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Presiding Bishop on the crisis of unaccompanied children at US border

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 10, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued the following statement on the current crisis of unaccompanied children and families at the United States border.

The influx of vulnerable people from Central America, including unaccompanied minors as well as mothers with children, continues to challenge the United States to respond compassionately.  Like Sudanese or Syrian refugees, these people are fleeing hunger, violence, and the fear of rape, murder, and enslavement.  The violence in Central America has escalated significantly in recent months, particularly as a result of gangs and trafficking in drugs and human beings.  These people are literally fleeing for their lives. 

The United States has a checkered history in responding to refugee crises.  We shut our eyes and ears, as well as our ports, during the crimes against Jews and other vulnerable persons in the midst of the Second World War.  We have been more welcoming to Sudanese youths looking for survival in the last 20 years.

The Episcopal Church believes we have a responsibility to all our neighbors, particularly the strangers and sojourners around us.  We have been resettling refugees since 1939.  Today, Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) and Episcopal Relief & Development are working with churches and dioceses in areas where these Central American women and children are being served. 

Episcopalians are responding with prayers and concern, and asking how to help.  I urge you to remember these people and their difficult and dangerous position in your prayers – today, this coming Sunday, and continuing until we find a just resolution.  The Episcopal Church has established an account to receive financial contributions to assist Episcopal Migration Ministries in this work.  For details, please contact EMM@episcopalchurch.org

I would also encourage you to contact your legislators, and ask them to support an appropriate humanitarian response to this crisis.  We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper, and as a Church, we are asking the United States government to support such a response, grounded in justice and the fundamental dignity of every human being.  Our Office of Government Relations is submitting detailed testimony to a United States Senate hearing today, as that chamber prepares to consider a budget request from the President. 

You may read that testimony here, and I encourage you to share it with your own Representative and Senators here

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

Diocese of Peshawar helps to meet needs of displaced people

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 10, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of Texas] The Diocese of Peshawar in Pakistan is looking after minority internally displaced persons (IDP) after large groups of citizens in the northern Waziristan region sought shelter during the government’s ongoing fight against the Taliban. So far, the diocese has received 72 Christian, Hindu, Sikh and a few Shia Muslim families into its Bannu camp, with more expected.

The permanent camp is set up at a local high school where the diocese looks after the families’ physical and spiritual needs. Diocesan clergy are on site to provide spiritual counseling.

Diocese of Peshawar has three churches in Bannu, a school and a hospital that are all being used to meet the IDP’s needs. On top of caring for the minority displaced families, the diocese also sends resource teams to help care for many Muslims who are also displaced.

The operation in North Waziristan, launched by the Pakistani Army, has caused nearly half a million people, many Christians among them, to seek refuge elsewhere.

Last year, All Saints Church in Peshawar was the site of a suicide bombing that killed at least 78 people in the church and left scores injured. The diocese has since partnered with the Church of Scotland to support families affected by the bombing.

One of the eight dioceses making up the Church in Pakistan, the Diocese of Peshawar was one of the first to respond to an Afghan refugee influx, providing medical teams and relief operations. The Diocese of Peshawar serves roughly 100,000 Christians in the region, with 50 percent coming from the Church of Pakistan.

On June 8, a special interdenominational worship celebration was held at the United Church, University Campus Peshawar to celebrate Pentecost Day. The Rt. Rev. Humphrey S. Peters attended the celebration where more than 500 people gathered to hear his message of unity.

The diocese also recently hosted a camp where 60 children and 35 teachers gathered from all over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province for teaching and storytelling about spiritual growth in Jesus Christ.

West Texas: San Marcos church rekindles passion for God’s creation

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Environmental Stewardship Committee co-chairs Ann Walsh, left, and Margo Case stand in the labyrinth at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in San Marcos, Texas.

[Diocese of West Texas’ Church News] St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in San Marcos, Diocese of West Texas, sits at the base of a gentle embankment dappled in a profusion of bluebonnets and dotted by shady live oak trees. The sanctuary is lined with soaring windows as though nature itself is invited to join the services while a sprawling labyrinth seemingly emerges organically from a hillside to engage seekers on their spiritual quests.

“You get a sense of creation when you’re here,” said St. Mark’s rector, the Rev. Benjamin H. Nelson III.

“Here” is on the eastern edge of the rolling Texas Hill Country, along an elongated geological escarpment known as the Balcones Fault and atop the environmentally sensitive Edward’s Aquifer recharge zone. And “here,” at St. Mark’s, its Environmental Stewardship Committee is engaged to raise congregational and community awareness, appreciation and preservation of the natural treasure that encompasses their surroundings.

“That’s part of the reason why this group is so active. We’re reminded of nature every Sunday,” Nelson said. “There are gardens all around us, wildlife, birds, flora and fauna all over the place. It’s a cool worship space for us.”

The committee, now with about a dozen members, formed a decade ago, primarily to explore the interweaving of the natural environment with the mission of the Episcopal Church. One of the original members, Larry Hanson, continues to be an active member.

Initially, its work focused on recycling but that emphasis has mushroomed into a myriad of activities, ranging from crafting homemade Christmas gifts to encourage reusing and recycling, to the regularly scheduled sale of environmentally friendly coffee. The group also developed an Advent meditation booklet consisting of meditations and prayers based on daily scripture readings that connect nature to God and creation written by members of the committee

“The meditations are pretty successful,” Nelson said. “We print up a couple of hundred and they all disappear. It gives the committee a chance to talk about the environment and brings in people who may not normally come in contact with this.”

And proceeds from the periodic sale of coffee – fair traded, locally roasted, organically and shade grown – are split between the Episcopal Relief & Development fund and local environmental causes.

Organized in 1874, St. Mark’s moved to its 25-acre campus in 2010 and into a sanctuary that, as Nelson describes, is “wide open to creation.” A portion of the credit for the design and placement of the building goes to the efforts of Sarah Carlisle, Florence Dodington and Susan Hanson, master naturalists and gardeners on the committee, and an array of other volunteers who researched and provided recommendations for sustainable construction, design, landscaping and even its physical placement and alignment to the sun.

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church is lined with soaring windows that envelop the sanctuary in nature.

Before moving into the new church, the committee also organized a mulching and watering campaign to preserve the sprawling liveoak trees when Texas was struck by a severe drought, said Ann Walsh, co-chair of the committee. Many members of the congregation joined in with the committee to tackle this challenge.

“In the two years I’ve been here they’ve not only incorporated projects that are really cool and innovative but they also focus on formation of people,” with the idea that “this creation we live in is a gift from God and it is up to us to partner with God to take care of it,” Nelson said.

“Not just that you should recycle but you should recycle because it is part of our care for God’s creation and this wonderful gift we are entrusted with as partners in ministry,” he said. “I think it’s a real gentle way to include that in the life of the parish.”

The committee keeps the idea of environmental stewardship in front of the congregation through various publicity activities. For example, environmental stewardship is mentioned in nearly every church newsletter, and the group even created a website dedicated to environmental stewardship at the church, http://stmarksenvironmentalstewardship.weebly.com.

“We feel like we keep having activities to keep people thinking about it,’ said co-chair Margo Case. “We try to educate people about why we’re sponsoring a particular event. We’re very careful not to politicize any of this because it’s not a political cause. It’s a taking care of creation cause.”

Nelson has encouraged their efforts by instituting periodic Rogation services. The services are designed to “make us aware of God in creation and to get them connected to an old tradition of the church. It’s so Episcopalian and Anglican.”

For Nelson, environmental stewardship “kind of gets back to our roots. We’ve always been a people who were deeply connected to creation. All of our great stories in scripture – the emergence of our self through this idea that we were created in the image and likeness of God and God created this world and it was very good. That’s who we are, so scripturally it’s rekindling and retelling that story in a way that connects to wherever we are in our life.”

Nelson was selected as rector of St. Mark’s in 2012. By coincidence, his doctoral thesis happened to concern the environment – “the spiritually of water, combined with some Hawaiian traditional values and the language of the Prayer Book and how encounters with creation can enhance, inform and shape our life in Christ.”

“I think that when the rancher, the tree hugger, the oilman, the developer, when they sit down and talk about their spiritual values, you can sometimes get through the differences to a place where they can start talking about caring for the earth,” he said. “Their goals may not be the same but the values can be, and that can be a language of commonality, especially if they are faithful people.”

