Feed aggregator

Jeffrey K. Butcher to lead the Brotherhood of St. Andrew

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

[The Brotherhood of St. Andrew] Jeffrey K. Butcher was elected the Brotherhood of St. Andrew’s 28th national president by a unanimous vote June 13 during the 132-year-old men’s ministry’s 44th Triennial Convention and National Council meeting. The conference was held at the Philadelphia Airport Marriott.

“I am thankful for the confidence my fellow Brothers bestowed on me,” he said. “It is most humbling. We will be traveling this road together.”

Butcher is a longtime Brother, former Kentucky diocesan coordinator and a national officer. He retired from the U.S. Air Force with 32 years of service as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2002. He also spent 28 years in the securities business as a Registered Representative, retiring from UBS Financial Services in 2012.

He attends St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Anchorage, Kentucky near Louisville.

Due to his efforts while serving as vice president of field operations, the Brotherhood now has its largest leadership team in more than a decade.

Prior to strengthening the Brotherhood’s leadership team in the field, he served as the public relations and communications vice president. This committee was responsible for developing a 2012 Benchmarking Survey that requested feedback from the entire Brothers Andrew membership rolls on the direction the Brotherhood should take going forward. These comments were taken seriously with most items being implemented or changed during a three-year period.

Also elected to leadership positions June 13 were Senior Vice President Jack Hanstein, Treasurer Robert Dennis, Secretary Charles Craven, National Council Chairman Dick Hooper, Province IV President Billy Harrison and Province VII President Roy Benavides.

Brother Butcher appointed Vice President of Restorative Justice Dr. Edwin Davis, Vice President of Veterans Affairs John Patton, Vice President of Ministry to Young Men Ed Milbrada and Vice President of Discipleship Tom Martin.

Robert Richards and Gordon Shumard were elected to the board of the James T. Houghteling Memorial Trust and Murtland Yaw and Ken Evans were elected to the nominating committee.

Episcopal clergy reach out to help burned churches

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 16, 2015

[Diocese of Atlanta] A church arson fire in the central Georgia city of Macon has prompted Episcopal clergy in the area to sponsor a special offering to help rebuild the church and other similarly victimized congregations.

“We are asking all 11 parishes in the Macon Convocation to take up an offering on Sunday, July 26, to show our love and solidarity with these fellow members of the Body of Christ,” said Acting Macon Convocation Dean The Rev. Joseph Shippen.

Since the June 17 shooting deaths of the pastor and eight members at Mother Emanuel Church in SC there have been five church fires across the United States in historically African American churches. Arson is suspect in some of the blazes, including the June 23 fire at God’s Power Church of Christ in Macon. For more on the arsons see this report by CBS News.

Diocese of Atlanta Episcopal Churches throughout middle and north Georgia are asked to participate in the special offering, said Shippen, who serves as associate rector at Christ Church in Macon.

The special collection on July 26 at the 11 Episcopal churches in the Macon Convocation of the Diocese of Atlanta will be distributed to the effected churches by Christ Church Cathedral (Episcopal) in St. Louis from its national “Rebuild the Churches Fund”.

As of July 14 at least 191 faith communities (Christian, Jewish, Muslim) have committed $176,000 toward fund goal of $250,000.

As of July 14 at least 191 faith communities (Christian, Jewish, Muslim) have committed $176,000 toward fund goal of $250,000. Churches and individuals may contribute to the national fund by sending their checks made out to Christ Church Cathedral. Put “church arson” in memo line. All money collected by this national campaign will be divided among the burned churches. For more information, click here.

The Rev. Scott Petersen, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Warner Robins, issued a written appeal for financial assistance for the burned churches to his parishioners. “Please be generous! Our witness and unity ‘as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church’ is evidenced not so much in words, but in our acts of love and sacrifice,” Petersen wrote. “May our combined efforts at All Saints, linked in the convocation and to faith communities across the country, be a great light beating back acts of present darkness.”

La Convención fortalece la posición de la Iglesia sobre la inmigración y los refugiados

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 16, 2015

[Episcopal News Service] La Convención General aprobó varias resoluciones destinadas a proteger los derechos de inmigrantes y refugiados a lo largo y ancho de la Iglesia Episcopal.

La Resolución D069 le pide a la Iglesia que apoye la ciudadanía por derecho de nacimiento, particularmente en países donde tenga diócesis.

En 2010, por ejemplo, la República Dominicana cambió su constitución al eliminar el jus soli (o derecho del suelo), es decir, el derecho de cualquier persona nacida en el territorio de un Estado a la nacionalidad o ciudadanía del mismo —un derecho casi universal en el continente americano. El cambio constitucional precede a una sentencia de 2013 que en efecto anuló la ciudadanía de unas 200.000 personas, principalmente dominicanos de ascendencia haitiana.

En diciembre de 2014, la obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori viajó a la República Dominicana para estudiar de primera mano los efectos de la sentencia de 2013.

Más recientemente, aumenta la amenaza de deportación para los haitianos que viven en la República Dominicana y para dominicanos de ascendencia haitiana, muchos de los cuales nunca han visitado Haití.

Dos resoluciones, la D053 y la D058, procuran abordar la situación que se presenta en la República Dominicana y Haití, la primera instando a la República Dominicana a “respetar la dignidad y la humanidad de las personas que se expulsen”. También le pide a los organismos gobernantes de la Iglesia que observen la situación y determinen los medios en que la Iglesia pueda apoyar a los haitianos y a los dominicanos de ascendencia haitiana que resultan víctimas en el proceso.

La Resolución D058 le pide a la Iglesia que “ratifique su apoyo a la Iglesia Episcopal en la República Dominicana y a su obispo, Julio César Holguín Khoury, y a la Diócesis de Haití y a su obispo, Jean Zache Duracin, en sus empeños de brindar defensa social y otros socorros a los afectados por la sentencia de 2013”.

Las resoluciones de la Convención General proporcionan el marco para que la Iglesia Episcopal y la Red Episcopal de Política Pública intervengan en empeños de defensa y justicia sociales.

“Educar a la feligresía de nuestra Iglesia es fundamental. Los episcopales deben estar conscientes de la injusticia contra los derechos humanos que está teniendo lugar en la República Dominicana, y prepararse para compartir y discutir el asunto con sus congregaciones. La Resolución D058 de la Convención General hace una excelente labor al proporcionar la información que precede al problema de la ciudadanía, y la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales divulgará esta resolución así como otros materiales suplementarios para que los episcopales lean y compartan”, dijo Jayce Hafner, analista de política nacional de la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera, con sede en Washington, D.C.

Además, la Iglesia continuará apoyando los empeños de los obispos en la República Dominicana y Haití para defender a los afectados por la sentencia y abogar por sus necesidades, así como alentar a sus asociados regionales en América Latina y el Caribe a que le pidan al gobierno de la República Dominicana que se abstenga de deportar arbitrariamente a cualquier persona nacida en la República Dominicana en base a leyes vigentes que tienen por objeto documentar la identidad, añadió.

“Finalmente, vincularemos este caso extremo de la apatridia dominicana a los de la apatridia en todo el mundo, mostrándonos solidarios y saliendo en defensa de las comunidades afectadas en conformidad con la Resolución D069 de la Convención General”, dijo Hafner.

Se calcula que una 10 millones de personas en todo el mundo son apátridas, según el Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados. La Red Internacional de la Familia Anglicana se empeña en ponerle fin a la apatridia mediante una campaña a favor de la inscripción de nacimiento universal y apoya los esfuerzos globales para garantizar el acatamiento de esta normativa en los países que reconocen la Convención de los Derechos del Niño de 1989.

En mayo, un grupo de madres en Texas presentó una demanda legal contra el departamento de salud del estado por rehusar otorgarles inscripciones de nacimiento a niños nacidos en el estado. En abril pasado, los republicanos de la Cámara celebraron una vista sobre si a los niños nacidos en Estados Unidos debían concederles automáticamente la ciudadanía estadounidense.

En marzo, cuando anglicanos y episcopales de reunieron en Nueva York para la Conferencia de las Naciones Unidas sobre la Mujer, participaron en el Centro Denominacional de la Iglesia Episcopal en un debate sobre la apatridia y la inscripción de nacimiento universal.

La Convención General también adoptó resoluciones destinadas a proteger y fortalecer a las familias inmigrantes:

  • La D048 busca mantener a las familias juntas, protegiendo a niños y padres de la deportación.
  • La D077 insta a diócesis y congregaciones a crear programas y asociaciones con agencias locales destinados al fortalecimiento y apoyo de las familias inmigrantes.
  • La D079 insta a diócesis y congregaciones a instruir a inmigrantes indocumentados en lo concerniente a sus derechos legales.
  • La D033, al “apoyar los derechos de los refugiados en América Central” llama a la Iglesia Episcopal a “reconocer la continua violencia contra los ciudadanos, y el desplazamiento de los mismos, en el triángulo norte de América central (Honduras, Guatemala y El Salvador), perpetrado por actores estatales y no estatales.”

El mundo comenzó a prestar atención a la crisis de violencia epidémica en América Central cuando, en el verano de 2014, comenzaron a llegar a la frontera [sur] de Estados Unidos niños hondureños, guatemaltecos y salvadoreños en número sin precedentes.

Durante el último año, el nivel de violencia en el Triángulo Norte ha seguido aumentando, sus residentes continúan huyendo hacia Estados Unidos, y a algunas mujeres y niños los albergan en centros de detención que parecen prisiones.

La resolución pide además que “la Iglesia y los gobiernos regionales garanticen y apoyen la labor de la sociedad civil y de organizaciones internacionales, al tiempo que abordan las necesidades de los desplazados en sus países de origen; apoyen los esfuerzos de las agrupaciones de la sociedad civil de los organismos regionales, especialmente la labor de nuestra hermana provincia anglicana la Iglesia de la Región Central de América (IARCA), la Diócesis de Honduras y las organizaciones de derechos humanos, las cuales buscan abordar las causas raigales de la violencia y participar en promoción social y diálogo con sus gobiernos para atender las necesidades de los desplazados internos y de los refugiados y crear espacios seguros para ellos”.

Pide también a la Iglesia Episcopal, en solidaridad con IARCA, exigir responsabilidad gubernamental en Centroamérica, abogar para que el gobierno de EE.UU. desempeñe un papel positivo, fortalecer económicamente las instituciones legales y animar a los gobiernos de Centroamérica y México a que defiendan los derechos legales de las víctimas.

Una de las formas en que la Iglesia puede ayudar es abogar por el modo de emplear los fondos para el desarrollo, a fin de que se desvíe algo del dinero de proyectos destinados al turismo y al desarrollo económico para financiar programas que tengan por objeto el fortalecimiento de las instituciones gubernamentales, explicó Sarah Lawton —defensora durante mucho tiempo de la inmigración en la Diócesis de California y proponente de la Resolución— en una entrevista telefónica con Episcopal News Service.

Otra forma en que los episcopales pueden participar es brindándoles apoyo a las diócesis de la IARCA que están esforzándose en satisfacer las necesidades de personas desplazadas internamente y respaldando un programa experimental de reasentamiento para reubicar a otras local y regionalmente, añadió.

