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WCC condemns attack on worshippers at Jerusalem synagogue

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, November 18, 2014

[World Council of Churches press release] The World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary, the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, has expressed concern and sadness over the attack on a synagogue in west Jerusalem on Tuesday 18 November. The incident has resulted in the killing of four Jewish worshipers, and the injury of others.

“There is a particular horror in any such attack which takes place at a place of worship. I condemn this violence unequivocally, as I do all violence between the peoples and communities of this region which has seen so much bloodshed in the name of religion. Violence, collective punishments and communal attacks can only further damage the prospects of peace and justice for all,” said Tveit in his statement issued from the WCC headquarters in Geneva on Nov. 18.

“I am therefore also deeply concerned about the heightened tensions, some of an explicitly religious nature, which are being experienced in Jerusalem during the current time – and the risk that such tensions may spill over into further acts of violence or incitement,” Tveit added.

He said that it is important that all responsible authorities – including civil, religious and law enforcement – take proactive steps to prevent any reprisals by extremist groups.

“The tensions and tragedies of this city, holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims, are a reminder both of the need for all parties to continue to work intensively for a just peace in Israel and Palestine, and of the vital place that Jerusalem itself plays in that  longed for peace,” Tveit said.

“There has been too much prevarication, postponement and obstruction: all parties and powers need to work proactively to find a solution which will meet the demands of justice and the hopes of all people of good faith,” he stressed.

“The frustration over the failing peace processes, as well as the increasing settlements and continued occupation, will require new initiatives that can overcome the obstacles to peace and build trust in a common future,” Tveit concluded.

Read full text of the WCC general secretary’s statement

WCC programme “Churches in the Middle East”

Archbishop of Cape Town to deliver online Advent reflections

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, November 18, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba is to “broadcast” a series of Advent reflections over the internet in the pilot program of a planned audio ministry for the Anglican Church in Southern Africa.

The reflections will be available online on his blog, and through church websites, from one or two days before each Sunday in Advent. An introduction to the reflections can already be heard here.

“Communication is part and parcel of the glue which binds the Church together,” he said in a statement on the pilot.

“We have bishops, theologians and others in the Church who have gifts in audio ministry which until now have not been used properly because of the limited opportunities on radio.

“But now the internet makes it feasible to make material available ‘on-demand’ easily and cheaply using technology which is accessible to all.

“I hope that as we develop our communication strategies in the Province and the dioceses, we can integrate audio ministry into an integrated range of initiatives, from the Provincial website and the new online ‘Southern Anglican’ to the E-Reader project based at Bishopscourt.”

Anglicans are urged to share the reflections widely on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social media and to send the Archbishop comments on his blog.

Listen the Advent reflections online on Soundcloud, or download them to listen to later by clicking on the Download button here.

Or listen to them on the Archbishop’s blog here.

Bishop Charles vonRosenberg adresses South Carolina convention

ENS Headlines - Monday, November 17, 2014

[Episcopal News Service – Charleston, South Carolina] Episcopal Church in South Carolina Bishop Provisional Charles vonRosenberg addressed the church’s 224th annual convention Nov. 15. The convention was held at Church of the Holy Communion in Charleston. After thanking those who organized the convention and those who have helped in the reorganizing of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, vonRosenberg began an address anchored in the metaphor of the Exodus and outlined “two essential marks of our community life on the journey – identity and accountability.”

Video and text of vonRosenberg’s address follows.

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Bishop’s Address
The 224th Annual Convention
of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina
November 15, 2014 at Church of the Holy Communion, Charleston

Once again, I want to begin my Address with words of thanks – thanks which are as well-deserved as they are inadequate. For our diocesan staff, I and you should be especially grateful – to my Executive Assistant, Lauren Kinard; to the Archdeacon, Callie Walpole; to the Communications Director, Holly Behre; and to the Administrative Assistant, Andrea McKellar. I am the envy of my colleagues in the House of Bishops with this fine staff, even though each staff member is officially “part time.” Our diocesan officers likewise do noteworthy and admirable work, and we are certainly grateful to them – Tom Tisdale, Chancellor; and Jim Taylor, Treasurer. Along with these folks, of course, many others – many of you who are present, in fact – have labored hard and well in the vineyard which is The Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Please accept my thanks and the thanks of this convention gathered.

Also on behalf of us all, I want to thank the staff and parishioners of the Church of the Holy Communion. For your care in making preparations and for your graciousness in extending hospitality to us all, we are grateful indeed.

Another significant object of our thanks are the people of our newly recognized mission congregations – Church of the Messiah, Myrtle Beach; the East Cooper Episcopal Church; and The Episcopal Church in Okatie. We are grateful for your efforts, and we join you in this time of celebration.

Thanks, also, to our guests at this convention, for joining us here – Bishop James Tengatenga, Canon Tom Brackett, Canon Mark Stevenson, and Paul Nix. You honor us by your presence.

In addition, a personal word of thanks to my wife Annie surely is appropriate. I know that you join me in this indication of gratitude because on the occasional times that Annie does not accompany me to some event, my presence alone is often met with disappointment. So, thanks to you, Annie, on behalf of me and of everyone here.

A Look Back at the Journey Thus Far

As we turn our attention to the past year or – more accurately – to the past nine months since the last convention, we may appropriately observe that it has been a busy time! We have found ourselves in the headlines more often than I would have wished and, sometimes, for reasons that are not very appealing. For instance, we have spent more time in court and on legal matters in general than is probably in the best interests of the church.

As we travel this journey, a particular biblical image may be especially enlightening. The Exodus event seems to relate to our experiences in various ways. For instance, I have heard from many of you about the sense and reality of oppression in this part of the church, in previous times. Then, a kind of separation and exodus took place. And now, people of God, we find ourselves traveling through the wilderness. Our Red Sea may be Lake Marion; our wild beasts may be forty-four lawyers and a judge; and our Mt. Sinai may only be Mt. Pleasant. But, we do know something about being pilgrims in the wilderness!

In this time of wilderness wandering, we realize that we cannot make it on our own. We must rely on each other and on God’s grace – known through many people – to help us through these times and this place. And – very importantly – we have hope for a better time and place … a promised land. We are being led toward that destination, even though we may sometimes seem to wander along the way.

Two Marks of the Journey – Identity and Accountability

In the wilderness of this time, I want to hold up two essential marks of our community life on the journey – identity and accountability. Identity and accountability are landmarks for us to keep in our sight as we travel through the wilderness. Indeed, we must remember who we are, and we must remember to whom we are accountable – or else, we will lose our way.

We are The Episcopal Church in this part of the Kingdom of God. As such, we possess a wonderful heritage of faithfulness in prayer, commitment to community, and dedication to service. We are marked by the cross in baptism, as the sign of our identity. This baptismal seal, indicating Christ’s presence, is confirmed at various points on our journey. Thus, we affirm our commitment to the way. And, we are sustained by Christ himself in Eucharist as well, providing strength for the journey. Indeed, we are The Episcopal Church here – as we have been in the past and as we will continue to be.

Also, in terms of our identity, we are the Anglican Communion in this part of God’s Kingdom, regardless of what you may have heard or read elsewhere. The Episcopal Church is the only recognized member of the Anglican Communion in this country – and that membership provides us with a sign of our catholicity as a church. That is, the Anglican Communion provides the sign that we are members of Christ’s one, holy, catholic church. Please recognize that the body in convention here represents the Anglican Communion in this part of South Carolina.

It is important for us to remember such indications of our identity – who we are – especially in this wilderness time of our journey.

We also must remember to whom we are accountable, as we travel along this way.

We are accountable, first of all, to God who created us and who sustains us, as Christian pilgrims. That accountability is lived out, in practical ways, through The Episcopal Church – that part of the Body of Christ of which we are members. Without such practical accountability, we simply would be fooling ourselves about any claim of authenticity and authority. Like the people of God in the wilderness, we need to be held accountable to our pledge of faithfulness. Without accountability, our pledge would lack substance and meaning. Therefore, we cannot make up our own rules because we are accountable to a greater body. Such membership curbs our tendencies toward self-righteousness and self-deceit – and, in biblical terms, toward sin. We need each other within the Body of Christ – and as parts of the Body of Christ – to hold us accountable.

Therefore, on this journey, I call your attention to those fundamental marks of our life in community – identity and accountability. May we give thanks to God – regularly and often – for who we are in the Body of Christ. And may we not forget as well the importance of accountability – as parts of that Body – in the life and journey of faith.

Reorganizing and Repacking for the Journey

Related to those topics of identity and accountability is the matter of the on-going task of reorganizing our diocese. To continue with the idea and image of journey, we are repacking … and we have fewer bags to carry now. As we look at this matter, perhaps remembering some recent history at this point will be instructive.

After the former bishop and Standing Committee left The Episcopal Church, there was no diocesan organization left for the church here. Church canons are clear about authority in terms of bishop and Standing Committee. However, our canons do not anticipate that neither of those authorities will be present. Thus, what developed – thanks primarily to Tom Tisdale – was something called a “Steering Committee.” As the only loosely organized group, in pre-organizational days, this body had a wide variety of responsibilities. In fact, it did everything that got done, as The Episcopal Church here, beyond local church communities. And, this group steered us to the point that a bishop and a Standing Committee were elected for The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

As you might imagine, members of the former Steering Committee provided significant leadership in various groups of the reorganizing diocese – groups like the Standing Committee and the Diocesan Council. Soon afterwards, though, it became my responsibility to remind each group that we do not have a Steering Committee, which did everything, any longer. Rather, we now have a Standing Committee and a Diocesan Council – each with distinct and separate responsibilities. Thus, you see, matters of identity and accountability continue to be significant ways to mark who we are and what we are called to do, as we reorganize ourselves as a diocese. In theological terms, these are important steps, as we grow into that part of the Body of Christ we are called to be.

More recently, our Finance Committee has taken on matters relating to identity and accountability, also, as we continue this journey of reorganizing. In the process, particular and specific responsibilities have come to light, in addition to handling diocesan assets – for instance, facilitating church audits, developing diocesan stewardship practices, and evaluating personnel and compensation. Some of these responsibilities appropriately fall within the prevue of the Finance Committee, while others do not. Therefore, this committee has added some matters to its job description, and we have identified other groups to accomplish other responsibilities. Again, then, as we continue the journey of reorganization, we need to ask questions related to identify and accountability … and, then, to put into practice the answers which come to light.

