[Diocese of Los Angeles] For Tim Alderson, the new executive director of “Seeds of Hope,” coordinating efforts to feed the hungry and undernourished throughout the diocese is a pretty simple equation—lots of churches have available land, lots of people need food — so, he says, “Let’s get to work.”
That “three million people, including a quarter of all the children, living in the six-county Diocese of Los Angeles don’t know where their next meal is coming from” is reason enough to get started right away, according to Alderson.
“The impacts on individuals and communities from food- related disorders are devastating. The problems are so pervasive that there is not one of us in the diocese who is not affected,” he said in a recent interview.
“We are all in this together; we can farm the diocese,” said Alderson, a third-generation California farmer. “We can take an agricultural view of our 139 neighborhood congregations, 40 schools and 20 other specialized service institutions, seeing the abundant food-producing potential lying dormant here.”
Since Bishop Diocesan Jon Bruno announced this latest Hands in Healing ministry initiative Alderson has visited community gardens from Camp Stevens in Julian to the Abundant Table Farm’s project in Oxnard and lots of places in between.
“I’ve been to about 30 locations and since then I’ve learned of about three or four others,” he said. He also has gathered representatives from congregations growing food and launched ambitious efforts to work with a Christian, Jewish and Muslim interfaith farm project.
Bruno said the impetus for Seeds of Hope grew out of seeing in many neighborhoods of the diocese “on a daily basis the demand for food distribution serving families, seniors and others in need.
“While many of our congregations have been involved for some time in reaching out to meet these needs, additional parishes and missions now are expressing a desire to get started in the area of community garden and food distribution. These new start-ups can benefit greatly by learning from long-time providers.
“We don’t need a lot of acres, we just need commitment,” he added.
No effort is too small, says Alderson, who envisions growing food in everything from window boxes and rooftop gardens to “farm scale food production in our rural areas.”
Already, the ministry is blossoming.
“Prince of Peace Church in Woodland Hills is a great example,” he says, of the way the ministry has already exploded into wonderful possibilities.
The church is a host site for the West Valley Food Pantry, an interfaith coalition of ten congregations in the west San Fernando Valley providing emergency food to the area’s needy and homeless. Volunteer-operated, it serves balanced food packages to more than 4,000 people, or 37,000 meals each month, according to the church website.
During Alderson’s initial site visit to Prince of Peace he noted that “they had a nice vegetable garden and … a big chunk of unused land.” Congregational representatives told him they’d thought of possibly planting an orchard. A few days later, Alderson received a donation of 150 fruit trees. He managed to secure a drip irrigation system and planting help; the orchard was dedicated April 21 during regular 10 a.m. Sunday worship.
“A little creative thinking and a couple of generous gifts, and now they will be able to produce as much as 25,000 servings of fresh fruit for their food pantry clients each year from land that seemed to have already been put to full and productive use as a church,” Alderson said. “To do this with resources we didn’t even notice before is almost miraculous.”
An interfaith outreach
Alderson’s connection with Netiya, a Jewish network with interfaith partners dedicated to advancing urban agriculture in synagogues, schools and nonprofit organizations in Los Angeles, has also sparked a potential interfaith collaboration.
It all started when the Goldhirsh Foundation issued an L.A. 2050 Challenge (www.la2050.org) offering several $100,000 grant opportunities to organizations participating in shaping a healthy future city. Alderson scrambled to submit a proposal on time and reached out electronically to the diocese, asking for votes when the foundation decided on a social media funding approach.
“We proposed three pilot projects to plant orchards in three different types of locations — urban, suburban, with different demographics, at a church, at a synagogue, at a mosque,” he said.
Although they didn’t get the grant – it went to a city parks project – the interfaith connection continues.
Roots in faith, farming
Alderson’s vision is that Seeds of Hope will help to “plan and coordinate our food production and distribution on a diocesan scale, targeting production geographically and seasonally according to need,” he said.
That will include providing practical, how-to garden support and resources, including an internet-based forum for the exchange of ideas and information as well as volunteer crews to move around the diocese for planting, tending, harvesting, packing and delivering food, Alderson said.
He also is eagerly anticipating the upcoming clergy conference, hoping to begin a conversation among clergy, scholars and theologians that will result in a Christian theology of food.
Alderson, 52, “was born on a farm in Salinas, and started working in the fields at age 11.” He founded AgriGator Inc., a multi-national soil amendment company and is a former senior warden at the Church of Our Saviour in San Gabriel.
“Community gardens on church property create an amazing opportunity for outreach and congregational development,” he said. There is potential for community empowerment, cross-cultural understanding, and spiritual practice, he added.
The Rev. Julie Morris of the Abundant Table Farm Project attended Alderson’s “first-steps” gathering of food growers held earlier this year at the Cathedral Center of St. Paul.
She said that one of the greatest surprises of farming is “that the closer you get to working the land, the more the Bible and liturgy make sense. We are constantly saying, ‘Oh, now the Eucharist makes sense. Now, the Bible makes sense.’ The light bulbs go off.
“God comes to us in food,” she added. “Every day, we hold up bread and wine and say ‘this is Jesus’ and how does that inform meals we have around our own tables at home? What are the connections?”
A ministry of agriculture
For Alderson, the connections are many.
No stranger to coordinating garden networks, Alderson was the founding chairman of the California School Garden Network of some 40 public and private organizations that secured funding for more than 4,000 school gardens.
The group also developed extensive training for educators, and created lesson plans aligned to the state standards for teaching all core subjects, kindergarten through 12th grade, in a garden setting, along with numerous other accomplishments.
While he’d much rather talk about his vision for Seeds of Hope than himself or why he accepted this new role, Alderson will say this: “The short answer is, it means a lot to me.
“The longer answer is, it has to do with my farming roots and my personal faith. Growing food and giving it to those in need is very satisfying. It’s a tangible expression of my own personal faith,” he said.
Alderson currently serves as president of the Schools Agriculture and Nutrition Program, appointed first by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and then again by Governor Jerry Brown.
Schwarzenegger also appointed him to the Governor’s Summit on Health Nutrition and Obesity, and former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell appointed him to his California School Garden Advisory Committee.
He has previously served on the board of directors of the National Agri-Marketing Association and as a member of the education committee of the Fresh Produce and Floral Council, the school garden steering committee of Western Growers Association and the education resources committee of the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom.
He is also a past member of the Soil Science Society of America, the Crop Science Society of America, the American Society of Agronomy, and the California Agricultural Production Consultants Association.
He is married to Tracy and has two sons, Evan and Trevor. He lives in Pasadena, where he has served as chairman of the Recreation and Parks Commission and was appointed by the mayor to the city’s Workforce Housing Task Force.
He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Biola University and has also studied at the University of Judaism and the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church.
One of the biggest surprises about Seeds of Hope thus far is that it’s been a way to reconnect “with my 82-year-old dad, who has Alzheimers,” he said. “This project has really lit him up.”
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] The Episcopal Church Office of Development will present the Fall 2013 Fundraising Symposium – It’s All About Money! – on Thursday and Friday, September 26 and 27.
Designed for directors of development at dioceses, congregations, and other Episcopal organizations, as well as clergy interested in parish/diocesan fundraising, It’s All About Money! will be held at the Episcopal Church Center, 815 Second Ave., New York City.
“The majority of respondents to a survey we conducted indicated that the topics most helpful to them are: talking about money in stewardship campaigns; preaching about money; asking people to remember the church in their wills; and talking with major donors,” explained Elizabeth Lowell, Episcopal Church Director of Development. “Based on the feedback, it was clear that our Fall 2013 Fundraising Symposium should address these critical topics.”
