[Anglican Communion News Service] A professor of Christianity and Islam has said, despite headlines about extremist atrocities, many Christians and Muslims worldwide live peacefully as neighbors.
David Thomas is the Nadir Dinshaw Professor of Inter Religious Relations School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.
He was speaking at the launch of the Anglican Communion’s latest edition of Christian-Muslim Digest – the newsletter of the Anglican Communion’s Network for Inter Faith Concerns (NIFCON).
“Behind the atrocities committed by extremists who say they act in the name of Islam, Christians and Muslims try to live together with respect and cooperation,” he said. “In many places followers of the two faiths succeed in welcoming one another as neighbors and as friends. However, communal life is hampered by insensitive acts on one side or another.”
The first Digest of 2015 records two of these acts and offers incisive reflections by two leading experts. Download the PDF of the Digest here.
The Network for Inter Faith Concerns (NIFCON) of the Anglican Communion exists to encourage:
- Progress towards genuinely open and loving relationships between Christians and people of other faiths.
- Exchange of news, information, ideas and resources relating to inter faith concerns between provinces of the Anglican Communion.
- Local contextual and wider theological reflection.
- Witness and evangelism where appropriate.
- Prayerful and urgent action with all involved in tension and conflict.
- Support for people of faith, especially Christians, who live as religious minorities in situations of discrimination or danger.
[World Council of Churches] The World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) have agreed to re-establish the EAA as the WCC’s ecumenical initiative, preserving the future of this diverse Christian network for international action on selected, focused issues.
“The WCC is very happy to announce the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is to become a WCC ecumenical initiative,” said Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC. “The EAA and the WCC leadership worked together to find the means to continue the EAA’s unique network and advocacy approach in a more sustainable structural form.”
Over the past 14 years, the EAA has brought Roman Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical and Orthodox churches and Christian organizations to address campaigns on focused issues.
Designed as an organization meant to maximize the impact of faith-based voices and action for justice, the EAA has built a high level of recognition for Christian expertise and advocacy, particularly in the areas of HIV and AIDS, sustainable agriculture and food security. However, like many other faith-based and civil society organizations, it has faced financial challenges over the last several years leading to discussions among its members and partners on the most effective use of financial resources.
“We are delighted that the EAA’s diverse network and unique ecumenical advocacy approach can continue to help churches and Christian organizations to speak out with one voice and take action together for justice, health and dignity,” said Rev. Richard Fee, chair of the EAA board of directors and general secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. “The EAA has proven itself an effective model for ecumenical advocacy, and we are delighted that the WCC can host this precious ecumenical space for the mutual benefit of all those involved.”
“The EAA was founded on the principle that the more we can speak and act together, the stronger our impact for justice will be,” said Fee. “This is a fundamental ecumenical principle which the EAA has developed creatively and effectively for over a decade. Clearly, the need for people of faith to speak out against injustice remains as vital as ever, and together we can strengthen our witness for peace, security and dignity,” Fee concluded.
“This is one concrete way for the World Council of Churches strategically to give leadership and play an important role as convenor for the ecumenical movement. I’m glad that we are able to develop the important work of the EAA into the WCC with a focus on sustainable agriculture and HIV and AIDS. The EAA will bring to WCC experience in collaborating on advocacy with its members,” said Isabel Apawo Phiri, the WCC’s associate general secretary.
The EAA was founded in December 2000 as an instrument for broad ecumenical cooperation in advocacy – both in terms of Christian traditions and in types of organizations. Participating organizations select two specific issues of global concern for focused campaigning over a four-year period. Since its establishment, the EAA has focused on HIV and AIDS. From 2009, its second focus has been on food security and sustainable agriculture.
The WCC housed the EAA administratively from its founding until 2009 when it became an independent association under Swiss law. Close collaboration continued between the two organizations, particularly through the campaign strategy groups with representatives from EAA members and partners.
EAA’s most recent efforts on HIV and AIDS have focused on access to treatment and advocacy to overcome stigma and discrimination, particularly through dialogue between religious leaders and people living with HIV.
The EAA has also developed a leadership role among faith-based and civil society advocates in negotiations concerning agriculture in United Nations Climate Change talks, as well as in international policy arenas in areas of food and nutrition security.
Los ejemplos de esa innovación, apoyada por subvenciones de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera (DFMS), incluyen un ministerio interreligioso en una universidad no residencial del estado, una combinación de un camión cocina y capilla que visitará instalaciones universitarias en Carolina del Norte y un empeño en Dakota del Norte en ofrecer ayuda holística a estudiantes nativoamericanos. (La DFMS [Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society] es el nombre legal y canónico con el cual la Iglesia Episcopal está incorporada, funciona empresarialmente y lleva a cabo la misión).
“Las prioridades de la Iglesia Episcopal en el ministerio universitario se cumplen allí donde más estudiantes se matriculan actualmente”, dijo el Rdo. Mike Angell, misionero de la Iglesia Episcopal para el ministerio de jóvenes adultos y el universitario.
“La educación superior para muchísimos estudiantes no se parece a una licenciatura de cuatro años, en consecuencia estamos tratando de lograr que la Iglesia sea creativa en la manera de llevar a cabo el ministerio universitario, que sea empresarial. Estas subvenciones ofrecen el capital inicial para iniciar nuevos proyectos, nuevos modos de ministrar a jóvenes adultos en la educación superior: algunos de los cuales no son estudiantes de jornada completa, algunos de los cuales están explorando cómo será su carrera docente”.
El ministerio universitario en Dakota del Norte
Por ejemplo, la Diócesis de Dakota del Norte está usando una subvención para liderazgo de $25.000 otorgada por la DFMS para establecer lo que el Rdo. Canónigo John Floberg llama un ministerio holístico para los estudiantes nativoamericanos que asisten al Colegio Universitario Toro Sentado [Sitting Bull College] en Fort Yates en la reserva india de Standing Rock y en la Universidad Tecnológica de las Tribus Unidas en Bismarck.
Floberg es miembro del Consejo Ejecutivo de la Iglesia Episcopal.
Si bien la espiritualidad es fundamental para el ministerio universitario “no va a ser lo único que ayude a los estudiantes a cursar la universidad”, dijo Floberg, refiriéndose especialmente a los estudiantes nativos que a veces necesitan más que el estímulo habitual y la ayuda práctica para permanecer en la escuela. Esa ayuda puede ser tan básica como el dinero que necesita un estudiante para volver a la escuela luego de haber tenido que viajar a su casa para una emergencia de familia, explicó él.
El ministerio que se ha concebido no es una calle de una sola vía. Los Witayas (“grupos reunidos” en lengua sioux) que Floberg espera crear usarán un modelo de apoyo mutuo basado en las técnicas para la prevención de suicidios “Fuentes de Energía” que se desarrollaron en Dakota del Norte. El modelo se utilizaría para “el apoyo mutuo de los estudiantes que asisten a la universidad, se diploman y lo hacen con la esperanza y la perseverancia que forman parte de la fe cristiana”, escribió Floberg en el número de noviembre del boletín diocesano.
Floberg, que como misionero canónico es responsable de cinco congregaciones extendidas en un área de más de 480 kilómetros en Dakota del Norte, tanto dentro como fuera de las reservas, dijo que la Iglesia con frecuencia tiene relaciones con estudiantes nativos formados en estos grupos de jóvenes. Hacerles seguimiento a estos estudiantes en su transición a la universidad es un “próximo paso lógico”, pero ese paso no siempre se da. Tanto Toro Sentado como Tribus Unidas “están llenas de personas que ya conoces y que se encuentran en un momento de transición en la vida al que la Iglesia no le ha prestado mucho atención”, afirmó.
Un objetivo adicional del programa de compañerismo es apoyar los empeños educativos y tribales para ayudar a los estudiantes a discernir cómo podrían contribuir con sus comunidades usando sus diplomas en beneficio de la tribu, dijo Floberg, quien resaltó que él le estaba hablando a Episcopal News Service en el 124º. aniversario (15 de diciembre de 1890) de la muerte de Toro Sentado, el jefe y líder espiritual sioux que dijo: “unamos nuestras mentes y veamos lo que la vida puede hacer por nuestros hijos”. Floberg añadió que los mentores también podrían discutir el ministerio futuro de los estudiantes, laicos u ordenados.
