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

ENS Headlines - Friday, April 17, 2015

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

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

Konieczny’s letter follows.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

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

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

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

+Bishop Ed

Transformed by 12 years in Tanzania, missionaries set to return

ENS Headlines - Friday, April 17, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENS Headlines - Thursday, April 16, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The symposium audience of about 100 broke into applause.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENS Headlines - Thursday, April 16, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Materiales de formación centrados en el cuidado de la creación

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

South Carolina Supreme Court agrees to hear appeal

ENS Headlines - Thursday, April 16, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canada: Church leaders sign climate change declaration

ENS Headlines - Thursday, April 16, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Southern African primate warns against xenophobic violence

ENS Headlines - Thursday, April 16, 2015

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

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

The full text of his statement follows:

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

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

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

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

Anglican UN office award honors women’s rights work

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, April 15, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anglican Church of Canada reaffirms resolve to fight anti-Semitism

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, April 15, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Pontifical anti-trafficking website features Anglican resources

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, April 15, 2015

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

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

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

Pakistan’s Christians faithful and resilient in face of persecution

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, April 14, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council at its March meeting passed a resolution condemning the use of religion for the purpose of advancing political agendas “directed at terrorizing, victimizing, and oppressing individuals and communities and impairing their ability to enjoy basic human rights because of their religious beliefs and social, ethnic, class, caste, gender, and national affiliations.”

The resolution also calls on the world’s governments “to confront the reality of religious persecution, protect religious minorities and civilians within the framework of international and humanitarian law, address political exclusion and economic desperation that are being manipulated by the forces of extremists, scale up humanitarian and development assistance to host countries and trusted NGOs, and accept for resettlement a fair share of the most vulnerable people where return to their countries of origin is impossible.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advancing to General Convention: Registration open for Young Adult Festival

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 13, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information contact Kelly at skelly@episcopalchurch.org.

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

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


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

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 13, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Southeast Florida notified of successful canonical consent process

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 13, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Los peregrinos de #ShareTheJourney siguen compartiendo su viaje y haciéndose promotores de los refugiados

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 13, 2015

A principios de marzo, un grupo de episcopales que tomó parte en una peregrinación de #ShareTheJourney a la región africana de los Grandes Lagos visitó la oficina de la Organización Internacional para la Migración en Kigali, Ruanda, donde se reunieron con Didacus Obunga, director de operaciones de esa institución —que aparece a la derecha— y con el Dr. Samuel A. Baghuma, médico del [Servicio] Nacional de Salud para la Migración —que se ve al centro. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

[Episcopal News Service] La Iglesia Episcopal ha estado reasentando refugiados durante 75 años, y trabajando con congregaciones locales y agencias de reasentamiento a través de Estados Unidos para darle acogida a algunas de las personas más vulnerables del mundo que huyen de la violencia, la guerra y la opresión política, étnica y cultural.

A principios de marzo, ocho episcopales viajaron a Kenia y a Ruanda para aprender cómo es el reasentamiento de refugiados en la actualidad a través de las lentes de refugiados congoleses en una peregrinación de #ShareTheJourney organizada por el Ministerio Episcopal de Migración, el servicio de reasentamiento de refugiados de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera (DFMS).

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

“Nuestra esperanza”, dijo Deborah Stein, directora del Ministerio Episcopal de Migración, “es que los participantes puedan compartir el entusiasmo que han mostrado a través de esta peregrinación con las personas de sus parroquias, de sus comunidades, de sus diócesis, y convertirse en campeones y promotores de los refugiados: comunicarle a la Iglesia en su sentido más amplio las maravillosas oportunidades que tienen los episcopales que participan en la labor salvavidas del reasentamiento de refugiados, y en última instancia que los episcopales vean que existe un lugar para ellos en este quehacer”.

Alyssa Stebbing, directora de servicios comunitarios de la iglesia episcopal de La Trinidad [Trinity] de The Woodlands en la Diócesis de Texas, fue a la peregrinación con una conciencia acerca de los refugiados que se acrecentó durante el viaje.

“Esta experiencia realmente me ha quitado las anteojeras”, dijo Stebbing, quien se propone participar con la comunidad interreligiosa del área metropolitana de Houston y compartir lo que ella ha aprendido en la peregrinación.

El Ministerio Episcopal de Migración es una de nueve agencias asociadas con el Departamento de Estado de EE.UU. para acoger y reasentar refugiados en Estados Unidos. A través de la Iglesia, el Ministerio Episcopal de Migración colabora con 30 comunidades en 26 diócesis.

De los 15,5 millones de refugiados en todo el mundo, menos de un 1 por ciento serán reasentados, de los cuales más de un 75 por ciento vendrá a Estados Unidos.

El Dr. Muddassar Ban Abad, que supervisa el Centro de Evaluación de la Salud de la Organización Internacional para la Migración en Nairobi, Kenia, conduce a los peregrinos de #ShareTheJourney en un recorrido por las instalaciones. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

En 2014, el Ministerio Episcopal de Migración y sus asociados ayudaron a reasentar a 5.155 de las decenas de miles de refugiados que llegaron a Estados Unidos a través del proceso de selección del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (UNHCR). Ellos se esforzarán en servir a otras tantas personas este año, de los 70.000 refugiados que Estados Unidos planea reasentar.

Muchos de esos refugiados provendrán de la República Democrática del Congo. A lo largo de los próximos años, el UNHCR se propone reasentar 50.000 refugiados del Congo, el 80 por ciento de los cuales vendrán a Estados Unidos.

La peregrinación, que se extendió del 2 al 13 de marzo, financiada por una subvención del Fondo Constable de la Iglesia Episcopal, instruyó a los participantes en la difícil situación de los refugiados y en el proceso que deben seguir [para obtener refugio], de manera que puedan compartir su experiencia con sus iglesias, diócesis y comunidades.