Both days will feature plenary sessions, presented by leaders in philanthropy, followed by focused workshops. The event will conclude on Friday with a festive Eucharist.
Members of the Planning Committee for the Fall 2013 Fundraising Symposium are: Emily E. Abernathy, Director of Development and Stewardship, Diocese of Oklahoma; Charlie Barebo, Missioner for Development, Diocese of Bethlehem; Linda L. Dienno, Director of Development, Office of Institutional Advancement, Virginia Theological Seminary; Naromie Ganesh, Director, Stewardship Campaign, St. Bartholomew’s, New York City, Diocese of New York; the Rev. Lloyd ‘Bud’ Hartley, Deacon, Diocese of Central PA; Holli S. Powell, CPA, Bishop’s Deputy for Financial Affairs, Diocese of Lexington; Harvey L. Ward, Jr., Executive Director, Holy Trinity Episcopal Foundation, Inc., Gainesville FL.
For more information contact Kim Moore, email@example.com.
[Anglican Journal] Shortly after noon on June 2, 1953, Dr. Geoffrey Fisher, archbishop of Canterbury, placed the ancient St. Edward’s crown on the 27-year-old head of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Now, as a fitting postlude to the jubilee year of 2012, churches and communities across the Anglican Communion are gearing up to commemorate Her Majesty’s coronation at Westminster Abbey six decades ago.
In the U.K., thousands of coronation-themed events are under way, from special services to flower festivals and embroidery exhibits. Anglicans are being encouraged to celebrate the coronation at the Big Lunch, an annual event in which Britons share a midday community meal with as many of their neighbors as possible and which last year coincided with the jubilee celebrations of June 3.
Westminster Abbey has produced special prayers and liturgical material for use in celebratory services, including a prayer of thanksgiving for Elizabeth’s reign in both traditional and modern language.
Dr. Richard Chartres, bishop of London, will give a public lecture reviewing the spiritual significance of the British coronation ceremony, from the anointing of King Edgar the Peaceable in 973 to the crowning of Elizabeth II almost 1,000 years later.
Canadian Anglicans have plans in place as well. At St. Philip’s Anglican Church, Norwood, in Winnipeg, the Sunday morning service will include special prayers for the Queen and, of course, the 18th-century royal anthem “God Save the Queen.”
And the hymn “Jerusalem” (“And did those feet in ancient time”), which pairs William Blake’s 19th-century poem with Sir Hubert Parry’s 20th-century music, will transport the people of this prairie parish to “England’s green and pleasant land.”
According to its deputy warden, Connie Lyon, St. Philip’s has sent out dozens of invitations to frequent and not-so-frequent attenders. “After the service, we’ll be serving little sandwiches and other dainties, and a big cake with the Queen’s image on it,” she says. A video of the coronation—which was the first major international event to be broadcast via the burgeoning new medium of television—will take people back to the ceremony at Westminster Abbey.
Parishioners have searched their attics and lent royal memorabilia for a special display. There will also be door prizes, and the church already boasts a fine colour photo portrait of the monarch garbed in her Canadian honors.
On June 2 and June 9, respectively, Christ Church, Deer Park, in Toronto and St. George’s Cathedral in Kingston will host “A Coronation Mass Choir Celebration,” featuring music to celebrate the anniversary. Also taking part will be the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Association.
At St. Luke’s in Annapolis Royal, N.S., rector Canon Kenneth Vaughan will weave elements of the new Westminster Abbey material into the 10 a.m. Holy Communion service. “June 2 happens to coincide with the one Sunday a month we use the Book of Common Prayer, so we’ll use the traditional-language version of the Westminster prayer, and we’ll likely have some acknowledgment during the social gathering after the service,” he says.
At the other end of the country, Victoria’s Christ Church Cathedral is planning a special choral evensong with music and readings tailored to the coronation anniversary. Its morning service will feature Vaughan Williams’ “O Taste and See,” the motet he composed for the 1953 coronation.
[Church of England] Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba, chair of the Anglican Communion Environment Network (ACEN), is encouraging the Anglican Communion to use new ACEN prayers and resources from South Africa and England in church services on or around Environment Sunday (June 2) and World Environment Day (June 5). They include a children’s prayer (written by 10-year-old Jackie from South Africa) and are available here.
This year’s World Environment Day theme – Think.Eat.Save – encourages people worldwide to reduce their “foodprint.” According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every year 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted. At the same time, one in every seven people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of five die daily from hunger-related causes.
Makgoba said: “In the story of the feeding of the five thousand we read “everyone ate, and had enough” (Mark 6:42). This is a beautiful image of sharing, with everyone’s needs being met, and nobody going hungry. There is enough food in the world for our need, there is not enough for our greed. This World Environment Day I encourage Anglicans everywhere to think about what they eat, to eat food which is healthy and sustainable and to stop wasting food. Let us share today our daily bread.”
The annual World Environment Day, launched in 1973, is run by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It is commemorated in spring in the Northern Hemisphere and fall in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Sunday nearest to World Environment Day is celebrated in the church as Environment Sunday, although it can be observed on a date that suits individual churches.
A soundbite featuring Makgoba may be downloaded for use on radio and online at www.churchofengland.org/media/1772243/archbishopcapetownmp3big.mp3
World Environment Day is hosted by a different country every year – this year Mongolia – and has a different theme. It is commemorated with an international exposition in the week of June 5. For more details, go to: http://www.unep.org/wed.
For more details of the Church of England’s national environmental campaign Shrinking the Footprint go to: http://www.churchcare.co.uk/shrinking-the-footprint
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Make your plans now for the Black Clergy Indaba slated for Tuesday, October 15 to Saturday October 19 at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia (Diocese of Atlanta).
The event theme is Visioning: Seed Time & Harvest, linking to Luke 10:2, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
“The 2013 gathering will follow the concept of an indaba, which is an important conference of the Zulu and Xhosa peoples of South Africa,” explained the Rev. Angela Ifill, Episcopal Church Black Ministries missioner. “As such, the Clergy Indaba will follow the format of round tables and open space discussions on topics brought in by, and identified on-site by, participants for conversations.”
The Indaba begins October 15 at 6 pm with a festive opening Eucharist.
Pre-event groups on that day beginning at noon include: a special symposium for clergy ordained eight years or less; rectors of congregations with ASA of 225+; and Liberians, Haitians, Caribbean, and Sudanese clergy. Other groups are invited to contact Ifill for scheduling.
Bishop Michael Curry of the Diocese of North Carolina will address the gathering on the Dynamics of Preaching.
Registration deadline is September 25. Early bird registration is $450, $300/double occupancy, $225/commuter. After August 1, registration is $500. Registration is available here
Ifill added, “The event is important as we share our gifts with one another in helping to build the Kingdom of God through raising up dynamic leadership for dynamic ministries and mission that impact the wider communities in which they are planted.”
For more information contact Ifill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Episcopal Diocese of Virginia] Julie Simonton has been named to the new position of staff officer for congregational development and stewardship. Simonton, who has served as a lay associate minister for parish life and family ministries at Grace Church, Alexandria, will begin work at Mayo House in Richmond in August.
“I am delighted to welcome Julie to the diocesan staff,” said the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, bishop of Virginia. “She brings a proven track record of creativity, passion and commitment to this important new effort. I look forward to her leadership as we work with parishes and congregations on creative ways to strengthen ministries.”
The Rev. Deacon Edward Jones, secretary of the Diocese and chief of staff, added, “We were blessed to have an outstanding field of candidates, and we’re excited about the possibilities ahead. A strong diocesan team just got stronger.”
Simonton has extensive parish experience at both Grace Church and Christ Church, Alexandria. Recently, her responsibilities at Grace have expanded to include adult formation, communications and evangelism. She has served as an instructor for international students in advanced theological writing at Virginia Theological Seminary, where she earned a master’s degree in theological studies, with a concentration on congregational leadership.
