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Executive Council wraps up 2013-2015 triennial work

ENS Headlines - Saturday, March 21, 2015

Executive Council meets March 21 in its last plenary session of the 2013-2015 triennium. The March 19-21 meeting took place in downtown Salt Lake City near the Salt Palace Convention Center, the setting of the June 23-July 3 meeting of General Convention. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City, Utah] The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council during its March 19-21 meeting here celebrated its work together and looked forward to the future.

“A fair amount of energy during the gathering was devoted to issues of transition,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts said of the meeting during a press conference. “Executive Council reviewed its work of the last triennium and they made recommendations that they will pass on to the next iteration of Executive Council.”

“The work of Executive Council has been full this triennium and I think they have good reason to be proud of what they have accomplished,” she added.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, said during the news conference that “one thing that distinguishes this council is that throughout the triennium” they have “lent a critical eye to how the council functions and how the council can be even more effective in how it works.”

Each of council’s five standing committees wrote a memo to its successor, outlining the work it has done as well as partially completed work that they recommend be continued, and the outgoing class has written a similar memo about council’s overall functioning. The terms of half of the 38 members ends this summer after the 78th meeting of General Convention.

When that June 23-July 3 meeting convenes here in Salt Lake City, debates over the governance structures of the Episcopal Church, including council, will feature prominently. In one of its last acts of the triennium, council agreed to issue a response to some of the recommendations of the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church.

TREC grew out of General Convention Resolution C095, which called for a committee to develop a plan for “reforming the church’s structures, governance, and administration.”

“I had thought there might be some way of finding consensus around the TREC report [but] I don’t think there’s a lot of consensus around the TREC report,” John Johnson, who chaired a small group of council members that drafted the response, told council as he presented the report for its approval.

Because of that lack of consensus, the committee made a few general comments about the report before responding specifically to what TREC said about Executive Council.

The statement, whose final text will be available soon, said that TREC’s structural resolutions “while bold for some, follow a path often focused on saving money but without a clear vision of what mission a new structure will allow the wider church to pursue.”

The statement said the council is “committed to thoughtful and bold change in the structure and governance of the Episcopal Church,” and it added that “the scope of work for TREC may not have been to present a bold new mission for the wider Episcopal Church, but we wonder with the church what this renewal might look like.”

Executive Council member Deborah Stokes leads the Prayers of the People March 21 during Eucharist. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

“Is the mission of The Episcopal Church to bring the world to the church or to bring The Episcopal Church to the world and what does that look like in the 21st century?” the council asked.

The Executive Council carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1)(a). It is now composed of 38 members, 20 of whom (four bishops, four priests or deacons and 12 lay people) are elected by General Convention and 18 (one clergy and one lay) by the nine provincial synods for six-year terms – plus the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies. TREC called for reducing the membership to 21 “to improve its effectiveness as a board.”

Council said the reduction would not improve its effectiveness. “While we understand the concern about reducing the cost of governance, we also are concerned that false economies could harm the church in the long run,” the statement said.

Council divides itself into five standing committees, plus occasional subcommittees, and the statement said that much of the work of council happens in those smaller groups, “which allows Council to engage in a deep, substantive discussion on important fiduciary and missional concerns in a workable group size.”

Reducing the size of council “inevitably means diminished representation and perspectives from the broader church,” the council said, adding that a smaller council would also mean “diminished capacity for fiduciary oversight.”

The last meeting of convention also said, via Resolution D016, that “it is the will of this convention to move the church center headquarters” away from the building that the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society owns at 815 Second Avenue in New York. (The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is the legal and canonical name under which The Episcopal Church is incorporated, conducts business and carries out mission.)

The final text of the resolution was significantly amended during convention debate to remove directives that would have required council to sell or lease out the entire property and relocate the church center headquarters “as soon as it is economically feasible.”

Council has spent the triennium studying the implications of D016 and on March 21 council agreed to preserve and continue the work of its subcommittee on church center relocation by creating an ad hoc committee of Executive Council for the next triennium.

The committee will be charged with examining the missional, strategic, and financial aspects of the location of the church center and with providing a final recommendation to the Executive Council. The charge is similar to that of the subcommittee whose work is ending.

Council Member Bryan Krislock, who co-chaired the subcommittee with Fredrica Harris Thompsett, said the group’s extensive “listening process” (including a churchwide survey and individual interviews with “key stake members”) showed that “to be blunt, there’s no consensus.” The listening “revealed a deep divide among the members of the church, not just specific to members of council but to the members of the church in terms of what is the best missional strategy for the church center,” he said.

Some believe a building is not needed, others said there should multiple locations, others said there should be a presence in New York area but not at the current address while others called for a more geographically central location in the United States. The “significant factions” of opinion come from all over the country, are in all orders of ministry and have all sorts of relationships with the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society staff, Krislock said.

The subcommittee worked with professionals to analyze potential alternative sites and the cost involved in such moves. “We have excellent financial information,” Harris Thompsett told her colleagues. “We have some strategic information, but not yet the clear focus for the direction of a church center or centers.”

Krislock said the subcommittee is “still grappling with the broader strategic questions about where the church center or the church staff should be located, how those interact with the costs and the best way to evaluate the financial information we’ve received and analyze it in a meaningful way to prepare a final recommendation.”

The subcommittee was concerned that its work to date would be lost in the transition between triennia, he said. The group believes the work needs to continue “and we do not leave the impression that we have in essence given up.”

Harris Thompsett agreed, adding “we’ve gone as far as we can go with intelligence and integrity.”

When asked why the new committee would report its final recommendation to council and not to the General Convention, Krislock noted that the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society owns the New York church center property and the council, as its board of directors, is the only entity that can decide to sell it.

The subcommittee will soon submit a report that is meant to be an appendix to the council’s Blue Book report. That report will not contain specifics about “geographic hunches” or financial information due to the incomplete state of the subcommittee’s work, Harris Thompsett said.

In other action, council:
* Affirmed the House of Bishops’ March 17 resolution calling for an independent commission to explore the canonical, environmental, behavioral and procedural dimensions of matters involving the serious impairment of individuals serving as leaders in the church. The commission, which is due to be appointed by Jefferts Schori in consultation with Jennings, is supposed to give special attention to issues of addiction and substance abuse. Council revised the 2015 budget to include $150,000 to fund the commission’s work.

* Passed resolutions offered by its Joint Standing Committee on Advocacy and Networking on urging Episcopalians, governments and non-governmental organizations to oppose human trafficking, religious persecution, and climate change.

* Agreed to require that all children and staff participating in the General Convention Children’s Program be vaccinated. A child may be exempted by presenting a certificate from a physician certifying that a person’s physical condition precludes one or more immunizations.

The March 19-21 meeting took place at the Radisson Salt Lake City Downtown.

Summaries of the resolutions council passed at this meeting are here.

Some council members tweeted from the meeting using #ExCoun.

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

A summary of Executive Council resolutions

ENS Headlines - Saturday, March 21, 2015

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City, Utah] During its March 19-21 meeting here, the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council adopted multiple resolutions, which are summarized below.

Advocacy and Networking for Mission
* Condemn the use of religion for the purpose of advancing political agendas directed at terrorizing, victimizing, and oppressing individuals and communities and impairing their ability to enjoy basic human rights because of their religious beliefs and social, ethnic, class, caste, gender, and national affiliations; condemn serious violations of international humanitarian law and gross human rights violations and abuses; call on the governments of the world’s nations to confront the reality of religious persecution, protect religious minorities and civilians within the framework of international and humanitarian law, address political exclusion and economic desperation that are being manipulated by the forces of extremists, scale up humanitarian and development assistance to host countries and trusted NGOs, and accept for resettlement a fair share of the most vulnerable people where return to their countries of origin is impossible;
encourage all Episcopalians to engage in prayers, support, education, and advocacy for displaced people and the churches that are providing succor and hope to those displaced people who have been uprooted by conflict and living in refugee camps (A&N040).

* Recognize the increasing urgency globally for governments, communities, and individuals to take action through legislation and regulation, business and community partnerships, personal initiative, and widespread education and dialogue to address the full range of activities necessary to reduce and eliminate the human-caused detrimental effects on climate and the environment; reiterate the church’s commitment to Jesus’ preferential option for the poor, so that such actions to reduce and eliminate the human-caused detrimental effects on climate and the environment do not disproportionately harm the lives and livelihood of the marginalized among us; encourage all Episcopalians to review the Pastoral Message on Climate Change from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori together with the presiding bishops of our ecumenical partners, to take advantage of the teachings to be offered in the March 24 webcast forum, “The Climate Change Crisis,” with follow-up resources, and to participate in the 30 Days of Action that will kick off on the day of the forum, by signing up to receive a daily e-mail from the Episcopal Public Policy Network here (A&N0041).

* Express support of the efforts of worldwide governmental and non-governmental organizations, working collaboratively, to eradicate the scourge of modern-day slavery commonly known as human trafficking, and commend specifically, the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, the Global Freedom Network, the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and its April 2013 report “Building Partnerships to Eradicate Modern Day Slavery: Report of Recommendations to the President”, the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking and other emerging networks of governmental and non-governmental organizations working to raise attention, cultivate responses, and generate advocacy around human trafficking and modern-day slavery, including the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the United States Department of State, the Polaris Project, and the United Way Center to Combat Human Trafficking & Slavery; extend the life of the D042 Coordinating Committee on Human Trafficking and direct the committee to provide a report on its activities to the Executive Council to be included in council’s triennial Blue Book report for the 79th General Convention; urge dioceses and congregations to learn to recognize the signs of human trafficking in their neighborhoods, support services to victims and survivors of human trafficking, and urge local, state, and federal lawmakers to pass laws that punish traffickers and those who profit from the slave labor of, or trafficked, women, girls, boys, and men (A&N042).

Finances for Mission
* Establish Trust Fund 1076 as investment account for All Saints Episcopal Church, Concord, North Carolina (FFM076).

* Accept revised investment policy statement of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (FFM077).

* Authorize treasurer, chief operating officer and director of mission to use income distributed annually from all trust funds of Class 100 for individual scholarships, educational and/or theological programs as recommended by the Scholarship Committee in adherence to trust language, donor’s intent, and scholarship guidelines; to use income distributed annually from all trust funds of Class 101 to fund program grants in adherence to trust language and guidelines established by granting committees; to use income distributed annually from all trust funds of Class 13 to effect distributions in adherence to trust language and Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society guidelines; any annual balances not awarded be reinvested (FFM078).

* Establish Trust Fund 1075 as an investment account for the Diocese of Nebraska (FFM079).

* Establish Trust Funds 1077-1115 as investment accounts for the Diocese of West Missouri (FFM080).

* Affirm the March 17, 2015 resolution of the House of Bishops calling for an independent commission to explore the canonical, environmental, behavioral and procedural dimensions of matters involving the serious impairment of individuals serving as leaders in the church, with special attention to issues of addiction and substance abuse, and revise the 2015 budget to include $150,000 to fund the work of this commission (FFM081).

