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Statement from the Anglican Communion delegation to the UNCSW

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Women’s Empowerment: A Gospel issue

The priority theme for the 2014 session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW58) was “Challenges and Achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for Women and Girls”.

We are at a historic point in global development and understanding as we review the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), move toward the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action by the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 (Beijing+20), and negotiate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2015-2030. Despite hard-won gains, women currently account for about two-thirds of the 1.4 billion people who live in extreme poverty. One in three women experience violence in their lifetime. Gender equality and women’s rights are the essential precursors to meeting global challenges, which have disproportionate and burdensome impacts on women and girls. These include:

  • poverty and hunger
  • access to healthcare, especially neonatal and post natal care and non-communicable diseases
  • climate change and environmental degradation
  • the prevalence of sexual and gender based violence
  • the need for universal birth registration.

Achieving gender equality requires equal access by women and girls to education, employment and income generating activities, health care, land and resources, as well as equal contribution to decision-making and peace-building processes and post-disaster responses. Long hours were spent negotiating the language of the agreement and focusing on the importance of a stand-alone goal for women and girls’ equality. Without equality none of the MDGs or proposed SDGs will be accomplished.

The Anglican Communion delegation therefore is truly pleased that the Agreement reached by the UN Commission on the Status of Women confirmed the need for a stand-alone goal on gender equality and women’s empowerment in the set of international targets. The Agreement also stated that gender equality must underpin all other goals and includes strong language against violence against women and girls. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the executive director of UN Women, said the Commission’s agreement to call for a stand-alone goal on gender equality represented “a milestone toward a transformative global development agenda that puts the empowerment of women and girls at its centre”.

Cross-sector partnerships can speed up the pace of change. Faith-based organisations are increasingly perceived as key partners. The churches of the Anglican Communion have a vital part to play in exemplifying the transformation we long to see by transfiguring our communities and ending suffering. The gospel passage chosen by Anglicans leading morning worship in the UN Church Centre was from Luke 1 – Mary’s visit to Elizabeth and her great song of praise, empowerment and hope. Just as that was a time of enlightenment, so we trust that this Commission will lead to greater global understanding of women’s inequality and preparedness to speak out and for gender equity.

We thank the leadership of the Anglican Communion for the opportunity to join with 6000 women from around the globe and spend two weeks focused on the Status of Women. We are particularly grateful for the opportunity to meet and share with our Anglican sisters, as well as sisters from other Christian traditions, and other faiths. Uniting with women from very diverse contexts was an extraordinary learning experience that we will each take back to our communities.

We are sincerely grateful to Rachel Chardon for the support and assistance provided by the Anglican Communion Office at the UN; Beth Adamson whose generous facilitation ensured that we engaged fully with CSW and its opportunities for advocacy and learning; the staff of the Episcopal Church Center; the women of The Episcopal Church for their generous hospitality and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori for the her warm welcome.

We return to our communities with new vision and renewed passion. When God is with us, “there is nothing we can’t do to heal, to save, to advocate, to transform.”(Deborah Rosenbloom, Jewish Women International).

Sarah Jane Bachelard, Anglican Church of Australia
Sandra Andrade, Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil
Florence Sarkar, Church of Bangladesh
Caitlin Reilley Beck, Anglican Church of Canada
Faith Gandiya, Church of the Province of Central Africa
Mugisa Isingoma, Province de L’Eglise Anglicane du Congo
Rachel Aston, Church of England
Terese Wong, Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui
Marie Pierrette Bezara, The Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean
Keiko Murai, Akane Shinoda, Nippon Sei Ko Kai (Japan)
Esther Lee, Anglican Church of Korea
Kaufo’ou Leveni, Ana Maria Lamositele, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia
Ayra Indiryas, Church of Pakistan
Immaculée Nyiransengimana, Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda
Elaine Cameron, Scottish Episcopal Church
Granny Seape, Louisa Mojela, Anglican Church of Southern Africa
Lucille Pilling, The Episcopal Church

New positions announced at Church Mission Society

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, April 8, 2014

[Church Mission Society press release] The Church Mission Society (CMS) has this week announced the appointment of Debbie James to the new position of director of church and community mission. Debbie will take the lead in sharing CMS’s mission experience with churches in the UK, as well as encouraging members of the CMS mission community.

Debbie says “CMS’s 215 years of mission experience is a great resource for the church in Britain today. We are committed to building relationships with churches, small missional communities and houses of mission, and to bringing our distinct contribution in pioneering, cross-cultural mission that is shaped by a global perspective.”

“We want to connect, fuel and resource people to live out a transforming faith in their communities and churches.”

Debbie, formerly a teacher in Moscow and the UK, joined CMS in 2001 as Encounter Teams coordinator, developing short-term mission team experiences and leading visits in Africa, Asia and Europe. Most recently she has been discipleship team leader, continuing to supervise short term teams as well as teaching on cross-cultural mission and developing discipleship materials such as CMS’s new course ‘The Possible World‘. Debbie has long been involved in pioneering youth work and is an active member of her local parish church, including ‘Messy Church’ on an estate.

‘The Possible World’ course is a mission-shaped discipleship resource for church small groups. It encourages mature Christian engagement with issues such as the environment, materialism and justice. Complete with DVD and comprehensive Bible notes, the seven-week course creatively demonstrates how a different world is possible through the stories of some ordinary people doing amazing things inspired by the life of Christ.

Debbie joins other recent appointments Jim Barker, who last week took up his post as director of fundraising for mission, and Jonny Baker, who began his new role as director of mission education in January.

Jim, formerly responsible for donor recruitment at Oxfam and direct marketing manager for Friends of the Earth, was one of the original trainees at Oxford Youth Works. For the last 10 years he has worked in organisational planning and development with Levelheaded and as a self-employed, independent consultant.

Philip Mounstephen, Executive Leader of CMS, said of these new appointments, “We’re delighted to be able to add such talent to our Senior Management Team. We are looking forward to them bringing new perspectives and ideas as CMS continues to develop high quality resources to equip the church for mission, as well as to grow and fuel our dispersed community as they share the love of Christ wherever they are in the world.”

Debbie, Jim and Jonny join existing directors Henry Scriven, Paul Thaxter and Adrian White, who together with Philip Mounstephen, make up CMS’s senior management team

Applications accepted for two DFMS positions

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 7, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Applications are now being accepted for two full time positions on the staff of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS): Mission Budget and Finance Management Associate; and Assistant Grants Administrator in Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM).

These positions reflect the priorities of Episcopal Church General Convention 2012 and focuses on the Five Marks of Mission.

The Mission Budget and Finance Management Associate will be based at the Church Center in New York.  Position information is located here.

The Assistant Grants Administrator will be based at the Church Center in New York City. Position information is located here.

Information on all available positions as well as application instructions are available here.

For more information contact a member of the Episcopal Church Human Resources Team at HRM@episcopalchurch.org.

The Episcopal Church values diversity of culture and thought and seeks talented, qualified employees regardless of race, gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age or any other protected classification under Federal, State or Municipal law as well as the Canons of the Episcopal Church and resolutions of the Episcopal Church General Convention.  We are proud to be an Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer.

Canadian commission begins work on proposed marriage canon revision

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 7, 2014

[General Synod Communications press release] The [Anglican Church of Canada’s] Commission on the Marriage Canon met for the first time April 3-4 at the offices of the General Synod in Toronto.

The eight commissioners, who come from across Canada and from varied backgrounds, began their day and a half together by becoming acquainted with one another, and by reviewing in detail their task as mandated by Resolution C003 of the 2013 General Synod and the terms of reference established by the Council of General Synod.

A process for inviting submissions to the commission from the church at large was agreed to and details about the broad consultation envisaged by the General Synod resolution will be announced in the near future.

The members of the commission also discussed what background resources will assist them in their assigned task of determining a way to amend the marriage canon “to allow the marriage of same-sex couples in the same way as opposite- sex couples” while at the same time ensuring that no one “should be constrained to participate in or authorize such marriages against the dictates of their conscience.”

A timeline for the commission’s work was also agreed to. A progress report will be made to the upcoming meeting of the Council of General Synod.

Members of the Commission on the Marriage Canon

Canon Robert Falby (chair)
Dr. Patricia Bays
The Very Rev. Kevin Dixon
The Rev. Dr. Paul Friesen
The Rev. Paul Jennings
Dr. Stephen Martin
The Rt. Rev. Linda Nicholls
The Most Rev. John Privett
The Ven. Bruce Myers (clerk)

Task Force on Study of Marriage reports on continued work

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 7, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Episcopal Church Task Force on the Study of Marriage has issued the following report:

In its second face to face meeting since being established by the 2012 General Convention of The Episcopal Church, the Task Force on the Study of Marriage continued its broad inquiry of the historical, biblical, theological, liturgical, and canonical dimensions of marriage, as well as the ever-changing social norms around marriage.

