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House of Bishops spring 2014 retreat meeting daily account

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 24, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church is meeting in retreat at the Camp Allen Conference & Retreat Center in Navasota, Texas (Diocese of Texas) from March 21 to March 26.  The following is an account of the activities for Monday, March 24.

The theme for the spring meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is How Shall We Sing The Lord’s Song in a Strange Land?

The day began with Morning Prayer. The reflection was presented by Bishop William Love of Albany. His message was that in one sense, even the House of Bishops may seem like a strange land.  He then shared stories of ministries that have taken the love of Christ into places of violence, danger and profound need, as examples of singing the Lord’s song in a foreign land, even when it would have been easier to not go there, finding reasons not to go.

The emcee for the day was Bishop Diane Jardine Bruce of Los Angeles.

During the afternoon session, the [Anglican Communion] Network for Interfaith Concerns (NIFCON) presented an overview of current initiatives.

The bishops were given an overview of current bilateral dialogues between the Episcopal Church and other Christian denominations. We were then challenged by General Theological Seminary seminarian Lauren Holder of the Diocese of North Carolina to consider that interfaith issues are the cutting edge of the church in the 21st Century.  After sharing best practices in interfaith relations around the small tables and in the larger group, it was underscored that this work is not just theoretical, but is crucial, urgent, and very personal. An example that came to the floor was the situation in Pakistan today.

As the day closed, the Rev. Margaret Rose, Episcopal Church ecumenical interreligious deputy to the Presiding bishop, led the bishops in a prayer for the human family from the Book of Common Prayer. It was a fitting conclusion to the afternoon’s work on interfaith relations.

Eucharist followed the afternoon session, with Bishop Julio Holguin of the Dominican Republic presiding and Bishop Greg Rickel of Olympia preaching.

Following dinner, the bishops will gather to discuss the fall House of Bishops meeting.

Media Briefers for Monday, March 24
Bishop James Mathes, Diocese of San Diego
Bishop Alan Scarfe, Diocese of Iowa
Bishop Kee Sloan, Diocese of Alabama
Follow on Twitter #hobspring14

Klusmeyer joins Joint Nominating Committee

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 24, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release]  Bishop Mike Klusmeyer of the Diocese of West Virginia has been named to the Episcopal Church Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB), replacing Bishop Nathan Baxter of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, who has resigned from the committee.

The announcement was made during the House of Bishops Spring Retreat meeting in Camp Allen, Navasota, Texas (Diocese of Texas).

Klusmeyer was appointed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to represent Province III.

The JNCPB is comprised of a lay member, a priest or deacon, and a bishop elected from each of the nine provinces of the Episcopal Church, plus two youth representatives, appointed by President of the House of Deputies, the Rev. Gay Jennings. The General Convention Deputies and bishops serve a three-year term to conclude at the close of General Convention 2015 in Salt Lake City.

England: Inclusive Church welcomes first same-sex weddings

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 24, 2014

[Inclusive Church Press Release] As the first same–sex weddings are set to take place in England, Inclusive Church welcomes this as a significant milestone.

Acknowledging that some Christian churches are perceived to be hostile to the LBGT&I community, Inclusive Church takes this opportunity to signify that there are many who are supportive and welcoming. Inclusive Church has been working for over 10 years on equality and diversity, including issues that affect LGBT&I people.

Inclusive Church has a network of almost 250 churches across the country, representing thousands of Christians who would seek to affirm same-sex marriage.  Many of these churches would wish to be able to celebrate these marriages in their own buildings, but are forbidden from doing so within the current legislation. Inclusive Church continues to work with a number of partner organisations to effect a change in the law so that churches and clergy who wish to marry same-sex couple would be permitted to do so.

The Rev’d Bob Callaghan, National Coordinator of Inclusive Church said “There are many Christians who would want to celebrate the fact that the first same-sex marriages are set to take place in England.  I have received a significant number of enquiries from faithful same-sex church members who want their marriage celebrated in their church. It is sad that those churches are not able to fully welcome and affirm these relationships and we will continue to work to ensure that the church is a welcoming place for all. ”

RIP: Yale Professor Emeritus Rowan Greer dies at 79

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 24, 2014

[Yale Divinity School press release] Rowan Allen Greer III, the Walter H. Gray Professor Emeritus of Anglican Studies at Yale Divinity School, died on March 17, 2014 after a long illness. He was 79 years old.

Professor Greer received his undergraduate degree from Yale University in 1956 and his doctorate in 1965. He joined the Yale faculty in 1966 as assistant professor of New Testament, was named associate professor of New Testament in 1971, associate professor of Anglican studies in 1975, and eventually professor of Anglican studies in 1981.

Greer was the author of several books, including The Captain of Our Salvation: a Study in the Patristic Exegesis of Hebrews (J.C.B. Mohr, 1973), co-author of Early Biblical Interpretation (Westminster, 1986), Broken Lights and Mended Lives: Theology and Common Life in the Early Church (Pennsylvania State, 1991), and The Fear of Freedom: A Study of Miracle in the Roman Imperial Church (Pennsylvania State, 1990). As an authority on Anglican history, Greer also wrote Anglican Approaches to Scripture: From the Reformation to the Present (Crossroad, 2006).

He specialized in patristics, the study of the church fathers, particularly the relation between the theological development of the early church and its social setting. His research has included the impact of the Diocletian persecution and the Constantinian Revolution on Christian theology.

“Rowan was an internationally recognized expert in the interpretation of scripture and the early church,” said Dean Gregory E. Sterling. “He also touched the lives of students profoundly. He was one of the great scholars at YDS who leaves an enormous legacy.”

Sterling Professor of New Testament Harold W. Attridge stated, “Rowan Greer was a highly respected scholar and teacher. He made many memorable contributions to the study of patristic theology and Biblical interpretation, including one that I particularly appreciated, The Captain of Our Salvation, on the interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews in the fourth and fifth centuries.”

Greer was also an Anglican priest. After earning his bachelor of sacred theology at General Theological Seminary, he was ordained in 1960. He served as curate at two Connecticut churches—St. Paul’s Church in Fairfield, and Christ Church in New Haven. He was a chaplain for Edinburgh Theological College of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

According to Joseph Britton, Dean of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, “Rowan Greer was the quintessential scholar-priest. His academic work deeply informed his priestly identity, and vice versa, which is why so many Divinity School students looked to him not only as a teacher, but also as a mentor. His presence was deeply felt in the classroom and chapel alike.”

After he joined the Yale faculty, he served as an assisting priest at St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church in New Haven, and served weekly as the Celebrant at Berkeley’s Morning Prayer.

Carolyn Sharp, Professor of Hebrew Scriptures, remembered, “[He] was there faithfully every morning, always in the same chair in the back row. As the Scripture lessons were read, he would follow along in the original languages, having marked a small Biblia Hebraica for the Old Testament and Nestle Aland for the New Testament beforehand.”

Greer was well loved as a teacher, as much for his style as his scholarship. “Rowan was seen on campus in the company of his beloved golden retrievers, MacGregor and (later) Montgomery,” Sharp recalls. “They stayed in his office; one or the other would come with him to class, snoozing under his chair while he lectured.”

“Rowan taught an unusual range of classes, including History of Christianity I and II, From Hooker to Temple: A Survey of Anglican Theology, Spirituality of the Desert Fathers, and Patristic Greek,” according to Sharp. “He turned student papers back within a few days, always with learned and meticulous handwritten notes covering two, three, even four sheets of yellow lined paper.”

After retiring from teaching in 1997, Greer was awarded emeritus status by the Yale Corporation. He continued to serve the church, moving to Charlotte, North Carolina where he served as curate at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. He returned to New Haven in 1999 and resumed teaching for two more years.

Attridge said, “He was much beloved as a mentor by a generation of YDS and BDS students.  When lecturing [at YDS] several years ago, Stanley Hauerwas dedicated his lectures to Rowan, as the faculty member who had been most influential on him during his time as a student on the Quad. Many other students of Rowan’s years as a teacher would no doubt echo that sentiment.”

Faculty and students remember Greer as a strong, gracious and thoughtful presence on campus. Sharp explains, “He knew the patristic literature so well—including, of course, the heresies—that he could spot a dubious theological point in a sermon or prayer immediately. Berkeley worship went through a brief phase in the 1990s of naming God as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer in place of the standard Trinitarian formula. In those days, Rowan could be heard muttering under his breath about Modalism on his way to morning coffee, but always with good humor. Students loved him.”

The burial service will be private, according to Greer’s wishes. A reception in Rowan’s honor will be held at the Christ Church parish hall on Friday, March 28, from 5:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Christ Church is located at 84 Broadway at the intersections of Broadway, Elm, and Whalley Avenues. You may enter the Christ Church grounds through the gate on Broadway or Elm Street. 

Plans for a memorial service at YDS are underway, and will be announced on the YDS website when they are finalized.

House of Bishops spring 2014 retreat meeting daily account

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 24, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church is meeting in retreat at the Camp Allen Conference & Retreat Center in Navasota, TX (Diocese of Texas) from March 21 to March 26.  The following is an account of the activities for Sunday, March 23.

The theme for the spring meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is How Shall We Sing The Lord’s Song in a Strange Land?

The day began with Eucharist with Bishop Chilton Knudsen of New York  presiding.  A reflection was presented by Bishop Scott Barker of Nebraska

Bishop Barker challenged the bishops to reach out to, and be a presence with, the people of God who feel that they are living in exile, wherever that exile may be.  They were challenged to appreciate the service they give to God and to their fellow sojourners in exile.

Sabbath time continues for the bishops on Sunday.  The bishops will gather on Sunday evening for further discussion.

Media Briefers for Sunday, March 23

Bishop Scott Hayashi, Diocese of Utah
Bishop Jay Magness, Armed Services and Federal Ministries

Follow on Twitter #hobspring14

Joint statement from Michigan bishops on marriage equality ruling

ENS Headlines - Saturday, March 22, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan press release] As Christians and leaders in the Episcopal Church, we applaud Judge [Bernard A.] Friedman’s decision to overturn Michigan’s ban on equal marriage as a step on the right side of history.

