the Tela conference, said Lalwet, the Province IX bishops began asking for specifics regarding the Philippines’ church’s capacity building projects and processes, specifically how cooperatives have aided congregations in becoming full-fledged parishes and the Episcopal Development Foundation of St. Mark’s, a lending institution which transformed the Diocese of Santiago in the northern Philippines.
There are some 43 registered cooperatives and about 65 un-registered co-ops, farmers associations and development organizations operating under the church’s church and community development model. The Episcopal Care Foundation, or ECARE as the development model is called, strives through partnerships to work with communities to leverage their assets and resources to move from subsistence to self-reliance, while emphasizing sharing, caring, witness and environmental stewardship.
The cooperative concept was something new to Diocese of Colombia Bishop Francisco Duque, who also serves as the Province IX president; it’s something, he said, he’ll look at implementing in his own diocese, one of the youngest in the Episcopal Church.
In Colombia, as in the Philippines and the other Province IX dioceses, many Episcopal churches are located in poor, marginalized communities in need of economic and social development.
More than 25 percent of the Philippines’ 100 million people live below the poverty line, a percentage similar to Ecuador and Venezuela, though their populations are a fraction of that of the Philippines’, according to World Bank statistics. Each of the other Province IX dioceses has a higher percentage of people, between 33 and 65, living below the poverty line.
“The economic and political reality is that our people live in poverty and that our churches are located in marginalized communities,” Lalwet said, adding that by focusing on improving the economic livelihood of people in the community the people are better able to support the church.
This approach, however, from the outset necessitates church and community consensus, he said. “It would also be an error to separate the community development program from church development.”
It also meant a change in mindset, congregations that historically had been recipients, needed to become the givers. “We were breaking the mindset that the church should support the congregations,” said Lalwet.
The Episcopal Church established a missionary district in the Philippines in 1898; in 1965 the church became a missionary diocese and in 1990 the Episcopal Church of the Philippines became an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion. However, autonomy came before financial self-sustainability: in 1990 the Philippines’ church still relied on the U.S.-based Episcopal Church to finance 60 percent of its operating budget.
In 1992, the Joint Committee on the Philippine Covenant proposed a 15-year stepped reduction plan to gradually reduce every five years’ the Episcopal Church’s support from $800,000 to $533,333 to $267,667. In 2003, Philippine Church ran its highest-ever budget deficit of 6.5 million pesos ($120,000 at the time). And in 2004, the church decided to ask the Episcopal Church for a three-year extension before reversing course.
In 14 years of being autonomous all anyone ever talked about was the subsidy, said Lalwet, until finally someone proposed, “Why don’t we do away with it?”
So they did. And on January 1, 2005, “everyone predicted that the 6.5 million peso deficit would double,” he said, but it didn’t. Instead, for the first time ever, the church had a $55,000 budget surplus.
Lalwet often equates the 15-year period of the subsidy’s attenuation as an addict going through withdrawal. “There were times when people didn’t receive a salary for six months,” he said.
The covenant relationship between the U.S.-based Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church in the Philippines remained intact in 2005, but rather than use the subsidy for operating expenses the money was added to the church’s Centennial Endowment Fund, established in 2001.
To encourage the church’s then-six dioceses to contribute to the fund, the church changed the fund’s structure. Rather than position the endowment fund as a “national fund” with monies going to support the Episcopal Church of the Philippines, the church split the fund between the dioceses, used a grant and rental income to provide matching funds and loaned the money back to the dioceses for local investment, said Lalwet.
Additionally, Lalwet explained, rather than rely on the subsidy for its operating budget, the church looked to its existing assets and institutions for support; during the period from 2005-08, with the support of St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City, some of the province’s most beautiful churches were built.
Today there are more than 120,000 baptized Episcopalians worshipping in 400 churches across the Episcopal Church in the Philippines’ seven dioceses covering the archipelago in the Pacific Ocean
In the 1960s and ‘70s when the church first began to consider autonomy it started founding cooperatives, which during the period of martial law from 1972 to 1981 implemented by President Ferdinand Marcos, was dangerous.
“Co-ops were considered subversive,” said Lalwet, adding that the church, specifically in Diocese of Northern Luzon, where Bishop Richard Abellon, who would become the first-ever Filipino prime bishop. “The bishop became public enemy number one.”
Despite the harassment and threats directed at Abellon and others, the church continued to found cooperatives because the leadership believed it was the way forward.
A 40-minute flight north from Manila to Tuguegarao and another two to three hours by minibus along a two-lane highway deep in the country’s rice basket, where yellow corn for livestock feed and rice dry along the road’s narrow shoulder and on any unused pavement with access to direct sunlight, the bishops arrived in Santiago, where local investment has defined the Diocese of Santiago’s success.
The Diocese of Santiago, formerly a part of the Diocese of North Luzon, was founded in 2001, and at the time received 90 percent of its support from outside the diocese.
“This diocese was formed during the most difficult financial years of our church, when the Episcopal Church support was being reduced; when we were in withdrawal,” said Lalwet. “This diocese suffered because it was very dependent on the Episcopal Church of the Philippines.”
It wasn’t easy, explained Lalwet, as relationships, some of them longtime friendships, were strained as a result of the subsidy’s elimination.
Yet, in the end, the diocese started the Episcopal Development Foundation of St. Mark’s, the lending institution that has accumulated a $1.9 million loan portfolio in 10 years, and among other things has enabled farmers to acquire 30 hectares of land. But it is also the biggest source of support for the Diocese of Santiago, contributing $56,000 a year.
In addition to visiting the diocesan office, where they learned about the Foundation of St. Mark’s and shared a meal with clergy and lay leaders from both the North Luzon and Santiago dioceses, the bishops visited two cooperatives, each in very different stages of development.
The first was Del Pilar in Alicia, where the majority of the community’s 3,000 inhabitants are farmers working from a few to a dozen acres of land, mostly by hand and using water buffalos. The church in 2002 established St. Peter’s Savings and Credit Co-op with 15 members, which has since grown to 39. The co-op allows the farmers to negotiate better prices for seed, to rent a drying pavement (access to space for drying rice and corn is scarce), and has constructed a warehouse where grains can be stored and sold as commodity prices dictate. the co-op also has a nine hectare rice farm.
St. Peter’s was modeled after the second cooperative, Holy Spirit Mission and Multi-Purpose Cooperative, which was begun in 1995 and is further along, explained the Rev. Ralph Dampo, who serves as the parish’s director and manager of the cooperative.
Dampo, who was trained in both theology and business management with support from the church, began the mission with the simultaneous goal of improving the lives and economic livelihoods of the farmers in the community and the life of the mission station.
After first conducting a rural assessment: a survey of the land, number of households, linguistics, access to social and educative services, the cooperative started with 16 subsistence farmers, each of whom contributed one fifth of their annual income, about 1,000 pesos, or $22. “It was hard,” said Dampo.
Today, the co-op has more than 100 members, 10 regular employees, a warehouse, drying pavement, trucks. It contributes 10 percent of its income to the parish’s endowment and other funds, pays 70 percent of Dampo’s salary, while supporting the Holy Spirit’s children’s ministry, and has a feeding program, and a relief and rehabilitation ministry.
The first church building was constructed in 1997 and a modern building in 2009; Holy Spirit has 200 members, half of them members of the co-op, and an average Sunday attendance of 70, said Dampo.
