[Diocese of Texas] The Episcopal Diocese of Texas approved today a definitive agreement for the transfer of St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System to Catholic Health Initiatives, a nationally recognized health care system.
As part of the transfer of St. Luke’s, CHI will contribute more than $1 billion to create a new Episcopal Health Foundation, which will focus on the unmet health needs of the area’s underserved population. In addition, CHI has committed an additional $1 billion for future investment in the health system. The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, said in announcing the decision, “We are humbled to be able to preserve the legacy of St. Luke’s, while also expanding the Diocesan commitment to health care.”
The name of the system will be the St. Luke’s Health System. The transaction is expected to be completed early this summer, subject to obtaining required regulatory approvals. The agreement includes the entire Health System: the Texas Medical Center campus, as well as suburban hospital locations in The Woodlands, Sugar Land, Pasadena and The Vintage. CHI has committed to maintain all current physician models and all employees will continue to be employed by St. Luke’s. In addition, CHI will continue to grow and enhance St. Luke’s significant affiliations with Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Heart® Institute, Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, Texas Children’s Hospital and MD Anderson Cancer Center.
The 11-month evaluation process undertaken by the St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System Board included 30 prospective local and national partners with multiple strategic alternatives and, in March, this list was narrowed to three well-qualified finalists. “We are enormously grateful to all participants for their earnest and forthright effort throughout this process,” said The Rt. Rev. Dena A. Harrison, bishop suffragan and chair of the St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System Board.
CHI became the choice because it brings many benefits to the community:
- CHI operates across the continuum of care that is so key to the new model in American health care delivery.
- CHI brings cultural compatibility with the St. Luke’s brand of Faithful, Loving Care®.
- CHI values the people who made St. Luke’s what it is today: our patients, our physicians, our employees, our affiliates, our management, our donors and our Board leadership.
“The relationship with Catholic Health Initiatives ensures the Greater Houston area will retain one of its great healthcare institutions, while best preparing St. Luke’s to meet future changes in healthcare,” said Kevin Lofton, CHI president and CEO.
While this decision means the Episcopal Diocese of Texas will no longer provide acute care, the Diocese remains committed to its health care mission through the new Episcopal Health Foundation.
“This new foundation will address a widening gap in healthcare throughout our 57-county area,” Doyle said. “There is a care vacuum that must be addressed, including access to health care, prevention, community and environmental health, poverty, education and health disparities,” he said, adding, “This direction reflects the initial vision of Bishops Quin and Hines in founding St. Luke’s. They called upon ‘all the mountain-moving powers of faith and prayer and human skill which can be brought to bear on individuals in need.’”
[Episcopal News Service – San Salvador, El Salvador] Para los misioneros Tom y Dianne Wilson la parte del servicio que les ha presentado hasta ahora un mayor desafío ha sido aprender español.
La pareja, proveniente de Rutland, Massachusetts, y miembros de la iglesia episcopal de San Francisco [St. Francis Episcopal Church] en Holden, en la Diócesis de Massachusetts Occidental, llegó el 4 de marzo y ha pasado las primeras seis semanas de servicio misionero en la Iglesia Anglicana/Episcopal de El Salvador estudiando español en el Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad y viviendo con una familia anfitriona, lo cual completa su experiencia de inmersión en la lengua española.
“El idioma es el mayor desafío”, seguido por el calor y los mosquitos, dijo Dianne Wilson, de 65 años, jubilada como asesora de impuestos del gobierno municipal.
Antes de llegar, Tom Wilson, de 50 años, dijo que “ellos tenían un millón de preocupaciones” relacionadas con ser “extranjeros en una tierra extraña”, pero que la Iglesia ha llevado a cabo con ellos una gran labor de acogida y los ha ayudado a aclimatarse.
La primera participación de los Wilson con los misioneros de la Iglesia Episcopal tuvo lugar cuando eran miembros de la iglesia de San Andrés [St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church] en Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, e integraban un equipo de apoyo para un amigo que estaba prestando servicios en Kenia. Cuando se mudaron a St. Francis en 2007, la iglesia acababa de establecer una relación con la Fundación Cristosal, explicó Dianne Wilson.
La iglesia de San Francisco se había comprometido a diezmar, a contribuir con el 10 por ciento [de sus ingresos] a la organización de desarrollo comunitario basado en derechos humanos que surge de las iglesias Anglicana y Episcopal que sirven en El Salvador, pero Cristosal no quería el dinero a menos que los miembros de la iglesia se propusieran hacer una visita, contó ella.
“Cuando llegamos allí [a la parroquia de San Francisco] acababan de planear su segundo viaje a El Salvador y yo quise ver el otro lado [el servicio misionero sobre el terreno], dijo Dianne Wilson.
Sin embargo, Tom Wilson, ex director de finanzas de una organización sin fines de lucro, no se sintió inmediatamente convencido, explicó, porque el viaje no incluía la construcción de algo. En lugar de “proyectos” de construcción, Cristosal se empeña en capacitar a los pobres a laborar en pro de la justicia y el desarrollo como ciudadanos iguales en una sociedad democrática, y Tom dijo que a él no le interesaba tener un momento “kumbaya” [una experiencia de confraternización superficial], pero al final decidió que no podía dejar que su esposa fuera a Centroamérica sola.
“El desarrollo basado en los derechos humanos es un concepto difícil, hasta que uno lo ve”, afirmó Tom Wilson, quien luego se convirtió en presidente del comité de misión de la iglesia de San Francisco. No obstante, fue la pasión de Noah Bullock, el director ejecutivo de Cristosal, lo que puso a los Wilson en la senda del servicio misionero, dijeron ellos.
Esa fue la primera de tres visitas que los Wilson hicieron entonces a Cristosal y a El Salvador. Su cuarta visita se produjo en agosto de 2012, cuando pasaron dos semanas viviendo en El Maizal, una pequeña comunidad a dos horas y media en auto de San Salvador y a 32 kilómetros de la frontera de Guatemala, donde la Iglesia tiene una casa de huéspedes y una granja. Los Wilson cumplirán su compromiso misionero en El Maizal, y se mudarán allí en los próximos días.
La primera prioridad de los Wilson, dijeron ellos, es enseñarles inglés como segunda lengua a los niños de la comunidad y a los adultos que les interese, y administrar la casa de huéspedes que, cuando esté funcionando, puede llegar a albergar 12 personas.
Hay unas 30 viviendas de bloques en el área, y también una escuela episcopal. Es una zona que fue destruida por terremotos en 2001 y reconstruida con la colaboración de Ayuda y Desarrollo Episcopales.
En los años 80, El Salvador fue víctima de una brutal guerra civil, librada sobre todo por el problema de la desigualdad [económica y social]. Y en los años que siguieron a los Acuerdos de Paz arbitrados por las Naciones Unidas en 1992, el país más pequeño y más densamente poblado de América Central ha experimentado varios devastadores desastres naturales. Tiene, además, uno de los índices de asesinatos más altos del mundo. La desigualdad aún persiste, con alrededor del 50 por ciento de la población adulta desempleada, y el 47 por ciento que vive en la extrema pobreza.
Los Wilson se han comprometido con tres años de servicio, pero entienden que el trayecto a recorrer no será fácil.
“Esta es una vida dura, para no mencionar lo que a uno le tocará presenciar: personas que viven en una pobreza abyecta”, dijo Dianne Wilson. “Es una vida increíblemente difícil: Nosotros estamos visitándola, ellos la viven”.
Los Wilson están compartiendo su experiencia en un blog que pueden visitar aquí.
– Lynette Wilson es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Se encuentra actualmente radicada en San Salvador, El Salvador.
Traducción de Vicente Echerri
[Episcopal News Service] Bishop Pierre Whalon, of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, on March 20 presented Pope Francis, or the bishop of Rome, a special, black leather-bound edition of the Spanish-English selections from the Book of Common Prayer, published by the Convocation. Whalon was part of an Anglican delegation attending the pope’s installation led by the Archbishop of York, and among the first audience to be seen by the pope in the Clement VIII audience room.
Whalon was a guest at the installation and the audience of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. You can read about his experience here.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori issued the following statement on the U.S. Senate introduction of comprehensive immigration reform.
We affirm that human beings are made in the image of God, created with dignity and intrinsic value. Dignified and productive work is one way in which people give expression to that divine creativity, and people often migrate in search of it. This Church seeks to uphold the rights of people to seek dignified possibility in life – what this nation calls “the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” That includes the ability to seek work which will support and nurture individuals and their families, and the opportunity to contribute to building a just society – what the Church calls a reflection of the kingdom of God. Immigration reform is a proximate, this-worldly, way of moving toward that vision of a just society.
The Episcopal Church has long advocated for immigration reform, and we are encouraged by many of the changes proposed in the bipartisan Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. We thank Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) for their tireless work to reach consensus and compromise on this issue.
We are pleased to see a pathway to citizenship for those already living in the United States but caution against a pathway that involves unjust or overly onerous burdens. Unquantifiable expectations for border security are not likely to constitute a fair component of this process.
Family reunification long has been at the heart of our nation’s immigration system, and we are pleased to see that the Senate bill contains significant streamlining and expediting of the reunification process for citizens and green-card holders. We do not support further restrictions on the ability of residents to bring family members to join them. We are gravely disappointed, however, that even as many families will experience the joy of reunification, some families and family members have been excluded from the Senate bill. As the process moves forward, we will strongly urge the inclusion of same-sex partners and spouses in the legislation. Every family deserves to live in unity.
We are delighted at the proposals to expedite the regularizing of the status of children unknowingly brought to this country, and realizing the hopes initially raised in the DREAM Act. The bipartisan bill’s additional protections for vulnerable migrant children, asylum seekers and refugees, and – for the first time under U.S. law – the stateless, also will come as welcome news to Episcopal communities, many of whom work daily to help these populations rebuild their lives peacefully in the United States
Efforts to expand the creativity and productivity of United States society through a variety of guest worker visas that include access to a pathway to citizenship certainly accord with priorities of The Episcopal Church, particularly when they answer the hopes and dreams of those in other parts of the world seeking work. We applaud provisions within the bill to protect foreign workers brought to the U.S. through abuse and trafficking and will continue to advocate that all visas are provided in ways that are not exploitative.
As lawmakers prepare to debate this historic step toward comprehensive immigration reform, Episcopalians stand ready to advocate for policies that build a just and welcoming society for all God’s people.
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts asked for prayers early on April 19 while the entire city of Boston and some surrounding towns were locked down as police searched for the second of two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing.
“Given the ongoing police activity that you are no doubt seeing on the news, I want to let you know that we have been in touch this morning with our chaplains at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, and with the clergy and wardens at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Watertown, and everyone there, as well as at Episcopal Divinity School, are safe, as far as we know,” Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE, told clergy and diocesan leadership early on April 19.
“Please pray for all in the affected communities, and pray for a speedy and violence-free resolution to these disturbing events. Keep watch, Lord, with those who work or watch or weep this day.”
The diocesan offices and the Cathedral Church of St. Paul office near Boston Common at 138 Tremont Street in Boston were closed.
The Facebook page for the Rev. Amy McCreath, Good Shepherd’s priest-in-charge, soon began to fill with messages of concern and promises of prayers. During its weekly Hidden Brook contemplative prayer evening service on April 18, Church of the Good Shepherd included prayers for the victims of the bombing and “support for the rest of us in dealing with the tragedy.”
Events began to unfold on the evening of April 18 after the FBI released photos of two men they called “armed and extremely dangerous.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard DesLauriers said during a press conference just after 5 p.m. EST that “no one should approach them. No one should attempt to apprehend them except law enforcement.”
Overnight, the brothers apparently attempted to rob a convenience store near MIT. Soon after, a MIT police officer was shot and killed in his car, according to the Boston Globe.
The brothers later carjacked a Mercedes SUV, the Globe said. The car’s owner escaped and the two men led police on a long chase during which they fired on Watertown, Massachusetts, police and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Transit Police officer, Richard H. Donahue Jr., 33, was wounded. The Globe reported that 10 officers were being evaluated at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton after they were injured by explosives thrown from the car.
During the gunfight, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was wounded and brought to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center emergency room about 1:10 a.m. with multiple traumatic injuries. Doctors told the Globe that those injuries included both gunshot wounds and explosive-caused wounds. He later died.
Since then police have been conducting an intense search, at times going door-to-door, for Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19. The Associated Press reported that he and his older brother, Tamerlan, came from the Russian region near Chechnya, which has been plagued by an Islamic insurgency. The two had been living together on Norfolk Street in Cambridge, about two miles from EDS.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick asked people who live in the entire city of Boston, and the nearby communities of Watertown, Waltham, Newton, Belmont and Cambridge, to “shelter in place” — stay inside and not open their doors to anyone, except police with proper identification.
The search has also led to the sudden shutdown of the MTBA’s commuter rail, bus, and subway services. Taxi service was shut down. Officials asked businesses across the area not to open this morning.
[Diocese of New York] On Monday we were rocked out of our peace once again, as too often, by the report of another eruption of senseless violence and the suffering of people whom we recognize as our own brothers and sisters. That these bombings took place at an event which celebrates the brilliance of the human spirit and the triumph of physical excellence underscored the betrayal of our common humanity and the denial of the incarnation we share with Jesus inherent in any act of violence against another. That this assault added another young child to the roster of the children who have fallen to the destructive impulses of others is heartbreaking. And indeed, our hearts break. As we grieve with — and pray for — the people of Boston, and the suffering everywhere, we are reminded of the deep connection we have with one another as members of the Risen Body of Christ. We see in our own hands, and in one another’s, the marks of the nails which pierced Jesus’ own hands at Golgotha.
Yet, we who stood with the women at the foot of the cross on Good Friday are the same who followed the disciples into the empty tomb on Easter. We dare to believe, against much evidence, that life does indeed triumph over death, and as we watch in horror and sorrow the suffering in Boston, it is finally in our Risen Lord that we put our trust and in whom we have our hope. Indeed we say as we believe: Alleluia, Christ is Risen! And nothing in Newtown or Boston can nullify that truth. So it is to the Risen One that we commend the souls of the dead and pray for healing and well-being for the dozens of wounded.
But prayers for the fallen and pastoral care to the bereaved, while central to our call as Christians, cannot be all we have to offer a broken world. It may be some time before we know who did this terrible thing and why. For that reason, it is premature to link this event with any other or to speculate about the reasons for this. But it is not too early to say that it is an affront to the lives of freedom, justice and peace that Jesus calls us and invites us to live that we are made to carry out those lives against the background din of guns, bombs and the sorrows of the bereaved. It is an offense against the Prince of Peace that we are required to accept some level of violence as the price of our common life. Rather, the church must explore every avenue to witness to an aching, watching world those principles of life, peace and freedom which we received from and learned from a loving God.
It is time for us to pay close attention to what we take for granted. It is time for us to look within ourselves for those seeds of violence which are tearing our people apart, and repent of it. It is time for us to guard our hearts. This weekend Bishop Dietsche and Archdeacon Parnell will join leaders of other dioceses in Baltimore to in
The Right Reverend Andrew ML Dietsche, Bishop of New York
The Right Reverend Andrew D Smith, Assistant Bishop
The Right Reverend Chilton AR Knudsen, Assistant Bishop
[Episcopal Relief & Development -- Web Feature] Atlanta has played a major part in the fight against malaria, both historically in the United States and now as a major force in the NetsforLife® Inspiration Fund, Episcopal Relief & Development’s church-wide, grassroots effort to raise awareness and support for malaria prevention. The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta launched their NetsforLife® campaign at the diocese’s 2011 Annual Council meeting, and celebrated its success one year later at the meeting in 2012.
“Malaria used to be a huge problem here in Georgia, until a major federal initiative – that would eventually become the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] – eliminated this mosquito-borne disease in the US,” said St. Luke’s parish representative and national Fox News correspondent Jonathan Serrie as he addressed the 2012 assembly. “So, perhaps it should come as no surprise that the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta has embraced the idea of stopping this deadly disease from harming our neighbors in Africa.” In fact, it was traveling through malaria-endemic areas and witnessing the devastation the disease can cause that compelled Serrie to get involved with Episcopal Relief & Development and support NetsforLife®.
Chief among those Serrie thanked in his remarks was Episcopal Relief & Development diocesan coordinator Debbie Betsill. Betsill chaired the diocese’s NetsforLife® campaign and headed a “professional-level” team of co-chairs who managed finances and kept momentum going through social media, website updates and creative ideas. The team’s efforts to connect with parish representatives and interested members yielded an abundance of creative campaigns by church, Sunday school and youth groups representing 94 out of the diocese’s 96 parishes. Overall, the year-long campaign raised $184,105.98 for NetsforLife® – enough to supply 15,342 nets through trained Malaria Control Agents and provide protection and education to more than 46,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa. This successful effort was key in helping the church-wide NetsforLife® Inspiration Fund campaign to exceed its $5 million fundraising goal.
“Everyone was invited to this ‘table’ and participated – children, youth, young adults, adults, Hispanic ministries, homeless ministries, from the wealthy to the poor,” Betsill said. “The NetsforLife® campaign in Atlanta was a grassroots labor of love that culminated in honoring the outgoing bishop, welcoming our new bishop and opening a new page for our diocese.”
Launched in 2006, Episcopal Relief & Development’s award-winning NetsforLife® program partnership has become a leader in malaria prevention, reaching more than 27 million people in 17 countries across the African continent. The program combats malaria by educating community members about proper net use and maintenance, and training community agents to deliver life-saving nets and provide ongoing monitoring and evaluation. As of 2012, nearly 82,000 volunteers had been trained and more than 11 million nets had been distributed, mostly in remote areas where the Church is the sole provider of health and social services.
St. Bartholomew’s parishioner and CDC research scientist Dr. Stephen C. Smith knows these areas first-hand. In his speech at the launch of the diocesan campaign at the 2011 Annual Council, Smith talked about his work over the past nine years, investigating the use of LLINs (Long-Lasting, Insecticide-treated Nets) in Africa. Although the use of nets has resulted in a significant reduction in annual malaria-related deaths, he noted, international and local efforts to fight malaria must continue. “We cannot rest,” Smith said. “Unless we maintain our efforts we will lose our gains. Wars, natural disasters, resistance to drugs and insecticides are all constantly at work to dismantle our successes.”
“Invest in the Future: Defeat Malaria” is the theme for World Malaria Day 2013, a challenge to public, private and civil society sectors to redouble their efforts in order to sustain the gains made against the disease. World Malaria Day, observed annually on April 25, is “an occasion to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria prevention and control,” according to the World Health Organization. World Malaria Day is especially significant for Episcopal Relief & Development because of its commitment to fighting malaria through its NetsforLife® program partnership.
In ways large and small, the Diocese of Atlanta has also demonstrated its ongoing commitment to saving lives and preventing disease. At St. Bartholomew’s, Page Love Smith, one of the co-chairs of the diocesan NetsforLife® campaign and wife of Stephen, headed up the team that put together the Malaria Zone science fair and potluck. Stations were set up in the parish hall where visitors could climb under a malaria net, question scientists about the mosquito life cycle and watch an award-winning video by Simrill Smith (no relation) about this history of malaria in Georgia.
Other efforts around the diocese included the Cathedral of St. Philip’s March Madness fundraiser, which raised a total of 360 nets thanks to matching funds offered through the NetsforLife® Inspiration Fund, and the Church of the Common Ground – whose members are mostly homeless individuals – raised more than $400 through their Advent and Lenten offerings.
“I am grateful to members of the Diocese of Atlanta for making the campaign such a tremendous success,” said Joy Shigaki, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Director for Advancement, who headed up the church-wide NetsforLife® Inspiration Fund campaign. “The diocese is blessed with so many creative, committed, and dedicated leaders and supporters. It was inspiring to see how many parishes and schools rallied in the fight against malaria.”
The Power of Partnerships and Friends of Episcopal Relief & Development web features present stories about the agency’s partners in the US and worldwide. Visit www.er-d.org to read past installments, find information about our programs or make a contribution. You can also call 1.855.312.HEAL (4325). Gifts can be mailed to Episcopal Relief & Development, PO Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058.
[Diocese of Texas] As of the morning of April 18, reports confirm Episcopalians from West, Texas, are safe after the devastating explosion of a fertilizer plant, according to officials from St. Paul’s, Holy Spirit, and St. Alban’s in Waco, just 15 miles to the south. However, countless others have been affected either physically or emotionally.
Late Wednesday night, an explosion from a fire at a fertilizer plant injured more than 150 people and killed between five and 15 others. The blast destroyed or damaged more than 50 homes and several buildings, including a nursing home, intermediate school and grocery store. The impact was strong enough to register a 2.1 earthquake.
“It felt like a bomb and sounded like a bomb,” said Joanna Strom, a West resident who is also the parish secretary for St. Paul’s in Waco. “It was like an atom bomb went off. It was insane looking in the sky, like a mushroom cloud. I can’t even describe it to you.
Strom, who lives a few miles from the fertilizer plant, knew there was something wrong immediately. Her home was far enough away that it didn’t suffer any damage, but she was concerned about her friends.
“I know everyone in West because it’s a small town,” Strom said. “I tried to text everyone I knew. Some of them were OK, and some were unaccounted for. Some people were staying at the local hotel. The problem was that it was total chaos last night. Nobody knew where anybody was, and it was dark.”
Soon after the explosion, the power went out in most areas. And soon after that, the cell phone systems were overloaded. Strom resorted to using Facebook to send out updates to her loved ones.
On Thursday, her husband dropped her off at work and returned to West to try to search for their friends. If she had not recently broken an ankle, Strom said, she would be out there looking too for the people she considers family.
“When I was diagnosed with cancer, that community came together and they did a fundraiser for me,” she said. “I know everybody there. It is very upsetting to me. It’s like they are my family, and I don’t know how they are doing.”
The Rev. Chuck Treadwell, rector St. Paul’s, said everyone was accounted for at their church and school. Holy Spirit, Waco, reported that a couple of their families lived in West, but they are ok, although one of the families had to be evacuated. St. Alban’s, Waco, also reported everyone as safe.
Calls have flooded churches throughout the diocese with generous and worried Episcopalians eager to help the people of West.
“We’re like everyone else, waiting to see how we can respond next,” Treadwell said. “Everybody in Waco is sitting on pins and needles waiting to go to the rescue.”
Mark Felton is a St. Paul’s vestry member and also the executive director for the Heart of Texas chapter of the American Red Cross. He advised everyone to donate to the Red Cross. People in the central Texas area are also encourage to donate blood if possible.
Additionally, the Diocese of Texas disaster response unit is prepared to take action. Archdeacon Russ Oeschel and the Rev. Gill Keyworth are working on a deployment of the Spiritual Care Teams, which could take place as early as next week.
As more information becomes available, the Diocese of Texas will keep everyone informed of the best ways to take action.
[Episcopal Diocese of Virginia] In a dispute over the ownership of The Falls Church, the Supreme Court of Virginia ruled today in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church. The decision affirms an earlier ruling returning Episcopalians to their church home at The Falls Church in Falls Church, Virginia. The Falls Church Anglican had sought to overturn the lower court’s ruling in favor of the diocese. The court also remanded a portion of the case back to the Fairfax Circuit Court for a decision to determine a minor fractional difference in funds owed to the Diocese of Virginia.
“We are grateful that the Supreme Court of Virginia has once again affirmed the right of Episcopalians to worship in their spiritual home at The Falls Church Episcopal,” said Bishop Shannon S. Johnston of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. “This decision ensures that Episcopalians will have a home for years to come in Falls Church, and frees all of us, on both sides of this issue, to preach the Gospel and teach the faith unencumbered by this dispute.”
The court also held that the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church have a trust interest in the property, in addition to the contractual and proprietary interests already found by the lower court. This validates the “Dennis Canon” in Virginia, and thus provides greater certainty regarding church property ownership.
“The Falls Church Episcopal has continued to grow and thrive throughout this difficult time,” said Edward W. Jones, secretary of the diocese and chief of staff. “This ruling brings closure to a long but worthwhile struggle, and will allow the members of the Episcopal congregation to put the issue behind them and to focus their full energies on the ministries of the church. We hope that The Falls Church Anglican will join us in recognizing this decision as a final chapter in the property dispute.”
Johnston added, “We pray that all those who have found spiritual sustenance at The Falls Church Episcopal and our other churches will continue to move forward in a spirit of reconciliation and love.”
Nearly a year ago, the diocese settled the conflict over property with six other congregations. The Falls Church Episcopal and the other continuing and newly formed congregations — including Church of the Epiphany, Herndon; St. Margaret’s, Woodbridge; St. Paul’s, Haymarket; and St. Stephen’s, Heathsville — spent the past year growing their membership, supporting outreach and strengthening their church communities. Members of the diocese have joined them in these efforts through Dayspring, a diocesan-wide initiative that is bringing a spirit of vision and rebirth to our shared ministries as a church.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby sent the following message to the 2nd Worldwide Anglican Peace Conference, meeting April 16-22 in Okinawa, Japan.
Take heart, it is I, do not be afraid” (Matthew 14.27)
The call of Jesus Christ unites us across nations, across oceans and across continents. I greet you all as you gather for the 2nd Worldwide Anglican Peace Conference in Okinawa.
I chose these words from St Matthew’s Gospel for the inauguration of my ministry as Archbishop in Canterbury Cathedral last month. They speak of the courage which is released when our societies seek to place themselves under the authority of God. We dream of becoming the fully human community which God wills for his children. Gathered together and with the release of such courage, this dream becomes possible.
Your gathering has come at the most needful time. We stand with you in solidarity with the people of Korea at this time of heightened tension. I applaud the commitment of the Anglican Communion to work with the Anglican Church of Korea in its dedicated mission towards peace in Korea. May the initiatives you pursue contribute to the breaking down of enmities and to the establishment of a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula. Recent developments have shown how urgent this remains. I pray that the Lord may grant you the courage to keep faithful to this calling.
I send special greetings to all in Nippon Sei Ko Kai, so very mindful of the tragic events of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster which affected the lives so many people. We stand with you as you face the continuing anxiety of nuclear fallout and address the issues of nuclear power policies as well as questions around the military industry.
One of the great gifts of the Anglican Communion is our shared fellowship and calling cross national and ethnic boundaries. I give thanks for your coming together to seek peace and eagerly pursue it both within East Asia and as a witness to the wider world. I am delighted that my representative Bishop John Holbrook, Bishop of Brixworth in the Diocese of Peterborough is able to be with you and I will look forward to hearing the outcomes of the conference.
May the Lord Almighty give you courage and his blessing of peace.
The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby
Archbishop of Canterbury
[Episcopal Church Office for Global Partnerships] Katie Young, Doug and Jenny Knight are three Young Adult Service Corps volunteers from the Episcopal Church working in Japan this year and I met them in Tokyo on my way to attend the second Anglican Peace Conference in Okinawa. I was also able to meet with Katie’s older brother Mike, and his wife Natalie. Mike had previously served as a YASC volunteer in Japan a few years earlier, so mission service runs in their family.
We were only able to spend a day together but it was a wonderful cross-cultural adventure for the whole group. After almost two years in Japan, Katie’s language skills were impressive, so she was our interpreter for most of the day, although we often needed a group effort to find our way around the subway. We walked, we talked, we rode swan boats in the park and dined with the aid of “picture menus.” My day started on my own at a local diner where I pointed to what I wanted to eat; the waitress talked to me in Japanese, I spoke to her in English, both aware that the other did not understand a word, but we both somehow managed to get the message. Throughout the day we all happily communicated our way around Tokyo, sharing stories about the joys and challenges of life in another culture.
Doug and Jenny work at the Asian Rural Institute (ARI) where students from all over the world come to learn sustainable agriculture. The common language is English, spoken in nuanced ways and many accents by people from Japan, Myanmar, Liberia, the Philippines and a dozen other countries. All brought together by a desire to learn new farming techniques.
Katie has worked teaching English to young children and supported the work of the Japanese Anglican Church in their relief efforts following the earthquake and tsunami two years ago in a program called “Let us Walk Together.”
Now I find myself in Okinawa with Anglicans from Canada, Australia, England, Korea and Japan. In a recent small group I listened to a conversation in Japanese, which was translated into Korean and then into English. In the past few days we have learned about the pain of war as experienced by the people of Okinawa, and listened to each other’s mutual desires for reconciliation and peace.
During this trip I have been constantly reminded that while being able to speak another language is important in gaining a deeper understanding of a culture, the desire to be in relationship, to listen to one another’s stories, to laugh and cry together, to share each other’s joys and sadness is far more important. Whether we are working for a year overseas with the YASC program, or attending an Anglican mission conference on peace, it is when we share our life experiences openly and honestly that we experience the presence of Christ in the other and we find the love of God that is hidden in the translation of the spoken word.
– The Rev. David Copley is the Episcopal Church’s mission personnel officer and team leader for global partnerships.
[Episcopal News Service] For the Rev. Bonnie Perry, kayaking the rough waters of Lake Michigan mitigates the stresses of navigating similarly challenging patches of parish life.
“It’s insane that we’ve got young people being killed regularly on the streets of Chicago,” the rector of All Saints Church in Chicago said during a recent interview with the Episcopal News Service. “If you’re continually immersed in that kind of sadness and pain, we get beat down.”
It renews her spirit to “paddle and bring people to wild places along the coastline of Lake Superior, [and] along Scotland where most people have never gone and it’s awe-inspiring,” she said. “The ocean’s huge, and you can’t ever control it. You have to be in the now, responsive to the environment.”
Perry and other Episcopal clergy say their hobbies help them “get a life outside the church” and sometimes bring them right back to it again.
Clergy and others need an “on-off switch” between who they are and what they do, according to Elaine Hollensbe, a consultant to CREDO, a Church Pension Group program which for 15 years has offered opportunities for clergy and some lay church employees to examine specific areas of their lives and re-generate their passion and commitment to health and wellness.
“You need to carve out a place for yourself where there’s a balance between your own individual unique interests and traits and desires and those of the collective, which in this case would be the priesthood,” said Hollensbe, an associate professor of management at the University of Cincinnati.
Some clergy she has interviewed “were fairly good at just saying OK, right now I’m a father, I’m not a priest. But some other priests weren’t able to do that,” she said.
“If you don’t, you experience a lot of stress, and don’t have a sense of you other than your work. It’s important that people find a level of balance to find a separate self that rejuvenates, so when they contribute to the collective they have the energy and reserve to do so,” she added.
A kayaker since 1995, Perry’s avocation and vocation sometimes merge. At Easter, she said, “Jesus will get up from the dead and … I’ll get on a plane and lead a women’s kayaking retreat in Baja, Mexico.”
She began “really seriously” teaching and coaching others in the sport about seven years ago. She has earned numerous certifications and is one of four women in North America certified as a British Canoe Union 5-Star Leader on the Sea, “which is fairly obscure, but it’s really cool if you understand what I’m talking about,” she said.
“Trying to keep eight people in their own craft safe in the midst of 20-knot winds and six-foot waves … flows into what I do in the congregation, trying to figure out how best to lead so people can have the most fun, but you don’t want them crashing into the rocks,” she said. “But you can’t control, you can lead and offer suggestions.”
Some people come to All Saints because “of the paddling connection,” she noted.
And there are other ways her vocation and avocations merge. “Last year, one of my students died while paddling around Lake Superior. I wasn’t there; he was on a solo trip. So I ended up doing a memorial service for him at one of our symposiums. It’s not a sport without risks, but you try to mitigate them.”
‘One-two for the Lord’ – Boxing in Houston
The Rev. Patrick Miller, rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Houston, jokes that he initially started boxing after one too many altar guild meetings.
“I would be in these meetings and I would be really mad, and being mad in an altar guild meeting is just wrong,” said Miller, 46, during a recent telephone interview.
That former church happened to be located across the street from the Main Boxing Gym in Houston. He wandered over one day and decided to try boxing as a Lenten discipline and for the exercise.
Once inside the ring, he discovered the sport “is incredible,” he said. “The workouts are incredible. The people are incredible. I get an incredible amount of wisdom from it. I love my church. I love my church people. But it’s not church, and it’s a completely different environment.”
And while it doesn’t exactly heed the gospel call to turn the other cheek, he has “enjoyed finding God in places I don’t expect,” Miller said. He paraphrased another boxer’s mantra ‘de lucha siempra la lucha,’ which roughly translates as: “We are always in the fight, the poor are always in the fight.”
“In boxing, there are three-minute rounds with a one-minute rest,” he said. “If you look at that as a metaphor for living, you see there are certain amounts of times in our lives where we have to be in the fight, and there are times when we have to rest, and you have to take advantage of that rest in order to stay in the fight.”
He noted other boxing-isms: “My trainer talks about identity. He’ll say, ‘Patrick, I’m having a bad day, but you know what? I’m still Bobby Benton, and I’m going to be OK.’”
Miller receives good-natured teasing that his quick combination, a fast flurry of left- and right-handed blows, is “a one-two for the Lord.”
Meanwhile, some sparring partners have become parishioners. Some ask for prayers before a fight and during life’s challenges, like divorce and family deaths, Miller said.
The experience has given Miller a new perspective about how to handle himself during church meetings. Recently, he said, “in the middle of the conflict, dealing with someone trying to hit you and you trying to hit them,” he heard his trainer’s voice: “Slow down. Breathe. Duck. Move on him. Think about what’s going to happen next.”
Boxing reminds him to listen intently during church meetings, he said. “I go to these altar guild meetings now, and I don’t get mad anymore.”
Patrolling ski slopes in Ohio
Most Saturday evenings from December to March, the Rev. Gay Jennings begins an eight-hour shift – not as a priest, but as a volunteer ski patroller on the slopes near her suburban Cleveland home.
“People say, ‘You ski in Ohio?’ There are two ski areas about three miles from my house in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, a glacier-created valley, and there are ski areas on either side of the valley,” said Jennings, president of the Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies, during a recent telephone interview. “They’re small. We say it’s better than not skiing.”
She bundles up in very warm clothing, boots and patrol jacket, buckles on a patrol pack and steps into ski bindings in preparation for volunteer shifts that may be unpredictable.
Sometimes, “it’s like a MASH unit,” she said referring to the mobile army surgical hospitals used for front-line emergencies. Considered first responders, she and her team of about 10 receive extensive off-season first-aid and other training as outdoor emergency-care technicians.
“We ski and scan the slopes to make sure it’s safe,” said Jennings. “Injuries can range from somebody coming in the patrol room and asking for a Band-Aid all the way to a serious head injury or a broken femur, which require getting the person off the hill quickly and safely so that the next level of emergency care can transport them to a hospital,” she said.
When she began volunteering 23 years ago Jennings, 62, was canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Ohio. Her life seemed as though “everything was church.”
On the patrol, she’s served with the same “eclectic” team – an architect, a mechanic, an engineer, college students, a community organizer – for about 15 years.
“Some of us go to church, and some of us wouldn’t go near a church,” she said. “We watch out for each other on and off the slopes. We eat dinner together; we do potluck. It’s kind of like church.”
Her involvement has led to requests that she officiate at funerals and weddings of other ski patrollers over the years, and she believes being part of the group has made her a better priest, Jennings said.
It has “provided recreation, fellowship, friends, a balance in my life. It’s forced me to exercise, even though sometimes it’s awfully cold,” she said. “It’s made me a better priest in the sense that it gets me out of church. Obviously, that is the main focus of my vocation and ministry, but I think you can have too much of a good thing. So, for me, the ski patrol provides balance and a lot of fun.”
Woodworking in San Diego
Handcrafting, planing, sawing, sanding, assembling and finishing furniture has been an avocation for San Diego Bishop Jim Mathes for 30 years.
Over time, he has built shelves, desks and coffee tables to furnish the homes of friends and families; about half the time he works from plans purchased on the Internet. “The other half I design,” he said via e-mail.
Recently, he created a 52-bottle mahogany wine rack to auction during a fundraiser to benefit Episcopal Community Services, a diocesan agency providing social services to low-income families and individuals. The sale earned $1,000.
“I chose … mahogany because it is a wood that I like to work with,” Mathes said. “It looks beautiful with semi-gloss varnish.”
Woodworking allows him “time when I create something tangible,” he said. “I take my mind totally off of the church – if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have all my fingers!”
‘North Carolina: A theology of foolishness’
The Rev. Joseph Hensley Jr. says clowning, and more specifically his clown character Ashes, are part of a theology of foolishness that “shake things up and helps others look at the world differently.”
He has performed as Ashes – with oversized black pants and rainbow suspenders, big red nose, red cheeks, crazy hats, haphazardly fastened tie and white shirt, black Converse All-Star shoes and sometimes an accordion – in venues as varied as St. Luke’s Church in Durham, retirement communities and in the middle of the Miami Airport while returning from a church mission trip to Belize.
“It’s about being able to take this crazy character into places where there might be a need to spread some joy,” said Hensley, assistant to St. Luke’s rector, during a recent interview with ENS.
The name Ashes comes from the children’s nursery rhyme, “Ring Around the Rosie,” said Hensley, who will lead a workshop during the June 10-14 Kanuga Conference Center’s Christian Formation Conference in Hendersonville.
“As church leaders, we are expected to look impressive,” said Hensley, 39. “In some ways I think there’s this expectation that we give ourselves and that other people put on us, that we have to behave in certain ways and do certain things. In ministry, what I’ve tried to do is turn that upside down.”
Like in the nursery rhyme, which ends with “we all fall down,” the spirit of clowning “helps give us a sense of courage to be willing to fail – but to fail with grace and with humility, and, to me, that’s a big part of the life of faith.”
– The Rev. Pat McCaughan is an Episcopal News Service correspondent.
[Episcopal News Service] Erika Brannock, 29, who teaches preschoolers at Trinity Episcopal Children’s Center in Towson, Maryland, has lost part of her left leg after being injured in the Boston Marathon bombings.
Brannock and her sister, Nicole Gross, 31, a personal trainer at Charlotte Athletic Club in North Carolina, were at the finish line to meet their mother, Carol Downing, as she completed her third marathon. Gross had reportedly helped Downing train for the race.
The blast broke both of Nicole Gross’s legs and she also suffered a severed Achilles tendon, according to media reports.
Brannock, Gross and Gross’ husband, Brian, were outside the LensCrafters on Boylston Street, one of the bloodiest sites along the course, according to the Baltimore Sun newspaper.
Downing, of Monkton, Maryland, was running a half mile from the finish line and was not injured. The Sun reported that it took her six hours to find her daughters.
Brannock was raced to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where doctors amputated her left leg below the knee, Brian Gross told the Boston Globe newspaper. Doctors are also “keeping an eye on the other leg and are concerned with her foot,” Gross said.
Photos of Nicole Gross taken moments after the blast appeared in several newspapers and online. The family issued a statement April 17 asking the media to stop using the images, saying they are “tremendously painful” for the family, according to WUSA television station.
Trinity Episcopal Church will hold a prayer service at 7 p.m. April 17 “for healing and restoration in continuing support of all those affected the violence in Boston, especially Erika Brannock and her family,” according to the church’s website. Episcopalians from nearby Church of the Good Shepherd in Ruxton and Holy Comforter in Lutherville will be part of the gathering.
During football season, Brannock dons Baltimore Ravens gear for Purple Fridays, a schoolwide celebration of the team.
“She is such a Ravens fan, we’re going to have an honorary Purple Friday and photograph it and send it to her and her family,” the Rev. Kenneth H. Saunders III, Trinity’s rector, told the Globe. “The children have rallied around at school. We’re just praying for her and that she comes back to us soon.”
The Los Angeles Times reported that family and friends were setting up a fund to help pay for her medical care, educational and living expenses after her return home.
Brannock was one year from finishing her master’s degree in early childhood education, said Liz Harlan, the former director of the Trinity Episcopal Children’s Center, according to the Times. She told the Times that she hired Brannock to work at a new preschool after observing her skills in the classroom—where she said Brannock instinctively knew when a child needed to nestle into her lap or take a walk down the hall to avoid a meltdown.
Brannock’s cousin Jocelyn Wood-Garrish told the Sun that the teacher was “aware and taking the news [about her injuries] very well,” adding that there were more surgeries to come. Brannock was communicating with the family by writing, and had requested pictures of the students she teaches. “I’m in awe of my cousin’s bravery,” Wood-Garrish said.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Downing said on her Facebook page that Brannock had undergone two surgeries and had many more to go.
A Boston couple took the “panicked, scared and cold” Downing back to their home, according to the Sun, where they gave her something to eat and drink, and had her take a shower. They also gave her a fleece jacket, which she kept, and stayed with her at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where Gross had been taken, until family arrived.
“With all the chaos and to be in a city where I don’t know anyone, it reminds me that there are some good people in the world,” Downing told the newspaper.
The couple, from Rutland, Massachusetts, and members of St. Francis Episcopal Church in Holden, in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts, arrived on March 4 and have spent the first six weeks of missionary service in the Anglican/Episcopal Church of El Salvador, studying Spanish at the Center for Exchange and Solidarity and living with a host family, completing the Spanish-language immersion experience.
“Language is the biggest challenge,” followed by the heat and the mosquitoes, said Dianne Wilson, 65, a retired municipal government tax assessor.
Before they arrived, Tom Wilson, 50, said “they had a million concerns” related to being “foreigners in a foreign land,” but that the church has done a great job of welcoming them and helping them to acclimate.
The Wilsons first involvement with Episcopal Church missionaries came when they were members of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, and part of a support team for a friend who was serving in Kenya. When they moved to St. Francis in 2007, the church had just recently established a relationship with Foundation Cristosal, said Dianne Wilson.
St. Francis had committed to tithing 10 percent to the human rights-based community development organization with roots in the Anglican and Episcopal churches operating in El Salvador, but Cristosal didn’t want the money unless church members planned to visit, she said.
“When we got there, they were just planning their second trip to El Salvador and I wanted to see the other side of it [missionary service on the ground],” said Dianne Wilson.
Tom Wilson, a former finance director for a nonprofit organization, however, wasn’t immediately sold, he said, because the trip didn’t include building anything. Rather than construct “projects” Cristosal works to empower the poor to act for justice and development as equal citizens in a democratic society, and Tom said he didn’t care to have a “kumbaya” moment, but in the end he decided he couldn’t let his wife go to Central America alone.
“Human rights-based development is a hard concept, until you see it,” said Tom Wilson, who later became the chair of St. Francis’ mission committee.
It was the passion, however, of Cristosal’s executive director, Noah Bullock, that set the Wilsons on the path to missionary service, they said.
That was the first of the Wilsons three visits to Cristosal and El Salvador. Their fourth visit came in August 2012, when they spent two weeks living in El Maizal, a small community two-and-a half hours drive from San Salvador and 20 miles from the Guatemala border where the church has a guest house and a farm. The Wilsons will serve out the missionary commitment in El Maizal, and will move there in the coming days.
The Wilsons’ main priority, they said, is to teach English as a second language to the community’s children and interested adults, and to manage the guesthouse which, when up and running, can host 12 people.
There are about 30 cinderblock homes in the area, and also an Episcopal school. It’s an area that was destroyed by earthquakes in 2001 and rebuilt with the help of Episcopal Relief & Development.
In the 1980s El Salvador suffered a brutal civil war, fought mainly over inequality. And in the years following the 1992 United Nations-brokered Peace Accords, the smallest, most densely populated country in Central America has experienced a number of devastating natural disasters. It has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Inequality continues to persist, with some 50 percent of adult population unemployed and 47 percent of people living in extreme poverty.
The couple has committed to three years of service, and they understand that the journey will not be easy.
“This is a hard life, not to mention what you are going to witness – people live in abject poverty,” said Dianne Wilson. “It’s an incredibly hard life: We are visiting it, they are living it.”
The Wilsons are blogging about their experiences here.
– Lynette Wilson is and editor/reporter for Episcopal News Service. She is currently based in San Salvador, El Salvador.
[Anglican Taonga] The Diocese of Christchurch, meeting in a special synod April 12-13, has given overwhelming endorsement to the most modern of the three concepts for a new Cathedral in the Square.
The synod heard a presentation from the Cathedral Project Group and Warren & Mahoney about the three cathedral options – restored, traditional or contemporary.
Bishop Victoria Matthews asked some 220 synod members and observers for a show of hands to indicate which option they favored. No hands raised in support of the stone-for-stone restoration and about 10 were raised in favor of the traditional option. But when Matthews asked for an indication of support where the contemporary version is concerned, there was a forest of raised hands.
The cathedral was badly damaged during the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake and several aftershocks and was soon declared unsafe. In March 2012, work began to demolish the building.
The diocese also voted to take the next step towards a dramatic redrawing of its map, choosing to proceed on a path which could see the 46 parishes in and around Christchurch being significantly reduced, even halved in number, as a result of parish mergers.
The draft proposal, which had been prepared by a Structural Review Group, was received by the synod, and it will now be sent to the Diocesan Standing Committee for review.
That body now has the task of bringing proposals for adoption at later sessions of the synod.
In her charge to the special synod, Matthews described the challenge facing the diocese. “How will we as a diocese respond to the devastation of property, and the re-arrangement of the population of our region following the earthquakes in Canterbury? “Will we be set free? Or will we become even more imprisoned by our possessions and structures?”
The diocese’s Church Property Trustees have advised that there are around 200 earthquake-damaged buildings across the diocese – including 38 which have either been destroyed, demolished or require repairs that will cost more than NZ$50,000 (US$42,277) each.
According to the CPT, the shortfall between the loss and the insurance cover could be as high as NZ$30 million (US$25.37 million), excluding the inevitable shortfall between the insurance payout for the ruined cathedral and the cost of building whatever takes its place.
Furthermore, the cost of assessing then strengthening the surviving buildings, so they comply with the new earthquake building code, could be a further NZ$11 million (US$9.3 million).
The ground has shifted under the diocese in other ways, as well.
Christchurch itself is being drastically reconfigured, with major new subdivisions being planned – almost 15,000 sections in the west alone – while the city’s Red Zone (some 8000 homes) is being evacuated.
In the light of these changed realities, last September the regular Diocesan Synod resolved to set up a Structural Review Group. Its task was to come up with a proposal for a future map of the diocese – for discussion at the weekend’s specially convened synod.
The demands on the six-person SRG were formidable. During February, for example, the SRG members went two-by-two to 46 parishes, and engaged in weighty and emotional discussions with clergy, vestry and staff in each case.
Their work culminated in 29 hours spent hammering out their proposal over one weekend in March.
Archdeacon John Day, who chaired the SRG, illustrated to the recent synod some of the realities driving that proposal.
In the North-East of the city, he says, the suburb of Burwood has seen 40% of its residential area disappear into the Red Zone.
All Saints Burwood now finds itself on the very edge of the Red Zone – with its access on New Brighton Rd, which may become a river pathway, and the community it once served now relocated to its north.
St. Mark’s Marshland, which is located in the north will within five years be surrounded by 2500 new homes. Day says that one issues is that St. Mark’s was built in the early 1900s, when Marshland was a rural area. To this day it has no running water, and can seat only about 60 people.
Meanwhile, St. Stephen’s Shirley is a big, bustling and lively church which lost all its buildings – church, vicarage and hall – in the quakes.
The SRG proposal suggests short-, medium- and long-term developments in the North-East, which would involve the four parishes of Belfast-Redwood, North New Brighton, Burwood and Shirley working together for 10 years. This would allow those partnered parishes time to sell St. Mark’s Marshland, the St. Stephen’s church and vicarage site, and the complete site of St Andrew’s North New Brighton.
These sales would finance the buying of bigger parcels of land in more strategic sites to build new churches.
The 10 years would also allow time to develop new ministries and, after that period has elapsed, to become separate parishes once again, with the possibility of a new parish emerging in the Marshlands sub-division.
Other significant proposals include the merging of St. Barnabas Fendalton with the adjacent parishes of St. Mary’s Merivale and St. James Riccarton.
St. Mary’s Merivale is one of the best-known parishes in Christchurch, and pre-quake it was one of the icons of that leafy suburb.
But St. Mary’s church and vicarage have already been demolished, and the SRG says it’s too early to say how that Merivale site would be developed.
The proposal in the central city is that St. Michael and All Angels, St. Mary’s Addington and St. Luke’s-in-the-City should merge into one ministry unit.
The congregation at St. Luke’s-in-the-City feels they’ve drawn the short straw.
Their gothic masonry church has already been demolished – and the proposition is that the parish territory be redistributed between St. John’s Latimer Square and St. Michael-and-All Angels.
The majority in favor of receiving the SRG report was decisive, but the support wasn’t unanimous.
Some at the synod – particularly those who feel their identity is threatened – complained about lost autonomy, pressure, speed of the process and loss of diversity.
Day was eager to stress that the SRG proposal is not about creating mega-churches.
Rather, he said, the idea is to have “multi-congregation parishes where ministry units bring their different styles and strengths to the task of mission.”
The SRG says in its report that it is “very conscious of the uncertainty and sheer weariness of Cantabrians, and aware that it is difficult to make changes in such circumstances. Nonetheless, it is important that as a diocese we make these hard decisions.”
Matthews spoke of the need to make decisions. She referred to the workers who will flood into the city to work on its rebuild, and asked whether the parishes would be ready to reach out to them. “Remember, not to decide is to decide, and the longer we take to decide questions about a diocesan map, the less energy we will put into helping our neighbors,” she said. “It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Will we fight over parish boundaries – or reach out to the newcomer in our midst who is wondering what sort of community this place called Christchurch really is?”
Part of the challenge, says Day, “is that we are being invited to think beyond the confines of our parish boundaries, and to begin to minister as the Diocese of Christchurch gathered around our bishop.”
And in that regard, the SRG process appears to have been significantly successful. The motion to receive the SRG proposals was put by Lyndon Rogers, and seconded by Moka Ritchie.
“I suspect,” she said, “that we have talked more to each other in the last six months, than we have done in the last 50 years.”
[Anglican Taonga] In the wake of the 201-2011 Canterbury Region earthquakes the New Zealand Diocese of Christchurch has voted to take the next step towards a dramatic redrawing of its map.
The diocese met in a special synod on April 13-14, and chose to proceed on a path which could see the 46 parishes in and around Christchurch being significantly reduced, even halved in number, as a result of parish mergers.
The draft proposal, which had been prepared by a Structural Review Group, was received by the synod, and it will now be sent to the Diocesan Standing Committee for review.
That body now has the task of bringing proposals for adoption at later sessions of the synod.
Also during the synod, the diocese gave overwhelming endorsement to the most modern of the three concepts for a new cathedral in Cathedral Square. When Bishop Victoria Matthews ask the 220-odd synod members and observers for a show of hands to indicate which cathedral option – restored, traditional or contemporary – they favored, none chose the restoration and perhaps ten were raised for the traditional option. There was a forest of raised hands for the contemporary version.
[More information about the impact of the temblors on the cathedral and the current construction of a temporary cathedral is here.]
In her charge to the special synod, Matthews described the challenge facing the diocese in succinct and blunt terms:
“How will we as a diocese respond to the devastation of property, and the re-arrangement of the population of our region following the earthquakes in Canterbury?
“Will we be set free? Or will we become even more imprisoned by our possessions and structures?”
The diocese’s Church Property Trustees have advised that there are around 200 earthquake-damaged buildings across the diocese – including 38 which have either been destroyed, demolished or require repairs that will cost more than $50,000 each.
According to the CPT, the shortfall between the loss and the insurance cover could be as high as $30 million. That’s excluding the inevitable shortfall between the insurance payout for the ruined cathedral – estimated at $30 million – and the cost of building whatever takes its place.
Furthermore, the cost of assessing, and then strengthening the surviving buildings so they comply with the new earthquake building code, could be a further $11 million.
The ground has shifted under the diocese in other ways, as well.
Christchurch itself is being drastically reconfigured, with major new subdivisions being planned – almost 15,000 sections in the west alone – while the city’s Red Zone (including some 8000 homes) is being evacuated.
In the light of these changed realities, last September the regular diocesan synod resolved to set up a Structural Review Group. Its task was to come up with a proposal for a future map of the diocese.
In an example of the challenges facing the diocese’s parishes, Archdeacon John Day, chair of the SRG, said the suburb of Burwood in the northeast part of the city has seen 40% of its residential area disappear into the Red Zone.
All Saints Burwood now finds itself on the very edge of the Red Zone – with its access on a street which may become a river pathway, and the community it once served now relocated to its north.
That is the location of St Mark’s Marshland, which, within five years, will be surrounded by 2500 new homes.
Trouble is, said John, St Mark’s was built in the early 1900s, when Marshland was a rural area. And to this day it has no running water, and can seat only about 60 people.
Then there’s St Stephen’s Shirley, which is a big, bustling and lively church which lost all its buildings – church, vicarage and hall – in the quakes.
The SRG proposal suggests short, medium and long term developments in the North-East, which would involve the four parishes of Belfast-Redwood, North New Brighton, Burwood and Shirley working together for 10 years.
This would allow those partnered parishes time to sell St Mark’s Marshland, the St Stephen’s church and vicarage site, and the complete site of St Andrew’s North New Brighton.
These sales would finance the buying of bigger parcels of land in more strategic sites to build new churches.
The 10 years would also allow time to develop new ministries – and then, after that period has elapsed, to become separate parishes once again, with the possibility of a new parish emerging in the Marshlands sub-division.
The review group’s proposal includes other significant mergers.
Some at the synod – particularly those who feel their identity is threatened – complained about lost autonomy, pressure, speed of the process and loss of diversity.
“The SRG is very conscious of the uncertainty and sheer weariness of Cantabrians, and aware that it is difficult to make changes in such circumstances,” the report said. “Nonetheless, it is important that as a diocese we make these hard decisions.”
Matthews spoke in her charge of the need to make decisions. She referred to the workers who will flood into the city to work on its rebuild, and asked whether the parishes would be ready to reach out to them:
“Remember, not to decide is to decide, and the longer we take to decide questions about a diocesan map, the less energy we will put into helping our neighbors.
“It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Will we fight over parish boundaries – or reach out to the newcomer in our midst who is wondering what sort of community this place called Christchurch really is?”
Part of the challenge, says John Day, “is that we are being invited to think beyond the confines of our parish boundaries, and to begin to minister as the Diocese of Christchurch gathered around our bishop.”
[Episcopal Church Office of Communication] Despite the pelting rain and occasional torrential downpours, the dozens of attendees to the Worldwide Anglican Peace Conference piled into buses – separated according to language – for an extensive, day-long tour of Okinawa.
The residents of Okinawa tell their history and their stories with great passion.
We heard the history of an oppressed indigenous people – starting with the arrival of Japanese in the 1800s, through World War II and up to today.
As we traveled through the city we were asked to consider the actions and events of 67 years ago, before most of the attendees were born.
Our first destination was the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum. The museum’s main exhibits chronicled the invasion by allied troops on April 1, 1945. Statues and memorials graced the extensive grounds overlooking the sea, etched with the names of those lost during the battle and afterwards – names of Okinawans, of Koreans, of allied troops and of Japanese.
We were told about the caves on this volcanic island – both the natural caves and new ones, dug out by Okinawans – and the forced Korean labor in anticipation of the expected World War II invasion. The caves were used as family shelters, government offices, and for the care of injured and wounded. The caves were 2 x 2 meters, many lined with bunk beds for the best use of cramped space, chillingly illustrated in the museum.
The museum, both inside and out, offered views of the battle of Okinawa in a local context.
The second stop was an impressive Himeyuri Monument, situated in a tranquil setting and dedicated to the Okinawan people who perished or were killed during the battle and afterwards. This shrine, we were informed, hosts the most pilgrims on June 23, the anniversary of the official end to hostilities on Okinawa.
The afternoon was dedicated to driving by, around, and near some of the U.S. military bases. The narrative provided an overview of the tangled relationships among the military bases, the United States and Japanese governments, and the local residents over naval bases, Air Force runways, Osprey aircrafts, fighter planes, noise, property issues and more.
Greetings from hosts and religious leaders, plus a message from Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, closed the evening at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
That was the spirit yesterday, when, in the middle of the afternoon, before all the runners had crossed the finish line, with huge crowds in the Copley Square area, two bombs killed three and injured more than 150 people. It seems unlikely the event will ever be quite the same again.
My first phone call was from our suffragan bishop, Gayle Harris, then our canon to the ordinary, Mally Lloyd, followed by Jep Streit, the dean of our cathedral. I then called Sam Lloyd, the priest-in-charge of Trinity Church in Copley Square, and then we were in touch with the people of Emmanuel Church on Newbury Street, also so close to the explosions. It seemed there was very little we could do because the police requested only the presence of first responders in the Copley Square area.
Slowly, as the afternoon went on into the early evening, it looked as though none of our church members were directly affected. The executive director of Episcopal Relief and Development called me to see if they could help. I heard from Arrington Chambliss, our director of the Life Together program, that all of our interns were safe. So many of our priests and deacons in the diocese called, texted or e-mailed offering their help. Gayle and I heard from people all over the world, also offering to help in whatever way they could. We are so grateful.
What can we do? We can pray, most immediately for caregivers and responders, for those who are wounded or grieving, for all who are fearful or angry. God will show us how we can best bring Christ’s peace and healing to this difficult time if we continue to pray about what has happened, if we talk to one another, if we make every effort to include these murders and assaults with every act of violence witnessed in the last year. How are we being called actively to bring peace to our cities and beyond? Good can triumph over evil, but it’s going to take some work.
Ever since last fall and the murder of our own Jorge Fuentes, we in this part of the Episcopal Church have been listening to each other and bringing awareness to the violence in our cities and our country so we can find the most peaceful way forward. Over the last 10 days I have been talking to clergy across our diocese asking them to participate with their congregations in the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute Mother’s Day Walk for Peace, and I have been deeply moved by the willingness to join in this witness (you can register to join us as a “B-PEACE for Jorge” team member by using the drop-down menu). It is important to bring our presence to events that support a vision of peace and healing.
So many of our congregations have already opened their doors to bring their communities together in prayer. The Spirit is moving within us, asking us to be the bearers of peace. God will show us how.
Pray for our City of Boston and for all who have been so deeply affected by this violence.
[Episcopal News Service – San Salvador, El Salvador] Sin un chofer diestro y una camioneta de tracción cuádruple, los visitantes sólo pueden llegar a El Carmen, en la región salvadoreña de Bajo Lempa, a pie o a caballo.
Sin embargo, para un grupo de nueve episcopales, luteranos y un católico romano de Anacortes Washington, que visitaron recientemente este país centroamericano, su principal destino era la desolada aldea de El Carmen. En Pascua, se apiñaron en la cama de una furgoneta Nissan compacta sosteniéndose en la baranda protectora o unos en otros mientras el conductor esquivaba ganado, deslaves, ríos y surcos en el camino. Se protegían con sombreros del sol del mediodía y, los que eran afortunados de llevar pañuelos, se cubrían la cara para filtrar el polvo.
El Carmen es una de cuatro comunidades – y una de dos en el Bajo Lempa, o la parte baja del delta del río Lempa— atendida por la Fundación Cristosal, una organización de desarrollo comunitario basado en derechos humanos que se origina en las iglesias Anglicana y Episcopal. El grupo —cuatro adultos y cinco jóvenes— estuvo del 29 de marzo al 5 de abril en El Salvador aprendiendo sobre la estrategia del desarrollo comunitario basado en derechos humanos de Cristosal, en un “viaje transformacional” organizado y facilitado por la organización.
“[Con] los viajes de misión tradicionales, la misión con frecuencia conlleva grupos de extranjeros que vienen a hacer algún ‘proyecto’ y a ayudar de alguna manera, aun si tienen un limitado conocimiento del país y de las personas a las que sirven”, dijo Olivia Amadón, coordinadora del viaje. “Pero en Cristosal creemos que el primer paso en el proceso de desarrollo es aprender acerca del país y las personas a quienes servimos, y aprender no sólo cuáles son sus necesidades, sino [también] cuáles sus recursos y sus anhelos”.
“Los viajes a menudo son sólo el primer paso en la ‘ayuda’ o el ‘desarrollo’ porque se establecen relaciones”, dijo ella. “Y nuestro objetivo es que las personas sigan manteniendo esas relaciones con las comunidades y con Cristosal”.
En 2010, el grupo ecuménico entró en relaciones con El Carmen cuando sus jóvenes recaudaron dinero para comprar la nueva bomba de agua de la comunidad, al objeto de bombear agua de un manantial por una pendiente de 90 metros hasta los hogares de 26 familias. Durante los últimos tres años, el grupo ha vendido hierbas aromáticas, plantas en macetas y mermelada de moras y ha auspiciado cenas para ayudar a financiar el viaje de este año a El Salvador. El 31 de marzo, los miembros del grupo se dirigieron a El Carmen. Mientras estaban reunidos con los miembros de la comunidad, no tardaron en darse cuenta de que tratar los síntomas con frecuencia no aborda el problema subyacente.
La bomba de agua, dijeron los líderes de la comunidad, no tiene la capacidad necesaria. Pero el problema principal consiste en que, al igual que el sistema de acueducto de El Salvador, tiene muchas piezas sueltas.
“No es sólo la bomba, es la administración. Estamos ayudándolos a desarrollar la capacidad de administrar el sistema”, dijo Kenia Quintanilla Cruz, abogada y organizadora comunitaria, durante una reunión en la oficina de Cristosal en Sal Salvador.
La comunidad ha establecido una asociación de agua para administrar el sistema y recaudar fondos de la comunidad —16 de las 26 familias están dispuestas a pagar o pueden hacerlo. Pero cuando se trata de resolver problemas mecánicos y obtener fondos para arreglar o reemplazar piezas, la asociación falla, dijo Cruz. El papel de Cristosal es proporcionarle a la comunidad las destrezas fiduciarias y de mantenimiento así como la capacitación necesaria para manejar el sistema de agua, afirmó.
La situación del agua en El Carmen no es única. Más del 20 por ciento de los 6 millones de habitantes de El Salvador no tienen acceso a agua en sus casas, lo cual afecta al 60 por ciento de la población rural. Pero eso podría cambiar. Después de unos seis años de presiones de parte de grupos de la sociedad civil y de organizaciones no gubernamentales, la Asamblea General de El Salvador propuso una Ley General del Agua en marzo de 2012. La ley propone que todos los salvadoreños tengan acceso a agua potable y abundante —un derecho humano fundamental.
En El Carmen, el agua usualmente fluye durante dos horas cada cuatro o cinco días cuando la bomba está funcionando, dijeron miembros de la asociación del agua a los visitantes. Cuando no funciona, la comunidad sube el agua en recipientes plásticos desde un río cercano por la cuesta empinada.
“Veo que la gente sigue luchando por la dignidad humana básica y los derechos humanos fundamentales”, dijo la Rda. Josefina Beecher, ex vicaria de la iglesia episcopal de La Resurrección en Mount Vernon, Washington, quien vivió en El Salvador entre 1986 y 1994. Ella se siente feliz —dijo— de presenciar pequeños éxitos, tales como una granja avícola en El Carmen, que Cristosal y los miembros de la comunidad se han asociado para desarrollar. “Pero me entristece ver que aún siguen teniendo los mismos conflictos por los que se libró la guerra”.
Entre 1980 y 1992, una brutal guerra civil tuvo lugar en El Salvador entre un régimen militar de derecha y el Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (hoy el partido político de izquierda FMLN). Según datos oficiales, 75.000 personas resultaron muertas en esta contienda. Después que las partes en guerra firmaron los Acuerdos de Paz auspiciados por las Naciones Unidas en 1992, los ex guerrilleros depusieron sus armas y comenzaron a establecerse en tierras improductivas, entre ellas El Carmen, en el departamento, o estado, de Usulután, en el occidente de El Salvador.
Los años ochenta fueron el período más negro de la historia de El Salvador, dijo José Osvaldo López, abogado de Cristosal, que tenía 10 años en 1980. “El mayor número de violaciones de derechos humanos tuvo lugar en una época en que la gente estaba reclamando sus derechos”, dijo mientras le hablaba al grupo de Washington sobre los derechos humanos. “Yo era un niño cuando mataron a [Oscar] Romero, y no lo podía entender. Él era intocable. Para mí, bueno, todos en este país lo consideraban un santo. Todo lo que él hizo fue denunciar injusticias, y por eso lo mataron”.
El arzobispo católico romano Oscar A. Romero fue martirizado el 24 de marzo de 1980, cuando un pistolero le disparó al corazón mientras celebraba una misa fúnebre en la capilla de los terrenos de un hospital de cáncer donde residía. Aunque él no es un santo oficial de la Iglesia Católica Romana, muchos salvadoreños lo vieron como el “Santo de América” y su asesinato como el momento crítico que condujo a la guerra. Romero y los Mártires de El Salvador fueron incorporados al calendario conmemorativo de la Iglesia Episcopal en 2009 (según la Resolución A095 de la Convención General).
Durante la guerra civil de El Salvador, y particularmente en el tiempo que siguió, ha florecido una cultura de asistencia y dependencia en este país, el más pequeño y más densamente poblado de América Central, dijo Beecher, que ahora está jubilada y presta servicios en la junta asesora de Cristosal.
Más que contribuir a un sistema que [la Fundación] cree que perpetúa la dependencia, Cristosal prefiere invertir en procesos que buscan equilibrar las inequidades sociales.
“El momento histórico de El Salvador se produjo con la firma de los Acuerdos de Paz de 1992, que abrieron el proceso político para todos los salvadoreños, independientemente de su ideología política, su raza, su sexo, etc. Pero hasta ahí llegaron”, dijo Noah F. Bullock, director ejecutivo de Cristosal. “Los acuerdos de paz no abordaron la desigualdad social y económica”, agregó. “No abordaron muchas de las causas que dieron lugar a la guerra. Simplemente dijeron, ‘ustedes pueden participar’. De manera que si bien los acuerdos de paz ofrecieron participación política, el pueblo entró en un campo político radicalmente desigual”.
En su estrategia de desarrollo comunitario, Cristosal procura hacer avanzar el proceso puesto en marcha por los acuerdos al ayudar a facultar a los pobres de El Salvador para que actúen a favor de la justicia y del desarrollo como ciudadanos iguales en una sociedad democrática. Promueve el acceso a vivienda adecuada, a agua potable, a empleos [así como] el imperio de la ley, que caen en la categoría de derechos humanos, que con frecuencia son contemplados o promovidos por los gobiernos en el mundo desarrollado.
“Aprobar una ley [sobre el agua] no garantizará que la comunidad tenga un sistema de acueducto que funcione, pero será un paso importante hacia el establecimiento del derecho de los ciudadanos al agua potable y la obligación del Estado de preservar y proteger los recursos acuíferos”, dijo Bullock, añadiendo que la ley está ganando apoyo en la Asamblea General.
Además de apoyar la asociación del agua y la granja avícola, cuyo éxito depende del acceso al agua. Cristosal labora con los líderes de la comunidad en presionar a las autoridades locales para reparar el camino que conduce a El Carmen, una carretera que la municipalidad está obligada a construir por ley. Durante la inminente estación de las lluvias, que dura de mayo a junio, el camino puede tornarse intransitable, otra dificultad para llevar los pollos al mercado. Si resulta exitosa, la granja avícola creará una iniciativa económica estable, proporcionando empleos a una comunidad de un país donde el 50 por ciento de la población económicamente activa está subempleado o desempleado, y el 48 por ciento de los salvadoreños vive en la pobreza absoluta.
Antes de visitar El Carmen, el grupo ecuménico visitó Los Calix, la segunda comunidad del Lempa a la que sirve Cristosal, y participó en una Vigilia Pascual de cinco horas. En Los Calix, Cristosal está trabajando con los residentes en la construcción de un centro comunitario de uso mixto.
Para un resumen completo y fotos de las escalas que el grupo hizo en El Salvador visite el blog El Salvador Journey [o “Viaje a El Salvador”].
Antes de llegar a El Salvador, el único otro país extranjero que había visitado Kai Perschbacher, de 14 años de edad y miembro de la iglesia de Cristo, era Canadá. Anacortes, su ciudad natal, se encuentra a medio camino entre Seattle y Vancouver, Columbia Británica.
“Es un shock cultural” dijo él. “Uno mira fotos de países del Tercer Mundo en la [revista de la] National Geographic, pero uno no entiende hasta que viaja por estas carreteras en la cama de una furgoneta y ve a la gente viviendo en la pobreza”.
No obstante, añadió él, uno también ve que es posible vivir con las necesidades elementales.
Inicialmente, Mark Perschbacher, el padre de Kai, pensó que sería mejor enviar dinero a El Salvador para invertir en un proyecto que visitar [el país]. Pero dijo que más tarde se dio cuenta de que viajar a El Salvador sería un buen modo de mostrarle a un grupo de jóvenes de la Iglesia cómo vive la gente en otras partes del mundo. Pese a la “mala fama” que tiene El Salvador —tiene una de las tasas de homicidios más altas del mundo— él creyó que sería bueno visitarlo, apuntó.
Sarah Hill, miembro de la iglesia luterana Celebración [Celebration Lutheran Church] calculó que el viaje ayudaría a inculcar en sus hijas —Zoe, de 14 años, y Grace, de 11— la importancia de saber trabajar, modales, tolerancia y la necesidad de asumir la responsabilidad por sus propias acciones.
“Cuando una familia tiene medios, es un reto criar a un hijo de manera que no crea que [todo] lo merece”, dijo la Dra. Hill, que es dentista. “Ese [sentido de merecimiento] es increíblemente predominante en Estados Unidos”.
Zoe Hill dijo que ella no sabía lo que le esperaba en El Salvador. El Carmen era realmente rural, “y te provoca un shock”, afirmó. Es [un país] hermoso como Estados Unidos, pero de una manera diferente.
Al salir del avión, ella temía que la gente no la fuera a aceptar y que la “encasillaran”, pero eso no ocurrió, señaló ella. “Todo el mundo ha sido acogedor”.
La reflexión de Will Sladich, un joven de 15 años, sobre la pobreza que el presenció en el Bajo Lempa fue más existencial.
“Es interesante que la vida sigue su curso aquí, visitémoslo nosotros o no… todas estas personas en estas aldeas que nosotros [los estadounidenses] nunca sabríamos que existen¨, dijo Sladich, miembro de la iglesia del Sagrado Corazón [Sacred Heart Church] en La Conner, Washington.
– Lynette Wilson es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Está radicada actualmente en San Salvador, El Salvador. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.
[Episcopal News Service – Santo Domingo, República Dominicana] La Iglesia Episcopal Dominicana celebró su crecimiento, así como 116 años de existencia y 100 años en la Iglesia Episcopal durante un oficio eucarístico el 14 de abril en la ciudad de Santo Domingo.
El obispo Julio C. Holguín presidió la celebración y predicó durante la festiva eucaristía de tres horas de duración que sirvió de clausura a una conferencia de tres días con este lema: “Juntos podemos: Encuentro en Misión con Iglepidom” [la sigla de Iglesia Episcopal Dominicana].
En su sermón, Holguín habló acerca de “la Gran Comisión” y el deber de todos los bautizados de participar en la misión, así como de la responsabilidad de los episcopales de compartir con otros lo que Dios ha hecho en sus vidas, de manera que otros puedan creer.
Más de 2.000 personas asistieron a la eucaristía —entre ellas 70 estadounidenses en relaciones de compañerismo con la diócesis— que se celebró en un pabellón de volibol de un complejo deportivo del gobierno. Centenares de jóvenes representaron a alrededor de una docena de las 27 escuelas de la diócesis, con bandas de redoblantes y cuerpos de banderas.
“Esta es una de las mayores celebraciones que hemos tenido este año y hemos estado preparándonos un año entero para esto”, dijo el Rdo. Adolfo Moronta, vicario de San Pablo y San Lucas, en San Isidro, donde su congregación de 50 a 60 personas está comenzando el proceso de construir una iglesia. “[Es importante] porque durante este tiempo hemos predicado el Evangelio de Jesús a través de todo nuestro país y nuestra Iglesia crece y crece, y éste es un modo de celebrar lo que Dios ha estado haciendo en el pueblo de la República Dominicana”.
La diócesis ha crecido en un 20 por ciento en los últimos 10 años, y en 20 años ha disminuido su dependencia de la Iglesia Episcopal [en Estados Unidos] de un 84 por ciento a un 18 por ciento, mientras su presupuesto se ha quintuplicado, explicó el obispo Holguín en una entrevista con ENS después del oficio.
“Lo primero es que hemos asumido la responsabilidad y lo segundo es evangelizar; sabemos que la Iglesia necesita expandirse”, dijo Holguín, añadiendo que el clero y el laicado también han emprendido una revitalización espiritual y “gracias a eso, la Iglesia ha comenzado a crecer”.
Holguín mencionó, específicamente, a la Ofrenda Unida de Acción de Gracias y al Grupo Dominicano de Desarrollo, que se creó en 1998 para asistir a la diócesis en el desarrollo y en su camino hacia el autosostén. Holguín también reconoció a varios “grandes” misioneros que trabajaron arduamente por la Iglesia a través de los años, y a las relaciones de diócesis compañeras que se fueron creando a lo largo del tiempo, dándoles crédito por ayudar a la diócesis a crecer.
La diócesis tiene relaciones de compañerismo con diócesis en Estados Unidos, entre ellas Carolina Oriental, Michigan Oriental, Michigan, Michigan Occidental, Georgia, Nebraska, Texas Noroccidental, Carolina del Sur, Florida Sudoccidental y Luisiana Occidental. La mayoría, si no todas ellas, estuvieron representadas en el encuentro.
“Siento que él [el obispo durante su sermón] lo resumió todo a vivir el Pacto Bautismal y a tener ese compromiso [con la misión]”, dijo Rebecca Gibson, de la iglesia episcopal de Cristo [Christ Episcopal Church] en Winchester, Virginia. “Y lo vinculó muy bien con el encuentro”.
Cerca de 200 personas participaron en el encuentro de tres días de duración, que incluyó talleres que abarcaron todo lo concerniente a la Escuela Bíblica de Vacaciones; el Grupo Dominicano de Desarrollo; construcción; salud, educación y ministerios sociales; programas de microcréditos; y liturgia y espiritualidad. El encuentro, que tuvo lugar en la catedral de la Epifanía, también incluyó música, danza y un diálogo abierto para discutir lo que los participantes habían aprendido en los talleres.
“Los talleres eran para mostrar lo que hemos hecho en 116 años”, dijo el Rdo. P. Vicente Peña, vicario de San Juan Bautista en Bonao, en el centro del país.
Desde 1991, el número de iglesias ha crecido de 24 a más de 70 misiones y estaciones de predicación, entre ellas 17 templos de 13 que había entonces; el número de escuelas ha aumentado de 7 a 27, según estadísticas del Grupo Dominicano de Desarrollo.
“He venido aquí durante cuatro años como parte de un equipo de construcción y nunca había podido abarcar la misión total de la diócesis”, dijo Bob Hills, miembro de la iglesia del Redentor [Church of the Redeemer] en Sarasota, en la Diócesis de Florida Sudoccidental [o del Suroeste de la Florida]. “Por primera vez percibo la totalidad de la misión. Estoy muy impresionado por lo que pasa aquí y orgulloso de formar parte de ello”.
La Iglesia Episcopal de la República Dominicana es una de las siete diócesis de la IX Provincia, la cual se extiende a través del Caribe, América Central y el norte de América del Sur, y es una de las diócesis de más rápido crecimiento en la Iglesia Episcopal.
“Es una gran alegría para mí estar aquí y experimentar esta maravillosa reunión”, dijo el obispo Wilfrido Ramos-Orench, funcionario encargado de asociaciones globales de la Iglesia Episcopal para la IX Provincia, durante el encuentro.
“Siempre creo que Dios nos invita a ser soñadores y a soñar en grande. Uno de mis sueños es que cada una de nuestras diócesis en la IX Provincia se encamine hacia el pleno desarrollo como la de República Dominicana. Es la diócesis insignia en nuestra región, y avanza lentamente hacia la autosuficiencia y la plenitud en Cristo”.
– Lynette Wilson es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri