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Virginia: Mary Thorpe to be director of transition ministry

ENS Headlines - Thursday, September 18, 2014

[Diocese of Virginia] The Very Rev. Mary Thorpe will assume the position of director of transition ministry of the Diocese of Virginia on October 1, succeeding Lindsay Ryland. Ed Keithly, who currently serves as vocation officer, will work in partnership with Mary as deputy director of transition ministry.

Rapidísimas

ENS Headlines - Thursday, September 18, 2014

Recientemente el grupo opositor cubano conocido como las Damas de Blanco de Santiago de Cuba decidió separarse del grupo principal por “indisciplinas graves “que no fueron atendidas.  Parece que otras querellas internas dieron lugar a la escisión. Las damas que se separaron dijeron que están dispuestas a iniciar un diálogo que pueda traer reconciliación. Berta Soler, presidenta del grupo original dijo que “continuamos la lucha por el respeto a los derechos humanos y la libertad y los presos políticos” en Cuba.

Líderes de las principales iglesias de Uruguay se han reunido en el salón parroquial de la Catedral Anglicana de Montevideo para “analizar críticamente” la gestión del nuevo gobierno que se elegirá próximamente. El grupo dijo que había que “repensar” el modelo de desarrollo de una economía extractiva a la luz de consumo desmedido y la preocupante profundización de la “brecha entre ricos y pobres” que afecta a los más vulnerables especialmente a los niños y adolescentes.

Pedro Corzo, historiador cubano, dice en un artículo publicado en El Nuevo Herald de Miami titulado “Apuntes para la oposición cubana” que hay que “sembrar la esperanza en la población de que los cambios son posibles e instilarle confianza en el futuro”.

Justo González, escritor y profesor metodista recibió un doctorado honoris causa del Seminario Episcopal del Sureste en Austin, Texas. En los ejercicios de graduación fue el orador principal. En la misma ceremonia recibió similar galardón el presbítero Alejandro Mendoza inmigrante peruano que comenzó hace años limpiando pisos en la Iglesia Episcopal de San Mateo en Austin y hoy es su rector y un reconocido predicador y evangelista. En la clase de este año se graduaron 29 estudiantes, 20 de los cuales son mujeres con edades que oscilan entre los 30 y los 55 años de edad. Entre los graduandos no hubo ninguna persona de origen afro-americana.

El presidente de México, Enrique Peña Nieto, ha calificado de “reprobable” la decisión del gobernador de Texas, Rick Perry,  de enviar una fuerza de 1000 miembros de la Guardia Nacional para guardar la frontera entre Texas y México. El presidente dice que la medida no contribuye “a una mejor vecindad o relación”. La decisión de Texas trata de evitar el flujo de niños indocumentados.

El gobierno de Cuba quiere enviar un contingente de médicos y enfermeras para ayudar a combatir la plaga del virus de ébola en África. Aunque un reducido número ha aceptado el reto, la mayor parte de la población dice que el riesgo es muy alto. El primer país que se tiene en mente es Sierra Leona, en la costa occidental de África.

El presidente Nicolás Maduro de Venezuela ya no sabe qué hacer para levantar su índice de aceptación. Ahora se ha puesto de moda entre los chavistas una parodia del Padrenuestro que invoca a Chávez y pide que sus ideales revolucionarios se cumplan en “la tierra como en el cielo”. La oración fue preparada durante  el Diseño del Sistema de Formación Socialista. Los obispos han dicho que esta parodia da pie a la idolatría algo contrario a la fe cristiana.  Otros sectores también la han criticado.

Recientemente un grupo ecuménico se reunió en la ciudad de Estrasburgo, Francia, para considerar acciones más efectivas contra la discriminación, la persecución y la violencia que sufren los cristianos alrededor del mundo. El tema será explorado a profundidad en una conferencia que tendrá lugar en el 2015. La reunión fue patrocinada por el Vaticano, el Consejo Mundial de Iglesias, la Alianza Mundial Evangélica y las iglesias pentecostales.

El incisivo periodista Roberto Luque Escalona escribe en el semanario Libre que en una ocasión “que no recuerdo bien” llamó tonta a la popular cantante colombiana Skakira. Más recientemente le preguntaron a la diva que ciudad le gustaría visitar y sin pensarlo dijo “Roma, porque allí nació nuestro Señor Jesucristo”. Rectifica Luque que en la primera ocasión él tenía la razón: “la joven es tonta”.

Vernella Brown, la primera mujer ordenada al presbiterado en la diócesis de Connecticut y trabajadora incansable entre los pobres, ha fallecido el 27 de agosto a la edad de 88 años. Nacida en Guantánamo de padres de ascendencia jamaiquina tomó residencia en el estado de Connecticut donde trabajó por 20 años en el servicio social de la ciudad de Norwalk. Después de su retiro hizo estudios teológicos en Nueva York y fue ordenada y sirvió en varias parroquias y misiones de la diócesis. Vernella será siempre recordada por su humildad y su deseo de servir a los desposeídos.

VERDAD. Bienaventurados los pobres en espíritu porque de ellos es el reino de los cielos. San Mateo 5:10.

House of Bishops Daily Account for Thursday, Sept.18

ENS Headlines - Thursday, September 18, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church is meeting in the Diocese of Taiwan from September 17 to September 23.  The following is an account of the activities for Thursday, September 18.

The theme for the fall meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is Expanding the Apostolic Imagination.

On Thursday, the House of Bishops and spouses embarked on daylong visits to Episcopal churches and institutions throughout Taiwan to witness the mission and ministry of the diocese.  The visits will be discussed during the remainder of the House of Bishops meeting.

Groups visited:
Church of the Good Shepherd, Taipei
St James Church, Taichung
Trinity & St. Stephen’s Churches, Keelung
St. John’s University, Tam Sui

Follow the bishops on:
Twitter
#HOBFall14

Hilary Freeman retires after 29 years of parish ministry

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mrs. Hilary Freeman of Fairbanks, Alaska, with family roots back to the Klondike Gold Rush, retired in September 2014 from 29 years of Ministry as Parish Administrator & Office Manager of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church of Fairbanks. She and her husband Gene plan to remain in Fairbanks; and she hopes to now have time to go berry picking before winter comes.

Information on for affordable websites for congregations and dioceses

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Episcopal Church Office of Communication is offering dioceses and congregations of all sizes some proven options for websites and web hosting.

“A well-designed website is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’,” noted Anne Rudig, Director of Communication.  “If a church or a diocese can’t be googled, for many people it simply doesn’t exist.”

Affordable Websites for Congregations and Dioceses is located here.

