[Episcopal News Service] EcoPeace Middle East, Koch-Ya’ari leads a campaign to rehabilitate the Jordan River. Once a vital source of clean water throughout the Holy Land, the river has been sullied by untreated sewage and drought during the past 50 years.
[Episcopal News Service] It may be a cliché to say that water knows no boundaries, but for Elizabeth Koch-Ya’ari, navigating the stream of ecology and peacemaking is bringing together Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian environmentalists – people of different faiths from neighboring communities – to mobilize and build friendships around their common source of life.
As a project coordinator with EcoPeace Middle East, Koch-Ya’ari leads a campaign to rehabilitate the Jordan River. Once a vital source of clean water throughout the Holy Land, the river has been sullied by untreated sewage and drought during the past 50 years.
“We come together and we use environment as a platform for peace-building,” Koch-Ya’ari told Episcopal News Service following a presentation in Tel Aviv in January, when she met with a United States interfaith delegation that visited the region on pilgrimage.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to enter into understanding these different communities that are bordering each other, that share the same water resources, that share the environment,” she said. “In this area of the world, water can bring us together, because water does not see all these walls and borders that we put between each other.”
The Jordan River has major significance in Judaism, Christianity and Islam as the site where the Israelites crossed into the Promised Land, where John the Baptist baptized Jesus, and where Prophet Mohammed foretold an event that happened years later.
EcoPeace has created a toolkit of resources for Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities, called Water and Ecology in the Jordan River, to encourage faith-based education and engagement around the issue of water.
“The reality is that many people who live along the Jordan River don’t experience its benefits. In many parts of its flow, it’s dirty, polluted, [and] it disappears in dry seasons of the year,” Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, one of the pilgrimage co-leaders, told ENS while visiting the Yardenit Baptismal Site along the Jordan River in the Galilee region of northern Israel.
“The work of the EcoPeace institute is to gather people from both sides of the river, from different faith traditions in neighboring communities, to advocate and work for improvement of the water situation, to understand each other’s needs, and they come to understand each other as friends in doing that work,” she said. “It’s true peace-building work.”
The Rev. John Kitagawa, rector of St. Philip’s in-the-Hills Episcopal Church in Tucson, Arizona, and a pilgrimage member, said the disappearance of the Jordan River would be tragic. Not only does it mean so much to the lives of people on both sides of the Jordan River, he said, but “it is deeply important to our faith. It’s not possible to read the Scriptures without all kinds of references to the Jordan River.”
Kitagawa said there are lots of parallels in the United States where water issues abound.
“I live in the desert in southern Arizona. Our groundwater is basically depleted. We have to import water from the Colorado River, and so the very substance of life is at stake,” he said. “But it’s not just those of us who are desert-dwellers. We are increasingly seeing people who are dealing with fracking issues in their area and how that affects groundwater. Coal mining and other forms of mining have deep issues with polluting water and farmers are increasingly facing drought issues with global warming. Water is a constant issue around us. We have very much in common, and we just need to figure out how to understand our common roots, and one of those common roots is our responsibility as stewards of God’s creation.”
“Communities across this region share so much,” Koch-Ya’ari said of the Holy Land. “Water is a basic part of life and to join together to rehabilitate shared water streams like the lower Jordan River, we gain a lot, not only for the environment but also to learn about each other, about our different faith communities and about how we can help each other [and] our shared ecosystems.”
Koch-Ya’ari is one of a number of leaders of grassroots initiatives in the Holy Land with whom the U.S. interfaith delegation met during its Jan. 18-27 pilgrimage.
She and other grassroots leaders are certain that these sorts of initiatives will be the key to building the trust and breaking down the barriers that will ensure a lasting peace in the region long after the politicians broker any kind of deal. However, prospects for the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians appear complicated at best after a year that has seen the collapse of peace talks brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, a devastating war between Israel and the Palestinian movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and a series of actions and statements by Israeli and Palestinian leaders that both reflect and contribute to a divisive climate.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose Likud Party emerged as the winner of Tuesday’s parliamentary elections, provided the latest example of politically charged rhetoric this week, stating the day before the election that there would be no Palestinian state under his leadership. Netanyahu previously has consistently endorsed a two-state solution, including in the context of negotiations with the Palestinians. It is unclear what the prime minister’s statement this week, in the context of a divisive and surprisingly close election, might mean for the future of the peace process or Netanyahu’s own relationship with key international supporters of a two-state solution, including the United States government.
Back in January, the interfaith group heard how Lior Frankiensztajn’s world changed a few years ago after he welcomed a Palestinian man into his home for two months. He got to learn many things about himself and his roots, but most importantly, he saw “how reality looks from a different perspective,” he told the interfaith pilgrims following lunch in a Tel Aviv restaurant. Unfortunately, “politicians manage the relationships, which limits the opportunity for progress. … There has to be a different approach to policymaking, to education.”
It was this thinking that led Frankiensztajn to launch the Shades Negotiation Program, which creates opportunities for Palestinian and Israeli decision-makers, politicians, educators and other leaders to meet and engage with their counterparts. The program is sponsored by Harvard University and partly funded by the U.S. State Department.
Acknowledging that it is easy to engage the converted, Frankiensztajn said that Shades is trying to identify the obstacles, areas that need more attention in helping people “to become better negotiators, better communicators through this experience [and] really getting to understand the nuances and the culture of the other side.” Creating trust, he added, is a critical part of the peace process.
Azhar Azeez, president of the Islamic Society of North America and a pilgrimage member, responded to Frankiensztajn’s presentation with encouragement and congratulations for his peace-making efforts. “I can see how this endeavor will bring positive change and hope,” he said.
The 15-member interfaith pilgrimage was co-led by Jefferts Schori; Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs; and Sayyid Syeed, national director of interfaith and community alliances for the Islamic Society of North America.
The visit was planned in response to Resolution B019, passed by The Episcopal Church’s General Convention in 2012, that called for positive investment and engagement in the region and recommended that the presiding bishop develop an interfaith model pilgrimage with multiple narratives. That resolution reiterated The Episcopal Church’s longstanding commitment to a negotiated two-state solution “in which a secure and universally recognized state of Israel lives alongside a free, viable and secure state for the Palestinian people.”
“Only when people on the ground speak up and say ‘enough is enough’ will the possibility of peace and justice break through in the problematic relationship between the Palestinians and Israelis,” said Gutow. “When we meet with groups like Shades, Roots, and EcoPeace, we know that the journey to resolution and reconciliation is not only possible but eminently doable.”
The group Roots brings together Israeli settlers in Gush Etzion with Palestinians from adjoining villages to promote dialogue and build trust as a path to peace. The leadership of Roots believe it is imperative for the communities to put aside political retrenchment, divisive actions and rhetoric in order to begin sowing the seeds necessary to make an eventual peace agreement take hold.
Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger told the interfaith leaders that Roots has transformed the way he views the world.
One year ago, at the invitation of a friend, Schlesinger left his home and walked just 20 minutes through the Arab fields and vineyards and arrived at the piece of land where the interfaith pilgrims were now gathered to listen to his story. He said his heart was pounding as he entered the compound where approximately 25 Jews and 25 Palestinians were talking.
Schlesinger, now a Roots project coordinator, had grown up with fear of the Palestinians who lived alongside his village.
“We have no connections with the other side. Newspapers are different, radio stations are different, houses of worship are different, we buy in different stores, we have different school systems. We have no contact at all. We pass one another on the roads and don’t know who’s driving the car,” he said. “When you have that situation of distance, you have fear and you have suspicion and you have hate.”
But through the conversations he had during that gathering one year ago, he came to understand that the Palestinians who’d been his neighbors all those years also lived in fear of him. “I’ve never thought of it like that before. We’re afraid of each other,” he said. For the first time in his life, Schlesinger said, he was talking to “the other” as an equal.
Palestinian Ali Abu Awwad, a co-founder of Roots, was at that gathering and shared his life story with the group. “It was the first time in my life that I heard life from a Palestinian perspective, and he spoke without rancor, without hate, and we spoke about his life,” Schlesinger said. “It was really difficult to hear and it felt like I was being personally attacked to hear a narrative that is so different from mine. But as different as it was from my narrative, it wasn’t false. I didn’t hear any lies. I heard that he was taking the building blocks of history and of life as I know them and putting them together into a completely different story, but his story made sense. And now I see myself in Ali’s story. And although he didn’t say it, in his story I saw myself as the oppressor. It began a process of rethinking.”
Awwad, who was raised in a highly political family and served time as a political prisoner, said there are many conflict designers on both sides and that “we are good in this competition of who suffers more. … But when it comes to solutions, we lose the courage, because we act like victims. Victims will never be able to solve their own conflict if they are the prisoners of their pain. … The price of this war has become easier than the price of peace. We need to find a way where people can serve God and not lose their humanity. We can make a difference together.”
Shaul Judelman, a Roots project coordinator who has lived in Gush Etzion for the past 13 years, said: “We know that there is great disagreement over many issues – over the facts of the past and even about the reality of the present – but we believe that effective dialogue is the secure place for argument and deeper understanding. It is in this space that solutions can be built.”
Gutow said that Roots “teaches us … about traditional politicians oppressing the intrinsic dreams of the real people who live on the land.
“We must stand with those who can both understand and speak with integrity about the differing narratives of the regular people who make their homes there,” Gutow added. “We must provide them with the platforms and the financial support and the validation they need to succeed. The job of our pilgrimage is to serve as an interfaith witness to the truths of both sides and to help the good and kind people who dwell there find the peace and wholeness and calm they so desire and so deserve.”
Reflecting on the pilgrimage, Jefferts Schori told Episcopal News Service that “the kinds of grassroots peace-making efforts we witnessed in the Land of the Holy One are all focused on building relationships. [Yet] the sad reality is that Palestinians and Israelis live almost completely separate lives. Most never meet at grocery stores, schools, or in civic life. … That human encounter is essential to humanizing ‘the other.’ The Abrahamic faith traditions speak of encountering the image of God, the divine creative capacity that is part of our nature.”
