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Anglicans gather for UN Commission on the Status of Women

ENS Headlines - Thursday, March 12, 2015

Participants gather in the United Nations’ General Assembly Hall during the opening of the fifty-ninth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Taking place at UN headquarters from March 9-20, the session will review progress made in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, 20 years after its adoption at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. Photo: United Nations

[Episcopal News Service] More than 100 Anglicans are heading to New York for the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW), meeting March 9-20.

During the commission’s annual two-week session, representatives of U.N. Member States, civil society organizations and U.N. entities gather at the U.N. headquarters in New York. They discuss progress and gaps in the implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the key global policy document on gender equality, and the 23rd special session of the General Assembly held in 2000 (Beijing+5), as well as emerging issues that affect gender equality and the empowerment of women. Member States agree on further actions to accelerate progress and promote women’s enjoyment of their rights in political, economic and social fields. The outcomes and recommendations of each session are forwarded to the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council for follow-up.

The commission is due to adopt a political declaration on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. The draft of that declaration is here. The session is also being asked to adopt a draft plan of the commission’s future organization and methods of work.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (center right) attends a special event in New York City entitled, “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”. Organized by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the event marks the twentieth anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which was adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women in September 1995. Also pictured: Ban’s wife, Yoo Soon-taek (center) and Republic of Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (center left). Photo: United Nations

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in opening remarks on March 9, called 2015 “a vital year for advancing the cause of gender equality.”

“Women continue to suffer disproportionately from the economic crisis, from the impacts of climate change, from the displacement caused by conflict, persecution and so much else,” he said. “Extremist groups continue to viciously and systematically attack girls and women. The international community needs to translate its outrage into aid, services, support and justice.”

However, Ban said, “women are not just victims; they are agents of progress and change.

“Empowered women and girls are the best drivers of growth, the best hope for reconciliation, and the best buffer against radicalization of youth and the repetition of cycles of violence,” he said.

The secretary general has submitted a report to the session on the progress since the Beijing meeting.

There has traditionally been a strong Anglican and Episcopal presence at past UNCSW annual sessions and more than 100 participants from Anglican provinces around the world are in New York for the 2015 gathering. There are 19 accredited Anglican Communion delegates, each officially representing her province. The Rev. Joan Grimm Fraser of the Diocese of Long Island is the provincial delegate representing The Episcopal Church to the Anglican Communion delegation.

The Anglican Communion delegates are from Australia; Hong Kong; Jordan (Jerusalem & the Middle East); Malawi (Central Africa); Myanmar; Papua New Guinea; Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia; Brazil; the Scottish Episcopal Church; Japan; the Church of Ceylon; Swaziland and South Africa; The Episcopal Church; Canada; Ghana (West Africa) and England.

Many of the women will visit their permanent country missions at the UN to advocate for the lifting of barriers to women’s active participation in all spheres of public and private life as equal decision-making partners, the core aim of the Beijing Platform for Action.

“Anglican women are present in urban and rural communities all over the world”, said Ann Skamp, convener for the International Anglican Women’s Network who is accompanying the delegation. “They know what is happening at grassroots and bring valuable local knowledge and insights to the table. They also bring the values of their faith and bright hope for the future.”

Ecumenical Women, of which The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Consultative Council (the Communion’s main policy-making body) are members, has filed an official statement to the session saying that many of the goals of the Beijing Platform for Action remain unfulfilled.

“Gender biased institutional structures create inequalities and discrimination, and still exist in public and private sectors, academia, and religious structures,” the statement says, adding that the group is also concerned with “the efforts to roll back gains” made since Beijing.

“We affirm that God’s world was meant to be one of abundance for all people, with fundamental rights and dignity for all women and men. For healthy sustainable societies, women must be integral to the decision-making processes in law, policies and development programs.”

The Episcopal Church has its first official delegation since being granted special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council last July.

A summary of the rest of the Anglican/Episcopal-related UNCSW activities is here.

Diocese of Long Island Assistant Bishop Chilton Knudsen preached March 9 at the opening Eucharist for Anglican and Episcopal participants. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori presided at the Eucharist celebrated in the Chapel of Christ the Lord in the Episcopal Church Center, which is two blocks from the United Nations.

The text of Knudsen’s sermon follows.

Sermon for the Opening Eucharist UNCSW 2015

Episcopal Church Center, New York City, NY

Text: John 20: 11-18

Mary Magdalene came to the tomb where the body of Jesus was placed after his death on the Cross.

She came to mourn his absence, to remember. She wanted assurance that she could find hope to live the rest of her life without Jesus. Her precious friend Jesus.

Jesus treated her with dignity, healed her, taught her, lifted her up, and shared with her in Table Fellowship. How would she go on without Jesus?

Two angels sat in the tomb, one where his feet had been and one where his head had been.

“Woman, why are you weeping?” the angels asked.

Mary Magdalene was weeping because her heart had broken. She wept because the One whom she loved had been brutally executed. Her tears were a sign that she loved deeply; that she had devoted herself to the mission of compassion and justice and peace which Jesus demonstrated. She wept because human beings do terrible things to each other. Human beings continue to do terrible things to one another, because systems of dominance and power and greed and violence — then and now — crush goodness.

Woman, why are you weeping?

Just as she answered “They have taken away my Lord…” she turned and saw someone she did not recognize, maybe it was the gardener.

This mysterious stranger also asked her the same question: “Woman, why are you weeping?”

This is a question to all of humanity, in our time as well as in Jesus’ time.

We come here to this meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women because there is much in our world which causes us to weep. We weep because children are sold as slaves. Women and children starve for want of food. Because violence and oppression continue to dominate, so women are deprived of freedom and dignity. We are weeping because women are treated as second-class members of their society.

Woman, why are you weeping?

Mary Magdalene answers yet again, assuming that someone has taken away Jesus’ body: “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where so I can take his body myself.”

At that moment, Jesus calls her by name, “Mary!” She hears that familiar voice speaking her name. At once, she knows it is Jesus, who is now alive in the glorious power of resurrection.

Hope is alive! The message of Jesus — about compassion and justice — is victorious over the systems of power and greed and oppression.

Jesus then asks two things of her. First, that she not cling to him: not to hold onto the joy of his beating death to live in resurrection glory. Second, Jesus asks that she go and tell others that he is now wonderfully alive, and his mission will continue.

Jesus entrusts to Mary Magdalene the proclamation of his rising from death. Jesus lives! His message lives!

This story tells us that the holy and mysterious agenda of God is given to all believers. As believers, we are to spread this Good News widely into every part of the world.

The Good News of Jesus’ resurrection inspires us to work for justice and peace for all people.

And because we are people who weep, we are also people of action.

So here we are, praying together for the strength to carry on the mission of Jesus. Our weeping has built in us a fire of determination. God’s power is with us, as we move from weeping to action. By this we join with our sister Mary Magdalene to proclaim that Jesus is risen. And because Jesus is risen, our hope is fulfilled and our resurrection work is blessed with the very power that raised Jesus from death.

Let us be about that resurrection work. Beginning now in our worship and our solidarity.

– The Anglican Communion News Service contributed to this story.

 

Welby: ‘Seismic shift’ required to equip all Anglicans as evangelists

ENS Headlines - Thursday, March 12, 2015

[Lambeth Palace] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has set out his vision for a Church in which every Christian shares “the revolutionary love” of Jesus Christ.

The archbishop was giving the inaugural Lambeth Lecture, a new series of talks which will feature guest speakers addressing key issues for the Church.

Video of the Archbishop’s lecture will be available shortly. The full text follows below.

I want to start by saying just two simple sentences about the Church. First, the church exists to worship God in Jesus Christ.

Second, the Church exists to make new disciples of Jesus Christ. Everything else is decoration. Some of it may be very necessary, useful, or wonderful decoration – but it’s decoration.

When I talk about making disciples as we go through, of course I’m not only talking about words; I’m also talking about actions, and we’ll come back to that in a little while.

The best decision anyone can ever make, at any point in life, in any circumstances, whoever they are, wherever they are, whatever they are, is to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. There is no better decision for a human being in this life, any human being.

When I started this role a couple of years ago, after some prayer and thought and reflection, three priorities, in the period between the announcement and when I got going as it were, lodged themselves in my mind. These were the three. First of all, prayer and the renewal of the Religious life. And my guess is that there were nods of assent and interest but hardly surprise.

At the news that reconciliation was my second priority there was probably mild interest and murmurs of approval that this was a Good Thing, but that someone was going to have their work cut out.

When I introduced my third priority as evangelism and witness I imagine some, maybe a minority, were high-fiving, while others stopped and stared into space with a look of horror, thinking, ‘Oh golly, here we go again’. I won’t ask you which group you fall into.

This evening it’s that priority that I want to talk about. To make the case for it not just a priority for any old spare Archbishop with not enough to do; but as the priority of the church of Jesus Christ, something which is testified to in the first of the Five Marks of Mission of the Anglican Church: ‘To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom.’

I’ll try to define my terms, then set this in the context of what the Church is called to, and from there I hope to approach the scope and motives of evangelism, before addressing some of practice.

I will then seek to root this in the life and witness of the local church and most specifically in the life and witness of every Christian – not only the professionals.

This is our particular passion, priority and focus. In fact all we endeavour to do is done with the intention that we serve and enable the lives of every follower of Jesus to be faithful witnesses to the transforming love of God.

I am under no illusion as to the seismic shift that needs to take place in order for this to happen. But a seismic shift is what we need. For this country will not know of the revolutionary love of Christ by church structures or clergy, but by the witness of every single Christian.

Of course there were others words available to avoid the dreaded ‘e’ word of evangelism. Why not talk of ‘mission’? It’s so much more inclusive and encompassing, and something we are all, me included, passionate about. That was my reason for steering away from it.

I have nothing against mission – quite the reverse: the recent renewal of the Church’s appropriation of the term has been heartening. But such is the widespread use of the term that my sense of this talk being committed to mission would be to say that I was committed to everything.

No, I wanted the call to be focussed on the specific proclamation of the Good News. What does it look like for the Church in this country to find its voice in these days?

There is obviously a huge amount that has been written about the content of the Good News, the Gospel, and there’s a good amount more that will be. We will never plumb the depths of the wonder of the Gospel; there will always be more to be said.

I am not going to enter that debate, apart from saying that the Gospel is the Good News of Jesus Christ. It’s the announcement of a person in history, and what God has done in this one life for everyone who has ever lived and ever will live.

I wonder if I might use a painting to represent the Gospel. The painting is The Calling of Saint Matthew and was painted by Caravaggio in around 1599. Art historian Sir Kenneth Clark considered it the piece of art that changed the history of painting:

It’s a representation of the scene in Matthew’s Gospel (Chapter 9) when Jesus calls the tax collector Matthew to follow him. The painting shows Matthew in the middle surrounded by four colleagues.

Notice the finery of those around the table in contrast to Jesus and Peter’s clothing and bare feet on the right. Two of the tax collectors, at the far left of the picture, do not even look up, so intent are they on counting their money.

Between these five men and Jesus you will notice a barrier of darkness. All the light has come in with Jesus – the figure on the far right of the picture – as you will notice that from him, and not the window in which we see the cross, the light is coming.

Evangelism is the Good News of the coming of Jesus Christ into this dark world. And it is news not simply because without this light we are in the dark, but also because it comes to us unwarranted, unsought, without our initiation.

Jesus comes to us. This is the free work of God to bring light into the darkness. It’s not technique, it’s not manipulation, it’s not organisation, it’s not systems… it’s God. It’s raw God.

The men in the picture were not looking for Jesus; He came to them and transformed their world. In fact He caused great disruption. Jesus is the light of every person; He comes to all and for all. Apart from him there is only darkness. He comes not just to those who might seek him, or to those who have an interest in that kind of thing.

Caravaggio brings the drama into the painting through the outstretched hand of Jesus. This hand singles out Matthew. It’s a definite choosing – a particular invitation. Jesus comes and reaches out to each of us.

And those who first saw the painting could be in no doubt as to what Caravaggio was implying – notice the similarity between the hand of Jesus and the hands in his scene from the roof of the Sistine chapel.

The hand of Jesus is both the hand of the second true Adam and of God. The Gospel is the call of God himself through the true man Jesus Christ. It is an act of creation, and recreation; a bringing into being, a life-giving calling, which is only possible because of the initiative of God.

We do not bring about this alteration, but it has been accomplished – it is done – apart from us, in the death and resurrection of Jesus. We did not contribute to it; but we are alive because of it.

We all know that. But it is as we get hold of that truth that we are impelled outwards into the world. Because it’s as that truth grabs us that we remember that this isn’t us, it’s God. This is no survival strategy for the Church. It’s God. It’s raw God.

Matthew clearly can’t quite believe that this invitation and command are addressed to him. Could he be so lucky? Surely there has been some mistake. You can see him thinking that – ‘Me? What, me? You’re kidding. Wrong guy. There’s another Matthew down the road.’ What on earth could he have done to have warranted this action of God on his behalf?

Pope Francis said: “That finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew. That’s me. I feel like him. Like Matthew. It is the gesture of Matthew that strikes me: he holds on to his money as if to say, ‘No, not me! No, this money is mine.’ Here, this is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze.”

Does that ring bells with people? That beautiful, wonderful moment when you realise that Jesus looks on you, on me, and doesn’t hate, doesn’t despise, is not indifferent, but utterly compelled and compelling in love, says ‘follow me’.

As a Christian it is my deepest conviction that in Jesus Christ, God comes to call every one He has made. Everyone has been summoned in Jesus Christ. For in Jesus Christ, God has poured out his love and his grace, his forgiveness and his mercy, his faithfulness. God would not be doing this without you or I.

Evangelism is then a joyful proclamation of what has happened. It’s the news of Jesus Christ. His life as the light breaking into this dark world for us. His death as the fount of our redemption. His resurrection as the hope of all. This news must be told, or how will people know?

We live in a world where hope is in increasingly short supply. Cynicism about politics is the opposite of hope.  Fear is the opposite of hope. Where there is no hope we turn on each other to give ourselves security – temporarily, briefly. When we’re filled with hope, all things become manageable, even the greatest fears. Who can keep quiet about such a fact?

In 1525 William Tyndale, rumoured at one point to have been locked up by one of my predecessors in a tower at the top there, said this: ‘Euangelio (that we call gospel) is a greke word, and signifyth good, merry, glad and joyful tidings, that maketh a mannes hert glad, and maketh hym synge, daunce, and leepe for joye.’

But before I join Peter and continue Jesus’ ministry of calling everyone to follow, I must be one myself who has heard the call. I am a recipient of this light that has broken into my darkness. It is as one who has received that I offer this gift.

This requires my constant, daily conversion. One of the great phrases of Ignatian spirituality is the call to daily conversion. To receive daily, as Cyprian termed it, ‘one great gulp of grace’.

For me, grace is the most beautiful word in the English language. It is so evocative of all. The fact that the Gospel comes afresh to me as a sinner and astounds me with the news that I am loved, accepted, forgiven, redeemed and chosen in Jesus Christ.

My spiritual director came here on Tuesday, an extraordinary Swiss monk with whom I speak from time to time, and he celebrated Mass down in the Crypt Chapel. It was a wonderful moment when those among us who are not Catholics received a blessing and the Catholics received the Eucharist – the opposite to what has been the normal pattern here. And we felt that pain of the Church’s separation.

And he spoke and he said: “We can do nothing except by grace.” It’s his great phrase: “C’est tout grâce.” It is all grace.

Each day the Gospel comes afresh to me as a sinner and astounds me with the news that I am loved, accepted, forgiven, redeemed and chosen in Jesus.

We must open ourselves and the Church to the continual conversion which the Spirit works in us. The Church must continually be converted from the reduction of the Gospel into its fullness.

We cannot leave things as they are, but we experienced grace best by bowing before it and allowing it, every time, to begin with us as though it were for the first time. Even tonight I must receive His grace again.