Esos son los objetivos a largo plazo. En el ínterin, Floberg brinda lo que podría llamarse el fundamento práctico de gran parte del ministerio: comida gratis. En Toro Sentado, él ofrece almuerzos en el atrio del edificio de ciencias y el programa ha comprado una parrilla y un horno de ahumar carne (móviles) para hacer parrilladas. Las comidas son un medio de dar a conocer la presencia de la Iglesia y de compartir información acerca de los planes para el ministerio.
Sobre la marcha en Carolina del Norte
La comida fue la génesis de Una Fiesta Movible, un ministerio universitario de la Diócesis de Carolina del Norte basado en un camión de remolque al que se le ha adaptado una cocina y un espacio para la oración.
La idea fue de Anne Hodges-Copple, obispa sufragánea de Carolina del Norte, durante el recorrido que hizo por la diócesis previo a su elección. “Me mantuve hablando de la necesidad de nosotros, como diócesis, de no recurrir a trucos, sino de intentar ser más creativos y emprendedores en nuestros empeños de dar a las antiguas tradiciones una renovada expresión en lugares inesperados y no obstante inspiradores”, dio ella a ENS.
Hodges-Copple, que fuera anteriormente la capellana episcopal en la Universidad de Duke, dijo que comenzó a combinar su deseo de ministrar en “instalaciones universitarias históricamente abandonadas o desatendidas —especialmente en universidades comunitarias”— con la ubicuidad de los camiones de comida en Durham, Carolina del Norte. Cuando ella le propuso la idea al Rdo. Nils Chittenden, que en ese tiempo era el ministro de los jóvenes en la diócesis y capellán episcopal en Duke, él inmediatamente dijo “¡claro que sí!”.
Caitlyn Darnell, coordinadora de Fiesta Movible lo explicó de este modo: “me quedé absolutamente fascinada por la idea”.
Le llevó bastante tiempo a Chittenden, Darnell y Hodges-Copple resolver cómo poner la idea en práctica, y fueron muy prudentes en lo que respecta al rostro y la imagen del ministerio.
“Ha habido muchísimas empresas y nuevas iniciativas de la Iglesia que han intentado hacer cosas realmente atractivas por hacer algo realmente atractivo, y algún postadolescente o alguien que está empezando la veintena lo mira y lo toma como ‘algo bastante tonto’, dijo Darnell.
Darnell trabaja a media jornada para la diócesis en su papel en Una Fiesta Movible y está en su segundo año de ubicación a través del Cuerpo de Servicio Episcopal —una entidad asociada a la DFMS— con El Proyecto Abraham. Ella trabaja en la iglesia episcopal de San Timoteo [St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church] en Winston-Salem como asistente de formación. A la Rda. Stephanie Yancy la nombraron misionera diocesana interina para el ministerio de jóvenes adultos a mediados de enero, y sucederá a Chittenden que se convirtió en rectora de la iglesia episcopal de San Esteban [St Stephen’s Episcopal Church] en Armonk, Nueva York, a fines de enero. Yancy se encargará de dirigir Una Fiesta Movible.
Aunque la idea de lo que se convirtió en Una Fiesta Movible comenzó como un camión de comida, Darnell dijo que el grupo también estaba contemplando utilizar un autobús o un vehículo recreativo. Darnell no recuerda bien cuándo y cómo se le ocurrió la idea del remolque, pero ahora Una Fiesta Movible se traslada en un camión de 28 pies especialmente equipado. Hay un pequeño espacio en el frente para una oración individual o para una conversación con el capellán, y hay una cocina en el fondo. Recordando sus años el colegio universitario de William and Mary, Darnell dijo, “tener la capilla es una parte realmente, realmente importante de lo que hacemos” porque la vida de la universidad puede ser caótica e incluso los estudiantes extrovertidos pueden sentirse a veces “excesivamente estimulados o inundados de cosas” y necesitados de un espacio de silencio.
La comida puede servirse desde una ventana en el costado del remolque o en la parte trasera, que se baja y se convierte en una plataforma que puede cubrirse con una tienda, explicó Darnell, y la comida puede servirse desde el altar “de manera que obtienes también esa teología realmente atractiva de la cena eucarística”.
Puesto que el ministerio conlleva moverse entre las instalaciones universitarias, hasta el color del camión era un asunto delicado: el remolque no podía destacar los colores del equipo de una escuela por encima de otra. Durante la reunión de junio en la iglesia episcopal de San Felipe [St. Philip’s Episcopal Church] en Durham, a las personas que asistieron de la iglesia y del campus de la localidad se les pidió que aportasen sus ideas acerca del ministerio, así surgió la idea de que el remolque fuese “un pizarrón comunitario”. El camión es negro y a la gente de cada campus se le invita que escriba en los costados, apropiándose de ese espacio en cada visita.
Una Fiesta Movible espera asociarse con las iglesias u otras agrupaciones locales que deseen ayudar en la preparación y servicio de las comidas, y que estén dispuestas a aprender a ministrar a jóvenes adultos, dijo Darnell. Deberán ser receptivos a saber qué esperar de este tipo de ministerio y cómo cambiará la experiencia de su parroquia, añadió.
Las ruedas están girando, dijo Darnell, para establecer una presencia en la Universidad Comunitaria de Johnson, en Smithfield, en la Universidad Central de Carolina del Norte, en Durham y en el Colegio Universitario Johnson C. Smith en Charlotte. Si bien Barton College en Wilson también está en su lista, esas conversaciones no han comenzado todavía, explicó ella. Una Fiesta Movible espera estar en la Universidad Comunitaria Tecnológica de Durham también este año, agregó.
Una Fiesta Movible también ha ayudado a formar una comunidad de tres jóvenes adultos, conocidos como compañeros, que viajarán con el camión para ser mentores y ministros de sus iguales.
Todos estos aspectos de Una Fiesta Movible están relacionados, dijo Hodges-Copple, con el relato del Jesús resucitado en el camino de Emaús la noche de la primera Pascua. El ministerio espera “llevar la compañía de Jesucristo junto a muchas personas, proporcionándoles un encuentro transformador con Dios en un contexto sorprendente y de algún modo no tradicional”, según explica la página web [de este ministerio].
El ministerio recibió una subvención para el liderazgo de $30.000 por dos años de la DFMS en noviembre de 2013.
Entre tanto en el sur de California
En el otro extremo del país, la comida no es lo fundamental para el ministerio del Rdo. Sean Lanigan en la Universidad del Estado de California en Long Beach, aunque “intenté crear un estudio bíblico convencional y un ministerio universitario de pizza”, contó él de su llegada allí hace dos años.
No pareció funcionar en el campus de 40.000 estudiantes no residentes, en consecuencia se dio a la tarea de captar lo que funcionaria. No tardó en descubrir que “lo que sí parecía funcionar era motivar [a las personas] con lo interreligioso”.
Y el activismo. El ministerio se dio a conocer rápidamente como el “Proyecto Interreligioso” y desde entonces ha formado un grupo básico de aproximadamente una docena de estudiantes predominantemente musulmanes y judíos que han abordado asuntos tales como el empoderamiento de las mujeres y la fe y el clima.
“Se ha convertido en una emergente y creciente reunión de estudiantes interesados en crear relaciones por encima de las fronteras… [y] en aprender a vivir en un mundo de diferencias”, dijo Lanigan.
Ese interés marca la diferencia con la mayoría de otras agrupaciones universitarias, dice él. “La Universidad de California en Long Beach es increíblemente diversa e increíblemente estratificada, pero no hay muchos grupos en el campus que trasciendan las fronteras”.
El ministerio es un esfuerzo conjunto de la DFMS y la Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en América, dijo Lanigan, sacerdote episcopal en la Diócesis de Los Ángeles. Lanigan y el ministerio se basan en la iglesia luterana de Nuestro Salvador [Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church] en Long Beach. La Diócesis [episcopal] de Los Ángeles, la ELCA y su Sínodo del Sur de California proporcionan constante ayuda económica, según explicó él. Una junta de episcopales y luteranos, tanto clérigos como laicos, creó esta asociación y sigue desarrollando el ministerio universitario y una nueva comunidad de culto llamada Tierras Santas [Holy Grounds].
Una reciente subvención de $5.000 de la DFMS ayudará a financiar la continuación del ministerio, incluido el sostén de la presencia de Dominique Bocanegra, becaria urbana episcopal de media jornada que ayuda como organizadora y promotora de la misión, dijo Lanigan.