She said she was encouraged by “the willingness to cross boundaries, physical divisions, as well as suspicion, doubt, and fear” and described it as “the soil in which peace can begin to grow, … Getting one’s hands dirty together creates bonds that are deeper than our conscious prejudices. Bonds born of shared labor will endure, and they invite others to come and see, to be a bit vulnerable, in order to see the healing that might be possible.”
— Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Climate Change Crisis, presented by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society on March 24, will address one of the most significant topics in today’s society.
The 90-minute live webcast will originate from Campbell Hall Episcopal School, North Hollywood, CA, in partnership with Bishop J. Jon Bruno and the Diocese of Los Angeles.
The Climate Change Crisis will begin 11 am Pacific. The webcast will be viewable here.
There are many ways to participate, engage, and get involved.
Meet the participants
• The forum will be moderated by well-known climatologist Fritz Coleman of KNBC 4 television news.
• Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will present the keynote address.
• Two panels, each 30 minutes, will focus on specific areas of the climate change crisis: Regional Impacts of Climate Change; and Reclaiming Climate Change as a Moral Issue.
• Panelists: Bishop Marc Andrus, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California He has made climate change a focus of his episcopacy; Princess Daazhraii Johnson, former Executive Director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee, one of the oldest Indigenous non-profit groups in Alaska focused on protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; Dr. Lucy Jones, seismologist with the US Geological Survey and a Visiting Research Associate at the Seismological Laboratory of Caltech since 1983; Mary D. Nichols, J.D., Chairman of the California Air Resources Board.
• Facilitator’s Guide located here.
30 Days of Action
In addition to stimulating conversation and raising awareness about The Climate Change Crisis, the live webcast will serve as the kickoff to 30 Days of Action. A range of activities developed by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society are offered for individuals and congregations to understand the environmental crisis. The activities will culminate on Earth Day, April 22.
• 30 Days of Action located here.
• Information located here.
• Tweeting Climate Change Crisis: #EpiscopalForum
• Tweeting 30 Days of Action: #Episcopal#30Days
• Bulletin Insert here.
• There is no fee to view the live webcast. The webcast will be viewable here.
• Registration is not required for the live webcast.
• The forum will be available on-demand following the live webcast.
• The forum is ideal for live group watching and discussion, or on-demand viewing later. It will be appropriate for Sunday School, discussions groups, and community gatherings.
The event supports Mark 5 of the Anglican Communion’s Marks of Mission: To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth. Anglican Five Marks of Mission are here. The Five Marks of Mission form the basis for the triennial budget of The Episcopal Church adopted by the 77th General Convention in July 2012.
The event is one of the aspects of commemorating The Episcopal Church’s 150th year of parish ministry in Southern California.
For more information contact Neva Rae Fox, Public Affairs Officer for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Episcopal News Service will provide coverage of the event and the climate change issue.
Hacia la Convención General 2015: Abierta la matrícula para el programa infantil; Disponibles los formularios para los consejeros
[17 de marzo de 2015] Ya está abierta la matrícula para el Programa Infantil de la Convención General 2015.
La 78ª. Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal sesionará del 25 de junio al 3 de julio en el Centro de Convenciones Salt Palace de Salt Lake City, UT (Diócesis de Utah).
El programa Infantil funcionará desde el jueves 25 de junio hasta el viernes 3 de julio, a partir de las 7:15 A.M. hasta el cierre de las sesiones. Un evento de puertas abiertas está programado para el miércoles 24 de junio.
Los hijos de diputados, suplentes, obispos y otras personas que asistan a la Convención General tienen derecho a aprovechar el programa infantil, desde recién nacidos hasta niños que hayan terminado el quinto grado. El costo es de $70 diarios e incluye, almuerzo, meriendas y actividades, tales como participación en la liturgia diaria.
La matrícula es accesible aquí.
“El Programa Infantil de la convención General es mucho más que un mero lugar para que los niños estén mientras sus padres realizan el trabajo de la Iglesia”, comentó la Rda. Shannon Kelly, misionera interina del Ministerio Universitario y de Jóvenes Adultos de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera. “Los niños son parte de la Iglesia Episcopal y de la Comunión Anglicana y es esencial que ellos estén presentes”.
El Programa Infantil se estableció en la 75ª. Convención General en Columbus, OH, mediante la Resolución D059.
Consejeros y consejeros menores
Están abiertas ahora las solicitudes para jóvenes que deseen servir como consejeros y consejeros menores en el Programa Infantil de la Convención General.
Para tener derecho, los solicitantes deben estar cursando actualmente del sexto al 12º. grado y tener a uno de sus padres (o a ambos) ya inscritos para asistir a la Convención General como obispo, diputado, exhibidor o voluntario.
Se aceptarán las solicitudes hasta el 20 de abril. Se necesita de la recomendación de un adulto. Habrá todo un día de adiestramiento el martes 23 de junio. Aqui.
Para más información, así como para indagar sobre elegibilidad y solicitudes, diríjase a Kelly en email@example.com.
La Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal se celebra cada tres años, y es el organismo gubernativo bicameral de la Iglesia. Está compuesta por la Cámara de Obispos, con más de 200 obispos en activo y jubilados, y la Cámara de Diputados, con representantes electos, clérigos y laicos, provenientes de las 110 diócesis de la Iglesia que ascienden a más de 800 miembros.
Advancing to General Convention 2015: registration open for children’s program; applications available for counselors
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Registration is now open for the Children’s Program for General Convention 2015.
The Episcopal Church’s 78th General Convention, June 25 – July 3, will be held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah).
The Children’s Program will operate Thursday, June 25 to Friday, July 3, opening at 7:15 am through the close of business sessions. An open house is slated for Wednesday, June 24.
Children of deputies, alternates, bishops, and others attending General Convention are eligible for the children’s program; ages newborns through completed fifth grade. Cost is $70 per day and includes lunch, snacks and activities, such as participation in the daily liturgy.
Registration is available here.
“The General Convention Children’s Program is so much more than just a place for children to be while their parents do church work,” commented the Rev. Shannon Kelly, Acting Missioner for Campus and Young Adult Ministries for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. “Children are a part of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion and it is essential that they are present.”
The Children’s Program was set at the 75th General Convention in 2006 in Columbus OH through Resolution D059.
Counselors and junior counselors
Applications are now accepted for youth to serve as counselors and junior counselors in the General Convention Children’s Program.
To be eligible, applicants must be in grades six through 12, and have a parent(s) already registered for General Convention as a bishop, deputy, exhibitor or volunteer.
Applications are accepted through April 20. Adult recommendations required. There will be a day-long training on Tuesday, June 23.
For more information, eligibility, and application contact Kelly firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 109 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.
17 March 2015
Chapel of the Transfiguration, Kanuga
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
Slavery is not new, and its legacy haunts most of the world. The ancient archaeological evidence of sacrificial human remains in British bogs, Egyptian pyramids, Meso-American wells, and atop Andean peaks pretty clearly implicate most of our ancestral cultures in using other human beings as commodities and as an expendable resource. The Bible is filled with tales of slaves and their quest for freedom.
Patrick may be the only runaway slave on our calendar. He’s certainly one of the earliest. He was born in what is now western England around 390. His grandfather was a priest, his father a deacon and city official. The teenaged Patrick was captured and trafficked to Ireland, where he spent his days watching sheep and learning to pray. A vision in the midst of his prayers six years later prompted him to flee to the coast, where he eventually persuaded some sailors to take him aboard. They probably landed him in Gaul. Eventually he made his way home, where he received some training, was ordained a priest, and eventually had some interaction with monastic Christians in Gaul. About 435 he went as bishop to the Irish, settling in Armagh. He encouraged monastic vocations, built a school, and went about making disciples, baptizing, and showing people a human example of what it looks like to travel the road of Christ.
This saint seems never to have lost his self-understanding as a former slave and an exile, nor did he lose his embarrassment about his limited education, but he names his great passion to “spend myself…so that many peoples should be reborn in God and then made perfect…” Being made perfect had nothing to do with conforming to one particular clan or race. This immigrant spent himself as Christ’s servant to those who had enslaved him. His preaching was personal, humble in that earthy sense, and effective. Like the householder Jesus speaks about, Patrick brought out of his treasure what was old and what was new, and shared the good news of the kingdom of God already present. Patrick blessed the local idiom and baptized holy instincts: in ancient sacred wells that were now dedicated to Christian saints, holy sites that became gathering places for Christian communities, and druidic pillars transformed into high crosses.
135 years after Patrick’s death, Augustine arrived to missionize the British, sent by Gregory the Great, who had seen slaves like Patrick in the Roman market. Augustine found an indigenous Christian community, and Gregory encouraged him to do as Patrick had done, to be curious about what he found, and not to see difference as something to eliminate, but to look for the fingerprints of the holy within it.
The descendants of the English and the Irish have not always lived up to the witness of their spiritual forebears. The divisions between them have been attributed to later Roman Catholic-Protestant disputes, but they originate in the differences between the indigenous Christianity that Patrick and Augustine nurtured and a later Roman variety. The Norman invasions that began in the 12th century laid the ground for later “religious” wars and the same kind of land appropriation and attempts at de-culturation that European immigrants visited on the native peoples of this continent. By the 19th century those policies had made virtual economic slaves of much of the Irish population. The famine that followed the collapse of the potato crop killed a million people and sent a million emigrants to these shores. Forty per cent of those who traveled in steerage died in the sea passage on what were called “coffin ships,” a record only exceeded by the African slave trade. The status of the Irish immigrants was no better in many northern states than the slaves they replaced, and many were dispatched with equal impunity when they demanded freedom. The church was one of the players in addressing those varieties of injustice, but it usually wasn’t this one, which more often counted mine owners and steel barons as its members.
One tribe or nation targets another race or tribe as expendable or as an exploitable commodity – for its labor, its land, or the wealth of resources it appears to control. That has produced a very long trail of tears through history – from Pharoah’s empire, to Greece and Rome, the German Third Reich, to Rwanda, Sudan, Syria, and those who cross the southern borders of this nation today. Yet the impulse to seek God’s image in the other continues – Patrick stands in the same line as the converted Paul, Sojourner Truth, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela… even in the darkest hour hope continues for that green blade newly rising.
