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EPPN: Raise your voice in welcome

ENS Headlines - Thursday, June 18, 2015

[Episcopal Public Policy Network policy alert] Each year, communities across the globe observe June 20th as World Refugee Day. This annual event offers the international community an opportunity to hold in our collective hearts those fleeing violence and seeking peace, while also celebrating the strength, perseverance, and contributions of refugees resettled in our communities.

For over 75 years, The Episcopal Church has been engaged in the ministry of welcoming refugees and migrants as they begin their lives anew in the United States. Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) serves as the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s foremost response to refugee crises around the world, welcoming refugees for whom the journey of escape is over, and the journey of hope in American communities has just begun. In 2014 alone EMM welcomed 5,155 refugees from 32 countries.

Since 2014, however, it has become increasingly clear that refugees and the displaced across the globe need our continued prayers, support, and service. The number of people forcibly displaced from their homes has now surpassed 50 million worldwide, the highest level since WWII. As an international community, as a country, and as Church we can and must do more to raise our voices in welcome.

This World Refugee Day, you can raise your voice in welcome by sharing the Presiding Bishop’s World Refugee Day message with your members of Congress.

Advancing to General Convention: Presiding Bishop Transition and Installation Committee releases information

ENS Headlines - Thursday, June 18, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Presiding Bishop Transition and Installation Committee has released information concerning the activities of The Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop-Elect following the election of the 27th Presiding Bishop on June 27 at General Convention 2015.

Members of the Committee were appointed by the presiding officers of General Convention, after the committee was created by Executive Council in 2014.

The committee’s purpose is to support the Presiding Bishop-Elect and an orderly process during and through the transition and installation of the next Presiding Bishop: providing assistance, information, briefings and other opportunities for strengthening leadership at the beginning of his ministry.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Michael Barlowe, Executive Officer of the General Convention and chair of the Presiding Bishop Transition and Installation Committee, pointed out the committee has been meeting and planning for more than one year, drawing from the best practices and wisdom that have emerged from episcopal transitions in recent years. The committee has also learned from the experiences – positive and negative – of previous Presiding Bishop transitions. Members also bring their own experiences of leadership in the church, and a deep commitment to the vision of collaborative leadership that was expressed in the profile that guided the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB) in selecting the nominees for Presiding Bishop.

Barlowe noted that on Friday, July 3, the final day of General Convention 2015, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will preside and the Presiding Bishop-Elect will preach at the closing Eucharist beginning at 8:30 am Mountain.

The Presiding Bishop-Elect will assume his new post on November 1.  There will be a liturgical marking of this new ministry at the principal service at Washington National Cathedral in Washington DC for the Feast of All Saints, when the Presiding Bishop will be formally seated in his cathedra, the seat designated for the Presiding Bishop. Barlowe said further details about this service will be forthcoming, after General Convention.

The members of the Presiding Bishop Transition and Installation Committee are:

The Rev. Canon Dr. Michael Barlowe, Executive Officer of the General Convention, Chair
The Rt. Rev. Richard S.O. Chang, Diocese of Hawaii, Province VIII
The Rev. Robert Anton Franken, Diocese of Colorado, Province VI
Sally Johnson, Diocese of Minnesota, Province VI
The Rt. Rev. Edward Konieczny, Diocese of Oklahoma, Province VII
Nancy Koonce, Diocese of Idaho, Province VIII
Karen Longenecker, Diocese of Rio Grande, Province VII
The Rt. Rev. F. Clayton Matthews, Diocese of Virginia, Province III
The Rev. Canon Dr. Charles K. Robertson, Diocese of Arizona, Province VIII
The Hon. Byron Rushing, Diocese of Massachusetts, Province I
Lynn Schmissrauter, Diocese of East Tennessee, Province IV
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, Ex Officio
The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies, Ex Officio

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church will be held June 25 – July 3, in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah). 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 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.

For more information contact Barlowe at gcoffice@episcopalchurch.org.

Trinity Wall Street expands brown bag lunch to six days a week

ENS Headlines - Thursday, June 18, 2015

[Trinity Wall Street] Trinity Wall Street will soon expand its Brown Bag Lunch Ministry to six days a week.  The program, which currently provides about 1,500 free meals each month to New Yorkers in need, operates on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.  Starting on June 19, it will expand to include Friday and Saturday distribution at St. Paul’s Chapel and approximately 2,000 meals per month.

Fifteen percent of people in Manhattan are “food insecure,” meaning they do not have access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life, according to the Food Bank of New York City.

“Hunger may not be readily apparent here in Lower Manhattan but in fact, many of our neighbors are ‘food insecure’ and in desperate need of access to affordable food.  By adding another two days to the Brown Bag Lunch Ministry, we will help ease the burden of hundreds of people in need of sustenance,” said the Rev. Dr. William Lupfer, rector of Trinity Wall Street.

The program relies on volunteers from the community to pack lunch bags with non-perishable food on Sundays and then distribute them during the week at Trinity Churchyard (Broadway and Wall Street). Lunches to be distributed from St. Paul’s Chapel will be packed at the chapel on Friday mornings.  To volunteer, please contact Mandy Culbreath, Brown Bag Lunch Coordinator, at mculbreath@trinitywallstreet.org.

Union of Utrecht, Philippine Independent Church celebrate 50 years of full communion

ENS Headlines - Thursday, June 18, 2015

[World Council of Churches press release] The World Council of Churches (WCC) says it is grateful that the churches of the Union of Utrecht, the Iglesia Filippina Independiente (IFI), and The Episcopal Church have embarked on a study about globalization and catholicity.

Stakeholders gathered at the Ecumenical Centre on June 13 at a symposium celebrating the 50th anniversary of the concordat between IFI (Philippine Independent Church) and churches of the Union of Utrecht.

The title for the joint study is Catholicity in Times of Globalization. An Ecumenical Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace.

The Rev. Martin Robra, senior adviser to WCC General Secretary the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, conveyed greetings on behalf of the council at the symposium.

He also offered greetings from the Rev. Hielke Wolters, WCC associate general secretary for mission and unity, and the newly elected faith and order director, the Rev. Odair Pedroso Mateus, a Brazilian theologian.

The common project involves also the Mar Thoma Church and the Church of Sweden in cooperation with the WCC.

“The general secretary expresses his sincere gratitude for the vital contributions of the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht, the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) and its partners to the life and work of the WCC for decades,” said Robra.

He welcomed the project taking up the call of the WCC’s 2013 Busan assembly to join in a Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace (PJP).

The three full communion partners – The Episcopal Church, the Old-Catholic Church of the Union of Utrecht, and the IFI – in 2006 began a three-year ecumenical project to explore ways to transform the harmful effects of globalization.

The current project title, said Robra, “signals that the common journey of the churches participating in the study process has something important to contribute to theological reflection on the PJP.”

“Such a joint initiative also reflects the methods and working style that comes with the PJP: the churches walking and working together on their common journey and sharing their insights to the wider fellowship.”

Robra noted that Archbishop Joris Vercammen, Old Catholic Primate and Archbishop of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands, writes about the ecumenical spirit in his preface to the book on Catholicity in Times of Globalization.

“Christians from all over the world are brought together one with the other. That is the catholicity of the church,” writes Vercammen. “Even more than common witness, this catholicity is a bond of love that unites Christians from all over the globe.

“Long before the word had become a global village, Christians already were aware of the strength of a ‘global love’ that is the soul of the creation and that was made visible by our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Robra, who is on the teaching faculty at the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, near Geneva, said that as such the catholicity of the church is centered in the Triune God. It “is lived out in communion with other local churches, representing the one church in their respective places.”

“Unjust worldwide economic structures, disregard for the dignity of human beings and the integrity of creation are all impacting and undermining the lived catholicity of the communion of local churches,” he said.

“Reflections on globalization and catholicity show the intrinsic link between the unity of the church and the unity of humankind.”

WCC member churches in the Philippines

WCC member churches in the Netherlands

South Carolina Bishop issues message following shooting

ENS Headlines - Thursday, June 18, 2015

[The Episcopal Church in South Carolina] Bishop Charles G. vonRosenberg issued the following message in response to the June 17 shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historic black church in downtown Charleston, that left nine people dead and the gunman at large.

The unimaginable tragedy at Emanuel AME Church calls for prayer, response, and self examination.

In our prayers, may we remember the victims, their families, the community of faith that is Emanuel, the wider communities of faith in the AME Church, and our society so prone to violence.

As paths of response, may we seek and develop avenues of racial conversation and reconciliation; may we refuse to accept things as they are in our world; and may we strive for the vision of peace offered by Jesus himself.

In terms of self examination, may we not neglect our own complicity in an environment of polarization and suspicion, and may we respond with sincere and profound confession to God, who loves us all.

I commend these possibilities for prayer, response, and self examination.  An excellent guide on this way is St. Francis, who wrote these words in his familiar prayer (Book of Common Prayer, page 833):

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is
hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where
there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where
there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where
there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to
be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is
in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we
are born to eternal life. Amen.


27 Episcopalians ready to serve as missionaries through the Young Adult Service Corps program

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Twenty-seven young adults representing 21 Episcopal Church dioceses are serving as missionaries in the Young Adult Service Corps (YASC) for the 2015-2016 term in locales throughout the Anglican Communion.

“This year we witnessed the largest group ever of applications for positions as YASC missionaries,” said Bishop Stacy Sauls, Chief Operating Officer.   “A record 45 applications from 27 dioceses across all nine provinces in the Church were reviewed.  Of those, more than half have discerned to serve as YASC missionaries. We are proud of our YASC missionaries and of this remarkable achievement.”

YASC is a ministry of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society for Episcopal young adults, ages 21 – 30, who are interested in exploring their faith in new ways by living and serving in communities around the Anglican Communion.

Bishop Sauls noted that most of the YASC missionaries will provide ministry work in education, youth work, social services, community development, and agriculture. He noted that YASC missionaries will assist in expanding the relationship with the Mission to Seafarers, will support an existing diocese-to-diocese relationship (Virginia-Liverpool), and will support mission initiatives in the northern region of Haiti by partnering with Episcopal Volunteers in Mission who are serving in the area.