Finalmente, la Resolución D074 pide que se extienda un Estatus de Protección Temporal (TPS, por su sigla en inglés) a los guatemaltecos que viven en Estados Unidos y que “la Iglesia Episcopal abogue, mediante la educación, la comunicación y la representación ante las autoridades legislativas, por la obtención de un TPS para todos los inmigrantes que buscan refugio de la violencia, el desastre medioambiental, la devastación económica, el abuso cultural u otras formas de abuso”.

La Rda. Paula Jackson, rectora de la iglesia de Nuestro Salvador [Church of Our Savior] en Cincinnati, Ohio, y proponente de la Resolución, estaba en camino a Salt Lake City para asistir a la Convención General cuando leyó acerca de un empeño bipartidista para extender el estatus de protección temporal a los guatemaltecos.

“Dos cosas captaron de inmediato mi interés: una es que cualquier empeño bipartidista en el Congreso es muy notable en estos tiempos, especialmente un esfuerzo por ayudar a inmigrantes y sus familias. El otro es que hay unos cuantos guatemaltecos en mi parroquia cuyas vidas (y las vidas de sus hijos) mejorarían inmediatamente de manera indescriptible por cuenta de esta decisión”, dijo Jackson en un email a ENS.

“Ciudadanos estadounidenses de nuestra parroquia han acompañado a numerosos guatemaltecos en sus diversos trámites en los tribunales de inmigración a lo largo de la última década. Hemos aprendido que Guatemala está catalogada como tal vez el segundo país del mundo en nivel de violencia contra las mujeres y tiene una pésima tasa semejante de violencia contra los pueblos indígenas. Hemos sabido de la impotencia de los tribunales y de los cuerpos policiales contra la extorción y la represalia como un modo de vida en las zonas rurales y en las ciudades”.

— Lynette Wilson es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Convention further strengthens church’s position on immigration, refugees

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

[Episcopal News Service] General Convention passed a number of resolutions aimed at protecting the rights of immigrants and refugees throughout The Episcopal Church.

Resolution D069 calls for the church to support birthright citizenship, particularly in countries where it has dioceses.

In 2010, for instance, the Dominican Republic changed its constitution removing jus soli, the right of anyone born in the territory of a state to nationality or citizenship – an almost universal right in the Americas. The constitutional change preceded a 2013 sentence that effectively annulled the citizenship of an estimated 200,000 mainly Dominicans of Haitian descent.

In December 2014, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori traveled to the Dominican Republic to study firsthand the effects of the 2013 sentence.

More recently, the threat of deportation looms over Haitians living in the Dominican Republic and Dominicans of Haitian descent, many of whom have never visited Haiti.

Two resolutions, D053 and D058, seek to address the situation unfolding in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the former urging the Dominican Republic “to respect the dignity and humanity of those persons who are expelled.” It also calls on the church’s governing bodies to monitor the situation and determine ways the church can support the Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent who suffer in the process.

Resolution D058 calls on the church “to affirm its support of The Episcopal Church in the Dominican Republic and its Bishop Julio Cesar Holguín Khoury and the Diocese of Haiti and its Bishop Jean Zache Duracin in their efforts to provide advocacy and other succor to those affected by 2013 sentence.”

General Convention resolutions provide the framework for how The Episcopal Church and members of the Episcopal Public Policy Network engage in advocacy and social justice work.

“Educating our church body is crucial. Episcopalians should be aware of the human rights injustice that is occurring in the Dominican Republic, and be prepared to share and discuss this issue with their congregations. General Convention Resolution D058 does an excellent job providing background information on the citizenship issue, and the Office of Government Relations will publicize this resolution as well as supplemental resources for Episcopalians to read and share,” said Jayce Hafner, the domestic policy analyst for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s Washington, D.C.-based Office of Government Relations.

Additionally, the church will continue to support the efforts of the bishops in the Dominican Republic and Haiti to advocate and respond to the needs of those affected by the sentence, and encourage regional partners in Latin America and the Caribbean to call on the Dominican government to refrain from arbitrarily deporting any person born in the Dominican Republic with existing laws aimed at documenting identity, she added.

“Finally, we will link this extreme case of Dominican statelessness to the wider issue of statelessness around the globe, standing in solidarity with and lifting up affected communities in accordance with General Convention Resolution D069,” said Hafner.

An estimated 10 million people are stateless worldwide, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; the International Anglican Family Network is working to end statelessness through a campaign for universal birth registration; it supports global efforts to ensure compliance in countries that recognize the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In May, mothers in Texas filed a lawsuit against the state’s health department for refusing to issue birth certificates to children born in the state. In late April, House Republicans held a hearing on whether children born in the United States should automatically be granted U.S. citizenship.

In March, when Anglicans and Episcopalians gathered in New York for the United Nations Conference on the Status of Women, they met at The Episcopal Church Center for a discussion on statelessness and universal birth registration.

General Convention also adopted resolutions aimed at protecting and strengthening immigrant families:

  • D048 aims to keep families together, protecting youth and parents from deportation.
  • D077 urges dioceses and congregations to develop programs and partnerships with local agencies aimed at strengthening and supporting immigrant families.
  • D079 urges diocese and congregations to educate undocumented immigrants about their legal rights.
  • D033, “Supporting Refugee Rights in Central America,” calls on The Episcopal Church to “acknowledge the continued violence against and displacement of citizens in Central America’s Northern Triangle (Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador), perpetrated by armed state and non-state actors.”

The world began paying attention to the crisis of epidemic violence in Central America when in the summer of 2014 Honduran, Guatemalan and El Salvadoran children began arriving at the U.S. border in unprecedented numbers.

Over the last year, the level of violence in the Northern Triangle has continued to rise, its residents continue to flee to the United States, and some women and children are housed in prison-like settings in detention centers.

The resolution further calls upon “the church and regional governments to affirm and support the work of civil society and international organizations as they address the needs of the displaced in their countries of origin; support the efforts of civil society groups and regional bodies, especially the work of our sister Anglican province La Iglesia de la Region Central de America (IARCA), the Diocese of Honduras, and human rights organizations, which seek to address the root causes of violence and engage in advocacy and dialogue with their governments to serve the needs of and create safe spaces for internally displaced persons and refugees.”

It also calls on The Episcopal Church, in solidarity with IARCA, to push for government accountability in Central America; for the church to urge the U.S. government to play a positive role in strengthening legal institutions financially; and to encourage the Central American and Mexican governments to uphold the legal rights of victims.

One of the ways the church can help is to advocate for how development funds are spent, diverting some of the money from projects aimed at tourism and economic development to fund programs aimed at strengthening government institutions, explained Sarah Lawton, a longtime immigration advocate in the Diocese of California and the resolution’s proposer, in a telephone interview with Episcopal News Service.

Another way Episcopalians can get involved is through supporting the dioceses of IARCA that are working to meet the needs of internally displaced people and by supporting a pilot resettlement program to resettle people locally and regionally, she added.

Lastly, Resolution D074 calls for Temporary Protective Status to be extended to Guatemalans living in the United States and that “The Episcopal Church advocate through education, communication, and representation before legislative authorities for TPS for all immigrants fleeing for refuge from violence, environmental disaster, economic devastation, or cultural abuse or other forms of abuse.”

The Rev. Paula Jackson, rector of the Church of Our Savior in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the resolution’s proposer, was on her way to Salt Lake City for General Convention when she read about a bipartisan effort to extend temporary protective status to Guatemalans.

“Two things immediately caught my interest: One is that any bipartisan effort in Congress is so remarkable these days, especially an effort to help immigrants and their families. The other is that there are quite a few Guatemalans in my parish whose lives (and the lives of their children) would be immediately improved beyond description by such an action,” said Jackson, in an email to ENS.

“U.S. citizen members of our parish have accompanied numerous Guatemalans along their varying journeys through immigration court over the past decade. We have learned that Guatemala is rated as perhaps the second-worst country in the world for violence against women, and has a similar dire rating for violence against indigenous peoples. We have learned about the helplessness of courts and law enforcement against extortion and retribution as a way of life in the rural mountains and in the cities.”

— Lynette Wilson is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service.

Vídeo: Entrevista con el obispo primado electo Michael Curry, con subtítulos en español

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

En una entrevista de 18 minutos conEpiscopal News Service, el obispo primado electo Michael Curry habla acerca de las prioridades de su liderazgo y administración, del papel de la Iglesia al emprender la misión de Dios en el mundo, del estado de las relaciones raciales en EE.UU., de la importancia de las asociaciones en la Comunión Anglicana y de su compromiso con lo que él llama el Movimiento de Jesús: salir al mundo “a dar testimonio de las buenas nuevas de Jesús”.

Convention acts to streamline Title IV process, fund training materials

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 14, 2015

[Episcopal News Service — Salt Lake City] The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, meeting here June 25-July 3, approved several Title IV revisions, including adding sanctions for those who may attempt to delay or disrupt the disciplinary process and allocating money to produce training videos and manuals to help streamline proceedings.

The Standing Commission on Constitutions and Canons (SCCC), one of the church’s interim bodies that worked throughout the triennium and reported its recommendations to General Convention, had proposed some 25 resolutions that were meant primarily to clarify language in the church’s clergy disciplinary canons known as Title IV.

But some significant changes also were approved, including Resolution A127, which added a new section to Canon IV.5 “to provide express authority for the imposition of sanctions upon a party for disruption to the Title IV process.”

Convention approved another resolution, A150, and allocated nearly $340,000 to develop churchwide training materials to assist in informing and streamlining the process plus another nearly $225,000 to translate those materials into Spanish and Creole. Convention passed a budget for the 2016-2018 triennium that includes $300,000 for training. Money for translations of work done by the church’s interim bodies that meet between convention was budgeted in a lump sum.

Diocese of Utah Chancellor Steve Hutchinson, vice chair of General Convention’s Constitutions and Canons legislative committee that oversaw the bulk of Title IV resolutions, estimated at least $1 million had been spent unnecessarily responding to Title IV issues “that would not have been spent if people within the structure of Title IV in different dioceses had this training.”

Title IV complaints involve clergy disciplinary actions covering a broad range of offenses, including financial abuse, sexual misconduct, heresy, violation of ordination vows and other behaviors unbecoming a member of the clergy.

The 78th General Convention changes are intended to provide a speedier, more pastoral and accountable process for all parties affected by Title IV actions.

According to Resolution A127 approved by convention, sanctions may be imposed upon a respondent, the respondent’s attorney or church attorneys for conduct the hearing panel deems disruptive or contrary to the integrity of the proceedings. Sanctions imposed are to be proportionate to the misconduct and may even include disqualification of counsel. Sanctions may be appealed to the disciplinary board within 10 days of being issued.

In other significant action, convention agreed with the SCCC-proposed churchwide training (Resolution A150) after conducting a 2013 survey of bishops, chancellors and others, soliciting feedback regarding 2009 Title IV amendments. After studying more than 100 Title IV issues, the commission “quickly and repeatedly discovered that a steady theme permeated its work — an acute and immediate need for comprehensive training,” according to the commission report to convention.

Survey results indicated that the process “often takes too long and costs too much money; that church officials are often uncertain of their authority and duties; and that respondents are often permitted to disrupt and delay the process, causing significant pastoral harm to complainants, injured parties and entire congregations that are held in limbo without effective resolution and closure,” according to the report.

