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EPPN Lenten Series: Supporting peace in the land of the holy one

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” — 2 Corinthians 5: 18

[Episcopal Public Policy Network] Dear Fellow Advocates,

Today begins Lent and, as in years past, the Episcopal Public Policy Network is pleased to present a thematic advocacy and education series during the seven weeks leading up to Easter. This year, we turn our attention to peace in the Holy Land, a theme that could not be any more timely as Israelis and Palestinians enter a critical phase of negotiations mediated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The theme also could not be more appropriate for Lent, whose climax, of course, comes in the passion, death, and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the holy city of Jerusalem.

The Lenten journey that comes before Holy Week, however, is equally apt. The word Lent, as the Presiding Bishop reminded us in her message for the season has its root in the lengthening of days. In the northern hemisphere, the journey from the winter to spring that accompanies Lent puts this in stark relief. The ancient Eastern icon for Easter depicts the Risen Christ reaching into the ground, into the Hell where Adam and Eve had slumbered for “four thousand winters,” and grasping them by the wrist to draw them forcefully into the springtime of resurrection. A well-known Western hymn for Easter (#204 in the Hymnal) describes resurrection as a “green blade” that “riseth from the buried grain, wheat that in dark earth, many days hath lain.”

Am I getting ahead of myself to discuss Easter before the great 40-day fast of Lent has even begun? I don’t think so. Lent, in its most ancient (and most persistent) understanding, has been a season of preparation for Baptism, first for the catechumens who would be, and in many places still are baptized at the Great Vigil of Easter, and then later, as the Presiding Bishop reminds us, for the rest of us in the congregation who accompany the new believers in their baptismal preparations and renew our baptismal vows -- “by which we once renounced Satan and all his works and promised to serve God faithfully in his holy Catholic Church” – at the Vigil.

As I write to you this year, baptism is a great deal on my mind. I am with the Presiding Bishop in the Holy Land, on the Jordanian side of the River Jordan, celebrating Ash Wednesday with Jerusalem’s Anglican bishop, Suheil Dawani. Yesterday, we visited the site believed by many scholars and archaeologists to be the traditional place of the Baptism of Christ . All of this has reminded me anew that a fundamental purpose of Lent is for the Christian community to prepare itself to die with Christ, to be plunged into the waters (or the cold earth, or Hell…) in order to rise with him. All of our Lenten preparations – fasting, discipline in worship and prayer, almsgiving, repentance, and reconciliation – are preparation for this act of dying and rising.

Last year, I wrote a bit on Ash Wednesday about repentance. This year, I’d like to think a bit about reconciliation. The central point of the Easter story, indeed the fulcrum of the entire Gospel, is God’s act of reconciling the world to himself through the death and resurrection of Jesus. But, as Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5, that act of reconciliation comes with a specific charge to the Christian community that this same work, or ministry, of reconciliation be entrusted to us.

In one way, it is difficult, indeed daunting, to comprehend the ministry of reconciliation – the work that the catechism of the Prayer Book describes as the Church’s mission to “restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ” – because, divorced from the Cross and Resurrection, it would seem that God puts the burden for the act of reconciling people to God and each other squarely on our shoulders. Surely I am not up to that task!

The Good News, however, is that the ministry of reconciliation is given to us as a consequence of the fact that the reconciliation of all people and all things to God and each other has already been accomplished in the work of the Cross and Resurrection. That reconciliation is obscured by the brokenness of the human condition in the present; our task, our ministry, is to peel back the layers of sin and brokenness in our world to allow that reconciliation to shine forth. That’s a very different task indeed.

All of our Lenten disciplines of reconciliation – whether we embrace the sacramental act of confessing our sins to a priest, or whether we seek to restore our relationships with those we have wronged or who have wronged us, or whether seek peace between nations and peoples — are bound up in this same work of removing the human obstructions that hide, in the here and now, the reality of a world fully reconciled to the One who created it.

All of which is a long way of coming to the subject of peace in the Holy Land. Through the years, The Episcopal Church, a partner of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East, has said a great deal about the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Our most recent General Convention spent significant time on the subject, as has the Executive Council this triennium. We have said a great deal about justice and peace, both in times of great upheaval and in times of great hope for this conflict that now nears its eighth decade. The present hour is one, paradoxically, both of great frustration and great hope.

The frustration is clear. Among both Israeli and Palestinian advocates for peace, there is hope, but optimism is far more elusive. What each side sees in its daily reality is discouraging. Palestinians see the continued challenge of occupation in daily life and the ongoing construction of Israeli settlements and demarcation of de-facto borders that deviate from those that existed prior to the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Among Israelis, there is widespread fear that political changes in the region have undermined the nation’s security in relation to Arab and Muslim nations, with ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear future proving particularly worrisome and incidents of domestic attacks on Israelis continuing into the present. Many advocates for peace on both sides fear that the preservation of the status quo for much longer will harden extremists in each camp and make a future solution functionally untenable. That’s the here and now.

But, even if optimism is elusive, even if people on each side feel they have been fooled one too many times by the prospect of peace, there is something else afoot that is causing hope to grow ever-so perceptibly. For more than six months, Israeli and Palestinian leaders have been quietly working at the most senior level, through the mediation of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, toward creating the space in which negotiations toward two-state solution might occur. As a result of those talks, Secretary Kerry is expected to publish, within the next several months, a framework for bringing negotiations to a conclusion. Recently, a group of senior Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders in the United States, including our Presiding Bishop, expressed public support of this framework, and we expect similar calls from religious leaders in the Holy Land in coming weeks. Most importantly, both Israeli and Palestinian leaders – while being guarded publicly about whether they will ultimately endorse the framework -have taken steps in recent weeks that demonstrate willingness to be flexible as they approach final-status negotiations. Make no mistake about it: this is what reconciliation looks like while it’s happening. This is the work that peels away the layers of the sinful and broken here-and-now and allows the true reconciliation already achieved by God to break through.

As we walk our Lenten journey together this year, we will focus on these negotiations, on different facets of the underlying conflict, and the ways in which we can support those Israeli and Palestinian leaders who are working toward peace with justice. We will invite you to join us in advocacy on a variety of subjects related to this process. But for the moment, at the dawn of Lent, we invite you to meditate upon reconciliation. We invite you to meditate on the fact that Israeli and Palestinian leaders already are inching toward the costly space in which true reconciliation can occur. And we invite you to meditate upon the fact that there is a role in this for each of us.

To some Christians here in the United States or elsewhere far from the Holy Land, the conflict may seem faraway, or abstract, or intractable. Or, we may so identify with one side of the conflict or the other, with one perspective of justice or peace or security, that talking about reconciliation without first talking about various underlying issues dear to us may seem like folly or worse. But, those who are living in the reality of the conflict are working conscientiously to walk another road, and it’s now our job to encourage them, and all peacemakers, to keep walking. It is they who remind us that reconciliation is not a fruit to be achieved when other ends are met; reconciliation is the mission of God – indeed it is who God is, and thus the mission of God’s people – and both a means and end unto itself.

As Bishop Suheil Dawani has said, it is the role of Christians like us to “work together with people of other faiths to encourage the politicians to put politics aside and meet midway, where all people are equal; the marginalized and the powerful, the poor and the wealthy, men and women, children and the elderly, regardless of faith or social status.”

How lovely are the messengers that preach us the Gospel of Peace! A blessed Lent to all of you.

– Alexander D. Baumgarten is director of justice and advocacy ministries for The Episcopal Church


Deacon Terry Star, Executive Council member, found dead at seminary

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Rev. Terry Star, a deacon in the Diocese of North Dakota and a member of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council, has died at Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Wisconsin. Photo: Bishop Carol Gallagher via Facebook.

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Terry Star, a 40 year-old deacon in the Diocese of North Dakota and a member of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council, has died suddenly at Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Wisconsin, where he was studying for ordination to the priesthood.

After Star did not attend chapel the morning of March 4 and failed to show up for classes or meals a member of the Nashotah House community went to check on him and found he had died, according to the Rev. Canon John Floberg, a fellow member of the Diocese of North Dakota and also an Executive Council member, and the Rev. Phillip Cunningham, Nashotah House associate dean of administration.

Floberg told Episcopal News Service that there was no indication Star was ill. “It took everybody by surprise,” he said.

Star, whose council term would have ended after General Convention in 2015, was also a convention deputy. He belonged to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and considered St. James Episcopal Church in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, to be his home church. He served as a deacon for the Standing Rock Episcopal Community.

Star had been a youth minister on the reservation for many years. When Episcopal News Service reached Floberg on March 5, he was en route to the reservation high schools to talk with students who knew Star. Floberg reported that the principal of the high school in Fort Yates, North Dakota, had asked him to come in as a counselor after word was received of Star’s death. Floberg said he also planned to go to the high school in Solen, North Dakota, “because they’re in the same place” about Star’s death.