People of every heritage claim to be Irish on this festival day, because underneath the mythic hype around Patrick, there is still a hint of peoples and nations and clans gathered as siblings created by the One God.
This place, Kanuga, is named for the Cherokee gathering place that it was long before Europeans appeared. You have heard the outlines of what ensued, with the passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1830 and the wholesale expulsion of the Cherokee and their neighboring tribes in 1836. The Trail of Tears still echoes here.
Some 70 years later, George Stephens bought this land to build a summer community for lowland Carolinians – for people with sufficient privilege to take an extended vacation. Stephens made his fortune in newspapers and banking, having founded the predecessor of Bank of America. He discovered this beautiful spot in 1909, he dammed the creek and induced others to come and build cabins here. The dam failed in 1916 and the community foundered, going through four bankruptcies before Bishop Finlay of Upper South Carolina bought it as a summer camp for the surrounding dioceses in 1928. If you talk to people of a certain age and race in this part of the world, you soon begin to hear some of the lore around this privileged place. While campers of all races and families come here today, this was fully a part of the old Jim Crow. No one of color came here to rest. Sabbath was for owners only.
This Chapel of the Transfiguration was designed by the Scots architect Grant Alexander and built in 1940. Look at the planks of this overturned boat. These are native yellow pine boards, cut on this land. Some probably came from seedlings that sprang up while the Cherokee were here. Look more carefully. Can you see the signs of floods and wet tears? Can you see the sweaty fingerprints of its builders? There’s probably blood up there as well, from splinters and nails. Those marks are still evident in the rafters, even if they’ve disappeared from the boards down lower – either sanded or washed away. The invisible are not so invisible if we’re curious.
Those marks up there are rather like the cross on our foreheads – branded forever in our souls, but only particularly noticeable in the earthy mark that begins Lent. Human beings still subjugate one another in attempts to possess that earth, still despise the common earthy origin of brothers and sisters, still use one another like ore or oil mined from the earth. We do it because we cling to one patch or field or nation as our own, even though we are descendants of wandering Arameans and followers of the One who had no place to lay his head. For all the otherness that human hearts despise is born of the desire to own and possess and control what is ultimately and eternally a gift. The striking reality is that most of the enslaved and subjugated races throughout history are defined by their generous hospitality and unwillingness to assert exclusive ownership rights. Generosity is the fruit of servanthood.
I wonder what would happen if we really taught what Jesus preached about giving ourselves away? What if we sent young people to residential schools that enculturated them in that ethos of loving neighbor as ourselves, rather than Greek fantasies of entitlement and privilege? (you might think of recent racist fraternity outpourings). Do we have the courage to dismantle or transfigure those systems of privilege? In spite of their history, and indeed because of it, places like this one can help with that transfiguration. Camping here for a while can be an opportunity for healing. But we can’t stay here.
Patrick, like Jesus, lived on the road, walking lightly on the earth to meet those called stranger or enemy. That requires curiosity about the other, requires courage to meet those people, and a willingness to share their lament. By the rivers of Babylon, and in every place of privilege and oppression, we’re meant to go and sing the Lord’s song of liberation and kinship in Christ.
 Confession I:15-16, cf. They Still Speak 57
 Matthew 13:52
 And of other tribal groups like the Scots and the Welsh
[Episcopal Public Policy Network] And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.” Genesis 1:29
The barren landscape of winter with its naked tree limbs and hard, frozen ground is hardly evocative of fertility, reproduction, and new life. Yet we know that these processes continue beneath the visible surface of things, and we have faith that the earth will spring back to life in a few weeks, growing a harvest that will nourish us throughout the year. God created a constant and powerful process of food growth and yield that is both steady and sufficient, and one that we all rely upon. The beauty of this process is that God has fully provided for us: there is enough food in the world for everyone to eat.
Why, then, is one in five children in the United States at risk of hunger? Perhaps our answer lies in the words of the Haitian proverb: “Bondye konn bay, men li pa konn separe,” which literally means: “God gives but doesn’t share.” Our Creator has provided everything we need for each inhabitant of the world to live a full, nourished life, yet it’s up to us to ensure that every person has access to the nutrition that they need to thrive.
Fortunately, our government responded to this challenge by creating feeding programs that reach children and their families who live in food-insecure households. The National School Lunch Program offers free or reduced-price lunches to 21.5 million low-income children, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides over 8.6 million low-income women and children with food and nutrition education, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; formerly known as the ‘food stamp program’) lifted 3.7 million Americans out of poverty in 2013.
These critical programs rely on government funding to impact the lives of each person that they reach, and as Episcopalians, we can be powerful advocates for robustly funding these initiatives. As we advocate on a federal level to change the systems of poverty, we can also engage our local resources to address hunger within our community. The reflection below illustrates a moving example of Episcopalians participating in a hunger ministry with their neighbors in Redmond, Washington.
Food Bank Farm: A Ministry of Food
“… for I was hungry and you gave me food” Matthew 25:35 (NRSV)
Bounded on the west by the waters of Puget Sound and on the east by the Cascade Mountain range, the terrain of King County, Washington was shaped by glaciers that deposited fertile soil and carved lush river valleys. Warmed and watered by currents of the Pacific Ocean, the area’s native vegetation — salal, berries, nettles, fiddleheads, hazelnuts — sustained generations with natural abundance.
Today, King County enjoys a new kind of abundance. Home to tech companies like Amazon in Seattle and Microsoft in Redmond, the county is attracting a huge influx of wealth and investment, and is currently experiencing the second fastest rate of growth of all counties in the U.S.
But in the midst of the county’s natural and financial plenty, there’s scarcity.
Here, the number of people experiencing hunger remains higher than pre-recession levels: Approximately 305,000 children in the state of Washington live in food insecure households, and 19.5% of families with children experience food insecurity. This means that in about one of five families, parents go hungry so their children can be fed — and sometimes, everyone goes hungry.
And in those places where the county’s poor can afford to eat, their options for healthy food choices are limited. Recently, the USDA identified 17 “food deserts” in King County, “urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food.” These are areas where 20% of the people earn below the poverty line and 33% live more than a mile from a supermarket. In place of markets where fresh, nutritious food is offered, the landscape of these food deserts is dotted with convenience stores and fast food outlets. The USDA concludes, “The lack of access (to fresh foods) contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.”
Jesus charges his disciples to feed his sheep. That’s our mandate. But how do we do this in King County, where the paradoxical epidemic of hunger and obesity is immense?
One answer lies in connecting the financial and natural resources God has planted here.
Holy Cross Episcopal Church sits in one of the wealthiest census tracts in the county, in the hills of Redmond, which is also home to Microsoft’s corporate headquarters. The growing congregation includes many parishioners who have relocated to the Seattle area, recruited by the local technology boom. And its rector drives a tractor.
Frederick Buechner says, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Holy Cross rector Fr. Jim Eichner can interpret this quite literally. Raised on a farm in Wisconsin, Jim brought to Holy Cross his passion for creation stewardship. Fr. Jim’s “deep gladness” lies in cultivating the earth — sowing and growing — and directly meets the world’s deep hunger in King County. Jim drove his tractor into the heart of the county’s hunger epidemic, and brought his congregation with him.
Holy Cross’s Food Bank Farm ministry began in 2011. Twelve volunteers from the congregation worked in partnership with Seattle’s inner city New Hope Missionary Baptist Church’s Clean Greens ministry, growing 3,750 pounds of food, for 5,000 servings valued at $5,625. That 2011 harvest was sold inexpensively at farm stands in Seattle’s urban food deserts, distributed via free boxes of produce to families in need, and donated to local food banks.
The Food Bank Farm ministry’s mission is “to end hunger in the Pacific Northwest by growing fresh produce for area food banks,” and its ambitious goal is to raise a million pounds of nutritious fresh produce for area food banks by 2021. They’re well on their way.
The congregation now cultivates an eight-acre tract in King County’s Snoqualmie River Valley, and the work has grown beyond just Holy Cross. Other congregations, organizations like the Scouts, even businesses that sponsor employee volunteer time off, such as retailer Nordstrom, have worked in the ministry’s fields. Many contributions come in via United Way and the Microsoft matching program. In 2014, over 700 people harvested 111,000 pounds of produce, providing 457,760 servings valued at $167,160.
The 2015 planting begins the second week of Easter, with plans for sowing 30,000 squash seeds. By the final harvest in November, volunteers will log over 1,500 hours of work.
Can the congregation meet their lofty goal of ending hunger in the Pacific Northwest? It is Holy Cross’s corporate vocation, and there is a power at work within them that is able to accomplish far more than they can ask or imagine. Please support their ministry in prayer.
King County’s hunger rates parallel national averages — there are hungry people where you live. Even one hungry child is a community crisis, and we are all called to act. Maybe you won’t find a rector on a tractor in your community, but there are local, national and global organizations that can channel your gifts, talents and resources to help end hunger. That same power that is able to accomplish far more than you can ask or imagine is at work within you, too.
Almighty God, we thank you for making the earth fruitful, so that it might produce what is needed for life: Bless those who work in the fields; give us seasonable weather; and grant that we may all share the fruits for the earth, rejoicing in your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP, Prayer for Agriculture)
Take Action: Go here to let your members of Congress know you support legislation that provides adequate nutrition programs to all children.
Speak out on social media about the need for our federal budget to support human needs programs. Join the conversation with #StopTheCuts.
Join the Domestic Policy Action Network to get monthly emails that provide you with an in-depth look at domestic policy. Email email@example.com to join the network.
Learn more about the Food Bank Farm. Check out their website here!
This is the fifth installment of the Episcopal Public Policy Network’s 2015 Lenten Series: “Engaging Poverty at Home and Around the World.” To view previous reflections, click here. To receive these reflections to your inbox each Wednesday of Lent, sign up here.
[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church House of Bishops, meeting in its annual spring retreat, has agreed to write a new pastoral letter to the church on the sin of racism.
The letter, expected to be adopted at the spring 2016 meeting, will be “the most lasting response of this house to that issue,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said during a midday press conference on March 17, the final day of the bishops’ meeting.