From their base in Quezon City, the bishops then traveled south an hour and a half by airplane to Cotabato City where they met Diocese of the Southern Philippines Bishop Danilo Bustamante, visiting St. Francis Church and the Hillside Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Upi, in the province of Maguindanao in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, where at 30 percent of the population Christians are the minority.
The group also met with Upi Mayor Ramon A. Piang at his municipal office, where he told them that the local government supports church leaders, and has instituted civic panels, including religious and other civil society leaders, and coordinates with them on poverty reduction programs in the province where 98 percent of the people are farmers.
Seeing the cooperatives in action in the Philippines made Bishop of Venezuela Orlando Guerrero think about the 35 hectare coffee plantation his diocese owns in the country’s northeast, a plantation that isn’t producing to its full yield. Rather than work the plantation with local labor,Guerrero said, he’s considering forming a cooperative and giving local families parcels to work.
The Venezuelan government, he added, also works with religious organizations to empower communities, but that to date the Episcopal Church, unlike the Evangelical and Roman Catholic churches, has not taken advantage of that opportunity.
The co-ops also got Diocese of Honduras Bishop Lloyd Allen thinking about how his diocese’s existing cooperative might be restructured to provide each of 10 deaneries in Honduras with more local authority.
The Southern Philippines program in Upi, like in the north, includes grain drying and storage facilities, but also a rubber tree plantation and nursery, the latter a partnership with the Diocese of Olympia in Seattle, Washington, that distributes seedlings to individual households.
Build the road as you walk it
“We are here as one church … we are here from Latin America to see with our own eyes,” said the Rev. Glenda McQueen, the Episcopal Church’s global partnership officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, during a sermon she preached at St. Francis Church in Upi, on the morning of Sunday, Sept. 28.
“To change direction is to say yes to life, to leave the past, the way things were done, and take the risk into the future.”
McQueen talked about how the Anglican and Episcopal churches planted the seed that today is the church in the Philippines, and how like the rubber trees, where grafting a branch from a mature tree onto a seedling makes the young tree stronger and more resistant to diseases, the Philippines’ sharing its journey toward financial self-sustainability gives strength to the Latin American churches who are on a similar path.
“We are that new tree, and you have given us the example of that new church that took the risk,” said McQueen, and she explained to those present that there’s a saying in Latin America Se hace el camino al andar or “build the road as you walk it”; it describes the journey the Province IX bishops and their dioceses now are on.
Moving forward with self-sustainability in Province IX, each diocese will need a person or a team to give oversight to the development process, McQueen said later in an interview with ENS.
Visiting the church in the Philippines provided the bishops with the principles that hold the process together — “you need to have that foundation,” she said.
It’s important, she added, the Latin American churches articulate their own vision for the future, and that they together look at what they have as a province.
Reflecting on the visit to the Philippines’ church, Dominican Republic Bishop Julio Cesar Holguin said he believed the clergy’s and laity’s entrepreneurial spirit in the face of losing the support of the Episcopal Church and that spirt allowed them to continue in their development.
“I believe that the Philippines’ model can serve as a great help and inspiration for all of the dioceses of Province IX, as in other parts of the Anglican Communion,” said Holguin.
“We are encouraged to throw ourselves into the goal of sustainability, and to carry out with more efficiency, the task of the Great Commission that our Lord Jesus Christ has charged us with.”
– Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[University of the South School of Theology press release] The Rev. William F. Brosend II has announced his decision to step down as executive director of the Episcopal Preaching Foundation (EFP), effective June 30, 2015.
Brosend, who has served as executive director since 2010, will continue as professor of homiletics at The School of Theology and director of the School’s Doctor of Ministry in Preaching program.
“I told the Board of Directors when I accepted their invitation that my goal was to grow the position into an important and interesting full time job. It happened, to be honest, more quickly than I expected.”
Founded by A. Gary Shilling, an investment manager and Episcopalian, in 1988, the Episcopal Preaching Foundation has sponsored the annual Preaching Excellence Program, a week-long preaching intensive for rising senior Episcopal seminarians, for 27 years. Since Brosend moved from board member to executive director the work of the foundation has expanded significantly, holding annual national Episcopal Preaching Conferences since 2010 and providing programs for more than 20 diocesan clergy conferences.
This year, the foundation, with support from a grant from the Robertson Foundation, launched a new conference for the recently ordained, and has begun supporting peer groups for sermon preparation and evaluation. They have also put in place plans for a one-on-one mentoring program for preachers.
“Bill Brosend led the expansion of the EPF’s work from its original annual preaching conference for seminarians to diocesan conferences co-sponsored by bishops, national preaching conferences, and preaching conferences for Episcopal and Lutheran military chaplains,” Shilling commented. “He has achieved my long-held hope for the expansion of our efforts and the formation of career-long relationships with preachers.”
Brosend confirmed the need for a full time executive director, and it is his intention to remain involved in the work of the Episcopal Preaching Foundation. “We have taken significant strides in the last few years, but it is time for the foundation to identify new leadership to take us even further. If asked, I will do everything I can to support my successor in those steps.”
Commenting on Brosend’s decision, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said, he has “brought the Episcopal Preaching Foundation to new levels of effectiveness as it has reached out to established preachers as well as emerging ones. His creative initiatives have yielded a harvest so large that it now demands more hours and hands. I can only say, ‘well done, good and faithful servant!’ and at the same time offer deep thanks for his insightful, visionary, and productive leadership. Bill has helped The Episcopal Church respond to changing contexts and realities so that the Word might grow in new fields.”
Jefferts Schori continued, “I first encountered the Preaching Excellence Program as a seminarian invited to what was then the annual conference. It was a challenging, informative, and extremely helpful experience. Gary Shilling has had a bee in his bonnet for decades about improving the preaching quality in The Episcopal Church, and his efforts have yielded significant results. He knows that, like the bees he keeps, preachers spread the Word and help it become fruitful across the vineyard.”
The foundation hopes to have a new executive director in place in time for the next Preaching Excellence Program set for May 25-30, 2015 at the Roslyn Conference Center in the Diocese of Virginia.
[Palmer Trinity School press release] Palmer Trinity School (PTS) recently held an Installation Ceremony for Patrick H.F. Roberts as its new Head of School. The school is located in Palmetto Bay, Florida.
The ceremony of installation is an ancient one that reveals an institution’s respect for the profound responsibility of school leadership. Held on campus at the PTS gymnasium, The Right Reverend Calvin O. Schofield, Jr., Retired Bishop of Southeast Florida, presided over the ceremony.
The ceremony commenced with a trumpet voluntary performed by Palmer Trinity’s music students, followed by a processional with bagpipes into the gymnasium, in honor of Mr. Roberts’ Scottish ancestry. Music played an important part and was woven throughout the ceremony.
Special guests included visiting speaker, Harvey B. Sperling, Educational Consultant at Vanderbilt University, and Michael Baiamonte, Palmer Trinity Chairman of the Board of Trustees and the public address voice of the Miami Heat. Rabbi Mark H. Kula, from Congregation Bet Shira, clergy from the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, the Catholic Diocese of Miami, and other faith traditions were represented. Respected educators and local dignitaries were also in attendance, most notably The Reverend Daniel R. Heischman, D.D., executive director at the National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES), Village of Palmetto Bay Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Councilman Patrick Fiore.
A former vicar of Saint Thomas Fifth Avenue in New York and teacher at the choir school, Fertig was a graduate of Nashotah House Seminary.