To encourage other churches to undertake environmental stewardship, the committee hosted the Diocese Ecological Stewardship booth at the 2014 Diocesan Council in San Marcos. “We were trying to connect with people at other churches,” Walsh said. “To see if we could get some people who were interested and maybe we could help mentor other churches in starting up their own committees.”

When she talked to visitors at their booth, Walsh asked if they had people who worked on the grounds of their church. If they did, “I said you have environmental stewardship but you haven’t thought of calling it that. We’re trying to get people to see themselves as environmental stewards.”

“Anytime they start the mower, they are doing environmental stewardship,” she said. “Anytime they plant a plant, anytime they make a decision about what kind of light bulb to put in the sanctuary, that’s environmental stewardship.”

Case and Walsh each had their own reasons for getting involved in environmental stewardship.

“One of the biggest steps for me is trying to get people to see the connection between taking care of the environmental, God and our spiritual world,” Case said. “It satisfies my need for a practical application of my faith.”

Walsh’s involvement grew out of a desire to find a way and an interest to become more involved in the life of the church. “It was something I could connect with. I love being outside, I’m an avid birder and gardener. For me, it was a perfect fit.”

And for Nelson, environmental stewardship has rekindled the gift of God in him so that he doesn’t “take things for granted in creation.”

The next horizon for the committee is to involve younger children and families in caring for the environment. Walsh would like to see the natural playground, now in the planning stages, to “include some space where you can gather families together and get them actively participating in environmental stewardship activities.”

Case and Walsh invite other churches interested in embarking on their own environmental stewardship work to contact them for help as mentors. “We could tell them here’s what we’ve been doing and this is how we got started,” Walsh said. “Getting people to more actively organize themselves is something I would wish to see.”

– Mike Patterson is a San Antonio-based freelance writer and member of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Blanco, Texas.

Roger Hutchison to receive Order of the Silver Crescent award

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, July 9, 2014

[Trinity Cathedral press release] Roger Hutchison, canon for children’s ministries at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Columbia, South Carolina, will receive the Governor’s Order of the Silver Crescent Award on June 17.

The Order of the Silver Crescent is South Carolina’s highest civilian honor for community service. It is awarded to residents of South Carolina for exemplary performance, contribution and achievement within the community.

Roger was awarded this high honor for his heartfelt work he has done with the children here at Trinity Cathedral and out in the Columbia community – including work at St. Lawrence Place, W.A. Perry Middle School, and other local schools and groups. The award also recognizes his work with the children of Sandy Hook and Newtown, CT.

Roger is also the author of The Painting Table: A Journal of Loss and Joy and has served on staff at Trinity for the past 17 years. Roger is married to Kristin and they have a daughter, Riley (12).

The Very Reverend Timothy Jones, Dean of Trinity Cathedral stated that “Roger’s spiritual commitment, his creative gifts, and his deep love for children and their parents have won over those who make the award.”

The Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Katherine Haltiwanger, will present this high achievement to Roger Hutchison on Thursday, July 17 at 6:30pm during the Vacation Bible School Celebration in Averyt Hall, Trinity Cathedral’s gym. The public is welcome to this celebration.

About Trinity Episcopal Cathedral:
Trinitysc.org | Facebook.com/Trinitycathedralsc
Trinity Episcopal Cathedral was founded in 1812 as a mission church and has grown to be one of the 20th largest congregations in the Episcopal Church. Located across the street from the South Carolina Statehouse, its beautiful campus is anchored by its newly restored sanctuary.

Liberia Bishop Jonathan Hart heads West Africa’s internal province

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, July 9, 2014

[Adapted from an AllAfrica.com report] Bishop Jonathan Hart of the Episcopal Church of Liberia has been enthroned as archbishop of the Internal Province of West Africa (IpWA) in the Church of the Province of West Africa (CPWA).

Hart succeeds Bishop Solomon Tilewa Johnson of The Gambia who died in office on Jan. 21, 2014.

Hart was elected on May 1, 2014 by the Electoral College of the IpWA in the St. Augustine Anglican Church in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He is also the dean of the CPWA. Hart now assumes the role of having oversight of the Anglican Communion bishops from Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Cameroon and Liberia.

Hart was consecrated as bishop of the Episcopal Church of Liberia on March 2, 2008.

Liberia President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, in a congratulatory message, said: “We and the Episcopal denomination in Liberia have not the slightest doubt that you will measure up to the task of your new assignment considering services you have rendered to the flock here in the Diocese of Liberia and your astute ecumenical standing within the communities of the Christian faith.”

Archbishop of the Church of the Province of West Africa Daniel Yinka Sarfo pledged to work with Hart to build on the legacies of their predecessors.

Sarfo, also the current Anglican bishop of Kumasi in Ghana, reiterated the wish that the two internal provinces of West Africa should eventually become autonomous provinces of the Anglican Communion during their tenure.

Hart’s enthronement service was held at the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity on Sunday, July 6, and attended by more than 15 other bishops of the province, including Sarfo, as well as international guests from the United States and England. Vice President Joseph Boakai among other national dignitaries was also present.

UBE assembly honors four social justice advocates

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, July 9, 2014

[Union of Black Episcopalians press release] The Rev. Canon Edward W. Rodman, L.H.D., Nell Braxton Gibson, the Rev. Harold T. Lewis, Ph.D., and Dr. Anita Parrott George have been named the Union of Black Episcopalian’s 2014 recipients of the Rev. Dr. Pauline Murray Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award and the Verna Josephine Dozier, Anna Julia Haywood Cooper and Mattie Hopkins Honors Awards respectively.

“We are very pleased to honor these four extraordinary individuals in this way,” says Annette Buchanan, National President of UBE. “They each have made significant contributions not only to the Episcopal Church but to their communities and exemplify that while we are here on earth, we should make a difference.”

As part of their 46th Anniversary Annual Meeting and Conference, UBE presented the awards at their Gala Awards Dinner on July 2, at the Golden Nugget Hotel in Atlantic City, NJ.

This is the third year that these awards, named for Episcopal trailblazers, were given to individuals whose life work exemplifies the spirit of their award namesake.

Rodman, who received the Rev. Dr. Pauline Murray Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award, said, “It is always special to be honored by one’s friends.”

Rodman is the John Seeley Stone Professor of Pastoral Theology and Urban Ministry at Episcopal Divinity School. He is a former member of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, one of the organizers of the Union of Black Episcopalians, a former urban hearings coordinator for the Urban Bishops Coalition, and the coordinator of the Episcopal Urban Caucus.

The Rev. Dr. Pauline “Pauli” Murray was the first black female priest ordained by the Episcopal Church. Committed to dismantling barriers of race, Murray was also dedicated to the feminist cause. She was appointed to serve on the civil and political rights committee of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW). In the mid-1960s, Murray began serving as a member of the Equality Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) working to revise the ACLU policy on sex discrimination. She was also a founding member of the civil rights group of the National Organization for Women (NOW). Murray saw the civil rights and women’s movements as intertwined and believed that black women had a vested interest in the women’s movement.

Gibson received the Verna Josephine Dozier Honor Award.

“Having known Verna Dozier during her lifetime and been moved by her strong support of clergy and her prophetic call to the laity, I am deeply moved to have been chosen as this year’s recipient of the award named in her honor. Thank you, UBE,” said Gibson.

Gibson presently serves as Chair of the New York Diocesan Committee on Reparations for Slavery. She served for six years as National Coordinator for the Episcopal Urban Caucus, a social justice organization whose mission is to stand in solidarity with poor and oppressed people.

Verna Josephine Dozier was a teacher of English literature at the high school level and a noted Episcopal religious educator who focused on Bible study and claiming the authority of the laity. She was well known in educational circles for teaching scripture. For many, her approach was radical. She was also a courageous preacher. In 1992, Dozier preached for the consecration of Jane Holmes Dixon as Bishop Suffragan of Washington, one of only a handful of laywomen asked to preach at an Episcopal consecration.

Lewis was awarded the Dr. Anna Julia Haywood Cooper Honor Award.