Among the offerings:

Digital Faith
Digital Faith connects all the churches, committees, people, events, and financial campaigns across your entire community of faith. This total online solution now includes Episcopal branded templates and RSS feeds from The Episcopal Church. Linkhere

WorshipTimes
Harness the power and simplicity of WordPress — the world’s most popular blogging platform — combined with the Genesis Framework from StudioPress and put it to work for your church. Building a website doesn’t have to be scary or expensive and with branded themes from by The Episcopal Church, your next site for your church or diocese will already look and feel familiar — plus stay up-to-date with the latest church-wide news and announcements. Link here

Coming Soon - Free WordPress themes from The Episcopal Church
Ready to try your hand at DIY? Are you on a budget? Have content will code? Free branded WordPress themes from The Episcopal Church just made your life a whole lot easier. Your rector will be pleased (and so will your parish treasurer). Hosting is not provided.

For more information contact the Rev. Jake Dell, jdell@episcopalchurch.org.

Appalachian small grants deadline has been extended

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

[Episcopal Appalachian Ministries] Episcopal Appalachian Ministries offers small grants through funding made available from the Episcopal Church General Convention.  These grants are in place to help enable new or start-up ministries with the “seed money” needed in establishing a new ministry.  The money is granted for specific needs at the grass-roots level.

Size of Grants: Grants usually range in size from $500 to $2,000.

Eligibility:

  • Grants are made to diocesan, parish, or community-based organizations that are within the Appalachian region or serve Appalachian people.
  • Organizations or individuals applying for grants must have a clear connection and/or relationship to the Episcopal Church.
  • These organizations must serve communities in the Appalachian region or urban Appalachian communities outside the region.

Criteria:

  • Appalachian Initiative Grants are intended to be used as seed money for ministries and organizations to seize opportunities of a one-time nature and project start-up costs.
  • Grants must be for a specific ministry, project or program.
  • Successful grant requests would typically be for purchasing specific items (e.g., computer equipment, building supplies, etc.)
  • Consideration will be given to projects that involve awarding “scholarships” to participants of programs if the money is being used specifically for those scholarships.
  • Requests for money to supplement or cover regular operating expenses such as salaries, will not be awarded.  Money for “matching grants” will not be awarded.
  • Successful applications will usually involve helping Appalachians address regional issues such as poverty, literacy, health care, unemployment, education, cultural affirmation, or the environment through direct service.

Application Process (new guidelines)

  • Applications must be submitted through the local diocese and be approved and endorsed by the bishop of the diocese. (The bishop of the diocese may appoint a committee for this process at his or her discretion)
  • Each diocese will prioritize the applications received to submit to the EAM Small Grants Selection Committee by the deadlines.
  • Each diocese will only be allowed to submit  no more than 2 applications for each grant period (spring and fall, 4 total for the year).

Application Deadlines: Applications will be accepted at any time.  The Grants Committee usually meets in April and November.  Usual project start times are July 1 or January 1.  Exceptions will be considered.  Applications for April are dueMarch 31st.  Applications for November consideration are due October 31st.

Download Grant Applications Here:

PDF Format (click here)

MS Word Format(click here)

E-mail your proposal with the subject line, “grant application” to episcopalappministries@gmail.com and mail a hard copy to:

The Rev. L. Gordon Brewer, Jr.
Episcopal Appalachian Ministries
1417 Warpath Dr. Suite B
Kingsport, TN  37664-3383
episcopalappministries@gmail.com

House of Bishops begins historic meeting in Taiwan

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bishops attending the Episcopal Church House of Bishops meeting in Taipei, Taiwan pose for a group photo on Sept. 17 outside the historic Grand Hotel, site of the meeting. It was 97 degrees at the time of the photo session, which considering the 50 percent humidity, felt like 109. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Taipei, Taiwan] In a historic year for the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Taiwan, the House of Bishops has come to this city to “learn of greenness in different pastures,” in Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s words.

The theme of the Sept. 17-23 fall Taiwan meeting is “expanding the apostolic imagination” and the bishops will explore the mission and ministry of the Diocese of Taiwan. In addition, bishops and others from the Anglican Church in Hong Kong, Japan, Pakistan, the Philippines and Korea will discuss with the house the theological context and mission challenges their provinces face.

After the meeting ends a number of bishops are heading to Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines or Korea to continue learning about the mission and ministry of the Anglican Churches there.

The Diocese of Taiwan is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. The bishops agreed to meet here at Taiwan Bishop David Jung-Hsin Lai’s invitation.

Diocese of Taiwan Bishop David Jung-Hsin Lai says he worked for eight years to bring an Episcopal Church House of Bishops meeting to his diocese. The meeting began Sept. 17 and runs until Sept. 23. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

During the house’s opening session on Sept. 17, Lai thanked the bishops, many of whom had traveled as much as 24 hours to get to Taipei, for making the effort to come, saying that his six-year-old dream of having the House of Bishops come to his diocese had come true.

“You come here to share, to learn, to strengthen your wisdom and knowledge,” he said.

The entire diocese has prayed at 9 p.m. every day for 40 days for the success of the House of Bishops meeting, according to Lai.

He acknowledged that many of the bishops were feeling jet-lagged after their travels and he jokingly told them that now they know how he has felt at every House of Bishops meeting since his election in 2000.

Jefferts Schori had said during a news conference at the end of the last House of Bishops meeting in March that Lai’s invitation “seemed like a remarkable opportunity for the bishops in this church to learn something about the Asian context in which the church has relationships, and also increasingly from which other parts of the Episcopal Church are receiving migrants.”

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou welcomes the Episcopal Church House of Bishops Sept. 17 to his country during a reception at the Grand Hotel in Taipei. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou told a reception on the evening of Sept. 17 (local time) that Chinese tradition marks time in 60 year periods and thus the Diocese of Taiwan has completed one cycle and is embarking on a new one “that foretells an unlimited future.”

“So the Episcopal Church couldn’t have picked a better year to hold a House of Bishops in Taiwan,” he said. “Your choice shows the importance you place upon your congregations here and upon my country. For this, I am grateful.”

Ma said he wanted to express personally his “deepest respect and thanks” for the way that the Episcopal Church has “actively preached the gospel” through service to its communities both in Taiwan and around the world.

The Taiwanese president then outlined his efforts toward turning his country into a peacemaking nation and one known for providing international humanitarian aid rather than receiving it, based on the biblical call to love your neighbor as yourself.

The House of Bishops’ opening Eucharist earlier in the day marked the feast day of Hildegard of Bingen. Jefferts Schori noted in her sermon that Hildegard used the concept of viriditas and its sense of the fecundity of the earth and the soul to teach people about the “blazing fire of creativity at the heart of God.” The presiding bishop likened viriditas to Jesus’ call to abundant life.

Where, she asked the bishops, do they encounter viriditas and “what creative ferment engages and transforms you?”

“This Episcopal Church is in the throes of creative ferment, yearning to find a new congruence that will discover emerging light in new soil and refreshed growth in the plantings of former years,” she said. “Our gathering here will offer opportunities to learn of greenness in different pastures and, God willing, to transform us to discover abundance and possibility in more familiar ones.”

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori leads a prayer Sept. 17 during a reception at the end of the opening day of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops meeting in Taipei. Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, center, addressed the reception. Bishop David Jung-Hsin Lai, right, and the Diocese of Taiwan is hosting the Sept. 17-23 meeting. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

History of Anglican and Episcopal Churches on Taiwan
Anglicanism has been on the island of Taiwan since at least 1895 after the island was ceded to the Empire of Japan at the end of the First Sino-Japanese war.

From then until 1945, when Japan was defeated in World War II, the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (Anglican Church in Japan) built churches in Taiwan and held services for its Japanese citizens. Taiwan was part of the NSKK’s Diocese of Osaka. The nationalist government confiscated most of those buildings after the Japanese left and gave them to other denomination.

Episcopal Church chaplains came to serve American military personnel that were based here after the Japanese surrender. As the Episcopal Church grew, it came under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Honolulu (later the Diocese of Hawaii). The church also took pastoral care of the former Chinese Anglican Church members who had come to Taiwan from Mainland China in 1949 with Chinese Nationalists who left in after the Chinese Communist Party defeated the Nationalist army.

From 1954 to 1960, the Episcopal Church in Taiwan was under the supervision of Honolulu Bishop Harry S. Kennedy as part of the pastoral care of American Armed Forces in the Pacific.

Kennedy remained the bishop-in-charge and Honolulu Bishop Suffragan Charles P. Gilson became bishop-in-residence in Taiwan in 1961 when the island became a missionary diocese after the NSKK handed over ministry here to the Episcopal Church.

In 1988, the diocese achieved full diocesan status. Episcopalians in Taiwan renewed their Anglican connection with Japan in 2005 when the diocese entered into a companion relationship with the NSKK Diocese of Osaka.

The Diocese of Taiwan exists in country of 23.34 million people, less than 5 percent of who call themselves Christian, according to the diocese’s Friendship Magazine. The diocese has a history of “gradual inculturation and integration” moving from a membership of Mainland China Anglicans and American military personnel to one with more Taiwanese people.

The diocese has gained members in the 10 years ending in 2012 (the latest year for which figures are available here. The diocese had 1,176 members in that year compared to 975 in 2002, according to this report, and Friendship Magazine says it now serves roughly 2,000 members. The average Sunday attendance in 2012 throughout the diocese’s 16 congregations was 687.

The diocese also includes St. John’s University with an enrollment of slightly more than 6,000, eight parish kindergartens and a number of outreach centers.

The Episcopal Church includes worshiping communities in 17 countries, including the United States, Micronesia (Guam and Saipan), Taiwan, Honduras, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Virgin Islands (both U.S. and British), Puerto Rico and, by way of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Austria.

Also on the bishops’ agenda
On Sept. 18, the bishops will divide themselves among Church of the Good Shepherd in Taipei, St. James Church in Taichung, Trinity & St. Stephen’s churches in Keelung and St. John’s University in Tam Sui. On Sunday, Sept. 21, bishops and their spouses and partners, and others present for the meeting will worship at either Church of the Good Shepherd and St. John’s Cathedral in Taipei or Advent Church in Tam Sui. They will return to Taipei in the late afternoon for a session aimed at processing their experiences.

The evening of Sept. 21 will also include a closed “fireside chat,” meant for the presiding bishop and the bishops alone.

While in Taipei, the bishops are also scheduled to receive briefings on the work of the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church, which recently released a letter to the church outlining the structural changes it will recommend to the 2015 meeting of General Convention. Bishop members of the A050 Task Force on the Study of Marriage and the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop will also discuss the work of those groups to date. The latter briefing will be held in closed session, according to the meeting schedule.

The bishops also plan a “town hall”-style session with the presiding bishop and a formal business session on Sept. 23.

The meeting is taking place at the Grand Hotel in Taipei. Some bishops are blogging from the meeting about their visit to Taiwan. Others are tweeting during the meeting using #HOBFall14. Those tweets can be read here.

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

House of Bishops Daily Account for Wednesday, Sept. 17

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church is meeting in the Diocese of Taiwan from September 17 to September 23. The following is an account of the activities for September 17.

The theme for the spring meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is Expanding the Apostolic Imagination. This is the first time that the House of Bishops has met in Asia.

The day began with Eucharist. The Presiding Bishop presided and preached (Presiding Bishop’s sermon here). She urged the bishops to ‘let the creative word of God take root within you and bear new branches…and be not afraid.”  During the Eucharist the Bishops renewed their commitment to the Core Values of the House of Bishops.

The Presiding Bishop and Bishop David Lai of the Diocese of Taiwan welcomed the bishops and spouses, and spoke of the significance of this historic gathering. He shared a letter of greeting from Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

The morning session concluded with a group photo of the bishops and spouses.

The afternoon session was devoted to check-in among the bishops.

The Diocese of Taiwan welcomed the bishops and spouses at an evening reception. In attendance were President Ma Ying-Jeou, regional dignitaries, officials and government representatives. Area clergy and lay leadership also welcomed the bishops and spouses.

Media Briefers for Wednesday, September 17
Bishop William Franklin of Western New York http://episcopalwny.org/

Bishop Sean Rowe of Northwest Pennsylvania/Bethlehem http://dionwpa.org/  https://www.diobeth.org/

Follow the bishops on:

Twitter

#HOBFall14

Blogs

Recently posted:
Bishop Diane Jardine Bruce of Los Angeles obispadjb.blogspot.com
Bishop Greg Rickel of Olympia www.bishoprickel.com

Presiding Bishop preaches during House of Bishops meeting in Taipei

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sept 17, 2014
House of Bishops, Taipei
Expanding the Apostolic Imagination

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

We thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon these your servants the forgiveness of sin, and have raised them to the new life of grace. Sustain them, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works. Amen.[1]

Pray for that gift of joy and wonder in all God’s works. That is the root of an expanded imagination – for God is always doing new things beyond our understanding or ability to conceive, and all effective ministry depends on radical trust in that newness, like the green blade rising we sing of at Easter.

Hildegard of Bingen reveled in mystical wonder at every part of creation. She overflowed with ecstatic joy in mystical encounter with the divine creative source of all. Her visionary experience brought forth wisdom and formed an apostolic leader. As we gather here to find our own apostolic ministries and imaginations expanded, she is a paramount example of joy and wonder in all God’s works.