In preparation for this meeting, the Task Force recently received input from both the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops. Deputies from around the country had been asked to view a video report from the Task Force, and submit their responses. Task Force chair the Rev. Brian C. Taylor and Joan Geiszler-Ludlum, vice chair, gave a presentation to the recent House of Bishops meeting at Camp Allen, Texas, where they received written responses to reflection questions.

“It became clear from the input we received that there is a profound level of support and concern for the work we have been asked to do,” Taylor said. “Episcopalians care deeply about marriage and its potential for bringing joy and grace and for helping people become more fully alive and faithful as God’s agents of love and reconciliation in this world.”

He continued, “We also find that people want to know both what we are doing and what we are not doing. We are working to be faithful to Resolution A050 in studying and writing about the biblical, historical, theological and liturgical dimensions of marriage.  We are not writing a definition, or re-definition, of marriage that could then be proposed as official church teaching. We are tracing many of the historic and current themes and developments of this evolving institution, and we are inviting everyone to join us in learning, listening, and discussing.”

The Task Force is also looking at ways to respond to one of the specific charges in the original resolution, to “address the pastoral need for priests to officiate at a civil marriage of a same- sex couple in states that authorize such.” Many dioceses are already finding their own ways of doing this, and the task force “feels that it is part of our responsibility to propose something for the church’s consideration that could offer consistency to what is currently taking place,” according to Taylor.

Soon the Task Force will offer new ways for conversation across The Episcopal Church. In June, Resources for Conversations on Marriage will be released for use by congregations, dioceses, seminaries, and other groups and individuals.

The Resources will include a variety of options: 3-35 minute sessions; a 90-minute event; multiple 45-minute forums; and more in-depth studies of reading material. All of these options will include a discussion guide and the vantage points will range from scripture, theology and history to those contemporary points of variance where friction is sometimes felt.

Episcopalians may also engage the Task Force through its Facebook page and are asked to send 1-minute videos to taskforceonmarriage@gmail.com on how people have seen the image of God in relationships. The videos will be to the “Taskforce on Marriage” YouTube channel.

Taylor looks forward to this church-wide conversation, and says “We hope that the resources we provide this year will give a foretaste of the much more comprehensive materials and resources for further study we will offer in our report to General Convention 2015.”  That report is due to be released in the coming winter. “But more than that, our hope is that we will contribute to a church-wide conversation about the ways in which marriage can be for many a place of union in heart, body and mind, of joy, help and comfort; a place where, through both prosperity and adversity, we are transformed by love and made more fit for building up God’s kingdom.”

Task Force Facebook page here.

Task Force YouTube here.

The Episcopal Church’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage is enabled by Resolution A050 at the 2012 General Convention.

Resolution A050 is available in full here.

Task Force Members
The members of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage are:
The Rev. Brian C. Taylor, chair, Diocese of the Rio Grande
Carolyn M. Chilton, Diocese of Virginia
The Rt. Rev. Thomas C. Ely, Diocese of Vermont
Joan Geiszler-Ludlum, vice-chair, Diocese of East Carolina
The Very Rev. Gail Greenwell, Diocese of Kansas
The Rev. Tobias S. Haller, Diocese of New York
The Rev. Canon W. (Will) H. Mebane, Jr., Diocese of Ohio
The Rev. J. David Knight, Diocese of Mississippi
The Rev. Dr. Cameron E. Partridge, Diocese of Massachusetts
The Rev. Canon Susan Russell, Diocese of Los Angeles
The Very Rev. Dr. Sylvia A. Sweeney, Diocese of Los Angeles
The Rt. Rev. W. Andrew Waldo, Diocese of Upper South Carolina

Saldanha Bay bishop makes good strides on 800km pilgrimage

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 7, 2014

En route from Wellington to Simonsvlei – a happy part of the big crowd walking with us from Northpine band of pilgrims and supporters. Photo: Diocese of Saldanha Bay

[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop Raphael Hess, of Southern Africa’s Saldanha Bay diocese is making good strides on his 800km pilgrimage from one end of the diocese to the other.

The journey, which he is undertaking during Lent, touches each of the six Archdeaconries that make up the diocese. The Bishop has been sleeping in villages along the way, listening to and engaging with parishioners as he journeys.

His route takes him from Malmesbury to Wellington, through Paarl, along the byways to Klapmuts, Northpine, Kraaifontein and Bellville; then continuing through the city streets to Goodwood, Table View and Atlantis and finally out into the country as he heads up the West Coast of South Africa meeting all whose homes are the villages, fishing communities and farm lands.

The Bishop said, “I want to communicate to all within our Diocese along its length and breadth, walking through the dust, that this Pilgrimage invites us to strip ourselves of all that divides us, to be able to walk on the earth and in this instance one of the oldest parts of our planet, recalling the ancient Khoi and San people, having lived in these parts from time immemorial. This Pilgrimage of possibilities offers me and indeed all of us keeping the Holy Season of Lent, a time to walk, listen, pray and reflect in the silence of the land, the sea and the wind.”

Canon David Mills who has been reporting on the pilgrimage said the journey has indeed been a blessed one thus far with many opportunities for the bishop and his team to learn more about the lives of those in the diocese.

He recounted one encounter between the Bishop and fisherman on the road to Lamberts Bay: “On the road between Elandsbaai and Lamberts Bay the Bishop encountered a fishing boat, complete with crew on the road!

“The trailer carrying the boat had a faulty wheel thus allowing a God-given opportunity for Bishop Raphael to introduce himself and speak to the fishermen about their life and the challenges facing them.

“It was made clear to the Bishop that while none of the fishermen had licenses to fish, nevertheless they had to continue fishing to put food on the table for their families. Bishop Raphael identified with their dilemma and expressed compassion for their predicament – he committed himself to
take this concern further in dialogue with the relevant authorities.”

The pilgrimage, called a “Lenten Pilgrimage of Possibilities”, started on Ash Wednesday, March 5, and will end on Easter Sunday, April 20, at an early morning service in the coastal village of Port Nolloth just south of the South African – Namibian border.

During the pilgrimage, hundreds of the estimated 150,000 Anglicans living in the region are expected to participate in the pilgrimage, accompanying the Bishop on a leg of the journey or simply by raising funds through sponsoring the 800km walk. Each day, pilgrims are walking some 20kms starting and ending with prayers for the people and needs of the areas through which they walk.

Meetings in local churches and with community leaders will also take place. During Holy Week, Ordinands from the diocese will join the Bishop on his pilgrimage as he completes the final 150km between O’Kiep and Port Nolloth.

Any sponsorship money raised by the Bishop or others on the walk will go towards the development of people in rural areas of the diocese, as well as towards the work of theological education for our future generations of laity, deacons and priests.

Southwest seminary raises $2.5 million for J. Milton Richardson chair

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 7, 2014

[Seminary of the Southwest] Seminary of the Southwest announces its successful fundraising effort for the $2.5 million chair in memory of J. Milton Richardson, bishop of Texas from 1965 until his death in 1980.

In 1981, the seminary’s board of trustees established the chair in memory of their late board chair and friend. The seminary’s current Campaign for Leadership includes increasing the endowment principal for the J. Milton Richardson Chair of Anglican Studies, currently held by the Rev. Nathan Jennings, PhD.

“The leadership of the seminary’s trustees and of the committee which dedicated itself to this project has inspired members of the Richardson family, alumni and friends across the country,” said Chair of the Board Dena Harrison. “We are thankful for every gift and celebrate the most recent major gift from a Houston couple which brought us to our goal. 

Bishop Richardson was known as a man of faith, intelligence, wit, courage and integrity. He led the Diocese of Texas to financial health, maintained harmony in a time of unrest and met the challenge of growth while serving simultaneously as chair of the board at Seminary of the Southwest and other diocesan institutions.

The Campaign for Leadership, a $15.9 million major gifts campaign, is raising funds to fully endow professorships, increase scholarships and develop a more robust annual fund. The seminary expects to close the campaign by May 31, 2014. A celebration of thanksgiving is planned for the seminary’s John Hines Day in October.

Seminary of the Southwest is an accredited Episcopal seminary in Austin, Texas offering master’s degrees for ordained ministry and for people seeking education and formation for counseling certification, chaplaincy and pastoral care, spiritual formation, and religion. The seminary’s mission is to form men and women for the service of Christ in lay or ordained ministry within the church and the larger society.

Wilfrido Ramos Orench elegido como obispo provisional de Puerto Rico

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 7, 2014

El Reverendísimo Wilfrido Ramos Orench fue instalado como 0bispo provisional de la Diócesis de Puerto Rico el 28 de marzo en la Universidad Polytécnica de Puerto Rico en Hato Rey.