* Authorize a line of credit to the Episcopal Church in Navajoland in the amount of up to $350,000 to be accessed through Dec. 31 for operating support (FFM082).

* Accept amendments amounting to $295,000 in additions to the 2015 Budget for The Episcopal Church (FFM083).

Governance and Administration for Mission
* Require all children and staff participating in the General Convention Children’s Program be vaccinated, as appropriate by age (child may be exempted by presenting a certificate from a licensed physician to the staff stating that due to the physical condition of the student one or more specified immunizations would endanger the student’s life or health); staff of the General Convention Children’s Program, working with the General Convention Office, will verify the immunization records of all children and staff and General Convention Children’s Program will comply with at least all applicable minimum requirements of Utah State Law with respect to such programs (GAM027).

* Adopt changes to the United Thank Offering bylaws (GAM028).

* Forward to the wider church a response to the report of the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church (GAM029).

* Adopt amendment to the Episcopal Church Women bylaws (GAM030).

Finances for Mission and Governance and Administration for Mission
* Create an ad hoc committee of Executive Council on the Location of the Church Center to be nominated by council chair and vice-chair of Executive Council and appointed by the Executive Council; membership of the committee may, but need not, be members of council and may be supplemented by additional appointments from time to time; committee charged with examining the missional, strategic, and financial aspects of the location of the Episcopal Church Center; committee will continue the work of the GAM-FFM Joint Subcommittee on the Location of the Church Center and any money allocated to the subcommittee are transferred to the committee; committee charged with providing a final recommendation to the Executive Council on the location of the church center (FFM GAM003).

Local Mission and Ministry
* Affirm six entities as Jubilee Centers, including Iglesia San Bartolomé Barrio Buena Vista, desuio a La Esperanza Siguatepeque, Honduras (Diocese of Honduras); St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Outreach Ministries, Fayetteville, Arkansas (Diocese of Arkansas); Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist, Breckenridge, Colorado (Diocese of Colorado); Chaplains on the Harbor, Westport, Washington (Diocese of Olympia); Hope Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland (Diocese of Maryland) and St. Andrew’s By-the-Sea Episcopal Church, Destin, Florida (Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast) (LMM015).

World Mission
* Acknowledge the staff of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, giving special thanks for their financial stewardship as demonstrated by consistently ending each fiscal year under the approved budget; recognize various initiatives by DFMS staff to reduce administrative expenses, including renegotiating loans and lines of credit; note and applaud efforts by Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society staff to improve income, such as the rental of space in the church center, express its appreciation for the consistent, visionary leadership of the chief financial officer and the chief operating officer throughout this triennium (WM034).

* Celebrate the continuing evolution of the relations with the Episcopal Church of Cuba and The Episcopal Church and commit to pray for our brothers and sisters in Cuba during this time of new possibilities and opportunities (WM035).

* Express our deep concern and heartfelt affection for our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Church of Melanesia and the Church of Pakistan (United), and their leaders, Archbishop David Vunagi, and the Most Rev. Samuel Azariah respectively, in light of recent crises; and commit The Episcopal Church to a continuing relationship of prayer during these times of challenge faced by the Anglican Church of Melanesia and the Church of Pakistan (United) (WM036).

New research report addresses Episcopal Church’s response to racism

ENS Headlines - Saturday, March 21, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society has posted a new research report, The Church’s Contemporary Response to Racism, detailing the response of The Episcopal Church to racism, presented by the Archives of The Episcopal Church.

The report, prepared for the Executive Council Committee on Anti-Racism, is available here.

“Now we have a researched, documented, vetted, historical narrative that forms the foundation for viewing where the church has stood and how it has progressed or, in many cases, not progressed, in its work on becoming anti-racists,” commented Lelanda Lee of Colorado, Executive Council member and chair of its Advocacy and Networking Committee at the Executive Council meeting. “Now we have the foundation on which we can stand altogether to point our way forward to the work that remains to be done.”

Areas addressed in the report include: Early Recognition of the Effects of Racism, 1954-1978; Naming and Confronting the Church’s Racism, 1979-1989; Initiating Anti-Racism Training, 1990-1999; Anti-Racism as Sustained Cultural Competency, 2000-2014. Additionally, the report contains a complete list of General Convention and Executive Council resolutions approved over the decades.

Key points of the report in the Summary offer an overview of the recognition of racism, response, and training and curriculum offerings. “Racism had to be recognized before it could be addressed,” the summary states. “These changes in place, Church bodies were equipped to turn to confronting racism as an internal blight. General Convention pushed for greater self-examination and Church-wide awareness training, and Council began to respond with expectations of staff.”

Presiding Bishop’s sermon from Executive Council

ENS Headlines - Saturday, March 21, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori delivered the following sermon on March 21 during the opening Eucharist at the Episcopal Church Executive Council meeting currently gathered  at the Radisson Salt Lake City Downtown.

Thomas Cranmer
21 March 2015
Executive Council closing Eucharist
Salt Lake City, UT

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

The Psalm assigned for today includes this line: Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to his people.[1] Only a few hours more for half of this body, and then you can rest in peace. Like Israel, give thanks for coming into Zion[2] and finding it a land of plenty – of beauty, hospitality, and the invitation to live in peace with family and neighbors.

The Europeans who first settled in this valley came with strong religious convictions, believing that God was sending them into a new and pleasant land. But as Israel discovered, there were already people living in the land of promise. Like many if not most of the early European settlers, the followers of Joseph Smith[3] began by trying to live in peace with the indigenous people, but eventually pushed them out, took their land, hunted their food, stole their water, and sometimes massacred them[4] or others who came after them.[5]

Visions of the holy frequently lead human beings to believe they have seen the whole of God’s salvation in one particular revelation, in one code of behavior, or in one new ecclesial direction. The saint we’re remembering today is a notable example.

Thomas Cranmer had great gifts as well as immense blindnesses. His life was a striking mix of deeply provocative theological wrestling and expedient action, both personal and political. One writer describes his character as encompassing a range “from a champion of the faith to a compromising sycophant and vows-breaker.”[6] He revived Christian worship by insisting on language “understanded of the people.” The Prayer Books[7] that he organized include language that still defines some of the most beautiful of English literature. Yet he was so certain of his own rightness that he forbade any other usage than what he himself had written and authorized.

And then there are the marriage issues, which we still haven’t completely solved. When Cranmer was ordained a priest, clergy were forbidden to marry, but he did so anyway. Maybe that’s why the first Book of Common Prayer counts the primary purpose of marriage was to avoid fornication. When the reality was discovered, he was sacked from his academic position. His wife died in childbirth shortly thereafter and he quickly got himself reappointed to the same post. Some years later, Henry VIII sent him to Europe, where he married the daughter of a Lutheran theologian. When Henry needed to appoint a new Archbishop of Canterbury in 1532, he named Cranmer, and he got him ordained bishop and installed, in spite of his married state. Henry later began to have qualms about that reality, so Cranmer sent his wife back to Europe. Cranmer, you may remember, was also responsible for much of the legal, political, and ecclesiastical work involving Henry’s marriages.

Every religious tradition has its skeletons and its saints, and sometimes they are the same people. Paul is warning his hearers not to count themselves better than their ancestors, for they all depend on the same rootstock – a root that nourishes the olive tree or the grape vine we cling to as intimate connection to God as Creator of all. That root is why we are here, and it is also why the LDS church is here.

When General Convention shows up here just over 3 months from now, many of the volunteers and dispensers of hospitality will be our sisters and brothers from that tradition. Will we recognize their welcome as a product of the same root, or will we assume that they come from a different and unrecognizable species?

Complexity defines human beings and their relationships, which just might convince us of the otherness of God. Difference is part of God’s creativity, from the riotous diversity of the species of creation to the inner chaos of most human beings. Paul names it when he says he wants to do the right thing, but he does something else instead.[8] Nevertheless, when people stay connected to that one rootstock, God can usually be found to bring something new and holy out of the mess.

Branches that seem radically different grow on the same tree and the same vine, even though we love to hate the ones who are not like us. We often in the church focus our attention on differences in reproductive customs and norms – yet both the grape vine and the olive tree has multiple ways to be generative. Flowers can be fertilized by pollen from the same plant or another one. The fruit and seeds that result are eaten by birds and animals and left to grow far from the original plant, yet they are still related. The vine also generates new branches from its rootstock or from distant parts of its branches. But all those kinds of vines and branches are related, however they come about.

God continues to bring new life out of chaos. Some time ago the LDS discovered, in the roots of their tradition, ways to include African-Americans after having long excluded them, and they are beginning to do the same for LGBT folk. Today Salt Lake ranks 7th in the nation for its proportion of gay and lesbian residents.[9] Episcopalians are still wrestling with our own patterns of exclusion: racism, classism, sexism, as well as assuming that everyone who should an Episcopalian already is.

Cranmer was right – worship and gospelling have to be understood by the people or they are utterly in vain. We have seen the evidence, and we are beginning to learn new ways. Jan Butter, who has just stepped down as the Anglican Communion Office’s Director for Communications, left a parting gift in a provocative paper about new ways of communicating. [10] He pushes us to take Cranmer’s genius about the vernacular and apply it to how we share Good News on our journey into Zion. We have opportunities to build and nurture community that didn’t exist even a few years ago. We are beginning to see the possibilities of recognizing and nurturing other parts of the vine for the good of the whole creation. Butter holds up the Episcopal Asset Map as a rare and innovative example of what might be possible.

We have all committed to follow the apostles toward Zion, resisting evil, proclaiming Good News in word and deed, seeking and serving Christ in everybody, striving for justice and peace, and recognizing the dignity of all humanity. That will always challenge us to see past the categories and labels that we use to divide and distinguish ourselves from others. Our repentance must not be just about turning over a new leaf, but about changing our minds enough to recognize a new and different leaf as part of God’s creation, intimately related to us and to all that is. Proclaiming Good News can only begin with listening and beginning to understand the vernacular.

We have much to celebrate in the work of recent years – like the Mission Enterprise Zones and launching into new vineyards. And we must keep learning to talk to different branches of the vine.

What branches can you recognize today that you wouldn’t have three years ago? What are you doing to nurture their growth and vitality? What new vines or olive trees can you see in the distance? Cultivating an eye for recognizing other branches is an act of blessing and affirming what God is up to. Pray that we might see all creation is a grown on God’s own rootstock, and pray that it all might be fruitful.

Blessed be the Lord who has given us a vision of rest and peace for all, and for giving us vines, olive trees, and branches to keep us connected to that vision.

[1] 1Kings 8:56

[2] Both the Salt Lake Valley and the figurative sense of a community of the righteous

[3] Brigham Young led the migration to what is now Utah after Joseph Smith was assassinated in Illinois in 1844

[4] http://nativeamericannetroots.net/diary/672

[5] http://mountainmeadowsmassacre.com/

[6] John-Julian, Stars in a Dark World, p 613

[7] Both the 1549 and 1552 versions

[8] Romans 7:15

[9] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/21/upshot/the-metro-areas-with-the-largest-and-smallest-gay-population.html?emc=edit_th_20150321&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=44355849&_r=0&abt=0002&abg=0

[10] Jan Butter, “The Choice Before Us” 18 March 2015, Anglican Communion Office. This will be posted at a later date.