As the case of DeBoer v. Snyder continues to work its way through our judicial system, it is our hope that future judges will continue to find that the denial of marriage to same-sex couples is a denial of human dignity and a denial of rights under the law.  We look forward in hopeful anticipation to the day when we can recognize all faithful and covenantal relationships between any two people regardless of sex, both within the Church and within our society.

Thanks be to God,

The Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan

The Rt. Rev. Wendell N. Gibbs, Jr.
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Michigan

The Rt. Rev. Rayford Ray
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan

The Rt. Rev. Whayne M. Hougland, Jr.
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan

House of Bishops spring 2014 retreat meeting daily account

ENS Headlines - Saturday, March 22, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church is meeting in retreat at the Camp Allen Conference & Retreat Center in Navasota, TX (Diocese of Texas) from March 21 to March 26.  The following is an account of the activities for Saturday, March 22.

The theme for the spring meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is How Shall We Sing The Lord’s Song in a Strange Land?

The day began with Morning Prayer, with a reflection presented by Bishop Mary Glasspool of Los Angeles followed by silent reflection and meditation. She shared her experience of moving from the East Coast to the “foreign land” of Southern California. Using the familiar Emmaus road story, she built up to talking about Christ’s presence in the Holy Eucharist saying, “And what we are  to recognize here, in the Eucharist – in the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the wine at table – is Christ’s Presence as the stranger becomes Companion.  And what we are to see, as well, is that the action doesn’t stop at the table.  That, for us, is Emmaus. We are called to go back to Jerusalem – to go out into the world – in joyful witness to Christ’s love. To feed the hungry; heal the sick; clothe the naked; free the oppressed; shelter the homeless; confront evil, sin and injustice and manifest, to the glory of God the power of the love that has overcome death.”  She concluded her spirited charge to bishops:  “I suggest that, if you find that the strange land is where you live, you might consider rediscovering yourself so that you can be all of who you are. Offer hospitality and create space for the other…. And, above all, remember it’s the LORD’s song – so don’t forget to sing it.”  This gave the bishops plenty to pray about for the rest of the morning.

Bishop Eugene Sutton of Maryland presided at Eucharist. Prayers of the People were led by Bishop Barbara Harris of Massachusetts.

The emcee for the day was Bishop Paul Lambert of Dallas.

The bishops met with their provinces at lunch to discuss mutual and regional happenings and concerns.  They will meet with their classes in the evening.

Sabbath time will begin after dinner.

Note: on Friday evening, the House of Bishops honored Bishop Barbara Harris of Massachusetts on the 25th anniversary of her consecration. A resolution honoring her will be presented during the HOB business meeting on Tuesday.

Media Briefers for Saturday, March 22
Bishop Doug Fisher, Diocese of Western Massachusetts
Bishop William Franklin, Diocese of Western New York
Bishop Don Johnson, Diocese of West Tennessee

Presiding Bishop’s sermon for House of Bishops opening Eucharist

ENS Headlines - Saturday, March 22, 2014

21 March 2014
HOB opening Eucharist
Thomas Cranmer, 1489-1556

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

Thomas Cranmer is something of an icon for the crazy-quilt nature of Anglicanism.  The collect we prayed gives thanks for the beauty of his liturgical language and notes that his death was revelatory of God’s power in human weakness.  His history is a striking mix of deep theological wrestling and expedient action, both personal and political.  One writer describes his journey as a move “from a champion of the faith to a compromising sycophant and vows-breaker.”[1]

Cranmer was in his mid-20s and had a fairly cushy academic job at Cambridge when he married the daughter of the local tavern-keeper.  Academics were expected to be celibate, so he had to resign.  Within a year, his wife died in childbirth, and the child with her, and he quickly got reappointed.  Five years later, in 1523, he was ordained priest in the Roman tradition.  This ‘champion of the faith’ was soon sent by Cardinal Wolsey to Spain on a diplomatic mission.  When he returned, he met King Henry VIII and soon took up his cause for a divorce, eventually traveling the universities of Europe to rustle up support.  He began to meet the Continental reformers and when he returned to court as Henry’s chaplain he wrote a piece on royal autonomy and independence from papal authority.  Sent again to Europe, he met a prominent Lutheran theologian and married his daughter.

In the next year the Archbishop of Canterbury (Warham) dies, and Henry decides Cranmer would be a good candidate.  He appeals to Rome for the necessary consents, in spite of his married state, gets them, and Cranmer is consecrated 30 March 1533.  He swears an oath of loyalty to the pope, with his own list of exceptions.[2]

Most of us know the outline of the next chapters – Cranmer declares Henry’s marriage to Catherine invalid, validates the marriage to Anne Boleyn, acts as godfather to her child Elizabeth, and permits the execution of protestors like Sir Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher.  He repeatedly does the king’s bidding in ending his marriages, acquiescing to execution of the former wives, and validating the successive marriages.  When Henry dissolves the monasteries, he soon refounds three of them, in one of which Cranmer’s sister Alice becomes Prioress.  Henry insists on clerical celibacy and Cranmer sends his wife abroad.

The great and glorious magnum opus of the Book of Common Prayer begins with publication of the Litany, which is required across the land in place of all other litanies – most of which he thinks are too catholic.  Henry’s death sets Cranmer free to continue his reforms.  When the full BCP is adopted it is soon required across the land, and protestors are executed by the thousands.  Cranmer announces his own marriage publicly and brings his wife back.  He begins to implement liturgical reforms that move in a far more protestant direction – sacramentals are banned:  ashes, palms, candles, images and crucifixes, prayers for the dead, stone altars and most vestments.  A Lutheran catechism is promulgated in English, and Cranmer moves toward a memorialist understanding of Eucharist.  The radically reformed 1552 BCP is the result.

When Henry’s son Edward VI dies, Cranmer is soon caught up in the aftermath of the succession controversy, imprisoned and charged with both treason and heresy.  Eventually convicted, he recants numerous times before being burned at the stake in 1556.  At the last, an aged and broken man, he puts his hand into the fire first, acknowledging his own weakness in signing those statements.[3]  Queen Mary’s comment gives a sense of the vicious realities on all sides:  “As the souls of heretics are hereafter to be burning eternally in hell; there can be nothing more proper for me than to imitate Divine vengeance by burning them on earth.”

In the life and ministry of one man, we can read the breadth and challenge of Anglicanism – from the grace and beauty of language in context to a questing after certainty that results in death and destruction.  Cranmer himself spanned a theological diversity a good deal broader than is contained in the Anglican Communion today.  He alternately challenged principalities and sided with powers.  He flouted doctrine and discipline about marriage and lusted after theological purity.  And yet he laid the framework for what is today’s Anglican Communion – by turns fractious and faithful, transformative and timid.  The words of the collect, that God’s power is revealed in human weakness, can only be a challenging reminder to us all that sometimes our failures and uncertainties become the buried grain, springing green.

Simeon’s encounter with the Anointed One was a revelation of far greater certainty and immediacy.  Most of us don’t get that kind of clarity about Truth very often.  Our struggles are more like Cranmer’s, doing what we can with the evidence before us.  In this Church we don’t often live in fear of our lives, although our clergy may live in fear of their livelihoods.  We have sisters and brothers across the Communion who do live with daily mortal threat.  Rule by fiat and armed force no longer works in this Church, thanks be to God, yet some churches actively resist that kind of rule – look at the mess in Zimbabwe, Sudan, Syria, Egypt.  We wrestle with raw and uncontained violence in our streets and schools and prisons.  All of us are challenged to seek the way of Jesus in the midst of shifting sands and changing landscapes, and power structures that deal death more subtly, through budgetary and legislative moves and covert operations.

We continue to be confronted with the challenge of clarity, whether it’s about sexual morality, armed violence, the character of the God we worship, or the plight of the poorest.  We struggle to take Cranmer’s language into new contexts, learning to tell the old story in new song.  Will we lead by accommodating to the politically powerful, or through faithfulness to the one who repudiated that kind of power?  Do we encourage the quailing members of this body at the point of a sword or with the promise of God’s faithfulness in the valley of the shadow of death?  When our own hearts are muddled and uncertain, do we dispose of inconvenient friends or stand in solidarity with the persecuted?  And at our departing, what will be our song of thanksgiving?

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

[2] “that the oath did not override the law of God, his loyalty to the king, or the ‘reformation of the Christian religion, the government of the English Church, or the prerogative of the crown.”


[3] “Forasmuch as my hand offended in writing contrary to my heart, there my hand shall first be punished; for if I may come to the fire, it shall first be burned.”

House of Bishops spring 2014 retreat meeting daily account

ENS Headlines - Friday, March 21, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church is meeting in retreat at the Camp Allen Conference & Retreat Center in Navasota, Texas (Diocese of Texas) from March 21 to March 26.  The following is an account of the activities for Friday, March 21.

The theme for the fall meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is How Shall We Sing The Lord’s Song in a Strange Land?

The day began with Morning Prayer, followed by a retreat time. A reflection was offered by Bishop Lloyd Allen, Diocese of Honduras.

The emcee for the day was Bishop Dean Wolfe, Diocese of Kansas. The afternoon started with announcements and the opportunity for bishops to have conversations at their tables.

Visitors to HOB include Bishop Raul Tobias of Iglesia Filipina Independent; Bishop Jonathan Hart of Liberia; Bishop James Tentgatenga of Southern Malawi.

The Rev. Brian Taylor of  Rio Grande and Joan Geiszler-Ludlum of East Carolina presented the work to date of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage. The bishops dedicated time to talking about the proposals from the Task Force, and provided input to the wider conversation of the church.

Bishop Andy Doyle of Texas, Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves of El Camino Real, Bishop Sean Rowe of Northwestern Pennsylvania/Bethlehem and Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina presented the work to date of the Task Force for Reimagining The Episcopal Church (TREC). The bishops reviewed suggestions and presented their thoughts following discussion at their tables.