And if every Christian knew only to receive His grace afresh each day, what transformation would there be? That we can do.

Having received the goodness of God in Jesus Christ it obviously becomes a priority for us as his Church to let others know of what God has done for them.

Of course the church is called to orientate everything around God – that is called worship. But because of who this God is, we are also compelled to be for others the Good News that made this community and instructs this community.

While the Church always exists in time and space, in a locality with particular people, in a particular culture, it is this particular Church. Wonderfully this is God’s work, done by His Spirit. And God initiates this in every church, in every place.

I was, as you might know, Bishop of Durham for a few minutes. My predecessor was Tom Wright. He has the most helpful analogy as to the work of the Church. Imagine a new Shakespeare play was discovered, but it only had four acts and the last one was missing.

What would we do? It wouldn’t simply be discarded. We would call on the greatest directors and producers, the finest actors, to immerse themselves in the first four acts and to engage with the plot and development, and to work together on what the fifth act might be.

This is the position of the Church. We have the first four acts, we have the plot and characters, and now it’s over to us.

But we are not left alone. The director, the artistic producer, the prompt and writer with us is the Holy Spirit. It’s the Spirit that makes the Church, every day, afresh.

In this fifth act, what does the Spirit compel us to do? To invite people to become, like ourselves, participants in the drama of God.

Karl Barth, one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century said this: ‘No other task is so urgent as that of spreading the news on earth and making it known.’

It is God’s initiative. We cannot as his Church proclaim his Good News in our own strength or inspiration. The Spirit goes before us, preparing the ground for the seed. Of course the wine of the Spirit takes the form of the wineskin, and so we as a Church must do the job of clearing ground of thistles and weeds, or rocks and trodden-down paths. But only the Spirit makes it possible.

A few years ago I heard it reported that it was the practice in large supermarkets to pump through the air conditioning system the smells from the bakery. So on entering the shop we, the unsuspecting public, would be met by the aroma of freshly baked bread, and we would therefore desire bread.

It seems to me this is a rather unsophisticated way of interpreting one of the crucial drivers of the New Testament when it comes to evangelism: it’s the work of the Spirit, the ‘go-between God’ [Taylor], to prepare the hearts, desires, minds and senses of people that they might receive the message of God. It’s why we pray – that God would prepare.

Simon Tugwell, a Roman Catholic charismatic theologian was one of those who coined the title of ‘the speech-giving Spirit’ for the Holy Spirit. The Spirit enables the joyful proclamation of the Church, in the telling of the Good News of Jesus Christ – news that is literally ‘new’ to people.

Tugwell traced the early Christian tradition that linked salvation to the opening of the mouth by the Holy Spirit. Again the New Testament sets this out: it’s the Spirit that calls us to say “Abba father” and “Jesus is Lord”. But why do this?

We know how important motives are in detail and the big picture. Gandhi said: “The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted.”

How often have we looked at the Church and wondered what they’re really up to? Or we’re really up to? Or I’m really up to?

Yet the Church gets so many reputations for mixed motivation.

Talleyrand, the great French diplomat, who managed to work for the French royal family until the Revolution in 1789, to work for the Revolutionaries, to work for Napoleon, and to come back to working for the French royal family in 1815 at the Congress of Vienna, died at the Congress of Vienna. And when Metternich, the Austrian Chancellor, was so clever at his manoeuvring that he was told that Talleyrand had died he said: ‘Hmm, what does he mean by that?” [laughter]

Our motive driving this priority for the Church is not, not, not – never, never, never – that numbers are looking fairly low and the future is looking fairly bleak. Never. This is not a survival strategy.

This is not to say I am in any way nonchalant about the seismic challenge facing the church. But evangelism is not a growth strategy.

Of course we want to see full churches. But this is not anxiety for an institution, or worst still self-survival.

Martin Luther’s definition of sin as a heart curved in on itself is instructive for us here. The Church which is concerned primarily for its own life or survival, a church that is curved in on itself, is signing its own death warrant.

As the wonderful missiologist Lesslie Newbigin said: ‘A church that exists only for itself and its own enlargement is a witness against the gospel.’ One could say both a lack of action and too much frantic action thinly mask a lack of confidence in the sufficiency of God.

What compels this priority is the same motive that compelled the first proclaimers; that compelled Archbishop William Temple’s great report in 1945, ‘Towards the conversion of England’; that compelled evangelist Billy Graham; that compelled the decade of evangelism; and all the reports and publications from the General Synod; and Pope Francis’ wonderful encyclical Evangelii Gaudium.

It is summed up in 2 Corinthians 5: 14-15: ‘For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.’

It is the love of Christ that compels us. Every time I think of that, I reflect on how often I have failed to act in the love of Christ, and how unsurprising therefore that there is little response.

Everyone has a right to hear the Gospel, and as Christians we have a duty to proclaim the Good News without excluding anyone.

The only qualification for hearing the Good News is that you don’t know Christ – and that’s not just good news; it’s true news. Indeed it’s only because it’s true that it’s good. And if it’s true, it’s true for all, and must not be concealed from any.

The love that has found us in Christ compels, or constrains us to speak. So does our love for everyone God has made.

John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople who died in 407AD, said something similar:

“Nothing is more deadly than a Christian who is in­different to the salvation of others. Indeed I won­der if such a person can be a true Christian. To become a disciple of Christ is to obey his law of love; and obedience to the law brings joy beyond measure and description. Love means to want the best for others, sharing with them the joy of love. So the Christian feels compelled to speak to others about the law of love, and the joy of obeying this law. Of course, many people are shy about speaking to others; in their case actions motivated by love will be a most eloquent testimony. But those who are not shy will surely want to express their joy at every opportunity. There is no need to use fine words or elegant phrases.”

The Gospel is anything but formulaic. Becky Pippert says: ‘evangelism is not memorising techniques to use on unsuspecting victims.’ Nor is it an inter-church competition – and yet we make it so. But it is God who does it.

The same Spirit who gives us speech enables the proclamation of the Gospel to be always fresh and always distinct. This is the Spirit who, as Eugene Peterson says, ‘always has an address’.

At Pentecost, the speech-giving Spirit enables the news of all that has been opened up to be proclaimed in a tangible and comprehendible way. This is a gospel, Luke is saying to us, for the whole world.

If the Gospel is best and most authentically spoken from person to person in a way which is particular to the hearer, as at Pentecost, the task of translating the gospel into graspable words and concepts is essential. And the process of gospel translation is profoundly interactive. We don’t simply arrive with a set of words grammatically related, or a system of ideas. It is a story that makes history, and we must pay attention to what God is already doing and stirring, for God’s work does not begin with us. It begins with him.

In every respect Jesus Christ is the plumb line for our announcing, for he remains not just the central fact of the Christian faith, but the determining point.

Our constant care must be to proclaim the Good News in ways that are appropriate and fitting to Jesus. It’s obvious, but so often we fit it to what we need. Like the bed in the ancient legend of Procrustes – when he had guests at his castle, if they were too short for the bed, he’d put them on a rack to stretch them, if they were too long he’d cut them down to size.

So often we want to fit people who are not Christians into our church, not make the church fit for new Christians.

The Gospel can be proclaimed in a way that denies the very one it proclaims. We can do the right thing in such a wrong way that it becomes the wrong thing. Anything manipulative or coercive, anything disrespectful or controlling, is ruled out because of who Jesus is.

Having said that, it is clear that God gloriously puts up with all kinds of ways of announcing the Good News which are less than ideal. For example, he uses me. [Laughter]

Having insisted that we take care to speak the Good News in ways that are good news, I am persuaded that the confession of faith in all languages and to all cultures is possible because of the distinctive character of God’s action.

Christian good news must not become bad news for people of other faiths, but we must not shy away from true engagement.

It is not unethical to present the Gospel with love, grace and gentleness borne of true assurance. The privilege of living in a free and mature democracy is that we can both be held accountable for what we do and what we profess, while having the freedom to pray expectantly and to speak intentionally of what we know to be the transforming love of Christ.

That is a freedom to cling to. If our motivation is truly of love and of divine calling, then we must share our experience of Christ with one and all.

Having laid out the motive for evangelism, let us think about how we might go about it.

The old adage is attributed to St Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times, where necessary use words.” Lay it aside, put it down, forget it. Don’t even think about it. Mainly for the reasons that he almost certainly didn’t say it, and even if he did, he was wrong. As T.S. Eliot’s character Sweeney said: “I gotta use words when I talk to you.”

But in order to know how to speak and proclaim, we must listen and converse. We are those who have listened to the Gospel, and our reception of the Good News has formed us.

Luke Bretherton of Duke University in North Carolina says this:

“The merciful command to listen first is ever present, as we cannot presume to know what needs to be said and done with these people, in this place, at this time if they are to truly hear and dwell within the Gospel. Listening to God and neighbor is the prerequisite of proclaiming the Word that, as a human word, can only be heard in dialect.”

The listening and speaking to God is where we start. This is God’s work. Ears only open, eyes only see, hearts only open, hands only receive when the Spirit works. At my installation service the anthem sung took early words from the Rule of St Benedict: “Listen, listen O my child…”

The importance of prayer cannot be overestimated. As St Paul testifies: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has made it grow.” [1 Corinthians 3: 6]

In prayer we actively acknowledge that and practice it, by imploring the Spirit to work powerfully before and behind us, in our stumbling words and efforts.

The subject of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 is that his friends “may have power, together with all God’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know that love that surpasses knowledge”.

For example, there is no evidence of any revival of spiritual life taking place in a society in the Western Christian tradition without the renewal of prayer and the Religious life. How much more would the Lord do if we do but ask Him?

Hospitality, openness and a deep desire to love and accept the other who has not heard and responded to the gospel are fundamental to our proclamation.

At times I wonder about Bonhoeffer’s letter to Eberhard Bethge, in which he set out the idea that common theological language is so misunderstood we could do with ceasing to use it for a generation and then reintroducing it to fresh ears – so that we might be able to define our terms without any of the baggage these words have accumulated. Words like ‘evangelism’, ‘evangelical’, ‘gospel’, and so on and so forth.

However, that’s not what we can do. Wherever we bring the Gospel, we are certain that we do not know the full implications of what it means to say: “Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ will come again.” And when we set forth the Gospel invite, there are always fresh nuances and gifts for us to receive in how each person receives it.

Years ago, in a church we were worshipping at, there was someone who came to Christ quite unexpectedly. The impact of that on that church was profound. The vicar found a whole new desire to evangelise, as he saw the transformation in that person’s life, which he has never lost since. And this was well over 20 years ago. [That person] struggled with faith, but so many people saw what it was to become a Christian and therefore saw their own hope that they had.

The best evangelism takes place when the evangelist and the evangelised learn something new about Christ.

Anything that is tired or worn, blasé or bland, hasn’t begun to cope with the Gospel. The Spirit inspires us to greater and more inspiring creativity and imagination, co-opting every medium possible to extend the invitation, always compelling, definitely arresting – calling on all our senses to be open to His love.

Having said that the Gospel is profoundly personal, I want to mention the corporate element.

The Gospel also has the most profound of public implications. Lesslie Newbigin again: “A serious commitment to evangelism means a radical questioning of the reigning assumptions of public life.”

That’s not a party political statement, just for the record. It is clear in many of the comments that are made regularly in the media that the Church’s basis of faith is not grasped. The starting place for all thought and action is Jesus Christ, who was, and is, and is to come. He cannot be accommodated or co-opted. We can’t say, “well we’ll put him on this to make it more attractive”.

The simple truth is that the resurrected one cannot be accommodated in any way of understanding the world unless He is the starting point.

And finally we think about those whose task it is to proclaim the Good News.

There are of course those who have the gift of setting this forward in ways which are most compelling and constraining. We call those people evangelists.

The church, however, is essential for evangelism. Not just in action and prayer, in activity and engagement, but as the place where the Gospel is seen to make sense.

The American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr asked in the middle of the last century why the lives of most Christians looked like celebrities who endorsed products you knew they didn’t use themselves.

And of course Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium said why is it that so many people go to evangelise looking as though they’ve just come from a funeral?

That is, why should people believe what we say about forgiveness and grace, reconciliation and sacrifice, love and commitment, welcome and acceptance, if when they look at the life of the Church they see something so diametrically opposed to it?

Lesslie Newbigin, as we know, said “the church is the hermeneutic of the gospel.” The tool of interpretation. For our words must be backed up by integrity.

The institutional life of the Church must reflect, enable, promote and speak of the Good News.

How does our structural life reflect and empower our proclamation? We must insist that all of our structures and committees, budgets (which are merely theology in numbers) and plans are appropriate to Jesus Christ, and the imperative to make him known.

What the Church has to do must not be determined by its institution; its institution must be determined by what it has to do. Evangelism is good for us, it is necessary for a healthy church, because by it the Gospel takes a fresh hold of us and Jesus Christ increases his presence and joy among us.

And that is a priority for every Christian. Luke says the last words of Jesus to the disciples: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses.” [Acts 1: 8]

He is not describing what they’ll do – witness is not a verb, it is a noun. He is describing what they are. The question is not whether we want to be witnesses; it is whether we are faithful witnesses. We are all witnesses; it’s just whether we live that out. It is such a strong concept.

For a witness simply says what they have seen and experienced. We say what we know. Each witness is unique; no two witnesses can witness in the same way.

In 1945, the report which William Temple instigated came out, ‘Towards the conversion of England’. In it they were uncompromising: there would be no significant turning to God in the nation apart from the witness of every Christian. In 1985, the Church of England published the report, ‘All are called – Towards a theology of the laity’. It argued that by virtue of baptism every Christian was called to witness to Jesus Christ.

The man acclaimed as the best theologian in North America, Stanley Hauerwas, goes as far to say: “Witness names the truth that the only way we can know the character of the world, the only way we know ourselves, the only way we know God, is by one person telling another.”

Do our lives reflect that call? It’s the biggest hill for the Church to climb. That is the one that we have not cracked. Professional evangelists are wonderful; thank God for them. They are utterly necessary, totally essential – but they are not sufficient. Every Christian is required to be sufficient.

To go back to Chrysostom as we come the end:

“Don’t tell me ‘it is impossible for me to influence others.’ If you are a Christian, it is impossible for you NOT to influence others! Just as the elements that make up your human nature do not contradict each other, so also in this matter – it belongs to the very nature of a Christian that he influences others. So, do not offend God. If you say, ‘the sun cannot shine,’ you offend Him. If you say, ‘I, a Christian cannot be of service to others,’ you have offended Him and called Him a liar. It is easier for the sun not to shine than for a Christian not to do so. It is easier for light itself to be darkness than for a Christian not to give light. So don’t tell me it is impossible for you as a Christian to influence others, when it is the opposite that is impossible. Do not offend God. If we arrange our affairs in an orderly manner, these things will certainly follow quite naturally. It is impossible for a Christian’s light to lie concealed. So brilliant a lamp cannot be hidden.”

This is not easy or without cost for any of us. As we remind ourselves that the Greek word for witness is martyr, we are more and more, in these days, confronted with the fact that the word has come to have the associations it has with death, because of the price the first witnesses were prepared to pay to be faithful.

A couple of weeks ago we know 21 Christians were murdered in Libya. I was talking to Bishop Angaelos, the Coptic Bishop in England, who I went to see to offer condolence. He told me that from one who escaped they heard that as each one was killed, most savagely, they cried out, “Jesus Christ is Lord”. Their last words were witness.

As I finish let us return to Caravaggio’s painting. Notice, if you will, down at the bottom of the picture, another hand that mirrors the calling hand of Jesus. It’s that of Peter. You see him hesitant, not confidant, and seeming to look not at Matthew but one of his friends.

Jesus involves us in His work of calling people to follow him. This is the work of evangelism.

However weakly, however hesitantly, He calls us to extend our hands and our hearts, to use our words and lives, to echo His call to every person to follow Him.

For it is the best decision anyone can ever make is to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Amen.