The letter would follow on one adopted by the house in April 1994 and another one issued March 22, 2006. The 2006 letter noted the 1994 pastoral statement said a new letter was needed because the “pervasive sin” of racism “continues to plague our common life in the church and in our culture.”
The theme for the March 13-17 meeting at the Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, North Carolina, in the Diocese of Western North Carolina, was Fostering a culture of curiosity, compassion and courage in Christ.
“We have focused our conversation around curiosity about ‘the other,’ courage in encountering ‘the other’ and compassion in encountering ‘the other,’” Jefferts Schori said. She added that member bishops challenged their colleagues with “provocative” mediations about race, culture, class and dealing with other faith traditions.
“The conversations have been deeper than I have ever experienced in this house and I am immensely gratified at the depth of the conversations and what I think will result from this meeting,” she said.
The presiding bishop praised the work of the house’s planning committee for the depth of the members’ participation. Diocese of Eastern Michigan Bishop Todd Ousley, co-chair of the House of Bishops Planning Committee, said that the meeting was structured with the filter of first considering the legacy of slavery, and then moving to the “contemporary experience of the results of racism and divisions in this country and elsewhere around race.”
The movement allowed the bishops “to build on our experiences of what it means to be the church in the midst of an increasingly pluralistic culture where the other is next to us at all times,” Ousley said.
The meeting, which Ousley said was “packed to the brim with information and deep encounters with ourselves and our role as bishops,” also energized the bishops “by having gone so deep together and discovering how we have to be as bishops as we move into an increasingly rapid, fast-changing world.”
The bishops also “considered issues of impairment among our members and others in the church,” Jefferts Schori said, “and we hope to appoint a commission that will address those issues in a broad sense and provide us some feedback about what and how we might attend to those issues.”
The bishops passed a resolution calling on the presiding bishop, in consultation with the president of the House of Deputies, to appoint an independent commission to “explore the canonical, environment, behavioral and procedural dimensions of matters involving the serious impairment of individuals serving as leaders in the church, with special attention to issues of addiction and substance abuse,” according to the March 17 daily account of the meeting.
The resolution says that appointments to the commission ought to include individuals “with professional or personal experience with varieties of impairment,” as well as members of The Episcopal Church and of the church’s full-communion partners.
“Recommendations for both action and further review, as appropriate, in order to clarify lines of authority, to ensure mutual accountability, and to promote justice, well-being, and safety within both the church and the world were included,” the account said of the resolution.
The presiding bishop said there “will be an ongoing conversation” about how such a commission would do its work.
Jefferts Schori said the goal of the commission would be for the church to understand how it “might better respond both pastorally and ecclesiastically” to its members, both lay and ordained.
Diocese of Kansas Bishop Dean Wolfe, vice president of the House of Bishops, said the commission is needed because “the church is an imperfect and dynamic institution and we’re always trying to learn how to be more faithful and find ways to better exercise our ministries.”
A member of the house, Maryland Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook, is on administrative leave from the diocese while awaiting trial on charges that on Dec. 27 she allegedly was driving while intoxicated and was texting when she struck and killed bicyclist Thomas Palermo, 41.
The house also set its attention towards the 78th meeting of the church’s General Convention June 23-July 3 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Bishop Ken Price, secretary of the House of Bishops, said the bishops spent time talking about the topics that convention will consider. On March 17 the bishops began to shift their emphasis “to more of a legislative mode that we will be in at General Convention,” he said.
Twenty-two bishops have never attended convention as members of the House of Bishops, Price said. They will have a learning curve, but so will all the bishops, Price noted, as the convention moves toward a paperless operation.
“This is a new learning [experience] for bishops so we’re trying to get on board with that,” Price said.
The Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe, the convention’s executive officer, met with the bishops on March 17 to introduce them to the paperless plan.
“We’ve moved from prayerful to personal and now we’re moving into practical this afternoon,” Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce said during the March 17 press conference.
Price added that the house spent very little time discussing the impending General Convention election of Jefferts Schori’s successor because the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop has not yet released its slate of nominees. That committee has two meetings slated, March 19-22 and April 19-20, and has said it will make that announcement in early May. Prior to the last presiding bishop election in 2006, the committee announced its slate in January.
During the meeting, The Episcopal Church’s Office of Public Affairs issued daily accounts that provided a brief overview of the bishops’ discussions and activities at Kanuga. Those accounts are here.
Members of the public and the news media were not allowed to observe the sessions. Some bishops blogged and tweeted during the retreat using #hoblent2015. Those tweets can be read here.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church concluded its retreat meeting today, March 17, at Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC. The following is an account of the activities for Tuesday, March 17.
The theme for the spring meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is Fostering a culture of curiosity, compassion and courage in Christ.
The day began with Morning Prayer, presided by HOB Chaplain, the Rev. Simon Batista of Texas.
The emcee for the day was Bishop Andrew Dietsche of New York.
Bishop Jay Magness addressed the House on the work of federal ministries, chaplains and prison ministers.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori presided at the business meeting. Among the actions:
- 148 bishops were in attendance. Bishop Peter Lee was senior bishop at the meeting.
- A standing ovation acknowledged Bishop Duncan Gray of Mississippi upon his resignation.
- Elected to the Disciplinary Board for Bishops were Bishop Dorsey Henderson (reelected), Bishop Cate Waynick of Indianapolis (reelected), Bishop Rob O’Neill of Colorado and Bishop Nick Knisely of Rhode Island.
- The Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB) presented a resolution mandating that candidates nominated by petition undergo the same background check procedures as those nominated by the JNCPB. The resolution was approved.
- The HOB Pastoral Development presented a resolution of understanding on Commitments and Core Values for General Convention 2015, which was approved.
- The House approved a resolution calling for the Presiding Bishop, in consultation with the President of the House of Deputies, to appoint an independent commission to explore the canonical, environment, behavioral and procedural dimensions of matters involving the serious impairment of individuals serving as leaders in the church, with special attention to issues of addiction and substance abuse. The resolution requests that appointments to this commission include individuals with professional or personal experience with varieties of impairment, members of Full-Communion partner churches, and members of this Church. Recommendations for both action and further review, as appropriate, in order to clarify lines of authority, to ensure mutual accountability, and to promote justice, well-being, and safety within both the Church and the world were included.
- The Bishops agreed to prepare a new Pastoral Letter on Racism, to be promulgated in 2016.
- The HOB received the report of the Ecclesiology committee, entitled Re-membering and Re-imagining, a set of draft documents for further study.
- Mindful of tragic events in Pakistan, the bishops approved a resolution in support of and in gratitude for the witness of Christians in that country.
In the afternoon session, an overview of General Convention 2015 was presented by: Bishop Ken Price, secretary of HOB; the Rev. Canon Dr. Michael Barlowe, Executive Officer of General Convention; and Bishop Scott Hayashi of Utah, the host diocese. Topics included process, Virtual Binder, logistics, and hospitality and support being offered by the LDS church.
Bishop Hayashi also spoke about the march slated for Sunday morning (June 28) of General Convention sponsored by the Bishops against Gun Violence.
The day concluded with Eucharist celebrated by Bishop Ken Price with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preaching.
Media Briefers for Tuesday March 17
[St. Philips Church] The Rev. Keith Johnson, 53, passed away Tuesday, February 24, 2015 due to complications from cancer.
Born in New Orleans in 1961, Keith grew up schooled in the particular values of his parents, Minnie and Robert Johnson.These virtues, including southern warmth, kindheartedness and a gracious respect of others, would shine in his ministry as a priest. He loved the novel To Kill a Mockingbird and would often listen to the soundtrack of the film when praying or writing. Atticus Finch’s innate goodness reminded Keith of his own father, as well as inspiring Keith to become his own man.
Keith attended the University of Illinois, Champaign Urbana. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. Following graduation, Keith went to help others by taking a position with the U.S. Social Security Administration in Detroit and then Key West, Florida.
In 1998, Keith married Ginny Hare, and took on an instant family which included Ginny’s two children, Edward and Sarah. The family moved to Alexandria, Virginia, where Keith studied at The Virginia Theological Seminary. One of Keith’s joys was coaching Edward and his various teams in football. He coached Pop Warner football during his time in seminary, and continued coaching freshman and junior varsity ball.
In 2001, he was ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Church by Bishop Leopold Frade. Later that year, he accepted a priesthood in the Diocese of Southeast Florida. Keith simultaneously served the church as rector of St. Matthew’s and assistant at St Paul’s in Delray Beach. Keith’s personal mission here was to bridge the racial gap between these two diverse parishes.
From 2003 to 2008, Keith served as rector of St. Andrew’s in Ben Lomond, California. While here Keith served on the board of Valley Churches United Missions, a non-profit that provided food and assistance to over 7000 county residents. Keith next went on to minister as an assistant priest at Holy Trinity in Clearwater, Florida, for a few years. He then spent eighteen months at St. Luke’s in New Orleans before being called to Harlem’s historic St. Philip’s Church in 2012.
During his time at St. Philip’s, Keith quickly emerged as a significant leader among the clergy and brought leadership to the revitalization of the Episcopal presence in Harlem. He embraced this calling at once, providing a reasonable, loving and gracious presence in that community.
On Thursday mornings, Keith provided a ministry of presence to parolees at the Harlem Community Justice Center. As clergy for St Philip’s important inter-faith initiative, Keith supported these men and women with training in public speaking skills so they could tell their stories. Keith also established “Warriors of a Dream,” a neighborhood anti-violence youth initiative, as well as a local chapter of Integrity LGBT at St Philip’s. Keith lent his smile and presence as he rode on the Episcopal float in the annual Greenwich Village Gay Pride Parade. During Keith’s tenure, St Philip’s became a member of Ecclesia, a ministry providing Eucharist and meals to the homeless in Marcus Garvey Park on Sundays.
Keith was one of six fellows in the Faith and Justice Fellowship program under the Federation of Protestant Welfare and Agencies and New York Theological Seminary. This program trains faith leaders to develop their abilities to become prophetic witnesses for fair social policies and equal justice.
