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Maryland: New community church emerges in Canton

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Rev. Jim Hamilton, pastoral missioner for Church on the Square, Canton, celebrates Eucharist on All Saints’ Day, Nov. 1, at the opening service of the new church plant in Baltimore. The joint-venture between the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and the ELCA Delaware-Maryland Synod is the first of its kind on the East Coast. Photo: Dan Webster

[Diocese of Maryland press release] On Saturday, Nov. 1, at 4 p.m., the new community Church on the Square held its first service at historic 1025 S. Potomac Street, on Canton’s O’Donnell Square in Baltimore, Md.

After months of renovation, the leaders of Church on the Square launched a worshiping community. The church startup, a joint venture between the Episcopal and Lutheran denominations, is only the second of its kind (the first being Church of the Apostles in Seattle, Wash.)

Church on the Square, formed through collaboration of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and the ELCA Delaware-Maryland Synod, might just be a vanguard example of the future of mainline denominational worship. Serving the up-and-coming community of Canton, Church on the Square seeks to be a different kind of church. Neither denominational nor non-denominational, the leaders claim a multi-denominational community in which individuals are supported by their sponsoring entities.

Pastoral Missioner the Rev. James Hamilton recalls, “In my interview for this position, I asked both bishops—Lutheran and Episcopalian—which denomination this church should be. They said ‘neither.’ It was their expressed desire that the community not use language that could limit anyone who might like to participate.”

The church maintains that all traditions are welcome, and community members will not be asked to give up their heritage affiliations to be members at Church on the Square.

This change in perspective is connected to nationwide declines in mainline church attendance. With regard to its Lutheran and Episcopalian founders, both historic mainline denominations lost their footholds in Canton and had been struggling to establish healthy, self-sufficient communities.

Canton’s Episcopal presence, Holy Evangelist, closed its doors in 1996, owing to, among other things, an economic downturn in the neighborhood. Messiah English Lutheran Church was close to a similar fate when the Rev. Lee Hudson and the church council made the proactive choice to gift their space and remaining assets to a very different sort of church community, with the hope that a church more attuned to the changing demography of Canton would fare better.

“Our dream is to make this church building open to all,” says John Deason, development missioner for Church on the Square. “It is a space in service of the community of Canton and Southeast Baltimore.”

Saturday services will be progressive and contemporary. The website, churchonthesquarebaltimore.org, notes that “it will not be rare to have worship songs move from re-imagined hymns to top 40 pop to indie folk without any apology.”

Veteran church musician John Repulski took the position of arts missioner because of the deep creativity he could bring to worship.

“I love all styles of music,” says Repulski, “and have often thought that traditional church worship, while majestic, would benefit from variety.”

“Church is filled with people whose musical tastes are widely varied,” adds Deason. “Why should they check that diversity at the door?”

Though some neighborhood partnerships and programs have already begun—including art classes, running groups, yoga and others—many more will be added. The leadership emphasizes that these programs are not ancillary to the church’s mission, but simply different ways for Canton residents to be fully part of the burgeoning community.

“I find spirituality in fitness and meditation, in time spent with my friends and in listening to local music—not only at a church service,” remarks Emily Brown, a Canton resident and partner in the church plant.

“These programs aren’t a bait and switch,” assures Hamilton. “We seek to serve Canton through the generosity of Jesus, not to attract with flash in hopes of building a traditional pledging member base.

The Church on the Square hopes to add various children’s programming, partnerships with the nearly open Enoch Pratt Library branch (which is behind the church building), and continued collaboration with the Canton Community Association, to name a few initiatives on the wish list.

“We are trying to listen to our neighbors and serve them as best we can,” says Hamilton. “It might take some time, but we plan on being an anchor for a new, growing Canton.”

 An open, creative refuge, respectful of all beliefs, the Church on the Square seeks to build community in service of the Canton neighborhood of Baltimore. Through addressing wellness and environmental issues; nurturing arts and culture; enriching our common life together through faith, spirituality and doubt, the Church on the Square seeks to be an inclusive home for you with Christ at its core. Please visit www.churchonthesquarebaltimore.org for more information.

 Learn more about the neighborhood of Canton.

Input invited for 2016-2018 triennium preliminary draft budget

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, November 4, 2014

ENS Editor’s Note: The Episcopal Church’s Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) began its preliminary work on the draft 2016-2018 triennium budget when it met Oct. 27-29 in Linthicum Heights, Maryland. ENS coverage of that meeting is available here. That proposed draft budget had been finalized in the days prior to the PB&F meeting by Executive Council’s Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission, which has been working on the draft for more than a year. ENS coverage of the Executive Council meeting is available here.

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopalians across the church are invited to review and comment on the preliminary draft 2016-2018 triennium budget as it is prepared for approval by the Episcopal Church Executive Council in January 2015. From there, Executive Council will present the draft budget to Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget, and Finance (PB&F) in February, which will then prepare a final budget for approval at General Convention next summer.

The preliminary draft budget is available here.

“In creating this preliminary draft of the budget for 2016-18, the Executive Council Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission (FFM) has asked for and received input from leaders all over the church, in a variety of ministry areas,” explained the Rev. Susan Brown Snook of the Diocese of Arizona, a member of Executive Council, and a member of FFM.  “We have worked in collaboration with CCABs (commissions, committees, agencies, and boards), with Executive Council, with staff, and with members of the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget, and Finance (PB&F).”

Snook continued, “We are releasing this preliminary draft budget three months early because we would like to give people all over the church the opportunity to give us input and feedback. We will review their comments carefully and update our budget proposal in January, before releasing a final draft to PB&F in January.”

On the web page, a narrative provides overview information about the document. The preliminary draft budget document and a place to provide comments are prominently displayed on the website.

Executive Council member Bishop Mark Hollingsworth of Ohio, who chairs FFM, added, “This preliminary draft of the 2016-2018 triennium budget is the product of a two-year process of very intentional listening. Through structured conversations and surveys that began in the fall of 2012, FFM has endeavored to hear the hopes and concerns of the wider church from staff, CCABs, Executive Council colleagues, and others. In an effort to provide Program, Budget, and Finance Committee with the most beneficial base possible to begin their work at General Convention, we have had representatives of PB&F at each of our meetings throughout the current triennium.”

He concluded, “The listening process continues now with the release of this preliminary draft, and we look forward to receiving many thoughtful reflections and responses to it in advance of our January meeting.”

“We believe that this proposal is both realistic and visionary, and we have worked to make sure it incorporates the hopes and visions of others,” Snook added. “We hope that our work will provide a solid foundation for PB&F to build on as they create the final budget proposal for General Convention in 2015.”

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

Se aceptan ahora solicitudes para subvenciones 2015 de la Ofrenda Unida de Acción de Gracias

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, November 4, 2014

[3 de noviembre de 2014] Se aceptan ahora las solicitudes para las subvenciones 2015 de la Ofrenda Unida de Acción de Gracias. Los formularios de solicitud están disponibles aquí.

El enfoque para las subvenciones 2015 de la Ofrenda Unida de Acción de Gracias es la Cuarta Marca de la Misión Anglicana: Transformar las estructuras injustas de la sociedad, desafiar a la violencia de cualquier tipo y buscar la paz y la reconciliación.

Las reglas generales para solicitar estas subvenciones están aquí.

Avisos Importantes
La Ofrenda Unida de Acción de Gracias aceptará;
• una solicitud de subvención por cada diócesis dentro de la Iglesia Episcopal;
• se puede presentar una solicitud adicional para una subvención compañera de una diócesis de la Iglesia Episcopal. Esta relación se puede formar con una diócesis con la ayuda de la Iglesia Episcopal o con una diócesis de la Comunión Anglicana. El obispo patrocinador con jurisdicción será responsable de la contabilidad de la subvención.

Para obtener más información sobre estas pautas, comuníquese con la Rda. Heather Melton, coordinadora de la Ofrenda Unida de Acción de Gracias,hmelton@episcopalchurch.org

Opposing gun violence, Seattle Episcopalians join in faith march

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, November 4, 2014

[Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral] Members of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle joined with more than 30 other Washington faith communities in a “March to the Ballot” on Oct. 19 in support of Washington State Initiative 594 (I-594). This initiative is one of two gun-related measures on the ballot for Washington voters this fall. I-594 closes the so-called “gun show loophole.” If passed this measure would apply the currently used criminal and public safety background checks required of licensed dealers to all firearm sales and transfers, including gun show and online sales, with specific exceptions.

The march began at Temple De Hirsch Sinai and made stops at St. James Cathedral (Roman Catholic) and Plymouth Congregational Church for interfaith prayer, song and community. The march ended at the King County Administration Building in downtown Seattle, the site of a ballot drop box. Because Washington State votes by mail-in ballot, marchers were able to cast their ballots in a collective and highly visible vote in favor of Initiative 594.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray also joined the marchers. Earlier this summer following the shootings at Seattle Pacific University, Murray had remarked that Initiative 594 was a “small step toward a more rational conversation about gun violence.”