The day concluded with Eucharist. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori presided and preached.

Following dinner the bishops gathered for a private discussion session.

Media Briefers for Friday, March 21:

Bishop Adams, Diocese of Central New York
Bishop James Waggoner, Diocese of Spokane

Archbishop Justin Welby joins April Episcopal Church event

ENS Headlines - Friday, March 21, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has joined the roster the plenary speakers at a special Episcopal Church gathering, Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence April 9-11 at the Reed Center and Sheraton in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (Diocese of Oklahoma).

Plenary addresses, presentations, workshops and panel discussions will examine violence in all its forms in society, with a hard look at what can be done.

There is still time to register here.

Event information is here.

On April 9, Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace begins with dinner and opening plenary presentations by Bishop Edward Konieczny of the Diocese of Oklahoma on “Why Are We Here” and Bishop Eugene Sutton, Diocese of Maryland, on “The Theology of Violence and Peace.”

On April 10, following morning worship, Archbishop Welby will address the gathering, followed by a selection of workshops. Chuck Jackson will present an interactive discussion “Let It Begin With Me” on that afternoon, followed by a panel addressing Episcopal responses to violence. The day concludes with workshop sessions in the afternoon and evening.

On April 11, Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace will feature worship, intentional community conversations, and workshop opportunities in the morning. In the afternoon, the conference will visit the Oklahoma City Memorial http://www.oklahomacitynationalmemorial.org/. Dinner will be held at the cathedral of the Diocese of Oklahoma followed by Eucharist with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preaching.

The panel participants and the list of workshops are located here.

For more information email gospelofpeace@epiok.org

Note:  Participants need to make their own lodging reservations. Check for information here.

Nueva Comunidad se reúne ‘Juntos Avanzando el Sueño Sagrado’

ENS Headlines - Thursday, March 20, 2014

Unos 200 clérigos y laicos de toda la Iglesia Episcopal se reunieron en la reunión de la Nueva Comunidad para “avanzar en el sueño sagrado.”: Foto: Lynn A. Collins

[Episcopal News Service] Unos 200 clérigos y laicos de toda la Iglesia Episcopal se reunieron para “establecer la búsqueda de la visión”, durante la conferencia de la Nueva Comunidad de Clero y Laicos del 12 al 15 de marzo en el Centro de Conferencias Kanuga en Hendersonville, Carolina del Norte.

Bajo el lema “Juntos Avanzando el Sueño Sagrado”, la segunda reunión de este tipo de ministerios étnicos en toda la iglesia tenía la intención de mover a los participantes para profundizar en la misión de colaboración, asociación y relación, de acuerdo con Sarah Eagle Heart, misionera de la Iglesia Episcopal para los Ministerios Indígenas.

“Fue muy importante para nosotros continuar lo que empezamos en la primera reunión de la Nueva Comunidad [en el 2012 en San Diego]“, Eagle Heart dijo mientras bienvenida a los participantes. “El Ogala Lakota habló de sueños en términos de búsqueda de la visión… y queríamos tomar todos los sueños de nuestros antepasados ​​y de todos los grupos étnicos aquí y reunirlos en un solo lugar”.

Eagle Heart y otros invocan el espíritu del Rdo. Terry estrella, de 40 años, quien iba a participar en la reunión, pero murió repentinamente el 4 de marzo en Nashotah Casa del Seminario de Teología, donde fue un seminarista. Fue descrito como un espíritu de compasión, amor e inclusión.

Los participantes honraron al Rdo. Terry Star, que murió repentinamente el 4 de marzo. Foto: A. Lynn Collins

Citando el concepto de Lakota oyasin mitakuye, o “todos somos parientes”, durante la apertura del sermón Eucarístico, Isaías Brokenleg exhortó a los participantes a “ser buenos parientes entre sí” y que se relacionan entre sí con una voluntad recíproca de ser vulnerable, honesto y transparente.

Una vez que nos preguntamos, “¿Quiénes son mis parientes y qué tipo de pariente quiero ser…? podemos trabajar para ser el cambio que queremos ver en nuestra comunidad”, dijo.

Las plenarias y las presentaciones de talleres incluyeron: la plantación de iglesias multiétnica; desarrollo comunitario basado en los activos, las estrategias eficaces para la renovación de la parroquia, el tráfico humano, las formas ambientales y otras formas de racismo, y una sesión diseñada para obtener información para el Grupo de Trabajo para Reimaginar la Iglesia Episcopal.

Sarah Eagle Heart e Isaías Brokenleg bailan durante una velada de entretenimiento cultural. Foto: A. Lynn Collins

Construyendo el mundo que soñamos”
Construyendo el sueño sagrado y desmantelar el racismo implica escuchar “las historias que no sabemos y aprender la historia que no nos enseñaron, incluso cuando esta amenaza la manera en que siempre hemos hecho las cosas y nuestra creencia secreta de que la asimilación es el objetivo” de acuerdo con la Rda. Gay Clark Jennings, Presidente de la Cámara de Diputados, durante un panel de discusión el 13 de marzo frente a las cuestiones de “privilegio blanco, la opresión internacionalizada, la justicia racial y la reconciliación, y la creación de capacidad”.

También implica respuestas a toda la iglesia a los prejuicios de género, homofobia, personas multiétnicas, la discriminación interétnica y las complejidades de la cultura, de acuerdo con un consenso en la reunión.

Jennings reconoció beneficiarse tanto de privilegios de los blancos y de “ver la forma en que mi hijo se negado”. Jennings adoptó a su hijo Sam de Colombia, y cuando él necesitó cirugía para salvarle la vida a los 4 meses de edad, ella recordó a, “un miembro del personal de la iglesia, que dijo, ‘¿por qué no lo regresas y obtienes un bebé blanco saludable?’ ”

Ella dijo que espera que ambas experiencias la llevaron a ella “a trabajar por el cambio desde dentro de la iglesia institucional”.

Por ejemplo, como  Presidente de Diputados, el 30 por ciento de sus nombramientos a la organización nacional de los comités, comisiones, agencias y juntas (CCAB) han sido a personas menores de 40 años; 28 por ciento han sido gente de color … “, por lo que empezamos a cambiar la cara de los que participan en los órganos de la organización nacional “.

Escuchar y honrar historias de cada uno de superar “la amnesia corporativa” no será fácil, de acuerdo con el Excmo. Byron Rushing, un representante del estado de Massachusetts y el vicepresidente de la Cámara de Diputados, también un miembro del jurado.

Él hizo un llamado para empresas “anamnesis”, o para recordar eliminar el mito de la esclavitud como un hecho accidental en los primeros días de la ocupación europea de las Américas, y de la verdad de la esclavitud como parte del origen de la nación y de las Américas y el éxito económico de los Estados Unidos.

“Esto significa que usted está pidiendo a la gente que cambie su entender de lo que su relación con otras personas puede ser, y su conocimiento del derecho a la alimentación que tiene”, dijo. “No hay manera fácil de hacerlo, excepto levantarse y hablar de ello”.

Artista visual, dramaturgo, profesor y poeta Enedina Casarez Vásquez compartió experiencias de crecer en Texas, quinta generación de mexicano-estadounidense que no hablaba español porque “nos dijeron que era un mal lenguaje y que nos evitaría de tener éxito en la vida “, ella dijo.

Al sentirse rechazado por la Iglesia Católica Romana se unió a la Iglesia Episcopal, sólo para ser desilusionada allí, también. “me quiero ver a mi misma en la Iglesia Episcopal”, dijo a la concurrencia. “Quiero ver a los sacerdotes y diáconos que se parecen a mí, oscuro, marrón, negro y alegre. Quiero ver a las mujeres mexicanas como sacerdotes, para saber que existen. ¿Por qué no las puedo ver en mi ciudad natal? Sé que existen en algún lugar fuera de Texas [porque] los Estados Unidos está lleno de latinos en la Iglesia Episcopal”.

Poeta, artista visual y dramaturgo Enedina Casarez Vásquez describe durante una sesión plenaria su búsqueda de expresiones culturales mexicanas y la identidad dentro de la Iglesia Episcopal. Foto: A. Lynn Collins

Sin embargo, ella cree que la Iglesia Episcopal es la respuesta, aunque “hay que mirar a las cosas feas, y definir la reconciliación a través del diálogo”, dijo.

El Rdo. Jim Kodera, profesor de religión de Wellesley College y rector de la Iglesia de San Lucas en Hudson, Massachusetts, dijo que vino a la de Estados Unidos como estudiante internacional y más tarde se convirtió en ciudadano naturalizado. Ofreció tres “raíces dañino de los prejuicios raciales”, incluyendo la creencia de que la gente receptora del racismo son homogéneos, anónimos y desconocidos y extranjeros”.

Kodera evocaba la risa cuando dijo que el guardia de alto rango en la iglesia una vez había dicho “Yo no pienso en ti como Asiático. Yo le dije, yo lo  soy. Por favor, haga el esfuerzo. En su mente, ella ya me había convertido en un americano irlandés”.

Sin embargo, agregó, “Es fácil de participar contra el racismo, siempre y cuando pensemos que los racistas están afuera. Hacemos lo mismo cuando culpamos a otros… Tenemos que parar eso. Es mucho más difícil reconocer el racismo dentro de nosotros mismos, y me gustaría ir tan lejos como para sugerir que cada uno de nosotros, sin excepción, es un racista de que todos somos productos de la historia y de la sociedad racista”.

Añadió que, “con el fin de convertirse en un verdadero cristiano, usted no tiene que convertirse en blanco. Con el fin de convertirse episcopales reales, usted no tiene que hablar inglés. Para llegar a ser verdaderos discípulos de Cristo, todo lo que tenemos que hacer es seguir los pasos de Cristo en el contexto en el que pertenecemos”.

Las semillas de la nueva comunidad
Las reuniones de la Nueva Comunidad surgió de la frustración por la falta de diversidad en la adoración y en los CCABs de la iglesia, de acuerdo con el Rdo. Canónigo Anthony Guillén, quien se unió a la reunión Kanuga por videoconferencia.