He is survived by his wife, Ginny, his step-children, Edward and Sarah, his parents and sister.
[Episcopal News Service] To have a nationality means to exist, though millions of people worldwide are stateless because of armed conflict, politics, border disputes and economic migration. Others are rendered stateless simply as result of never having had their births registered.
“We’re talking about some of the world’s most dispossessed people,” said the Rev. Canon Flora Winfield, Anglican Communion Representative to the United Nations institutions in Geneva, Switzerland, during a March 16 discussion on statelessness and universal birth registration held at The Episcopal Church Center.
More than 30 Anglicans and Episcopalians participated in the discussion, which took place in the larger context of the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW), meeting in New York March 9-20. It included information on the status of the Anglican Communion’s campaign aimed at universal birth registration, and ways in which churches communion-wide can promote and assist parents, particularly mothers, in registering the birth of a child.
Unregistered children, explained Winfield, often are more vulnerable to human trafficking, more likely to be enlisted as child soldiers, and more likely to be forced into child marriage. Additionally, they are less likely to have access to education, health care and social services.
An estimated 10 million people are stateless worldwide, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which in 2014 launched a 10-year campaign to eradicate statelessness.
In addition to UNHCR, the International Anglican Family Network is working to end statelessness through a campaign for universal birth registration; it supports global efforts to ensure compliance in countries that recognize the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Globally, the births of an estimated 230 million children under the age of 5 have gone unregistered, with 59 percent of those children living in Asia, according to UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund.
The Anglican Family Network began its involvement toward universal birth registration three years ago, explained the Rev. Terrie Robinson, the Anglican Communion’s director for Women in Church and Society.
Without a birth certificate, a person’s nationality may not be recognized; the issue is important to the church, Robinson explained, because having a nationality is a basic human right, and “having an identity and belonging in community helps us [human beings] to flourish.”
Given the reach of Anglican churches around the world, the church is poised to work with organizations, such as UNICEF and Plan International that are already engaged in birth registration, to connect field workers with bishops in dioceses where births typically go unregistered.
“It’s a growing, theologically grounded movement, and the church is everywhere – so we have the opportunity to slide it into existing ministry,” said Robinson.
Winfield added that by assisting parents to bring their children into the fold of community, the church also helps them to later take their place as adults in civil society. When parents bring their children to church to be baptized, churches have an opportunity to ask if the birth has been registered, and assist in registering the birth if it has not.
Currently in 27 countries around the world a mother cannot pass on citizenship to her baby, with 12 of them being in the Middle East and North Africa, she said. In the case of Syrian refugees, women head 25 percent of households, said Winfield.
“This is not a problem that will go away soon,” she said. “Every church in every province can engage in this; it really does take all of us, as well as our partners in mission and ministry.”
The March 16 discussion was facilitated by Lynnaia Main, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s officer for global relations, and came at the request of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who in late 2014 visited the Dominican Republic to learn about the effects of a 2013 Constitutional Court ruling that annulled the citizenship of an estimated 200,000 Dominicans of Haitian ancestry, many of them women and children whose births have gone unregistered.
In May 2014, following intense political pressure and international calls for justice, the president introduced and the Dominican Congress passed a law allowing children of “irregular” migrants, or nonresidents deemed “in-transit” under a 2004 law who have birth certificates, to become citizens and those without documents to apply for legal residency and later citizenship. The deadline for those affected by the decision to submit documents to prove citizenship, including birth certificates, was Feb. 1. However, for many, particularly poor, marginalized people, obtaining a birth certificate is an arduous, expensive, if not impossible process.
“The biggest problem in the Dominican Republic is the process is very complex; free but complex,” said Digna de la Cruz, of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic and who is representing Province IX at the UNCSW. “It’s a problem for people of Haitian descent, but also Dominicans who don’t have their birth certificates.
Without a birth certificate, a person typically cannot obtain an identification card, which is required to study, to apply for dignified employment, to marry, to register children, to qualify for state health insurance and pensions, to open a bank account, to apply for a passport, to participate in elections, or even to be baptized.
“Not to have birth registration, identity papers is serious,” said Lelanda Lee, who serves as chair of The Episcopal Church Executive Council’s Joint Standing Committee on Advocacy and Networking. Lee explained that following the high court’s 2013 ruling, the Executive Council passed a resolution that the presiding bishop travel to the Dominican Republic on a fact-finding mission to address the statelessness issue.
“It’s one thing not to allow someone to become a citizen, but to retroactively take it away just seems unbelievable,” she said.
— Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church is meeting in retreat through March 17 at Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC. The following is an account of the activities for Monday, March 16.
The theme for the spring meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is Fostering a culture of curiosity, compassion and courage in Christ.
The day began with Eucharist, celebrated by Bishop Mariann Budde of Washington.
The emcee for the day was Bishop Diane Jardine Bruce of Los Angeles.
A meditation on Interfaith was presented by Bishop Mark Beckwith of Newark.
He spoke of his first interfaith experience as a young boy in public school and the power it has had on his life and ministry. In his comments he identified the experience of inheriting our traditions but we end up choosing our faith. We discover that Jesus takes us to the edge and there we find our center.
In the afternoon, the House reviewed and discussed the proposal from TREC (The Task Force for Reimagining The Episcopal Church). The discussion was led by Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves of El Camino Real and Bishop Andy Doyle of Texas.
Table discussion focused on revelations about self and process that were brought up through the listening process. The discussion also challenged the House to “show-up, be heard and live brave”. This was followed by conversation by the entire House, facilitated by Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina, which touched on topics like CCABs, unicameral body, and the need to focus on the reality that structure must facilitate mission.
Sam McDonald, Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Director of Mission, presented an overview of The Report To The Church, and thanked the bishops for their faithfulness to calling.
The afternoon session concluded with a form of Evening Worship.
Following dinner the bishops will break into groups to discuss various topics included: Bishops Against Gun Violence, TREC, Ecclesiology Report, The Report To The Church, the Marriage Task Force report and Evangelism.
[Episcopal Church in Minnesota press release] On March 11, as a part of the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition Day on the Hill, the Detroit Lakes Human Trafficking Working Group, represented by the Rev. Georgia Hecock of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Detroit Lakes, was awarded the 2015 Interfaith Social Justice Community Award for their involvement in Blank Slate Theater’s production of bottom.
Bottom is a hard-hitting play about human trafficking, and more specifically about sex trafficking in Minnesota. Last summer when the coalition was trying to recruit host communities to sponsor the play, they reached out to Hecock at St. Luke’s.
She assembled a few colleagues including her neighbor, Brenda North from the United Methodist Church, and Sally Oja from the Congregational UCC Church across town. These three ecumenical leaders convened an initial planning committee and this in turn led to the creation of the Detroit Lakes Human Trafficking Working Group. They secured the sponsorship of the Historic Holmes Theatre in downtown Detroit Lakes, and the endorsement of Chairwoman Erma Vizenor of the White Earth Nation just north of Detroit Lakes.
This started a chain reaction that resulted in the largest attended community-wide performance of bottom to date, along with continued building of community resources in the Detroit Lakes Area to combat human trafficking.
Cosponsors of the production include: Bremer Bank of Detroit Lakes, Lakes Area League of Women Voters, The Episcopal Churches of White Earth, Detroit Lakes Community Foundation, Lakes Crisis and Resource Center, Circles of Faith UCC Church in Waubun, The Refuge, Down on Violence Everywhere (DOVE) and United States Senator Amy Klobuchar.
The Interfaith Social Justice Community Award is given to a faith community or organization each year at the JRLC Day on the Hill event.
[Anglican Alliance] Cyclone Pam struck the islands of Vanuatu in the Pacific with devastating force on Friday night (March 13), ravaging many communities. As the Anglican Alliance, we encourage the Communion to come together at this time in prayer and support as the Church helps people affected by this tragic disaster.
The category five cyclone hit Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu on the central island of Efate, on Friday evening with winds of 250 km/hr and gusts up to 320 km/hr causing catastrophic destruction. The cyclone then moved south hitting Erromango and Tanna islands with similar catastrophic impact. Other islands in the Pacific have also been impacted by the current storms.
Vanuatu has a population of 267,000 people spread over 65 islands. About 47,000 people live in the capital of Port Vila.
At least half of the population, or about 130,000 people, has been affected, according to the Vanuatu Red Cross Society. UNICEF estimates that at least 60,000 children across the country could be at risk.
Much infrastructure has been damaged: most roads are flooded or blocked by fallen trees, 80% of power lines are estimated to be down in Port Vila, and most telephone, mobile and internet networks are not functioning. Even Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) HF radio system has been damaged, meaning that contact with the provinces has been lost. Although badly damaged, the main hospital in Port Vila is operational.
The entire country has likely been affected, to some extent, by the extremely damaging winds, heavy rainfall, storm surges and flooding. On Efate, the most populous island, UN OCHA reports an estimated 90 per cent of structures are either damaged or destroyed. Access to the most affected areas of Efate province is blocked as the Teouma bridge has been badly damaged and affected by a flash flood.
There is concern for the most southerly islands that were hit by the eye of the storm and are currently without communication.
Melanesian Church Responds
The Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM), with two dioceses in Vanuatu, has developed staff skilled in disaster preparedness and response, in collaboration with Anglican agencies. These skills brought both resilience and effectiveness to ACOM’s response to flash flooding in the Solomon Islands last year and will be invaluable as the Church now responds to the current terrible disaster in Vanuatu.
Archbishop David Vunagi, Provincial Primate based in the Solomon Islands, has been in touch with the Anglican Alliance to discuss the situation and how we can, as the Anglican family, stand in solidarity at this time through prayer and support.
Dr Abraham Hauriasi, ACOM General Secretary, writes to the Anglican Alliance: “It is profoundly distressing what we are seeing and hearing in the media, especially for our people in Vanuatu. We are still trying to get in touch with our offices in Vanuatu to see what immediate assistance we can provide. As with the floods last year, a coordinated response is required and it would be greatly appreciated if the Anglican Alliance could facilitate a similar conference call for all ACOM partners across the Communion. In the meantime, we shall try and gather as much information as we can get, including talking to our people on the ground as to how our response can be better coordinated and in what form.”
Anglican Partners Launch Appeals
Anglican partners have launched appeals, and will be working with ACOM and using their established Church networks in Vanuatu to respond.
Julianne Stewart, programs director of the Anglican Board of Mission (ABM) in Australia, writes: “ABM is working within a coordinated response with other ecumenical partners with whom we’ve worked for the last five years in development programs in Vanuatu under the umbrella of the Church Partnership Program. This enables churches and their Australian NGO partners to share expertise and really target the areas of greatest need, and avoid duplications, have economies of scale, share assessments, etc.
The Church Partnership Program have Australian staff present in-country, whose expertise and connections we can tap into, and support ACOM to tap into as well, and to be part of the overall coordination body, the Vanuatu Humanitarian Team, based in Port Vila.”
Julianne commented that Pentecost and Ambae islands are likely to be a focus for response. These are well populated northern islands that were hit by the cyclone as it moved south through Vanuatu.
Sabene Gomez, Pacific programs manager for Anglican Overseas Aid (AOA) in Australia, says they are trying to get through to the northern islands, and are raising funds to help cope with what they expect to find when they do. “The church really has the networks, so has the reach to the communities,” she said on ABC news today.
Anglican Missions (AMB) in New Zealand has launched a ‘Cyclone Pam Emergency Appeal’ to assist with relief efforts in the Pacific region, particularly in Vanuatu. They report that while details are still sketchy, it is clear this is one of the worst disasters ever experienced in the South Pacific region. AMB is working with churches and relief agencies to help coordinate relief efforts.
The Primate’s Fund for World Relief and Development (Cananda) has already made a significant pledge towards the Vanuatu response, through the ACT Alliance appeal.
In launching an appeal through the Melanesian Mission, Katie Drew writes “We have not been able to make contact with the Anglican Church in Vanuatu yet, but once we do, we want to be able to support those affected as soon as we can.”
Other Anglican and Episcopal agencies will likely follow up with their own appeals in coming days.
The Anglican Alliance will continue to connect closely with The Anglican Church of Melanesia and its two dioceses in Vanuatu – and will share this information and prayer requests with ACOM’s partners around the Communion, through media and conference calls.
[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop Samuel Azariah, primate of The Church of Pakistan (United), has strongly condemned the bombing of two churches in the Yohanabad area of Lahore. More than 20 people have reportedly died and more than 75 are injured, many severely.
The primate called the twin attacks on Christ Church and St. John’s Catholic Church a “cowardly and inhuman act of terrorists against a religious minority in Pakistan.”
Azariah asked for prayer and urged all Christian denominations in Pakistan to stand united in this time of trial and difficulty. “We shall overcome through our love and kindness upon those who believe in evil and inhuman acts,” he said.
The Rt. Rev. Irfan Jamil, bishop of Lahore diocese, said that a joint funeral service was being planned with the Roman Catholic church.
“I thank the Anglican Communion for its support and encouragement at this difficult time,” he said. “Please continue to pray for us now and in the challenging times ahead. [Pray] for security at [the] service.”
Azariah expressed deep concern about the insecurity of minorities in the Pakistani context. He said that it was the responsibility of the State to provide security and protection to all people and especially to those who were weak, marginalized and smaller in number.
The Nation newspaper reported that all missionary schools in the country will remain closed on Monday as a sign of mourning. Special prayers were to be held for those who had lost their lives in the blasts. Christian leaders have announced that they would hold protests until the perpetrators were arrested and brought to justice.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Interim General Secretary of the Anglican Communion Office the Rev. Alyson Barnett-Cowan have sent condolences to Jamil and assured him of the support and prayers of the Anglican Communion.
The Anglican Alliance is liaising with leaders in The Church of Pakistan and partners in the Anglican Communion to determine how best to respond.
Share your prayers for Pakistan on the prayer wall of the Anglican Communion website.
[Episcopal News Service] El Comité Permanente de la Diócesis Episcopal de la República Dominicana ha dado a conocer una lista de tres candidatos a la elección de obispo coadjutor.
* El Rdo. Ramón Antonio García De Los Santos, de 50 años, vicario de las misiones de San Lucas y La Anunciación in Santiago, director de una escuela y arcediano de la región norte del país.
* El Rdo. Moisés Quezada Mota, de 58 años, vicario de las misiones de Jesús Nazareno y Buen Samaritano, en San Francisco de Macorís, y director de una escuela; y
* El Rdo. Daniel Samuel, de 58 años, vicario de las misiones de Santa María Virgen, Divina Gracia y San Cornelio y director de una escuela.
El Comité Permanente dio a conocer los nombres durante la Convención Diocesana anual, que se celebró del 13 al 15 de febrero en la iglesia de San Esteban, en San Pedro de Macorís.
La Diócesis de la República Dominicana recibirá nominaciones de candidatos adicionales, a petición, hasta el 19 de marzo.
El obispo diocesano Julio César Holguín Khoury pidió la elección de un obispo coadjutor durante su alocución a la Convención Diocesana de 2014. Una convención especial para elegir al obispo coadjutor tendrá lugar el 25 de julio. El obispo coadjutor servirá con Holguín hasta la jubilación de éste, la cual, según la Constitución de la Iglesia Episcopal debe tener lugar en el transcurso de 36 meses después de la consagración del obispo coadjutor.
Detalles acerca de la elección y del proceso de petición se pueden encontrar aquí.
[Episcopal News Service] The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic has announced a slate of three candidates to stand for election as the diocese’s bishop coadjutor.
- The Rev. Ramon Antonio Garcia De Los Santos, 50, vicar of Misiones San Lucas and La Anunciacion in Santiago, a school principal and archdeacon in the north region of the country;
- The Rev. Moises Quezada Mota, 58, vicar of Misiones Jesus Nazareno and Buen Samaritano, in San Francisco de Macoris, and a school principal; and
- The Rev. Daniel Samuel, 58, vicar of Misiones Santa Maria Virgen, Divina Gracia and San Cornelio, and a school principal.
The Standing Committee released the names during the annual Diocesan Convention, held Feb. 13-15 at Iglesia San Esteban in San Pedro de Macoris.
The Diocese of the Dominican Republic will receive nominations by petition for additional candidates through March 19.
Bishop Julio Cesar Holguin Khoury called for the election of a bishop coadjutor during his address during the 2014 Diocesan Convention. A special convention to elect the bishop coadjutor will be held on July 25. The bishop coadjutor will serve with Holguin until his retirement, which according to The Episcopal Church’s Constitution must take place within 36 months of the consecration of the bishop coadjutor.
Details about the election and the petition process are available here.
[NAES press release] The National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES) has announced that member schools and friends have made gifts and pledges to its 50th Anniversary Gathering Fund campaign exceeding $950,000. As announced at the NAES Biennial Conference in November 2014, reaching this target now unlocks a special challenge gift of over $72,000 pledged by a group of 15 member schools.
Initially, it was hoped that the $950,000 mark would be reached at NAES’ 50th birthday on May 28, 2015. “We are thrilled to have progressed so far so quickly,” said the Rev. Daniel R. Heischman, NAES executive director. “The gathering of schools, individuals, church-related organizations, and foundations has been widespread and abundant, and we cannot thank them enough for being a part of this substantial and generous mosaic.
“One thing that has become clear to us is that there are many individuals and institutions that still want to be a part of this commemorative effort,” Heischman added. “The unique mixture of programs to be supported and the opportunity to make the most of this milestone encourage us to continue seeking contributions to this campaign in the three months remaining in our anniversary year. It is not a time to rest on our accomplishments, but to build on the positive response in the hope that we can bring together as many individuals and groups as possible in this effort.”
Founded in 1965, the National Association of Episcopal Schools serves those who serve the nearly 1,200 schools, early childhood education programs, and school establishment efforts throughout The Episcopal Church. Gifts to the 50th Anniversary Gathering Fund campaign will help support its work assisting the Episcopal Urban School Alliance, Haiti partnerships, and schools in financial need and in the areas of Episcopal school chaplaincy development and school leadership and governance.
Celebrating this legacy and looking toward a thriving future, supporters are invited to join the 50th anniversary celebrations by:
- Making a special contribution to one of the three 50th Anniversary Gathering Funds: Jubilee School Fund; Endowment for Chaplaincy Development; and The Rev. Peter G. Cheney Fund for Leadership and Governance.
- Following and participating in 50 Days to 50 Years, a social media event April 9-May 28, 2015 on Twitter and Facebook, using #naes50th.
- Celebrating with NAES at the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, June 25-July 3, 2015.
Information about the 50th Anniversary Gathering Fund campaign is available here.
For more information about the NAES 50th anniversary, please visit www.episcopalschools.org/about-naes/our-50th-anniversary.The National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES) is an independent 501(c)(3), voluntary membership organization that supports, serves, and advocates for the vital work and ministry of those who serve nearly 1,200 Episcopal schools, early childhood education programs, and school establishment efforts throughout The Episcopal Church. Chartered in 1965, with historic roots dating to the 1930s, NAES is the only pre-collegiate educational association that is both national in scope and Episcopal in character. The Association advances Episcopal education and strengthens Episcopal schools through essential services, resources, conferences, and networking opportunities on Episcopal school identity, leadership, and governance, and on the spiritual and professional development of school leaders.
[Episcopal News Service] Más de 100 anglicanos concurren en Nueva York para participar en la 59ª. Sesión de la Comisión de las Naciones Unidas sobre la Condición de la Mujer (UNCSW, por su sigla en inglés), que tendrá lugar del 9 al 20 de marzo.
Durante las dos semanas que dura la sesión anual de la comisión, representantes de estados miembros de la ONU, organizaciones de la sociedad civil y entidades de las Naciones Unidas se reunirán en la sede de la organización internacional en Nueva York, donde discutirán los progresos y lagunas de la puesta en práctica de la Declaración de Beijing y la Plataforma de Acción de 1995, el documento de política global sobre igualdad de género, y la 23ª. Sesión especial de la Asamblea General celebrada en 2000 (Beijing+5), así como nuevos problemas que afecten la igualdad sexual y la potenciación de las mujeres. Los estados miembros convienen en acciones ulteriores para acelerar el progreso y promover el disfrute de las mujeres de sus derechos en los terrenos político, económico y social. Los resultados y las recomendaciones de cada sesión se remiten al Consejo Económico y Social de la ONU para que le haga seguimiento.