Traveling Our Way as the Body of Christ

Soon after the first of next year, we plan to initiate a capital funds drive, to help us take next steps on our diocesan journey of faith. Specifically, we must address two financial needs beyond what the annual budget can meet. Those needs are funding for a full-time bishop and additional support for our mission congregations. You will hear more about this capital funds drive soon. When you do, please be aware of the importance of addressing these needs on our journey ahead … and please respond generously.

I want to highlight a specific biblical image here that I have mentioned already in this Address. St. Paul often wrote to Christians elsewhere, and he used the analogy of the church as the Body of Christ. For instance, to the church in Rome, he wrote, “As in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members of one another” (12:4-5). In our efforts toward reorganizing, one goal should be to define particular responsibilities for each part of the body, for the good of the whole. Identity and accountability provide important measures for this task. The whole Body of Christ offers the framework. And, it is that whole Body of Christ that we pray benefits from the particular efforts and offerings we are able to make.

Questions for the Way

I want to sum up this combination report and reflection by asking several questions, which I hope you will find compelling. These questions intend to direct our attention to who we are and to what and why we are called to be – identity and accountability as the church. Further, I hope that dealing with such questions will help us understand the part we are called to play in the whole Body of Christ. Then, after asking the questions, I want to share a story with you … a story which has helped me address these very questions.

First, then, how are we – as churches and as a diocese – living into our identity as the Body of Christ in the world today? That really is the foundational question. How are we – as churches and as a diocese – living into our identity as the Body of Christ in the world today? The next two questions deal also with the matter of accountability, given our identity. Secondly, then, how can we grow more fully into the part we are called to play in Christ’s Body? And finally, how can we hold this image of the Body of Christ before us, more convincingly, so that we and the world may recognize our very reason for being? It seems to me that these questions serve to provide us with a clear and definite framework for our self awareness, as churches and as a diocese. Further, these questions direct us outwardly, in mission, toward the world for which our Lord gave his life.

As we consider such questions, we come squarely to the theme of our convention – “The World to Christ We Bring.” Indeed, that phrase is one way to state our responsibility as the Body of Christ. “The World to Christ We Bring.”

A Story About the Body of Christ on the Pilgrimage of Faith

Now, let me offer you a story about an experience I had some years ago – a story that helps me consider questions like the ones I just posed to you. This is a story that some of you have heard before. With apologies to you, though, I offer it here.

While I served as rector of Church of the Resurrection in Greenwood, South Carolina, we opened a soup kitchen in the church basement, in response to a community need that the police department there had identified. Some months later, I was walking downtown one day. And, a homeless man accosted me. We talked for a few moments, and then he asked me what church I served. I pointed across the town square and said, “That one, over there.” His response was something I have not forgotten. “Oh, that’s the place that feeds people”, he said.

Now, I was just about to point out that we did a lot more than that. We have worship services; we provide Christian education; we offer fellowship opportunities. But then, I closed my mouth and nodded. Indeed, I realized the church often is known in ways less appropriate to our mission. “That’s the place that feeds people.” That will do, just fine.

So, again, the questions I have for you today are these. How are we – as churches and as a diocese – living into our identity as the Body of Christ in the world today? How can we grow more fully into the part we are called to play in Christ’s Body? And, how can we hold this image of the Body of Christ before us, more convincingly, so that we and the world may recognize our very reason for being?

Conclusion, As We Consider the Rest of Our Journey

My friends, without a clear answer to these questions, then we lack integrity as we identify ourselves as the church which claims Jesus as Lord and Savior. May we, therefore, claim our identity and respond to our accountability – as The Episcopal Church in South Carolina – even as we travel through the present wilderness. Further, may we grow into full membership in the Body of Christ, living out the calling we are receiving from Jesus himself – even now.

Thank you for who you are and for your efforts to respond to who you are called to be, in this time and in this place!

The Right Reverend Charles G. vonRosenberg

Bishop James Tengatenga preaches at South Carolina convention

ENS Headlines - Monday, November 17, 2014

[Episcopal News Service -- Charleston, South Carolina] Former Southern Malawi Bishop James Tengatenga, who chairs the Anglican Consultative Council, was the preacher Nov. 14 during the opening Eucharist of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina’s 224th annual convention. The Eucharist and convention were held at Church of the Holy Communion in Charleston. Tengatenga was appointed in May as distinguished visiting professor of global Anglicanism at the University of the South’s School of Theology.

Video and text of Tengatenga’s sermon follows.

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Sermon at South Carolina Convention
Isaiah 49:513
Ephesians 3:112
Matthew 28:1620

Talk about mission has become the in thing these days. Some think that it is a new fad and will go away. Others think it is a diversionary tactic to avoid the real issues. Is it?

I thought this was in our DNA as Christians and for Episcopalians it’s actually in your very being. As a registered entity your national church is “the Domestic and Foreign Mission Society”! God is a God in and of mission and the church is an agent in that mission.

As Wayne Schwab in his study, When the Members are the Missionaries, puts it, “the mission has a church”! and we are that church.

What happens when things do not work or do not work out? More often than not, we go to plan B. God’s people, Israel, have become desperate if not completely despondent about their future. Exile has taken forever. God does not seem to be on their side. At the same time God is frustrated with them. They are his chosen people and they have a responsibility to be his servant to all the world. On that score they have failed miserably hence their exile. As is God’s nature he does not give up on them. In his plan he raises up a servant (an individual) not only to revive his people Israel for the purpose for which he created them but also for the whole world, “the ends of the earth”.

As a Communion we find ourselves in a similar place today. What happens when the collective has lost its way? God has a plan B! “Whom shall I send, Who will go for us?” remains God’s question. You may recall this from Isaiah 6. The prophet on that occasion says: “Here I am. Send me”.

In Jeremiah we find something similar to our passage today when God says he chose him before he was born. Ezekiel is also given a task in a similar way. V3 of our Isaiah lesson says, “You are my servant you are Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” These words have a familiar ring to them, don’t they? They are almost verbatim the words by God at Jesus baptism and also at the Transfiguration!

Today’s Gospel just falls short of saying the same words, as Jesus gives the charge to the disciples to Go! They are a chosen bunch just like this servant in Isaiah is a chosen one. A special one.

There is some kind of destiny enunciated here. The servant was destined for it. Kind of an Esther moment. Remember Esther who is reminded by her uncle that “it is for times like this that she was “chosen”? Israel has lost its way. Israel is in the diaspora. Israel has lost the plot. God desires their restoration. In their restoration is the restoration of the world.

The servant takes this destiny as an honor for in verse 5 and 6 he says:

“And now the LORD says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the LORD, and my God has become my strength — he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49)

It does not get any clearer than that, does it? The servant is destined for this task. In fact there is a hint of blackmail. I usually call this Godmail. You are nabbed and pinned in a corner and do not have much of a choice. As Saint Paul would put it, one is “constrained by the the love of Christ”. In our Epistle, St Paul illustrates this constraint by saying that it is the very reason why he is in prison! Of course in this case it is the consequences of that obedience.

We all know how he was zapped into this ministry, don’t we? God was actually very direct with him: “Why are you kicking against the pricks?” God asked him. Once marked you have no choice. You can kick against the pricks all you want! You either do or die. “Ouch!” you may say.

Just to bring it close to home, do you remember what was said to you at baptism? In the midst of all those other words one pronouncement on you should stand out. It is “You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever.” You are marked. You become a person of interest to God. Yes, just like the television series! Nowhere to hide.

As we noticed earlier, the scope of the mission is not just Israel but the ends of the earth. Very similar words to the ones Jesus uses as he gives the disciples a charge to Go, in the Gospel we read.

In mission studies there is a concept known as Manifest Destiny. It states that the reason behind the mission activity of the church in Europe and the USA in the 19th century was that these countries felt that due to their development progress and the resources they had, they were destined to “save” the world. That they were so endowed was not by accident but that God intended it that way for mission’s sake. Of course this is fraught with all sorts of complexes, hegemonic and homogenizing tendencies. In fact the impression that all mission work during that time was linked to colonial expansion comes from one interpretation of this concept.

No doubt God endows people with gifts and other goods for a purpose. It would be wrong to be hung up on the complex that arises from this concept and ignore the fact that there is truth in that some (if not all) of us are destined for mission. Doesn’t the Bible say that all gifts are for the edification of the body of Christ? Notwithstanding the fraughtness of this concept I would like to suggest that, as the Isaiah reading says, the servant of the Lord is so destined and that that servant is you!

It is therefore not a matter of choice (whatever the reasons for the choice) for the Episcopal Church, the Diocese of South Carolina or any other part of the body of Christ to talk about and engage in Mission. In fact, what I am suggesting is that everyone (each one individually) of us here is destined for mission. What form that takes is another story but the matter is that you are destined for Mission. God in his design has called you and marked you and thus sealed you for this purpose. You have no choice in the matter!

The fascinating thing about the servant of the Lord, if we go back to the first of the Servant Songs in Isaiah 42 is that his disposition is that of a learner. As Isaiah puts it. He is one that is woken up every morning to hear from and thus learn from God. So if you ask me what your particular mission is, I refer you to this servant stance. Attentive listening to God’s bidding. If one does not do that one is in danger of actually doing the right thing wrongly! And God does not take kindly to that.

Jeremiah 28 gives an apt narrative warning about those who would go without having been sent by God. Those who would dare speak in God’s name without his sanction. God says he has no pleasure in them.

I find this fascinating in the light of having just said that all are destined to go. The thing to note in the Jeremiah account of these prophets is that they were true prophets, recognized as such by all. So we are not talking about imposters here. What happens in the story is that they become a little presumptuous about their prophetic calling and authority. They cease to listen to God. In fact they are too excited about God’s impending salvific act that they presume to give it their own timetable. For all intents and purposes they are doing what they are supposed to be doing except that this time they got the timing wrong as they did not listen to God. Jeremiah is the one that has taken the time and gives a different timing. For this they ridicule him. But he was right! Being a prophet does not give one license to presume to know God’s plans without learning from God.

The same goes for mission. We can all get excited about this calling and our place in God’s mission. We can all be excited that finally the Episcopal Church and indeed our diocese, has woken up to its destiny but unless God makes the pronouncement “This is my child in whom I am well pleased Listen to him! or this is my servant…!” our excitement can be in vain. This calls for what in Spirituality is called the practice of the presence of God. How in tune with God and God’s designs are we?

To be the servant as portrayed in Isaiah and to be the servant after Jesus Christ example is to be in constant touch or rather in complete reliance on and in unity with God as one participates and engages in mission. In fact Jesus, as Evangelist John reminds us, says that without him we can do nothing. Remember the vine analogy and the unity of the Father and the Son and that of the

Son with the disciples which in turn is the unity of the disciples to the father! This is more than synergy! Its participation in God as God does his business!