Fertig will be buried in Ann Arbor, Michigan on Friday, Oct. 10 at 10 a.m. A Requiem Mass will be said by the Rev. David Cobb, rector of Ascension, at 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 10, prior to Fertig’s burial.
A notice from Church of the Ascension is available here.
[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Church in Ethiopia is determined to continue growing despite the numerous challenges including limited financial resources, the impact of conflict in neighboring countries and the generally “restrictive environment” in which it operates.
In an interview with ACNS, the Rt. Rev. Grant LeMarquand, Area Bishop for the Horn of Africa in the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, said: “We are doing what we can in this difficult situation, with limited resources and with restrictions put on what we can do.”
The bishop is based in the Gambela Region of Ethiopia, most of which is at a low elevation and prone to flooding. It is also host to three UNHCR camps, sheltering more than 18,000 refugees mainly from neighboring countries.
Refugee churches a witness
Despite the overwhelming numbers of refugees in the country, LeMarquand expressed his optimism for the church there. He said, “The churches in the refugee camps in this country are thriving.
“One camp had people from four different ethnic groups: Anuak, Nuer, Dinka and Murle,” he explained. “When I met with representatives of the church, they made it clear that they didn’t want separate churches because they wanted to send a message to people of South Sudan, that they can live together and not have to fight.”
The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR recently announced that Ethiopia had overtaken Kenya to become the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa, sheltering more that 600,000 refugees as of the end of July.
The crisis in South Sudan has been the major cause of this massive displacement both internally and in neighboring countries. UNHCR reports that as of mid August about 2 million South Sudanese had been forcibly displaced, and more than 575,000 of these, into neighboring countries.
Churches with no name
LeMaquarnd also talked about the efforts the church there is putting in place to reach the people in far-flung areas. He recounted his experiences visiting two small Nuer-speaking village churches in Ethiopia.
“Neither congregations had a building or name, just a tree to worship under. Names are only given to churches when the bishop visits,” he said. We dedicated the first church St Martha’s Anglican Church and the other Holy Trinity Anglican Church. Both congregations are small, but each has had a long, faithful and enthusiastic ministry in their area.
“Bethlehem Anglican Church is a Anuak-speaking congregation that we also visited. It is less than a year old and has no full time pastor,” he reported. “But due to their good lay leadership and hard work, they have managed to build a new church building for their town and also planted several new congregations in the surrounding villages within the year.”
Call for prayer, help
A recent statement from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African organization that seeks peace and prosperity for its members, recently highlighted the plight of the people in the Horn of Africa region of the continent.
“The drought, violence and conflict have caused food shortages in Somalia and South Sudan,” it noted. LeMarquand responded to this by encouraging Christian leaders world over to “please ask your people to pray that God might intervene.”
Reports indicate that about 3.9 million are severely food insecure, with 1.2 million already at the risk of famine if violence continues. Over 50,000 children are also at a risk of dying from starvation.
The Episcopal Area of the Horn of Africa includes the four countries of Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and Ethiopia with the majority of Anglican churches being in the western part of Ethiopia. With the on-going conflict in South Sudan, the church there cannot avoid it but deal with some of the war-effect including the influx of refugees.
[Anglican Communion News Service] Clergy in West Africa have challenged Anglicans worldwide to “live as their brothers’ keepers” and act to address the Ebola crisis.
The priests of the Anglican Diocese of Kumasi, Ghana, issued their challenge after a workshop entitled Church and Community Response to Ebola in which they learned more about the disease and how to prevent its spread.
In a statement issued after the workshop Message to the International Community, they said, “We challenge the international community to live as their brothers’ keepers*. We encourage Anglican Churches or Christian Churches the world over to express their solidarity by observing one Sunday as Ebola Sunday to pray and mobilize resources for the affected areas in the sub-region or West Africa.”
“They should encourage their governments to send resources especially the found drug to the affected areas by way of advocacy.”
The clergy did not hold back as they called on the United Nations to provide material and equipment to countries affected by the virus. They also called for international community to collaborate to stop conflict in countries in Africa and the Middle East “instead of waiting for lives and property to be destroyed before the come in with aid”.
No more shaking hands
The workshop training carried out at St Cyprian’s Anglican Cathedral, Kumasi, was led by Dr Irene des Bordes. It prompted the clergy to announce they would cease embracing and shaking hands during the Peace at church services; would only perform Holy Communion by intinction; would wear gloves, socks and shoes when visiting the dead or those in hospital; and would wash their hands using running water and hand sanitizers.
Several provincial Churches of the Anglican Communion including in Nigeria have announced similar precautions in hope that they can stop the spread of this disease that has, to date, killed 3,439 people and infected 7,494. Experts say it could infect up to 1.5m people by January of next year.
Ebola at war against humanity
The Primate of the Church of the Province of West Africa, the Most Rev. Daniel Sarfo, also issued a statement welcoming the UN UN Mission on Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).
He expressed his gratitude to its staff and also other agencies including the Anglican agency Us for their contribution to tackling the crisis in region. He said, “Now Ebola is at war against humanity, the world must act now to stop Ebola.”
The full statement can be found below.
THE PRIMATE OF THE CHURCH OF THE PROVINCE OF WEST AFRICA WELCOMES UN MISSION ON EBOLA EMERGENCY RESPONSE
On behalf of the President, the people and the Church of the Province of West Africa (Anglican Communion), I welcome the UN Mission on Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) led by Mr. Anthony Banbury to Accra, Ghana to begin a mission to contain the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa. We consider the UN mission as timely and we are very grateful.
The Advance Party of United Nations Mission on Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) has arrived in Accra in Ghana, which will be used as the base for the Mission. It will be made up of 250 personnel – 100 will be based in Accra and 150 for the affected Countries.
Their mandate is five-fold – “stopping the outbreak; treating the infected; ensuring essential services; preserving stability; and preventing further outbreak. It is our prayers that we all support them to make the mission’s work a great success.
We express our profound appreciation to the UN, WHO, Organizations and Bodies like the Bill Gate Foundation for coming to our Aid, not forgetting those working with the Anglican Church such as Us (USPG) , UK Government through DFID and those who are about to join. We also encourage Anglican Churches or Christian Churches the world over to express their solidarity by observing one Sunday as Ebola Sunday to pray and mobilize resources for the affected areas in the sub-region or West Africa.
Now Ebola is at war against humanity, the world must act now to stop Ebola.
With every blessing
Archbishop Daniel Yinkah Sarfo
*From Genesis 4:10 ‘Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”‘
[7 de octubre de 2014] El equipo de trabajo para re-imaginar la Iglesia Episcopal (TREC) ha emitido un mensaje después de la reunión de toda la Iglesia del 2 de octubre.
Queremos agradecer a todos los que participaron en nuestra reunión de toda la Iglesia el pasado jueves por la noche. Más de 140 personas asistieron en la Catedral Nacional de Washington y más de 4.000 personas sintonizaron la reunión en una transmisión en vivo. Grabaciones en inglés y español de toda la reunión se pueden encontrar en la página web de TREC: reimaginetec.org. Una grabación con una transcripción con subtítulos será publicado tan pronto como esté listo. Estamos muy agradecidos a la Catedral Nacional de Washington y a la Iglesia la Trinidad de Wall Street por apoyar esta reunión y nuestro trabajo.
Después de la reunión de toda la iglesia, miembros del grupo de trabajo se reunieron en Washington, DC durante dos días para revisar las preguntas y comentarios que hemos recibido antes, durante, y después de la reunión de toda la Iglesia. Se recibieron preguntas y comentarios a través de Twitter, Facebook, web, mensajes de correo electrónico, blogs, y de debates en persona.