England: Bishop Libby Lane installed at Chester Cathedral

ENS Headlines - Thursday, March 12, 2015

Bishop Libby Lane with servers at Chester Cathedral during her installation service on March 8. Photo: Diocese of Chester

[Diocese of Chester] The Rt. Rev. Libby Lane – the first female bishop in the history of the Church of England – was formally installed as the eighth bishop of Stockport at Chester Cathedral on International Women’s Day, Sunday, March 8.

More than 1,900 people from across the county of Cheshire attended the installation, which was part of a service of Choral Evensong.

The occasion started with a procession and the choir singing the Introit, followed by Bishop of Birkenhead Keith Sinclair welcoming Lane and inviting others to express their greetings.

Bishop of Chester Peter Forster then invited Dean of Chester Gordon McPhate to install Lane as the bishop of Stockport, a suffragan (assistant) bishop in the Diocese of Chester.

Lane took her place in her stall and the dean called for the blessing of God to rest upon her in all her duty and charge. She was presented with her pastoral staff and welcomed by the civic and faith communities from across the Diocese of Chester. During the service she preached on the theme of the confidence that humans have, knowing that they are loved by God.

Among the guests were: the chief executive officer of Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council; the mayors of Trafford, Tameside, Cheshire East, Stockport, and Chester boroughs; and the High Sheriffs and Lord Lieutenants of Cheshire and Greater Manchester.

The installation marked the formal start of Lane’s new ministry in the diocese. She said: “I treasure the remarkable welcome extended to me in my new ministry as bishop of Stockport by people across the Diocese of Chester.

“The service of installation during evensong at the cathedral felt like a homecoming. It was wonderful that so many wanted to share that occasion, and I particularly extend my appreciation to those who could not be present because requests to attend outstripped even the cathedral’s capacity, but who supported me in prayer nonetheless. Our whole family is very grateful for the love and support that we have received.

“I look forward now to settling into this new ministry. On the day of my announcement I expressed my gratitude – to the Diocese of Chester for the confidence placed in me, to those who have gone before me, to God for His faithfulness to us, to Christ, whose love for me is the source of all am and all I will be doing. I continue to feel deeply grateful for the honor of this calling and the privilege of exercising it in this place.

“Expectations are high, and I too am excited by the possibilities and challenges ahead. I echo what I said in my statement at my announcement – the church faces wonderful opportunities, to proclaim afresh, in this generation, the Good News of Jesus and to build His Kingdom. I am delighted to be engaging with that task in an area I know and love and among people I value so highly. But I do know I’ll need people to be patient and understanding – about the time it will take for me to address all that is already waiting for me, and for the mistakes I will inevitably make on the way. So I ask for continued prayer – God our Father, hear our prayer for all your faithful people, that, each in our vocation and ministry may be an instrument of your love, and give to us the needful gifts of grace.”

Lane, 48, was previously vicar of Hale and Ashley in the Chester diocese from 2007-14. She is married to the Rev. George Lane, coordinating chaplain at Manchester Airport. They were one of the first married couples in the Church of England to be ordained together. She has also held other roles in the diocese, including: team vicar in the Stockport South West Team; assistant diocesan director of ordinands; family life officer for the diocesan Committee for Social Responsibility; and chair of the diocesan Children’s Committee.

McPhate, said: “We were honored to welcome the bishop of Stockport and her supporters to the installation service at the cathedral. It was a day of worship and celebration – for men and women alike – as a new chapter was created in the Church of England.”

Lane was ordained and consecrated as the first female bishop in the history of the Church of England on Jan. 26 during a service at York Minster.

Lane was appointed Dec. 17. Her appointment and the ordination and consecration on Jan. 26 followed more than a decade of often-emotional debate accompanied by various stages of legislative action. The Church of England voted in July to allow women to become bishops, a decision that was later approved by the U.K. Parliament and given the assent of Queen Elizabeth II. The approvals were required because the church’s decision effectively changed English law. (The Church of England is an officially established Christian church with Queen Elizabeth II as its supreme governor.)

Anglican leaders from across Africa meet in Cape Town

ENS Headlines - Thursday, March 12, 2015

African church leaders visit Masikhanye Food Garden in Khayelitsha, South Africa. Photo: Office of Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

[Anglican Church of Southern Africa] Anglican Church leaders from across Africa are being hosted at meetings in Cape Town by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town.

The leaders include archbishops, bishops and other members of the Council of African Provinces of Africa (CAPA), a body which coordinates and articulates issues affecting the church and communities across the continent.

The council, chaired by the Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi, archbishop of the Province of the Anglican Church of Burundi, represents Anglicans in 26 countries from 12 church provinces.

The meetings, which are happening in South Africa for the first time, include primates (the leaders) of churches and members of the CAPA Standing Committee.

The meetings have included a gathering of members of the Anglican Global South, chaired by the Most Rev. Mouneer Hanna Anis of Egypt, president bishop of the Anglican Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East.

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South Africa’s minister of international relations and cooperation, and Premier Helen Zille of the Western Cape sent messages of welcome to the delegates and their spouses.

Makgoba said the meetings were a tangible expression of the Anglican family belonging together. He expressed hope that the meeting would renew relations among churches across Africa.

On the first day, participants visited Masikhanye Food Garden in Khayelitsha, an urban food project supported by the Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s outreach arm, Hope Africa.

Archbishop Welby reflects on reconciliation at interfaith reception

ENS Headlines - Thursday, March 12, 2015

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby speaks on peacemaking and reconciliation at annual reception for faith groups at Lambeth Palace. Photo: Lambeth Palace

[Lambeth Palace press release] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby hosted a reception on March 10 at Lambeth Palace for interreligious and community leaders.

Speaking at the annual event, which brings together members different faith groups to foster relationships, Welby reflected on the theme of reconciliation, which is one of his ministry priorities.

The event was attended by a wide range of people from Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Jain and Christian traditions.

In his remarks, the archbishop shared stories of his experience of conflict and peacebuilding around the global Anglican Communion.

Later in the evening those gathered spoke with each other about how they can lead the way as reconcilers and peacebuilders on a local community level, before putting questions to the Archbishop.

Guests included Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis; Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles; Under-Secretary for Communities and Local Government Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon; Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Hilary Benn; and Rehman Chishti, MP for Gillingham and Rainham; among many others.

Read the Archbishop’s remarks below: 

Ladies and gentlemen, Secretary of State, Chief Rabbi, sheiks, rabbis and leaders of all the different faiths, it’s a huge privilege to have you here this evening.

We look forward to this event with great anticipation. It’s one of the high points of the year. Last year it was enormously significant for us – for Caroline and myself – in having the chance to meet so many people, and to come back to see you here again this year it’s absolutely wonderful. So thank you for being here.

The last year has been, I think, we would all agree, quite a difficult year for faith groups, both in this country and round the world. We need to acknowledge the international troubles that all of us are affected by and all feel very, very deeply.

There are obvious ones that are at the front of our minds and at the front of the news the whole time, whether Paris, Copenhagen, Iraq and Syria, Nigeria, Libya and so on.

Many forgotten areas… during the last two years Caroline and I have visited all 37 other provinces of the Anglican Communion. One of the great educational points for us of that has been the huge range of places where there is violence of some kind linked to religion – religiously justified, tragically.

So even places like Myanmar, talking to a bishop in the north of Myanmar on the border with India. I was asking about his diocese, the area that he’s bishop to. And he said, ‘Oh well, one of the parishes I visit is eight days walk through the hills and forest to get to it.’

Eight days. And we talked about that and he wandered off, the archbishops said to me, ‘Of course it should be four days.’ I said, ‘Why does he walk so slowly?’

And he said, ‘Well, it’s not that he walks slowly, it’s just that the area is so full of mines that the party going to the parish have to go in single file, carefully putting their feet with one person 50 metres ahead – so if one person steps on a mine no one else is hurt – and they put their feet only in the place that the person in front of them has put their feet.’

And he said that slows you up a great deal. And that was a conflict of which I was completely unaware, frankly, before we went there.

In this country there are many challenges as well. The Secretary of State knows this very well. By the grace of God we have avoided too much serious violence in the last year. Not on the scale we’ve seen elsewhere.

We are all grateful for that, and I think we need to say that we’re grateful to those who seek to prevent violence in this country. We’re fortunate to live in a country where that is not the everyday occurrence.

But there have been attacks on people from faith groups in the UK too. There’s been animosity, fear and division.

We’ve seen attacks on synagogues and mosques, in particular, and those – we have said from here and our bishops have said around the country – are totally, utterly abhorrent and unacceptable, and we want to stand with those who suffer that from any faith tradition.

Conflict is an inevitable part of the human condition, as we seek to cope with diversity and difference. And in a world in which we have the internet, diversity becomes more apparent. You can see diversity which before was hidden from you because it was the other side of the world, just by clicking on your computer.

That makes – rather than people beginning to think the same way – that often makes diversity in your face and more difficult to deal with. And then it overlaps into the local situation and becomes more difficult to deal with locally.

And the increase in what is often called in the press ‘religious conflict’ is unsurprising. But actually there is beginning to be a push-back, because what I’m sure we’re all aware of is that very often the most complex issues that are economic, sociological, geographical, historical, tribal and other things, are used by evil-minded people – they use religion because it’s simple.

If you say to a group of people, ‘You are the marginalised victims of a globalising economy in which, because of lack of education and skills and a certain amount of corruption in government, you have failed to gain the educational achievements needed to compete  on an international…’ – you’ve lost them a long time back.

If you say, ‘You belong to X faith and you’re good, and they belong to Y faith and they’re therefore bad…’ everyone can get their mind around that pretty simply.

It may not be the reason, but it’s an easy hook to hang things on. And the trouble with hanging things on hooks that eventually the hook becomes part of the problem.

So when we meet together this evening and enjoy each other’s company, it defies quite rightly and truly that narrative that we can’t talk to each other and we can’t share with each other.

But it also reminds us that as religious leaders we need to rise to the challenge, providing a narrative, a story, that the world hears that is not about destructive conflict but is about diversity and difference being handled well and effectively, and without destruction.

We are not strangers to destructive religious conflict in either the Anglican Communion or the Church of England. That gentleman in the corner there [points to portrait on the wall], William Laud, was the last of my predecessors to be executed. He was executed in 1645 for a large number of reasons, but some of them religious. He picked the wrong side.

Thomas Cranmer was burnt to death, of course, in 1556 by the man who planted the rather fine fig tree down outside the Great Hall, because, again, he’d picked the wrong side.

We Anglicans, and we Christians, know a great deal about killing each other for purportedly religious reasons. We have no great mount of righteousness on which to stand, from which to judge the rest of the world.

Within the Anglican family at the moment we argue and differ and struggle with our differences – and struggle to handle them well, and often fail.

One of the key parts of what I’m passionate about and deeply involved in is that of reconciliation.

Over there by the door is Canon David Porter, Northern Irishman with huge experience of the conflict in Northern Ireland, and Director of Reconciliation here at Lambeth Palace. He’s been working locally and internationally on many of the issues that we’re aware of.

Reconciliation, meaning converting violent conflict into disagreement that is non-violent and non-destructive, enables us to see diversity as an opportunity and blessing rather than a threat, to be creative with diversity rather than destructive with it.

Despite our challenges and indeed many failings, even in the Anglican Communion there are many signs of this – in the South Sudan, Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul is leading reconciliation in the middle of one of both the most cruel and the most forgotten wars going on anywhere today in the world.

He has taken huge risks as he has called for peacemaking, and his own side has begun to turn on him as a traitor. Many of us will be familiar with that.

I think the challenge for us here, as UK religious leaders, is not to find some kind of strange syncretism in which we say there are no differences, but to find ways of demonstrating reconciliation – diversity held, but diversity as blessing, not danger, in the UK.

We have to lead by example. We need to acknowledge and own our own failings. And as I say, there are plenty in the Christian tradition in this country – not only in 1645 but much more recently, indeed to this very day.

We need to create a space that is relational – that’s what this evening is about in many ways – in which we know each other well enough to say the difficult things to each other.

We all know in our own experiences, from those who we know love us – when we’re dealing with someone who we’re close to, they can say things to us that nobody else can, because we know that they’re not condemning us, they’re loving us.

We need to be able to have difficult conversations with one another, and between our communities. The Near Neighbours programme is about that. I see Paul Hackwood over there, who leads the Church Urban Fund, which is deeply, deeply involved in the leadership of Near Neighbours.

The Department for Communities and Local Government, led by the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, with Lord Ahmad here as well, who have contributed greatly to Near Neighbours and been the main funders of it. And in a totally generous and nondirective way. They haven’t tried to tell us to do it this way and this way. They’ve given freedom for this to be an effective means of help in many areas, and we’re deeply grateful for that.

And as leaders we need to be willing to take the first step. We can’t enforce reconciliation, but we can choose to model what we hope to see in our communities.

Mark Poulson, the Secretary for Interfaith Affairs here at Lambeth Palace and at the Church of England, who has just joined us in January – previously in Southall – is one of those who has modelled reconciliation at the local level, as those from Southall know well and value greatly.

So I think we’ve faced a difficult year. The media quite often simplify things into simple matters of religion, which are profoundly more complex. We challenge that with relationship, with our own example as leaders, acknowledging our own failures and standing with each other in times of trouble.

I have to say that for me, the greatest privilege I ever have is that when someone is attacked – and I look around and I see communities that have been – and I’ve been invited to go and stand with them. It is a privilege beyond measure to do that and I am invariably deeply grateful to be allowed to be with them at times of profound stress.

So thank you for your presence here this evening, and thank you for listening.

Sturdie Wyman Downs installed as primate for Central America

ENS Headlines - Thursday, March 12, 2015

[Anglican Diocese of Nicaragua] Bishop Sturdie Wyman Downs from the Diocese of Nicaragua was installed as the new archbishop of the Anglican Church in Central American (IARCA) on Feb. 21.

He takes over leadership of the province — comprising the dioceses of Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama — from the Most Rev. Armando Guerra Soria, bishop of Guatemala.

The service of investment at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Bluefields, Nicaragua, was presided over by Soria, Costa Rica Bishop Hector Monterroso Gonzalez, El Salvador Bishop Juan David Alvarado, former El Salvador Bishop Martín Barahona, and Panama Bishop Julio Murray.

Read more in Spanish.

EPPN Lenten Series: Engaging Poverty at Home and Around the World

ENS Headlines - Thursday, March 12, 2015

EPPN Lenten Series: Engaging Poverty at Home and Around the World

In this week’s reflection, we focus on global poverty. Patricia Kisare, Legislative Representative for International Policy for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, reflects on the progress that has been made in reducing extreme poverty around the world, outlines the challenges ahead, and offers an opportunity for advocacy.

“Our Dream is a World Free of Poverty”

“We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us – and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the worlds’ goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help?” 1 John 3:16-17 (NRSV)The words “Our Dream is a World Free of Poverty” are enshrined on the walls of the World Bank building. Although I had seen them before, the meaning and symbolism of this phrase never truly struck me until a few weeks ago when I attended a meeting there. The slogan represents the overarching mission of the Bank- the largest multilateral institution tasked with the job of ending extreme poverty globally.

The World Bank reports that in the past twenty years, extreme levels of poverty in developing countries have been reduced tremendously. The Bank’s report on poverty eradication shows that between the years 1990 and 2010, 700 million people were lifted out of extreme poverty. The Bank measures extreme poverty as subsisting on $1.25 per day. Investments by governments, the private sector, churches like ours, and other non-governmental organizations have contributed to this progress.

However, approximately 1 billion people continue to live in extreme poverty. For them, having access to basic necessities is a constant challenge- many are forced to make impossible choices every day. As a consequence, people living in extreme poverty are often denied basic freedoms and human dignity that many of us enjoy.

What might a world “free of poverty” look like?

Please GO HERE to access the full reflection.

‘Our tribe is women': Statement from the women of South Sudan

ENS Headlines - Thursday, March 12, 2015

[Anglican Alliance] The women of the Episcopal Church of Sudan & South Sudan have issued the following statement.