The Very Rev. Steven L. Thomason, who serves as the dean of St. Mark’s Cathedral and rector of the Parish of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, spoke during the march. “We join here today bearing the wounds of loss, each in our own ways,” he said. “It is a lamentable fact that no family in this country is untouched by gun violence. It seems no child is immune from the terror anymore. We can do better.

“As Washingtonians, we have the opportunity to lead the nation, to set the example, with I-594 and with our efforts to save lives. We stand here today in solidarity with all who bear the wounds of senseless gun violence, with the majority of people in this state who say ‘enough’. It is time.

“As people of faith, we are compelled by a divine narrative that inexorably draws us to healing and wholeness. This initiative and our support for it is a part of that journey of faith.

“Today, we make a symbolic journey together as a sign of the commitment that we collectively say, we demand better for our state, for our communities.”

I-594 was endorsed this summer by the Saint Mark’s vestry after a careful listening process and vote. This process was designed to answer requests to take a position on current controversial topics. The first step was reception of the request by the dean and wardens and a decision for or against sending this request into the process. The second step was the listening event attended by parish and vestry members: a facilitated and structured session open to the parish. A speaker representing each side of the topic was listened to respectfully and a comment and question period followed.

The listening session for I-594 was held on July 20, when Phil Watson from Washington Gun Rights and Zach Carstensen from the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility spoke to members of the Saint Mark’s community.

Just over a week after the listening session, the vestry voted unanimously in favor of endorsement of the request. On July 29, on action by its vestry, Saint Mark’s Cathedral Parish voted unanimously to endorse I-594. The cathedral joined other faith and business communities at the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, “a coalition of concerned citizens and organizations working together to forge commonsense solutions to reduce gun violence.”

A second bill on the ballot, I-591, would “prohibit government agencies from confiscating guns or other firearms from citizens without due process, or from requiring background checks on firearm recipients unless a uniform national standard is required.”

– Liz Sloat is communications director for Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral.

Canon Richard Morrison elected as board chair at CDSP

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, November 4, 2014

[Church Divinity School of the Pacific press release] The Board of Trustees of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific elected the Rev. Canon Richard N. Morrison, canon for ecumenical and community relations in the Diocese of Arizona, as its new chair at a meeting last month.

Morrison, a lawyer whose practice focuses on water and environmental law, succeeds Carol Anne Brown, who led the board since May 2013.

“Richard is a bi-vocational priest, a lawyer, a teacher and an environmentalist,” said the Very Rev. W. Mark Richardson, president and dean of CDSP. “His life and ministry exemplify one of the primary lessons we teach our students: that Christian leaders must be prepared to work toward the reign of God both within the church and the wider community.

“CDSP has been blessed by a succession of excellent board chairs. I give thanks for Carol Anne Brown, whose leadership just ended, and look forward to working closely with Richard.”

Morrison chairs the board of the Morrison Institute of Public Policy at Arizona State University, where he teaches water resources management. He has also served on the boards of the Claremont School of Theology and the former Seabury-Western Seminary.

“I think our current board is the best board I have ever worked with,” Morrison said. “I am very excited by the broad range of competencies this board presents and our ability to inform management and staff about creative options coming from the world of finance and law and other fields.”

Morrison, who has a master of arts degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary and a juris doctor from the University of Houston, said he is particularly eager to help CDSP develop its new low-residency programs that offer the master of divinity and the certificate in Anglican studies.

“It’s a pivotal time for distance learning, and while all schools are working hard to accommodate trends in the marketplace that are going to require more reliance on distance learning, one of the reasons I am so glad to be serving at CDSP today is that Mark Richardson has done a good job of preparing his faculty for the more flexible and innovative styles of teaching that this is going to require,” he said.

Morrison began his ordained ministry as a vocational deacon in 1997, working with refugees eligible to apply for asylum. “I represented them before the immigration courts as their pro bono lawyer and arranged for housing and clothing as necessary,” he says.

He was ordained to the priesthood in 2003 and has served as rector of Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Flagstaff, interim rector at St. Matthew’s in Chandler and as an assisting priest at Church of the Epiphany in Tempe.

A decorated Navy pilot, Morrison is a trustee of the Farm Foundation in Chicago and writes and speaks on ethics and environmental sustainability.

Anglicans gather for anti-trafficking, slavery consultation

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, November 4, 2014

[Anglican Alliance] Anglicans from across the Communion will be gathering in Rome, Italy, Nov. 3-7 to discuss their churches’ work in ending human trafficking and modern slavery.  The consultation is being convened by the Anglican Alliance and hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See, Archbishop David Moxon.

The purpose of the consultation is to learn about the work of churches around the Anglican Communion in tackling modern slavery and human trafficking. The group will reflect on the most effective approaches and agree on recommendations for a Communion-wide response. These will focus on the prevention of trafficking and slavery, protection and support for survivors, prosecution of perpetrators, and policy and advocacy work with governments and the private sector.

The issue of human slavery is a growing global crisis, with recent estimates of nearly 30 million people oppressed in slavery in almost every part of the world. The issue has been raised in every regional consultation held by the Anglican Alliance, and so has now been identified as a global priority.

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope have jointly committed to tackle human slavery, giving their blessing to the ecumenical and interfaith initiative, the Global Freedom Network, launched in Rome in March 2014.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby sent a message of welcome to the participants: “This week you have gathered to consider how our Anglican Communion can be more effective in working together and collaborating with other faith communities and secular partners to end modern slavery. It is a huge and daunting challenge – but it is a task that we must face. Evil will thrive if humanity stands by and does nothing while the most vulnerable suffer at the hands of traffickers and slavers.”

The consultation will reflect on the current work by churches in the Communion against trafficking and slavery, while also learning about other faith-based and secular approaches – including the work of the Global Freedom Network, Caritas Internationalis, the Salvation Army, and the Walk Free Foundation. This will include analysis of work in prevention, protection of survivors, prosecution of perpetrators, policy work to strengthen legislation and make recommendations on collaborating more effectively in partnership.

To deepen the spiritual foundations of the work, the participants will also spend a day in prayer and reflection in the ancient town of Assisi, considering the ministry of St. Francis with the most vulnerable and oppressed of his time.

The Rev. Rachel Carnegie, co-executive director of the Anglican Alliance, said: “It is truly shocking and heartbreaking to hear the accounts of men, women and children who have been trafficked and enslaved. There are many important initiatives in different parts of the Anglican Communion. This consultation will enable us to learn together from our experiences and to shape a stronger collective response to end this crime against humanity.”

Churches, individuals and communities worldwide are invited to join a one-hour global webinar held on Nov. 6 at 1 p.m. GMT, which will share outcomes from the consultation and discuss the way forward for shared learning and collaboration across the Anglican Communion.

Iraq airstrikes not a solution, says Syrian priest

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Squeezing ISIS’ source of funds is a better solution than airstrikes, the Rev. Nadim Nassar tells a gathering at St. John’s (Stone) Church. He also says”religious reconciliation” is necessary to rebuild trust in Syria and Iraq. Photo: Beatrice Paez

[Anglican Journal] The U.S.-led airstrike campaign is hardly a plausible solution to quelling the encroaching and horrific reign of Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, says the Rev. Nadim Nassar, the lone Syrian Anglican minister and director of the London, England-based, Christian charity, Awareness Foundation.

“It can’t be the solution because it only adds to the casualties and destruction to the region,” said Nassar, who spoke at a gathering Oct. 28 at St. John’s (Stone) Church in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. “The only solution is to dry out external resources that it relies on and all the veins that are feeding it.”

Military response merely provides a distraction, he said, ­­ a “show that they are doing something” —while the situation worsens daily as more than a million dollars a day is pumped into the operations of the Islamic State (known as ISIS or ISIL), a radical group of insurgents in Iraq and Syria and an offshoot of the Islamist militant organization al-Qaeda.

The alternative, said Nassar, is to pinpoint the source of its funding rather than to raise arms.

“When Western countries decided to arm Syrian opposition, they gave a signal that we do not want the war to stop,” said Nassar, adding that ISIS is counting on the war to rage on and spread to other parts of the region.

Nassar made a stop in Saint John as part of his visit to Canada, where he spoke about the hardships of imperiled religious minorities and the eroding bonds that once kept Christians and Muslims alike secure.

Nassar, who grew up in Lattakia, Syria, spoke of a time when both Christians and Muslims celebrated festivals together, worked, lived, studied and fought side by side. He lived through the seven-year civil war in Lebanon, from 1981 to 1988, and said he has faced death many times.