This is also what the final line in the great Commission implies when Jesus Christ says “Behold, I am with you to the end of the age”. Very suggestive of a continued presence and thus reliance of the disciples on that presence in the accomplishment of the charge given to them. Presumption would suggest taking God for granted, taking the task too lightly. This is what the servant is warned against. Listen to v6 of Is. 49, “Is it too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

As you can tell from this, it is easy to get carried away having heard the call and forget to be attentive to the Lord’s bidding in it. It is easy to make it your mission. Yes, to make it all about you! Too action oriented or shall I say too agenda oriented that one has not taken time to hear what agenda God has for his people.

Manifest Destiny on our part is not license to do what we want, the way we want but to do what God wants; the way God wants. Is this why it is that sometimes when we get into it and do the right thing we get a reaction that puzzles us? Isn’t this too familiar for American ears? Some of you may wonder what I am suggesting here. Let me indulge your curiosity a little.

Have you not heard some quarters of the Anglican Communion on the other side of the Atlantic (and this side too) suggesting that the Episcopal Church is talking mission as a diversionary tactic from dealing with “Gospel issues”? In the secular world where America (as the USA sees itself) lives this Manifest Destiny for all to see, have Americans not been baffled by the hate and distrust the world feels in spite of all the good intentions of the US foreign policy and all the good deeds performed on behalf of the poor through state organs, the church and other humanitarian organizations? It may be because of the world’s blindness and deafness to the thunderous affirmation by God of these activities. But may I suggest that it may be that you are doing the right thing or think you are doing the right thing in the same way that the prophets in

Jeremiah 28 referred to above did. Is it not time to take seriously the servant attitude that Isaiah expounded in Isaiah 42? The Psalmist puts the challenge differently. He says “unless the Lord builds the house the builders build in vain and unless the Lord watches over the house the watchman watch in vain.” This in no way questions your Manifest Destiny as the ones sealed as God’s own but it is a call to be the servant whose attitude is to be in tune with God as opposed to doing good for its own sake or as a fad or even as a self identified and self imposed duty.

The other commissioning we read about in the Bible is in Acts 1. The disciples already knew that they had work to do for Christ. They may have had some fear and trepidation (as we all know) but they were obedient to the one who told them that it will be only when the Holy Spirit, the promised one has come upon them that they will be witnesses everywhere.

So what I am asking is this: “As you have heard the bidding of God to join him in his mission, have you sought out what it is he is actually sending you out to do and say?” The fact that we have been called does not mean we know the contents of the operation we are called to. Unless we sit in God’s presence and seek his face we may do the right thing the wrong way. If indeed we know that (as the prophet said) “it is not a light thing” that God has called us to, we have no choice but to seek his presence with us. I am talking about the kind of attitude Moses had when he had led the Israelites out of Egypt (Ex 33). Do you the remember the part of the Exodus when Moses seeks God’s assurance and says something to the effect that, “If you will not go with us we are not leaving here”? Let me read it to you: “Moses said to the LORD, “See, you have said to me, ‘Bring up this people’; but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he said to him, “If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.” The LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.”

This regrouping is paramount if we are to engage in mission. It is imperative if we are not to get it all wrong even as we have been called. What I am saying is that I believe you have heard God right and it’s time to check in with him in order for you to get the details of his plan. Need I say more?

Now is the time.

Now is the moment to affirm this.

You heard right!

The challenge now is to live into this calling in God’s mission knowing like Paul that “this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” (Eph 3).

That is your destiny for which Christ has gotten hold of you.

Let those who have ears hear God’s word!

Archbishop on the Communion’s challenges and the way forward

ENS Headlines - Monday, November 17, 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby addresses the Church of England’s General Synod, meeting in London. Photo: Church of England

[Lambeth Palace] In his presidential address to the General Synod on Nov. 17, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby spoke about the issues faced by the Anglican Communion and possible ways forward.

Read the full text of the address below:

During the last eighteen months or so I have had the opportunity to visit thirty-six other Primates of the Anglican Communion at various points. This has involved a total of 14 trips lasting 96 days in all. I incidentally calculated that it involves more than eleven days actually sitting in aeroplanes. This seemed to be a good moment therefore to speak a little about the state of the Communion and to look honestly at some of the issues that are faced and the possible ways forward.

A Flourishing Communion

First of all, and this needs to be heard very clearly, the Anglican Communion exists and is flourishing in roughly 165 countries. There has been comment over the last year that issues around the Communion should not trouble us in the Church of England because the Communion has for all practical purposes ceased to exist. Not only does it exist, but almost everywhere (there are some exceptions) the links to the See of Canterbury, notwithstanding its Archbishop, are profoundly valued.  The question as to its existence is therefore about what it will look like in the future.   That may be very different, and I will come back to the question.

Secondly, Anglicanism is incredibly diverse. To sit, in the space of a few months, in meetings with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Primate of Australia, the Primate of South Africa, the Moderator of the Church of South India, the Primate of Nigeria and many others is to come away utterly daunted by the differences that exist.  They are huge, beyond capacity to deal with adequately in the time for this presentation.  Within the Communion there are perhaps more than 2,000 languages and perhaps more than 500 distinct cultures and ways of looking at the world.  Some of its churches sit in the middle of what are literally the richest parts of the globe, and have within them some of the richest people on earth.  The vast majority are poor. Despite appearances here, we are a poor church for the poor. Many are in countries where change is at a rate that we cannot even begin to imagine.  I think of the man I met in Papua New Guinea who is a civil engineer and whose grandfather was the first of his tribe to see a wheel as a small aircraft landed in a clearing in the forest.

At the same time there is a profound unity in many ways. Not in all ways, but having said what I have about diversity, which includes diversity on all sorts of matters including sexuality, marriage and its nature, the use of money, the relations between men and women, the environment, war and peace, distribution of wealth and food, and a million other things, underpinning us is a unity imposed by the Spirit of God on those who name Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. This diversity is both gift and challenge, to be accepted and embraced, as we seek to witness in truth and love to the good news of Jesus Christ.

Thirdly, the potential of the Communion under God is beyond anything we can imagine or think about. We need to hold on to that, there is a prize, the quest for which it is worth almost anything to achieve. The prize is visible unity in Christ despite functional diversity.  It is a prize that is not only of infinite value, but also requires enormous sacrifice and struggle to achieve.  Yet if we even get near it we can speak with authority to a world where over the last year we have seen more than ever an incapacity to deal with difference, and a desire to oversimplify the complex and diverse nature of human existence for no better reason than we cannot manage difference and dealing with The Other. Yet in Christ we are held together.  In Christ the barriers are broken, peace is held out to us as a gift established, which needs living. In Christ there is hope of a life that provides hope of peace.

Fourthly, the Communion is extremely active. Let me give you a few examples. In Mexico, a small community abandoned by all, of people who had lost their homes and were living in the bad lands, where a priest (otherwise unoccupied apart from a full-time career in a professional area and running another church, as well as being unpaid) was sent by his bishop, to start a church, something he thought might well cost him his life. But there he went, to the poorest of the poor, and a community has been established with numerous baptisms, growing spirituality and a love and concern and compassion for one another that speaks of the living presence of Jesus among them.

Another example, a conference in Oklahoma City, in which from people around The Episcopal Church, with patience and courtesy to one another, there was discussion over the issues around the use of firearms and the meaning of the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, in practice in the modern-day USA.

The South Sudan, and after a day spent burying the dead of a great massacre, the Archbishop stood up with extraordinary courage and called for reconciliation.  Those from the rebel group would already have opposed him, those from his own group would not necessarily have been impressed. To do that puts any of our struggles into a real perspective.

In England a church in the middle of an extraordinarily mixed area of religious faith, faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, active in its worship, lively in its preaching, yet being the centre and focus of religious leadership in the area so as to enable difference to be handled well.

There are so many others that merit a presentation of its own.

We live in a community that exists, that is deeply engaged with its world almost everywhere, that is diverse and argumentative and fractured, but yet shows in so many places both known and unknown the power and love of Christ through His Spirit at work in our world. We live in a Communion which merits celebration and thanksgiving as well as prayer and repentance.

A flourishing Communion but also a divided Communion.

I do not want to sound triumphalist. There are enormous problems. We have deep divisions in many areas, not only sexuality. There are areas of corruption, other areas where the power of the surrounding culture seems to overwhelm almost everyone at one point or another.

Our divisions may be too much to manage.

In many parts of the Communion, including here, there is a belief that opponents are either faithless to the tradition, or by contrast that they are cruel, judgemental, inhuman. I have to say that we are in a state so delicate that without prayer and repentance, it is hard to see how we can avoid some serious fractures.

In an age of near instant communication, because the Communion exists, and is full of life, vigour and growth, of faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and love for him, everything that one Province does echoes around the world. Every sermon or speech here is heard within minutes and analysed half to death. Every careless phrase in an interview is seen as a considered policy statement. And what is true of all Provinces is ten times more so for us, and especially us in this Synod. We never speak only to each other, and the weight of that responsibility, if we love each other and the world  as we should, must affect our actions and our words.

A Communion under threat

There is persecution in the Communion, in many, many areas. We are a poor, and a persecuted Church.

We are well aware of that and need to remember it constantly. In very many parts of the world, particularly parts of Africa and the Middle East, but also South East Asia, persecution comes from jihadist attacks which have killed many, many Anglicans, other Christians and in largest number Muslims, over the last few years. Not a day goes by without some report being received of the suffering and persecution of churches around the world, and of cries for help and requests for support. Not a day goes by without something which should break one’s heart at the courage and the difficulties involved.

There is immense suffering in the Communion. The terrible spread of Ebola, indescribable, a Black Death sweeping through three Dioceses of West Africa, is by itself a catastrophe of historic proportions. I was briefed on it two weeks ago in Accra, and the suffering of people in the afflicted countries makes the blood run cold. We must help, pray and call for more help.

In the South Sudan the human created food shortage threatens to turn into a terrible famine. In DRC the war continues with the utmost cruelty, usually including rape.

The list could go on and on, especially in the Middle East, Palestine and Israel, the Levant and the Euphrates valley.

Where do we go?

So what do we do? Where does this extraordinary, fractious, diverse, argumentative, wonderful, united, ferocious, peaceful, persecuted, suffering  body that is the Communion go, and what is the impact on us here in the Church of England?

First, as I have said nothing we say is heard only by us.