Estamos muy agradecidos por las respuestas bien analizadas y preguntas sobre nuestro trabajo, y apreciamos los desafíos a las ideas que hemos publicado hasta la fecha. Durante esta última reunión en persona en conjunto, nos encontramos debatiendo y orando profundamente sobre temas de discipulado, liderazgo compartido, y cambios a medida que continuamos para dar forma a nuestras recomendaciones finales.
El informe final de TREC se enviará a la oficina de la Convención General a finales de noviembre, y se dará a conocer a la Iglesia tan pronto como traducciones de la lengua española y francesa estén completos. El informe final de TREC contendrá recomendaciones específicas para la 78a Convención General en la Ciudad de Salt Lake en Utah en julio del 2015
Pedimos sus oraciones continuas a medida que completemos nuestro trabajo:
Espíritu Santo, que te ciernes sobre todo el mundo, llena los corazones y las mentes de tus siervos del equipo de trabajo para re-imaginar la Iglesia Episcopal con la sabiduría, claridad y coraje. Trabaja en ellos, mientras que ellos examinan y recomiendan reformas para la estructura, gobierno y administración de esta rama de la Iglesia una, santa, católica y apostólica. Ayúdelos a proponer reformas para proclamar de manera más eficaz mediante la palabra y el ejemplo, las Buenas Nuevas de Dios en Cristo, para desafiar el mundo para buscar y servir a Cristo en todas las personas —amando a nuestro prójimo como a nosotros mismos y ser luz ardiente para el tipo de justicia y paz que lleva a todas las personas que respeten la dignidad de cada ser humano.
Permanece con la Iglesia Episcopal para que todos podamos estar abiertos a los desafíos que este grupo de trabajo nos traerá a nosotros- — ayúdanos a toda la Iglesia a discernir su voluntad para nuestro futuro. En el nombre de Jesucristo, nuestro mediador, en cuya vida se fundó esta Iglesia. AMÉN
Para más información, preguntas o comentarios, póngase en contacto con los miembros de TREC en email@example.com
[Episcopal News Service] Serving abroad as a Young Adult Service Corps missionary is more than just a job, it’s a journey of discovery of self, faith and of the Anglican Communion.
“YASC provides a really good support experience for people who want to see or experience another part of the world or another part of the church,” said Becky Gleason, 26, who served in Tela, Honduras, in the Diocese of Honduras, teaching English to both students and teachers at Holy Spirit Episcopal School and leading high school chapel services.
As opposed to other international programs that offer young people an opportunity to serve in volunteer positions abroad, the Episcopal Church’s Young Adult Service Corps program, commonly referred to as YASC, offers one familiar comfort the others do not: the church.
“YASC offers an opportunity to experience a different part of the world with support, and a level of familiarity because of the church,” said Elizabeth Boe, the Episcopal Church’s officer for global networking. “The program is based in relationships, partnerships around the world.”
Sixteen Young Adult Service Corps missionaries spent Oct. 2-4 in New York City at the Episcopal Church Center attending a “re-entry” gathering intended to bring the young adults together following their time abroad to share their experiences, triumphs and challenges.
“When you see them come back it’s the most rewarding time,” said David Copley, the Episcopal Church’s team leader for global partnerships. “You see how they’ve grown and survived the struggles.”
YASC is open to young adults aged 21 to 30 who are given the opportunity to serve as missionaries, initially for one year, exploring new ways of living, while serving throughout the Anglican Communion. There are currently 17 YASC missionaries – six of them in their second year – from 18 dioceses serving in Anglican churches in 15 countries from Uruguay to the Philippines to Spain and South Africa.
The 2015 YASC application process will begin soon, with the goal of recruiting 30 young adult missionaries, said Copley.
All it takes, he said, is an application and attendance of the discernment weekend.
(Click here for a discernment weekend reflection by Ashley Cameron, who spent a year in the Philippines serving in the Diocese of Santiago.)
Her decision, she said, was somewhat influenced by Matthew 19:21, the story of the rich man whom Jesus told to sell everything; a lesson Van Schaik has applied in her own life. “I wanted to follow that call,” she said.
YASC also appealed to Van Schaik, she said, because she was “interested in the idea of the ‘world church,’ and what it means for a church to be in partnership with another church.”
The language, she said, was a challenge but she learned that Christianity transcends culture; and she came to believe in the sincerity of expression. Throughout her year in South Korea, Van Schaik relied on a dictionary to communicate. That and sincerity can get you far, she said.
Another YASC heading back into the field is Alan Yarborough, of Trinity Episcopal Church, Ashville, North Carolina, in the Diocese of Western North Carolina, who is serving the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti for a second year at Good Savior Church in Cange, a small village in the country’s central plateau.
Yarborough was assigned to work on economic development projects, he said, but serving as a language interpreter from Creole to English and vice versa makes up a large part of his job.
During his year in service Yarborough has learned “to rely on others and myself more; I’ve grown in confidence and communication.”
Interpretation, he said, is more than language translation, “It’s being able to interpret the culture, historical context and temperament.”
One thing that’s been a challenge for him, however, he said, is the lack of privacy and being recognized everywhere he goes. Still, he loves living in Haiti and his desire to return stems from the relationships he’s built with Haitian and American partners, and the feeling that his job isn’t done yet.
After her year of service in Honduras, Gleason returned to southern California, where she is working for the Diocese of San Diego serving its Latino and Hispanic ministries, as well as its young adult ministry. She also serves at St. Michael’s By-the-Sea, in Carlsbad, California, where she works in children’s ministry.
“I feel like this is where God is calling me know,” she said. “I keep praying always to see where God leads me.”
(ENS has produced a series of video profiles on YASC missionaries serving in the field, including in Rome, Italy, South Africa, and in Hong Kong Anglican Church’s archives, in a mission serving migrant workers and a mission serving seafarers. Also, the Episcopal Church’s website includes videos on what it’s like to serve as a YASC missionary as well as reflections from YASC missionaries.
– Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for Episcopal News Service.
Cinco ciudadanos cubanos que habían entrado en México sin documentos protagonizaron una lucha campal con los policías que trataban de deportarlos a Cuba en el aeropuerto de Chetumal. En el video se ve cuando los cubanos decían que “preferían morir” antes que regresar a la tierra que los vio nacer. Este no es el primer caso de esta naturaleza aunque sí la riña que se formó en la sala de espera.
El grupo terrorista conocido como Boko Haram ha declarado “un estado islámico” en Gwoza, un municipio en el estado de Borno en el nordeste de Nigeria. Esto significa que esa región se regirá por las leyes islámicas que en muchos casos lleva a la pena de muerte para los que no se conviertan a la fe mahometana. Despachos de prensa informan que los habitantes de Gwoza están dispuestos a resistir hasta la muerte. Boko Haram ha invadido varios territorios aledaños, debido a la debilidad y falta de armamentos y entrenamiento del ejército nacional nigeriano.
Ana María González prominente oncóloga colombiana ha sido sentenciada a 10 años de prisión por haber intentado envenenar a su amante y compañero médico George Blumenschein. El fiscal pidió una pena de 30 años pero los jurados pensaron que esa pena era excesiva. Amigos y familiares defendieron a González diciendo que “era una persona de bien” y dijeron que sus trabajos de investigación sobre el cáncer de mama constituían un verdadero paso de avance sobre esta enfermedad. Su padre llorando ante las cámaras dijo que “fue un error” pero que no merecía la pena que recibió.