La Obispa Presidente Katharine Jefferts Schori ha presidido el servicio de instalación de tres horas; el Obispo José Antonio Ramos Orench, obispo jubilado de la Iglesia Episcopal de Costa Rica y el hermano del obispo provisional, predicaron.

Los obispos de la IX Provincia asistentes incluyeron el Obispo de Colombia Francisco Duque; Obispo de Honduras Lloyd Allen; Obispo de Venezuela Orlando Guerrero; Obispo de República Dominicana Julio Holguín; el Obispo Luis Fernando Ruiz, asistente del obispo en la República Dominicana; y el Obispo Victor Scantlebury, el obispo provisional de Ecuador Central. El pastor Angel Luis Rivera del Consejo Puertorriqueño de Iglesias, el pastor Enrique Mercado del Sínodo del Caribe de la Iglesia Evangélica Luterana de América, y el Rdo. Fray Luis Orench de la Iglesia Católica Romana y la Orden de los Frailes Menores también asistieron.

Ramos reemplaza al obispo David Alvarez, quien se desempeñó como obispo diocesano de la Diócesis de Puerto Rico desde 1989.

Durante la instalación, Ramos recibió una cruz pectoral de Yadira Torres, presidente del Comité Permanente de la diócesis. La cruz,  utilizada por el Obispo James Van Buren en 1901, ha sido entregada a todos los obispos diocesanos, dijo Torres.

“Quiero agradecer a todos por su apoyo y sus oraciones. Vamos juntos a escribir una nueva página en la historia de nuestra diócesis”, dijo Ramos durante la instalación.

El Comité Permanente de la diócesis pospuso y luego canceló una elección para reemplazar a Alvarez, que llegó a la edad de jubilación el 7 de septiembre de 2013.

Los cargos se hicieron en contra de Alvarez en agosto y septiembre del 2013.

Se llegó a un acuerdo con respecto a supuestas violaciones de los cánones disciplinarios entre la obispa presidente y Alvarez; como consecuencia del acuerdo pactado, Alvarez fue suspendido de todas las funciones episcopales, hasta 31 de octubre 2014, dijo el Obispo Clay Matthews, obispo de la Iglesia Episcopal para el desarrollo pastoral, en un comunicado emitido por la Oficina de Asuntos Públicos de la Iglesia Episcopal.

Alvarez renunció en la fecha de jubilación obligatoria del 1 de noviembre 2013.

El acuerdo con Alvarez dice “supuestamente” porque hubo tres denuncias, una de las cuales no podía ser refutada. Alvarez no cumplió con la implementación del Título IV, canon eclesiástico disciplinaria adoptado en 2009, para entrar en afecto en el 2011, dijo Matthews, en una llamada telefónica con ENS.

Alvarez disputó los otros dos cargos, pero en lugar de ampliar el proceso de investigación, la obispa presidente y Alvarez establecieron un acuerdo, que no fue disputado, dijo Matthews, quien agregó que las acusaciones no son públicas debido a los requisitos de confidencialidad del Título IV.

“En efecto, él está suspendido de todos los ministerios episcopales desde 1 de noviembre de 2013, al 31 de octubre de 2014″, dijo Matthews, quien agregó que el acuerdo no se basa en algo que tiene que ver con la “inmoralidad”.

Mientras tanto, la diócesis en la convención (y en consulta con la oficina de la obispa presidente) eligió a Ramos como obispo provisional, “hasta el momento en que estén listos para tener una elección. Y estamos asumiendo que pueden ser en tres años a partir de ahora “, dijo Matthews, quien agregó que hay un cierto desacuerdo en la diócesis con respecto a si una elección se celebre ahora, o si la diócesis debe esperar.

Ramos, quien es de Yauco, una ciudad en el suroeste de Puerto Rico, se desempeñó como obispo sufragáneo de la Diócesis de Connecticut del 2000 al 2006. Asimismo, se desempeñó previamente como obispo provisional de la Diócesis de Ecuador Central. El recientemente se desempeñó como representante de las asociaciones mundiales de la Iglesia Episcopal para la IX Provincia.

Mensaje de Pascua del 2014 de la Obispa Presidente de la Iglesia Episcopal

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 7, 2014

Mensaje de Pascua del 2014 de la Obispa Presidente de la Iglesia Episcopal

[7 de abril de 2014] “¿Dónde y cómo vamos a buscar el cuerpo de Cristo, resucitado y levantado?” La Obispa Presidente de la Iglesia Episcopal Katharine Jefferts Schori presenta en su Mensaje de Pascua del 2014. “¿Vamos a compartir la vida de ese cuerpo como un pueblo de pascua, transformado por la resurrección y enviado a transformar el mundo a su vez?”

A continuación el mensaje de Pascua del 2104 de la Obispa Presidente.

Mensaje de Pascua del 2014

La tumba está vacía, y nadie sabe dónde está el cuerpo. María Magdalena les dice a los demás acerca de la misteriosa desaparición, pero se dan por vencidos y vuelven a casa. María se queda atrás, llorando, y luego no reconoce el resucitado ante ella. Al pasar los días, cada encuentro del resucitado se inicia en la sorpresa o el anonimato – los discípulos pescando toda la noche sin lograr coger pescados, Jesús cocinando desayuno en la playa, los dos con rumbo a Emaús. Nadie le reconoce a primera vista.

Es evidente que el cuerpo resucitado no es idéntico al del Jesús que fue crucificado. Las personas lo confunden con un extraño. Él entra en habitaciones cerradas. Camina por el camino a Emaús por un largo tiempo sin ser reconocido. Crucifixión, muerte y resurrección resultan en un cuerpo transformado –  con cicatrices evidentes, pero no obstante cambiado. Cuando Él  recuerda a otros del banquete de Dios, esto significó que era para todo el mundo – cuando los seres humanos son alimentados y se les da agua, son liberados de la cárcel, reunidos desde el exilio en toda la tierra, sanados y reconciliados en una comunidad de paz – sus compañeros descubren que una vez ha estado en medio de ellos.

¿Qué realmente significó esa resurrección para el Cuerpo de Cristo del cual formamos parte?  ¿Cómo el cuerpo resucitado de Cristo – lo que a menudo llamamos la iglesia – diferente del crucificado? Ese cuerpo parece estar más vivo cuando vive más cerca de la realidad del  Viernes Santo y el misterio de la Pascua. En el Occidente, este cuerpo ha sufrido una gran cantidad de muerte en las últimas décadas. Está disminuida, algunos dirían maltratado, cada vez perforado por la apatía y burlado por aborrecedores refinados. Ese cuerpo tiene un poco parecido a las imágenes reales de la historia reciente – aunque, como Jesús, está siendo burlada. El cuerpo recuerda y se aflige, como el cuerpo de Israel clamando en el desierto, “¿por qué nos has traído hasta aquí para morir?” O el cuerpo crucificado que clama: ” Dios mío, ¿Por qué me has abandonado?”, o “¿Por qué nos abandonaste?  “En otros contextos, el Cuerpo de Cristo está literalmente muriendo y derramando su sangre vital – en Pakistán y Sudán, en Irak y Egipto – y en esas antiguas palabras de Tertuliano, la sangre de los mártires está convirtiéndose en la semilla de la iglesia.

El Cuerpo de Cristo está levantándose hoy en donde está creciendo menos egocéntrico y enfocado hacia el interior, y viviendo con el corazón hacia lo cósmico y eterno, su atención se centrada intensamente en el amor a Dios y al prójimo. Este cuerpo está levantándose para estar en solidaridad con los criminales condenados a muerte, con las viudas y los huérfanos, con el pueblo de la tierra que esclavizan sobre surcos y campos de lechuga para alimentar al mundo. Este cuerpo se encuentra pasando por paredes y límites que siempre han sido empleados mal para mantener al llamado  “ justo” lejos de todo aquello que no es “seguro” y “puro”. El cuerpo se reconoce cuando los hambrientos son alimentados –  en la orilla del lago con un pez asado, en el camino a Emaús, en las esquinas de la calle y los parques de la ciudad, en las despensas de alimentos y cocinas abiertas, en alimentar  naciones vecinas y antiguos enemigos, y como el cuerpo se reúne una vez más para recordar su identidad y origen – Cristo ha resucitado por el bien de toda la creación.

¿Dónde y cómo vamos a buscar el Cuerpo de Cristo, resucitado y levantado? ¿Vamos a compartir la vida de ese cuerpo como un pueblo de pascua, transformado por la resurrección y enviados a transformar el mundo a su vez?

Cristo ha resucitado, ¡Aleluya! ¡Aleluya!, ¡Cristo ha resucitado!

Reverendísima Katharine Jefferts Schori
Obispa Presidente y Primado
La Iglesia Episcopal

Presiding Bishop’s Easter Message 2014

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 7, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] “Where and how will we look for the Body of Christ, risen and rising?,” Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori presents in her Easter Message 2014. “Will we share the life of that body as an Easter people, transformed by resurrection and sent to transform the world in turn?”