“Es algo nuevo desarrollándose… la nueva cara de la iglesia, diversa y multicultural y multilingüe y rica y hermosa”, dijo.

Promoción, desarrollo congregacional y construcción de puentes de enlace están en el centro del trabajo de los misioneros”, de acuerdo con el Rdo. Fred Vergara, misionero de los Ministerios Asioamericano  cuyos esfuerzos se centran entre otras cosas, en la educación y la formación y la creación de un aula virtual. El aula virtual está diseñado para su uso en un intercambio teológico que conecta la Iglesia Episcopal con Asia y con todo el mundo, dijo

La Rda. Angela Ifill , misionera de los Ministerios para Negros, dijo que las personas de ascendencia africana de los Estados Unidos, América Latina y América del Sur  el Caribe y el continente africano , representan alrededor de 121.000, o un 6,4 por ciento, de la población de la Iglesia Episcopal.

Sus nuevas visiones de iniciativa de congregaciones socios se han estabilizado con los más fuertes con un ministerio mutuo y ha provocado “cambios desde abajo hacia arriba en lugar de arriba hacia abajo “, dijo. “Todos somos misioneros, todos estamos llamados al ministerio y no sólo la personas que son ordenadas, las personas en los bancos también son misioneros y ministros de la iglesia”, dijo.

Las oportunidades para los jóvenes incluyen la conferencia de Alma [SOUL] y la iniciativa de las Estrellas Nacientes [Rising Stars], que intenta interrumpir “el camino de la escuela a la prisión que empuja a los niños pequeños fuera del salón de clases y al sistema penitenciario”, dijo.

Eagle Heart, misionero de los Ministerios Indígenas, dijo que reconoció de inmediato cuando ella tomó la posición de hace cinco años que la necesidad de sanación “fue tan inmensa” entre las comunidades indígenas.

Sus esfuerzos incluyen ayudar a ofrecer oportunidades para teológica alternativa y el liderazgo laico, el apoyo a los seminaristas y proporcionar oportunidades de discernimiento para  jóvenes de color. Ella describió la reunión de Kanuga como “una oportunidad para trabajar en el sueño sagrado” y para apoyarse mutuamente.

Raza y Pobreza
El Rdo. Jemonde Taylor describió un área de 62 cuadras en Dallas que una vez ” parecía una zona de guerra.” Para él, esa zona se convirtió en una iglesia, una comunidad espiritual.

“No había nada allí excepto los residentes apenas sobreviviendo. Fue una oportunidad para asociarse con los demás y entrar en una comunidad que estaba lista para ser transformada. “Se hizo conocido como Jubilee Park, un ministerio de jubileo, la asociación con la Iglesia de San Miguel y todos los Ángeles en Dallas en 1996.

Desde que la asociación se inició hace 15 años, el crimen se ha reducido en un 65 por ciento, y ofrece una variedad de servicios sociales a aproximadamente 5.000 personas por semana, y la escuela local –- una vez considerada como una de los peores – es ahora la escuela primaria de más alto rendimiento en el Distrito Escolar Independiente de Dallas  Taylor dijo en la reunión. “En mi mente, es resurrección. Un lugar que estaba muerto ahora está viviendo”.

Del mismo modo, Marlene Whiterabbit Helgemo, un ministro de la Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en América (ELCA), y pastora de la Iglesia de Todos los Indios de las Naciones en Minneapolis, describió “el legado del destino manifiesto” en términos del asombroso 70 por ciento de deserción escolar y del 85 al 95 de por ciento en desempleo en Pine Ridge Reservation, en Dakota del Sur.

El concepto de destino manifiesto – que creía que los colonos blancos fueron superiores a los indígenas – puso en marcha un efecto dominó que todavía se está desarrollando, dijo Helgemo.

Otros sombrías estadísticas incluyen 35 por ciento de los hogares que no tienen electricidad, más del 90 por ciento de la población que vive por debajo del nivel de pobreza federal de Estados Unidos, y las estadísticas de salud igualmente horribles, con las tasas de cáncer de cuello uterino cinco veces del nivel nacional, más de la mitad de la población mayor de 40 años sufre de la diabetes, y la expectativa  de vida para los hombres de 46 años es apenas lo mismo que Afganistán y Somalia”.

“El último capítulo de cualquier genocidio exitoso es aquel en la que el opresor puede quitar sus manos y decir: ‘Dios mío ¿qué están estas personas haciendo el uno al otro? Se están matando el uno al otro y a sí mismos como vemos “, dijo. “Como tan distante la sociedad dominante puede sentirse de una masacre en 1890, o una de serie de tratados rotos de hace 150 años, uno tiene que hacer la pregunta de cómo se sentirían acerca de las estadísticas de hoy, ¿cuál es la conexión entre estas imágenes de sufrimiento? ”

“Soy de Pine Ridge,” Eagle Heart dijo en la reunión. “Esta es mi gente… y conociendo mi gente y mi propia tribu y de donde soy, me sorprende a veces la falta de esperanza allí. Jemonde [Taylor] compartió que es muy importante estar allí y con la gente en la oración “.

Responder con servicio amoroso
El Rdo. Ruben Duran, director de la ELCA para evangelizar a las congregaciones, dijo que cerca del 62 por ciento de sus nuevas congregaciones nuevas empresas se encuentran entre las personas de color cuya lengua materna no es el Inglés y que son pobres.

Con 342 nuevas congregaciones en fase de desarrollo, se entrena cerca de 60 desarrolladores de misión anual, dijo. “Nos gustaría que la nueva comunidad crezca, para ser evangélico en su orientación a trabajar por la paz y la justicia, como parte de su ADN, una comunidad que siempre está haciendo nuevos discípulos, y en busca de otras oportunidades para poder hacer crecer la extensión del reino de Dios”.

Obispo Stacy Sauls, jefe de operaciones de la Iglesia Episcopal, se dirige a la reunión tratando el tema de la importancia de ser un misionero. Foto: A. Lynn Collins

Obispo Stacy Sauls, jefe de operaciones de la Iglesia Episcopal, también miembro del jurado, dijo que la iglesia está tratando de “crear un movimiento entre los jóvenes de la Iglesia Episcopal para que así un servicio de misionero de generación sea normativo en la Iglesia Episcopal”.

Parafraseando el arzobispo Emeritus de Ciudad del Cabo, Desmond Tutu, Sauls dijo que “todos somos misioneros o no somos nada, porque eso es lo que significa ser un cristiano, para ser enviado y servir. Hubo un tiempo en la iglesia cuando nos olvidamos de lo que eso significaba. Estamos decididos a recuperar ese significado”.

Ahora, ser misionero significa “enviar a la gente a construir relaciones”, agregó. “Ellos no son el dador y otra persona el receptor, pero las relaciones son mutuas en las que se encuentra Jesús. La estrategia consiste en involucrar a los jóvenes en la Iglesia Episcopal, duplicando el tamaño del Cuerpo de Servicio de Jóvenes Adultos”.

Racismo Ambiental
La Obispa Presidente Katharine Jefferts Schori, durante una mesa redonda, dijo que el racismo ambiental “es sobre la dominación, tanto de los seres humanos y el resto de la creación, es sobre los seres humanos utilizando a otros – tanto los humanos, los demás  y los no humanos – como objetos. Se trata de una inclinación a tirar, al ver el resto de la creación como un basurero o un recurso para exportar”.

Ella agregó: “. Nuestra respuesta tiene que ser una decisión de enfrentar el consumo como una manera de estar en este mundo, para el uso consciente del resto de la creación”. Ella citó como ejemplos la conversión de las tierras de la iglesia para la producción de alimentos y cultivar una conciencia acerca de la energía, uso del agua, la reducción, reutilización, y  reciclaje.

La Rda.  Canon Sandye Wilson, rectora de la Iglesia Episcopal de San Andrés y de la Sagrada Comunión en el sur de Orange, en Nueva Jersey, dijo que el estado cuenta con 108 centros de residuos tóxicos – más cercanos a las ciudades más pobres – “donde se respira horrores, se respira la muerte. ” Dijo que los niños afroamericanos tienen cinco veces más probabilidades de sufrir de envenenamiento por plomo que los blancos “y por lo cual uno se convierte en un apasionado de la realidad del racismo que es una manera de cómo la gente vive y cómo los pobres no tienen ni idea cuando se mudan en una comunidad que ellos están abriendo el camino para la posibilidad de la muerte a largo plazo “, dijo. “Es de nuestra incumbencia, como la iglesia desarrollar una pasión por la interconexión de toda la vida; es nuestra responsabilidad de unos hacia otros”.

A través de un traductor, el Rdo. Luis Alberto Tuaza dijo que ha trabajado por 30 años con los indígenas de la Diócesis de Ecuador Central y, en estos momentos, “estamos luchando para evitar la minería, preservar el bosque, y para preservar la vegetación. “Además de tratar de proteger la tierra, también se está tratando de rescatar la memoria histórica del pueblo, dijo.

Sarah Augustine es co-directora del Fondo de Salud Indígena de Surinam, una organización benéfica internacional, y profesora de sociología y directora de espiritualidad estudiantil de la Universidad Heritage en Toppenish, Washington. Ella dijo que a medida que las instituciones de fe, las diócesis y las congregaciones tienen el poder para efectuar cambios mediante la liquidación de acciones financieras en las grandes corporaciones “que son para la destrucción” y quieren eliminar las comunidades indígenas para que puedan minar oro y otros recursos.

“Tenemos que dejar de pensar en nosotros mismos como consumidores, y comenzar a considerarnos a nosotros mismos como  inversores” y la demandar que las empresas se rijan por sus propias políticas, dijo. “Este es nuestro momento, esto está ocurriendo aquí y ahora, nosotros somos los que venimos a salvarnos, somos nosotros”.

