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Church in Wales urges government to address poverty

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

[Church in Wales] The Church in Wales is calling on the Welsh government to minimize the impact of poverty, austerity and recession on people in Wales.

It says it is seeing families and communities facing increasingly uncertain futures as services and projects shut down, people lose their jobs and harsh policies erode their dignity and sense of worth.  It warns families are struggling to feed their children due to gaps in social services.

Meanwhile more and more churches are responding to the poverty on their doorsteps by setting up services to help people in need such as food banks, credit unions, night shelters and job clubs.

The extent of church action on poverty was outlined to members of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales in a motion at its meeting in Llandrindod Wells.

Addressing the meeting, the Rev. Jonathan Durley, community development officer for Llandaff Diocese, said the church had a responsibility to ensure those in power were fully aware of the extent of the poverty it was seeing.

He said, “Social need changes on a daily basis initiated by the impact of closures of projects and services, redundancy and subsequent unemployment, which to illustrate from some of our experiences, may impact on families who may not be able to feed their children before and after school due to loss of income and available finance, even for essential such as food.

“We have a prophetic responsibility to ensure those who hold political and statutory power in our communities are able to hear the voice of those we walk with. We need to ensure such power holders remain informed of the changes we see and the gaps in the services we witness.”

Durley warned that poverty was not just about lack of money but also people’s dignity and that was being affected by government policies. He said, “Poverty is not necessarily solely financial, but also includes social, emotional and physical. Through the extensive network of initiatives within parishes and the wider diocese we are confronted by the serious life diminishing issues which are manifest through concrete images of individuals, families and communities experiencing increasingly uncertain futures.

“This dimension of ministry in our church works to oppose attitudes and policies which fail to respect the Christian understanding of the nature and dignity of people, whether they are general social attitude, government policies concerning the impositions of sanction on those receiving benefits, mandatory detention of asylum seekers; or policies of the Church concerning justice and God’s preference for the poor and those who experience exclusion and marginalization.”

The Governing Body heard about examples in which local churches are stepping in to help their communities. Each of its six dioceses have social responsibility officers who help develop initiatives, such as family centers, in partnership with communities. Local churches are helping to run night shelters for homeless people, job clubs, debt centers, soup kitchens, library services and food banks, while rural life advisers are providing much needed pastoral support in areas facing increased isolation due to cuts in transport services or poor communication networks.

Durley called on local churches to have regular contact with local councillors, local Assembly Ministers and Members of Parliament, inviting them to events and consultations. He asked, “With the General Election looming fast and Welsh Government elections next year, are we encouraging our neighbors to use their democratic right to vote or holding their candidates to account about their policy?”

The Governing Body members voted in favor of a motion to “call upon the Welsh Government to do all that it can to minimize the impact of poverty, austerity and recession on the people of Wales”. The motion on poverty also welcomed the Churches’ Mutual Credit Union, which was launched earlier this year, the Church’s progress towards becoming a Fair Trade Province and its revised ethical investment policy.

The Governing Body, made up of 144 clergy and lay people from across Wales, met at the Pavilion, Llandrindod Wells, on April 15-16.

Instan a los episcopales a actuar para proteger el Refugio Nacional de la Vida Salvaje del Ártico

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Una manada de caribúes Purcopine en la zona 1002 de la planicie costera del Refugio Nacional de la Vida Salvaje del Ártico, con las montañas Brooks en la distancia al sur. Foto de U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

[Episcopal News Service] Para las compañías productoras de energía, el Refugio Nacional de la Vida Salvaje del Ártico, en particular su planicie costera de 607.000 hectáreas, representa una valiosa veta potencial de petróleo y gas natural. Para los gwich’in, el pueblo indígena que durante siglos lo ha llamado su hogar, [el sitio] es sagrado.

Este conflicto lleva andando durante más de 30 años de un debate contencioso respecto a si esta planicie costera debe de abrirse a la explotación petrolera o mantenerse como un hábitat intocado. El ecosistema biológicamente diverso es el hogar del caribú Purcopine, de osos polares, de lobos grises, de ovejas Dall, del toro almizclero, de 42 especies de peces y de más de 200 especies de aves.

Es un debate permanente que sólo el Congreso de EE.UU. puede resolver, y una vez más está en el radar con la reciente introducción de un proyecto de ley en la Cámara que designaría la planicie costera como una zona virgen, que quedaría definitivamente al margen de la explotación de hidrocarburos. El 21 de abril —la víspera del Día de la Tierra— y como parte de la campaña de 30 Días de Acción de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera (DFMS), se instará a los episcopales a abogar a favor de la designación de la planicie costera como zona virgen.

Situado en el extremo del refugio ártico sobre la costa del mar de Beaufort, justo al este de los campos petrolíferos de la bahía de Prudhoe, la planicie costera es el territorio donde se reproduce el caribú Purcopine, llamado así por el vecino río Purcopine.

El pueblo Gwich’in, que ha dependido del caribú durante miles de años, se refiere a la planicie costera como “el lugar sagrado donde empieza la vida”.

Los gwich’in, el 90 por ciento de los cuales son episcopales, se han enfrentado a los funcionarios conservadores de su estado para proteger la planicie costera del desarrollo y de la perforación petrolífera. La designación de zona virgen también protegería los derechos culturales y de subsistencia del pueblo gwich’in.

“Dependemos de las manadas de caribúes Purcopine para nuestra supervivencia y si la salud de esa manada se ve amenazada, ello amenaza nuestro modo de vida. Un día tendremos que volver a una vida más sencilla y no podremos hacerlo si la manada se ha ido”, dijo Princess Daazhraii Johnson, episcopal de toda la vida y ex directora ejecutiva del Comité Directivo Gwich’in.

En1988, miembros provenientes de toda la Nación Gwich’in se reunieron en Arctic Village, Alaska, en el rincón sudeste del refugio ártico, para una asamblea peculiar en más de un siglo. Acudieron en aerotaxis provenientes de 15 remotas aldeas, dispersas a través del nordeste de Alaska y el noroeste de Canadá —aldeas localizadas en la ruta migratoria del caribú— y crearon el Comité Directivo Gwich’in, explicó Johnson, en una llamada telefónica con Episcopal News Service desde la iglesia episcopal de San Mateo [St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church] en Fairbanks.

“No habíamos tenido una reunión como esta en 100 años, pero esta fue una discusión seria”, explicó ella. “Yo tenía 14 años en ese momento. Mi familia asistió a la reunión. Yo no estuve, pero las ramificaciones tuvieron un gran impacto en mi vida”.

Noventa y cinco por ciento de la Ladera Norte de Alaska ya está abierta al desarrollo, dijo Johnson. Abrir la planicie costera tendría una repercusión mundial.

“Penetrar en el refugio es simbólico… Enviaría un mensaje de que no hay lugares permanentemente protegidos, [que] ningún lugar es sagrado”, dijo “ [que] nuestra sed por extraer petróleo va a sobreponerse a eso”.

A través del debate, las voces indígenas han sido marginadas, y a las culturas nativas se les ha caracterizado como ingenuas, descartando el hecho de que los pueblos indígenas han vivido en su tierra ancestral en el Ártico durante siglos, y que han sufrido de primera mano los efectos del cambio climático.

“Me siento muy agradecida de que la Iglesia Episcopal siempre ha elevado su voz”, dijo ella.

La participación de la Iglesia

La Iglesia Episcopal ha estado en Alaska desde mediados del siglo XIX, y los gwich’in han sido casi en su totalidad miembros de la Iglesia, dijo el Rdo. Scott Fisher, rector de San Mateo, quien participó en la entrevista telefónica desde su parroquia.

El apoyo de la Iglesia Episcopal para proteger el refugio del Ártico, explicó él, comenzó en la Diócesis de Alaska, donde el clero gwich’in introdujo el asunto por primera vez y luego lo presentó ante la Convención General.

En 1991, la Convención General aprobó una resolución por la que oponía a la explotación de petróleo en el refugio del Ártico y se comprometía a trabajar en pro de una legislación “para mejorar la eficiencia y la conservación energéticas de manera que perforar en esta zona prístina no sería necesario”.

Clérigos gwich’in y el obispo de Alaska, Mark Lattime, posan para una foto en la iglesia episcopal de San Mateo en Fairbanks en junio de 2014, luego de una histórica eucaristía en lengua takudh. Foto cortesía de Scott Fisher.

“El Refugio Nacional de la Vida Salvaje del Ártico es más que la preservación de una zona virgen establecida para proteger la pérdida de delicados ecosistemas árticos, es también un lugar sagrado: el hogar espiritual y cultural del pueblo gwich’in”, escribió [el Rvdmo.] Mark Lattimel, obispo de Alaska, en un e-mail a ENS, cuando le preguntaron sobre la importancia del continuo apoyo de la Iglesia Episcopal.

“Todos los cristianos están llamados a buscar la justicia y la paz entre todos los pueblos, y a respetar la dignidad de todo ser humano. Esto es el voto sagrado del bautismo. Como obispo de la Diócesis Episcopal de Alaska, la Iglesia que la mayoría de los gwich’in identifica como suya, llamó a las personas de fe, especialmente a los episcopales, a escuchar la voz del pueblo gwich’in cuando procura proteger no sólo el medioambiente y la paz de su hogar, sino el respeto a su modo de vida y a la dignidad que éste conlleva”.

In 2005 la Iglesia Episcopal se asoció con el Comité Directivo Gwich’in en un informe sobre las implicaciones en los derechos humanos de las perforaciones [petrolíferas] en el refugio.

La perspectiva histórico-política

En 1960, un año después de que Alaska se convirtiera en estado, el presidente Dwight Eisenhower reservó 3,4 millones de hectáreas en la Ladera Norte y la designó “Pradera Nacional de la Vida Salvaje del Ártico”.

Las crisis en el Oriente Medio de los años setenta, la rebelión de la OPEC de 1973-74 y la revolución de Irán de 1979 aumentaron dramáticamente los precios del petróleo, y la explotación en la bahía de Prudhoe, que anteriormente había sido demasiado costosa, se hizo rentable. En la actualidad es el mayor yacimiento petrolífero de América del Norte.

En 1980, el presidente Jimmy Carter y el Congreso, en conformidad con la Ley de Conservación de Tierras de Interés Nacional en Alaska, aumentó en más del doble la zona de preservación, rebautizándola como “Refugio Nacional de la Vida Salvaje del Ártico”.

Aunque la Ley de Conservación de Tierras de Interés Nacional en Alaska exigía que el estado pusiera la utilización [de recursos] para la subsistencia del pueblo indígena por encima de todo lo demás y prohibía las exploraciones de petróleo y gas en el rincón nordeste a lo largo de la planicie costera, dejó la posibilidad de futuras exploraciones en manos de congreso.

En 1987, cuando Ronald Reagan era presidente, el Departamento del Interior de EE.UU. recomendó que el Congreso abriera la planicie costera a la explotación petrolífera. El presidente George H.W. Bush, que comenzó su presidencia en 1989, hizo de la perforación en el refugio una pieza central de su política energética, y a principios de marzo de 1989 un subcomité del Senado aprobó un arrendamiento en la planicie costera. El 24 de marzo de 1989, el Exxon Valdez vertió más de 11 millones de galones de petróleo crudo en el estrecho del Príncipe William.

Cuando Irak invadió a Kuwait y más tarde incendió sus yacimientos petrolíferos, la posibilidad de perforar en el refugio del Ártico  adquirió nuevamente vigencia y finalmente se abrió paso en un paquete presupuestario que el presidente Bill Clinton vetó. Luego de los ataques terroristas del 11 de septiembre y de un aumento en los precios del petróleo, el presidente George W. Bush, al igual que su padre, pensó que perforar en la planicie costera debía de ser parte de la política energética del país.

A principios de enero de este año, se presentó en la Cámara de Representantes federal con apoyo bipartidario la Ley de la Zona Virgen del Ártico Udall-Eisenhower .  Si es aprobada, protegería de manera permanente 4,9 millones de hectáreas —incluida la planicie costera. El 25 de enero el presidente Barack Obama respaldó el proyecto de ley. Si lo aprueban, la zona se convertiría en la mayor zona virgen protegida desde la aprobación de la Ley de Zonas Vírgenes en 1964.

Defensa continua

La Iglesia Episcopal se unió a otras comunidades religiosas para darle las gracias a Obama por tomar una medida que “representa un paso decisivo en la protección de una parte sagrada de la creación de Dios, y le damos las gracias por empeñarse en salvaguardar este tesoro nacional”.

“Participamos en esta labor de defensa no sólo por nuestra preocupación de administrar la creación de Dios, sino también por mostrarnos en solidaridad con nuestros hermanos y hermanas gwich’in que viven en el Ártico y dependen de las manadas del caribú Purcopine para su subsistencia diaria”, dijo Jayce Hafner, analista de política nacional para la DFMS.

La Iglesia Episcopal en su 77ª. Convención General en 2012 aprobó una legislación en la que decía que “estaba en solidaridad con esas comunidades que llevan las cargas del cambio climático global”, entre ellos los pueblos indígenas.

“La Iglesia Episcopal, la comunidad religiosa en un sentido más amplio y otras [entidades] se han mostrado realmente solidarias de los gwich’in, pero para mí hay un panorama más grande y más amplio”, dijo Johnson. “Necesitamos una economía más compasiva y debemos pensar en el cambio climático: las personas más afectadas son indígenas, pero todo el mundo está afectado”.

Los indígenas de Alaska ya han comenzado a experimentar cambios significativos en su entorno natural, explicó Johnson durante un panel sobre las repercusiones regionales del cambio climático. El panel fue parte del foro del 24 de marzo en Los Ángeles que tuvo lugar para crear conciencia a través de la Iglesia Episcopal de los efectos del cambio climático.

“El Ártico es uno de los lugares del planeta que se está entibiando más rápidamente y estamos viendo derretirse las capas de hielo, nuestros glaciares están desapareciendo, la costra congelada se está derritiendo, [y hay] erosión costera”, dijo Johnson durante el foro. “Ya tenemos a comunidades enteras que deben ser relocalizadas”.

El cambio climático es el cambio gradual en la temperatura global causado por acumulación de gases de efecto invernadero que atrapan el calor en la atmósfera y, en consecuencia, alteran la temperatura de la tierra. Algunas zonas se tornan más cálidas, así como otras se hacen más frías. Por ejemplo, la zona continental de Estados Unidos experimentó el invierno más frío que se conoce desde que comenzara este registro formal de las temperaturas a fines del siglo XIX, mientras que Alaska experimentó un invierno moderado para la estación.

Proteger la planicie costera del Ártico es particularmente importante ahora mismo, dijo Hafner, mientras el planeta confronta las emisiones de carbón producidas por la extracción de combustible fósil, lo cual, a su vez, contribuye al cambio climático.

“Estamos sosteniendo estas conversaciones en la esfera local de las comunidades parroquiales, en la esfera nacional con el Plan Presidencial para la Energía Limpia, y en el ámbito internacional con las negociaciones de la Convención sobre el Cambio Climático en el Marco de las Naciones Unidas que culminarán en París en diciembre”, afirmó ella.

El objetivo de la conferencia de París es forjar un acuerdo internacional con vistas a que el mundo haga la transición hacia sociedades y economías resistentes y de bajo consumo de carbón. Si se logra, sería el primer tratado internacional vinculante en 20 años de conversaciones sobre el clima en las Naciones Unidas, y afectaría a países desarrollados y en vías de desarrollo.

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

Transformados por 12 años en Tanzania, unos misioneros se disponen a regresar

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

La Rda. Sandra McCann bautiza a un anciano miembro de la iglesia anglicana de San Pedro, en Chikola, Tanzania, durante una de sus visitas parroquiales en la Diócesis de Tanganica Central.

[Episcopal News Service] De niña, la Rda. Sandra McCann soñaba con ir algún día a África. Pero nunca se imaginó que se convertiría en su hogar, su ministerio y su vida entera durante 12 años.

Cuando Sandy y su marido Martin alcanzaron la mitad de la cincuentena, tomaron la decisión audaz de abandonar sus exitosas carreras médicas en radiología y patología, vender su casa y mudarse a África como misioneros de la Iglesia Episcopal. Su mudanza se retrasó durante tres años y en ese tiempo Sandy se graduó en el Seminario Teológico de Virginia con una Maestría en Teología y la ordenaron presbítera de la Iglesia Episcopal.

Luego de un año de “práctica” en Maseno, Kenia, donde trabajo junto con los misioneros episcopales Gerry y Nancy Hardison, los McCann se mudaron a Dodoma, la capital de Tanzania, y han pasado la última década enseñando, y curando y viviendo en una comunidad bastante alejada de la vida que antes llevaban en Columbus, Georgia. La experiencia ha cambiado y expandido para siempre su visión del mundo, dicen ellos.

Con la ayuda y el aliento de la Oficina de Personal de la Misión de la Iglesia Episcopal, y atendiendo a la invitación del difunto obispo Mdimi Mhogolo, de la Diócesis de Tanganica Central, Sandy enseñó en el Colegio Teológico Msalato y finalmente asumió el cargo de directora de comunicaciones al tiempo que sirve de capellana de esta universidad.

El misionero episcopal Martin McCann analiza un espécimen en su laboratorio de patología en Dodoma, Tanzania. Foto de David Copley.

Martin estableció un laboratorio de patología en el que pueden detectarse enfermedades mediante el uso de toda una variedad de técnicas investigativas, un servicio que no ha cesado de crecer en los últimos 10 años y que anteriormente no existía en la región central de Tanzania. En la actualidad, la clínica recibe especímenes de hospitales públicos locales de Dodoma, así como de varios hospitales de misiones.

En el transcurso de los años y a través de generosas donaciones, Martin ha podido reemplazar y mejorar el equipo, y su personal ha aumentado de un asistente a tres, uno de ellos diplomado de histopatología.

Martin ha concentrado sus esfuerzos en la aspiración con aguja fina, un procedimiento sencillo para el establecimiento de un diagnóstico rápido que él cree que tiene un papel vital que desempeñar en países de escasos recursos. En 2014, realizó más de 1.200 biopsias de aspiración con aguja fina y atendió 2.200 casos de histopatología.

Ahora, a principios de su setentena, los McCann han decidido que 2015 será su último año en Tanzania, una decisión difícil para ellos, pero que se ha facilitado gracias a la conclusión exitosa de una subvención para el Colegio Teológico de Msalato que costea becas de alumnos y salarios de profesores.

Pero antes de irse, están deseosos de garantizar que el consultorio de patología de Martin continuará y están buscando urgentemente a un patólogo (o dos) para reemplazarlo.

[Cualquiera que esté interesado en trabajar como patólogo en Dodoma debe dirigirse al Rdo. David Copley, encargado del personal de misión de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera (DFMS, por su sigla en inglés) en dcopley@episcopalchurch.org.]

A los McCann los hacen miembros honoríficos del coro de mujeres de San Pablo en Mvumi Makula, durante una visita parroquial en la Diócesis de Tanganica Central.

Atravesar fronteras culturales y crear asociaciones y participar de la misión de Dios tanto local como mundialmente es la esencia misma del programa misionero de la Iglesia Episcopal, que esta administrada por la DFMS y que auspicia en la actualidad a 47 misioneros adultos. Médicos, enfermeros, maestros, contadores, agricultores, técnicos en computación, administradores, teólogos y comunicadores se cuentan entre sus muchos desempeños.

Los misioneros son laicos y ordenados, jóvenes y viejos, y sirven como “representantes de nuestra comunidad que atraviesan fronteras culturales para participar en la misión de Dios a la que nuestros hermanos y hermanas en otras partes de la Comunión Anglicana se sienten llamados a responder”, dice Copley, funcionario de la DFMS encargado del personal de misión.

Resulta difícil “cuantificar el éxito de nuestros misioneros, porque la premisa básica siempre es fortalecer las relaciones con nuestros asociados”. Algunas de las historias más exitosas pueden encontrarse “en el programa que continúa cuando los misioneros dejan de estar presentes”, añadió Copley, de aquí la importancia de encontrar un reemplazo para Martin que garantice que su laboratorio de patología puede seguir sirviendo a los necesitados en Tanzania Central.

El recién publicado Informe a la Iglesia detalla la labor de la DFMS en coordinación y apoyo de los misioneros de la Iglesia Episcopal que prestan servicios a través del mundo.

“La Iglesia Episcopal apoya muchas formas de servicio misional que incluyen a nuestros jóvenes adultos que dedican un año a participar con el Cuerpo de Servicio de Jóvenes Adultos (YASC), a adultos mayores en asignaciones de un año y en proyectos especiales a corto plazo de menos de un año, así como a misioneros a largo plazo. Todos tienen su lugar in el panorama más general de la misión mundial y todos tienen sus méritos”, dijo Copley.

“Los misioneros a largo plazo tales como los McCann adquieren una perspectiva única de la vida, la cultura y la fe de los asociados con quienes marchan juntos, la cual no puede adquirirse en asignaciones de menos tiempo”. Añadió Copley. “Los McCann han sido la encarnación física de la relación que la Iglesia Episcopal promueve en Tanzania y en todo el ámbito denominacional. Las relaciones que ellos desarrollan con nuestros asociados anglicanos ayudan a fortalecer la Comunión Anglicana y ayudan a acercar más a los miembros del Cuerpo de Cristo.

“Martin y Sandy han dado una parte significativa de sus vidas al servicio de otros y estamos muy agradecidos por su ministerio”.

Martin se interesó en convertirse en misionero luego de prestar servicio en cortos viajes en misiones médicas —con varias denominaciones— a Haití y América del Sur. Luego, con la Misión Médica Mundial, Martin sirvió como patólogo en Kijabe, Kenia, recibiendo especímenes y devolviendo diagnósticos de unos 42 hospitales y clínicas. El laboratorio que él ha establecido en el Centro Médico Diocesano Anglicano de Dodoma sigue el mismo modelo.

Para Sandy, instalada como canóniga de la Diócesis de Tanganica Central en mayo de 2012, en honor a su ministerio allí, las simientes misioneras fueron plantadas en los primeros años de su vida. “Mi madre era una cristiana que siempre estaba haciendo por otros… desde compartir su huerto, su mesa, su auto o sus habilidades de peluquera”, dijo ella. “Desperdiciar cualquier cosa era un pecado. Hacerlo útil constituía un arte. Nuestras ropas las remendaban, las lavaban, las planchaban y se las dábamos a otros cuando nos quedaban pequeñas. Todo lo que nos pusieran en los platos había que comérselo, porque ‘¡hay niños muriéndose de hambre en África!’ Yo crecí en este ambiente”.

Los McCann dicen que se sienten privilegiados de haber sido llamados a esta labor, que la describen como interesante, apasionante y también retadora, el aprender a vivir en una cultura del todo diferente.

A los McCann los hicieron miembros honorarios del coro de mujeres de San Pablo en Myumi Makula, durante una visita parroquial en la Diócesis de Tanganica Central.

La mejor parte, sin embargo, “ha sido encontrar y llegar a conocer a cristianos que siguen siendo fieles en circunstancias muy difíciles y frustrantes. Esto ciertamente nos abrió los ojos a la diferencia entre un problema del primer mundo y un problema de los países en desarrollo”, dicen ellos. “Escuchar el evangelio en un contexto enteramente nuevo es transformador. Mientras en Occidente pasamos por encima de maldiciones y fantasmas y demonios, eso no es el caso aquí. El espacio liminal es muy tenue entre el mundo físico y el espiritual. Adorar y estudiar con cristianos de África Oriental ha abierto nuestras mentes a otras formas de culto y a otras maneras de entender a Dios”.

Ser misionera brinda una gran libertad, dijo Sandy, liberada de las presiones sociales de los Estados Unidos. “No hay que competir con los vecinos, aunque eso nunca fue una prioridad para nosotros”, apuntó ella. “Cuando recibíamos a los estudiantes en nuestra casa en Kenia, todo el mundo tenía que traer su propio plato —y encontrábamos que era muchísimo más divertido apretujarnos en nuestra casita y hacerlo de este modo. En Msalato pedíamos prestado el único molde de pastel o la única moledora de carne o la única ‘auténtica’ cafetera. Me gusta vivir así en comunidad …Soy chapada a la antigua y me encanta usar las cosas mientras duran y hacer que funcionen y ser creativa con lo que tengo, de manera que esto me cuadra”.

Los mayores retos, afirmó, han sido la abyecta pobreza y la falta de la mayoría de los recursos básicos, especialmente agua potable; la burocracia y la corrupción y deshonestidad extendidas; el miedo a la autoridad y a denunciar abusos o conducta impropia; una creencia generalizada en la brujería, incluso entre cristianos y personas instruidas, y la deficiente infraestructura.

El reciente resurgimiento del asesinato de niños albinos debido a que los médicos brujos prometen que las partes de sus cuerpos, el pelo y la sangre traerán buena suerte en el amor y la fortuna es algo particularmente perturbador, agregó. “Es escandaloso lo extendido y arraigado que siguen estando los sistemas de creencias primitivas en partes de Tanzania”, señaló ella.

A pesar de “la extrema dificultad y la frustración de vivir honestamente en una sociedad corrupta”, los McCann dicen que como resultado de las experiencias de los últimos 12 años, “somos menos críticos, más pacientes y más conscientes de la tarea monumental que costará llevar a Tanzania a la etapa de la independencia económica”.

Ellos también han hecho incontables amigos y han llegado “a admirar muchísimo al pueblo tanzano. Nos han demostrado que la posibilidad de [experimentar] un júbilo profundo en medio de los sufrimientos de la vida diaria es algo real. Como el difunto obispo Mhogo dijo una vez respecto a estar en las parroquias de aldea: las personas son pobres, con frecuencia están hambrientas, pero aún así siguen danzando y alabando al Señor.  Es cierto y es algo bello de observar”.

Sandy dice que ella ha visto la mano de Dios en todo lo que han hecho, “pero a menudo sólo a través del ‘retrospectoscopio’. Ahora estamos tomando de nuevo la mano de Dios y adentrándonos en la oscuridad, confiándole a El nuestra próxima tarea”.

— Matthew Davies es redactor y reportero de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Los cristianos de Pakistán, fieles y fuertes a pesar de la persecución

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 20, 2015

El Muy Rdo. Patrick Augustine, rector de la iglesia episcopal de Cristo en La Crosse, Wisconsin, coloca la primera piedra de una nueva iglesia cristiana cerca de Muzzaffarabad durante una reciente visita de solidaridad a Pakistán.

[Episcopal News Service] Pakistán es uno de los más conflictivos epicentros del terrorismo en todo el mundo, donde las minorías resultan víctimas de extremistas religiosos por tener diferentes creencias y filiaciones. Sin embargo, la comunidad cristiana perseguida —1,5 por ciento de una población de 180 millones— se mantiene firme en la fe a pesar de la diaria persecución a la que se enfrenta.

El mes pasado, estallaron dos bombas en un barrio cristiano de la ciudad paquistaní de Lahore con un saldo de 17 muertos y más de 70 heridos mientras los feligreses asistían a la misa dominical en la iglesia católica de San Juan y en la iglesia de Cristo, una congregación de la Iglesia de Pakistán que es miembro de la Comunión Anglicana.

“Los mensajes de amor y de apoyo han sido abrumadores, y las iglesias y agencias de la Comunión Anglicana están colaborando para garantizar una respuesta efectiva y coordinada, así como oración continua”, según un comunicado de prensa de la Alianza Anglicana, que vincula y refuerza las actividades de desarrollo, ayuda y promoción de iglesias, organismos y redes de la Comunión Anglicana.