Hildegard lived from 1098 to 1179, in what is now Germany. When she was a small child, her parents sent her to be educated in the Benedictine convent, and she stayed and joined the order when she was 15. If she had lived a few centuries later, we would call her a Renaissance woman. Matthew Fox noted that if she had been a man, Hildegard would be one of the most famous figures in history.[2] She was a mystic, poet, theologian, prophet, preacher, scientist, physician, composer, dramatist, abbess, ecclesiastical politician, as well as correspondent and advisor to popes, archbishops, and royalty.

Beginning early in her childhood, Hildegard experienced remarkable mystical visions, but she didn’t begin to tell others about them until she was in middle age. Her mystical experience informed and prompted and indeed compelled her active and apostolic ministry in the world.

In the 12th century in Europe feminine or female authority was an oxymoron. Women had no right or claim to public speech. Hildegard acknowledged this herself, often beginning a letter or sermon by saying, “I am just a poor unlettered woman,” and then went right on to say that God’s power is perfected in weakness, and that God uses the most humble and most foolish of this world for divine purposes. Hildegard claimed divine authority to speak, as a direct result of her visions. She was sent to share what she knew – and she became a pre-Reformation apostle to the apostles, like Mary of Magdala.

Hildegard claimed her authority to speak prophetically about reforming the church, and over the course of some 10 years preached four missions in northern Europe – an unheard-of activity for a woman. In 1168 she took Emperor Frederick Barbarossa to task for continuing the papal schism by appointing yet another antipope. Listen to Hildegard the prophet: “He Who Is says, ‘I destroy contumacy, and by myself I crush the resistance of those who despise me. Woe, woe to the malice of wicked men who defy me! Hear this, king, if you wish to live; otherwise my sword shall smite you.”[3]

Mystical encounter as well as careful examination of the world around her evoked wisdom in abundance. Her most famous work is Scivias, meaning “know the ways” [of God]. She also wrote a nine-volume encyclopedia of medical and scientific import, and a handbook of diseases and their remedies. Her intuitive description of cancer accords very well with the most recent of our scientific research. Her liturgical drama, Ordo Virtutum, is the earliest known liturgical morality play, in which personified virtues sing their parts, but the devil is condemned to live without music, and can only speak. Hildegard’s music is haunting in its beauty and its challenging quality, fitting for worship of the Creator of all that is.

Hildegard uses a remarkable variety of images for God, particularly centered around Wisdom, as God who encircles and enfolds all creation. Hildegard speaks of creation as Wisdom’s clothing, revealing God as a person’s clothes hint at the wearer’s body.

Hildegard speaks scientifically and theologically of divine creativity as viriditas, reflecting both greenness and truth. Viriditas represents the fecundity of the earth as God’s creation, and the fecundity of the soul, which gives life to the body. Viriditas nurtures the virtues, through which human beings give evidence of God’s creative life in the world. Viriditas as life-giving greenness is close kin to the holy wholeness Jesus speaks of as abundant life. In one of Hildegard’s canticles Mary is described as grassland touched by dew, and filled with greenness. In another, Hildegard speaks to God saying, “you summon and unite all. Through you the clouds stream, the upper air flies, the stones have their temper, the waters lead forth their rills, and the earth exudes viriditas.[4]

Hildegard helped to expand the church’s vision – as a theologian, woman, mystic, scientist and healer. She reminds us that we may see God intimately in the myriad and seemingly mundane works of creation – the heavens, clouds, and the signs of abundant greenness that surround us. She and her spiritual siblings remind us that God is never bound up in traditional images or names, and that God is known as mother as much as father. Perhaps most importantly, Hildegard and other mystics open a window into the blazing fire of creativity at the heart of God. Their experience is never the fuel of private contemplation, but rather it is given for love of all God’s body, for all seekers of the sacred, and for right relationship among the parts of creation – that each might show forth the goodness of its own creation. Those visions propel their seers into the world with creative wonder, joy, and divine possibility.

Where do you meet viriditas? Where is joy and wonder in the world around you? What creative ferment engages and transforms you? All are signs of expanding possibility, divine creativity, and new green shoots emerging.

Sirach knows the same reality – each part of creation, sun, moon, stars, and rainbow show forth that wondrous glory of divine action. The psalmist would have us recognize divine humor in the great sea monsters, frolicking in the depths – and I think he must have seen giant squid as well as whales. God’s creative spirit is at work bringing forth life and renewing the face of creation endlessly, eternally – even though human beings frequently reject the risk of newness.

John’s gospel speaks of those who love darkness as those who refuse the encounter with God’s creative, greening Word. Those who do what is true, he says, are those who are willing to live in that fiery light that burns and transforms like a laser – perhaps a green laser that enlightens or heals. The light has come into the world for life. The Celts and others often imaged Christ as the green man – the life-giver – the way, the truth, and the life.

This Episcopal Church is in the throes of creative ferment, yearning to find a new congruence that will discover emerging life in new soil, and refreshed growth in the plantings of former years. Our gathering here will offer opportunities to learn of greenness in different pastures, and God willing, transform us to discover abundance and possibility in more familiar ones.

Hildegard’s vision motivates all healers of creation who understand the green web of connection that ties creation together in Wisdom’s body. Creation is sacrament of God – the outward and visible sign of the green and growing, creative expression of God who is the origin of all life and liveliness. Viriditas begins in wonder, and emerges to motivate constructive, healing connection between air and ocean, carbon and crops, hunger and floods, Ebola and economic inequality. Bishop Michael Baroi of Bangladesh challenged the bishops of this Church to find that connection when we gathered in Puerto Rico in 2003. He told of flooding on his coastal plains, and cried, “save us from these curses!” He might as well have said, “show forth greenness.”

As Colossians puts it, be at peace, let the creative word of God take root within you and bear new branches, discover viriditas and truth, and be not afraid. New life is springing forth – be thankful – and pray for the gift of joy and wonder in God’s good, green, creative possibility.

[1] Book of Common Prayer p 308 (prayer after baptism).

[2] Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen. Bear & Co; 2002

[3] Barbara Newman, Sister of Wisdom, Univ Calif Press: 1998.

[4] Hildegard’s poem “O Ignis Spiritus”

Seamen’s Church Institute interviews Somali pirate hostages

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

[Seamen’s Church Institute press release] Think Somali piracy is a thing of the past? That “past” haunts thousands of seafarers today; but the reports from individual seafarers mostly go unnoticed, as some shipowners leave seafarers high and dry after release—ignored and uncompensated. Their stories tell of trying times in the wake of survival.

The Seamen’s Church Institute’s (SCI) Douglas B. Stevenson, Director of SCI’s Center for Seafarers’ Rights, recently sat down with former hostages from the MV Iceberg 1 in Accra, Ghana to hear about their experiences and how they find life two years after release from pirate captivity. See their video interviews here.