The conflict in South Sudan broke out on 15th December 2013 when a political disagreement arose in the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) party pitting the President, H.E. Salva Kiir and his former Vice President Dr. Riek Machar. This came just 2 years after independence. The conflict turned violent, taking on tribal dimensions between the Dinka and Nuer ethnic groups.

Starting in Juba, the capital city, the fighting spread out to Jonglei, Upper Nile and Lake States and some parts of Warrap.

Since the war broke out a little over a year ago, an estimated 20,000 people have died while over 1.5 million people are internally displaced (UN OCHA Situation Report 26 February 2015). Those who have fled the country into the neighbouring Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda are at least 500,000 (UNHCR portal 4 March 2015).

In a bid to bring a resolution to the conflict, a peace process was initiated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in 2014. To date, the talks have not yielded much fruit as the parties are yet to agree on contentious issues.

The conflict has precipitated an unpreceded humanitarian crisis that has brought together various efforts in response, particularly from the non-government sector (NGOs and Faith Based Organisations). The Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan (ECSS&S) through its development wing, Sudanese Development & Relief Agency (SUDRA) has set up an elaborate response mechanism with the support of its partners led by the Anglican Alliance. They have managed to distribute various food items and provide health care to IDPs in Awerial, Milijo in Nimule and Lologo. They also provided humanitarian aid to the Dioceses of Twic East, Renk, Bentiu, Malakal and Wau. The Church has also assisted women by providing sanitary wear.

ECSS&S has also embarked on the rehabilitation phase of the humanitarian assistance that will entail psychosocial support, projects for income generation (tailoring, farming and a restaurant). However, the assistance given through the church hardly meets the immense needs that are evident among those affected by the ongoing conflict. A lot more needs to be done to complement these activities as many people are still suffering in the various IDP camps without basics like food.

As in most conflicts anywhere in the world, the women and children are most affected. This is an especially vulnerable group due to the loss of livelihoods and the interrupted schooling. A lot of the women are widowed and the children orphaned.

The women of South Sudan have witnessed untold atrocities and undergone abuses that have grossly undermined their dignity and rights as human beings. These women have no access to basic facilities like homes to live in, health facilities or schools for their children. They have no way of providing food for families as relief supplies are limited or not even available in many areas especially where the church has been responding. The situation is further complicated by the inaccessibility of some areas due to the conflict.

Owing to the far reaching effects of this conflict on women and children, as the women of South Sudan, we demand for:

  •       Respect for the ceasefire and an immediate cessation of hostilities
  •       A comprehensive peace agreement
  •       Facilitation of humanitarian assistance to reach all in need in all locations
  •       IGAD to remain neutral in the peace process
  •       The Government of South Sudan to allocate resources to humanitarian support for its internally displaced citizens

As the women of South Sudan, we abhor tribalism and the division it causes. We therefore call upon all the women of South Sudan from all walks of life to forge a common agenda for peace.

Our Tribe Is Women.

We extend this call for solidarity and support to our sisters in Africa and the world especially on this International Women’s Day 2015.

To the women of faith all around the world, we seek your prayer support.

May God bless South Sudan!

May God touch the hearts of her leaders and bring peace to her people!

In the video below Mama Harriet, President of the Mothers’ Union in South Sudan, speaks out and calls for peace.

Partnership provides online resources for mapping local ministries: Episcopal Asset Map

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, March 10, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] An innovative partnership between the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society and Episcopal Relief & Development has resulted in a new online tool – the Episcopal Asset Map – to learn more about local ministries and to enhance them.

The Episcopal Asset Map, available here, is an online service showing the location and the array of ministries offered by Episcopal congregations, schools and institutions throughout the United States in dioceses that are participating in the project. The Episcopal Asset Map is available at no fee.

“I deeply value the important work diocesan and local leaders have put into building the Episcopal Asset Map thus far, and hope that more dioceses will join in the coming months,” said Bishop Stacy Sauls, Chief Operating Officer of The Episcopal Church and Episcopal Relief & Development ex-officio board member. “I know that both The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society and Episcopal Relief & Development are supporting this endeavor with training and resources to encourage widespread participation.  The collaboration and partnership between these two important service organizations of The Episcopal Church is a great asset to our mission.  It is very exciting to watch the map bloom with information that will lead to new connections, partnerships and ministries.”

The Episcopal Asset Map displays pins on a map interface, with scan and search functions allowing users to explore their local area or the entire country.  Clicking on a pin (or a link from the list view) provides contact information and descriptions of programs at that particular location.

“The Asset Map will help tell the stories of some of the truly inspiring Gospel ministry being done in local contexts across the country,” said the Rev. Canon E. Mark Stevenson, Domestic Poverty Missioner for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. “Episcopalians on the front line of mission will be the driving force behind this resource as it continues to develop for many years to come.”

What began as a pilot in the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana in 2012 and Diocese of New York in 2013 has grown to active participation of 16 Episcopal dioceses as of March 2015* and more are welcomed. Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program worked with leaders in Diocese of Louisiana and Diocese of New York to build an online platform to catalog and celebrate the ministries and facilities in their dioceses.  Now, these maps serve as models for other dioceses to get involved in building their own presence.

“The Asset Map is a visual catalog of The Episcopal Church at large, enabling diocesan leaders, church members and church seekers alike to see at a glance and in depth what the Church’s presence looks like in their area, both infrastructure and programs,” said Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Vice President of Programs.  “It has wide-ranging potential to facilitate the development of new ministries and partnerships, and support the mobilization of resources and expertise.”

Join the map
To join, the diocesan bishop needs to agree to participate. From there the bishop appoints up to three administrators, and the Asset Map team members provide training and support to facilitate successful implementation.  A simple web-based survey, which can be filled out by anyone with knowledge of the programs, collects information about each location plotted on the map.  Images and videos can also be uploaded to provide a detailed description of activities.  A diocesan map administrator moderates all submissions before they appear on the location’s page.

A short video is available here.

Disaster help
Additionally, the Episcopal Asset Map has particular utility for disaster preparedness and response.  The map can show churches and other locations that might be at risk of flooding or near where a tornado has touched down, and what nearby ministries or facilities could be mobilized to help.  Increasing collaboration and building on existing resources and expertise are key outcomes supported by the availability of information through the map.

“Utilizing information from the map, diocesan leaders will be able to advise on how to quickly and accurately assess needs and resources in an impacted area,” Katie Mears, Director of Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program said. “Coordinating a response is much easier when you can instantly see on a map where the nearest food pantry or shelter ministry is.  Adding this information to the map can be an important part of disaster preparedness for any congregation or diocese.”

For more info
For more information contact Stevenson at mstevenson@episcopalchurch.org or Mears at kmears@episcopalrelief.org.

*List of participating dioceses
California, Central Gulf Coast, Chicago, Colorado, Eastern Michigan, El Camino Real, Georgia, Los Angeles, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Northern California, Northern Indiana and Virginia.

(Note: While the Episcopal Asset Map currently depicts Episcopal dioceses in the geographic United States, expansion will include Province IX and other international dioceses of The Episcopal Church.)

Apply now for campus ministries grants

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 9, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Applications are now accepted by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society for grant proposals from dioceses, parishes or community colleges/colleges/universities for new as well as current campus ministries in higher education institutions located throughout The Episcopal Church.

“The proposals for grants are meant to assist in the start-up of new campus ministries or the restart of dormant campus ministries,” explained the Rev. Shannon Kelly, acting missioner for campus and young adult ministries for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.

There are two categories of grants:

A series of Campus Ministries grants to provide seed money to assist in the start-up of new, innovative campus ministries or to enhance a current program; grants will range from $3,000 to $5,000.

One Leadership grant to establish a new, restore a dormant, or re-energize a current campus ministry; the grant will range between $20,000 and $30,000 and can be used over a two-year period with all monies being dispersed in 2015.

The grant applications are for the 2015-2016 academic year with the monies being dispersed in 2015. Deadline for submitting grant proposals is April 30.

Guidelines, addition information and to submit a proposal(s) here.

A total of $95,292 in grant money is available.

For more information contact Kelly at skelly@episcopalchurch.org

Episcopal Church Campus ministries: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/young-adultcampus-ministries

Shannon Kelly named Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society acting missioner for campus and young adult ministries

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 9, 2015

The Rev. Shannon Kelly

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Bishop Stacy F. Sauls, chief operating officer of The Episcopal Church, has announced that the Rev. Shannon Kelly has been named acting missioner for campus and young adult ministries for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.

“Shannon’s gifts have assisted many programs on all levels of The Episcopal Church, and we are glad she is joining our churchwide staff,” Bishop Sauls stated.  “Shannon is creative, innovative and spirit-filled and we look forward to her work in these crucial areas, especially as we lead up to General Convention 2015.”

As acting missioner for campus and young adult ministries, Kelly will oversee the mission work of campus ministries and young adults, as well as support other areas of formation ministries, such as events and curriculum development for all ages and grant work.

Kelly has served congregations in the Dioceses of California, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York and Wisconsin, focusing on formation and children’s/youth ministries. She was the assistant to the bishop for Christian formation in the Diocese of Milwaukee, which included a campus ministry post. In addition, she serves as the associate for curriculum development for Living Compass Ministries and has served as a mission consultant to the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, Episcopal Relief & Development, ChurchNext, and Forward Movement. She was a member of the Episcopal Youth Event Mission Planning Team for both the 2011 and 2014 events and was the chaplain to the 2012 General Convention Official Youth Presence.  She wrote and edited God of My Heart.

Kelly’s office is based in Columbus, Ohio (Diocese of Southern Ohio). She can be reached at skelly@episcopalchurch.org.

The position of acting missioner for campus and young adult ministries is in effect through General Convention 2015.

 

Canon David Porter shares lessons learned about reconciliation

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 9, 2015

Canon David. W. Porter is director of reconciliation for the Archbishop of Canterbury. Photo: John Armstrong

[Episcopal News Service] “Reconciliation is always a quest, always a journey,” observed Canon David. W. Porter, director of reconciliation for the Archbishop of Canterbury, as he addressed Episcopalians gathered for the annual assembly of the Episcopal Urban Caucus in late February.

The Episcopal Church in Connecticut hosted the two-day conference in Meriden. The Episcopal Urban Caucus is an association of lay and ordained Episcopalians dedicated to the cause of reconciliation, social justice and peace. Porter spoke at one of ten workshops that explored ways to end violence and promote reconciliation.

Porter, formerly a peace-building practitioner in Northern Ireland, is a layperson and a Baptist who called himself a “strongly convinced Anabaptist, who would be a Mennonite if I lived in America.” Archbishop Justin Welby and Porter worked together when Porter was serving as the canon for reconciliation at Coventry Cathedral and Welby was the dean of Liverpool. Welby has made reconciliation a cornerstone of his episcopacy and hired Porter to his current position soon after being appointed archbishop.

Porter said that he has one title but three jobs. His first task is to work within the Church of England to find a different way of engaging issues of deep difference, such as the ordination of women bishops. This particular issue moved forward in January of this year when the Rt. Rev. Libby Lane was ordained and consecrated as bishop suffragan of Stockton.

Efforts to ordain women to the episcopate in the Church of England helped define a model for what Porter called “the Archbishop’s vision of learning to disagree well.” Porter is now applying the model to the issue of human sexuality by organizing a series of “shared conversations” among clusters of diocese in 13 different locations, followed by the General Synod in 2016. His sees his role as helping to “take the toxicity out of the conversation.”

Porter’s second job is to advise on healing divisions in the Anglican Communion. Welby, during his first year in office, visited 37 primates. While Welby was welcomed for those visits, the message has been “hospitality does not mean reconciliation” and there are many differences to be reconciled.

Porter and Connecticut Bishop Diocesan Ian Douglas together explained how the “bonds of affection” that developed between Anglican churches following British and American colonialism were no longer sufficient to hold the Anglican Communion together. Porter and Douglas agreed that common participation in God’s mission, while not denying difference in contemporary post-colonial Anglicanism, offered a hopeful way forward.

Porter said his third task is the one he likes the most. The vast majority of the 85 million Anglicans around the world live in conflict situations and or in post-conflict situations, he said. In these contexts the questions become: “How do we help churches keep going? How do we keep churches from becoming part of the conflict and taking sides? And how can churches and their leaders become peace-builders and bridge-builders in their own right?” To facilitate this work Porter draws on his experience in Northern Ireland.

Porter concluded his talk by summarizing six lessons about reconciliation that he has learned through those years. First, “it’s always political” and politics is the art of negotiating relationships that are often very personal. Since all conflicts are political, if the church is to be involved it has to be political.

Second, “bad religion trumps good.” When false religions use slogans and make tempting promises, people will believe and sign on every time. “We should not give up hope. We need to think differently about how we go about changing our world and challenging bad religion.”

Third, “we are all responsible.” Here Porter drew the distinction between being complicit and being culpable. Everyone who is aware of unreconciled situations is complicit, but only when we participate in the conflict do we become culpable.

Fourth, “history matters” and it is critical to keep a historical perspective. Relationships make all the difference, he explained several times, and knowing the history of a relationship helps forge stronger ties.

Fifth, “peace offends [and] can violate our sense of justice,” he said. This is because in the name of reconciliation, justice may not be served. For him personally what mattered was “There is a belief that there is a world to come in which all will have to give an account to the living God, and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. I may not see justice now but as Martin Luther King said, ‘The arc of the universe tends toward justice’ and that arc does not stop at death.”

Sixth, “reconciliation is elusive.” Porter said “Reconciliation is not a technique or a program. It’s a journey towards the kingdom, a journey into Christ, always a quest and always elusive.”

̶  John Armstrong is a retired IT professional now working as a freelance journalist.

Jubilee Ministries challenge poverty and the church

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 9, 2015

Children attending garden camp at Brigit’s Bounty, a Jubilee Ministry sponsored by St. Brigit’s Episcopal Church in Frederick, Colorado, get to see life in the garden. St. Brigit’s huge campus allows for an enormous garden and orchard. The program donates produce to local food banks and neighbors in need. Each year it invites children into the garden to learn about care for creation. Photo: St. Brigit’s Episcopal Church

[Episcopal News Service] Of the many ways the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society supports Episcopalians in their effort to live out the fourth Mark of Mission’s call to “seek to transform unjust structures of society,” Jubilee Ministries is one of the staunchest.

There are now nearly 700 Jubilee Ministry Centers across The Episcopal Church. (The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is the legal and canonical name under which The Episcopal Church is incorporated, conducts business and carries out mission.)

The centers work to empower the poor and oppressed in their communities by providing direct services, such as food, shelter and health care, and by advocating for human rights.

“When you go to a Jubilee Center, you’re not just seeing what the local social-service agency does,” said the Rev. Mark Stevenson, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s domestic poverty missioner. “You’re not just seeing what a church does on Sunday morning when they come together to worship. You’re not just seeing somebody writing letters to a statehouse or having conversations with community leaders. You’re seeing a mixture of all that together from a church perspective. I think that’s what Jubilee does very well.”

General Convention, meeting in 1982 in New Orleans, established Jubilee Ministries to “challenge and confront the members of The Episcopal Church and other churches … to understand the facts of poverty and injustice, encouraging them to take an active role in meeting the needs of poor and oppressed people and in the struggles against the causes of such suffering.”

The convention issued this challenge out of an understanding that “a ministry of joint discipleship in Christ with poor and oppressed people, wherever they are found, to meet basic human needs and to build a just society, is at the heart of the mission of the church.”

The church’s Executive Council designates local ministries as Jubilee Centers after the organizations successfully complete an application process. The committee that reviews those applications often has a tough job, Stevenson said, because all the applicants represent “really good ministries.”

Jubilee’s strength is its multifaceted nature, he said. “It’s service to the poor, it’s advocacy and its worship. It’s the church at her best.”

In choosing which ministries receive the Jubilee Center designation, he said, “we want to highlight programs that really bring all those things together in different ways and do them well.”