La violencia continúa en Venezuela. Su última víctima ha sido el sacerdote católico romano Reinaldo Herrera de la diócesis de la Guaira que fue abatido a balazos en septiembre. Herrera era capellán militar en la Infantería de Marina de la Fuerza Armada Nacional y pertenecía al Ordinariato Militar. Su obispo, Raúl Biord Castillo, expresó su pesar por su asesinato y dijo que “esta muerte se suma a tantas otras muertes producto de la violencia y del clima de inseguridad que vivimos”.
Nicolás Maduro, presidente de Venezuela, ha sido criticado por los gastos incurridos en su viaje a Nueva York para hablar ante el pleno de las Naciones Unidas. Su comitiva llegó a 170 personas todas relacionadas con el chavismo. Sus gastos ascendieron a dos millones y medio de dólares, según informes periodísticos. Otros piensan que el gasto fue mucho mayor.
El cardenal Pietro Parolín, secretario de Estado del Vaticano, dijo en la reciente asamblea de las Naciones Unidas en Nueva York con respecto a la insurgencia islamista que “es lícito detener a un agresor injusto”. Añadió que “la amenaza transnacional” que suponen los yihadistas requiere de una acción conjunta de varias naciones que detenga la violencia de este grupo radical.
Las manifestaciones “pro democracia” en Hong Kong continúan en aumento pese a la acción policial. Observadores políticos dicen que las manifestaciones sólo son comparables a las que tuvieron lugar en la plaza Tiananmen en 1989. Los manifestantes piden elecciones libres y mayores libertades civiles.
La paz es parte importante de la liturgia. Lástima que muchos la utilizan para conversaciones vanas. El propósito principal de la paz es dar y recibir el saludo del Señor resucitado quien trajo y todavía trae la bendición de su paz a sus discípulos.
El canónigo Kenneth Kearon, secretario general de la Comunión Anglicana desde el 2004 ha sido electo obispo en la Iglesia de Irlanda. Servirá en la diócesis de Limerick y Killaloe. “Estoy muy contento en servir en esa diócesis y espero conocer mejor a sus laicos y clérigos”, dijo desde su oficina en Londres. Enhorabuena.
Bárbara Frey, esposa del obispo William Frey que sirvió en Costa Rica, Guatemala y Colorado por varios años, falleció el 1 de octubre tras larga enfermedad. En paz descanse la amable señora.
VERDAD. La paz es fruto de la justicia.
[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has responded to inaccurate media reports that the Lambeth Conference had been cancelled by saying, “As it hasn’t been called, it can’t have been cancelled.”
Speaking to the BBC’s William Crawley, the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion said the historic meeting of bishops from around the world would take place sometime after the primates* had met together.
“When I was installed in Canterbury as archbishop I met all the primates, they all came to that, and I said to them that I would visit all of them in their own country which, God willing, I will have done by the end of this November, and that at the end of that we would consult together about when to have a Lambeth Conference.”
We will decide together
Welby, who is also primate of the Church of England, stressed that, “The next Lambeth Conference needs to be called collegially by the primates, together with real ownership of the agenda and a real sense of what we’re trying to do with such a large effort, such cost. So when we meet as primates, which I hope we will do…with reasonable notice after the end of [the visits to all the primates], then we will decide together on the details.”
Welby said that by the time those details have been finalized it will likely be too close to 2018 to organize such a large event for that year. Therefore having the conference in that year was doubtful.
“It would be enormously difficult simply to book a place big enough…One of the places they’ve gone for the last few conferences is already booked up for 2018, so three years is far too little time to arrange such a huge operation.”
No Anglican Pope
When pressed for a conference date by the BBC interviewer, Archbishop Welby was adamant that that would be a decision for the primates.
“We just need to be very, very clear about this. There is no Anglican Pope. Decisions are made collectively and collegially and I am absolutely committed to not pre-empting what the primates choose to do.”
Anglican Communion alive, vigorous
The archbishop went on to say that it would be up to individual bishops to make up their minds at the time of the Lambeth Conference about whether they would attend.
“I’m not keen on pre-empting their decisions…But what is absolutely clear is that the Anglican Communion is alive and incredibly vigorous. It is noisy, argumentative, diverse, has churches in 165 countries, in 38 provinces. It would be bizarre if there weren’t tensions in something that is so incredibly diverse.”
Over the past two years, the Archbishop and his wife Caroline have traveled extensively making personal visits to the senior bishops of those Churches that comprise the Anglican Communion.
“All the indications are that they want the Communion to flourish,” he said, “that they want to have meetings to discuss the issues that face us: How do we live as a Communion in a way that demonstrates very important differences over issues of sexuality? Over issues of how we deal with power, money, with cultural customs in all parts of the world, or parts of the culture in which we live?”
Questioning God is OK
When asked by the BBC reporter for his response to recent media reports he was agnostic, the Archbishop laughed out loud. “I am a believing Christian,” he said. “I believe in God, I believe that Jesus Christ is God. I say the Creed without crossing my fingers at any point. Clear.”
The reports arose after Justin Welby’s tour of England’s West Country when he was interviewed ahead of Holy Eucharist at Bristol Cathedral.
“I was asked a question: ‘Did I ever have any doubts?’ I said, ‘Yes, everybody has doubts’. It’s true. I think everybody has moments of doubt. They then said, ‘What do you do with those moments of doubt?’ I said, ‘I pray, and I find that God is extraordinarily faithful even when we’re faithless, he overcomes our weaknesses.’”
The archbishop told the BBC’s Crawley that reports of his interview at the cathedral had omitted the second half of the answer.
“You find in the Psalms these extraordinary Psalms of questioning. In Job you find Job saying, ‘I wish I could believe God didn’t exist; what I’m really worried about is that he’s against me’.
“I’ve lived through extraordinary things in my life,” explained the Archbishop, “The death of a child, all kinds of really testing things, being in war zones, and there have been many moments where I’ve said, ‘God what are you doing? Why is it like this?’
“So here’s an extraordinary idea: that the Archbishop of Canterbury doesn’t believe in God! I believe in God. I, just like everyone else, ask lots of questions and I ask God the questions and I find that he is faithful.”
*Primates are the most senior bishops from each Member Church/Province
– Jan Butter is director for communications at the Anglican Communion Office.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Taskforce for Reimagining The Episcopal Church (TREC) has issued a message following the October 2 churchwide meeting.
We want to thank everyone who participated in our churchwide meeting last Thursday evening. More than 140 people attended in person at Washington National Cathedral and over 4,000 people tuned into a live webcast of the meeting. English and Spanish language recordings of the entire meeting can be found on TREC’s website:reimaginetec.org. A recording with a closed captioning transcript will be posted as soon as it is ready. We are grateful to Washington National Cathedral and to Trinity Church, Wall Street for supporting this meeting and our work.
Following the churchwide meeting, members of the taskforce met in Washington, D.C. for two days to review the questions and feedback that we received prior to, during, and after the churchwide meeting. Questions and comments were received via Twitter, Facebook, web-posts, email, blogs, and in-person discussions.
We are very grateful for the thoughtful responses and inquiries about our work, and we appreciate the challenges to the thinking that we have published to-date. During this final in-person meeting together, we found ourselves in deep and prayerful discussion about issues of discipleship, shared leadership, and change as we continued to shape our final recommendations.