In her job, Simonton will provide hands-on guidance and resources to congregations in all areas of congregational life, focusing especially on development, including robust stewardship, creative hospitality and spiritual health.
“This position is an important one for the Diocese,” said the Rev. Canon Patrick Wingo, canon to the ordinary. “Julie’s position will support churches in their focus outward, providing much-needed resources and guidance. She will draw from her extensive experience in serving at the parish level. We’re pleased to have her on board.”
[Episcopal Diocese of Washington] This blog is the last in a series on ministry with young adults from the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.
Last week, I had coffee with a young man who is part of the Episcopal Campus Ministry at American University. A student in the School for Intercultural Services, we discussed all that he is learning in his studies for his degree in social enterprise. Throughout our conversation, what impressed me was his desire not simply to be successful in life but to take the best of business and technology and use it for the common good.
In his book, “Makers,” editor-in-chief of “Wired” magazine Chris Anderson writes that more and more people are looking not only for profit-making opportunities in life but “meaning-making” opportunities. Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, a psychology professor at Clark University, holds the same argument in his book, “Emerging Adulthood.” Arnett conducted hundreds of interviews with emerging adults and found a consistent desire for more than just an income out of a career. Young adults wanted to discover purpose through work that was an expression of their personal identity. A generation is coming of age that wants to change the world.
I have conversations with Christian leaders who want help attracting young adults to their churches almost daily. Frequently, I ask why these leaders want to attract young people. Every once in awhile, I’m told it is because new tithing units are needed. But here rests the challenge: Young adults aren’t interested in financing institutions, nor can they. This generation has already accrued more debt and lower career-starting wages at their age than several generations to precede them. But, like I said, they want to change the world.
In my last article in this series, I mentioned The Millennial Impact Report, which stated that millennials “want to know what your organization is doing, how they can participate, and how their participation helps the cause.” What millennials may not be able to contribute financially, they make up for with energetic volunteerism. The report also found that “by a margin of more than two-to-one, millennials who volunteer… are more likely to make donations.”
As you consider how you might engage the young people living, working, studying and playing in the neighborhood around your church, consider a few things:
Just ask. Forty percent of Millennials surveyed did not volunteer simply because they were not asked. Provide short and long-term opportunities for young people to serve.
Be transparent, communicate well. Of those surveyed for the report mentioned above, the biggest deterrent to giving–whether of time, talent, or treasure–was a lack of organizational transparency and communication. Young people want to know how their involvement makes a difference.
Let young people lead. Seventy seven percent of those surveyed wanted to volunteer in a leadership capacity. Young people want to have a voice–what they give their time to, they want to help shape. Invite those who have shown commitment to serve on vestry and committees–or just take them out for coffee and ask what they think about things in the life your church.
Jesus was a young man when he began his ministry. One day, he walked into a worship space and read from the prophet Isaiah before a room of listeners. He read a passage that spoke of God’s dream for the world: relief for the poor, healing of the sick, and freedom for prisoners. That’s what the Savior came to do–change the world, fulfill God’s dream. This is an enticing dream to a generation looking for a good cause. Just as Jesus invited young men and women to come and join him in changing the world, you have the opportunity to do the same.
In brief, we have an opportunity to make disciples. Jesus did this by first doing ministry while his disciples observed. Than he invited them to do ministry while he observed. In the end, he sent them on to reproduce this process with others. Remember: just ask. Invite young people to come serve with you, watching you go about your ministry. Then give them the opportunity to take the lead, while you watch and coach them on. And just as Jesus has commissioned us, send them out to go and do likewise.
– Jason Evans is the Diocesan Young Adult Missioner with the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. Share your thoughts and reactions on Facebook.
“Las catedrales son un avis rara en la Iglesia Episcopal”, dijo Lane, que sirvió como deán de la iglesia catedral de la Natividad [Nativity] de la Diócesis de Bethlehem en Pensilvania y luego como deán interino de la iglesia catedral de San Juan [St. John] en Wilmington, hasta su clausura en julio de 2012.
La mayoría de las catedrales episcopales, dijo, son semejantes a aquellas en las cuales él trabajó: “una combinación de iglesia parroquial con una añadidura, y el tamaño de esa añadidura varía, supongo yo, de una diócesis a otra… Con bastante frecuencia es un punto central para las funciones diocesanas y para las principales actividades de la vida de la diócesis”.
Pero para quien sirve como rector y deán de una catedral, como para cualquier otro párroco, “una buena parte de nuestro ministerio” se concentra en responder a necesidades pastorales, dirigir la parroquia y supervisar la vida, la educación, el culto y la liturgia parroquiales, dijo. “Eso fue muy cierto en Bethlehem y lo es también aquí en Delaware”.
Ordenado al sacerdocio en la Diócesis de Maryland en 1964, Lane sirvió en ministerios parroquiales y diocesanos de Delaware desde 1975 hasta su llamado a Bethlehem en 1997. Se jubiló en enero de 2006 y regresó a Delaware para convertirse en el deán interino de la catedral en junio de ese año. “Estuve allí con uno de los más largos interinatos de la historia de la Iglesia, creo yo”.
La Natividad era “una activa parroquia en crecimiento y no sospechaba de las posibilidades de que la cerraran”, recuerda él. Además de dirigir una serie completa de programas parroquiales, era la sede de la mayoría de las convocaciones diocesanas, así como de las renovaciones de votos clericales y de muchas ordenaciones.
“Muchas de esas cosas, desde luego, incluían tanto a personal diocesano como a personal de la catedral”, dijo Lane. “A veces resultaba arduo, pero era el tipo de tarea que a uno le place hacer, y podíamos contar con un buen liderazgo laico en la catedral para echar una mano… Nunca lo sentí como una carga”.
Hasta cierto punto, San Juan era un vivo retrato de eso, agregó. “Teníamos un buen liderazgo aquí en San Juan. Teníamos un magnífico programa de música… Una vez más, era una satisfacción ser el anfitrión de muchas de las actividades diocesanas, y la diócesis proporcionaba muchísima ayuda… muchísimo poder popular.”
El problema era que había poca gente. Lane llegó como interino a sabiendas de que la catedral podría cerrar al cabo de dos años. La asistencia dominical promedio era de 70 a 90, incluido el coro, en comparación con 180 en Bethlehem.
“Era una comunidad en peligro” afirmó. “Con el transcurso de los años, la congregación se había ido reduciendo, en parte por demografía y localización, y luego la congregación estaba envejeciendo, y entonces el problema económico empezó a afectar. Los problemas sencillamente comenzaron a multiplicarse según disminuía el número [de feligreses], según disminuían las promesas”.
Una subvención vino a ayudar, pero el rédito que de ella se derivaba no fue suficiente cuando el mercado se hundió.
Durante los seis años que estuvo en el cargo, se exploraron diferentes opciones para mantener la catedral abierta. Pasaron cerca de un año en conversaciones con una escuela particular subvencionada que se había mostrado interesada en localizarse allí, “y luego, en el último minuto… la escuela se retiró y encontró otro lugar”.
El mayor “ministerio social y de misión” de la catedral era la escuela coral, que servía a niños en riesgo e incluía servicios tales como ayuda doméstica y mentoría así como preparación musical. Resultaba conmovedor, en cualquier temporada había aproximadamente de 25 a 40 niños, la mayoría de ellos de comunidades en riesgo de la ciudad”, dijo Lane. “Habíamos hablado de las posibilidades de hacer la escuela coral en una guardería infantil”.
Pero, eso tampoco dio resultado.