En una teleconferencia reciente con representantes de iglesias y organismos de la Comunión Anglicana, el obispo Irfan Jamil, de la Diócesis de Lahore, habló sobre las prioridades de su iglesia y su comunidad después de los atentados.

Jamil y su equipo han estado visitando a los dolientes y a los que resultaron lesionados por el estallido de las bombas, decía el comunicado. La Agencia Episcopal de Ayuda y Desarrollo ha enviado una subvención de solidaridad para posibilitar la respuesta de la Iglesia a los necesitados después de los ataques.

La Iglesia de Pakistán (Unida) y la Iglesia Católica Romana celebraron un oficio funeral conjunto para las víctimas. El arzobispo de Cantórbery Justin Welby participó del oficio por teléfono y sus oraciones fueron traducidas y compartidas con los dolientes.

“El obispo Jamil inspiró a los participantes [en la teleconferencia] con su énfasis en el papel de los líderes de la Iglesia en edificar la paz, la armonía y el entendimiento mutuo y con su mensaje a la Comunión Anglicana de seguir al lado de la Iglesia en Pakistán en estos tiempos de trauma”, decía el comunicado.

El ataque más devastador en Pakistán ocurrió en septiembre de 2013 cuando dos terroristas suicidas eligieron de blanco la iglesia anglicana de Todos los Santos, en Peshawar, al final de un oficio, atentado que dejó 127 muertos y 170 heridos. Muchas de las víctimas fueron mujeres y niños.

El obispo Samuel Azariah, de la Diócesis de Raiwind, moderador de la Iglesia de Pakistán, habló con Episcopal News Service poco después de ese trágico día, diciendo que incluso después de años de intensa persecución de parte de los extremistas religiosos, la población cristiana en Pakistán crece. “Nada logrará enfriar nuestros espíritus. Bombas, asesinatos, incendios, balacera no enfriarán nuestros espíritus ni nuestro compromiso con Jesucristo”, afirmó.

El obispo de Peshawar, Humphrey Peters, dijo en un mensaje de Pascua la semana pasada que los ataques terroristas “han dejado una cicatriz permanente en la memoria y el alma de la comunidad cristiana de Pakistán… Por una parte, todas estas amenazas, incidentes de violencia y blancos de persecución desaniman a la comunidad cristiana de Pakistán. Pero, por la otra, han fortalecido la fe y… su compromiso de fidelidad con el Señor Jesucristo”.

Fue esta firmeza y esta profunda fe la que el Muy Rdo. Patrick Augustine experimentó cuando visitó Pakistán a principios de este año como expresión de solidaridad con la comunidad cristiana alln de explosivos para matar a los que vos para imponer el islam por medio de la violencia, las decapitaciones y la detonacide la í.

Miembros de la congregación de la iglesia anglicana de Todos los Santos en Peshawar.

El rector de la iglesia episcopal de Cristo [Christ Episcopal Church] en La Crosse, Wisconsin, que es natural de Pakistán, predicó durante el oficio del 25 de enero en la ahora muy custodiada iglesia de Todos los Santos, construida en el antiguo bazar de la ciudad vieja de Peshawar en 1865. Él encontró una iglesia que crece y que está llena de fieles cristianos. “Me sentí conmovido por la fuerza y el compromiso de su fe”, le dijo a ENS.

“Los terroristas creen que tienen motivos para imponer el islam por medio de la violencia, las decapitaciones y la detonación de explosivos, para matar a aquellos cuyos sistemas de creencias difieren”, añadió. “El sufrimiento está en todas partes y ha abrumado nuestra humanidad”.

Los cristianos en Pakistán son “víctimas por los islamitas en brutales atentados suicidas, [pero también] del acoso diario y de encarcelamientos”, dijo Augustine.

Existe el caso prominente de Asia Bibi, una mujer cristiana y madre de cinco hijos que fue arrestada en junio de 2009 luego de ser acusada de insultar al profeta Mahoma —lo cual ella niega— y sentenciada a morir en la horca. Ella sigue en una cárcel pakistaní a pesar de que casi 1 millón de personas en todo el mundo solicitaron su liberación. Algunas acusaciones de blasfemia han sido divulgadas en la prensa, pero hay otras miles que pasan inadvertidas.

Luego del oficio matutino del domingo en la iglesia anglicana de Todos los Santos en Peshawar, el Rdo. Patrick Augustine ora con una familia que perdió varios seres queridos en el atentado dinamitero de septiembre de 2013.

La ley pakistaní de la blasfemia identifica como un delito profanar el Sagrado Corán, lo cual conlleva una posible sentencia de cadena perpetua. Pero las ofensas contra el profeta Mahoma pueden castigarse con la pena de muerte.

“Esta ley draconiana es una espada que cuelga sobre la cabeza de cada cristiano. Una vez acusado, el individuo corre el riesgo de [caer en manos de] fervientes islamitas que creen que ganarán méritos con Alá por matar a un blasfemo”, dijo Augustine. “Millares de personas inocentes han sido encarceladas y muertas en base a falsas acusaciones de blasfemia.

Augustine lamentó la inacción del gobierno de Pakistán, el cual, según él, “ha permitido que los grupos extremistas islámicos propaguen el odio… la violencia, la intolerancia y que difundan ideas extremistas en mezquitas ordinarias y en centros comunitarios”.

Pero Augustine —que en 2012 fue galardonado con la Cruz de San Agustín por el anterior arzobispo de Cantórbery Rowan Williams, en reconocimiento a sus contribuciones, a escala internacional, a la evangelización, el ecumenismo y la paz y la reconciliación entre las religiones— dijo que “la gente quiere la paz. Vivimos en un mundo diseñado por Dios, de modo que todos nos necesitamos mutuamente como miembros de la familia humana. Hay personas de buena voluntad tanto entre cristianos como entre musulmanes. Les pido a todas las personas de buena voluntad que se pronuncien y que no se conviertan en espectadores silenciosos”.

El Consejo Ejecutivo de la Iglesia Episcopal en su reunión de marzo aprobó una resolución que condenaba el uso de la religión para los fines de promover agendas políticas “dirigidas a aterrorizar, victimizar y oprimir a individuos y comunidades y a afectar su capacidad de disfrutar de derechos humanos básicos debido a sus creencias religiosas y sus filiaciones sociales, étnicas, de clase, de casta, de género y nacionalidad”.

La resolución llama también a los gobiernos del mundo “a confrontar la realidad de la persecución religiosa, a proteger a las minorías y los civiles dentro del marco del derecho internacional y humanitario, a abordar la exclusión política y la desesperación económica que están siendo manipuladas por las fuerzas de los extremistas y a aumentar la ayuda humanitaria y para el desarrollo en los países de acogida y en las ONG confiables, y a aceptar el reasentamiento de una parte proporcional de las personas más vulnerables allí donde el regreso a sus países de origen es imposible”.

El Rdo. Canónigo Robert Edmunds, encargado de asociaciones orientales de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera (DFMS), dijo: “A veces oímos el termino ‘presencia cristiana’ en el Oriente Medio y suena pasivo y carente de vitalidad, cuando la verdad del asunto para los que viven allí es muy diferente. La presencia cristiana a través de la región tiene que ver con cristianos cuyas familias y raíces religiosas se remontan al tiempo de Cristo. Estos no son transeúntes en una tierra extraña, sino personas cuyas vidas son parte integrante del paisaje, la historia, la cultura las tradiciones que han formado y continúan formando a cada generación”.

La presencia de las iglesias cristianas a través de la región “brinda el lenguaje del amor de Dios y de todos los prójimos en peligro de ser silenciados”, añadió Edmunds. “Nosotros en Occidente debemos seguir dándoles visibilidad a esas atrocidades, tanto desde el punto de vista de la solidaridad con nuestros hermanos y hermanas cristianos, como para alentar a los líderes políticos a buscar soluciones de paz permanente y duraderas para beneficio de todos. Perder la voz cristiana en la región sería catastrófico para el futuro”.

Los amigos, familiares y feligreses de Augustine expresaron su preocupación de que él visitara Pakistán en un momento tan inestable. Pero Augustine dijo, refiriéndose a su viaje, que él había encontrado incontables señales de esperanza y sorpresas inesperadas.

El Muy Rdo. Patrick Augustine con jóvenes líderes de la Diócesis de Peshawar, algunos de los cuales resultaron lesionados y perdieron a miembros de su familia en los atentados terroristas de la iglesia anglicana de Todos los Santos.

A primera hora de una mañana de domingo en febrero, Augustine y 20 cristianos de Islamabad viajaron por carretera durante cuatro horas para estar con una familia cristiana cerca de Muzzaffarabad. La familia ha estado viviendo allí desde 1933, pero ellos son los únicos cristianos en una zona exclusivamente islámica. Augustine describió [la visita] como un profundo privilegio y un día histórico mientas contaba cómo le habían pedido que celebrara la Santa Comunión y predicara, y luego plantara la primera piedra de una iglesia que tendrá lugar para 50 personas.

El primer día de su arribo a Islamabad, visitó el taller de un sastre con un amigo. Uno de los hermanos musulmanes que dirige el taller le pidió a Augustine que orara por él. Cuando Augustine le dijo que él ora en el nombre de Jesús, el hermano le dijo que no tenía ninguna objeción.

Cuando estaba a punto de irse, el otro de los hermanos se le acercó a Augustine y le pido que orara con ellos también. “Los miré y vi en sus ojos hambre de Dios para recuperación y bendición”, dijo él. “Impuse mis manos sobre ellos y les pedí a Dios que los bendijera, y que bendijera su taller y que bendijera a Pakistán para que fuera una tierra de paz. Esta fue una experiencia sorprendente en un país donde a los cristianos los persiguen y los discriminan a diario”.

Dos días después, Peters, el obispo de Peshawar, recibió una llamada telefónica sobre el ataque de una turba musulmana a una escuela dirigida por cristianos en la ciudad de Banú. La escuela tiene 1.800 estudiantes, el 99 por ciento de los cuales son musulmanes. Peters y cuatro clérigos decidieron partir inmediatamente [hacia el lugar] e invitaron a Augustine que los acompañara. “Es una zona de altísima seguridad y no muchos estadounidenses podrán hacer este viaje peligroso. Fue un privilegio ir… y mostrarse en solidaridad con una iglesia sufriente”, dijo Augustine.

El Muy Rdo. Patrick Augustine ora con la desplazada comunidad cristiana en Banú.

Dentro del complejo de instalaciones, había 200 familias cristianas desplazadas internamente de la zona de Waziristán, un baluarte de las fuerzas de Al-Qaeda y el Talibán y la región donde los aviones norteamericanos no tripulados han estado cazando terroristas.

“Hay un millón de desplazados internos”, dijo Augustine. “Las familias cristianas estaban viviendo en campamentos de refugiados… y no les daban alimento ni abrigo. Ha sido una zona anglicana desde los años sesenta del siglo XIX. El obispo invitó a los cristianos a levantar tiendas dentro de las instalaciones de la iglesia donde también están situados una escuela y un hospital. Ellos pueden proporcionarle educación y ayuda médica a musulmanes y cristianos en esta ciudad.

“Dediqué todo un día a visitar a estas personas desplazadas, a escuchar sus historias, a sostener sus manos y a orar con ellos… No percibí que esas personas estuvieran dispuestas a renunciar a su fe, sino que eran muy fuertes, profundamente arraigados y comprometidos a seguir a Jesús en el camino de la cruz”.

– Matthew Davies es redactor y reportero de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Presiding Bishop preaches at St. Mark’s, Suffolk

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 20, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached the following sermon at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Suffolk, Virginia. 

 

St. Mark’s, Suffolk, VA
Centennial celebration
April 19, 2015

 

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

 

Beloved, you are the apple of God’s eye. That’s what John is trying to communicate in his letter, over and over and over again. “Beloved, we are God’s children now” – already! And even though we aren’t yet complete, we know that we will be like the child of God we have known in Jesus. We will be like him, and we will be risen with him.[1] Living clean and right and true is part of the journey of transformation toward that risen life. We have glimpses of it in this life, even if we haven’t yet fully arrived!

Toni Morrison has had glimpses of it as well, and her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Beloved[2] is a haunting and piercing search for transformation toward a risen life. How do we discover resurrection in our midst; how do we participate in what God is doing all around us, all the time? For starters, risen life isn’t believable without witness to the scars the risen Jesus bears and shows his beloved friends. None of us will rise without walking through the work of re-membering what has been broken and dismembered. People and peoples must acknowledge the scars that evil leaves and do it in the full light of day in order to become whole, healed, and ultimately holy.

The church has usually talked about that work of re-membering as forgiveness of sin, but for many people the words and concepts often seem dry or opaque. Re-membering, putting things back together in a new and healed body, isn’t so much about letting go of the effects of evil; it’s almost the reverse. It’s about finding the courage to walk through the pain, abandonment, and despair to find the sparks of love in the ashes of what has died or been lost.

What would you have to tell about ashes and sparks of love at St. Mark’s?            The centennial you are celebrating coincides with the Armenian genocide that also began in April of 1915. The two stories have a lot in common – denial about what caused the events of 1915, and the continuing pain of seeing one group of people as other. When the American ambassador to Turkey wrote home about what was happening in the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, he talked about “race murders.”[3]

I haven’t been able to find very much written about the history of this parish, but I can see that it was founded by St. Paul’s, Suffolk, only 20 years after they built the large gothic building they still use today. I doubt that St. Mark’s began because there wasn’t enough room in the inn or because it was too far to walk. I can also see that this congregation has endured and flourished with a long series of leaders, even if most of the clergy didn’t stay very long. When they did, this congregation bloomed. Fr. Walker, may you live long and prosper with the people of St. Mark’s and St. James[4]! The world’s standards of success are not God’s. Faithfulness, endurance, truth-telling, and thanksgiving for risen life are the essentials for the gospel journey of transformation.

What the world intends for evil, God can turn to good. St. Mark’s has flourished by focusing on the gospel truth that we are all beloved, in spite of other sinful human opinions. You have been a community that reminds all its members they are beloved children of God, and you keep going into the world to share that good news with all who will listen.

The beloved child of God we call messiah suffered and died, and rose again. Jesus told his disciples what was going to happen but they shrank from the news, and they slunk away during his last hours. Jesus kept telling truth in all his resurrection appearances. ‘See the wounds and scars – put your fingers here – they’re real.’ If he is God’s beloved, then so are we, and we, too, will rise again, beloved.

And so is every sorry, suffering son and daughter of God beloved. Where have you met the beloved?… Who is hungry? There he is, beloved. Who’s been beaten? There she is, beloved. Who has no place to call home? There, in all the immigrants some of us love to hate. The word is that Jesus and his family were refugees in Egypt after Herod got scared. Your rector and his family came here as refugees – beloved. A million and a half murdered Armenians – beloved, too. Twelve million Africans displaced and dead at the hands of the slave trade – beloved. Six million Jews, and 5 million Gypsies, Poles, disabled, gay and lesbian people, murdered by the Nazi regime – beloved. We have to tell the truth, and confront the pain and rejection, the brutality and inhumanity, the death and enduring scars, and when we do, like Mary returning to the tomb, hope finds a foothold.

There is hope all around us – right here, through a century of faithfully loving others as you love yourselves. I saw hope yesterday at the Province V synod that had spent an afternoon in good, hard, anti-racism work. I see it in the urgency about policing and mass incarceration. The risen one is here and all around us, when we look.

In that gospel account, Jesus is insistent – ‘I’m not a ghost, and these flesh and bones are hungry! What have you got to eat?’[5] We are the witnesses, the ones who are supposed to see. Who is hungry? That is the risen one, in the flesh. There is God with skin on.

The image of God with skin on, the resurrected one, is at work all around us if we will only look. Sometimes it takes a long time, and our awareness often begins to grow in the midst of thanksgiving. As part of its 175th anniversary celebration, St. John’s in City Point Hopewell is re-membering the body by telling the story of Mrs. Paulina Eppes, born a slave in 1848. Her father, too, was a slave, who served as the church’s sexton most of his adult life. When he died in 1876, he was the first black man to be buried in the church’s cemetery. Paulina’s husband became the next sexton, but when died in 1889, the congregation wouldn’t permit his burial there. Paulina Eppes lived almost a century, long enough to become a beloved matriarch in that congregation, and when she died in 1946, she was buried next to her father, in an unmarked plot. Today the parish is telling the truth, giving thanks for her witness, and marking her grave. They’re all rising a little more into life as beloved children of God.[6]

Where and how are you going to keep on rising from the dead? Beloved, you are the apple of God’s eye, and it’s not a zero-sum game. I met a fellow once with a sweatshirt that said, “Jesus loves you.” On the back it said, “but I’m his favorite.” We are all his favored ones, all beloved, and as we keep on learning that, taking it into the depths of our hearts and being, we move along that journey toward fully risen life.

I wonder if St. Mark’s and St. Paul’s have ever had a story-telling session. What kind of rising might happen if you challenged each other to tell the truth you know about your common history, and ask about where each of you sees the risen one today? Beloved, we must keep telling the truth of that love, and tell about what gets in the way, and keep on rising from the dead, giving thanks for every hint of more abundant life.

Alleluia, Christ is risen! Keep on rising from the dead!

[1] 1 John 3:2

[2] 1987, Alfred Knopf

[3] http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-armenia-genocide-turks-20150416-story.html

[4] The two congregations have in recent months agreed to work together and share a priest

[5] Luke 24:39-41

[6] http://www.progress-index.com/article/20150414/NEWS/150419849

Episcopalians urged to act to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 20, 2015

Porcupine caribou herd in the 1002 area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain, with the Brooks Range mountains in the distance to the south. Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

[Episcopal News Service] To energy companies the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, particularly its 1.5-million acre coastal plain, is a potential oil and natural gas bonanza. To the Gwich’in, the indigenous people who for centuries have called it home, it’s sacred.

This conflict has fueled for more than 30 years a contentious debate over whether this coastal plain should be opened to oil drilling or kept as an unspoiled habitat. The biologically diverse ecosystem is home to Porcupine caribou, polar bears, gray wolves, Dall sheep, musk oxen, 42 fish species and more than 200 bird species.

It is an ongoing debate only U.S. Congress can resolve, and once again it’s on the radar with the recent introduction of a bipartisan bill in the House that would designate the coastal plain a wilderness, permanently making drilling off limits. On April 21 – the day before Earth Day – as part of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s 30 Days of Action campaign, Episcopalians will be encouraged to advocate for coastal plain’s wilderness designation.

Sitting at the top of the Arctic refuge on the coast of the Beaufort Sea, just east of the Prudhoe Bay oil field, the coastal plain is the calving ground for the Porcupine caribou herd, so named for the nearby Porcupine River.

The Gwich’in people, who have depended on the caribou for thousands of years, refer to the coastal plain as “the sacred place where life begins.”

The Gwich’in, 90 percent of them Episcopalians, have opposed their conservative state officials to protect the coastal plain from development and oil drilling. The wilderness designation also would protect the cultural and subsistence rights of the Gwich’in people.

“We are dependent on the Porcupine caribou herd for our survival and if the health of that herd is threatened, it threatens our way of life. One day we’ll have to go back to simpler living and we won’t have that if the herd is gone,” said Princess Daazhraii Johnson, a lifelong Episcopalian and former executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee.

In 1988, Gwich’in from across the Gwich’in Nation gathered in Arctic Village, Alaska, on the southeast corner of the Arctic refuge, for a meeting unlike any in more than a century. They came by chartered bush planes from 15 remote villages scattered across northeast Alaska and northwest Canada – villages located on the caribou’s migratory route – and formed the Gwich’in Steering Committee, explained Johnson, in a telephone call with Episcopal News Service from St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Fairbanks.

“We hadn’t had a gathering like this in 100 years, but this was such a serious discussion,” she said. “I was 14 at the time. My family was there for the gathering. I was not there but the ramifications have had a great impact on my life.”

Ninety-five percent of Alaska’s North Slope already is open for development, said Johnson. To open the coastal plain would resonate throughout the world.

“Getting into the refuge is symbolic. … It will send a message that there are no permanently protected places, [that] no place is sacred,” she said. “Our thirst for extracting oil is going to trump that.”

Throughout the debate, indigenous voices have been sidelined, with native cultures being characterized as simple-minded – dismissing the fact that indigenous people have lived and been caretakers of their ancestral land in the Arctic for centuries, and have suffered firsthand the effects of climate change.

“I feel very grateful because The Episcopal Church has always elevated that voice,” she said.

The church’s involvement
The Episcopal Church has been in Alaska since the mid-1800s, with the Gwich’in almost exclusively members of the church, said the Rev. Scott Fisher, rector of St. Matthew’s, who participated in the phone interview from his parish.

The Episcopal Church’s support for protecting the Arctic refuge, he explained, began in the Diocese of Alaska, where Gwich’in clergy first introduced it, and then brought the matter before General Convention.

In 1991, General Convention passed a resolution opposing oil development in the Arctic refuge, and committed itself to work for legislation “to improve energy efficiency and conservation so that drilling in this pristine area would not be necessary.”

Gwitch’in clergy and Alaska Bishop Mark Lattime gather for a photo at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Fairbanks in June 2014 following an historic Takudh Eucharist. Photo courtesy of Scott Fisher.

“The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is more than a wilderness preserve established to protect against the loss of delicate Arctic ecosystems, it is also a sacred place: the spiritual and cultural home of the Gwich’in people,” wrote Alaska Bishop Mark Lattime in an e-mail to ENS, when asked about the importance of The Episcopal Church’s continued support.

“Every Christian is called to seek justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being. This is the sacred oath of Baptism. As bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Alaska, the church that most Gwich’in identify as home, I call upon people of faith, especially Episcopalians, to listen to the voice of the Gwich’in people as they seek to protect not only the environment and peace of their home, but the respect and dignity of their way of life.”

In 2005 The Episcopal Church partnered with the Gwich’in Steering Committee on a report on the human rights implications of drilling in the refuge.

Historical political perspective
In 1960, a year after Alaska became a state, President Dwight Eisenhower set aside 8.6 million acres in the North Slope and designated it the “Arctic National Wildlife Range.”

Crises in the Middle East in the 1970s, the 1973-74 OPEC rebellion and the 1979 Iran revolution dramatically increased oil prices, and drilling in Prudhoe Bay, which previously had been too expensive, became profitable. It is now the largest oil field in North America.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter and the Congress, under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, more than doubled the area for preservation, renaming it the “Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.”

Although the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act required the state to put the subsistence use of indigenous people above all else and prohibited oil and gas exploration in the northeast corner along the coastal plain, it left the possibility for future exploration in the hands of Congress.

In 1987, when Ronald Reagan was president, the U.S. Department of the Interior recommended that Congress open the coastal plain to drilling. President George H.W. Bush, who began is presidency in 1989, made drilling in the refuge a centerpiece of his energy policy, and in early March 1989 a Senate committee approved leasing in the coastal plain. On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez spilled more than 11 million gallons of crude oil in Prince William Sound.

When Iraq invaded Kuwait and later set fire to its oil fields, the possibility of drilling in the Arctic refuge again gained steam and eventually found its way into a budget package vetoed by President Bill Clinton. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and a rise in oil prices, President George W. Bush, like his father, thought drilling on the coastal plain should be part the country’s energy policy.

In early January of this year, the bipartisan Udall-Eisenhower Arctic Wilderness Act was introduced in the U.S. House. If passed, it would permanently protect 12.28 million acres – including the coastal plain. On Jan. 25, President Barack Obama endorsed the bill. If passed, the area would become the largest wilderness-protected area since the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964.

Continued advocacy
The Episcopal Church joined other faith communities in thanking Obama for taking action that “represents a critical step in protecting a sacred part of God’s creation, and we thank you for working to safeguard this national treasure.”

“We are involved in this important advocacy not only because of our concern for stewardship of God’s creation, but also because we stand in solidarity with our Gwich’in brothers and sisters who live in the Arctic and depend upon the Porcupine caribou herd for their daily subsistence,” said Jayce Hafner, domestic policy analyst for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.

The Episcopal Church at its 77th General Convention in 2012 passed legislation saying it “stands in solidarity with those communities who bear the burdens of global climate change,” including indigenous people.

“The Episcopal Church, the larger faith-based community, and others have been really supportive of the Gwich’in, but to me there is a bigger, broader picture,” said Johnson. “We need a more compassionate economy and we need to think about climate change – the most affected people being indigenous, but all people are affected.”

Alaska’s indigenous people have already begun to experience significant changes in their natural environment, explained Johnson during a panel on the regional impacts of climate change. The panel was part of a March 24 forum in Los Angeles to raise awareness about the effects of climate change across The Episcopal Church.

“The Arctic is one of the fastest warming places on the planet and we’re seeing the melting of the ice sheets, our glaciers are disappearing, the permafrost is melting, [and there is] coastal erosion,” said Johnson, during the forum. “We have entire communities that are having to be relocated.”

Climate change is the gradual change in global temperature caused by accumulation of greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, altering the earth’s temperature. Some areas are getting warmer, as others are getting colder. For example, the mainland United States experienced the coldest winter on record since formal record keeping began in the late 1800s, whereas Alaska experienced an unseasonably warm winter.

Protecting the coastal plain of the Arctic is particularly important right now, said Hafner, as the planet confronts the carbon emissions produced by fossil fuel extraction, which, in turn, contribute to climate change.

“We’re having these conversations at local levels in parish communities, at the national level with the President’s Clean Power Plan, and at the international level with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations that will culminate in Paris this December,” she said.

The goal of the Paris conference is to forge an international agreement aimed at transitioning the world toward resilient, low-carbon societies and economies. If accomplished, it would be the first-ever binding, international treaty in 20 years of United Nations climate talks, and would affect developed and developing countries.

— Lynette Wilson is a writer and editor for Episcopal News Service.

20 years after Oklahoma bombing, bishop calls for prayer, remembrance

ENS Headlines - Friday, April 17, 2015

The Field of Empty Chairs at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum includes a chair for each life lost, including 19 smaller chairs for the children who died in the Federal Building by Timothy McVeigh, an act of domestic terrorism that also injured 600 others. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma] Oklahoma Bishop Edward J. Konieczny wrote to the diocese April 15 to call Episcopalians to “hope, love, and community” as they approach the 20th anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Timothy McVeigh bombed the Oklahoma City building on April 19, 1995 (it was Wednesday of Holy Week) in an act of domestic terrorism that killed 168 people and injured 600 others.

Konieczny’s letter follows.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This Sunday marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. This attack resulted in the deaths of 168 people and forever changed our capital city, our nation, and ourselves.

As we approach this anniversary, let us not focus our attention on stories of anger, fear, or violence; but, rather, let us turn our attention to the stories of hope, love, and community that surround that day. Let us remember the immeasurably courageous rescuers who plunged into danger to save our neighbors. Let us remember the unified fortitude and kindness our capital city portrayed, reminding us all that we are truly stronger together than we are apart. Let us remember the love, support, and generosity that poured into our capital city from around the world. Most importantly, let us remember the victims who died, their families and loved ones, and those whose lives were changed forever that day. Let us pray for peace, healing, hope, and reconciliation for all on this anniversary and always. I invite congregations to remember this anniversary in their Prayers of the People this Sunday.

Please join me in prayer:
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Faithfully,
+Bishop Ed

Transformed by 12 years in Tanzania, missionaries set to return

ENS Headlines - Friday, April 17, 2015

The Rev. Sandra McCann baptizes an elderly member of St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Chikola, Tanzania, during one of her parish visits in the Diocese of Central Tanganyika.

[Episcopal News Service] As a child, the Rev. Sandra McCann dreamed of someday going to Africa. But she never imagined it would become her home, her ministry and her entire life for 12 years.

When Sandy and her husband Martin reached their mid-50s, they made the audacious decision to give up their successful medical careers in radiology and pathology, sell their home and move to Africa as Episcopal Church missionaries. Their move was delayed for three years and in that time Sandy graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree and was ordained as an Episcopal priest.

After an “internship” year in Maseno, Kenya, where they worked alongside fellow Episcopal missionaries Gerry and Nancy Hardison, the McCanns moved to Dodoma, Tanzania’s capital city, and have spent the past decade teaching and healing and living in a community far removed from their former lives in Columbus, Georgia. The experience has changed and expanded their worldview forever, they say.

With support and encouragement from the Episcopal Church’s Mission Personnel Office, and at the invitation of the late Bishop Mdimi Mhogolo of the Diocese of Central Tanganyika, Sandy taught at Msalato Theological College and eventually took up the position of communications director as well as serving as college chaplain.

Episcopal missionary Martin McCann analyzes a specimen at his pathology laboratory in Dodoma, Tanzania. Photo: David Copley

Martin set up a pathology laboratory where diseases could be detected through the use of a variety of investigative techniques, a service that has grown steadily over the past 10 years and was previously nonexistent in the central part of Tanzania. Today, the clinic receives specimens from local government hospitals in Dodoma as well as several mission hospitals.

“The laboratory has brought a new dimension to the healthcare system here,” Martin told ENS. “Physicians, instead of going from symptoms to treatment, are expanding their diagnostic capabilities and evidence-based care. Although there are still great challenges in treatment options, patients are better off.”

Over the years, through generous donations, Martin has been able to replace and upgrade equipment and his staff of one assistant has grown to three, one with a degree in histopathology.

Martin has concentrated his efforts on fine-needle aspiration, a simple procedure for establishing a swift diagnosis that he feels has a vital role to play in resource-poor countries. In 2014, he completed more than 1,200 fine needle aspiration biopsies and 2,200 histopathology cases.

Now in their early 70s, the McCanns have decided 2015 will be their last year in Tanzania, a difficult decision for them, but one that has been made easier by the successful conclusion to an endowment for Msalato Theological College to provide for student sponsorships and faculty salaries.

But before they leave, they are eager to ensure that Martin’s pathology practice will be continued and are urgently seeking a pathologist (or two) to replace him.

[Anyone interested in working as a pathologist in Dodoma should contact the Rev. David Copley, mission personnel officer for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, at dcopley@episcopalchurch.org.]

The McCanns are made honorary members of St. Paul’s Women’s Choir in Mvumi Makula, during a parish visit in the Diocese of Central Tanganyika.

Crossing cultural boundaries, building partnerships and engaging God’s mission locally and globally are at the very heart of The Episcopal Church’s missionary program, which is administered by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society and currently sponsors and supports 47 adult missionaries. Doctors, nurses, teachers, accountants, agriculturalists, computer technicians, administrators, theologians, and communicators are among their many roles.

Missionaries are lay and ordained, young and old, and serve as “representatives of our community who cross cultural boundaries to participate in the mission of God that our brothers and sisters in other parts of the Anglican Communion feel called to respond to,” says Copley, mission personnel officer for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.

It is difficult “to quantify the success of our missionaries because the basic premise is always to strengthen relationships with our partners.” Some of the greatest success stories can be found “in the programs that continue when the missionary presence ends,” Copley added, hence the importance of finding a replacement for Martin to ensure that his pathology practice can continue to serve those in need in central Tanzania.

The recently released Report to the Church details the work of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society in coordinating and supporting Episcopal Church missionaries serving throughout the world.

“The Episcopal Church supports many forms of mission service which include our young adults undertaking a year of service with the Young Adult Service Corps (YASC), older adults on one-year assignments and special short-term projects of less than a year as well as longer-term missionaries. They all have their place in the bigger picture of global mission engagement and all have their merits,” said Copley.

“Long-term missionaries such as the McCanns gain unique insights into the life, culture and faith of the partners they are walking alongside which cannot be gained on shorter-term assignments,” Copley added. “The McCanns have been the physical embodiment of the relationship that The Episcopal Church nurtures in Tanzania and throughout the church. The relationships that they develop with our Anglican partners helps strengthen the Anglican Communion and helps bring the Body of Christ closer together.

“Martin and Sandy have given a significant part of their lives in the service of others and we are grateful for their ministry.”

Martin became interested in becoming a missionary after serving on short-term medical mission trips with various denominations to Haiti and South America. Then with World Medical Mission, Martin served as a pathologist in Kijabe, Kenya, receiving specimens and returning diagnoses from some 42 hospitals and clinics. The laboratory he has established at the Anglican Diocesan Medical Center in Dodoma follows the same model.

For Sandy, installed as a canon of the Diocese of Central Tanganyika in May 2012 in honor of her ministry there, the missionary seeds were planted early in life. “My mother was a Christian who was always doing for others … from sharing her garden, her table, her car, to her hair-cutting skills,” she said. “Wasting anything was a sin. Making do was an art. Our clothes were mended, washed, ironed and passed on when we outgrew them. Whatever we put on our plates had to be eaten, because ‘there are children starving in Africa!’ It was in this atmosphere that I was raised up.”

The McCanns say they feel privileged to have been called to this work, describing it as interesting, exciting, as well as challenging, learning to live in a completely different culture.

The McCanns are made honorary members of St. Paul’s Women’s Choir in Mvumi Makula, during a parish visit in the Diocese of Central Tanganyika.

The best part, however, “has been to meet and get to know Christians who remain faithful in very trying and frustrating circumstances. This has certainly opened our eyes to the difference between a first-world problem and a problem of developing countries,” they say. “Listening to the gospel in an entirely new context is transforming. While in the West we practically skip over curses and ghosts and demons, this is not the case here. The liminal space is very thin between the spiritual and physical worlds. Worshiping and studying with East African Christians has opened our minds to other ways of worshiping and to other ways of understanding God.”

There is a great freedom in being a missionary, Sandy said, being removed from the social pressures in the United States. “There is no keeping up with the Joneses, not that that was ever a priority with us,” she said. “When we would have the students to our house in Kenya, everyone had to bring their own plate – and we found it was a lot of fun squeezing into our small cottage and making do. At Msalato we borrow the one cake pan or the one meat grinder or the one ‘real’ coffee pot. I like living in community like this. … I am old fashioned and love using things up and making do and being creative with what I have, so this suits me.”

The greatest challenges, she said, have been the abject poverty and lack of the most basic resources, especially clean water; bureaucracy and widespread corruption and dishonesty; the fear of authority and of reporting abuses or inappropriate behavior; a prevalent belief in witchcraft, even by Christians and the well-educated; and poor infrastructure.

The recent resurgence of the killing of albino children due to the witch doctors promising that their body parts, hair, and blood will bring fortune in love and wealth is particularly disturbing, she said. “It is shocking how prevalent and strong the primitive belief systems remain in parts of Tanzania,” she said.

Despite the “extreme difficulty and frustration of living honestly in a corrupt society,” the McCanns say that as a result of the experiences of the past 12 years, “we are less judgmental, more patient and more aware of the monumental work it will take to get Tanzania to the stage of economic independence.”

They also have made countless friends and have grown “to admire the Tanzanian people very much. They have shown us that the possibility of deep joy in the midst of daily suffering is real. As the late Bishop Mhogolo once said about being in the village parishes: The people are poor, often they are hungry, but they are still dancing and praising the Lord. It’s true and a beautiful thing to behold.”

Sandy says she has seen God’s hand in everything they have done, “but often only through the ‘retrospectoscope.’ Now we are again taking God’s hand and walking out into the dark trusting him for our next work.”

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

Two of Philadelphia 11 say it’s still a struggle for women in the church

ENS Headlines - Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Rev. Michelle Warriner Bolt, the Rev Alison Cheek, the Rev. Carter Heyward, Darlene O’Dell and the Rev. Anne Bonnyman at Diocese of East Tennessee’s April 11 Symposium and Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Ordination of Women in the Episcopal Church, at Church of the Ascension, Knoxville. The event was sponsored by East Tennessee Episcopal Church Women. Photo: the Rev. Paige Buchholz

[Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee] They were compared to witches and called names by male priests that you would least expect to hear coming from the mouths of men of the cloth. Nearly 41 years after becoming two of the first women priests in The Episcopal Church, they don’t regret their decision and recognize that despite much progress, there is still a need to fight for women’s proper role in the church.

The Rev. Alison Cheek, the first woman to publicly preside over an Episcopal Church Eucharist in the United States, and the Rev. Carter Heyward, a prolific author on feminist theology and retired professor at Episcopal Divinity School, were part of an April 11 symposium at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Knoxville, Tennessee, sponsored by East Tennessee Episcopal Church Women.

Cheek and Heyward were two of the Philadelphia 11 who were ordained in Philadelphia by three retired bishops in July 1974 causing uproar in the national church. Although women’s ordination was not specifically prohibited, by practice it had never been allowed. Darlene O’Dell, author of The Story of the Philadelphia Eleven, who also participated in the symposium, said study of the issue had gone on “for over 50 years and promised to go on into oblivion” if action hadn’t been taken.

Cheek, who turned 88 the day of the symposium, said she had entered Virginia Theological Seminary at the urging of her parish priest because she had asked him so many questions. While in seminary Cheek felt the call to priesthood, but let it pass because she knew it wasn’t a possibility. With four young children at home, the Australia native took six years to complete her degree, and then returned to her parish as a pastoral counselor. Her rector then encouraged her to enter the deacon ordination process. She became the first female deacon in the South in 1972.

When Nancy Wittig, another eventual member of the Philadelphia 11 invited her to participate in the Philadelphia ordination, Cheek told her bishop she would participate. He said as an individual he would support her, but as bishop “I may have to depose you.”

Her response: “Anyone who fights my ordination, I’ll fight.”

The symposium audience of about 100 broke into applause.

Heyward, who will turn 80 later this year, fell into the business of religion quite by accident. When she entered Randolph-Macon College in 1963 the religion professors were the ones who were doing exciting work – participating in lunch counter sit-ins, taking text books to activists in jail so they could study and then giving them their oral comprehensive exams in jail. “That’s why I majored in religion,” Heyward said.

And, she said, along the way she learned how religion and the scripture had been misused and misinterpreted and sanitized. She learned how German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer fought the Nazis from prison. It was while she was at Randolph-Macon that she first read the work of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who was still in the midst of his activism.

She said the Philadelphia 11 didn’t necessarily all like one another, but they worked alongside one another to accomplish a mutual goal. Heyward described Cheek as her fellow “bad girl” among the movement “so we had to like one another” and said that the two had become like sisters.

Their critics in those early years would label them either as “too masculine” or “too feminine,” depending on which argument suited the moment. “We couldn’t be easily categorized,” which frustrated the establishment, she said. Yet they made it through by their constant support of one another. Support frequently came by simply picking up the phone and saying, “Let me tell you what happened to me.”

The Rev. Anne Berry Bonnyman, one of the first women ordained in the Diocese of Tennessee, said she owed her ordination to Cheek, Heyward and the other Philadelphia 11 as well as to the Tennessee Episcopal Churchwomen who passed a motion in 1977 encouraging the diocese to offer jobs to women in parishes. At that point, there had been a stalemate, with bishops saying they could not ordain a woman coming out of seminary if she had a job and parishes saying they couldn’t hire a woman until she was ordained.

“It was lay women in large part” who helped shift things, Bonnyman said.

Bonnyman grew up Catholic in Knoxville, and became Episcopalian as an adult when she realized that lay work was not fulfilling her call to ministry. After serving several parishes in East Tennessee, Bonnyman was rector at large parishes in Delaware and Massachusetts before retirement in western North Carolina – which is also where Check and Heyward now live.

Moving forward, Heyward said, women in the church should follow four principles put forth by another member of Philadelphia 11, the late Suzanne Hiatt, who is widely credited with engineering the 1974 ordinations. Heyward co-edited a book of Hiatt’s writings, The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me.

The four principles are women should seek the primary role in bringing change about, learn how institutions work that they wish to change, be united in struggling together and avoid horizontal violence, and remember that the church needs them more than they need the church.

Pam Strickland is a freelance writer and editor, and a parishioner of St. James Episcopal Church in Knoxville.

Capacitar a los episcopales y a la nueva generación para el cuidado de la creación

ENS Headlines - Thursday, April 16, 2015

Capacitar a los episcopales y a la nueva generación para el cuidado de la creación

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopales jóvenes y viejos con frecuencia recurren a la frase “esta frágil tierra, nuestro hogar insular” cuando hablan sobre la mayordomía del planeta. [La expresión] proviene de la Plegaria Eucarística C, que se encuentra en el Libro de Oración Común.

Poco más abajo en la página, la oración continúa: “Nos hiciste soberanos de la creación. Mas nos volvimos contra ti, traicionando tu confianza, y también nos volvimos unos contra otros”.

Durante los últimos 21 días, los episcopales han estado siendo partícipes de 30 Días de Acción, una campaña concebida e iniciada por la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera para comprometer a individuos y congregaciones en una conversación sobre el cambio climático. (La DFMS [Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society] es el nombre con el cual la Iglesia Episcopal está incorporada, funciona empresarialmente y lleva a cabo la misión).

La campaña, que comenzó con un foro en directo a través de la Internet el 24 de marzo, culmina el 22 de abril, Día de la Tierra. Los recursos y actividades de la campaña incluyen días de promoción, boletines informativos, relatos, sermones y excursiones al campo.

Los 30 Días de Acción, así como la quinta de las Cinco Marcas de la Misión, son un llamado a movilizarnos para recuperar esa confianza y juntarnos en comunidad para el cuidado de la creación.

Como expresó con claridad en una reciente publicación de su blog, James Pickett, activista del cambio climático y joven adulto de la Diócesis de Massachusetts: a menos que los anglicanos y los episcopales tomen en serio la quinta de las Cinco Marcas de la Misión, “Luchar por salvaguardar la integridad de la creación y sostener y renovar la vida en la tierra”, las otras cuatro marcas son irrelevantes.