Today, he said, through its targeted persecution of Christians and other religious minorities, ISIS is determined to make it impossible for different sectarian groups to coexist peacefully.

Pinned on Nassar’s lapel was a tiny letter “n” in Arabic (“n” for Nazarite), symbolic of the marked life led by today’s Christians living in Iraq or Syria—the Nazarite pin has been used by ISIS, and at times former neighbors, to single out Christian minorities living amongst Muslims and destroy their homes.

“Some Muslims betrayed their neighbors and told ISIS where [their] Christian neighbors were,” he said. “Other Muslims protected them and hid them in their homes.”

ISIS’ violent attacks have raised the visibility of Christian communities in the Middle East, but he said that people sometimes neglect to recognize that the region is the birthplace of the Christian faith — and not a Western export — as extremists, and at times the West, would like to perceive.

And while the threat against Christians is mounting, he said it’s important that they not be seen as victims.

“It’s so painful when people look at me and see only a poor victim…Suddenly, we’re visible, but we’re victims,” he said. “We do not see ourselves as victims; we see ourselves as part of the tragedy of the Middle East.”

Nassar appealed to Canadians to put pressure on their government to come up with a political solution—one that involves religious reconciliation to rebuild trust—that deals with the war in Syria.

For more than three years, the Syrian war has displaced over three million Syrians from their country, with about a third of those fleeing to neighboring Lebanon—making up almost a quarter of Lebanon’s population.

A solution to the crisis in Syria, he said, is “rarely” spoken about, whether in the U.S., Canada or Europe, despite the fact that countries worldwide are not insulated from the consequences as ISIS solidifies its presence in the region.

“Proof of this can be found in the many thousands of people leaving their work, schools, families and universities to fight with ISIS,” he said.

He added that as long as ISIS’ destabilizing hold remains unchecked, “it will always export terror and bloodshed to the rest of the world.” He added, “We have the responsibility to create a counterforce that’s equal in power…”

Nassar said he is hoping to mobilize Christians far and wide (with a trip to Hong Kong planned as well) to push for much-needed engagement and dialogue among Abrahamic faiths and political and religious leaders.

– Beatrice Paez is a multimedia journalist whose reporting spans international development issues, politics and arts and culture. 

Supreme Court declines to review Fort Worth case at this time

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, November 4, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth press release] On Nov. 3, 2014, the United States Supreme Court denied the petition for writ of certiorari filed by the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth on June 19, 2014. The case will thus proceed to retrial on remand in the 141st District Court of Tarrant County, Texas, in Fort Worth, with the Honorable John P. Chupp presiding. The 141st District Court likely will hear summary judgment motions in early 2015, with the losing parties likely to appeal that decision to the state appellate courts and then back to the U.S. Supreme Court on constitutional issues.

The case arises from the decision almost five years ago of the former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and some diocesan and parish leaders to sever ties with The Episcopal Church and claim the name and property of the Episcopal diocese for their new church. The loyal Episcopalians of Tarrant County reorganized the diocese early in 2009, filled the vacant church offices with Episcopalians, and continued the ministry of the Church in the diocese. The Episcopalian officials filed suit in 2009 seeking to regain the historic names and property of the diocese accumulated by the Church since 1838 across 24 counties of North Texas.

In January 2011, the trial court rightly returned the name and property of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth to the Episcopalians recognized by The Episcopal Church as the continuing Episcopal Diocese. In 2013, the Texas Supreme Court reviewed the case and decided to change the law governing church disputes in Texas. The Texas Supreme Court ordered the trial court to hear the case again under the new doctrine.

In June 2014, the loyal Episcopalians asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Texas Supreme Court’s ruling, in part to consider the question of whether a state can change the rules for church property after the dispute has erupted, a question left open by the U.S. Supreme Court since 1979. At the same time, the loyal Episcopalians and breakaway defendants have been preparing their summary judgment motions for the trial court under Texas’s new doctrine.

Because the case was remanded in August 2013 by the Texas Supreme Court for further proceedings, that decision was “interlocutory” or non-final, which the U.S. Supreme Court rarely accepts for review. Thus, while the Episcopal Parties are disappointed not to have the faster resolution the U.S. Supreme Court could have offered, they look forward to filing their summary judgment papers and showing why the breakaway faction’s decades of commitments are enforceable under basic neutral principles of Texas law.

Denial of review of an interlocutory order does not set precedent on the issues raised, and the Episcopal Parties may still raise the legal issues from the interlocutory petition in the event the case is later appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, the Right Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., reminds the Episcopalians in the diocese that, while this order and the consequent additional delay is disappointing, it does not change the mission and ministry of the many Episcopalians who continue to constitute the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. “We continue the exciting work to be The Episcopal Church in this part of Texas and to be the local witnesses and prophetic voices of the Church as North Texans continue to search for spiritual wholeness.”

The diocese is preparing for the 32nd annual meeting of its Convention November 14-15 at Jack Daniel’s Club at Globe Life Park in Arlington, and for the triennial General Convention of The Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, Utah, in June 2015.

2015 United Thank Offering grant applications now accepted

ENS Headlines - Monday, November 3, 2014

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

The focus for the 2015 United Thank Offering grants is Mark Four of the Anglican Marks of Mission: To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation. 

Guidelines for applying for the grants are here.

Important notes

The United Thank Offering will accept:

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

The deadline is 5 pm Eastern on Friday, January 15, 2015.

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

JNCPB notes end of submission period

ENS Headlines - Monday, November 3, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Episcopal Church Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB) has released the following statement:

Submission Period ends for Bishops
Discerning Election as the 27th Presiding Bishop

The Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB) has announced that the “Submission Period” for Bishops discerning a call to the ministry of the Presiding Bishop has concluded. Bishops were able to submit initial information and materials to the JNCPB between October 1 and October 31. The JNCPB will continue their work of discernment as they seek to present a minimum of three nominees to the Church for election as the 27th Presiding Bishop.

The JNCPB invites the prayers of all the church during this time of submission and discernment as we seek to elect the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.

The JNCPB is comprised of a lay member, a priest or deacon, and a bishop elected from each of the nine provinces of the Episcopal Church, plus two youth representatives, appointed by the President of the House of Deputies. The General Convention Deputies and bishops serve a three-year term to conclude at the close of General Convention 2015 in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah). For more info:pbnominatingcommittee@gmail.com.

 

Presiding Bishop preaches at Cathedral of the Incarnation, Baltimore

ENS Headlines - Monday, November 3, 2014

All Saints
2 November 2014
Cathedral of the Incarnation, Baltimore

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

There’s a beautiful place in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada called Angels Camp. It’s an old gold rush town Mark Twain wrote about, in a story that made him famous.[1] Angels Camp is the site of exquisite scenery in Calaveras County and home of Twain’s jumping frogs. Miners and prospectors built the town, and named it after Henry Angel, who started the first trading post. For eons before that, Native Americans gathered in awe to commune with the creator of all that is, in stately groves of giant sequoias.[2] Many have called those groves natural cathedrals, and they are a New World vision of what the psalmist speaks of, that the angel of the Lord camps around those who fear him. Can you imagine angels in the midst of the redwoods? The thousands of gold seekers who came out of greed more than awe probably could have used a little more of the fear of God.

We tend to get hung up on that phrase, “fear of God.” We’re not supposed to be afraid of God (that was Adam and Eve’s problem after they ate the apple), yet the reality is that if God is God, God must be a whole lot more than we can understand or take in. Remember God telling Moses that he couldn’t meet God face to face and still live? It would be too overwhelming – Moses would simply be “undone” by encounter with the fullness of God’s reality. Places like Angels Camp bring awe and awareness of the creative force behind them – they make us aware of God if we’re open to it.

This season of the year reminds us that fear and awe are pretty closely tied – it’s what makes Hallowe’en so delicious! Kids and adults alike play with the frisson of fear that comes with being startled by the ghouls and ghosts abroad in the streets, only to be revealed as our familiars when they come into the light. We get opportunities to play with the mysteries of death and life in the guise of fun – and the disguise of assuming other identities. All of it has roots in the remembrance of saints – those who awe us by living in holy ways that offer a glimpse of eternity.

The great vision of Revelation includes a great host of those who live in eternal awe. The book of Revelation can be either aw(e)ful or awesome, depending on your perspective. It’s a strange kind of literature called apocalyptic, about what happens at the end of time as we know it, yet it offers plenty to learn about living in the meantime. Those great multitudes represent a world that has come into right relationship with the creator of all that is. They have suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and persecution and the evil of the world, but they’ve come through, into another state of being. It’s a vision of what God intended in creation – no one’s hungry or thirsty, suffering or grieving. God has brought them all back to the source of life. It’s hard to imagine anyone who wouldn’t be in awe at experiencing a world like that.