“Le dimos un empujón y realmente trabajamos duro, pero sencillamente no pudimos lograrlo”, afirmó Lane. “Finalmente, resultó claro que no era por falta de ministerio ni por falta de un buen culto ni por falta de cosas de las que uno carecía, era simplemente falta de fondos, y no había suficiente acción popular allí para generar los fondos”. Y, agregó “la diócesis no creía contar con la cuantiosa cantidad de dólares [que se necesitaban] para mantener la catedral a flote”.
“No hubo otra opción” que cerrar, añadió. “Como pueden imaginar, fue un momento de pesar”.
En los últimos meses de la catedral, tuvo lugar una celebración llamada “30 y más”, para marcar el tiempo que algunos de los feligreses llevaban allí. Cuando Lane hizo una encuesta entre los asistentes sobre el tiempo habían estado asistiendo a la catedral, “hubo personas que habían estado allí 70 años”.
“Para todos ellos” afirmó, el cierre de la catedral “fue descorazonador”.
“Parte de mi tarea, de mi ministerio, fue ayudar a la gente a superar eso, no en reprimirse el duelo… sino en reconocer que no sólo había muerte, sino también resurrección, y encontramos la resurrección a veces en diferentes sitios.
“Nunca podré decir con demasiada vehemencia cuánto admiro a los fieles de San Juan, de la manera en que vivieron esa pena, pero sin dejar, en definitiva, que el pesar controlara sus vidas y sus vidas espirituales”, dijo. “Podrían haber dejado que la amargura se apoderara de ellos, y no lo hicieron”.
Algunos miembros de la catedral comenzaron a asistir a la iglesia de los Santos Andrés y Mateo [Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew], donde él ahora es sacerdote adjunto. “Ésa es una de las razones que me trajeron aquí, estar con ellos a través de un tiempo de transición. Algunos de ellos fueron a otros lugares, a otras parroquias”.
La escuela coral se relocalizó en Andrés y Mateo y “sigue funcionando bien”, añadió.
Brindar programas ejemplares tal como ése es parte del papel de una catedral, dijo él. “Creo que la catedral debe ejercer ministerios que sienten pautas y le ofrezcan una enseñanza a las parroquias”.
“Por otra parte, depende de los recursos de que disponga la catedral”, añadió, haciendo notar que en la Diócesis de Delaware “las parroquias tenían muchos más recursos humanos, económicos y clericales”.
“Para mi criterio, eso no significa necesariamente que por tratarse de una iglesia catedral va siempre a ser el ejemplo supremo de ministerio urbano o de ministerio de enseñanza o educación, pero es ciertamente una función por la que debe esforzarse, siguió diciendo. Y pase lo que pase, debe hacer todo lo posible para garantizar que “todo lo que haga, lo haga muy bien”.
“El deán de una catedral”, agregó, “debe tener la vista o la mano en el pulso de la comunidad”. Y el deán debe estar dispuesto a permitir que ocurran cosas en la catedral que una parroquia podría rehusar. “Uno debe brindar oportunidades para que se exprese la controversia”.
En Bethlehem, por ejemplo, trajeron a activistas palestinos e israelíes para que predicaran y enseñaran acerca de los problemas de Israel y Palestina.
“Con una iglesia catedral, el deán también tiene que tener un sentido pastoral, dijo como conclusión. “No estoy tan seguro de que un deán es diferente en modo alguno de un rector parroquial. Pero uno tiene que estar definitivamente abierto al ministerio de la hospitalidad para la diócesis y al ministerio profético de la comunidad”.
– Sharon Sheridan es corresponsal de ENS. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.
[Episcopal News Service] Para los que viven en lo que se conoce como el Corredor de los Tornados, esta época del año es la temporada de esos fenómenos atmosféricos. En días calientes y húmedos, la gente vive con la vista puesta en el cielo, observando las nubes, y muchas comunidades han pasado por la desoladora destrucción de un tornado y han resuelto reconstruir con mayor solidez.
Mientras en Moore, Oklahoma, comienzan a recoger los fragmentos después del enorme tornado del 20 de mayo, un pueblo a 362 kilómetros al norte en el [mismo] corredor está aún reponiéndose dos años después de uno de los tornados más letales en la historia de Estados Unidos.
Un EF-5 (tornado de fuerza 5 en la Escala Ampliada de Fujita) deshizo a Joplin, Misurí, el 22 de mayo de 2011, con un saldo de 161 personas muertas y más de 1.000 lesionadas. En la actualidad, episcopales de todo el estado y de más lejos están ayudando a reconstruir la ciudad.
En un ejemplo de ello, la iglesia episcopal de San Felipe [St. Philip’s] en Joplin, la iglesia de La Gracia [Grace] en el vecino Carthage y la iglesia de Todos los Santos [All Saints] en Nevada, a unos 100 kilómetros al norte, junto con las diócesis de Misurí Occidental y Misurí, han liderado el empeño de construir un albergue para que una agencia de servicio social de Joplin lo use para familias que mudan de sus hogares en situaciones de violencia doméstica y drogadicción.
Esperan entregar el albergue a Lafayette House el 20 de julio.
El tornado de Joplin dañó o destruyó millares de viviendas y negocios. Una casita que Lafayette House usaba para albergar a mujeres solteras necesitadas de un hogar transicional recibió muchos daños, pero pudo ser reparado, según contó el Muy Rdo. Rev. Steve Wilson, rector de La Gracia.
Sin embargo, la agencia hacía mucho tiempo que necesitaba un lugar para familias, y “resultaba muy claro que una de las inevitables secuelas sociales ‘después de un enorme desastre como éste’ era un aumento substancial de la violencia doméstica”, dijo Wilson. En consecuencia, la necesidad de tal albergue sólo podía aumentar.
Además, un gran porcentaje de las viviendas destruidas por la tormenta eran propiedades en alquiler para personas de muy bajos ingresos, agregó. La gente que vivía en esas casas ya tenía dificultades. En lo que Wise llamó la atmósfera “casi frenética de una ciudad en desarrollo”, que es el Joplin actual, la propiedad para alquileres a personas de bajos ingresos no está siendo reemplazada.
“La carga económica que impuso el tornado sucede que ha ido a caer sobre las personas de este pueblo que probablemente tenían menos recursos propios para enfrentarse a sus secuelas y ese es otro factor en la decisión de la diócesis de llevar a cabo este proyecto en particular”, dijo Lyon. “Era casi una certeza que las personas a quienes les prestaría servicios serían aquellas que tenían menos recursos propios que aportar que lo que otras podrían tener”.
Añádale a eso el trauma psicológico y espiritual de saber que en cuestión de 20 minutos el tornado mató a 161 personas en un condado cuya población es de unos 100.000 habitantes. “Eso es un impacto masivo”, agregó Wise.
El Rdo. Frank Sierra, rector de San Felipe, en Joplin, dijo que Lafayette House ha visto un aumento de clientes, de un 75 a un 85 por ciento, desde el tornado.
El sitio para la nueva casa está a dos cuadras del área donde el tornado causó los daños más graves, lo que Wilson llamó “la zona de devastación”.
Según una encuesta de la tormenta dada a conocer por la oficina del Servicio Meteorológico Nacional en Springfield, Misurí, el tornado, clasificado como un EF-5, viajó 35,5 kms. sobre el terreno. Su trayecto de unos 10 kilómetros dentro de la ciudad de Joplin fue, por amplio margen, el más intenso y devastador”, escribió Bill Davis, meteorólogo a cargo de la oficina de Springfield.
Numerosas viviendas y negocios bien construidos fueron “barridos de sus cimientos, triturados o aplanados en el lugar, o volados por los aires y amontonados sobre otros escombros y estructuras destruidas”, dijo.