The following is the Presiding Bishop’s Easter Message 2014.

Easter Message 2014

The tomb is empty, and nobody knows where the body is.  Mary Magdalene tells the others about the mysterious disappearance, but they give up and go home.  Mary stays behind, weeping, and then fails to recognize the risen one before her.  As the days pass, each resurrected encounter begins in surprise or anonymity – the disciples fishing all night without catching, Jesus cooking breakfast on the beach, the two on their way to Emmaus.  Nobody recognizes him at first sight.

Clearly the risen body is not identical to the Jesus who was crucified.  People mistake him for a stranger.  He enters locked rooms.  He walks along the path to Emmaus for a long time without being recognized.  Crucifixion, death, and resurrection result in a transformed body – with evident scars, but changed nonetheless.  When he reminds others of God’s banquet, meant for the whole world – when human beings are fed and watered, delivered from prison, gathered from exile across the earth, and healed and reconciled into a community of peace – his companions discover that he has once again been in their midst.

What does that resurrection reality mean for the Body of Christ of which we are part?  How does the risen Body of Christ – what we often call the church – differ from the crucified one?  That Body seems to be most lively when it lives closer to the reality of Good Friday and the Easter mystery.  In the West, that Body has suffered a lot of dying in recent decades.  It is diminished, some would say battered, increasingly punctured by apathy and taunted by cultured despisers.  That body bears little resemblance to royal images of recent memory – though, like Jesus, it is being mocked.  The body remembers and grieves, like the body of Israel crying in the desert, “why did you bring us out here to die?” or the crucified body who cries, “My God, why have you forsaken me,” or “why have you abandoned us?”  In other contexts the Body of Christ is quite literally dying and spilling its lifeblood – in Pakistan and Sudan, in Iraq and Egypt – and in those ancient words of Tertullian, the blood of martyrs is becoming the seed of the church.

The Body of Christ is rising today where it is growing less self-centered and inwardly focused, and living with its heart turned toward the cosmic and eternal, its attention focused intently on loving God and neighbor.  This Body is rising to stand in solidarity with criminals sentenced to death, with widows and orphans, with the people of the land who slave over furrows and lettuce fields to feed the world.  This Body can be found passing through walls and boundaries that have long been misused to keep the righteous “safe” and “pure.”  The Body is recognized when the hungry are fed – on the lakeshore with broiled fish, on the road to Emmaus, on street corners and city parks, in food pantries and open kitchens, in feeding neighbor nations and former enemies, and as the Body gathers once again to remember its identity and origin – Christ is risen for the sake of all creation.

Where and how will we look for the Body of Christ, risen and rising?  Will we share the life of that body as an Easter people, transformed by resurrection and sent to transform the world in turn?

Christ is risen, Alleluia!  Alleluia, Christ is risen indeed!

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

Mensaje de Pascua del 2014
de la Obispa Presidente de la Iglesia Episcopal

[7 de abril de 2014] “¿Dónde y cómo vamos a buscar el cuerpo de Cristo, resucitado y levantado?” La Obispa Presidente de la Iglesia Episcopal Katharine Jefferts Schori presenta en su Mensaje de Pascua del 2014. “¿Vamos a compartir la vida de ese cuerpo como un pueblo de pascua, transformado por la resurrección y enviado a transformar el mundo a su vez?”

A continuación el mensaje de Pascua del 2104 de la Obispa Presidente.

Mensaje de Pascua del 2014

La tumba está vacía, y nadie sabe dónde está el cuerpo. María Magdalena les dice a los demás acerca de la misteriosa desaparición, pero se dan por vencidos y vuelven a casa. María se queda atrás, llorando, y luego no reconoce el resucitado ante ella. Al pasar los días, cada encuentro del resucitado se inicia en la sorpresa o el anonimato – los discípulos pescando toda la noche sin lograr coger pescados, Jesús cocinando desayuno en la playa, los dos con rumbo a Emaús. Nadie le reconoce a primera vista.

Es evidente que el cuerpo resucitado no es idéntico al del Jesús que fue crucificado. Las personas lo confunden con un extraño. Él entra en habitaciones cerradas. Camina por el camino a Emaús por un largo tiempo sin ser reconocido. Crucifixión, muerte y resurrección resultan en un cuerpo transformado –  con cicatrices evidentes, pero no obstante cambiado. Cuando Él  recuerda a otros del banquete de Dios, esto significó que era para todo el mundo – cuando los seres humanos son alimentados y se les da agua, son liberados de la cárcel, reunidos desde el exilio en toda la tierra, sanados y reconciliados en una comunidad de paz – sus compañeros descubren que una vez ha estado en medio de ellos.

¿Qué realmente significó esa resurrección para el Cuerpo de Cristo del cual formamos parte?  ¿Cómo el cuerpo resucitado de Cristo – lo que a menudo llamamos la iglesia – diferente del crucificado? Ese cuerpo parece estar más vivo cuando vive más cerca de la realidad del  Viernes Santo y el misterio de la Pascua. En el Occidente, este cuerpo ha sufrido una gran cantidad de muerte en las últimas décadas. Está disminuida, algunos dirían maltratado, cada vez perforado por la apatía y burlado por aborrecedores refinados. Ese cuerpo tiene un poco parecido a las imágenes reales de la historia reciente – aunque, como Jesús, está siendo burlada. El cuerpo recuerda y se aflige, como el cuerpo de Israel clamando en el desierto, “¿por qué nos has traído hasta aquí para morir?” O el cuerpo crucificado que clama: ” Dios mío, ¿Por qué me has abandonado?”, o “¿Por qué nos abandonaste?  “En otros contextos, el Cuerpo de Cristo está literalmente muriendo y derramando su sangre vital – en Pakistán y Sudán, en Irak y Egipto – y en esas antiguas palabras de Tertuliano, la sangre de los mártires está convirtiéndose en la semilla de la iglesia.

El Cuerpo de Cristo está levantándose hoy en donde está creciendo menos egocéntrico y enfocado hacia el interior, y viviendo con el corazón hacia lo cósmico y eterno, su atención se centrada intensamente en el amor a Dios y al prójimo. Este cuerpo está levantándose para estar en solidaridad con los criminales condenados a muerte, con las viudas y los huérfanos, con el pueblo de la tierra que esclavizan sobre surcos y campos de lechuga para alimentar al mundo. Este cuerpo se encuentra pasando por paredes y límites que siempre han sido empleados mal para mantener al llamado  “ justo” lejos de todo aquello que no es “seguro” y “puro”. El cuerpo se reconoce cuando los hambrientos son alimentados –  en la orilla del lago con un pez asado, en el camino a Emaús, en las esquinas de la calle y los parques de la ciudad, en las despensas de alimentos y cocinas abiertas, en alimentar  naciones vecinas y antiguos enemigos, y como el cuerpo se reúne una vez más para recordar su identidad y origen – Cristo ha resucitado por el bien de toda la creación.

¿Dónde y cómo vamos a buscar el Cuerpo de Cristo, resucitado y levantado? ¿Vamos a compartir la vida de ese cuerpo como un pueblo de pascua, transformado por la resurrección y enviados a transformar el mundo a su vez?

Cristo ha resucitado, ¡Aleluya! ¡Aleluya!, ¡Cristo ha resucitado!

Reverendísima Katharine Jefferts Schori
Obispa Presidente y Primado
La Iglesia Episcopal

‘Church must take the risk of identifying with the poor,’ says Welby

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 7, 2014

[Lambeth Palace press release] The Church must take the risk of siding with the poor and vulnerable, or it will be ignoring what God wants, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said yesterday as he and Cardinal Vincent Nichols launched their week of prayer for Christian social action.

Archbishop Justin and Cardinal Nichols, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, were visiting a Roman Catholic centre for refugees and asylum seekers, housed in a former Methodist church in Haringey, north London.

During the afternoon the two Archbishops met with volunteers, guests and community members, shared in a time of prayer, and gave short reflections on the day’s Bible readings.

In his talk, Archbishop Justin said the example of Jesus demonstrated that “there’s never been a moment in human history when to take the side of those who are weak and poor is popular.”

“But we need a church that listens to God, that hears the voice of the poor, and takes the risk of identifying with the poor.”

The visit marked the first day of a week of prayer for the church’s work serving those in need, which people are being encouraged to join by viewing daily videos reflections, using prayer resources and tweeting about what the church is doing near them to help the poor using the hashtag #ListenToGod.

Archbishop Justin said visiting the church-run centre had reminded him “how much I need to listen more carefully and hear the voice of the poor. How easy it is to be caught up in church struggles and church bureaucracy and administration and to stop listening.

“Something like this is doing what we should be doing. It’s taking the risk. This afternoon I’ve found myself brought face to face with Jesus Christ again. And for that I thank you and I praise God.”