Awe is where saints begin – an almost overwhelming sense of otherness, of creative possibility beyond imagining, of vulnerable respect for something beyond mere mortal capacity. It is the root of all spirituality and religious instinct, and it is where saints are born. That great cloud of witnesses gathered around the throne in Revelation have come closer to the origin of awe, yet are not undone by it.

Where do you experience awe? The wonder of a baseball team who hangs in there to win, by being more than anyone expected? Do you find awe in the luminous painted clouds of sunrise – or the birth of a child? What about the sheer grit of a woman who leaves the streets or an abusive relationship to look for a truly loving way of life? I am in awe at the ability of combatants to put down their arms and pursue peace. Is there awe in the quiet stillness of your own heart, confirming the deeper graciousness of reality, in spite of what the world throws at you?

Awe can evoke greater awareness of the presence and work of God around us, among us, within and beyond us. That has something to do with what Bishop Paret envisioned when he began to think of building this cathedral. He wanted it built near the poor, he wanted it to welcome all comers, without regard for their ability to pay for a place to rest. He said, “The ushers should be instructed to give the best seats to the plainer people, and to put those in gay clothing further off.” [3] We would use different language today, but you get the point – poor and rich, gay and straight, people of all colors and languages and nations, gathered here together around the throne of God.

You’re still expanding on that vision, gathering immigrants and refugees,[4] an Igbo congregation, and your leadership that’s pushing and cajoling this city toward excellent schools for all its children. This place is a local version of Revelation’s vision. Awe becomes the right relationships of justice as it takes on flesh in human encounter and response.

That response to awe is what Jesus speaks of as blessing. Blessed are those who respond to their fellow human beings with mercy, blessed are those who work toward peace and those who respond in humility, and blessed is every one who yearns for that vision of a whole and holy community. Those who know themselves blessed become a blessing to the world, and the world begins to gather around the throne of God.

We’ve gathered around that throne today, and we’re going to invite another person into awe and awareness. These parents have experienced something of that awe, and now bring their child into the possibility of a growing encounter with the source of all that is. Every baptism is an opportunity for the rest of us to reawaken to the awe that underlies all relationship with the Holy One – awe that leads to loving God with all we are, heart and mind, soul and strength.

When we pray for Madeline Ann, and all who are renewing their baptismal vows, listen for the awe – it’s in almost every phrase: open our hearts to your grace and truth; fill us with life-giving Spirit; keep us in the communion of this body of Christ; teach us to love others with the Spirit’s power; send us into the world to share the awesome love we know in you; bring us to the fullness of your peace and glory. And after she is baptized, we’ll thank God for a new life of grace, and pray for a heart that can be awestruck, filled with courage and love, and the “gift of joy and wonder in all God’s works.” May this and every child of God find that awe growing within, throughout life’s journey, and learn to respond with love.

We’re making a saint today, and as the song puts it, may each one of us yearn to be one, too. Be a vehicle of awe to the world, blessed and a source of blessing, in ways both concrete and eternal. Pope Francis put it this way a few days ago, and it’s more poetic in Spanish, “los pobres necesitan ‘terrenos, un techo y trabajo.’[5] That’s the living work of saints, recognizing the awe-inspiring image of God in every neighbor, respecting the dignity of each one, and working for justice everywhere. That is what comes of loving God with all our strength and soul and mind and strength.

Catch a little awe, and let it wonders work in you. Don’t be afraid – the angels are camped all around. Fear not, oh saints, you are a resurrected people, blessed to be a blessing!

[1] “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” (1865) brought his first major public recognition.

[2] Now protected in the Calaveras Big Trees State Park

[3] http://www.incarnationbaltimore.org/?page_id=65

[4] Through ERICA – Episcopal Refugee and Immigrant Center Alliance

[5] http://voces.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/28/papa-francisco-defensa-pobres_n_6063492.html The poor need land, a roof, and work.

Victoria Pretti called as rector of St. Mary’s, Stone Harbor, New Jersey

ENS Headlines - Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bishop William H. Stokes of New Jersey will lead a “Celebration of New Ministry” on Saturday, Nov. 8, for the Rev. Victoria Pretti, as she formally assumes her duties as rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Stone Harbor. The service will begin at 11 a.m. at the church, which is located at 95th Street and Third Avenue.

Pretti, or “Mother Victoria” as she prefers to be called, was selected by a Search Committee last March following a nationwide search process. She succeeds the Rev. John Sosnowski, who served as St. Mary’s rector for nearly 15 years and was well known throughout the county. The Rev. Susan Osborne-Mott was interim rector during the search process.

“I am delighted to begin this new journey with God’s people at St. Mary’s in Stone Harbor,” said Pretti. “This is a very special place filled with people who are joyfully serious about living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am eager to work with our wonderful parish members, my colleagues in ministry, and the people of Stone Harbor and those throughout Cape May County to proclaim the Gospel in both word and action.”

Formerly the vicar of the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour in Milton, Massachusetts, and All Saints Episcopal Church in West Newbury, Massachusetts, Pretti also has many years of experience in the fields of healthcare and social services. She was previously on staff at Boston’s Pine Street Inn, one of New England’s largest homeless shelters and social service organizations. It was this background that made her particularly attractive to St. Mary’s, which has over the past 10 years established an active outreach ministry.

“We feel truly blessed to have been able to find someone like Mother Victoria to help us in trying to realize God’s call to us,” said Lawrence Schmidt, senior warden of St. Mary’s. “She has many outstanding gifts and together we believe we can do great service in Christ’s name.”

Pretti is married to Anthony Pretti. She and her husband moved from Boston to Cape May County in June and have been residing in Cape May Court House while renovations are undertaken at the parish rectory.

Episcopal bishops group calls for universal background checks

ENS Headlines - Thursday, October 30, 2014

[Bishops United Against Gun Violence press release] Bishops United Against Gun Violence, an ad hoc group of almost 60 Episcopal bishops, Oct. 30 released a briefing paper that “seeks to shed light on new findings indicating that the vast majority of Americans today, including gun owners, support universal background checks prior to all gun sales.”

In the paper, Bishops Ian T. Douglas of Connecticut and William H. Stokes of New Jersey cite a July 2014 poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, which found that 92 percent of voters, including 92 percent of gun owners, support universal background checks. “This new information provides an urgent call for action that can save thousands of American lives each year,” they write.

The paper analyzes gun violence from a theological perspective, as a public health issue and as a political challenge. Clergy minister frequently to survivors of gun violence and to those who have lost loved ones, but they must also “speak out against growing gun violence and work for change,” the bishops write.

Bishops United, was organized in 2013, following the mass shootings at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012. The group is convened by Douglas and Bishops Mark Beckwith of Newark and Eugene T. Sutton of Maryland.

“Women who are victims of domestic violence are at very high risk when a gun is in the home,” Stokes and Douglas write. “Guns are a scourge on the streets of our nation’s cities resulting in an extraordinary number of deaths, maiming and imprisonment among young people, particularly males of color. That guns flow to our cities’ streets from states and regions where laws are lax, especially background check laws, makes the issue of universal background checks, and closing gun sale loop holes and so-called ‘straw man purchases’ a nationwide concern,” they add.

The paper includes a series of action steps for bishops, clergy and lay people such as asking members of Congress to support the Manchin-Toomey Amendment in the Senate or the King-Thompson bill in the House. Both of those bills would close many of the loopholes in the current system of federal background checks. The bishops also urge members of the church to support a bill sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) that would close the loophole that currently permits domestic abusers and stalkers to obtain firearms.

“Our political leaders too often seem to be paralyzed in the face of the money and activism of gun manufacturer and gun-owner lobbyists,” Douglas and Stokes write. “The expressed desire of most Americans for action on a matter that concerns the common good – universal background checks – is being held hostage by those with financial power and a clear interest in the unfettered sale of guns. In political terms, this borders on corruption. In theological terms, it is sinful.”

Bishops United Against Gun Violence is an ad hoc group of nearly 60 Episcopal bishops who have come together to explore means of reducing the appalling levels of gun violence in our society, and to advocate for policies and legislation that save lives.

 

Young radio reporters in Liberia to spread the word about Ebola

ENS Headlines - Thursday, October 30, 2014

Children’s Radio Foundation partners with local radio stations and community organizations on more than 50 projects across Africa to create opportunities for broadcast, youth dialogue, leadership, and social engagement. Photo: Children’s Radio Foundation

[Anglican Communion News Service] Young radio reporters in Liberia will soon be broadcasting programs to teach people there about how to prevent the spread of Ebola.

The Children’s Radio Foundation, led in the U.K. by Anglican priest the Rev. Charlotte Bannister-Parker, has worked hard to build up this network of youth reporters across 29 of the country’s radio stations.

The charity exists to provide young people in countries across Africa with the skills to make radio and connect them with local radio stations where their packages can be aired.

“We already have an army of young people who are active youth reporters,” said Bannister-Parker, “So what we’re doing now is putting together an Ebola Health Information Pack (EHIP) to send out to their 29 stations containing accurate, effective information about Ebola.”

Over the years CRF quickly learned from young people in the countries where they worked that there can be a lack of trust among children and young adults about public health messages that come from government officials.

“Government messages can often fall on deaf ears because they’re not created by young people for young people,” she said. “What we’ve been doing is putting together an information pack that is also appropriate for young people to engage with and use.”

Bannister-Parker added that CRF’s radio packages will also compliment the work and appeals of those charities that would normally respond to such a multi-national crisis.

“Thanks to the other appeals people are getting buckets and soap and protective clothing, but if they don’t know how best to use them there’s almost no point in getting them. So our radio messages come in at a crucial point in that educational process.”

She added that radio is also a safe, contact-free form of distributing information and is locally contextual: CRF-trained young reporters exist in five other countries South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, the DR Congo and Kenya and the organization works in 25 languages.

“Because there’s a chance Ebola may spread to other countries across Africa we’re going to use these EHIPs in all our other radio stations, with all our other children in the other partner countries.”

Bannister-Parker, who used to work in television broadcasting, explained that the charity has also been invited to connect with the Disasters Emergency Committee and other major humanitarian charities as well as to consider bringing their radio education model to Sierra Leone — another country affected by the killer disease.

She added that she considers the charity’s presence in Liberia was “God-given. It’s a very unusual country for us to be in in the first place—I believe Unicef invited us in because of the high infant mortality and low education levels. It’s the epicenter of the disease and we’ve been given an incredible opportunity to help.”

Notes

The Children’s Radio Foundation http://www.childrensradiofoundation.org/ has launched a £20,000 appeal at https://www.justgiving.com/crffightsebola/ to help create an Ebola-ready continent.

Donations will go towards creating and distributing CRF’s EHIPs (Ebola Health Information Packs), using these information packs for radio outreach in schools, clinics and community centres; training their radio youth reporters to air the EHIP’s accurate health information via community radio stations; and hiring a full-time Health Educational Director to launch the EHIPs and training across Liberia and their other partner counties.

Episcopal Relief & Development’s $750,000 Matching Gift Challenge

ENS Headlines - Thursday, October 30, 2014

[Episcopal Relief & Development press release] In honor of Episcopal Relief & Development’s 75th Anniversary Celebration, a group of generous donors has pledged $750,000 in matching funds for the organization’s 2014 Matching Gift Challenge.

“We are excited and extremely grateful for this 75th Anniversary match, which is our largest ever match amount,” said Joy Shigaki, the organization’s senior director of advancement. “I am inspired by the energy and commitment of our donors around the 75th Anniversary Celebration, and hope that our supporters will take advantage of this special opportunity to see their contributions have double the impact toward healing a hurting world.”

Any donation to the organization between Oct. 30 and Dec. 31 will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, up to the total match amount.  This includes contributions through Gifts for Life, Episcopal Relief & Development’s alternative giving catalog, and monthly donations scheduled during the Challenge period.

The matching amount for all donations will go to the 75th Anniversary Fund, which enables the organization to respond to needs where they are greatest.  The overall fundraising goal of the 75-week-long celebration is to secure $7.5 million to support programs that touch the lives of more than 3 million people in nearly 40 countries.

“This is a time for all Episcopalians to commemorate their shared legacy of compassionate care and striving for justice through the work of Episcopal Relief & Development,” said Rob Radtke, the organization’s president.  “It is with much gratitude that I invite everyone to join the celebration and consider how their gifts of time, talent and treasure can contribute toward the growth of relationships and initiatives that create thriving, connected communities.”

Gift matching is automatically activated when a contribution is made – online, via mail or by phone – to one of the organization’s listed funds. For an even bigger impact, Episcopal Relief & Development’s 75th Anniversary Campaign toolkits provide fun and engaging resources to help congregations rally around a particular program area.

To have a gift matched, simply make a donation between now and December 30.  Click here to donate online, or call 1.855.312.HEAL (4325).  Gifts can also be mailed to Episcopal Relief & Development, PO Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058.

Programa, Presupuesto y Finanzas comienza a trabajar en el presupuesto trienal

ENS Headlines - Thursday, October 30, 2014

Stephen Lane, obispo de Maine y vicepresidente del Comité Permanente Conjunto sobre Programa, Presupuesto y Finanzas, plantea un asunto durante la última sesión plenaria del comité el 29 de octubre. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] El Comité Permanente Conjunto sobre Programa, Presupuesto y Finanzas (PB&F) de la Iglesia Episcopal dio inicio a los muchos meses de trabajo que resultarán en el presupuesto 2016-2018 que le será propuesto a la 78º. Convención General en julio de 2015.

Los miembros del PB&F dedicaron la mayor parte de su reunión del 27 al 29 de octubre a recibir un curso intensivo sobre cómo se ha elaborado el presupuesto trienal en el pasado y cómo el proceso ha cambiado en esta ocasión.

Tanto a la obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori como a la presidente de la Cámara de Diputados, Rda. Gay Clark Jennings, le preguntaron que describieran para beneficio de los miembros del PB& su visión para el presupuesto 2016-2018 y el proceso que se estaba llevando a cabo para elaborarlo.

“Mi sentir es que el presupuesto denominacional debe hacer en verdad lo que no podemos hacer como diócesis individuales”, dijo Jefferts Schori. “Yo sí creo profundamente que nuestro presupuesto debe basarse en nuestra perspectiva de la misión. Eso es lo que somos y lo que nos proponemos ser, eso es lo que Dios nos envía a ser y hacer en el mundo, trabajar por el reino de Dios —una visión de shalom— para reconciliar al mundo con Dios en Cristo”.

Otro fundamento de su visión para el presupuesto, dijo la Obispa Primada, proviene de la definición histórica que dice que una comunidad cristiana madura es “misional en su más profundo sentido y al hacer eso es autosuficiente, autopropagadora y autónoma [y] no se interesa tan sólo en su vida interior, sino que se proyecta hacia el exterior y hace la obra de Dios en el mundo”.

Jefferts Schori bosquejó lo que llamó “tres amplias categorías” de la labor que ella ve como la más adecuada para ser llevada a cabo por las estructuras denominacionales.

La primera es el servicio a la Iglesia Episcopal en su sentido denominacional, dijo, lo cual incluye ayudar a las poblaciones pequeñas, nuevas y aisladas; responder a crisis en nombre de toda la Iglesia; responder a realidades cambiantes en la Iglesia y en la sociedad; ayudar a fomentar la vida de otras comunidades episcopales y anglicanas que todavía no alcanzan el autosostenimiento y mantener y supervisar los legados financiero, institucional, de honorabilidad y de gobierno “de manera que resulte fructífero a las generaciones venideras”.

La segunda categoría, dijo Jefferts Schori, es fomentar relaciones con otras iglesias y comunidades religiosas, incluidas las relaciones dentro de la Comunión Anglicana, así como las relaciones ecuménicas e interreligiosas.

La tercera categoría, administrar las relaciones con gobiernos e instituciones supranacionales, lo cual incluye la promoción social a nivel federal y estatal, la obra de la Iglesia en las Naciones Unidas, la labor de desarrollo tal como la que lleva a cabo Ayuda y Desarrollo Episcopales y a través de otras subvenciones, y proporcionar el respaldo ministerial que necesitan algunos ministros, tales como los capellanes.

Afirmando que los procesos del presupuesto para los últimos dos trienios “fueron muy difíciles por varias razones”, Jennings dijo que muchas personas “ansiaban un proceso presupuestario más transparente, menos contencioso y más basado en el evangelio con sobrado tiempo para llevar a cabo esta seriecísima labor”.

Jennings dijo que el proceso del Consejo Ejecutivo para elaborar su proyecto del presupuesto 2016-2018 es “inclusivo, transparente, receptivo, colegiado y en colaboración”. Hizo notar que es la primera vez que tiene noticia de un plan para publicar el borrador de un proyecto presupuestario del Consejo en el que toda la Iglesia tendrá la oportunidad de hacer comentarios sobre el presupuesto trienal en ese punto de su elaboración.

