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Video explores the ministry of Laundry Love

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, July 16, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The ministry of Laundry Love, and the many lives the program impacts, are explored in a new video from the Episcopal Church Office of Communication.

The video is here.

Based in Venice Beach, CA (Diocese of Los Angeles), Laundry Love is a ministry through which the members of the Episcopal Community of Thad’s Place demonstrate that “people are the new program” at a Laundromat in nearby Santa Monica.

Laundry Love “is a way to make a love-spreading difference in our community,” the Rev. Jimmy Bartz  of Thad’s Place continued. “It’s the modern day footwashing.”

“Laundry Love is about developing connection and relationship,” explained Mike Collins, Episcopal Church Manager of Multimedia.  “It’s a simple way to encourage communion between the poor and the people of Thad’s.”

More videos

Additional videos featuring the Episcopal Church’s ministry and mission are here and include: Thad’s in Santa Monica CA (Diocese of Los Angeles); St John’s Tower Church, St Lois, MO (Diocese of MO); Christ Church, Philadelphia, PA (Diocese of Pennsylvania); Trinity Cathedral, Phoenix AZ (Diocese of Arizona); St Paul & the Redeemer, Chicago, IL (Diocese of Chicago); St. Jude Wantagh, NY (Diocese of Long Island); and St. Martin’s in the Desert, Pahrump, NV (Diocese of Nevada):

Marites (Tess) N. Sison named as editor of Canada’s Anglican Journal

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Marites (Tess) Sison, senior staff writer, has been appointed editor of the Anglican Journal. She brings almost three decades of professional journalism to her new role. Photo: Saskia Rowley

[Anglican Journal] Marites (Tess) N. Sison has been appointed editor of the 139-year-old Anglican Journal. She moves to the editorship from her longstanding position as senior writer, taking the helm from Archdeacon Paul Feheley, who has served as interim managing editor since January 2013.

A graduate in mass communications at the University of the Philippines in Manila, Sison brings almost three decades of professional journalism to her new role. Her work includes contributions to The New York Times, the Toronto Star and CBC Radio. Since joining the editorial staff of the Anglican Journal in 2003, she has received 28 awards for writing and photography. As skilled in digital communications as she is in the printed word, Sison has also played a pivotal part in developing and managing the newspaper’s online strategies and social media platforms.

“Tess has a long and very positive history with the Journal, but that’s only a small part of what made her stand out. She also has a strong vision for the future of the paper, website and social media,” said the Ven. Dr. Michael Thompson, general secretary and interim director of communications of the Anglican Church of Canada. “And she sees the Journal as a ministry that serves the church and strengthens our sense of mission.”

In her 11 years on staff, Sison, 49, has reported news and crafted features on a wide array of topics in religion, human rights, humanitarian crises and social justice—from the tiniest local congregations to the farthest-flung reaches of the Anglican Communion. But she is perhaps best known recently for her insightful, painstaking and drill-down coverage of Canadian aboriginal issues, including the Indian residential schools tragedy and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“Tess’s coverage has always been sensitive, probing and fair—especially on indigenous issues,” said Bishop Mark MacDonald, the church’s national indigenous bishop. “She has not only depicted the concerns of Indigenous peoples accurately, but she has also helped the whole church to see realities that have often been hidden in plain sight. It will be good to have her skill and art helping us see the world.”

The editors of the diocesan newspapers also expressed their approval. “This is a great step forward for the Journal and for the church to have acknowledged Tess’s talents and dedication lo these many years,” said Tim Christison, editor of The Sower in the diocese of Calgary. “Her professionalism and life experience will serve us all well as the Journal and church journalism continue to evolve. We are blessed that she is willing to take on the challenges while maintaining her high standards.”

Poised to step into her new role, Sison shared her editorial hopes for the future. “As the church goes through an epochal shift, I would like the Journal to review its mission and vision to see whether it responds to today’s needs and challenges,” she said. “As editor, I would like to see the Journal go beyond reporting on church governance issues and events and also tackle issues and questions about faith, ethics, religion, spirituality, social issues and, yes, everyday living.”

Sison also plans to strengthen the newspaper’s relationship with Church House, bishops and dioceses, diocesan newspaper editors and Anglicans across Canada. “I would like the Journal to be out there on the ground and on the road, gathering stories that offer encouragement and hope, provoke deep thought and inspire positive change and capture the challenges as well as the courage, dynamism and goodness of those who have dedicated their lives to God’s plan.”

Yet she remains aware of the need for journalistic integrity and objectivity, vowing to uphold the paper’s editorial independence and continue its role of informing and challenging readers.

Sison is also mindful of the editor’s crucial role in developing new writers. “I would like to help train the next generation of religious journalists through a mentorship program for young Anglicans and Lutherans,” she said. “I would also like to add more value to our website, and we will embark on more multimedia projects in the coming months.

Archbishop signs faith leaders’ statement opposing assisted dying bill

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, July 16, 2014

[Lambeth Palace press release] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby today joins more than 20 British faith leaders calling for Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill not to be enacted.

In a joint statement ahead of the House of Lords debate on Friday, the faith leaders said that if passed the bill would have “a serious detrimental effect on the wellbeing of individuals and on the nature and shape of our society.”

Read the statement below, which is followed the full list of signatories: 

“As leaders of faith communities, we wish to state our joint response to Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill. We do so out of deep human concern that if enacted, this bill would have a serious detrimental effect on the wellbeing of individuals and on the nature and shape of our society.

“Every human life is of intrinsic value and ought to be affirmed and cherished. This is central to our laws and our social relationships; to undermine this in any way would be a grave error. The Assisted Dying Bill would allow individuals to participate actively in ending others’ lives, in effect colluding in the judgment that they are of no further value. This is not the way forward for a compassionate and caring society.

“Vulnerable individuals must be cared for and protected even if this calls for sacrifice on the part of others. Each year many thousands of elderly and vulnerable people suffer abuse; sadly, often at the hands of their families or carers. Being perceived as a burden or as a financial drain is a terrible affliction to bear, leading in many cases to passivity, depression and self-loathing. The desire to end one’s life may, at any stage of life, be prompted by depression or external pressure; any suggestion of a presumption that such a decision is ‘rational’ does not do justice to the facts. The Assisted Dying Bill can only add to the pressures that many vulnerable, terminally ill people will feel, placing them at increased risk of distress and coercion at a time when they most require love and support.

“A key consideration is whether the Assisted Dying Bill will place more vulnerable people at risk than it seeks to help. We have seen, in recent years that even rigorous regulation and careful monitoring have not prevented the most serious lapses of trust and care in some parts of the NHS and within a number of Care Homes. It is naïve to believe that, if assisted suicide were to be legalised, proposed safeguards would not similarly be breached with the most disastrous of consequences, by their nature irrevocable.