“Si no atesoramos la creación, las otras marcas de la misión no pueden cumplirse”, escribió Pickett.

No basta hablar del cambio climático y de los problemas de justicia que se le relacionan, según Pickett y otros; se trata de vivir las marcas y poner la fe en acción.

El otoño pasado, Pickett y otros episcopales se unieron a más de 300.000 personas de todas partes del país y del mundo en las calles de Nueva York para la Movilización Climática de los Pueblos, la mayor manifestación de la historia en pro de tomar decisiones sobre el clima.

Como se hizo evidente en las actividades y recursos incluidos y creados para la campaña de 30 días de duración, es imposible sostener una conversación sobre el cambio climático y no abordar los problemas de justicia social implícitos en las Cinco Marcas de la Misión.

“Cuando la Iglesia Episcopal adoptó las Cinco Marcas de la Misión, me quedé sorprendida por la naturaleza práctica del lenguaje y por su invitación orientada hacia la acción”, dijo Bronwyn Clark Skov, ambientalista de toda la vida y funcionaria de la DFMS a cargo del ministerio de los jóvenes. “Me siento especialmente agradecida por la especificidad de la Quinta Marca de la Misión ‘Luchar por salvaguardar la integridad de la creación y por el sostenimiento y la renovación de la vida en la tierra’”.

“Podría argüirse que esta área del ministerio es un trasfondo del Pacto Bautismal, pero estas palabras más nuevas abren mayores posibilidades para imaginar nuestro papel como ciudadanos cristianos que cuidan de la tierra, nuestro hogar”, dijo ella. “Este es un maravilloso punto doctrinal cuando se interactúa con jóvenes y se debate cómo su identidad cristiana podría determinar las opciones que toman”.

Skov, que es ambientalista desde que su padre la alentó a serlo, recordaba haber aprendido a reciclar desde temprano.

“Recuerdo clasificar los periódicos para cuando pasaban a recogerlos una vez al mes. Me enseñaron a lavar las latas, a quitarle ambos extremos y aplastar cuidadosamente la lata sobre la alfombra del piso de la cocina, de manera que no estropeara el linóleo que estaba debajo del material tejido”, contaba. “Desde que me dediqué al ministerio de los jóvenes, menciono y afirmo este hábito de toda la vida e invito a los jóvenes a participar de mi compromiso de reducir, reciclar y reusar esos artículos que no son fácilmente biodegradables en un muladar. Esta conducta se ha convertido en parte de lo que soy, un pedazo de mi identidad personal”.

Las Cinco Marcas de la Misión comienzan por abordar cómo los episcopales pueden llegar a ser mayordomos ambientales y a velar los unos por los otros en comunidad, en lugar de traicionar la tierra y de distanciarse unos de otros, como dice la plegaria eucarística.

Los niños y los adolescentes se sienten particularmente potenciados por el lenguaje que se usa en las marcas, dijo Skov. Ella las usa de referencia como una manea de poner en práctica los votos que hacemos en el bautismo, e invita a los jóvenes a mencionar y a afirmar la manera en que ya ellos están viviendo algunas de las marcas.

“La belleza de la quinta marca, conservar la tierra de manera deliberada, es un lugar donde podemos participar en nuestras comunidades en una asociación que trasciende las barreras denominacionales, religiosas y políticas”, dijo ella. “La misión y el ministerio en esta área [son] fáciles de abrazar con humanos de edad escolar en tanto aprenden acerca del medioambiente en el aula y luego pueden apreciar la intersección de su experiencia secular con sus valores como miembro de una comunidad de fe”.

Más de 1.000 estudiantes de secundaria asistieron el año pasado al Evento de la Juventud Episcopal en Pensilvania, donde el cambio climático estuvo entre los asuntos que se discutieron y donde los jóvenes se convirtieron en agentes de la transformación.

Los puntos de vista de los estadounidenses sobre el cambio climático varían de un estado a otro, de una ciudad a otra y a veces entre los miembros de una misma familia. El cambio climático es cada vez más un problema político que con frecuencia enfrenta a conservadores y liberales. Al mismo tiempo, las comunidades religiosas de un extremo a otro del espectro se han unido en el llamado a reducir las emisiones de carbón y a abordar el cambio climático como un problema moral. En una entrevista con The Guardian que se publicó el día del foro sobre la crisis del cambio climático en marzo, la obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori describió el cambio climático como un desafío moral que ya amenaza el sustento y la supervivencia de personas en el mundo en vías de desarrollo.

“Es ciertamente un problema moral en lo que respecta a las repercusiones que ya tiene entre los más pobres y vulnerables del mundo”, afirmó. En todas partes, los episcopales están tomando ese desafío moral en serio, incluida su contribución a los 30 Días de Acción.

Tal como la Rda. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, misionera para el cuidado de la creación de la Diócesis de Massachusetts Occidental, lo puso en un sermón escrito para el Domingo después de Pascua: “el cambio climático no es sólo un problema ‘ambiental’: es un problema de ‘civilización’. No se trata sólo de los osos polares , se trata de dónde nuestros nietos encontrarán agua potable. Se trata de cómo las sociedades manejarán las crecientes epidemias de enfermedades infecciosas, tales como el paludismo, el cólera y la fiebre del dengue. Se trata de adónde se irán multitudes de personas cuando la subida de los mares los expulse de sus casas o cuando las lluvias no caigan y los campos de cultivo se conviertan en polvaredas secas. Se trata de personas hambrientas y sedientas compitiendo por los escasos recursos y recurriendo a la violencia, a los disturbios civiles o a la ley marcial en la lucha para sobrevivir”.

Materiales de formación centrados en el cuidado de la creación

La Oficina de Formación Cristiana de por Vida de la DFMS y otros episcopales, clérigos y laicos, activos en los problemas del cambio climático han compilado extensos materiales para una liturgia medioambiental, incluidos los 30 Días de Acción.

“Las oficinas de formación han estado hablando acerca del cambio climático y del cuidado del medioambiente con los niños y sus familias durante años”, dijo la Rda. Shannon Kelly, misionera interina de la DFMS para los ministerios universitario y de jóvenes adultos.

“Las oficinas de formación han estado hablando acerca del cambio climático y del cuidado del medioambiente con los niños y sus familias durante años”, dijo la Rda. Shannon Kelly, misionera interina de la DFMS para los ministerios universitario y de jóvenes adultos.

“Los jóvenes encuentran el cuidado del medioambiente todos los días cuando hablan de reciclar, ‘superciclar’ y de conservación en sus escuelas, en el hogar y en la iglesia. Introducir este importante tema en la vida de la Iglesia y en los programas crea un espacio para que los niños y los adultos piensen, oren y experimenten que el cuidado del medioambiente es el cuidado de la creación de Dios”.

Cindy Coe, becaria de Mayordomía Ambiental, trabaja en el huerto con estudiantes de la escuela episcopal de Knoxville.

En Tennessee, explorar la naturaleza se ha convertido en un componente integral de aprender a leer.

A principios de junio, la Diócesis de Tennessee Oriental ofrecerá un “Campamento de Lectura Knoxville” a los alumnos de tercer y cuarto grados que estén viviendo en la pobreza y esforzándose para aprender a leer. Como parte del programa, los niños, que provienen de zonas urbanas, harán por las tardes excursiones campestres, caminatas en zonas boscosas y trabajaran en huertos, dijo Cindy Coe, que pertenece al comité de planificación y trabaja en actividades extracurriculares por las tardes.

“Todas estas actividades están orientadas a fomentar un sentido de conexión con el mundo natural y aprecio por él. La mejor manera de hacer esto es sacar los niños al campo, a explorar la naturaleza”, dijo Coe, que recibió el año pasado una beca de mayordomía ambiental de la DFMS.

Gracias a la beca, Coe está esforzándose por crear la nueva generación de líderes.

“Esto no es algo que pueda hacerse través de un ‘aprendizaje libresco’ solamente”, dijo ella.

“Las actividades que estimulan a los niños a mirar atentamente los objetos naturales, a localizar actividades e identificar un lugar particular al aire libre son todos ellos medios eficaces de ayudar a los niños a vincularse con la naturaleza. Si un niño es capaz de crear un vínculo con la naturaleza, lo más probable es que el niño crecerá con una valoración del medioambiente y que cuidará del medioambiente cuando sea adulto”.

Coe está trabajando en el desarrollo de nuevos materiales para introducir el cuidado de la creación a niños y jóvenes de la Iglesia Episcopal, a fin de usarlos en campamentos, escuelas y parroquias.

Ella espera, dijo, que todos los programas de formación cristiana de la Iglesia Episcopal terminen por incluir algún aspecto de la mayordomía ambiental.

En Virginia, Coe también está trabajando con el equipo de planificación de la iglesia episcopal Emanuel [Emmanuel] en Greenwood para diseñar un programa de escuela bíblica de vacaciones llamado “La tierra, nuestro hogar insular” basado en el cuidado de la creación y en la Quinta Marca de la Misión.

La parroquia toma en serio las palabras “esta frágil tierra, nuestro hogar insular” de la Plegaria Eucarística C, afirmó Coe.

“De manera que el concepto del cuidado de la creación tiene un significado especial para la parroquia”, añadió. “Cada día, los niños participarán del culto, oirán un relato basado en el cuidado de la creación y tomarán parte en juegos no competitivos concebidos para inculcar la mayordomía ambiental”.

Las artes y las artesanías incluirán también la mayordomía ambiental, al facilitarles a los niños objetos para “superciclarlos” y convertirlos en nuevas creaciones, apuntó. “La nueva vida será un tema importante del campamento, relacionando los temas de reciclaje, creación de abono orgánico y horticultura con el relato cristiano de la resurrección y una nueva vida en Cristo”.

En la Diócesis de Los Ángeles, donde el Rdo. Andrew K. Barnett ejerce la cátedra del Obispo para estudios medioambientales, los jóvenes aprenden a cuidar la creación aprendiendo a amarla.

“Creo que no lucharemos para salvar algo que no amemos, por lo cual quiero decir que a fin de capacitar a las personas para cuidar de “esta frágil tierra nuestro hogar insular”, primeros tenemos que encontrar eso significativo y valioso de una manera profunda, y hablar sobre el tema realmente no basta”, dijo Barnett, antes del foro del 24 de marzo.

“Por consiguiente le he dado una importante prioridad a llevar los niños al campo. De manera que hacemos estos retiros en medio de la naturaleza, en lugares como Big Sur, Lake López, Yosemite y la isla Catalina. Tenemos juegos, hacemos piragüismo, vamos de caminata y realizamos proyectos de servicio” dijo él.

“A los niños les encanta, sencillamente les fascina. Se entusiasman porque están haciendo exactamente lo que necesitamos, que es la comunidad, la conexión y la referencia en esos lugares increíbles e impresionantes. De modo que uno no tiene que decir que esto es importante, que es hermoso, porque se capta de inmediato, lo percibes en tu ser”.

Barnett es el capellán de la escuela episcopal de Campbell Hall en la Diócesis de Los Ángeles, donde el obispo J. Jon Bruno y la DFMS se asociaron para auspiciar el foro del 24 de marzo.

Barnett le habla a los estudiantes acerca del cambio climático en términos rigurosos, incorporando datos de la investigación y la ciencia —sin exagerar, pero abordando la gravedad de la amenaza.

“Los niños pueden manejar esa verdad. A ellos no les gustan las cosas edulcoradas. Prefieren [oír que] ‘éste va a ser el mayor desafío de nuestra generación’”, dijo Barnett. “Nuestra generación ha fracasado absolutamente en nuestro intento de reducir las emisiones [de carbono]. Hablamos mucho de ello, tenemos montones de reuniones, pero las emisiones siguen subiendo.

“Si fracasamos en esta tarea, la mayoría de las otras tareas no importarán, porque el cambio climático afecta casi todo lo que es digno de atención y, después de la aniquilación nuclear, presenta la mayor amenaza para la humanidad que jamás hayamos conocido”.

Nota de la redactora: Una versión anterior de este artículo atribuyó erróneamente la autoría de las palabras ‘esta frágil tierra, nuestro hogar insular”, que aparecen en la Plegaria Eucarística C. Fueron escritas por Howard E. Galley Jr.

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

South Carolina Supreme Court agrees to hear appeal

ENS Headlines - Thursday, April 16, 2015

[The Episcopal Church in South Carolina] The South Carolina Supreme Court April 15 granted The Episcopal Church in South Carolina’s motion and will hear the appeal of a circuit court decision giving the name and property of the local Episcopal Church diocese to a breakaway group.

The court also denied a motion from the breakaway group for a greatly expedited schedule in the case, and set September 23 as the date for oral arguments in the case, saying that no extensions would be granted. The Episcopal Church in South Carolina had asked the court to take the case, bypassing the state Court of Appeals, in an effort to avoid expense and delay for all parties.

The diocese now has 30 days in which to file briefs in the appeal, according to Thomas S. Tisdale Jr., chancellor of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

“We are pleased that the court has agreed to hear the case and we look forward to presenting our positions on these important issues before the Supreme Court,” Tisdale said.

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, noting the large number of attorneys in the case – including more than 40 for the plaintiffs of the breakaway group – asked the Supreme Court to allow court documents to be provided in electronic format and reduce the number of paper copies. The court granted that motion. The order also reminded all parties in the appeal that they have a duty to pare down the lower court record and present only the materials necessary to help the court in “rendering an educated decision.”

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina represents 30 congregations and about 7,000 Episcopalians who remained part of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion after a breakaway group announced it was leaving the church in November 2012. A few months after the split, the breakaway group sued The Episcopal Church, and later added The Episcopal Church in South Carolina as a defendant, seeking control of all the diocesan property, the official name and seal, and the properties of the parishes who joined as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

That case went to trial in July 2014 in Circuit Court in St. George before Judge Diane S. Goodstein. In February, Goodstein ruled in favor of the breakaway group. The Episcopal Church in South Carolina and The Episcopal Church then filed motion for reconsideration which the judge rejected February 13, clearing the way for the appeal, which was filed March 24.

Also, in a separate federal legal case involving the church schism, attorneys for Mark Lawrence, bishop of the breakaway group, filed a petition for rehearing on April 14 with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in vonRosenberg v. Lawrence. The petition asks the appeals court to reconsider its March 31 ruling in favor of the Rt. Rev. Charles G. vonRosenberg of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina. The ruling sent the case back to U.S. District Court in Charleston for another hearing.

The federal case focuses on the issue of false advertising under the federal Lanham Act,  alleging that Lawrence, by continuing to represent himself as bishop of the diocese, is committing false advertising, according to a brief filed with the appeals court in 2014. The suit seeks an injunction against Lawrence.

Canada: Church leaders sign climate change declaration

ENS Headlines - Thursday, April 16, 2015

[Anglican Journal] On April 15, Christians from across Eastern Canada gathered at the Green Churches Conference/Colloque Eglises Vertes in Quebec City to learn about how churches can practice better environmental stewardship and to sign an ecumenical declaration committing their churches to creating a “climate of hope” in the face of worsening climate change.

Rooting itself in ancient biblical teachings and modern climate science, the declaration committed churches to enact “an ecological shift” by “bringing improvements to our places of worship.” It also pledged churches to “act as good citizens in order to build a society which is greener and more concerned about the future of the next generations.”

The principal signatories of the declaration were Cardinal Gérald Lacroix, primate of the Catholic Church in Canada; Archpriest P. Nectaire Féménias of the Orthodox Church of America; the Rev. David Fines, former president of the Montreal/Ottawa conference of the United Church of Canada; Bishop Dennis Drainville of the Anglican Diocese of Quebec; Diane Andicha Picard, Guardian of the Sacred Drum Head for Andicah n’de Wendat; the Rev. Katherine Burgess, incumbent at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Quebec City; and Norman Lévesque, director of the Green Church Program.

However, to emphasize the collective responsibility of churches in fighting climate change, the declaration was read by all present, and everyone was given the opportunity to sign.

The reading of the declaration followed a presentation by Dr. Alan K. Betts, an atmospheric scientist based in Vermont who has been studying the effects of climate change for more than 35 years. Betts explained how the unusual weather patterns of last winter — in which parts of western North America experienced record highs while Easterners experienced an especially cold winter — were in keeping with larger changes to weather patterns consistent with the rise of C02 in the earth’s atmosphere.

But Betts also spoke about questions that touched much more closely on faith, arguing that climate change was a “spiritual denial” of the facts. “Climate deniers do not want to see truth,” he said. “We are in a society where the rich are very dependent on propaganda to defend fossil fuel exploitation.”

While Betts was very clear about the enormity of the threat that climate change poses, he did not suggest that there was no hope, but argued that people “united with the spirit and the science” can cause change, “because when we stand for truth, creation responds.”

The conference was organized by Green Churches, an ecumenical network that began in 2006 as a project of Saint Columba House, a United Church mission in Montreal. In the nine years since it began, the network has grown to include 50 churches across Canada from Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, United, Presbyterian, Mennonite, Evangelical and Quaker traditions.

Following Betts’ presentation and the reading of the declaration, participants spent the late morning and afternoon of the one-day conference in a series of workshops, held in both English and French, focusing on practical ways in which churches could reduce their carbon footprint and energy use. One workshop, led by the Rev. Cynthia Patterson and Sarah Blair of the Diocese of Quebec, looked at the work that the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity is doing to return its grounds to their original function as gardens.

Lévesque, director of the Green Church Program, said that while there were slightly fewer people in attendance than he had expected, he was impressed with the number of prominent church leaders in attendance, such as Cardinal Lacroix and Bishop Drainville.

He was also struck by the participants’ passion. “The people here, the interest — it was more than interest — it was conviction,” he said, adding that it was important that participants included people with the power to change church structure.

Elana Wright, who works for the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace and led a workshop on the relationship between food justice and climate justice, was likewise impressed with the level of participation.

“It showed that there is a critical mass of people that want to take action and do something,” she said, “and they are following the Christian principles of respect for creation and really putting it into action and bringing it to their church leaders.”

Drainville also viewed the conference as being highly important — so much so, in fact, that he delayed his flight to the House of Bishops meeting by a day in order to participate.

“It is always a great opportunity to spend time with people who see the same kind of priorities,” he said, “and obviously as an Anglican, believing strongly in the Marks of Mission and particularly the fifth mark of mission [To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth], coming here and showing our solidarity as we respond to the needs of creation is very important.”

The next Green Churches Conference is scheduled to take place in Ottawa in autumn 2016.

Southern African primate warns against xenophobic violence

ENS Headlines - Thursday, April 16, 2015

[Office of the Anglican Archbishop Of Cape Town] Warning against “the specter of revenge attacks” from African migrants living in South Africa, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town has added his voice to calls for an end to the current outbreak of xenophobic violence.

“Foreigners are God’s people too and deserve the dignity and protection we enjoy,” he said in a statement issued in Cape Town.

The full text of his statement follows:

“After the attacks on African migrants in South Africa were ended in 2008, we hoped we had seen the end of xenophobic conflict in our country.

“But more than five years on, the tension has erupted again, people are dying again and now we are seeing the specter of revenge attacks from migrants.

“Foreigners are God’s people too and deserve the dignity and protection we enjoy. This is not ubuntu, it is painful and deeply regrettable.

“I join my colleagues in the churches and other religious leaders in calling for an end to the attacks, in calling for restraint on all sides and in sending our condolences to the families of those who have died.”

Anglican UN office award honors women’s rights work

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Beth Adamson poses with the Award for Global Service that was recently presented to her by the nglican Communion Office at the United Nations. Photo;maryFrances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations has honored Beth Adamson with its Award for Global Service for her dedicated work to strengthen Anglican women’s presence at the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

The award, created in 2003, honors volunteer service that furthers the work of the Anglican Communion through the vehicle of the UN Office.

“There is a person among us who has faithfully committed her time and considerable talents over eleven years to be sure that the representative participation of Anglican women from across the world in each [UNCSW] was as contributive and meaningful … as possible,” said ACOUN treasurer Marnie Dawson Carr at the award presentation in March in New York during the 59th UNCSW.

Adamson, who lies in Connecticut, had become the official Anglican Consultative Council representative to UNCSW and was a “constant source of updated knowledge, wisdom and counsel to the ACOUN and CSW,” said Dawson Carr.

For the past ten years, Adamson has served on the planning committee for the annual UNCSW sessions and as advisor to the executive committee that oversees preparations for the non-governmental organizations forum at the annual sessions.

Since 2011 she has been the co-chair of the UN Working Group on Girls (WGG), which advocates for the rights and empowerment of girls.

Adamson worked closely with then-Under-Secretary-General Michelle Bachelet as the latter initiated the new role of eExecutive rirector of UN Women. In 2013 Bachelet’s successor Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka asked Adamson to serve as a New York-area observer to the UN Women’s Global Advisory Board.

“Since 2004 Beth has been central to the growth and strengthening of the Anglican Communion delegation to the UNCSW,” said Rachel Elizabeth Chardon, ACOUN general program and administrative officer. “She has a natural ability to listen to others and what they might bring to the overall picture.”

“I have always felt it is a gift and an honor to be given the opportunity to work on behalf of social justice for women and girls within the domain of the UN, and every day I am grateful to the Anglican Communion for the privilege to do the work I feel called to,” said Adamson.

The ACOUN Award for Global Service has been conferred only once before, in 2004, to Angela King, former UN Under-Secretary-General, who gave particular support to ACOUN work focusing on women and children.

The Anglican Communion opened its UN office in New York in 1991. Its aim is to lift up Anglican voices in key areas of concern at the United Nations, and to communicate the experience, goals, and vision of the UN to the Communion. Current focal areas are human rights, especially the rights of women and indigenous peoples; refuge and migration concerns; sustainable development; and the environment.

Anglican Church of Canada reaffirms resolve to fight anti-Semitism

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, April 15, 2015

[Anglican Church of Canada] The re-release of a document exploring the context of the Holocaust is the latest step taken by the Anglican Church of Canada to promote Christian-Jewish dialogue and continue the struggle against anti-Semitism in all its forms.

Commended in 1989 by the church’s National Executive Council — the precursor to the Council of General Synod — From Darkness to Dawn: Rethinking Christian Attitudes Towards Jews and Judaism in the Light of the Holocaust was written by the Subcommittee on Jewish-Anglican Relations, following a 1983 resolution that condemned racism and anti-Semitism. The resolution also called for the production of materials to help Anglicans learn more about anti-Semitism.

The study program From Darkness to Dawn was made available online this year, in advance of the annual commemoration of the Holocaust, or Shoah, on April 15.

Archdeacon Bruce Myers, coordinator for ecumenical and interfaith relations, noted that despite From Darkness to Dawn’s official commendation, it is unclear how widely the study program has been taken up by the church at large.

Myers himself only discovered the document while doing research in the General Synod archives on the church’s involvement in Christian-Jewish dialogue.

“It’s a fine document into which a considerable amount of time and work was invested, but it appears to have been only minimally received by our church,” he said.

“Even if a few of the references [that] the document makes seem a bit dated, the larger issues it deals with — especially the historic roots of anti-Semitism and the church’s historic complicity in it — haven’t changed.”

The strong stand by the Anglican Church of Canada against anti-Semitism dates back to 1934, when the General Synod of what was then known as the Church of England in Canada adopted a resolution condemning the persecution of Jews in Germany and recognizing Jewish contributions to human history.

More recently, in 2013, General Synod approved a resolution committing the church to “resolutely oppose anti-Semitism” as well as anti-Arab sentiment and Islamophobia.

While the Anglican Church of Canada, along with other churches, participates in national-level dialogue with the Jewish community through the Canadian Christian-Jewish Consultation (CCJC), the CCJC has been in a state of limbo since 2012, when Jewish representatives stepped away from the table due to a decision by one of the participating churches to boycott goods produced on Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

On a local level, however, Christian-Jewish dialogue remains as vibrant as ever.

In Montreal, local Christian and Jewish representatives continue to meet regularly. Bishop Barry Clarke of the Diocese of Montreal and the Rev. Patricia G. Kirkpatrick, who teaches Hebrew Bible and Biblical Hebrew at McGill University, represent the Anglican church at the dialogue.

In 2013, the Christian-Jewish Dialogue of Montreal promoted interfaith dialogue about the proposed Quebec Charter of Values — which would have banned the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols by public employees in Quebec — through discussion groups, radio and TV interviews, and the production of a video entitled Nous sommes québécois.

“It may seem strange to people out in the community that a Jewish-Christian dialogue would launch a campaign stressing issues of diversity, and why it is that individuals should be allowed to wear their religious icons — whether it be a kippah or a cross around your neck or a veil on your head,” Kirkpatrick said.

“But we felt strongly that we could actually engage the larger community with this kind of political issue that was right on our doorstep in order to highlight those aspects of anti-Semitism that are almost global, in the sense that all people can all of a sudden be the recipients of draconian legal measures brought on by governments wanting to forbid certain religious…rights and privileges.”

The responses to the proposed Charter of Values, she suggested, illustrated the importance of promoting community dialogue to guard against the type of scapegoating that has targeted Jews and other minorities throughout history.

Global Relations Coordinator Andrea Mann, who serves as the church’s lead staff member on Israel-Palestine issues, noted that the definition of anti-Semitism has changed over the years.

“I think that Christians want to better understand what it means to be anti-Semitic in the contemporary context,” she added, “and are going to find some help in that regard in From Darkness to Dawn.”

New Pontifical anti-trafficking website features Anglican resources

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, April 15, 2015

[Vatican Radio] The Pontifical Science Academies have launched a new website aimed at combating the worldwide scourge of human trafficking.

The website builds on the success achieved over the past year by the ecumenical Global Freedom Network, including a joint declaration against modern slavery signed by Pope Francis and leaders of different faith communities in countries around the world.

The new site includes Roman Catholic and Anglican resources, as well as links to international anti-trafficking legislation and details of upcoming events organized by the Pontifical Academies for Sciences and Social Sciences.

Pakistan’s Christians faithful and resilient in face of persecution

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Very Rev. Patrick Augustine, rector of Christ Episcopal Church in La Crosse, Wisconsin, lays the foundation stone for a new Christian church near Muzzaffarabad during a recent solidarity visit to Pakistan.

[Episcopal News Service] Pakistan is one of the world’s most troubling epicenters for terrorism where minorities are targeted by religious extremists for having different beliefs or affiliations. Yet the persecuted Christian community – 1.5 percent of 180 million people – remains steadfast in faith despite the daily persecution they face.

Last month, two bomb blasts in a Christian neighborhood of the Pakistani city of Lahore killed 17 people and wounded more than 70 as worshipers attended Sunday Mass at St. John’s Roman Catholic Church and Christ Church, a Church of Pakistan church and a member of the Anglican Communion.

“Messages of love and support have flooded in, and churches and agencies around the Anglican Communion are working together to ensure an effective and coordinated practical response as well as continued prayer,” according to a news release from the Anglican Alliance, which connects and strengthens the development, relief and advocacy activities of churches, agencies and networks of the Anglican Communion.

On a recent conference call with representatives of Anglican Communion churches and agencies, Bishop Irfan Jamil of the Diocese of Lahore talked about the priorities for his church and community after the bombings.

Jamil and his team have been visiting the bereaved and those injured by the bomb blasts, the release said. Episcopal Relief & Development has sent a solidarity grant to enable the church to respond to those in need following the attacks.

The Church of Pakistan (United) and the Roman Catholic Church held a joint funeral service for the victims. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby joined the service by phone and his prayers were translated and shared with the mourners.