In most cases, the commission determined that the problems described “were the result of inadequate training in the Title IV process, not in the canonical process itself,” the report stated. Training materials would include online modules and offline written material for clergy and all persons holding Title IV offices and others in the church community who have questions about Title IV.

“A poorly handled Title IV matter can cause unnecessary – and often irreparable – harm to both relationships and reputations of all parties involved,” according to the commission. “The church has a responsibility to remediate any unnecessary costs, both relational and financial. Consistent and quality upfront training can greatly assist in this regard. More harm to the church can flow from the mismanagement of a claim than from the misconduct itself. The training should be viewed as an investment in a savings plan rather than an unwanted cost.”

In other action, convention approved changes to:

• Canon IV.6.3 (Resolution A128) clarifying diocesan bishops have “an affirmative duty to forward information to the intake office.” The changes addressed complaints that previously the canon could be interpreted that bishops “could bypass or misuse the Title IV process by selectively withholding information that should reasonably be the subject of the more objective evaluation of the complaint in the Title IV process,” according to the resolution’s explanation.

• Canon IV.6.9 (Resolution A132), imposing a 90-day deadline for action in a referral to a diocesan bishop for an agreement. “The change will ensure that the complaint does not languish and that the Title IV process stays on track for a prompt resolution,” according to the resolution.

• Canon IV.7.4 (Resolution A133) clarifying terms of compensation for clergy involved in Title IV actions in a way that attempts to be pastoral to both clergy and the congregation involved.

A proposed change to Canon IV.19.4 (Resolution A144) clarifying time limits (statute of limitations) for bringing a complaint regarding physical violence, sexual abuse, or sexual exploitation against a person under 21 years of age “does not apply to complaints asserted against the actual perpetrators and any clergy who aided and abetted the conduct” was referred back to the committee for more work.

Additionally, General Convention approved a measure (Resolution D076) to direct the SCCC “to study the need to collect information relating to all Title IV proceedings, identify the information to be collected, the methodology to collect and report the information, and the person or office responsible for administration of the process.”

The information collected would help to “provide a missing link,” according to Hutchinson, creating an entity to oversee information to help identify additional areas for training, allocation of resources and further revisions.

—The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a member of the Episcopal News Service team reporting about the 78th General Convention.

Zimbabwe: Anglican churches help launch Gender and Faith Network

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 14, 2015

[World Council of Churches press release] To strengthen the work of churches in achieving gender justice, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) has launched the Gender and Faith Network. The network is a movement of faith leaders in Zimbabwe committed to build a church that understands the cause of gender justice and supports local communities with deeper insight and sensitivity.

The network reiterates the need for church leaders to be agents of social transformation.

The network was formed by the ZCC in collaboration with the Padare-Enkundleni Men’s Forum on Gender and Christian Aid, with facilitation from the World Council of Churches (WCC) Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiatives and Advocacy, Harare office.

The ZCC, which represents WCC member churches as well as other churches in Zimbabwe, formed the network at its Consultative Conference held in Nyanga from June 29 to July 2.

In Nyanga, conference participants using the Contextual Bible Study method focused on the role of church leaders in promoting gender justice. They reflected on different biblical passages and analyzed the role of religion and culture in gender injustice.

The participants also deliberated on the concept of patriarchy and power while planning actions regarding their churches’ response to gender-based violence. Participants also discussed the national laws related to gender equality and how such laws can support families, churches and communities in upholding cultures of peace.

While the senior church leaders expressed their unwavering commitment to gender justice by establishing the Gender and Faith Network, they also joined the “Thursdays in Black” initiative which, through the simple gesture of wearing black on Thursdays, promotes an end to violence against women. Together, the church participants pledged to work for a world in which no one is excluded on the grounds of gender and where diversity is celebrated.

The conference participants agreed to conduct training sessions for church leaders and lay community leaders to spread awareness about gender issues and achieve their vision of gender justice.

Anglican cathedral in Zanzibar joins fight against modern slavery

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 14, 2015

[Anglican Alliance] The Anglican Diocese of Zanzibar’s plans to create a center at its renovated Christ Church Cathedral to raise awareness about the history of slavery in Zanzibar and current human trafficking realities in East Africa and worldwide.

All Saints’ Cathedral, Diocese of Zanzibar

Part of the Anglican Church of Tanzania, the diocese embarked on the cathedral refurbishing project on Oct 1, 2013 in partnership with World Monuments Fund Britain and announced in its July 2015 newsletter that efforts to raise its portion of grant funding had been successful.

The cathedral’s planned Heritage and Education Centre will retell the story of the East African slave trade in a form accessible to school children, in both English and Kiswahili.

The center also intends to educate about modern-day realities, including the fact that there are now more slaves on the planet than at any previous time in history, with trafficking of women figuring as the world’s second largest industry, and that Zanzibar once again is serving as a trafficking point, especially of children.

The Anglican Diocese of Zanzibar aims to offer visitors concrete steps they can take to join in combating the crisis.

Globally it is estimated that there are more than 30 million victims of modern slavery. It is a priority for governments and faith communities throughout the world.

On Dec. 2, 2014, a historic meeting was held at the Vatican where faith leaders joined to commit together to work towards the ending of modern slavery. Convened by the Global Freedom Network, the declaration was signed by the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and other global faith leaders.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby affirmed in his address on that occasion that faith leaders share “a deep shared commitment for the liberation of those humiliated, abused and enslaved by their fellow-human beings.”

Welby said faith leaders can make sure that every worshiping community knows about modern slavery and is ready to work to prevent and end such abuses.

“As we make this solemn commitment today, my prayer is that we shall by God’s grace play a key role in ending the inhuman practices of modern slavery – practices that disfigure our world and obscure the image of God in men, women and children. We have the will, we have the common purpose, this can be done; may God bless our action together,” he said.

The Zanzibar initiative continues a long Anglican tradition of advocating for the human right to freedom and dignity, notes Rachel Carnegie, Anglican Alliance co-executive director.

The Anglican Alliance is working to lift up such examples of local church action and to connect Anglicans with others within the Anglican Communion and beyond who are working to end modern slavery.

“The Anglican Church played a key role in ending the trans-Atlantic slave trade and again today is called to work together with others to confront and end modern-day forms of slavery,” she says.

“Ending human trafficking is one of the Anglican Alliance’s three global priorities,” she says.

To that end the Anglican Alliance is providing a platform for Anglicans to share their skills, vision and research.

A November 2014 global Anglican Alliance consultation and webinar on slavery looked at how churches and faith groups could work together to tackle the problem. Participants recommended mapping available resources and providing education on protection and prevention.

“It’s important to connect churches and agencies who are working to stop modern-day slavery by sharing insights and building capacity so that we can respond more effectively,” Carnegie says.

Local education efforts such as the Anglican Diocese of Zanzibar’s heritage and education center are important to raise awareness of the problem to prevent the crime and enable swifter identification of those who have been trafficked, she points out.

And housing the center in a core place of worship of the diocese underlines the fact that faith communities have a unique role to play in the response to modern slavery and human trafficking, she adds.

Consultation participants pointed to the importance of having a spiritual anchoring for the church’s work against trafficking and the way in which applying biblical principles could deepen understanding and engagement by local churches.

The Zanzibar center also aims to promote interfaith and inter-communal dialogue and understanding.

The center and its exhibits will be accessible for people living with disabilities, including tours in Sign Language.

Church of England synod welcomes climate change policy

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 14, 2015

[Church of England] The General Synod of the Church of England has overwhelmingly welcomed the new climate change policy adopted by the church’s investing bodies.

Speaking during a July 13 afternoon debate, titled “Climate Change and Investment Policy,” Bishop of Manchester David Walker said: “Climate change calls for an urgent response from all of us – individually, institutionally, nationally and internationally. And that includes investors. The question is not whether climate change is an important and urgent ethical investment issue, but how to reflect this importance and urgency in ethical investment policy.”

Talking about the new climate change policy implemented since May 1 on the recommendation from the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group, Walker said: “The EIAG develops policies formed by biblical understanding, theological reflection and an appreciation of the views of the church. These policies are, without exception, extraordinarily well considered and distinctly Anglican. They are practical for institutional investors with fiduciary responsibilities.

The new policy has already been welcomed from both within and outside the church. Bishop of Salisbury Nicholas Holtam called the policy “exemplary.” Nick Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, has praised the investing bodies’ “fine and wise leadership.” Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, has said the policy is “expressive of investor integrity.”

Read further commentary on the debate from the Bishop of Manchester on the Church of England website.

Archbishop’s remarks on climate change at General Synod

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 14, 2015

[Lambeth Palace] The church must ‘look outwards’ to tackle climate change, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said July 14 during a debate at the General Synod in York.

Welby spoke in a debate on a background paper from the Environment Working Group, Combating Climate Change: The Paris Summit and Mission of the Church, presented to the synod by Bishop of Salisbury Nicholas Holtam.

Read the Archbishop’s remarks:

“First of all I think we would all want to thank Bishop Nick [Holtam] for the leadership he is showing in this area and the way that he’s picked up what is a very crucial moment and is leading it very effectively. And it is a moment at which we sense the current of events running in a new way. There’s already been comment on Laudato Si’, on the Pope’s stress in this area and the way that that has changed the approach and people’s thinking.

“But the Ecumenical Patriarch, as we heard yesterday, has for many years been one of the world’s leading experts in this area and continues to work extremely powerfully. So you have the leaders there, with Bishop Nick and Archbishop Thabo [Makgoba] in South Africa, of three great communions around the world, all deeply committed, and we are grateful to them.

“But actions have to change if words are to have effect. And as Nick said, the issue is one of the common good, and the common good is one of our quinquennial aims, so this is immensely relevant to us.

“I want to pick out four particular areas very quickly

“The first has already been mentioned by [Second Church Estates Commissioner] Caroline Spelman in her maiden speech, that of education and networking. We have unrivalled access to networks around the world. How are we going to use them and look beyond our own boundaries as the Church of England to draw in the resources of the whole Communion? This is a moment not for just looking inwards.

“It is still too big an issue for most people to get their minds round, including most of us here. And it is above all a classic issue for the whole people of God, not just for the clergy and the bishops and the ordinands. Part 5 of the Anglican Communion’s marks of mission says that we are “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth”. That has been in our objectives as a Communion for many years; we have to come back to that and say what are we doing as part of our educational work and networking that will demonstrate that we take it seriously.

“Secondly, we have to come back to the basic social teaching principle of the dignity of the whole human person and the breaking down of the barriers between us achieved in Christ. In other words, as Duncan Dormor said, this has to be holistic. There are many questions that stop us facing climate change. We need to be deeply engaged in the development, as we are through the Anglican Alliance, of the new SDGs, the Sustainable Development Goals. If climate change is to have the place that it needs in international policy, conflict is one of those areas that destroys any attempt to manage issues around climate change. Climate change is both a driver of conflict and a victim of conflict, and we must face that reality and use our networks to address that issue.

“Thirdly, co-creativity. We need an imaginative commitment to new ways of approaching the subject of climate change that does not accept a deterministic or selfish nationalistic policy. We cannot simply look at ourselves and say, ‘we must do better’, and kick the ladder away from the vast majority of humankind that is struggling to find the prosperity that we enjoy so richly. That requires a huge investment in new ideas. If you look up Leo Johnson’s work in this area, it is quite fascinating.