“The bill raises the issue of what sort of society we wish to become: one in which life is to be understood primarily in terms of its usefulness and individuals evaluated in terms of their utility or one in which every person is supported, protected and cherished even if, at times, they fail to cherish themselves. While we may have come to the position of opposing this bill from different religious perspectives, we are agreed that the Assisted Dying Bill invites the prospect of an erosion of carefully tuned values and practices that are essential for the future development of a society that respects and cares for all. Better access to high-quality palliative care, greater support for carers and enhanced end of life services will be among the hallmarks of a truly compassionate society and it is to those ends that our energies ought to be harnessed.”

Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia, Chairman, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha

Mr Yousif Al-Khoei, Director Al-Khoei Foundation

Rev Dr Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church and Secretary of the Conference

Bishop Eric Brown, Administrative Bishop, New Testament Church of God

Mr Malcolm M Deboo, President, Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe

Rev Jonathan Edwards, Deputy Moderator Free Churches Group

Pastor John Glass, General Superintendent, Elim Pentecostal Churches

Revd David Grosch-Miller and Mr John Ellis, Moderators of the United Reformed Church General Assembly

Colonel David Hinton, Chief Secretary, The Salvation Army United Kingdom

Rev Stephen Keyworth, Faith and Society Team Leader, Baptist Union of Great Britain

Ayatollah Fazel Milani, Dean of the International Colleges of Islamic Studies

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth

Most Rev Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales

His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster

Rev John Partington, National Leader, Assemblies of God

Mr Ramesh Pattni, Secretary General, Hindu Forum of Britain

Bishop Wilton Powell, National Overseer, Church of God of Prophecy

Maulana Shahid Raza OBE, Leicester Central Mosque, Leicester

Venerable Bogoda Seelawimala, Chief Sangha Nayake of Great Britain, London Buddhist Vihara

Dr Shuja Shafi, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain

Dr Natubhai Shah, Chairman/CEO Jain Network

Lord Indarjit Singh, Director Network of Sikh Organisations (UK)

Most Rev and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

El Salvador: Violence, insecurity, impunity lead to displacement

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 15, 2014

[Episcopal News Service – San Salvador, El Salvador] Irene’s 13-year-old daughter disappeared leaving school on Feb. 15, 2012, in a gang-controlled municipality just northwest of San Salvador. The teen’s body was found two days later; Irene learned about it from a local television station.

“I’m very afraid for my other children, that something will happen to them because of the violence,” said Irene, during an interview with ENS at the Institute for Human Rights based at the University of Central America in San Salvador.

She has two sons aged 10 and 13; one disappeared briefly and won’t talk about it.

Although Irene, not her real name, would like to see her daughter’s killers prosecuted, the state’s ongoing investigation, which involves the abduction and similar murder of four other girls, means she and her family live in constant fear of retaliation. Regardless of whether Irene pursues the investigation, explained human rights lawyer Karla Salas, the gang members associated with the killers threaten and harass her and her family. They have no protection.

“When the state is negligent in handling these cases, the people come here,” said Salas.

Two of Central America’s most violent gangs, the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18, each control and battle for territory in El Salvador, mostly in poor marginalized communities where violence, murder, rape, extortion and threats permeate residents’ everyday life, including children. It’s this reality that has in part led to the humanitarian crisis currently unfolding along the U.S.-Mexico border, where more than 44,000 unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, the two other Northern Triangle countries with gang problems, have been detained crossing the border.

“The issue of unaccompanied minors is just one element of a broader immigration problem. It’s not new; it’s something that has been building over two or three years, but it’s caught fire in the media now,” said Noah Bullock, executive director of Foundation Cristosal, a human rights-based community development organization rooted in the Anglican and Episcopal churches operating in El Salvador.

“When we look at immigration in the United States we tend to look at one big block, and we understand it as people looking for jobs and a better life. But we don’t look at the people who are fleeing very serious conflicts and threats of violence, and those cases bring up protection issues,” he said.

In Colombia, decades of civil war and associated organized crime have internally displaced five million people and close to 400,000 have met refugee criteria. Gang violence and organized crime has led to the internal and external displacement of Central Americans, though in the absence of declared war and the criminal nature of the fighting, the phenomenon hasn’t formally been addressed from the perspective of human rights violations and international protection; typical asylum procedures are difficult to apply.

Unlike Colombia, where internal and external displacement have been well-documented by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other nongovernment agencies, displacement is less studied in Central America.

“It’s a less visible, less documented phenomenon in El Salvador and there isn’t really a national strategy to deal with it,” said Bullock.

In fact, the UNHCR country profiles for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras combined do not list one person as being internally displaced.

Foundation Cristosal first became aware of the stories of people displaced by violence when it, along with the Anglican-Episcopal Church of El Salvador, supervised the local UNHCR refugee resettlement program.

“Last year we got more than 150 people who were Salvadorans seeking asylum outside the country, so what we see in the kids is should be seen as part of a historic pattern of displacement that has been happening for a long time,” said Bullock, in an interview with ENS in his San Salvador office.

Both internal and external displacement, Bullock added, have common causes: lack of well-being in Salvadoran communities, generalized violence and the state’s inability to safeguard people’s lives and impose rule of law by prosecuting criminal organizations.

“All those things, the inability to protect witnesses, the inability to keep safe schools and areas where children do recreation … those are areas that have been recruitment grounds for gangs and where threats are primarily made,” said Bullock. “They’re a common cause for internal and external displacement.”

UNHCR, in its 2014 report of projected global resettlement needs, estimated there would be 691,000 refugees, not factoring for the outflow of Syrian refugees. In 2012, there were 86,000 spaces available.

On World Refugee Day in June it was reported that the number of refugees worldwide has surpassed 50 million for the first time since World War II.

2014 marks the 30th anniversary of the Cartagena Declaration, which amended the 1951 and 1967 definition of what it means to be a refugee to include “persons who have fled their country because their lives, safety or freedom have been threatened by generalized violence, foreign aggression, internal conflicts, massive violation of human rights or other circumstances which have seriously disturbed public order.”

The countries of Central America and Mexico adopted the protocol, which was not recognized by the United States, at a time when both Guatemala and El Salvador were fighting civil wars and when Contra rebels were fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

“In Central America there were from the end of the 1960s into the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, three pretty solid decades of war. And then the wars ended and there was not a very good resolution to some of those structural causes; then you get two decades of a social conflict that doesn’t have a name like a traditional armed conflict but produces death on the same scale,” said Bullock. “So essentially you have 50 years of low-intensity warfare going on in Central America and we really shouldn’t be surprised that we have a refugee crisis in the United States.”

“Never did we dare to use the word ‘refugee’; before they were immigrants, they were illegals … and now because they are kids we are more open to seeing the Central Americans who arrive at our borders as something else,” said Bullock. “Three weeks of a humanitarian and refugee crisis, five decades of conflict.”

In a July 10 statement addressing the crisis on the border, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori urged Episcopalians to contact their legislators and ask them to support an “appropriate humanitarian response to the crisis.”

Meanwhile, Foundation Cristosal is working with human rights and civil society organizations, including the University of Central America’s Institute for Human Rights, to develop a more comprehensive analysis of internal and external displacement and a proposal to address both phenomena, said Bullock.