The seafarers from the Iceberg I speak of the incidents with unambiguous detail, as if the incidents happened only yesterday. Even though the number of attacks in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia has decreased since 2011, seafarers and their families continue to deal with the aftermath of hijackings. The men from the Iceberg 1 number among the over 5,000 seafarers pirates have captured and held hostage since 2007.

The men interviewed in these four videos served on board the MV Iceberg 1, a Panama-flagged cargo ship transiting near the Somali Coast in 2010. Somali pirates captured the vessel in March, and held the crew hostage under harsh conditions for nearly three years—the longest Somali pirates have ever held any crew. Seafarers recorded in these interviews speak of torture, starvation and violence.

Since their release, the seafarers have not been paid earned wages nor have they received any other compensation from their ship’s Dubai-based owner, Azul Shipping. The seafarers have survived on charity from their churches, families and the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Program. “These are proud, skilled seafarers,” says interviewer Douglas B. Stevenson. “They don’t want charity; they just want to go back to work.” Unfortunately, most of these seafarers have experienced difficulty in obtaining employment.

The question “What happens to seafarers after pirate attacks?” remains largely unanswered. SCI has attempted to bring this problem to light for many years. Seafarers, who have endured unspeakable torment and suffering, frequently find little help and recourse years after the incidents. How they cope with life post-piracy and what care they receive when repatriated remains largely undocumented.

To illuminate the effects of piracy on seafarers, SCI has collected stories from seafarers following incidents of piracy and published them online at Seafarer Voices: Piracy on the High Seas. The videos reveal seafarers’ strength and resilience and, for some, the challenges they encounter in returning to productive lives. Stevenson adds, “Very effective therapies exist for those seafarers who need some help following a traumatic experience, provided, however, that the appropriate assistance is made available to them.”

Watch video interviews on YouTube at http://smschur.ch/sep14voices.

About SCI

Founded in 1834 and affiliated with the Episcopal Church, though nondenominational in terms of its trustees, staff and service to mariners, the Seamen’s Church Institute of New York & New Jersey (SCI) is the largest, most comprehensive mariners’ agency in North America. Annually, its chaplains visit thousands of vessels in the Port of New York and New Jersey, the Port of Oakland, and along 2,200 miles of America’s inland waterways and into the Gulf of Mexico. SCI’s maritime education facilities provide navigational training to nearly 1,600 mariners each year through simulator-based facilities located in Houston, TX and Paducah, KY. The Institute and its maritime attorneys are recognized as leading advocates for merchant mariners by the United States Government, including the US Congress, the US Coast Guard, and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the United Nations, the International Maritime Organization, the International Labor Organization and maritime trade associations.

Massachusetts diocese ordains Alan M. Gates as bishop

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Rt. Rev. Alan Gates. Photo: Matthew Cavanaugh/Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts ordained and consecrated the Rev. Alan M. Gates as its 16th bishop on Sept. 13 during a service at the Agganis Arena at Boston University.

Bishop Stephen T. Lane of the Diocese of Maine, president of Province I of the Episcopal Church, served as the chief consecrator. He was among some 4,000 participants and 27 bishops who attended the service. A massed choir of 550-plus singers from nearly 75 parish choirs performed, along with a gospel choir, a brass ensemble, a steel drum band and a handbell choir.

Bishop Mark Hollingsworth Jr. of the Diocese of Ohio, and formerly a priest of the Diocese of Massachusetts, preached.

A photo gallery of the service is available here.

Gates, 56, former rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland, Ohio, was elected bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts on April 5.

Gates is a Massachusetts native and graduate of Middlebury College. Prior to seminary he was a Russian language translator, researcher and intelligence analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense, including a tour of duty at the State Department. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1988. He served congregations in the Episcopal dioceses of Massachusetts, Western Massachusetts and Chicago prior to his call to Ohio. He and his spouse, Patricia J. Harvey, have two adult sons.

Gates succeeds the Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE, who has served the Diocese of Massachusetts as its bishop since 1995 and who resigned his office at the time of the consecration on Sept. 13.

The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, established in 1784, is among the Episcopal Church’s oldest and largest in terms of baptized membership, and comprises 180 parishes, missions, chapels and campus chaplaincies in eastern Massachusetts.

RIP: Andrew Parker Bateman “Park” Allis

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, September 16, 2014

[Diocese of Southwest Florida] The Rev. Dr. Andrew Parker Bateman “Park” Allis, 76, died peacefully in his home this weekend.

Allis, born Feb. 27, 1938 in Mansfield, Pennsylvania to Leo Joseph Allis and Evelyn Norton, had degrees and certificates from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, the Naval Chaplain School, the Virginia Theological Seminary, Sheffield University (UK), Duquesne University, Pittsburgh Theological School, the Graduate Theological Foundation and the National Institute for Interim Ministry.

He was ordained deacon in 1963 and priest in 1964 by the Rt. Rev. John T. Heistand.

Allis served on the Board of Governors, School for Ministry, Diocese of Rhode Island; as Coordinator for Lay Ministries, Diocese of Rhode Island; as Rector, St. James. Woonsocket, Rhode Island; Rector, St. Peter’s, Brentwood, Pennsylvania; Rector, St. Mark’s, Johnstown, Pennsylvania; Canon Pastor, Christ Church Cathedral, Houston; and Chaplain, Lancaster County Juvenile Detention Home, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

In Southwest Florida, he served at the State College of Florida Chapel Center from 1995 to 2001, and served on the Diocese of Southwest Florida staff as Canon Pastor from 2000-2005. In his retirement, he served many congregations in Southwest Florida as consultant and supply priest.

His wife, Pauline Middleton Allis, a native of Halifax, West Yorkshire, England, died in June 2012. He is survived by two sons. Services for Fr. Allis are anticipated to take place over the Thanksgiving weekend.

RIP: Charles Osborne Moyer

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Funeral services for The Rev. Charles Osborne Moyer will be held Thursday, September 18, 2014, 11:00 a.m. at the Church of the Mediator in Meridian, MS. The Rt. Rev. Duncan Gray III and The Rev. Dr. Helen Tester will be officiating. Burial will be at Forest Lawn in Meridian. Robert Barham Family Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

Father Moyer, 97, of Meridian, died September 14, 2014, at North Pointe Health and Rehabilitation Center.

Born to Eldred Eugene Moyer and Emma Love Filler Moyer in 1917, the family moved to Houston, TX in 1921, where he was raised. He married Alice Pearl Stephenson in 1940. Father Moyer worked for Houston Power and Light, Ford Motor Company, and was assistant organist and choir master for Christ Church Cathedral in Houston, TX. He was also employed by Warren Oil and Gas Company during World War II.

He was ordained to the priesthood on February 2, 1955. He served in 6 churches: St. James Church, Greenville, MS; Palmer Memorial, Houston, TX; Christ Church, Holly Springs, MS; Church of the Mediator, Meridian, MS; St. Columb’s Church, Jackson, MS, and retired, joining the staff at St. James Church in Jackson, MS.

Survivors include two daughters, Pamela Roberts of Memphis, TN and Cheryl Farmer (Jerry), of Meridian; three grandchildren, Timothy Beale (Misty), of Memphis, TN, Renee Farmer Bailey(Scotty), of Meridian, Trevor Roberts (Kristy), of Memphis, TN; five great-grandchildren, Ashley Beale, Krista Beale, Brody Roberts, Shelton Bailey, and Madeline Roberts; one great-great-grandchild, Carol Jean Shelton; niece, Donna Stephenson Gostecnik and husband, David, of Austin, TX; two nephews, Clyde Stephenson and wife, Pam, of Humble, TX and Joel Stephenson and wife, Jo Ellen, of Dallas, TX.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Alice Moyer, and granddaughter, Phyllis Adienne Farmer.

Pallbearers will be Timothy Beale, Trevor Roberts, Scotty Bailey, Shelton Bailey, Bob Harmon, Michael Baker and Brody Roberts. Honorary pallbearers will be his name sakes Charles Osborne Moyer Peel, Sr. and Charles Osborne Moyer Peel, Jr.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to St. James Church Jackson, The Church of the Mediator, Meridian, or Blair Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson, MS.

Visitation will be from 9:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. prior to the service.

SCLM seeks input on ‘Holy Women, Holy Men’

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, September 16, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) seeks comment on a new approach to commemorations: A Great Cloud of Witnesses.

After reviewing responses to Holy Women, Holy Men, SCLM is proposing that a calendar and liturgical material for optional commemorations be included in a volume entitled A Great Cloud of Witnesses. The full proposal is on the commission’s blog here.

As noted on the website:  “A Great Cloud of Witnesses represents the desire of General Convention for a revision of the calendar of the Church that reflects the lively experience of sainthood, especially on the level of the local community. In this way, “A Great Cloud of Witnesses” is a tool for learning about the history of the Church and identifying those who have inspired us and challenged us from the time of the New Testament down to the present moment.”

“The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music welcomes suggestions and comments as we prepare for General Convention 2015,” explained the Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, chair, Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music. “We hope that this new approach responds to the feedback we’ve received on Holy Women, Holy Men.”

Please send your comments to the SCLM via email or on the SCLM blog.

•         To contact SCLM email sclm@episcopalchurch.org
•         Visit the SCLM blog here
•         Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music

 

Episcopal Relief & Development celebrates 75 years

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, September 16, 2014

[Episcopal Relief & Development press release] Episcopalians, friends and partner agencies around the globe are joining together to celebrate Episcopal Relief & Development’s 75th Anniversary.  The 75-week celebration, which will continue through the end of 2015, invites supporters to learn more about the organization’s programs and get involved in campaigns to raise $7.5 million to sustain its vital work.

In 1940, the National Council of The Episcopal Church established Episcopal Relief & Development – originally the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief – to respond to the needs of European refugees fleeing World War II.  Now, working on behalf of the Church with partners in nearly 40 countries, the organization continues its legacy of bringing together the generosity of Episcopalians and others to help communities overcome challenges and create lasting change.

“At this milestone anniversary, Episcopal Relief & Development is celebrating 75 years of healing a hurting world, together with our partners and supporters around the globe whose contributions of time, talent and treasure have made this work happen,” said Rob Radtke, the organization’s President.  “Each year, more than 3 million people participate in innovative, locally led programsthat boost harvests while protecting the environment, prevent diseases by mobilizing local volunteers and empower people to build livelihoods through financial and skills training.  It is a joy to be part of the community of people whose efforts support this life-giving work.”

Led by a volunteer Steering Committee and an Honorary Committee co-chaired by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and her predecessors, the Rt. Rev. Frank T. Griswold and the Rt. Rev. Edmond L. Browning, the 75th Anniversary Celebration provides many opportunities to engage more deeply with Episcopal Relief & Development’s programs and get involved in promoting and sustaining the organization’s work.  These opportunities are detailed in a special web section at http://www.episcopalrelief.org/75, which also includes a social media hub around the celebration hashtag #AllHands75, and an interactive historical timeline.

One of the cornerstones of the celebration is a traveling photo exhibition, which features 33 iconic images of Episcopal Relief & Development’s work, along with in-depth explanations and personal reflections through an accompanying e-docent app.  Having previewed at Executive Council in June, the exhibition officially launches at New York City’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine and continues its national tour with stops in Denver, San Francisco and Cincinnati.  Other venues are being confirmed.

Similarly, the organization’s 75 Stories Project provides a window into the programs, events and personalities that have shaped the last 75 years and are changing lives today. Individuals and groups are encouraged to offer reflections and stories through the Share Your Story page, and inspire and energize others to join the celebration.

“As the Chair of Episcopal Relief & Development’s Board of Directors, I am honored to have personally witnessed a deepening in both the organization’s impact, through the strategic integration of programs that address poverty, hunger and disease, and its ability to engage and energize supporters across the Church and the wider community,” said the Right Reverend Robert J. O’Neill, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado.  “I invite everyone to join in the celebration of what we have accomplished together over the last 75 years.”

Episcopal Relief & Development has created a variety of resources to help individuals, congregations, dioceses, schools and groups to join the 75th Anniversary Celebration.  Worship and prayer resources build awareness and solidarity with the organization’s partners worldwide, and faith formation materials can spark multi-generational conversation about global needs and what each person can do to help.  Additionally, five campaign toolkits provide easy-to-use informational leaflets, images, videos and creative ideas to rally communities around a specific issue, or support the organization’s overall mission.

  • 75th Anniversary Campaign: Lasting solutions to poverty, hunger and disease
  • Carry the Water Campaign: Clean water, hygiene and sanitation
  • Fast to Feed Campaign: Sustainable agriculture and livestock
  • Thrive to Five Campaign: Maternal and child health
  • Pennies to Prosperity Campaign: Vocational training and micro-finance

The overall goal of the campaigns is to raise $7.5 million by the end of 2015.  Downloadable toolkits are available on the organization’s website to help individuals and groups to invite their communities to make a 75th Anniversary contribution and join the celebration.

“Episcopal Relief & Development is one of the foremost outward expressions of faith for Episcopalians, and one of the best examples of what we can accomplish when we join with our brothers and sisters in the US and internationally to strengthen communities and create a thriving future,” said Dr. Catherine George, Chair of the 75th Anniversary Celebration Steering Committee and former Episcopal Relief & Development Board Member from the Diocese of New Jersey.  “I think this is great cause for celebration, and I am excited be leading the efforts to honor Episcopal Relief & Development’s 75th Anniversary.”

For more information about Episcopal Relief & Development and the 75th Anniversary Celebration, visit http://www.episcopalrelief.org/75 or call 1.855.312.HEAL (4325).