The Diocese of Colorado provides a great example of diocesan Jubilee efforts, Stevenson said.

The Rev. Rebecca Jones, a deacon who serves as the diocese’s Jubilee officer, said she and her predecessor, the Rev. Chris Johnson, have worked for years to nurture what is now a network of 35 Jubilee Centers spread across the state’s 104,100 square miles. Those ministries range from urban ones such as St. Claire’s Ministries, serving the homeless and hungry in a Denver intercity neighborhood, to rural ones such as Grace’s Kitchen and Good Samaritan Center that serve folks in and around Cortez on the Western Slope. Two Colorado-based ministries work internationally: the Colorado Haiti Project, which helps rural Haitian communities rise from poverty, and Project Education South Sudan, which builds sustainable schools and trains community leaders in that war-torn region.

Students eat lunch at St. Paul’s School in Petit Trou de Nippes, Haiti. The school, founded 25 years ago by the Colorado Haiti Project, provides a nutritious meal to more than 700 students a day. Photo: Colorado Haiti Project

In September 2013, when a devastating flood inundated Colorado’s Front Range, three Jubilee Centers – Crossroads Ministry in Estes Park, Cooperating Ministry of Logan County and Caring Ministries of Morgan County – “became the point of contact for Episcopal Relief & Development to come in and help,” Jones said.

Jubilee Ministry is a visible part of the diocese’s outreach efforts. Jones credits the strong support of Bishop Rob O’Neill for that, saying he “talks it up” wherever he goes and people can tell how proud the diocese is of the Jubilee Ministries. They are on the diocesan cycle of prayer, so individual centers are prayed for regularly. “People begin to absorb it without even realizing it,” Jones said of Jubilee work around the diocese.

All of that work and visibility have meant that “at some point we reached a critical mass, and now people are coming to me saying they want to become a Jubilee Ministry.”

People involved in the diocese’s Jubilee Ministries gather two of three times a year to share information, celebrate their achievements and learn about collaboration opportunities, as well as hear of challenges for which their colleagues need prayer.

Jones described her job as all about being relational. “I create a space and hold it open for these ministries to come together and for the Holy Spirit to do the work of making those connections be productive,” she said.

Jubilee Centers are eligible for grants to support and expand their work from the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society on a regular cycle. In the latest round of grants, 14 recipients in 11 dioceses received $49,965 to support their mission and ministry.

In the Diocese of West Virginia, for instance, St. John’s House Learning and Development Center in Huntington was awarded a $32,200 development grant to implement a new vision and mission strategy in several areas of its programs.

The center has operated since 1991, after a woman on the St. John’s Episcopal Church vestry challenged her colleagues to consider what the parish was doing for people outside its doors, said Jerry Coleman, the center’s executive director. Soon, the parish realized that the large housing project nearby had young children who needed a safe place to go after school.

Operating first out of a vacant apartment and serving more than 80 children with snacks and safety, the effort soon was able to move into Marcum Terrace’s community center. Its kitchen facilities meant the volunteers could serve a full meal, and its added space made a larger program available. In the 24 years since, the center’s learning, mentoring and feeding program has strengthened children’s self-esteem, self-confidence, interpersonal skills and attitudes toward education. In doing so, the ministry has tried to counteract addiction, violence, incarceration and poverty.

St. John’s House Learning and Development Center volunteers and participants work on the playground outside the center at Marcum Terrace apartments in Huntington, West Virginia. Photo: St. John’s House Learning and Development Center

“The need was there,” Coleman said. The ministry that grew out of the vestry member’s “wake-up call,” as Coleman put it, “shows you what one person can do.”

Coleman has seen children’s attitudes turn completely around. One girl came to the program with a large chip on her shoulder, he said. She was very quiet and it was hard to convince her to be involved in the center’s activities. Since staff at the center discovered that she had significant learning disabilities and they got her help, “it’s been a 180-degree flip,” he said. She now participates enthusiastically.

The center’s leaders recently met to discuss how to use the development grant. A pre-school literacy program ranks high on the list, as do a monthly family night gathering, upgraded Wi-Fi and computers or tablets, furniture, simple musical instruments, gardening supplies and security. The last is needed more and more as the center upgrades its technology.

The grant allows for staff costs. Coleman said there were plans to create a part-time community outreach director who would be responsible for fund raising, grant writing, volunteer coordinating and educating the Huntington community about St. John’s program.

Yet, Coleman said, the center is about more than its building and its things. “In the end, what’s more important than the things you have in that building are the people you have in that building.”

For instance, the center has formed a strong relationship with Huntington’s Marshall University, especially with its Department of Communications Disorders, with many of its students volunteering. They help children with learning disorders. Two graduate assistants get tuition waivers from the university and small stipends from the center to be program directors. In addition, some dietetics students help with meal planning.

“We talk a lot about what we do for the children and the impact our services may have on them, but it’s also very important to understand the impact the children have on our staff and volunteers,” Coleman said. “There’s a strong attachment between our children and our staff that runs both ways. The children do enrich us.”

What began as a small after-school program in a housing project in Huntington, West Virginia, has grown into a multifaceted Jubilee Center known as the St. John’s House Learning and Development Center. Photo: St. John’s House Learning and Development Center

And the acknowledgement that ministry works both ways, changing everyone involved, is a hint at the broad power of the sort of ministries that take place at Jubilee Centers.

Jones in Colorado thinks the future of Jubilee Ministries is wide open and can be seen as a tool that helps The Episcopal Church as well as the communities in which they exist.

“Parishes that identify strongly with outreach and with Jubilee Ministry and with social justice are invariably the parishes that are growing and thriving, and I don’t think that’s coincidence,” she said. “I think Jubilee Ministry represents at least one viable path to the future of The Episcopal Church.”

The 2013-2015 budget passed by General Convention allotted $1 million for programs aimed at engaging Episcopalians in working to eradicate domestic poverty (at Line 108 here). That allocation, including $100,000 in Jubilee Ministry grants thus far in the triennium, is part of how the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is responding to the fourth Mark of Mission, which calls on members of the Anglican Communion to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation.

The recently released Report to the Church details the budget-supported work of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society to date in the current triennium, including the Mark Four work described on pages 56-69.

General Convention structured the current triennial budget around the Communion’s Five Marks of Mission and provided significant unallocated sums for new work targeted around each mark. The intention was that the resulting work would be done in new, collaborative partnerships with dioceses, congregations and other Episcopal organizations. The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society has provided seed money and/or matching grants as well as staff support and expertise for the new work.

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an Episcopal News Service editor/reporter.

Presiding Bishop preaches at St. John’s Cathedral, Albuquerque

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 9, 2015

St. John’s Cathedral
Albuquerque, NM
8 March 2015

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

Is there any more light in your Lent? Beyond the time change that pushes back the evening darkness? Lent is about enlightenment, whether you live in the northern hemisphere or south of the equator. Some people think of it as spiritual spring house-cleaning, in the sense of clearing away whatever isn’t life-giving. Some see Lent as a motivational tune-up to better govern our runaway urges. Yet Lent is not just about our interior lives, for whatever light that grows within will eventually leak out and shed light on our life in community.

This year I found three new short blogs that have given me greater insight into that inner and outer light. The Society of St. John the Evangelist is offering a daily Lenten word, beginning with time and rest;[1] Episcopal Relief & Development is doing the same around basic human needs like water and food;[2] and I’ve begun to read the year-round Daily Text of the Moravian Church,[3] with whom we’re in full communion. Each has brought a ray of light ere the day begins, and invited me to be a little more light-bearing through love of God and neighbor.

I read one other daily writer, who started so long ago that his work came out in printed booklets (early 1990s). Lately he’s been traveling across the country in a kind of pilgrimage that has offered spiritual insights into his glimpses of communities along the way.[4] One day this week he noted that the commandments we number as 10 may have originally been 12.[5] Most of us have a hard time figuring out how to count them, and this might only add to the confusion, but it also points to a central challenge for human beings. The theory is that it’s the last one, about coveting, that was counted three times to make a total of 12: don’t covet your neighbor’s house, his wife, his slaves, his livestock, or anything he has.

That commandment is rooted in Middle Eastern patriarchal history, where only men owned things, and wives and slaves were among them. Yet coveting is at the root of most human conflict, whether it’s in the family or the marketplace or on the international stage. I think that’s what the Psalmist means when he prays, “clean up my secret faults, and keep me from presumptuous sins” – as if to say, ‘the world doesn’t belong to me. God, help me stay conscious about that.’[6]

The commandments, however we count them, are grounded in the understanding that this is God’s world, God’s creation, and that we are at most its gardeners and stewards. Indigenous spiritual traditions are abundantly clear about this as a central spiritual truth. The Abrahamic traditions started with that awareness, even if it’s been repeatedly subverted and subdued over the centuries. This garden is meant to be shared, with other human beings and with the rest of creation. We’ve had trouble with that since Adam and Eve decided they were the best deciders about what to eat from those trees in the garden. Perhaps we should call them the original picky eaters.

Whose world this is underlies the problem of coveting. The desire to own and control what God has created bedevils us and our neighbors. The very ways in which we make a living and run our economic systems are in league with forces that want to confuse the ownership issue. Yet our relationship to the competition of the marketplace begins to shift when we’re conscious about who has provided the stuff of all life. The challenge is that there’s no easy or complete resolution to that confusion this side of the grave. We live in a world that isn’t black and white, for we use the resources of the earth to feed ourselves and our families. Yet when we give thanks and remember the origin of the food we eat, the material to clothe ourselves, the fuel to power computers and cars (whether from oil, sun, radioactivity, or wind), and the wood and stone and steel to build our houses, we begin to develop a different and more intimate relationship with all those resources and their ultimate origin. Gratitude and thanksgiving are at the root of that shift – or what might theologically be called repentance, turning around, or getting a new mind (metanoia, the Greek word for repentance).

That’s what’s going on in the gospel story about cleansing the Temple. The people going up to Jerusalem at Passover come to the Temple to, in a sense, “pay their respects.” They come to pay their religious tax, and to do that they need coins without the emperor’s picture on them – thus the money-changers. They also come to offer an animal for sacrifice. It’s a lot easier to buy one when you get there than tying up a pigeon or a lamb and hauling it along from home.

This is not ancient history – we still do this. I’ve seen trussed-up chickens and baskets of farm produce brought up to the altar – in the cathedral in Haiti before the earthquake, and in rural churches in Kenya. Those are offerings of people’s lives, thanksgiving for the abundance of God’s earth and providence. What we put in the offering plate here may seem a long way from the forest, farm, and seas, but it has a similar origin. And we do still bring up real wine, even if the bread doesn’t always look much like what we put on the table. This offering is meant to be a conscious response of gratitude for the blessings we’ve received.

That hints at the problem Jesus is addressing. The Temple has become a marketplace, a quid pro quo place, a bartering station. The reason to go there has become an economic exchange, more like filing your tax return and checking it off your “to do” list. We’ve done our duty, and we can largely forget about it until next year. The motivating reason – to give thanks, to worship, to be conscious about the origin and originator of all that we have and use – has largely been lost. Think about it – it’s sort of like going to the mall to worship.

When people used to ask me about the Episcopal cathedral in Nevada, I’d respond, “we don’t have one, though there are a whole lot of cathedrals on the Strip in Las Vegas.” Where we offer our resources today says a lot about what we worship – or covet.

Lenten light doesn’t look like the Luxor’s sky-stabbing light beam. Lent is about lightening up, and letting go of the desire to possess or control. That is what we’re talking about at the beginning of the communion prayer, in the dialogue, “lift up your hearts – we lift them up to the Lord.” Let go of everything except your hunger for God, and you will find your heart surprisingly lifted – your spirits, too. Retail therapy can’t hold a candle to real heart-lifting.

Lightening up comes through giving thanks. Letting go of the desire to possess or control gets easier with practice. An experiment: start a list of your thanksgivings. Name what you’re grateful for, perhaps starting with life and breath and food and shelter. Name the people who bless you, and the growth opportunities the others present. Name the blessings of this day and this week, and what gives you hope. And remember where and who they come from. When we’re full of gratitude, there’s not so much room for coveting, and we’re not so prone to use the marketplace as a substitute for love. Lighten up, lift up your heart in thanks. The world, and you, will be grateful for the light.

[1] http://ssje.org/ssje/time/ on Stop, Pray, Work, Play, and Love

[2] https://www.episcopalrelief.org/church-in-action/church-campaigns/lent

[3] http://www.moravian.org/faith-a-congregations/an-introduction-to-the-daily-texts-2/ scroll down to Subscribe

[4] http://www.freshday.org/freshdayontheroad/

[5] Tom Ehrich, On a Journey, “Beyond Coveting” 6 March 2015

[6] Psalm 19:12-13

Mujeres y niños refugiados rehacen sus vidas en Arizona

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 9, 2015

Las refugiadas congolesas, Jeanine Balezi, directora de casos de gestión intensiva para Refugee Focus, a la izquierda, y Namughisha Nashimwe, posan para una foto en el apartamento de Nashimwe en Tucson. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS

[Episcopal News Service – Tucson, Arizona] La paz y la seguridad les han permitido cerrar los ojos y dormir por la noche; la posibilidad de trabajar y de sostener a sus familias: estas son las cosas que las refugiadas —la mayoría de ellas madres solteras— dicen que han cambiado del modo más dramático en sus vidas después de haber sido reasentadas en Tucson.

“En realidad estoy mucho mejor aquí. Hay comida en la mesa. Los niños están en la escuela. Tengo agua potable, leche y, sobre todo, paz”, dijo Murorunkwere Zaburiya, de 58 años. “Puedo dormir tranquila”.

Zaburiya, refugiada congolesa, llegó a Tucson hace siete meses con cinco niños, de 10 a 26 años de edad, luego de haber pasado 18 años en un campamento de refugiados en Ruanda.

Analfabeta y sin hablar una palabra de inglés, se hizo miembro de un grupo de capacitación de mujeres dirigido por Refugee Focus, que recibe apoyo del servicio del Ministerio Episcopal de Migración de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera (DFMS) gracias a la financiación de la Oficina de Reasentamiento de Refugiados del gobierno de Estados Unidos.

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

En la actualidad, Zaburiya ha aprendido las destrezas necesarias para mantener un empleo. Mediante cursos de inglés como segunda lengua, está empezando a reconocer palabras en inglés. Y sus hijos están recibiendo educación.

Las mujeres aprenden rudimentos de matemática durante un taller de capacitación matutino en la oficina de Refugee Focus en el centro de Tucson. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS

A través del Ministerio Episcopal de Migración, la DFMS se asocia con 30 programas de reasentamiento afiliados en 26 diócesis de toda la nación. Es una de las nueve agencias que trabajan en asociación con el Departamento de Estado de EE.UU. para recibir y reubicar a refugiados en Estados Unidos.

“El Ministerio Episcopal de Migración es parte de este programa humanitario, realmente maravilloso, que permite que algunas de las personas más vulnerables del mundo comiencen a reconstruir sus vidas”, dijo Nicolle Trudeau, directora de Refugee Focus, durante una entrevista con Episcopal News Service en su oficina en el centro de Tucson. Aproximadamente la mitad de los 300 refugiados que atiende anualmente Refugee Focus vienen a través del Ministerio Episcopal de Migración.

En 2014, La DFMS y sus asociados se esforzaron en reasentar a 5.155 de las decenas de miles de refugiados que vienen a Estados unidos a través del proceso de selección del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (UNHCR). Se empeñarán en servir un número semejante de personas este año en tanto Estados Unidos se propone el reasentamiento de 70.000 refugiados — la mitad del 1 por ciento de los 15,5 millones de refugiados que serán reubicados este año en todo el mundo.

Muchos de esos refugiados provienen de la República Democrática del Congo.

Desde 1998, más de 5,5 millones de personas han muerto en el Congo por causa de la guerra, las enfermedades y la desnutrición; 2.5 millones de personas se han visto desplazadas interiormente; y unas 500.000 han huido del prolongado conflicto del país, la vasta mayoría de los cuales vive en campamentos de refugiados en las regiones de los Grandes Lagos y en el Cuerno de África.