Hasta que ella comenzó a trabajar con el Proyecto Interreligioso en agosto, Bocanegra, de 23 años, no se había “dado cuenta de cuan interconectada está realmente la fe y cómo se relaciona con lo que ocurre en Estados Unidos y a través del mundo”.
El Proyecto Interreligioso aborda el meollo de muchos problemas, añadió ella: “Hay mucha tensión —para mí, debido a la falta de diálogo, a la falta de relaciones”.
Ella espera ayudar a concentrar los esfuerzos de los estudiantes en problemas de justicia porque “no todas las personas sin hogar son cristianas; no todo el que sufre de sequía es musulmán. No tenemos que sentarnos aquí y decir ‘usted debe convertirse a mi religión’, sino, a través de mi experiencia y de mis ojos usted puede oír cómo vemos la sequía: es así como vemos a nuestros hermanos y hermanas en la calle”.
Aliyah Shaikh, de 19 años, alumna de estudios internacionales especializados en el Oriente Medio y el Norte de África, dijo que el Proyecto Interreligioso le da un espacio para hacer amistades con personas de distintos orígenes.
“El Proyecto Interreligioso parece ser la única agrupación estudiantil que reúne ese tipo de capacidad”, dijo Shaikh, miembro de la junta de la Asociación Estudiantil Musulmana.
Ella calcula que alrededor de un 70 a un 80 por ciento del núcleo del grupo está compuesto de mujeres musulmanas. El restante 20 o 30 por ciento suelen ser estudiantes de Bell Hillel, la organización estudiantil judía, y un asistente regular es budista.
“Tenemos el desafío de conseguir más asistentes cristianos, y estamos tratando de pensar en modos de acercarnos mutuamente”, dijo ella.
Lanigan estuvo de acuerdo. “Estamos intentando crear en el campus tantas colaboraciones como sean posibles”, afirmó. “Estamos tratando de interesarnos en lo que pasa, en el campus y en [un ámbito] mucho más amplio, y cómo la religión puede ser parte de todo eso. No nos sentamos a filosofar acerca de Dios, aunque eso puede ocurrir a veces. Principalmente, hablamos de la manera en que, como seres humanos, compartimos juntos esta labor”.
Un presupuesto basado en la misión
El presupuesto 2013-2015 aprobado por la Convención General asignó $300.000 a subvenciones del ministerio universitario (el Renglón 67 puede verse aquí). Esas subvenciones forman parte de los medios en que la DFMS responde a la segunda Marca de la Misión que llama a todos los miembros de la Comunión Anglicana a enseñar, bautizar y formar a nuevos creyentes. Las subvenciones tienen por objeto, específicamente, establecer o revitalizar ministerios universitarios y concebir nuevas formas de llegar a jóvenes adultos que tradicionalmente es menos probable que se acerquen a un ministerio universitario.
En su reciente Informe a la Iglesia, la DFMS hacía notar que había asignado $204.348 hasta el presente.
La Convención General también pidió específicamente la creación de dos nuevos ministerios universitarios a establecerse en colegios universitarios, comunitarios o tribales, u otras instituciones de estudios superiores de dos años, en cada una de las nueve provincias de la Iglesia Episcopal. La Resolución C069 también pedía el adiestramiento de líderes locales del ministerio universitario.
La resolución, auspiciada por la VI Provincia, hacía notar “la creciente importancia de las universidades comunitarias como lugares fundamentales para la evangelización y la formación cristiana, particularmente entre poblaciones racial, étnica y socioeconómicamente diversas”.
Angell le dijo a ENS que “la oportunidad es realmente grande porque ‘la universidad comunitaria’ es casi una contradicción de términos o un nombre poco apropiado debido a que en muchas universidades comunitarias no existe ninguna clase de comunidad”.
“Luego, ¿en qué consiste levantar una comunidad en una situación donde no compites con cien mil otros clubes y fraternidades, masculinas y femeninas?” pregunta él. “Consigues captar a los estudiantes para quienes la presencia significa muchísimo y la oportunidad de tener una comunidad en medio de una situación docente no tradicional es realmente grande”.
Angell también apuntó que las universidades comunitarias se están convirtiendo en el punto de entrada a la educación superior para estudiantes de comunidades inmigrantes. Esos estudiantes son con frecuencia los primeros de sus familias en ir a la universidad y necesitan un apoyo firme”, agregó.
“No sólo apoyamos a los estudiantes episcopales no tradicionales, estamos tratando de apoyar a los estudiantes universitarios no tradicionales”, afirmó Angell.
La Convención estructuró el actual presupuesto trienal en torno a las Cinco Marcas de la Misión de la Comunión [Anglicana] y proporcionó sumas significativas no asignadas para nuevas obras orientadas en torno a cada una de las Marcas de la Misión. La intención era que la labor resultante se hiciera en nuevas asociaciones de colaboración con diócesis y congregaciones. La DFMS ha proporcionado el capital inicial o las subvenciones compartidas o ambas cosas, así como el apoyo y la experiencia del personal para la nueva tarea.
– La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. La Rda. Pat McCaughan es corresponsal de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society has posted the results of the 2014 Survey of Episcopal Congregations, conducted in conjunction with the Faith Communities Today (FACT) ecumenical/interfaith survey project.
Named New Facts on Episcopal Church Growth and Decline, the document is located here.
New Facts on Episcopal Church Growth and Decline examines the dynamics of growth and decline in Episcopal congregations. According to C. Kirk Hadaway, Ph.D., Officer for Congregational Research for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, the findings are based on 2013 Parochial Report data and the 2014 Survey of Episcopal Congregations, “which was completed by 762 congregations of an initial sample of 1,100. Churches were weighted by size, as measured in 2009, and represent the size distribution of all Episcopal churches in the US.”
With growth measured by change in Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) from 2009 to 2013, New Facts on Episcopal Church Growth and Decline examines factors associated with growth and decline, such as what makes a congregation thrive or experience loss. Among the many sources of congregational growth and decline, Hadaway said, are the location and demographics of a congregation; the congregation’s identity; the congregation’s worship style and number of services; the congregation’s programs and activities; and the leadership of the congregation.
Hadaway pointed out New Facts on Episcopal Church Growth and Decline is an update to the 2005 FACTs report.
Other information for use by congregations and dioceses is available on the Research and Statistics page.
For more information contact Christine Kandic, Congregational Research Assistant for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Communion Office (ACO) has named Terri Miller as interim editor for the Anglican Communion News Service and Anglican World magazine.
Her appointment follows the announced departure of the ACO’s Director for Communications Jan Butter in mid-March.
Miller has worked with several church-related organisations including most recently the Geneva-based Lutheran World Federation, where she served as web editor and assisted with Lutheran World Information for six years.
Responding to her appointment, Miller said, “I know how important these channels of news and information are to members of the Anglican Communion globally and so am excited to take up this position.”
Butter said, “I am delighted to welcome Terri to the ACO and am pleased that the important work of sharing the best of our Anglican Communion life and mission will continue, both on anglicannews.org and via social media, after my departure.”
Miller will act as interim editor until October 2015.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) meeting in New York City March 9 to March 20 will bring women and men from The Episcopal Church and throughout the Anglican Communion.
The 2015 UNCSW theme is a review of progress made in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Program for Action, 20 years after its adoption at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. See more here www.beijing20.unwomen.org/
In 2015, the traditionally strong Anglican and Episcopal presence at UNCSW continues with over 100 participants representing 16 countries or Anglican provinces. The Anglican Communion welcomes 20 accredited delegates, each officially representing her province. The Rev. Joan Grimm Fraser of the Diocese of Long Island will be the provincial delegate representing The Episcopal Church to the Anglican Communion delegation.
The Episcopal Church will be sending its first official delegation: Helen Achol Abyei, Diocese of Colorado; Nellie Adkins, Diocese of Virginia; (Lesley) Grace Aheron, Diocese of Virginia; Delores Alleyne, Diocese of Connecticut; Digna de la Cruz, Diocese of Dominican Republic; Jayce Hafner, Domestic Policy Analyst for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society; Julia Ayala Harris, Diocese of Oklahoma; Pragedes Coromoto Jimenez de Salazar, Diocese of Venezuela and a member of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church; Heidi Kim, Missioner for Racial Reconciliation for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society; Lelanda Lee, Diocese of Colorado and a member of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church; the Rev. Gawain de Leeuw, Diocese of New York; the Rev. Vaike Madisson, Diocese of Honduras; Lynnaia Main, Global Relations Officer for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society; Hollee Martinez, Diocese of Texas; the Rev. Glenda McQueen, Partnership Officer for Latin America & the Caribbean for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society; Erin Morey-Busch, Diocese of Pittsburgh; Consuelo Sanchez Navarro, Diocese of Honduras; Barbara Schafer, Diocese of Nevada; the Rev. Stacy Walker-Frontjes, Diocese of Chicago.
The provincial delegate and the Church delegates will be able to attend the UNCSW official meetings as observers on the floor of the United Nations and will represent The Episcopal Church/Anglican Communion in their advocacy, including joint advocacy with the coalition group Ecumenical Women. They will be able to report on United Nations meetings during evening debriefs, speak about official Episcopal Church and Ecumenical Women priorities with United Nations entities and permanent mission representatives, attend parallel events, and reflect during UNCSW on how they can take the knowledge when they return to their communities and train new women leaders.
In addition to the official Anglican and Episcopal delegations, many other groups and individuals will gather in New York City to attend UNCSW, including the Anglican Church of Canada, St. George’s Church in Fredericksburg, Virginia (Diocese of Virginia), Anglican Women’s Empowerment, Episcopal Church Women, and the Offices of Indigenous Ministries and Global Partnerships of The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. Two members of The Episcopal Church Executive Council’s Committee on the Status of Women and other interested individuals will also be present.
Of note for the event:
- The Episcopal Church will host an opening Eucharist on Monday, March 9 in the Chapel of Christ the Lord in the Episcopal Church Center, as well a closing Eucharist on March 20. Both services will begin at 12:10 pm Eastern and will incorporate the stories, songs and experiences of the delegates. The UNCSW Opening Eucharist will be celebrated by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori with Bishop Chilton Knudsen, Assistant bishop in Diocese of Long Island, preaching. The Prayers of the People were written by the youth delegates from St. George’s Episcopal Church, Fredericksburg, VA. The Closing Eucharist on Friday, March 20 will be led by members of the Anglican Communion delegation.
- Regular midday Eucharist worship will continue Monday-Friday in the Chapel of Christ the Lord, with special guest celebrants throughout UNCSW: March 10, the Rev. Dr. Shane Phelan, CMA (Diocese of New York); March 17, the Rev. Viktoria Gotting (Diocese of Texas); March 18, the Rev. Canon Jeanne Person (Diocese of New York); March 19, the Rev. Stacy Walker-Frontjes (Diocese of Chicago).
- The Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations will host two events in the Chapel of Christ the Lord: on March 10, Dr. Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, General Secretary, World YWCA will speak. On March 12, Archbishop Sir David Moxon, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Personal Representative to the Holy See, will celebrate the midday Eucharist, followed by a presentation in the Chapel of Christ the Lord.
- On March 10 the Rev. Canon Dr. Alice Medcof, Anglican Communion delegate, will host a storytelling conversation on “Holding High the Platform” and the Diocese of Jerusalem will host a presentation.
- Anglican Women’s Empowerment will host a Lunch and Learn event with Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori on March 11, as well as a parallel event at the Church Center for the United Nations.
- Episcopal Relief & Development will co-sponsor a parallel event titled “Global Faith Perspectives On Sexual And Gender Based Violence: Survivor, Practitioner, Faith Leader And Academic“. The panel will be held at the Armenian Convention Center, V Hall (630 Second Ave., at 35 St.) with a gathering to follow at The Episcopal Church Center.
The Episcopal Church Center, located one block from the United Nations, will provide hospitality space for participants and will host advocacy debriefs by Ecumenical Women, an international coalition of faith-based organizations accredited to the United Nations. The Episcopal Church is co-chair of Ecumenical Women and both The Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion are members.
Anglican and Episcopal delegates will also participate in Ecumenical Women’s advocacy, including training, ecumenical worship, visiting permanent missions at the United Nations, and continuing advocacy upon return to their local communities.
For more info contact Lynnaia Main, Global Relations Officer, at email@example.com
For complete details, schedule and more information:
UNCSW 59: www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw59-2015
UN Women’s Beijing Turns 20 beijing20.unwomen.org/
UN Women: www.unwomen.org
Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations www.aco.org/ministry/un/
Global Partnerships: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/office-global-partnerships
Ecumenical Women: www.ecumenicalwomen.org
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] A new global movement – #washday15 – provides a means for participating in a worldwide Lenten discipline through social media postings on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook.
Initiated by the Diocese of Oxford in England, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is joining with the Church of England and other provinces throughout the Anglican Communion in #washday15.
The effort was inspired by the video Laundry Love, in which an Episcopal congregation in Santa Monica, CA (Diocese of Los Angeles) meets at a laundromat once a month to do laundry with the homeless. The goal of #washday15 is to engage people in a Lenten practice, culminating on Holy Thursday, the traditional day for foot washing.
“#Washday15 is all about loving service to others, an ancient Lenten discipline like fasting and prayer that could not be more relevant to the soul of the Church today,” noted Alexander D. Baumgarten, Director of Public Engagement and Mission Communication for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. “In loving service to others, we experience a kind of repentance and conversion — a pivot to a new manner of being — that prepares us to walk in the abundant life of Easter.”
According to the website: “#washday15 is a way of encouraging people to make a difference to their communities this Lent through some kind of washing-related activity. The washing element is a way of re-enacting Jesus’s washing of the disciples’ feet at the Last Supper.”
“Wash something with someone and make a difference in their day-to-day life or in your community. Then share your photos, tweets and posts.” noted Anne Rudig, Director of Communication. “#washday15, like Laundry Love, is modern-day foot washing.”
For more info contact Rudig at firstname.lastname@example.org
#washday15 website – www.washday.org
#washday15 school resources here http://washday.org/resources/schools-resources.pdf
Twitter – #washday15
[Episcopal Relief & Development] To restore community vitality and renew self-confidence, small groups of people in villages throughout Guatemala are working together to make a difference.
The first step: Empowering women to start believing in themselves. To do this, Episcopal Relief & Development joined forces with the Episcopal Diocese of Guatemala to help women gain economic independence by providing financial education that includes methods for saving for the future.
In Chimaltenango, a rural village in Guatemala, 35-year-old Vilma Letizia Alburez Yancos had never saved money in her life, but she is now using her expertise in natural medicine to heal her community and give her daughters more opportunities.
Waking up at dawn, Vilma makes the two-hour trip to attend a workshop offered by the Diocesan Development Office in Guatemala City, in coordination with Episcopal Relief & Development. As part of the program, women get financial and vocational training to build their confidence for business.
With knowledge of traditional Mayan remedies and a degree in natural medicine, Vilma is considering applying for a micro-credit loan to start a business making natural remedies for common ailments in her community. This workshop is one of a series she will take to be considered for the loan.
Vilma isn’t the only one. Twenty-eight other women, some with small children in tow, have made the trip for the same reason. While each woman at the workshop is pursuing a different trade – such as selling jewelry or making food – they all have one thing in common: They want a better future for themselves and their families.
Like Vilma, these women are part of community savings groups that hold members accountable to save money each week. Since the concept of saving hasn’t been a big part of the culture, the money they save gives these women the self-confidence needed to discover new possibilities and capabilities. And the members of the savings groups aren’t the only ones benefiting.
As an agent of change in the neighborhood, Vilma’s savings group has become her community’s unofficial bank. It gives loans to neighbors in need, all of which are paid back, making her savings group the most successful in Guatemala.
As the secretary of her savings group, Vilma acts as a role model in her home and community. But the habit of saving is new for VIlma and her neighbors. In a culture historically not focused on saving money, it just didn’t seem necessary.
“I was not interested in savings,” Vilma says. But saving has transformed Vilma’s life – especially after tropical storm Agatha destroyed her family’s home in 2010. With her savings since then, Vilma has been able to finish the floors of her new house, buy a new oven and plant fruit she can cook and sell in the local market.
It goes beyond that, though. “I didn’t think it was possible to save for education. Now I feel it’s important.”
For Vilma, it’s about giving her children the opportunities she didn’t have. “When I was 15, I kept telling my mom I wanted to study. I wanted to be someone important,” she says. “My mom would say, ‘daughter, where would I get the money to send you to school?’”
Episcopal Relief & Development and the Episcopal Diocese of Guatemala are helping Vilma unlock her potential through the savings group so she can give her daughters greater opportunities and choices.
“When I am saving, I feel that I am improving myself. I am giving my daughters the education I never had. They will be somebody,” she says. “They have their dreams. If I can give them their study, I will fight to give it to them.”
Now her 9-year-old girl wants to be a chef, and her 10-year-old wants to be a doctor.
Her actions have impacted and inspired her daughters, who have started saving for their own school supplies. She now feels proud that her daughters are already developing the habit of saving. “That’s my legacy to them.”
The article is available on Episcopal Relief & Development’s website here.
– Chad Brinkman is senior associate for engagement at Episcopal Relief & Development.
[Episcopal News Service] Members of the Episcopal Urban Caucus gathered in Meriden, Connecticut, for their annual assembly to consider how people of faith can challenge violence in America.
The Feb. 25-28 event, with a particular focus on gun violence, featured an informal conversation with Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy. Other activities included visits to two locations where work is underway to reduce violence and 10 workshops that offered stories and described programs to promote reconciliation and peace.
Founded in 1980, the Episcopal Urban Caucus is an association of lay and ordained Episcopalians dedicated to the cause of reconciliation, social justice and peace. The Rev. Canon Robert J. Brooks, who is also vice president of the Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission, is the caucus’ president. The caucus gathers every year in February at a different location with cooperation from the local diocese.
This year the group chose to come to Connecticut because of the commitment of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut to work against gun violence in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The diocese’s Social Justice and Advocacy Committee, led by the Rev. Peter Bushnell of Enfield, offered to help host and organize the event.
Malloy opened the assembly, noting that income inequality and climate change are the two biggest issues facing the United States. As other speakers and participants did throughout the three-day event, he also identified jobs as key to reducing violence. He cited steps he has initiated to keep young people from going to jail and getting a criminal record. Malloy recently signed legislation decriminalizing the possession of marijuana, and said that the change led to 6,000 fewer arrests last year. The governor also talked about the importance of raising the minimum wage and concluded his talk with the observation that “no person working 35 to 40 hours a week should live in poverty.”
During the assembly, participants visited Enfield or Hartford. Enfield’s Educational Resources for Children, an organization that provides innovative after-school programs, was highlighted for its focus on conflict resolution and anti-bullying.
The Hartford group visited the downtown Christ Church Cathedral for a panel discussion on challenging gun violence in the city. The panel was organized by the Rt. Rev. James Curry, recently retired Connecticut bishop suffragan. Panelists included the Rev. Henry Brown, founder of Mothers United Against Violence; the Rev. Stephen Camp, senior pastor of Faith Congregational Church; Bishop John Selders, pastor of Amistad United Church of Christ and assistant chaplain at Trinity College in Hartford; and the Rev. Harlon Dalton, priest-in-charge at the cathedral. The panelists discussed the importance and challenges of raising awareness of social injustice in their congregations, citing stories where the wider community celebrated their work but a few individual parishioners were strongly opposed.
Among the workshops was one with Canon David W. Porter, director of reconciliation for the Archbishop of Canterbury and formerly a peace-building practitioner in Northern Ireland. Porter discussed how he was helping the archbishop pursue his commitment to reconciliation and getting people to “disagree well.” Emphasizing that his focus is on building relationships and offering advice on the best processes to achieve reconciliation, Porter outlined a variety of lessons he had learned over the years, concluding that “reconciliation is always a quest.”
Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas and Connecticut Bishop Suffragan Laura Ahrens later described the goals of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a network of Episcopal bishops that encourages and promotes direct action to overcome gun violence through advocacy, community organizing, education, the creation of resources, and collaboration with other groups beyond The Episcopal Church. Douglas and Ahrens outlined the emergence of the network, described some of its initiatives, and invited lay and ordained leaders in The Episcopal Church to imagine how they too might organize for effective action against gun violence.
In another workshop, titled “Community Coping Strategies in Response to Tragedy in Newtown,” the Rev. Kathie Adams-Shepherd, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Newtown, discussed how various community organizations and programs have developed since the December 2012 tragedy to assist in healing and also to challenge the pandemic of gun violence in the United States.
The Rev. Molly James, priest associate at the Hartford Cathedral; Diane Pollard, caucus treasurer; and Nell Gibson, caucus board member, discussed in another workshop the resolutions to be offered at the upcoming General Convention that focus on ways Episcopalians can respond to the church’s witness against gun violence.
In addition, Jennifer H. Huebner, the Connecticut coordinator for PeaceJam New England, described how the PeaceJam Foundation mentors young adults hoping to inspire leaders of the next generation. At PeaceJam conferences, Nobel Peace laureates spend two days sharing their experience, skills and stories with youth and offering them inspiration.
The evening concluded with a showing of the film Children of the Light, which tells the story of the life of Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town Desmond Tutu.
“I am so thankful that the Episcopal Urban Caucus chose to come to Connecticut,” Douglas said. “The presence of sisters and brothers in Christ from around The Episcopal Church helped us to continue the healing process after the tragedy in Newtown and reminded us that we are not alone in challenging gun violence as participants in God’s mission.”
Next year’s assembly will take place in Delaware under the leadership of the Rev. David T. Andrews, rector of the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew in Wilmington.
̶ John Armstrong is a retired IT professional now working as a freelance journalist.
[Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth press release] Patricia High, teacher, beloved wife, mother, and grandmother, 72, died on March 4, at her home in Fort Worth.
Services in celebration of Pat’s life will be at 1:00 p.m. on March 7, at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Fort Worth. The Rt. Rev. Andrew Doyle, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, will officiate and the Rev. Patrick Miller, rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Houston, will preach. A service of interment will be at 3:00 p.m. on March 8, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Waco. The Rt. Rev. Claude Payne, retired bishop of the diocese of Texas, will officiate and the Rev. Dr. Chuck Treadwell, rector of St. Paul’s, will preach.
There will be a reception immediately after the service at River Crest Country Club in Fort Worth.
Pat was born in Seminole, Oklahoma. Her parents were Max and Josephine Moseley. She married Rayford B. High, Jr. on Aug. 29, 1964. He is the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, and the retired bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. Until her illness prevented it in recent months, Pat was always by his side at episcopal visitations to congregations. She was a full partner in his ministry, both as priest and bishop.
They met in Houston when both were in college. Pat attended the University of Texas. They have been married 50 years and have three children and six grandchildren. Pat taught at St. Mark’s Episcopal School in Houston.
In an interview at the time of his retirement as bishop suffragan, Bishop High said he is so grateful for the strengths Pat brought to their marriage and their ministry. “She’s been able to help me in areas that I’m not as strong in. She has a grasp of numbers and understanding that I really don’t so takes care of the finances. But where she really has helped is, as a parish priest I was always the last person to leave the church on Christmas Eve, she assembled the toys, even a swing set once. … She’s been a great help to bail me out in terms of being a father, too, because I still got credit for some of that.”
Their first child, Allison, was born in San Antonio, where he was at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. Shortly after that, they moved to Victoria, where he served as rector at St. Francis Episcopal Church. While in Victoria, they were expecting their second child, and were joyfully surprised by the arrival of twins, a daughter, Leslie, and a son, Rayford B. High, III.
All three children, their spouses and children live in Fort Worth.
Condolences can be emailed to email@example.com. Cards can be sent to Bishop High at the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, 4301 Meadowbrook Drive, Fort Worth, TX, 76103.
If people wish, memorials can be sent to St. Paul’s Day School, 517 Columbus Ave, Waco, TX 76701; Camp Allen Conference and Retreat Center, 18800 FM 362, Navasota, Texas 77868; Tyler Day Nursery, 2901 W Gentry Pkwy, Tyler, TX 75702; or Thistle Farms, 5122 Charlotte Pike, Nashville, Tennessee 37209.
[Episcopal Diocese of West Texas] The Rt. Rev. David M. Reed was installed as bishop coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas during a Eucharist service held Feb. 28 at the 111th annual Diocesan Council. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori presided over the service and the installation.
There is no specific liturgy in the Episcopal Church for a previously ordained bishop to be installed as bishop coadjutor. Hence, Reed compiled the liturgy for the installation after he visited high-school-age students at Camp Capers, a diocesan camping and retreat center, in January. During the visit, he asked the teenagers three questions: How can I support you in your life in Christ? What kind of bishop do you and your church need me to be? How can you help me be a better bishop?