Sydney archbishop calls for increased refugee intake

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, September 16, 2014

[Sydney Anglicans] The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies has written to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, asking for Australia’s humanitarian intake to be lifted to 20,000.

Davies again expressed concern about the wave of persecution in Iraq and Syria, saying Christians and other religious minorities have been “persecuted, threatened, dispossessed and in many cases, killed for their beliefs. Those who have survived are in transit camps with few possessions and little hope. Some are not yet safe as it is reported that there are ‘hidden cells’ of terrorists who may be activated and pose a further threat to Christians who have fled the north.”

The archbishop thanked the government for reserving 4,400 places in the refugee intake program for the victims of the ongoing violence in the Middle East.

“Although l applaud the inclusion of the persecuted within the quota of Australia’s humanitarian intake of 13,700, I respectfully request that you increase this quota even further, as the Howard government did when boat arrivals became negligible. Given that boat arrivals, under your government, have slowed considerably, a level of 20,000 would not be unsustainable and would reflect a country whose values include compassion for the vulnerable and dispossessed,” Davies said.

The archbishop has made several statements since the start of the Iraq crisis, calling on the government to ensure the safety of those fleeing, and urging Sydney Anglicans to urgent prayer and material support through the Archbishop’s Anglican Aid emergency appeal.

“Churches all over Australia have been united in urgent prayer for our brothers and sisters in Christ as well as other persecuted minority groups, against whom these atrocities are being committed,” Davies told the prime minister.

“Anglicans in our diocese, which is the largest in Australia, have responded generously to an appeal for victims of this persecution and my office has received contact from many members of our churches who are very concerned at the plight of these people and asylum seekers generally.”

“As a Christian leader, I appeal to you to show hospitality and generosity to those who have suffered more than we can imagine,” the archbishop said.

West Texas: Camp Capers grows veggies and size

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Camp Capers summer intern Victoria Schnaufer leads campers on tour of vegetable garden. Photo: Mike Patterson

[Diocese of West Texas - Waring, Texas] A visit to the dining hall at Camp Capers could find a table set with linguini con le vongole. Or maybe andouille and chicken creole pasta with peppers, mushrooms, carrots, onion and a blackened Cajun cream. Or even lemony roasted shrimp with butternut squash and edamame sage orzo served with roasted asparagus, grape tomatoes and avocado with Dijon vinaigrette.

That’s for adults. What about the kids?

“Chicken nuggets,” Chef Justin Stokes said with a shrug.

Stokes is in his fourth year as chef at Camp Capers, the Hill Country camp and retreat center owned by the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas. And since his arrival, he has been creating a wide assortment of menus to please varied palates ranging from preparing 200 meals three times a day for the chicken nugget and pizza crowd of youngsters and teenagers at summer camp to adults attending a spiritual retreat who appreciate a gastronomic delight.

“If they haven’t been to Camp Capers before, they arrive thinking they’re going to get camp type food,” Stokes said. “Instead, we serve them a nice meal, a good sauce, properly cooked veggies. They’re blown away.”

“Farm to table. That’s what people want,” he said. With such temptations, even the teenagers begin breaking down to appreciate better food — more salads, more organics and more vegetables, Stokes said.

Raised on a nearby sustainable farm, Stokes attended culinary school in Austin and then worked at several restaurants before joining the staff at Camp Capers as chief chef. It was a perfect opportunity.

“It’s where I grew up,” he said. “It’s a little more in touch with people. I have a lot of liberty with my menus. I can cook a meal and then see them eat it.”

In addition to summer camp activities, Camp Capers also hosts events throughout the year for groups ranging from Sunday evening dinner parties to December Christmas dinners to even staff meetings for area businesses. Some like what they find and visit “multiple times a year,” even returning with still more groups.

The reason? “It’s cheaper and better food than anybody else provides in the area,” Stokes said.

One German heritage organization requested that Stokes prepare nothing but German food – and left him with rave reviews. “They said it was better than anything they got in Germany,” he said. “We gained three additional bookings just from that group.”

“In fact, all of our bookings have increased and the numbers in the groups have increased. It’s a word of mouth type thing. Camp Capers is kind of like a B&B now,” he said.

A notable addition to the food fare is the supply of fresh organic vegetables such as tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, okra, even edible flowers grown on site in a new garden.

Funded by private donations, the garden was planted in early May. “We held a men’s retreat before the summer programs began,” he said. “We got them to do some planting.”

During the summer months, the kids help out in the garden as summer interns use the garden as a backdrop to connect campers with the outdoors and the spiritual. Plus, they learn that produce doesn’t grow in the local supermarket.

“The garden has so many metaphors,” says camp director David Griffin.

Summer intern Victoria Schnaufer, a natural history and forestry major from Sewanee University, has even invented a game that involves using the garden as a metaphor.

“It’s growing through the phases of my life,” Schnaufer said. “We always go back to the soil. God’s always there to fall back on.”

She also encourages campers to talk to the plants in the garden. “One girl talked to a

watermelon and by the end of the day it was ready to harvest,” she said.

The point? “Talk to God to grow,” she said.

The harvest is utilized in salad bars “to save a little money,” Stokes said. What’s not used is offered to parents for a donation when they pick up their children from camp. Plus, they can also find jars of Stokes’ homemade pesto.

The spring garden is just the beginning, Stokes said. He plans to “go big” with a fall garden, and next year, hopes to organize a cooking from the earth program, focusing on nature, wild plants and edibles.

Another new aspect of Camp Capers is the acquisition of an adjacent 108 acres, more than doubling the size of the 80-acre campus.

“This is truly a historic and significant moment in the life of the Diocese of West Texas,” Bishop Gary Lillibridge said in announcing the acquisition. “These additional acres provide us, and those who will come after us, incredible opportunities to expand our ministries and retreat offerings in many ways, both known and unknown.”

Purchased in the fall 2013, the property is currently being used for primitive camping at nine sites scattered across the property. The sole improvements consist of fire pits built during a men’s retreat.

During campouts, a chaplain leads an outdoor chapel program, though eventually the hope is to build a worship space with log benches, stone altar and perhaps a pavilion. The property is also being offered to other groups such as Boy Scouts seeking a place to hone their outdoor skills.

Bordered by the cypress lined Guadalupe River, the property enables campers to put in a kayak, canoe or tube and float down to the original Camp Capers outpost.

“We’re somewhat bursting at the seams,” Griffin said. “We saw a lot of potential having that retreat area. It was very appealing to us.”

Both Bishop Lillibridge and Suffragan Bishop David Reed credit Camp Campers as helping in their formation as youngsters, and some on the current staff are considering entering the ministry themselves.

“Camp Capers is a very holy place,” Griffin said. “Since the Diocese doesn’t have a cathedral, Camp Capers is kind of the cathedral for the diocese.”