El Rdo. Doug Sparks, de Rochester, Minnesota y secretario del Comité de Programa, Presupuesto y Finanzas, toma nota mientras sus colegas expresan sus preguntas iniciales sobre el proceso presupuestario 2016-2018. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

Como otra forma de perfeccionar el proceso presupuestario en general, la Cámara de Diputados manejará las resoluciones de manera diferente durante la Convención de 2015, dijo Jennings. Habrá un Comité de Revisión de Resoluciones para estudiar los proyectos de resoluciones que se presenten y de este modo garantizar que están en consonancia con el sistema de gobierno, en la forma que exigen los Cánones y para valorar si tienen implicaciones económicas. El comité informará sobre cada resolución al presidente del comité legislativo idóneo.

Y, una propuesta revisión a las reglas le permitiría al Comité de Diputados sobre el Despacho de Asuntos programar el flujo de resoluciones, de manera que las que tengan implicaciones económicas puedan ser atendidas con mayor rapidez. El cambio propuesto debe aprobarse antes de que empiecen los asuntos de la Convención.

Ambas medidas tienen por objeto aliviar las tensión que se crea cuando las resoluciones que tienen implicaciones presupuestarias llegan tarde al PB&F en ese proceso de comité.

Refiriéndose a otro carril paralelo que funcionará en la Convención, Jennings dijo que ella cree que “el PB&F necesita elaborar un presupuesto sobre lo que existe actualmente respecto a gobierno, estructura y administración”, en lugar de lo que el Equipo de Trabajo para Reinventar la Iglesia Episcopal podría proponer a la Convención y lo que la Convención pudiera hacer respecto a esas propuestas. Si el proceso del TREC da lugar a importantes cambios, entonces el Consejo Ejecutivo tendrá que enmendar el presupuesto después de la Convención dijo.

Jennings dijo también al PB&F que ella esperaba que los miembros escucharían lo que la Iglesia ha dicho respecto a tener un presupuesto basado en una solicitud diocesana más pequeña. Añadió que le gustaría verlo reducido de una manera que fuera “estratégica y sensible”.

Stephen Lane, obispo de Maine y vicepresidente del PB&F, dijo a sus colegas que su labor les llama al equilibrio, escuchando los deseos de la Iglesia con “nuestras propias pasiones y compromisos”.

“Recibiremos los datos provenientes de toda la Iglesia… no son agendas, son datos; escuchando a las personas [y aprendiendo] cuáles son sus preocupaciones contenidas en los datos”, afirmó. “Comenzamos con los datos y habrá muchísimos, pero finalmente tomaremos esos datos y decidiremos al respecto. Es ahí donde nuestras propias visiones resultan verdaderamente decisivas”.

El obispo Mark Hollingsworth, presidente del Comité Permanente Conjunto sobre Finanzas para la Misión (FFM) del Consejo Ejecutivo y la Rda. Susan Snook, que encabeza el subcomité de presupuesto del FFM, debatieron con el PB&F el actual presupuesto trienal y el proceso presupuestario del Consejo hasta el momento.

Snook le dijo al PB&F que su comité había utilizado algunos principios básicos para su proceso presupuestario, entre ellos que el presupuesto debía ser un “documento visionario” basado en “alguna visión de alto nivel” y que debe elaborarse a través de un proceso que fuese tan inclusivo como sea posible.

El FFM ha debatido cuánto dinero pedir a las diócesis como contribución al presupuesto nacional, dijo Snook, y muchos miembros reconocieron que abordar la llamada “solicitud diocesana” puede ser difícil.

El presupuesto trienal de la Iglesia Episcopal se nutre fundamentalmente de las promesas de las diócesis de la Iglesia y de las zonas de misión regionales. La donación anual en el presupuesto trienal se basa en el ingreso que tuvo una diócesis dada dos años antes, menos $120.000. Los compromisos diocesanos para 2013 y 2014, basados en la solicitud del presupuesto de una contribución del 19 por ciento, se encuentran aquí. No todas las diócesis pagan la totalidad de su solicitud por toda una variedad de razones.

Un conversatorio sostenido en la reunión de la Cámara de Obispos de septiembre de 2013, dirigido por Hollingsworth y Lane, “afirmó lo que siempre creímos, el debate sobre el proceso de solicitud es el más difícil que tenemos en la Iglesia”, según Hollingsworth.

Lane dijo que si bien la respuesta diocesana a la solicitud es una “fuente de división” entre los obispos, “ninguna diócesis quiere ser atípica”.

“En todas existe el deseo de participar plenamente [en la financiación del presupuesto denominacional] y parte de lo que resulta arduo respecto a este diálogo es llegar a ese punto donde podemos hablar acerca de las cosas en que todos debemos participar plenamente”, afirmó.

Hollingsworth se mostró de acuerdo, añadiendo que “el sistema que usamos no invita a la participación de la manera que nos gustaría y es vulnerable a la vergüenza, la crítica y la división”.

Snook le dijo al PB&F que el FFM le sugerirá al Consejo Ejecutivo que, en el próximo trienio, cree una comisión para revisar la solicitud diocesana a fin de dirigirse a las diócesis “de manera inclusiva y alentadora respecto al hecho de que no pagan la solicitud en su totalidad”. Por ejemplo, explicó ella, la comisión podría negociar una cantidad menor con las diócesis cuyas dificultades económicas las excluyen de la plena participación.

También podría negociar planes con las diócesis que pueden pagar la solicitud completa, pero no lo hacen. Y el Consejo podría crear “consecuencias” para esas diócesis si insisten en no participar plenamente, sugirió Snook, tales como privarlas del derecho a recibir subvenciones.

Esa sugerencia se basa en parte, agregó, en el supuesto del FFM de que la Convención General rechazaría la legislación que hiciera obligatoria la plena participación en la solicitud, o que impusiera sanciones a las diócesis que pudiendo pagar el total del monto [a que se hubieren comprometido] no lo hicieran.

Snook también le hizo recorrer al comité a través de las actuales versiones de trabajo de lo que finalmente será el proyecto de presupuesto del Consejo en que el FMM estuvo trabajando durante los cuatro días de la reunión del Consejo Ejecutivo que acaba de concluir aquí.

Jefferts Schori le ha pedido tanto a los miembros del Consejo como al Comité del PB&F que no revelen los detalles de la versión de trabajo debido a que su publicación está pendiente.

Próximos pasos en el proceso del presupuesto

  • Inmediatamente después de concluir la reunión del PB&F, el FFM dará a conocer la versión de trabajo del proyecto presupuestario en la página web de la Oficina de la Convención General, junto con un texto que está aún en proceso de redacción en que explica sus supuestos y la elaboración [del mismo]. Hollingsworth le dijo al PB&F, el 29 de octubre, que la publicación también contendrá una breve encuesta, incluida una indagación acerca del nivel de la solicitud diocesana. Habrá una dirección electrónica específica para las personas que quieran hacer comentarios sobre la versión inconclusa.
  • El FFM revisará el presupuesto en base a los comentarios del PB&F y de toda la Iglesia, y tendrá lista una versión final del presupuesto para someterla a la consideración del Consejo durante su reunión del 9 al 11 de enero de 2015. Según las reglas conjuntas de la Convención General (regla conjunta II.10.c.ii), el Consejo debe entregarle su proyecto presupuestario al PB&F no menos de cuatro meses antes del comienzo de la Convención General (esencialmente para febrero del año de la Convención).
  • El PB&F debe reunirse de nuevo del 23 al 25 de febrero de 2015, para comenzar a trabajar en ese proyecto de presupuesto. El PB&F utiliza el proyecto de presupuesto y cualquier legislación aprobada por la Convención General o sometida a la consideración de la misma para crear una propuesta presupuestaria final. Los comités legislativos de la Convención y el PB&F comenzarán a reunirse en Salt Lake City el 23 de junio, antes de la reunión de la Convención que sesionará entre el 25 de junio al 3 de julio en la capital de Utah.
  • El presupuesto del PB&F debe presentarse a una sesión conjunta de las cámaras de Obispos y de Diputados no más tarde del tercer día ante de la clausura de la Convención. Según el calendario provisional de la Convención, esa presentación tendrá lugar a las 2:15 P.M. (hora local) el 1 de julio.
  • Luego, las dos cámaras debatirán y votarán por separado sobre el presupuesto. Ambas cámaras deben aprobar la misma versión del presupuesto, que entrará en vigor a principios de 2016.
  • Normalmente, el Consejo Ejecutivo a menudo tiene que revisar cada uno de los tres presupuestos anuales en base a las fluctuaciones de ingresos y egresos.

– La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Archbishop Makgoba tackles South African government on corruption

ENS Headlines - Thursday, October 30, 2014

[Anglican Church of Southern Africa] The “insidious cancer of corruption” is “the most egregious threat” to South Africa’s democracy today, Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba has said in a public lecture.

Delivering the Beyers Naude Memorial Lecture at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, on Oct. 27, Makgoba also criticized suggestions that criminalizing corruption was a “Western paradigm.”