En Ruanda, visitaron Gihembe, un campamento que alberga a 14,500 refugiados provenientes del Congo Oriental. Allí escucharon preguntas y preocupaciones de los refugiados en el contexto de una reunión comunitaria. Los peregrinos también se impusieron del proceso de reasentamiento desde una perspectiva exterior a través de reuniones con el UNHCR, el Centro de Apoyo al Reasentamiento en África del Servicio Mundial de Iglesias y otras organizaciones no gubernamentales.

El Rdo. Frank Logue, canónigo del Ordinario en la Diócesis de Georgia, les habla a los refugiados durante una reunión comunitaria en el campamento de refugiados de Gihembe. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

Para el Rdo. Frank Logue, canónigo del Ordinario en la Diócesis de Georgia, poder reunirse con los refugiados y escuchar sus frustraciones respecto al proceso de reasentamiento resultó ilustrativo.

“Creo que es difícil para cualquiera de nosotros apreciar lo que es huir de su país, lo que significa ser un refugiado, de manera que haber tenido la experiencia de reunirme y hablar con los refugiados resultó provechosa”, dijo Logue, que viajó con su esposa, Victoria.

La visita al campamento de refugiados incluyó un recorrido por su clínica sanitaria, un aula de una escuela primaria, una iniciativa para la capacitación de mujeres y un aula de inglés como segundo idioma para refugiados que ya han sido aprobados para el reasentamiento.

Reunirse con 10 mujeres portadoras del VIH en el campamento de refugiados, que encuentran esperanza en plantar hongos, le hizo una gran impresión a Cookie Cantwell, coordinadora del ministerio de los jóvenes en la IV Provincia.

“Una vez que uno se ve expuesto a algo que sabes que cambiará para siempre tu perspectiva, tienes que compartirlo”, dijo Cantwell, que proviene de la Diócesis de Carolina del Este. “Una vez que has sido tocada, tienes que tomar una decisión sobre lo que vas a hacer al respecto”.

Una refugiada somalí que trabaja como asistente de salud de la comunidad posa con Cookie Cantwell, durante una visite a Refugee Point, una organización que se dedica a capacitar a algunas de las refugiadas más vulnerables en Nairobi y otras localidades del mundo entero. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

Para Cantwell eso significa compartir la historia de las mujeres. “Están viviendo, no se están muriendo”, afirmó.

Muchos de los peregrinos compartieron sus experiencias en blogs.

“Una de las cosas que les pedimos a todos los peregrinos que han participado en el viaje de #ShareTheJourney es que, cuando regresen a sus hogares, utilicen su experiencia para hablarles a tantas personas como les sea posible a fin de compartir lo que han aprendido: convertirse en promotores de los refugiados, visitar una oficina local de EMM, ver lo que sucede en el otro extremo donde reciben a los refugiados, ver lo que pueden hacer para compartir la información de lo que aprendieron mientras estuvieron en Nairobi [en Kenia] y en Ruanda”, dijo Stein.

Jessica Benson, de la Diócesis de Idaho, había entablado una relación con una familia congolesa reasentada en Boise a través de la Agencia para Nuevos Americanos. Pero ver el proceso de reasentamiento desde el extremo opuesto fue una experiencia completamente distinta, dijo ella.

Los peregrinos aprendieron, por ejemplo, que una vez que a una familia la destinan para reasentamiento y comienza el lento proceso de los antecedentes, los exámenes médicos y de seguridad, cualquier cambio en el estatus familiar, tal como el nacimiento de un niño, puede retrasar el proceso.

“Una de las cosas que se fijó en mi mente es que los niños son examinados al mismo nivel de los adultos”, dijo Benson, añadiendo que ella tampoco conoció a muchos refugiados que vivieran en ciudades, fuera de los campamentos.

Antes de que la peregrinación hubiera terminado, Benson ya se había puesto al habla con un legislador estatal para coordinar una reunión. Ella también se proponía hablarles a los estudiantes, en el sistema de educación pública donde el número de estudiantes refugiados haya aumentado, a fin de educarlos en el proceso de reasentamiento, afirmó.

Alice Eshuchi, directora nacional de Heshima en Kenia, conversa con Alyssa Stebbing, directora de servicios comunitarios de la iglesia episcopal de La Trinidad en The Woodlands, Diócesis de Texas, durante una visita a la oficina de operaciones de Heshima. Heshima Kenya se especializa en identificar y proteger a niños y jóvenes que aparecen solos y separados de sus familias, especialmente niñas y mujeres jóvenes y sus hijos que viven en Nairobi. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

Luego de visitar el campamento de refugiados en Ruanda, los peregrinos visitaron Heshima, un programa urbano en Nairobi, Kenia, que se dedica a capacitar a niñas y mujeres jóvenes, muchas de las cuales han perdido a sus familias o se encuentran separadas de ellas.

Para Spencer Cantrell, miembro del Proyecto Nacional de Defensa de las Mujeres Inmigrantes en Washington, D.C., el contraste entre el campamento de refugiados y el programa urbano era pasmoso. En el campamento, ella visitó el alojamiento de un hombre que había perdido toda esperanza, a pesar de que su familia había sido reasentada en Misisipí. Eso era difícil de reconciliar con la esperanza que emanaba de las actitudes positivas de las niñas y mujeres jóvenes en Nairobi, muchas de ellas sobrevivientes de traumas y violencia sexual y muchas de ellas madres adolescentes, dice ella.

“Estoy buscando los medios de compartir esto con la Iglesia”, dijo Cantrell, ex misionera en Hong Kong con el Cuerpo de Servicio de Jóvenes Adultos, que ahora vive en la Diócesis de Washington.

Entrar en un aula en el campamento de refugiados llena de muchachos impacientes, cuatro años por debajo de su nivel de escolaridad y compartiendo dos o tres libros, resultó descorazonador para el Rdo. Burl Salmon, capellán de una escuela intermedia y decano de vida comunitaria en la escuela episcopal de La Trinidad [Trinity Episcopal School] en la Diócesis de Carolina del Norte. Sin embargo, el se sintió alentado por la compenetración que el maestro tenía con sus alumnos, dijo. “Él veía la educación como la puerta que ellos tenían para alcanzar el éxito”.