“As one who has attempted to be a bridge-builder throughout my ministry, I am delighted to have been chosen to receive this award from the UBE, especially as it is honor of Anna Julia Cooper, one of the great unsung heroines of American history and the Episcopal Church,” said Lewis. “Dr. Cooper, whom I quote extensively in my book, ‘Yet With a Steady Beat’, was born into slavery and lived to see the dawn of the civil rights movement 105 years later.  She believed in the Episcopal Church, not only as an instrument of uplift for the African American, but as an institution both “missionary and catholic” committed to building bridges of understanding and reconciliation among all groups in our society.”

Lewis is rector emeritus of Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is an active chronicler of the African American struggle in the Episcopal Church and has participated on numerous church and seminary boards including the Office of Black Ministries as director from 1983 to 1994.

Dr. Anna Julia Haywood Cooper was an educator, advocate and scholar. Throughout her career, Cooper emphasized the importance of education to the future of black people, and was critical of the lack of support they received from the church. An advocate for black women, Cooper assisted in organizing the Colored Women’s League and the first Colored Settlement House in Washington, D.C. She wrote and spoke widely on issues of race and gender, and took an active role in national and international organizations founded to advance black people. At the age of 55, she adopted the five children of her nephew. In 1925, Cooper became the fourth black woman to complete a Ph.D. degree, granted from the Sorbonne when she was 65 years old. From 1930-1942, Cooper served as president of Frelinghuysen University. Her first book, “A Voice from the South: By a Woman from the South”, published in 1892, is often considered as one of the first articulations of Black Feminism.

George was awarded the Mattie Hopkins Honor Award.

“Surprise and humility are what I felt upon learning that the Union of Black Episcopalians had named me recipient of the Mattie Hopkins’ Award, a woman who it seems lived a life in service to Christ and community,” said George. “I offer gratitude to UBE for fitting together our lives, for connecting me with this devoted humanitarian and radical Episcopalian, and for rewarding me beyond measure with this award in her honor.”

George is a retired educator having served nearly 50 years in a variety of educational settings in Mississippi, Illinois, Florida, and Louisiana. She has served broadly in the Episcopal Church with local, diocesan, and church-wide responsibilities. A major focus of her life has been on issues of racial justice.

Mattie Hopkins was an Episcopal educator and social activist. Hopkins received degrees from the Tuskegee Institute and the University of Chicago and taught in the South, and for the Chicago school system from 1951-1983. She was active in many Chicago civic, educational, and church organizations. In the 1960s she was the president of the Chicago chapter of the Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity (ESCRU) and sought employment for blacks in the construction of the Diocese of Chicago headquarters. She was instrumental in the founding of the Union of Black Episcopalians and was also a board member of the Episcopal Urban Caucus. In 1988 Hopkins received the prestigious Vida Scudder Award for outstanding contributions to the social mission of the church, presented by the Episcopal Publishing Company.

Past recipients of these awards include: the Rev. Altagracia Perez,  Canon Bonnie Anderson, the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, Dr. Deborah Harmon Hines, the Rev. Canon Dr. Sandye A. Wilson, Dr. Fredrica Harris Thompsett, the Rev. Dr. D.H. Kortright Davis, and Patricia Abrams.

The occasion also included a surprise honoring of The Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris, the first female Bishop of the Episcopal Church, on the 25th anniversary of her ordination. There was a four-minute video presentation, on her life, that preceded the presentation of a commemorative photo album.

The 47th Annual Meeting and Conference will take place July 19-22, 2015 at the Maritime Conference Center, in Linthicum, Maryland.

South Carolina: Bishop permits blessings of same-sex relationships

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 8, 2014

[Episcopal Church in South Carolina] The Right Reverend Charles G. vonRosenberg on July 8 granted permission for priests to bless the committed relationships of same-sex couples in The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

In authorizing the use of “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant,” vonRosenberg gave permission for priests to respond pastorally to couples who are in committed relationships, including those who have been married in states where same-sex marriage is allowed. South Carolina law does not permit marriage for same-sex couples, and the blessings performed here will not constitute a “marriage.”

In his letter to clergy today, the bishop states that no priest is required to offer the blessing. “I do want to be clear that this permission does not define an expectation for clergy,” he wrote. “In your own life of prayer and within community, you will decide how to respond to this statement of permission.”

Priests who wish to perform a blessing will not have to receive any further authorization from the bishop. However, before a priest can perform the ceremony in a church building, the vestry or mission committee of that church must have given its approval for such liturgies to be conducted there.

To assist congregations in considering that decision, the bishop’s office has provided theological resources, recommended reading, and a model outline for conversations on the topic. Those resources are available on the diocesan website, episcopalchurchsc.org.

Following the guidelines established by General Convention, one member of the couple must be a baptized Christian.

Same-sex blessings were authorized for provisional use by The Episcopal Church in 2012 in a resolution at the 77th General Convention, A049, so that bishops “may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church”.  Since then, more than 60 of the 110 dioceses of The Episcopal Church have allowed some form of liturgy for blessings of same-sex relationships.

Regionally, 15 out of the 20 dioceses of Province IV – an area covering nine southeastern states – now permit the blessings. In the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, Bishop Andrew Waldo announced May 8 that he would permit the blessings.

The liturgy was approved for “provisional” use by General Convention in 2012, and is expected to be revisited at the next General Convention in 2015. For that reason, vonRosenberg’s letter requests that priests performing the blessings report each ceremony to the Bishop’s Office. This documentation will be added to the experiences shared from around the church at General Convention.

The Standing Committee of diocese, acting as a council of advice for the Bishop, began considering same-sex blessings in 2013 and spent several months reviewing the materials approved by General Convention. In September 2013 the Standing Committee voted unanimously to advise the Bishop to move forward with developing and authorizing a liturgy. A Diocesan Committee on Blessings, with clergy and lay members from around the diocese, worked with the bishop to adapt the materials approved by General Convention into a liturgy for local use. The resulting document, “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant,” is available online at episcopalchurchsc.org.

Unprecedented numbers of children detained crossing the border

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Immigrants from Central America arrive at the local refugee center in McAllen. One is carrying travel information to where various relatives live in the United States. Photo: Trish Motheral

[Episcopal News Service] Sixteen boys aged 14 to 17 gathered July 6 around a map of the Americas, each writing his first name on a sticky note and placing it first next to his home country, with the majority landing on Guatemala, followed by Honduras.

Then, the Rev. Susan Copley asked the teenagers to move the sticky notes to the next place they are going. Some said they would be staying with relatives in New York; others were headed to Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland and California.

One month earlier, on June 5, Copley and volunteers from her church began visiting the unaccompanied minors at Abbott House, a regional community-based human services agency headquartered in Irvington, New York, a small, Hudson River Valley town just south of Tarrytown, where Copley is the rector of Christ Church and San Marcos Mission.

In addition to making weekly visits, where they play games with the boys and conduct an abbreviated Eucharist in Spanish, church members pray for the children and mobilize to support them. In one afternoon, its English- and Spanish-speaking congregations raised $1,000 to buy shoes for the children, some of whom arrived at Abbott House without any footwear.

Not only is it about providing the children with “positive exposure to people who care about them,” by inviting different members of the Christ Church and San Marcos community, it helps to counterbalance some of the negativity that accompanies their stories, said Copley.

Since early June, the record numbers of unaccompanied minors crossing the southwestern border – primarily from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – and the associated humanitarian crisis have been in the news, with politicians shifting blame, and protestors making headlines.

With the exception of unaccompanied minors from Mexico and Canada, who can be returned home immediately under a 2008 U.S. immigration law, unaccompanied minors must be taken into U.S. custody and given a deportation hearing, which can take years. An unaccompanied minor is defined as a person under the age of 18 who is separated from both parents and is not under the care of a guardian or other adult.

To accommodate the influx of migrant children, the government has set up makeshift shelters at military bases and has contracted with transitional homes, like Abbott House, where children can be cared for before being released to a relative, with whom they’ll stay until they can get an immigration hearing.

Abbott House provides unaccompanied minors with room and board, case management, individual counseling, medical and educational services, recreation and leisure activities, acculturation, legal services, transportation and access to religious services, before they are placed with relatives or in foster care, according to a June 4 press release.

Churches respond on the border
In a July 3 appeal to the Diocese of West Texas, Bishop Gary Lillibridge described the humanitarian needs in his diocese, particularly in the border towns of McAllen and Laredo.

St. John’s Episcopal Church in McAllen, with assistance from Episcopal Relief & Development, has joined a larger effort, the McAllen Faith Community for Disaster Recovery, a group of churches and government agencies that have come together to respond to the crisis, in assisting with meals and laundry for individuals and families sheltering inside and in tents around Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

St. John’s began preparing backpacks of hygienic items, with travel-size soaps, shampoos, and conditioners, a comb, a toothbrush, and other items, as well as packs of nutritional snacks, such as peanut butter crackers and cereal bars.

“We will hold ‘packing parties’ at the church every Sunday and Wednesday and put together as many packs as we can, and we will assemble these packs as long as they are needed,” said the Rev. Nancy Springer, assistant rector of St. John’s.

Similar efforts are taking place in Laredo, where parishioners at Christ Church are assembling backpacks, also containing hygienic and nutritional items, to deliver to the children and families flowing into their city.

And in Arizona, where women and children were reportedly dropped off at bus stations in Tucson and Phoenix, the church also has joined interfaith efforts to respond.

The crisis in Central America’s Northern Triangle, however, is not just about children but about adults and families as well. In recent weeks, tens of thousands of women with children and other family units fleeing the pervasive violence of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras have arrived in Texas and Arizona, as a recent Episcopal Public Policy Network immigration advocacy update explains.

“When women and children flee their homes in these numbers it signals a humanitarian crisis, not a security threat,” said Katie Conway, the Episcopal Church’s immigration and refugee policy analyst. “Episcopalians across the country have responded to this crisis with compassion and loving service and we are calling upon the president and Congress to do the same. We believe that the United States is capable of meeting this challenge without compromising our values or our safety, and without turning our backs on vulnerable mothers and children seeking peace and protection.”

(On June 25, Conway, and Alexander Baumgarten, director of the Episcopal Church’s Washington, D.C.-based Office of Government Relations, submitted testimony to Congress concerning the crisis on behalf of the church.

In March, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed its concern for the increasing number of children crossing the border “propelled by violence, insecurity and abuse in their communities and at home,” and called on government agencies “to take action to keep children safe from human rights abuses, violence and crime, and to ensure their access to asylum and other forms of international protection.”

UNHCR based its concern and its call to action on a 120-page report “Children on the Run,” based on interviews with more than 400 unaccompanied minors from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico held in federal custody. The report indicates that many of the children believed they were unsafe in their own countries and would be picked up by authorities who would evaluate their need for international protection along the way.

The report also stated that many of the young people interviewed were part of “mixed migration” movements, which include both individuals in need of international protection and migrants looking for work.

“It’s critical to note that the vast majority of these children may actually be asylum seekers,” said Deb Stein, director of Episcopal Migration Ministries. “To talk about deporting them back to the very dire circumstances from which they fled for safety without the opportunity to seek protection is to ignore their rights under the 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention, to which the U.S. is a signatory. This gets lost in the heated rhetoric of deporting them simply because they entered the country illegally, when in fact it is not illegal to request asylum.”

Beginning in October 2011, the U.S. Government began noticing a dramatic rise in the number of unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, which by fiscal year 2013 had gone from 4,059 to 21,573. As of June 15, 2014, the number had reached 51,279 for this fiscal year. Since 2009, UNHCR has been recording an increase in asylum claims from the same three countries.

Episcopal Migration Ministries, The Episcopal Church’s Justice and Advocacy Ministries, and Episcopal Relief & Development are working together to connect Episcopalians interested in creating and/or sharing information, resources, and mutual support for immigration advocacy and ministry.

– Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service. Laura Shaver, communications officer for the Diocese of West Texas, contributed reporting.

Christopher Agnew receives Davis Award

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 8, 2014

[National Episcopal Historians and Archivists press release] At NEHA’s annual meeting June 17-19 in Salt Lake City, the Rev. Dr. Christopher M. Agnew received the association’s Canon John W. Davis Award, for outstanding contributions by a NEHA member to the organization and/or Episcopal Church history and archives.

Named for its first recipient, longtime NEHA President Canon John W. Davis, the award pays tribute to outstanding contributions a NEHA member has made to the organization and/or the fields of Episcopal Church history and archives. Duffy is a longtime NEHA member and previously served on the Board of Trustees.

Dr. Agnew, past-president of NEHA and former board member of the Historical Society of The Episcopal Church, is Ecumenical Officer of the Diocese of Virginia and is Ecumenical Coordinator of Province III.

The Rev. Dr. Christopher M. Agnew grew up in various parts of the world as the son of military parents. He received his MA and Ph.D. in history, University of Delaware; and his Master of Sacred Theology from General Theological Seminary. Prior to ordination he was a college history professor.

After receiving his Ph.D. in history in 1979, he taught history on the secondary and college levels, including the adjunct faculty of Virginia Theological Seminary. He has served as manuscript librarian of the Historical Society of Delaware and Registrar and Archivist of the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware. In 1985 he oversaw the mounting of a seven room Winterthur exhibit telling the history of the Diocese. He is a past-president of the National Episcopal Historians and Archivists and he has served on the Board of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church.

Dr. Agnew has served on the staff of the Presiding Bishop as Associate Ecumenical Officer. He currently serves as Ecumenical Officer of the Diocese of Virginia and is Ecumenical Coordinator of Province III of the Episcopal Church. He is the chair of the Faith and Order Commission of the Virginia Council of Churches and a member of the board of the North American Academy of Ecumenists. He was editor of The Ecumenical Bulletin, 1989-1994, and Chair of the National Workshop on Christian Unity for the 2009 workshop in Phoenix.

He has held leadership positions with the Virginia Council of Churches, and received the 2013 Faith in Action Award of the Council. He served as vice president of the Episcopal Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers. He has served in numerous ecumenical roles including staff for the Anglican Ron1an Catholic Consultation- USA, the Episcopal Russian Orthodox Joint Coordinating C0111mittee, and the Lutheran Episcopal Joint Coordinating Committee. He served on the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches. He was the founder of the National Council of Churches Interfaith Relations Commission and served as chair of the National Council of Churches Christian­Jewish Relations Committee from 1991 to 1999.

Dr. Agnew is editor and compiler of the Forward Movement Publication, “Anglican Statements on Ecclesiology. He also is an Early Music supporter.

He is married to Elizabeth and they have several children.

Founded in 1961, NEHA has focused on practical matters of archivists and historians in the Episcopal Church since it held its first meeting and continues to provide a forum for exchanging ideas, giving mutual support, and defining its role as an archival and historical network for those who participate in preserving, exploring and sharing the historical dimensions of the Episcopal Church. NEHA encourages every congregation, diocese, and organization in the Episcopal Church to collect, preserve and organize its records and share its history.

The National Episcopal Historians and Archivists is a network of over 200 members from across the Episcopal Church whose purpose is to encourage every diocese, congregation, and organization in the Episcopal Church to collect, preserve, and organize its records and to share its history.

Historians groups celebrate unsung heroines of the church

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 8, 2014

[National Episcopal Historians and Archivists press release] In sickness and in health, amid poverty and plenty, at home and abroad, ordained and non-ordained women of The Episcopal Church played major roles in forming and practicing the mission, ministry, liturgy and music of The Church.

Celebrating some of those women’s stories, the National Episcopal Historians and Archivists met for their annual conference June 17-20 hosted by, and held at, the Cathedral Church of St. Mark, Salt Lake City, in association with the Episcopal Women’s History Project.

The spirit of Episcopal women’s work was honored in the following presentations:

John Rawlinson – Deaconess Emma Britt Drant
The Rev. Phillip Ayers – the Community of St. John the Baptist
L. Teresa Di Biase – Deaconess Margaret Peppers
Julia Allen – Anna Rochester and Grace Hutchins
Susan Witt – An Affectionate Look at the Community of the Holy Cross
The Rev. Dr. Sean Wallace – Sung, Yet Unsung; Women Poets, Translators, and Composers in the Episcopal Hymnal
Jeannie Terepka – Faithful in their Untiring Efforts; the Women of St. Michael’s Church and St. Jude’s Chapel in the first half of the Twentieth Century
Julia Randle – Through a Stained Glass Wall; Miss Sallie Stuart, the Virginia Branch of the Women’s Auxiliary and Women’s Ministries in the Diocese of Virginia
The Rev. Chris Agnew – Susan Hutt
Sue Rehkopf and Kurt Cook – A presentation on their “work in progress” on The Three Foote Sisters and how the sisters assisted the Rt. Rev. Daniel S. Tuttle in Utah and Missouri.