“Actually, I think it’s the other way around,” he said. “Corruption is a two-way street, a two-way transaction. For corruption to happen, you have to have a corrupter, someone willing to pay the bribe, and what I will call a “corruptee,” someone willing to take a bribe. For Africans, over the 50 or 60 years since liberation, the Western paradigm — if indeed there can be said to be one — is one in which Westerners have been the corrupters, and African elites the corruptees.”

The archbishop also quoted from the African Union’s 2003 “Convention On Preventing And Combating Corruption,” which said corruption and impunity had “devastating effects on the economic and social development of the African peoples.”

“The most egregious threat to our democracy today is the insidious cancer of corruption. I cannot say it any more simply than that corruption is anti-democracy,” he added.

Quoting his Roman Catholic counterpart in Cape Town, Archbishop Stephen Brislin, he said corruption was not new in South Africa – the colonial and apartheid systems were highly corrupt. Nor did corruption affect only governments, it affected business, corporations, NGOs and even churches.

“So, while all of must be concerned about corruption, no institution can be holier-than-thou about it,” Makgoba said.

“Corruption is paralyzing progress across South Africa today … The moral compasses guiding our leaders and public servants are misaligned.”

The full text of the address is available here.

 

Rapidísimas

ENS Headlines - Thursday, October 30, 2014

El papa Francisco habló recientemente sobre las necesidades y derechos de los pobres y añadió que existe el peligro que digan que es comunista. Hablando en español ante la Reunión de Movimientos Populares, el pontífice dijo que los pobres necesitan “terrenos, un techo y trabajo”. Añadió que estas cosas están en el centro de la fe cristiana.

La agencia noticiosa Entre Cristianos  informa que tres pastores evangélicos han sido sentenciados a 6 años de cárcel por razón de su fe en Irán. Los pastores estaban presos acusados de “propagar la corrupción en la tierra” delito que generalmente conlleva la pena de muerte.

En México continúa la violencia y muchos se preguntan cuál será la suerte de los 43 estudiantes que fueron secuestrados en el estado de Guerrero. Se han encontrado fosas clandestinas en varios lugares pero ningún indicio de que los restos correspondan a los jóvenes desaparecidos. En varias partes del país se han hecho demostraciones callejeras pidiendo la acción efectiva de las autoridades pertinentes. En más de una ocasión se ha pedido la renuncia del presidente Enrique Peña Nieto. Los jóvenes que pensaban servir como maestros fueron secuestrados el 26 de septiembre.

Por primera vez en su historia la Iglesia Mormona ha admitido la investigación de un grupo de historiadores que afirma que el fundador de la iglesia, Joseph Smith, tenía como esposa a una jovencita de 14 años y cohabitaba con las esposas de varios dirigentes de la iglesia en la época en que la poligamia era práctica común a mediados del siglo 19 en estados como Illinois y Ohio. La sede central de la denominación está en Salt Lake City, Utah.

La diócesis de Connecticut de la Iglesia Episcopal ha vendido los edificios y el terreno de una parroquia a un grupo musulmán en Avon, Connecticut. La iglesia estaba inactiva desde el 2012. La diócesis recibió un millón cien mil dólares que serán depositados en un fondo para necesidades especiales. El obispo diocesano Ian Douglas dijo que existen muy buenas relaciones con los musulmanes y que juntos “trabajaremos por la paz y la convivencia”.

En varias partes del mundo se han elevado oraciones por la paz en el Medio Oriente y en especial por la seguridad de los cristianos. Uno de esos grupos tuvo lugar en la Plaza de los Dos Congresos en Buenos Aires. La comunidad cristiana en el Medio Oriente ha sufrido discriminación, hambre y torturas que en algunos casos han llegado hasta la muerte.

Un reciente informe dice que sólo el 1 por ciento de las noticias en inglés que se reportan en Estados Unidos tienen que ver con la comunidad hispana y de ahí el 67 por ciento trata de crímenes, violencia y problemas de la inmigración. El informe sugiere que el pueblo norteamericano debe estar mejor informado para bien de todos.

El recién terminado sínodo de obispos en el Vaticano no aprobó una resolución que hubiera dado “mayor aceptación a los homosexuales y a los católicos divorciados”. La resolución no fue aprobada por estrecho margen.

El sínodo tuvo la Familia como su principal agenda. Al final del evento el papa Francisco recibió una gran ovación por todos los presentes. “Estos temas son muy delicados y seguiremos estudiándolos en el futuro”, dice una nota de prensa. El sínodo se reunirá el año que viene con una agenda similar.

Las encuestas en Venezuela revelan que la popularidad del presidente Nicolás Maduro sigue en declive pese a los esfuerzos por mejorar la economía y controlar la violencia. En un gesto para apuntalar su gobierno Maduro ha anunciado que a partir de enero los miembros de las fuerzas armadas recibirán un aumento de 45 por ciento.  El año pasado este mismo grupo recibió un aumento de 60 por ciento. Según economistas del sector privado, la inflación en Venezuela será del 75 por ciento para fines de año.

La policía de Haití sigue patrullando la residencia del ex presidente y ex sacerdote Jean-Bertrand Aristide que está acusado de corrupción, tráfico de drogas y lavado de dinero. “El presidente Aristide nos ama y por eso debemos protegerle de los que quieren perseguirlo”, dijo Juste Wuilson Jean, uno de los líderes del movimiento que protege al ex mandatario desde la calle frente a su casa donde se congregan grupos de simpatizantes.

El Servicio de Guardacostas informa que desde el 1 de enero de este año el número de balseros procedentes de Cuba ha llegado a la cifra de 2,059. Muchos han perecido en su intento en las aguas del Estrecho de la Florida.

VERDAD. La vida sin libertad no es vida.

Li Tim-Oi Center for Chinese Ministry awarded grant for Asian ministries

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, October 29, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Bishop Stacy Sauls, Episcopal Church Chief Operating Officer, has announced the awarding of a $150,000 grant devoted to Asian Ministries at the Li Tim-Oi Center for Chinese Ministry in San Gabriel, CA (Diocese of Los Angeles).

The funding, to be distributed in increments of $50,000 annually, was approved by the Episcopal Church Executive Council at its October 2014 meeting.

The grant will be dedicated to building costs, program funding, staffing, and spiritual offerings at the center to be located in five+ acres in San Gabriel Valley in connection with the Church of Our Savior.

The Li Tim-Oi Center  will be “the nexus of Chinese ministry services: connecting people to needed social services; providing sacramental and pastoral care; supporting evangelism and seeker discovery; creating resources regarding Chinese ministry; and sustaining the ministry through a mission driven business enterprise,” the proposal outlines.

Among the myriad of programs are a summer cultural exchange program; an after-school program; a theological Institute; and parish, health, youth and community services.

“The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Los Angeles have taken this great step to partner for ministry at the Li Tim-Oi Center,” noted Bishop Stacy Sauls, Episcopal Church Chief Operating Officer.  “I am particularly pleased that we, as The Episcopal Church, can reach out to meet the needs of an underserved community in this way.”

“I give thanks for the willingness of The Episcopal Church and the Executive Council to assist with the new Li Tim-Oi Center begun by the Diocese of Los Angeles,” said Bishop J. Jon Bruno of Los Angeles. “This partnership unites us in service and strategic ministry serving God’s people in both local and international contexts.”

“We are very excited to have been awarded this grant to aid us in developing our dream to enhance and expand Chinese mission and ministry, which has already begun here in the Diocese of Los Angeles and which we hope to spread throughout The Episcopal Church,” commented Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce of the Diocese of Los Angeles.

The Li Tim-Oi Center is named for the Rev. Florence Li Tim-Oi, the first woman to be ordained to the priesthood throughout the Anglican Communion in 1944 and who is honored in Holy Women Holy Men January 24.

The website for the Li Tim-Oi Center is currently being finalized; link will be announced shortly.

 

 

Cuestiones relacionadas con la justicia captan la atención del Consejo Ejecutivo

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Heidi J. Kim, misionera de la Iglesia Episcopal para la reconciliación racial, al extremo derecho de la foto, hace un señalamiento el 25 de octubre durante un conversatorio sobre racismo de comités del Consejo Ejecutivo. Navita Jones, presidenta del Comité sobre Antirracismo del Consejo Ejecutivo, al centro, y Chuck Wynder, misionero de la Iglesia para la Justicia y Promoción Sociales, reaccionan a sus comentarios. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] Además de trabajar con miras a un proyecto del presupuesto 2016-2018, el Consejo Ejecutivo de la Iglesia Episcopal aprobó el 27 de octubre varias resoluciones sobre diversos asuntos sociales que enfrentan la Iglesia y el mundo.