Invite Welcome Connect Summit set for April 30-May 2

ENS Headlines - Friday, March 20, 2015

[Episcopal Diocese of Texas press release] Invite Welcome Connect brings together dynamic speakers and practical workshops for a national audience at Camp Allen, Texas, April 30-May 2, 2015. Many dioceses across the country have hosted the evangelism seminars of IWC and churches that have used its principles report growing numbers and energized parishioners.

North Carolina’s Bishop Michael Curry will preach at the Summit’s opening Eucharist on Thursday evening, with keynote addresses from Back to Church’s Michael Harvey; Radical Welcome’s author, Stephanie Spellers; Texas Bishop Andy Doyle, whose new book Church addresses the future of Episcopal congregations and Mary Parmer, author of the Invite Welcome Connect seminars.

Workshops on how to use the Invite-Welcome-Connect materials will offer ideas and experiences from those who have used the newcomer project resources in their own churches. These materials provide excellent congregational development tools that include creative, concrete resources to form a strategic, intentional and transformational newcomer ministry.  Hear from the people who have learned how to use the gift of hospitality to reach out to new members, bring them into community and connect them to the life and ministry of the congregation.

Clergy and lay leaders who are interested in seeing their congregations grow and flourish and who are open to creative and new approaches will find a full measure of intentional and transformational newcomer ministry ideas and information.

The cost has been partially underwritten by a grant from the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, where the IWC curriculum was developed and piloted. Registration, which includes three days of the Summit, lodging and meals is $200 per person ($245 for single occupancy). Online registration is at campallen.org.

Any questions regarding the Summit may be directed to Mary Parmer, Newcomer Ministry Project

La Cámara de Obispos concluye su encuentro con la mirada puesta en la Convención

ENS Headlines - Friday, March 20, 2015

[Episcopal News Service] La Cámara de Obispos de la Iglesia Episcopal, reunida en su retiro anual de primavera, ha convenido en escribir una nueva carta pastoral a la Iglesia sobre el pecado del racismo.

La carta, que se espera sea adoptada en la reunión de primavera de 2016, será “la respuesta más perdurable de esta cámara sobre ese asunto”, dijo la obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori durante una conferencia de prensa que tuvo lugar a mediodía del 17 de marzo, la última jornada de la reunión de los obispos.

La pastoral seguirá una adoptada por la Cámara en abril de 1994 y a otro emitida el 22 de marzo de 2006. La carta de 2006 advertía que la declaración pastoral de 1994 decía que era necesaria una nueva carta porque “el extendido pecado” del racismo “sigue afectando nuestra vida común en la Iglesia y en la cultura”.

El tema para la reunión del 13 al 17 de marzo en el Centro de Conferencias de Kanuga en Hendersonville, Carolina del Norte, en la Diócesis de Carolina del Norte Occidental, fue Fomentar una cultura de la curiosidad, la compasión y el coraje en Cristo.

“Hemos concentrado nuestra conversación en torno a la curiosidad, acerca del ‘otro’, coraje para encontrar ‘al otro’ y compasión para encontrar ‘al otro’”, dijo Jefferts Schori. Añadió que obispos miembros retaron a sus colegas con ‘provocadoras” mediaciones en lo tocante a raza, cultura, clase [social] y en su relación con otras tradiciones religiosas.

“Las conversaciones han sido más profundas de las que yo jamás haya experimentado en esta cámara y me siento inmensamente gratificada con la profundidad de las conversaciones y lo que creo resultará de esta reunión”, afirmó.

La Obispa Primada encomió la labor del comité de planificación de la Cámara por la profundidad de la participación de los miembros. Todd Ousley, obispo de la Diócesis de Michigan Oriental y copresidente del Comité de Planificación de la Cámara de Obispos, dijo que la reunión se estructuró con el filtro de considerar primero el legado de la esclavitud y luego pasar a la “experiencia contemporánea de los resultados del racismo y las divisiones en este país y en cualquier otra parte en torno a la raza”.

El movimiento permitió a los obispos “edificar a partir de nuestras experiencias de lo que significa ser la Iglesia en medio de una cultura cada vez más plural donde el otro está cerca de nosotros todo el tiempo”, dijo Ousley.

La reunión, que Ousley dijo estuvo “repleta de información y profundos encuentros con nosotros mismos y nuestro papel como obispos” también energizó a los obispos “por haber profundizado tanto juntos y descubrir cómo tenemos que ser en cuanto obispos según nos adentramos en un mundo de creciente celeridad y rápidamente cambiante”.

Los obispos también “consideraron los problemas de discapacidad entre nuestros miembros y otras personas en la Iglesia”, dijo Jefferts Schori, “y esperamos nombrar una comisión que abordará esos temas en un sentido amplio y nos proporcionará algunas reacciones sobre la manera en que podríamos responder a esos problemas”.

Los obispos aprobaron una resolución que le pide a la Obispa Primada, en consulta con la presidente de la Cámara de Diputados, que nombre a una comisión independiente para “explorar las dimensiones canónicas, ambientales, de conducta y procedimiento de los asuntos que conllevan la discapacidad grave de individuos que sirven como líderes de la Iglesia, con especial atención a los problemas de adicción y de consumo de estupefacientes”, según el registro diario de la reunión correspondiente al 17 de marzo.

La resolución dice que los nombramientos a la comisión deben incluir a individuos “con experiencia profesional o personal con diversas discapacidades”, así como miembros de la Iglesia episcopal y de asociados en plena comunión de la Iglesia.

“Se incluyeron, como apropiadas, recomendaciones tanto para la acción así como una ulterior revisión, a fin de esclarecer las líneas de autoridad, garantizar la responsabilidad mutua y promover la justica, el bienestar y la seguridad tanto en la Iglesia como en el mundo” dice el informe de la resolución.

La Obispa Primada dijo que “habrá una conversación continua” respecto a la manera en que esa comisión desempeñaría su labor.

Jefferts Schori puntualizó que el objetivo de la comisión será que la Iglesia entendiera como “podría responder mejor, tanto pastoral como eclesiásticamente” a sus miembros , ya fuesen laicos u ordenados.

El Rvdmo. Dean Wolfe, obispo de la Diócesis de Kansas y vicepresidente de la Cámara de Obispos, dijo que la comisión es necesaria porque “la Iglesia es una institución imperfecta y dinámica y siempre estamos tratando de aprender la manera de ser más fieles y de encontrar vías para ejercer mejor nuestros ministerios”.

Una miembro de la Cámara, Heather Cook, obispa sufragánea de Maryland, está con licencia administrativa de la diócesis en tanto se celebra el juicio en que la acusan de que el 27 de diciembre conducía presuntamente en estado de embriaguez y estaba enviando un mensaje de texto cuando atropelló y mató al ciclista Thomas Palermo, de 41 años.

La Cámara también fijó su atención en la 78ª. reunión de la Convención General de la Iglesia, que sesionará del 23 de junio al 3 de julio en Salt Lake City, Utah. El obispo Ken Price, secretario de la Cámara de Obispos, dijo que los obispos dedicaron tiempo a conversar sobre los temas que la Convención abordará. El 17 de marzo, los obispos comenzaron a cambiar su énfasis “hacia un espíritu más legislativo que imperará en la Convención General”, afirmó Price.

Veintidós obispos nunca habían asistido a la Convención como miembros de la Cámara de Obispos, dijo Price. Tendrán una curva de aprendizaje, pero así sucederá con todos los obispos, advirtió Price, en tanto la convención tiende a convertirse en una operación sin papeles.

“Este es un nuevo aprendizaje [experiencia] para los obispos, de manera que estamos intentando asimilar eso”, dijo Price.

El Rdo. canónigo Michael Barlowe, director ejecutivo de la convención, se reunió con los obispos el 17 de marzo para presentarles el plan sin papeles.

“Hemos pasado de devotos a personales y ahora estamos entrando en el terreno de lo práctico en esta tarde”, dijo la obispa sufragánea de Los Ángeles Diane Jardine Bruce, durante la conferencia de prensa del 17 de marzo.

Price añadió que la Cámara dedicó muy poco tiempo a discutir la inminente elección en la Convención General del[de la] sucesor[a] de Jefferts Schori, porque el Comité de Nominaciones Conjunto para la Elección del Obispo Primado aún no ha dado a conocer la lista de los nominados. Este comité tiene dos reuniones programadas, del 19 al 22 de marzo y del 19 al 20 de abril, y ha dicho que hará ese anuncio a principios de mayo. Antes de la última elección para obispo primado, en 2006, el comité dio a conocer su lista en enero.

Durante la reunión, la Oficina de Relaciones Públicas de la Iglesia Episcopal emitió partes diarios que brindaban un breve resumen de las discusiones y actividades de los obispos en Kanuga. Esos resúmenes se encuentran aquí.

Al público y a los medios de prensa no se les permitió presenciar las sesiones. Durante el retiro, algunos obispos enviaron mensajes a través de sus blogs o por Twitter valiéndose del código #hoblent2015. Esos mensajes de Twitter pueden leerse aquí.

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

Faith leaders unite with business leaders to end scourge of slavery

ENS Headlines - Friday, March 20, 2015

United Thank Offering board President Barbara Schafer, far right, makes a comment during a forum on sexual violence and human trafficking sponsored by the Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations as a side event to the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, meeting March 9-20. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] The number of people who enslave adults and children for profit across the world is multiplying, and traffickers cumulatively make more money than the oil industry.

That’s the assessment of Archbishop David Moxon, the archbishop of Canterbury’s representative to the Holy See and director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, who spoke during a recent forum at The Episcopal Church Center in New York.

Traffickers treat those they enslave “as sub-human, as cattle, as economic units for whom human dignity, human freedom, human opportunity, human potential do not exist because you can make a lot of money quickly,” he said.

The forum on sexual violence and human trafficking was sponsored by the Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations as a side event to the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, meeting March 9-20. A crowd filled the church center’s Chapel of Christ the Lord for Moxon’s March 12 presentation, the first part of which was devoted to participants describing their efforts against human trafficking.

Human trafficking and enslavement are “driven by [a] commercial profit-making endeavor, which is driven by greed, for which there is a massive demand,” Moxon said.

It is hard to determine the number of people ensnared in this market, he said, because, “How do you quantify something that’s hidden?”

Hotly debated estimates range between 25 million and 40 million people. Moxon cites the Global Slavery Index’s estimate of 35.8 million, but adds that whatever the number “It’s huge, and it has to be stopped.”

When police try to target traffickers, however, “the prosecution rate is rather low because they shift, they move, they change borders, they cross countries,” he said. Traffickers “are assisted by international mafia, for example, in a way that eludes international police action quite well.”