At the end, Archbishop Justin and Cardinal Nichols were each given a pile of blankets, which the centre gives out to people it is not able to help. Archbishop Justin said that the blankets would be placed in the chapel at Lambeth Palace, “so that each time I go and pray I am reminded of this visit and of you and of the needs this represents”.

- See more at: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5285/church-must-take-the-risk-of-identifying-with-the-poor-says-archbishop-justin#sthash.WeZUCeb7.dpuf

Olympia diocese provides relief, support for Oso mudslide victims

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 7, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of Olympia press release] There is a deep connection in the soul when we see tragedy strike. Reaching out and acknowledging that connection with compassion helps us to find redemption in the memory of our own sufferings. This week we surpassed $30,000 in Mudslide Relief Support funds. Gifts come not only from within the Diocese of Olympia, but across the Episcopal Church. One such $2000 gift came from the Church of the Holy Innocents in Beach Haven, New Jersey. Their rector, the Rev. Frank B. Crumbaugh, III, writes, “We on the Jersey Shore send our love and prayers along with this money. We know the human cost and heartache that comes with disaster, and we want you to know you are not alone as you face the Oso mudslide.” The connection transcends the distance from one coast to another as they support people in the wake of this tragedy here in Washington.

The Rev. Janet Loyd, vicar of Church of the Transfiguration in Darrington, a few miles from the slide site in Oso, has been on the ground from the beginning. She has provided resources with the use of our donations to begin the recovery process. So much goes to help with basic human needs, needs that other relief funds might not address: food for funeral receptions and community meals, clothing for families who no longer have their home, candles for candlelight vigils, payment of utility bills due to the loss of work, assistance with medical bills, gas to travel to doctor’s appointments, and gas cards for a commute that has increased to 160 miles a day until State Route 530 is cleared. Janet states, “Meeting these needs on a personal level allows us as a church to respect the dignity and relieve the suffering of God’s people in a very special way.”

After the initial surge of relief work is completed, there still will be physical and emotional rebuilding to be done. There will be financial costs to this work, too. In the meantime says Janet, “Thank you for your generous outpouring of love and support, and above all for the prayers you have offered on behalf of Transfiguration and the communities of Darrington, Oso, and Arlington. The slide at Hazel Hill has truly changed us forever in ways both negative and positive.”

In his Oso Mudslide Update of April 3, Bishop Greg Rickel noted the good news that President Obama declared the area a federal disaster area, bringing additional resources, especially for the victims. He added his thanks for the generosity of support, adding, “There will be a greater need; donations are encouraged and being accepted now and for the conceivable future. You may donate here.”

Our work is to pray, to give and to remember that we are all in this together supporting our sisters and brothers as the Body of Christ reaching out with compassion as they find their way.

The Diocese of Olympia (Episcopal Church in Western Washington): We are over 31,000 people in more than 100 churches. We are building strong communities of faith. We are striving to be good stewards of all our resources: our time, our talents, our treasures and our Earth. We are deepening our relationships with people under 35, and with others: in the Holy Land, Latin America and all around the world. We are inclusive. We are growing and learning. We are stewards. We are evangelists. We are on mission. We are the church in the world.

Alan M. Gates elected as bishop of Massachusetts

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 7, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts] The people of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts have elected an Ohio parish priest to be their next bishop.

At the special electing convention held on Saturday, April 5, clergy and lay delegates elected the Rev. Alan M. Gates, rector of St. Paul’s Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, to succeed the Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE as the 16th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. The electing convention took place at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston.

In order to be elected, a candidate needed to receive a simple majority of votes from both the clergy and lay delegates, voting separately as “orders,” on the same balloting round. Gates secured election on the fourth ballot, receiving 157 clergy votes and 188 lay votes, with 145 and 164 needed, respectively, for election.

There was a delay in the proceedings after the third ballot had been cast because an error was discovered in the first ballot’s lay vote tally. The corrected results for ballot one were posted, and ballots two and three were then deemed invalid. Fourth ballot results and the election were announced at 3:40 p.m.

Gates’s election must now receive consent from a majority of the Episcopal Church’s diocesan bishops and a majority of its dioceses. Pending that consent, the bishop-elect’s consecration is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Sept. 13 at the Agganis Arena at Boston University, with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori presiding.

“To return to the Diocese of Massachusetts a quarter century after my ordination to the priesthood there will be a genuine delight. To be called to do so as bishop-elect is an unimagined honor and a privilege beyond the telling,” Gates said in a statement following the election. “I am humbled to follow the episcopate of Bishop Tom Shaw who has led the diocese with grace and courage for 20 years.”

The other six candidates were:

  • the Rev. Holly Lyman Antolini, rector of St. James’s Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts;
  • the Rev. Timothy E. Crellin, vicar of St. Stephen’s Church in Boston;
  • the Rev. Ronald Culmer, rector of St. Clare’s Church in Pleasanton, California;
  • the Rev. Ledlie Laughlin, rector of St. Peter’s Church in Philadelphia;
  • the Rev. Canon Mally Lloyd, canon to the ordinary in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts; and
  • the Rev. Sam Rodman, project manager for Campaign Initiatives for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

“Alan is a skilled pastor and he has an appreciation for the complexity of the Diocese of Massachusetts. I have real confidence in his ability to lead this diocese forward with creativity and dedication. It will be a pleasure working with him in these next months,” Shaw said following the election.

“It was a long day, but it was worth taking that extra procedural time,” Shaw said of the tallying correction made during the balloting process. “I was impressed with people’s desire to make sure everything was in order.”

Shaw became the 15th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts in January 1995. In preparation for retirement, he plans to resign his office at the time of the bishop-elect’s consecration in September.

The Diocese of Massachusetts, established in 1784, is among the Episcopal Church’s oldest and largest, in terms of baptized membership, and comprises 183 parishes, missions, chapels and chaplaincies in eastern Massachusetts.

Gates, 56, has been the rector of St. Paul’s Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, since 2004.  He is a graduate of Middlebury College and undertook graduate studies at Georgetown University. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1988 and served congregations in the Episcopal dioceses of Massachusetts, Western Massachusetts and Chicago prior to his call to Ohio. He and his spouse, Patricia J. Harvey, live in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and have two children.

The bishop-elect’s full statement and biography are available here

California bishop responds to Welby’s comments on sexuality

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 7, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of California] The Archbishop of Canterbury has made public statements that reveal at best a lamentable naiveté and at worst both homophobia and colonial thinking. Archbishop Justin Welby has claimed that the Church of England, if it marries gay and lesbian people there is responsible for the deaths of homosexuals in Africa.

The archbishop was shown the mass grave of Christians from a village in Africa, killed, he was told because their neighbors did not want to become gay by association with people whose religion supported rights for LGBT people. It is clear that the archbishop was shocked by the brutality behind this mass murder, and the very scale of the killing. I too am overwhelmed by it. In the face of tragedies larger than a human can take in, I think we often go to answers and solutions that we know, that are familiar. Here, I think the archbishop fell back on a solution that was already unjust, but familiar to him: retrench around marriage as only between a woman and a man. Don’t inflame violent people further.

Welby’s argument is parallel to saying that the segregation laws in the United States that obtained until the mid-60s and the disenfranchisement of women in the United States until the 20th Century should have both been continued if someone claimed that blacks and women in other countries would be endangered by moves towards greater justice here.

In a very simple world, with very few variables perhaps we could credit Archbishop Welby’s reasoning. If the only factor in the safety of African LGBT people was the maintenance of unjust laws in England and the United States, I hope we would all pause to absorb this and see what could be done about it. But our world is an exceedingly complex place and this simplistic logic of the Archbishop’s only privileges the colonial power position Great Britain once held with respect to her now-vanished empire – the Africans pay close attention to everything the center of the empire thinks and does.

Instead, Africa is a continent of countries, each with its own history apart from and intertwined with former European empire masters. Surely there are at least as many factors at work within Africa itself influencing the safety of LGBT people (and Christians in general, as Welby argues) that counterbalance whatever focus Africans may have on England.

The Archbishop could be helpfully involved in Africa on behalf of the safety of vulnerable LGBT people if he wished to be, in ways that did not continue the oppression of LGBT people in the United Kingdom. He could support the ministry of the retired bishop, Christopher Senyonjo in Uganda, a courageous and nearly lone voice in the religious leadership of that country. Archbishop Welby could speak clearly to the Churches in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria among others about their open support of legislation that criminalizes even the very being of LGBT people.

If I am right and empire thinking underlies the archbishop’s remarks, his proposed way forward – continue to oppress LGBT people in the UK – will fail to keep African’s safe for this reason: if Africa is watching the UK as closely as the Archbishop would have us all believe then they will not miss that the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion is on the side of continued second-class citizenship for LGBT people.