“What we are trying to do now with our program is respond to those needs, but there are no perfect answers because the causes are so structural and deep,” he said. “You have to be able to try and help someone in an immediate humanitarian crisis, but also try to work to resolve some of the structural issues that are creating the humanitarian crisis,” he said.

In the July 13 edition of La Prensa, one of El Salvador’s top two daily newspapers, the front-page headlines went from the World Cup to the 375,000 immigration cases backlogged in U.S. courts to the double homicide of two teenagers. Inside, there was a story about a teenage girl raped by her uncle on her journey north, a story meant to dissuade similar journeys. Earlier in the week, there were stories focused on trying to dissuade families from sending their children north.

“This is one thing the White House points out,” said Bullock. “The human traffickers and the information they’re giving the families seems to motivate them to send their kids; they think they’re better of taking the risk based on the information the coyote gives them…  we want people to have another resource to get information that is a little more objective than what would be given to them by a human trafficker.”

Foundation Cristosal’s lawyers, he said, however, don’t participate in making a life-and-death decisions with people; that’s something that ultimately up to a family member. What the lawyers do is try to give the families good information so that they can make informed decisions.

“The White House is spending a million dollars in publicity to dissuade families from sending their children,” Bullock said. “But that’s just another form of propaganda; the thing people respond to is real objective advising from organizations like Cristosal.”

The University of Central America started the Institute for Human Rights in 1986 in response to the overwhelming number of human rights violations committed during El Salvador’s 12-year civil war during which 75,000 people were killed. At the time the institute adopted immigration as a focus because of the large number of people fleeing the country to escape the armed conflict, said Salas, the human rights lawyer representing Irene, in an interview in her office at the university.

Irene wakes up at 3 a.m. every morning and heads to her food stall in an informal market. By 2 p.m., she is back at home where she stays in doors. Her sons go to and from school, and nothing more. The family, including Irene’s mother, lives on $6 a day, she said.

UNHCR doesn’t operate an in-country office for asylum-seekers; Irene and her family must petition for asylum outside El Salvador. Salas said she and others are working with a Roman Catholic agency in Europe – the University of Central America is a Roman Catholic university – that has agreed to help the family with its petition, but they need to cover the transportation costs themselves.

In the meantime, the family lives in fear and continues to receive threats from gang members mockingly wanting to know how the investigation is going. Even if the state offered witness- or whistle-blower protection, it couldn’t keep her safe, said Salas.

“She’d be placed with the people who killed her daughter,” she said.

- Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service

Diocese of California to distribute more than $1.7 million

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 15, 2014

[Diocese of California] On Tuesday, July 15, the Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, eighth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California, will distribute more than $1.7 million to eight Bay Area organizations. The distribution of funds will take place at the bishop’s office, 1055 Taylor Street, San Francisco, at 7 p.m.

Representatives from each of the recipient organizations will be present to receive checks, and press is invited to attend. Mary Elizabeth (Liza) Colton named these organizations in her trust. Colton died May 19, 2014. The organizations Colton named are Grace Cathedral ($275,204.86), Golden Gate Parks Conservancy ($240,804.25), Kiva Micro Funds ($189,203.34), Hospice by the Bay ($154,802.73), The Sierra Club Foundation ($189,203.34), San Francisco Botanical Gardens ($240,804.25), The Nature Conservancy ($275,204.86), and the ACLU ($154,802.74).

J. Davey Gerhard, director of development for the Diocese of California said, “Liza Colton was a great friend and supporter of the ministries of the Episcopal Diocese of California, Grace Cathedral, and social causes in the Bay Area. Shaped by her deep faith and guided by love for hercommunity, Liza’s legacy will be felt by these organizations dedicated to improving the life of individuals and to the stewardship of our public spaces and the environment.”

Marc Handley Andrus, added, “Liza continues in the great tradition of her mother, Liz Colton, and indeed her whole family, in supporting her church and her community. Liza was what our church says God loves, which is a cheerful giver. She was a tremendous amount of fun, had an incisive mind, and a generous heart. I personally miss her, but am grateful that these organizations will find their missions furthered by her significant gifts. In this way her values and spirit live on.”

The Episcopal Diocese of California serves a diverse community of faith encompassing the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Approximately 27,000 people form 80 congregations in six counties. More information about the Diocese of California can be found at www.diocal.org.

Gaza’s Al Ahli Hospital appeals for urgent help

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 15, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City is appealing for urgent aid as it struggles to provide critical healthcare services to anyone in need following more than a week of Israeli airstrikes targeting Hamas militants.

One of more than 35 institutions run by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, the hospital is striving to meet the increased demands on its already-overburdened staff, who have tended to the wounded despite being surrounded by conflict, the challenges of diminishing medical supplies, and their own fatigue.

“Like many hospitals in Gaza, Al Ahli Hospital is receiving patients who have been wounded, with staff working around the clock to provide them with critical medical care,” wrote Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani in an e-mail to church partners. “At the same time, Al Ahli is experiencing shortages in medicine, fuel, and food for both patients and those in the community who need help.”

During the past week, the Israeli military has carried out hundreds of airstrikes on Gaza, which includes 1.7 million residents and is one of the world’s most densely populated regions, in an effort to stamp out terrorist attacks against its citizens. Meanwhile, Hamas continues to fire rockets indiscriminately into Israel, with some having reached as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, even as Egypt attempted to broker a peace deal early on July 15.

“In the last two days, the impact of the airstrikes has caused structural damages to the hospital, including its ventilation system in the operating theater and the emergency room. In addition, windows have been broken in many buildings, as well as in the new diagnostic center,” Dawani wrote in a statement.

The latest statistics from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, published on July 14, report that more than 1,140 Palestinians have been wounded and 168 killed, including 133 civilians, and 36 children; more than 940 residential houses have been fully destroyed, leaving 5,600 people displaced; and 25,000 children have been traumatized and in need of psychosocial support.

“As the Israeli authorities have called up 40,000 reserve troops, there are fears the conflict will escalate and many more Palestinians will be killed, wounded, or displaced,” Dawani said.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who visited Gaza in 2008 and again in 2013, told ENS that “God weeps at this war between his children. We weep as we watch the destruction, and we should be storming heaven with prayers for peace.”

She noted that the Al Ahli hospital “cares for all people in Gaza, both Muslim and Christian, with selfless dedication … Please help the Diocese of Jerusalem respond to the suffering in this latest violent chapter in the Land of the Holy One.”

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani listen to a Muslim woman talk about the importance of Al Ahli Arab Hospital on Jan. 2, 2013. ENS Photo/Lynette Wilson

The Episcopal Church’s policy, as agreed by the 2012 General Convention, affirms positive investment “as a necessary means to create a sound economy and a sustainable infrastructure” in the Palestinian Territories and calls on the church to support “the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian study on peace with justice in the Middle East.”

Alexander Baumgarten, director of justice and advocacy ministries for The Episcopal Church, told ENS: “It is imperative for Israeli and Palestinian leaders to return to the table, with the strong support of international leaders like President Obama, to negotiate a just, durable, and permanent two-state peace agreement. Until a secure and universally recognized Israel exists alongside a sovereign and viable state for the Palestinian people, the tragedy of the present moment threatens to become an increasingly encompassing reality for two people who have suffered the strife of conflict far too long.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in a recent statement that he is “deeply saddened and distressed by the eruption and escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip and across Israel” and urged “all sides to show restraint and pursue dialogue to end all conflict in the region.”

“As we continue urgently to hold the people of the region in our prayers, we must pray also for all people of goodwill to come together to protect the innocent and promote peace in the land.”

The violence erupted following the recent abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers, and the subsequent abduction and murder of a Palestinian youth in retaliation.

“These senseless crimes are wicked and must be condemned by decent people everywhere,” said Welby. “But the conflict that has arisen in the aftermath of these tragic events is the wrong way to proceed. As each day passes we see more innocent lives, including those of children, lost in the terrible cycle of revenge – no good can possibly come of this. It makes the search for a lasting peace that much harder and more elusive. We must all join hands to appeal to all sides to show restraint and to seek the way of dialogue to end all conflict in the region.”

Dawani joined the patriarchs and heads of churches in Jerusalem last week in condemning the “kidnapping and murder of young people and the violence which took place following these horrific incidents. We convey our deepest sympathy and sincere condolences to their families, friends and communities.

“We call upon both sides for an immediate ceasefire and the urgent resumption of peace talks.”

For further information about the Diocese of Jerusalem’s appeal is available here.

To support the Diocese of Jerusalem’s relief efforts in Gaza:

Episcopal Relief & Development’s Middle East Fund at https://www.episcopalrelief.org/what-you-can-do/donate-now/individual-donation or call 855-312-HEAL (4325).

American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, http://www.afedj.org

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

The Episcopal Church granted ECOSOC status at UN

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 14, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The member states of the United Nations (UN) Committee on NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) have granted to The Episcopal Church special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) at the United Nations.

ECOSOC is one of the five main UN organs and addresses economic and social development issues. Eighty percent of the UN’s work happens in ECOSOC, and it is also the agency by which non-governmental organizations have official affiliation and relationships with the UN and its various agencies.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori commented, “The granting to The Episcopal Church of ‘special consultative status’ to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations by its member states will make the Church’s advocacy efforts more effective and increase our participation in shaping global development efforts.  The latter is especially significant as the Millennium Development Goals initiative shifts toward a post-2015 development agenda.  The effort to gain ECOSOC status has taken more than a year, and has been ably shepherded by Lynnaia Main of the Global Partnerships team.”

This designation will enhance The Episcopal Church’s three-pronged ministry of presence, hospitality and advocacy at the UN by allowing greater access and opportunities for advocacy, explained Main, Episcopal Church Global Relations Officer. In addition to attending events open only to ECOSOC NGOs, The Episcopal Church now will be able to send official representatives to up to 11 annual Commissions (such as the Status of Women, Indigenous Issues, Sustainable Development, Social Development and Human Rights Council) whose recommendations often become General Assembly resolutions debated and voted on by member states. Also, The Episcopal Church will be eligible to submit written statements and offer oral interventions to those Commissions, and offer its expertise through other unique opportunities granted to ECOSOC NGOs.

The Executive Council, at its February 2014 meeting, approved a resolution that recognized this significant step and, among other resolves,  “affirm(s) that advocacy and networking at the United Nations forms an intrinsic part of The Episcopal Church’s comprehensive strategies for advocacy and public witness that both informs, and is informed by, those comprehensive strategies;” and “affirm(s) its commitment to working closely with the Anglican Communion in the development of its ministries at the United Nations, for the further enhancement and strengthening of our collective Anglican and Episcopal voices there.”

The ECOSOC status took effect in May.

For more information contact Main at lmain@episcopalchurch.org.

Scenes from Episcopal Youth Event 2014

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 14, 2014

[Episcopal News Service – Villanova, Pennsylvania] The Episcopal Youth Event 2014 here July 9-12 at Villanova University was a visual feast. Here are some examples.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori poses July 12 with Haven Waldrip and Dayton Hobson from the Diocese of Oklahoma for one of the many selfies Episcopal Youth Event 2014 participants captured with her during the July 9-12 gathering. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Acolyte Lillian Hardaway, a member of the Episcopal Youth Event 2014 planning team from the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, fills a bowl with holy water for Diocese of Central Pennsylvania Bishop Sean Rowe as she had just done for Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton (to Rowe’s right), Pennsylvania Bishop Clifton Daniel and North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, gathers with five Episcopal Youth Event 2014 participants who were members of the Official Youth Presence at the last meeting of General Convention in 2012. All five will be deputies from their dioceses when convention meets again June 25-July 3, 2015 in Salt Lake City. They are, left to right, Thomas Alexander of Arkansas, Pat Melendez of California, Will Burton-Edwards of Indianapolis, Ariana Gonzales-Bonillas of Arizona and David Kilp of Central Pennsylvania. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

One of the many prayers that filled a nine-panel prayer wall that greeted Episcopal Youth Event 2014 participants when they entered the Pavilion at Villanova University for worship and plenary sessions. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Three Episcopal Youth Event 2014 participants kick along to the prelude for EYE14’s closing Eucharist July 12 inside the Pavilion at Villanova University. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Director Walt Blocker asks for more from the St. Thomas Gospel Choir of Philadelphia during Evening Prayer July 11 that was part of the Episcopal Youth Event 2014 at Villanova University. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The HighLite Vibes of the Diocese of Long Island praise God in song during Evening Prayer July 11 that was part of the Episcopal Youth Event 2014 at Villanova University. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

EYE14 participants from St. John’s in Lodi, California, in the Diocese of San Joaquin added their prayers to a nine-panel prayer wall that greeted Episcopal Youth Event 2014 participants when they entered the Pavilion at Villanova University for worship and plenary sessions. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Diocese of Indianapolis Bishop Cate Waynick blesses an Episcopal Youth Event 2014 participant during the EYE14 opening Eucharist July 10. During the distribution of communion Waynick got clipped on her stole by another EYE member. Rather than give away diocesan pins, some delegations clipped people with clothes pins on which they had written blessings, prayers and welcome messages. Some groups urged recipients to add the name of their diocese and then clip someone else with the pin. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Sammy Fusco of Stillwater, Minnesota, finishes the detail work on a Common Loon, the state bird of Minnesota, that Johannah Frisby of St. Paul drew on one of the nine panels that formed a prayer wall that greeted Episcopal Youth Event 2014 participants when they entered the Pavilion at Villanova University for worship and plenary sessions. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The Pavilion at Villanova University rocked during Episcopal Youth Event 2014 worship. The backdrop for worship was a quilt created by 13 Nigerian women who are HIV-positive. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America loaned the quilt to EYE14. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

40th anniversary of women’s ordination celebration to be vidoetaped

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 14, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Episcopal Church Office of Communication will offer the video of the special celebration of the 40th anniversary of women’s ordination on July 26. The video will be offered on-demand at no fee.

On Saturday, July 26, the Diocese of Pennsylvania is hosting a celebration of the 40th anniversary of women’s ordination to the priesthood in The Episcopal Church. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will preside and preach at the 3 pm Eucharist at Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia, the site of the 1974 ordinations.

Working in partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, the Office of Communication will video the event and will prepare for on-demand viewing later that evening.  The on-demand will be available here.

“The 40th anniversary of women’s ordination is a milestone of great importance for The Episcopal Church,” commented Mike Collins, Manager of Multimedia Services.  “Our goal is to offer this video so people from throughout the church can share in the celebration.”

For more information contact Collins at mcollins@episcopalchurch.org, or Henry Carnes at the Diocese of Pennsylvania, henryc@diopa.org.

Symposium
Preceding the Eucharist will be a symposium featuring: Dr. Fredrica Thompsett, Mary Wolfe Professor Emerita of Historical Theology at Episcopal Divinity School as the keynote speaker; and a panel discussion with the Rt. Rev. Dr. Carol Gallagher, the Rev. Miguelina Howell, the Rev. Pamela Nesbit, Archdeacon, and Nokomis Wood, moderated by the Very Rev. Katherine H. Ragsdale, Dean and President of the Episcopal Divinity School. The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wittig, one of the original Philadelphia eleven ordinands, will close the symposium with a meditation.  For symposium registration, more info and opportunities for participation here or here.

 

‘Marked for Mission’ EYE14 is sent out to heal the world with love

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 14, 2014

A group of Episcopal Youth Event 2014 participants from Massachusetts take a moment to pray July 11 inside the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas. The group visited the historic church during the day’s pilgrimage around the Philadelphia area to visit historic sites and places of Episcopal Church mission work. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Villanova, Pennsylvania] After four days of worship, workshops, prayer, long walks across the Villanova University campus, late-night conversations and contemplation of Scripture and the Five Marks of Mission, EYE14 all came down to the call to go out into the world and love it.

“Whenever God is about to change the world, God tells somebody to ‘Go’” and that is what is happening now, Diocese of North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry said during this sermon at the Episcopal Youth Event 14 closing Eucharist July 12.

God, Curry said, is the “very essence” and source of love, and “our mission is to love this world and ourselves into the very dream of God and when you do that, you’ll have the strength you need to bear any hardship and carry any cross because you’ll find power.”

This love is not the sentimental type, Curry said during his sermon.

“When the way is getting tough, when it’s getting hard and difficult, that’s when Jesus starts to talk about love,” he said, noting that it was in Holy Week “when Jesus knows he’s likely to sacrifice his life” that Jesus talked constantly about love.

“‘Love’ as Judas is about to betray him. ‘Love’ as Simon Peter would soon deny him. ‘Love’ as he would be arrested in the garden. ‘Love’ as he would be tried on unjust charges. ‘Love’ as he would be mocked and scourged and tortured. ‘Love’ as they would nail him to a tree. ‘Love’ as he would breathe his last. ‘Love’ as he would die and ‘Love’ as God raised him from the dead. ‘Love!’”

Curry’s sermon had congregation members on their feet as often as they were in their seats as he roamed the dais and, at one point, crouched on the floor to show what his family’s ugly and bumbling cat looked like when she “was able to do what the Lord  put a cat on this earth to do” and hunt mice with a vengeance. In nearly 30 minutes he invoked St. Augustine, Jimi Hendrix and Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey, as well as Muffin the Ugly Cat.

Video of the entire closing Eucharist is here.

Earlier in the day EYE14 heard a story of that sort of love enacted outside the walls of church from the Rev. Becca Stevens, founder of Magdalene and Thistle Farms, residential and social enterprises run by women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets.

Her stories, which ranged from Tennessee to Rwanda to a women’s prison in Texas, brought some to tears and held others spellbound. She told her listeners that all of the women “never doubted the idea that love heals.”

Stevens, the Episcopal chaplain to Vanderbilt University, warned EYE14 that the work of Thistle Farms and Magdalene and all other efforts like them for which the Episcopal Church is known have to be movements based in community and not individual efforts. Showing them a painting of the Last Supper, she said, “If we’re not a movement … the church becomes a still life.”

“And it’s beautiful to look at but we’re not going to sit there forever and we are going to move on,” she said, adding that when she looks at that painting she imagines the apostles pushing back from the table and going back out into the world. “If they had stayed there – as beautiful as it was, as meaningful as it was, as important as it was to the life of the world – if they had not turned around and gone back out, we would never know that story.”

Episcopal Youth Event 2014 participants, some wearing very popular glow sticks given away by the United Thanks Offering, watch a video July 12 about the mission and ministry of the Community of Magdalene and Thistle Farms, a residential and social enterprise run by women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction, and life on the streets; and led by the Rev. Becca Stevens. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Stevens told EYE14 that “we are called to love the world,” she said.

“There is nothing in Scripture that says we have to change it. There is nothing in Scripture that says the world has to love us,” she said. “The calling is that you and I go back out and love [the world] over and over and over again until we get it right. We love it in such a way that we’re willing to change. We love it in such a way that we’re willing not to judge it. We’re loving it in a way where we’re not willing to leave anyone behind.”

Video of Stevens’ presentation is here.

The Episcopal Youth Event 2014 included 786 youth in grades 9-12 during the 2013-2014 academic year and 263 adult leaders who spent July 9-12 here on the campus of Villanova University near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. EYE14’s theme was “Marked for Mission” and the gathering was built around helping participants discern how the Holy Spirit has marked them for mission and how they might engage in the work of the Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission, as a way to enact the call to love that they were hearing.

During the opening plenary session July 10 Bronwyn Clark Skov, Episcopal Church Youth Ministries Officer, gave what was for many participants an introduction to the Five Marks of Mission. She suggested they spend their time together at EYE14 exploring the connection between Scripture, responding to God’s call and “discerning our personal paths to ministry within the greater context of the community.” Her presentation begins at the 32:00 mark here.

The 14 youth members of the EYE14 planning team (listed here) gave her a shorthand way to remember the intent of each marks, Clark Skov said. The method, easily counted off on the fingers of one had, is Tell, Teach, Tend, Transform, Treasure. A video the youth made connecting a favorite Scripture passage to each mark is here.

On July 11, EYE14 participants went on a “Philadelphia Pilgrimage.” They boarded 20 buses and fanned out to 16 sites all over the Philadelphia area to learn about the current ministry of the Episcopal Church in city and get a glimpse of the history of the Episcopal Church.

The night before, the Rev. Randy Callender, a Philadelphia native, who is the rector of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Annapolis, Maryland, told them that “the city of Philadelphia will help you to understand the Five Marks of Mission” and may transform their understanding of mission.

“One day, the young people here at EYE will make a difference in someone’s life,” he predicted, adding that they will end “racism and sexism and classism and all other -isms and people will no longer use those -isms as tools to keep others out of the church.”

Video of Callender’s presentation is here.