While rescuing people from trafficking and slavery is important, Moxon said, “we could devote all our energy to rescue, and we’d be rescuing until the end of time.”

He countered the bleakness of this picture by describing what he called a new strategy linking business leaders with religious leaders across interfaith lines to turn off trafficking’s commercial tap and thus “bankrupt slavery.”

The odds are stacked against eliminating human trafficking and its frequent corollary of sexual violence, Moxon said, but we must try because “the world isn’t free until these people are free.”

Interfaith cooperation

The strategy for breaking the grip of traffickers that Moxon described began nearly two years ago when Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Pope Francis met for the first time. Welby knew that Francis had been “profoundly moved” by befriending a survivor of human trafficking in Argentina. Welby also knew that, early in his papacy, Francis had called for an examination of the church’s role in combating human trafficking and modern slavery. Thus, Moxon said, Welby “felt confident” that the pope would be open to his suggestion that their two churches try to work together against trafficking.

Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby found common ground on the issue of human trafficking from the first time they met, Archbishop David Moxon says. Photo: Global Freedom Network

The eventual result was the formation of the Global Freedom Network, which aims to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking by 2020. That goal was the subject of an agreement announced on March 17, 2014, at the Vatican.

At the same time, Australian philanthropist and businessman Andrew Forrest, an Anglican, decided to give away the fortune he had made in the mineral industry. In the midst of that effort, his daughter challenged him to pay attention to human trafficking. He formed the Walk Free Foundation, which seeks to end modern slavery. Forrest approached faith leaders all over the world to urge them to raise their voices against trafficking and modern slavery and to work together against it.

The organizers took an even larger step on Dec. 2 when 12 Catholic, Anglican, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish and Orthodox leaders met at the Vatican and signed the “Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery on World Day for the Abolition of Slavery”.

“In the eyes of God, each human being is a free person, whether girl, boy, woman or man, and is destined to exist for the good of all in equality and fraternity,” the statement said, calling modern slavery a “crime against humanity.” Its signatories pledged “to work together for the freedom of all those who are enslaved and trafficked so that their future may be restored.”

Achieving such unanimity has “been hard, it’s been rocky, it’s been turbulent,” Moxon said, but in the end “all the theology … jelled.” He noted, for instance, that both Shia and Sunni Muslim leaders signed the declaration.

The declaration was signed just weeks after ISIS announced that slavery must be foundational to the new caliphate it says it is fighting to create, said Moxon, calling that sentiment “deeply sickening.”

Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, back row on right, were among 12 Catholic, Anglican, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish and Orthodox leaders meeting at the Vatican Dec. 2 who signed the “Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery on World Day for the Abolition of Slavery”. Photo: Global Freedom Network

The coalition of faith leaders will remain fragile at times, Moxon said, but the leaders hope to continue to find common ground.

“We’ve never done this before — hammered out a strategic plan of a practical sort, with its important spiritual, theological backdrop — and it’s quite complex,” Moxon told ENS after the forum. “But I do think mission should drive ecumenism and interfaith action more than it does. That would help us a lot because if you’re just discussing concepts and theological motions, there will be endless details you can go on debating for a long, long time.”

Instead, Moxon asked, paraphrasing a statement from Pope Francis: “Why don’t we act as if we are one now in the face of global evil?”

Anti-slavery strategies
In the face of that evil, the Global Freedom Network intends to act on a list of strategies, beginning with what is known as supply-chain auditing and cleansing. The process is designed to help companies reduce or eliminate the risk of modern slavery occurring in their supply chains, either as a direct or indirect result of their procurement practices.

Or, as Moxon put it, it enables them to “get themselves slave-free for the good of their own soul, for the good of their country, for the good of the world and for the good, above all, of the people who have been enslaved.”

Supply-chain auditing is crucial because, “apart from the sex industry, the only reason slavery exists is somebody is paying for the product the slaves make,” Moxon said.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby signs the Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery on World Day for the Abolition of Slavery during a Dec. 2 meeting at the Vatican. The Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Al Modarresi of Iraq, another of the 12 religious leaders who signed the declaration, looks on. Photo: Global Freedom Network

The Walk Free Foundation offers a guide (“Tackling Modern Slavery in Supply Chains”) for businesses that want to embark on that effort. U.S. electronics maker Hewlett Packard already has done this work, according to Moxon. Because faith leaders can speak to business leaders about the dignity of every human being, the archbishop of Canterbury will host a meeting of leaders of British corporations to encourage them to use the process.

In a related move, the Global Freedom Network and Walk Free want to foster micro-financing programs through which people can earn more money for their work and thus not fall prey to false promises of wages from people who turn out to be slavers.

Another strategy, caring for the survivors of trafficking, is especially suited to faith communities, Moxon said. Offering long-term support and “genuine restorative friendship” is crucial, and something that churches can do far better than governments, he said.

The groups also are advocating for legal reforms to institutionalize supply-chain auditing and cleansing in ways that reward companies that do so. One such law is being proposed in the U.K. Parliament, he said. Moxon said some companies are leery of doing the audit because they fear prosecution over what they discover.

Education and awareness-raising is another strategy and the Global Freedom Network offers resources that faith communities can use to do that work amongst themselves.

The network wants to identify the 10 most slave-prone countries and establish local councils to devise local solutions based in each country’s customs, laws, culture, financial resources and existing efforts. Forrest, the Australian philanthropist, has donated $25 million for beginning this effort and others, especially the micro-financing strategy, Moxon said.

Another strategy is to educate people about human trafficking. The Global Freedom Network offers resources that faith communities can use to do that work amongst themselves.

Growing awareness
Moxon described his own growing awareness of the issue. Before he went to the Anglican Centre in Rome, Moxon was one of the archbishops of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. A New Zealand native, Moxon said that he was “only vaguely aware” of the pervasiveness of human trafficking and modern slavery before the archbishop of Canterbury asked him to get involved. Two years of studying the issue and helping to form the Global Freedom Network have left their mark on him.

Archbishop David Moxon presides at Eucharist March 12 in The Episcopal Church Center’s Chapel of Christ the Lord. Moxon, the archbishop of Canterbury’s representative to the Holy See and director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, later hosted a forum on human trafficking and sexual violence. Assisting him at the Eucharist were the Rev. Canon James Calloway, Colleges and University of the Anglican Communion general secretary, and Angie Cabanban, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s diversity and ethnic ministries associate. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

“It was a huge eye-opener; quite extraordinary,” he said during the ENS interview.

It also changed how he looks at the women in his life.

“The question of slavery has made me supersensitive to anything that looks like someone is expected to do too much for nothing,” he said.

He also learned that much of the work needed to eliminate human trafficking is “dangerous or difficult or politically complicated, religiously sensitive, and you don’t necessarily see the glorious outcomes or the spiritual import, even.” But the work must be done, he said.

Earlier in the day, during his sermon at a Eucharist in the chapel, Moxon told the story of a monk who longed to encounter Christ in his prayers said in his cell. Instead, he found him in the people he was required to serve each day.

The question of “do we believe Christ is there or not is the really fundamental point,” Moxon said. “Do you believe it or not, is what it comes down to.”

Editor’s note: The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council may consider a resolution March 21 to express its support of the collaborative efforts of worldwide governmental and non-governmental bodies to eradicate human trafficking, and call the Episcopal Church to action in a variety of ways.

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

Presiding Bishop’s opening remarks to Executive Council

ENS Headlines - Thursday, March 19, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Afffairs press release] The following are the opening remarks of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori at the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, currently meeting through March 21 in Salt Lake City, Utah (Diocese of Utah).

Executive Council opening remarks
March 19
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

I want to give thanks as well to the members of this Executive Council.  I believe this body has functioned more effectively than any I have seen.  Some of that is the result of greater clarity about what needs to be addressed here and of ensuring that there is a regular cycle of review of the various areas for which we are responsible.  Some is the result of new bylaws and policies that were adopted in the last triennium, which this body has been able to implement.  Some is the result of reorganized standing committees.  And a fair bit has to do with the depth of engagement between our periodic face to face meetings.  The work that is accomplished via extranet and electronic meetings has grown significantly and has contributed to far more effective conversation when we meet face-to-face.  But more than anything else, your attitude toward this work as a ministry, and your understanding that we are here to serve the wider church in its partnership for God’s mission, is responsible for the health that I think we enjoy.  Thank you for taking this vocation so earnestly, and for being willing to lighten up and play on occasion.

Brother Robert, thank you for your steady and faithful presence among us, and for framing our work here in the context of worship.  We could not have come this far without your ministry to each of us and to the whole body.

This meeting closes much of Executive Council’s work in this triennium, but not all of it.  We will elect continuing members to serve on the Executive Committee, and they will almost certainly have some substantive decisions in the months before a new Executive Council gathers in November.

The task of budget development throughout this triennium has been a work of grace and increased clarity, and we can give thanks for the leadership of FFM, and the hard work of Susan Snook and Mark Hollingsworth.  Thank you.

As we look toward the next iteration of this body, we have some important questions to ask:  Is the committee structure the right one?  Is our committee structure fit for purpose? Is the workload reasonably well-distributed?  Do we have changes in that structure to recommend to the next Council?  Have we made sufficient progress in thinking strategically over the whole of the three years, and building a regular cycle of review of the varied bodies and ministries that connect to the Executive Council? Or are we being reactive, rather than thinking proactive?  Have we paid sufficient attention to all of the bodies that meet here?  There may be fewer such bodies in the next triennium, but what have you learned and what would you change?  Do we need new committees, perhaps a personnel committee or strategic planning committee?

One particular topic seems essential to address as we look toward the TREC conversation at General Convention.  One of the suggestions of TREC is for the Council to name the gifts it sees in this body that are necessary, and then invite the Standing Commission on Nominations to seek out a diverse group of people with those gifts.  Did the Executive Council have all the gifts it needed?  What, if anything, was missing?

As General Convention approaches, we can celebrate the creative work that has been possible in this triennium.  The growing edges of The Episcopal Church continue to be found on the margins – in our overseas contexts, in immigrant congregations everywhere, and in the new and experimental initiatives like Mission Enterprise Zones, and the expanding life of the Young Adult Service Corps and Campus Ministry partnerships.  Mission work with the “least of these” continues to draw the center of gravity in this church out toward the margins.  Any biologist will tell you that the most creativity in an ecosystem is found at the boundaries, where one community interacts with another.  All of God’s creation works that way, and we discover the creative spirit of God when we move out of our comfort zones to encounter the new and different.  This church is finding the confidence to explore – and you have helped to support that missional adventure.

We have also seen a remarkable movement toward more interdependent relationships within and beyond this Church.  The work of sustainability in Province IX is grounded in a belief that each part of the Body has gifts to be shared with the others.  Financial gifts are only one kind.  The creativity of the margins is a gift that is essential to the health of the whole Body, and we are only going to keep growing up into the full stature of Christ if we honor and share all the gifts God has given.