En total, 6.954 casas fueron destruidas, 359 sufrieron daños graves y 516, daños menores. “La estructura de madera de la mayoría de las casas se desintegró en pequeños pedazos”, según el informe de Davis. “Esto produjo miles de proyectiles mortales”.
Casi todos los edificios comerciales en una extensión de seis cuadras de la calle Central [Main Street] quedaron seriamente averiados o destruidos, como lo fueron varios almacenes de grandes superficies en una franja comercial del este de Joplin. La escuela secundaria y el centro médico también quedaron destruidos.
Más de 15.000 vehículos de diversos tamaños y pesos, incluidos autobuses, remolques de tractores y furgonetas fueron lanzados a más de 300 metros, a varias cuadras de distancia, algunos de los cuales quedaron aplastados y enrollados y del todo irreconocibles, explicó Davis, añadiendo que algunos propietarios nunca encontraron sus vehículos.
“Algunos vehículos fueron comprimidos y enrollados en torno a los pocos árboles que quedaron en pie, mientras otros se convirtieron en bolas. Las armaduras de acero centrales de los techos se plegaron como si fueran de papel, y las principales vigas de apoyo quedaron torcidas o curvadas”, proseguía el informe. “Partes de los árboles que quedaron en pie estaban descortezados y desnudos”.
La tormenta arrancó el asfalto del piso de un estacionamiento desde la base y lanzó los fragmentos, en algunos casos, a varias calles de distancia. Arrancó también los contenes de estacionamiento hechos de concreto, que pesaban de 90 a 140 kgs. y que estaban fijos al suelo con varillas de acero, y los lanzó a 20 y 40 metros de distancia.
“Hubo también algunas cosas interesantes, tales como una silla de madera que quedó empotrada con las cuatro patas en un muro exterior de madera y estuco, y una manguera de goma que atravesó un árbol”, apuntó David.
La Rda. Lauren Lyon, secretaria de la Diócesis de Misurí Occidental, dijo que la devastación era “increíble”.
“Realmente te infunde un respeto por las fuerzas de la naturaleza y todo el concepto de ‘esta frágil tierra, nuestro hogar insular’, como dice el Libro de Oración; que todo el poder que somos capaces de reunir para someter el mundo natural a nuestra voluntad con frecuencia no se equipara a las fuerzas de la naturaleza”, subrayó.
Dieciséis familias de San Felipe fueron afectadas por el tornado, según Sierra. Doce de ellas perdieron sus hogares y cuatro sus negocios. Los hogares de otros diez feligreses sufrieron daños menores.
“Todo el mundo está de regreso a casas adecuadas y nos alegramos de eso”, dijo Sierra, añadiendo que algunas personas sólo habían vuelto a sus hogares recientemente.
Poco después de la tormenta, muchas personas de toda la diócesis y de la Iglesia quisieron ayudar y Lyon contó que se les dijo que lo mejor serían las donaciones monetarias, porque podrían aplicarse a proyectos específicos o según fueran apareciendo las necesidades.
Los donantes contribuyeron con algo más de $100.000 en respuesta al llamado de la diócesis, según dijo Lyon.
“Somos afortunados por el apoyo que la Iglesia [en su sentido denominacional] nos ha dado”, dijo Sierra.
Aproximadamente una semana después del tornado, el clero y la feligresía de las tres congregaciones episcopales se reunieron con algunos miembros del liderazgo diocesano para empezar a decidir “lo que pensábamos que podíamos hacer de utilidad, tanto inmediatamente como a largo plazo”, según explicó Wilson.
Entre las ideas que se barajaron: ventas de garaje donde todos los objetos fuesen gratuitos, conectar la agencia con un vivero forestal extinto que tenía árboles para donar dirigir un programa para ayudar a replantar árboles en Joplin y encontrar una manera de ayudar con lo que era una intensa crisis de vivienda en la ciudad.
Por ese tiempo, muchas agencias con experiencia en la construcción de viviendas, tales como Hábitat para la Humanidad, ya estaban respondiendo. “Estaban sobre el terreno haciendo planos y no queríamos tratar de competir con ellos, particularmente porque no contamos con los recursos para intentar tal cosa”, señaló Wise.
Fue durante esa conversación que Katie Platt, una feligresa de Grace que trabajaba como consejera en Lafayette House, sugirió que un hogar transicional significaría “una solución más a largo plazo para más familias”.
El terreno ya estaba disponible y el Rdo. Ted Estes, de Todos los Santos, que dice ser un “muchacho del pueblo”, negoció la compra de la propiedad —para lo que se llamará Rose Cottage— con James Herron, el nieto de los dueños del Rose’s Market. El mercado se encontraba enfrente de una escuela que es ahora Lafayette House. Según Wise, los estudiantes solían cruzar la calle para ir a la tienda a comprar caramelos.
Estes dijo que cuando le explicó al propietario que los episcopales querían abrir un albergue para víctimas de violencia doméstica en la localidad, Herron “gentilmente nos vendió la propiedad a menos precio”. Una donación de la Diócesis de Misurí ayudó a la compra, señaló Estes.
Luego vino un largo proceso de construcción, entre cuyas dificultades se incluía encontrar un contratista que estuviera disponible y encontrar uno que pudiera lidiar con el papeleo que conllevaba la constante actualización de los códigos locales de edificación.
Jeff Neely, contratista episcopal radicado en Carthage, trazó gratuitamente los planos de Rose Cottage. La casa de tres dormitorios y dos baños cuenta con un “cuarto de seguridad” de hormigón vaciado a nivel del suelo concebido para proporcionar refugio en caso de tornados.
Según dijo Lyon, la construcción de la casa costó aproximadamente los $100.000 que donó la Diócesis de Misurí Occidental, y las Mujeres Episcopales (ECW, por su sigla en inglés) de la diócesis han estado haciendo acopio de algunos artículos, tales como sábanas y toallas, platos, ollas y sartenes, así como pequeños aparatos electrodomésticos. ECW también está solicitando a las congregaciones de la diócesis que amueblen la casa, dijo Wise. Algunos miembros de las parroquias hay ayudado a pintar el interior, y también se planea plantar un jardín —incluidas rosas para el Rose Cottage.
ECW ha tomado Rose Cottage como un proyecto permanente, de manera que las familias que pasen tiempo allí puedan llevarse algunos artículos de uso doméstico cuando se muden a sus propias casas, según explicó Estes. Han abierto un registro en una tienda local, de manera que los donantes puedan ayudar a comprar reemplazos para las próximas familias, agregó.
Todos los que participan [de este proyecto] dijeron que sería un momento de júbilo cuando Rose Cottage se convierta oficialmente en parte de Lafayette House el 20 de julio, aunque ha sido un proceso frustrante de cierta manera porque la gente quería haber concluido algo útil mucho antes que dos años después del tornado.
“Sí entendemos el porqué y sí queremos lograr que esto se haga bien, pero ha habido alguna frustración en que Joplin está volviendo en sí, pero no está recuperada todavía”, dijo Wise.
Lyon dijo que los participantes han aprendido que “el proceso de recuperación y reconstrucción es lento y exige una tremenda cantidad de fe y de compromiso con un propósito. Reconstruir después de una desgracia de esas proporciones sencillamente no puede ocurrir de la noche a la mañana, y a las personas les lleva tiempo recuperarse de eso; a las comunidades también les lleva tiempo”.
Dos años después, la recuperación todavía no es completa. Wise, que llama a Joplin “mi gran ciudad”, dijo que cuando el va de compras o sale a comer, su impresión es que “que todo el pueblo está deprimido, como si la ciudad entera estuviera en un estado permanente de síndrome postraumático”.