TREC’s final report will be sent to the General Convention office by the end of November, and it will be released to the Church as soon as Spanish and French language translations are complete. TREC’s final report will contain specific recommendations to the 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah in July 2015.
We ask for your continued prayers as we complete our work:
Holy Spirit, who broods over the world, fill the hearts and minds of your servants on the Taskforce for Reimagining The Episcopal Church with wisdom, clarity and courage. Work in them as they examine and recommend reforms for the structure, governance and administration of this branch of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church. Help them propose reforms to more effectively proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ, to challenge the world to seek and serve Christ in all persons—loving our neighbors as ourselves and to be a blazing light for the kind of justice and peace that leads to all people respecting the dignity of every human being. Be with The Episcopal Church that we all may be open to the challenges that this Taskforce will bring to us—and help the whole church to discern your will for our future. In the name of Jesus Christ our Mediator, on whose life this Church was founded. AMEN
[6 de octubre de 2014] Jóvenes adultos – incluyendo seis que servirán durante un segundo año – que representan a 18 diócesis de la Iglesia Episcopal están sirviendo como misioneros en el Cuerpo de Servicio de Jóvenes Adultos (YASC) durante el término de 2014-2015 en lugares de toda la Comunión Anglicana.
YASC es un ministerio para jóvenes adultos episcopales, en edades de 21 a 30 años, que están interesados en explorar su fe en nuevas formas de vivir y servir en comunidades alrededor de la Comunión Anglicana.
El Revdo. David Copley, Oficial de Personal de Misión, señaló que si bien las tareas de día a día varían en cada lugar, las experiencias de los “YASCers” cambia la vida de uno. “YASC coloca a jóvenes adultos en la vida de la Comunión Anglicana en todo el mundo y en el trabajo diario de una comunidad local”, explicó.
Cada “YASCer” mantiene un blog, detallando sus servicios, reflexiones y aventuras. Elizabeth Boe, Oficial de la Red Global de la Iglesia Episcopal y ex voluntaria de YASC que sirvió en Tanzania, compartió que los blogs ofrecen un medio ideal para conectar con otros a través de la Iglesia Episcopal y en todo el mundo.
Conozca a los “YASCers”
Normalmente trabajan en la administración, la comunicación, la educación y el desarrollo; las diócesis de origen, las asignaciones y las direcciones del blog de los 18 misioneros “YASC” están aquí:
Fred Addy, Diócesis de Dallas
Fred sirve en el Hogar Escuela en Heredia, en la Diócesis de Costa Rica. Su blog.
Joey Anderson, Diócesis de Massachusetts y Diócesis de Missouri
Joey sirve en el Instituto Rural Asiático en Japón. Su blog.
Will Bryant, Diócesis de Oeste de Carolina del Norte
Will es misionero de YASC por segundo año y sirve en el Centro de Refugiados de Joel Nafuma en Roma, Italia, en la Convocación de Iglesias Episcopales en Europa. Sublog.
Paul Daniels, Diócesis de Carolina del Norte
Paul es misionero de YASC por segundo año y continua su ministerio en la Cathedral of St. Michael y St. George en Grahamstown, Sudáfrica. Su blog.
Justin Davis, Diócesis de Virginia y Diócesis del Sur de Virginia
Justin sirve con la Misión de Gente de la Mar en Hong Kong. Su blog.
Elizabeth Duque Echeverry, Diócesis de Colombia
Elizabeth sirve en Atención y Asesoramiento Ágape en la Diócesis del Oeste de Maseno, Kenia. Su blog.
Maurice Dyer, Diócesis de El Camino Real
Maurice es misionero de YASC por segundo año y sirve en el Instituto para la Sanación de Recuerdos en Cape Town, Sudáfrica. Su blog.
Carolyn Hockey, Diócesis de Ohio
Carolyn trabaja en la Oficina Provincial de Burundi de la Iglesia Anglicana en Bujumbura. Su blog.
David Holton, Diócesis de Nueva York
David enseña en el Easter College en la Ciudad de Baguio en la Diócesis Norte Central de Filipinas. Su blog.
Kirsten Lowell, Diócesis de Maine
Kirsten actúa como auxiliar administrativa a cargo de proyectos especiales en la Diócesis de Uruguay. Su blog.
Willie Lutes, Diócesis de Dakota del Sur
Willie sirve como asistente de comunicaciones en la Red del Medio Ambiente de la Iglesia Anglicana en Sudáfrica y en la Red del Medio Ambiente de la Comunión Anglicana en la Ciudad del Cabo, Sudáfrica. Su blog.
Kayla Massey, Diócesis de Alta Carolina del Sur
Kayla sirve en el Centro E-Care en Halsema en la Diócesis del Norte Central de Filipinas. Su blog.
Rachel McDaniel, Diócesis del Oeste de Tennessee
Rachel trabaja con los ministerios de las mujeres y niños en la Diócesis del Sudeste de Brasil. Su blog.
Hannah Perls, Diócesis de Olympia
Hannah es misionera de YASC por segundo año y continúa su ministerio en la Fundación Cristosal en El Salvador. Su blog.
Carlin Van Schaik, Diócesis del Noroeste Texas
Carlin es misionera de YASC por segundo año y sirve en la Iglesia Episcopal en Filipinas. Su blog.
Alan Yarborough, Diócesis de la Alta Carolina del Sur y Diócesis del Oeste de Carolina del Norte.
Alan es misionero de YASC por segundo año y continúa su ministerio de desarrollo económico y comunitario en Cange, Haití. Su blog.
Ryan Zavacky, Diócesis de Míchigan del Este
Ryan enseña en la Escuela de la Santa Cruz en Grahamstown, Sudáfrica. Su blog.
Todos los blogs se encuentran aquí.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Seventeen young adults – including six who will serve for a second year – representing 18 Episcopal Church dioceses are serving as missionaries in the Young Adult Service Corps (YASC) for the 2014-2015 term in locales throughout the Anglican Communion.
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.
The Rev. David Copley, Mission Personnel Officer, noted that while the day-to-day duties of each placement vary, the experiences of the YASCers are life-changing. “YASC brings young adults into the life of the worldwide Anglican Communion and into the daily work of a local community,” he explained.
Each YASCer maintains a blog, detailing their service, reflections and adventures. Elizabeth Boe, Episcopal Church Global Networking Officer and a former YASC volunteer who served in Tanzania, shared that blogs provide an ideal means for connecting with others throughout The Episcopal Church and around the world.
Meet the YASCers
Primarily working in administration, communication, education, and development, the 18 YASC missionaries, their home dioceses, assignments and blog addresses are:
Fred Addy, Diocese of Dallas
Fred is serving with the Hogar Escuela in Heredia, in the Diocese of Costa Rica. His blog is here.
Joey Anderson, Diocese of Massachusetts and Diocese of Missouri
Joey is serving at the Asian Rural Institute in Japan. His blog is here.
Will Bryant, Diocese of Western North Carolina
Will is a second-year YASC missionary, and is serving with the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center in Rome, Italy in the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. His blog ishere.
Paul Daniels, Diocese of North Carolina
Paul is a second-year YASC missionary, and is continuing his ministry with the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. George in Grahamstown, South Africa. His blog is here.
Justin Davis, Diocese of Virginia and Diocese of Southern Virginia
Justin is serving with the Mission to Seafarers in Hong Kong. His blog is here.