“The sessions illustrated the breadth and the depth of women’s ministries from the very beginning of the Episcopal Church through the present day,” said incoming NEHA President Susan Stonesifer. “The presenters used a variety of fascinating media to illustrate these threads of our history. Kurt Cook, historiographer of the Cathedral of St. Mark, was a gracious host, even providing a snowfall on the mountains to further beautify them. NEHA was fortunate to have a foretaste of the wonderful hospitality awaiting the entirety of the church for General Convention 2015.”

Wednesday’s banquet at the Aerie Restaurant at Snowbird Ski Resort featured guest speaker Craig B. Wirth, Communications Director for the Diocese of Utah, winner of four Emmy Awards and a 2012 inductee to the Utah Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame.

On Friday the 20th a presentation was made by Ancestry.com on their digitization program. Also on Friday, under the supervision of Sue Rehkopf, a “lightning round” allowed presenters who had sent in pictures of notable women to speak briefly on these remarkable individuals.

NEHA’s annual conference is held in the summer in various locations around North America. The purpose of the conference is to offer practical insights into the recording, preservation, writing and sharing the institutional history of the Episcopal Church. Conferences include a variety of workshops, speakers, and time for prayer, worship and fellowship.

This year’s conference theme was to honor the work and accomplishments of women who have received far less attention than men in The Church. This NEHA Conference aimed to give additional voice to Episcopal lay and clergy women – wives, deaconesses, nuns, missionaries – who quietly dedicated their lives to serving others and to promoting the work of our branch of the Church Catholic.

Conference attendees also enjoyed field trips and site tours around Salt Lake City, including:

*This is the Place Heritage Park
* The University of Utah’s Marriott Library’s archival storage facility.
* The LDS Church’s Church History Library.
* All of the Cathedrals in Salt Lake City: The Cathedral of the Madeleine; Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral, and an in-depth presentation on Bishop Daniel S. Tuttle’s flagship cathedral, the Cathedral Church of St. Mark.
* The Episcopal Church Center of Utah, the home of the Diocese of Utah and its associated Wasatch Retreat Center.

John W. Davis Award
At NEHA’s annual meeting, the Rev. Dr. Christopher M. Agnew received the association’s Canon John W. Davis Award, for outstanding contributions by a NEHA member to the organization and/or Episcopal Church history and archives.

Dr. Agnew, past-president of NEHA and former board member of the Historical Society of The Episcopal Church, is Ecumenical Officer of the Diocese of Virginia and is Ecumenical Coordinator of Province III.

Laurence D. Fish Award for Best Parish History
NEHA bestowed its first Fish Award this year.  It is given annually in memory of Laurence D. Fish, one of the founders of NEHA. He was Archivist for the Diocese of New Jersey for many years. The award is to recognize the best parish-history book. This year’s Fish Award went to St. Peter’s Church, Philadelphia, for St. Peter’s Church: Faith in Action for 250 Years.

The authors were Cordelia Frances Biddle, Elizabeth S. Browne, Alan J. Heavens, and Charles P. Peitz.  It was published by Temple University Press in 2011. The judges for all nine entries were A. Margaret Landis, G. Michael Strock, Peter W. Williams and Phillip Ayers.

The annual NEHA meeting also recognized and thanked retiring board members Rev. Dr. Bindy Snyder, Ms. Paula Allen, and Mr. Matthew Payne.

Financial reports reflected stable finances. A number of new members have recently joined.

Elected to the NEHA board were:

* Matt Carmichael, Archivist and Historiographer for the Diocese of Eastern Oregon;
* Amy Cunningham, archivist for Nashotah House Theological Seminary;
* Dr. Peter Williams, Diocese of Southern Ohio, author of several books, including Popular Religion in America and Houses of God: Region, Religion and Architecture in the United States.

At board meeting immediately following the conference, Susan Stonesifer was elected board president. Phillip Ayers agreed to remain as board vice president and Elizabeth Allison agreed to remain as board secretary. The board regretfully accepted the resignation of Michael Strock and appointed Matthew Payne to fill Mr. Strock’s unexpired term, and elected him as Treasurer.

Testimony on unaccompanied alien children and refugee populations

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 8, 2014

TESTIMONY OF ALEXANDER D. BAUMGARTEN AND KATIE CONWAY ON BEHALF OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH[1]

JUNE 25, 2014

We thank Representative Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Ranking Member Conyers for the opportunity to submit this testimony. Today we express our concern for the violence in Central America pushing tens of thousands of vulnerable immigrant children to flee, and recommend that Congress and the Administration continue to provide appropriate, child-centered care for these children, while maintaining access to protection and services for all refugee populations. The Episcopal Church has been engaged in the work of providing humanitarian aid abroad and refugee resettlement domestically since the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief was established in 1940, and we continue those services today.

The Northern Triangle of Central America, comprised of the countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, is one of the most dangerous regions in the world. Honduras boasts the world’s highest murder rate, with El Salvador and Guatemala also within the top five. In Honduras alone, violence against women and girls has risen 346% since 2005, while the murder rate for men and boys has risen 29%[2]. In all three countries, gangs, transnational criminal organizations, and narcotraffickers commit acts of violence with near impunity, while local police forces are either unable or unwilling to offer protection[3] to the public. Stemming from this pervasive and inescapable violence, asylum claims from the Northern Triangle to the neighboring countries of  Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Belize, have risen 345%  since 2009[4], mirroring the rise in asylum claims at the U.S. Mexico border.

Within these communities of diminishing protections and escalating violence, children, single women, and women heads of household with young children are the most vulnerable and are therefore prime targets for violence and exploitation by the organized crime syndicate, gangs, and security forces. The widely acknowledged tactic of targeting young children for gang recruitment, and the lack of citizen security for civilians to seek protection or resolution when persecution or violence occurs, has triggered a regional humanitarian crisis years in the making, and has driven tens of thousands of children from their homes. Over the past three years, humanitarian aid, human rights organizations, churches, refugee resettlement agencies, and children’s rights advocates have watched as more and more children have been forced from their homes, exchanging the known dangers at home for the unknown dangers of a journey to the United States, in a desperate search for peace and protection.

Once children arrive at the United States border, the mandate for their care resides with Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Established in 2003, the purpose of the Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) program is to provide holistic, child-centered care for children from noncontiguous countries who arrive alone at U.S. borders. Since 2012, however, ORR has served ever-growing number of UACs that have stretched both the UAC program and the refugee program as a whole to its financial and capacity limits. Arrivals nearly doubled from FY12 (13,625) to FY13 (25,498), and UAC arrivals for FY14 are projected to reach nearly 90,000. In addition to serving 25,498 UACs in FY13, ORR also served 70,000 newly arriving refugees, 2,871 Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants (individuals who aided U.S. government efforts in those countries), an estimated 46,000 asylees and Cuban and Haitian entrants, over 500 victims of human trafficking, 6,750 survivors of torture, and continued services to some clients who arrived in previous years.

The financial burden of caring for vulnerable children should not rest with ORR alone. Our nation has made a laudable commitment to providing these children with child appropriate care and with compassion, but that care requires increased funding and resources beyond the scope of one single office or agency.  Given the unique and international aspects of this crisis, the funding burden should be shouldered by multiple agencies and should not be obtained at the expense of ORR services to other vulnerable populations to whom the United States has made a commitment. We must address overseas crises and crises in our hemisphere with the same dedication to protection and commitment to keeping borders open to vulnerable refugees, or risk damaging our ability to react effectively and humanely to other emerging refugee situations and protracted refugee situations where partners like Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon are hosting millions of Syrian refugees.

As we do abroad, the United States must lead by example regionally, providing child-centric approaches to this crisis and demonstrating effective burden sharing with other nations in the region able to assist such as Panama, Costa Rica, and Belize. Like our responses to humanitarian emergencies around the world, however, responding to this crisis should in no way diminish our capability to address the needs of refugees elsewhere, and we must uphold our commitment to domestic refugee resettlement.