No ayuda el que el tornado no fuera en absoluto un evento inusual. Intensas tormentas se produjeron en la zona durante el fin de semana del 18 y 19 de mayo de este año y el Servicio Meteorológico Nacional emitió una alerta de tornado el 20 de mayo para 26 condados de Misurí, incluido el de Joplin. Esa es la manera de vivir en esta época del año en el Corredor de los Tornados.
Pero, Sierra agregó que “si vuelve a suceder, lidiaremos con eso. Dios estará con nosotros. Él siempre ha estado con nosotros a través de este tiempo”.
– La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs -- Press Release] Applications are currently being accepted for the 2013 Episcopal Church awards for Indigenous Theological Training.
The awards are available to lay and ordained members of the Episcopal Church. The application and information are available here
Among the educational possibilities is spiritual formation, leadership development, or ordination. Each applicant must have the endorsement of his/her bishop.
According to the application information:
At the 77th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, the Indigenous Theological Training Grant was expanded by Resolution A133 to provide training for “leaders in the Episcopal Church – those called to lay and ordained leadership at the following institutions: Niobrara School for Ministry, Hooghan Learning Circle, North Dakota School for Ministry, David Salmon School for Ministry, Father Paul Mather School for Ministry of the Diocese of Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the Navajoland Area Mission, and the Indigenous Theological Training Institute, as well as Indigenous training for Province IX and other areas of/under/in the Episcopal Church’s jurisdiction. Funding is to be under direction and supervision of the office of Indigenous Ministry of the Episcopal Church.”
For more information contact Sarah Eagle Heart, Missioner for Indigenous Ministries, email@example.com.
[Episcopal News Service – Red Shirt Table, South Dakota] Pilgrims from all over the world came May 24-27 to a hot and dusty stretch of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation prairie land bounded by the Black Hills and the Badlands to learn about and practice trust and reconciliation, overcome stereotypes, form friendships and grow in faith.
They did so while signing Taizé music with Western Meadowlark harmonies and the beat of crickets.
And they did so without showers or electricity and while trying to avoid plopping down on a cactus, stepping in a cow pie or encountering a rattlesnake.
Thus, the simple communal life of the Taizé Community of France came to this part of the Pine Ridge, which exists in one of the least developed parts of the United States and includes Shannon County, one of the poorest counties in the country.
“I hope that their hearts will be touched,” Brother Alois, the Taizé Community’s abbot, said about the pilgrims during an interview at the beginning of the pilgrimage, “and that Christ touches our hearts to awaken within us the will for reconciliation.”
Or, as volunteer Mikayla Dunfee told a newly arrived group of pilgrims during their orientation May 24: “Just keep your hearts open; this is going to be a wild ride.”
The May 24-27 gathering was first Taizé pilgrimage on an Indian reservation and it was by far the most remote of the locations that have been part of the Taizé brothers’ “pilgrimage of trust on earth,” which they describe as a meeting with Christ and with others.
Brother Emile, during an interview amidst the bustle of nearly 600 arriving pilgrims, said that the setting was much like the rural, isolated nature of Taizé in the French countryside but, “of course, the Badlands is more spectacular.”
The Pine Ridge has a reputation for being a stark place, and not just because of its stark physical setting but for its history of subjugation and suffering. Yet, the brothers and the South Dakota young adults who envisioned the potential power of such a gathering were drawn by the beauty and strength they perceived here.
Without ignoring the suffering, Brother Emile said, “we wanted also to be attentive to the beauty that is here,” both in the geography and in people’s hearts.
“When we go somewhere we look for signs of hope; not to be blind to the suffering, but to look for signs of hope,” he said.
What they found, he said, were “people who have been resilient, who are founded deep in their faith and it makes them stand up on their feet and want to be there for others.”
“The church exists through people like that,” he added.
The brothers say the Pine Ridge gathering is important because, while people from outside North America often have a romantic image of the Native American peoples drawn from films and novels, there is another story, one of unremitting poverty, violence, and despair. The brothers were told more than once that the negative perceptions of the reservation and the people who live there alters the residents’ perception of themselves, Brother Emile said.
The statistics are stark and stunning: the unemployment rate is 80 percent and 49 percent of reservation residents live below the federal poverty line (61 percent of those 18 years or younger live below that poverty line); average life expectancy on the reservation is estimated to be 48 years for men and 52 years for women compared with a U.S. combined average of 77.5 years; one in four babies are born with either fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and infant mortality is 300 percent higher than in the rest of America; teen suicide is 150 percent higher than the U.S. average; 50 percent of adults 40 years and older have diabetes and tuberculosis rates are 800 percent higher than in the rest of the country; approximately 58 percent of grandparents on the reservation are raising their grandchildren.
Yet, in the midst of stereotypes is another reality of the Pine Ridge, the brothers say.
Indeed, during a discussion amongst the pilgrims and the brothers on the gathering’s last morning, Shane LeClair, a senior at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota from White Bear Lake, Minnesota, said, “From the outside, a lot of us come in with hearing stories about the reservation and of this land and that there are people who lacked hope and are in need of a reason to hope and to have faith.”
“And what I know I have experienced and several people in my group have experienced is [that] it’s the exact opposite. There is no lack of hope in this land; there is no lack of faith. I think that all of us leave here with a lot of hope that this community and this land has provided us.”
LeClair thanked the Lakota hosts for “allowing us to be here and to share in this with you.”
Brother Alois said in the brothers’ invitation to the gathering that “we want to listen carefully to the story of the Lakota people, and listen together to what the Spirit is saying to us all in our attempt to create a world of solidarity and peace. Only by coming together beyond our differences in a climate of prayer and sharing can we find new ways forward.”
The pilgrimage’s roots
The impetus to come to the Pine Ridge began in 2009, when a group of South Dakota university students, including Tyson and Tyrone White of the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in South Dakota, came to Taizé. According to the order, this was one of the very first times when the community welcomed Native Americans to take part in the international meetings on what is know as “the hill.”
Taizé’s focus on reconciliation and justice resonated with the young Lakota men. The encounter was “very beautiful for us,” Brother Alois said, “because it linked us with a reality that was far away from us in Taizé. The reality of Native American people is something that we thought we had to put more attention towards.”
Discussions led to an invitation to Brother John to visit South Dakota. He came in 2010 and again in 2011, at the invitation of the group, and stopped at the Pine Ridge Reservation and got to know the Two Bulls family at Red Shirt Table.
The Two Bulls family eventually offered the land around the small Episcopal Christ Episcopal Church, two miles south of Red Shirt Village, for the Taizé pilgrims to pitch their tents and pray. The Rev. Robert Two Bulls Sr. has been the priest at the church, which has been his family’s church for generations. He is the father of another Episcopal priest of the same name who is based in Minneapolis.
The Rev. Rita Powell, who is the vicar of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Vermillion, South Dakota and coordinator for youth and young adult ministry for the Diocese of South Dakota, led that first group of students to Taizé. She had spent several months previously as a volunteer at Taizé after learning about the Taizé experience from a youth group she helped at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in New Canaan, Connecticut.
“They made their parents send them to Taizé every year – every year,” she recalled. The teenagers told her they were surprised when they realized it was the silence at Taizé that attracted them.
“I thought Taizé was some kind of hippy, unstructured church,” Powell said but, when she went with the youth group and experienced it for herself, she realized that the brothers were very orthodox. “I mean they’re monks who sing about Jesus in Latin three times a day.”
“They found a way to be both very authentic to the tradition and somehow very fresh,” she said, adding she began to believe that Taizé’s attitude complemented that of the Episcopal Church “because our church is a church that cares about liturgy and tradition, and we think it might be possible for the social-activist work to happen in the prayer,” as does Taizé.