Before the pilgrims left early on July 11, Diocese of Pennsylvania Bishop Clifton Daniel III told them that it was a “joy” to host EYE14. He recalled attending an event for Episcopal Church youth in 1964, an event which “formed me and shaped me in ways that I could not imagine” at the time. The same is true for the youth who have come to Philadelphia, said Daniel, who added he could see the future ordained and lay leadership of the Episcopal Church sitting before him.

“I am proud to be here with you, and I thank God for you,” Daniel said.

Every one of the 20 pilgrimage buses visited Independence National Historic Park and Christ Church, Philadelphia, where those who became known as Episcopalians gathered for the first time in General Convention at Christ Church in Philadelphia in 1785.

The other pilgrimage sites were:
St. James School
St. Mark’s Church, Locust Street
The Free Church of St. John, Kensington
The Church of St. Martin-in-the-Field, Chestnut Hill
Church of St. Thomas, Whitemarsh
Episcopal Community Services
St. Peter’s Church, Third and Pine
St. Paul’s Church, Chester
St. Mary’s Church, Chester
St. Luke’s Church, Germantown
The Church of the Advocate
Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany
The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas
The Cathedral Church of Our Savior, Philadelphia Cathedral

Along the way, the EYE14 pilgrims were welcomed and, at times, challenged. For some who went the Episcopal Community Services’ St. Barnabas Mission the challenge came to their attitudes about the nature of homelessness. Others had their liturgical piety challenged by the experience of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at St. Mark’s Church.

The Diocese of Massachusetts delegation had the eye-opening experience of seeing the diocese’s retired Bishop Suffragan Barbara Harris portrayed in a stained glass window at St. Thomas. “Wow,” said one pilgrim. “I know someone in a stained glass window. I never thought that would happen.”

Three of nearly 800 youth sit on a wall on the terrace of the Philadelphia Museum of Art during a hug picnic July 11 during the Episcopal Youth Event 2014. EYE14’s theme was “Marked for Mission” and their T-shirts and accompanying tote bags were donated by the Diocese of Pennsylvania, co-sponsor of the July 9-12 gathering. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Late in the afternoon the buses dropped the pilgrims off at the bottom of the Rocky Steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art where, after they made the traditional run up the stairs, they encountered a dinner on the terrace featuring classic Philly foods, including cheesesteaks, hoagies, water ice and local sodas. There was a rousing dance party and a chance to play cornhole, a bean bag toss game that is very popular in Pennsylvania.

The day was not over yet. EYE14 returned to Villanova for Evening Prayer with the high-energy music of the St. Thomas Gospel Choir of Philadelphia and the HighLite Vibes of the Diocese of Long Island. Video of the complete service is here.

During her sermon Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori challenged the pilgrims to contemplate and then tell the stories of their experience that day.

“You’ve been out and about in this city today, discovering its diversity, both its need and its blessings. Each one of you has a story to tell about the encounters of this day,” she said. “I hope you have been moved and marked and changed by someone or something you encountered today.”

Jefferts Schori said she hoped EYE14 participants would tell the stories of that pilgrimage because their friends and the entire world need to pay attention to the brokenness of the world and its causes, and they need to hear about the dreams Christians have for the wholeness that is the kingdom of God.

When encountering a person who is hurting or hungry, she said, there is a choice. “Will we engage or will we ignore that person? If we connect, we’ve got to share something of that good news – that all of us are loved beyond imagining, and that we’re willing to show that love in concrete ways.”

And, Christians are called to do more, said Jefferts Schori. “It may start by feeding somebody who’s hungry, but it doesn’t end there. We can feed someone a meal, but if nothing changes, that person is going to be hungry again in a few hours,” she said. “That’s where the longer-term and bigger-picture work of transformation starts – asking why this person is hungry, or why so many people are standing on street corners asking for help.”

Those sorts of questions can be annoying and irritating, she said, but they come from the Holy Spirit “acting more like a mosquito than a dove” that will “pester us and make us restless until there is justice for all.”

“We all need to be bitten, marked with an itch for what the world could be like,” Jefferts Schori said, adding in an echo of the celebration at the museum earlier that evening: “We’re not going to live in peace until everybody can sit down and share God’s great picnic together in peace.”

The text of the presiding bishop’s sermon is here.

Episcopal Youth Event 2014 participants were encouraged to pick their favorite Scripture verse. Many posted their choice on the nine-panel prayer wall that greeted EYE14 inside the Pavilion at Villanova University for worship and plenary sessions. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Following EYE14, more than 300 stayed in Philadelphia to engage 3 Days of Urban Mission. The majority of 3 Days of Urban Mission volunteers will stay at the University of Pennsylvania in inner-city Philadelphia. About 60 additional volunteers will be housed at the Episcopal Mission Center, managed by the Diocese of Pennsylvania. A map of the mission sites is here.

Also at EYE14

  • Offertory collections at the opening and closing Eucharists as well during Evening Prayer on July 11 brought in nearly $7,000 which will be divided among Episcopal Relief & Development, the United Thank Offering and the Church of the Advocate, a Philadelphia Episcopal church with an array of outreach activities.
  • Participants were given the chance to choose the first saint for the 2015 Lent Madness bracket. The Rev. Scott Gunn and the Rev. Tim Schenck, members of the Lent Madness Supreme Executive Committee sent video greetings to EYE14 along with their invitation to choose between St. Francis of Assisi and the Archangel Gabriel. Gunn and Schenck were present on campus to supervise the vote and tally the results. Francis won with 60 percent of the vote, according an announcement made before the closing Eucharist.
  • The event’s Twitter Hashtag #EYE14 was a trending topic during the evening of July 10, according to organizers.

EYE 14 was present on these social media outlets:

EYE14 social media hub
Archived video
EYE14 Facebook
Vine
Instagram

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

Church of England says ‘yes’ to women as bishops

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 14, 2014

Members of the Church of England’s Synod attend the session during which they discussed and voted on the consecration of women bishops, in York, July 14. Photo: REUTERS/Nigel Roddis

[Episcopal News Service] The Church of England made history July 14 when its General Synod, meeting in York, approved legislation to enable women to serve as bishops, possibly by 2015.

The vote ends centuries of tradition and follows more than a decade of often-emotional debate accompanied by various stages of legislative action.

Before the vote, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said to pass the legislation “is to commit ourselves to an adventure in faith and hope. Like all adventures it carries danger [and] uncertainties and for success requires perseverance, integrity and courage.”

Welby said the legislation “allows us to move forward together, all of us as faithful Anglicans and all of us committed to each other flourishing in the life of the church … Today we can start on a challenging and adventurous journey to embrace a radical new way to be the church … Jesus invites us to radical belonging to one another so that all the world will know that we are his disciples.”

One synod member read out a message from Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town Desmond Tutu. “I’m thrilled to hope that our mother church, the Church of England, will do the right thing today … to allow women to become bishops as we have in Swaziland and in Cape Town,” said Tutu. “Wow, you are in for a great surprise and treat should you do this. Your church will be enriched no end … Just look at what we have denied ourselves. God be praised. Yippee.”

On hearing the news, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first female primate in the Anglican Communion, said: “I am overjoyed for the Church of England as it has finally consented to the ordination and consecration of women as bishops. I believe that the inclusion of women in this order will bring new gifts and possibilities for its partnership in God’s mission in England. This represents one more step in the long transformation of church and society toward the Reign of God.”