“Bishop Jamil inspired those on the [conference] call with his emphasis on the role of church leaders in building peace, harmony and mutual understanding and with his message to the Anglican Communion to continue to stand alongside the Church in Pakistan in these times of trauma,” the release said.

The most devastating attack in Pakistan happened in September 2013 when two suicide bombers targeted All Saints Anglican Church in Peshawar at the end of a Sunday worship service, killing 127 people and injuring 170. Many of the victims were women and children.

Bishop Samuel Azariah of the Diocese of Raiwind, moderator of the Church of Pakistan, spoke with Episcopal News Service shortly after that tragic day, saying that even after years of intense persecution from religious extremists, the Christian population in Pakistan is growing in numbers. “Nothing will dampen our spirits. Bombing, murder, burning, shooting will not dampen our spirits and our commitment to Jesus Christ,” he said.

Bishop of Peshawar Humphrey Peters said in an Easter message last week that the terrorist attacks “have left a permanent scar on the memory and soul of the Christian community of Pakistan … On the one hand, all these threats, incidents of violence and targeted persecution dishearten the Christian community of Pakistan. But on the other, it has strengthened the faith and … their commitment of faithfulness with Lord Jesus Christ.”

It was this resilience and deep faith that the Very Rev. Patrick Augustine experienced when he visited Pakistan earlier this year as an expression of solidarity with the Christian community there.

Members of the congregation at All Saints Anglican Church in Peshawar.

The Pakistan-born rector of Christ Episcopal Church in La Crosse, Wisconsin, preached during Sunday worship on Jan. 25 at the now-heavily guarded All Saints, built in the ancient bazaar of the old city Peshawar in 1865. He found a church that is thriving and full of faithful Christians. “I was touched by the power and commitment of their faith,” he told ENS.

“The terrorists believe they have a cause to impose Islam by violent force, beheadings and detonating explosives to kill those whose belief systems differ,” he added. “Suffering is everywhere and it has overwhelmed our humanity.”

Christians in Pakistan are “pounded by Islamists in brutal suicide bombings, daily harassment and imprisonments,” Augustine said.

Following Sunday morning worship at All Saints Anglican Church in Peshawar, the Very Rev. Patrick Augustine prays with a family that lost several relatives in the bomb blasts of September 2013.

There is the prominent case of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman and mother of five who was arrested in June 2009 after being accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad – which she denies – and sentenced to death by hanging. She is still in a Pakistani jail despite almost 1 million people worldwide appealing for her release. Some blasphemy charge cases receive high profile in the media, but thousands more go unreported.

Pakistani blasphemy law identifies it as a crime to defile the Holy Quran, with a possible sentence of life imprisonment. But offenses against the Prophet Muhammad may be punishable by death.

“This draconian law is a sword hanging over every Christian’s head. Once accused, the individual is at risk from zealous Islamists who believe that they earn merit with Allah by killing a blasphemer,” Augustine said. “Thousands of innocent people have been imprisoned and killed on false charges of blasphemy.”

Augustine lamented the inaction of the Pakistan government, which, he says, “has allowed extreme Islamic groups to propagate hate … violence, intolerance and spread extreme ideas into ordinary mosques and community centers.”

But Augustine – who in 2012 was awarded the Cross of St. Augustine by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in recognition of his contributions internationally to evangelism, ecumenism, and peace and reconciliation between faiths – said that “people want peace. We live in a world fashioned by God so that we all need one another as members of the human family. There are people of goodwill among both Christians and Muslims. I beg all people of goodwill to speak out and not fall prey as silent spectators.”

The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council at its March meeting passed a resolution condemning 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.”

The resolution also calls on the world’s governments “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.”

The Rev. Canon Robert Edmunds, Middle East partnership officer for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, said: “We sometimes hear the term ‘Christian presence’ in the Middle East and it sounds passive and lacking in vitality when the truth of the matter for those who live there is quite different. The Christian presence throughout the region is about Christians whose family and religious roots reach back to the time of Christ. These are not sojourners in a strange and foreign land, but people whose lives are an integral part of the landscape, the history, the culture and the traditions which have and continue to shape each generation.”

The presence of the Christian churches throughout the region “provides the language of love of God and all neighbors which is in danger of being silenced,” Edmunds added. “We in the West must continue to give these atrocities visibility both in terms of solidarity with our brother and sister Christians, but to encourage political leaders to seek lasting and durable solutions for peace for the benefit of all. To lose the Christian voice in the region would be catastrophic for the future.”

Augustine’s friends, family and parishioners expressed concern about him visiting Pakistan at such a volatile time. But on his journey, Augustine said that he found countless signs of hope and unexpected surprises.

The Very Rev. Patrick Augustine with youth leaders of the Diocese of Peshawar, some of whom were injured and lost family members in the bomb blasts at All Saints Anglican Church.

One early Sunday morning in February, Augustine and 20 Christians from Islamabad drove for four hours to be with a Christian family near Muzzaffarabad. The family has been living there since 1933, but they are the only Christians in an otherwise exclusively Islamic area. Augustine described it as a deep privilege and a historical day as he relayed how he was asked to celebrate Holy Communion and preach, then lay the foundation of a church that will seat 50 people.

On his first day of arrival in Islamabad, he visited a tailor’s shop with a friend. One of the Muslim brothers who run the shop asked Augustine to pray for him. When Augustine told him that he prays in the name of Jesus the brother said that he had no objection to that.

As he was about to leave, the other two brothers approached Augustine and asked him to pray with them also. “I looked at them and saw in their eyes hunger for God for healing and blessing,” he said. “I laid my hands on them and asked God to bless them, their shop and bless Pakistan to be a land with peace. This was an amazing opportunity to experience in a land where Christians are discriminated and persecuted on daily basis.”

Two days later, Peters, the bishop of Peshawar, received a phone call about an attack by a Muslim mob on a Christian-run school in the city of Bannu. The school has 1,800 students and 99 percent are Muslim. Peters and four clergy decided to leave immediately and Augustine was invited to accompany them. “It is a highly security-sensitive area and not many Americans would be able to make this dangerous journey. It was a privilege to go … and stand in solidarity with a suffering church,” Augustine said.

The Very Rev. Patrick Augustine prays with the displaced Christian community in Bannu.

Inside the compound, there were 200 Christian families internally displaced from the Waziristan area, a stronghold of Al-Qaeda and Taliban forces and the region where American drones have targeted terrorists.

“One million are internally displaced,” Augustine said. “Christian families were living in refugee camps … and not given food and shelter. It has been an Anglican area since 1860s. The bishop invited Christians to pitch tents inside the church compound where the school and hospital are situated. They are able to provide education and medical help to Muslims and Christians in this city.

“I spent one whole day visiting these displaced people, listening to their stories, holding hands and praying with them. … I did not get a sense that these people were ready to give up their faith, but that they were very strong, deeply rooted and committed to following Jesus in the way of the cross.”

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

Advancing to General Convention: Registration open for Young Adult Festival

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 13, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Registration is now open for The Episcopal Church Young Adult Festival, which is scheduled to run concurrently with the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, June 25 – July 3, in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah). The event is planned and hosted by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.

Always a favorite event, the Young Adult Festival at General Convention 2015 will be different this time.  According to the Rev. Shannon Kelly, Acting Missioner for Campus and Young Adult Ministries for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, the Young Adult Festival is slated to operate throughout the length of General Convention, but in two distinct segments.

The first segment, Why Serve, will be held Wednesday, June 24 to Monday, June 29.Why Serve is a gathering of young adults, ages 18 – 35, centered on discernment of vocation. Young adults of color are specifically encouraged to apply. Why Serve is open to young adults only.

The second segment, Kindling, will be held Monday, June 29 to Friday, July 3.Kindling is a gathering of leaders who are in ministry with young adults on and off college campuses. Young adult leaders and older adults who work with young adults are welcome to apply.

Young adults can register for Why Serve, or Kindling, or both.

Information on the Young Adult Festival, costs, groups, spouses/partners, is availablehere.

Registration is available here. Registration will be open until Wednesday, May 20, or until space runs out.

For more information contact Kelly at skelly@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.

Note: Adult leaders wishing to attend with young adults to Why Serve should contact Kelly at skelly@episcopalchurch.org.

 

RIP: Former Diocese of Eastern Oregon Bishop Rustin R. Kimsey

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 13, 2015

[Episcopal Diocese of Easter Oregon] A sixth generation Oregonian, the Rt. Rev. Rustin R. “Rusty” Kimsey was born on June 20, 1935 in Bend, Oregon, to Lauren Chamness Kimsey and Lois Elena (Moorhead) Kimsey. He died at home on April 10 at the age of 79.

The Rt. Rev. Rustin R. Kimsey, the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Eastern Oregon, spoke at the Aug. 4, 2014 memorial service for the Rev. Tish Croom. Photo: Angela Gorham/Diocese of Eastern Oregon

Educated in Bend and Hermiston public schools and the University of Oregon (B.S. 1957), Kimsey’s Christian formation was secured from boyhood at Ascension School and Conference Center in Cove, Oregon. Kimsey attended the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, receiving a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1960.

Ordained a deacon and priest that same year, Kimsey served churches in Redmond, Baker City and The Dalles. In 1969 he was appointed to the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council, the governing body of the Episcopal Church between triennial meetings of General Convention. He was re-elected to the council twice and served a total of thirteen years.

During that time he was appointed to serve as the Episcopal Church’s priest representative on the Anglican Consultative Council, an international council representing 85 million Anglicans worldwide. In 1977 he served as the Episcopal Church’s chair of the first Partners in Mission Consultation, in which Anglican and ecumenical partners from around the world listened, critiqued and helped shape the ministry and mission of the Episcopal Church.

Active in community and regional concerns, Kimsey helped establish mental health programs for all ages, volunteered at the Regional Training Center for those with disabilities, served on the advisory board of Haven and was appointed by then-Gov. Victor Atiyeh to the Columbia River Gorge Commission.

In 1980 Kimsey was elected as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Eastern Oregon, and on Aug. 4 he was consecrated at The Dalles High School Kurtz Gymnasium, followed by a gala procession to historic St. Paul’s Chapel on Union Street. “Old St. Paul’s” was soon to be the spiritual home and administrative center for the diocese. For 20 years, 59,000 square miles of the sacred turf east of the Cascades was “home” for Kimsey’s ministry to others in the name of Christ. He established and strengthened communities of faith to be more open and inclusive, waged battle with inappropriate leadership and abusive authority, enhanced ecumenical and interfaith relationships, encouraged congregations to become involved in their towns and villages as partners in responding to human need and social justice issues, reflecting the hospitality of Christ.

Kimsey served on several boards and commissions for the House of Bishops. The highlight was his chairmanship of the Episcopal Church’s Commission on Ecumenical Relations from 1994-2000.  During those years the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Episcopal Church forged an agreement, Called to Common Mission, which brought these two faith communities into full communion.

Kimsey retired as bishop of Eastern Oregon in 2000. In 2005 he accepted an appointment as assisting bishop of Navajoland, retiring from that sacred duty in July 2006. Kimsey was appointed assisting bishop of the Diocese of Alaska in 2009 until Alaska chose its current bishop in 2010.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Gretchen (Rinehart) Kimsey; their children, Sean Kimsey of The Dalles and Bangkok, Thailand (Khing); Megan Jarman of Seattle, Wshington (Mark); Larry Parlin of Lyons, Oregon (Leisa); grandchildren, William and Lauren Jarman; an older brother, Lloyd Kimsey of Carlsbad, California; an aunt, Margaret Troedson of Pendleton, Oregon and several cousins, nieces and nephews.

A public service of Compline and Vigil will be held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on April 24 with the Rev. Patrick Bell officiating. A service of thanksgiving for Kimsey’s life and ministry will be held on April 25 at Calvary Baptist Church in The Dalles with diocese of Eastern Oregon Bishop Provisional Bavi “Nedi” Rivera officiating. Following a luncheon, the burial will take place at the Dufur Cemetery.

Memorials may be given to Ascension School Camp and Conference Center, Box 278, Cove, OR 97824, St. Paul’s Memorial Fund, 1805 Minnesota St., The Dalles, OR 97058, Episcopal Relief and Development Fund, Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058, or Mid-Columbia Health  Foundation,  1700 E. 19th St., The Dalles, OR 97058.

Editor’s note: A letter to the Diocese of Eastern Oregon from Gretchen Kimsey following the death of her husband is here. The Kimsey family kept the diocese updated about Kimsey’s health, including this last one posted March 16.

Southeast Florida notified of successful canonical consent process

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 13, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Registrar of General Convention, the Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe, have notified the Diocese of Southeast Florida that Bishop Coadjutor-Elect Peter Eaton has received the required majority of consents in the canonical consent process.

The Very Rev. Peter Eaton was elected Bishop Coadjutor on January 31.  His ordination and consecration service is slated for May 9; Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori will officiate.

While Bishop Coadjutor-Elect Eaton has received the necessary majority of consents, consents will continue to be accepted up to and including the June 17 deadline date.

As outlined under Canon III.11.4 (a), the Presiding Bishop confirmed the receipt of consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction, and has also reviewed the evidence of consents from a majority of standing committees of the Church sent to her by the diocesan standing committee.

In Canon III.11.4 (b), Standing Committees, in consenting to the ordination and consecration, attest they are “fully sensible of how important it is that the Sacred Order and Office of a Bishop should not be unworthily conferred, and firmly persuaded that it is our duty to bear testimony on this solemn occasion without partiality, do, in the presence of Almighty God, testify that we know of no impediment on account of which the Reverend A.B. ought not to be ordained to that Holy Office. We do, moreover, jointly and severally declare that we believe the Reverend A.B. to have been duly and lawfully elected and to be of such sufficiency in learning, of such soundness in the Faith, and of such godly character as to be able to exercise the Office of a Bishop to the honor of God and the edifying of the Church, and to be a wholesome example to the flock of Christ.”