Llevar el sueño sagrado
El sueño es sagrado “, el antiguo sueño profético a lo que Shalom se parece, a lo que el reino de Dios se parece “, dijo la obispa presidente. ” Se está haciendo más real en este día y en nuestros lugares, el reino de Dios en la tierra”.

“Es un sueño de un mundo donde el amor y la justicia reinan “, agregó Vergara, misionero de para los Ministerios Asioamericano.” Un sueño de una iglesia que lleva adelante la misión.

Dei, la misión de Dios de reconciliar a toda la creación a la unidad con Dios y unos con otros en Cristo”.

Para Guillén, ” tenemos el sueño de que algún día, de hecho, todos vamos a ser tratados por igual, que todos vamos a tener el mismo acceso. No tendremos los estereotipos y la discriminación y todas esas otras cosas. Mientras tanto  celebramos los éxitos que hemos hecho  los avances que hemos hecho… Todavía hay problemas y todavía hay sentimientos y todavía hay trabajo por hacer . Así que damos pasos, trabajamos juntos, en ocasiones tenemos que ser un poco más vocal y proactivos, pero al final el sueño se está haciendo realidad. Pero, aun así es un sueño”.

Ifill, misionero para los Ministerios Negros, estuvo de acuerdo en que “todos estamos plenamente integrados, tenemos igualdad de voz… y tener igualdad de voz, la visión de cada persona siendo considerado, es el sueño total de Dios. Tenemos un largo camino largo, largo, para ir, pero tenemos la esperanza y eso es lo que nos mantiene en marcha” .

 –La Rda. Pat McCaughan es una corresponsal para Episcopal News Service

Francophone Network of the Anglican Communion board meeting

ENS Headlines - Thursday, March 20, 2014

Press Release

Quebec, Canada, 18-19 March 2014

The Board of the Francophone Network of the Anglican Communion, presided by Bishop Pierre Whalon, met in Quebec, Canada, thanks to the hospitality of Dennis Drainville, Lord Bishop of Quebec.

The members considered the progress made since the last triennial meeting of the Network, in Douala, Cameroon, in September 2012. They noted that the majority of the twelve Douala resolutions had been accomplished or had advanced, including new translations in course, sharings of materials of from various provinces, and support for efforts of the Province of the Anglican Church of Congo against sexual violence against women, and the founding of a new diocese of Congo-Brazzaville. One resolution became the basis for a resolution on peace in Africa of the Anglican Consultative Council, number 15.35 of its Auckland meeting.

The Board decided to intensify efforts for theological education for laypeople and ordination candidates, including basic formation in areas far from diocesan centers. The committee devoted to this work has a new member, the Venerable David Oliver (Québec), to work with the Rt Rev. James Wong (Bishop of Seychelles), the Rt. Rev.. Dibo Elango (Bishop of Cameroon), and the Venerable Pierre Voyer (Québec).

For the task of liturgical resources developed in each province, it was decided to create a website devoted to downloading such resources for the benefit of all.

For the Network’s future, the board members resolved to work for a true network in which each member has the habit of sharing ideas, materials, and encouragement with every other member. They gave thanks to God for the email list, “francophones”, for the page at the Anglican Communion website, and for the advancement of francophone Anglicans throughout the world.

Bishop Whalon noted that the number of francophones in the world has not stopped growing, despite the rise of English. Thanks to Africa, some believe that French will top English by 2050. Whatever happens, the importance of the French language will continue to grow in the life of the Anglican Communion.

A provisional date for the next meeting was decided for January 2016, with two sites under consideration.

Members of the Board:  Zacharie Masimango Katanda, Bishop of Kindu (Congo), vice-president; le Venerable Pierre Voyer, Archdeacon in Québec, vice-president; le Venerable David Oliver, Archdeacon in Quebec, treasurer; the Reverend Marie-Hélène Dolan (Europe); Pierre Whalon, Bishop in charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, president.

The member Provinces of the Network: West Africa (Cameroon, Guinea-Conakry); Burundi; Canada (Montreal, Quebec); USA (Haiti); Indian Ocean; Rwanda.

Communiqué de presse

Réunion du Bureau du Réseau francophone de la Communion anglicane

Québec, Canada, 18-19 mars 2014

Le Bureau du Réseau francophone de la Communion anglicane, présidé par Mgr Pierre Whalon, s’est réunis à Québec, grâce à l’hospitalité de l’Évêque du Québec, Mgr Dennis Drainville.

Les membres ont fait le point sur les progrès faits depuis la dernière réunion triennale des membres du Réseau, à Douala, Cameroun, en septembre 2012. Ils ont constaté que la majorité des douze résolutions a été accomplie ou avancée, y compris des traductions nouvelles en cours, des partages avec tout le Réseau de matériels de diverses provinces, et le soutien des efforts de la Province de l’Église anglicane du Congo pour les violences sexuelles contre les femmes, et l’établissement d’un nouveau diocèse au Congo-Brazzaville. Une résolution a formé la base d’une proposition pour la paix en Afrique du Conseil consultatif anglican, numéro 15.35 de la réunion d’Auckland.

Le Bureau a décidé de redoubler ses efforts pour l’éducation théologique des laïques et candidats à l’ordination, y compris pour la formation de base dans des endroits éloignés de centres diocésains. Le comité chargé de ce travail est augmenté d’un nouveau membre, le Vénérable David Oliver (Québec), pour travailler avec Mgr James Wong (Évêque des Seychelles), Mgr. Dibo Elango (Évêque de Cameroun), et le Vénérable Pierre Voyer (Québec).

Pour le travail de partage de ressources liturgiques développées dans chaque province, il a été décidé de créer un site internet dédié aux téléchargements de telles ressources pour le bénéfice de tous.

Pour l’avenir du Réseau, les membres ont résolu d’œuvrer pour un véritable réseau où chaque membre participant aura l’habitude de partager idées, matériels, et encouragement avec tous les autres membres. Ils ont donné grâce à Dieu pour la liste courriel « francophones », pour la page sur le site de la Communion anglicane, et pour l’avancement des anglicans francophones dans le monde entier.

Mgr Whalon a noté que le nombre de francophones dans le monde ne cesse de croître, malgré l’essor de la langue anglaise. Grâce à l’Afrique, certains estiment que le français battra l’anglais d’ici 2050. Quoiqu’il en soit, l’importance du français sera de plus en plus grande dans la vie de la Communion anglicane.

Une date provisoire pour la prochaine réunion a été décidée, pour janvier 2016, avec deux lieux encore sous considération.

Les membres du Bureau : Mgr Zacharie Masimango Katanda, Évêque de Kindu (Congo), vice-président ; le Vénérable Pierre Voyer, Archidiacre à Québec, vice-président; le Vénérable David Oliver, Archidiacre à Québec, trésorier ; la Révérende Marie-Hélène Dolan (Europe) ; Mgr Pierre Whalon, Évêque chargé des églises épiscopales en Europe, président.

Les provinces membres du Réseau : Afrique de l’ouest (Cameroun, Guinée-Conakry) ; Burundi ; Canada (Montréal, Québec) Congo ; États-Unis (Haïti) ; Océan indien ; Rwanda

EPPN Lenten Series Pt. 3: Supporting peace in the land of the holy one

ENS Headlines - Thursday, March 20, 2014


Alexander D. Baumgarten
Director of Justice and Advocacy Ministries for The Episcopal Church

O God, by your Word you marvelously carry out the work of reconciliation: Grant that in our Lenten fast we may be devoted to you with all our hearts, and united with one another in prayer and holy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. – Collect for the First Saturday in Lent

Dear Fellow Advocates,

The last two weeks, we have looked at the rationale for negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians toward a two-state solution. We reviewed The Episcopal Church’s long-held position that a just and lasting peace can only come through two states living side by side, and our position that negotiations must be the process for which this comes about.

This week, a group of 42 Christian leaders in the United States and Jerusalem – including both Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, Suheil Dawani – wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry endorsing a framework for conclusive negotiations. You can add your voice and those of members of your congregation to their effort. Our colleagues at Churches for Middle East Peace have provided an endorsement form you can use in your congregation.

A negotiated two-state solution is not just the position of religious leaders, however. As the Presiding Bishop has reminded us in the past, “support for a two-state solution is the shared policy of the United States government, the government of Israel, and the Palestinian National Authority.”

One might ask why, then, if both sides support the same outcome, as does the principal international mediator of negotiations, that outcome thus far has proven elusive. Starting this week, we will look at a series of difficult issues the parties must address in order for a two-state solution to become a reality. In hopes of living more deeply into the most recent General Convention’s call for a triennium of not just advocacy, but also education about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we will follow a question-and-answer format that we hope will prove valuable both to those who are new to these issues and to those who have been working toward peace and justice for many seasons.

We will begin today by looking at the issue of borders.


What is the central issue and why is it important?

In order for a lasting peace to flourish, there must not be just two states, but two states whose borders are fair and just and provide for the security and viability of both the state of Israel and a future Palestinian state.

What is the history?

When the British Mandate for Palestine ended in the late 1940s, the ensuing 1948 War between Arabs and Israelis established a dividing line between the new state of Israel and its neighbors. Known colloquially as “the Green Line” or the armistice line, this de facto border, while not formally recognized by the Arab states of the region, delineated Israel’s border with its neighbors until 1967. Under the 1948 armistice, Palestinian sovereignty over the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (the areas now known collectively as the Palestinian Territories) did not exist. The Kingdom of Transjordan (now Jordan) annexed the West Bank while Egypt annexed Gaza. The Holy City of Jerusalem stood divided between Israel, which held the western half, and Jordan, which held the eastern half, including the Old City and its holy sites. An armed and largely impassable border existed between east and west Jerusalem.

During the 1967 Six Day War between Israel and its neighbors, Israel won control of the West Bank and east Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Gaza Strip from Egypt. Intervening history is highly complex – with violence and security, settlement building, and different legal situations in each of the occupied territories – but both Israelis and Palestinians have taken the position that the West Bank and Gaza should be part of a future Palestinian state. Jerusalem, which we will look at in a subsequent installment in our series, is even more complicated.