Twice in the hour-long phone-in program in which the archbishop made his remarks, Archbishop Welby used the modifier, incredibly to describe how the Church must attend to the witness of the LGBT community – listen incredibly carefully and be incredibly conscious. To remember a great line from The Princess Bride, I’m not sure the archbishop knows what incredible attentiveness means.

We should remember that the archbishop has made his views on same-gender marriage clear. In an address to the House of Lords he reiterated, as he did in the radio interview most recently that marriage is a sacred institution reserved for heterosexuals. In fact, in this most recent interview the Guardian wrote that the archbishop did not want LGBT people to be treated with any greater severity than adulterous heterosexuals are treated. The core idea here if anyone cares to look closely is that same-gender relationships are sinful.

Today, local media in the diocese I serve showed one of my priests, a partnered, gay man being led away by law enforcement officers for an act of civil disobedience on behalf of immigrants in danger of deportation. Such acts on the side of justice are, I’m happy to say, commonplace in this diocese, done all the time by gay and straight folks. Faithful, rather than sinful seems a better word to describe this priest and the many like him here.

Archbishop Welby asserts that marriage should be only between a man and a woman, and says that scripture supports his position. I would hope for a better reader of scripture in the spiritual head of our Church. Let me point to this coming Sunday’s Gospel, the Raising of Lazarus from the Dead, in the Gospel of John as a good place to look for guidance on the issue of the safety of Christians, both straight and LGBT in Africa and elsewhere.

Jesus is so deeply moved – by the death of his friend, by the oppression of his people, by the suffering of the world – that he risks everything to go to the cave where Lazarus is buried to raise him back to life – Thomas says, “Let us go with him and die.” In order to raise Lazarus from the dead Jesus has to go right into the turbulent political waters in and around Jerusalem, where his life is danger, and where he will shortly be betrayed, tortured and killed.

This courage and compassion should be my guide, and I suggest our guide as we identify with Christ, as Christians. There are other scripture passages that might point us to how to view the question of same-gender marriage; the Raising of Lazarus from the Dead gives us guidance on how we should act when we confront injustice, evil and sin.

Presiding Bishop delivers greeting to Moravian Southern Province

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 7, 2014

Moravian Southern Province
Greeting
4 April 2014

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

I greet you on behalf of The Episcopal Church in 17 nations, where we overlap with this Moravian province and others in the Unitas Fratrum.  Like you, we are part of a global fellowship of provinces, the Anglican Communion.  Episcopalians and Moravians are still only beginning to explore what it means to be in full communion with one another.  We celebrate the fact that there is now one partnership in North Carolina, and one beginning in central Pennsylvania, in the Northern Province.  I hope and pray that these will continue to grow and expand.

Who are we as a Church?  We’re a product of the English Reformation, with significant influence by the Continental reformers and your own forebears.  Anglicanism grew out of the early Christian witness in Britain, probably present as early as the 2nd century, having come with Roman soldiers.  It took root and indigenized, and when Augustine of Canterbury was sent by Gregory the Great, he was reminded to bless the good he found there and work with the rest.

That’s probably a helpful frame for a gift I believe Anglicans and Moravians share – a comfort with diversity and a willingness to look for the presence of God at work in a wide range of theological positions, liturgical practices, and contexts.  We claim catholic, reformed, and liberal strands within Anglicanism, and at our best believe that each has important gifts to offer the larger tradition.  We prize unity over uniformity, even though working that out is frequently messy.  Your own willingness to affirm the confessional documents of a range of Christian bodies, finding truth in each, is a constructive parallel.

We take worship and the practice of holiness with deep seriousness as well as an eagerness to find beauty and truth in all we do.  We are increasingly remembering that our part in God’s mission requires us to turn outward into God’s larger creation, human and otherwise, to seek and produce beauty and truth in incarnate social form – as justice and peace.

We also govern ourselves synodically, with lay persons, priests and deacons, and bishops helping to discern the movement of the Spirit as we make decisions on behalf of the whole Church.

As we seek to grow into the one body of Christ, we are discovering new gifts and possibilities for God’s mission in our full communion partners – the Moravian Church (Southern and Northern Provinces), the ELCA, the IFI, Mar Thoma, and the Old Catholic Union of Utrecht.

We give thanks for your partnership and your willingness to teach us about the truth you know, and we promise you the same.  I ask your prayers for us.

May God continue to richly bless the Moravian Church, your ministry, and the world and work we share.

Welby says sexuality decisions can mean African Christians suffer

ENS Headlines - Friday, April 4, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has said that Christians in parts of Africa face abuse, violence and even death because of decisions on sexual equality made by Anglican Churches in the West.

Welby, the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, made the comments in an hour-long phone-in program on LBC radio today.

In particular he was was responding to a question from Kes, a Church of England priest who had called in to ask why English clergy were not allowed to decide for themselves whether to marry gay couples.

“Why we can’t do it now is because the impact of that on Christians in countries far from here like South Sudan, like Pakistan, like Nigeria, would be absolutely catastrophic and we have to love them as much as the people who are here,” he said.

“At the same time we have to listen incredibly carefully to the LGBT communities here and listen to what they’re saying and we have to look at the tradition of the Church, the teaching of the Church, and of Scripture which is definitive in the end, before we come to a conclusion [on the issue of same sex marriage].”

When challenged by the LBC presenter James O’Brien about the Church of England’s decision not to perform same sex weddings, Archbishop Welby stressed that it had nothing to do with avoiding upset to African Anglicans. Rather it was about not putting them in danger.

“It [the issue of same sex marriage] is something I wrestle with every day, and often in the middle of the night. I’m incredibly conscious of the position of gay people in this country, how badly they’ve been treated over the years, how badly the church has behaved. And, at the same time I’m incredibly conscious of what I saw in January in  South Sudan, in the DRC, and other places. You know, it’s not a simple issue,” he continued.

“Personally…I look at the Scriptures, I look at the teachings of the Church, I listen to Christians around the world and I have real hesitations about [same sex marriage]. I’m incredibly uncomfortable saying that because I really don’t want to say no to people who love each other. But you have to have a sense of following what the teaching of the Church is. We can’t just make sudden changes.”

One reason why not, explained the Archbishop, was because doing so could put Christians in danger elsewhere. He explained that he had seen first hand, at a mass grave in South Sudan, the lethal fallout from a decision on sexual equality taken by Christians in another country.

He said he had been told that the excuse given for the murder of hundreds of South Sudanese Christians had been: “If we leave a Christian community in this area, we will all be made to become homosexual, and so we’re going to kill the Christians.”

Welby concluded, “The mass grave had 369 bodies in it and I was standing with the relatives. That burns itself into your soul, as does the suffering of gay people in this country.”

Young adults form faith through service in the Philippines

ENS Headlines - Friday, April 4, 2014

As part of her work with the Episcopal Development Foundation of St. Mark’s in the Diocese of Santiago, YASCer Ashley Cameron visits with market shop owners who receive small business loans from the church foundation. Photo: Emily Cherry

[Episcopal News Service] Almost everywhere you travel in the Philippines, you see rice: steamed and served in heaping bowls on every table; unhusked and drying in the sun alongside roads; bagged and ready to be milled; packed into trucks along the highway; and growing in fields and towering terraces across the landscape of 7,000-plus islands.

Photo: Emily Cherry

It’s an industry that the nation – and the Episcopal Church in the Philippines – takes seriously. The church is one of the biggest proponents of Systems Rice Intensification, a simple but effective method of planting the fields to produce a higher yield.

Because the SRI crops are planted far apart, the first 15 days of the growing season finds fields looking remarkably sparse – even barren – compared to neighboring fields farmed with traditional practices. In those initial days, before the results start to show, farmers trying the new technique live in uncertainty, hoping and praying it will bear fruit. With rice farming, one could say, it’s important to have a little faith.

That’s a lesson that young Episcopalians from the United States are learning during their assignments in the Philippines through the Young Adult Service Corps (YASC), an Episcopal Church program that sends young adults across the Anglican Communion to grow in service through ministry with local communities. This year, Ashley Cameron from the Diocese of Virginia, Margaret Clinch from the Diocese of Southern Ohio and Andrew Joyce from the Diocese of Kentucky are learning what it means to grow in faith through service in the Philippines.

The Episcopal Church in the Philippines approaches its ministries holistically, said Floyd Lalwet, provincial secretary. “The church will not just take care of the spiritual lives of the people,” he said, but of the body and mind as well.

YASCer Margaret Clinch, pictured here with fellow YASCer Ashley Cameron and Buck Blanchard of the Diocese of Virginia, tours the grounds of Easter College in Baguio, where she’s spending the year teaching. Photo Emily Cherry

Clinch’s YASC assignment exemplifies that third category. She had requested a placement in the Philippines because of the likelihood of being assigned to a teaching position. Her background teaching through AmeriCorps made her a natural fit for a position teaching at Easter College in the city of Baguio in the Diocese of the North Central Philippines, where she instructs high school students in spoken English and Christian education.