Each YASC missionary maintains a blog, detailing his/her service, reflections and adventures. Elizabeth Boe, Global Networking Officer for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society and a former YASC missionary who served in Tanzania, said blogs provide an ideal avenue for connecting with the YASC missionaries.

Meet the YASC missionaries
The 27 YASC missionaries, their home dioceses, assignments and blog addresses are:

Thomas Balch, Diocese of West Virginia
Thomas is serving in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.  His blog is here.

Catherine Belous, Diocese of Virginia
Catherine is serving the Episcopal Church in the Philippines.  Her blog is here.

Mary Grace Benhase, Diocese of Georgia, Diocese of North Carolina, Diocese of Washington 
Mary Grace is serving the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui.  Her blog is here.

Eliza Brinkley, Diocese of North Carolina 
Eliza is serving in the Diocese of Haiti.  Her blog is here.

Andy Cameron, Diocese of Virginia
Andy is serving the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui.  His blog is here.

Naomi Cunningham, Diocese of Kansas 
Naomi is serving the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe.  Her blog is here.

James Fitzpatrick, Diocese of Hawaii 
James is serving in the Diocese of Panama.  His blog is here.

Alejandra García-González, Diocese of Delaware 
Alejandra is serving in the Diocese of Costa Rica.  Her blog is here.

Charles Graves IV, Diocese of Southern Ohio
Charles is serving the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe.  His blog is here.

James Guandique, Diocese of Los Angeles 
James is serving in the Diocese of El Salvador.  His blog is here.

Tim Hamlin, Diocese of New York
Tim is serving in the Diocese of Grahamstown, South Africa.  His blog is here.

Tristan Holmberg, Diocese of Kansas 
Tristan is serving the Episcopal Church in the Philippines.  His blog is here.

Annie Jacob, Diocese of Virginia 
Annie is serving in the Diocese of Liverpool, England.  Her blog is here.

Kayla Massey, Diocese of Upper South Carolina 
Kayla is returning for a second YASC year as the first Julia Chester Emery United Thank Offering YASC missionary. Her blog is here.

Rachel McDaniel, Diocese of West Tennessee 
Rachel is serving a second year in the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil. Her blog is here.

Jacob Nastruz, Diocese of Iowa 
Jacob is serving in the Diocese of Highveld, South Africa.  His blog is here.

Lacey Oliver, Diocese of Tennessee 
Lacey is serving the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.  Her blog is here.

Eric Panter, Diocese of Texas
Eric is serving the Episcopal Church in the Philippines.  His blog is here.

James Rose, Diocese of Southwestern Virginia, Diocese of Georgia 
James is serving in the Diocese of Kobe, Japan.  His blog is here.

Andy Russell, Diocese of Southern Virginia 
Andy is serving in the Diocese of Central Tanganyika, Tanzania.  His blog is here.

Paola Sánchez Figueroa, Diocese of Puerto Rico
Paola is serving the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe.  Her blog is here.

Ellen Sandin, Diocese of Los Angeles 
Ellen is serving in the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil. Her blog is here.

Rachel Schnabel, Diocese of Southwest Florida 
Rachel is serving in the Diocese of Brasília, Brazil.  Her blog is here.

Kate Snow, Diocese of Virginia
Kate is serving in the Diocese of Costa Rica.  Her blog is here.

Emilie Street, Diocese of Mississippi 
Emilie is serving in the Diocese of Honduras.  Her blog is here.

Bryan Vélez García, Diocese of Puerto Rico
Bryan is serving in the Diocese of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  His blog is here.

Elly Withers, Diocese of North Carolina 
Elly is serving in the Diocese of Panama.  Her blog is here.

Presiding Bishop presents 2015 World Refugee Day message

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] “The world too often wants to close its borders, board up its front doors, and drown out the cries of the hungry and unsheltered,” Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori states in her 2015 World Refugee Day message. “We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and when we’re reflective, we remember that our own wellbeing depends on the safety of others.”

World Refugee Day is June 20, and in her message, the Presiding Bishop also heralds the work of Episcopal Migration Ministries for its resettlement efforts.

The following is Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori’s message.

World Refugee Day 2015

Human beings have been pushed out of their homes for millennia because of conflict, disaster, and oppression.  Abraham and Sarah began as migrants and their descendants became refugees:

‘A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number…When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us…the Lord brought us out of Egypt… into this place and gave us this land… flowing with milk and honey.”[1]

Their descendants became a blessing to Egypt, until they found themselves oppressed, and fled for their lives.  As a child, Jesus and his family were refugees in the other direction, fleeing the violence of Roman rule in the land of Israel, and seeking shelter in Egypt.[2]

Today there are more refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced people than at any time since the end of World War II.  More than 51 million people around the world live in mortal peril, fear, and uncertainty.  As descendants of those wandering Arameans, whose ancestors fled slavery in Egypt, we are charged to care for the sojourner.  Loving neighbors as ourselves is foundational to our lives of faith.

The world too often wants to close its borders, board up its front doors, and drown out the cries of the hungry and unsheltered.  We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and when we’re reflective, we remember that our own wellbeing depends on the safety of others.  If some live in want and insecurity, violence usually results.  We have only to look around us – and recognize that the violence comes as often from those who supposedly live in safety as from those who lack any resource or recourse.  If we want peace, we must care for those who are fleeing violence – and pray for its perpetrators.  We are made in the image of God, and we are created to live in peace.

As we mark World Refugee Day, consider how to become aware and involved:

  • Learn about today’s large-scale migrations – from Africa across the Mediterranean; out of parts of Southeast Asia; out of the conflict-ridden Middle East; from Burundi into surrounding nations; the refugees from gang wars in Latin America; and in so many other places of strife and disaster and discrimination.
  • Pray for those who live in refugee camps, detention centers, and immigration limbo.
  • Look for ways to become involved personally and through your congregation.
  • Join in the work of Episcopal Migration Ministries, celebrating 75 years of helping to resettle refugees in the United States.  Contribute your finances, advocacy, and personal involvement.  Last year Episcopal Migration Ministries resettled over 5000 people from 32 different nations.
  • Become an advocate for migrants, who struggle to be heard, who are often unseen or ostracized.  Join with others to advocate for immigration and asylum policies that seek justice for all sorts and conditions of displaced people.
  • Work for peace in your own neighborhood and across the world – relationships that span differences here can undergird peacebuilding initiatives elsewhere.

Refugees and migrants become strong members of local communities, and a blessing to their neighbors.  Will we be an equal blessing to them, will we seek their equal dignity, and answer their need with compassion?

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

[1] Cf. Deuteronomy 26:5-9

[2] Matthew 2:13-15

Episcopal Migration Ministries

Episcopal Migration Ministries is the refugee resettlement program of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. Each year the Missionary Society works in partnership with its affiliate network, along with dioceses, faith communities and volunteers, to welcome refugees from conflict zones across the globe.


La Obispa Presidenta de la Iglesia Episcopal presenta el mensaje en el Día Mundial del Refugiado 2015

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

[17 de junio de 2015] “Con demasiada frecuencia el mundo quiere cerrar sus fronteras, condenar las puertas de entrada y ahogar los gritos de los hambrientos y los desprotegidos”, nos dice la Obispa Presidenta de la Iglesia Episcopal Katharine Jefferts Schori en su mensaje del Día Mundial del Refugiado 2015. (“Somos guardianes de nuestros hermanos y hermanas, y cuando somos reflexivos, recordamos que nuestro bienestar depende de la seguridad de los demás”.)

El Día Mundial del Refugiado se celebra el 20 de junio, y en su mensaje, la Obispa Presidenta se refirió también a la ardua labor de reasentamiento que realizan los Ministerios Episcopales de Migración.

A continuación el mensaje de la de Obispa Presidenta Jefferts Schori.

Día Mundial del Refugiado 2015

Por miles de años, los seres humanos han sido sacados de sus hogares debido a conflictos, desastres y opresión. Abraham y Sara comenzaron como inmigrantes y sus descendientes se convirtieron en refugiados:

“Un arameo errante fue mi antepasado; él descendió a Egipto y vivió allí como extranjero, pocos en número… Cuando los egipcios nos trataron duramente y nos abatieron… el Señor nos sacó de Egipto… a este lugar y nos dio esta tierra… en la que fluye leche y miel”.[1]

Sus descendientes se convirtieron en una bendición para Egipto, hasta que se vieron oprimidos y huyeron para salvar sus vidas. Siendo niño, Jesús y su familia fueron refugiados en la otra dirección, huyendo de la violencia de la dominación romana en la tierra de Israel y buscando refugio en Egipto[2].

Hoy en día hay más refugiados, solicitantes de asilo y personas desplazadas internamente que en cualquier otro momento desde el final de la II Guerra Mundial. Más de 51 millones de personas alrededor del mundo viven en peligro de muerte, con temor e incertidumbre. Como descendientes de los arameos errantes, cuyos antepasados huyeron de la esclavitud en Egipto, estamos encargados de cuidar al peregrino. Amar al prójimo como a nosotros mismos es fundamental para nuestra vida de fe.

Con demasiada frecuencia el mundo quiere cerrar sus fronteras, condenar las puertas de entrada y ahogar los gritos de los hambrientos y los desprotegidos. Somos guardianes de nuestros hermanos y hermanas, y cuando somos reflexivos, recordamos que nuestro bienestar depende de la seguridad de los demás. Si algunos viven en la miseria y la inseguridad, la violencia por lo general es el resultado. Sólo tenemos que mirar a nuestro alrededor y reconocer que la violencia muy a menudo viene de quienes supuestamente viven de manera segura así como de quienes carecen de medios o recursos. Si queremos paz, debemos cuidar de quienes huyen de la violencia – y orar por sus perpetradores. Estamos hechos a imagen de Dios y fuimos creados para vivir en paz.

Al conmemorar el Día Mundial del Refugiado, reflexionemos acerca de cómo estar conscientes e involucrados:

  • Conozcamos sobre las actuales migraciones a gran escala – de África a lo largo del Mediterráneo; de áreas del sudeste de Asia; del conflictivo Oriente Medio; de Burundi a las naciones circundantes; los refugiados de guerras de las pandillas en América Latina; y en tantos otros lugares de conflicto, desastre y discriminación.
  • Oremos por aquéllos que viven en los campamentos de refugiados, en centros de detención y en el limbo migratorio.
  • Busquemos maneras de involucrarnos personalmente y a través de las congregaciones.
  • Participemos en los Ministerios Episcopales de Migración, que celebran 75 años de ayudar a reasentar a los refugiados en Estados Unidos. Contribuyamos con ayuda financiera, defensoría e involucramiento personal. El año pasado, los Ministerios Episcopales de Migración reasentaron a más de 5,000 personas de 32 países diferentes.
  • Seamos defensores de los inmigrantes, quienes luchan por ser escuchados, quienes suelen ser invisibles o estar marginados. Unámonos a otros para abogar por políticas de inmigración y asilo que busquen la justicia para todas las clases y condiciones de personas desplazadas.
  • Trabajemos por la paz en nuestros propios vecindarios y en todo el mundo – relaciones que aquí abarcan las diferencias pueden sustentar iniciativas de consolidación de la paz en otros lugares.

Los refugiados y los inmigrantes se convierten en fuertes miembros de las comunidades locales y son una bendición para sus vecinos. ¿Seremos igualmente nosotros una bendición para ellos, buscaremos que tengan una dignidad similar y responderemos con compasión a sus necesidades?

Reverendísima Katharine Jefferts Schori
Obispa Presidenta y Primada
La Iglesia Episcopal

Ministerios Episcopales de Inmigración

Los Ministerios Episcopales de Inmigración son el programa de reasentamiento de refugiados de la Sociedad Misionera para Locales y Extranjeros. Cada año, la Sociedad Misionera trabaja en colaboración con su red de afiliados, junto con las diócesis, las comunidades religiosas y voluntarios, para recibir a refugiados de las zonas de conflicto de todo el mundo.

[1] Cf. Deuteronomio 26:5-9

[2] Mateo 2:13-15

[1] Cf. Deuteronomio 26:5-9

[2] Mateo 2:13-15

After 30 years as priests, Brazil’s women look toward episcopacy

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Rev. Carmen Gomes, the first female priest ordained in the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, and Christina Takatsu Winnischofer, president of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil’s Women’s Union and the church’s former general secretary, pose for a photo during a June 6 conference of lay and ordained women theologians in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

[Episcopal News Service – Porto Alegre, Brazil] In 1985, the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil ordained its first female priest, nine years after The Episcopal Church opened all orders of ordained ministry to women.

“As a church we feel we were really blessed to take this step quite early,” said Archbishop Francisco de Assis da Silva, Brazil’s primate since 2013, and bishop of the Diocese of Southwest Brazil, adding that it wasn’t until 1994, nine years later, that the Church of England ordained women to the priesthood.

Yet despite 30 years of women’s ordination, he said, “We still have resistance,” and despite female candidates in bishop elections, no diocese has taken that step.

In early June, as part of its 125th anniversary celebration, the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil also celebrated 30 years of women’s ordination. Coinciding with the celebration in Porto Alegre, the birthplace of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, 40 lay and ordained female theologians gathered at a Roman Catholic retreat house for a three-day national conference themed, “women, strength and faith.” As an invited speaker, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori delivered a lecture, “Discipleship of Equals: Episcopate and Sexism” on June 6.

For years, the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil’s Women’s Union has actively worked toward raising women’s status in the church and society, but despite women having accessed leadership positions in the church, the absence of a female bishop is cause both for concern and question among lay and ordained women.

The Brazilian church came close to electing the Rev. Patricia Powers, a longtime Episcopal Church-appointed missionary who in 1986 became the second ordained female priest and then the first woman to serve as a dean. In the 27 years since Powers stood for election, women have been included in bishop slates three times, most recently in 2012.

“We need to be represented in the House of Bishops where the decisions are made,” said the Rev. Carmen Gomes, who was the first woman ordained priest. “We can offer service in the house, not just as representatives of women, but of all who feel marginalized in the church.”

The three largest Southern Cone countries – Argentina, Brazil and Chile – all currently are headed by female presidents; unlike the Brazilian church, however, Argentina and Chile belong to the more conservative Anglican churches of South America, and do not support women’s ordination.

Modeled after a 2005 resolution passed by the Anglican Consultative Council that called for equal representation of men and women in leadership goals, the women drafted a similar resolution to be introduced at the church’s 2017 synod. In the meantime, they’ve committed to work not only to empower and prepare women for leadership roles, but to envision an episcopate different from the traditional, top-down male model, said the Rev. Glenda McQueen, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, who attended the three-day conference.

A women’s model was something the presiding bishop touched on.

Because of their gender, women can bring particular gifts to the episcopate, said Jefferts Schori in her June 6 lecture, echoing words she’d spoken in late May at the Westminster Faith Debates at St. James’s Church in London, England: “… women’s presence in leadership expands the image of what it means to be made in the image of God.  Furthermore, given their social location in most societies, women’s experience of marginalization can help to bring that particular perspective to the work of leadership.”

During that lecture, the presiding bishop expanded her thoughts on marginalization saying that women bring their own experience “outside the norm” into leadership of a community, and women continue in much of the world today to experience marginalization and varying levels of social control in their lives.

Women as leaders “serve both as iconic images of the complexity and otherness of God and by representing and raising the concerns of the marginalized, having known that reality themselves.  Both are basic to following Jesus, who spent most of his active ministry with the marginalized, seeking to make them and their communities whole.  It doesn’t mean that men cannot also do that work, but that women by their social location are often closer to the reality of the oppressed and ‘unfree,’” she said.

Jefferts Schori spent June 5-7 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in celebration of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil’s 125th anniversary, 50 years of autonomy and 30 years of women’s ordination. In addition to the June 6 lecture, the presiding bishop preached and co-celebrated at the June 7 Eucharist at Most Holy Trinity Cathedral, the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil’s national cathedral.

Nearing the end of her nine-year term as presiding bishop, the faith debate in Westminster and the lecture given in Porto Alegre were the only times she’s been asked to speak on women, sexism and the episcopacy, Jefferts Schori said.

The invitation to participate in the faith debate at Westminster came after the Church of England appointed its first female bishop, the Rt. Rev. Libby Lane.

In July 2014, the Church of England, following years of debate, approved legislation enabling women to serve as bishops as early as 2015. By June 10, the Church of England had appointed four women as bishops.

On June 6, during the gathering in Porto Alegre, the Very Rev. Mary Irwin-Gibson became the first woman elected bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal.

At Westminster, Jefferts Schori said, she focused on women in religious leadership, but in Brazil, she thought it was important to emphasize the different trajectories and realities across the Anglican Communion, including statistics.

When the women learned the presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church would preach on June 7, they changed the date of their conference to coincide with her visit, said the Very Rev. Mannez Rosa dos Santos, dean of Most Holy Trinity Cathedral.

“It’s very special for the women of Brazil,” she said, speaking through an interpreter.

Three points underline the importance of the presiding bishop’s visit, she said: Elected as the first female primate in the Anglican Communion, Jefferts Schori has “a special witness and prophetic position”; sharing herself with the women indicates an openness to relationship; and her visit served as an opportunity for the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil to see a female bishop and visualize what women’s leadership in the episcopate means.

“We need to change our vision,” said dos Santos, who is one of two female deans serving the church.

Today, women make up 25 percent of the of the Brazilian church’s 150 active clergy serving nine dioceses. In the U.S.-based Episcopal Church, women make up 35 percent of the more than 6,500 active clergy serving 99 dioceses.

Female priests make up more than 50 percent of clergy in eight of the 99 U.S.-based dioceses, mainly small, rural dioceses, said Jefferts Schori in her lecture.

Female priests “are also under-represented as senior leaders (rectors or deans) or clergy serving alone in a congregation. They constitute 31 percent of such clergy across the U.S. part of the church, and we don’t have enough data to say very much about the non-U.S. parts of The Episcopal Church,” she continued. “The percentage of women serving as senior clergy is lower in the more politically conservative parts of the U.S., and in dioceses where there are a lot of large and wealthy congregations.  More women are deployed in poorer and more rural areas, and in positions that pay less than average or where they serve without compensation.”

This can change, she added, if dioceses prepare the electorate to elect a woman:

Share the data; share the reality (for example, the number of ordained women and what fraction of the whole that represents, their trajectory and whether they are growing in percentage).

“And (challenge) people in the congregation to think about why women aren’t elected as church leaders in ordained ministry and why there are so few of them, because I don’t think people are conscious (of that) when they go to vote,” said Jefferts Schori in an interview with ENS.  “I think people vote for who they like and people they can imagine being their bishop and if they have never seen a woman [as a] bishop they probably aren’t conscious of the fact that they are not going to vote for somebody that they don’t think of potentially as being a bishop. And I don’t think it’s terribly conscious, but it can be brought into consciousness by doing some preparatory work, and by ensuring that there are women on the ballot and that the electors get exposed to the variety.”

In her lecture, she talked specifically about women as bishops, showing the numbers, which indicate it may be easier for a woman to be appointed a bishop, as is the case in the Church of England, rather than to be elected as in The Episcopal Church.

“In 1988, Barbara Harris was the first woman to be elected bishop in the Anglican Communion.  Since then, 44 other women have been elected or appointed across the Anglican Communion.  They have been almost exactly divided between suffragan bishops, 23, and diocesan bishops, 22. One suffragan has since been called to serve as a diocesan. In some parts of the Communion, bishops are elected by dioceses; in other provinces they are appointed by more centralized church bodies.  Thus far, it appears to be far easier to appoint women bishops than it is to elect them, especially as diocesan bishops,” she said.

Of the total 22 women elected as bishops in The Episcopal Church, nine have been diocesan bishops; four remain and a fifth will be consecrated in September. Since Jefferts Schori was elected in 2000, there have been 125 bishops elected, she said.

“The House of Bishops is beginning to talk about the low percentage of women [as] bishops,” the presiding bishop said, during the interview with ENS.

Jefferts Schori ran alongside six male candidates both when she was elected bishop of the Diocese of Nevada in 2001 and as presiding bishop in 2006.

“The male bishops are noticing that there are fewer women bishops in the House because the women who were elected in the first round are retiring,” she said. “It shocked me when I first looked at the statistics: 20 percent of the total are women, and only 10 percent of the active bishops in The Episcopal Church. And we’ve elected some 40 to 45 percent of the women in the communion, simply because we have so many dioceses, so many opportunities, but the fact remains that we are not electing them as diocesans.”

During a question-and-answer session following the presiding bishop’s lecture, the women wanted to know if she’d ever been discriminated against.

“Face to face, I’ve been treated well, but lots of mean things have been said on the Internet,” she said, adding that at her first Primates Meeting, the situation was tense at times, but the comments made weren’t personal, she said.

Later, when asked by ENS if she felt like a role model throughout her term as primate, Jefferts Schori said: “The fact that a woman is seen in that role, it’s really important. It’s like what I said in the first part of the lecture, women present another aspect of the image of God and if they are not represented then people’s understanding – of what and who God is – is really limited, and again it’s unconscious for most people. And again, it’s important to see the possibility that a woman can do this, particularly in patriarchal societies that continue to tell women that they can’t do these things.”

— Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for Episcopal News Service.        

Welby joins faith leaders calling for action on climate change

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

[Lambeth Palace press release] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has joined faith leaders in Britain pledging to fast and pray for the success of key international negotiations over climate change, in a new declaration warning of the “huge challenge” facing the world over global warming.

Representatives of the major faiths, including Welby, said climate change has already hit the poorest of the world hardest and urgent action is needed now to protect future generations.

In the Lambeth Declaration, which will be launched June 17, signatories call on faith communities to recognize the pressing need to make the transition to a low carbon economy.

The call comes ahead of the international climate change talks in Paris this December where negotiators from more than 190 nations will gather to discuss a new global agreement on climate change, aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 when current commitments run out.

The Declaration, signed by the archbishops of Canterbury and York and other faith leaders in the U.K., warns that world leaders must agree to reduce emissions to avoid average temperatures rising beyond 2⁰C, widely considered to be the threshold above which it is considered that the impacts of climate change will be most severe.

The original declaration was hosted by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and signed by faith leaders in 2009 ahead of the Climate Summit in Copenhagen.

The declaration is being launched Wednesday, June 17, by Bishop of Salisbury Nicholas Holtam, the Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment, at ecumenical services in Westminster, London, to mark the national lobby of U.K. Parliament over the Paris talks.

Signatories include representatives from the Muslim, Sikh and Jewish communities as well as the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Methodist Conference and other denominations and faiths, with more leaders continuing to sign the Declaration.

Hundreds more people are expected to sign up to the declaration as it travels rounds the country during a summer of pilgrimages.

View text of the Lambeth Declaration and full list of signatories on the Church of England website

Convention challenged to expand global missionary opportunities

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Natalie Finstad, an Episcopal Church missionary who served in Kenya, helps to plant seedlings at a young adult leadership event with one of Tatua Kenya’s partner organizations, Nyumba ya Tumaini. Photo: Tatua Kenya

[Episcopal News Service] Crossing cultural boundaries, building partnerships, and engaging God’s mission locally and globally are at the very heart of The Episcopal Church’s missionary program.

The 78th General Convention, meeting June 25-July 3 in Salt Lake City, Utah, will be asked in two proposed resolutions to commit to its ongoing support and development of the Episcopal Church’s Young Adult Service Corps (YASC) and Episcopal Volunteers in Mission (EVIM) programs.

Through these programs, hundreds of Episcopal missionaries have chosen to embrace a life-changing experience of walking alongside a community often far removed – both geographically and culturally – from their own.

The Standing Commission on World Mission and the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council – which submitted the two resolutions – hope that the programs will be developed and the opportunities increased in the 2016-2018 triennium.

“Global mission is essentially incarnational,” said Sandra McPhee, a lawyer from Evanston, Illinois, who has served as chair of the Standing Commission on World Mission, one of the church’s interim bodies that works throughout the triennium and reports to General Convention with recommendations on the church’s priorities and policies.

“Young adult missionaries in the YASC program and more-seasoned volunteers for longer-term commitments through EVIM experience God’s action in their lives and in the lives of others around the world,” McPhee, a lifelong member of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Evanston, told ENS. “Even more, by sharing their experiences with their parishes and when they return, they manifest God’s love.”

Continued support for YASC and EVIM is essential to the life of The Episcopal Church, McPhee added. “We must engage with our partners outside of the U.S. This ongoing engagement is important to them and it is vital to us. We live out our baptismal covenant being with those who are different from us, seeing the face of Christ reflected in them and working together for God’s mission.”

Resolution A112, submitted by the standing commission, calls on General Convention to encourage dioceses, seminaries, and parishes to recruit and support YASC and EVIM missionaries. The resolution proposes an increase in the number of YASCers to 30 in 2016, 40 in 2017, and 50 in 2018, and the number of EVIMs by 10 percent per year.

At the time the commission filed its report, it didn’t know that a record-breaking 45 young adults representing 27 dioceses would file applications to serve in the YASC program for the coming year. Twenty-seven of those 42 have been accepted onto the program for 2015-2016.

The 2013-2015 budget passed by General Convention allotted $1 million to make “a missionary experience available to all Episcopal young people through such programs as the Young Adult Service Corps program for a gap-year experience between high school and college or work.”

That allocation is part of the way in which the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is responding to the third Mark of Mission, which calls on members of the Anglican Communion to respond to human need in loving service.

The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is the legal and canonical name under which The Episcopal Church is incorporated, conducts business and carries out mission.

“When I first signed up to do YASC, I had no idea how much it would change my life,” said Will Bryant from the Diocese of Western North Carolina, who spent his first year as a YASC missionary working with the Mission to Seafarers in Hong Kong, and is currently serving a second year at the Joel Nafuma Refugee Centre in Rome.

“In my two years with the program I have grown spiritually and mentally in ways that I would have never imagined,” he told ENS recently.

Bryant said that his experiences with the YASC program have helped him to realize that “whether you are an Afghani refugee, a Filipino seafarer or an American missionary, we are all seeking the same thing: a safe, comfortable place to call home, employment to provide for our families and community, and a deeper connection with our creator. … Now, after living in two completely different countries and continents, I can safely say that I have become more confident in my faith and in my abilities as a human being. I don’t exactly know what the future holds after my time in YASC, but I do know that whatever that may be, I will be well-prepared because of the lessons I have learned as a missionary.”

“YASCers are valuable in developing relationships with global partners and for what they bring back to the communities from which they came,” according to the explanation offered by the Standing Commission on World Mission in its “Blue Book” report to General Convention. “Likewise, EVIMs are important servants of the church, as they bring their experience and expertise to the places where they are received, and bring the global church back to their communities.”

The Executive Council has submitted Resolution A013, calling on the 78th General Convention to affirm the growing success of the church’s global mission work, “especially the global networks, relationships, and spiritual developments seen” in the YASC and EVIM programs.

The resolution calls for the opportunities for global mission to be “increased, diversified, and prioritized” by the time the 79th General Convention meets in Austin, Texas, in 2018, and urges every diocese “to explore the opportunities for global mission work and encourage as many people as possible to apply for, attend, and complete a mission assignment as made available by these programs.”

Martha Gardner, chair of the Executive Council’s Joint Standing Committee on World Mission, said that every Episcopalian “needs to know about the wonderful work our missionaries are doing.” She said that she has heard so many stories about the mutual benefits experienced by The Episcopal Church’s missionaries serving throughout the world, but also by its Anglican partners and both the sending and receiving dioceses.

“I love the model of how we are doing our global mission work,” she said. “Working with dioceses and networks, our global partnership staff is facilitating partnerships on all levels, and it is imperative that we continue to support that work which offers Episcopalians of all ages an opportunity to be agents of Jesus’s transformational mission in the world.”

The Episcopal Church has a long history of missionary involvement, explained McPhee, citing the earliest missionaries who traveled to the Midwest and western parts of the United States to the women supported by the United Thank Offering who worked in Asia and Africa.

But mission work has changed, she said. “Instead of a lifelong commitment, short-term missionaries may be sent by a parish or diocese for a two- or three-week commitment. Our Young Adult Service Corps sends people to serve for a year or two in a variety of settings around the world. Some of the YASCers find that they are called to ordination or a deeper, longer commitment to serving God’s mission in the world. Others go on the other careers but all of them cite their time as life-changing and enriching.

“Perhaps most important, the way we think about global mission has changed,” she added. “We see our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world as partners and companions, understanding that we have much to learn from each other.”

The Rev. David Copley, mission personnel officer for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, highlighted a new initiative offered by the mission personnel office to support shorter-term missionaries who can provide specific skills.

For instance, Jim and Mary Higbee and Sue Dauer visited Kenya for just one month in 2014 to provide hands-on teacher training that they will continue to monitor in the coming years.

Copley’s office also continues to work with Episcopal Church dioceses to strengthen their companion relationships and to support medium-term mission placements of older adults as well as placements for YASCers.

“I see mission service as providing technical expertise to empower others and also as an avenue to strengthen companion relationships through the ministry of presence,” he told ENS.

The Standing Commission on World Mission (SCWM) has continued to advocate for and support the sending of YASC and EVIM missionaries “with the purpose of strengthening and deepening relationships throughout the Anglican Communion, fulfilling our baptismal covenant to ‘seek and serve Christ in all persons,’” according to its report.

The commission acknowledged that its future is unclear, pending the outcome of the report to General Convention from the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church.

However, SCWM members “hope and pray that the foundations of the multiple global relationships that have been strengthened by many years of compassionate work will remain solid. … The level of trust that has been established through the years by the work of SCWM should be strengthened, especially in this time of world turmoil, rather than weakened by severe change that may not be clearly understood by our global partners. That being noted, the SCWM is moving forward with goals to enhance work that has already begun, to restore trust that has been eroded by promises that have not been kept, and to capitalize on the vital interest in mission work that youth and young adults are displaying.”

For further information about the missionary program, contact the Rev. David Copley, director for mission personnel, at dcopley@episcopalchurch.org. For further information about the YASC program, contact Elizabeth Boe, officer for global networking, at eboe@episcopalchurch.org.

ENS video stories highlighting the ministry of YASC missionaries are available below.

One young adult…and a Roman refugee center
One young adult…and a South African clinic
One young adult…and a provincial archives
One young adult…and a mission for migrant workers
One young adult…and a mission to seafarers

— Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

2015 Campus Ministry grants announced

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Samuel McDonald, Director of Mission and Deputy Chief Operating Officer for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, announced the recipients of the Campus Ministry Grants, totaling $ 95,300, for the 2015 grant cycle.

Campus Ministry Grants provide dioceses, parishes or community colleges, tribal colleges, and/or college and university campuses with funding for new and current campus ministries in higher education institutions in The Episcopal Church.

“These grants help the Episcopal Church imagine and live into a broader vision of campus ministry and what it means to minister to young adults on campuses,” commented the Rev. Shannon Kelly, Acting Missioner for Campus and Young Adult Ministries for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. “Our goal is to reach out to college students who would not seek out a traditional campus ministry and to help the diocese and congregations begin new ministries.”

A team of ten, including the Provincial Campus Ministry Coordinators, reviewed the grant applications. A total of 39 applications were received representing $528,387 in requests.

Two Leadership Grants and 13 Program Grants were awarded to 14 dioceses.  The Leadership Grants will start new campus ministry initiatives.  The Program Grants provide seed money to assist in the start-up of new, innovative campus ministries or to enhance a current initiative.


Leadership Grants
• Diocese of Chicago – Northwestern University Campus Ministry: $24,000
• Diocese of Central Florida – University of Central Florida: $12,500

Program Grants
• Diocese of Albany – University at Albany (SUNY): $4000
• Diocese of Arkansas – University of Arkansas Fort Smith: $5000
• Diocese of Central Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania College of Technology: $5000
• Diocese of El Camino Real – DeAnza Community College: $4800
• Diocese of Lexington – University of Kentucky: $5000
• Diocese of Los Angeles – California State University, Long Beach: $5000
• Diocese of Minnesota – Hamline University: $5000
• Diocese of Minnesota – University of Minnesota, Minnesota Community and Technical College, Augsburg College: $5000
• Diocese of Montana – Montana State University: $2000
• Diocese of Northern California – University of California, Davis: $5000
• Diocese of Northern Michigan – Michigan Technological University, Finlandia University: $5000
• Diocese of Southwestern Virginia – Roanoke College: $3000
• Diocese of Virginia – The University of Virginia: $5000

For more information contact Kelly at skelly@episcopalchurch.org

Companions of St. Luke, OSB elects a new superior

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Brother Basil Edwards, OSB was elected by the professed membership of the Benedictine Community, The Companions of St. Luke – OSB to be their Abbot for the next five years.

The constitution of the Companions of St. Luke requires that the superior serves a single five year term.  Abbot Basil who follows Abbot Robert Cotton, OSB assumed his role immediately upon election on May 27, 2015.

Abbot Basil, OSB entered the community in 2008 and was solemnly professed in 2014.  He is a member of St. Paul’s parish in Seattle, where he serves on the Evening Prayer teams, sings in the choir, and is participating in discernment committee for a candidate for the priesthood. He has served the parish in several different liturgical roles, including serving at the altar for both Sunday and Weekday Holy Eucharist, Lecturing and leading Solemn Evensong and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.  He holds both PhD and MD degrees and has recently accepted a position on the Medical Ethics committee of the Diocese of Olympia.  Abbot Basil is Professor Emeritus of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine at University of Washington School of Medicine and is still practicing part time at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

The Companions of St. Luke (CSL) is a dispersed Benedictine Community with members in 22 states, the District of Columbia, England, Canada and Brazil. CSL began in the Diocese of Chicago in June 1992 and is a recognized Christian Community of the Episcopal Church. The community is an active member of the National Association of Episcopal Christian Communities. Our website is here and our application program Opus Dei is here.

Final report of Joint Subcommittee on Location of the Church Center

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, June 16, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe, General Convention executive officer, has announced that the final report from the Joint Subcommittee on the Location of the Episcopal Church Center has been issued, and has been distributed to the House of Deputies and House of Bishops in preparation for the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church.

The Joint Subcommittee on the Location of the Episcopal Church Center is a subcommittee of two Joint Standing Committees of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church.  The report is available here.

The nine-page report provides an overview and chronicles the steps taken in addressing Resolution D016 from the 77th General Convention in 2012.

The Episcopal Church’s 78th General Convention, June 25 – July 3, will be held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah (Diocese of Utah).  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 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.

Archbishop of Canterbury marks 800th anniversary of Magna Carta

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, June 16, 2015

[Lambeth Palace press release] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby on June 15 attended the Magna Carta 800th anniversary celebration at Runnymede in Berkshire.

Speaking at the celebrations, which were led by The Queen and attended by senior members of the British royal family, and parliamentarians led by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, the archbishop said:

“Archbishop Stephen Langton was mediator between the King and his barons, counselor to both, and an advocate of civil harmony, cohesion and goodwill. His great legacy was this remarkable document, the spring from which so much of the human quest for political liberty has drawn, here and abroad, especially in the United States of America.

“The vision of the dignity of the human being, however limited that vision is, in Magna Carta sets a standard for our consideration of all human beings – however important or unimportant, near or far, they may seem to be.

“Langton was not alone. His was an age of giants at Canterbury. Alphege whose love for his people led him to give his life to save them from paying a crippling ransom. Anselm, the wise scholar and yet brave counsellor, whose advice cost him years of exile.

In such self-giving and courage Magna Carta found fertile soil to grow. It sets the bar high for all of us today.

“In the centuries since, how often the Church and others have failed to uphold these most noble qualities, to be an advocate for those members of our community for whom the rights and liberties of Magna Carta have remained a distant hope.

“From the support for enclosures to the opposition to the Great Reform Act, to the toleration of all sorts of abuse, with humility we recognise these failings.

“But I pray that today will be a moment of opportunity in which our commitment to the liberty and flourishing of one another, the bond between us that allows us to recognise our individual human dignity, is renewed and will never again fail.

There have been great moments. Bishops of Durham in the late nineteenth century and later in the twentieth speaking up for the miners; a church alongside the poorest, the genius of the Elizabethan settlement of religious differences, however long it took to become fixed.

“As the path to Magna Carta and our history since lays bare, the relationship between the Church and the State has not always been easy. In my own Cathedral in Canterbury, at the Altar of the Sword’s Point, the site of the martyrdom of Becket, I am reminded of what happens when this relationship collapses.

“Together, as critical friends, we must seek the principled and active betterment of society as a whole, ensuring that all the rights and liberties afforded to them, both in our legal system and in our inherent worth as children of God, are, in the words of Magna Carta, “enjoyed in their entirety, with lasting strength, forever.””

Breakaway group rejects offer to settle South Carolina property lawsuit

ENS Headlines - Monday, June 15, 2015

[Episcopal News Service] An offer by South Carolina Episcopalians to settle a church-property lawsuit in eastern South Carolina was rejected by a breakaway group on June 15, the same day the offer was made public.

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina offered to let 35 parishes keep their church properties, whether or not they choose to remain part of The Episcopal Church.

In exchange, the proposal required the breakaway group to return the diocesan property, assets and identity of “The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina” to the diocese that is still affiliated with The Episcopal Church.

Hours after the offer was made public, the breakaway group led by Mark Lawrence, who was bishop in 2012 when he announced the diocese was leaving The Episcopal Church, announced that the parishes of the group unanimously rejected the offer.

“This is not a legitimate offer of good faith negotiation and never was intended to be,” the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis, Lawrence’s assistant, said in the press release, a longer version of which was e-mailed to Episcopal News Service. He called the offer an effort to disrupt the on-going legal process rather an effort to settle it.

Episcopal Church in South Carolina Bishop Charles G. vonRosenberg did not comment on the rejection.

A spokesperson for his office said the offer remains on the table despite the breakaway group’s claim in its release that it came with a June 15 deadline. The breakaway group faced a brief-filing deadline in the lawsuit on June 15 in the state Supreme Court and the spokesperson said the Episcopal Church in South Carolina had simply said that it reserved the right to withdraw the offer after that day.

In announcing the offer earlier in the day, vonRosenberg had said it stemmed from the hope for reconciliation that Episcopalians in South Carolina have held from the beginning of the dispute. “We see this offer as the strongest possible way we can demonstrate that,” he said.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori consented to the offer and it was presented to attorneys June 2, according to the Episcopal Church in South Carolina’s announcement.

Discussions about releasing the parish properties have been going on since early 2013, a few months after the split occurred, the release said.

“In a situation like this, where there has been so much grief and misunderstanding caused by the actions of a few, we pray that a gracious response to those who are now separated from us will hasten the day when we can be together as one unified diocese again,” vonRosenberg said.

If the offer had been accepted, it would have ended the legal dispute that began in January 2013 when the breakaway group sued The Episcopal Church, and later its local diocese, seeking to control both diocesan and parish property and the identity of the diocese, according to the Episcopal Church of South Carolina release. It also would resolve a federal lawsuit currently before the U.S. District Court in Charleston.

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina reorganized the diocese in early 2013 and operates with a part-time staff and a sharply reduced budget funded primarily by contributions from the 30 remaining Episcopal congregations. Meanwhile, the diocesan assets have been in the control of the breakaway group led by Lawrence.

The congregations led by Lawrence operate separately without any formal affiliation with a larger religious body. The Episcopal Church in South Carolina remains part of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

In February, a state court judge awarded the properties and identity of the diocese to the breakaway group. Episcopalians have appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court; oral arguments are set for September 23.

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina said that diocesan leaders worked closely with Episcopalians who had been members of breakaway parishes and were left without church buildings in which to worship when the split occurred. “Most have moved ahead and created new Episcopal congregations, and gave their blessing for the settlement offer to be made,” the June 15 release said.

“Buildings are important, but what is most important is the people who are in them,”  vonRosenberg said. “It is the people that we long to welcome back into The Episcopal Church once again.”

Churches included in the settlement proposal
(All these parishes are plaintiffs in the lawsuit against The Episcopal Church and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina)
All Saints, Florence
Christ Church, Mount Pleasant
Christ the King, Waccamaw
Christ-St. Paul’s, Yonges Island
Church of the Cross, Bluffton
Epiphany, Eutawville
Good Shepherd, Charleston
Holy Comforter, Sumter
Holy Cross, Stateburg
Holy Trinity, Charleston
Old St. Andrew’s, Charleston
Church of Our Saviour, John’s Island
Prince George Winyah, Georgetown
Redeemer, Orangeburg
Resurrection, Surfside
St. Bartholomew’s, Hartsville
St. David’s, Cheraw
St. Helena’s, Beaufort
St. James, James Island
St. John’s, Florence
St. John’s, John’s Island
St. Jude’s, Walterboro
St. Luke’s, Hilton Head
St. Luke and St. Paul, Charleston
St. Matthew’s, Darlington
St. Matthew’s, Fort Motte
St. Matthias, Summerton
St. Michael’s, Charleston
St. Paul’s, Bennettsville
St. Paul’s, Conway
St. Paul’s, Summerville
St. Philip’s, Charleston
Trinity, Edisto Island
Trinity, Pinopolis
Trinity, Myrtle Beach

Presiding Bishop preaches at Westminster Abbey

ENS Headlines - Monday, June 15, 2015

14 June 2015
Westminster Abbey
London, England

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

Did you notice that green cedar sprig Ezekiel mentioned? Can you imagine its fresh and pungent smell, and its tender green growth? We often see sprigs like that at Easter, and at baptisms and funerals, when the people or their mortal remains have water rained upon them – a sprinkling meant to remind us of our own death and resurrection. We, too, are sprigs planted by the gardener, meant to grow and flourish under God’s care.

Ezekiel is confronting a wayward and warring people who’ve forgotten their planter and gardener. God takes a sprig from the lofty top of a cedar and plants it on a high mountain to become shelter for all the birds of the air. God is often described as high and lifted up, and that lofty cedar is meant to image God’s tree of life for all creatures. Ezekiel is reminding his hearers that they are meant to be holy and just, like the one whose image they bear. This is about right relationship, sharing God’s creative care of tree and bird and every creature under heaven. So, who finds shelter in the shade of your branches? Who needs shelter and isn’t finding it?

Ezekiel’s little parable follows a near parallel at the beginning of the chapter, only in that first vision a great eagle flies in to take a small branch from the cedar and then flies back to Babylon to plant it. The prophet is confronting Israel’s exiled leaders in Babylon, political deal-makers who are trying to build a military alliance with Egypt, instead of relying on their planter and gardener. The prophet insists that the cedar twig high and lifted up is there in a position of service, not as a general’s vantage point. The strategy is about caring for the weak, and it’s repeated in Jesus’ parable: the kingdom of God is like a gardener scattering seed, then watching and waiting for growth. The sower doesn’t know exactly how the seed turns into a great plant, but he trusts that it will, for it is the nature of the earth to be fruitful. God’s planting yields shelters like the mustard shrub, with branches supposedly broad and leafy enough to make a home for all sorts of birds.

The great joke in Jesus’ parable is that mustard is a pretty puny bush. It’s thin and fragile, and it’s often considered a weed, by farmers and gardeners alike. Mustard plants aren’t sturdy enough to hold big predatory birds like hawks and eagles, but a field full of mustard certainly could hide a flock of sparrows – those little ones Jesus is most worried about. The mustard’s human scale, its commonness and ubiquity, and the tiny seed from which it grows, all make it a remarkable image for the reign of God.

High and lifted up – for what? We live in a world that often seeks to hold the peaks as castellated fortresses of righteousness. Their battlements are designed to keep out the unholy rabble, the dangerous or unworthy, hoi polloi, the wrongheaded and the subversive. Alliance building and struggles for power and dominance are not new, in the Middle East or elsewhere, nor is the urge to justify them religiously, as God’s will for the rest of the world.

Yet whom do we follow but one who was lifted up on a tree to die? The same one who offers shelter for the world’s rejected, sinful, wrong, and wandering beneath the arms and branches of what became a tree of life…

Those sheltering birds might be like the one who left the ark and came back with an olive branch. There are a fair number of them working in Pakistan right now, trying to vaccinate people against polio, and put an end to that ancient scourge.[1] Those vaccinators are still too often misunderstood as tools of oppressive regimes or those who want to exterminate religious minorities, and some are being killed for their efforts. Yet for every one who is assassinated, another is rising to take her place. That bush is close to the ground, and it has many branches.

What of the Middle East? Where is the mustard bush or the olive branch? There are sowers at work, scattering tiny seeds in countless fields, nearby and far away. Rabbi Lord Sacks made a profound plea on Friday for a widespread public claim on Abrahamic values – the dignity of every human being, made in the image of God, and a rejection of the demonizing so prevalent in the world’s conflicts.[2] The rapid escalation of those conflicts, and the desperate scale of human suffering in death, displacement, sickness, loss of home and livelihood is enormous – there are more refugees and displaced people today than at any time since the Second World War. To many it feels entirely hopeless.

And yet, there are tiny signs of hope if we’re willing to look – like the grassroots peacebuilding initiatives in the West Bank and in Israel. In January an American Abrahamic pilgrimage met with a group called Roots that included a settler rabbi, another Jewish settler, and a former Palestinian freedom fighter with a long prison history.[3] They spoke about how their hearts and minds have been transformed by hearing one another’s stories of suffering and injustice. Compassion has been lit in their hearts, and its fire is changing the landscape. The bush is growing – maybe even burning a little.

We met another group focused on building bridges around water use and environmental concerns along the Jordan Valley.[4] Palestinians and Israelis, Muslims, Jews, and Christians are recognizing that they share the same trees and water sources, and that all their lives are bound up together in the health and wholeness of creation.

Yet another community is teaching negotiation skills to mid-level civil servants (Israeli and Palestinian) and to junior members of the international diplomatic corps, with the expectation that those individuals can change the dialogue about conflict in their own persons, and that they will be a ready resource to all levels of intergovernmental conversation. They are becoming a sheltering field of constructive possibility.

I met an interreligious dialogue group in Brazil last week that embodied the reality of the cedar and the mustard.[5] Religious leaders from a broad range of traditions –Roman Catholic, Jewish, spiritualist, Anglican, indigenous Afro-Brazilian, Baha’i, Buddhist, and more – gather regularly to promote understanding among themselves and in the wider community. They hold up a mirror to society, saying, “see the image of God in this diversity. We are created to be people of peace.” They even march into football matches hand in hand, wearing the colors of different teams!

Those very local initiatives can and do begin to impact the wider community. When Christians and Muslims, or even Scots and English, begin to hear each other’s stories with open-hearted compassion, seeds begin to grow. The great religious traditions of the world do share a yearning for peace. The Abrahamic traditions insist that all are made in the image of God, and that we share a responsibility for the well-being of all God’s creatures. We proclaim that our help is in the Lord, not in military power or a suicide vest.

The work is both local and global. The solidarity we build with anyone deemed “other” – a hungry person on the street, a new neighbor from a different country or religious tradition, or a fellow citizen whose political aims are robustly different from our own – each act of hospitable companionship provides a bit of shelter. Keep sowing seeds, growing branches, and building a holy place for all God’s creatures. Whose branches have sheltered you? Where and how will you return the honor?

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/09/health/pakistan-polio-every-last-child-documentary.html

[2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/11665931/Rabbi-Lord-Sacks-How-to-end-the-wars-of-hatred.html

[3] http://www.friendsofroots.net/the-people.html

[4] http://www.foeme.org/www/?module=home

[5] Grupo de Dialogo Inter-Religioso de Porto Alegre http://wp.clicrbs.com.br/blogdasreligioes/?topo=13,1,1,,,13

St. Columba’s calls Ledlie I. Laughlin as new rector

ENS Headlines - Monday, June 15, 2015

[St. Columba’s Episcopal Church] The vestry of St. Columba’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., is pleased to announce the calling of the Rev. Ledlie I. Laughlin as its new rector.

“Ledlie’s work has demonstrated a love of children, an appreciation of the importance of great music to liturgy, a commitment to thoughtful, well-crafted preaching and a vision of the church as the body of Christ committed to serving others. We look forward to beginning a journey together,” said wardens Lane Heard and Elizabeth Taylor.

The Rev. Ledlie Laughlin is currently the rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in downtown Philadelphia, where he has served since 1999. He graduated from Oberlin College and attended Berkeley/Yale Divinity School, where he received his M.Div. in 1987. For 25 years, he has served in urban parishes up and down the East Coast. An active leader in the Diocese of Pennsylvania during his tenure at St. Peter’s, Ledlie chaired the Standing Committee during a difficult time of transition, restoring trust in Diocesan leadership. He has also played an instrumental role in the creation of P.O.W.E.R. (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild).

“From everything I know and have experienced of St. Columba’s, both past and present, I sense an overwhelming extraordinary potential; I sense that it is a community eager to serve the world as children of God and disciples of Christ,” responded the Rev. Laughlin.

The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde added, “I am thrilled to join St. Columba’s in welcoming Ledlie Laughlin and his wife, Sarah to the Diocese of Washington. Ledlie brings deep faith, a wide range of ministry experience and skills and a passion for The Episcopal Church. His ministry will enrich us all. It has been a privilege for me to walk alongside and pray with St. Columba’s leadership in this season of discernment. They have served God and their congregation well.” Ledlie and Sarah, a social worker, will move to Washington this summer. He will officially begin his duties at St. Columba’s on Sept. 13, 2015.