Elizabeth Duque Echeverry, Diocese of Colombia
Elizabeth is serving with Agape Care and Counselling in the Diocese of Maseno West, Kenya. Her blog is here.
Maurice Dyer, Diocese of El Camino Real
Maurice is a second-year YASC missionary, and is serving with the Institute for Healing of Memories in Cape Town, South Africa. His blog is here.
Carolyn Hockey, Diocese of Ohio
Carolyn is working in the Anglican Church of Burundi’s Provincial Office in Bujumbura. Her blog is here.
David Holton, Diocese of New York
David is teaching at Easter College in Baguio City in the Diocese of North Central Philippines. His blog is here.
Kirsten Lowell, Diocese of Maine
Kirsten is serving as an administrative assistant in charge of special projects in the Diocese of Uruguay. Her blog is here.
Willie Lutes, Diocese of South Dakota
Willie serving a communications assistant with the Anglican Church of Southern Africa Environmental Network and Anglican Communion Environmental Network in Cape Town, South Africa. His blog is here.
Kayla Massey, Diocese of Upper South Carolina
Kayla is serving with the E-Care Center in Halsema in the Diocese of North Central Philippines. Her blog is here.
Rachel McDaniel, Diocese of West Tennessee
Rachel is serving with women’s and children’s ministries in the Diocese of Southwestern Brazil. Her blog is here.
Hannah Perls, Diocese of Olympia
Hannah is a second-year YASC missionary, and is continuing her ministry with Foundation Cristosal in El Salvador. Her blog is here.
Carlin Van Schaik, Diocese of Northwest Texas
Carlin is a second-year YASC missionary, and is serving with the Episcopal Church in the Philippines. Her blog is here.
Alan Yarborough, Diocese of Upper South Carolina and Diocese of Western North Carolina
Alan is a second-year YASC missionary, and is continuing his economic and community development ministry in Cange, Haiti. His blog is here.
Ryan Zavacky, Diocese of Eastern Michigan
Ryan is teaching at the Holy Cross School in Grahamstown, South Africa. His blog ishere.
All the blogs are here.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached the following sermon on Oct. 5 at St. James Episcopal Church in West Dundee, Illinois.
St. James, West Dundee, IL (Diocese of Chicago)
5 October 2014
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
I’ve been at two of The Episcopal Church’s seminaries this past week, and both of them are embroiled in significant conflict, mostly related to financial challenges, changing realities in the world around us, and what their vision for the future is going to be. This congregation has never had any controversies about such things, have you?
Human communities are in pretty continual flux, when you think about it. Moses is reporting to his community about the new rules he’s received from God, rules for living in a radically new context. Remember that Moses has led a bunch of slaves out of Egypt, they’ve been wandering around in the desert, complaining a lot about the food and living conditions, and wondering if they wouldn’t have been a lot better off if they’d stayed in Egypt. ‘At least there,’ they whine, ‘life was predictable!’
Well, actually, it wasn’t quite so rosy. Pharaoh kept changing the rules about work and living conditions, and tried to kill off their children because the community was growing in spite of it all. The Hebrew slaves are now free, out there in the desert, and they can’t quite figure out how to deal with it. Moses is reporting back from his latest meeting with God, with some very simple rules for free people to live in relationship with God and one another. The list starts with remembering that God is God, and only God is God, not any one of them or any other thing they might construct or conceive of. The rest of the rules are about dealing justly with neighbors – don’t take away their lives and loves, their honor or their possessions. You wouldn’t want anyone to do that to you. Those are the basics for living in freedom. Love God, who has created you and everybody else, and treat all those others with justice.
Human communities are always trying to go back to an earlier idea of when life was better, safer, more predictable, or somehow easier. The reality is that it only looks that way from a distance. Paul gets it – he’s telling his friends in Philippi that he could boast of how well he kept the rules in an earlier time but now that he’s encountered God in the risen Jesus none of that matters. He’s admitting that he was living in relationship with an idol, something he worshiped instead of God. ‘I forget what lies in the past, and I press on toward what God is calling us toward’ – that vision of healing and wholeness, justice and peace we call the Reign of God. He doesn’t claim to have figured it all out, but he knows that he’s moving toward that transformed world made evident in resurrection.
From the stories and bits of your history I’ve heard, I think it’s fair to say that you’ve been through this several times, even in living memory. Life gets a bit comfortable and predictable and before long some people think that’s the way it’s always supposed to be. And then along comes some crisis – finances, a fight over some change, challenges in the community around you – and the reaction by some is to try to cling to what seemed unchanging and predictable. Unless we’re talking about God, that’s generally an illusion. Even if we ARE talking about God it is an illusion – think of how God’s creative spirit keeps unfolding the world around us. Like those Israelites in the desert, we are bound for the promised land – but we haven’t arrived yet.
I don’t know if there is anyone here this morning who was around in 1952. Does anybody remember Murray and Clare Dewart? He came here as rector in 1948, soon after he was ordained. His son wrote a letter when he learned of this anniversary celebration, telling of a vibrant congregation with a large choir and Sunday school. In this growing, post-war community all seemed well until the fears in the larger society began to intrude. Fr. Dewart was preaching about Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and “blessed are the poor for they shall inherit the earth.” Apparently that was too much for some on the vestry, who feared he was a communist sympathizer. Joseph McCarthy’s sanitation campaign caused this parish to purge a truth-teller. Fr. Dewart and his family left here, but they survived, and went on to flourish in other communities in Massachusetts and the American Cathedral in Paris. McCarthy encouraged people to worship the idol of national purity and hermetically sealed ideologies. In spite of him the meaning of “red” has shifted in 65 years, from the vilified “red menace” to what are now termed “red states.” The Brotherhood House that became part of your new parish hall in 1905 got its start as a ministry for factory workers. McCarthy would have thought that outrageous, too. Other things have changed as well, including the kind of people we call to be priests and rectors. McCarthy would have been appalled by that, too.
Jesus ends his parable about the vineyard tenants with words about rejected stones becoming cornerstones. As hard as they try, those tenants can’t ever completely destroy the landowner’s original plans for a good harvest and a rich vintage. Some people may get it totally wrong, and may continue to do so for years, but God is still God, and the foundation of a world of justice and peace never disappears. The misguided and the evil cannot change the DNA of creation. God, and divine humor, will prevail. Today St. James is feeding people of all sorts and conditions – the poor and homeless as well as the local police department. You are working to feed starving children of all ages, races, nations, and creeds. Somehow that just might help to heal divisions everywhere – in Ferguson as well as the Middle East, in Congress and in seminaries.
Those who are being confirmed and received today, and all of us who will reaffirm our baptismal promises, are claiming that cornerstone, that DNA of healing and justice. Even when we get it wrong, even when we’re afraid the world has gone to hell in a handbasket, that divine intention remains. We’re more likely to remember and rediscover that DNA when we act like free creatures, free to worship God without fear, rather than the latest idol somebody is pushing on us.
Those idols are all around us – and they have power only if we give it to them. Consider a few of them:
“We’ve always done it this way.” [No, we haven’t. We’ve just forgotten what’s changed.]
“Christians are supposed to be nice.” [No, we aren’t. It means stupid. Jesus challenged others, and he stirred up conflict. We’re supposed to be holy, and willing to suffer for the sake of righteousness.]
“Don’t argue with me!” [We’re meant to listen to and obey God, and if we don’t argue or wrestle with God, we’re never going to grow.]