Reed molded their answers into the Collect for the Day, prayers for the installation and the Prayers of the People.
As he knelt before Jefferts Schori, Reed prayed, “O Lord my God, I am a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming; yet you have called me to serve as bishop and shepherd.” The prayer continued, and the entire service can be read here.
Guest preacher Bishop John McKee “Kee” Sloan of the Diocese of Alabama opened his sermon with a quote from Reed’s prayer. The annual theme of the Diocese of West Texas is “Called to Serve,” and this theme was introduced during Diocesan Council, and it resonated in all the events and ministry reports.
Entertaining the 1,000-plus-member congregation with stories of his youth, Sloan said God knows Reed better than anyone else, and he has called him because of who he is. “David Reed is such a genuinely humble, nice, gentle, sincere, authentic man,” Sloan said, to applause from the congregation.
Sloan said that God calls everyone to preach the Gospel, to strive for justice and peace, and to respect the dignity of every human being. “God knows us and sees us, knows our faults and our shortcomings, and yet he calls us to ministry, he calls us to serve,” said Sloan. (His sermon is available in audio format here.)
The host church for Diocesan Council was St. John’s, New Braunfels, which assembled a 100-member choir that included singers from around the diocese and young boys of the Chapel Boychoir from San Antonio.
A diocesan youth band was also formed, and the musicians and 20-plus youth singers led the congregation in three contemporary songs during the Eucharist. Reed invited the youth musicians to serve in this capacity to ensure their lively joy and energy would be part of Council and the installation service.
“Today marks a transition – and the beginning of a transition – in the life of our diocese, in which continuity and change are interwoven, a familiar territory for Christians,” said Reed. “Continuity and change, remembrance and hope, dying and rising, gathering together and being sent out, leaving home and finding home – this is how we travel together on the Way of Christ.”
Reed was elected in October 2014, and he is the first bishop suffragan of the diocese elected bishop coadjutor. Reed will continue to serve alongside Diocesan Bishop Gary Lillibridge until Lillibridge’s retirement in 2017.
– Laura Shaver is communications officer for the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas.
[Anglican Journal] “What we are doing is what God foreplanned,” the Rev. Annie Ittoshat from Nunavik in northern Quebec said as she launched a new ministry to Montreal’s Inuit community Feb. 22.
Ittoshat led her first service, mostly in Inuktitut, before a congregation of more than 30 Inuit and their family and friends, in St. Paul’s Anglican Church, in the west-central suburb of Lachine. The St. Paul’s parish closed in November 2012. (A Seventh-Day Adventist congregation and other groups now rent the church or its hall.)
She will also serve Montreal’s diverse population of Inuit in other ways, including visits to Inuit who come to the city for medical treatment, and participation in a modest eucharistic ministry, which Montreal clergy have offered for some time to these patients.
She was also planning to make contact with other groups serving local Inuit, including drop-in centers related to the Anglican Diocese of Montreal.
Along with patients and transients, Ittoshat also expects to serve staff working at health-care and other institutions, and Inuit living in Montreal for a variety of professional and other reasons.
The Inuit population of Montreal has been estimated at about 1,000. Some are drawn by jobs, including positions in institutions that serve Inuit. Others are in the city for studies, for health care or to accompany family members who are patients. They are transient for various reasons or are driven from the North by social or housing problems.
Ittoshat and her family are living in the rectory of St. Paul’s Church, situated in an area where there are several Inuit and a number of organizations serving them, partly because of the proximity of Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.
She was accompanied at the service by her husband, Noah, a miner at the Raglan base-metal mine in Nunavik, who has made arrangements to work on a rotating schedule that allows him to spend a couple of weeks at a time in Montreal, and a son and foster son, both named Peter. There are also two daughters, one living in Montreal and the other in the North.
The service included vigorous, unaccompanied congregational singing of Inuktitut versions of standard hymns. The minister preached in an animated way, without notes, on one of the standard Lectionary readings of the day, from 1 Peter 3, which says Christ “suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.”
She said (in a brief summary in English) that this should relieve one of the needs for recurrent feelings of guilt. “We make a mistake, we ask [God] for forgiveness. If we ask for forgiveness, it is so.”
The new minister and her husband, sons and one daughter arrived in Montreal from Kuujjuarapik, at the mouth of the Great Whale River.
Ittoshat was accredited and ordained and served as a deacon and then priest in the North, and more recently, she studied for two years at Wycliffe College in Toronto, where she received a Master of Divinity degree in May, the first Inuk to do so.
Services in Lachine will take place weekly, with Holy Communion on the last Sunday of the month.
– Harvey Shepherd is editor of The Montreal Anglican, the newspaper of the Anglican diocese of Montreal.
[Episcopal News Service – Nairobi, Kenya] Eight #ShareTheJourney pilgrims arrived in Nairobi March 3 for an 11-day pilgrimage to Kenya and Rwanda to learn about the plight of Congolese refugees and the process they go through to gain resettlement in the United States.
“What I hope the result of this trip will be is an increased understanding of what a unique and special program Episcopal Migration Ministries is in The Episcopal Church, and that more Episcopalians can see a place for themselves in this life-saving ministry,” said Deborah Stein, director of Episcopal Migration Ministries, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s refugee resettlement service that is leading the pilgrimage.
(The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is the legal and canonical name under which The Episcopal Church is incorporated, conducts business, and carries out mission.)
In addition to meeting with nongovernmental organizations, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Church World Service’s Africa Resettlement Support Center, the pilgrims will travel to Rwanda to visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre and the Gihembe Refugee Camp.
The pilgrimage is part of Episcopal Migration Ministries yearlong, 75th anniversary #ShareTheJourney campaign to raise awareness of the ways the Missionary Society works to facilitate refugee resettlement throughout The Episcopal Church.
“I think Episcopal Migration Ministries is one of the most inspiring and least well-known ministries in The Episcopal Church,” said the Rev. Scott Gunn, one of the pilgrims and executive director of Forward Movement, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based ministry of The Episcopal Church that encourages discipleship. “I’m eager to see transformation in my own life as I experience this pilgrimage, and I want to do whatever I can to share this journey with other people.”
Through Episcopal Migration Ministries, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society partners with 30 resettlement affiliates in 26 dioceses nationwide. It is one of nine agencies working in partnership with the U.S. Department of State to welcome and resettle refugees to the United States.
In 2014, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society worked with partners to resettle 5,155 of the tens of thousands of refugees who came to the United States through UNHCR’s screening process.
Over the next several years, UNHCR plans to resettle 50,000 refugees from the Congo, with 70 to 90 percent to be resettled to the United States.
Since 1998, more than 5.5 million people have died in the Congo from fighting, disease and malnutrition in what is regarded as the deadliest conflict since World War II. About 2.5 million people have been internally displaced, and some 500,000 have fled the country’s protracted conflict, with the vast majority living in refugee camps in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa regions.
“There’s no other durable solution for this group of refugees, who’ve been waiting for over a decade in refugee camps without hope of a future,” said Stein. “Some have been resettled or have found a way to stay in the country of asylum, but the rest are languishing away in camps. Resettlement is the only option for them.”
A refugee is someone who has fled his or her country of nationality because of a “well-founded fear of persecution” based on race, religion, ethnicity, or political or social affiliation.
There are 15.5 million refugees worldwide, according to the UNHCR, whose mandate is to provide international protection for refugees. The agency’s primary focus is on repatriation, or safe return home, followed by citizenship or legal residency in the host country. The third option is resettlement to one of the 22 countries worldwide that accepts refugees. One percent receives third-country resettlement, with half of that 1 percent destined for the United States.
The resettlement process typically takes years; refugees can spend decades living in camps before their cases are heard and adjudicated. Kenya is one of two countries – the other being Ethiopia – that hosts the largest number of refugees living in camps in Africa.
“One of the effects of resettlement is that it’s a show of support for countries hosting refugees; it gives breathing space to host countries to continue to keep their borders open to future refugees and asylum seekers,” said Stein. “The Congolese refugees are just one of many groups awaiting a similar durable solution.”
The #ShareTheJourney pilgrimage is funded through a Constable Fund grant awarded in 2014 by The Episcopal Church Executive Council. The Constable Fund provides grants to fund mission initiatives that were not provided for within the budget of The Episcopal Church passed by the General Convention.
– Lynette Wilson is an Episcopal News Service editor and reporter.
[Episcopal Public Policy Network] In this week’s reflection, we focus on education. The Rev’d Canon E. Mark Stevenson, Domestic Poverty Missioner for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, discusses the connection between poverty and education. Then, Rev. Susan Heath, Coordinator of the LARCUM Bishops’ Public Education Initiative, shares how LARCUM is working to improve public education for the children of South Carolina.
“The advantage of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to the one who possesses it.” Ecclesiastes 7:12b (NRSV)
Study after study in this country shows that poverty limits the chances of attaining a quality education, while at the same time we know that attaining a quality education is one of the prime mechanisms for escaping poverty. Children in chronically impoverished families have lower cognitive and academic performance and more behavior problems than children who are not exposed to poverty. 40% of children living in poverty are not prepared to begin primary school, and are 1.3 times more likely to have developmental delays or learning disabilities. Students who start school significantly behind their peers, who are not truly ready for the work before them, tend not to close the readiness gap. Rather, the gap tends to widen as they move through school. Further, children living in poverty have higher absentee rates and higher dropout rates, often because they have to care for family members or work to support the family income.
In 2012, 46.5 million people (15% of the population) lived in poverty in the United States. 20.4 million people lived in what is commonly called “deep” poverty; that is, earning an income 50% or more below the poverty line. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012 a person with less than a high school education earned only 72% of what an average high school graduate earned, and was one and a half times more likely to be unemployed. Compare that same person who failed to complete high school to someone with a two year associates degree, and the earnings difference moves from 72% to only 50%, and the likelihood of unemployment is double.
Research suggests that high quality early childhood programs are one of the best tools for overcoming the current landscape. Additionally, smaller class sizes, improved social and economic diversity, and proper nutrition all contribute to better educational results among children. And better educational results go a long way towards breaking the cycle of poverty.
LARCUM: An Education Ministry
Bishops of Lutheran, Episcopal, Roman Catholic and United Methodists Churches (LARCUM) in South Carolina signed a Covenant in the 1990s affirming that “unity is a Gospel imperative,” pledging to strengthen the Body of Christ in South Carolina. They annually hosted a prayer service for unity and sponsored dialogue on critical issues. They rocked along.
In the twenty years since, the bishops who forged this covenant have retired, but the bishops currently holding these offices have determined to up their game. Through prayer and conversation, they decided to put the weight of their office and the strength of their voices behind the support of a single issue. After thoughtful consideration, they discerned that public education would be the focus of their work.
Because most of the bishops were newcomers to the state, they invited an expert to sharpen focus. South Carolina is blessed to be home to former United States Secretary of Education Dick Riley. He outlined the challenges for public education, with particular attention to the challenges shaped by poverty. The bishops concluded that prayerful and vocal support of public education and naming the scourge of poverty could change lives. The bishops fielded a panel and put down markers for their vision. Enthusiasm for this vision was tremendous.
In April 2014, the bishops published a joint pastoral letter calling the people they shepherd and all people of good will to join them in their support of “full flourishing public education.” This letter challenges South Carolinians to loosen the grip of poverty plaguing their schools. That summer, they hired Susan Heath, an Episcopal priest with a passion for public education, to coordinate the initiative.
In her role with LARCUM, Heath works to build relationships, an effort that takes various shapes. For example, she works with varied faith groups and school districts to place reading tutors in elementary schools serving children in poverty. The children matched with volunteer tutors are making progress. Without Heath’s nudge, these volunteers may never have gone into challenged schools, and now many call their time with students, the “best hour of their week,” and “life changing.”
Additionally, Heath suggested the planning and organization of community visits to underfunded schools in a neighboring county. The goal was to show support for an upcoming tax referendum. When participants in these “pilgrimages” took in the scope of work to be done, Heath encouraged them to speak about their experiences to the press. In the end, the referendum was passed by voters.
There are several other examples of partnership within the diocese and state that are helping LARCUM achieve its goals. Children that read below grade level will attend a diocesan reading camp this summer. This opportunity will allow LARCUM to couple the love of reading and the fun of camp for these students. Developing a love of reading will change the lives of these children.
LARCUM also partners with many civic education endeavors to advance its goals of attaining quality education for all children. Recently, Heath joined a State Department of Education committee designed to heighten community and family collaboration with the work of the Department.
Observers are encouraged by the positive changes occurring around them. With the commitment of these bishops and the enthusiasm from people of faith and no faith alike, LARCUM is working to bring excellent education to children living in poverty. This brings a spirit of hope and excitement to South Carolina.
Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom: Enlighten by your Holy Spirit those who teach and those who learn, that, rejoicing in the knowledge of your truth, they may worship you and serve you from generation to generation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP, Collect for Education)
Share your ministry: Does your church engage in an education ministry? Share your experiences on Mission Centered here!
Learn more about LARCUM: On their website here.
The Rev. Susan Heath is a Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society Justice and Advocacy Fellow. Her work with LARCUM was recently featured in an article from Episcopal News Service.
This is the third installment of the Episcopal Public Policy Network’s 2015 Lenten Series: “Engaging Poverty at Home and Around the World.” To receive these reflections to your inbox each Wednesday of Lent, sign up here.
[Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth] On Tuesday, March 2, 2015, the Hon. John P. Chupp of the 141st District Court, Tarrant County, Texas, denied the Local Episcopal Parties’ and The Episcopal Church’s Motions for Summary Judgments. He granted the breakaway parties’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, except as to the claims of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Fort Worth.
“We are disappointed with this decision but quite hopeful for the future. This sacred property was built up over 170 years in this part of Texas by generations of Episcopalians for the use of The Episcopal Church so it will be available for use by generations of Episcopalians to come as they do the work of the Church,” said the Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. “That remains our purpose in this litigation, and we are confident going forward under the rulings of the Fort Worth Court of Appeals and Texas Supreme Court that are already in place in our case.”
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth was formed by The Episcopal Church in 1982-84, after the new diocesan leaders promised unanimously to accept and use the Episcopal property only for The Episcopal Church’s mission and ministry. In November 2008, former Bishop Jack L. Iker and other diocesan leaders left The Episcopal Church and aligned themselves with another church, the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. Since then they have been using the name and seal of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and occupying Episcopal Church property, even though they are not Episcopalians and hold no offices in The Episcopal Church or any Episcopal Diocese.
This lawsuit was brought by the local, loyal Episcopalians of the diocese to protect their historic name, seal, and property for the future generations of Episcopalians in Texas. Under basic neutral principles of Texas law, former officers like the breakaway Defendants are free to leave an institution, but they cannot take its name and property with them, in violation of all the commitments that came before.
In January, 2011, Judge Chupp granted the Local Episcopal Parties’ and The Episcopal Church’s Motions for Summary Judgment. That decision was appealed directly to the Texas Supreme Court by the breakaway parties. In August, 2013, the Texas Supreme Court, in a split decision, sent the case back to Judge Chupp, ordering it be heard on different principles. That hearing was on Friday, February 20, 2015.
Bishop High said, “Be of good heart. The Episcopal Church, including its continuing Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, welcomes everyone, no matter where they are on their spiritual journey. The mission of The Episcopal Church is to reconcile the world to God through Jesus Christ and that work continues.”
[St. Paul’s Church, Selma] The image of a city can become frozen in time, and a single event can create an impression so deep that it never fades, according to the Rev. Jack Alvey, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Selma, Alabama.
Fifty years ago, state troopers attacked marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, in one of the defining moments of the civil rights movement. Selma has been grappling with the legacy of that moment, and the events that led up to it, ever since.
On March 1, a coalition of faith leaders, including Alvey, helped the city demonstrate the progress it has made. A racially integrated crowd of some 2,000 people took part in a unity walk that began on the south side of the famous bridge and ended with a prayer service in Songs of Selma Park.
Participants walked the same Selma-to-Montgomery route as marchers did on Bloody Sunday in 1965, but in reverse, to symbolize the theme of the gathering, “One Selma: Coming Home United in Faith,” said organizer Juanda Maxwell, a lay leader at Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
“I believe God wants Selma to be a reminder of the new story we are given through the good news of Jesus Christ,” Alvey told his parishioners in a sermon on March 1, ahead of the unity walk. “Our walk will give us permission to celebrate the bridge, to look at the bridge in a new way. We can look at the bridge and see people of all colors and stories walking in a faith that believes God is making us one.”