The monks’ vision of reconciliation is “exquisite,” Powell said, explaining that Taizé answers the question of how people can find common ground by asking, “why don’t you sit on the same ground” and live and pray together.
And, Powell said, the brothers do not serve clients. Instead, they ask people – especially young people – to come and help them build the kingdom of God now.
“It’s not so much that young people have needs to be met by the church, as the church has needs that young people can meet,” she said.
The brothers encourage pilgrims to live out what they have grasped of the Gospel during their experience at Taizé; and to do this, according to the community’s website, “with an increased awareness of the life that dwells within them and of the practical gestures of solidarity they can put into practice in their own immediate environment … while remaining in touch with the reality of the local church.”
During a retreat, Powell said she had what she reluctantly calls “a vision” that people in the United States needed Taizé’s “energy and wisdom” in a way that went beyond simply using the community’s music. And she began to believe that “a friendship could happen” between the brothers and the Lakota people.
“Christ brings us together from all nations, from all backgrounds, so we found it very beautiful that we could be in community with them,” Brother Alois said. And, besides, “they invited us to come here, so we came.”
Powell said she hoped people would leave Red Shirt Table “feeling empowered to, as [Taizé’s founder] Brother Roger once said, to not run away from challenges but to run toward them.”
“Actually trying to build the kingdom in and with the churches is a kind of act of resistance within our mainstream culture and a really, really important thing to do,” she said.
(Powell is leaving South Dakota this summer to return to the East Coast where she grew up. She has accepted a call to be the assistant rector for congregational development at Trinity Copley Square in Boston, and begins work there July 15.)
Paul Daniels, an Episcopal Service Corps volunteer in Boston from St. Ambrose Episcopal Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, said Pine Ridge was his first Taizé event and during it he found common ground between the story of his African-American heritage and the story of the Lakota people.
“I believe God wants us to see ourselves in others; that that is our practical form of transcendence,” he said. “To know that we are not alone in this and the world is larger than just our situation or our people … knowing that a group in South Dakota can be in some way like me or like my family. I think finding those similarities is the first step toward bringing communities together to really live in the way of the Gospel and begin radical transformation and reconciliation.”
His experience has “created an immense hope” in him, Daniels said.
Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Mary Glasspool, another of the pilgrims, said during an interview that she came in search of a simple model of reconciliation for local churches and community groups.
“We’re doing it here and all we’re doing is really simple things,” she said. “We’re praying together. We’re singing together. We’re eating together. We’re just being together and we’re accepting each other across differences.”
The fruits of the pilgrimage will be hard to measure if the measurer is looking for concrete proof of transformation, Glasspool acknowledged.
“The strength of this is in the subtlety of our faith that the Holy Spirit is doing something with us here that will bear fruit, and it will bear fruit, regardless if anybody recognizes it or calls it as such,” she said.
Bringing the pilgrimage ‘vision’ to life
The land surrounding Christ Episcopal Church is rugged and beautiful – and it has no infrastructure. It is about 45 miles southeast of Mount Rushmore and is reached by a six-tenths of mile drive down a dirt road off the two-lane Bureau of Indian Affairs Highway 41. There are no bathrooms and no electricity.
Organizers had to get creative and resist the opinion that such a gathering could not be pulled off. They had to be willing to forgo some things, like showers, and raise money for the gathering in unique ways.
Close to 30 portable toilets were lined up for the pilgrims, each with a sign taped to the inside of the door announcing “This bathroom experience has been brought to you by,” followed by the name of a donor from as close as Rapid City, South Dakota, or far away as Sammamish, Washington; Morgantown, West Virginia, and Bronxville, New York.
Christian churches in the area and groups, including Lutherans and Jesuits, as well as Episcopalians from all over the church, worked together to prepare for the pilgrims.
They carved a trail from the churchyard to a natural amphitheater with a view of Red Shirt Table Mountain the Badlands that served as the pilgrimage’s prayer site. Michael Two Bulls, who spent time at Taizé, said in an interview that such cooperation and dialogue among the churches and between them and the tribal council was a new example of the kind of dialogue that Taizé hopes for.
Twyla Two Bulls helped coordinate meals provided by the local Lakota people. The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council supported the event and donated two buffalo for meals. The animals were cooked in the ground.
“We are here as pilgrims, not as tourists, so even though we will not be quite as comfortable as we might have been had we been tourists, like staying in a hotel or something, we are here for a much bigger reason than just going to visit a place,” Dunfee told her group. “We are here to bear witness that something great is happening within us.”
South Dakota Bishop John Tarrant, who was one of the pilgrims, said “what has really gratified me about this weekend is the energy — the positive energy — the will of those who are organizing it to resist the naysayers.”
Tarrant said that the stark nature of the setting “draws people together in relationship and the significance of [meeting on the Pine Ridge] is it’s not only relationship with each other but with the land. That makes this a unique event; it’s not in a hotel or in a city.”
The bishop, whose diocese has 47 Native American congregations, said he hoped the pilgrimage would be “an exploration of what it means to be in unity again with each other” and with the land.
Focus on the next generation
The Red Shirt pilgrimage was especially meant for young people aged 18-35, “a voice rarely heard in the church or in society,” the Taizé brothers said in their invitation to the gathering. Tarrant echoed that sentiment, calling that age group “the generation that the church is missing – young adults.”
Leena Fofonoff, a member of the Skolt Samis from Finland, is one young adult who does attend church but she said it was “amazing” to be on pilgrimage at Pine Ridge.
“Faith means a lot to me,” she said in an interview. “There’s not so many young people in my church so I go to church with older people. Here I can meet young people who have the same faith.”
Asked what she would take home with her from the pilgrimage, Maureen Booher, a young pilgrim from the Lower Brule Indian Reservation, gazed over her shoulder to Red Shirt Table and then answered “the prayer; I really want to keep that going in my own church, and the relationships that it’s going to build.”
“I want to get my friends into this but, I’m pretty sure that’s going to be kind of hard,” she added.
Taizé Pine Ridge part of a larger process
The Red Shirt event occurred 18 months into a three-and-a-half year process that Brother Alois has called an effort toward forging a new solidarity among the people of the world “that can bring together all who are pilgrims of peace, pilgrims of truth, whether believers or non-believers” and aims to “enable young people from every continent to mobilize their energies, to gather together their longings, intuitions and experiences.”
The effort will conclude in August 2015 with a major gathering in Taizé that will also celebrate the 75th anniversary of the order’s founding and what would have been the 100th birthday of the community’s founder, Brother Roger. A 37-year-old Romanian woman who was later found to be mentally ill stabbed Brother Roger to death during Evening Prayer in Taizé on Aug. 16, 2005.
The pattern of Taizé’s days
The cycle of a typical Taizé pilgrimage day begins at 8 a.m. and ends with an 8 p.m. candlelit prayer service, often followed by a talk from one of the brothers. The day includes meditative prayer combined with music together three times a day, Bible study, workshops and small group discussions. Pilgrims are also assigned work to support the life of the community during their time within it.
The brothers have developed a style of music that highlights simple phrases, usually lines from the Psalms or other pieces of Scripture, repeated or sung in canon. The repetition is designed to help meditation and prayer.
The Red Shirt gathering followed a similar pattern each day but also included a few differences. Candles on the dry prairie were out of the question so lanterns and solar light substituted. On Sunday, May 25, some participants spent the morning worshipping in local churches while others joined in an Episcopal Eucharist celebrated in the gathering’s large tent because of a morning rain. Also on the 25th, a group of pilgrims went to Wounded Knee to sing and offer silent prayer.
On the final morning, the pilgrims gathered for Morning Prayer and a general discussion on their experience and the future before breaking into regional meetings for conversations about what the pilgrims hoped to carry home with them from the experience. The pilgrimage ended with a prayer service.
During the closing prayer service, the elder Two Bulls thanked the Taizé brothers for coming to the Pine Ridge. “The Taizé Community offered a lot to us. You let your light shine here,” he said, standing before the monks. “You were an inspiration to us. You have left a legacy we could follow. You taught us how to pray in a different way.”
“I hope that someday you might come back again … to continue to teach us,” Two Bulls said.
Brother John told the pilgrims during the general session on May 27 that the brothers would return to the United States in 2014. He said they plan three meetings that spring in Texas, including March 21-23 in Austin, April 4-6 in Dallas and April 25-27 in Houston.
Background on the origins of Taizé is here.
Video interviews with seven Taizé Pine Ridge pilgrims are here.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal News Service – Red Shirt Table, South Dakota] Michael Two Bulls, one of the organizers of the May 24-27 Taizé “pilgrimage of trust on earth” held on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, reflects on his hopes for the gathering on its opening day when a stiff wind surrounded the encampment with flies.
[Episcopal News Service – Red Shirt Table, South Dakota] Julia Sharfenstein, from Heidelberg, Germany, has explored her faith through Taizé since she was 16. She helped organize the May 24-27 Taizé “pilgrimage of trust on earth” held on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
[Episcopal News Service – Red Shirt Table, South Dakota] Taylor Andrade, from Pierre, South Dakota and one of the organizers of the May 24-27 Taizé “pilgrimage of trust on earth” held on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, reflects on her life and how Taizé help her find her faith.
[Episcopal News Service – Red Shirt Table, South Dakota] The Rev. Robert Two Bulls Sr., who has led the people of Christ Episcopal Church in Red Shirt, discusses the importance of this place and his hope for the May 24-27 Taizé “pilgrimage of trust on earth” held on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
[Episcopal News Service – Red Shirt Table, South Dakota] Maureen Booher, from the Lower Brule Reservation in South Dakota and one of the organizers of the May 24-27 Taizé “pilgrimage of trust on earth” held on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, reflects on how Taizé’s silence has changed her outlook on her future and her faith.
[Episcopal News Service – Red Shirt Table, South Dakota] Leena Fofonoff, a Skolt Sami from Lapland, says that Taizé gave her the chance to meet Lakota people and learn that the struggles of the two indigenous groups are similar. By coming to the May 24-27 Taizé “pilgrimage of trust on earth” on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Fofonoff says she has been able to worship with young adults her own age.
[Episcopal News Service – Red Shirt Table, South Dakota] Brother Alois, abbot of the Taizé community in France, reflects on his hopes for the May 24-27 Taizé “pilgrimage of trust on earth” held on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
[American Cathedral in Paris -- Press Release] The Very Reverend Lucinda Laird was instituted as the 10th Dean of the American Cathedral in Paris on May 26, 2013, in a rite celebrated by the Right Reverend Pierre W. Whalon, Bishop-in-Charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe.
“I am delighted to institute the Very Reverend Lucinda Laird officially as Dean and Rector of our Cathedral,” Bishop Whalon said. “In the brief time she has been among us, she has impressed us all with her clear faith, strong intellect and gift of gracious presence. I look forward to working with Dean Laird as she leads the Cathedral into the future God has in store for us all. With the extraordinary new resources that the parish now has, thanks to the Together in Faith Campaign, there is no doubt in my mind that we are entering into a new chapter of flourishing mission, in Paris, in Europe, and “away to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Dean Laird took up her duties in Paris in March after serving for 15 years as rector of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Louisville, Kentucky. She was called to the Paris church – the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity – after a year-long process of discernment by a search committee and the Cathedral’s vestry.
“While the ceremony is focused on the new dean, it is very much a celebration of the whole ministry of the parish,” said Laird. “This will be particularly true on Trinity Sunday, as we are also celebrating our renovations and new spaces, giving thanks for them and all who made the work possible.”
She continued: “It’s a moment to pause, to give thanks for what has been, and to look forward to the exciting future to which God is calling this Cathedral. In this moment, we celebrate and give thanks, as we ask God’s blessing on our ministry.”
Besides the institution of the Dean, the Cathedral dedicated new space it developed though bound by the tight limitations at its campus on Avenue George V just off the Champs-Elysées in the heart of Paris. A €6 million construction project lasting three years has given the Cathedral new facilities for study and worship, expanded quarters for its celebrated music program, a modernized kitchen adjacent to the Parish Hall, along with other much needed facilities.
A number of guests were invited, including clergy or their representatives from other Paris churches and religious organizations, and Friends of the Cathedral, many of them former parishioners who have moved away but maintain contacts and continue to support the cathedral’s development and missions. A number of Dean Laird’s former parishioners from Louisville also attended.
The homily was delivered by the Very Reverend Tracey Lind, dean of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland and a friend of Dean Laird’s.
An exceptional program of music was planned by Zachary Ullery, director of music. The program at the 11 A.M. service included the anthem by Sir Charles H. Hubert Parry “I was glad.” Sometimes known as the Coronation Anthem, it is performed by a double choir. The program also included Franz Joseph Haydn’s “Te Deum.”
Another musical highlight of the day was the Memorial Day evensong at 6 p.m.
The date in the liturgical calendar was Trinity Sunday, and the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity uses that occasion each year to celebrate its community in Paris and its extended community among former parishioners and other supporters.
Laird was rector in Louisville from 1998 until coming to Paris. Before that she was rector at St. Mark’s Church in Teaneck, New Jersey. She previously served as assistant for college ministries at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City and as curate of the parish of Christ the Redeemer in Pelham, New York.
A native of New Orleans, she is a graduate of Barnard College and the General Theological Seminary. She also studied acting at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Within the Episcopal Church she has been on the faculty of the Preaching Excellence Program (Episcopal Preaching Foundation); was a member of the Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations; has served on the Advisory Board of the Church Pension Fund; is on the Board of Trustees of the General Theological Seminary; and has been president of Associate Alumni/ae of the General Seminary.
In Kentucky she served on the board of trustees of Berea College; the board of directors of Faith Channel 19, and the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood of Louisville. She has hosted or been a panelist on public affairs television programs in both Louisville and New York, has done mission work in Kenya and the Ivory Coast, and at one period swapped parishes with an English vicar.
As the first woman to be dean of the Paris cathedral, she joins a growing list of women serving in a similar capacity at several of America’s largest Episcopal cathedrals. There are also several dozen women serving as bishops in the worldwide Anglican Communion, and notably as the presiding bishop (primate) of the Episcopal Church.
As the 10th dean of the Paris cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Laird succeeds the Reverend Canon Zachary Fleetwood, who resigned in 2011 to go to St. Columba’s-by-the-Castle in Edinburgh. The Right Reverend Peter James Lee, retired bishop of Virginia, served as interim dean and rector, a role he fulfilled previously at both Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and the General Theological Seminary in New York.
In Paris, Laird joined the existing staff of the Cathedral, including the Reverend Elizabeth Hall Hendrick, canon pastor; Giles Williams, canon for administration; and Mr. Ullery, director of music.
For more than a century the American Cathedral has been a center of worship for Anglophones in Paris. The Cathedral serves a congregation of American, British and French parishioners as well as many other Europeans, Asians, Africans and Latin Americans. Permanent parishioners total about 500 and that number is considerably augmented by students, tourists and business persons in Paris on shorter-term assignments.
Its noteworthy music program, including choir and the cathedral organist, Andrew Dewar, is enhanced by the concerts, both free and paid, it offers regularly.
The Cathedral – actually a pro-cathedral, in that it remains a parish church – is the mother church of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe and the seat of Bishop Whalon.