We support the Administration’s interagency response to the international scope and unique protection needs of this humanitarian migration crisis, and look to Congress to provide the federal government with the necessary resources to implement child-centered solutions that address the immediate needs of unaccompanied immigrant youth and the root causes that force vulnerable children to undertake this perilous journey alone. The Episcopal Church stands ready as a partner in service to vulnerable refugees, and is prepared to welcome the newest generation of refugees to a life a of peace and safety in our communities.

Thank you for carrying the costly burden of public service, and for the opportunity to submit these views to the Committee.

[1] Alexander D. Baumgarten is the Director of Government Relations, and Katie Conway is the Immigration and Refugee Policy Analyst for The Episcopal Church, a multinational religious denomination based in the United States with members in 15 other sovereign nations.

[2]http://www.jesuits.org/Assets/Publications/File/Myths%20and%20Facts%20on%20Central%20American%20Migration%20Surge.pdf

[3] Gonzalez, Rosmery Austria deniega permiso de venta de armas a gobierno de Otto Pérez, El Periodico, (May 2, 2014) available at http://elperiodico.com.gt/es/20140502/pais/246662/

[4]http://www.jesuits.org/Assets/Publications/File/Myths%20and%20Facts%20on%20Central%20American%20Migration%20Surge.pdf

Olympia diocese, departing members reach amicable settlement

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, July 8, 2014

[Canticle Communications] The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia and two Anglican churches that left the Episcopal Church in 2004 have reached an amicable settlement that returns all property to the diocese while making it possible for all parties to continue with their ministries.

St. Charles Church, Poulsbo and Grace by the Sea, Oak Harbor disassociated from the Episcopal Church in 2004 and placed themselves under the authority of an Anglican bishop in Brazil.

The path toward a settlement that required no court action began in December 2006 when the diocese and the two churches signed a covenant agreement that provided for 7½ years in which no action was taken regarding property. The agreement also provided time for the worldwide Anglican Communion to address serious issues over which its members are not in agreement.

During the period of the covenant agreement, St. Charles Church, Poulsbo remained in the building that is now returning to the Diocese of Olympia. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Oak Harbor and Grace by the Sea Church shared the Oak Harbor property, which will continue to be the home of St. Stephen’s.

St. Charles Poulsbo is now worshipping at 19351 8th Ave. NE, Suite 205, in Poulsbo, WA. Thanks to the gracious assistance of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle, Grace by the Sea will be worshipping at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Coupeville, WA, and at St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church in Oak Harbor, WA. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church remains at 555 SE Regatta Drive, Oak Harbor, WA.

The end date of the covenant agreement, which has now been honored by all parties, is June 30, 2014.

It’s here! EYE14 kicks off

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 7, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Almost 1000 youth along with more than 200 adults are gathering for the popular Episcopal Youth Event 2014 (EYE14), July 9-13 at Villanova University in suburban Philadelphia, PA.

Youth in grades 9-12 during the 2013-2014 academic year and their adult leaders will hail from 84 dioceses, including international friends from the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Taiwan.

Bronwyn Clark Skov, Episcopal Church Youth Ministries Officer, noted: “EYE14 is an amazing opportunity for youth to experience The Episcopal Church on a vastly different scale than that of their local faith communities. They will be immersed in music, scripture, worship, and fellowship as they discern their own call to engage in the Five Marks of Mission.”

EYE14 is presented in partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.

In addition to the camaraderie, opportunities abound for learning, prayer and mission work.

  • The opening Eucharist on July 10 will be live webcast along with two plenary sessions; Friday evening prayer; and the July 12 closing Eucharist.

For information contact Skov.

The 2014 event marks the twelfth EYE and remains a popular and well-attended event.

Follow the action

  • Twitter Hashtag is #EYE14

(all Eastern times):

  • Opening Eucharist – Thursday, July 10 at 9:30 am; the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, Canon for Missional Vitality, Diocese of Long Island preaching and President of the House Of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings presiding
  • Plenary – Thursday, July 10 at 7:30 pm; the EYE14 Mission Planning Team
  • Evening Prayer – Friday, July 11 at 8:30 pm (approximate); Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preaching and officiating
  • Morning Plenary – Saturday, July 12 at 9:30 am; the Rev. Becca Stevens, founder of Magdalene and Thistle Farms
  • Closing Eucharist - Saturday, July 12 at 8 pm; Bishop Michael Curry of the Diocese of North Carolina preaching and Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori presiding.
  • App. Links:

iphone

Android

 

The Collect for EYE14

Ever loving God, you have brought us together and empowered us to serve as your disciples. We ask you to guide and bless us as we strive to tell the Good News of your love; teach and nurture all believers; tend to the human condition; transform and reconcile the world as Christ has shown us; and treasure your creation and our salvation through Jesus Christ. May we be engulfed in your love and blessings as we live out the mission and work you have given us, through Jesus Christ, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Before EYE14: New Community youth event

Prior to the inauguration of EYE14, there will be a New Community event July 7-9.

The purposes for the New Community event at the EYE14 is to gather youth from the various ethnic constituencies for conversations around the social issues of the day; to build capacities for their personal interaction; and to become agents of transformation to participate in forming the model of the beauty of the church and in reconciling the world to God and one another in Christ.

Following the conference, New Community Youth participants will join their diocesan delegations for EYE14.

After EYE14: 3 Days of Urban Mission
Following EYE14, on July 13 – 16, more than 350 will participate in 3 Days of Urban Mission, an opportunity for many to engage mission in an urban environment. Activities include hands-on labor, which might include everything from painting and hauling debris to childcare and preparing meals. Info here

 

Planning team

Planning team members are:

 

Youth

  • Thomas Alexander, Diocese of Arkansas, Province 7
  • Madeline Carroll, Diocese of Milwaukee, Province 5
  • Whitney Chapman, Diocese of West Virginia, Province 3
  • Ariana Gonzalez-Bonillas, Diocese of Arizona, Province 8
  • Lillian Hardaway, Diocese of Upper South Carolina, Province 4
  • Angela Hudnell, Diocese of Ohio, Province 5
  • Cydney Jackson, Diocese of San Diego, Province 8
  • Casey Nakamura, Diocese of Hawaii, Province 8
  • Kayden Nasworthy, Diocese of Massachusetts, Province 1
  • Joseph Prickett, Diocese of Nebraska, Province 6
  • Justin Thao, Diocese of Minnesota, Province 6
  • Hauseng Vang, Diocese of Minnesota, Province 6
  • Roger Villatoro, Diocese of  Southeast Florida, Province 4
  • Rosanna Vizcaino, Diocese of the Dominican Republic, Province 9

Adults

  • Arlette Benoit, Diocese of Atlanta, Province 4
  • Vincent Black, Diocese of Ohio, Province 5
  • Randy Callender, Diocese of Maryland, Province 3
  • Cookie Cantwell, Diocese of East Carolina, Province 4
  • Randall Curtis, Diocese of Arizona, Province 7
  • Earl Gibson, Diocese of Los Angeles, canonically resident in Diocese of Arizona, Province 8
  • Wendy Johnson, Diocese of Minnesota, Province 6
  • Andrew Kellner, Diocese of Pennsylvania, Province 3
  • Shannon Kelly, Diocese of Southern Ohio, canonically resident in Diocese of Milwaukee, Province 5
  • Abigail Moon, Diocese of Florida, Province 4

Episcopal Church Youth Ministries

Diocese of Pennsylvania

Villanova University

Laurel Johnston to leave the Episcopal Network for Stewardship

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 7, 2014

[The Episcopal Network for Stewardship press release] The Rev. Laurel Johnston, Executive Director of The Episcopal Network for Stewardship (TENS) is stepping down from that position effective August 31, 2014. Prior to serving as Executive Director beginning January 2013, Johnston served on the Board of Directors in her capacity as Program Officer for Stewardship for The Episcopal Church from 2008-2012.

The Episcopal Network for Stewardship is a network of individuals working in congregations and on the diocesan level to train, educate, nurture and support efforts to advance a culture of generosity and faithful giving. TENS is supported through diocesan memberships which entitle every congregation within the member diocese to access a stewardship narrative series as well as other resources, especially around annual campaigns. TENS hosts an annual conference at various sites throughout the U.S. During Johnston’s service as Executive Director, the plenary speakers and one track of workshops were also webcast.