“And lastly, it must be incarnational. Alexandra Podd and Caroline Spelman spoke of this. We are to be exemplary in what we do ourselves. That comes down to some very basic things about faculty legislation; about use of our buildings and imaginative work there; about how use our heritage; about how we use and invest our finances, of which more later today; and around how we heat and light things. Symbolic action such as use of paper at General Synod, the amount we travel, and disinvestment or the tackling and engagement with companies in certain areas, such as arctic drilling, are equally important.

“This is not a standalone issue. It cuts across all we do. Thank you.”

Liberian churches honored for their services during Ebola outbreak

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 13, 2015

[World Council of Churches press release] Prayers and action undertaken by the Liberian Council of Churches (LCC) during the Ebola outbreak of 2014-2015 will be honored by the Liberian government with distinction of “Commander, Order of the Star of Africa.”

The distinction will be conferred upon the LCC in an official ceremony on July 17.

In a congratulatory message, the World Council of Churches (WCC) acting general secretary Georges Lemopoulos called the Liberian churches’ efforts “a sign of hope in the midst of the Ebola crisis.”

The LCC, which includes member churches of the WCC in Liberia, has been actively engaged in providing preventive awareness, contact tracing, food and material relief, medical supplies including personal protective gear to the affected communities during the Ebola crisis. A number of LCC affiliated partners ran health centers that provided immediate medical relief aid to Ebola victims.

“We are very aware of your advocacy, your coordination of member churches, your practical efforts and your witness of prayer during this deeply traumatic time for your country. We are proud to be a partner through accompaniment and celebrate this distinction being given to you,” said Lemopoulos in his letter addressed to the Rev. Kortu K. Brown, acting president of the LCC.

Lemopoulos added, “Your witness in this crisis has been an inspiration to the ecumenical movement beyond your country, a testimony to what can be accomplished as churches and ecumenical organizations working together in a time of need to serve those who suffer and are in fear.”

Read on the Anglican Alliance website about Anglican Communion response to the Ebola crisis in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

RIP: Former Diocese of the Rio Grande Bishop Terence Kelshaw

ENS Headlines - Friday, July 10, 2015

[Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande] Bishop Terence Kelshaw of Albuquerque, New Mexico died in his sleep at home on July 5. He was 78.

He is survived by his wife, Hazel, and their four children: Julian, Joanne, Rachel and Michael, and their spouses, & nine grandchildren.

A celebration of his life and ministry will be held July 13 at Heights Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque. The family asks clergy to vest according to their tradition and process. Rio Grande Bishop Michael Vono and other diocesan officials will attend.

Terence was born in Manchester, England, the seventh of ten children. His passion from a very early age was to serve the Lord, and he was called to be a preacher and teacher at the young age of 15 at a summer camp in the Lake District of England. After serving in Singapore and Malaya in the military he returned to the university, and then went to teach at the Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, for two years. Just before he left for Africa he met his wife-to-be, Hazel, and they married on his return in 1962.

In 1963 he followed his first calling, and went to seminary at Oak Hill Theological College, Barnet, and earned a Doctorate of Theology in 1967. He was ordained a deacon by the bishop of Bristol in 1967 and to the priesthood the following year. He served his first curacy at a university church, Christ Church in Bristol.

After serving in a suburban church, St. John’s in Woking, and an inner-city church, The Christian Family Center in Bristol, in 1980 he was called to be Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, where he earned a Doctorate of Ministry at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 1986.

In 1989 he was elected dishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande and consecrated on March 4, 1989. According to the history of the diocese, as bishop “he decentralized some of the financial decision making of the diocese into the hands of the four deaneries, and also set a conservative agenda for the diocese. Funds were withheld from the national church, which mirrored the bishop’s and many others’ growing alienation. When issues of sexuality came to the fore, Bishop Kelshaw was highly visible, both locally and nationally, as a strong proponent of traditional values.

“Bishop Kelshaw was among the bishops who filed a presentment against retired Bishop Walter Righter for the ordination of a man in a same-sex relationship, and he was a vocal opponent of the election of V. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire. By the end of his administration, Kelshaw had ceased to attend meetings of the House of Bishops, which increased the alienation of the diocese from the national church. By his retirement in 2005 the diocese was perceived as one of the most conservative in the church. After his retirement, Bishop Kelshaw left the Episcopal Church for the Anglican Church of Uganda.

His family’s obituary remarks that: “He will be remembered for the way he brought Scripture to life using his incredible knowledge of the Word. He served the Lord with great resolve teaching others about the love of Christ. The Bishop surrounded himself with children at the close of services to pronounce the blessing, a trademark of his love for the young ministers of the church. He will be greatly missed by family and friends.

“Terence has run the race with courage and perseverance, keeping his eyes on Jesus, his Savior and Lord. Now he has obtained his athlete’s crown, and is with the saints in glory. Praise God.”

Contributions may be made in lieu of flowers to Trinity School for Ministry, Kelshaw Student Scholarship Fund at 311, Eleventh Street, Ambridge, PA 15003.

Archbishop calls for peace as South Sudan marks fourth anniversary

ENS Headlines - Friday, July 10, 2015

[Lambeth Palace] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said “our prayers around the world” are for an end to violence in South Sudan as the country marks four years of independence.

Archbishop Justin Welby said:

“As South Sudan celebrates the fourth anniversary of its hard-won independence, our prayers around the world are for an immediate end to senseless hostilities and for peace to take root. So many civilian men, women and children have suffered, and so many been displaced both internally and externally. This must end. I pray and strongly call for both sides to recognize the need to sheath their swords, meet on middle ground and begin together to walk the path of reconciliation.”

RIP: Father Mel La Follette

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 9, 2015

[Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande] The Rev. Melvin Walker La Follette was born in Evansville, Indiana, in on September 7, 1930. He lived all of his childhood in Ridgeville, Indiana. His father, Melvin Lester La Follette, was an electrician for the local telephone company who lost his job during the Great Depression. Because of this, his mother, Genevieve Farr La Follette, found employment as the first grade teacher at the Grant County Elementary School. For many years, her guidance shaped young Melvin.

After graduating high school in 1948, he then served his summers in U.S. Forestry Service. He became frustrated with his mother when she refused to grant him permission to join an elite band of men known as the smoke jumpers. He had to compromise with her and remain part of the ground crew. He assisted in the Mann Gulch Montana fire of 1948 where 13 smoke jumpers suffered a terrible tragedy. He reconciled with mother shortly after that event.

The same year he was accepted to Purdue University until the Korean war broke out, and he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served as a member of the medical corps. He served in a recovery ward for men wounded overseas.

After leaving the Navy, he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Washington. He then returned to graduate school where he attended the University of Iowa’s Writing Project. He received a Master’s Degree in Literature and Creative Writing. It was there that he was instructed by the poet John Berryman, who became an important influence in his decision to become a professional writer.

To support his writing, he accepted a position at the University of British Columbia. There he was sought out by Dylan Thomas, a fellow poet, to be his guide in the Columbian Rockies. La Follette continued writing short stories and poems that appeared in Poetry Magazine, the Beloit Poetry Review. Dame Marianne Moore encouraged his modernist style, although some critics disliked his adherence to formal styles like the sonnet and the ballad, but he himself considered his work surrealistic because most of his poetry had deeper dreamlike imagery mingled with adherence to traditional writing styles. He believed that poets should not abandon tradition just for the sake of modernity.

In 1957, he accepted a teaching position at the Oregon State University. It was there that he courted and married Alice Louise Simpson  in 1958, with whom he shared 26 years of marriage.

He then moved to San Jose, California, where he continued writing poetry and co-founded a small short-lived publishing company, The Spensarian Press.

While an instructor at San Jose State University, he attended The University of California doctoral program. There he made a close personal friendship with fellow poet Allen Ginsburg. He enjoyed listening to beatnik poetry on occasion, but La Follette preferred a formal style of verse for his own writing. He was also dismayed by the abuse of drugs that was passed off as part of the creative process. For this he penned Elegy To A Beatnik, a precautionary poem in free verse.

In 1962, his son Stephen was born. At that same time, he felt a tremendous calling from God to do more for his fellow man. After being examined and accepted by a committee led by Bishop James Pike, he left the University of California without receiving his doctorate, vacated his seat at San Jose State University, and moved his growing family to New Haven, Connecticut.

To support himself during seminary, he taught undergraduate courses at Yale and also worked as a hotel clerk. He also continued writing poetry and prose, although the majority of his time was spent studying in seminary. While at seminary, a second child Joseph was born in 1964.

After being ordained a deacon in 1966 and later a priest in 1967, he was assigned as a curate at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Auburn, New York. His duties included a prison ministry, and chaplaincy at the local hospital.

During most of his adult life, he was a member of the civil rights movement and worked to end discrimination against minorities. He joined in many anti-war and civil rights marches in Washington, D.C., while still a seminarian.

He then returned to California where he accepted a position as associate rector of St. Francis Episcopal Church in San Jose. While participating in his duties, he came across ancient manuscript that had an intriguing story of a heroic enchanted wolf. He decided to write an adaptation, which he worked on whenever his creative juices were flowing.

In 1971, he accepted the challenge of turning a storefront mission into a full-fledged church. He became the vicar of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Santa Rosa, California.  Unfortunately, this position was plagued with obstacles, but despite these he was true to his word and secured land and financing for the growing parish.

He tried to include an Hispanic congregation and seriously learned Spanish to start a ministry. Unfortunately, his diocesan leadership didn’t see eye to eye with him. He then considered a position in Ecuador, but he could not convince Alice to leave the United States.

Meanwhile, after years of reworking his manuscript, he found to his dismay that his literary agent could not get any publishers interested in his unique manuscript. He was offered many writing jobs, but he was an artist and turned them down.

At the same time, he had a falling out with his bishop and left active ministry in 1978 ,but not before finalizing plans to build the church.

Being a talented educator, he secured a dream job at Chapman University as a PACE professor for the U.S. Navy. While instructing sailors aboard ship, he traveled the Pacific and Indian oceans. Although he was not active duty he was awarded an expeditionary medal for his work on the USS Midway during the Iran Hostage Crisis. He recounted that Iranian fighter planes tested the ship’s defenses, and at one point a rescue operation failed when it was shot down over Iran.

In the 1983, he left his teaching job at Chapman University to be closer to his elderly father in Roswell, New Mexico, while he finalized his divorce to his wife, Alice. She finally had had enough of his absenteeism and when he offered to once again settle down, she recanted until she discovered it meant moving to the Philippines.

While in Roswell he began attending St. Stephen’s, he began to rediscover his love of the ministry. The people of that parish gave him encouragement to seek another position in the Episcopal Church.

Soon after he took a job at University of Texas at El Paso and began helping out in the Hispanic ministry at the Pro-Cathedral of St. Clement. He was offered the opportunity to fill in for his friend Father William Muniz.

For Father Mel, the community that he served, the distances he had to travel, and the tremendous obstacles that he faced were all fair game.

In 1984, he was installed as canon of the Trans Pecos. With that he became the circuit-riding priest of the Rio Grande. He enjoyed serving at St. Paul’s of Marfa, St. James of Alpine, and he especially enjoyed the parish of Saint John’s in Terlingua Ranch. He felt at home whether in an air conditioned parish hall or a tiny chapel crammed with sweating but happy people waving their paperback Prayer Books to keep cool.

He also worked with the Diocese of Northern Mexico and provided opportunities to seminarians from Monterey to assist in Vacation Bible School. He held VBS in Ojinaga, Palomas, Lajitas and Boquillas Del Carmen.

Every Christmas he provided a fiesta for the children of each and every parish, which included gift bags of fresh fruits and nuts, toys, household goods, clothing and a piñata hand stuffed by himself. When his white truck came down the road during Christmas time, there was a dash to the mission. He would get home early in the morning and then do it again.

For a while he even rode a horse to some out of the way places, although he preferred riding in a rowboat. He had a growing ministry that had the rhythm of a living poem.

Starting in 1985, he compiled a collection of poems titled, Tales From The Indian Ocean, about life on a ship during the Iran Conflict. Once again, he encountered friends lost under tragic circumstances and sought to preserve a part of their memory in poems.

In 1988, he purchased a small travel agency in Presidio. He hoped to grow the business into a pathway for active retirement. But to his dismay, the way people book vacations was rapidly changing.

In 1990, Texas A&M named him rural minister of the year. He was interviewed in many news articles and was the subject of two episodes of the Texas Country Reporter.

In 1992, he tried to expand his role to rural development and helped a group of local farmers try to make a dairy goat cooperative. Father Mel was completely heartbroken when young shepherd Esequiel Hernandez was shot by U.S. Marines while tending goats. He traveled to Washington, D.C. one last time to demand justice.

In 1998, weakness from the early stages of heart disease and arthritis prevented him from a more active role so the cooperative was dissolved.

He retired to his trailer on a small tract of land. Some of his hobbies included poultry husbandry, bird-watching and horticulture. He continued to travel throughout the Caribbean in a small sailboat and second class train in South America.

He continued part time in the ministry mainly serving the parish of St. Joseph and St. Mary in Lajitas, Texas.

In later years he spent a significant amount of time writing an historical novel set in the era of the Republic of Texas. He insisted on finishing his book with a feverish pace because he knew he had congestive heart disease. Just weeks after finishing his manuscript, he called the paramedics when he no longer could tolerate his untreated condition.

He passed away on July 4, 2015, in Odessa, Texas, of heart failure. He is survived by his brother James (Ruth), sons Stephen and Joseph (Erica), and seven grandchildren, Christopher, Christin, Jacob, Jason, Josiah, Leila and Leslie.

A requiem remembrance will be held July 23 at Santa Inez Church in Terlingua, Texas. Diocese of the Rio Grande Bishop Michael Vono will officiate.

Resumen de la Convención General: decisiones históricas y cambios estructurales

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 9, 2015

[Episcopal News Service] La 78ª. Convención General, en una serie de momentos históricos, eligió al primer Obispo Primado afroamericano, aprobó la igualdad matrimonial para todos los episcopales, adoptó un presupuesto que enfatiza la reconciliación racial y la evangelización, respaldó el estudio de la desinversión en los combustibles fósiles, se opuso a la desinversión en Israel y Palestina e hizo cambios significativos en el gobierno de la Iglesia.

Eligen Obispo Primado a Michael Curry, obispo de Carolina del Norte

La Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal hizo historia el 27 d junio cuando eligió al obispo Michael Curry, de la Diócesis de Carolina del Norte, como su 27º. Obispo Primado.

La Cámara de obispos eligió a Curry, de 62 años, de una lista de cuatro nominados, en la primera votación. Él recibió 121 votos de un total de 174. El obispo Dabney Smith, de la Diócesis de Florida Sudoccidental (o del Sudoeste) recibió 21; Thomas Breidentha, obispo de la Diócesis de Ohio sur, 19; Ian Douglas, obispo de Connecticut, 13. El número necesario para ganar la elección era de 89.

La elección de Curry fue confirmada una hora después por la Cámara de Diputados, tal como está prescrito en los Cánones de la Iglesia, en una votación de 800 a favor y 12 en contra.

Reportaje completo.

Igualdad matrimonial

A raíz del dictamen del Tribunal Supremo de EE.UU. el 26 de junio, en que legalizaba el matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo para todos los estadounidenses, la Convención General siguió el ejemplo el 1 de julio con cambios canónicos y litúrgicos para brindarles igualdad matrimonial a los episcopales.

La Cámara de Diputados convino con la aprobación de la Cámara de Obispos el día anterior en un cambio canónico que eliminó el lenguaje que define el matrimonio como entre un hombre y una mujer (Resolución A036) y autorizó dos nuevos ritos matrimoniales con un lenguaje que permite que los usen parejas del mismo sexo y de sexos opuestos (Resolución A054)

Reportaje completo.

Presupuesto enfatiza la reconciliación racial y la evangelización

La Convención General adoptó el 2 de julio el presupuesto trienal 2016-2018 luego de convenir en añadir $2,8 millones para la labor de la evangelización.

La adición, aprobada con relativamente poco debate en la Cámara de Diputados, enfrentó alguna oposición en la Cámara de Obispos.

El presupuesto trienal 2016-2018 se basa en un monto de ingresos de $125.083.083, a diferencia de los $118.243.102 para el trienio que termina el 31 de diciembre de este año. Los gastos proyectados ascienden a $125.057.351, con un superávit insignificante de $25.834. Su proyección de ingresos se basa en parte en la solicitud a las diócesis de la Iglesia y las zonas de misión regionales de donar un 18 por ciento de sus ingresos para financiar el presupuesto de 2016, un 16,5 para el de 2017 y un 15 por ciento en 2018.

La versión del presupuesto presentada el 1 de julio por el Comité Permanente Conjunto sobre Programa, Presupuesto y Finanzas (PB&F) también incluía una importante iniciativa de $2 millones sobre justicia y reconciliación raciales, aunque reduce el monto de dinero que solicita que las diócesis contribuyan a un 15 por ciento para 2018.

Reportaje completo.

Tasación obligatoria


La Convención General hizo obligatorio el sistema de solicitud presupuestaria diocesana, que actualmente es voluntario, para el ciclo del presupuesto 2019-2021 e impuso sanciones para los que no cumplan.

La tasación obligatoria no se aplicará al próximo presupuesto trienal 2016-2018, sino que entrará en vigor el 1 de enero de 2019. Sin obtener dispensa, una diócesis que no pague la tasación completa no podrá obtener subvenciones o préstamos de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera (DFMS), a menos que el Consejo Ejecutivo (http://www.generalconvention.org/ec) apruebe específicamente el desembolso del dinero.

(La Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS) es el nombre con el cual la Iglesia Episcopal está incorporada, funciona empresarialmente y lleva a cabo la misión).

La resolución le permite al Consejo comenzar a otorgar dispensas a diócesis que no pagan, basándose en dificultades económicas, a partir del 1 de enero de 2016. El Consejo convino en enero en crear un llamado Comité de Revisión de Tasaciones Diocesanas para trabajar con aquellas diócesis que no cumplen con la totalidad de la solicitud denominacional.

La resolución también conviene en estudiar el asunto de si el[la] presidente de la Cámara de Diputados debe recibir un salario.

Reportaje completo.

Desinvertir de combustibles fósiles, reinvertir en energía renovable

La Convención General aprobó dos resoluciones sobre la inversión ambientalmente responsable y la creación de un comité asesor sobre el cambio climático..

La Resolución C045 pide que el Comité de Inversiones del Consejo Ejecutivo, el Fondo de Dotaciones de la Iglesia y la Fundación de la Iglesia Episcopal “desinviertan de las compañías de combustibles fósiles y reinviertan en energía renovable y limpia de una manera fiscalmente responsable”.

La Resolución A030 pide la creación de un comité asesor sobre el cambio climático con un representante de cada una de las nueve provincias de la Iglesia Episcopal. La resolución pide también que cada provincia cree un Grupo Consultivo Regional compuesto “de no menos de cinco expertos en áreas de sostenibilidad ambiental adecuadas a las específicas condiciones demográficas, ecológicas, culturales y geográficas de cada región”.

Lea más aquí.

Acuerda importantes cambios estructurales

La Convención General aprobó dos resoluciones que hacen importantes cambios en la estructura de la Iglesia Episcopal.

La Resolución Sustituta A004 expande ligeramente la facultad del Consejo Ejecutivo de hacer nombramientos en lo tocante a tres miembros del personal ejecutivo de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera (DFMS) a saber: el director de operaciones, el director de finanzas y el director de asuntos jurídicos (un cargo creado por la resolución).

La Resolución Sustituta A006 reduce el número de comisiones permanentes de la Iglesia de 24 a dos. Las dos serían la Comisión Permanente sobre Estructura, Gobierno, Constitución y Cánones y la Comisión Permanente sobre Liturgia y Música. El Obispo[a] Primado[a] y el[la] presidente de la Cámara de Diputados nombrarían comités de estudios y equipos de trabajo para llevar a cabo la labor requerida por una reunión de la Convención General, con aprobación del Consejo. Todos esos organismos caducarían al comienzo de la próxima Convención General a menos que fueran renovados.

Artículo completo aquí.

Se oponen a desinversión en Israel y Palestina

La Cámara de Obispos envió un enérgico y claro mensaje el 2 de julio de que desinvertir de compañías y corporaciones que participan en algunos negocios relacionados con el Estado de Israel no responde a los mejores intereses de la Iglesia Episcopal, a sus asociados en Tierra Santa, a las relaciones interreligiosas y a las vidas de los palestinos en el terreno.

Los obispos rechazaron la Resolución Sustituta D016, que le pedía al Comité sobre Responsabilidad Social Corporativa (CSR) del Consejo Ejecutivo que elaborara una lista de corporaciones estadounidenses y extranjeras que proveen bienes y servicios que apoyan la infraestructura de la ocupación de Israel “para supervisar sus inversiones y aplicar su política de CSR a cualesquiera posibles inversiones futuras” en tales compañías.

La Convención General aprobó dos resoluciones sobre pacificación. La Resolución Sustituta B013, propuesta por el obispo Nick Knisely, de Rhode Island, “reafirma la vocación de la Iglesia como agente de reconciliación y de justicia restauradora” y reconoce que “una reconciliación significativa puede ayudar a engendrar una paz sostenible y duradera y que tal reconciliación debe incorporarse tanto a la acción política como a los empeños de base promovidos localmente”.

La Resolución C018 expresa solidaridad y apoyo hacia los cristianos en Israel y en los territorios bajo ocupación israelí; afirma la obra de la Diócesis Episcopal de Jerusalén en recuperación, educación y cuidado pastoral; y respalda la labor de los cristianos comprometidos en hacer relaciones, en el diálogo interreligioso, en el adiestramiento en la no violencia y en la defensa de los derechos de los palestinos. La resolución insta también a los episcopales a mostrar su solidaridad haciendo una peregrinación a Israel y a los territorios ocupados por Israel y a aprender de los hermanos cristianos de la región.

Reportaje completo.