General Convention is a churchwide opportunity to practice that kind of interdependence and mutual responsibility.  The work we do there, the relationships that are built there, and the decisions we make there are not ends in themselves, but a crucible or a tool for transformation of the world toward the Reign of God.

Executive Council and General Convention are part of the work of governance, which is really about practicing holy discourse and discerning the movement of the spirit.  Careful listening is essential, as we try to honor the creative work of the spirit and the image of God in one another.  Governance is deeply about self-control and self-governance of our appetites, both individual and collective appetites.  Good governance is expressed as effective stewardship of all the gifts we’ve been given so that the whole body of God’s creation might live more abundantly.  The practice of governance as holy discourse and discernment can also help to equip and nurture all members of the body in their ability to evangelize, advocate for justice, and build the beloved community.  That’s pretty much what we promise in our baptismal covenant – to love God and God’s dream for the world, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

So as we close this Council, thanks be to God for the work you have done and will continue to do on behalf of God’s vision of healing for all creation.

House of Deputies President’s opening remarks to Executive Council

ENS Headlines - Thursday, March 19, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The following are the opening remarks of the President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings at the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, currently meeting through March 21 in Salt Lake City, Utah (Diocese of Utah).

Executive Council opening remarks
March 19

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
President of the House of Deputies
The Episcopal Church

I’ve recently finished a marathon. I didn’t run 26.2 miles—with the winter we’ve had in Ohio, it would have been more practical to ice skate that far—but I did recently complete the long, absorbing, and fulfilling process of appointing deputies to legislative committees for General Convention. You can find the committee rosters on the House of Deputies website. The canons require that appointments be made public within 30 days of being made (thanks to Resolution D045 submitted by Deputy Katie Sherrod and adopted by General Convention in 2009); I’m proud to say that we did it within 30 hours, and deputy committee chairs have already been instructed to convene their committees and begin work.

I’ve learned in the last few months that making legislative committee appointments is one of the most difficult and rewarding parts of my job. Not all deputies can serve on a committee—the committees would simply be too large to function—and not all deputies can be appointed to the committees on which they most hoped to serve. That’s the difficult part. The rewarding part is learning more about deputies’ skills, experience, and gifts in order to appoint committees with diverse and deep understanding of the issues at hand. I’m grateful to all of the deputies, including many of you, who have answered my calls and emails with grace and patience as I have drafted and re-drafted committee rosters.

This year, thanks to a new committee structure that the Presiding Bishop and I developed last summer and a new House of Deputies Committee on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, I have been able to make 547 appointments to legislative committees—a 27% increase over General Convention 2012. I’m also glad to say that all deputies who completed the committee preference survey and who have served at three or more conventions have been appointed. But legislative committees are not just the purview of long-time deputies; more than 35% of first-time deputies have also been appointed.

These first-time deputies, who make up 46% of the House of Deputies, are only part of the great chance this General Convention will provide to learn more about how our structures can change as our Episcopal identity stays strong. This General Convention will also be a laboratory for learning from young leaders and watching the structures of the church change as its leaders change the way we work. Traditionally at General Convention, senior deputies—those of us who practically remember the first General Convention in 1785—have had the knowledge and expertise to navigate the way things work. But in 2015, as you know, we’re embarking on our first paperless convention. Every deputy and every bishop will be issued an iPad—the old fat binders filled with reams of paper are gone for good. Deputies will carry a keycard with them and will need to swipe it before they speak at a microphone. Instead of sending messages back and forth between the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies on papyrus scrolls, someone will actually push a button and send the message electronically. Amazing!

All of this means that the senior deputies, with their decades of experience, are going to need to learn from deputies who are digital natives—young adults who don’t ever remember a world in which we didn’t carry computers in our pockets. We’re all going to need one another in different kinds of ways, and it’s going to change the way we work, change the way we are networked, and change the way we envision the kingdom of God.

I’m hoping that General Convention also provides us with practical experience in doing the kinds of restructuring that don’t require permission from a task force or    a resolution. You all have that kind of restructuring to do in your congregations, dioceses, and ministries, and so do I. I’ve spent a good deal of time talking with deputies and former deputies to explore how to move legislation more efficiently through General Convention and reduce the bottlenecks that we have sometimes encountered in previous years. In 2015, we’ll use the tools already available to us to streamline the legislative process.

One of those tools is use of legislative aides. This convention, for the first time, we have an open application process for those volunteers who will help committee officers navigate the legislative process and serve as liaisons with the Dispatch of Business committee. Alternate deputies and volunteers who are planning to attend General Convention are invited to apply by March 31. Please spread the word and visit the House of Deputies website or the General Convention website for all the details.

These next few months will be busy with work as we prepare to return to this beautiful city with several thousand of our friends and colleagues in tow. But it’s essential work, because General Convention is where we ensure that the mission of the Episcopal Church is strong and vibrant. When we serve at General Convention, we are servants of mission. We elect people to serve on policy-making bodies, we adopt a budget to provide resources so people, congregations, and dioceses are equipped and strengthened for ministry, we pass resolutions and adopt policies that point us in the direction of being witnesses for Christ to a world in desperate need of hope and healing. As we do this work, we all need to hold fast to our identity as servants of God and God’s mission in the Episcopal Church, just as surely as our sisters and brothers called to other kinds of ministry in God’s church.

Recently I had the chance to experience just how our governance can make our mission possible. Thanks to Christopher Hayes, chancellor of the Diocese of California, I had the opportunity to put decades of General Convention resolutions into action by being a lead signer on an amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States in support of reversing the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against civil marriage equality. The brief was also signed by 21 of our bishops and more than 200 Episcopal clergy and lay leaders, and it cites five General Convention resolutions:  Resolution D007 from 1994, Resolution D039 from 2000, Resolution A095 from 2006, Resolution A167 from 2006 and Resolution A049 from 2012.

The day after we submitted the brief, media outlets including USA Today, the Christian Science Monitor, the Detroit Free Press, the Living Church and Episcopal Café all covered the news. Thanks to the people who have served faithfully at General Convention for nearly 40 years, we Episcopalians are able to make a witness to the Supreme Court and to the people of this country that we stand against legal discrimination in any form, and that every citizen is entitled to equal protection under the law. So on April 28, when the Supreme Court hears arguments in this case, and in June—perhaps even when we’re at General Convention—when they issue a ruling, remember that your ministry of governance in the Episcopal Church has made it possible for us to take our place as Christians in the public square.

This is our last Executive Council meeting of this triennium. It has been a great privilege to serve with all of you, and I am grateful that each of you has been called to be servants of mission in this way. I must give special mention to Bryan Krislock who has served as a member of Council for 8 years – 26% of his entire life! His reward is to serve as my parliamentarian in the House of Deputies this summer!

As we prepare for the election of a new presiding bishop, I especially want to give thanks for the tireless ministry of Bishop Katharine these nine years, and for the dignity and spiritual clarity with which she has led our beloved Episcopal Church and guided it through turbulent times in the Anglican Communion. Her commitment to the Five Marks of Mission has inspired all of us to care for the poor, remember the outcast, and heal the world. As a woman who entered seminary just weeks after the Philadelphia Eleven were ordained, I have particularly admired her ability to handle with grace the particular challenges that come with being the first woman to hold any position of leadership, and I will always be grateful that we have served together. Thank you, Bishop Katharine, and thanks to all of you. I look forward to our work together these next few days.

Bishop Kemper School for Ministry adds two new staff members

ENS Headlines - Thursday, March 19, 2015

[Bishop Kemper School for Ministry press release] The Bishop Kemper School for Ministry (BKSM) is pleased to announce the addition of two new staff members. Deacon Karen Wichael joins BKSM as its volunteer registrar while Casey Rohleder has been hired in the newly created position of Communications and Outreach Specialist. They join the Very Rev. Dr. Don Compier, BKSM dean, and Deacon Bob Hirst, volunteer hospitality coordinator.

Compier said, “These appointments represent a great step forward in terms of institutional development. Casey’s experience and outstanding expertise in communications, marketing and financial management match precisely the needs of our growing programs. Karen’s experience in educational administration has equipped her so well to be registrar. Both are passionate and articulate about the vision that guides all our efforts. I am most grateful for their exemplary dedication and look forward to working collegially with them.”

Larry Bingham, BKSM Board of Directors chairperson said, “The Board of Directors is delighted that we are able to add two part-time staff members to support the growth and expansion of the School. Due to our limited budget, the Board had to ask Dean Compier to perform many of the school’s administrative functions in addition to his primary responsibilities as dean. The addition of Casey and Karen not only relieves Don of those administrative tasks, it allows the School to expand its all-important mission to students, member dioceses, alumni and donors.”

Rohleder is currently a second-year student at BKSM on the priest track. With a diverse professional background in higher education and non-profit organizations, she stepped out of the workforce in 2012 to care for her newborn daughter. “The Bishop Kemper School has become an incredibly important part of my life these past two years” Rohleder said. “I am thrilled to use my gifts and talents to help make BKSM an even better option for formation for ministry, and I am lucky to work from home as I do so.” Rohleder lives in Hays, Kan., and is a member of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Western Kansas.

Wichael is a 1999 graduate of BKSM’s predecessor school, the Kansas School for Ministry, where she was closely associated with Deacon Jim Upton, a great pioneer of efforts to provide local formation for lay and ordained leadership. With memories from her two years of formation “to fill a lifetime,” she is overjoyed to join the staff as volunteer registrar. Wichael said, “I am pleased to be able to continue to be an active part of BKSM and work with students as they enter into this journey that will be filled with all that God has for us to do.” Wichael lives in Prairie Village, Kan., and serves as liturgical deacon and clergy support for hospital visitation at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Mission, Kan., in the Diocese of Kansas.

Rohleder’s position is made possible by a 2015 grant award from the Roanridge Trust, which supports transformative work in the Episcopal Church, especially in ministry to small towns and rural areas. This is the second year in a row that the school has received the largest Roanridge Trust grant awarded. The first grant, awarded in early 2014 enabled the BKSM Board of Directors to enhance the position of the dean from half-time to full-time status beginning July 1, 2014.

The school, which holds classes in Topeka once a month for 10 months a year, not only is more affordable than a traditional residential seminary, but students do not have to give up their jobs or uproot their families while they study. The current cost to attend is less than $2,000 a year. Priests normally enroll for three years and deacons for two. Additionally, BKSM offers courses to support a variety of licensed lay ministries.

JNCPB offers update

ENS Headlines - Thursday, March 19, 2015

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

The Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB) would like to update the church on its work and progress.

The JNCPB Committee meets March 19 – 22. The committee members are focused on preparations to announce its nominations to be the next Presiding Bishop which will occur on May 1, 2015.

We ask that you continue to keep JNCPB, the candidates, and the wider church, in your prayers as we continue our important discernment.

Sally Johnson, Diocese of Minnesota
Bishop Ed Konieczny, Diocese of Oklahoma

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

Registration opens for annual SOUL conference

ENS Headlines - Thursday, March 19, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Registration is now available for the annual SOUL (Spiritual Opportunity to Unite and Learn) Conference sponsored by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society for youth and young adults of African descent.

Slated for June 25 – 28 during General Convention 2015 in Salt Lake City, UT, the goal of the conference is to provide a safe place for discussion and growth.

Hosted by the Black Ministries office of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, participants at the SOUL conference “have the opportunity to celebrate cultural and spiritual gifts with enthusiasm and renewed vigor, learn engaging methods of Bible study, develop key leadership skills through group discussion while enjoying fun activities,” according the Rev. Canon Angela Ifill, Missioner for Black Ministries.

Youth participants should currently be in grades 8 – 12.

Registration is $200 per person. Registration is available here. Deadline for registration is April 20.

Ifill added, “The SOUL Conference has served the black community for several years and many of its participants have taken on leadership roles in their parishes and dioceses.”

For more information contact Angeline Cabanban, 212-716-6186acabanban@episcopalchurch.org.

Delegadas a la UNCSW debaten la falta de nacionalidad y la inscripción de nacimiento universal

ENS Headlines - Thursday, March 19, 2015

[Episcopal News Service] Tener una nacionalidad significa existir, aunque millones de personas en el mundo son apátridas debido a conflictos armados, problemas políticos, disputas fronterizas y migración económica. Otros son considerados apátridas simplemente como resultado de que nunca inscribieron su nacimiento [en el registro civil]..

“Estamos hablando de algunas de las personas más desposeídas del mundo”, dijo la Rda. Canóniga Flora Winfield, representante de la Comunión Anglicana ante las instituciones de la ONU en Ginebra, Suiza, durante un debate sobre la carencia de nacionalidad y la inscripción de nacimiento universal que tuvo lugar el 16 de marzo en el Centro Denominacional de la Iglesia Episcopal.

Más de 30 anglicanas y episcopales participaron en la discusión que se produjo en el contexto más amplio de la 59ª. Sesión de la Comisión de las Naciones Unidas sobre la Condición de la Mujer (UNCSW), que se reúne en Nueva York del 9 al 20 de marzo. Incluyó información sobre la situación de la campaña de la Comunión Anglicana a favor de la inscripción de nacimiento universal, y los medios mediante los cuales las iglesias en todo el ámbito de la Comunión pueden promover y ayudar a los padres, en particular a las madres, a inscribir el nacimiento de un niño.

Los niños que no están inscritos, explicó Winfield, con frecuencia son más vulnerables a la trata de personas, tienen más probabilidades de que los recluten como soldados niños y más probable de que sean obligados a contraer matrimonio antes de salir de la infancia. Además, también es menos probable que tengan acceso a la educación, a la atención sanitaria y a servicios sociales.

Se calcula que hay unos 10 millones de niños apátridas en todo el mundo, según  el Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados, que en 2014 lanzó una campaña de 10 años para erradicar la carencia de nacionalidad.

Además del UNHCR, la Red Internacional de la Familia Anglicana se empeña en ponerle fin a la condición de apátridas mediante una campaña en pro de la inscripción universal y apoya los esfuerzos globales para garantizar su cumplimiento en países que reconocen la Convención de los Derechos del Niño de 1989.

Mundialmente, los nacimientos de aproximadamente 230 millones de niños menores de cinco años se quedan sin inscribir; el 59 por ciento de los cuales vive en Asia, según UNICEF, el Fondo de las Naciones Unidas para la Infancia.

La Red de la Familia Anglicana comenzó su campaña en pro de la inscripción universal hace tres años, explicó la Rda. Terrie Robinson, directora de Mujeres en la Iglesia y la Sociedad, [un organismo] de la Comunión Anglicana.

Sin un certificado de nacimiento, a una persona no puede reconocérsele la nacionalidad; el problema es importante para la Iglesia, explicó Robinson, porque tener una nacionalidad es un derecho humano básico y “tener una identidad y pertenecer a una comunidad nos ayuda [a los seres humanos] a prosperar”.

Dado el alcance de las iglesias anglicanas en todo el mundo, la Iglesia está preparada para colaborar con organizaciones tales como UNICEF y Plan Internacional que ya están comprometidas en la inscripción de nacimientos, para relacionar los trabajadores sobre el terreno con los obispos de las diócesis donde los nacimientos habitualmente no se inscriben.

“Es un movimiento creciente, teológicamente fundamentado, y la Iglesia está en todas partes —de manera que tenemos la oportunidad de incluirlo en el ministerio existente”, dijo Robinson.

Winfield añadió que al ayudar a los padres a traer a sus hijos al seno de la comunidad, la Iglesia también les ayuda a ocupar más tarde su papel como adultos en la sociedad civil. Cuando los padres traen a sus hijos a la Iglesia para ser bautizados, las iglesias tienen la oportunidad de preguntar si el nacimiento ha sido inscrito y, en caso contrario, ayudar en el proceso de inscripción.

Actualmente, en 27 países del mundo, 12 de ellos en el Oriente Medio y el Norte de África, una madre no puede trasmitirle la ciudadanía a su bebé, explicó ella. En el caso de los refugiados sirios, las mujeres encabezan el 25 por ciento de las familias, dijo Winfield.

“Esto no es un problema que se resolverá pronto”, afirmó ella. “Cada Iglesia en cada provincia puede participar en esto;  en verdad conlleva el esfuerzo de todos, así como de nuestros asociados en la misión y el ministerio”.

El 16 de marzo, el debate fue moderado por Lynnaia Main, encargada de relaciones globales de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera (DFMS), y se produjo a solicitud de la obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori, que a fines de 2014 visitó la República Dominicana para imponerse del dictamen del Tribunal Constitucional de 2013 que anuló la ciudadanía de unos 200.000 dominicanos de origen haitiano, muchos de los cuales eran mujeres y niños cuyos nacimientos no se habían inscrito.

En mayo de 2014, luego de intensa presión política y de reclamos internacionales de justicia, el presidente presentó y el Congreso dominicano aprobó una ley que permitía a los niños de migrantes “irregulares”, o no residentes considerados “de tránsito” conforme a una ley de 2004, que tuvieran certificados de nacimiento, convertirse en ciudadanos, y aquellos sin documentos solicitar residencia legal y posteriormente la ciudadanía. La fecha tope para que las personas afectadas por el fallo judicial presentaran documentos para probar ciudadanía, incluidos certificados de nacimiento, era el 1 de febrero. Sin embargo, para muchos, particularmente personas pobres y marginadas, el obtener una certificación de nacimiento es un proceso arduo y costoso, si no imposible.

“El mayor problema en la República Dominicana es que el proceso es muy complejo, gratis, pero complejo”, dijo Digna de la Cruz, de la Diócesis de la República Dominicana y quien representa a la IX Provincia en el UNCSW. “es un problema para personas de ascendencia haitiana, pero también para los dominicanos que no tienen certificaciones de nacimiento.

Sin una certificación de nacimiento, una persona no puede obtener una tarjeta de identificación, la cual se exige para estudiar, para solicitar un empleo digno, para casarse, para inscribir a los hijos, para tener derecho a seguros de salud y pensiones del Estado, para abrir una cuenta bancaria, para solicitar un pasaporte, para participar en las elecciones e incluso para ser bautizado.

“No tener una inscripción de nacimiento y documentos de identidad es cosa seria”, dijo Lelanda Lee, que es la presidente del Comité Permanente Conjunto sobre Promoción Social e Interconexiones del Consejo Ejecutivo de la Iglesia Episcopal. Lee explicó que luego del dictamen del tribunal en 2013, el Consejo Ejecutivo aprobó una resolución en que instruía a la Obispa Primada a viajar a la República Dominicana con la misión de encontrar evidencia para abordar el problema de los apátridas.

“Una cosa es no permitirle a una persona convertirse en ciudadana, pero despojarla con carácter retroactivo de la ciudadanía parece algo sencillamente increíble”, afirmó.

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

Video: EcoPeace Middle East: Saving the Jordan River

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, March 18, 2015

[Episcopal News Service] EcoPeace Middle East, Koch-Ya’ari leads a campaign to rehabilitate the Jordan River. Once a vital source of clean water throughout the Holy Land, the river has been sullied by untreated sewage and drought during the past 50 years.

Holy Land groups pave path to peace with commonality and trust

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, March 18, 2015

[Episcopal News Service] It may be a cliché to say that water knows no boundaries, but for Elizabeth Koch-Ya’ari, navigating the stream of ecology and peacemaking is bringing together Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian environmentalists – people of different faiths from neighboring communities – to mobilize and build friendships around their common source of life.

As a project coordinator with EcoPeace Middle East, Koch-Ya’ari leads a campaign to rehabilitate the Jordan River. Once a vital source of clean water throughout the Holy Land, the river has been sullied by untreated sewage and drought during the past 50 years.

EcoPeace Middle East gathers Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians in the lower Jordan River for the “Big Jump,” an event to raise awareness of river restoration efforts. Photo: EcoPeace Middle East

“We come together and we use environment as a platform for peace-building,” Koch-Ya’ari told Episcopal News Service following a presentation in Tel Aviv in January, when she met with a United States interfaith delegation that visited the region on pilgrimage.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to enter into understanding these different communities that are bordering each other, that share the same water resources, that share the environment,” she said. “In this area of the world, water can bring us together, because water does not see all these walls and borders that we put between each other.”

The Jordan River has major significance in Judaism, Christianity and Islam as the site where the Israelites crossed into the Promised Land, where John the Baptist baptized Jesus, and where Prophet Mohammed foretold an event that happened years later.

EcoPeace has created a toolkit of resources for Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities, called Water and Ecology in the Jordan River, to encourage faith-based education and engagement around the issue of water.

“The reality is that many people who live along the Jordan River don’t experience its benefits. In many parts of its flow, it’s dirty, polluted, [and] it disappears in dry seasons of the year,” Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, one of the pilgrimage co-leaders, told ENS while visiting the Yardenit Baptismal Site along the Jordan River in the Galilee region of northern Israel.

“The work of the EcoPeace institute is to gather people from both sides of the river, from different faith traditions in neighboring communities, to advocate and work for improvement of the water situation, to understand each other’s needs, and they come to understand each other as friends in doing that work,” she said. “It’s true peace-building work.”

The Rev. John Kitagawa, rector of St. Philip’s in-the-Hills Episcopal Church in Tucson, Arizona, and a pilgrimage member, said the disappearance of the Jordan River would be tragic. Not only does it mean so much to the lives of people on both sides of the Jordan River, he said, but “it is deeply important to our faith. It’s not possible to read the Scriptures without all kinds of references to the Jordan River.”

Kitagawa said there are lots of parallels in the United States where water issues abound.