“La educación es universal”, dijo Salmon. “Para uno es un salvavidas y para el otro es un hecho”.

De vuelta a Estados Unidos, además de establecer relaciones con una oficina afiliada al Ministerio Episcopal de Migración, entre las formas en que los peregrinos y otros episcopales pueden seguir aprendiendo sobre los refugiados y seguir abogando por ellos se incluyen: organizar un evento para el Día Mundial del Refugiado, que tiene lugar anualmente el 20 de junio; animar a una congregación a copatrocinar a una familia refugiada; compartir sus experiencias con refugiados en la Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal; abogar por los refugiados en la esfera local y estatal mediante citas con funcionarios electos y hablando en reuniones cívicas, y hacerse miembro de la Red Episcopal de Política Pública, que participa en política pública a escala federal.

Una de las cosas que la Iglesia Episcopal, que está presente en muchos países, debería de hacer es alentar a otros países a aumentar el número de refugiados que reasientan, dijo el Rdo. canónigo Scott Gunn, de la Diócesis de Ohio Sur, uno de los peregrinos y director ejecutivo del Movimiento Adelante [Forward Movement], un ministerio de la Iglesia episcopal con sede en Cincinnati, Ohio, que estimula el discipulado.

Hay 2,7 millones de refugiados y solicitantes de asilo en África Oriental, en el Cuerno de África y en la región de los Grandes Lagos. Etiopía y Kenia acogen a la mayoría de las personas que huyen de la violencia y la inestabilidad política en Somalia, Sudán del Sur, Eritrea y el Congo.

“Noventa y nueve por ciento de los refugiados no serán reasentados”, dijo Gunn. “También debemos hacer todo lo que podamos para influir en la estabilización de las condiciones en África Oriental; un país está recibiendo los refugiados de otro país.

“Si 2,7 millones de personas pudieran ser repatriadas, todo el mundo saldría ganando. Es un juego moralmente escandaloso el que se lleva a cabo con las vidas de las personas”, dijo Gunn. “Ningún ser humano debería jamás tener que pronunciar estas palabras: ‘yo no tengo esperanza’”.

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

En solidaridad con las minorías perseguidas del mundo

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 13, 2015

Cristianos iraquíes desplazados que huyeron de los militantes del Estado Islámico en Mosul, oran en una escuela que funge de campamento de refugiados en Erbil. Foto de Ahmed Jadallah/REUTERS.

[Episcopal News Service] Los atentados dinamiteros contra Iglesias, las brutales decapitaciones, las conversiones forzosas y la migración en masa se han convertido en los emblemas de las facciones extremistas en el Oriente Medio y en África; la persecución a las minorías religiosas y la eliminación de las poblaciones cristianas que en algunos lugares —tales como Irak, Siria y Egipto— se remontan al siglo I.

Para muchos en Occidente que las vemos solamente a través de los ojos de los medios de difusión, estas comunidades oprimidas pueden parecer a un millón de kilómetros de distancia. Para otros, incluidos muchos líderes episcopales y anglicanos, son vecinos globales, hermanos cristianos o asociados interreligiosos, y personas en urgente necesidad de salvamento.

“Jesús es muy claro de que nuestros prójimos son a veces, tal vez con frecuencia, los que menos esperamos o los que quisiéramos ignorar”, dijo el Rdo. Christopher Bishop, rector de la iglesia episcopal de San Martín [St. Martin’s] en Radnor, Pensilvania, en declaraciones a Episcopal News Service. “La única diferencia real entre nosotros y alguien en Mosul o Kirkuk, por ejemplo, es mala, mala suerte. Debemos actuar en nombre de ellos del mismo modo que —de estar los papeles invertidos— quisiéramos que ellos se movilizaran a favor nuestro”.

Bishop y sus feligreses han elegido la acción en lugar de la inacción y se han comprometido a andar junto a las comunidades desplazadas que están viviendo en tiendas, en edificios abandonados y en sótanos en Erbil, Irak.

La iglesia ha iniciado el ministerio y la página web En Apoyo a los Cristianos Iraquíes [Stand With Iraqi Christians] y uno de sus miembros vive y trabaja en Erbil. Bishop está planeando viajar a Erbil en los próximos meses “para hacer entrega de apoyo económico, emocional y de comunicaciones y crear relaciones con las comunidades de sobrevivientes”.

Según las personas que Bishop conoce en Erbil, “la situación para todo el mundo, particularmente para las minorías cristianas, es simplemente desesperada”, dijo él. “Sabemos que no son sólo los cristianos los que están siendo maltratados —hay musulmanes, yazidis, cualquiera que no esté comprometido con la ortodoxia medieval del Daesh”, el nombre árabe para el estilo propio del Estado Islámico, el grupo subversivo extremista que controla territorio en Irak, Siria, Libia y Nigeria y que intenta poner en vigor una versión draconiana del código Sharía.

Un niño desplazado iraquí que huyó con su familia de los militantes del estado islámico en Mosul, mece la cuna de su hermanito en una escuela de Erbil, que ahora funge de campo de refugiados. Foto de Ahmed Jadallah/REUTERS.

“La misión de [la iglesia de] San Martín es “buscar a Dios y ser el cuerpo de Cristo en el mundo”, dijo Bishop. “Esta crisis trasciende las fronteras religiosas y nacionales, y espero que pueda inspirarnos a todos nosotros a actuar. Si vamos a afirmar este poderoso y potenciador testimonio de la razón de Dios para nuestro ser, eso significa tender la mano de amistad y apoyo a los que, cerca o lejos, sufren y están necesitados de amor”.

Los norteamericanos y los europeos con frecuencia creen que el cristianismo es occidental, dijo él, Pero “sus orígenes, obviamente, están en el Oriente Medio. La idea de que fieles comunidades cristianas que se remontan al siglo I después de Cristo se extingan definitivamente es más que catastrófico: debe horrorizar completamente a todos los que atesoramos la preciosa continuidad que estas iglesias representan para nuestras vidas devotas, litúrgicas y comunales hoy en día. Ello me hace sentir en primer lugar triste, y luego motivado”.

El Rdo. Bill Schwartz, sacerdote anglicano establecido en Qatar y misionero de la Iglesia Episcopal desde 1993, visita Irak con regularidad. A su regreso de Bagdad hace tres semanas, dijo que había un evidente espíritu de consternación entre muchos iraquíes respecto a los archiconservadores suníes llamados daesh, así como la corrupción en el gobierno iraquí y su incapacidad de brindarles protección a sus ciudadanos.

“Los daesh son intolerantes con cualquiera que no convenga con su perspectiva, y esa perspectiva no parece ser coherente”, dijo Schwarz, cuyo libro de publicación reciente El islam: una religión, un cultura, una sociedad [Islam: A Religion, A Culture, A Society] aborda las complejidades de la fe en contextos islámicos. “Muchos musulmanes sunitas también son denigrados y perseguidos por las fuerzas del Daesh… La reciente presentación monocultural del islam que está promoviendo el Daesh ha creado una polarización en la sociedad iraquí entre los que son exclusivistas y los que desean que la sociedad sea inclusiva”.

Aunque renuente a condonar la violencia de cualquier género, Schwarz dijo que él cree que la ofensiva militar contra el Daesh “es desafortunadamente necesaria para la protección de los oprimidos y para la seguridad del mundo”.

El Rdo. Bill Schwartz, sacerdote anglicano y misionero de la Iglesia Episcopal en Qatar, habla en la ceremonia de apertura del Centro Anglicano de Qatar. Foto de Ginger Camel.

Schwartz, arcediano de la Diócesis de Chipre y del Golfo, y administrador del Centro Anglicano en Qatar, reconoció también que el gobierno iraquí debe tomar medidas enérgicas contra la corrupción en sus filas, de manera que el país pueda comenzar a funcionar normalmente y prepararse para la “recreación de la sociedad civil con parámetros sociales seguros de manera que las personas puedan aprender a confiar unas en las otras y a vivir juntas”. Añadió que son necesarias enormes cantidades de financiación y de inversiones” para reconstruir ciudades y sociedades arruinadas, así como también invertir en la creación de empleos.

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

La resolución también pide a los gobiernos del mundo “confrontar la realidad de la persecución religiosa, proteger a las minorías religiosas y a los civiles dentro del marco de las leyes internacionales y humanitarias, abordar la exclusión política y la desesperación económica que están siendo manipuladas por las fuerzas de los extremistas, aumentar la asistencia humanitaria y para el desarrollo a los países anfitriones [de los refugiados] y a ONG confiables, y aceptar para reasentamiento a parte proporcional de las personas más vulnerables allí donde el regreso a sus países de origen es imposible”.

No más de dos semanas después de que el Consejo Ejecutivo hubiera aprobado su resolución, el mundo lamentaba la muerte de más de 150 estudiantes kenianos, cristianos en su mayoría, víctimas de un ataque casi al amanecer del 2 de abril en la Universidad de Garissa a manos de una banda de extremistas islámicos que se dicen parte del grupo militante al-Shababa de Somalia.

En su sermón del Día de Pascua en la catedral de Cantórbery, el arzobispo de Cantórbery Justin Welby, dijo que los estudiantes eran mártires “arrebatados en la resurrección: Cristo mismo a su lado vence sus muertes crueles, la brutalidad de su persecución, porque ellos comparten su sufrimiento, y él está junto a ellos porque se levantó de los muertos. Por la resurrección de Jesús de los muertos, la crueldad es vencida, el mal es derrotado, los mártires son victoriosos”.

El arzobispo Eliud Wabukala de la Iglesia Anglicana de Kenia, describió el ataque como “una manifestación calculada del mal concebida para destruir nuestra nación y nuestra fe”, pero afirmó que sus muertes no serán en vano, así como “la muerte de Jesús en la cruz no fue en vano. Por su muerte, la muerte ha sido destruida… Llamamos al gobierno a hacer todo lo que esté a su alcance para proteger las vidas de sus ciudadanos y llamamos a la comunidad mundial a reconocer que esta última salvajada no es sólo un ataque a Kenia, sino parte de un asalto a la paz mundial. Ha llegado la hora de que el mundo se una como nunca antes para derrotar esta creciente amenaza”.

Mientras muchos en Estados Unidos y otros países occidentales se debaten en torno a la manera de abordar el extremismo y la persecución en el Oriente Medio y África, el Consejo Ejecutivo exhortó a todos los episcopales “a participar en oraciones, apoyo, educación y defensa de las personas desplazadas y de las iglesias que están ofreciente socorro y esperanza a esas personas desplazadas que han sido desarraigadas por conflictos y viven en campamentos de refugiados”.

Occidente puede también mostrar apoyo y solidaridad, dijo Schwarz en Qatar, a través de la generosidad, al contribuir a las iniciativas de socorro; y mediante la promoción de una voluntad política que mire los problemas a largo plazo en lugar de a las próximas elecciones (en Estados Unidos y en Europa tanto como en Irak).

El Rdo. canónigo Robert Edmunds, encargado de asociaciones de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera para el Oriente Medio, dijo: “A veces oímos la expresión ‘presencia cristiana’ en el Oriente Medio y suena pasiva y carente de vitalidad, cuando la verdad del problema para los que allí viven es bastante diferente. La presencia cristiana a través de la región es acerca de cristianos cuyas familias y raíces religiosas se remontan a los tiempos de Cristo. No se trata de residentes temporales en una tierra extraña, sino de personas cuyas vidas son parte integrante del paisaje, de la historia de la cultura y de las tradiciones que tiene y prosigue configurando cada generación”.

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

Antes de la invasión encabezada por Estados Unidos en 2003, Irak era el hogar de aproximadamente un millón y medio de cristianos —alrededor de un 5 por ciento de la población— que traza sus raíces casi 2.000 años atrás. En la actualidad, quedan menos de 400.000.