La comisión debe adoptar una declaración política en ocasión del 20º. Aniversario de la Cuarta Conferencia Mundial sobre la Mujer en Beijing. El anteproyecto de esa declaración puede leerse aquí. A la sesión se le ha pedido también que adopte un anteproyecto de la organización y métodos de trabajo futuros de la comisión.
El secretario general de la ONU, Ban Ki-moon, en sus palabras de apertura el 9 de marzo, definió el 2015 como “un año vital para hacer progresar la causa de la igualdad de género”.
“Las mujeres siguen sufriendo desproporcionadamente a causa de la crisis económica, de los impactos del cambio climático, de los desplazamientos ocasionados por los conflictos, de la persecución y de tantas cosas más”, dijo. “Los grupos extremistas siguen atacando brutal y sistemáticamente a niñas y mujeres. La comunidad internacional debe traducir su indignación en ayuda, servicios, apoyo y justicia”.
Sin embargo, siguió diciendo Ban “las mujeres no son sólo víctimas; son agentes del progreso y del cambio.
“Potenciar a las mujeres y las niñas es el mejor vehículo de desarrollo, la mejor esperanza de reconciliación y la mejor defensa contra la radicalización de la juventud y la repetición del ciclo de la violencia”, afirmó.
El Secretario General ha presentado un informe a la sesión sobre el progreso alcanzado desde la reunión de Beijing.
Tradicionalmente, ha habido una notable presencia anglicana y episcopal en las anteriores sesiones anuales de la UNCSW y más de 100 participantes de provincias anglicanas de todo el mundo han acudido a Nueva York para la reunión de 2015. Hay 19 delegadas de la Comunión Anglicana acreditadas, cada una de ellas en representación de su provincia. La Rda. Joan Grim Fraser, de la Diócesis de Long Island, es la delegada provincial que representa a la Iglesia Episcopal en la delegación de la Comunión Anglicana.
Las delegadas de la Comunión Anglicana provienen de Australia, Hong Kong, Jordania (Jerusalén y el Oriente Medio), Malawi (África Central), Myanmar, Papúa Nueva Guinea, Aotearoa, Nueva Zelanda y Polinesia, Brasil, la Iglesia Episcopal Escocesa, Canadá, Ghana (África Occidental) e Inglaterra.
Muchas de las mujeres visitarán las misiones permanentes de sus países ante la ONU para abogar por el levantamiento de barreras a la activa participación de las mujeres en todas las esferas de la vida pública y privada con igual capacidad de decisión que los hombres, el objetivo fundamental de la Plataforma de Acción de Beijing.
“Las mujeres anglicanas están presentes en comunidades urbanas y rurales de todo el mundo”, dijo Ann Skamp, coordinadora de la Red Internacional de Mujeres Anglicanas que acompaña a la delegación. “Ellas saben lo que está sucediendo en la base y aportan conocimiento y perspectivas locales valiosas al diálogo. Aportan también los valores de su fe y su radiante esperanza para el futuro”.
Mujeres Ecuménicas, organización de la cual son miembros la Iglesia Episcopal y el Consejo Consultivo Anglicano (el principal organismo legislador de la Comunión), ha presentado una declaración oficial a la sesión en la cual dice que muchos de los objetivos de la Plataforma de Beijing siguen sin cumplirse.
“Los prejuicios de género de las estructuras institucionales generan desigualdades y discriminación, que siguen existiendo en sectores públicos y privados, en el mundo académico y en las estructuras religiosas”, dice la declaración, añadiendo que el grupo también está preocupado por los empeños de hacer retroceder los logros” alcanzados desde Beijing.
“Afirmamos que el mundo de Dios está llamado a ser un mundo de abundancia para todas las personas, con derechos fundamentales y dignidad para toda las mujeres y todos los hombres. Para [lograr] sociedades sanas y sostenibles, las mujeres deben ser parte integrante del proceso de toma de decisiones en el terreno de las leyes, las políticas y los programas de desarrollo”.
La Iglesia Episcopal cuenta con su primera delegación oficial desde que obtuviera un estatus consultivo especial en el Consejo Económico y Social en julio pasado
La Rvdma. Chilton Knudsen, obispa auxiliar de Long Island, predicó el 9 de marzo en la eucaristía de apertura para los participantes anglicanos y episcopales. La obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori presidió la eucaristía en la capilla de Cristo el Señor [Christ the Lord] en el Centro Denominacional de la Iglesia, que se encuentra a dos cuadras de la sede de las Naciones Unidas.
Sigue aquí el texto del sermón de Knudsen:
Sermón para la eucaristía de apertura de la UNCSW 2015, 14 de marzo
Centro Denominacional de la Iglesia Episcopal, Nueva York, NY
Texto: Juan 20: 11-18
María Magdalena fue a la tumba donde habían colocado el cuerpo de Jesús después de su muerte en la Cruz.
Ella fue a llorar su ausencia, a recordar. Quería cerciorarse de que podía encontrar esperanza para vivir el resto de su vida sin Jesús. Su querido amigo Jesús.
Jesús la había tratado con dignidad, la había sanado, la había realzado y había compartido con ella la Mesa de la Fraternidad. ¿Cómo podía ella seguir adelante sin Jesús?
Dos ángeles estaban sentados en la tumba, uno donde habían estado sus pies y el otro donde había reposado su cabeza.
—Mujer, ¿por qué lloras? —preguntaron los ángeles.
María Magdalena lloraba porque su corazón estaba quebrantado. Lloraba porque Aquel que ella amaba había sido brutalmente ejecutado. Sus lágrimas eran la señal de la profundidad de su amor, de que ella se había dedicado a la misión de compasión y justicia y paz que Jesús demostrara. Lloraba porque los seres humanos se hacen cosas horribles unos a otros. Los seres humanos siguen haciéndose unos a otros cosas horribles, porque los sistemas de dominación y de poder y de codicia y de violencia —entonces y ahora— trituran la bondad.
—Mujer, ¿por qué lloras?
Justo en el momento de responder, “porque se han llevado a mi Señor…”, se volvió y vio a alguien a quien no reconoció, tal vez era el hortelano.
Este misterioso extraño también le hizo la misma pregunta:
—Mujer, ¿por qué lloras?
Esta es una pregunta para toda la humanidad, en nuestro tiempo como en el tiempo de Jesús.
Venimos aquí a esta reunión de la Comisión de las Naciones Unidas sobre la Condición de la Mujer porque hay en nuestro mundo muchos motivos para llorar. Lloramos porque los niños son vendidos como esclavos. Porque mujeres y niños se mueren de hambre por falta de comida. Porque la violencia y la opresión siguen dominando, de manera que las mujeres se ven privadas de libertad y dignidad. Lloramos porque las mujeres son tratadas en sus sociedades como miembros de segunda clase.
—Mujer, ,por qué lloras?
María Magdalena responde otra vez, suponiendo que alguien se ha llevado el cadáver de Jesús: —Señor, si tú te lo has llevado, dime donde lo has puesto y yo lo llevaré.
En ese momento, Jesús la llama por su nombre, “¡María!”. Ella escucha esa voz familiar que dice su nombre. Enseguida, sabe que es Jesús, que está vivo en el glorioso poder de la resurrección.
¡La esperanza está viva! El mensaje de Jesús —de compasión y de justicia— vence sobre los sistemas de poder y codicia y opresión.
Jesús luego le pide dos cosas a ella: primera, que no se aferre a él, que no se quede en la alegría de su derrota de la muerte para vivir en la gloria de su resurrección. Segunda, Jesús le pide que vaya y le diga a otros que él está ahora maravillosamente vivo y que su misión continuará.
Jesús le confía a María Magdalena la proclamación de su resurrección de la muerte. ¡Jesús vive! ¡Su mensaje vive!
Este relato nos dice que la santa y misteriosa agenda de Dios le es dada a todos los creyentes. Como creyentes, hemos de propagar este Buena Nueva en todos los lugares del mundo.
La Buena Nueva de la resurrección de Jesús nos inspira a trabajar por la justicia y la paz para todas las personas.
Y por ser gente que llora, somos también gente de acción.
Estamos aquí, pues, rogando juntos por la fuerza para llevar adelante la misión de Jesús. Nuestro llanto ha creado en nosotros el fuego de la determinación. El poder de Dios está con nosotros, según pasamos del llanto a la acción. Al hacer esto nos unimos con nuestro hermana María Magdalena para proclamar que Jesús ha resucitado. Y porque Jesús ha resucitado, nuestra esperanza está cumplida y nuestra obra de resurrección está infundida del mismo poder que levantó a Jesús de la muerte.
Participemos de esa tarea de la resurrección. A partir de ahora en nuestro culto y en nuestra solidaridad.
– El Servicio de Noticias de la Comunión Anglicana [Anglican Communion News Service] colaboró con este artículo. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.
Hay actualmente cerca de 700 centros de jubileo en la Iglesia Episcopal. Los centros laboran para facultar a los pobres y oprimidos en sus comunidades proporcionándoles servicios directos, tales como alimento, albergue, atención sanitaria y abogando por los derechos humanos.
“Cuando uno va un centro de jubileo, uno no ve sólo lo que hace la agencia local de servicio social”, dijo el Rdo. Mark Stevenson, el misionero de la DFMS a cargo de [combatir] la pobreza nacional. “Uno no sólo ve lo que la iglesia hace el domingo por la mañana cuando [los feligreses] se reúnen para el culto. Uno no sólo ve a alguien escribiendo cartas a la legislatura estatal o sosteniendo conversaciones con líderes comunitarios. Uno ve una mezcla de todo eso junto desde una perspectiva de la Iglesia. Creo que eso es lo que el Jubileo hace muy bien”.
La Convención General, reunida en Nueva Orleáns en 1982, estableció el Ministerio de Jubileo para “retar y confrontar a los miembros de la Iglesia Episcopal y de otras iglesias… a entender las realidades de la pobreza y la injusticia, alentándoles a asumir un papel activo en responder a las necesidades de las personas pobres y oprimidas y en la lucha contra las causas de esos sufrimientos”.
La Convención emitió este reto a partir de la convicción que “un ministerio de discipulado conjunto en Cristo con las personas pobres y oprimidas, dondequiera que éstas se encuentren, para responder a necesidades básicas y edificar una sociedad más justa, está en el tuétano de la misión de la Iglesia”.
El Consejo Ejecutivo de la Iglesia designa los ministerios locales como centros de Jubileo luego que las organizaciones concluyen exitosamente un proceso de solicitud. El comité que revisa a esos solicitantes con frecuencia tiene una tarea difícil, dijo Stevenson, porque todos los solicitantes representan “realmente buenos ministerios”.
El fuerte del Jubileo radica en su naturaleza multifacética, apuntó él. “Es servicio a los pobres, es promoción social y es culto. Es la Iglesia en su expresión mejor”.
Al elegir qué ministerios reciben la designación de Centro de Jubileo, añadió “tenemos que destacar los programas que realmente unen todos eses factores de diferentes maneras y lo hacen bien”.
La Diócesis de Colorado ofrece un magnífico ejemplo de los empeños del Jubileo diocesano, dijo Stevenson.
La Rda. Rebecca Jones, diácona que sirve como la encargada del Jubileo de la diócesis, dijo que ella y su predecesor, el Rdo. Chris Johnson, han trabajado durante años por formar lo que ahora es una red de 35 centros de Jubileo extendidos a través de los 167.532 kilómetros cuadrados del estado. Esos ministerios oscilan entre los puramente urbanos como el Ministerio de Santa Clara, que sirve a indigentes y hambrientos en una barriada deprimida de Denver, hasta los que son rurales como la Cocina de Gracias y el Centro del Buen Samaritano que atiende a personas que viven en los alrededores de Cortez en la Ladera Occidental [Western Slope]. Dos ministerios con sede en Colorado operan internacionalmente: el Proyecto Haití de Colorado, que ayuda a salir de la pobreza a comunidades rurales haitianas, y el Proyecto Educación Sudán del Sur, que construye escuelas sostenibles y capacita a líderes comunitarios en una región devastada por la guerra.
En septiembre de 2013, cuando una devastadora inundación asoló el corredor urbano de Front Range en Colorado, tres centros de Jubileo —el Ministerio de Encrucijada en Estes Park, el Ministerio de Cooperación del condado de Logan y el Ministerio de Solidaridad en el condado de Morgan— “se convirtieron en el punto de contacto para que la Agencia Episcopal para Ayuda y Desarrollo acudiera en socorro”, dijo Jones.
El Ministerio de Jubileo es una parte visible de los empeños comunitarios de la diócesis. Jones le da crédito al firme apoyo del obispo Rob O’Neill por eso, diciendo que él “habla acerca de ello” dondequiera que va y la gente puede decir cuán orgullosa está la diócesis del Ministerio de Jubileo. Sus centros individuales están en el ciclo diocesano de oración, de manera que se ora por ellos con regularidad. “La gente comienza a asimilarlo aun sin darse cuenta”, dijo Jones refiriéndose a la labor de Jubileo en la diócesis.
Toda esa labor y visibilidad han significado que “en algún punto hemos alcanzado una masa crítica, y ahora se me acercan para decirme que quieren convertirse en un ministerio de Jubileo”.
Las personas que integran el Ministerio de Jubileo de la diócesis se reúnen dos o tres veces al año para compartir información, celebrar sus logros y aprender de oportunidades de colaboración, así como para enterarse de los retos por los cuales sus colegas necesitan orar.
Jones describió su trabajo en general como relacional. “Yo creo un espacio y lo mantengo abierto para que estos ministerios se reúnan y para que el Espíritu Santo realice la obra de hacer productivas esas conexiones”, dijo.
Los centros de Jubileo tienen derecho a subvenciones de apoyo de la DFMS para expandir su trabajo en un ciclo regular. En la última ronda de subvenciones, 14 destinatarios en 11 diócesis recibieron $49.965 en apoyo de su misión y ministerio.
En la Diócesis de Virginia Occidental, por ejemplo, al Centro de Aprendizaje y Desarrollo de la Casa de San Juan en Huntington le otorgaron una subvención de desarrollo de $32.200 para poner en práctica una nueva visión y estrategia de misión en varias áreas y programas.
El centro funciona desde 1991, después de que una mujer de la junta parroquial de la iglesia episcopal de San Juan [St. John’s Episcopal Church] instara a sus colegas a que reflexionaran sobre lo que la parroquia estaba haciendo por las personas que se encontraban de puertas afuera, dijo Jerry Coleman, director ejecutivo del centro. La parroquia no tardó en darse cuenta de que un proyecto de viviendas grande que quedaba cerca tenía niños que necesitaban un lugar seguro adonde ir después de la escuela.
Desde un apartamento vacío donde comenzó a funcionar y donde le brindaba a más de 80 niños meriendas y seguridad, el proyecto no tardó en trasladarse al centro comunitario de Marcum Terrace. Las instalaciones de su cocina significaban que los voluntarios podían servir una comida completa, y el espacio mayor de que ahora disponía, hacía posible que el programa fuese más grande. En los 24 años transcurridos desde entonces, el programa de aprendizaje, mentoría y alimentación del centro ha servido para robustecer la autoestima y la confianza en sí mismos de los niños, así como sus habilidades interpersonales y sus actitudes hacia la educación Al hacer esto, el ministerio ha tratado de contraatacar la adicción, la violencia, la encarcelación y la pobreza.
“Allí estaba la necesidad”, dijo Coleman. El ministerio que surgió del “llamado a despertar” —como él mismo lo definió— de una miembro de la junta parroquial, “prueba lo que una persona puede hacer”.
Coleman ha visto las actitudes de los niños cambiar completamente. Una niña vino al programa con un gran resentimiento, contó él. Se mantenía callada y resultaba difícil convencerla de que participara en las actividades del centro. Desde que el personal del centro descubrió que tenía serios problemas de aprendizaje y obtuvieron su colaboración, hubo un giro de 180 grados”, señaló. Ahora participa con entusiasmo.
Los líderes del centro se reunieron recientemente para discutir cómo usar la subvención para el desarrollo. Un programa de alfabetización para pre escolar encabezaba la lista, así como hacer una reunión de familia una noche al mes, actualizar el Wi-Fi y las computadoras, las tabletas, los muebles, los instrumentos musicales sencillos, los utensilios de jardinería y la seguridad. Lo último se necesita cada vez más en la medica en que el centro mejora su tecnología.
La subvención cubre costos de personal. Coleman dijo que había planes para crear un director de participación comunitaria de media jornada que sería el responsable de la recaudación de fondos, de coordinar el trabajo voluntario y de concientizar a la comunidad de Huntington acerca del programa de San Juan.
Sin embargo, agregó Coleman, la función del centro es más que su edificio y sus cosas. “En definitiva, más importante que las cosas que uno tiene en ese edificio son las personas que están en él”.
Por ejemplo, el centro ha creado una estrecha relación con la Universidad Marshall de Huntington, especialmente con su Departamento de Trastornos de la Comunicación, muchos de cuyos estudiantes trabajan de voluntarios [en el centro]. Ellos ayudan a los niños que tienen problemas de aprendizaje. Dos asistentes graduados obtuvieron dispensas de costos de matrícula en la universidad y pequeños estipendios del centro para ser directores del programa. Además, algunos estudiantes de dietética ayuda en la planificación de las comidas.
“Hablamos muchísimo acerca de lo que hacemos por los niños y el impacto que nuestro servicio puede tener en ellos, pero es también muy importante entender el impacto que los niños tienen en nuestro personal y en los voluntarios”, subrayó Coleman. “Existe un gran apego entre nuestros niños y nuestro personal que fluye en ambas direcciones. Los niños ciertamente nos enriquecen”.
Y el reconocimiento de que el ministerio funciona en ambas direcciones, transformando a todo el que participa en él, es un indicio de la amplia energía que dimana del tipo de ministerios que tiene lugar en los centros de Jubileo.
Jones en Colorado piensa que el futuro del Ministerio de Jubileo es muy vasto y puede verse como un instrumento que ayuda a la Iglesia Episcopal, así como a las comunidades en las cuales existe.
“Las parroquias que se identifican vivamente con el trabajo comunitario y con el Ministerio de Jubileo y la justicia social son invariablemente las parroquias que crecen y prosperan, y yo no creo que sea una coincidencia”, dijo ella. “Creo que el Ministerio de Jubileo representa al menos una senda viable hacia el futuro de la Iglesia Episcopal”.
El presupuesto 2013-2015 aprobado por la Convención General asignó $1 millón para lograr que los episcopales contribuyan a la erradicación de la pobreza nacional (en el renglón 108 aquí). Esa asignación, incluidos $100.000 en subvenciones del Ministerio de Jubileo hasta la fecha en el trienio, es parte de la manera en que la DFMS está respondiendo a la cuarta Marca de la Misión, que llama a los miembros de la Comunión Anglicana a transformar las estructuras sociales injustas, a denunciar la violencia de cualquier tipo y a buscar la paz y la reconciliación.
El Informe a la Iglesia, publicado recientemente, detalla la labor de la DFMS, sostenida por el presupuesto hasta la fecha en el actual trienio, incluida la Cuarta Marca de la Misión descrita en las páginas 56-59.
La Convención General estructuró el actual presupuesto trienal en torno a las Cinco Marcas de la Misión de la Comunión [Anglicana] y proporcionó sumas significativas no asignadas para nuevas obras orientadas en torno a cada una de las Marcas de la Misión. La intención era que la labor resultante se hiciera en nuevas asociaciones de colaboración con diócesis, congregaciones y otras organizaciones episcopales. La DFMS ha proporcionado el capital inicial o las subvenciones compartidas o ambas cosas, así como el apoyo y la experiencia del personal para la nueva tarea.
— La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.