Secondly, we should rejoice in being part of this monumental challenge, of this great quest for the prize of being a people who can hold unity in diversity and love in difference.  It is almost unimaginably difficult, and most certainly cannot be done except with a whole-hearted openness to the Holy Spirit at work amongst us. It comes with prayer, and us growing closer to God in Jesus Christ and nothing else is an effective substitute. There are no strategies and no plans beyond prayer and obedience.

Thirdly, the future of the Communion requires sacrifice.  The biggest sacrifice is that we cannot only work with those we like, and hang out with those whose views are also ours.  Groups of like-minded individuals meeting to support and encourage each other may be necessary, indeed often are very necessary, but they are never sufficient.  Sufficiency is in loving those with whom we disagree.  What may be necessary in the way of party politics, is not sufficient in what might be called the polity of the Church.

In this Church of England we must learn to hold in the right order our calling to be one and our calling to advance our own particular position and seek our own particular views to prevail in the Church generally, whether in England or around the world. We must speak the truth in love.

In practice that has to mean the discipline of meeting with those with whom we disagree and listening to each other carefully and lovingly. It means doing that as much as when we meet with those with whom we do agree, whether it is during sessions of General Synod or at other times. It means celebrating our salvation together and praying together to the God who is the sole source of our hope and future, together. It means that even when we feel a group is beyond the pale for its doctrine, or for its language about others or us, we must love. Love one another, love your neighbour, love your enemy. Who in the world is in none of those categories?

All of us prefer being with those whose tradition we know and in which we were brought up. I am as much part of that as anyone else here. But I have gained far more in my own walk with Jesus Christ through being willing to meet with others whose traditions I did not find sympathetic, and be as transparent with them as I am with my closest friends, as from anything else that I have ever done.

And for the future of the Communion? I have not called a Primates’ Meeting on my own authority (although I could) because I feel that it is necessary for the Anglican Communion to develop a collegial model of leadership, as much as it is necessary in the Church of England, and I have therefore waited for the end of the visits to Provinces.

If the majority view of the Primates is that such a meeting would be a good thing, one will be called in response.  The agenda for that meeting will not be set centrally, but from around the Primates of the Communion.  One issue that needs to be decided on, ideally by the Primates’ meeting, is whether and if so when there is another Lambeth Conference.  It is certainly achievable, but the decision is better made together carefully, than in haste to meet an artificial deadline of a year ending in 8. A Lambeth Conference is so expensive and so complex that we have to be sure that it is worthwhile. It will not be imposed, but part of a collective decision.

The key general point to be established is how the Anglican Communion is led, and what its vision is in the 21st century, in a post-colonial world? How do we reflect the fact that the majority of its members are in the Global South, what is the role of the Instruments of Communion, especially the Archbishop of Canterbury, and what does that look like in lived out practice?  These are great decisions, that must be taken to support the ongoing and uninterrupted work of ministering to a world in great need and in great conflict. Whatever the answer, it is likely to be very different from the past.

So, the good news. The Communion exists and is doing wonderful things. The bad news.  There are great divisions and threats. The challenge. There is a prize of being able to develop unity in diversity and also with deeper and deeper ecumenical relations demonstrating the power of Christ to break down barriers and to provide hope for a broken world. We must grasp that challenge, it is the prize of a world seeing Christ loved and obeyed in His church, a world hearing the news of his salvation. So let us here, in the Church of England and above all in its General Synod, be amongst those who take a lead in our sacrificial, truthful and committed love for the sake of Christ for His mission in His world.

England: Legislation on women bishops becomes law at General Synod

ENS Headlines - Monday, November 17, 2014

[Church of England] The General Synod has today enacted the measure enabling women to be ordained as bishops in the Church of England.

The formal enactment of the legislation – Amending Canon 33 – followed the vote on final approval by the synod at its meeting in July of this year. Since that time the legislation has been approved in the U.K. Parliament and received Royal Assent.

The final legislative requirements took place during a session chaired by Archbishop of York John Sentamu, on the first day of the synod’s meeting in London.

With the Instrument of Enactment having been read to synod, the motion was put without debate, with only a simple majority required for approval. Following the item being passed the legislation was signed into law by the archbishops of Canterbury and York before the whole synod.

Following the vote, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: “Today we can begin to embrace a new way of being the church and moving forward together. We will also continue to seek the flourishing of the church of those who disagree.”

The text of the amending canon and instrument of enactment can be seen here.

ENS coverage of the July synod debate and vote is available here.

Sacerdote de la Florida acusado de alimentar a desamparados aspira a defenderse ante tribunal

ENS Headlines - Monday, November 17, 2014

El Rdo. Canónigo Mark H. Sims (portando estola), rector de la iglesia episcopal de Santa María Magdalena en Coral Spring, recibió una citación judicial por alimentar a indigentes.

[Episcopal News Service] Un sacerdote de la Florida, que recibió una citación judicial por alimentar a indigentes en un parque local defiende su actuación.

“Estoy demandando al municipio de Fort Lauderdale por mi derecho a seguir alimentando a los indigentes en las calles de la ciudad”, dijo el Rdo. Canónigo Mark H. Sims, rector de la iglesia episcopal de Santa María Magdalena [St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church] en Coral Springs.

Sims declaró a Episcopal News Service el 13 de noviembre que ha contratado a los abogados locales Bill Scherer, jurista procesal muy conocido, y a Bruce Rogow, abogado constitucionalista que enseña en la Universidad Nova del Suroeste, para que lo defiendan “en el tribunal contra una citación judicial que le enviaron”.

“Quiero impugnar la constitucionalidad de la ordenanza municipal que aprobaron. Como alguien me hizo una citación, tengo capacidad jurídica y voy a aprovechar esa oportunidad”.

La policía llega al parque Stranahan donde Sims y otras personas reparten alimentos a indigentes que residen en el lugar.

Scherer le dijo al Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel que la ordenanza municipal, aprobada el 31 de octubre, que prohíbe alimentar a los indigentes en lugares públicos, es inconstitucional y discriminatoria.

El 2 de noviembre, los agentes de la fuerza pública le impidieron a Sims y a otros dos individuos que alimentaran a los indigentes que viven en el parque Stranahan. Sims, de 57 años, contó que la policía lo detuvo, le tomó las huellas dactilares, le entregó una citación judicial y lo puso en libertad. Él está a la espera de la fecha en que debe comparecer ante el tribunal que puede imponerle una multa de $500 y posiblemente 60 días de prisión.

“Si me imponen una sentencia de cárcel, voy a la cárcel”, dijo Sims. “Pero, estoy dispuesto a esperar allí [en la cárcel] por el derecho a alimentar compasivamente a personas que viven en la calle, agregó.

Los funcionarios municipales han dicho que quieren que los programas de alimentación operen de puertas adentro, pero Sims y los demás aducen que sencillamente no hay suficientes locales disponibles para acomodar al creciente número de familias e individuos indigentes.

“Estoy decidido a defender el derecho a alimentar compasivamente a los indigentes y a los hambrientos en las calles de la Florida. No me explico cómo podemos aprobar una ordenanza que restrinja la solidaridad humana”, añadió Sims, que ha creado un fondo de defensa legal en “gofundme.com” y espera enfrentarse a “un difícil reto en el tribunal”.

Reiteró que seguiría alimentando a los indigentes y, el 12 de noviembre, se unió a otras personas que hacían precisamente eso en una playa de la localidad.

“La Iglesia Episcopal en esta diócesis le da de comer a la gente [necesitada] todos los días a través de varias agencias”, afirmó Sims. “Contamos con locales que usamos y hay muchas agencias de servicio social que hemos creado en el Sureste de la Florida para ayudar a familias e individuos tanto como podemos, pero aún no hay suficientes”.

Como presidente de la junta de Organizaciones Caritativas Episcopales del Sureste de la Florida “acabamos de aportar $600.000 para un ciclo de dos años en subvenciones a parroquias y al menos la mitad de eso se invierte en programas que se ocupan de alimentar a los hambrientos, a los indigentes y a los ancianos”, puntualizó Sims.

Normalmente, durante los meses de invierno, las familias y los individuos que no tienen hogar migran a Florida desde climas más fríos, de manera que ha habido un aumento notable de su número en la localidad, señaló.

El domingo 9 de noviembre, algunos miembros de la parroquia regresaron al parque y sirvieron una comida caliente de pollo salteado, arroz, verduras y postre y distribuyeron “bolsas con emparedados de jalea y mantequilla de maní y manzanas. Vimos más mujeres de las que suelen verse. Resultó algo sorprendente y un poco triste”, dijo Sims.

Pero añadió que “el municipio quiere eliminarlos de las calles. Yo no quiero hacer nada para alentarlos a quedarse en las calles. El problema es que no hay ningún otro lugar adonde ir. [En el municipio] quieren convertirlo en un problema ajeno”.

Alimentar a personas que no tienen hogar no es nada nuevo para Sims, quien dijo que “esto ha estado ocurriendo desde que estaba en el seminario en 1999 y antes de eso cuando era un feligrés del Sur de la Florida. He estado haciendo esto durante 20 años”.

Su objetivo, agregó, es que los funcionarios municipales rescindan la ordenanza “y quiero sentarme y ayudar a rehacerla a partir de un nuevo compromiso”.

Entre tanto, comunidades locales, nacionales e internacionales de la Iglesia se han solidarizado con Sims, según la Rda. Canóniga Donna Dambrot, directora ejecutiva de Organizaciones Caritativas Episcopales. Ella comparó su enfrentamiento legal a la resistencia no violenta del Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a las leyes injustas.

La zona “ha presenciado un asombroso aumento en las necesidades de indigentes y hambrientos”, añadió Dambrot. “Cuando Fort Lauderdale adoptó esta ordenanza ya se estaban sirviendo alimentos en las calles. Hemos recibido… solicitudes de fondos adicionales porque la necesidad es muy grande y las despensas se han quedado sin comida y no disponen de acceso a las fuentes de alimentos del gobierno”.

Dijo también que Organizaciones Caritativas Episcopales del Sureste de la Florida “sirve cientos de miles de comidas al año” a través de agencias asociadas y que ella ha advertido recientemente un aumento de por lo menos un 10 por ciento en el número de comidas servidas.

El problema de la indigencia es complejo y diverso, añadió. “Tenemos a personas provenientes de los bosques y manglares de los Cayos [de la Florida]; hay gente sin hogar que vive en campamentos. En Pompano Beach, las hay que duermen debajo de la autopista. Incluso tenemos algunas personas que viven en botes en el agua, y que desembarcan para ir a las despensas de Cayo Hueso”.

Hay niveles de indigencia, contando con los que se encuentran temporalmente sin hogar que reciben preparación laboral y entrenamiento de empleo y que terminan por encontrar vivienda permanente.

“Existe también esa capa de personas a las que atendemos en la capilla de San Lorenzo [St. Lawrence Chapel] y en nuestro Centro de Jubileo del Sur de Broward, que serán indigentes crónicos”, afirmó. “Constituye un reto permanente y estaremos en esto durante mucho tiempo”.

No obstante, ella agregó que la campaña de Sims ha inspirado a otros “a tomar las medidas necesarias para cambiar lo que percibimos como regulaciones injustas”. Sims, la agencia y la comunidad de la iglesia simplemente estamos intentando responder el mandato de Jesús de ayudar a los demás.

“Seguimos a Mateo 25” que enfatiza el llamado de Jesús a servir a los necesitados, dijo. “Esa es nuestra hoja de ruta. Esa es nuestra deliberada misión vocacional”.

–La Rda. Pat McCaughan es corresponsal de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

South Sudan Anglican Church promotes new paradigm for peace

ENS Headlines - Monday, November 17, 2014

The Peace Mobilisers group is an independent peace and reconciliation body in South Sudan meant to “build bridges across political and social divides and promote healing and reconciling among all South Sudanese.” Photo: South Sudan Committee for National Healing, Peace and Reconciliation

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Church in South Sudan has joined other stakeholders in the region to address the country’s continued conflicts by using a team of community members called “Peace Mobilisers.”

Peace Mobilisers are a group of about 80 well-trained community and faith-based practitioners from across South Sudan brought together to share knowledge and experiences on the various approaches to reconciliation and sent back into their communities to influence change.

At the end of a 30-day training period for this group last month, Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan told the media: “Peace in our country is paramount but building the unity of our people will be challenging and will need commitment and courage. But we are a big group, a battalion of peace and we can make peace in this county if we make a step together and we listen together,.”

Deng is the chairperson of the institution which organized the training, the South Sudan Committee for National Healing, Peace and Reconciliation. It is an independent peace and reconciliation body in South Sudan meant to “build bridges across political and social divides and promote healing and reconciling among all South Sudanese.”

Bishop Moses Deng Bol of South Sudan’s Diocese of Wau, who also attended the training, believes that this approach is effective and could be the solution to bringing lasting peace in the region.

He told ACNS in an interview: “We believe that this is a very effective approach in bringing peace to South Sudan because the mobilizers will be based in the communities and so they will be listening to their communities’ narratives, which is part of the healing process.”

He added, “Since they are based in the communities we hope that they will report anyone who does activities which may disturb peace or provoke conflict.”

The Peace Mobilisers represent different groups within the country such as the religious leaders, women’s associations, and youth unions among others. They were selected by the National Committee on Healing Peace and Reconciliation from the 10 states of South Sudan and Abyei Administrative Area and were brought to the town of Yei in the Central Equatorial State for one month to be trained as trainers of other Peace Mobilizers in their communities.

They are guided by a newly created and agreed on charter which indicates that members of this group are “peacemakers who do not take any sides and who see all people as equal in the face of God and who also endeavor to build trust and mutual understanding between divided communities, families and individuals.”

Churches continue to fight, pray against Ebola

ENS Headlines - Monday, November 17, 2014

[Anglican Alliance] The Ebola epidemic is still raging through Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.  Anglican leaders and communities are joining other faith groups to take action and share accurate messaging to help in the fight against Ebola and prevent any further spread.

According to latest reports there are 13,042 confirmed, probable and suspected cases.  There have been 4,818 deaths so far (6 November 2014), mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.  Recent reports suggest that cases are declining in Liberia, but still on the rise in the other affected countries.

Local churches have used all their resources in responding to this crisis, and call for support through their partners:

Episcopal Relief & Development

Us (formerly USPG)

Anglican Board of Mission

Primates World Relief and Development Fund

Christian Aid

Prayer resources are also available through Christian Aid and Us.

On a recent visit to Ghana the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and his wife Caroline met with the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Repsonse and the Ministry of Health to discuss the key needs in the region.  Caroline Welby has asked the Anglican Communion to join them in prayer and action on these key needs:

  • For countries to send teams to staff the treatment centers that are being built
  • For traditional leaders (chiefs) as well as religious leaders to speak out with clear messages about Ebola.
  • For a simple liturgy to help the bereaved as traditional grieving practices cannot be used at the moment.
  • For Ghana and the current outbreak of cholera in Accra.

Dioceses in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are working closely with government agencies to support the response to the Ebola crisis. The central need is to strengthen and support health systems to focus on containing any outbreaks, while also working with the  wider community on prevention awareness. Anglicans are responding in many ways with their own resources and with support from Anglican/Episcopal agencies such as Us, Episcopal Relief & Development and Trinity Wall Street.

In the East End of Freetown, Bishop Thomas Wilson has provided land for the construction of a 21 bed Ebola isolation unit for Ola During Children’s hospital, responding to a request from hospital management and its partner NGO.  Freetown is one the cities worst affected by the Ebola outbreak, according to the World Health Organisation, and the isolation unit will allow children and parents there to be screened for Ebola and thus allow the hospital to continue its normal life saving activities.

Nagulan Nesiah, of Episcopal Relief & Development, recently shared about a valuable feeding programme that the Diocese of Liberia facilitated with technical advice from WHO at a newly opened Ebola Treatment Unit called Island Clinic in Monrovia, which was struggling to feed the patients.   The provision of a hot-nutritional meal for four weeks led to the full recovery of at least 150 patients.

Rt Revd Jacques Boston, Bishop of Guinea, wrote to Us recently and said, “Let me start by thanking all those who are supporting the Anglican Diocese of Guinea during this difficult time.  The diocese is working nationally alongside other institutions to sensitise people to the situation, to distribute protection kits, and to equip our church clinics with materials to meet the need of the population. This is possible thanks to the support of Us and other agencies.”

One of the key messages is that anyone who has come into contact with someone sick with Ebola should be quarantined for 21 days. In Liberia, the Very Rev. Herman Browne, the Dean of Trinity Cathedral in Monrovia, lived this reality.  He went into voluntary quarantine with his family when they learned that his wife had visited and comforted a friend who was sick with Ebola.

Very Rev. Browne told the public about their situation to reinforce the messaging that is being given out. One of the reasons Ebola continues to spread is that people who know they’ve been exposed to the virus often keep it a secret until they’re desperately ill and highly contagious. They fear the embarrassment, the stigma and the prospect of losing their income.

In this way the church is able to show communities how to work together to prevent Ebola.  As well as providing hand washing facilities, churches are making changes during their services: the embrace or hand shake when sharing the peace has changed to a bow; communion is given by intinction (dipping the wafer in the cup) rather using a shared cup.

Getting the messaging out as widely as possible is key to controlling the epidemic and seeing it come to an end in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Church leaders can have a real impact, as churches are one of the few places that people are still allowed to congregate. Church leaders, like other religious leader and traditional chiefs, are also trusted, which enables them to share correct messaging to communities at the grassroots. Simple messaging and communication is one of the key activities being planned and implemented by dioceses across these countries, with the support and funding from Episcopal Relief & Development, Us and Trinity Wall Street.  The messaging is taken out to communities along with hand washing facilities and food packages for the quarantined and vulnerable.

Other activities include using radio broadcast for messaging, providing accommodation for orphans and widows during their quarantine period using abandoned schools, and working with the UN and international NGOs to distribute hygiene kits, mother and child kits and other materials.

The epidemic is critically serious.  Despite the current international response the number of people infected is expected to continue to increase. Other countries are preparing in case Ebola spreads further afield.  Many of the most vulnerable, like those currently affected, have under-resourced health systems that will struggle to cope. Countries need to plan and prepare, with early detection and response systems in place.  That way if they do come into contact with an Ebola patient they can contain the disease, identifying all the patient’s contacts to contain the spread, and treating the person in an isolation unit with good infection control.

The Anglican Alliance is working to learn from the response of the Church in West Africa and share this learning across the Anglican Communion so that other countries can prepare in case Ebola comes to their country.  Anglican leaders recently gathered in the Caribbean, for an Anglican Alliance consultation of churches, requested this to help them prepare and respond effectively, should Ebola come to their shores.

Links and communication with other organisations are also being shared by the Anglican Alliance to support the local church’s response.  For example, talks with World Vision are taking place to consider how Anglicans can be a part of the training for their new Channels of Hope module on Ebola. This builds on World Vision’s experience of working with communities in these countries and with the Channels of Hope methodology on other health issues, including HIV.

Florida priest cited for feeding homeless wants his day in court

ENS Headlines - Friday, November 14, 2014

The Rev. Canon Mark H. Sims (wearing a stole), rector of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs, is issued with a criminal citation for feeding the homeless.

[Episcopal News Service] A Florida priest who was issued a criminal citation for feeding homeless residents in a local park is fighting back.

“I am suing the city of Fort Lauderdale for the right to continue to feed the homeless on city streets,” according to the Rev. Canon Mark H. Sims, rector of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs.

Sims told the Episcopal News Service Nov. 13 that he has hired local attorneys Bill Scherer, a well-known trial lawyer, and Bruce Rogow, a constitutional lawyer who teaches at Nova Southeastern University, to defend him “in court against a criminal citation I was issued.

“I want to fight the constitutionality of the ordinance that was passed. As someone issued a citation I have standing and I’m going to use that opportunity.”

Scherer told the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel that the city ordinance, passed Oct. 31, which bans feeding of homeless in public places, is unconstitutional and discriminatory.

Police arrive at Stranahan Park where Sims and others were feeding homeless residents.

Local law enforcement officials halted Sims and two others from feeding homeless residents in Stranahan Park on Nov. 2. Sims, 57, said he was detained by police, fingerprinted, issued the citation and released. He is awaiting a court appearance date and faces a $500 fine and a possible 60 days in jail.

“If I get sentenced to jail, I’m going to jail,” Sims said. “But, I’m willing to stay there [in jail] for the right to compassionately feed people who are living on the street,” he added.

City officials have said they want feeding programs moved indoors but Sims and others say there are simply not enough locations to accommodate growing numbers of homeless families and individuals.

“I am determined to allow people to be able to compassionately feed the homeless and people who are hungry on the streets of Florida. I don’t see how we can pass an ordinance that restricts human decency,” added Sims, who has created a legal defense fund on “gofundme.com” and expects “a tough challenge in court.”

He vowed to continue to feed homeless people and on Nov. 12 joined others doing just that at a local beach.