En el transcurso de los próximos años, la UNHCR se propone reasentar 50.000 refugiados del Congo, de los cuales del 70 al 90 por ciento serán reubicados en Estados Unidos, dijo Kurt Bonz, director del programa del Ministerio Episcopal de Migración, durante un seminario en la Red auspiciado por la DFMS y destinado a educar a la comunidad de fe acerca de la situación en el Congo y la manera de apoyar y defender a los refugiados congoleses.

“La mayoría de los refugiados han estado en los campamentos un promedio de 20 años, el nivel de escolaridad es bajo, y muchos de ellos son mujeres solteras con hijos que siguen sufriendo la experiencia traumática relacionada con la vida en el Congo, con la huida y con vivir en un campamento de refugiados”, apuntó él.

El actual conflicto armado ha sido particularmente brutal en el Congo; el número de mujeres congolesas en peligro es el doble del que se encuentra en otras poblaciones de refugiados. Esto ha dado lugar a estudios orientados a identificar riesgos, retos y puntos fuertes en particular, y a desarrollar estrategias para que legisladores y proveedores de servicios atiendan mejor a las mujeres y sus familias.

Un refugiado es alguien que ha huido de su país de origen debido a “un temor bien fundado de persecución” debido a su raza, religión, etnia o su afiliación política o social.

Entre las refugiadas que se consideran “mujeres en peligro”, la mayoría han sido víctimas de violaciones o de otras formas de violencia sexual relacionada con el género, y muchas de ellas viven con hijos concebidos como resultado de una violación.

A su llegada a Estados Unidos, los refugiados reciben tres meses de gestión procesal y de sostén económico para ayudarles a ajustarse, además de apoyo adicional para ayudarles a encontrar empleo y a lograr la autosuficiencia económica. La fórmula funciona para algunos, pero no para todos los refugiados. Los programas financiados por el Departamento de Salud y Servicios Sociales de EE.UU. ofrece dinero adicional a las agencias de reasentamiento para ayudar a refugiados con necesidades especiales —en este caso, mujeres solteras con hijos.

De los 50.000 refugiados congoleses seleccionados para reasentamiento, se espera que Estados Unidos admita al 80 por ciento. De esos, al menos el 20 por ciento se espera que sean mujeres en peligro y por tanto con derecho a una gestión procesal intensiva.

Reconociendo esa necesidad, en 2013 y con una subvención de $8.000 de una iglesia no denominacional, Refugee Focus creó su propio programa destinado a capacitar a mujeres en peligro. El año pasado, el programa continuó con el apoyo del Ministerio Episcopal de Migración, dijo Trudeau.

Dados los elevados índices de violencia y trauma que han soportado las mujeres congolesas y sus hijos, era esencial que esta población tuviera la oportunidad de reasentarse en Estados Unidos y tener acceso a un ambiente comunitario de ayuda donde las mujeres pudieran relacionarse entre sí para reconstruir sus sistemas de apoyo, dijo Trudeau.

El programa de capacitación de mujeres de Refugee Focus comenzó con una pregunta para las mujeres: ¿Qué podemos hacer para servirlas mejor? Las mujeres respondieron: “Hacemos todo como un grupo, queremos recibir los servicios como un grupo”.

Los objetivos del programa de capacitación [o reforzamiento] eran crear una red social para refugiadas, fortalecer las destrezas utilizables mediante una mejora del dominio del inglés, estimular la independencia económica y promover el desarrollo personal y las capacidades económicas.

A través de subvenciones privadas, a las mujeres les pagaron entre $300 y $400 en pequeños incrementos por su participación en el programa: asistencia a talleres de capacitación y a clases de inglés como segundo idioma, participación en eventos comunitarios. Si llegaban a tiempo se lo tenían en cuenta para el pago, y les deducían los pagos si no lo hacían.

“Resultó ser un magnífico instrumento de adiestramiento para personas que nunca habían tenido un empleo”, dijo Trudeau. “Les dio un sentido de control para ganar dinero y pagar sus cuentas”.

El programa comenzó con 22 mujeres. En seis meses, 20 de ellas han encontrado empleo. “Somos tan exitosos, que nos quedamos sin gente”, dijo ella.

Más que sus factores mensurables, el programa de capacitación les brinda un recurso vital a mujeres que de otro modo estarían enfrentándose a una nueva manera de ser, a un nuevo país y a una ciudad extraña por sus propios medios.

Namughisha Nashimwe, de 41 años, llegó a Tucson en diciembre de 2013, luego de cuatro años en un campo de refugiados, con cinco hijos, que ahora tienen entre 5 y 20 años de edad. Al principio, un consejero le dijo que primero se recobrara de su trauma y que, en lugar de asistir a la escuela, su hijo mayor debía conseguir un empleo y sostener a la familia.

Sin embargo, las compañeras de Nashimwe en el grupo de capacitación y el personal de Refugee Focus la aconsejaron de otro modo: le dijeron que ella era capaz de trabajar y de proporcionarle sustento a su familia.

“Las mujeres me ayudaron muchísimo. Estaba motivada por el grupo”, dijo ella, hablando en kinyarwanda —la lengua oficial de Ruanda— e interpretada por Jeanine Balezi, directora de casos de gestión intensiva para Refugee Focus. “Algunas personas te dirán que no tienes que ir a trabajar. Pero hablando con otras en el grupo y con Jeanine, decidí que iba conseguir un empleo para ayudar a que mi familia tuviera una vida mejor”, dijo ella durante una entrevista con ENS en su apartamento, a 10 o 15 minutos en auto del centro de Tucson.

Nashimwe trabaja a jornada parcial como conserje de una escuela. Su hijo es estudiante de secundaria y hace poco comenzó a trabajar durante los fines de semana en una agencia de lavado de autos.

“Si ella no hubiera tenido un grupo, habría estado en crisis”, dijo Trudeau. Uno no puede progresar cuando está en estado de crisis, y Refugee Focus no tiene dinero para asistir a clientes en crisis, sólo para ayudarles a alcanzar la autosuficiencia, agregó ella.

“No es un proceso fácil, la gente sí llega con barreras muy concretas”, explicó Trudeau, añadiendo que hay un límite adonde los fondos no pueden llevarles. “La fuerza que han usado para sobrevivir durante muchos años tiene que alcanzar hasta aquí. No hay red de seguridad a largo plazo”.

Invertir en refugiados, continuó ella, es más que el reasentamiento inicial, se trata de desarrollar planes y una base de sustentación de la que los individuos y las familias puedan depender durante los muchos años en que lucharán para vencer las barreras asociadas con la pobreza en Estados Unidos.

De cierta manera, dicen las mujeres, el reasentamiento es como ganarse la lotería. Sin embargo, cuando un refugiado llega a Estados Unidos, el entusiasmo de comenzar una nueva vida también trae consigo una mayor ansiedad, aislamiento y una pérdida de lazos de familia y de comunidad.

“Sientes como si estuvieras perdida y vacía, que no puedes comunicarte”, dijo Balezi, de 41 años, que pasó dos años en un campo de refugiados congoleses en Camerún antes de llegar a Tucson en 2000 con su hijo bebé. Él tiene ahora 15 años y asiste a la escuela secundaria.

Balezi asistió a la universidad en el Congo y, además de hablar francés con fluidez, habla por lo menos otras siete lenguas regionales. Pero cuando llegó a Tucson, contó, no hablaba nada de inglés ni siquiera para decir “hola”.

En más de un sentido, ella es un ejemplo.

Gracias a las relaciones de Balezi con las mujeres, el amor y el respeto que éstas sienten por ella son obvios. Con facilidad, se ríen y hacen chistes en su presencia. Pero también resulta claro que ellas las empuja a dejar sus zonas de confort —para aprender una nueva ruta de autobús o solicitar un empleo— y ellas lo aprecian.

Una vez que un refugiado llega a Estados Unidos los cosas se mueve con rapidez. Desde el aeropuerto, a los refugiados los llevan a su apartamento amueblado, donde el personal y los voluntarios les enseñan como manejar los electrodomésticos, tales como el fogón y la televisión, el lavadero de la cocina y la ducha.

La despensa está llena y una comida culturalmente apropiada —por lo general arroz y frijoles y pollo, en el caso de los congoleses— se le ha preparado a la familia.

Refugee Focus trabaja con asociados locales a fin de preparar este espacio exterior para organizar eventos y que de este modo los adolescentes tengan un lugar donde reunirse. Foto de Refugee Focus.

Al día siguiente, los inscriben para recibir cupones de alimentos. En el curso de una semana han solicitado su tarjeta de la Seguridad Social. Para el décimo día, los niños están matriculados en la escuela.

Refugee Focus maneja un presupuesto anual de $1.600.000 con 16 empleados de jornada completa y 10 disponibles en caso de necesidad y dos voluntarios permanentes de AmeriCorps VISTA. Además de fondos federales, Refugee Focus depende del apoyo de donantes, de asociados locales y de voluntarios de la comunidad para financiar y llevar a cabo sus programas.

Dado el papel de la DFMS en el reasentamiento de refugiados, la Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal aprobó una legislación en 2012 que requiere la modernización del programa de refugiados de la nación para hacerle frente a las necesidades de una población diversa.

“Uno de los mayores recursos con que cuenta el programa de reasentamiento de refugiados es la asociación entre lo público y lo privado, gracias a la cual fondos y donaciones privadas complementan los servicios y el apoyo financiados por fondos federales”, dijo Katherine Conway, analista de política de refugiados de la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales de la Iglesia Episcopal con sede en Washington, D.C. “Todos los días la Sociedad Misionera y los voluntarios participan en el ministerio de bienvenida, pero las contribuciones privadas deben equipararse con servicios generosamente financiados. Un voluntario puede ayudar a amueblar el apartamento de una familia refugiada o a proporcionar abrigos, pero él o ella no puede aconsejar a un sobreviviente de la tortura o brindar servicios de renovación de certificaciones”.

Los episcopales pueden ayudar a los refugiados uniéndose a la Red Episcopal de Política Pública de la DFMS.

Tucson, una ciudad con una población de poco más de medio millón de habitantes, cuenta con tres agencias de reasentamiento de refugiados y se convierte en el hogar de 1.000 nuevos refugiados cada año. Los refugiados que tienen derecho a trabajar con frecuencia llenan vacantes en empleos no calificados de bajos jornales en la industria de servicios, lavando platos en restaurantes o limpiando cuartos de hoteles; trabajando en gran medida sin ser vistos.

El cuerpo de estudiantes de la escuela intermedia Imago Dei incluye a 12 refugiados, 11 de ellos procesados a través de Refugee Focus. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

La labor de reasentamiento de Refugee Focus también ha pasado casi siempre inadvertida. Y entonces, hace cuestión de un año, Trudeau mudó sus oficinas de un pequeño centro comercial fuera del núcleo de la ciudad a unas pocas cuadras de la terminal de autobuses del centro.

La nueva ubicación le ha proporcionado visibilidad tanto a Refugee Focus como a sus clientes, que a menudo toman el autobús y luego van andando hasta la oficina en la avenida North Stone que queda enfrente del edificio principal de la Biblioteca del Condado de Pima. También está al doblar la esquina de la escuela intermedia Imago Dei, que brinda educación holística destinada a romper el ciclo de la pobreza para 70 estudiantes que cursan allí del quinto al octavo grado.

Trudeau ha desarrollado una sólida asociación con la Rda. Anne Sawyer, sacerdote episcopal y cofundadora y directora de la escuela. Las dos se conocieron a través del Club Rotario cuando Trudeau andaba en busca de un espacio de oficina en el centro de la ciudad. Posteriormente, Trudeau visitó la escuela y comenzó a identificar a niños refugiados que se beneficiarían del intensivo curso escolar de 6 días a la semana 11 meses al año, lo cual les permite a los estudiantes que no pueden estar al nivel de su grado el tiempo y la atención personal para alcanzarlo.

“No es inusual que nuestros escolares de quinto grado nos lleguen con un nivel de segundo o tercer grados y, si son bilingües, pueden estar en el nivel de kindergarten o primer grado”, explicó Sawyer.

El cuerpo estudiantil incluye ahora a 12 refugiados, 11 de los cuales han sido referidos a través de Refugee Focus, explicó Sawyer.

“Observamos comportamientos que indican que la vida fue difícil”, dijo Sawyer. Los estudiantes refugiados han perdido sus países de origen, han crecido en campamentos de refugiados, en ocasiones han perdido a sus padres y han experimentado o sido testigos de traumas, dijo ella. “A tierna edad, han tenido multitud de experiencias, pero eso no es diferente de algunos de los otros estudiantes que también han experimentado la pobreza”.

Los estudiantes africanos, originarios del Congo, Ruanda, Uganda, Malawi o Sudáfrica, dicen que se proponen estudiar medicina, ingeniería y otras profesiones, y que el pequeño tamaño de las clases, la atención individual y la lengua compartida contribuyen a un ambiente educacional cómodo y comprensivo.

Los tambores ayudan a los sobrevivientes de traumas a recobrarse y a reconectarse. Foto de Refugee Focus.

“Cuando vine aquí por primera vez lo sentí diferente”, dijo Emeline, una estudiante proveniente del Congo. “Me sentí como si estuviera en casa. Todos comenzamos a hablar swahili”.

Otro modo en el que Refugee Focus ha fomentado la comunidad es a través el auspicio de actividades en asociación con Richard Noell, que usa los tambores como un medio de ayudar a los sobrevivientes de traumas a recobrar la confianza y a expresarse por sí mismos.

La música y los tambores ayudan a las mujeres a reconectarse con la alegría y las predisponen a la recuperación, dijo Noell.

El personal y los voluntarios que han trabajado con mujeres en peligro se han quedado “sorprendidos por la fuerza y la perseverancia con que han llegado estas mujeres”, dijo Trudeau.

“Esa es la diferencia: cuando uno ve la descripción de alguien en el papel, una madre soltera que tal vez es víctima de violación y que tiene cinco hijos y puede estar de nuevo embarazada, que viene a Estados Unidos [se pregunta] ¿Cómo va a sobrevivir? ¿Cómo va a sostenerse ella y su familia? Y sin embargo vemos que sucede todos los días”, siguió diciendo Trudeau.

“Vienen aquí, y dentro de unos meses están aprendiendo un nuevo idioma y cerciorándose de que sus hijos asisten a la escuela todos los días, cerciorándose de que se bañan, y ocupándose de ellos y alimentándolos y viajando en autobús durante dos horas para tomar una clase de inglés y trabajando luego tal vez en un empleo de media jornada, y aprendiendo a balancear su economía, y ello no sucede sin un sistema de firme apoyo y servicios”, agregó.

“Pero en gran parte ocurre por la fuerza de los clientes a quienes servimos, y yo creo que eso sencillamente muestra que lo que algunos son en el papel no define realmente quienes son”.

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

Becarios en el terreno de la pobreza nacional trabajan por aliviar el sufrimiento y enseñar a la Iglesia

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 9, 2015

Justin, que aparece aquí con su perro Trinity, desempeña un importante papel en el ministerio con las personas sin hogar que la Rda. Sara Monroe, a la izquierda, coordina en la iglesia episcopal de San Andrés, Washington. Foto de Glenn Stone.

[Episcopal News Service] La Rda. Sarah Monroe y la Rda. Susan Heath pueden vivir en extremos opuestos de Estados Unidos, y sus ministerios pueden asumir diferentes formas, pero sus objetivos son los mismos: crear comunidades que puedan funcionar para aliviar la pobreza y el sufrimiento que ésta ocasiona.

Hay “Una auténtica hambre de comunidad y una genuina sed de esperanza” entre las personas sin hogar que Monroe ministra en Aberdeen, Washington, dijo ella.