“Laurel birthed the stewardship narrative series: Blessed to be a Blessing, Flourishing in Faith, and Walking the Way, which have proved enormously helpful to local congregations.   She was also the driving force behind the development of the webcast. The whole Church owes her a great big thank you for her ministry in the generosity movement,” said The Rev. Angela Emerson, member of the Board of Directors, in making the announcement at the annual conference in Atlanta, Ga., June 7, 2014.

In a letter to Bishops, other constituents, partners and members, Johnston expressed an optimistic outlook for the future of TENS pointing both to programmatic developments, a dramatic increase in memberships, and financial soundness. “I cannot be more proud of the work that we have collectively done together to create a model of equipping stewardship ministry teams.”

Johnston will take advantage of a discernment leave to determine her next step.

The Board of Directors is finalizing a job description for the next Executive Director and plans to begin advertising for the position no later than August 1, 2014. Job description and process for applying for the position will be posted on the TENS website: www.tens.org.

Scholar-Priest Initiative offers free videos on Eucharist, Scripture

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 7, 2014

[Scholar-Priest Initiative press release] The Scholar-Priest Initiative (SPI) — a new initiative within The Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada whose mission is “to welcome theology home” — has released two videos that inaugurate a project titled New Tracts for Our Times.

One video features the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry (11th Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina) reflecting on the Eucharist.  Curry, who sits on the Taskforce for Re-imagining the Episcopal Church (TREC) and recently published a book of sermons titled Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus (Morehouse, 2013), suggests the Eucharist is “the principal act of worship” that “summons up and points toward the deep mystery of God.”  Musing on Matthew 11:28, often recited before Holy Communion, Curry notes: “Jesus said ‘Come unto to me all ye who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.’  That is the invitation to the Eucharist.  Jesus says: ‘Come unto me, all you who are weary….  Sometimes beaten down by the realities of life.  Sometimes struggling to just make it.  Sometimes trying to see a vision that’s greater than what you normally see in life.  Come unto me.’”

The other video, featuring Dr. Ellen Davis (Amos Ragan Kearns Distinguished Professor of Bible and Practical Theology, Duke Divinity School), focuses on Scripture.  “Perhaps what the Bible does best is surprise us,” notes Davis, who regularly teaches at Renk Theological College in the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan and served on the Steering Committee of the Anglican Communion’s ‘Bible in the Life of the Church’ project.  Her latest book is Biblical Prophecy: Perspectives for Christian Theology, Discipleship, and Ministry (Westminster John Knox, 2014).  Added Davis: “The Bible is always pushing against and sometimes exploding what we think of as the limits of our experience.  And telling us there is much more that is possible, if we only open our eyes and hearts to that possibility.”

Together, the two videos are the first iterations in an ongoing series aimed at addressing various aspects of Anglican/Episcopalian belief and practice. The Scholar-Priest Initiative is currently seeking funds for future iterations.

“The New Tracts series roots us in Scripture and Tradition,” said the Rev. Jason Ingalls, director pro tem of the Scholar-Priest Initiative and rector of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Waco, TX. “It starts conversations that free the Church to participate in God’s mission in our world.”

The videos were produced by Joseph Wolyniak, member of the SPI Leadership Team, Episcopal Church Foundation Fellow (2012), and lay member of Saint John’s Cathedral in Denver, CO.  Said Wolyniak: “The New Tracts are intended to communicate clearly and compellingly what Anglicans believe and do.  To show and tell our way of life and faith, with everyday Episcopalians addressing and exemplifying what we believe and how that belief shapes the way we live.” Pilar Timpane, who filmed, directed, and edited the videos, added: “Working on this project has been fascinating and exciting.  Bringing theological ideas into visual light is a gift of this particular time in culture and technology.  I hope the Church as a whole will be able to use and share these videos both within and outside of our faith communities.”

Since their release in the first week of June (2014), the project has attracted over 6,000 views on YouTube and received an overwhelmingly positive response on social media.  The videos will remain freely available for downloading or embedding on parish websites and will soon be accompanied by study guides for parish use.

Initial funding for the project came from the Evangelism in the 21st Century (E-21) program of the Episcopal Evangelical Education Society (EES).  Day Smith Pritchartt, Executive Director of EES, noted: “EES is thrilled to have been involved in the development of these videos and excited about the way in which they bring the Good News to people who might not hear it otherwise.”

New Tracts (#NewTracts) can be found on YouTube (http://youtube.com/newtracts), Facebook (http://www.fb.com/NewTracts), and Twitter (http://twitter.com/NewTracts, @NewTracts).  The Scholar-Priest Initiative can also be found on the web (http://scholarpriests.org/), on Facebook (http://www.fb.com/ScholarPriests), and Twitter (http://twitter.com/ScholarPriests, @ScholarPriests).

RIP: The Venerable Anthony Turney

ENS Headlines - Monday, July 7, 2014

Surrounded by family and friends, the Venerable Anthony Turney died peacefully on July 4, 2014 at Coming Home Hospice in San Francisco following three years living with cancer. He was 76 years old.  His death came on the 38th anniversary of his becoming a United States citizen.

Throughout his esteemed and varied career, and most recently as Archdeacon for the Arts at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, Anthony epitomized what it was to be a servant minister, both in the church and in the wider community. He was a profoundly gifted man, a lover of the arts, a gardener, a Brit, and a committed leader in non-profit endeavors. His career included positions as Deputy Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC; Executive Director of the Dance Theater of Harlem; Administrative Director of the San Francisco Opera; and CEO of the NAMES Project Foundation. He was ordained to the Episcopal diaconate in 1996 and continued to serve through his work at Grace Cathedral and in the Diocese of California.

Anthony was born in Sutton, England, on December 23, 1937, second oldest of three children within a family that soon broke up. His first years were spent in a Church of England children’s home for ‘waifs and strays,’ although he claimed he was never certain which of those he truly was. At the age of four, he was adopted by the Turney family who lived in Aylesbury, about 40 miles northeast of London. That same year marked the beginning of the Blitz, thus defining his childhood in wartime England.  In his mid teens, he served as a police cadet and thought of joining the force. Then at the age of 17, Anthony joined the Grenadier Guards, an infantry regiment of the British Army and the most senior regiment of the Guards Division. Besides serving in the Guards’ iconic ceremonial duties outside of Buckingham Palace, Anthony also saw distinguished service under fire during the Suez Crisis. Afterwards, he spent his 20s at various jobs in London, “lost in the wilderness,” as he put it.

Anthony spoke often of the defining moments in his life, and the most significant of these was his move to the United States in 1968. He jumped right in to the non-profit world, discovering his talent for leadership in the arts. First establishing himself in New York City, Anthony made a name for himself as an independent event producer, especially proud to have once presented Buckminster Fuller at Carnegie Hall.  Over the years he also lived in St. Louis, Atlanta, Washington, DC, and finally, San Francisco. He became a United States citizen on July 4, 1976, the bicentennial of his adopted country.

With the onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, Anthony’s life changed course once again. In mid 1991, he quit his work to care for his partner, James Brumbaugh, who was dying from AIDS-related complications. It was a devastating loss. In 1992, after completing Jimmy’s AIDS Memorial quilt panel, he asked, “What would you have me do now, God?” Within months, he moved permanently to San Francisco, was appointed CEO of the NAMES Project Foundation, and after only three years, would bring more than 42,000 panels of the Quilt to Washington, DC for display on the National Mall. It was viewed by 1.2 million people.

In 1996, Anthony was appointed to the San Francisco Arts Commission. In 2000, he was a consultant to the United States Agency for International Development, assisting in the agency’s efforts to partner with faith-based organizations in responding to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa.

In San Francisco, Anthony found his spiritual home at Grace Cathedral, where he served as parishioner, as Canon for Development, and then, through his vocational calling, as clergy. Several years before his retirement, Anthony was appointed Archdeacon of the Diocese of California, as such serving the whole community of deacons, administratively and pastorally, and was very much a person on whom the Bishop relied centrally and heavily.  Afterwards, Anthony was named Archdeacon for the Arts at Grace Cathedral. He also served as Chaplain to the Dean’s Search Committee for Grace Cathedral. As an openly gay member of the clergy and a vocal advocate for marriage equality and other social justice issues, Anthony was a tireless champion of the LGBT community. An energetic volunteer and traveler, Anthony spent a month walking across Spain along the Camino de Santiago and successfully biked, three times, from San Francisco to Los Angeles as part of the AIDS LifeCycle. After Hurricane Katrina, he volunteered with a group from Grace Cathedral to assist in rebuilding a home for a young woman who had lost her home.

As accomplished as he was, his friends and family will remember Anthony most fondly for his commanding personality. He filled a room with grace and dignity – and then used his keen humor to destroy any remaining decorum. Anthony was an extraordinary friend and companion, always caring for those around him. He listened intensely and valued each person who came into his life. His friends and colleagues were blessed by his giving nature. Those who loved and admired Anthony continue to do so with passion and loyalty.

A final gift that Anthony bestowed on his friends and family was the way in which he lived out his dying. He did so with integrity, dignity and humor. Those who witnessed his journey learned with him. Dying often reveals a great many things about a person, especially those who are in the public arena. We watched him from a distance as he made his private journey, and, when invited, we walked part of that pilgrimage alongside him. We are grateful for both the public and the private blessings.

Anthony is survived by his San Francisco, St. Louis and Los Angeles family; his Episcopal Church friends and colleagues; beloved friends from across the world; his canine companion, Drew; and his newly found – and greatly loved – biological family in England and in Canada.  His, truly, was a life well lived: in love, friendship and grace.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Anthony’s memory may be made to one of the following: The Sacred Dying Foundation, The Rainbow Honor Walk, the Ghiberti Foundation, the arts and culture foundation at Grace Cathedral or the San Francisco Opera Archive.

A funeral and celebration of Anthony’s life will be held at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral (1100 California Street) on Monday, July 14 at 11am. Anthony’s body in closed coffin will lay in the Cathedral’s AIDS Interfaith Chapel beginning at 7am for all those wishing to pay their respects prior to the funeral.

Olav Fykse Tveit to continue as WCC general secretary

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 3, 2014

[World Council of Churches press release] The Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit was appointed to a second five-year term as general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) on 3 July, during the WCC Central Committee meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. The 53-year-old theologian and pastor from the Church of Norway has served as general secretary since January 2010.

Tveit called his appointment a “great privilege” and a “continuation of a meaningful journey”. He said that the last five years have been the “most blessed years, offering opportunities, challenges and accomplishments in his work with the churches”.

“This decision is heartening. I feel grateful and motivated,” he said.

“A shared faith in what the WCC can accomplish in its quest for Christian unity, justice and peace in the world, a concern that lies at the heart of the ecumenical movement, is immensely inspiring for me as I continue working with the churches.”

WCC Central Committee moderator Dr Agnes Abuom said, “We, as members of the Central Committee, are delighted at the appointment of Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit. The Central Committee has strongly affirmed the leadership gifts which he brings to his role. We look forward with a high degree of confidence to the next five years of working together with Rev. Olav and all the WCC staff.”

Tveit has played an active role in the past two decades in strengthening global church relations, while contributing to churches’ work for the cause of justice and peace. Before being appointed as the WCC general secretary, Tveit previously served as general secretary of the Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations, as well as being a member of the WCC’s Faith and Order Plenary Commission and also the board of directors and executive committee of the Christian Council of Norway.

The WCC is a fellowship of 345 churches from around the world.

Biographical information on Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit

Information on previous WCC general secretaries

More information about the Central Committee meeting

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2013 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 140 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway.

RIP: Fred Howard

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 3, 2014

Fred Howard, a member of Presiding Bishop Edmond L. Browning’s staff and head of chaplains for the Diocese of Long Island hospital ministry, died July 1 at his log cabin home in Hinsdale, Pennsylvania. He was 80. He had suffered several strokes and for the past year had been confined to a wheelchair. Fred had lived in Hinsdale, where he and his wife, Sylvia, intended to retire. She was also a member of the Episcopal Church Center staff and died in the late 1990s.

Fred was instrumental in securing permission from the various Anglican provinces for the startup of a churchwide communications system, which eventually morphed into the Internet.

Massachusetts notified of successful canonical consent process

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 3, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Office of Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has notified the Diocese of Massachusetts that Bishop-Elect Alan Gates has received the required majority of consents in the canonical consent process.

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

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

The Rev. Alan Gates was elected on April 5.  His ordination and consecration service is slated for September 13; Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori will officiate.

A recap of the process                                                  

Upon election, the successful candidate is a bishop-elect.  Following some procedural matters including physical and psychological examinations, formal notices are then sent by the Presiding Bishop’s office to bishops with jurisdiction (diocesan bishops only) with separate notices from the electing diocese to the standing committees of each of the dioceses in The Episcopal Church. These notices require their own actions and signatures.

In order for a bishop-elect to become a bishop, Canon III.11.4 (a) of The Episcopal Church mandates that a majority of diocesan bishops AND a majority of diocesan standing committees must consent to the bishop-elect’s ordination and consecration as bishop. These actions – done separately – must be completed within 120 days from the day notice of the election was sent to the proper parties.

If the bishop-elect receives a majority of consents from the diocesan bishops as well as a majority from the standing committees, the bishop-elect is one step closer. Following a successful consent process, ordination and celebration are in order.

Anglicans, Episcopalians from five continents on WCC’s governing body

ENS Headlines - Thursday, July 3, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans and Episcopalians from countries including Burundi, Japan, Uganda and Melanesia are in Geneva for the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) Central Committee meeting.

Members of the Anglican Communion make up 11% of the WCC’s elected governing body – second only to Reformed and Eastern Orthodox Christian traditions.

The committee, which consists of 150 members from around the world, is responsible for carrying out the policies adopted by the WCC 10th Assembly, reviewing and supervising WCC programs and the budget of the council.

The WCC Central Committee will hold meetings every two years until the next Assembly. The last Assembly took place in Busan, Republic of Korea, in October and November 2013.

At yesterday’s opening of the meeting, WCC Central Committee moderator and Kenyan Anglican Dr Agnes Abuom reflected on the significance of the theme “pilgrimage of justice and peace”, which is based on a call issued by the WCC Assembly.

Her address put a special focus on the engagement of youth in the ecumenical movement. “To bring back prophetic dynamism and emphasis into the ecumenical movement, we need to let the young generation own and define the ecumenical movement,” she said.

Abuom shared aspirations for ecumenical spirituality to extend its boundaries to be more inclusive of the needs of churches and communities.

“A revitalized ecumenical spirituality must not be bound by narrow and tradition-bound religious, ecclesial and dogmatic frameworks if they have proven to be unhelpful to addressing the present needs. Rather, it must embrace a prophetic posture for justice, for peace-making and for the diaconal care for all living beings,” she said.

Abuom reflected on global issues related to poverty and inequality, weak governance, proxy conflicts and wars, as well as unemployment among youth. She spoke about the changing ecclesial and religious landscapes and challenges they pose. To address these issues, she stressed the importance of a transformation of ecumenism and revitalization of spirituality.

The members of the WCC Central Committee from Anglican Communion Member Churches are:

  • Bishop Mark MacDonald, Anglican Church of Canada (A President of the WCC Central Committee)
  • Dr Agnes Abuom, Anglican Church of Kenya (Executive  committee member and Central Committee moderator)
  • Bishop Yona Mwesigwa Katoneene, Church of Uganda
  • The Rev. Jeanne Françoise Ndimubakunzi, Eglise Anglicane du Burundi
  • Mrs Jesca Bireri Laki Lukudu, Episcopal Church of the Sudan
  • Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje, Province de l’Eglise Anglicane du Rwanda
  • The Rev. Renta Nishihara, Anglican Church in Japan
  • The Most Rev. Phillip Aspinall, Anglican Church of Australia
  • The Rev. Rex R. B. Reyes, Jr., Episcopal Church in the Philippines
  • Mrs Elenor I. Lawrence, Church in the Province of the West Indies
  • The Rev. Sarah Rogers, Church in Wales
  • The Rt. Rev. Peter Forster, Church of England
  • The Rev. Canon Leslie Nathaniel, Church of England
  • The Rev. Aida Consuelo Sanchez-Navarro, The Episcopal Church
  • Mrs Tagolyn Kabekabe, Church of Melanesia

The Most Rev. S. Tilewa Johnson Church of the Province of West Africa who had been elected a member of the WCC’s Central Committee passed away in January of this year.

For the latest from the Central Committee meeting visit http://www.oikoumene.org/en