Most international interlocutors, a well as Israelis and Palestinians committed to the peace process, agree that the pre-1967 borders (armistice or Green Line) should be the starting point for discussions about the border of a future Palestinian state. President Obama has endorsed this position.

The Episcopal Church has said that the border between Israel and a future Palestinian state “should be defined, more or less, by the 1949 Armistice line, with mutually agreed upon border adjustments.”

How are settlements part of the border conversation?

In the years since the 1967 war, Israel has allowed the construction of settlements on the side of the Green Line that would, presumably, be part of a future Palestinian state. These settlements are widely recognized as illegal under international law (and “illegitimate” in the eyes of the U.S. government). Some Israelis hardliners have insisted that all such settlements must remain part of Israel, though Prime Minister Netanyahu has acknowledged that if a two-state solution is achieved, some of these settlements could be evacuated (as Israel previously withdrew settlements from Gaza when it ended its military presence there). The majority of Israeli settlements are very close to the Green Line, meaning that it would be possible for many of these to be incorporated into Israel with minimal land swaps to compensate Palestinians for the lost land. Other settlements further into the Palestinian territory would need to be evacuated (or, as Prime Minister Netanyahu has said, live under Palestinian sovereignty). International experts consider various proposals for how land swaps would work in practice to be viable. A major Palestinian concern about land swaps is ensuring territorial contiguity of a future state. As The Episcopal Church has said, “A Palestinian state that is not contiguous and that does not have the ability to ship materials by air, water, and land cannot be economically and socially viable.”

How is Israel’s security tied to the question of borders?

Israel has held that the pre-1967 borders with no adjustments would leave Israeli cities vulnerable to attack. The construction, over the past decade, of the Separation Barrier – which is a security fence in most places and a wall in a few – has been particularly controversial because its course has deviated from the Green Line and placed Palestinian territory on the Israeli side of the wall. The Episcopal Church has held that, “The separation barrier is a legal security measure but not where it violates Palestinian land,” and that “there is a moral difference between a separation barrier built on the pre-1967 ‘Green Line’ and one built on Palestinian territory in the West Bank.” In short, The Episcopal Church believes that Israel’s security must be a paramount concern in a negotiated two-state solution, but that security should be ensured in a way that provides minimal incursion into Palestinian land. Particularly with the rise of long-range missile capabilities, it is clear that Israel’s security involves a great deal more than the course of its border with the Palestinians, and that a long-term and universally recognized peace agreement is the best guarantor of Israel’s security.

What is Israel’s official position on the pre-1967 borders?

Israel’s government officially supports a two-state solution, but has taken the position that the pre-1967 borders should be adjusted to include some (but not all) Israeli settlements built in the West Bank since 1967. It has suggested territorial swaps to compensate for border adjustments that would accommodate Israeli settlements as well as other adjustments it believes are necessary to provide for the security of its cities. Further, it has officially held that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and should not be divided as it was prior to 1967, though during past negotiations (2000 and 2006) it has been willing to accept a shared Jerusalem. Likewise, Prime Minister Netanyahu has acknowledged that despite the conflicting positions of Israel and the Palestinians on Jerusalem, negotiations can produce a creative solution satisfactory to all parties.

What is the Palestinian position on the pre-1967 borders?

The leadership of the Palestinian National Authority also officially supports a two-state solution and takes the position that 1967 borders should be the basis of a future state. While the Palestinians concede that some territorial swaps might be necessary, they believe these should be minimal and close to the Green Line. Further, Palestinians believe that a future state should possess territory equivalent to 100% of the land held by Jordan and Egypt prior to the 1967 War.

What about Gaza?

Gaza’s territorial distance from the West Bank and Jerusalem, and its present political situation, make its incorporation into a future Palestinian state particularly complicated. The continued political leadership in Gaza of Hamas, an organization firmly committed to Israel’s destruction, and the functional isolation of Gaza through largely impermeable borders maintained by both Israel and Egypt, along with a sea blockade maintained by Israel, have served almost no one well. The humanitarian situation in Gaza at present is dire, and violence – both Palestinian rocket fire into Israel and Israeli use of force along the border – continues. While the situation in Gaza is enormously politically vexing to the negotiating parties, it could not be clearer that the present situation is untenable and must be dealt with in order for a two-state solution to succeed. During 2006-8 negotiations, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered a land corridor linking Gaza and the West Bank. That sort of proposal – calibrated to protect both Palestinian land contiguity and Israeli security – reflects the creativity that will be necessary for a two-state solution to deal successfully with Gaza.

Can agreement be reached on borders?

Yes. The Episcopal Church firmly believes that agreement on borders through negotiation is possible, and the two parties have come very close in the past. The 2006-8 negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, which occurred without the world’s knowledge at the time, reportedly involved an offer from then-Prime Minister Olmert of 99.5% of the West Bank, including a link to Gaza, while the 2000 Camp David summit came similarly close on the issue of borders. Agreement is possible, but only if the two sides stay at the table. That’s why your voice, along with that of Bishop Katharine, Bishop Suheil, and others who support negotiations is so important!

The Falls Church Episcopal, How Does Your Garden Grow?

ENS Headlines - Thursday, March 20, 2014

[Episcopal Relief & Development press release] Bok choy is not the only thing to grow in the fertile soil of The Falls Church Episcopal in Falls Church, VA.  It seems that people are also part of the harvest in this revitalized fellowship.

The church’s vibrant children’s and youth ministry – which now incorporates Abundant Life Garden Project® resources – helped generate a congregational growth spurt that more than doubled the average Sunday attendance.  The lessons enrich the experience of planting and tending the church’s community garden, and the garden’s abundant harvest feeds families through two vital outreach ministries.

“I love it when different ministries come together – a blossoming children’s and youth group, using our historic grounds creatively, and serving the poor,” says Rev. John Ohmer, Rector of The Falls Church. “Just like those vegetables grow naturally out of good soil, good works come from good hearts rooted in the Holy Spirit.”


Click to download in Word document format.

Episcopal Relief & Development’s Power of Partnerships and Friends of Episcopal Relief & Development web features appear on a rotating monthly basis.  To learn more about the organization’s work worldwide, visit www.episcopalrelief.org.

‘Hear Our Cry’ march strives to combat poverty

ENS Headlines - Thursday, March 20, 2014

[Shelter Care Ministries press release]  The Episcopal deacon who runs a Rockford, Illinois, housing program for homeless families will embark April 1 on a 756-mile march to Washington D.C. to answer a call from God to draw attention to the plight of the poverty-stricken.

At an Ash Wednesday news conference, Shelter Care Ministries launched “Hear Our Cry: Marching for America’s Poor” — a quest to carry the stories of society’s neediest adults and children to the nation’s capital. Leading the journey is a rather unlikely candidate: the Rev. Lou Ness, a 65-year-old grandmother with a chronic bone marrow disease.

“I don’t know why God chose me, but I do know that the impoverish families we serve – and many others across the country – need a voice,” said Ness, executive director of Shelter Care, which operates programs for homeless families, the mentally ill and the unemployed. “I will walk for all who bear the stain of poverty — for when one of us suffers, we all suffer. How we treat the least among us is a reflection of who we are.”

Board President Pamela Hillenbrand said Shelter Care is convinced that despite political rhetoric about income inequality and the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, the failure of Congress to extend emergency unemployment benefits and its recent gutting of the farm bill demonstrate a clear disconnect.

“We hope this march pumps up the volume of the national conversation,” Hillenbrand said. “As people of faith and as Americans, we share a proud tradition of marching for justice.”

Shelter Care issued an open invitation for anyone who supports the cause to join Ness for all or part of the Hear Our Cry march, which departs at 8:30 a.m. April 1. The itinerary, available online at www.shelter-care.org, calls for daily treks of 10 to 15 miles and nightly stays at churches, synagogues and temples in six states.

Ness will deliver to Congress the handwritten stories of people served by Shelter Care and other letters she collects from the homeless and hungry she meets during her travels.

Dawani, Jefferts Schori join religious leaders in letter to Secretary Kerry

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

[Churches for Middle East Peace press release] For the first time the Catholic, Coptic, Lutheran and Episcopal heads of churches in Jerusalem and the Franciscan Custodian of the Holy Places are joining with U.S. Christian denominations and groups to support urgent efforts to reach a comprehensive agreement to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

These prominent Christian leaders from Catholic, Orthodox, mainline Protestant, Evangelical and Historic Peace Churches are endorsing Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to find a negotiated solution that will allow the communities of faith to flourish and improve in the Holy Land.

Churches for Middle East Peace Executive Director Warren Clark commented that, “This letter from Jerusalem and U.S. national church leaders comes at a crucial time for the hope of peace in the Holy Land. Secretary Kerry is playing a key role to bring the two sides together to negotiate. Now is the time for all Christians to seize this opportunity to show they care about finally ending this long and tragic conflict.”

The full text of the letter and names of the signers can be found at http://go.cmep.org/letterforpeace.


ENS Headlines - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Las protestas estudiantiles en Venezuela siguen con igual o mayor fuerza que cuando empezaron hace más de 30 días. El gobierno dictatorial de presidente Maduro está usando las fuerzas armadas como nunca antes. En la céntrica Plaza de Altamira en Caracas decenas de miles de jóvenes se han congregado protestando contra el gobierno. “No pertenecemos a un partido u otro, sólo queremos un gobierno democrático que no se robe nuestra riqueza petrolera”, dijo un dirigente estudiantil. Hasta el momento la casi totalidad de los países latinoamericanos han guardado silencio ante los desmanes del presidente Nicolás Maduro. Hasta la fecha 29 jóvenes han perdido la vida.

Durante la cuaresma muchos cristianos se privan de alguna cosa para expresar su sacrificio, disciplina y dedicación. Este año, el obispo anglicano Edward Condry, de la diócesis de Ramsbury, esta prescindiendo de su coche como su manera de sacrificio durante los 40 días de la cuaresma. En 2012 pedaleó desde Grecia hasta Londres.