Motivado por la labor de sus comités permanentes conjuntos sobre Promoción Social e Interconexión (A&N) y Misión y Ministerio Locales (LMM), el Consejo hacía constar que:

Los miembros del A&N y el LMM se reunieron juntos el 25 de octubre durante la mayor parte del día para un conversatorio acerca del racismo, la justicia racial en la Iglesia y en el mundo, y lo que la Iglesia podría hacer para continuar combatiendo el racismo. El debate también incluyó al misionero de la Iglesia Episcopal para la Justicia y Promoción Sociales Charles Allen Wynder, Jr., la misionera de la Iglesia Episcopal para la Reconciliación Racial Heidi Kim y Navita Jones, presidente del Comité sobre Antirracismo del Consejo.

Lelanda Lee, presidente del A&N, le dijo al resto del Consejo que el conversatorio surgió en parte debido a un deseo de hacer una exploración significativa que fuera algo más que una “encuentro breve, superficial y de suyo frustrante”, con el tema.

“Todos necesitamos hacer esta labor [de importantes conversatorios], cada uno de nosotros, por nuestra salvación y la salvación de nuestra amada comunidad”, dijo Lee.

Actuando de motu proprio, el A&N también propuso resoluciones, que el Consejo aprobó, respecto a:

  • Condenar las violaciones y otras formas de violencia sexual en la guerra como un delito de lesa humanidad.
  • Apoyar la legislación y los empeños no legislativos que exigen ponerle fin a la discriminación de la mujer respecto al libre acceso a la atención sanitaria.
  • Apoyar la “Neutralidad en la Red” conocida también como “Internet Abierta”; y
  • Solicitar a la próxima reunión de la Convención General la financiación de un Comité Coordinador de Reforma de la Justicia Penal para la elaboración de información educativa, instrumentos de promoción social y política eclesiástica para asistir a las diócesis y a los miembros de la Iglesia en su ministerio para con los presos, las personas liberadas de prisión que se reintegran a sus hogares, sus familiares y la defensa de una reforma global de la justicia penal. La resolución también querría que la Iglesia se pronunciara sobre varias reformas del sistema de justicia penal.

El Consejo Ejecutivo celebró la eucaristía en la mañana del 26 de octubre durante su reunión en el Centro de Conferencias del Instituto Marítimo de Linthicum Heights, Maryland. Muchas otras conferencias se estaban celebrando en el centro, al mismo tiempo que algunos marinos recibían un adiestramiento especializado, y el Rdo. Dahn Gandell, miembro del Consejo, pegó una serie de avisos en que los invitaba a ellos y al personal del centro a esa eucaristía. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

Los miembros del Consejo aprobaron también una resolución del A&N acerca de las pérdidas sufridas por palestinos e israelíes como resultado de la Guerra de Gaza en 2014 y, entre otras cosas, solicitan que el Comité de Préstamos de Justicia Económica considere suplementar sus inversiones de 2013 en los Territorios Palestinos y retar a las diócesis a hacer inversiones semejantes.

El consejo también dijo estar en oración “con nuestras hermanas y nuestros hermanos de Liberia, la Iglesia de la Provincia de África Occidental y todos los países donde este virus [el ébola] amenaza la salud humana y las estructuras sociales y donde ha cobrado la vidas de millares [de personas]”. La resolución aplaude la labor de la Iglesia Episcopal en Liberia, a la comunidad religiosa en ese país, a las organizaciones de base y a los individuos, incluido el clero liberiano, y todas las organizaciones e individuos que han “fomentado esperanzas, conciencia y materiales y fondos”. La resolución reta a las comunidades religiosas del mundo a alentar una respuesta más enérgica y generosa frente a los desafíos [que impone] la epidemia del ébola”.

Finalmente, la resolución, que se originó en el Comité Permanente Conjunto sobre Misión Mundial del Consejo, “encomienda las almas de los que han muerto a la amorosa protección de Dios y ora por los que están en duelo” y dice que los miembros del Consejo “viven con la esperanza del día en que celebraremos la buena nueva de que este virus ha sido contenido y que podamos aclamar a nuestros hermanas y hermanos según rehacen sus vidas en su país”.

En otra decisión

También durante la última sesión plenaria, el Consejo:

  • Otorgó $150.000 en incrementos anuales de $50.000 a partir de este año al Ministerio Chino de Li-Tim Oi en la Diócesis de Los Ángeles como una manera de posibilitar la extensión del ministerio a personas de ascendencia china. El dinero provendrá de fondos fiduciarios dados por el ministerio a los chinos luego de que los comunistas tomaran el poder.
  • Dedicó casi dos horas al comienzo de la jornada a una sesión ejecutiva para debatir el último informe de su subcomité sobre la reubicación del Centro Denominacional de la Iglesia en Manhattan. No se tomó ninguna decisión sobre el informe.
  • Instruyó a los funcionarios que presiden (la obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori y la presidente de la Cámara de Diputados Rda. Gay Clark Jennings) a nombrar un equipo de trabajo que estudie el problema de las diócesis que no pueden costear su plena participación en la Convención General a fin de identificar los problemas en torno a esta dificultad así como las fuentes de financiación a que haya que recurrir. El equipo ha de informar al Consejo Ejecutivo en enero de 2015. La resolución comenzó con la preocupación de Misión Mundial respecto a la capacidad de las diócesis de la IX Provincia de participar en la Convención, según Martha Gardner, presidente del comité.
  • Aprobó y revisó el presupuesto de 2015 para la Iglesia Episcopal. La Convención General aprueba el presupuesto trienal, y el Consejo con frecuencia revisa los tres presupuestos anuales, a partir de cambios ocurridos en ingresos y egresos. El presupuesto revisado de 2015 pronto se publicará aquí.
  • Debatió si podría responder al informe anticipado del Equipo de Trabajo para Reinventar la Iglesia Episcopal (TREC) y cómo podría hacerlo. El debate se produjo en torno a una resolución propuesta para formar un grupo de trabajo que prepare una respuesta del Consejo al informe del TREC, que debe dársele a conocer a la Iglesia en diciembre. Ese informe incluirá las recomendaciones que el TREC quiere hacer a la próxima reunión de la Convención General en el verano de 2015.

El hermano Robert Sevensky, superior de la Orden de la Santa Cruz y capellán del Consejo Ejecutivo, habla antes de la eucaristía del 26 de octubre, mientras el Rdo. Brandon Mauai, diácono y miembro del Consejo proveniente de Dakota del Norte; la obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori, y el predicador y miembro del Consejo Dahn Gandell, de Rochester, lo escuchan. El Consejo celebró la eucaristía durante su reunión en el Centro de conferencias del Instituto Marítimo de Linthicum Heights, Maryland. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

Steve Hutchinson, presidente Comité Permanente Conjunto sobre Gobierno y Administración para la Misión (GAM) del Consejo, que había propuesto la resolución, dijo que estuvo motivada por la preocupación de parte de algo de lo que el TREC ha dicho hasta ahora. “Sé que esto suena crítico, pero…no refleja una comprensión realmente plena de lo que el Consejo Ejecutivo hace y de la manera en que funciona, del alcance y el aliento y la profundidad de nuestra responsabilidad”.

El Rdo. Brian Baker, miembro del GAM, dijo que parte del objetivo de la resolución propuesta era el sentir que el Consejo debía “tener una voz en el diálogo” acerca de la labor del TREC, El Rdo. Nathaniel Pierce, otro miembro del Consejo, dijo que él se había sentido motivado a sugerir la resolución debido a una “propuesta muy específica que está ahora sobre la mesa” de parte del TREC de reducir el tamaño del Consejo y la forma de elegir a los representantes provinciales.

Al final, el Consejo remitió la resolución a su comité ejecutivo al objeto de considerar un proceso a utilizar en la reunión de enero de 2015, y posiblemente más allá [de esa fecha] para que el Consejo contemple cualquier respuesta que pudiera querer hacer al informe del TREC.

La reunión del 24 al 27 de octubre tuvo lugar en el Centro de Conferencias del Instituto Marítimo [Maritime Institute Conference Center].

Los resúmenes de las resoluciones que el Consejo aprobó en esta reunión se encuentran aquí.

La cobertura previa que ENS hizo de esta reunión se encuentra aquí.

Algunos miembros del Consejo enviaron mensajes por Twitter desde la reunión valiéndose del código #ExCoun.

El Consejo Ejecutivo lleva a cabo los programas y políticas adoptadas por la Convención General, según el Canon I.4 (1)(a). El Consejo está compuesto de 38 miembros, 20 de los cuales (cuatro obispos, cuatro presbíteros o diáconos y 12 laicos) son elegidos por la Convención General, y 18 por los nueve sínodos provinciales (un clérigo y un laico cada uno) por períodos de seis años, además del Obispo Primado y el Presidente de la Cámara de Diputados [que son miembros ex oficio].

– La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.