About St. Columba’s

“Open in spirit, deep in faith, rich in worship and active in service”

Today St. Columba’s is the largest parish in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. Established in 1874, and moved into a small white frame chapel in Tenleytown in 1875, we have grown to become a congregation of over 3,000 members. For over 140 years, we have been an inclusive community filled with a deep sense of worship and a great appreciation of music and liturgy, committed to Christian formation, nurturing of minds of children and adults alike, and serving our neighbors. Find more information on our ministries @Columba.org. Join our conversation on Facebook by “liking” our page.

Joint Nominating Committee presents fourth essay

ENS Headlines - Monday, June 15, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Episcopal Church Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB) has issued the following information.

Fourth Education Piece
of the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding  Bishop

The Process for the Election of the Presiding Bishop at General Convention June 2015

On May 1, 2015, after two and one-half years of work, the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop announced the names of four nominees for the office of Presiding Bishop.   This link provides information on the four nominees.

The members of the Joint Nominating Committee who have made these choices include a bishop, a member of the clergy, and a layperson from each of the nine provinces ofThe Episcopal Church, and two members of the youth appointed by the President of theHouse of Deputies.  Here is the full roster of membership with diocese and province of each:

Ms. Sally Johnson, Minnesota, VI (Co-Chair)
The Rt. Rev. Edward Konieczny, Oklahoma, VII (Co-Chair)
The Rev. Ruth Lawson Kirk, Delaware, III (Secretary)
The Rt. Rev. Lloyd Allen, Honduras,  IX
The Rev. Devon Anderson, Minnesota, VI
Ms. Diane Butler, Rio Grande, VII
The Very Rev. Ellis Clifton, Michigan, V
The Rev. Canon Amy Real Coultas, Kentucky, IV
Mr. William Fleener, Jr, Western Michigan, V
The Rt. Rev. R. William Franklin, Western New York, II
Ms. Pauline Getz, San Diego, VIII
The Rt. Rev. Wendell Gibbs, Michigan, V
The Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool, Los Angeles, VIII
The Rt. Rev. Duncan Gray III, Mississippi, IV
The Rev. Lowell Grisham, Arkansas, VII
Ms. Josephine Hicks, North Carolina, IV
The Rev. David Jackson, Hawaii, VIII
The Rt. Rev. William Klusmeyer, West Virginia, III
The Rev. Canon Mally Ewing Lloyd, Massachusetts, I
Mr. Louis Eduardo Moreno Bayona, Columbia, IX
Ms. Diane Pollard, New York, II
The Rev. Canon Jose Francisco Salazar, Venezuela, IX
Ms. Nina Vest Salmon, Southwestern Virginia, III
The Rt. Rev. Gordon Scruton, Western Massachusetts, I
Mr. Joe Skinner, South Dakota, VI
The Rt. Rev. John Smylie, Wyoming, VI
Ms. Kathryn Spicer, West Missouri, VII
Mr. Dante Tavoloro, Rhode Island, I
The Rev. Canon Sandye Wilson, Newark, II

The Educational Pieces of the Joint Nominating Committee

Since June 2014, the Joint Nominating Committee has shared three short educational pieces with the Church.  The first essay described the basic time-line and steps the nominating committee has followed so far in the election process.  The second essay outlined the current roles, functions, and responsibilities of the Presiding Bishop.  The third essay discussed how the constitutional/canonical roles of the office have changed and evolved.  Here are the links to the three previous educational pieces:

#1 here
#2 here
#3 here

This fourth educational piece describes the process of the election at the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, Utah from June 24 through July 3.

June 24

The nominees for Presiding Bishop will be presented to a joint gathering of the bishops and the clergy and lay deputies to General Convention on Wednesday, June 24 from1:30 pm (MDT) to 4:30 pm.  Deputies, bishops and alternate deputies will be guaranteed seating; registered visitors to General Convention will also be given access up to the hall’s capacity.   A live-stream will be available at here.

After introductions of each nominee, they will each have three minutes to speak to those gathered in person and by webcast.  Nominees will then respond to questions prepared by the Joint Nominating Committee and questions that have come from bishops, deputies and alternates to General Convention, and from members of congregations across all provinces of The Episcopal Church.  The nominees will be allotted two minutes for each response.

The joint gathering will conclude with a closing statement from each nominee for the Churchwide audience listening by webcast as well as the assembly in Salt Lake City.

June 26

On June 26 the Joint Nominating Committee will formally nominate to the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies in Joint Session the names of the four members of the House of Bishops it has selected “for the consideration of the two Houses in the choice of a Presiding Bishop.” (Canon 1.2.1.f).  There will not be any other nominations from the floor because no bishop or deputy indicated their intent to nominate any other bishop in accordance with the procedures set by the Nominating Committee.  The Joint Session is scheduled for 11:15 am-1:00 pm (MDT).  Seating and access to live-stream transmission to the Joint Session will be similar to the June 24 meeting.

June 27

Following the Convention Eucharist at 9:30 am on June 27 bishops with seat, voice, and vote will gather at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral for the election.  The bishops cast ballots until a Presiding Bishop is elected. A majority of all bishops (excluding retired Bishops not present) is required to carry the election.  The vote totals for each ballot are public and must be provided to the House of Deputies.  Once there is an election, the Presiding Bishop sends a deputation from the House of Bishops with the name to the President of the House of Deputies.  The President refers the name to the House of Deputies Legislative Committee on the Confirmation of the Presiding Bishop without announcing the name to the House of Deputies.  The legislative committee, chaired by Deputy Lynn V. Schmissrauter from the Diocese of East Tennessee, will then make a recommendation to the House of Deputies on whether to confirm or not to confirm the choice of the House of Bishops, and the House of Deputies will immediately vote on the recommendation.  A delegation from the House of Deputies will then notify the House of Bishops of the action taken.  The bishops remain in the Cathedral and must refrain from any communication outside the Cathedral throughout the election and until the confirmation is received.

Once the House of Bishops receives the confirmation, the Presiding Bishop-elect is then presented to the House of Deputies, along with his family members present at the Convention.

Seating and access to live-stream transmission of this presentation of the Presiding Bishop-elect will be similar to the June 24 meeting.

July 3

The Presiding Bishop-elect will be the preacher at the closing General Convention Eucharist on July 3, from 8:30 am to 10:00 am (MDT).  Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will be the celebrant at this closing Eucharist, which will be live-streamed.

November 1

The Presiding Bishop-elect becomes the 27th Presiding Bishop on November 1. The seating of the Presiding Bishop at the Washington National Cathedral is scheduled fornoon.  Details of this service are under the supervision of the Presiding Bishop Transition and Installation Committee appointed by the Executive Council.  The National Cathedral will arrange for the seating to be live-streamed, as are all of the Cathedral’s major services.

The JNCPB members are listed here
On Twitter at:  PB27Nominations or #JNCPB
On Facebook  here

La Iglesia brasileña celebra su 125º. aniversario

ENS Headlines - Monday, June 15, 2015

La obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori, el arzobispo Francisco de Assis da Silva, a la derecha, y el obispo Humberto Maiztegue, de la Diócesis Meridional, concelebran durante la eucaristía del 7 de junio en conmemoración del 125º. aniversario de la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil. La Iglesia también celebró 50 años de autonomía y 30 años de la ordenación de mujeres. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

[Episcopal News Service – Porto Alegre, Brasil] Durante 125 años la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil ha estado edificando el reino de Dios mediante su dedicación a la misión en el país más grande de América del Sur, gracias tanto a la ayuda de asociaciones locales como de haber conservado sólidos vínculos históricos con la Iglesia Episcopal en Estados Unidos —en un espíritu de “unidad”.

“Esta Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil tiene la misma vocación a la unión que Jesús le pidió a sus discípulos”, dijo la obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori, durante un sermón que predicó el 7 de junio en la ciudad sureña donde dos misioneros enviados por el Seminario Teológico de Virginia establecieron la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil en 1890.

“Vuestra historia aquí ha sido un largo proceso de reunir a las personas para bendecirlas. Vuestro don ha sido la convicción de que la unidad en la Iglesia se supone que bendiga también a toda la comunidad. El ser uno comienza por compartir las buenas nuevas del amor de Dios para todos y por enseñar a las personas a vivir juntas como amigos —amigos de Dios y los unos de los otros. Vemos que la unidad tiene lugar en congregaciones y en las maneras en que sus miembros están presentes en la comunidad más amplia —alimentando, curando y procurando la justicia” —afirmó.

La obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori predicó durante el oficio eucarístico del 7 de junio en la catedral de la Santísima Trinidad en Porto Alegre, Brasil, lugar de nacimiento de la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil. El Rdo. Luiz Coelho, de la Diócesis de Río de Janeiro, tradujo el sermón del inglés al portugués. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

Más de 200 personas se reunieron al anochecer en la catedral de la Santísima Trinidad, la catedral Nacional de la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil, para el oficio de tres horas en conmemoración del 125º. Aniversario de la Iglesia, los 50 años de autonomía y los 30 años de la ordenación de mujeres. Además de predicar, la obispa primada concelebró con el arzobispo Francisco de Assis da Silva y el obispo Humberto Maiztegue de la Diócesis Meridional, donde está localizada la catedral.

Desde la firma de un pacto bilateral en 1990, luego de un período de separación, la Iglesia Episcopal en Estados Unidos y la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil han estado trabajando para reconectarse, restablecer sus nexos de amistad y alentar la asociación y las relaciones de compañerismo entre las dos iglesias.

“En los últimos 20 años las relaciones han llegado a ser incluso más importantes. Creo que pueden enseñarnos muchísimo acerca del empuje misional a los lugares que nunca han visto ninguna buena nueva, o que están en urgente necesidad de ella”, dijo Jefferts Schori a Episcopal News Service, refiriéndose a la labor misionera de la Iglesia con los pueblos indígenas que afirma la solidaridad y el compañerismo, más que dádivas. “Eso es un punto de vista notable y una teología que la mayoría de las personas en la Iglesia de EE.UU. nunca entenderían o nunca iniciarían.

“Brasil es un lugar postcolonial, y se siente muy confiado al respecto y eso es algo que podríamos aprender. Que no se trata de dádivas generosas, que ha sido el M.O. (modus operandi) de la Iglesia Episcopal durante mucho tiempo. Hoy es menos así, pero eso es por lo que somos famosos. Estamos empezando a aprender ahora a estar en solidaridad, pero la Iglesia aquí ya sabe cómo y podría enseñarnos un montón”.

La Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil ha estado afincada en la misión a lo largo de sus 125 años de existencia; el campo misionero establecido en el sur se ha propagado hasta los remotos confines del Amazonas, así como más recientemente en el nordeste. Sin embargo, en su relación con la Iglesia Episcopal en Estados Unidos, a la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil la afectó un cisma de más de una década relacionado con la sexualidad humana y la ética, tanto en lo que respecta a la conducta heterosexual como homosexual, explicó da Silva en una entrevista con ENS el 6 de junio.

La Iglesia eligió el tema “unidad y acción de gracias” como una reafirmación de su compromiso con la misión y el servicio a través de la “unidad” no de la “uniformidad”, y para expresar su gratitud por su valiosa historia, así como su compromiso a marchar adelante como una sola Iglesia, afirmó él.


La Muy Rda. Mannez Rosa dos Santos, deana de la catedral de la Santísima Trinidad en Porto Alegre, Brasil, y otras personas que trabajaron en el Libro de Oración Común de 1,181 páginas, adaptado para el contexto brasileño, celebran su presentación durante la eucaristía del 125º. aniversario. Foto de of Lynette Wilson/ENS.

Además, la Iglesia se siente agradecida por la publicación de su Libro de Oración Común de 1.181 páginas, que ha sido el resultado de nueve años de labor y está adaptado al contexto brasileño, incluido el lenguaje coloquial e integrado de género que fija el rumbo para el futuro, dijo él.

“Nuestra Iglesia tiene un sentido de apertura hacia el futuro”, dijo da Silva.

La Obispa Primada pasó tres días en Porto Alegre, donde ella y el Rdo. David Gortner, que representó al Seminario Teológico de Virginia, lograron conocer mejor a la Iglesia brasileña, se reunieron con una agrupación interreligiosa, visitaron, con el personal de un programa de educación medioambiental diocesano para niños, una aldea guaraní y un hogar de ancianos dirigido por la Iglesia. El 6 de junio, la Obispa Primada dio una conferencia sobre el episcopado y el sexismo durante un seminario de teólogas laicas y ordenadas que coincidió con los eventos del fin de semana.

“Hay señales abundantes de esa unidad aquí —en el profundo respecto mostrado hacia todos los miembros de la agrupación interreligiosa que conocimos aquí el viernes; en vuestra capacitación consciente y proactiva de las mujeres, las minorías sexuales y los pueblos indígenas (y) en vuestro cuidado y solidaridad con los pobres, incluido nuestro pobre y explotado medioambiente. Junto, todo el pueblo de Dios se empeña en crear una totalidad más eficaz”, dijo la Obispa Primada en su sermón.

“Esta celebración es acerca de esa salud e integridad crecientes, y muchas son las barreras que se han desplomado para hacernos llegar hasta este punto. Para cualquiera que no tenga una idea clara de lo que significa realmente la vida —y eso somos todos nosotros en algún momento— vuestro nuevo libro de oración ayudará a las personas a reconocer lo santo que hay en torno a todos nosotros y dentro de nosotros. Nos acercará más a una Iglesia que en verdad sí respeta la dignidad de todo ser humano, hombre y mujer, homosexual y heterosexual, descendientes de todas las naciones, y las otra partes de la creación de Dios”.

La presencia de la Obispa Primada, dijo el Rdo. Arthur Cavalcante, secretario provincial de la Iglesia, era un testamento a la relación histórica entre las dos iglesias y una “señal de que podemos continuar edificando la misión de Dios que nos han encargado”.

En 1890, dos misioneros del Seminario Teológico de Virginia, Lucien Lee Kinsolving y James Watson Morris, establecieron la Iglesia en Porto Alegre, en el sureño estado de Rio Grande Do Sul.

En 1907, los empeños misioneros en el Brasil dieron lugar al establecimiento de un distrito misionero de la Iglesia Episcopal bajo el liderazgo de Kinsolving, quien para entonces era obispo.

“Me siento continuamente conmovido por la herencia de Virginia y su influencia en la misión cristiana y episcopal, y que sistemáticamente hayamos enfatizado el desarrollo de una Iglesia indígena con liderazgo indígena”, dijo Gortner, profesor de evangelización y liderazgo congregacional y director del programa doctoral de ministerio en el Seminario Teológico de Virginia.


El Rdo. David Gortner, profesor de evangelización y liderazgo congregacional y director del programa doctoral de ministerio en el Seminario Evangélico de Virginia, representó al seminario en la celebración del 125º. aniversario. En esta foto aparece leyendo una carta del Ian S. Markham, decano del seminario, durante la eucaristía del 7 de junio. El Rdo. Luiz Coelho, de la Diócesis de Rio de Janeiro, tradujo la carta del inglés al portugués. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

Gortner participó en el oficio del 7 de junio con la lectura de una carta del Muy Rdo. Ian S. Markham, decano del seminario, y el 6 de junio, durante una recepción, una carta del Rdo. Robert Heaney, director del Centro de Estudios de la Comunión Anglicana.

“Las personas en papeles de liderazgo son notables, comprometidas y apasionadas y muestran un auténtico júbilo en el ministerio”, dijo Gortner, en una entrevista con ENS. “Admiro las formas en que procuran asociarse con los pobres y marginados y los que no tienen poder en esta sociedad y abogar por ellos. Espero [que lleguen a tener] una influencia mayor que sólo puede venir con el crecimiento”.

El Brasil es el quinto país del mundo, tanto en extensión como en población, con más de 200 millones de habitantes. Aunque el catolicismo romano ya no es una religión patrocinada por el Estado, el Brasil tiene más catolicorromanos —123 millones— que ningún otro país del mundo.

Los lazos históricos de la Iglesia con el seminario y la Iglesia Episcopal, más que sus nexos con la Iglesia Anglicana, que estableció capellanías anglicanas para servir a expatriados, son de gran importancia.

“La presencia de los misioneros de Virginia siempre ha sido notable y de mucha importancia para la Iglesia en Brasil al comenzar la misión aquí”, dijo la Rda. Glenda McQueen, encargada de América Latina y el Caribe de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera, añadiendo que la Iglesia también experimentó un período de separación del seminario que esperaba remediar. “De manera que poder reconectar con el Seminario de Virginia ha sido muy importante ya que era conectar con el lugar donde la misión comenzó, y con la gente que vino.

“También, la relación con la Iglesia Episcopal ha sido importante para Brasil de mantener y de fortalecer esa relación a través de los años, de manera que la presencia de la Obispa Primada habla de esa relación y de esa asociación. Creo especialmente también que la celebración de los 30 años de la ordenación de mujeres sirve para resaltar el liderazgo de las mujeres donde, históricamente, todos los líderes han sido hombres. Pero la asociación es lo que resulta realmente importante para ellos, y que viniera [la representación de] Virginia fue sencillamente la guinda del pastel”.

En los años 50, la Iglesia brasileña comenzó a hablar acerca de su autonomía y en 1965 el distrito misionero se convirtió en la Provincia Autónoma del Brasil.

Durante la guerra fría —una época en que el gobierno de EE.UU. respaldaba regularmente a los gobiernos de derecha en un intento de contener la propagación del comunismo en Latinoamérica, a veces participando en el derrocamiento de líderes izquierdistas, incluido el golpe militar de 1964 que depuso al presidente del Brasil João Goulart— un resurgente nacionalismo se hizo fuerte en Brasil.

“Todo el mundo sabe que EE.UU. desempeñó un papel clave en el proceso [el golpe] y el pueblo de la Iglesia comenzó a sentirse nacionalista”, dijo da Silva, añadiendo que la Iglesia se convirtió en una provincia independiente un año después.

La Iglesia Episcopal mantuvo su ayuda económica a la Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana del Brasil hasta 1975. No obstante, la Iglesia perdió a muchos de sus clérigos, que anteriormente cobraban [sus salarios] en dólares norteamericanos en lugar de en la más débil moneda local, y la Iglesia se vio obligada a vender propiedades.

“Al proceso de autonomía no lo dirigieron correctamente y para nosotros llegó a ser muy difícil de manejar”, dijo da Silva. “En lo económico, éramos del todo dependientes”.

Cincuenta años después, la Iglesia celebra su autonomía, y continúa en la tradición misionera de su fundación.

Además de Brasil, La Iglesia Episcopal tiene relaciones pactadas con iglesias episcopales en Liberia, y las Filipinas, que se convirtieron en provincias autónomas de la Comunión Anglicana en 2005, y con la Iglesia Anglicana de la Región Central de América (IARCA)

“Brasil es una notable historia de éxito. Han alcanzado la madurez y la han sobrepasado de muchas maneras”, dijo Jefferts Schori, añadiendo que Brasil fue la primera provincia en llegar a ser autónoma a partir de la obra de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera. Nos están enseñando”.

(La Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS) es el nombre con el cual la Iglesia Episcopal está incorporada, funciona empresarialmente y lleva a cabo la misión).

“Ellos nos empujaron a movernos hacia un nuevo nivel de relación”, dijo la Obispa Primada. “Las Filipinas han hecho algo semejante también, en su resuelta decisión de adelantar la autonomía antes de lo programado y de ofrecerle ese inmenso regalo a la Convención Nacional. Y a largo plazo, yo espero que ese es el futuro para toda una serie de diócesis que se encuentran fuera de EE.UU. Debemos avanzar hacia ese tipo de visión y ayudarlas a hacerse autónomas de un modo que les permita prosperar. En eso radica, creo yo, la labor de sostenibilidad [de la IX Provincia] a largo plazo”.

— Lynette Wilson es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.