En reciente reunión de Justin Welby, arzobispo de Cantórbery y el patriarca ecuménico  y arzobispo de Constantinopla, Bartolomé acordaron continuar las relaciones e intensificar la cooperación para dar un testimonio común en particular en Europa. Ambos han expresado “preocupación por la injusticia presente en muchas partes del mundo” y han orado por los pobres y los oprimidos, por la paz y la justicia en todo el mundo, en particular en Oriente Medio.

La película Hijo de Dios de los galardonados productores de las mini-series de La Biblia, llega esta película que narra la vida de Jesús según el Nuevo Testamento. Rodada como una gran película de épica y acción, en lugares exóticos y con deslumbrantes efectos visuales impresiona a cualquier audiencia. Muestra la vida de Jesús desde su humilde nacimiento, sus enseñanzas, la crucifixión y finalmente la resurrección. Vale la pena verla.

Oscar Muñoz, pastor evangélico de la Iglesia Alianza Cristiana de Buenaventura, Colombia, y padre de cinco hijos recibió cinco balazos en la cabeza que le produjeron la muerte instantánea. Tenía 56 años de edad. Hasta el momento se desconoce el móvil del crimen aunque hay sospechas de que su trabajo pastoral con adictos a las drogas y sus contactos con la policía fueron los que motivaron su asesinato.

La Iglesia Presbiteriana (EUA) de Menlo Park, California, una de las iglesias presbiterianas más numerosas de Estados Unidos ha decidido abandonar la denominación por las “prácticas liberales” que han sido incorporadas en su teología, principalmente en el área de la sexualidad humana como los matrimonios de personas del mismo género y la ordenación de homosexuales. Esta es la quinta iglesia que toma esta decisión en la denominación.

Mary White, una joven médica de Nueva York que se especializa en medicina interna, ha hecho una “generosa donación” a la Iglesia Episcopal de Haití para reconstruir la escuela San Vicente para niños que padecen de algún impedimento físico y que fue destruida en el terremoto de 2010. La escuela, fundada en 1945, sirve a 525 niños y niñas la mitad de los cuales son invidentes. Esta es la única institución de su género en todo Haití. Aunque la cantidad de la donación no fue revelada se supone que es comparable con el “premio gordo” de la lotería en otros países.

Lydia Ruth Zamora se ha convertido en la primera mujer en ser nombrada rectora en los 47 años de vida de la Universidad Politécnica de Nicaragua. Realizó estudios superiores en la Universidad de Virginia, Estados Unidos. Hasta ahora había servido como directora de la Escuela de Enfermería. El pastor Tomás Téllez fue nombrado vice-rector. La universidad  está asociada con la Iglesia Bautista. La Escuela de Teología tiene este año 120 jóvenes.

En Miami ha muerto Huber Matos, el único de los comandantes históricos de la revolución cubana exiliado. Matos falleció en un hospital de Miami a los 95 años. Como jefe de la guarnición de Camagüey se enfrentó a Fidel Castro cuando notó la orientación comunista que tomaba el nuevo régimen. Castro se ofendió y ordenó su arresto y en un breve juicio fue condenado a 20 años de prisión.  Matos enseñó en un colegio bautista en la provincia de Oriente y perteneció a esa iglesia por varios años. Se exilió en Costa Rica con su esposa e hijos. Luego se estableció en Miami, donde se unió a las organizaciones disidentes al régimen cubano y fue secretario del grupo Cuba Independiente y Democrática.

VERDAD. “Venezolanos, luchen por los derechos y la libertad de todos porque los enemigos del pueblo siempre son la violencia, la intolerancia, el fanatismo y la mentira”.                                                                                           

                                   Huber Matos, disidente político cubano (1918-2014)

Re-imagining task force making progress toward November deadline

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] The Task Force for Re-imagining the Episcopal Church is on track for reporting its recommendations and specific legislative proposals to the church this November, according to the group’s co-conveners.

“I think we’re where we need to be at this point,” said the Rev. Craig Loya, dean of the cathedral in Omaha, Nebraska, who leads the task force with Katy George, a member of the Diocese of Newark. “I think we’re well on track to having a very thorough report that honors what our mandate was by the end of November.”

That mandate was set in General Convention Resolution C095, passed in July 2012, that called for a task force “to present the 78th General Convention with a plan for reforming the church’s structures, governance, and administration.”

Loya and George spoke to Episcopal News Service March 18, three days after TREC’s latest face-to-face meeting ended. The meeting, held at the Maritime Institute in Linthicum Heights, Maryland, was conducted nearly exclusively in closed sessions (a copy of the agenda is here). Also on March 18, the group released a summary of the work it did during the March 13-15 meeting.

“I think we all felt that we’ve come a long way and are increasingly clear about the big-picture vision that we’d like to help the church shape and we also are clear about what some of the specific recommendations or legislative proposals may be,” said George, an economist who runs the New Jersey office of global management consultant McKinsey & Co and who has served on the board of Episcopal Relief & Development. “We still have a lot of refinement and a lot of work to deliver on our ambition level, but I think we feel like we’re on our way.”

TREC has released two papers to the church for comment thus far, one on networks in the Episcopal Church and one on governance and administration. George and Loya said that revised versions of those papers, based on feedback the group has received, would be sent out to the church. Still due is one on leadership development in the church. The task force also has developed what it calls an “engagement kit” to solicit feedback from the church.

During last week’s meeting “we spent a lot of time really reviewing all the comments and input that we’ve gotten,” George said.

“The whole task force is just really energized by the kind of feedback that we’ve gotten, both the stuff that was really positive and the stuff that was a bit more challenging and critical,” she said, adding that the group is “very grateful” for the responses.

“There are some places where there are clear themes in the feedback we were getting and other places where there was highly variable input, which was great,” she added.

The group will “continue to evolve” its recommendations and draft proposals using what has been gleaned from the church’s input, George said.

Loya, for example, noted a lot of the responses to the second paper on governance and administration “pointed out things that were either unclear or information that was missing or places where we needed to delve further and I think that will informed a lot of the work that we have in the next couple of months.”

That work in the months to come will center on “filling out some of the details in those proposals, making some of the things a lot clearer and also beginning to turn some of our proposals into specific legislation with appropriate canonical and constitutional changes,” he said.

George and Loya said the group has not quantified the level of response it has received or formally synthesized the responses because it “would not do justice to anybody’s input if we tried to synthesize it,” in George’s words.

However, the task force has agreed to have “something in our final report to the church that summarizes the input we got and the themes that we heard, or the points of divergence,” said George.

Loya added that the feedback is challenging to quantify because it has come to the task force through a variety of different channels and by a variety of different methods, including “formal feedback” via the website and responses elicited from the engagement kit’s questions along with comments via individuals’ blog posts made in response to TREC’s work and what Loya called “informal conversations,” to name a few.

Still, he said, the variety of feedback has been “actually quite helpful” and the task force plans to “continue to proactively engage people around the church, talk with some of the leaders in the church and get their input and feedback on some of the specific proposals, particularly some of the folks we have not heard from.”

Loya described those leaders as members of the General Convention leadership and the executive members of the churchwide staff “whose positions would be directly affected by some of our concrete proposals.”

And the members also plan to reach beyond that structure, Loya said.

“The reality is the church is already reimagining itself concurrently with the structural work that that task force is doing,” he explained. “And there are some people in the church that are doing some extraordinarily innovative, creative, forward-thinking kinds of ministries, so in addition to people in key leadership positions around the church, we also want to continue to find proactive ways to engage some of the people who are already doing really great, creative, innovative ministry in dioceses and congregations.”

George added that the task force feels that “at least on some topics we’ve been able to reach a broader group in the church on the topic.”

The group wants to broaden its reach even further because some people in the church “still don’t know what we’re doing and aren’t part of the dialogue,” she said.

Part of that effort is a plan for a virtual churchwide gathering focused on TREC’s work sometime this fall or summer. The virtual nature of the meeting is prompted by the fact that while Resolution C095 called on the task force to hold a “special gathering” to receive responses to any proposed recommendations it is considering sending to the 2015 meeting of General Convention, the convention did not give the task force the estimated $450,000 it would take to stage such a meeting. Convention approved (line 282 here) $200,000 specifically for the gathering.

TREC has meetings scheduled July 17-19 and Oct. 2-4 but a date for the virtual meeting has not yet be set.

Meanwhile, the bishops on the task force plan to brief their colleagues on March 21 during the House of Bishops’ annual retreat meeting at Camp Allen in Texas. On the day of that briefing, Loya said, the General Convention deputies on TREC will also send “the same basic summary of where we are at this point” to their colleagues throughout the church. While it may be assumed that the bishops will offer their reaction to the TREC bishops during the Camp Allen meeting, a process for getting similar feedback from deputies is “in development” with House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings and others, George said.

In September 2013, the last time the bishops got a briefing on TREC’s progress, the deputy members of the task force sent letters to their deputy colleagues summarizing their work the same day.

TREC’s Facebook page is here and it is here on Twitter with @ReimagineTEC, where the group is using #reimaginetec. The task force tweeted periodically the meeting, summarizing what the members were working on.

Earlier ENS coverage of TREC is here.

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

Federal government studies Occupy Sandy movement

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Volunteers unload donated material at the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in Brooklyn, New York shortly after Hurricane Sandy. Photo: Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew

[Episcopal News Service] The Occupy Sandy network that sprung up in the days after Hurricane Sandy devastated vast stretches of New York and New Jersey has caught the attention of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which says it is looking to broaden future disaster relief efforts.

However, not everyone is taking that explanation at face value even though they say the report does a good job at outlining how well Occupy Sandy has worked.

Occupy Sandy tapped into the organization and volunteer power of Occupy Wall Street which had led a multicity protest movement centered on economic inequality just more than a year before Sandy hit. The report, titled The Resilient Social Network, calls Occupy Wall Street a “planned social movement” while it characterizes Occupy Sandy as “neither planned nor expected.”