Se elaboran planes para la revisión del libro de oración y el himnario

La Convención General 2015 dio un paso hacia la revisión del Libro de Oración Común de 1979 y del himnario [The Hymnal] de 1982, al instruir a la Comisión Permanente sobre Liturgia y Música (SCLM, por su sigla en inglés) que elabore planes para revisar ambos [libros] y presentarlos a la próxima Convención en Austin, Texas, en 2018.

Entre otros asuntos litúrgicos, la Convención instruyó a los obispos a encontrar medios para que las congregaciones sin clero reciban la comunión, pero la Cámara de Obispos rechazó propuestas que pedían permitirles a personas no bautizadas recibir la Santa Comunión o estudiar el asunto.

La Convención aprobó publicar una versión revisada de “Mujeres y hombres santos” [Holy Women, Holy Men] con todas las conmemoraciones de santos adicionales, pero dejó “Fiestas Menores y Días de Ayuno” [Lesser Feasts and Fasts”] como el calendario suplementario autorizado de las conmemoraciones de la Iglesia (véase artículo aquí).

La versión revisada de Mujeres y hombres santos se llama Una gran nube de testigos [A Great Cloud of Witnesses].

Reportaje completo.

La Convención da un primer paso y admite: ‘el alcohol nos afecta a todos’,

La Convención General aprobó tres resoluciones sobre el consumo de bebidas alcohólicas y drogas.

La Resolución D014 recomienda que los ordenandos deben ser interrogados al mismo comienzo del proceso de discernimiento acerca de la adicción y el uso de sustancias estupefacientes en sus vidas y sistemas familiares.

Los obispos también aprobaron la Resolución A159, que reconoce el papel de la Iglesia en la cultura del consumo de bebidas alcohólicas y drogas.

Y la Resolución A158, para crear un equipo de trabajo que revise la política sobre consumo de sustancias estupefacientes, adicción y recuperación, fue aprobada con una enmienda.

Reportaje completo.

Más estrechas relaciones con Cuba

La Iglesia Episcopal en EE.UU. y la Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba dieron un paso hacia relaciones más estrechas durante la 78ª. Convención General, que sesionó en Salt Lake City del 25 de junio al 3 de julio. La Convención también aprobó una resolución en que le pide al gobierno de EE.UU. que levante el embargo económico contra Cuba.

Reportaje completo.

Entrevista con el obispo primado electo

En una entrevista de 18 minutos con Episcopal News Service, el obispo primado electo Michael Curry habla sobre sus prioridades para el liderazgo y la administración, el papel de la Iglesia al dedicarse a la misión de Dios en el mundo, el estado de las relaciones raciales en EE.UU., la importancia de las asociaciones de la Comunión Anglicana y su compromiso con lo que el llama el Movimiento de Jesús, para salir al mundo “a dar testimonio de las buenas nuevas de Jesús”.

Vídeo completo.

Obispos presiden una procesión contra la violencia armada

Unos 1.500 participantes de la Convención se unieron a una procesión de Obispos Unidos Contra la Violencia Armada en la mañana del 28 de junio en Salt Lake City.

La devota procesión recorrió la media milla que va desde el Centro de Convenciones Salt Palace hasta el Parque del Pionero [Pioneer Park] mientras los manifestantes cantaban himnos y oraban. Miembros de agrupaciones contrarias a la violencia armada y organizaciones pro derechos civiles de Utah se sumaron al desfile.

Video completo.

Mayor solidaridad con los cristianos perseguidos

La defensa de los cristianos que enfrentan persecución y viven en el contexto de la guerra civil son el tema de varias resoluciones aprobadas por la 78ª. Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal, que sesionó en Salt Lake City del 25 de junio al 3 de julio.

La Convención conviene en que los cristianos en Pakistán, Siria, Liberia, Sudán del Sur y El Sudán se encuentran entre aquellos a favor de quienes la Iglesia debe incrementar su apoyo y solidaridad mientras muchos de ellos viven con temor a la muerte, el hambre y en el desplazamiento en países asolados por la guerra o influidos por extremistas.

Episcopal deacon’s ministry, photography serves Cleveland’s homeless

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 9, 2015

Portrait of Robert Moncrief by Lydia Bailey

[Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry] In June 2013, the Rev. Lydia Bailey was ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacons at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio. However, Bailey’s ministry began long before then. In 2007, she became the volunteer coordinator at the 2100 Lakeside Men’s Shelter, operated by Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry. The shelter is the largest shelter in Ohio, serving 4,000 men who are homeless each year. Bailey organizes volunteers by the thousands – to be precise, 1,773 individual volunteers last year alone. Bailey oversees these people as they not only serve meals, but operate programs including job coaching, poetry, gardening, Bible study and legal clinic.

In the midst of it all, Bailey manages to moonlight as a photographer. In 2010, her photos of the residents culminated in a full-blown art exhibit complemented by the men’s personal stories in their own words called “Portraits of Homelessness.”

Portrait of Eric Asazawa by Lydia Bailey

The ministry’s exhibit is aimed at not only breaking stereotypes of those who are homeless, but moving the public toward a more committed stance on issues of homelessness. The collection of 45 portraits, which has shown in 35 venues around Northeast Ohio, conveys individuals with concerns and hopes; their gifts and personalities as well as the confusing, fearful and damaging elements of homelessness.

According to Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry President and CEO Andrew Genszler, “We live in a moment of national apathy and cynicism and this public attitude makes Lydia’s ability to engage others and build meaningful relationships all the more remarkable. Her ministry is an asset to LMM and a beautiful bright space in our community.”

Portrait of Charles Young by Lydia Bailey

Bailey’s powerful ministry has inspired others in many ways. Portraits of Homelessness, while on display at Cleveland’s Temple Tifereth, was a subject of discussion among the young adult classes. The youth commented that the shelter residents they saw portrayed in the exhibit couldn’t be homeless; they looked too “alive,” “vital,” or “happy.” Thereafter, the students collected their babysitting money and donated it to the shelter.

Portrait of Raymel Johnson by Lydia Bailey

“I think a lot of people have been struck by the humanity of people here,” said Bailey. “Portraits of Homelessness is about growing awareness, to see the individuals involved in homelessness, beyond the stereotypes. And while there is nothing quite so terrible as homelessness, these portraits can be empowering to those who feel largely invisible; who feel lost living in a shelter and on the street. Stories can be empowering, giving voice to the deepest hopes and concerns of individuals.”

According to Michael Sering, Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry’s vice president, housing and shelter, “In these portraits of homelessness we can see a powerful microcosm of humanity and society – strength and frailty, brokenness and resilience, hope and sorrow, and indeed potential.”

Funding for Portraits of Homelessness was provided by The Dominion Foundation and Community West Foundation.

— Megan Crow Brauer is associate vice president for development and communications at Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry

78 educational scholarships granted throughout Episcopal Church, Anglican Communion

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, July 8, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Samuel A. McDonald, Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Director of Mission for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, has announced that 78 educational scholarships, totaling $216,903.44 have been awarded to students in Episcopal Church dioceses as well as Provinces of the Anglican Communion for the 2015-2016 academic year.

McDonald, who serves as the convener of the Scholarship Committee, said that 133 applications were received and reviewed.

Margareth Crosnier de Bellaistre, Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society Director of Investment Management and Banking, explained that scholarships were available for ethnic communities, children of missionaries, bishops and clergy, and other particular wide-ranging eligibility for education and training.  “Funding for the program is derived from annual income of designated trust funds established by generous donors,” she said.

The number of students and dioceses are:
4 Alabama; 2 Arizona; 1 Arkansas; 3 Atlanta; 1 California; 1 Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe; 1 Dallas; 1 East Carolina; 1 El Camino Real; 2 Fond du Lac; 3 Haiti; 3 Hawaii; 1 Idaho; 1 Kansas; 1 Long Island; 1 Los Angeles; 1 Massachusetts; 1 Michigan; 1 Milwaukee; 1 Missouri; 1 New Hampshire; 4 New Jersey; 4 New York; 1  Oklahoma; 1 Olympia; 1 Oregon; 2 Episcopal Church in South Carolina; 2 South Dakota; 4 Southeast Florida; 1 Southern Ohio; 1 Southwest Florida; 2 Spokane; 1 Taiwan; 1 Virgin Islands; 2 Virginia; 2 Washington; 1 West Tennessee; 1 West Virginia; 1 Western Massachusetts; 1 Western New York.

The number of students and Anglican provinces/dioceses are:
2  Anglican Church of Canada; 2 Diocese of Bunia (DRCongo); 2 Diocese of Aru (DRCongo); 1 Diocese of Kivu, (DRCongo); 1 Diocese of Wau, Church of Sudan; 1 Guyana; 2 North Kivu (Anglican Church of Congo); 2 Liberia.

The lists of trust funds and scholarships as well as key information are here.

Applications were reviewed by a scholarship committee which includes staff of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society: the Director of Mission, the Director of Human Resources Management, representatives of various ministries, and the Treasurer’s office.

For information about the next cycle of scholarships, contact Ann Hercules, Associate for Grants and Scholarships for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society,ahercules@episcopalchurch.org.

General Convention wrap-up: Historic actions, structural changes

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 7, 2015

[Episcopal News Service] The 78th General Convention, in a series of historic moments, elected the first African-American presiding bishop; approved marriage equality for all Episcopalians; adopted a budget that emphasizes racial reconciliation and evangelism; endorsed the study of fossil fuel divestment; opposed divestment in Israel, Palestine; and made some significant changes to the church’s governance.

North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry elected presiding bishop
The Episcopal Church’s General Convention made history June 27 when it chose Diocese of North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry to be its 27th presiding bishop.

The House of Bishops elected Curry, 62, from a slate of four nominees on the first ballot. He received 121 votes of a total 174 cast. Diocese of Southwest Florida Bishop Dabney Smith received 21, Diocese of Southern Ohio Bishop Thomas Breidenthal, 19, and Diocese of Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas, 13. The number of votes needed for election was 89.

Curry’s election was confirmed an hour later by the House of Deputies, as outlined in the church’s canons, by a vote of 800 to 12.

Full story.

Marriage equality
In the wake of the June 26 U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage for all Americans, General Convention followed suit on July 1 with canonical and liturgical changes to provide marriage equality for Episcopalians.

The House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops’ approval the day before of a canonical change eliminating language defining marriage as between a man and a woman (Resolution A036) and authorizing two new marriage rites with language allowing them to be used by same-sex or opposite-sex couples (Resolution A054).

Full story.

Budget emphasizes racial reconciliation, evangelism
The General Convention adopted the 2016-2018 triennial budget July 2 after agreeing to add $2.8 million for evangelism work.

While the addition passed with relatively little debate in the House of Deputies, it faced some opposition in the House of Bishops.

The 2016-2018 triennial budget is based on $125,083,185 in revenue, compared to the forecasted $118,243,102 for the triennium that ends Dec. 31 of this year. The expenses are projected to be $125,057,351. The budget comes in with a negligible surplus of $25,834. Its revenue projection is based in part on asking the church’s dioceses and regional mission areas to give 18 percent of their income to fund the 2016 budget, 16.5 percent for the 2017 budget and 15 percent in 2018.

The version of the budget presented July 1 by the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) also included a major new $2 million initiative on racial justice and reconciliation, even as it reduces the amount of money it asks dioceses to contribute to 15 percent by 2018.

Full story.