One of the most fulfilling parts of the experience was something of a surprise, she said. The Diocese of the North Central Philippines recently launched its first Lay Theological Institute. When the bishop learned that Clinch majored in biology and religion at college, he asked her to teach a course on the intersection of faith and science. It’s a seminar-style class that emphasizes discussion, using storytelling as a frame for conversation about science and religion.

Storytelling has been a central focus for Clinch’s months in the Philippines, throughout all her ministries. “We understand everything within the context of the stories we tell,” she said.

Clinch tells her own stories on her blog, Service and Stories in the Philippines. All 26 YASC participants stationed across the globe maintain blogs to chronicle and share their journeys, and they also connect frequently via social media. It’s that community of corps members that cinched the deal for Clinch. After attending a discernment weekend with other potential candidates, “I fell in love with the program,” she said. “It is a really great community, and that’s what drew me there.”

Unlike many corps members, Clinch didn’t apply out of a love for foreign travel. Her flight to Manila was her first trip overseas. Arriving, she wondered: Where would her meals come from? How would she overcome the language barrier?

In August, Clinch will transition to an Episcopal Service Corps program in Baltimore, another step out of her comfort zone. But she’ll take some lessons from her YASC experience with her. “I’ll come into the Episcopal Service Corps … knowing how to be in a community that is not my own,” she said.

YASCer Andrew Joyce works in the greenhouse at the Tadian Organic and Demonstration Farm, where he works on sustainable agriculture projects. Photo: Ashley Cameron

Building and sustaining
For Joyce, the “foreignness” of the YASC experience has been part of the challenge.

“The biggest challenge I have encountered is learning to deal with, and accept, being a minority,” he said. “It’s an eye-opening, enlightening and terrifying experience to walk into a room and have people instantly judge you by the color of your skin.”

Joyce is serving his second year as a YASC missionary, stationed at the Tadian Organic Farm Demonstration and Learning Center in the Diocese of Northern Philippines.

The farm’s goals include expanding the production of organic vegetables and free-range chickens. The grounds house a small laboratory where Joyce and the other farm workers create and test organic feeds, fertilizers and insecticide. Nearby are several stalls for pigs, a large chicken coop and a greenhouse, where the staff test different products. Joyce works with local farmers to show them the benefits – both from a financial and environmental standpoint – to using the farm’s techniques and fertilizers.

“It is intensely satisfying and rewarding to see people applying methods that you taught them, and that they are being successful at it,” said Joyce. “Their smiles and words of thanks are invaluable to me.”

Sustainability is a recurring theme in the Episcopal Church in the Philippines. When it was recognized as an autonomous province in 1990, the Episcopal Church in the Philippines still received 60 percent of its income from the Episcopal Church. In 1992, in conjunction with the Joint Committee on the Philippine Covenant, the church made a 15-year plan to reach financial independence. It reached that goal of self-sustainability by 2007.

A core tenet of the church is its “receivers to Givers” policy. That means focusing on transforming communities with a history of receiving blessings into communities that give back to others. So the church supports Asset-Based Community Development, partnering with communities to analyze their assets and determine projects to generate income and promote sustainability.

Many of those development projects are part of E-CARE, Enhancing Community Assets through Agricultural Productivity and Rural Enterprise. Most dioceses in the Philippines have an office devoted to E-CARE and development projects, which all focus on providing financial support and social change to local church communities.

YASCer Ashley Cameron focuses on micro-finance in her work with the Diocese of Santiago. Photo: Emily Cherry

The Diocese of Santiago’s Episcopal Development Foundation of St. Mark’s is another piece of the puzzle, and this is where YASC missionary Cameron fits in.

Cameron said she always knew she wanted to be involved in international mission work. With her love for foreign travel and helping others, she thought the Peace Corps was a natural match. But a priest at her home parish in Leesburg, Virginia, convinced her otherwise by introducing her to YASC.

“I already had the passion for mission and service internationally, so adding the Episcopal Church aspect to the work was the cherry on top,” she said.

Cameron majored in Spanish during her studies at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, so an assignment in the Philippines might not seem like a logical match. But her studies in economics and her experience working with micro-finance projects in Honduras during college made her a fit for the St. Mark’s foundation, a micro-lending institution that offers loans of roughly $100 to $1,000 to more than 1,000 clients in the Santiago city area. Santiago Bishop Alexander Wandag calls the foundation the diocese’s “centerpiece for self-reliance.” In 2013, it provided about $50,000 to support the diocese.

Cameron’s work includes processing loan applications, meeting with applicants and visiting market owners and farmers who receive loans. Recently, a young single mother named Lea came to the foundation. She lived with her parents and had just failed her nursing exams. She needed a loan for her small store to put her life back on track, but she was deemed a potential flight risk, with no collateral.

Cameron worked with the staff to give Lea a small character-based loan of about $100. After two months, Lea had paid back the loan in full, grown her business and qualified for a second, larger loan.

“It was exciting to watch her progress,” said Cameron. “I personally fought for this client.”

Cameron will leave her post in August and plans to move to the Washington, D.C., area to pursue a job in social enterprise or micro-finance. But she will take her YASC lessons with her: the ability to adapt and be flexible; the need for self-awareness and for collaboration.

“Before coming to YASC … I enjoyed doing everything on my own,” said Cameron. “But it’s really taught me that you can’t do it all by yourself, and you’re not supposed to. You can learn a lot by asking others for help.”

And the YASC members have provided help.

The Episcopal Church in the Philippines has a vision: “By the year 2018, we envision a dynamic and vibrant church of caring, witnessing and mission-oriented parishes.” Part of that vision is the church’s heavy focus on key social ministries.

“Social ministry has always been a part of the vision of the church,” said Lalwet. “One of the few remaining institutions where people can find sanctuary from social injustice is the church.”

For the three YASC missionaries in the Philippines, links between faith and community, religion and society, have been a crucial part of their formation.

“We have the opportunity to contribute to the work of a church that is looking outside its four walls to assist local communities regardless if they fill the pews on Sunday,” said Cameron. “It’s truly inspiring work.”

– Emily Cherry is the communications director for the Diocese of Virginia.

Follow the YASCers online:

Ashley Cameron, An Endlessly Changing Horizon: ashleyecameron.blogspot.com

Margaret Clinch, Service and Stories in the Philippines: serviceandstories.blogspot.com

Andrew Joyce, andrewwjoyce.wordpress.com

Wilfrido Ramos Orench installed as provisional bishop of Puerto Rico

ENS Headlines - Friday, April 4, 2014

The Rt. Rev. Wilfrido Ramos Orench was installed as provisional bishop of the Diocese of Puerto Rico on March 28. Photo: Diocese of Puerto Rico

[Episcopal News Service] The Rt. Rev. Wilfrido Ramos Orench was installed as provisional bishop of the Diocese of Puerto Rico on March 28 at the Universidad Polytécnica de Puerto Rico in Hato Rey.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori presided at the three-hour installation service; Bishop José Antonio Ramos Orench, retired bishop of the Episcopal Church of Costa Rica and the provisional bishop’s brother, preached.

Province IX bishops in attendance included Colombia Bishop Francisco Duque; Honduras Bishop Lloyd Allen; Venezuela Bishop Orlando Guerrero; Dominican Republic Bishop Julio Holguin; Bishop Luis Fernando Ruiz, assisting bishop in the Dominican Republic; and Bishop Victor Scantlebury, the provisional bishop of Central Ecuador. Pastor Angel Luis Rivera of the Puerto Rican Council of Churches, Pastor Enrique Mercado of the Caribbean Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, and the Rev. Fray Luis Orench of the Roman Catholic Church and the Order of Friars Minor also attended.

Ramos replaces Bishop David Alvarez, who served as the diocesan bishop in the Diocese of Puerto Rico since 1989.

During the installation, Ramos Orench received a pectoral cross from Yadira Torres, president of the diocese’s Standing Committee. The cross, used by Bishop James Van Buren in 1901, has been handed to all diocesan bishops, Torres said.

“I want to thank everyone for your support and your prayers. Let us together write a new page in the history of our diocese,” said Ramos Orench during the installation.

The diocese’s Standing Committee postponed and later canceled an election to replace Alvarez, who reached retirement age on Sept. 7, 2013.

Charges were made against Alvarez in August and September of 2013.

An accord regarding certain alleged violations of the disciplinary canons was reached between the presiding bishop and Alvarez; as a result of the agreed-upon accord, he is suspended from all episcopal duties until Oct. 31, 2014, said Bishop Clay Matthews, the Episcopal Church’s bishop for pastoral development, in a statement issued by the Episcopal Church’s Office of Public Affairs.

Alvarez resigned on the mandatory retirement date of Nov. 1, 2013.