The Episcopal Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, New York, in the Diocese of Long Island, quickly became the second major Occupy Sandy supply-distribution and volunteer-training hub. The activity at St. Luke and St. Matthew complemented the work begun a few days earlier at St. Jacobi Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn.

“In the days, weeks, and months that followed, ‘Occupy Sandy’ became one of the leading humanitarian groups providing relief to survivors across New York City and New Jersey,” the report notes. “At its peak, it had grown to an estimated 60,000 volunteers – more than four times the number deployed by the American Red Cross.”

“Unlike traditional disaster response organizations, there were no appointed leaders, no bureaucracy, no regulations to follow, no pre-defined mission, charter, or strategic plan.  There was just relief.”

That relief effort out of St. Luke and St. Matthew continued even after an arson fire two days before Christmas 2012 caused major damage.

“In the Diocese of Long Island, where this movement took physical root in several of our churches, we were fortunate to have a bishop who encouraged Occupy Sandy in every way possible,” the Rev. Michael Sniffen, rector of St. Luke and St. Matthew, told Episcopal News Service. “In places where our bishops and clergy gave in to fear and risk aversion in the aftermath of the storm, the work of well-intentioned, skilled neighbors was often thwarted by lack of staging and organizing space. Many of our churchyards, hallways and unused parish halls sat empty during a time when they were desperately needed.”

Long Island Bishop Lawrence Provenzano said the diocese is “very proud of its involvement with Occupy Sandy and the results.”

“This is what incarnate love looks like!,” says Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in Brooklyn, New York on its Facebook page. The nave began being used as a distribution hub for supplies shortly after Hurricane Sandy stuck. Photo: Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew

“From a religious standpoint, this was the church at its best, an example of the Gospel in action,” he said in an e-mail to ENS. “This report is really an acknowledgment of how a cooperative effort – between the church, government entities, the private sector, and the wider community – can improve disaster response in the future. It is also an acknowledgement that cooperative decision-making, planning, and execution can be a model for success; this model, in my mind, is as ancient as the church itself.”

In addition, Sniffen said, the church communities “that truly opened themselves to aid neighbors by any means necessary also opened themselves to spiritual awakening.”

Research for the report was conducted between June and August 2013. The report is dated Sept. 30, 2013 and was recently released by the Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute.

In its introduction, the report notes that Occupy Sandy was a “difficult research subject for many of the same reasons it succeeded in helping so many communities in New York and New Jersey: its membership and infrastructure are fluid, it has no elected leaders, and it conducted autonomous relief activities across a large geographic area.” Occupy Sandy is called a “humanitarian offshoot of Occupy Wall Street” in the report, whose authors also describe it as “a social movement, not so much a tangible group.”

The report at one point categorizes Occupy Sandy as an “emergent response group 2.0” of the kind that often spring up spontaneously after disaster strikes. These groups are different from “traditional response organizations,” the report notes, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the Red Cross. The “2.0” refers to the fact that groups such as Occupy Sandy used social media to publicize, organize and coordinate its work.

A small group of Occupy Wall Street began discussing the anticipated storm a week before it hit the East Coast over social media, the report says. When the storm hit on the night of Oct. 29, 2012, member of that group began share damage reports and discuss how to help and whether there was interest in beginning a relief effort.

“Seemingly out of nowhere emerged a volunteer army of young, educated, tech-savvy individuals with time and a desire to help others,” the report says.

However, the report also notes that Occupy Sandy’s “horizontal organizing structure” was not without its problems. While “there was no need to seek permission to do something” and thus people in need were served quickly, the report says “without leaders, there was less oversight” and less accountability. The accountability issue raised difficulties for some traditional response organizations in terms of their own accountability, according to the report.

Purpose of the report questioned
The authors said their “primary purpose in conducting a case study on Occupy Sandy is to provide the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with a basic understanding of an emerging type of grassroots relief collective so that it might enable government to work in a unity of effort with such groups when the next disaster strikes.”

However, the report also describes reluctance on the part of some Occupy Sandy participants to talk to a group connected with the Department of Homeland Security about their work. Most of the people and organizations the researchers contacted “were willing to speak quite candidly, but many respectfully declined our request,” according to the report. The report does not suggest the reason for that reluctance however, the Department of Homeland Security has acknowledged, by way of more than 200 pages of heavily redacted documents, that it joined other law enforcement agencies to monitor Occupy Wall Street.

Sniffen echoed some of that concern, saying that “the DHS’s interest in the Occupy movement and Occupy Sandy in particular raises red flags regarding the freedom of communities to organize for good without being treated as suspicious.”

“That being said, the findings of this report are encouraging,” he added. “The report is clear in its analysis that Occupy Sandy was effective where larger, more bureaucratic organizations were not. The movement’s significant role in helping communities recover is now undeniable. The analysis of the ability of horizontal ad hoc groups to be effective change agents in the world should be read, marked, learned and inwardly digested by The Episcopal Church as we continue our own conversation about internal restructuring.”

The Rev. John Merz, the vicar of Church of the Ascension in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, who helped organize churches to open their facilities to respond to Sandy, also expressed concern about the DHS institute’s attention to Occupy Sandy. He noted that the organization’s website says it was created as a “dedicated, not-for-profit institute to provide the federal government with analytic capabilities to support effective counterterrorism-related decision-making and program execution.”

The department has always regarded Occupy Wall Street “as a form of active domestic terrorism albeit in the early stages of gestation” and thus it took notice when some participants “reformed around relief work with such astounding capacity,” Merz said.

Even though the study is what Merz called “appreciative,” it “is by nature defensive, given the mission of the institute and the larger mission of DHS” and is centered on the issue of “power and how it is exercised.”

“I did not see anywhere in the report analysis of how many soup cans churches or civic groups managed to donate or how many people made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches … its concern with power in this case is that it was employed so effectively by a group that it has had under surveillance and was working for structural change and justice,” he wrote in an e-mail to ENS.

While the report might be used to help non-governmental organizations and governmental aid agencies adopt new practices, Merz said, it is more likely that it will be used to “keep a thumb on social grassroots movements and networks.” He predicted that the department and the U.S. military “may use the report to incorporate some of the OWS and OS network practices into their own ‘counter terror’ practices if they would serve in curtailing the power of people to organize on a grassroots level.”

That opinion, Merz acknowledged, “may put me in the minority in the Episcopal Church who seem to think Empire is only something to be ruminated on and preached about in relation to Jesus and the Romans.”

Merz and Sniffen were both involved in Occupy Wall Street and were arrested Dec. 17, 2011 after they and retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard entered a fenced property – owned by Trinity Episcopal Church, Wall Street – in Duarte Square in Lower Manhattan as part of Occupy Wall Street’s “D17 Take Back the Commons” event to mark three months since the movement’s launch.

The report says other traditional response organizations were initially guarded about coordinating their work with Occupy Sandy. For example, the report describes an invitation-only telephone conference call in early November 2012 “amid the fog of the response to Superstorm Sandy” during which participants heard someone identify themselves as “this is Occupy.”

“Conversation stopped,” the report says and representatives of other relief agencies later told researchers that they wondered why Occupy Wall Street was present.

The Occupy Sandy person, whose name is not disclosed, was asked to explain his or her presence and the person replied that Occupy Sandy was “part of Occupy Wall Street but not directly associated with it,” according to the report.

“‘At that point, we all became very guarded in what we said,’ the official told us,” the report continues. “Personally, and here she said she could not speak for the group, she perceived that the uninvited caller was a protestor and remembers thinking ‘we know what we are doing here, they just do not get it.’”

The report’s authors conclude that Occupy Sandy not only eventually convinced the unnamed official that its participants “get it”; it also convinced local communities, the mainstream media and those 60,000 people who signed on as volunteers.

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

TREC provides meeting report

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Taskforce for Re-Imagining the Episcopal Church (TREC) has provided a report to The Episcopal Church following its recent meeting.

TREC Report from March 13-15
The Task Force for Reimagining The Episcopal Church (TREC) met in Linthicum Heights, Maryland at the Maritime Institute of Technology March 13 through 15. Our work followed the rhythms of the traditional monastic hours utilizing Daily Prayers for All Seasons. We give thanks to God for this time together.

We spent most of Friday working with the feedback that we have received thus far from throughout the church, including from the engagement kit, blogs, website postings, direct conversation, and a variety of other sources. We found the feedback formational for our ongoing work, and we very much appreciate the time and energy people put into engaging with us. Given the continued activity with the engagement kit, we have decided to keep it open and hope that more members will utilize it in small groups and large. Please continue to give us feedback through all different forums as we work toward our final report to be submitted later this year.

During our time together, we continued to develop our proposals and began to work on new sections of our final report, integrating feedback and beginning to prepare additional materials for future publication. We also began to develop strategies to widen the engagement process with the church, and will communicate these broadly as they become available.

We will continue our pattern of releasing materials for feedback and comment as we refine and build our proposals, reports, and specific legislation to submit to the 78th General Convention.  We seek to uphold the mandate of CO95 to “engage in the common work of discernment”. We give thanks to God for a church that gives such thoughtful, inspiring, and provocative feedback, which will continue to guide and improve the work we are doing together.

We ask for your prayers as we continue this work:

Holy Spirit, who broods over the world, fill the hearts and minds of your servants on Task Force for Reimagining The Episcopal Church with wisdom, clarity and courage.  Work in them as they examine and recommend reforms for the structure, governance and administration of this branch of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.  Help them propose reforms to more effectively proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ, to challenge the world to seek and serve Christ in all persons—loving our neighbors as ourselves and to be a blazing light for the kind of justice and peace that leads to all people respecting the dignity of every human being.

Be with The Episcopal Church that we all may be open to the challenges that this task force will bring to us—and help the whole church to discern your will for our future.  In the name of Jesus Christ our Mediator, on whose life this Church was founded.  AMEN

For more info, questions or comments, contact TREC members at reimaginetec@gmail.com

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