Mandatory assessment
General Convention made mandatory the current voluntary diocesan budgetary asking system for the 2019-2021 budget cycle and imposed penalties for noncompliance.

The mandatory assessment will not apply to the upcoming 2016-2018 triennial budget, but becomes effective Jan. 1, 2019. Without getting a waiver, a diocese that does not pay the full assessment will be unable to get grants or loans from the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society unless the Executive Council (http://www.generalconvention.org/ec) specifically approves disbursing the money.

(The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is the name under which The Episcopal Church is incorporated, conducts business, and carries out mission.)

The resolution allows the council to begin granting waivers to dioceses that do not pay, based on financial hardship, beginning Jan. 1, 2016. Council agreed in January to create a so-called Diocesan Assessment Review Committee to work with dioceses that do not to meet the full churchwide asking.

The resolution also agrees to study the issue of whether the House of Deputies president ought to receive a salary.

Full story.

Divest from fossil fuels, reinvest in renewables
General Convention passed two resolutions aimed at environmentally responsible investing and creating a climate change advisory committee.

Resolution C045 calls upon the Investment Committee of Executive Council, the Episcopal Church Endowment Fund and the Episcopal Church Foundation “to divest from fossil fuel companies and reinvest in clean renewable energy in a fiscally responsible manner.”

Resolution A030 calls for the creation of a climate change advisory committee with one representative from each of The Episcopal Church’s nine provinces. The resolution also calls on each province to create a Regional Consultative Group composed “of no fewer than five experts in areas of environmental sustainability appropriate to the demographic, ecological, cultural and geographic specifics of each region.”

Read more here.

Agrees to major structural changes
The General Convention approved two resolutions making major changes to the structure of The Episcopal Church.

Substitute Resolution A004 slightly expands Executive Council’s appointment power concerning three members of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s executive staff, including the chief operating officer, chief financial officer and chief legal officer (a position created in the resolution).

Substitute Resolution A006 reduces the number of the church’s standing commissions from 14 to two. The two would be the Standing Commission on Structure, Governance, Constitution and Canons, and the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music. The presiding bishop and House of Deputies president would appoint study committees and task forces to complete the work called for by a meeting of General Convention, with council’s approval. All of those bodies would expire at the start of the next General Convention unless they are renewed.

Full story here. 

Oppose divestment in Israel, Palestine
The House of Bishops sent a strong and clear message July 2 that divestment from companies and corporations engaged in certain business related to the State of Israel is not in the best interests of The Episcopal Church, its partners in the Holy Land, interreligious relations, and the lives of Palestinians on the ground.

The bishops rejected Substitute Resolution D016, which would have called on the Executive Council’s Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to develop a list of U.S. and foreign corporations that provide goods and services that support the infrastructure of Israel’s occupation “to monitor its investments and apply its CSR policy to any possible future investments” in such companies.

General Convention passed two resolutions on peacemaking. Substitute Resolution B013, proposed by Bishop Nicholas Knisely of Rhode Island, “reaffirms the vocation of the Church as an agent of reconciliation and restorative justice,” and recognizes that “meaningful reconciliation can help to engender sustainable, long-lasting peace and that such reconciliation must incorporate both political action and locally driven grassroots efforts.”

Resolution C018 expresses solidarity with and support for Christians in Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories; affirms the work of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem in healing, education, and pastoral care; and affirms the work of Christians engaged in relationship building, interfaith dialogue, nonviolence training, and advocacy for the rights of Palestinians. The resolution also urges Episcopalians to demonstrate their solidarity by making pilgrimage to the Holy Land and learning from fellow Christians in the region.

Full story.

Plans to be created for prayer book, hymnal revision
General Convention 2015 took a step toward revising the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and The Hymnal 1982, directing the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to prepare plans for revising each and to present them to the next convention in Austin, Texas, in 2018.

Among other liturgical issues, the convention directs bishops to find ways for congregations without clergy to receive Communion, but the House of Bishops defeated proposals to allow unbaptized people to receive Holy Communion or to study the issue.

The convention approved making available a revised version of “Holy Women,Holy Men” with additional saints’ commemorations but left “Lesser Feasts and Fasts” as the church authorized supplemental calendar of commemorations (see article here).

The revised “Holy Women, Holy Men,” is called “A Great Cloud of Witnesses.”

Full story.

Convention takes a first step, admits: ‘Alcohol affects us all’

General Convention passed three resolutions on the issue of alcohol and drug abuse.

Resolution D014 recommends that ordinands should be questioned at the very beginning of the discernment process about addiction and substance use in their lives and family systems.

The bishops also passed Resolution A159, which acknowledges the church’s role in the culture of alcohol and drug abuse.

Resolution A158, to create a task force to review and revise policy on substance abuse, addiction and recovery, passed with one amendment.

Full story.

Closer relations with Cuba
The U.S.-based Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church of Cuba took a step toward closer relations during the 78th General Convention, meeting here June 25-July 3. Convention also passed a resolution calling for the U.S. government to lift its economic embargo against Cuba.

Full story.

Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry sat for a video interview
In an 18-minute interview with the Episcopal News Service, Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry speaks about his priorities for leadership and administration, the role of the church in engaging God’s mission in the world, the state of race relations in the U.S., the importance of Anglican Communion partnerships, and his commitment to what he calls the Jesus Movement, to go out into the world “to bear witness to the good news of Jesus.”

Full video.

Bishops led a march against gun violence
About 1,500 General Convention participants joined a Bishops United Against Gun Violence procession in Salt Lake City the morning of June 28.

 The prayerful procession walked the half-mile from the Salt Palace Convention Center to Pioneer Park while marchers sang hymns and prayed. Members of Utah anti-gun violence groups and civil rights organizations joined in.

Full video.

Greater solidarity for persecuted Christians
Advocacy for Christians facing persecution and living in the context of civil war are the subject of several resolutions passed by the Episcopal Church’s 78th General Convention, meeting here June 25-July 3.

Convention agrees that Christians in Pakistan, Syria, Liberia, South Sudan and Sudan are among those for whom the church needs to step up its support and solidarity as many of them live in fear of death, starvation, and displacement in their war-ravaged or extremist-influenced countries.

Full story.

 

General Convention: Speaking up, in big and small ways, about race

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Rev. Myra Garnes Shuler, introducing the young adult speakers at the Acts8Moment gathering. Photo: Lynn A. Collins

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] With the nation’s racial tensions boiling, the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church has spoken in a big way about its priorities, earmarking $2 million for racial justice and reconciliation work in the next triennium.

The initiative involves “new money” and unrestricted funds and sends a strong hopeful message, according to Diane Pollard, a New York lay deputy and co-chair of General Convention’s Legislative Committee on Social Justice and United States Policy. The committee oversaw the bulk of resolutions involving racial justice and reconciliation efforts, including: A011, A182, A183, C019, and D044.

During a July 2 budget debate Sam Gould, a Massachusetts deputy and a member of General Convention’s Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F), said that as a teenager he was the “New England prep school-attending white boy of my church’s primarily black and Latino youth group” in a town with one of the highest rates of gang activity in that state.

“Over the years my eyes have been opened by watching my friends. Their public schools did not educate them. Their police do not make them safe. More have gone to prison than have graduated from college. These are not statistics; these are my friends.”

“I used to view their reality as that of a glass ceiling they were trying to break through. I believe a more apt metaphor would be that they are trying to break up through the floor, the floor I have been invited to stand on because of the color of my skin. If we continue to look at racial justice as a black issue, we will fail… If we pat ourselves on the back after this convention and say ‘job well done,’ we will fail.”

The Rev. Mally Lloyd of Massachusetts, PB&F chair, told Episcopal News Service that given the current racially charged atmosphere in the United States, the shootings and the plight of African-Americans, the committee wanted to do more in earmarking $2 million for racial justice and reconciliation and offering a blank slate for the church to be able to try something new.

The $2 million will come from the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s short-term reserves and is part of the $4.7 million surplus with which the 2013-2015 triennium is predicted to end.

“We’re seeing this as an extraordinary circumstance and an extraordinary opportunity and, therefore, using extraordinary means to support it,” Diocese of Maine Bishop Stephen Lane, PB&F vice chair, told ENS.

Pollard acknowledged the nation’s racially charged context, noting that as convention has met in Salt Lake City, seven predominantly black Southern churches have had suspicious fires. In the months before convention, police-involved shootings of unarmed African-American men, and the June 17 murders of nine black churchgoers during an Emanuel AME Church Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina, by a self-described white supremacist, have intensified racial unrest.

“We are where we are,” Pollard said July 1, of the nation’s racial ills. But she believes the work of convention can refocus efforts for reconciliation.

Gould agreed: “As a member of PB&F, I am proud of this budget and the bold statement it makes. However, it must be seen as the start of a movement Jesus is calling us into. The movement for racial justice and reconciliation, that is what every Episcopalian must engage in. Now, we know that only together and with God is change possible.”

Pollard said the committee’s racial justice resolutions “inform and support each other” and are pieces of a larger whole.

“Our church has this great opportunity to build on what has happened … and if we’re honest about it, all we can say is, ‘Are we going to answer the call?’ I think we are, but we’re also human beings and we’re frail, too.

“I’ve been in this struggle for a long time,” she added. “It’s not something that I’m ever going to give up. This is a time of opportunity in the church.”

The time is now: ‘Pieces of a larger whole’
Pollard and others say the landslide election of North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry as 27th presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church also speaks in a big way about the church’s priorities and dreams. Curry, who will begin his nine-year term Nov. 1 as the first African-American presiding bishop, has said reconciliation and evangelism are mainstays of his ministry.

He joined with hundreds of bishops and other convention-goers during a June 28 anti-gun-violence procession to witness, worship and walk through the streets of Salt Lake City. The goal was to build common ground and “bring an end to violence, because black lives matter, brown lives matter, all lives matter,” he said.

Curry challenged marchers to: “Go forth, go forth, go forth into this world and proclaim that love is the only way. Go forth and proclaim that we will end the scourge of violence, we will make poverty history, and we will end racism, because we all got one God who created us and we are all children of that one God, and we are brothers and sisters one of another, and all lives matter.”

Annette Buchanan, Union of Black Episcopalians’ president, addresses the participants of the July 1 Acts8Moment gathering. Photo: Lynn A. Collins

Many, including Union of Black Episcopalians‘ President Annette Buchanan, believe that Curry’s election signals an era of reconciliation and deep listening and cooperation within the church.

“Part of what we are all committed to in The Episcopal Church is having a conversation about racial justice and social justice,” Buchanan said at an evening conversation co-sponsored by the Union of Black Episcopalians and the Acts8Moment July 1 at the Hilton Hotel in Salt Lake City.

“One of the things that we have found, as we hear more every day about all these atrocities, is that we’re starting to get numb. We can’t handle it any more; it’s too much,” she told the gathering.

But, while visiting churches, she realized that “no one was having this conversation. It was like a dissonance; the world was going crazy. But many of us were not having those conversations in our coffee hours. We were not hearing about it in our sermons, there was no opportunity for dialogue.”

Education, training, action
Chuck Wynder, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s missioner for social justice and advocacy engagement, said racial reconciliation when combined with social justice opens up amazing spaces for transformation, to be lived out not only in church but also in the community. He cited as examples the Diocese of Atlanta’s Beloved Community Commission and the Diocese of Southern Virginia’s “Repairing the Breach.”

“We have to recognize that without justice-making, there is no reconciliation; that justice-making is naming and speaking truth,” he said.

Emily Shelton, from the Diocese of Virginia and a member of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship Young Adults, said she got involved in racial justice efforts after University of Virginia student Martese Johnson, who is African-American, was beaten right outside her front door by Alcoholic Beverage Control agents.

“Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown – they were just names to me until one day it came to my front door,” she told the General Convention’s Legislative Committee on Social Justice and United States Policy. “God is sounding the alarm but we keep hitting the snooze button. It’s time for the church to wake up.”

The Rev. Kurt Gearhart, a Washington, D.C. deputy, said he spent last year intentionally exploring “with fellow Christians at St. Patrick’s, Washington D.C., habits that perpetrate racism. We discerned together that the civil rights movement isn’t over. We’ve done a lot of the easy work; now we have to do the difficult work. We have to change our hearts and souls. It’s the work of the church. We have to do it together, as a community that’s going to learn from each other.”

The Rev. Ramelle McCall, rector of St. Michael and All Angels, Baltimore, testified before a committee hearing that, as an African-American priest in the Diocese of Maryland, he and others have been working to build bridges with local authorities. But, he said, “racial profiling is real. It’s next door, and it frightens the hell out of me.”

The Rev. Kim Turner Baker, who is African-American, petitioned for “a systematic way of studying and approaching these problems. What we need to do is help everybody look at this through a Gospel perspective and work to change the government.”

She said she has served in various settings, sometimes as the only person of color in a congregation. While most people are of good will, she said statistics indicate “the majority of whites in this country very rarely have any interaction with a person of color. Our church is predominantly white; our church needs to be educated.”

David Aniss, a Fond du Lac deputy, told the committee that an Education for Ministry course through Sewanee’s School of Theology about multicultural understanding became a focus for continued dialogue. “The fundamental problem is the lack of understanding between cultures,” he said. “There is a lot of almost-unconscious bias people show.”

Kevin Smallwood reads a reflection about being racially profiled by hotel security. Photo: Lynn A. Collins

Sarah Watkins, a member of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship Young Adults, told the committee that many people have to be taught how to talk about race and how to listen about it as well.

“Where white people get hung up, with regards to anti-racism when there’s violence against people of color, we wring our hands and feel guilty and we don’t know how to move forward,” said Watkins, who is white.

Anita George, 76, a deputy from Mississippi and a lifelong Episcopalian, said she has been engaged in the civil rights movement “since I was 17 years old. As a professional, I have done diversity work. As an educator I was doing multicultural work in educational as well as in church settings.”

For so long, she said, people of color have struggled to tell their stories to majority groups and not always with the best results. But this convention – along with what’s going on in society – have a different feel because “the stories are being held right up in front of us, all around us,” she said. “It’s almost like Christ is saying, ‘Can’t you see? Look here. I’m showing you.’

“I feel we’re in a time where we can’t deny the sin and the violence, and if we don’t step forward now as a church, I don’t know who else will.”

‘Creating safe spaces to listen’
Heidi Kim, Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society missioner for racial reconciliation, and Wynder said they aimed to create and to support “safe spaces” to allow opportunities for such conversations and connections to take place in Salt Lake City and beyond convention.

Some of these opportunities during convention included:

  • An evening with documentary filmmaker Arleigh Prelow, chronicling the life of noted theologian Howard Thurman, said to have influenced the Civil Rights Movement. Thurman established the nation’s first interracial, intercultural and interfaith congregation and advocated tirelessly for community among disparate races and faiths.
  • Two screenings of the Emmy-nominated “Traces of the Trade,” examining the legacy of the slave trade in America. Episcopalian filmmaker Katrina Brown is a descendant of the DeWolf family, the largest slave-trading dynasty in U.S. history. The noted PBS documentary follows Brown and nine DeWolf descendants as they confront this legacy by retracing the Triangle Trade, and visiting the DeWolf hometown of Bristol, Rhode Island; slave forts in Ghana; and ruins of a family plantation in Cuba.

Facilitating the screenings of Traces of the Trade were Dain Perry, a descendant of slave-traders, and his wife Constance, a descendant of slaves, who have screened the film throughout The Episcopal Church in dioceses and parishes, in the hopes of furthering conversations about race.

The evening with Arleigh Prelow was presented by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.

“Both events seem especially important in light of events in Charleston, South Carolina,” noted Bishop Stacy Sauls, chief operating officer of The Episcopal Church. “These events will lead to worthwhile conversations and may be an effective way to further the work of racial justice and reconciliation in dioceses in the weeks and months following General Convention.”

Said Kim: “Episcopalians throughout the church have lamented the violent deaths of African-Americans in South Carolina, Ferguson, Staten Island, Baltimore, and beyond, and want to answer our baptismal call to ‘strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.’ These two films and the discussions around them will provide opportunities for participants to connect with others committed to the ministry of racial justice and reconciliation, and begin to discern together how to move this work forward in our congregations, dioceses and provinces.”

Moving beyond black and white: Hearing all voices
Roja Singh, a St. John Fischer College sociology professor married to Rochester Bishop Prince Singh, said an overflow crowd of enthusiastic young people electrified one of the dialogues on race led by Kim and Wynder.

“They had so much energy. So many people kept arriving that they ran out of chairs and were sitting on the floor,” she said.

Included were: Sergio Trinidad-Estrada, 18; Ashley Seeley, 17; Jacqui Maes, 18; and Kinnon McPeak, 15; all from the Diocese of Olympia.

They ranked racism, if not as No. 1, then certainly as the second-most serious challenge facing society and the church.

Trinidad-Estrada and Seeley, who is Native American, said they had both experienced racially motivated bullying and harassment but, in the words of Maes, they all want “to be part of the generation that makes the change and is the change, and to get a better understanding of where other people are coming from.”

They attended the dialogue on race to hear other perspectives and to help form some of their own. Most especially, they were impressed that “people were able to open up and to let us know the personal experiences they’ve had,”  Trinidad-Estrada said. “The opportunity to talk about your own experiences and see what you have in common and grow as a community together is phenomenal.”

“Talking about it does help a lot,” said Seeley. “You know you’re not alone and there are other people who want to make it better.”

McPeak said one of the issues was the lack of connection between races, something Singh also believes. “There needs to be trust-building across racial groups. We’re here in this together, we need to build a sense of solidarity.”

Singh, a sociologist, said learning to embrace her identity as a Dalit, or untouchable person, in India made her feel vulnerable, but “the feeling of being outcast was more pronounced here” in the United States.

“I’m very proud of The Episcopal Church, and this has been a wonderful convention with the anti-gun-violence march, the passage of marriage equality, the election of Bishop Michael Curry as the presiding bishop,” she said. “But how ready is the church structurally to address these issues?”

The difficult challenge; vulnerability, being ‘broken open’
At an Acts8Moment gathering, the Rev. Megan Castellan, a West Missouri alternate deputy, invited participants on a “quest to be broken open and to overcome our numbness and to see the spirit working in those around us.”

Deeply listening to the stories of others — without judging or commenting — even when those stories evoke discomfort, or pain or joy or celebration, is a first step, she said.

“It’s only when we hear one another’s stories, when we bear them in ourselves, that we can truly become the beloved community that God calls us to be, the community united in love, and overcome the divisions that separate us.”

Byron Sloan, 28, a University of Arizona Episcopal campus minister, is Navajo and said that reconciliation, for him, was becoming baptized in The Episcopal Church.

“Reconciliation means different things to different generations,” he said. “For me, it’s living into the intersectionality of my identity as Navajo and as Christian and being able to have the church honor all the parts of who (I am). For the older generation, it’s acknowledging wrongs that have been done.

“I’m coming into the church at a time when I’m blessed to see the Doctrine of Discovery is being repudiated. It has let me see the church’s true colors,” added Sloan, an organizer of the Young Adult Festival at General Convention.

Another speaker, Kevin Smallwood, 22, an Episcopal Service Corps intern at Christ Church Cathedral, in Springfield, Massachusetts, said he was racially profiled twice at his Salt Lake City hotel. These acts of overt racism brought him to tears, “tears I felt had been inside me forever.”

“It pushed me to an emotional state where I felt the cries of all people of color who have overtly and covertly experienced racism.”

He added: “I urge the church to radically answer the cries of people of color and to engage with the voices of every city we go to. Action is the language of the millennials. Let us act in Christ’s name.”

Ryan Kenji Kuramitsu, 21, a Chicago native, said he joined The Episcopal Church three months ago after a trip to Manzanar, where Japanese-Americans were imprisoned during World War II, a trip which “first linked my racial identity and my faith in an organic way.

“That was one of the moments I first convinced myself, ‘Wow, I should start thinking about race and my faith.’ It really does matter. I can’t just be color-blind in Christ.”

A question he has for the church: “If we truly do believe that God is literally incarnated among people who are incarcerated, starved, tortured, lynched, crucified, shot, detained, pushed away, what does it say about us, that our church is not only the highest educated, but the wealthiest denomination in the United States?”

He noted that no Asian-American has ever been invited to preach at a convention Eucharist. But he said the Taiko drums pounding were like the heartbeat of the Asian-American community, “passionate. It showed that we aren’t some complacent, silent model minorities, but threatening, powerful, drumming, shouting rhythms, that we do and say powerful things to threaten white supremacy in our church.”

The Rev. Canon Frank Logue, a Georgia deputy and treasurer for the Acts8Moment, said the goal of the evening was that “we listen to each other, that is all we hope for. Basically all we want to do is proclaim resurrection in The Episcopal Church.”

Said the Union of Black Episcopalians’ Buchanan: “These conversations will help to bridge the divide deep and wide within our church and sensitize us to the insidiousness of racism and injustice in our church.”

She, too, said she felt a sense of hope in expanded leadership roles for women and people of color, with Curry’s election.

But she added: “While we have these hopeful moments,” there are still moments in this convention that say there’s a lot more work to do.

“Some of our young people have been racially profiled in our exhibit halls,” she said. “We’ve had some of our senior deputies challenged and asked whether they were guests at hotels. We’ve looked at our worship services and wondered why we couldn’t creatively blend all of our cultures and services to represent us all.”

She smiled. “But, this is the path we’re on and it’s the path we’re committed to, and with God’s help, we’ll get there.”

— The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a member of the Episcopal News Service team reporting about the 78th General Convention.

Statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury on 7/7 anniversary

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 7, 2015

[Lambeth Palace] On the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 bombings in London, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said:

“Today, the survivors and families of the 7/7 London attacks continue the journey that those of Tunisia have just begun. Our hearts grieve with those who lost loved ones ten years ago, and with those so suddenly and cruelly bereaved less than a fortnight ago. We hold them all before God and our spirits call out to Christ to strengthen them.

“The perpetrators of the attacks in London sought to destroy and divide communities, and yet projects such as the Presence and Engagement Network and Near Neighbours, launched in the wake of 7/7, have shown the capacity of communities to come together as peacemakers – living together honestly and courageously, respecting each other’s right to live and worship freely.

“As we face this deep and long-term menace, let us continue to affirm our solidarity with one another, finding strength in the God who conquered evil when Jesus rose from the dead.”