“The Episcopal Church in this diocese feeds people every single day through one of several agencies,” Sims said. “We have on-site places that we use and there are so many social service agencies we have created in Southeastern Florida to help families and individuals as much as we can, but there are still not enough.”

As chair of the board of the Episcopal Charities of Southeastern Florida “we just funded for a two-year cycle $600,000 worth of grants to parishes with at least half of that going to programs that are caring for the feeding of hungry people, homeless people and the elderly,” Sims said.

Typically, during winter months families and individuals who are homeless migrate to Florida from colder climates, so there has been a noticeable uptick in their numbers locally, he said.

On Sunday, Nov. 9, members of his parish returned to the park and served a hot meal of sautéed chicken, rice, vegetables and dessert and distributed “takeout bags of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and apples. We saw more women than we normally see. It was a bit surprising and a bit sad,” Sims said.

But he added that “the city wants them off the streets. They don’t want to do anything to encourage them to be able to stay on the streets. The problem is, there’s no place else to go. They want to make it someone else’s problem.”

Feeding people who are homeless is nothing new for Sims, who said “this has been going on since I was in seminary in 1999 and before that when I was a parishioner in South Florida. I’ve been doing this for 20 years.”

His goal, he said, is for city officials to rescind the ordinance “and I want to sit down with a clean slate and help rework it.”

Meanwhile, local, national and international church communities have rallied in support of Sims, according to the Rev. Canon Donna Dambrot, Episcopal Charities executive director. She compared his legal struggle to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent resistance to unjust laws.

The area has “seen an amazing increase in homelessness and hunger needs,” Dambrot added. “When Fort Lauderdale adopted this ordinance there was already feeding going on in the streets. We’ve gotten … requests for additional funding because the need is so great and food pantries have run out of food and their access to government sources of food is not available.”

She said ECSF “serves hundreds of thousands of meals a year” through partner agencies and that she has noticed at least a 10 percent increase recently in numbers of meals served.

The issue of homelessness is complex and layered, she added. “We have people come out of the woods and the mangroves in the [Florida] Keys; there are homeless folks living in encampments. In Pompano Beach, they’re sleeping under the highway. We even have some people living in canoes in the water, who come ashore to food pantries in Key West.”

There are levels of homelessness, including those who are temporarily without housing who receive job skills and employment training and eventually find permanent living arrangements.

“There is also that layer of folks we serve at St. Lawrence Chapel and our Jubilee Center in South Broward, that will be chronically homeless,” she said. “It’s an ongoing challenge and we’ll be in this for a long time.”

Yet, she added that Sims’ advocacy has inspired others “to take those steps necessary to change what we perceive as unjust regulations.” Sims, the agency and the church community are all simply attempting to respond to Jesus’ directives to help others.

“We follow Matthew 25,” which emphasizes Jesus’s call to serve those in need, she said. “That is our road map. That is our intentional vocational mission.”

–The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.

Anglican Communion voices speak out ahead of the G20 summit

ENS Headlines - Friday, November 14, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] Leading figures from the Anglican Communion are speaking out before and during this weekend’s G20 meeting in Brisbane, Australia, on a range of economic and development issues.

The G20 is a forum for the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies that are said to account for about 85% of the gross world product, 80% of world trade and two-thirds of the world population.

On the sidelines of the meeting will be people from countries not all represented in the G20, reminding world leaders that global growth should not come at the expense of the world’s poorest people.

The Anglican Board of Mission (ABM) reports that Archbishop of Polynesia Winston Halapua is asking the G20 to consider how they might cooperate to minimize the impacts of climate change which are already being felt by people in the Pacific Islands.

The Anglican Alliance regional facilitator for the Pacific will also be in Brisbane during the event. Tagolyn Kabekabe works with communities in the Solomon Islands that are experiencing the erosion of their homelands, poisoning of their food gardens by salt water and increasing exposure to extreme weather events.

Kabekabe represented the Anglican Communion, in particular those in the Pacific directly affected by climate change, at the C20 meeting – a civil society forum that met in June to feed in to the G20 discussions.

Archbishop Philip Freier, primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, has issued a statement in which he warns global leaders that “failure to address these issues of economic security and justice will lead to more international conflict and reduce the possibility of human flourishing.” [His full statement is below.]

ABM’s Greg Henderson has been organizing opportunities for people in Brisbane to meet Halapua and Kabekabe. He says that it is important for Australians to recognize that climate change is a justice issue, “because its impact is being felt most seriously by communities who have the least power to address the causes of anthropogenic warming.”

According to the G20 website, the meeting’s agenda has been built around the key themes of:

  • promoting stronger economic growth and employment outcomes;
  • making the global economy more resilient to deal with future shocks;
  • strengthening global institutions to ensure they reflect the new realities of the global economy.

Further information about the G20’s priorities are available here.

Statement by Archbishop Philip Freier, primate of the Anglican Church of Australia

The G20 meeting of the world’s 20 largest economies in Brisbane this weekend takes place in increasingly uncertain times. There are growing fears of global recession, rising international tensions and growing economic inequality between countries and within countries.

In the longer term there are vast challenges, such as managing climate change, global population growth and movement, international conflict, food security, water, and potential epidemics.

It is essential that the countries taking part look beyond their own short-term national interests and seek to address these challenges in a concerted and effective way.  I echo Pope Francis, who urged last week that the discussions move beyond declarations of principle to real improvements in the living conditions of poorer families and the reduction of all forms of unacceptable inequality.

It will require good will and trust on all sides if the G20 summit is to achieve real progress, and it is the nature of international politics that no one wants to go first on such a path. Yet without a clear-sighted optimism, real change will be impossible.

Failure to address these issues of economic security and justice will lead to more international conflict and reduce the possibility of human flourishing. They cannot be left to fester. The Anglican Church of Australia urges the G20 leaders to search for new and cooperative solutions that can work across the globe. To that end, we offer our support and prayers.

+Philip, Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia

Provincial, Episcopal delegates named for 2015 United Nations meeting

ENS Headlines - Friday, November 14, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has named the Rev. Joan Grimm Fraser of the Diocese of Long Island to serve as the provincial delegate to represent The Episcopal Church at the 59th Session of the 2015 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) meeting, March 9-20, 2015.

The Presiding Bishop has also named the churchwide delegates to represent The Episcopal Church at the event.  The UNCSW delegation is: Helen Achol Abyei, Diocese of Colorado; Nellie Adkins, Diocese of Virginia; (Lesley) Grace Aheron, Diocese of Virginia; Delores Alleyne, Diocese of Connecticut; Digna de la Cruz, Diocese of Dominican Republic; Jayce Hafner, Episcopal Church Domestic Policy Analyst; Julia Ayala Harris, Diocese of Oklahoma; Pragedes Coromoto Jimenez de Salazar, Diocese of Venezuela; Heidi Kim, Episcopal Church Missioner for Racial Reconciliation; Lelanda Lee, Diocese of Colorado; the Rev. Gawain de Leeuw, Diocese of New York; the Rev. Vaike Marika Madisson Lopez de Molina, Diocese of Honduras; Lynnaia Main, Episcopal Church Global Relations Officer; Hollee Martinez, Diocese of Texas; the Rev. Glenda McQueen, Episcopal Church Partnership Officer for Latin America & the Caribbean; Erin Morey-Busch, Diocese of Pittsburgh; Consuelo Sanchez Navarro, Diocese of Honduras; Barbara Schafer of Nevada; the Rev. Stacy Walker-Frontjes, Diocese of Chicago.

The provincial delegate and the churchwide delegates will be able to attend the official UNCSW proceedings at the UN and will represent The Episcopal Church/Anglican Communion in their advocacy at the UN, including joint advocacy with the coalition Ecumenical Women.

The 2015 UNCSW theme is a review of progress made in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Program for Action, 20 years after its adoption at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995.  See more here.

“The expertise, leadership qualities and diversity of the delegates chosen by our Presiding Bishop will insure that The Episcopal Church will be well-represented at the UNCSW meeting in March,” commented Lynnaia Main, Episcopal Church Global Relations Officer.  “We look forward to focusing as a team on the issues that will be presented to us as we review the progress made of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.”

For more information contact Lynnaia Main, Episcopal Church Global Relations Officer, lmain@episcopalchurch.org.


ENS Headlines - Thursday, November 13, 2014

La situación de México sigue en primera plana y los comentarios y críticas abundan en toda la prensa continental. Ya se ha dado por cierto que los 43 jóvenes fueron asesinados y sus cuerpos incinerados. Muchos padres se niegan a aceptar la verdad oficial y en más de un lugar se han organizado cuadrillas de voluntarios para continuar la búsqueda. Algunos observadores dicen que el secuestro de los 43 jóvenes es uno de los eventos de mayor relevancia en la historia reciente de México. Varias manifestaciones en el Distrito Federal y otras ciudades han portado carteles pidiendo la renuncia del presidente Enrique Peña Nieto que pese a la gravedad de la situación nacional se ha marchado del país para participar de una reunión internacional en China. Como si los problemas fueran pocos, se ha descubierto que el presidente y su esposa han adquirido una casa por valor de siete millones de dólares.

En muchas ciudades del mundo libre se ha recordado con especial interés la caída del Muro de Berlín que ahora cumple 25 años. Para muchos que pensaron que el Muro era propaganda de los países occidentales,  han visto en toda su crudeza lo que el muro significó para el pueblo que clamaba por libertad. Muchos perdieron sus vidas para poder cruzar el muro que estaba resguardado por policías armados con perros, alambradas electrificadas, y todo tipo de cámaras y equipos de torturas. En Miami los visitantes podrán ver un pedazo del muro que ha sido donado al Miami Dade College en el mismo centro de la ciudad. El muro fue construido por la Unión Soviética como un intento fallido de aislar a su pueblo del mundo occidental. El muro fue derribado el 9 de noviembre de 1989. En Miami algunos comentaristas han comparado el muro con el Estrecho de la Florida el mar que se interpone entre Cuba y Estados Unidos.

El Muro de Berlín fue construido súbitamente tras la división de Alemania después de la II Guerra Mundial. Berlín quedó dividido en cuatro sectores de ocupación (soviético, inglés, francés y norteamericano). En 1949 los tres sectores occidentales pasaron a formar la República Federal Alemana (RFA) y el sector oriental la República Democrática Alemana (RDA). Las relaciones entre ambos sectores tuvieron muchos problemas. La RDA decide levantar un muro “provisional” para evitar la pérdida de población y el 12 de agosto de 1961 éste se hizo realidad. Inmediatamente se colocó una alambrada de 1555 kilómetros.  Se cree que entre 1961 y 1989 más de 5,000 trataron de cruzar, 3,000 fueron detenidas y más de 200 perdieron la vida en el intento. El 9 de noviembre de 1989 la RDA decidió que el paso hacia el occidente estaba permitido. Gran alegría colmó al mundo entero. Por fin las familias podían reunirse y nadie sería perseguido por pasar de un sector a otro. Por eso este día es tan importante.