The legislation, called a measure, affirms the church’s commitment to “enabling women, as well as men, to be consecrated to the office of bishop if they otherwise satisfy the requirements of Canon Law as to the persons who may be consecrated as bishops.”

The vote comes almost 20 months after the synod narrowly rejected similar, but more complex, legislation to accept women as bishops. While passed by the bishops and clergy, that November 2012 vote failed in the House of Laity by six votes. Various groups, including a steering committee and the House of Bishops, have since worked towards advancing as efficiently as possible a legislative package that could be supported by the required two-thirds majority in all three houses of laity, clergy and bishops.

The General Synod gave its assent to the new legislation when it last met in February. Since then, through an abbreviated process, a majority of the church’s 44 dioceses have given their assent to the legislation, a step required whenever synod is proposing a change to church and U.K. law.

The legislation passed on July 14 with 37 votes for, 2 against and 1 abstention in the House of Bishops; 162 votes for, 25 against and 4 abstentions in the House of Clergy; and 152 votes for, 45 against and 5 abstentions in the House of Laity.

The measure now requires approval by the U.K. Parliament and royal assent, because the legislation effectively changes English law. (The Church of England is an officially established Christian church with Queen Elizabeth II as its supreme governor.) Following the failure of the previous legislation, during parliamentary debate some U.K. politicians bemoaned the church’s decision and its drawn-out journey towards acceptance of women bishops. It is expected that the U.K. Parliament will take up the matter before the end of 2014, which would mean the first female bishop could be appointed in 2015.

Meanwhile, an Amending Canon, which was passed by synod without debate, will change the gender-specific language in the church’s legal and formal documents.

Some of synod’s former opponents of the legislation signaled their willingness to commit to the new legislative package, in part due to a declaration from the House of Bishops outlining procedures for handling grievances, mediation and resolving disputes arising from those who are unable to accept the new legislation or the ministry of women bishops.

The declaration lists five guiding principles acknowledging that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter; accepting that there will be those who disagree with the decision; and committing to maintaining the highest degree of communion through “pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority.”

Back in February, Bishop James Langstaff of Rochester, who chaired the steering committee that produced the new legislative package, raised up the five principles as the linchpin of the declaration. “If we stick with those then we will find that we will behave with each other as we should,” he said.

Before the July 11 debate, Langstaff said, “There are many eyes and ears that are attentive to what we do … The wider church, both Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners, also look on. While we may properly be aware of those others we are here today to do what we believe through God is right.”

Langstaff said he believes that this is the moment to vote yes but that he fully recognizes and respects that there will be those who in good conscience cannot vote in favor. “The Church of England has spoken very clearly through the voting of our diocesan synods … We have a responsibility to be guided by what we assess to be the settled view” of the overwhelming majority in the church.”

Theologian and scholar Paula Gooder, a lay synod member from the Diocese of Birmingham and also a member of the women bishop’s steering committee, urged synod to vote in favor of the legislation, but warned that changing law can only do so much. “Trust and flourishing are down to us…and that can only happen through how we live our own lives,” she said. “Take upon yourselves that great challenge…to live out the life of reconciliation in all that we say and do.”

Tom Sutcliffe of the Diocese of Southwark voted against the legislation in 2012 because he felt it would have divided the church. He told synod on July 14 that he would be voting in favor of the measure today because he believes it makes adequate provisions for those who cannot accept women as bishops. “We must act on our conviction that the church needs the gifts of women bishops,” he said, adding that he is “immensely optimistic” about the future.

Bishop John Goddard of Burnley said he would be voting against the legislation, but acknowledged that if the measure passes he would commit to working with those who disagree with him. “I respect your ‘yes’ just as I hope you respect my ‘no’,” he said. “So we live in disagreement and we look forward … to working in a way in which we participate in the Lordship of Christ, in his grace together and above all in engaging in mission together. By engaging in mission together we will be transformed.”

Jane Patterson, a lay member from the Diocese of Sheffield, also said she’d be voting against the measure. However, she noted that the guiding principles give some grounds for hope and “I commit to serving [God] in his church whatever the result today.”

Prudence Dailey of the Diocese of Oxford, who in November 2012 voted against the measure, told synod that today she would be abstaining because, although “we’ve arrived at a much better point” with the current legislation, she still struggles with the principle of women being bishops.

The news comes as the U.S.-based Episcopal Church prepares to celebrate 40 years since the first women were ordained as priests, albeit irregularly, on July 29, 1974.

The Episcopal Church passed legislation to enable women to become priests and bishops in 1976, although it would be another 13 years before the Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris was consecrated as suffragan bishop of Massachusetts, becoming the Anglican Communion’s first female bishop.

History of women’s ordained ministry in the Church of England
The Church of England opened the priesthood to women in November 1992, five years after women first were ordained to the diaconate. More than 5,000 women have been ordained as priests in England since 1994 and today they represent nearly 40 percent of all clergy.

In July 2005, 13 years after agreeing to ordain female priests, the General Synod began its steady course toward allowing them to become bishops when it passed a motion to remove the legal obstacles to ordaining women as bishops.

In July 2006, the synod called for the practical and legislative arrangements of admitting women to the episcopate to be explored. It also called for the formation of a legislative drafting group to prepare a draft measure and amending canon necessary to remove the legal obstacles.

At its July 2008 group of sessions, synod agreed that it was the “wish of its majority … for women to be admitted to the episcopate” and affirmed that “special arrangements be available, within the existing structures of the Church of England, for those who as a matter of theological conviction will not be able to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests.”

General Synod voted in February 2009 to send a draft measure on women becoming bishops to a revision committee so it could rework the legislation.

The revision committee met 16 times beginning in May 2009 and considered 114 submissions from synod members and a further 183 submissions from others. In May 2010, the committee published a 142-page report, which offered a detailed analysis of the draft legislation in time for the July 2010 synod debate and vote.

The July 2010 synod backed legislation that paved the way for women to become bishops and referred the measure to diocesan synods for their consideration. A majority of diocesan synods needed to approve the measure for it to return to General Synod.

From July 2010 to February 2012, 42 of the 44 diocesan synods throughout England approved the legislation supporting female bishops.

The February 2012 General Synod rejected a bid to provide greater concessions for those opposed to female bishops. Those concessions essentially were an amendment to the legislation that would have enabled two bishops to exercise episcopal functions within the same jurisdiction by way of “co-ordinating” their ministries.

The Anglican Communion’s path to women’s ordination
The long path towards accepting women’s ordained ministry in the Anglican Communion began in 1920 when the Lambeth Conference called (via Resolutions 47-52) for the diaconate of women to be restored “formally and canonically,” adding that it should be recognized throughout the communion.

The first female priest in the communion, the Rev. Li Tim-Oi, was ordained in Hong Kong in 1944. Due to outside pressure, she resigned her license, but not her holy orders, following World War II. In 1971, the Rev. Jane Hwang and the Rev. Joyce Bennett were ordained priests in the Diocese of Hong Kong, though their ministries were not recognized in many parts of the Anglican Communion.

In 1974, there was the “irregular” ordination of 11 women in the U.S.-based Episcopal Church, which officially authorized women’s priestly ordination two years later.

Bishop Barbara Harris, now retired, was elected bishop suffragan of Massachusetts in 1988 and became the Anglican Communion’s first female bishop after her consecration and ordination in 1989.

The Rt. Rev. Penelope Jamieson made history in 1989 when she was elected bishop of the Diocese of Dunedin, New Zealand, and became the first woman to serve as a diocesan bishop in the Anglican Communion.

The Rt. Rev. Mary Adelia McLeod, who was ordained a priest in 1980, was ordained and consecrated in 1993 as bishop of the Diocese of Vermont, becoming the first female diocesan bishop in the U.S.-based Episcopal Church. She retired in 2001.

The Rt. Rev. Canon Nerva Cot Aguilera became the first female Anglican bishop in Latin America when she was consecrated bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Church of Cuba in June 2007.

The Rev. Ellinah Ntombi Wamukoya on Nov. 17, 2012 was ordained as bishop of Swaziland and became the first female bishop in any of the 12 Anglican provinces in Africa.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, previously bishop of Nevada, became the Anglican Communion’s first female primate in November 2006 when she was invested as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

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

EPF calls for cessation of hostilities between Israel and Palestinians

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 14, 2014

[Episcopal Peace Fellowship press release] The Episcopal Peace Fellowship (EPF) urgently joins with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s call for an immediate cessation of hostilities between Israel and Palestinians, especially the State of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, which is devastating Gaza, where over 100 people have been killed, most of them civilians, including women and children.

The siege on Gaza is a humanitarian disaster and human rights organizations are noting breeches of international law. We call on Israel and Hamas to return to the ceasefire they have observed that Egypt and the United States helped broker in 2012.

We note and deplore the recent rising tide of anti-Arab sentiment among the leaders of the State of Israel and its Jewish citizens.

The Secretary General’s spokesperson stated on July 8: “The unsustainable situation in Gaza will also need to be addressed in its political, security, humanitarian and development dimensions as part of a comprehensive solution.”

Rockets and missiles are no substitute for a solution that must be found through negotiations that brings the Occupation to an end and with it the life of misery that Palestinians have endured in Gaza and the West Bank for decades.

Celebrating its 75th anniversary year, the Episcopal Peace Fellowship – http://epfnational.org/ – has worked to promote peace since Armistice Day 1939.

WCC urges responsibility in economic measures toward Israel-Palestine

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 14, 2014

[World Council of Churches press release] Continuing with a long-time commitment of the World Council of Churches (WCC), a recent statement issued by Council’s chief governing body reaffirms churches’ “solidarity with those working for peace with justice in Palestine and Israel”. The statement encourages churches to make responsible decisions regarding their investments which have an impact on the current situation in the region.

The statement titled Economic Measures and Christian Responsibility toward Israel and Palestine was adopted at the WCC Central Committee meeting on 8 July in Geneva, Switzerland.

The document calls “targeted economic measures” an important “non-violent strategy for promoting peace and abating violence”. Efforts from the WCC member churches in implementing responsible economic measures with related impact on Israel and Palestine situation were acknowledged in the statement.

The document mentions the Presbyterian Church (USA) which only recently made a decision to divest from three US-based corporations that profit from Israel’s illegal military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The statement encourages the global ecumenical community to accompany individuals and churches faced with criticism for demanding an end to the occupation of Palestine.

The document also notes other efforts from the churches working with governments to ensure labelling of goods produced in Israeli settlements categorized as manufactured in occupied Palestinian territories. These “efforts are bearing fruit especially within the European Union”.

The statement highlights efforts from those churches that have voted to boycott goods produced in the Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian lands.

“We are called to take action in support of peaceful solutions to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Economic pressure, appropriately and openly applied, is one such means of action,” reads the statement. The document encourages the WCC member churches to make investments that can help “maintain a vibrant Palestinian Christian presence and witness in Israel and Palestine”.

Amidst growing tensions in the West Bank, the statement underlines deep concern over the recent eruption of violence costing many lives. “The level of tension and violence in Israel and Palestine has again reached frightening proportions. We bear witness to the senseless deaths of young people and the suffering,” acknowledges the statement.

In this situation, the document encourages the WCC member churches to “engage in dialogue with Palestinian churches, civil society actors, and Jewish partners”. Instead of“reacting to the political controversies around economic measures, churches should thoughtfully and prayerfully consider how they might respond from the foundation of their faith,” reads the statement.

Statement on Economic Measures and Christian Responsibility toward Israel and Palestine

WCC member churches in the Middle East

Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2013 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 140 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway.

Video: Chloe Kolbet’s favorite part of Scripture

ENS Headlines - Saturday, July 12, 2014

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.]

[Episcopal News Service – Villanova, Pennsylvania] Episcopal Youth Event 2104 participant Chloe Kolbet from the Diocese of Massachusetts tells why Romans 8:37-39 is her favorite Bible verse.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

Video: David Kilp’s favorite part of Scripture

ENS Headlines - Saturday, July 12, 2014

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.][Episcopal News Service – Villanova, Pennsylvania] Episcopal Youth Event 2104 participant David Kilp from the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania tells why 1 Corinthians 12:24-27 is his favorite Bible verse.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

Video: Ashley Buffa’s favorite part of Scripture

ENS Headlines - Saturday, July 12, 2014

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.][Episcopal News Service – Villanova, Pennsylvania] Episcopal Youth Event 2104 participant Ashley Buffa from the Diocese of East Carolina tells why Matthew 4:19 is her favorite Bible verse.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

Video: Lindon Phillips-Johnson’s favorite part of Scripture

ENS Headlines - Saturday, July 12, 2014

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.][Episcopal News Service – Villanova, Pennsylvania] Episcopal Youth Event 2104 participant Lindon Phillips-Johnson from the Diocese of Massachusetts tells why the story of the resurrection of Jesus is his favorite part of the Bible.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

Video: Jessie Fusco’s favorite part of Scripture

ENS Headlines - Saturday, July 12, 2014

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.][Episcopal News Service – Villanova, Pennsylvania] Episcopal Youth Event 2104 participant Jessie Fusco from the Diocese of Minnesota tells why Psalm 23 is her favorite Bible verse.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

Video: Dayton Hobson’s favorite part of Scripture

ENS Headlines - Saturday, July 12, 2014

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.][Episcopal News Service – Villanova, Pennsylvania] Episcopal Youth Event 2104 participant Dayton Hobson from the Diocese of Oklahoma tells why Deuteronomy 31:6 is his favorite Bible verse.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

Video: Claire Horton’s favorite part of Scripture

ENS Headlines - Saturday, July 12, 2014

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.][Episcopal News Service – Villanova, Pennsylvania] Episcopal Youth Event 2104 participant Claire Horton from the Diocese of Minnesota tells why Psalm 139 is her favorite Bible verse.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.