In November, Star preached at the consecration of the new St. James building which replaced the church that was destroyed by an arsonist in July 2012. A video recording of his sermon is here.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in a statement that “the Episcopal Church has been much blessed by the ministry of Deacon Terry Star, on Standing Rock, as a member of Executive Council, and through the many relationships he had built throughout the church and beyond.”

“We give thanks for his life and witness, his prophetic voice, and his reconciling heart. All his relatives are grieving, and we pray that his soul may rest in peace and his spirit continue to prod us all in continuing the ministry of healing we have from Jesus.”

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, House of Deputies president and vice chair of Executive Council, called Star “a dedicated and passionate deputy from the Diocese of North Dakota and member of Executive Council, a fierce advocate for the people of his beloved Standing Rock, and a loyal and faithful Episcopalian.”

“He was also smart, witty, and a good pastor and friend. His death is an enormous loss for his family, the Cannon Ball community, the Episcopal Church, and all of us who served with him,” she added.

Reaction to his death and tributes to his life soon began to appear on Facebook.

“Deacon Terry Star was a holy witness to the lived gospel – I am so sorry to hear the news of his death,” Diocese of Long Island Bishop Larry Provenzano said in reaction to Diocese of North Dakota Assisting Bishop Carol Gallagher’s posting of the news on her Facebook page. “May he rest in the loving arms of Jesus, whom he served so well.”

The Rev. Jennifer Phillips, of St. Francis Episcopal Church in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, said “May he feast with the ancestors!”

Star’s own Facebook page is now filled with messages and tributes.

“Oh my friend, I know you are where your light will continue to shine and we will always feel your support and love,” wrote Janet A. Routzen from Mission, South Dakota. “Praying for your family….”

BobbiBrandon Bear Heels wrote “RIP my sundance brother we shall see each other again…look down on us from time to time from the heavens my brother. will miss seeing you every year at Mato Woapiya sundance.”

Fellow Executive Council member John B. Johnson wrote on Star’s page that he was “deeply saddened to learn this news.”

“Terry was literally a rising star in the Episcopal Church. I will miss him terribly on Executive Council of the Episcopal Church. My heart goes out to all of his friends, classmates and family. May he rest in peace.”

It would appear that Star last posted on his page at 10:35 a.m. on March 3 and he last tweeted on his account at 1:46 a.m. on March 4 when he was listening to Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” on Spotify.

Star was prayed for at the Chapel of Christ the Lord at the Episcopal Church Center in New York on Ash Wednesday morning “for his journey to the spirit world and for comfort to his mother Charlotte Star in her time of grief,” according to Sarah Eagle Heart, missioner for indigenous ministries.

Eagle Heart said a group involved in native youth ministry that was meeting at the church center “will continue this work in his memory.”

Star, a member of council’s Joint Standing Committee on Local Ministry and Mission, was an advocate for people marginalized by society, especially native peoples.

At the most recent council meeting, Star helped lead an effort that resulted in the council joining what has become a nationwide effort that has reached to the White House to convince the National Football League’s Washington Redskins team to change its name.

“I’ve been fighting with this issue since I was in high school 22 years ago,” he said at the time.

Star was born in Seattle, Washington. He lived on 10 Indian reservations, in part because of his father’s career in tribal law enforcement, according to information on Star’s LinkedIn page.

Lillian Ironbull-Martinez, his maternal grandmother, raised him in the Episcopal Church and, according to his LinkedIn biography, he and other members of the Standing Rock Episcopal Community liked to joke that they are “cradle-board Episcopalians.”

When Star was confirmed at Our Father’s House/St. Michael’s Mission in Ethete, Wyoming, his grandmother predicted that someday he would be ordained in the Episcopal Church. Star was ordained into the diaconate in June 2007.

He is survived by his parents Charlotte and Woodrow Star of Pendleton, Oregon; his brothers and sisters and “many relatives and friends,” according to Diocese of North Dakota Bishop Michael Smith.

Funeral service arrangements have not yet been announced, but Floberg said they will take place on the Standing Rock reservation. He said Star’s parents were en route to the reservation on March 5.

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

Costa Rican church takes step toward welcoming LGBTQ community

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] In its first step toward welcoming the LGBTQ community, the Episcopal Church of Costa Rica March 4 partnered with other religious and human rights organizations to sponsor a forum on faith, the Bible, sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Episcopal Church of Costa Rica joined the Lutheran Church of Costa Rica, the U.S.-based Human Rights Campaign, and two local groups – the Diversity Movement and the Student Federation of the University of Costa Rica – for the event at the University of Costa Rica that included a screening of “Before God, We Are All Family,” a short film produced by HRC, followed by a panel discussion.

Costa Rica Bishop Héctor Monterroso, in an e-mail to ENS regarding the church’s participation in the event, said that openness is part of the identity of the Episcopal Church, and that includes supporting initiatives that respect human rights, efforts toward equality and accompanying people of faith in their struggle.

“In Costa Rica many people are talking about and campaigning in favor of human rights, particularly regarding the LGBT community,” he said. “At the same time, [the] country’s churches also are talking about LGBT rights, some positively and some not so positively.”

Richard Weinberg, who helped to organize the event, is on leave from his job as director of communications at Washington National Cathedral and has spent the last two months as a volunteer missionary serving the Episcopal Church of Costa Rica.

“The help of Richard and his own testimony coincided with an important moment in Costa Rican society and in the Episcopal Church,” said Monterroso, adding that Lent offers an appropriate time for the church to “reflect, listen and learn.”

The church’s participation in the forum marked its first public effort toward the full inclusion of LGBT people.

“The first step is to promote dialogue, learn, listen and declare what we always have said. We want to heal the wounds that many LGBT people have with religion. We should understand that they are God’s creation and God does not err. We must accept them as God created them,” said Monterroso in a press release announcing the event.

The film “Before God, We Are All Family,” details the lives of five Latino religious families who have lived with the pain of the church’s repressive teachings on sexuality and gender identity. Filmed in the United States and Puerto Rico, the film explores the experiences of LGBT people of profound faith who say they have no place in their churches of origin, and their parents and families who at times have felt they’ve had to choose between their religion and their loved ones.

“I believe that this forum, this space for dialogue between the Episcopal Church and the LGBT community, will help us discover how we can work together and how both communities can contribute to the building of the reign of God,” said Monterroso, in the e-mail. “What I would like to see clearly is that the members of the Episcopal Church eliminate all forms of discrimination toward LGBT people and whatever other kind of discrimination.”

As an American serving as a volunteer missionary in Costa Rica, Weinberg has remained conscious of his outsider status, but through cross-cultural exchanges, friendships and social media, he became acquainted with the local activist scene.

And although he didn’t arrive in Costa Rica with an agenda toward advancing LGBT rights, as he and Monterroso became better acquainted the issue surfaced naturally, he said. (Weinberg shared his experience in a first-person piece published by the Huffington Post.)

Washington National Cathedral and the Very Rev. Gary Hall, its dean, have long been involved in the struggle for LGBTQ full inclusion, both in the church and society. Weinberg co-chairs the cathedral’s LGBT ministry group.

“Bishop Héctor knew about my work, but wasn’t sure if I was interested in getting involved,” said Weinberg, adding also that he was curious about the bishop’s and the church’s position, especially since the Anglican-Episcopal Church of El Salvador, a church in a country less developed than Costa Rica, has embraced the LGBT community.

Across Central and Latin America, LGBT people continue to suffer discrimination and violence, often with impunity.  And despite the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity violates international law, legal protections vary widely across the region.

The Anglican-Episcopal Church of El Salvador is the only Episcopal church in the region to have an official LGBT ministry, which it started in 2009. The Episcopal Church is present in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Guatemala and El Salvador, and all have formed a covenant with the U.S.-based Episcopal Church.

The hope in Costa Rica, said Weinberg, is that those in the local LGBT community who might feel called may step forward and the leaders might emerge.

“We’re planting a seed and hope that something grows,” said Weinberg.

 – Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service

Anglican Communion women to attend U.N. Commission

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] Women from 18 provinces of the Anglican Communion are converging on New York to take part collectively in the annual session of the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women.

On Monday, March 10, the United Nations will launch the 58th session of the commission, which this year has the theme of Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls.

Anglicans and Episcopalians were selected by their primates to attend on behalf of their provinces and will be monitoring plenary sessions and attending parallel events (panels and meetings) on topics that all speak to that theme.

After the commission concludes, the women will be returning to brief their provinces on the discussions and outcomes from the event.

The Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations is hosting several panels and events, including a presentation by Lakshmi Puri, assistant secretary general of the United Nations and deputy executive director of U.N. women. She will be presenting on The Beijing Platform for Action and the global development agenda – from the Millennium Development Goals to the Post-2015 development agenda.