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

A community gathers to mourn and be comforted

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, September 16, 2014

[Diocese of Central Pennsylvania]  We gathered here today to celebrate the life of a child we never knew, a child whose face we cannot even see. Jarrod Tutko, Jr. came into our lives too late for him, but not too late for us, not too late for his life to have an impact, I hope, on our lives and the lives of countless children and parents,” said the Rev. Canon Kate Harrigan, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

About 100 people from the neighborhood of Green Street in Harrisburg, as well as church members gathered on Sept. 13 for a memorial service for 9-year-old Jarrod Tutko, Jr. who died in July in his home from neglect, starvation and dehydration.

Jarrod, who suffered from Fragile X Syndrome, a rare form of autism, was kept in his third floor bedroom by his parents for about four years before his death. His mother and other siblings had little contact with him, because of his severe behavioral problems and because his mother was caring for another child with complex health problems. When Jarrod’s father, who was responsible for his care, brought him downstairs to his mother on Aug.1  he admitted that Jarrod had been dead for four days and that he had not been up to see Jarrod for the two days before he found him dead. His mother called 911, and when police arrived they found the house, and especially Jarrod’s room, in deplorable condition. The father, Jarrod Tutko, Sr. was arrested and the other children were placed in foster care, according to news reports.

Last week, the Dauphin County Coroner announced that they had cremated Jarrod’s body, because no one from the family had come to claim him. He had not been able to contact Jarrod’s mother and so their policy required that he be cremated and buried in the local county “Potter’s Field.” That announcement rallied several groups in the community to do something for Jarrod in death that they couldn’t do in life. One group donated a burial site. Another the cost of a private funeral, which will take place at a later date. A fundraiser was launched to purchase a headstone. And Harrigan, as the rector of the Episcopal church in Jarrod’s neighborhood, stepped forward to offer the memorial service as an opportunity for the community to grieve and heal.

Most of those attending the service did not know Jarrod, as he never went outside of the home he lived in with his parents and two siblings, only a few blocks from St. Paul’s Church. “I realized that in a house, only a couple of blocks from here, only a couple of blocks from where we gather to worship week after week, a child was dying, a child had died,” said Harrigan in her homily. “Like all of us I was horrified. I was horrified in so many ways. His was a house I had driven by more times than I wanted to think about. And I knew nothing. I have looked around this neighborhood since then and wondered about the families who live in each house, praying for their safety, praying for each person in this neighborhood.”

Harrigan challenged those in attendance to get to know their neighbors. To be willing to knock on their neighbor’s door and introduce themselves. “Jarrod may have been forgotten in life but I encourage us not to let him be forgotten in death. I would like to challenge us to let his name be a reminder that all of our lives are interwoven. I would like to challenge us to let his name be a reminder that there are children and parents who need help and hope. “

The altar was set with white balloons, a white rose and a burning candle. The balloons will deflate, the rose will drop its petals and the candle will be extinguished, but the community will honor the memory of young Jarrod as they heal from their grief and move forward to touch the lives of so many children who need love and care.

– Linda Arguedas canon for communications in the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania. 

Panelists named for church’s Civil Discourse in America forum

ENS Headlines - Monday, September 15, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Political, interfaith and education leaders will offer provocative insights and views during the discussion on Civil Discourse in America: Finding Common Ground for the Greater Good on Oct. 22.

Produced by The Episcopal Church, the 90-minute live webcast will originate from historic Christ Church, Philadelphia (Diocese of Pennsylvania), the birthplace of the Episcopal Church and the home of our country’s beginnings. In partnership with the Diocese of Pennsylvania, Civil Discourse in America will begin at 2 pm Eastern (1 p.m. Central, noon Mountain, 11 a.m. Pacific, 10 a.m. Alaska, 9 a.m. Hawaii).

Forum Participants
The forum will be moderated by well-known journalist and commentator Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Executive Religion Editor for the Huffington Post.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will present the keynote address.

Two panel discussions will focus on main themes: Civil discourse and faith; and Civil discourse in politics and policy. Panelists include:

•      David Boardman, Dean of the School of Media and Communication at Temple University in Philadelphia. He serves as president of the American Society of News Editors and chairs the National Advisory Board of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in Florida. He is an accomplished investigative journalist, past Executive Editor of the Seattle Times, and a four-time Pulitzer Prize jurist.

•     Dr. John J. DeGioia, President of Georgetown University, Washington DC. Dr. DeGioia is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Forum for the Future of Higher Education and among other board endeavors, serves on the Boards of the Carnegie Corporation, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities and the Executive Committee of the Council on Competitiveness. He has received national recognition as an advocate for civil discourse and a commitment to the common good.

•     Rabbi Steve Gutow, President and CEO of the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, Washington DC. A trustee of Faith in Public Life, which helps shape public debates and advance faith as a positive and unifying force for justice, compassion and the common good, he has been recognized as one of the country’s most influential Jewish leaders.

•     Hugh Forrest, Director of the South by Southwest Interactive Festival, which each year brings together more than 30,000 creative professionals from around the world to foster a global community of ideas and creativity. TIME Magazine refers to him as an “interactive agent,” ushering new, groundbreaking technology into the popular culture that changes the way we share, learn and think.

•     Dr. Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, Executive Director of the National Institute on Civil Discourse and a leader in the field of deliberative democracy. She founded AmericaSpeaks, which promotes nonpartisan initiatives to engage citizens and leaders through innovative public policy tools and strategies. Dr. Lukensmeyer also has served as a consultant to the White House Chief of Staff and as a chief of staff for Ohio’s governor, the first woman in this capacity.

•      Dr. Elizabeth McCloskey, President and CEO of The Faith & Politics Institute, a national organization devoted to advancing reflective leadership among members of Congress and congressional staff to bridge the divides that arise in a thriving democracy.  She has taught and published numerous articles and book chapters on faith, ethics and politics, and is a former columnist for Commonweal magazine.

•     Bishop Prince Singh of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, NY.  Bishop Singh is a frequent contributor to regional and national publications on topics related to accepting and embracing people with views and beliefs other than his own.

(Additional panelists will be announced later).

The Forum
• There is no fee to view the live webcast. The webcast will be viewable here as well as YouTube.

• Registration is not required for the live webcast.

• Questions can be emailed prior and during the live webcast; send questions topublicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org.

• The forum will be available on-demand following the live webcast.

• The forum is ideal for live group watching and discussion, or on-demand viewing later.  It will be appropriate for Sunday School, discussions groups, and community gatherings.

• Resources such as bibliography, on-demand video, materials for community and individual review, discussion questions, and lesson plans will be available.

Forum information is available here

For more information contact Neva Rae Fox, Public Affairs Officer,publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org.