“I live in the desert in southern Arizona. Our groundwater is basically depleted. We have to import water from the Colorado River, and so the very substance of life is at stake,” he said. “But it’s not just those of us who are desert-dwellers. We are increasingly seeing people who are dealing with fracking issues in their area and how that affects groundwater. Coal mining and other forms of mining have deep issues with polluting water and farmers are increasingly facing drought issues with global warming. Water is a constant issue around us. We have very much in common, and we just need to figure out how to understand our common roots, and one of those common roots is our responsibility as stewards of God’s creation.”

“Communities across this region share so much,” Koch-Ya’ari said of the Holy Land. “Water is a basic part of life and to join together to rehabilitate shared water streams like the lower Jordan River, we gain a lot, not only for the environment but also to learn about each other, about our different faith communities and about how we can help each other [and] our shared ecosystems.”

Koch-Ya’ari is one of a number of leaders of grassroots initiatives in the Holy Land with whom the U.S. interfaith delegation met during its Jan. 18-27 pilgrimage.

She and other grassroots leaders are certain that these sorts of initiatives will be the key to building the trust and breaking down the barriers that will ensure a lasting peace in the region long after the politicians broker any kind of deal. However, prospects for the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians appear complicated at best after a year that has seen the collapse of peace talks brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, a devastating war between Israel and the Palestinian movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and a series of actions and statements by Israeli and Palestinian leaders that both reflect and contribute to a divisive climate.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose Likud Party emerged as the winner of Tuesday’s parliamentary elections, provided the latest example of politically charged rhetoric this week, stating the day before the election that there would be no Palestinian state under his leadership.  Netanyahu previously has consistently endorsed a two-state solution, including in the context of negotiations with the Palestinians. It is unclear what the prime minister’s statement this week, in the context of a divisive and surprisingly close election, might mean for the future of the peace process or Netanyahu’s own relationship with key international supporters of a two-state solution, including the United States government.

Lior Frankiensztajn of the Shades Negotiation Program talks to members of the U.S. interfaith pilgrimage that visited the Holy Land in January. Photo: Matthew Davies/ENS

Back in January, the interfaith group heard how Lior Frankiensztajn’s world changed a few years ago after he welcomed a Palestinian man into his home for two months. He got to learn many things about himself and his roots, but most importantly, he saw “how reality looks from a different perspective,” he told the interfaith pilgrims following lunch in a Tel Aviv restaurant. Unfortunately, “politicians manage the relationships, which limits the opportunity for progress. … There has to be a different approach to policymaking, to education.”

It was this thinking that led Frankiensztajn to launch the Shades Negotiation Program, which creates opportunities for Palestinian and Israeli decision-makers, politicians, educators and other leaders to meet and engage with their counterparts. The program is sponsored by Harvard University and partly funded by the U.S. State Department.

Acknowledging that it is easy to engage the converted, Frankiensztajn said that Shades is trying to identify the obstacles, areas that need more attention in helping people “to become better negotiators, better communicators through this experience [and] really getting to understand the nuances and the culture of the other side.” Creating trust, he added, is a critical part of the peace process.

Azhar Azeez, president of the Islamic Society of North America and a pilgrimage member, responded to Frankiensztajn’s presentation with encouragement and congratulations for his peace-making efforts. “I can see how this endeavor will bring positive change and hope,” he said.

The 15-member interfaith pilgrimage was co-led by Jefferts Schori; Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs; and Sayyid Syeed, national director of interfaith and community alliances for the Islamic Society of North America.

The visit was planned in response to Resolution B019, passed by The Episcopal Church’s General Convention in 2012, that called for positive investment and engagement in the region and recommended that the presiding bishop develop an interfaith model pilgrimage with multiple narratives. That resolution reiterated The Episcopal Church’s longstanding commitment to a negotiated two-state solution “in which a secure and universally recognized state of Israel lives alongside a free, viable and secure state for the Palestinian people.”

“Only when people on the ground speak up and say ‘enough is enough’ will the possibility of peace and justice break through in the problematic relationship between the Palestinians and Israelis,” said Gutow. “When we meet with groups like Shades, Roots, and EcoPeace, we know that the journey to resolution and reconciliation is not only possible but eminently doable.”

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger greet one another as members of the interfaith pilgrimage arrive at Gush Etzion to learn about the work of Roots. Photo: Matthew Davies/ENS

The group Roots brings together Israeli settlers in Gush Etzion with Palestinians from adjoining villages to promote dialogue and build trust as a path to peace. The leadership of Roots believe it is imperative for the communities to put aside political retrenchment, divisive actions and rhetoric in order to begin sowing the seeds necessary to make an eventual peace agreement take hold.

Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger told the interfaith leaders that Roots has transformed the way he views the world.

One year ago, at the invitation of a friend, Schlesinger left his home and walked just 20 minutes through the Arab fields and vineyards and arrived at the piece of land where the interfaith pilgrims were now gathered to listen to his story. He said his heart was pounding as he entered the compound where approximately 25 Jews and 25 Palestinians were talking.

Schlesinger, now a Roots project coordinator, had grown up with fear of the Palestinians who lived alongside his village.

“We have no connections with the other side. Newspapers are different, radio stations are different, houses of worship are different, we buy in different stores, we have different school systems. We have no contact at all. We pass one another on the roads and don’t know who’s driving the car,” he said. “When you have that situation of distance, you have fear and you have suspicion and you have hate.”

But through the conversations he had during that gathering one year ago, he came to understand that the Palestinians who’d been his neighbors all those years also lived in fear of him. “I’ve never thought of it like that before. We’re afraid of each other,” he said. For the first time in his life, Schlesinger said, he was talking to “the other” as an equal.

From left, Roots project coordinators Ali Abu Awwad, Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger and Shaul Judelman listen to responses from members of the U.S. interfaith pilgrimage who visited Gush Etzion in January. Photo: Matthew Davies/ENS

Palestinian Ali Abu Awwad, a co-founder of Roots, was at that gathering and shared his life story with the group. “It was the first time in my life that I heard life from a Palestinian perspective, and he spoke without rancor, without hate, and we spoke about his life,” Schlesinger said. “It was really difficult to hear and it felt like I was being personally attacked to hear a narrative that is so different from mine. But as different as it was from my narrative, it wasn’t false. I didn’t hear any lies. I heard that he was taking the building blocks of history and of life as I know them and putting them together into a completely different story, but his story made sense. And now I see myself in Ali’s story. And although he didn’t say it, in his story I saw myself as the oppressor. It began a process of rethinking.”

Awwad, who was raised in a highly political family and served time as a political prisoner, said there are many conflict designers on both sides and that “we are good in this competition of who suffers more. … But when it comes to solutions, we lose the courage, because we act like victims. Victims will never be able to solve their own conflict if they are the prisoners of their pain. … The price of this war has become easier than the price of peace. We need to find a way where people can serve God and not lose their humanity. We can make a difference together.”

Shaul Judelman, a Roots project coordinator who has lived in Gush Etzion for the past 13 years, said: “We know that there is great disagreement over many issues – over the facts of the past and even about the reality of the present – but we believe that effective dialogue is the secure place for argument and deeper understanding. It is in this space that solutions can be built.”

Gutow said that Roots “teaches us … about traditional politicians oppressing the intrinsic dreams of the real people who live on the land.

“We must stand with those who can both understand and speak with integrity about the differing narratives of the regular people who make their homes there,” Gutow added. “We must provide them with the platforms and the financial support and the validation they need to succeed. The job of our pilgrimage is to serve as an interfaith witness to the truths of both sides and to help the good and kind people who dwell there find the peace and wholeness and calm they so desire and so deserve.”

Reflecting on the pilgrimage, Jefferts Schori told Episcopal News Service that “the kinds of grassroots peace-making efforts we witnessed in the Land of the Holy One are all focused on building relationships. [Yet] the sad reality is that Palestinians and Israelis live almost completely separate lives. Most never meet at grocery stores, schools, or in civic life. … That human encounter is essential to humanizing ‘the other.’ The Abrahamic faith traditions speak of encountering the image of God, the divine creative capacity that is part of our nature.”

She said she was encouraged by “the willingness to cross boundaries, physical divisions, as well as suspicion, doubt, and fear” and described it as “the soil in which peace can begin to grow, … Getting one’s hands dirty together creates bonds that are deeper than our conscious prejudices. Bonds born of shared labor will endure, and they invite others to come and see, to be a bit vulnerable, in order to see the healing that might be possible.”

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

The Climate Change Crisis: Watch, participate, engage

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, March 18, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Climate Change Crisis, presented by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society on March 24, will address one of the most significant topics in today’s society.

The 90-minute live webcast will originate from Campbell Hall Episcopal School, North Hollywood, CA, in partnership with Bishop J. Jon Bruno and the Diocese of Los Angeles.

The Climate Change Crisis will begin 11 am Pacific. The webcast will be viewable here.

There are many ways to participate, engage, and get involved.

Meet the participants
• The forum will be moderated by well-known climatologist Fritz Coleman of KNBC 4 television news.

• Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will present the keynote address.

• Two panels, each 30 minutes, will focus on specific areas of the climate change crisis: Regional Impacts of Climate Change; and Reclaiming Climate Change as a Moral Issue.

• Panelists: Bishop Marc Andrus, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California He has made climate change a focus of his episcopacy; Princess Daazhraii Johnson, former Executive Director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee, one of the oldest Indigenous non-profit groups in Alaska focused on protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge;  Dr. Lucy Jones, seismologist with the US Geological Survey and a Visiting Research Associate at the Seismological Laboratory of Caltech since 1983; Mary D.  Nichols, J.D., Chairman of the California Air Resources Board.

• Facilitator’s Guide located here.

• Submit questions for the forum here  or write to publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org

30 Days of Action
In addition to stimulating conversation and raising awareness about The Climate Change Crisis, the live webcast will serve as the kickoff to 30 Days of Action. A range of activities developed by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society are offered for individuals and congregations to understand the environmental crisis. The activities will culminate on Earth Day, April 22.

• 30 Days of Action located here.

Additional resources
• Information located here.

• Tweeting Climate Change Crisis: #EpiscopalForum

• Tweeting 30 Days of Action:  #Episcopal#30Days

• Bulletin Insert here.

The forum
• There is no fee to view the live webcast. The webcast will be viewable here.

• Registration is not required for the live webcast.

• Questions can be emailed starting now and during the live webcast; submit questions here or send questions to publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org.

• The forum will be available on-demand following the live webcast.

• The forum is ideal for live group watching and discussion, or on-demand viewing later.  It will be appropriate for Sunday School, discussions groups, and community gatherings.

The event supports Mark 5 of the Anglican Communion’s Marks of Mission: To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth. Anglican Five Marks of Mission are here. The Five Marks of Mission form the basis for the triennial budget of The Episcopal Church adopted by the 77th General Convention in July 2012.

The event is one of the aspects of commemorating The Episcopal Church’s 150th year of parish ministry in Southern California.

For more information contact Neva Rae Fox, Public Affairs Officer for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org.

Episcopal News Service will provide coverage of the event and the climate change issue.

Hacia la Convención General 2015: Abierta la matrícula para el programa infantil; Disponibles los formularios para los consejeros

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, March 18, 2015

[17 de marzo de 2015] Ya está abierta la matrícula para el Programa Infantil de la Convención General 2015.

La 78ª. Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal sesionará del 25 de junio al 3 de julio en el Centro de Convenciones Salt Palace de Salt Lake City, UT (Diócesis de Utah).

El programa Infantil funcionará desde el jueves 25 de junio hasta el viernes 3 de julio, a partir de las 7:15 A.M. hasta el cierre de las sesiones. Un evento de puertas abiertas está programado para el miércoles 24 de junio.

Los hijos de diputados, suplentes, obispos y otras personas que asistan a la Convención General tienen derecho a aprovechar el programa infantil, desde recién nacidos hasta niños que hayan terminado el quinto grado. El costo es de $70 diarios e incluye, almuerzo, meriendas y actividades, tales como participación en la liturgia diaria.

La matrícula es accesible aquí.

“El Programa Infantil de la convención General es mucho más que un mero lugar para que los niños estén mientras sus padres realizan el trabajo de la Iglesia”, comentó la Rda. Shannon Kelly,  misionera interina del Ministerio Universitario y de Jóvenes Adultos de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera. “Los niños son parte de la Iglesia Episcopal y de la Comunión Anglicana y es esencial que ellos estén presentes”.

El Programa Infantil se estableció en la 75ª. Convención General en Columbus, OH, mediante la Resolución D059.

Consejeros y consejeros menores
Están abiertas ahora las solicitudes para jóvenes que deseen servir como consejeros y consejeros menores en el Programa Infantil de la Convención General.

Para tener derecho, los solicitantes deben estar cursando actualmente del sexto al 12º. grado y tener a uno de sus padres (o a ambos) ya inscritos para asistir a la Convención General como obispo, diputado, exhibidor o voluntario.

Se aceptarán las solicitudes hasta el 20 de abril. Se necesita de la recomendación de un adulto. Habrá todo un día de adiestramiento el martes 23 de junio. Aqui.

Para más información, así como para indagar sobre elegibilidad y solicitudes, diríjase a Kelly en skelly@episcopalchurch.org.

La Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal se celebra cada tres años, y es el organismo gubernativo bicameral de la Iglesia. Está compuesta por la Cámara de Obispos, con más de 200 obispos en activo y jubilados, y la Cámara de Diputados, con representantes electos, clérigos y laicos, provenientes de las 110 diócesis de la Iglesia que ascienden a más de 800 miembros.

Advancing to General Convention 2015: registration open for children’s program; applications available for counselors

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, March 18, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Registration is now open for the Children’s Program for General Convention 2015.

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

The Children’s Program will operate Thursday, June 25 to Friday, July 3, opening at 7:15 am through the close of business sessions. An open house is slated for Wednesday, June 24.

Children of deputies, alternates, bishops, and others attending General Convention are eligible for the children’s program; ages newborns through completed fifth grade.  Cost is $70 per day and includes lunch, snacks and activities, such as participation in the daily liturgy.

Registration is available here.

“The General Convention Children’s Program is so much more than just a place for children to be while their parents do church work,” commented the Rev. Shannon Kelly, Acting Missioner for Campus and Young Adult Ministries for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. “Children are a part of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion and it is essential that they are present.”

The Children’s Program was set at the 75th General Convention in 2006 in Columbus OH through Resolution D059.

Counselors and junior counselors
Applications are now accepted for youth to serve as counselors and junior counselors in the General Convention Children’s Program.

To be eligible, applicants must be in grades six through 12, and have a parent(s) already registered for General Convention as a bishop, deputy, exhibitor or volunteer.

Applications are accepted through April 20. Adult recommendations required.  There will be a day-long training on Tuesday, June 23.

Application here.

For more information, eligibility, and application contact Kelly atskelly@episcopalchurch.org.
The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 109 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.

Presiding Bishop preaches at House of Bishops spring meeting

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, March 18, 2015

17 March 2015
Chapel of the Transfiguration, Kanuga
HOB closing

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

Slavery is not new, and its legacy haunts most of the world. The ancient archaeological evidence of sacrificial human remains in British bogs, Egyptian pyramids, Meso-American wells, and atop Andean peaks pretty clearly implicate most of our ancestral cultures in using other human beings as commodities and as an expendable resource. The Bible is filled with tales of slaves and their quest for freedom.

Patrick may be the only runaway slave on our calendar. He’s certainly one of the earliest. He was born in what is now western England around 390. His grandfather was a priest, his father a deacon and city official. The teenaged Patrick was captured and trafficked to Ireland, where he spent his days watching sheep and learning to pray. A vision in the midst of his prayers six years later prompted him to flee to the coast, where he eventually persuaded some sailors to take him aboard. They probably landed him in Gaul. Eventually he made his way home, where he received some training, was ordained a priest, and eventually had some interaction with monastic Christians in Gaul. About 435 he went as bishop to the Irish, settling in Armagh. He encouraged monastic vocations, built a school, and went about making disciples, baptizing, and showing people a human example of what it looks like to travel the road of Christ.

This saint seems never to have lost his self-understanding as a former slave and an exile, nor did he lose his embarrassment about his limited education, but he names his great passion to “spend myself…so that many peoples should be reborn in God and then made perfect…”[1] Being made perfect had nothing to do with conforming to one particular clan or race. This immigrant spent himself as Christ’s servant to those who had enslaved him. His preaching was personal, humble in that earthy sense, and effective. Like the householder Jesus speaks about,[2] Patrick brought out of his treasure what was old and what was new, and shared the good news of the kingdom of God already present. Patrick blessed the local idiom and baptized holy instincts: in ancient sacred wells that were now dedicated to Christian saints, holy sites that became gathering places for Christian communities, and druidic pillars transformed into high crosses.

135 years after Patrick’s death, Augustine arrived to missionize the British, sent by Gregory the Great, who had seen slaves like Patrick in the Roman market. Augustine found an indigenous Christian community, and Gregory encouraged him to do as Patrick had done, to be curious about what he found, and not to see difference as something to eliminate, but to look for the fingerprints of the holy within it.

The descendants of the English and the Irish have not always lived up to the witness of their spiritual forebears. The divisions between them have been attributed to later Roman Catholic-Protestant disputes, but they originate in the differences between the indigenous Christianity that Patrick and Augustine nurtured and a later Roman variety. The Norman invasions that began in the 12th century laid the ground for later “religious” wars and the same kind of land appropriation and attempts at de-culturation that European immigrants visited on the native peoples of this continent. By the 19th century those policies had made virtual economic slaves of much of the Irish population.[3] The famine that followed the collapse of the potato crop killed a million people and sent a million emigrants to these shores. Forty per cent of those who traveled in steerage died in the sea passage on what were called “coffin ships,” a record only exceeded by the African slave trade. The status of the Irish immigrants was no better in many northern states than the slaves they replaced, and many were dispatched with equal impunity when they demanded freedom. The church was one of the players in addressing those varieties of injustice, but it usually wasn’t this one, which more often counted mine owners and steel barons as its members.

One tribe or nation targets another race or tribe as expendable or as an exploitable commodity – for its labor, its land, or the wealth of resources it appears to control. That has produced a very long trail of tears through history – from Pharoah’s empire, to Greece and Rome, the German Third Reich, to Rwanda, Sudan, Syria, and those who cross the southern borders of this nation today. Yet the impulse to seek God’s image in the other continues – Patrick stands in the same line as the converted Paul, Sojourner Truth, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela… even in the darkest hour hope continues for that green blade newly rising.

People of every heritage claim to be Irish on this festival day, because underneath the mythic hype around Patrick, there is still a hint of peoples and nations and clans gathered as siblings created by the One God.

This place, Kanuga, is named for the Cherokee gathering place that it was long before Europeans appeared. You have heard the outlines of what ensued, with the passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1830 and the wholesale expulsion of the Cherokee and their neighboring tribes in 1836. The Trail of Tears still echoes here.

Some 70 years later, George Stephens bought this land to build a summer community for lowland Carolinians – for people with sufficient privilege to take an extended vacation. Stephens made his fortune in newspapers and banking, having founded the predecessor of Bank of America.[4] He discovered this beautiful spot in 1909, he dammed the creek and induced others to come and build cabins here. The dam failed in 1916 and the community foundered, going through four bankruptcies before Bishop Finlay of Upper South Carolina bought it as a summer camp for the surrounding dioceses in 1928. If you talk to people of a certain age and race in this part of the world, you soon begin to hear some of the lore around this privileged place. While campers of all races and families come here today, this was fully a part of the old Jim Crow. No one of color came here to rest. Sabbath was for owners only.

This Chapel of the Transfiguration was designed by the Scots architect Grant Alexander and built in 1940. Look at the planks of this overturned boat. These are native yellow pine boards, cut on this land. Some probably came from seedlings that sprang up while the Cherokee were here. Look more carefully. Can you see the signs of floods and wet tears? Can you see the sweaty fingerprints of its builders? There’s probably blood up there as well, from splinters and nails. Those marks are still evident in the rafters, even if they’ve disappeared from the boards down lower – either sanded or washed away. The invisible are not so invisible if we’re curious.

Those marks up there are rather like the cross on our foreheads – branded forever in our souls, but only particularly noticeable in the earthy mark that begins Lent. Human beings still subjugate one another in attempts to possess that earth, still despise the common earthy origin of brothers and sisters, still use one another like ore or oil mined from the earth. We do it because we cling to one patch or field or nation as our own, even though we are descendants of wandering Arameans and followers of the One who had no place to lay his head. For all the otherness that human hearts despise is born of the desire to own and possess and control what is ultimately and eternally a gift. The striking reality is that most of the enslaved and subjugated races throughout history are defined by their generous hospitality and unwillingness to assert exclusive ownership rights. Generosity is the fruit of servanthood.

I wonder what would happen if we really taught what Jesus preached about giving ourselves away? What if we sent young people to residential schools that enculturated them in that ethos of loving neighbor as ourselves, rather than Greek fantasies of entitlement and privilege? (you might think of recent racist fraternity outpourings).[5] Do we have the courage to dismantle or transfigure those systems of privilege? In spite of their history, and indeed because of it, places like this one can help with that transfiguration. Camping here for a while can be an opportunity for healing. But we can’t stay here.

Patrick, like Jesus, lived on the road, walking lightly on the earth to meet those called stranger or enemy. That requires curiosity about the other, requires courage to meet those people, and a willingness to share their lament. By the rivers of Babylon, and in every place of privilege and oppression, we’re meant to go and sing the Lord’s song of liberation and kinship in Christ.

[1] Confession I:15-16, cf. They Still Speak 57
[2] Matthew 13:52
[3] And of other tribal groups like the Scots and the Welsh
[4] http://www.ecgriffith.com/history
[5] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/14/opinion/the-university-of-oklahoma-video-and-the-problem-fraternities-cant-fix-themselves.html?emc=edit_th_20150314&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=44355849