The turnout for the walk was almost three times what organizers had anticipated, and rather that closing two lanes of the famous bridge, police closed all four. Participants included the Rev. F.D. Reese, who had invited Martin Luther King Jr. to Selma for the 1965 march, and local political leaders, including Democratic Representative Terri Sewell of Birmingham, who grew up in Selma.
“It was beautiful to … see 2,000 people walking behind me for one purpose: to say we are united,” said the Rev. Jerry Light, pastor of First Baptist Church, another event organizer. “It was almost like a family reunion on the bridge. We stood there and I thought, ‘This is why God called me to Selma five years ago.’”
The walkers crossed the bridge behind an 11-foot wide unity quilt, composed of 176 squares contributed by individuals and congregations from across the city and coordinated by Alvey’s wife, Jamie, a quilter. Begun in January, the quilt became the focal point of the event. “Everybody wanted to come up and get their picture made with it,” Jamie Alvey said.
“This is the Selma I know and love,” said Allen Bearden, a parishioner at St. Paul’s. “This is the Selma I want the world to know and love.”
Maxwell said about half of those who participated in the march were black and half were white. “That’s almost unheard of,” she said. “And it was just beautiful, just like that patchwork quilt.
“We wanted to celebrate those who marched in 1965, especially the martyrs,” she added. “But we also wanted to speak up for Selma as it is today because we are not downtrodden.”
Maxwell said the coalition next plans to encourage members of the city’s predominantly black and predominantly white churches to invite one another to worship together on a specific Sunday during the coming year.
“I was overwhelmed by how well it turned out,” Jack Alvey said. “The spirit was joyful. I heard someone say that this was like a wedding. It was like a wedding. But now we are ready for the marriage – a long-term commitment to come together as a community.”
[Lambeth Palace press release] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has opened the application process for young Christians around the world to spend “a year in God’s time” at Lambeth Palace in London.
Christians aged 20-35 have the opportunity to spend a year living together as a community inspired by the ancient monastic traditions of St. Benedict, St. Francis and St. Ignatius. They will live according to a shared Rule of Life and follow a pattern of silence, prayer, worship, study and service to the poor.
The Community of St. Anselm will initially consist of 16 people living at Lambeth Palace full-time, and up to 40 people, who live and work in London, joining part-time.
Young Anglicans from around the Communion are invited to apply to join the community – with both male and female applicants welcome.
Welby, who is the abbot of the new community, said: “I expect this venture to have radical impact – not just for the individuals who participate but for life at Lambeth Palace, across the Church and in the world we seek to serve. This is what we expect in following Jesus. I urge young people to step up: here is an open invitation to be transformed and to transform.”
The prior of the community, the Rev. Anders Litzell, said: “There will be sacrifices required. People will need to leave things behind.”
He added: “This is a question of how we can model a life of prayer and deep commitment shaped in the likeness of Christ for people who aren’t going to be monks and nuns, but who want to embody the monastic traditions, who want to draw from those deep wells and live a lifestyle influenced by that spirituality.”
To find out more and apply, visit: http://stanselm.org.uk/
[World Council of Churches press release] Christine Housel, general secretary of the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF), in an introductory speech, has expressed her hope that the 35th General Assembly of the WSCF may offer better understandings of justice and peace issues. The WSCF assembly is currently underway in Bogotá, Colombia, until March 5.
The WSCF was a forerunner and continues to be a historic partner of the World Council of Churches (WCC) within the ecumenical movement.
“The current events in Colombia and the region will open up understanding of local and global dynamics around issues of peace, justice, positives and negatives of development, and the struggle to preserve and defend diversity of identities, and much more,” said Housel, an Episcopalian.
“At the same time, the WSCF has been seeking to deepen solidarity with Colombia and has been invited by the churches and ecumenical partners to play a key role in making visible the work for justice and peace in the country and to come alongside the Student Christian Movement (SCM), churches and ecumenical organizations, working to play a positive role,” she added.
“As we celebrate and explore the gifts of our diversity and the meaning of our unity, we are better positioned to fulfill our calling and unite what is distanced, mend what is broken, demonstrate love to all of God’s creation as we are united in one vision to live and share God’s peace, justice and love, which have no boundaries in this world,” said Housel.
Established in 1895, the WSCF is a global federation of student Christian groups, with members from diverse Christian traditions and other faiths.
The WSCF assembly is being held in Bogotá at the invitation of the WSCF Latin America and Caribbean region and churches and ecumenical partners in Colombia.
The event is held every 4 to 6 years and is the moment when participants gather to set the priorities and direction of the federation for the next years.
The WSCF brings together movements to discern the mission of motivating and training students as young ecumenical leaders to further “God’s peace and justice in the church and the world today”.
This year’s event is addressing the theme “We are many; We are one – Sent out to Build God’s Peace” – as a reaffirmation of the federation’s motto Ut Omnes Unum Sint (That they shall be one).
The assembly has gathered around 180 participants from all global regions, including delegates from the WSCF members, WSCF staff, Executive Committee members, WSCF – SCM Senior Friends, representatives of partner organizations and guests.
[Anglican Church of Southern Africa] The Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s e-reader project has gone live.
The project was launched last year to promote electronic learning and academic dialogues throughout the province.
It is the project’s intention eventually to give theological students across Africa easier access to online lectures and electronic libraries.
With physical libraries being rare, remote and increasingly unaffordable in the African continent, the e-reader project plans to provide access to online theological journals and books to clergy, ordinands and laity.
The users of the e-reader program will be able to do the following once the project is rolled out fully:
- Read key texts integral to their theological education and formation;
- Research their sermons and other forms of public address;
- Deepen their awareness of the Christian tradition and contemporary challenges;
- Access new information;
- Support the vision, mission and priorities of the ACSA and the Centre for Reflection and Development (CRD); and
- Raise literacy levels and develop skills for reading critically and creatively.
The project is being implemented in collaboration with the College of Transfiguration in Grahamstown and will serve as a major electronic resource for students and clergy involved in academic reading and research.
The e-reader project is housed at the Centre for Reflection and Development in Bishopscourt; ordinands, clergy and laity will be allowed to download readings by appointment only.
Those interested in exploring the e-reader project, are asked to submit e-mail addresses to Maropeng Moholoa at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling +27 21 763 1300.
The project has been supported by the Compass Rose Society, the Anglican Communion Office, Trinity Church Wall Street, the Motsepe Foundation and The Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Development Trust.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Bishop Stacy Sauls, Chief Operating Officer of The Episcopal Church, will preach at an Interim Shared Eucharist with the United Methodist Church on March 3 at 5:30 pm at John Street United Methodist Church in New York City. United Methodist New York Annual Conference Resident Bishop Jane Allen Middleton will preside.
Sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of New York, the historic Eucharist between The Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church will follow The Episcopal Church-United Methodist Church Common Guidelines for Interim Eucharist Sharing.
“The growing unity between United Methodists and Episcopalians is a source of great joy for me as someone who was formed in the Methodist Church as a child,” commented Bishop Sauls. “I continue to value the depth of Methodist spirituality and appreciate the Methodist gift for piety in the best possible sense, and I am filled with hope at the missional opportunities we might pursue together.”
Nicholas Birns, chairman of the Diocese of New York Episcopal – Methodist Dialogue, noted that this service marks the second Interim Shared Eucharist. The first, he said, occurred at St. Paul’s Chapel, New York City, in May 2012. “At that time, the Episcopalians hosted, United Methodist Bishop Jeremiah Park co-presided, and the preacher was Bishop Robert Rimbo of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA),” Birns said.
March 3 is significant as it is the day The Episcopal Church celebrates the lives of John and Charles Wesley.
For the past ten years, the United Methodist Church and The Episcopal Church have been in discussion and discernment moving forward to “full communion” which involves a relationship between church organizations that mutually recognize sharing basic doctrines. This relationship involves: mutual recognition of members, joint celebration of Holy Communion/Eucharist, mutual recognition of ordained clergy, mutual recognition of the sacraments and a common commitment to mission. Both the United Methodist Church and The Episcopal Church share full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, but not with each other. The Episcopal Church also shares full communion with the Moravian Church.
The John Street parish started as a prayer circle of Methodists who also attended formal services at Trinity Church, Wall Street. After American independence, and the consequent formal break between Methodists and Episcopalians, these ties were severed.
Recently, an Interim Shared Eucharist between The Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church was celebrated at the Episcopal Church’s National Cathedral in Washington DC.