The accord with Alvarez says “alleged” because there were three complaints, one of which could not be refuted. Alvarez failed to implement Title IV, the ecclesiastical disciplinary canon adopted in 2009, to be put in affect in 2011, said Matthews, in a telephone call with ENS.

Alvarez disputed the other two charges, but rather than extend the investigation process, the presiding bishop and Alvarez settled on an accord, which was not disputed, said Matthews, adding that the allegations are not public per the confidentiality requirements of Title IV.

“In effect he’s suspended from all Episcopal ministries from Nov. 1, 2013, to Oct. 31, 2014,” said Matthews, adding that the accord is not based on something that has to do with “immorality.”

In the meantime, the diocese in convention (and in consultation with the presiding bishop’s office) elected Ramos as the bishop provisional, “until such time as they are ready to have an election. And we’re assuming that may be three years from now,” said Matthews, adding that there is some disagreement in the diocese regarding whether an election should be held now, or whether the diocese should wait.

Ramos, who is from Yauco, a city in southwestern Puerto Rico, served as bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Connecticut from 2000-06. Also, he previously served as a provisional bishop in the Diocese of Central Ecuador. He most recently served as the Episcopal Church’s global partnerships officer for Province IX.

Anglican women gather in prayer to weave bonds of affection

ENS Headlines - Friday, April 4, 2014

Participants join a workshop at the Anglican Women in Prayer conference.

[Episcopal News Service] Anglican women praying, weaving bonds of affection, participating in God’s life and love for the world, and reflecting on how such spiritual practice emerges in diverse cultural and socio-economic contexts was the focus of a March 14-16 conference at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, according to a press release.

Conference participant Chrissie Crosby from Grace Episcopal Church in Alexandria said that “something wonderful happens when women gather to share in God’s many graces, almost as though a holy blanket wraps us tightly together. Whether we speak the same language in daily life, we speak the same language in prayer. We feel safe with each other.”

The Rev. Ellie Sanderson, keynote speaker, with Phoebe Griswold, chair of the Anglican Women at Prayer committee. Photo: Curtis Prather.

Such experiences of prayer were brought together under the theme of “Anglican Women at Prayer: Weaving our Bonds of Affection,” facilitated by keynote speaker the Rev. Ellie Sanderson, a priest and scholar in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia with experience and expertise in community theological reflection.

Throughout her ministry, Sanderson emphasizes nurturing Christian community as a deep family of Christ, being disciples and making disciples, and giving to the last, the lost, and the least.

In her keynote address, Sanderson said that the imagery of weaving is so inviting. “It holds within it such a wealth of beauty and a deep resonance for so many women around our communion,” she said. “Weaving speaks of diversity and unity, and it speaks of creativity and community.” She noted that the Maori wisdom speaks of a sacred thread, a “sacred interweaving between Christ and creation and the thread that never ends.”

The conference was a partnership between VTS’s Center for Anglican Communion Studies and the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross, a group of several hundred lay and ordained women dedicated to intercessory prayer.

Messages of support were received from Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Welby said that he received news of the conference “with much joy,” underscoring that his first priority as archbishop is a commitment to the renewal of prayer and Religious Life.

“Thank you for helping fulfill this priority, one that I clearly cannot manage alone,” he said “I believe our task as the church, first and foremost, is to engage in lively dynamic, that is to say, to enjoy the intimacy between God as creator and ourselves each as beloved child. This is the gift of Christ, continually renewed through prayer – prayers of dependence, of honesty, of pleading, of trust. Thank you for giving yourselves to God and to one another these three days. You may not fully know the effect of your prayers: woven together, I believe they will help bring the renewal of the warp and woof that sustains our affection and witness and vision.”

Jefferts Schori described prayer as “above all an attitude of awareness toward God and what the Spirit is up to around, among, and within us … May your ministry be strengthened for transformative service in the world, in families and congregations, and all the broken places of our shared existence. And may you know yourselves beloved in the One who is the ground of our being, and closer than our fleshly clothing and the breath that sustains our lives.”

The challenge now, according to a seminary press release, is “how the voices of women and the voice of God heard in this conference become an enduring testimony and an enduring resource for the continued weaving of our lives together as sisters and brothers. For that, we need to commit ourselves to further listening, further reflection on the Scriptures, and further openness to the Spirit’s work inviting us to deeper participation in God’s mission through the person and work of Jesus Christ.”

Videos from the event are available here.

This article is based on an a piece written by the Rev. Robert Heaney, Ph.D.,D.Phil., director of the Center for Anglican Communion Studies at Virginia Theological Seminary, which appears in the spring issue of the VTS’ News from the Hill.

Presiding Bishop speaks at Christ Church ministry center, New Bern

ENS Headlines - Friday, April 4, 2014

BEST
Stop Hunger Now food pack after afternoon Eucharist
Christ Church ministry center
3 April 2014

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

Monday afternoon I met with a group of students at St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh.  It’s one of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, founded by Episcopalians in 1867 to help educate people who had formerly been enslaved.  One of the students asked me what my position was on child hunger.  I said, “No.”  “It’s wrong.”  Any society that willingly permits children to go hungry needs to have its head and heart examined.  Hunger saps the spirit as well as the body, but it’s especially horrible for children, for it destroys and diminishes their growing bodies and brains.

Jesus and the prophets are particularly clear about God’s intention for creation – the whole garden in which we have been planted is meant to be shared so that all can thrive.  If one part of the body is hungry, we’re all going to be sick eventually.  Deuteronomy challenges us to live in ways that bless the whole body, and encourage its flourishing:  ‘open your fist, soften your heart, share what you have.  Do this and you will indeed know what it is to be blessed!’

Jesus is just as clear:  ‘if you want to be part of the reign of God, get with the program.  Feed the hungry, respond to the pain and misery around you, or you will indeed find yourselves in hell – and it is a hell of your own creation!’  It’s unfair to goats, however, to compare them to miserly human beings.  Goats have better instincts about taking responsibility for other members of their herd.

Did you hear the psalmist’s joyful image of what God has in mind?  ‘You make the earth plentiful, you soften the ground and bless its increase, you crown the year with goodness and we can see overflowing abundance in your wake.’  There is abundance, if it’s not hoarded or squandered.

And yet there is hunger here in New Bern, there is hunger in each of the communities we call home, there is crippling hunger in our inner cities and rural areas, and on Native American reservations.  Many of those places are food deserts, where there is little healthy food available within reach of the people who live there – only junk food.  There is growing evidence that the kind of calories people have access to – their nutritional state – affects general health, lifespan, and behavior, and increases the likelihood of all sorts of physical and mental illness:  depression, diabetes, aggression, reproductive health, and cognitive ability.  It is abundantly clear that hungry children do not learn well, or learn at all.[1]

Stop Hunger Now[2] is designed to feed hungry children (and others) with nutritionally dense foods that can be easily transported and stored for use in emergencies.  I would encourage you to think of it as a physical parallel to home communion – as sustenance for the body and soul in time of crisis.

There are plenty of other ways to draw the parallel between the heavenly banquet and the communion we celebrate at this table with how we pray and work for God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.  Some congregations feed the hungry of their cities from the same table they use to celebrate the Lord’s supper.  Some turn their lawns into vegetable gardens.  Many open their doors to feed the hungry from their kitchens – and hand out bags of groceries.  And increasing numbers are learning about how advocacy work with city, state, and national governments can help to feed the hungry and change the realities that keep some people in a chronic state of food insecurity.

Almost a quarter of the children in the USA live in poverty – and hunger is a frequent companion.  Over 30% of the children in Washington, DC and New Mexico live in poverty, and over half in Puerto Rico. [3]  Worldwide, 1 billion children (45%) are poor and hungry.

Packing emergency rations is one way to help, but the world needs sustainable ways to ensure an adequate food supply for all – that is what the reign of God expects.  There are signs of hope and creative response.  St. Vincent’s School for handicapped children in Port-au-Prince is considering a hydroponic system that would produce 800 lbs of organic vegetables a week – enough to feed several hundred children and enough more to sell in the local community, as well as provide job training for blind, deaf, and physically challenged children.  Backpack programs in many school districts provide food for children to prevent hunger over the weekend.

What is your community dreaming up?  How will you help feed the hungry world outside your door and across the world?

That gospel continues as Jesus says, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food…Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”[4]

[1] http://orthomolecular.org/library/articles/webach.shtml

[2] http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CC8QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.stophungernow.org%2F&ei=TLg9U-OAH6nLsQTMwYHoDQ&usg=AFQjCNECNyOYVN-UnYqsU024PCPh5WGODA&bvm=bv.64125504,d.cWc

[3] http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/Line/43-children-in-poverty?loc=1&loct=1#1/any/false/868,867,133,38,35,18,17,16,15,14/asc/any/322

[4] Matthew 25:34-35, 40

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