“A los que son pobres en EE.UU. se les dice de todas las maneras posibles, que no merecen nada; que tienen la culpa de ser pobres, que son unos fracasados en la vida, que no son buenas personas”, dijo Monroe, de la Diócesis de Olympia. Ella y Heath son las beneficiarias de becas de un año de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera (DFMS, por su sigla en inglés). (La DFMS [Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society] es el nombre legal y canónico con el cual la Iglesia Episcopal está incorporada, funciona empresarialmente y lleva a cabo la misión).

La meta de Monroe es cambiar ese mensaje y esa imagen, empezando por los propios pobres.

Entre tanto, en la Diócesis de Alta Carolina del Sur, Heath está ayudando a un grupo ecuménico de obispos a llevar adelante una iniciativa para mejorar la educación pública en el estado.

Trabajar en pro de mejores oportunidades educativas “afecta a todo, y tiene que ver con la pobreza, porque los niños que viven en la pobreza tienen muchos obstáculos que vencer”, dijo Heath, la otra beneficiaria de la beca de $24.000 por un año.

“Es un problema moral porque gran parte de lo que inhibe a la educación en todas partes, pero ciertamente en Carolina del Sur, es la pobreza. Una de las oportunidades que tengo es la de descorrer el telón y dar pie a la conversación acerca de los que tienen y los que no tienen”, dijo Heath.

“Las becas de la IV Marca de Susan Heath y Sarah Monroe son un componente central de nuestra fe: las relaciones, mutuamente transformadoras, de persona a persona con comunidades vulnerables”, dijo Jayce Hafner, analista de política doméstica en la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales de la DFMS. Tanto Moore como Heath “buscan crear un sentido de fortalecimiento y fraternidad entre los necesitados”, añadió.

“Estos proyectos lanzan un llamado al resto de la Iglesia a participar en proyectos transformacionales semejantes y presentan un modelo útil que puede transferirse a nuevos contextos geográficos y culturales”, afirmó.

Tanto Monroe como Heath tienen algo que mostrar a la Iglesia Episcopal, dijo a ENS el Rdo. Mark Stevenson, misionero encargado de la pobreza nacional de la DFMS. La idea de las becas partió de la experiencia de la DFMS de ver a becarios a través de la Iglesia dedicados a ministerios locales específicos, apuntó él. Su labor también ha contribuido a dar ejemplos de mejores métodos para el resto de la denominación.

“Ellas están enseñándonos a penetrar en la comunidad” y se valen de asociaciones locales para “convertir los recursos que uno ha puesto a su disposición en combatir problemas de injusticia económica”, dijo él.

Y las injusticias económicas están muy arraigadas, afirmaron Monroe y Heath.

Cuando la asignaron como diácona de la iglesia episcopal de San Andrés [St. Andrew’s] en Aberdeen, Monroe sabía algo acerca de la región por haber crecido en una zona rural cercana. Y ella “se enamoró absolutamente del ministerio de la calle” durante una pasantía con Common Cathedral del Ministerio Ecclesía en Boston, mientras asistía a la Escuela Episcopal de Teología en la vecina Cambridge.

Aberdeen, una ciudad de unos 17.000 habitantes, a unos 160 kilómetros al suroeste de Seattle, es un estereotípico pueblo postindustrial decadente”, con espacios comerciales vacíos y dependiente de las fluctuantes industrias de la madera y el pescado. Hay una presión “para hacer al pueblo más bonito sacando a los indigente que viven en la calle” y esa gente pregunta “¿dónde se supone que vayamos ahora?”, dijo Monroe.

La Rda. Sarah Monroe, a la extrema derecha de la foto, comenzó su ministerio con personas sin hogar en Aberdeen, Washington, dándose a conocer de la gente que se reúne debajo de un puente que conecta dos partes de esta ciudad costera del suroeste de Seattle. Foto de Glenn Stone.

Esa pregunta, así como “un auténtico sentimiento de cólera y desesperación”, es lo que Monroe captó cuando comenzó a buscar personas indigentes en Aberdeen. Ella no tardó en armar una mesa debajo del puente que conecta dos partes de la ciudad y a repartir sándwiches entre las personas que se reunían allí. Una y otra vez, les oía decir que no tenían ningún lugar donde reunirse.

Luego de ser ordenada sacerdote en abril de 2014, Monroe comenzó a usar el salón parroquial de San Andrés para un estudio bíblico y un programa de comidas para personas sin hogar, el cual ya se ha convertido en un lugar de reunión donde la gente a comenzado a sustentar sus propias historias en las historias de la Biblia. Un día, el grupo reunido leyó el Magníficat. Los participantes ya tenían suficiente confianza entre sí para empezar a hablar de sus experiencias de ser pobres y de descubrir que Dios en verdad sí se ocupa de los pobres.

“Fue la primera vez en que vi desarrollarse este sentimiento de auténtica esperanza”, dijo Monroe, añadiendo que ella percibió que los participantes comenzaban a sentir “de algún modo éramos parte del plan y propósito de Dios”.

A partir de esta naciente sensación de fortalecimiento, dijo Monroe, ella espera que los pobres y los indigentes pueden llegar a convertirse en líderes capaces de ir a organismos tales como el concejo municipal y abogar a favor de su comunidad.

“El propósito no es sólo tratar los síntomas del hambre y de la falta de recursos, sino crear realmente un liderazgo en las comunidades pobres con la gente de la calle, personas que experimentan la pobreza, para desarrollar un movimiento que de verdad le ponga fin a la pobreza en este país y desarrollar un modelo para replicarlo en otra parte”, subrayó Monroe. “Eso es un gran sueño, pero es uno que vale la pena”.

Ese sueño y el trabajo que costará es algo que Monroe espera dar al resto de la Iglesia Episcopal. “Espero que estemos desarrollando algo que pueda usarse como modelo para toda la Iglesia, y espero que esta conversación puede convertirse en un diálogo más amplio en la Iglesia acerca de la pobreza y de las realidades de la pobreza rural y de los pueblos pequeños, y acerca de lo que la Iglesia está llamada a hacer en esa realidad”, afirmó.

Un vídeo de Monroe explicando la labor que se propone hacer durante el año de su beca puede verse aquí.

Desarrollar modelos y propiciar conversaciones más amplias son los objetivos de la labor que Heath está haciendo en Carolina del Sur. Las raíces de esa labor se encuentran en una colaboración de 25 años entre los obispos del Sínodo de Carolina del Sur de la Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en América, la Iglesia Episcopal en Carolina del Sur, la Diócesis de la Alta Carolina del Sur, la Diócesis Católica Romana de Charleston y la Conferencia de Carolina del Sur de la Iglesia Metodista Unida.

Los líderes actuales de lo que se conoce por LARCUM decidieron hacer mejoras en la educación pública y establecer prioridades de promoción social para ellos y sus miembros. Heath, que ha trabajado en la promoción de la educación pública anteriormente y que tenía “algún reconocimiento fuera de la Iglesia”, dijo que ella era una “posible candidata y una que estaba dispuesta” cuando el obispo le pidió que coordinara la iniciativa.

Los objetivos de este empeño incluyen la participación de muchas personas de las cuatro denominaciones en “en un apoyo auténtico y creíble de la educación pública”, afirmó Heath. Esa participación puede ir desde organizar campañas [para la obtención] de útiles escolares hasta el respaldo a la profesión docente, desde la tutoría hasta la promoción social.

Una segunda etapa es contar con personas que “presten su voz a la conversación en la labor política”, recalcó Heath. “Debemos ser capaces de contribuir a hacer cambios sistémicos. Este es un lugar donde pondremos nuestra energía”.

Cuando Heath explica el programa y sus objetivos, descubre que “la gente que es escéptica de la Iglesia o que no es religiosa, se muestra entusiasmada”. Le dicen que es alentador ver a las iglesias haciendo algo “que hace evidente que la Iglesia significa algo más que autoperpetuación o cemento y ladrillos”.

Además de usar los resultados de una encuesta de LARCUM sobre la actual labor denominacional en apoyo de la educación pública, Heath está desarrollando nuevas iniciativas. Un distrito escolar cercano a donde vive se ha asociado con otros líderes religiosos para comenzar un proyecto experimental de tutoría en cinco escuelas elementales, a partir de este mes y hasta fines de mayo. Además de la tutoría de estudiantes, el proyecto conectará a personas de fe de distintas denominaciones para formar una comunidad entre los tutores y el personal docente.

“Una de las cosas que espero darle al resto de la Iglesia es la profunda comprensión —y esto es algo que creo que todos sabemos pero a lo que le damos poca importancia— de lo importante que es cuando la comunidad de fe participa, y eso es obvio en el diálogo y en la ecuación”, añadió Heath.

Un vídeo de Heath explicando la labor que se propone llevar a cabo durante su beca puede verse aquí.

El presupuesto 2013-2015 aprobado por la Convención General le asignó $1 millón a programas destinados a comprometer a los episcopales en la labor en pro de la erradicación de la pobreza nacional (el renglón 108 puede verse aquí). Esa asignación, que incluye $48.000 para las dos becas sobre pobreza nacional, es parte del modo en que la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera está respondiendo a la cuarta Marca de la Misión, que le pide a todos los miembros de la Comunión Anglicana que transformen las estructuras injustas de la sociedad, que se opongan a la violencia de todo tipo y que busquen la paz y la reconciliación.

El Informe a la Iglesia, publicado recientemente, detalla la labor de la DFMS, sostenida por el presupuesto hasta la fecha en el actual trienio, incluida la Cuarta Marca de la Misión descrita en las páginas 56-59.

La Convención estructuró el actual presupuesto trienal en torno a las Cinco Marcas de la Misión de la Comunión [Anglicana] y proporcionó sumas significativas no asignadas para nuevas obras orientadas en torno a cada una de las Marcas de la Misión. La intención era que la labor resultante se hiciera en nuevas asociaciones de colaboración con diócesis y congregaciones. La DFMS ha proporcionado el capital inicial o las subvenciones compartidas o ambas cosas, así como el apoyo y la experiencia del personal para la nueva tarea.

– La Rda Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora y reportera de Episcopal Church Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Programa, Presupuesto y Finanzas se prepara para escuchar a la Iglesia

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 9, 2015

[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] El Comité Permanente Conjunto de Programa, Presupuesto y Finanzas (PB&F) de la Iglesia Episcopal concluyó sus tres días de reuniones aquí dispuesto a escuchar las opiniones de la Iglesia acerca de la labor que debe hacerse a escala denominacional en los próximos tres años y cómo pagar por la misma.

Stephen Lane, obispo de la Diócesis de Maine y vicepresidente del Comité Permanente Conjunto sobre Programa, Presupuesto y Finanzas, toma nota el 24 de febrero mientras los miembros del comité informan acerca de las exploraciones iniciales del anteproyecto de presupuesto del Consejo Ejecutivo. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

Ese proceso de escucha conformará la preparación del presupuesto que el Comité del Presupuesto de la Convención General propondrá en la reunión de la Convención que sesionará en Salt Lake City del 25 de junio al 3 de julio.

El PB&F se preparó para la fase de escucha de su labor recibiendo algunos informes —y haciendo algunas indagaciones— por su cuenta antes de recibir el anteproyecto del presupuesto trienal 2016-2018 que el Consejo Ejecutivo aprobó el mes pasado. (la Regla Conjunta II.10.c.iii de la Convención General manda que el Consejo Ejecutivo le entregue al PB&F un anteproyecto del presupuesto no menos de cuatro meses antes del comienzo de la Convención General, esencialmente a más tardar en febrero del año de la convención).

Stephen Lane, obispo de la Diócesis de Maine y vicepresidente del PB&F, le dijo al comité a principios de la reunión que “estamos en una modalidad receptiva”.

Mark Hollingsworth, obispo de la Diócesis de Ohio y presidente del Comité Permanente Conjunto sobre Finanzas para la Misión (FFM), y la Rda. Susan Snook, de Arizona, que preside el subcomité del presupuesto del FFM, le presentaron a los miembros del PB&F una detallada explicación del anteproyecto presupuestario. El comité dedicó tiempo entonces a estudiar los supuestos y asignaciones renglón por renglón, y sus asuntos más amplios.

Esos asuntos más amplios incluían el papel del presupuesto en orientar a la Iglesia a través de una época de cambio y el deseo de parte de mucha gente de que la estructura denominacional funcionara de una manera diferente para responder mejor a los retos que enfrenta la Iglesia. El comité también enfrenta la incertidumbre de confeccionar un presupuesto mientras la Iglesia considera las recomendaciones sobre cambios estructurales que le hiciera a la Convención General el Equipo de Trabajo para ‘Reinventar’ la Iglesia Episcopal. Esas recomendaciones se presentarán en Salt Lake City. Algunos de los otros comités, comisiones, agencias y juntas de la Iglesia también podrían someter cambios estructurales a la consideración de la Convención este verano, como podrían hacerlo los diputados, los obispos y las diócesis por medio de resoluciones.

El Rvdmo. Mark Hollingsworth, obispo de la Diócesis de Ohio y presidente del Comité Permanente Conjunto sobre Finanzas para la Misión del Consejo Ejecutivo, hace un comentario durante la sesión plenaria de Programa, Presupuesto y Finanzas el 24 de febrero, mientras la Rda. Canóniga Mally Lloyd, de Massachusetts, y presidente del PB&F, presta atención. La Rda. Susan Snook, de Arizona, a la izquierda, preside el subcomité del presupuesto del FFM. Ella y Hollingsworth le pasaron el anteproyecto del presupuesto del Consejo al PB&F durante la reunión del 23 al 25 de febrero. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

Y la Convención y el PB&F también están conscientes de que el 27º. Obispo primado, que debe ser electo en esta reunión de la Convención, podría proyectar una nueva visión para la Iglesia durante su período de nueve años y aun después.

También durante la reunión aquí en Maryland, los miembros del PB&F escucharon a la obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori, a la presidente de la Cámara de Diputados Gay Jennings, al director de operaciones, obispo Stacy Sauls y al director ejecutivo de la Convención General Rdo. Canónigo Michael Barlowe describir sus enfoques para el presupuesto 2016-2018 y el proceso a seguir para crearlo.

Jefferts Schori instó al comité a seguir pensando en crear el presupuesto en torno a esas cosas que las estructuras denominacionales de la Iglesia pueden hacer mejor o de manera más apropiada. Algunos de los tipos de trabajo que ella sugirió fueron los de apoyar el desarrollo hacia la mutua responsabilidad e interdependencia de los miembros individuales e institucionales de la Iglesia; administrar los recursos de la Iglesia, incluidas su tradición de toma de decisiones corporativa, finanzas, propiedad, reputación, historial, normas litúrgicas y tradiciones, y lo que ella llamó normas de los límites, tales como antirracismo, inclusión y disciplina del clero. Jefferts Schori también citó el fomentar relaciones con otras iglesias y comunidades religiosas, así como relaciones con gobiernos e instituciones supranacionales como las Naciones Unidas.

La Rda. canóniga Cornelia Eaton, miembro del PB&F y proveniente de Navajolandia, eleva la hostia en el momento de la fracción del pan durante la eucaristía del 25 de febrero. Eaton, que es canóniga del Ordinario en Navajolandia, fue ordenada sacerdote el 7 de febrero. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

La Obispa Primada encomió la labor realizada en los últimos trienios para desarrollar una “visión coherente de en qué consiste la misión; que consiste en edificar el reino de Dios en nuestro propio tiempo”. Ella advirtió que esta visión se afirma cada vez más en las Cinco Marcas de la Misión de la Comunión Anglicana. El anteproyecto presupuestario 2016-2018 se arma en torno a la estructura que ofrecen las marcas, tal como en el presupuesto de 2013-2015.

Jennings le recordó al comité que “nuestra mayordomía del dinero es un asunto espiritual y que el presupuesto es un documento profundamente teológico”.

Ella también le advirtió a los miembros que durante el debate del presupuesto había “espacio para desacuerdos, malentendidos e incluso confusión” y los instó a “examinar las decisiones presupuestarias usando las lentes de cómo podemos potenciar, equipar y apoyar a las congregaciones de todas las maneras posibles”.