Anglican Louisa Mojela, founder and group chief executive officer of women’s investment portfolio holdings limited, based in South Africa, will be presenting on Enhancing women’s investment opportunities in Africa and the world.

Mojela will also be joining Ayra Inderyas, secretary of the women desk, Diocese of Lahore, Church of Pakistan; Ariella Rojhani, senior advocacy manager of the NCD Alliance; and Ann M. Starrs, president of Family Care International; on a panel considering Accelerating access, integrating services, focusing on women: the challenges of the Millennium Development Goals, sustainable development goals, low and middle income countries, and non-communicable diseases. The panel will be moderated by global public health expert Lucille B. Pilling, who is the Episcopal Church’s delegate at UNCSW58.

The Anglican Communion attendees will also have the opportunity to hear a presentation at the Episcopal Church Center by 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee – a Liberian peace activist, trained social worker, public speaker, and women’s rights advocate. She is also founder and current president of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa.

The women attending on behalf of the Anglican Communion are from Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Central Africa, Congo, England, Hong Kong, Indian Ocean, Japan, Korea, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Rwanda, Scotland, South Africa and the United States.

New Facebook page to showcase Anglican Communion life, ministry

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] Social media posts about life and ministry of the Anglican/Episcopal world are being shared on a new Facebook page facebook.com/TheAnglicanCommunion.

While AnglicanNews.org and its Facebook page have been sharing news from around the Anglican Communion for the past few years, other non-news posts have been confined to individual accounts unless intentionally shared.

The new Facebook page aims to gather the best posts from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and elsewhere into one place and – in conjunction with the Twitter account @acoffice - to give visitors and followers a birds-eye view of Communion activity.

“We have volunteers from Africa, Asia, Oceania, North and Latin Americe, and Europe who will be posting and reposting anything they think will interest Anglicans and Episcopalians around the globe,” said Jan Butter, director for communication at the Anglican Communion Office.

“There are now so many Anglican Communion members, churches and initiatives sharing on these digital platforms that we thought it would make sense to create one place where at least the highlights could appear.”

Butter added that he has encouraged the volunteers to post in their own languages where possible to reflect the global nature of the Anglican Communion’s faith tradition.

The Anglican Communion Facebook page joins AnglicanNews.org, the @acoffice Twitter account, the Anglican Communion News Service Facebook page and the Anglican Communion website, and the Anglican Communion Office’s issuu.com account as yet another digital channel providing news, information and resources to members of the Anglican/Episcopal community worldwide.


ENS Headlines - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

María Antonieta Collins, periodista de la Cadena Univisión, viajó a una pobre casa a 12 horas de Culiacán, México, para entrevistar a Doña Consuelo Loera, madre del famoso traficante de drogas Joaquín, “El Chapo” Guzmán. La periodista se encontró con una humilde señora de 86 años que vive en una pobre casa que la recibió con todo cariño. Sus primeras palabras fueron “siento lo que le está pasando a mi hijo pero tengo fe en un Dios que me ayuda y me fortalece”. Doña Consuelo es miembro de una iglesia evangélica pentecostal muy cerca de su casa.

La Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba ha adoptado un plan de acción para los próximos tres años. La iglesia quiere ser una comunidad unida en la diversidad,  que celebra, evangeliza, enseña, sirve y comparte el amor de Dios. A ese fin se propone: fortalecer el crecimiento de la vocación pastoral, el ministerio ordenado y el ministerio laico; aumentar la sostenibilidad financiera a través de la mayordomía, la administración de proyectos y la exploración de otras fuentes nacionales; aprovechar los espacios de reflexión y formación bíblica-teológica en lo local, arcedianal y diocesano; profundizar en temas de valores, éticos, históricos, espirituales y de familia; reforzar la visibilidad del quehacer de la iglesia dentro y fuera; fortalecer la capacidad de gestión y organización; fortalecer ministerios  pastorales de servicio y acompañamiento a personas y grupos  en condiciones de exclusión y vulnerabilidad.  Griselda Delgado del Carpio, natural de Bolivia, es la obispa diocesana.

El papa Francisco recibió la semana pasada a un grupo inter-religioso de argentinos que visitaron la Tierra Santa llevando un mensaje de paz y convivencia entre los credos. El papa dijo que la Argentina “ha sido tierra de encuentro y armonía entre diversas comunidades y religiones”. Añadió que la armonía “nos une, nos hace mejores personas y hasta mejora la salud”. Informó que en su próximo viaje a la Tierra Santa irá acompañado de un musulmán y un judío.

El Parlamento Europeo pidió la semana pasada, por primera vez desde el estallido de la violencia en Venezuela, que el gobierno de Nicolás Maduro desarme y disuelva “inmediatamente” a los “grupos armados como los llamados Tupamaros”. El parlamento también pidió que se respeten los derechos humanos. Por otra parte, la prensa escrita dijo con motivo de aniversario número 25 del Caracazo que todo venezolano en edad debe recordar “el día que bajaron los cerros», cuando muchos habitantes de los barrios pobres que cubren las colinas aledañas a Caracas se abalanzaron sobre la ciudad en un frenesí de saqueo y rapiña que terminó con una ola de represión y muerte.

En su informe anual sobre los derechos humanos en el mundo el departamento de Estado de Estados Unidos señaló la represión de disidentes en Cuba y China, la concentración de poder en Venezuela y las restricciones a la libertad de expresión en Ecuador. Además, destacó la “impunidad” de los abusos cometidos por fuerzas de seguridad en Egipto, la “presión a la sociedad civil” en Ucrania y la persistencia de juicios “políticamente motivados” en Rusia. El informe también critica a Estados Unidos por “abusos de poder de sus fuerzas del orden”.

El Consejo Evangélico de Venezuela se ha pronunciado sobre la presente situación en el país diciendo “en esta hora de extraordinario dolor, en que el luto embarga una vez más los hogares venezolanos, el Consejo Evangélico de Venezuela manifiesta su solidaridad a todos y eleva oraciones y súplicas a Dios por la paz de nuestra nación y especialmente por las familias que han perdido a un ser querido durante las protestas realizadas. La Comisión de Justicia y Paz de la Conferencia Episcopal Venezolana, lamentó el asesinato de dos sacerdotes salesianos en la ciudad de Valencia, estado Carabobo.

Globovisión, el único canal de noticias en Venezuela ha dicho en un comunicado de prensa: “ante la violencia que se ha presentado en el país ratificamos nuestro compromiso con Venezuela y su democracia, con la paz y la tolerancia, con todos los venezolanos y muy especialmente con la verdad”.

ORACIÓN. Señor, hazme un instrumento de tu paz…

Church’s typhoon response builds resilience, boosts economy

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

[Episcopal Relief & Development press release] The Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP) has completed the initial relief phase of its response to Typhoon Haiyan – known locally as Yolanda – and will continue to assist impacted communities in rebuilding homes and rehabilitating livelihoods.  Episcopal Relief & Development supplied funding and technical support for these activities, which have strengthened relationships among participating communities, built local resilience and created economic growth.

The ECP’s development program, recently named E-CARE (Episcopal Community Action for Renewal and Empowerment), is acting in partnership with local cooperatives and organizations specializing in post-disaster reconstruction.  Guided by principles of asset-based community development, E-CARE programs seek to identify and expand on a community’s strengths to meet local and regional needs.

“From past experiences, disaster relief and rehabilitation work … oftentimes results in helplessness,” wrote Floyd Lalwet, ECP National Development Officer, in the proposal describing the Church’s planned disaster response.  “Hence, in the implementation of this project, measures are deliberately and programmatically adopted to prevent such undesired effects and, instead, build up and/or enhance the sense of self-reliance of these communities.”

Typhoon Haiyan struck the central Philippines on November 8, 2013, causing widespread flood and wind damage. ECP immediately mobilized a response via its networks in impacted communities, sending locally-sourced relief supplies and medical teams to areas that had not been reached by larger humanitarian efforts.  From November to February, ECP staff and volunteers distributed a total of 10,317 food and hygiene relief packs containing toiletry items and food such as vegetable noodles, camote (sweet potato) cookies and “energy mix” porridge.  ECP purchased the food items from Church-based cooperatives in the northern part of the country, and volunteers packed the supplies in bags crafted from surplus donated clothing.

“The success of ECP’s disaster response so far, and of their programs in general, comes in part from their keen ability to see the big picture,” said Sara Delaney, Program Officer for Episcopal Relief & Development.  “It can be tempting to focus on disaster response as an isolated project, but ECP sees it as part of their larger work and looks at how the response can utilize programs they already have and strengthen communities to be more resilient to challenges.”

For the first round of long-term recovery work, Church staff identified four barangays (municipalities) on the island of Leyte that were actively participating in livelihood programs at the time of the typhoon.  Severe winds destroyed homes and wiped out crops, but these barangays were not impacted by seawater – an advantage that will allow agriculture to recover more quickly.  Local farmers are now starting over with all-natural, harvest-boosting fertilizers and techniques from the Church’s Tadian Demonstration Farm, and ECP is purchasing salvageable fruit crops to process into jam, which will be sold via the E-CARE store in Manila.  Supplemental food assistance will continue during this time of rehabilitation, as farmers have been able to replant their fields but will not be able to harvest for several months.

Economic rehabilitation is essential for the long-term recovery of typhoon-affected areas, and ECP is working with the Philippine Center for Social Enterprise to restart existing businesses and develop new ones.  According to ECP staff, communities that received relief packs were inspired to learn that the food items had been produced by farmer cooperatives in the northern part of the country, and resolved to expand their own activities along the same lines.  For those supplier communities, participating in the typhoon response led to an increase in production capacity, which will position them to compete in the regional market and assist in future disasters.  Additionally, many of the products are organic, strengthening their competitive advantage and responding to the growing demand in the Philippines for organic food.

With wind speeds peaking at 195 miles per hour, a majority of residents in the four selected barangays experienced severe or total damage to their homes during the storm.  Although many have made provisional repairs using tarps and canvas, ECP aims to empower people to rebuild in a way that will reduce risks associated with future disasters.  Utilizing Interlocking Compressed Earth Block (ICEB) technology pioneered by the locally based JF Ledesma Foundation, residents will be able to use local materials to produce low-cost, durable bricks for home reconstruction.  Recovery plans include other proven risk reduction strategies such as planting trees and other vegetation to combat wind and erosion.

Looking ahead, ECP plans to explore the potential for long-term recovery partnerships in four additional barangays that were impacted by the storm.  By applying a “receivers to givers” methodology, ECP enables program participants to eventually “give back” by contributing labor or a portion of income to help other groups start projects of their own.

This holistic approach of connecting participating communities in a cycle of giving fosters a sense of equality and solidarity, according to Lalwet.  “It also gives the receiving communities a better sense of obligation to follow a similar course taken by marginalized communities seeking to economically empower themselves,” he wrote in the disaster response proposal.

Following their asset-based approach, ECP will accompany communities through the relief and rehabilitation phases of disaster recovery, laying a foundation for further community development beyond just rebuilding to pre-typhoon status.  “The aim of the ECP disaster response is to help communities identify their own strengths and capitalize on them,” Delaney said, “so that after several years of growth, they are not only fully recovered, but stronger.”

Episcopal Relief & Development is the international relief and development agency of the Episcopal Church and an independent 501(c)(3) organization. The agency takes its mandate from Jesus’ words found in Matthew 25. Its programs work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Episcopal Relief & Development works closely with the worldwide Church and ecumenical partners to help rebuild after disasters and to empower local communities to find lasting solutions that fight poverty, hunger and disease, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.

St. David’s unveils largest solar project in downtown Austin

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Texas Bishop Andy Doyle blesses a solar panel

[Episcopal Diocese of Texas] A pilot project that is being watched closely by utility companies around the country now has all 576 panels in place in downtown Austin. Today, the last few panels were mounted on the roof of St. David’s Episcopal Church’s nine-story garage. The system is sized to produce 200 MWh per year, which will provide electricity for a day school, coffee shop, homeless resource center, and off-site classes for AISD.

The idea for the project, which is the first of its size in downtown Austin, was first discussed by church leaders 10 years ago. “We had a window of opportunity that opened with a newly created pilot program by Austin Energy, federal rebates, low interest rates, and the advancement of technology. Everything came together so well with the help of Austin Energy and Meridian Solar, we were finally able to carry it out,” said St. David’s Parish Administrator Terry Nathan.

In the past, a project of this size was too risky. Downtown networks have been set up to only allow electricity to flow in, creating better protection for densely populated areas. An initial concern of the project was that on the days when more solar energy was generated than needed, the excess would try and pump back into the grid causing significant problems. With this project in mind, Meridian Solar helped create a sophisticated control system that permits the solar array to be connected to the utility’s electrical service, all while prohibiting the excess generation from back feeding into the downtown network.

St. David’s solar panel project is the
largest in downtown Austin

“This achievement is the latest chapter in St. Davids’ long history of contributions of the Austin community,” said Austin City Council Member Chris Riley. “By helping resolve difficult issues related to our electric grid, St. David’s has moved us closer to our goals for local solar generation, and has demonstrated once again the value of its longtime partnership with the City.”

Beyond the obvious benefit of saving on energy costs (St. David’s also houses a day school, coffee shop, homeless resource center, and off-site classes for AISD), the solar panel project reflects St. David’s values on protecting the environment and conserving resources. St. David’s is a certified GreenFaith Sanctuary, houses and maintains a certified Wildlife Habitat in the middle of downtown, is a City of Austin Green Business Partner (Platinum level); and winner of the 2012 Keep Austin Beautiful Award in the category of Recycling and Waste Reduction.

St. David’s Rector, the Rev. David Boyd, shares his excitement about the project, “Through our solar energy project, we are fulfilling God’s call to be stewards of creation. In addition, as we save significant money on our utility costs, those resources enable us to fulfill other aspects of the Gospel as we care for those in the Austin community, including our homeless brothers and sisters and local service agencies.”

About St. David’s Episcopal Church:  St. David’s, established in 1848, has approximately 2,400 members and offers seven services each Sunday and prayer services during the week. The church, which occupies an entire city block in downtown Austin, supports the Austin community by serving homeless neighbors, providing grants to local non-profits, and organizing volunteers to support local projects like Habitat for Humanity and Wildfire Relief efforts. Learn more at www.stdave.org

About Meridian Solar: Meridian Solar specializes in the development, engineering, construction, and financing of high quality solar electric projects. Blue-chip commercial clients, State and Federal entities, non-profit organizations, and utility providers repeatedly count on Meridian Solar when considering renewable energy for their facilities. With more than a decade of experience, comprised of hundreds of installationstotaling 39 MW of generating capacity, MeridianSolar is truly a seasoned veteran in the burgeoning solar industry. Learn more at www.meridiansolar.com.

Share your Ash Wednesday, Lent, Holy Week, Easter experiences with the entire church

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 3, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The holy season of Lent begins this week on Ash Wednesday and continues to the festive day of Easter. This season, consider sharing your experiences with the entire Episcopal Church by uploading photos and videos to appear on the stained glass on the main page of the Episcopal Church website www.episcopalchurch.org.

“Please share photos and videos by posting to local uploads on The Episcopal Church website,” explained Anne Rudig, Director of Communication. “The site was designed to be a container for the whole Church. We would love to see every congregation represented in the stained glass on the home page during Lent, Holy Week and Easter.”

Upload photos here.

Upload videos here.

Continue Lenten observances throughout the 40-day period by checking out the Word of the Day from the Society of St John the Evangelist or participating in Lent Madness.

For more information contact Barry Merer, Manager, Web & Social Media Services, bmerer@episcopalchurch.org

Live webcast
The Office of Communication will offer a live webcast of a traditional Ash Wednesday service with the imposition of Ashes on March 5 at noon Eastern from Grace Church, New York City.

The webcast will be available here.

Society of St. John the Evangelist offers Lenten video package

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 3, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] The Society of St. John the Evangelist is offering short, daily videos that delve deeply into the gospel that shapes their community life.

“John’s message of love can unlock our hearts and transform our lives,” the monastery’s website says.

The videos in the series “Love Livfe: Lent 2014” will be sent to participants via email and, thus, people wishing to receive them may subscribe here. A series of videos previewing the series can be found on that this page as well.

The brothers are also offering resources for use with the series here for group and church leaders and educators.

Ashes to Go continues to expand Lenten ministry

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 3, 2014

The Rev. Emily Mellott imposes ashes on a commuter at the train station in Lomb ard, Illinois. Photo: Ashes to Go website

[Episcopal News Service] For nearly the eighth Ash Wednesday in a row, Episcopal Church clergy and laity will take to the streets on the day that marks the start of Lent to offer passersby the outward and visible symbol of penitence.

Begun in part in the Dioceses of Chicago and Missouri, the website Ashes to Go says that the practice went viral in 2012.

“Those who had no time to attend services or had forgotten about the tradition were delighted to receive ashes with prayer as they began their day,” said the Rev. Emily Mellott, who calls herself an Ashes to Go evangelist and manages the website. “Many responded with tears or smiles of gratitude that the church would come to them.”

The list of congregations that have told the planners that they will offer Ashes to Go this Ash Wednesday is here. Many diocesan websites also are compiling a list of participating congregations.

The Ashes to Go website also offers some resources for congregations here, as does the Episcopal Church Foundation here.

Lent Madness 2014 announced

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 3, 2014

[Forward Movement] What do you get when you combine a love of sports with a love of saints? Lent Madness, of course. The world’s most popular Lenten devotion returns for its fifth year of teaching people about saints in its inimitable, occasionally irreverent, way.

Based loosely on the wildly popular NCAA basketball tournament, Lent Madness pits 32 saints against one another in a single-elimination bracket as they compete for the coveted Golden Halo. But it is more than that: Lent Madness is really an online devotional tool designed to help people learn about saints. The competition begins on Thursday, March 6 and takes place at www.lentmadness.org.

The creator of Lent Madness, the Rev. Tim Schenck, says “Lent Madness is a fun way to get people to connect with and be inspired by a bunch of amazing people. Some are already household names and others are virtually unknown but we can all learn something from the unique ways they followed God. Plus, there’s no rule that says Lenten disciplines must be dreary.”

The format is straightforward: 32 saints are placed into a tournament-like single elimination bracket. Each pairing remains open for twenty-four hours and people vote for their favorite saint. 16 saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; eight advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; and the winner is awarded the Golden Halo. The surprise 2013 Lent Madness champion was Frances Perkins.

The first round consists of basic biographical information about each of the 32 saints.

Subsequent rounds explore quotes and quirks, legends, and even move into the area of saintly kitsch.

Christians around the world mark the Season of Lent from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The 40-day period is a traditional time of penitence, self-denial, fasting, and preparation for the celebration of the Resurrection at Easter. It is modeled on the 40-day period of Jesus’ fasting and temptation in the wilderness recorded in Scripture in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

Fun during Lent? The Rev. Scott Gunn, executive director of Forward Movement, which sponsors the competition, says “Lent is meant to be a ‘spring cleaning of the soul,’ a chance to think about how we can live as God hopes.” Gunn added, “Lent is not meant to be a season of misery, but a joyful and introspective season to prepare for our celebration of the Risen Christ at Easter.”

Lent Madness began in 2010 as the brainchild of Schenck, an Episcopal priest and rector of St. John’s Church in Hingham, Massachusetts. In seeking a fun, engaging way for people to learn about the men and women comprising the Church’s Calendar of Saints, Schenck came up with this unique Lenten devotion. Combining his love of sports with his passion for the lives of the saints, Lent Madness was born on his blog “Clergy Family Confidential.”

Gunn’s involvement with Lent Madness began on his own blog, “Seven whole days,” as he advocated for the eventual Golden Halo winner that year, George Herbert. This campaign, which relied on trash talk of Herbert’s opponents, helped to set the tone of Lent Madness early on as “Christian discipleship meets cutthroat competition.”

Ten “celebrity bloggers” from across the country have been tapped to write for the project including the Rev. Laurie Brock of Lexington, Kentucky; the Rev. Penny Nash of Williamsburg, Virginia; Dr. David Creech of Morehead, Minnesota; the Rev. Megan Castellan of Kansas City, Missouri; Canon Heidi Shott of Newcastle, Maine; the Rev. David Hendrickson of Denver, Colorado; the Rev. Amber Belldene of San Francisco, California; the Rev. David Sibley of Brooklyn, New York; the Rev. Laura Darling of San Francisco, California; and the Rev. Maria Kane of Houston, Texas. Information about each of the celebrity bloggers is available on the Lent Madness website.

This year’s heavyweights include Thomas Merton, Catherine of Siena, J.S. Bach, David of Wales, John Wesley, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Joseph of Arimathaea.

New this year was the publication of the Saintly Scorecard — The Definitive Guide to Lent Madness 2014. Available through Forward Movement and popular ebook stores, it contains biographies of all 32 saints to assist those who like to fill out their brackets in advance.

Lent Madness has been featured in Sports Illustrated, The Washington Post, Boston Public Radio, and many other media outlets. More importantly, thousands of people have engaged in this fun and entertaining spiritual exercise.

Visit www.lentmadness.org to view the full bracket of saints, learn about the contributors, and, starting on March 6, to vote.

Forward Movement has worked since 1935 to bring vitality and spiritual health to the church. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, Forward Movement is widely known for Forward Day by Day. Lent Madness is one of many ways that Forward Movement hopes to encourage people to live faithfully throughout their lives. Forward Movement is a ministry of The Episcopal Church.

WCC general secretary expresses concern over Ukraine

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 3, 2014

[World Council of Churches press release] “The World Council of Churches (WCC) is deeply concerned by the current dangerous developments in Ukraine,” the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC said on Monday, March 3.

“The situation puts many innocent lives in grave jeopardy. And like a bitter wind from the Cold War, it risks further undermining the international community’s capacity to act now or in the future on the many urgent issues that will require a collective and principled response,” he said.

“Out of concern for the lives and security of all people who are or might in the future be affected by the continuing failure to resolve this situation peacefully, I call urgently on all parties to refrain from violence, to commit to dialogue and diplomacy, and to avoid escalation by rash words or actions. The consequences of failing to do so will inevitably be much greater human suffering in Ukraine, and a deep rift in the social and political fabric of the region and in the wider international community,” Tveit said.

“Let us pray for wisdom, peace and justice to prevail.”

La Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba adopta un plan estratégico de tres años

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 3, 2014

La Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba celebró su Sínodo General anual en La Habana del 21 al 23 febrero. Foto: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Habana, Cuba] La Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba tiene una clara visión en movimiento hacía su próximo trienio: ser una iglesia que unida en la diversidad, celebra, evangeliza, enseña, sirve y comparte el amor de Dios.

Llegar a esa visión ha sido “una experiencia muy enriquecedora”, pero a veces “algo difícil”, dijo la obispa Griselda Delgado de Carpio, durante una entrevista posterior al Sínodo General con la Episcopal News Service el 23 de febrero.

Para su plan estratégico del 2014 al 2016, la iglesia encuentra inspiración de la carta de Pablo a los Efesios, en concreto el capítulo 4, versículos 15-16: “sino que, siguiendo la verdad con amor, crezcamos en todo hacia aquel que es la cabeza: Cristo. De parte de él todo el cuerpo, bien concertado y entrelazado por la cohesión que aportan todas las coyunturas, recibe su crecimiento de acuerdo con la actividad proporcionada a cada uno de los miembros, para ir edificándose en amor”. Al final de los últimos tres años, el primer trienio completo de Delgado sirviendo como obispo, una visión más clara de la iglesia comenzó a desarrollarse tomando la evangelización como centro de escenario en la misión de la iglesia, ella dijo.

“A partir de ahí pudimos visualizar un plan concreto desde el cual tenemos que trabajar,” agregó.

Los objetivos del plan de tres años son los siguientes:

  • fortalecer el crecimiento de la vocación pastoral, el Ministerio Ordenado y el Ministerio Laico;
  • aumentar la sostenibilidad financiera a través de la mayordomía, la administración de proyectos y la exploración de otras fuentes nacionales;
  • aprovechar los espacios de reflexión y formación bíblica-teológica en lo local, arcedianal y diocesano, en temas de valores, ética, historia de la iglesia, espiritualidad y familia, utilizando nuestro liderazgo capacitado.
  • reforzar la visibilidad del quehacer de la iglesia dentro y fuera;
  • fortalecer la capacidad de gestión y organización (incluye la plantificación, control, evaluación y sistematización;
  • promover acciones pastorales de servicio y acompañamiento a personas y grupos  en condiciones de exclusión y vulnerabilidad, los ancianos, los que sufren de adicciones o son VIH positivas, y
  • obtener una mejor comunicación en toda la iglesia.

“Gracias a Dios que estamos obteniendo la participación de los jóvenes en la iglesia”, dijo. “Creemos que ellos no son sólo el futuro, sino el presente”.

Griselda Delgado del Carpio, posa con los niños después de la Eucaristía de clausura del Sínodo General. La iglesia en el plan trienal de Cuba prioriza la formación de los niños. Foto: Lynette Wilson / Episcopal News Service

Es por esa razón, agregó, que el plan se centra en la formación de los jóvenes, los niños y adolescentes y también aquellos en el camino hacia el sacerdocio que heredarán grandes responsabilidades.

“Sigo sorprendida por la tenacidad y el corazón misionero de la iglesia episcopal en Cuba”, dijo la Obispa Presidente Katharine Jefferts Schori en un e-mail a ENS.

“Ellos son un gran ejemplo para las congregaciones de la iglesia episcopal de lo que es el valor del desarrollo de recursos basado en la comunidad – valorando todos los dones que Dios ha provisto en este lugar, escuchar las necesidades de la comunidad en general, y colaborar para la misión y el ministerio. La obispa Griselda está dirigiendo un ministerio transformador en Cuba – Les insto a ir a ver si les es posible, desarrollar una asociación diocesana o parroquial, y aprender más. ”

Al Sínodo General anual de la iglesia episcopal de Cuba, realizado del 21 al 23de febrero en la Catedral de la Trinidad en La Habana, asistieron los episcopales y anglicanos de Estados Unidos y Canadá, incluyendo el arzobispo Fred Hiltz, primado de la Iglesia Anglicana de Canadá.

Durante su introducción a la convención, Hiltz describió a Delgado como “un gran embajador de Cuba, poniendo a la iglesia en Cuba en el mapa de la Comunión Anglicana de manera muy importante”.

Delgado fue instalado en noviembre del 2010, en sustitución al obispo Miguel Tamayo de la Iglesia Anglicana del Uruguay que sirvió a la Iglesia como obispo interino por seis años, y dividiendo su tiempo entre Montevideo y La Habana.

El obispo Julio César Holguín de la República Dominicana predicó durante la Eucaristía de clausura de la Asamblea General de la iglesia episcopal de Cuba. Foto: Lynette Wilson / Episcopal News Service

Después de la elección de Delgado, el obispo Julio César Holguín de la República Dominicana se convirtió en su mentor durante tres años, una relación que continúa de manera informal en la actualidad. Holguín encabezó una pequeña delegación, a Cuba del 18 al 25 febrero, para asistir a Sínodo General incluyendo a miembros de las diócesis compañeras.

La Diócesis de la República Dominicana tiene relaciones con unas15 diócesis compañeras con sede en los Estados Unidos, y en sí sirve como un complemento de la iglesia en Cuba, aunque de una manera más informal, “sentimental”, y como una expresión de solidaridad, dijo Holguín.

Pero la relación también ha adquirido un carácter práctico, por ejemplo, en la Convención General del 2009 la Iglesia Episcopal inició recortes en el presupuesto de $23 requeridos por la disminución de ingresos, lo que significó una disminución en las subvenciones a las diócesis de la Provincia IX y a los socios del pacto de la iglesia, incluyendo a Cuba.

Tras esa acción, el clero de la Diócesis de la República Dominicana se comprometió a dar el 1 por ciento de sus salarios, lo que equivale a alrededor de $3,000 Total, para ser compartido por el clero en Cuba, dijo Holguín, quien agregó que el salario mensual para el clero podría ser $7 o $8.

“Estábamos en una mejor posición que nadie para apoyar a la Iglesia en Cuba”, dijo. El presupuesto trienal de la iglesia episcopal asigna 106.000 dólares a la iglesia en Cuba.

El obispo Julio César Holguín de la República Dominicana y el arzobispo Fred Hiltz, primado de la Iglesia Anglicana de Canadá, hablan durante la hora del almuerzo del Sínodo General de la iglesia episcopal de Cuba. Foto: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Al igual que la iglesia episcopal en los Estados Unidos, la iglesia anglicana de Canadá ha tenido una larga relación con la iglesia episcopal de Cuba, dijo Hiltz

La Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba es una diócesis autónoma de la Comunión Anglicana, bajo la autoridad del Consejo Metropolitano de Cuba. El Consejo está presidido por Hiltz e incluye a Jefferts Schori y Arzobispo John Holder de West Indies. El concejal ha supervisado la iglesia en Cuba desde que se separó de la iglesia episcopal en los Estados Unidos en 1967.

En seis años y un medio que Hiltz ha servido en el consejo, dijo, a pesar de la dificultad continua, él ha visto mucha esperanza en la iglesia, así como un impulso hacia el desarrollo del liderazgo. Tener un obispo a tiempo completo ha ayudado, añadió.

“La iglesia aquí en Cuba no es una institución, sino un movimiento, un movimiento del evangelio”, dijo Hiltz.

El domingo antes de la convención, el 16 de febrero, Hiltz y otros visitantes de la iglesia anglicana de Canadá visitaron una iglesia en casa en Luyanó, un área pobre de La Habana, donde la congregación que estaba muy llena celebró el Día de San Valentín, intercambiando regalos prácticos de jabón y pasta de dientes, dos necesidades que pueden ser difíciles de encontrar en Cuba.

Después de la Eucaristía, la congregación llevó al grupo a la obra de su iglesia, que después la cual fue destruido hace 30 años por un huracán y se está preparando para una consagración del Domingo de Pascua.

En lugar de simplemente construir un lugar de culto, dijo Hiltz, el templo incluye clínicas médicas y cuidado de los ancianos y un centro comunitario.

“Uno tiene la sensación de que la iglesia está realmente en la comunidad, allí por el bien de la comunidad”, dijo Hiltz. “Al verlo en terreno enriquece mi entendimiento y ayuda en la manera en que los mantenemos en oración”.

En el ofrecimiento de la oración, el contexto hace la diferencia, añadió

Obispa de Cuba Griselda Delgado del Carpio y el obispo Michael Bird de la Diócesis de Niagara hablan después de una sesión de trabajo. Cuba y Niagara renovaron recientemente su relación de diócesis compañeras. Foto: Lynette Wilson / Episcopal News Service

En la iglesia anglicana de la diócesis de Niagara de Canadá, las 91 parroquias rezan semanalmente para las iglesias en Cuba, dijo el Obispo Michael Bird, cuando fue presentado en el sínodo.

La iglesia de Canadá proporciona apoyo a la Iglesia cubana apoyando los programas, el clero y los estipendios de la facultad del seminario y por medio de relaciones de compañerismo diocesano.

La Diócesis de Niagara, por ejemplo, recientemente renovó su relación de compañerismo de una década con la iglesia en Cuba por otros cinco años.

“Cuba es una especie de diócesis especial en la Comunión Anglicana, y nuestra asociación es una forma de expresar solidaridad y amistad, una expresión popular de eso”, dijo el Rdo. Bill Mous, director de la diócesis de la justicia, la comunidad y los ministerios globales.

La iglesia episcopal de Cuba remonta sus orígenes a una presencia anglicana a partir de 1901. Hoy en día hay unas 46 congregaciones y misiones al servicio de 10,000 miembros y de las comunidades en general. Durante la década de 1960, el gobierno de Fidel Castro comenzó a tomar medidas enérgicas contra la religión, encarcelando a los líderes religiosos y a los creyentes, y no fue sino hasta la visita del Papa Juan Pablo II a Cuba en 1998, la primera visita de un Papa católico romano a la isla, que el gobierno comenzó un movimiento de regresión hacia la tolerancia de la religión.

La Revolución cubana, encabezada por Castro, comenzó en 1953 y duró hasta que el presidente Fulgencio Batista fue expulsado del poder en 1959. El gobierno anticomunista, autoritario de Batista, fue sustituido por un estado socialista, que en 1965 se alineó con el partido comunista. En 2008 Raúl Castro reemplazó en la presidencia a su convaleciente hermano.

Arzobispo Fred Hiltz, primado de la Iglesia Anglicana de Canadá, el obispo Julio César Holguín de la República Dominicana y el obispo Todd Ousley de la Diócesis del este de Michigan en procesión en la Eucaristía de clausura. Foto: Lynette Wilson / Episcopal News Service

Lo que sorprendió más al obispo Todd Ousley de la Diócesis del este de Michigan era la forma única de Cuba de ser anglicano.

“Lo que fue más sorprendente para mí fue el sentido de como estratégicamente contextualizaron la iglesia honrando con mucho cuidado su cultura cubana y fusionar eso con el anglicanismo,” dijo, y agregó que es claro en el plan estratégico que no sólo el liderazgo del obispo es importante, pero también la de los clérigos y los laicos.

También estaba impresionado, dijo, con el enfoque de la iglesia en temas de justicia y ayudar a los “más pequeños de estos”.

Obispo Miguel Tamayo Zaldívar, ex obispo interino de Cuba, y el obispo Ulises Aguero, obispo emérito de Cuba, durante la procesión de Eucaristía de clausura. Foto: Lynette Wilson / Episcopal News Service

La experiencia de la Iglesia cubana con el socialismo y su entendimiento de que todos deben trabajar juntos en solidaridad sirve como un buen modelo para la iglesia en Norteamérica y América Latina, dijo Ousley

La superposición con el inicio del Sínodo General de la Iglesia, un grupo diverso de la misión Anglicana Episcopal – incluyendo personas de los Estados Unidos, México, Argentina, Chile, El Salvador – visitaron la iglesia de San Francisco de Asís, en Cárdenas, provincia de Matanzas, localizada, en auto, a unas dos horas del este La Habana. El grupo fue dirigido por el Rdo. Canónigo Juan Andrés Quevedo, el rector de la iglesia del Redentor [Church of the Redeemer] en Astoria, Queens, y un arcediano en la Diócesis de Long Island.

Fue la primera vez en 13 años que Quevedo, quien nació en la ciudad de Matanzas y que asistió al seminario evangélico local antes de estudiar en el Trinity College, en Toronto, Canadá, ha estado de vuelta en Cuba.

En el pasto junto a San Francisco de Asís hay bloques de cemento que se disponen ordenadamente en filas, casi como lápidas en un cementerio, sólo estaban allí para evitar que las bancas recién lijadas y manchadas de la iglesia tocaran la hierba.

El grupo de la misión necesitaba un proyecto de servicio que esté terminado dentro de una semana para que, junto con el Rdo. Aurelio de la Paz Cot, ellos decidieran que lo mejor sería repintar las bancas, mientras que para los transeúntes, los bloques de cemento bien ordenados y las bancas secas se veían muy curiosas.

“Para nosotros fue un evento de evangelización”, dijo de la Paz, quien fue un compañero de seminario de Quevedo en Matanza, y agregó que las personas cercanas, curiosas por el trabajo y trabajadores, pasaban por aquí y preguntaban: “¿Quiénes son estas personas? ”

Y más que eso, para de la Paz, fue una “experiencia maravillosa” y que significó mucho para él y su congregación que la gente utilice su tiempo de vacaciones y sus recursos personales para venir a Cuba, y conocer su cultura, su gente y compartir algo de sí mismos, con otra gente que están un poco aislados.

Para los que viajaron a la isla, la experiencia fue tanto de alegría y como de dolor, dijo Quevedo, con muchos de ellos comparando la experiencia de su propio país con los regímenes totalitarios y los altos niveles de pobreza.

“Han visto un lado de la pobreza que no está familiarizado con ellos”, dijo, durante una visita a una granja orgánica cerca de Cárdenas dirigido por el Centro Cristiano de Reflexión y Diálogo. “Nuestros pobres son educados y eso los hace estar auto-conscientes de cómo vivir mejor, mientras que en sus países los pobres han sido golpeados hacia la desesperación”.

Esa conciencia de sí mismo también se puede ver en la forma en que la iglesia opera en Cuba.

“Es una iglesia muy cultural enraizada en la historia de Cuba”, dijo Carlos Austin, un seminarista de segundo año de la iglesia episcopal de Panamá.

La iglesia tiene un fuerte liderazgo, dijo, pero una de sus características más definitorias es la presencia  de la juventud.

“Los jóvenes realmente participan”, dijo Austin. “No es como en nuestros países, a lo mejor no son tan organizadas pero tienen la mano de obra”.

Como seminarista en el Seminario Evangélico de Teología de Matanzas, Austin pasa sus fines de semana sirviendo Cuatro Esquinas, una iglesia en Los Arabos, una comunidad a unos 65 kilómetros de distancia.

“Ellos son un ejemplo de lo que una iglesia debe hacer en una comunidad sabia,” dijo Austin, quien agregó que la iglesia sirve como un centro comunitario y dispensa medicinas y agua purificada. “El sacerdote y el liderazgo son vistos como ayuda; de donde yo vengo, nosotros [la iglesia] tenemos que aprender más acerca de la comunidad.

“Muchas veces parece que nos centramos en la evangelización hacia el interior, aquí no se centran en la evangelización, se centran en la misión y luego sigue la evangelización”.

Fue el Reverendísimo Julio Murray, obispo de Panamá, quien decidió que Austin asistiría al seminario en Cuba, en vez de Brasil, otra alternativa de Austin. Él es uno de los 17 seminaristas residentes, la escuela cuenta con 500 estudiantes de educación a distancia a través de Cuba.

El obispo quería que Austin estudiara teología en el contexto latinoamericano, y para Austin, al menos en un principio, le fue difícil porque la vida cotidiana en Cuba requiere fortaleza.

El transporte público en Cuba es limitado y puede tomar horas para recorrer distancias cortas, los bienes básicos como papel higiénico, jabón y pasta de dientes pueden ser difíciles de conseguir, independientemente de si se tiene o no el dinero para comprarlos, los salarios son bajos, con médicos que ganan menos de $20 al mes.

Si no fuera por la bondad de los miembros de la iglesia, dijo Austin, él ya se habría ido.

“Eso es lo que hizo la diferencia para mí aquí, la iglesia y la gente me acogieron”, dijo.

 – Lynette Wilson es una editora/reportera  para Episcopal News Service. Ella  estuvo en Cuba del 18 al 25 de febrero con una delegación dirigida por el bispo Julio César Holgún de la República Dominicana.

One candidate added to Maryland bishop slate

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 3, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has announced one additional candidate to stand for election as bishop suffragan.

The Rev. Martha N. Macgill, 56, who was nominated via a petition process, is the rector of Memorial Episcopal Church in Bolton Hill in Baltimore, where she has served for 14 years. Macgill previously served communities in South Africa and Richmond, Virginia.

Macgill joins three other candidates who were announced in early February. They are:

  • the Rev. Canon Heather Cook, 57, canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Easton;
  • the Rev. Nancy Gossling, 61, who is currently on a discernment sabbatical after having completed a ministry experience at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland and a Spanish immersion course in Barcelona, Spain; and
  • the Rev. Canon Victoria Sirota, 64, canon pastor and vicar of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City.

The nominees will visit the diocese and meet with clergy and laity April 2-5, with locations to be announced. The election will take place during Diocesan Convention May 2-3 at Turf Valley Resort, Ellicott City.

The Rt. Rev. Joe G. Burnett served the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland as its assistant bishop since April 1, 2011, following the retirement of the Rt. Rev. John L. Rabb, bishop suffragan. Burnett had planned to end his tenure as assistant bishop with the consecration of the new bishop suffragan in the fall of 2014; however, his final day in the Maryland diocese was Dec. 31, 2013. Burnett became interim rector of St. Columba’s Church, Washington, D.C., on Jan. 1, 2014.

For videos and photographs, and detailed biographies, resumes and letters of introduction from the nominees, visit http://bishopsearchmd.org.

Royal couple to visit Sydney’s Anglican cathedral for Easter

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 3, 2014

[Sydney Anglicans] The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will visit St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney in April, as part of their Australian tour.

The royal couple, along with Prince George, will fly to Australia via New Zealand, landing on April 16th.

Buckingham Palace has now released the itinerary showing Prince William and the Duchess will attend the Easter Day service at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney and sign the First Fleet Bible.

Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies, who will preach at the service, said he will be “delighted to welcome the royal couple to the celebration of Easter at the Cathedral church of St. Andrew.”

The couple will also visit Brisbane, Uluru and Canberra.

On Anzac Day, Prince William will lay a wreath during a Commemorative Service at the Australian War Memorial and plant a Lone Pine tree, the seed of which came from Gallipoli in the Memorial Garden.

Bishop Sean Rowe is elected provisional bishop of Bethlehem diocese

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 3, 2014

[Canticle Communications] A special convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem on March 1 elected the Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe as the provisional bishop of Bethlehem.

The diocese comprises 14 counties in northeastern Pennsylvania and includes the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Hazleton, Reading, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre.

“It’s a great day in the kingdom,” said Rowe after his election. “I am humbled and count it a privilege to stand before you today as your bishop. I am excited about this opportunity to serve you.”

Rowe has been bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania for seven years, and will continue in that role. His position in the diocese of Bethlehem will continue for three years.

“My style is a collaborative one in which we will work together — bishop, clergy and lay leaders,” said Rowe in an address to the convention following his election. “I hope you will find yourself welcome to a table large enough to hear your voice. Collaboration requires relationships of substance, and I want to spent time getting to know you, hear your stories, and learn to care about those ministries for which you have great passion and excitement.”

All of 64 of the clergy present and 99 of the 100 laypeople voted in favor of Rowe’s election, which required a two-thirds vote.

“The Standing Committee chose Bishop Sean as our nominee for provisional bishop because of his stable, forward-thinking leadership in Northwestern Pennsylvania,” said the Rev. Canon Andrew T. Gerns, president of the Standing Committee in Bethlehem and rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Easton. “He has a strong track record of building relationships with clergy and lay leaders and proven skill at resolving conflict directly and effectively. We’re delighted at his election and grateful that the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania has so readily agreed to undertake this innovative arrangement with us.”

“Today you did not elect the smartest or the most spiritual bishop ever. The fact is, there are people here who have been praying twice as long as I’ve been alive,” said Rowe, who is 39. “What you’ll get is one who is faithful to God, at least most of the time, and one who stands firmly on the promises of Jesus Christ. I am your servant.”

The Diocese of Bethlehem’s previous bishop, the Rt. Rev. Paul V. Marshall, retired on Dec. 31 after a terminal sabbatical. On Jan. 1, the Standing Committee announced its plan to call a provisional bishop for a three-year term.

Rowe will take up his new duties immediately and by August 2014 spend half of his time in each diocese. He, his wife, Carly, and their one-year-old daughter, Lauren, will have a home in both suburban Erie and in Bethlehem.

Rowe was ordained bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania, which comprises 33 congregations in 13 counties, in 2007. He is known for developing transformational leadership and is a Ph.D. candidate in organizational learning and leadership at Gannon University. He is a 2000 graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary and a 1997 graduate of Grove City College. He serves as parliamentarian for the House of Bishops, chair of the Episcopal Church Building Fund, and member of the General Board of Examining Chaplains, the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church, and the Council of Advice to the President of the House of Deputies.

The Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem comprises 63 congregations in the 14 counties of northeastern Pennsylvania. To learn more, visit www.diobeth.org. The Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania comprises 33 congregations in the 13 counties in northwestern Pennsylvania. To learn more, visit www.dionwpa.org.

Mississippi diocese announces 5 nominees for bishop

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 3, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi] The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Mississippi announced its slate of nominees for election as bishop coadjutor to become the 10th bishop of the Diocese of Mississippi. The announcement was made on Saturday, March 1.

The nominees are:

  • the Very Rev. Michael J. Battle, vicar, St. Titus Episcopal Church, Durham, North Carolina;
  • the Rev. Marian Dulaney Fortner, rector, Trinity Episcopal Church, Hattiesburg, Mississippi;
  • the Rev. Dr. R. Stan Runnels, rector, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Day School, Kansas City, Missouri;
  • the Very Rev. Brian R. Seage, rector, St. Columb’s Episcopal Church, Ridgeland, Mississippi; and
  • the Rev. Ruth Woodliff-Stanley, rector, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Denver, Colorado.

A petition process for submitting additional names opens on March 3 and will close on March 7, 5 p.m. CST.  Complete information about the petition process and the petition form are available on the diocesan website.

The slate is the result of a 10-month discernment process conducted by the Nominating Committee, made up of lay and clergy members representing all convocations of the diocese. The Nominating Committee was established and charged by the Standing Committee. With the announcement of the slate, a Transition Committee, also reporting to the Standing Committee and comprising lay and clergy members from across the diocese, implements the next stages of the election process.

The nominees will be in Mississippi, April 7-11 and will be introduced at three open question-and-answer sessions. The sessions will be held at Coast Episcopal School, Long Beach on April 8; St. Andrew’s School, Ridgeland on April 9; and All Saints Church, Grenada on April 10.  While in Mississippi, the nominees will visit the John M. Allin Diocesan House, St. Andrew’s Cathedral, the Duncan M. Gray Camp and Conference Center and various ministries of the diocese.

The election will take place on Saturday, May 3 at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Jackson.  All canonically resident clergy of the diocese and lay delegates vote separately as “orders”; a majority of votes on the same ballot from both the clergy and lay orders is required for election.

Pending consent from a majority of the Episcopal Church’s diocesan bishops and a majority of dioceses (via their Standing Committees), the consecration and ordination of the bishop-elect is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Sept. 27 at the Jackson Convention Complex in Jackson, with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori presiding.

Ashes to Go or not to go, that seems to be the question…

ENS Headlines - Monday, March 3, 2014

It’s that time of year when we will be treated to enthusiastic media reports and Facebook posts about fellow clergy “taking to the streets” on Ash Wednesday. Perhaps you are planning to do just that. You might be thinking, “What an innovative, relevant, outward-focused, accessible, hospitable, humble ministry to undertake.”

Before you put on your gear and head out with the Lenten swat team, can we be real for a moment? I know you are chomping at the bit to “meet people where they are” at your local commuter hub, but please pause with me in the sacristy for just a second.

I was so nervous about offending you that I almost decided not to put this out there, which says plenty about the fragility of my own clerical ego. But I need to be honest with you about how weird this “Ashes to Go” thing is. It’s really quite macabre to impose a sign of mortality and repentance without the freeing experience of ritual repentance or the pronouncement of God’s absolving grace by a priest of the church. I know you prepared a nice post card with Psalm 51 and a forgiveness prayer – but that doesn’t get the job done. Also, I’m wondering if you will be at the same corner on Easter Day to proclaim the Resurrection…but let’s stick with Wednesday for now. It’s hard to make a right beginning of Lent while on your way to Target after work. If one wishes to repent, they might prefer to speak with you privately or offer a prayer of the church in a less hurried manner. Those who can’t make it to scheduled Ash Wednesday liturgies often drop by a local church between services to receive ashes from the parish priest. I have never seen someone turned away.

Do we have the practice of standing on street corners offering last rites to anonymous ambulances as they pass by? Better to go to the hospital and spend a little time, no? I understand that God’s grace works in mysterious ways. The saints of God are doing their thing in schools, or in shops or at tea and all that – but why are we stalking people with ashes as they go about their business? Why are we turning Ash Wednesday into freaky Friday? Every morning is still Easter morning, right? Or did I lose the plot at some point?

I am totally with you on taking church to the streets. Let’s do it! Our common life as Episcopalians is grounded in the Eucharist and rooted in resurrection. Why don’t we begin by offering the body and blood of Christ outside the sanctuary? How about washing and massaging the feet of weary commuters waiting for the bus? Let’s offer anointing with holy oil for healing on the sidewalks. Why don’t we venerate the feet of the homeless and outcast on Good Friday at a local shelter? How many baptisms have we conducted in a public park lately? Why don’t we set up hours to hear confessions in local bars and offer God’s forgiveness?

Why start with ashes? Ashes rather than water, or bread, or wine, or oil is a strange place to begin from the perspective of ritology. Religious signs and symbols operate differently outside their ritual contexts. Are we not worried about re-defining ourselves as “people of the ash?” Just to put my money where my mouth is…I presided at a Eucharist in the Hyatt parking lot while I was chaplain to Integrity at General Convention in 2012. During the Eucharist, a young adult was baptized in the hotel fountain while cars and pedestrians and pigeons passed by. It seemed to work. I’m serious about these “hit the streets” ideas and many of my colleagues and I have tried them. The streets are a great place for the rites of the church. Preaching in the streets has transformed my understanding of preaching dramatically as a preacher and a teacher of preaching- so I’m not just a spokesman, I’m a client.

My concern is this: I fear that Ashes to Go is a way for cloistered clergy and baby boomer bishops to check the box of relevance while presiding over an institution that is not “meeting people where they are” in ways that really matter. Ashes to Go risks nothing, it costs us nothing, and it bears witness to a wimpy church. Please prove me wrong on this point.

I intend to check this out with my therapist and spiritual director, but I have a hunch that most of us who vest in alb and stole and stand for a few hours on the sidewalk with a dirty thumb are desperate to feel that we (and by extension the church) have something real to offer. We do have something to offer and its Jesus Christ. Living out our vocations as priests is often grueling and thankless, even in the midst of many blessings. Let’s be honest about that and help each other to really walk in the ways of Jesus Christ, rather than participating in empty ritualism. If you have a robust street ministry, then by all means – ashes should be a part of it. But too many of us in the ashes only category will congratulate ourselves on having participated in a radically welcoming street ministry this Ash Wednesday. What will we really have accomplished in Christ’s name? Who will really have been served?

Why don’t we take our ministry to the streets for real?! Let’s spend more time at the county jail. Let’s join local protests against inhumane corporate practices. Let’s deal with greedy landlords. Let’s go to city council meetings and hold the feet of elected officials to the fire. You know, Jesus stuff. Amos said something about God taking no delight in our solemn assemblies. Let’s be real about the ongoing need for the institutional church to publicly repent of its apathy, survivalism and indifference to human suffering.

Let’s agree that if Ashes to Go is the only liturgical street performance we do, it falls a bit short of the Great Commission. Under scrutiny, it appears to be a disconnected feel-good give-away ministry in which we clergy self-importantly smudge our neighbors and go home satisfied. Hey, we reminded each other of our common mortality. News Flash: People are well aware of their mortality. They are suffering. It would be better for us to go out and glitter bomb people while shouting, “God loves you!” Then we could dance embarrassingly down the road to the next missional endeavor. I ask you, my colleagues, why not give the people a garland instead of ashes? Why not give people reason to believe that the church is a very present help in time of trouble? Not notionally. Really and truly. We do that by hitting the streets genuinely, not gesticulating oddly with a crystal jar of ashes on the light rail.

When the Christian people of God are moved by the Holy Spirit to remember that they are dust and begin again, they will find their way to a local church. Let’s not get our ashy hands all up in their business and tell ourselves it’s an act of evangelistic kindness. We’re Episcopalians. Let’s live as if we are a resurrected people. Lets serve our neighbors faithfully, selflessly and humbly every day. Then folks will know by our actions that, “All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!”

Ash Wednesday services in my parish are at 7am, noon and 7pm. If you find yourself in the neighborhood, come join us. You’ll be very welcome.

Your brother on the road,
The Rev. Michael Sniffen
Rector of The Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew, Brooklyn

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