Algunos de esos cristianos han huido a países vecinos, muchos de los cuales tienen sus propios problemas de inestabilidad y extremismo, y están esforzándose por responder a las necesidades básicas del creciente influyo de refugiados. Otros encuentra su camino en países más estables, en Europa y más lejos.

En julio de 2014, Francia respondió a la persecución religiosa de minorías en Irak ofreciéndoles asilo a cristianos de Mosul, hogar de una de las comunidades cristianas más antiguas del Oriente Medio.

La Asociación para la Ayuda a las Minorías del Oriente Medio [The Association d’Entraide aux Minorités d’Orient] establecida en 2007 por el obispo Pierre Whalon de la Convocación de Iglesias Episcopales en Europa y el empresario iraquí Elish Yako, ayuda a algunos refugiados en su integración a la sociedad.

Muchos de los refugiados son miembros de la Iglesia Católica Caldea, que data del Siglo I, cuando la región en torno a Irak se conocía por Babilonia.

“Para ellos”, dijo Yako a ENS, “lo más importante es su libertad… y practicar su religión sin temor a terroristas y a que [alguien] le secuestre sus hijos”.

Yako se mantiene en contacto regular con todas las familias que la asociación ha ayudado a reasentarse, entre ellas, por ejemplo, una familia de cuatro miembros —madre, padre, hijo e hija— que vive a unos 29 kilómetros al sur de París. Ellos se mudaron a Francia en 2009 luego de recibir repetidas amenazas de muerte. Los niños le dijeron a ENS que se sienten felices por fin de poder practicar su religión libremente y que se enorgullecen de ello.

“Estas personas deberían de estar todavía en Irak”, le dijo Whalon a ENS. “Muchísimos de ellos aún tienen sus propias casas. Nunca quisieron dejarlas. Las alquilaron y esperan regresar. Por supuesto, en la situación actual es imposible. Sin duda, quisiéramos que los cristianos se quedaran [en Irak], pero los queremos vivos.

“Los que pueden vivir para contar la historia, dan testimonio del poder de Dios”, añadió. “Eso me dice muchísimo del valor de lo que hacemos y de lo que somos en el mundo”.

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

Empowering Episcopalians and the next generation to care for creation

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 13, 2015

Students from Campbell Hall and St. Margaret’s Episcopal Schools observe elephant seals during mating season on the coast of Big Sur, California. From birth to death and everything in between, the full cycle of life was on display. Photo: Diocese of Los Angeles

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians old and young often turn to the phrase “this fragile earth, our island home” when talking about stewardship of the planet. It comes from Eucharistic Prayer C, found in the Book of Common Prayer.

A little further down the page, the prayer continues: “You made us the rulers of creation. But we turned against you, and betrayed your trust; and we turned against one another.”

Over the last 21 days, Episcopalians have been participating in 30 Days of Action, a campaign designed and initiated by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society to engage individuals and congregations in a conversation about climate change. (The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is the name under which The Episcopal Church is incorporated, conducts business and carries out mission.)

The campaign, which began with a live, webcast forum on March 24, culminates on Earth Day, April 22. Resources and activities for the campaign include advocacy days, bulletin inserts, stories, sermons and outdoor excursions.

The 30 Days of Action, as well as the fifth of the Five Marks of Mission, are a call to action to regain that trust and to come together in community to care for creation.

As James Pickett, a climate-change activist and young adult from the Diocese of Western Massachusetts, makes clear in a recent blog post, unless Anglicans and Episcopalians take seriously the fifth of the Five Marks of Mission, “To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth,” the other four marks are irrelevant.

“If we don’t treasure creation, the other marks of mission cannot be accomplished,” wrote Pickett.

Just talking about climate change and its related justice issues doesn’t cut it, according to Pickett and others; it’s about living the marks and putting faith into action.

Last fall, Pickett and other Episcopalians joined the more than 300,000 people from across the country and the world on the streets of New York for the People’s Climate March, the largest demonstration for climate action in history.

As evidenced in the activities and resources included and developed for the 30-day campaign, it’s impossible to have a conversation about climate change and not talk about justice issues implicit in the Five Marks of Mission.

“When The Episcopal Church adopted the Five Marks of Mission, I was struck by the practical nature of the language and its action-oriented invitation,” said lifelong environmentalist Bronwyn Clark Skov, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s officer for youth ministries. “I am especially thankful for the specificity of the Fifth Mark of Mission, ‘to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.’”

“It could be argued that this area of ministry is an undercurrent of the Baptismal Covenant, but these newer words open greater possibilities for imagining our role as Christian citizens caring for the earth, our home,” she said. “This is a wonderful teaching point when engaged with young people and discussing how their Christian identity might impact the choices they make.”

An environmentalist since her father encouraged her as a child, Skov recalled learning about recycling early on.

“I remember sorting newspapers to drop off at the once-a-month newspaper drive. I was taught to rinse out tin cans, remove both ends and carefully flatten the can on the rug on the kitchen floor, so as not to damage the linoleum beneath the woven fabric,” she said. “When engaged in ministry with young people, I name and claim this lifelong habit and invite young people to join me in my commitment to reduce, recycle and reuse those items that will not easily biodegrade in a landfill. This behavior has become a part of who I am, a piece of my personal identity.”

The Five Marks of Mission begin to address how Episcopalians can become environmental stewards and turn toward one another in community, rather than betraying the earth and turning away from one another, as the eucharistic prayer states.

Children and teenagers especially feel empowered by the language used in the marks, said Skov. She refers to them as a way to practice the vows made at baptism, and she invites young people to name and claim the ways in which they are already living some of the marks.

“The beauty of the fifth mark, treasuring the earth with intentionality, is a place where we can engage in our communities in partnership across denominational, religious and political divides,” she said. “Mission and ministry in this area [are] easy to embrace with school-age humans as they learn about the environment in classroom settings and can then see the intersection of their secular experience in the world with their values as a member of a community of faith.”

More than 1,000 high school-aged students attended last year’s Episcopal Youth Event in Pennsylvania, where climate change was among the issues discussed and where youth were becoming agents of transformation.

Americans’ views on climate change vary from state to state, town to town and sometimes family member to family member. Climate change is an increasingly charged political issue that often pits conservatives against liberals. At the same time, religious communities across the spectrum have joined in the call to reduce carbon emissions and to treat climate change as a moral issue.

In an interview with The Guardian that ran on the day of the climate-change-crisis forum in March, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori described climate change as a moral challenge already threatening the livelihood and survival of people in the developing world.

“It is certainly a moral issue in terms of the impacts on the poorest and most vulnerable around the world already,” she said.

Across the board, Episcopalians are taking that moral challenge seriously, including by contributing to the 30 Days of Action.

As the Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, missioner for creation care in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts, put it in a sermon written for the Sunday after Easter: “Climate change isn’t just an ‘environmental’ issue – it’s a ‘civilization’ issue. It’s not just about polar bears – it’s about where our grandchildren will find clean water. It’s about how societies will handle growing epidemics of infectious diseases such as malaria, cholera and dengue fever. It’s about where masses of people will go as rising seas drive them from their homes or when the rains don’t fall and the fields turn to dustbowls. It’s about hungry, thirsty people competing for scarce resources and reverting to violence, civil unrest or martial law in the struggle to survive.”

Formation resources focused on creation care
The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s Lifelong Christian Formation Office and other clergy and lay Episcopalians active on climate-change issues have compiled comprehensive resources for environmental liturgy, including the 30 Days of Action.

“The formation offices have been talking about climate change and caring for the environment with children and their families for years,” said the Rev. Shannon Kelly, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s acting missioner for campus and young adult ministries.

“Young people encounter caring for the environment every day as they talk about recycling, ‘upcycling’ and conservation in their schools, at home and at church. Bringing this important subject into the life of the church and into the programs creates space for the children and adults to think, pray and experience how caring for the environment is caring for God’s creation.”

Environmental Stewardship Fellow Cindy Coe works in the garden with students of the Episcopal School of Knoxville. Photo courtesy of Episcopal School of Knoxville

In Tennessee, exploring nature is becoming an integral component of learning to read.

In early June, the Diocese of East Tennessee will offer “Reading Camp Knoxville” to third- and fourth-graders who are both living in poverty and struggling to learn to read. As part of the program, the children, who come from urban areas, will go on afternoon field trips, hiking in wooded areas working in gardens, said Cindy Coe, who is on the planning committee and working with afternoon extracurricular activities.

“All of these activities are geared to fostering a sense of connectedness and appreciation of the natural world. The best way to do this is to actually get children outdoors, exploring nature,” said Coe, who last year received an environmental-stewardship fellowship from the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.

Through the fellowship, Coe is working to develop the next generation of leaders.

“This is not something that can be done by ‘book learning’ only,” she said. “Activities that encourage children to look closely at natural objects, mapping activities and identifying a special place outdoors are all effective ways to help children bond with nature. If a child is able to develop a bond with nature, chances are that the child will grow up with an appreciation of the environment and will care for the environment as an adult.”

Coe is working on developing new resources to introduce creation care to children and youth in The Episcopal Church, for use in camps, schools and parishes.

She hopes, she said, that all Christian formation programs in The Episcopal Church eventually will include some aspect of environmental stewardship.

In Virginia, Coe also is working with the planning team of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Greenwood, Virginia, to design a vacation Bible school program based on care for creation and the Fifth Mark of Mission called “Earth, Our Island Home.”

The parish takes seriously the words “this fragile Earth, our island home” in Eucharistic Prayer C, said Coe.

“So the concept of creation care has a special meaning for the parish,” she said. “ Each day, children will participate in worship, hear a story based on creation care and take part in noncompetitive games designed to introduce environmental stewardship.”

Arts and crafts will embrace environmental stewardship, as children will be offered objects to “upcycle” and make into new creations, she said. “New life will be an important theme of the camp, connecting themes of recycling, composting and gardening with the Christian story of resurrection and new life in Christ.”

In the Diocese of Los Angeles, where the Rev. Andrew K. Barnett serves as the bishop’s chair for environmental studies, young people are learning to care for creation by learning to love it.

“I think that we will not fight to save a thing we do not love, by which I mean in order to empower people to care for ‘this fragile earth our island home,’ we first have to find that meaningful and valuable in a deep way, and talking about it doesn’t really cut it,” said Barnett, before the March 24 forum.

“So I have really made a significant priority of taking kids outside. So we take these wilderness retreats to places like Big Sur, Lake Lopez, Yosemite and Catalina Island. We have games, we go kayaking, we go hiking, we do service projects,” he said.

“The kids love it, they just love it. They light up because they are doing exactly what we need, which is community, connection and reference in these incredible, awe-inspiring places. So you don’t have to say this is important, this is beautiful, because it is immediately present or it’s just in your bones.”

Barnett serves as school chaplain at Campbell Hall Episcopal School in the Diocese of Los Angeles, where Bishop J. Jon Bruno and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society partnered to host the March 24 forum

Barnett talks to the students about climate change in stark terms, incorporating research and science — not to exaggerate, he said, but to name the severity of the threat.

“Kids can handle that truth. They don’t like things being sugar-coated. They prefer: ‘This is going to be the biggest challenge of your generation,’” said Barnett. “Our generation has abjectly failed in our attempt to reduce emissions. We talked about it a lot, we have a lot of meetings, but emissions keep going up.

“If you fail at this task, most other tasks won’t matter, because climate change affects almost everything worth caring about and, other than nuclear annihilation, presents the greatest threat to humanity that we’ve ever known.”

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misattributed the authorship of the words “this fragile Earth, our island home,” which appear in Eucharistic Prayer C. They were written by Howard E. Galley Jr.

– Lynette Wilson is a reporter and editor for Episcopal News Service.

Fort Worth: Scott Mayer announced as nominee for provisional bishop

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 13, 2015

[Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth press release] The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, a group of elected clergy and lay leaders, announced on April 10 that the Rt. Rev. J. Scott Mayer, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas, is the nominee for the next provisional bishop of Fort Worth. The Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., provisional bishop of Fort Worth, has called a special meeting of the convention on May 16 at which the diocese’s clergy and lay representatives will vote on Mayer’s nomination.

The Standing Committee selected Mayer in consultation with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and in accordance with Canon III.13.1 of The Episcopal Church.

In a letter to the diocese sent on April 10, High said he is stepping down five months before the planned date of November 2015 following the death of his wife, Pat, in March.

“I feel very good about this decision of the Standing Committee, and I am in full support of their recommendation,” High said in his letter.

Mayer will continue as bishop of Northwest Texas while also serving as bishop of Fort Worth under the proposed arrangement, which will continue until the Fort Worth diocese is positioned to elect a full time bishop. The plan calls for him to split his time between the two dioceses. The dioceses are not merging. This model of episcopacy is similar to the arrangement with the Rt. Rev. Edwin F. (Ted) Gulick, Jr., the diocese’s first provisional bishop who also was serving as the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky at the time. A similar arrangement currently exists with the Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe, who serves as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania and as provisional bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem (Pennsylvania). The previous two provisional bishops of Fort Worth have been retired. The Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, Jr., the second provisional bishop, was the retired bishop of Northwest Texas when elected. High had retired as bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas when he was elected.

The Rev. Curt Norman, president of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, said, “When the Standing Committee began working on episcopal transition plans back in November 2014, our intention was to build on the faithful work of previous Standing Committees. Our predecessors chose quite well with bishops Gulick, Ohl, and High. Our work was cut out for us because each of those bishops was God’s choice for our diocese at the appropriate time. In recent months, we’ve had discussions with the Presiding Bishop’s office, as well as different bishops across the Episcopal Church. After considering which models of episcopacy would best support the mission and ministry of Fort Worth for the long term, this Standing Committee is firm in its resolve that God is calling Bishop Mayer to shepherd us into the next chapter in the life of our diocese. We could not be more excited.”

“It is with gratitude and a deep sense of calling that I accept your invitation to stand for election as your provisional bishop,” Mayer said. “I love Fort Worth and I am passionate about the proclamation of the Gospel as expressed in and through The Episcopal Church.”

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said that High “has been a gift to the Diocese of Fort Worth and I am grateful for all his good work. I applaud his ability to recognize what is best for him and the diocese in this season of loss for him and his family. Bishop Mayer is an excellent choice to be part of this provocative — and I mean this in the best sense of the word — arrangement to serve the Church in new and imaginative ways. Bishop High, Bishop Mayer, and the people of both dioceses are in my prayers.”

If elected, Mayer will assume his new duties prior to the 2015 General Convention of The Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City this summer. He will work with the deputation – elected lay and clergy deputies to General Convention – from Fort Worth as well as the deputation from Northwest Texas. High’s official day of departure from office is June 30.

High lives in Fort Worth, and along with the Rt. Rev. Sam B. Hulsey, retired bishop of Northwest Texas who also lives in Fort Worth, will be available to assist Mayer as needed.

Mayer is a native and lifelong Texan, born in Dallas and raised in Lubbock and Fort Worth. Mayer has long and deep connections to Fort Worth. He and his younger brothers were baptized and confirmed at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, attended Fort Worth public schools, graduated from Southwest High School, and enjoyed memorable summer days playing ball at University Little League. Several family members continue to reside in the Fort Worth area.

In 1977, Mayer received his BBA Degree in Management from Texas Tech University. He and Kathy Kistenmacher met while attending Texas Tech, and were married in 1978. After 12 years of sales in the automotive aftermarket, the family moved to Austin where Mayer earned a Master’s in Divinity from the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest in 1992.

Mayer was ordained deacon in 1992 by the Rt. Rev. Donis Patterson and priest in 1993 by the Rt. Rev. James Stanton, both in the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas. He then served as curate at St. James Episcopal Church in Texarkana, before being called to the Church of the Heavenly Rest in Abilene, first as associate rector in 1994, and then as rector in 1995. He was consecrated as bishop of the Diocese of Northwest Texas on March 21, 2009 in Lubbock, where he and Kathy now reside. The Mayers have two grown children, both married, and two grandchildren.

Archbishop opens nominations for 2016 Michael Ramsey Prize

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 13, 2015

[Lambeth Palace press release] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has announced the opening of nominations for the 2016 Michael Ramsey Prize.

The prize, which was founded in 2005 by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, is awarded every three years to the best theological writing in the service of the Church.

In an announcement in the Church Times, the Michael Ramsey Prize’s media partner, Welby said:

“It gives me great pleasure this month to open nominations for the 2016 Michael Ramsey Prize. This will be my first occasion to preside over a process which, thanks to my immediate predecessor Archbishop Rowan, has now become well-established as a prize for recognizing the best theological writing in the service of the Church.

“As I do so I am deeply conscious that I am walking in the footsteps of another much-esteemed predecessor, Archbishop Michael Ramsey. At his memorial tablet in Canterbury Cathedral are inscribed the words: “The glory of God is the living man and the life of man is the vision of God.” It is clear to me that the glory of God was tangible in the person of Ramsey; and that through his work a vision of God was conceived profoundly and communicated effectively. For myself I was first inspired by Ramsey through Chadwick’s biography while at theological college, and I have continued to be inspired by Ramsey’s writing ever since. Best known is probably his The Christian Priest Today, written in 1972 and still in print; but there are so many others to commend, not least his exposition of an Anglican method in theology, in The Anglican Spirit.

“The Michael Ramsey Prize aims to celebrate the most promising contemporary theological writing and to help more people to enjoy it. I am looking forward to seeing the books that will be nominated this year and to exploring how they can help the Church in thinking more deeply, acting more wisely and witnessing more effectively to the glory of God. Along with a team to help with short-listing as well as a panel of judges who make the final call,

“I am particularly eager for books that will help the Church to grow in the areas of my three ministry priorities: of prayer and religious life, of reconciliation, and of evangelism and witness. We are especially keen for nominations from new authors, as well as books written or published in the global south.

“If you have read a book which meets these criteria, published between 2012 and 2014, I warmly encourage you to make a nomination online.”


Presiding Bishop preaches for 300th anniversary of Bruton Parish

ENS Headlines - Monday, April 13, 2015

Bruton Parish, Williamsburg, VA
300th anniversary
12 April 2015

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

What was your most memorable Easter like? What made it memorable? We’re meant to bring our whole selves to the encounter with new life, with a full menu of sensory experience about the bodily reality of resurrection.

Last Sunday I joined an Easter celebration that began outside in the dark of very early morning. A small spark set off a huge bonfire, from which the Paschal candle was lit. We processed into a dark church, proclaiming the light of Christ, and the congregation’s candles soon became a forest of small points lighting up the darkness. Even the ancient tombs in that space were radiant!

Incense was thrown into the bonfire, and a great sweet-smelling copper cauldron of smoke was carried into the church. In a place where its perfume had been absent for months, it was a pungent reminder that death was conquered and Lent was over.

The great noise of bells and organ and voices raising “Glory to God in the highest” gave notice enough to raise the dead that Christ is risen and the world changed forever.

We gathered around a still and enormous font of water that began to flow once again, we baptized infants and adults, then lavished abundant oil on their foreheads to mark them as Christ’s own forever.

And then we gathered around an altar in the midst of a blooming garden to make the feast with bread and wine that Jesus taught us. As the last hymn was sung, we marched out of the church and around the courtyard to glasses of champagne and breakfast – there was even smoked fish to echo another resurrection appearance!

Sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch – all senses joined to awaken our awareness of the risen one. It was a powerful bodily experience.

Thomas missed all that sensory input. Like us, he wants to encounter the reality of resurrection if he’s going to give his heart to the Risen One. For that is what it means to believe – to be-love another, to give your heart, the whole of who you are and what you have. And in the midst of that we discover that we ourselves are beloved.

Think about the marriage liturgy – the partners give rings “as a symbol of my vow, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you.” In other versions the couple say, “with my body I honor you.” Those who are part of the risen body of Christ have plighted our troth, have made our vows to honor God and God’s risen body with all that we are and all that we have. The collect we prayed calls it “the new covenant of reconciliation,” with the hope that we will give evidence of it in word and deed.[1]

Bruton Parish has been loving the members of God’s body for more than 300 years, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until we are parted by death. Even then, we hope for resurrection in a new body. We trust that while God’s beloved will die, through the ages the body will continue to rise and transform the world toward the fullness of God’s vision – the kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

That’s what the community in Acts is trying to do: they were “of one heart… what they owned was held in common, they gave witness to the resurrection, no needy person among them… what they had was distributed as each had need.” Years ago in Nevada, a high school group at summer camp was talking about the challenges of living together in community, and we’d read this part of Acts. One kid piped up, “they sound like a bunch of communists!” Well not exactly, I said, but why do you think Jesus was executed? His disciples had clearly heard the dream of God’s kingdom that there will no longer be suffering or need, that everyone will have enough to eat, shelter and healing, and freedom to live the dignified life for which God created us all.

Even a small taste of that risen life, where there is abundance and feasting so unmistakable that even fools can’t miss it, is enough to give people hope for the long haul. The world despairs when it has no hope for that kind of abundance. The world resorts to violence when it has no hope, or when it fears that what it has will be taken away.

It’s true in the church – think of the conflicts we’ve lived through recently, or during the Revolution, or the Civil War.

The struggles in Congress are mostly lodged in scarcity, and not just financially – it’s as though collaborating for the greater good costs too much – of self-identity, position, privilege, learning, and change… That’s certainly part of the internal struggle for dominance in global Islam right now – one religious faction is using brutality and horrific violence to try to impose its view on the rest. Americans are beginning to pay close attention to how police use force on suspects of different races, and how the legal system as a whole treats people based on their race or their poverty. Justice doesn’t seem to be distributed according to need.

The climatic changes already confronting us are the result of wanton use of the earth’s abundance without considering the needs of all members of the system – the body of God’s creation. Most of the world’s suffering has something to do with an absence of that kingdom vision of plenty. It is often the result of human selfishness or self-centeredness. We don’t give great evidence of living as a resurrected community.

And still we cry, “Christ is risen!” How do we put together what we see around us with the claim that the resurrection has changed the nature of human sinfulness? Perhaps we start with that small group of believers, who gave their hearts to a resurrected life. It’s never easy, for it always requires some kind of dying. But oh, Lord, what a glory it is when we see it and live it!

Thomas is absolutely right to ask for evidence – he ought to be able to see and hear, touch and smell and taste the reality of God’s resurrected life in the community around him, in those who have met the risen Lord.

Real abundance is part of the nature of creation, and it’s meant for all – for Jesus said, “I came that you might have life, and have it abundantly.” When the abundance of creation is not shared, some suffer and die, “when one part of the body suffers, all suffer together; when one part is honored, all rejoice.”[2]

That must have been in Dr. Goodwin’s heart when he persuaded John D. Rockefeller to underwrite the restoration of this community.[3] He saw a dying town, without employment, losing people and hope. He also saw a vision of a community risen to new life, giving itself away to the world, opening its homes and heart to those who might learn something about endurance and struggle, and about sin and imperfection, particularly in the use of some human beings for the purposes of others.

The willingness of this community to give itself away has meant more abundant life for generations. This congregation’s sharing – of alms and loving ministry and music three nights a week, as well as the warts and blessings of history – has shown millions of visitors how good news works. God loves us all, equally, and God dreams that the abundance of creation will be available to all, as each one has need. Keep sharing that, and you will indeed be alive here 300 years from now.

Let the world see and hear and taste and feel and smell the love of God in this place. Alleluia, Christ is risen!

[1] Collect for the Second Sunday of Easter: 1979 BCP p 224

[2] 1 Corinthians 12:26

[3] http://www.history.org/Foundation/general/introhis.cfm