En su viaje por Europa el presidente colombiano Juan Manuel Santos dijo en Madrid que hay que terminar de “una vez por todas” con el conflicto de las FARC y añadió que la paz ayudará al crecimiento económico de Colombia y la región y pondrá fin a males tan terribles como el terrorismo.

En la reciente celebración del Día del Veterano en Estados Unidos se reveló que las guerras traen más dolor y angustia de lo que el pueblo conoce. Una cosa es ver una parada militar con música y otra la realidad de un campo de batalla donde fluye la sangre y abunda el dolor. Muchos soldados regresan con el síndrome post-traumático que los afecta emocionalmente y que los lleva a ser enfermos mentales y en último caso a terminar con su existencia. También se mencionó en programas de radio y televisión que el soldado que regresa “es un extraño” para su familia y amigos. Muchos necesitan asistencia médica que el gobierno no les da por la escasez y mala condición de los hospitales para veteranos. Otros soldados se ven abandonados por sus familias y sin trabajo y terminan convirtiéndose en hombres y mujeres “sin techo” viviendo de la caridad pública. “Es una vergüenza que personas que han dado lo mejor de sus vidas por el país, sean ignorados y hasta despreciados por otras personas”, dijo un veterano de Puerto Rico que prefirió no identificarse.

RETO: Busca la paz y síguela.

Advent resources from the Episcopal Church

ENS Headlines - Thursday, November 13, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Resources for observing the Advent season through spiritual avenues are now available from The Episcopal Church here.

Advent is the liturgical season that occurs four weeks prior to Christmas, beginning on Sunday, November 30.  Advent is a time of reflection and preparation.

The resources are ideal for personal, congregational and community planning and scheduling of Advent observances.

Devotions from leaders
The leaders of The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Anglican Church of Canada and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada have prepared devotions for each of the four weeks of Advent.

Downloadable devotions are available here.

Advent 1 (November 30) Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Advent 2 (December 7) The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church

Advent 3 (December 14) Bishop Susan Johnson, National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

Advent 4 (December 21) The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz, Primate, Anglican Church of Canada

Following the Star
Daily online devotions take on a seasonal theme beginning with first Sunday in Advent on November 30. Following the Star is written for teenage youth and the adults who work with them. Subscribe to the website to receive a daily reminder or download the mobile app; d365 Daily Devotions by Passport, Inc. This service is a collaborative initiative of the Youth Ministries offices of The Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church USA, and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Advent Lectionary Reflection
The Episcopal Church Formation Missioners invite all to embark on a photo meditation throughout the Season of Advent. Each day will feature a word taken from the Sunday Lectionary readings that will be posted on social media sites for reflection. The goal is to meditate on that word throughout the day and, if you find a photo that captures that word for you, post it to your social media sites with the hashtag #episcopaladvent as well as a hashtag for the word for the day (for example: #joy). Posts will begin posting on the first Sunday of Advent, November 30 and will conclude on Christmas Day. For a preview of all the daily meditations, go here.

Follow on social media
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On Facebook at:

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Participate in #Giving Tuesday and donate to Navajoland

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, November 12, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] You can participate in #Giving Tuesday on December 2 and directly help the needs of the Episcopal Church in Navajoland.

This year marks the first time The Episcopal Church will participate in #Giving Tuesday, an international movement. Through the efforts of the Episcopal Church Development Office, donations can be made to the building of hogans in Navajoland.

Donations can be made here.

#Giving Tuesday is “a global day dedicated to giving back,” according to the website.

“#Giving Tuesday is defined as a charity-centered alternative to Black Friday, only four days prior,” explained Elizabeth Lowell, Director of Development.

The Navajoland Area Mission is 26,000 square miles, spreading over Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.  Hogans, a traditional Navajoland dwelling, cost $40,000 to build and are used for traditional ceremonies as well as educational purposes.

Donations for hogans will be accepted through June 2015.

For more information contact Lowell at elowell@episcopalchurch.org.

RIP: Former Bethlehem Bishop Mark Dyer dies at 84

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, November 12, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] The Rt. Rev. James Michael Mark Dyer, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem from 1982 to 1995, died Nov. 11 after battling multiple myeloma for several years. He was 84.

Bishop Provisional of Bethlehem Sean W. Rowe said that Dyer’s death “represents a significant loss to our diocese and to the church.

“Whether as an advisor to several archbishops of Canterbury, chief pastor to his diocese, mentor to countless priests and seminarians, or advocate for the poor, he represented the very essence of the servanthood that can be found at the heart of the episcopate,” Rowe said. “A master teacher, Bishop Mark drew on the joy and tragedy of the human condition, including his own, to bring to life the ministry of Jesus and the narrative of God’s work in the world in ways that made for real and lasting transformation. Those of us who had the privilege of sitting at his feet as students caught a glimpse of what it must have been like to sit at the feet of Jesus.”

The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS), said: “The sense of loss is palpable. I was among many who found tears in my eyes as I learned the news … Mark Dyer was a giant of this seminary. He was a profound gift to the church and to this seminary.”

Dyer joined the VTS faculty in 1996 as professor of systematic theology and director of spiritual formation. He also served as professor of theology and mission. While at VTS he was a senior consultant for the Center for Anglican Communion Studies. After his retirement from VTS, Dyer maintained a presence within the VTS community as an adjunct professor until his death.

A widely respected leader in the worldwide Anglican Communion, Dyer was called upon frequently by Robert Runcie, George Carey and Rowan Williams for significant assignments during their tenures as archbishop of Canterbury.Under Runcie, Dyer was the sole representative of the bishops of the Episcopal Church on an international committee of 20 Anglican bishops who prepared theological position papers for the 1988 Lambeth Conference of bishops.Carey named Dyer to the 12-member steering committee that planned the 1998 Lambeth Conference. In 1998, he also named Dyer to the Eames Commission that attempted to quell controversy in the communion over the decision by some provinces to ordain women to the priesthood and the episcopacy.

In 2004, Williams named Dyer to the Lambeth Commission on Communion, which attempted to restore unity in the communion during the ongoing controversy over the place of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians in the life of the church.

Dyer was also a committed and respected ecumenist, and his was an important voice in dialogues between the Episcopal Church and Lutheran and Orthodox churches in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s. He served as co-chair of the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue, which produced an agreed statement on the theology of the Church in 2006, published as The Church of the Triune God.

Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town Desmond Tutu, remembered his friend Dyer, who he worked with on many issues in the Anglican Communion. “He had a gentle manner. His mouth was always ready to laugh. And he was an affirming presence in every situation in which I encountered him,” said Tutu.

Born June 7, 1930 in Manchester, New Hampshire, Dyer served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War before studying contemporary philosophy at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in theology magna cum laude from New Hampshire’s St. Anselm College in 1959.The following year, he was professed a monk in the Order of St. Benedict at St. Anselm Abbey, on the college’s campus. He was ordained priest of the abbey in 1963. He earned a master’s in theology and licentiate in sacred theology at the University of Ottawa, Canada, in 1965, while teaching at St. Anselm seminary. He also taught theology at Queen of Peace Mission Seminary in New Hampshire and as an adjunct professor at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts.

He entered the Anglican Church of Canada in 1969 and was received as a priest in the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Massachusetts in 1971. He served the Massachusetts diocese as missioner to the clergy; priest in charge of Trinity Church, Bridgewater; and rector of Christ Church, Hamilton and Wenham, before being ordained bishop of the Diocese of Bethlehem in 1982.

In her 2008 book, “The Great Emergence,” Phyllis Tickle revised for a wide readership Dyer’s insight that the church’s history can be thought of as a series of “ecclesiastical yard sales.”

While bishop of Bethlehem in the early 1990s, Dyer wrote: “Christianity has had five significant yard sales. Each one has had to do with the church’s struggle to resist the temptation to domesticate God’s vision, to settle for change when God seeks transformation. The sixth is now. It’s something that seems to happen every three or four hundred years. In Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, God empowers the church to discover its roots and its center, and transform itself in new, exciting and wonderful ways. Jesus announced the first yard sale. Then Benedict, in the sixth century. Then the Franciscan Spring in the thirteenth century. Then Martin Luther and the reformers in the sixteenth century, the only yard sale led by an ordained person. It’s time once again for a massive yard sale, a transformation led by lay people. Our 400 years are up.”Dyer is predeceased by his son Matthew and survived by his children John and Jennifer Dyer; his stepchildren, Robyn and Amanda Gearey; two grandchildren, Sam and Ava Wandler; and his spouse, Amelia J. Gearey Dyer, Ph.D., who serves VTS as the James Maxwell Professor of Christian Education and Pastoral Theology, and director of the Ministry Resident Program. He is also survived by a sister, Patricia Cashin.

Dyer’s first wife, the Rev. Marie Elizabeth Dyer, died in 1999. She was an Episcopal priest and they were married 29 years.

– Adapted from various press releases and statements.

Anglicans invited to ‘celebrate Advent using your camera phones’

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The monks are inviting Anglicans and Episcopalians to join them in prayer, meditation and taking photos during Advent. Photo: SSJE

[Anglican Communion News Service] Members of Anglican Communion Churches worldwide are being invited to celebrate Advent through prayer, meditation and by contributing to a global Advent calendar on Instagram.

Advent — from Nov. 30 to Dec. 24 — is the season when Christians observe a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas.

The Anglican Communion Office and the Society of Saint John the Evangelist (SSJE) are teaming up to offer Anglicans and Episcopalians around the world a daily word, meditation and beautiful image sent to their e-mail inboxes.

Playing around with time
The brothers use technology that allows their daily Advent e-mail to arrive in people’s inboxes at 5 a.m. wherever in the world the recipient is.

“5 a.m. is about the time we get up to pray,” said SSJE’s Brother Jim Woodrum. “Of course you can look at your e-mail after 5 a.m., but we want to make sure it’s there when you wake up.”

Though people are used to the idea of monks involved in prayer and meditation, they might be surprised to know that monks have camera phones too.

“We are hoping that people will join us in praying with their phone this Advent,” said Woodrum. “After reading the meditation, we’d love for people to snap a picture that reflects the theme or their response to it and post it to Instagram.”

Participants are invited to take a photo with their phone or tablet to share their interpretation of the word for that day – these include #Abide, #Thrive, #Become, #Imagine – and post the picture to Instagram adding the day’s tag plus #Adventword.

“People need help with their daily spiritual practice,” said Brother Geoffrey Tristram, SSJE superior. “During Advent, we anticipate the coming of Christ, an event that awakens our deepest desires and longings. This Advent, we are inviting you to join us in looking clearly and honestly at our lives and taking action.”

Jan Butter, director for communications at the Anglican Communion Office, said, “It’s all too easy for Christians to be consumers in today’s world — especially during the Advent season. Here we have a chance to not only receive during Advent, but also take part in a global action; to give back to other Anglicans and Episcopalians worldwide by sharing our photos with each other.

“This is also a chance for people who might never have connected with an Anglican religious community before to benefit from the deep thought, meditation and prayer that emanates from such communities all around the world.” (Visit http://communities.anglicancommunion.org/ for a list of other Anglican Communion religious communities.)

To be part of this global Advent initiative, sign up at http://www.aco.org/adventword.cfm. The initiative starts on Nov. 30. To learn more about SSJE visit www.ssje.org/adventword

Veteran Friendly Congregations supports returning servicemen

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, November 11, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] The Brotherhood of St. Andrew is drawing on its rich history of supporting servicemen and women by leading the creation of Veteran Friendly Congregations.

Brotherhood President Robert Dennis cites too many instances of veterans struggling to get the help they need: jobs, disability payments, health care and treatment for such afflictions as post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, physical disabilities and military sexual trauma.

In the 12 years since American troops were first deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, more than 2.6 million veterans have returned home to a country largely unprepared to meet their needs.

“The suicide rate, broken families and unemployment among families is inconceivable to all of us,” Dennis said Nov. 11 upon the announcement of his organization’s attempt to promote Veteran Friendly Congregations in its chapters and churches.

“Some 37 percent of returning veterans suffer from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder and 62,619 are homeless,” Dennis said. “Their unemployment rate of 15 percent is twice the national average.”

The project began in 2009 at St. Peter and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Marietta, Georgia, when then-rector the Rev. Robert Certain was approached by IBM executive and West Point graduate Peter McCall, who sought a way to help what he saw as a major problem.

“Peter and his wife Cathy have been stalwart leaders in the creation of Veteran Friendly Congregations,” Certain says. There are about 200 VFCs throughout the southeastern U.S. and the Brotherhood has begun a major push to take the program nationwide.

A retired Air Force colonel, Certain is also the Brotherhood’s national missioner to the U.S. Armed Forces and can be reached at eagle@unchainedeagle.com.

St. Peter and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church offers training for mental health professionals regarding post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues, arranges living accommodations, provides financial support, helps veterans find employment and will help any veteran in any possible way.

The church and its Brotherhood chapter organized Care For The Troops, that provides information any chapter to get started caring for servicemen and women.

“We are delighted the Brotherhood is pushing this program,” Certain says. “It has spread to many other denominations here in Georgia and we would love for this to be expanded to other regions of the country. It started with the Brotherhood and the Brotherhood would be a good vehicle to get it going nationally.”

The Veteran Friendly Congregation initiative continues a long-standing Brotherhood commitment to helping returning servicemen.

At the conclusion of World War I, 729 churches out of the 1,165 that existed at the time organized church welcoming committees, thanks to the work of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, which kept a file on each and every serviceman. When a soldier returned home – many suffering from “shell-shock” and which is now called “post-traumatic stress disorder” – a local Brotherhood chapter knew about him.

Statistics from that era show that 56 percent of men asking to be baptized at Episcopal churches did so after initially being ushered into a church welcoming home committee organized by the Brotherhood of St. Andrew.

Building upon its success in World War I, the Brotherhood refined its methods of keeping up with servicemen, even as the task in the U.S.’s five-year involvement in World War II proved much more difficult. The Brotherhood’s helpfulness to the military in the First World War earned it a great deal of trust among the Army and Navy brass. To its surprise, the Brotherhood found itself being recommended by U.S. Army and Naval officers.

Due to the international stature of the Anglican Communion, Brotherhood chapters already existed in much of the English-speaking nations. But during – and especially after – World War II, Brotherhood chapters spread to non-English speaking countries and regions such as the Philippines, Korea and Japan, a legacy of the Brotherhood’s efforts that began in 1945 by helping wounded servicemen.

Offering injured servicemen a home in a Brotherhood chapter that can offer them substantial help for their afflictions – whether physical, psychological or both – can play an important role in the life of the Brotherhood as well as the lives of servicemen returning from the longest wars the U.S. has ever fought.

“There is no set way to accomplish this – every church and chapter is different,” Dennis notes. “Either way, you are transforming the life of a man who gave his all for his country.”

Muslim Friday prayers to be offered at Washington National Cathedral

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, November 11, 2014

[Washington National Cathedral] Washington National Cathedral and five Muslim groups have announced that the first celebration of Muslim Friday prayers (Jumaa) at the cathedral will be observed on Friday, Nov. 14.

“Leaders believe offering Muslim prayers at the Christian cathedral shows more than hospitality,” according to a cathedral media advisory. “It demonstrates an appreciation of one another’s prayer traditions and is a powerful symbolic gesture toward a deeper relationship between the two Abrahamic traditions.”

The prayers will be held between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and will be attended by the Rev. Canon Gina Campbell, director of liturgy for Washington National Cathedral, South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool, Masjid Muhammad of The Nation’s Mosque,
and representatives from the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Society of North America, Muslim Public Affairs Council.

The opportunity grew out of a “trusted relationship” between Campbell and Rasool, who met while planning the national memorial service for Nelson Mandela, the advisory said.

“Deep relationships come out of prayer,” said Campbell. “Different connections come out of being in prayer — beyond the political or academic.”

Rasool thanked Campbell for the cathedral’s generous offer to use Friday prayers as a beginning to a deeper conversation and partnership. “This is a dramatic moment in the world and in Muslim-Christian relations,” said Rasool. “This needs to be a world in which all are free to believe and practice and in which we avoid bigotry, Islamaphobia, racism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Christianity and to embrace our humanity and to embrace faith.”

The cathedral has welcomed Muslims in the past, often at interfaith services and events, as well as at the Interfaith Conference of Greater Washington’s annual concert and specific programs such as the 2008 Ramadan Iftar at the Cathedral College. But this is the first time the cathedral has invited Muslims to come and lead their own prayers in a space known as a house of prayer for all people.

Planners hope that the people around the world will take note of this service and the welcome extended by the cathedral so that Muslims everywhere will adopt a reciprocal welcome of Christians by Muslims.

The prayers will be offered in the north transept, an area of the cathedral with arches and limited iconography that provide an ideal space — almost mosque-like — with the appropriate orientation for Muslim prayers.

The prayers will also be webcast live from the cathedral’s website.

Robert Skirving ordained as bishop of East Carolina

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Robert S. Skirving offers a blessing following his ordination as the 8th bishop of the Diocese of East Carolina. Photo: Richard Schori

[Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina] The ordination and consecration of the Rev. Robert S. Skirving as the 8th bishop of the Diocese of East Carolina capped off a celebratory weekend of festivities, bringing people from all over North America to Greenville, North Carolina.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori served as the chief consecrator. The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel (East Carolina, Resigned), the Rt. Rev. Peter J. Lee (East Carolina, Provisional), the Rt. Rev. Julio Holguin (Dominican Republic), the Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley (Eastern Michigan), and the Rt. Rev. Graham Rights (Bishop of Moravian Unity) were the co-consecrators.

Several bishops lay their hands on Robert Skirving as he consecrated as the 8th bishop of the Diocese of East Carolina. Photo: Richard Schori

The dioceses of East Carolina and the Dominican Republic have shared a companion relationship since 2010. Skirving, through his previous parish of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Midland, Michigan, led many groups to the Dominican Republic.

Skirving says he hopes to strengthen the ties between the Episcopal Church and the Moravian Church in Eastern North Carolina. The two traditions are in full communion with each other. The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry (North Carolina) preached, telling the 1,200 worshipers that God’s mission for humanity is to tell people how loved they are.

The ordination and consecration took place at the Rock Springs Center. Clergy of the diocese had the opportunity to meet with the presiding bishop during a luncheon on Friday. She facilitated conversation about effective ministries throughout the church, including the Farmworker Ministry, a joint ministry with the dioceses of East Carolina and North Carolina.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori meets with campus ministers in North Carolina. Photo: Emily Gowdy Canady

Later in the afternoon, students and campus ministers from Episcopal Lutheran Campus Ministries at East Carolina University, Episcopal Lutheran Ministries at UNC-Pembroke, and Episcopal Campus Ministries at UNC-Wilmington had the opportunity to gather for coffee and conversation with the presiding bishop at St. Timothy’s, Greenville. The conversation included LGBT inclusion and each campus’ outreach efforts: ELCM at ECU sponsoring a partner program with the Muslim Student group, ELM at UNCP working with a Native American Literacy Project in their local Community, and ECM at UNCW working at the Farmworker Festival earlier in the fall. The students were deeply engaged by the presiding bishop, and she encouraged them to continue in their strong work of reaching out.

There was no day of rest for the new bishop. He preached and presided at three services at Christ Church, New Bern, on Sunday, Nov. 9. He performed three baptisms, 12 confirmations, four receptions, and seven reaffirmations.

Skirving was elected bishop on May 17 in a special convention. He was serving as rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Midland, Michigan, when he was elected. Prior to arriving at St. John’s in 2005, Skirving served as rector of Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church in London, Ontario, Canada. His work in Canada provided him experience working in churches of varying sizes, from small, rural congregations to large, program-sized parishes in suburban and urban areas.

He has served on the House of Deputies State of the Church Committee and represented the Diocese of Eastern Michigan on the Province V Executive Board. He was a deputy to General Convention in 2012 and has served his diocese as dean and chair of its Commission on Ministry.

He was awarded a BA from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada in 1982. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Huron University College in London, Ontario in 1986. He has completed additional course work towards advanced degrees in religious studies and congregational development at the University of Windsor, University of Notre Dame and Seabury Institute.

He and his wife Sandy have two grown children. When he can, he enjoys reading biography and historical fiction. He has also begun to learn Latin American Spanish to help in the missional partnership with the Episcopal Church in the Dominican Republic.

The Diocese of East Carolina is composed of nearly 70 parishes in 32 counties and covers the area from I-95 to the coast and from Southport up to Gatesville. The diocese is home to several major military bases, a large Hispanic community, and small congregations. The diocesan office is located in Kinston.