Sometimes the idols are about our self-focus: “I’m afraid, I’m not strong/smart/young/old enough…” [It’s OK to be afraid – and remembering who loves you helps to put the damper on fear.]
Moses was afraid, and he went anyway, after he argued with God. None of us has all the gifts and guarantees we want, but Jesus has been there ahead of us, and God is going with us down this road. If you want assurance of that, look at the face of your neighbor.
Press on toward that heavenly goal. And whether the road rises up to meet you, the wind is at your back, the sun shining warm upon your face, or the rains falling soft on your fields, OR NOT, know that God WILL hold you in the palm of his hand.
 Letter from Murray Dewart (fils) to St. James Parish 8 Sept 2014.
 Luke 1:74
 Nice comes from the Latin nescire, not to know.
A DPhil candidate in theology at the University of Oxford and visiting scholar in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Denver, Joseph previously served as a seminarian at Christ Church (New Haven, CT), Chaplain’s Assistant at Raleigh Episcopal Campus Ministry (Raleigh, NC), Chapel Lector at St. John’s College Chapel (Oxford, UK), and Advocacy Coordinator at the Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi (Raleigh, NC).
An Episcopal Church Foundation Fellow (2012), he currently serves on the Leadership Team of the Scholar-Priest Initiative and is the vice chair of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council Committee on Science, Technology & Faith.
Joseph is married to the Rev. Elizabeth Costello, who is a curate at Saint John’s Cathedral in Denver, CO.
[Anglican Communion News Service] The Mother’s Union (MU) in Tanzania is prioritizing the empowerment of women and girls in the country to “make them more independent and less subject to gender-based violence.”
In an interview with ACNS, Mothers’ Union Provincial Coordinator for Tanzania, Margareth Massawa revealed that MU there is empowering women and girls with skills in entrepreneurship, leadership and advocacy.
“For instance, at one of the local training centers, Mtumba Rural Women Training Centre, we are empowering women and girls with early childhood and primary teachers education, as well as teaching them entrepreneurship skills,” said Massawa. “This will ensure that they’re more independent and less subjected to gender-based violence.”
She added: “We are also training women and girls in advocacy and also helping them become more aware of their rights. For example, providing information about marriage laws, will-writing and inheritance laws.”
Despite women’s property rights being stipulated in the country’s constitution, a recent report revealed that about 40 percent of the cases presented by women were about inheritance and property grabbing.
“We also have plans to empower MU leaders from all the 27 dioceses in the Anglican Church of Tanzania, including bishops’ wives, Mothers’ Union diocesan presidents and vice presidents so that they’re able to adequately handle various issues of women and girls empowerment,” she said.
The Tanzania MU has also been a pioneer in providing health education on diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, cancer and HIV/AIDS. “We not only show compassion to sick people and other vulnerable groups, but also provide various materials for them and pray with them,” said Massawa.
Recent reports from the Province show that the Anglican Church of Tanzania has about 815,000 Mothers’ Union members, currently the largest of any one country in Africa. Its members spread across the country’s 27 dioceses and the according to Massawa, “current figures are even higher.”
[Diocese of Texas] The sanctuary is quiet, empty and dark. The doors open, and veterans of more than five wars slowly walk in and surround the baptismal font. Prayers for light are spoken as the candles and torches are lit. The pilgrimage begins.
Veterans at this Pilgrimages of Remembrance and Reconciliation are gathered from seven Episcopal parishes. The gathering is itself a healing event, since isolation and estrangement are common symptoms among warriors.
When the candles are lit, each veteran finds their place between the font and the altar, between life and death. Just as we start our journey at the font, so we end our earthly journey at the altar. From this vantage point, the pilgrims reflect on their journey, their war and their future. Often very young veterans will take a position near the altar. One of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder is a “fore-shortened future.” The word “veteran” comes from the Latin, vetus, which means “old.” War ages people. The young have old eyes when they have seen more than their share of horror and suffering.
The pilgrims gather at the front of the sanctuary and share a name and a happy memory of someone who died in war or homecoming. The names are recorded in a book to be read in a roll call before the altar. Relationships forged in combat are the closest ones most veterans ever have. When someone dies, the grief can be overwhelming and silent for years. The grip of grief is lessened as each name is spoken. The men and women laugh out loud at some of the memories. Not all war stories are full of sadness and death.
As the pilgrims move toward the altar, the priest blesses the Episcopal Church Service Crosses and distributes them. This cross dates to WWI and is worn by Episcopal members of the military. Some of the veterans are wearing the crosses they wore in Vietnam. Others receive a cross for the first time.
The pilgrims kneel at the altar rail and pray a Litany of Healing. They pray a prayer for healing, and a prayer from the Prayer Book titled, “For Our Enemies.” They pray this one in unison although some cannot pray it yet. The first task of wartime propaganda is to sub-humanize the enemy. This is not easily undone. Warriors come home from war plagued by memories, regrets, hyper-vigilance, anger and numbness. The survival skills of war rarely fit into a normal American life.
This is the reason these veterans gathered for this pilgrimage, to come home from war. They come to find reconciliation, a sacrament in the Church. So, before the confession, the veterans write down their confessions on small pieces of paper. They write down the memories they cannot get rid of, no matter how much they drink, or how far they run.
The deacon, the Rev. Robert Chambers, collects these crumpled paper confessions in a vessel, takes them outside, and burns them in the “amnesty box.” The box exists in war zones and military training areas. If soldiers forget to turn in a grenade or some live rounds, they can secretly slip them into a special box, no questions asked. The veterans on this night put their emotional grenades in the amnesty box, symbolizing that these memories are now in God’s hands.
Next they pass the peace. Peace, that elusive and strange concept in war. Wars are fought to restore peace, but they rarely bring peace to the women and men who fight in them. “God’s peace,” they say to one another and perhaps, they start to feel it.
Holy Communion is next. An olive drab corporeal is spread out and a chaplain’s field communion kit is assembled from its compact, camouflage case. It is a rugged communion set, more at home on the hood of a Jeep or a Humvee. Here, in the presence of the blessed bread and wine, the roll call is sounded by the senior enlisted man who is present. The names are tolled off followed by silence and the playing of Taps.
Bread and wine are shared as Air Force veteran, Larry Magnuson, plays an Irish war ballad on a concertina. All the names of the dead and all the experiences of combat are lifted up to God.
Liturgy never solves the problems of the world right away. The words take time to find root in the human soul. So, the pilgrims leave the sanctuary for the fellowship hall where they share stories of war and homecoming. Some discover common battles, just as many civilians discover common friends. Some laugh, some cry, others simply listen the stories of others, unable to share their own. All are invited to reconnect at the next pilgrimage or in one of the two groups that meet regularly.
The service ends but the mission of the newly formed Episcopal Veterans Fellowship goes on. The EVF was formed in the summer of 2014, in response to the 2009 Resolution CO-51 of General Convention to “Encourage the establishment of an Episcopal Veterans Fellowship for each diocese.” Thus far, the EVF has held weekly Tuesday night meetings at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas, and at Grace Episcopal Church in nearby Georgetown, Texas. Fort Hood, one of the largest military installations in the country is just up IH 35.
The meetings focus on fellowship and spiritual growth after combat. Relationships are strengthened and the group is growing. In addition to the weekly meetings, the core group of the EVF has been travelling to conduct Pilgrimages of Remembrance and Reconciliation. If you would like such an event to travel to your parish, please contact the Rev. David Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512.571.4124.