“Hagan las preguntas difíciles, miren con nuevos ojos, prevean las preguntas de diputados y obispos, recuerden a los pobres y a los desatendidos, y dejen que Jesús sea vuestro compañero”, les dijo ella.

Sauls dijo que él creía que “la Iglesia existe para hacer dos cosas: servir a los pobres crear siervos para los pobres”.

Él le contó al comité la historia de San Lorenzo de Roma, un diácono del siglo III, a quien un prefecto romano le ordenó traerle el tesoro de la Iglesia. El prefecto esperaba recibir el dinero y la propiedad de la Iglesia, incluidas las vestimentas y los vasos de la comunión hechos de metales preciosos y joyas. En lugar de eso, el día señalado, Lorenzo reunió ante el prefecto a los pobres de Roma y fue martirizado por su respuesta.

Samuel Gould, miembro del PB&F, administra la comunión al obispo Stacy Sauls, director de operaciones de la Iglesia, durante la eucaristía del 25 de febrero. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

“Esto es algo tremendamente importante para nosotros de recordar”, dijo Sauls. “La Iglesia tal como yo la veo, en tanto administra sus propiedades que, aunque rara vez nos parece así, son vastas, existe para ser la administradora de los pobres”.

Barlowe dijo “necesitamos una Iglesia sana, creciente, amorosa, servicial y transformadora en todas las instancias de su ser”.

Los miembros del PB&F “tienen la responsabilidad crítica de ayudar a la Convención General a considerar cómo el presupuesto denominacional puede fortalecer e inspirar a toda la Iglesia en [la tarea] de restaurar a las personas a la unidad con Dios y a unos con otros en Cristo”.

Por tanto, dijo él, elaborar el presupuesto a través de las Cinco Marcas de la Misión dirige la Iglesia a ese objetivo.

“Pero, con cualquier sistema de clasificación, las Cinco Marcas de la Misión pueden convertirse en un filtro muy confuso si nos esforzamos demasiado en hacer que algo se ajuste a las marcas y luego dejamos otras cosas fuera de las marcas”, agregó.

Él instó al comité a confrontar esa posible confusión y a explicarle a la Iglesia cómo esas partidas presupuestarias clasificadas como gastos de las Cinco Marcas de la Misión y las que quedan al margen de esa estructura “trabajan juntas para servir a la misión de la Iglesia”.

Kurt Barnes, tesorero de la Iglesia episcopal, responde a una pregunta. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

Tal como se espera en esta etapa del proceso presupuestario, el PB&F no hizo cambios en el anteproyecto de presupuesto del Consejo. La Rda. Canóniga Mally Lloyd, de Massachusetts, presidenta del PB&F, recordó el evangelio para el primer domingo de Cuaresma, correspondiente al día anterior 22 de febrero, en el cual Jesús es tentado en el desierto durante 40 días.

“Nuestra tentación aquí en los próximos días es que intentemos empezar a juguetear con las coas que están en el presupuesto como si nos pertenecieran, a tratar de responder a nuestras propias inclinaciones internas respecto a cómo debemos financiar las diferentes partes de la Iglesia y a responder a las personas que ya han comenzado a hablarnos”, dijo ella.

Lloyd agregó que el propósito de la reunión era, por el contrario, estudiar el anteproyecto presupuestario y atender a lo que tenían que decir Hollingsworth, Snook y otros miembros del personal denominacional que estaban presentes, de manera que los miembros del comité pudieran entender la propuesta del Consejo y estar preparados para recibir los comentarios de la Iglesia.

“Jesús fue tentado durante 40 días”, le recordó ella al comité. “Nosotros tenemos 117 días. “Cíñanse los lomos”.

El período de escucha del PB&F se presentará inicialmente de dos modos fundamentales. Primero, los miembros del comité aceptarán comentarios y preguntas mientras hacen presentaciones del presupuesto a los sínodos previos a la Convención General a punto de comenzar en cada una de las nueve provincias de la Iglesia. Segundo, un proceso de comentarios basados en la web abierto para toda la Iglesia debe estar disponible en el transcurso de la semana.

La Rda. canóniga Victoria Heard, de Dallas, hace una pregunta durante una sesión plenaria del PB&F el 24 de febrero. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

Las sesiones del comité para escuchar proceden a partir de las encuestas acerca del presupuesto que ha llevado a cabo el Consejo Ejecutivo y su comité de FFM, junto con las reacciones que el FFM recibió luego de publicar una versión preliminar de su anteproyecto del presupuesto el otoño pasado.

Una vez en Salt Lake City, la fase de escuchar del PB&F concluirá con dos audiencias. La primera en la noche del 25 de junio se concentrará en los ingresos que el anteproyecto del presupuesto supone que estarán disponible en el trienio 2016-2018. La segunda audiencia a la noche siguiente se centrará en cómo se gastaría el dinero durante esos tres años.

El PB&F usará los comentarios que reciba, así como el anteproyecto del presupuesto del Consejo y cualquier legislación aprobada o sujeta a la consideración de la Convención General para crear una propuesta presupuestaria final. Ese presupuesto debe presentarse a una sesión conjunta de la cámaras de Obispos y Diputados a más tardar el tercer día antes de la clausura de la Convención. Según un calendario provisional de la Convención, esa presentación debe tener lugar a las 2:15 P.M. (MDT u hora de verano de la montaña) el 1 de julio.

Las dos cámaras debatirán y votarán luego sobre el presupuesto por separado. Ambas cámaras deben aprobar la misma versión del presupuesto, la cual entra en vigor al comienzo de 2016. El Consejo Ejecutivo con frecuencia tiene que revisar cada uno de los tres presupuestos anuales del trienio en dependencia de los cambios que se produzcan en ingresos y egresos.

– La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

La peregrinación de #ShareTheJourney comienza en Kenia

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 9, 2015

El 4 de marzo, el obispo anglicano Joel Waweru, de la Diócesis de Nairobi, da la bienvenida a Kenia a los peregrinos de #ShareTheJourney y les ofrece un breve resumen de la Iglesia Anglicana en ese país. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

[Episcopal News Service – Nairobi, Kenia] Ocho peregrinos de #ShareTheJourney [un empeño de medios de difusión múltiples de educar, formar y adiestrar a episcopales para que se comprometan en amoroso servicio con refugiados reasentados y se conviertan en testigos proféticos y promotores de refugiados, asilados, migrantes y personas desplazadas en todo el mundo] llegaron a Nairobi el 3 de marzo para una peregrinación de 11 días a Kenia y Ruanda al objeto de ponerse al tanto de las dificultades de los refugiados congoleses y del proceso por el que tienen que pasar para conseguir un reasentamiento en Estados Unidos.

“Espero que el resultado de este viaje será una mayor comprensión de lo constituye, en la Iglesia Episcopal, un programa único y especial del Ministerio Episcopal de Migración, y que más episcopales puedan ver un lugar para ellos en este ministerio de salvar vidas”, dijo Deborah Stein, directora del Ministerio Episcopal de Migración, el programa de reasentamiento de refugiados de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera (DFMS), que dirige esta peregrinación.

(La DFMS —Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society— es el nombre legal y canónico con el cual la Iglesia Episcopal está incorporada, funciona empresarialmente y lleva a cabo la misión).

Además de reunirse con organizaciones no gubernamentales, entre ellas el Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (UNHCR) y el Centro de Apoyo para el Reasentamiento en África del Servicio Mundial de Iglesias, los peregrinos viajarán a Ruanda para visitar el Centro en Memoria del Genocidio en Kigali y el Campamento de Refugiados de Gihembe.

La peregrinación es parte de #ShareTheJourney, una campaña, de un año de duración, del Ministerio Episcopal de Migración en su 75º. aniversario, con vistas a crear conciencia de las formas en que la Sociedad Misionera trabaja para facilitar el reasentamiento de refugiados a través de la Iglesia Episcopal.

“Creo que el Ministerio Episcopal de Migración es uno de los ministerios más inspiradores y menos conocidos de la Iglesia Episcopal”, dijo el Rdo. Scott Gunn, uno de los peregrinos y director ejecutivo del Movimiento Adelante [Forward Movement], un ministerio de la Iglesia Episcopal, con sede en Cincinnati, Ohio, que fomenta el discipulado. “Estoy ansioso de ver la transformación en mi propia vida según experimento esta peregrinación, y quiero hacer todo lo que pueda para compartir este viaje con otras personas”.

A través del Ministerio Episcopal de Migración, la DFMS se asocia con 30 programas de reasentamiento afiliados en 26 diócesis de toda la nación. Es una de las nueve agencias que trabajan en asociación con el Departamento de Estado de EE.UU. para recibir y reubicar a refugiados en Estados Unidos.

En 2014, La DFMS colaboró con sus asociados para reasentar a 5.155 de las decenas de miles de refugiados que vinieron a Unidos a través del proceso de selección del UNHCR.

En el curso de los próximos años, el UNHCR se propone reasentar 50.000 refugiados del Congo, de los cuales del 70 al 90 por ciento serán reubicados en Estados Unidos.

Desde 1998, más de 5,5 millones de personas han muerto en el Congo por causa de la guerra, las enfermedades y la desnutrición en lo que se considera el conflicto con más víctimas mortales desde la segunda guerra mundial. Aproximadamente 2,5 millones de personas se han visto desplazadas interiormente, y unas 500.000 han huido del prolongado conflicto del país, la vasta mayoría de los cuales vive en campamentos de refugiados en las regiones de los Grandes Lagos y en el Cuerno de África.

“No hay ninguna otra solución perdurable para este grupo de refugiados, que ha estado esperando por más de una década en campamentos de refugiados sin esperanza de futuro”, dijo Stein. “Algunos han sido reasentados o han encontrado un modo de establecerse en el país de asilo, pero el resto languidece en los campamentos. El reasentamiento es la única opción para ellos”.

Un refugiado es alguien que ha huido de su país de origen debido a “un temor bien fundado de persecución” debido a su raza, religión, etnia o su afiliación política o social.

Hay 15,5 millones de refugiados en todo el mundo, según cifras del UNHCR, cuyo mandato es brindarles protección internacional a los refugiados. El interés fundamental del organismo es la repatriación, o el regreso seguro al país de origen, seguido por la ciudadanía o residencia legal en el país de acogida. La tercera opción es el reasentamiento en uno de los 22 países en todo el mundo que aceptan refugiados. A un uno por ciento se le concede reasentamiento en un tercer país, con la mitad de ese 1 por ciento destinada a Estados Unidos.

El proceso de reasentamiento suele tomar años; los refugiados pueden pasar décadas viviendo en campamentos antes de que sus casos sean oídos y resueltos. Kenia es uno de los dos países —el otro es Etiopía— que acoge al mayor número de refugiados que viven en campamentos en África.

“Uno de los efectos del reasentamiento es que constituye una muestra de apoyo de parte de los países que acogen refugiados; le da un respiro a los países anfitriones para seguir manteniendo abiertas sus fronteras a futuros refugiados y solicitantes de asilo”, apuntó Stein. “Los refugiados congoleses son sólo un grupo de los muchos que esperan por una solución permanente similar”.

La peregrinación de #ShareTheJourney se costeó a través de una subvención del Fondo Constable asignada en 2014 por el Consejo Ejecutivo de la Iglesia Episcopal. El Fondo Constable ofrece subvenciones para financiar iniciativas de misión que no fueron contempladas en el presupuesto de la Iglesia Episcopal aprobado por la Convención General.

Siga a los peregrinos en #ShareTheJourney en Twitter (@EMMRefugees); en Facebook aquí; en el blog aquí; o a través de los medios de difusión aquí.

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

Despite extremism, Christians and Muslims live together respectfully

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 9, 2015

[Anglican Communion News Service] A professor of Christianity and Islam has said, despite headlines about extremist atrocities, many Christians and Muslims worldwide live peacefully as neighbors.

David Thomas is the Nadir Dinshaw Professor of Inter Religious Relations School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.

He was speaking at the launch of the Anglican Communion’s latest edition of Christian-Muslim Digest – the newsletter of the Anglican Communion’s Network for Inter Faith Concerns (NIFCON).

“Behind the atrocities committed by extremists who say they act in the name of Islam, Christians and Muslims try to live together with respect and cooperation,” he said. “In many places followers of the two faiths succeed in welcoming one another as neighbors and as friends. However, communal life is hampered by insensitive acts on one side or another.”

The first Digest of 2015 records two of these acts and offers incisive reflections by two leading experts. Download the PDF of the Digest here.

The Network for Inter Faith Concerns (NIFCON) of the Anglican Communion exists to encourage:

  • Progress towards genuinely open and loving relationships between Christians and people of other faiths.
  • Exchange of news, information, ideas and resources relating to inter faith concerns between provinces of the Anglican Communion.
  • Local contextual and wider theological reflection.
  • Witness and evangelism where appropriate.
  • Prayerful and urgent action with all involved in tension and conflict.
  • Support for people of faith, especially Christians, who live as religious minorities in situations of discrimination or danger.

Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance re-established under WCC

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 9, 2015

[World Council of Churches] The World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) have agreed to re-establish the EAA as the WCC’s ecumenical initiative, preserving the future of this diverse Christian network for international action on selected, focused issues.

“The WCC is very happy to announce the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is to become a WCC ecumenical initiative,” said Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC. “The EAA and the WCC leadership worked together to find the means to continue the EAA’s unique network and advocacy approach in a more sustainable structural form.”

Over the past 14 years, the EAA has brought Roman Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical and Orthodox churches and Christian organizations to address campaigns on focused issues.

Designed as an organization meant to maximize the impact of faith-based voices and action for justice, the EAA has built a high level of recognition for Christian expertise and advocacy, particularly in the areas of HIV and AIDS, sustainable agriculture and food security. However, like many other faith-based and civil society organizations, it has faced financial challenges over the last several years leading to discussions among its members and partners on the most effective use of financial resources.

“We are delighted that the EAA’s diverse network and unique ecumenical advocacy approach can continue to help churches and Christian organizations to speak out with one voice and take action together for justice, health and dignity,” said Rev. Richard Fee, chair of the EAA board of directors and general secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. “The EAA has proven itself an effective model for ecumenical advocacy, and we are delighted that the WCC can host this precious ecumenical space for the mutual benefit of all those involved.”

“The EAA was founded on the principle that the more we can speak and act together, the stronger our impact for justice will be,” said Fee. “This is a fundamental ecumenical principle which the EAA has developed creatively and effectively for over a decade. Clearly, the need for people of faith to speak out against injustice remains as vital as ever, and together we can strengthen our witness for peace, security and dignity,” Fee concluded.

“This is one concrete way for the World Council of Churches strategically to give leadership and play an important role as convenor for the ecumenical movement. I’m glad that we are able to develop the important work of the EAA into the WCC with a focus on sustainable agriculture and HIV and AIDS. The EAA will bring to WCC experience in collaborating on advocacy with its members,” said Isabel Apawo Phiri, the WCC’s associate general secretary.

The EAA was founded in December 2000 as an instrument for broad ecumenical cooperation in advocacy – both in terms of Christian traditions and in types of organizations. Participating organizations select two specific issues of global concern for focused campaigning over a four-year period. Since its establishment, the EAA has focused on HIV and AIDS. From 2009, its second focus has been on food security and sustainable agriculture.

The WCC housed the EAA administratively from its founding until 2009 when it became an independent association under Swiss law. Close collaboration continued between the two organizations, particularly through the campaign strategy groups with representatives from EAA members and partners.

EAA’s most recent efforts on HIV and AIDS have focused on access to treatment and advocacy to overcome stigma and discrimination, particularly through dialogue between religious leaders and people living with HIV.

The EAA has also developed a leadership role among faith-based and civil society advocates in negotiations concerning agriculture in United Nations Climate Change talks, as well as in international policy arenas in areas of food and nutrition security.

Website of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance