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Justice Pilgrimage brings together 20 Episcopal clergy members for intensive racial healing work

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 5:10pm

The Rev. Skip Walker leads an evensong and discussion at the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 20 during the center’s weeklong Justice Pilgrimage. Photo: Absalom Jones Center

[Episcopal News Service] Twenty Episcopal priests and deacons are wrapping up a weeklong pilgrimage in Atlanta, Georgia, organized by the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing as a pilot program that could become a new model for furthering The Episcopal Church’s racial reconciliation work.

Participants in the center’s Justice Pilgrimage were selected from all 20 dioceses in the church’s Province IV, which encompasses all or part of nine states in the Southeast. Atlanta Bishop Robert Wright spoke to the group on May 19 to welcome them.

“The common purpose is to understand the American story in all of its nuance and figure out where the opportunities for healing and justice are,” Wright said May 23 in an interview with Episcopal News Service. That nuance, Wright explained, is what allows people from different backgrounds to come together and feel comfortable openly and honestly discussing difficult questions of race and racism.

“It doesn’t really call for self-flagellation. Shame is not the goal,” Wright said. “It is to understand our role in this very complex thing and to seek healing and justice.”

The pilgrimage includes a full itinerary of lectures and discussions at the Absalom Jones Center in Atlanta, as well as a two-day bus trip with stops at African American historical sites in Savanna, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina. When it concludes May 24, the pilgrims’ work will only be beginning.

“It’s an intensive week, and then we’re asking them for six months’ commitment,” Absalom Jones Center Executive Director Catherine Meeks told ENS. During the next six months, participants will be asked to develop and follow a plan to work toward dismantling racism in their parishes and communities, and afterward, they will reunite in Atlanta to talk about that work with each other.

“I’m hoping that these people will become allies with each other and supportive, and the center will serve as a catalyst for trying to make that happen,” Meeks said.

She and other organizers then will use the experience of this first Justice Pilgrimage to refine future efforts of the Absalom Jones Center, which is a partnership between the Diocese of Atlanta and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s office. The center aims to host two such pilgrimages annually for groups of 20 to 25 starting in May 2020. Participants are responsible only for air fare to get them to Atlanta, and their food, lodging and the bus trip are covered by the center.

The ultimate goal is to deepen The Episcopal Church’s work of racial reconciliation at the local level. General Convention long has prioritized such work, requiring dioceses to facilitate anti-racism training for clergy and lay leaders, but the implementation of those mandates has been uneven from diocese to diocese.

Meeks, who previously led the Diocese of Atlanta’s Beloved Community: Commission for Dismantling Racism,  inspired the development of the church’s Becoming Beloved Community framework that was unveiled in 2017. Now, at the Absalom Jones Center, she sees the Justice Pilgrimage as a new, meaningful way of engaging clergy members directly to take action in their contexts.

“I’m trying to see if we can create a collection of priests and deacons that are empowered and inspired to go deeper than has been happening in the local parish,” she said. “The center is really focused on the idea of localizing parishes to do the work of dismantling racism.”

Presenters this week have discussed a range of topics with the 20 participants. Richard Hughes, a religion professor at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, talked about how insidious notions of white supremacy are ingrained in American society. The Rev. Ken Swanson, rector at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Roswell, Georgia, spoke of his awakening as a white man to his own privilege and a personal call to help dismantle racism.

Byron Rushing, vice president of The Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies, presented a historical overview of systems of racism in the United States and ways they are connected to the church. Meeks spoke about how minorities often internalize oppression, affecting their quality of life. And the Rev. Lynne Washington, priest-in-charge at Atlanta’s Church of the Incarnation, gave a presentation about African and African American spirituality.

The bus trip was a way to build on those discussion by giving participants firsthand experiences with historical sites and artifacts.

One stop allowed participants to visit Savannah’s Weeping Time Memorial, which marks the sale of hundreds of slaves at once in 1859 by plantation owners to avoid bankruptcy. The pilgrimage also visited the Old Slave Mart Museum in Charleston. Professional tour guides were hired to share their expertise on the tragic history represented by such sites.

Civil rights pilgrimages by congregations are increasingly common in the South, particularly in Montgomery, Alabama, since the opening in 2018 of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which memorializes lynching victims. One parish, St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta, took 82 people to the memorial and other sites on a pilgrimage in August.

St. John’s Episcopal Church in Tallahassee, Florida, embarked on a similar pilgrimage to Alabama in February. And just this week, while the Absalom Jones Center hosted its pilgrims in Atlanta, more than 50 Episcopalians spent several days in Alabama on another pilgrimage to civil rights sites there.

Meeks praises such efforts toward racial healing. She also sees the Absalom Jones Center’s pilgrimage as taking a somewhat different approach, not just touring sites but also fostering intensive discussion and reflection that will continue long after participants leave Atlanta.

“The commitment on the front end is you will engage this work and then come back together in six months to talk about what you did,” she said.

Jesus provided the original Christian model for taking on this kind of “interior work” and also seeking the “durable fellowship” with other disciples to inspire greater love for our neighbors, Wright said.

“People are going out with more than information,” he said. They also will take home “some embodiment of truth to go out and make a difference.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

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Parishioner turns Missouri church’s unused lot into apple orchard in twist on garden ministries

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 4:21pm

Children help apply mulch to one of the apple trees planted on unused space next to Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Webster Groves, Missouri. Photo: Dale Penrose

[Episcopal News Service] Dale Penrose is no Johnny Appleseed, though he’s played that role before, on the church lawn last fall for preschoolers.

The lawn, a grassy wedge just east of the parking lot at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Webster Groves, Missouri, isn’t much of a lawn anymore, but rather a budding apple orchard. It’s a fitting addition to a neighborhood known as Old Orchard, where apple cultivation once was prevalent, and the congregation hopes someday to reap the full fruits of what Penrose has sown.

“This year we might get a bushel or two,” Penrose said when Episcopal News Service caught up with him by phone to ask about the orchard he planted for Emmanuel in spring 2016.

A church with an apple orchard? Feeding ministries (Emmanuel has one of those, too) aren’t unusual. Many churches have gardens, though an orchard is a unique twist. This one has more trees – 15 – than Jesus had apostles. So far, no serpents have tempted young couples here with forbidden fruit.

More troublesome were the snacking deer that prematurely trimmed several of the trees, and some others were inadvertently felled by lawnmowers. After several replantings, the orchard at Emmanuel is back to full strength. As it grows, the congregation is touting the orchard as an opportunity to beautify a prominent city corner, to provide produce for its food pantry, to teach lessons in environmental stewardship and to simply to enjoy one of God’s great creations.

“They’re a durable food,” the Rev. Jennifer Hulen, rector at Emmanuel, told ENS. “I’m a hiker and a camper, so apples are good trail food. And we’re all kind of on a trail in life.”

The apple orchard at Emmanuel Episcopal Church features 14 varieties of trees, and while the trees are expected to produce some fruit this year, a full harvest is still a few years away. Photo: Dale Penrose

The orchard doesn’t include Hulen’s favorite variety, Fuji, but it has 14 others: Arkansas Black, Baldwin, Braestar, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Franklin Cider, Golden Delicious, Orleans, Red Rome, Suncrisp, Wagener, Wealthy, Winesap, Wolf River and Yellow Transparent. Penrose planted two Golden Delicious trees, because they are universal pollinators, and all are well-suited for the climate and soil in Webster Groves, a suburb that borders St. Louis to the west.

Emmanuel Episcopal Church was built in 1886 on property given to the congregation by the Lockwoods, a family that owned 80 acres in the Old Orchard neighborhood. The Lockwoods and other families had long maintained orchards in the area. “In the spring the blossoms transformed the orchards into fairyland, and in the fall the orchards smelled like cider,” the Webster Groves Historical Society describes in its guide for a walking tour of the neighborhood.

Penrose, 58, has attended Emmanuel since 2001, and around the time the church was getting ready to celebrate its 150th anniversary, he had church-based agriculture on his mind.

“We had a large space of unused land at Emmanuel, but it was way too visible to put in a garden,” he said. If you fall behind on the weeding, Penrose explained, suddenly your street-side garden becomes an eyesore. “So, I thought, well, you know putting an orchard in there would look really pretty, it would fit the community and it would provide just as much food as a garden would.”

He brought his idea to the rector, Hulen’s predecessor – whose name, no fooling, was the Rev. Dan Appleyard – and after discussions with the senior warden and church committees about cost and upkeep, Penrose won approval to begin planting.

Dale Penrose planted 15 apple trees at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in 2016, though he had to replant some of them after run-ins with deer and lawnmowers. Photo: Dale Penrose

Each tree cost $40 to $50. Appleyard bought one with money from his discretionary fund, and the senior warden chipped in for a second. Penrose covered the cost of the rest, selecting them from a nursery north of St. Louis. At full size, they will grow up to 20 feet tall, he said, and a full harvest after all 15 trees mature will yield an estimated 100 to 150 bushels of apples a year, or about 3 tons.

“Not bad for an unused green space,” Penrose said.

The 14 varieties also will peak at different times from mid-July to early November, starting with the Yellow Transparent. That’s Penrose’s favorite apple, because it reminds him of growing up in western Iowa among the apple trees and orchards maintained by his extended family.

Dale Penrose prunes the trees at Emmanuel Episcopal Church every winter and spends about $30 to $40 on organic pesticides and mulch, but he said the apple orchard doesn’t require much else to maintain. Photo: Emmanuel Episcopal Church

“That was the tree in my grandparents’ front yard,” he said. “When we were kids, we were climbing that tree eating apples late June to mid-July.”

Penrose also maintains a couple apple trees at his own home, as well as a pear tree and some gooseberry bushes. He has some past experience in commercial gardening but now works on equipment maintenance for a small brewery in St. Louis.

The orchard at Emmanuel has become a personal passion for Penrose, who enjoys involving children of the congregation in his work. Each year, students of Emmanuel’s vacation Bible school have helped with mulching around the trees.

And for a congregation that tops 200 worshipers on a typical Sunday, the orchard offers a tangible example of faith in action and a spiritual connection to the land, Hulen said. “To know God through creation and to be able to know we’re partners in taking care of the Earth and we’re partners in providing out of our abundance to our brothers and sisters who have a struggle.”

The orchard has room for Penrose eventually to add up to nine more trees, possibly including a peach tree and a pear tree. It’s a unique ministry, but Penrose said it need not be exclusive to Emmanuel.

“I think it’d be a great thing for other churches to do,” he said, “if they had the space.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

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Ubicación, equipo de planificación nombrado para el 2020 Episcopal Youth Event

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 1:58pm

[Mayo 20, 2019] El Departamento de Formación de Fe anunció hoy que el Episcopal Youth Event (EYE20) se llevará a cabo en colaboración con la Catedral Nacional de Washington y la Diócesis Episcopal de Washington en el campus de la Universidad de Howard del 7 al 11 de julio de 2020.

“La Universidad de Howard fue elegida como el lugar para el EYE20 después de un exhaustivo proceso de solicitud y discernimiento”, dijo Wendy Johnson, coordinadora de eventos para EYE20. “Estamos agradecidos por cada diócesis, empleado y obispo que trabajó con nosotros durante el año pasado, y esperamos con ansias trabajar junto a la Universidad de Howard, la Diócesis de Washington y la Catedral Nacional de Washington para organizar EYE20 “.

“En la Diócesis de Washington nos sentimos honrados de colaborar para darle la bienvenida al Evento Episcopal Juvenil de 2020 en Washington, DC, y oramos para que todos los involucrados en el proceso de planificación sientan el poder del Espíritu Santo guiándolos en cada paso del camino”, dijo el Reverendo Correcto Mariann Edgar Budde, obispa diocesana. “Estamos agradecidos de ser el lugar donde cientos de jóvenes se reunirán para acercarse más a Jesús y seguir su camino de amor”.

“Qué alegría será darles la bienvenida a estos jóvenes a Washington DC”, dijo el Reverendísimo Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Deán de la Catedral Nacional de Washington. “Estamos muy contentos de ayudar a acoger este evento y estamos muy agradecidos de trabajar con la Universidad de Howard.”

Las inscripciones para EYE20 se coordinan a través de los registradores diocesanos que el obispo diocesano nombrará en el otoño. Las instrucciones para discernir una delegación diocesana se enviarán directamente a los registradores.

El equipo de planificación EYE20 ha sido nombrado

Cada evento juvenil episcopal es planificado e implementado por jóvenes voluntarios y adultos mentores seleccionados a través de un proceso de solicitud y discernimiento.

“Episcopal Youth Event es único en la vida de la iglesia, ya que es planificado por un equipo de jóvenes episcopales, para jóvenes episcopales”, dijo Bronwyn Clark Skov, directora del Departamento de Formación de Fe y funcionaria de ministerios juveniles. “Esperamos con ansias trabajar con este nuevo equipo para planificar un evento que se contextualice tanto dentro de la era en la que vivimos, así como dentro de la ubicación en Washington DC”.

Los siguientes jóvenes solicitantes han aceptado la invitación a participar en el equipo de planificación EYE20:

  • Jackson Humphreys, Diócesis Episcopal de Massachusetts, Provincia I
  • Caitlin Mahoney, Convocación de Iglesias Episcopales en Europa, Provincia II
  • Adajah D. Joseph, Diócesis Episcopal de Long Island, Provincia II
  • Yifan Wang, Diócesis Episcopal de Long Island, Provincia II
  • Charlie Kirk, Diócesis Episcopal de Tennessee Oriental, Provincia IV
  • Owen Snape, Diócesis Episcopal de Atlanta, Provincia IV
  • Robert Sánchez, Diócesis Episcopal de Indianápolis, Provincia V
  • Kayla Byrd, Diócesis Episcopal de Michigan, Provincia V
  • Trueli Thor, Iglesia Episcopal en Minnesota, Provincia VI
  • Solveigh Barney, Diócesis Episcopal de Dakota del Norte, Provincia VI
  • Arty Langford, Diócesis Episcopal de Wyoming, Provincia VI
  • Caleb Carnes, Diócesis Episcopal de Texas, Provincia VII
  • Cole Hadden, Diócesis Episcopal de Arkansas, Provincia VII
  • Emily Lawitz, Diócesis Episcopal de Texas Occidental, Provincia VII
  • Holly Quinonez Wrampelmeier, Diócesis Episcopal de Texas Noroccidental, Provincia VII
  • Giovanna Zampa, Diócesis Episcopal de California Norte, Provincia VIII

Se discernirá quien será el miembro joven del equipo de planificación de la Provincia IX este verano después de Evento de Jóvenes Episcopales.

Los siguientes solicitantes como adultos mentores han aceptado la invitación a participar en el equipo de planificación EYE20:

  • Nikia Alleyne, Diócesis Episcopal de Long Island
  • Margaret Foote, Diócesis Episcopal de Ohio Sur
  • Israel Alexander Portilla Gómez, Diócesis Episcopal de Colombia
  • Christoph Herpel, Convocación de Iglesias Episcopales en Europa
  • Patrick Kangrga, Diócesis Episcopal de California
  • Michele Morgan, Diócesis Episcopal de Washington
  • Marcia Quintanilla, Diócesis Episcopal de Texas
  • Karen Schlabach, Diócesis Episcopal de Kansas
  • Joshawa Trader, Diócesis Episcopal Missouri Occidental

Las siguientes personas desempeñan funciones especializadas en el equipo de planificación:

  • Julia Domenick, Iglesia Episcopal en Minnesota, es la coordinadora del equipo médico.
  • Abigail White Moon, Diócesis Episcopal de Florida, sirve como capellana al equipo de planificación.
  • Rich Clark, Diócesis Episcopal del Suroeste de la Florida, coordinador del equipo de cuidado pastoral.
  • Lauren Wainwright, Diócesis Episcopal de Dallas, coordinadora del equipo de cuidado pastoral.
  • Mildred Reyes, quien sirve como misionera para la formación de la Diócesis Episcopal de Washington, es la persona enlace entre el equipo de planificación EYE20 y la diócesis.

La solicitud para jóvenes adultos con interés ​​en formar parte del equipo de cuidado pastoral estará disponible en junio. El discernimiento y las decisiones en cuanto al equipo ocurrirán en el otoño.

¿Tiene alguna pregunta? Escriba a eye@episcopalchurch.org.

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Diocese of West Texas partners with Episcopal Church in Navajoland

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 12:01pm

Diocese of West Texas volunteers pray for the health of their newly planted plum tree outside the Hozho Wellness Center in Farmington, N.M. Photo: Mike Patterson

[Diocese of West Texas – Farmington, New Mexico] Generations of Navajos were born, were treated and died at the San Juan Mission Hospital before it closed five decades ago. Occasionally, someone stops to ask about a hospital record, now kept at All Saints Church, across the gravel parking lot from the hospital building.

Founded in 1918, All Saints grew into the San Juan Mission Hospital in 1922 and was among three medical missions established by The Episcopal Church that served as the only medical facilities for the 27,000-square-mile Navajo Nation.

Today, after serving the medical needs of the Navajo Nation for decades, the old hospital is taking on a new life by focusing on tribal members’ emotional wellness and physical needs.

In 2016, The Episcopal Church in Navajoland launched a massive restoration project to transform the boarded-up rock structure into the Hozho Wellness Center. The center will serve Navajo women and families by offering support, counseling and classes, from parenting to cooking, nutrition and art – seeking to restore their sense of hozho, a Navajo cultural term meaning balance, harmony and life.

The Episcopal Church in Navajoland has converted the former San Juan Mission Hospital in Farmington, New Mexico, into the Hozho Wellness Center. Photo: Mike Patterson

While the upper floor will serve as the wellness center, the ground floor will be the home of Cheii’s Web Development, a start-up enterprise created by Navajoland to teach young people coding skills and create jobs in web development, graphic and logo design, social media management and photography.

Funding for the project has been provided by The Episcopal Church and other grants and donations.

Despite numerous setbacks, including a fire that required structural repairs, enough work had been accomplished by the spring of 2018 to enable Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to consecrate its small chapel during his tour of Navajoland. The entire project was scheduled for completion in mid-2019.

The wellness center also has had volunteer help from the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas and Trinity Church Wall Street. A six-member delegation from Diocese of West Texas spent a week this spring working on the center, following another team from the Diocese of West Texas that did construction work and painted in the fall 2018.

Amid endless runs to the landscape nursery and and to the local home improvement warehouse for supplies paid for by the Diocese of West Texas, the small group of volunteers installed a drip irrigation system for future landscaping foliage, added a drainage pathway to route rainwater away from the building’s foundation, planted two apple trees, a pear tree and a plum tree, painted the interior staircase, provided advice on how to install the mantel on the fireplace, cleaned out the yard of the former rectory – now used as a dormitory for visiting volunteers – hauled off rolls of old carpet to the dump and grubbed up a vegetable garden.

Dusty Hoecker supervises Dub Hankins as he trenches for water lines outside the Hozho Wellness Center. Photo: Mike Patterson

“I think this is wonderful,” said volunteer Tom Lee, a retired district attorney and judge and member of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Bandera, Texas. “I hope it’s a blessing to the Navajo. We’re trying to give them a place of peace and joy.”

The Hozho Wellness Center and All Saints Church are part of the Episcopal Church in Navajoland, the only area mission in the church. As such, it functions like a diocese with its own bishop but is under the oversight of the presiding bishop and House of Bishops. It was formed in 1977 by the House of Bishops from portions of the Dioceses of Arizona and Utah. In 1979, the General Convention added a part of the Diocese of the Rio Grande.

The area mission overlays the Navajo Reservation, home to about 125,000- 150,000 Navajos, of whom about 1,000 are Episcopalians. At one time, as many as 5,000 Episcopalians lived there. All Saints, with the Rev. Michael Sells as its priest-in -charge, is one of nine Episcopal churches in the region.

The Navajos call themselves The Diné – The People – and are one of the largest American Indian tribes in the United States. Their culture is centered on a divine creator, and their tradition of worship rooted in the earth.

The Navajos are famous as Code Talkers who, in their native tongue, passed secret messages among U.S. forces fighting the Japanese. The Japanese never cracked their language, which helped lead to their defeat in World War II.

The genesis of the Diocese of West Texas’s relationship with Navajoland began when Navajoland Bishop David Bailey contacted West Texas Bishop David Reed about forming a partnership between the two entities.

Bailey visited the headquarters of the West Texas diocese in San Antonio in December 2017 and spent nearly a day talking about the Navajos and the priorities.

“He told us about his background, about the needs, about the challenges of working in Navajoland, the challenges of the people,” said Marthe Curry, director of World Mission Development for the diocese and leader of the spring trip. “When he came, he said that we don’t want your money, we want your partnership.”

Bailey returned to West Texas in February 2018 to speak at the annual Diocesan Council.

Since then, several teams from the diocese have visited Navajoland to listen and explore their needs.

A struggle across generations

The most traumatic experience for the Navajo occurred on the Long Walk in 1864 when the U.S. Army forcibly removed the Navajo from their homeland in Canyon de Chelly and marched them across New Mexico during a brutal winter to Bosque Redondo at Fort Sumner. Their possessions were taken, farmlands destroyed and livestock killed. They were not allowed to return to their homeland until 1868.

The Navajo continued to suffer other abuses under the government, such as their children being taken, placed in boarding schools and punished for speaking their language and practicing their culture.

The area, which encompasses parts of three states – New Mexico, Utah and Arizona – has four casinos yet only three hospitals.

The unemployment rate is 47 percent, a staggering 90 percent in the most remote and isolated pockets on the Navajo Reservation. A third of the people have no running water and haul water to their homes in barrels on the beds of pickup trucks. Electricity is equally scarce.

Nearly a third of the people live in extreme poverty. There are also high rates of alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic abuse and diabetes and other health issues. Suicide rates are high, especially among young people.

Church leaders are also sensitive about how to blend Anglican traditions in culturally appropriate manners that also honor the Navajo faith traditions.

“The Navajos had a connection with God, they had a connection with the spirit, they had a connection with the land,” said Jeanne Loggie of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit in San Antonio who was a member of the first delegation to visit Navajoland in 2018. “It was in the plants, it was in the rocks, it was in the wind, it was in the rain. It was in every element. Then the white man came in and we cast that aside. We told them what they should believe and how they connect.”

The Navajo beliefs and Episcopal beliefs are “different faiths,” said the Rev. Cornelia Eaton, one of five representatives from The Episcopal Church to attend the 2019 United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

“I can blend the two faiths together,” she explained while standing on the doorsteps of All Saints. She was raised an Episcopalian at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in nearby Upper Fruitland. “It’s a good mix. It’s a good challenge – how God can work in different ways. We can be a church that is very unique.”

Sells, an economics major at Arizona State University and newly ordained, decided to enter the ministry after trying law school a year and finding that wasn’t the career he wanted. With the encouragement of Bailey, he attended the Church Divinity School of the Pacific seminary and was placed at All Saints last fall.

“My dream is that my little church will be self-sustaining and eventually do outreach,” said Sells, himself a Navajo. Like Sells, most members of All Saints and other Episcopal churches here were raised as Episcopalians rather than joining the denomination later.

Sells sometimes blends the Anglican and Navajo cultures together in a service, such as incorporating Navajo prayers, eagle feathers and cedar blessings. To acknowledge their traditions, Sells invites his congregation to gather in the sanctuary of All Saints Church to sing Navajo songs and traditional hymns in their native language.

Hope for the future

This late spring day, as the last long rays of the sun settled across the flat-topped mesas of the Navajo Reservation, the West Texas volunteers joined with a half-dozen Navajos from All Saints in lifting their voices together in singing the famous hymn of redemption, “Amazing Grace,” but only after the visitors were given a brief lesson in pronunciations.

Marthe Curry sands staircase before painting at the Hozho Wellness Center. Photo: Mike Patterson

“Our teams are very impressed and interested and learning about their religion,” said Curry, the West Texas world mission director. “We’re trying to see overlaps. They have been fascinated with the Navajo liturgy. Our teams have been interested in their perspective about God,” especially respect for the creator.

“I see it as another way to seek spirituality, another way to seek connections to God,” Loggie, the San Antonio volunteer, said in an interview. “That’s what we’re all doing, that’s what we’re all struggling with, where is my part in respecting and honoring God?”

One effort to help the Navajo become more self-sufficient is the Shimá of Navajoland, a market for hand-crafted soaps, honey and blue corn meal.

Curry has been asked to help create a master plan for the area. One of her main areas of focus is St. Christopher’s Episcopal Mission in Bluff, Utah, whose 8-acre campus and multiple buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It also provides a community garden and free water well for nearby residents.

“It’s like a ghost town,” she said. “There are lots of buildings, but most of them need restoration and repairs. Some of them are falling apart.”

The Diocese of West Texas has tasked Rob Watson, director of camps and conferences at the diocese, to get involved at St. Christopher’s and help plan a way to transform it into a retreat center.

“He was beside himself with all the potential. It’s gorgeous out here,” Curry said.

Working with the Rev. Kay Rohde, a former National Parks ranger who now is priest-in-charge at St. Christopher’s, a list of needs was drawn up for every building and input obtained about what the Navajo would like to see happen here.

An hour away, at St. Mary’s of the Moonlight Episcopal Church near Monument Valley, Bailey has a vision of developing accommodations, such as a hostel or hotel, to serve the bustling tourist industry in the area

The goal is to “tie everything into the master plan rather than everybody having their own little project,” Curry said.

The volunteers who have visited Navajoland on numerous work and listening trips over the past year return home deeply touched by their experience on the arid landscape and with the Navajo.

“I developed a huge interest in the people and the land,” Loggie said. “The land is holy. That was so profound to me, I just felt drawn in. You can feel it in the wind, you can feel it in the earth. It’s a presence, it’s almost a presence you can’t see. But I felt it in everything. I cried a lot when I was there. It was a very spiritual experience, very emotional.”

–Mike Patterson a freelance writer and photographer, is a member of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Blanco.  He is a frequent contributor to The Church News and the Episcopal News Service.

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Episcopal Church in Vermont elects Shannon MacVean-Brown as 11th bishop

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 11:18am

[Episcopal Church in Vermont] The Episcopal Church in Vermont has announced the election of the Rev. Shannon MacVean-Brown, interim rector at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Franklin, Indiana, as its 11th bishop diocesan.

MacVean-Brown was elected on the first ballot of the Special Electing Convention held May 18 in Burlington, receiving 41 votes in the clergy order and 69 votes in the lay order. A minimum of 31 clergy votes and 58 lay votes were necessary for election on that ballot.

The other nominees were:

• The Rev. Hillary D. Raining, rector, St. Christopher’s Church, Gladwyne, Pennsylvania.
• The Very Rev. Hilary B. Smith, rector, Holy Comforter, Richmond, Virginia.

Shannon MacVean-Brown

“I am thrilled to welcome the Rev. Dr. Shannon MacVean-Brown as bishop-elect,” the Rev. Rick Swanson, president of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Church in Vermont, said. “Her gifts and skills for ministry will not only lead the Episcopal Church of Vermont into the future, but her role in the wider Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion will be a voice of hope and promise for all of God’s people throughout the world.”

Commenting on the election, MacVean-Brown said, “I’m excited that the people of the Episcopal Church in Vermont are so willing to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit and try something courageous. I am looking forward to forging relationships, participating in ministry, and joining in the work of the church in the brave little state of Vermont.”

This historic election marks the first time an African American has been elected as bishop of the Episcopal Church in Vermont. Additionally, MacVean-Brown will be one of only three African American women to hold the title of bishop in any of the seven dioceses that make up the Episcopal Church in New England, also known as Province I of The Episcopal Church. The first was the Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris, who served as a bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Massachusetts from 1989 to 2003 and the Rt. Rev. Gayle Harris, who is presently serving as bishop suffragan in that diocese.

MacVean-Brown holds a Master of Divinity degree from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Ecumenical Theological Seminary. She was ordained deacon in 2004 and priest in 2005 in the Diocese of Michigan. MacVean-Brown and her husband, Phil, have been married for 26 years. Together they have three daughters. MacVean-Brown resides in Indiana but will be relocating to Vermont.

Pending the consent of a majority of Episcopal bishops with jurisdiction and a majority of the diocesan standing committees, MacVean-Brown will be ordained and consecrated on Sept. 28 at Ira Allen Chapel in Burlington. The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, will serve as the chief consecrator.

MacVean-Brown will succeed the Rt. Rev. Thomas C. Ely, who has served as bishop since 2001 and will retire in October.

The Episcopal Church in Vermont encompasses 45 congregations across the Green Mountain State.

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Kym Lucas consecrated as 11th bishop of Episcopal Church in Colorado

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 11:06am

Kym Lucas was consecrated May 18 as bishop of the Episcopal Church in Colorado. Photo: Episcopal Church in Colorado

[Episcopal Church in Colorado] The Rev. Kimberly (Kym) Lucas was ordained and consecrated as the 11th bishop of the Episcopal Church in Colorado on May 18 at Saint John’s Cathedral in Denver. Lucas became the first woman bishop as well as the first African American bishop in the diocese’s 132-year history.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry led the service as chief consecrator. The Very Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, New York City, and canon theologian at Washington National Cathedral in Washington, was the preacher. Following the service, a celebratory reception was held on the lawn at Saint John’s Cathedral.

On May 19, the newly consecrated bishop was formally welcomed and seated at Saint John’s Cathedral at the 10:30 a.m. service. Her seating in the cathedra, or bishop’s chair, is symbolic of the bishop’s office.

Lucas was chosen as the bishop during its 131st Annual Convention on Oct. 27. Lucas has served as rector of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Washington since January 2012. Previously, she was rector of St. Ambrose Episcopal Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, from 2005 to 2011.

Lucas grew up in Spring Lake, North Carolina, and received her Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Wake Forest University. She received her Master of Divinity, New Testament, at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Lucas and her husband, Mark Retherford, have four children.

Lucas succeeded the Rt. Rev. Robert O’Neill, who had served for 15 years. The Episcopal Church in Colorado was established in 1887 and has approximately 30,000 members across 96 parishes and missions in Colorado.

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Archbishop Ian Ernest of Mauritius appointed director of Anglican Centre in Rome

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 3:24pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop Ian Ernest, the bishop of Mauritius and former Primate of the Anglican Church of the Indian Ocean, is to become the archbishop of Canterbury’s next personal representative to the Holy See and director of the Anglican Centre in Rome. He will take up his new role towards the end of the year following an official visit to Mauritius by Pope France in September.

Read the full article here.

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Bishop of Lincoln suspended after information received by Archbishop of Canterbury

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 3:22pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop of Lincoln Christopher Lowson has been suspended from office, following information passed to Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby by police.

Welby stressed in a written statement that “there has been no allegation that Bishop Christopher has committed abuse of a child or vulnerable adult.” But Welby said that if the information provided to him was proven, “I consider that the bishop would present a significant risk of harm by not adequately safeguarding children and vulnerable people.”

Read the full article here.

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Presiding Bishop joins panel in Massachusetts on Episcopal Church’s ‘big tent’

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 3:17pm

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, retired Massachusetts Bishop Suffragan Barbara C. Harris and House of Deputies Vice President Byron Rushing receive a standing ovation following the April 28 panel discussion at Grace Church in New Bedford. Photo: Bridget K. Wood/Diocese of Massachusetts

[Diocese of Massachusetts] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry joined retired Massachusetts Bishop Suffragan Barbara C. Harris and House of Deputies Vice President Byron Rushing on April 28 at Grace Church in New Bedford, Massachusetts, for a candid panel conversation about racism and about who is on the inside, who is on the outside and who is still on the margins of the church and society.

The program, “Our Episcopal ‘Big Tent’: How Big is It?” was the culminating public event of Curry’s April 26-29 visit in the Diocese of Massachusetts that included preaching at a “Way of Love” rally on Boston Common and gatherings with numerous ministries, groups and congregations from the Merrimack Valley to Cape Cod.

“I think the reality is we are not as big a tent as we sometimes think. We’re not as small as we once were,” Curry said, in terms of inclusion, “and I suspect that the tension is that we are somewhere between who we actually are, which is a mix. It is a mix. …

“You think the tent is bigger when you’re at the center, but when you’re on the edge, it’s not that big because it doesn’t feel like there’s room for you,” Curry said, adding, “I’ve gotta tell you, it’s work to be a minority in the majority culture, whether that’s racial, or whether that’s gender, or that’s orientation, or whether that’s political.”

Rushing, who is serving a third term as vice president of the House of Deputies and is a former Massachusetts state representative, said it is essential to understand that the call to be a church for everyone is a countercultural idea, given that most Americans still live in segregated communities.

He described growing up in a Bronx, New York, neighborhood where the majority non-black population was Jewish. “And so when I looked around when I was growing up, I thought all Christians were black and all white people were Jewish,” he said.

“The biggest problem of any kind of openness to everybody is that we expect people to arrive some place. And so the people who are in the middle of that place are the most comfortable in that place,” Rushing said. “Sometimes you can be on the edge but you have made a middle for yourself, which is what black people have done in the Episcopal Church. And sometimes even then there is no place where certain people can have a middle.”

Harris, who this year marked the 30th anniversary of her consecration as the first female bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion, said she is “not as sure the tent is as big as we proclaim it to be, or we may have inadvertently closed some of the flaps by which people can meaningfully come in,” she said. “I think for this really to be a big tent we have to more fully live into the words: Come in under the broad umbrella of faith. Period.”

All three shared personal stories of answering a call to act for justice when there was personal or professional risk involved, and all three pointed to Jesus in their closing words of challenge and encouragement for these divided and partisan times.

Harris said she wouldn’t deal in words of woe, but left the audience with this advice: “My mother used to say to me, growing up, ‘Pray to God and ask people.’ So that’s my word of weal,” Harris said. “Pray to God and ask people, and some right will come out of it.”

“I’m with Barbara in this,” Rushing said. “I think most of us in this room could give the woe list real fast. I am convinced that the authority is Jesus. And I am more and more convinced that he is with us for this one reason:  To have us understand that we are all human beings and have to love each other. That there is no love if we can figure out ways of having some list of people that we don’t have to love.”

“Amen and amen to them,” Curry replied. He recalled the previous day’s meeting with young adults in their 20s and 30s. “The only word I can think of to describe it, it was holy,” he said. “They were asking about how do you run the race and keep running, because it’s hard, and opposition within and without is real. And it’s like you say, Byron, you’ve got to keep looking at Jesus.”

“Keep eyes on him, because Palm Sunday is real and everybody’s happy,” Curry said. “And Good Friday is real, and ain’t nobody happy. But Easter’s always coming.”

Video of the full “Our Episcopal ‘Big Tent’: How Big Is It?” program and video of the “Way of Love” rally on Boston Common, are available here.

–Tracy J. Sukraw is director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

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Anglican college in Pakistan wins legal battle for independence from political interference

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 3:58pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A Pakistan court has ruled in favor of the Church of Pakistan’s attempt to retain independence for an Anglican college in Peshawar, after the moderator of the church took legal action to defend it against a government take over.

Interference in Edwardes College from the governor of Peshawar over the past few months had forced Bishop of Peshawar Humphrey Peters to defend its independence and its governance and budgets from being revised. The court ruling this week blocked the local government’s attempts to interfere in college affairs.

Read the full article here.

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Episcopal grants to help Florida churches, communities still struggling after Hurricane Michael

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 3:26pm

Part of the roof at Holy Nativity Episcopal Church in Panama City, Florida, is covered in blue tarp Jan. 12 after being damaged in Hurricane Michael. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopal congregations in Florida’s Panhandle were approved recently for nearly a half-million dollars in aid from the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast and Episcopal Relief & Development to repair their churches and to serve their communities, which are still recovering from Hurricane Michael seven months ago.

The diocese is preparing to distribute a little more than $200,000 to cover repairs and insurance deductibles for eight churches in the region – including one, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Marianna, that just recently got clearance to return to its sanctuary. Because of structural damage, St. Luke’s has been worshipping in its parish hall since the hurricane, diocesan disaster relief coordinator Chris Heaney told Episcopal News Service.

Episcopal Relief & Development approved a $250,000 grant that will be distributed among nine congregations that have ongoing or new ministries serving individuals and organizations as they work to bounce back from the devastation caused by Hurricane Michael.

Central Gulf Coast Bishop Russell Kendrick, in an email to the diocese, also urged Episcopalians to join The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations in advocating for Congress to pass a long-stalled disaster relief bill.

“This is a concrete way that each of us can be an advocate for our friends living in the wake of Hurricane Michael (as well as many other disasters),” Kendrick said. “This is a way we can do our part to turn up the volume of love and justice.”

Hurricane Michael made landfall Oct. 10 at Mexico Beach with an estimated wind speed of 155 mph. Some residents of Florida’s Panhandle lost everything or nearly everything – trees gone, homes damaged or destroyed, businesses darkened, schools closed, jobs up in the air and the uncertainty of how to press on.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Steve Bates listen to Episcopalians share their stories of Hurricane Michael at a listening session Jan. 12 at Bates’ Holy Nativity Episcopal Church in Panama City. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

When Presiding Bishop Michael Curry visited the region in January, he was welcomed by Episcopalians clinging to hope amid the slow progress toward recovery. Roofs were still patched with blue tarps. Piles of debris dotted the roadsides. Holy Nativity Episcopal School in Panama City was a construction zone, and students attended lessons in makeshift classrooms set up at nearby Holy Nativity Episcopal Church.

Curry, speaking to a packed crowd at the church, said he was inspired by residents’ perseverance.

“To hear what you have done and are doing, therein is hope and grace and the power of love,” Curry said.

Cynthia Fuller, dean of students at Holy Nativity Episcopal School, was among those who heard Curry speak that day, and since then, she has taken a leadership role in a volunteer group called Michael’s Angels, which advocates on behalf of hurricane victims and their communities. It started when someone posted a call to action on Facebook, Fuller said in an interview with ENS, and that call brought about 75 women to an inaugural meeting in February.

“We were trying to figure out what can we do to help our community,” Fuller said. She was one of six women who stayed after the meeting to plot next steps.

The volunteer women’s group Michael’s Angels leads a rally in April in front of the Florida state Capitol in Tallahassee to advocate for federal disaster aid. Credit: Michael’s Angels

She now heads the education subcommittee of Michael’s Angels, with much of her work aimed at helping the large number of students in Bay County schools who are effectively homeless because of the hurricane. Other subcommittees were assigned health care, government relations, development and communications.

Michael’s Angels organized a rally in front of the state Capitol in Tallahassee in April to draw attention to recovery efforts and to put pressure on the federal government to provide disaster money. Fuller said Panhandle residents are frustrated that more than 200 days have passed since their communities were upended by Hurricane Michael, and Congress still has not approved additional aid.

This week, congressional negotiators said they were close to a deal on a $17 billion package of aid for disaster areas in several states, as well as Puerto Rico, the Washington Post reported. A Senate vote could come next week to end a months-long impasse over the funding.

UPDATED ALERT: Disaster Relief Funding! Take action again! Urge your Senators to pass a clean disaster and humanitarian assistance bill! Link: https://t.co/oZzoGrHrJE#EpiscopalAdvocacy pic.twitter.com/fq23UGNScU

— The EPPN (@TheEPPN) May 14, 2019

The Office of Government Relations issued an action alert on May 14 to its Episcopal Public Policy Network, or EPPN, urging members to contact their senators and voice support for the legislation. EPPN noted that one of the stumbling blocks has been the Trump administration’s attempts to add border security funding to the bill.

“Mixing emergency and disaster relief with the Administration’s border policy threatens the ability of our government to respond to the immediate needs of people who are suffering,” the action alert says. “Our nation is long overdue for a serious and thorough reform of our immigration system and policies, but this should not be done while disaster relief is needed.”

Until federal aid arrives, Central Gulf Coast congregations are extending a helping hand in a variety of ways, now with financial backing from the diocese’s newly approved grant from Episcopal Relief & Development.

In Apalachicola, for example, Trinity Episcopal Church was not damaged by Hurricane Michael, but some of its neighbors were hit hard by the storm, Heaney said. Since then, Trinity has offered a day care ministry to assist families with children who aren’t in school and need care while their parents are at work.

A variety of other ministries also will receive part of the grant money, including food pantries in communities struggling after the hurricane. Those ministries existed before the storm but are in greater demand now, Heaney said. The same goes for Suppers at Grace, a continuing ministry at Grace Episcopal Church in Panama City Beach that has grown to serve storm victims.

Hurricane Michael was “like nothing we’ve ever seen over here, and I hope we never see it again,” Fuller said, and she described the recovery as far from complete. “You can drive down every street and block and see houses that are still sitting there either with a tarp on or half caved in.”

She, her husband and their 12-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter rode out the hurricane while huddled in their home in Callaway, a Panama City suburb, and they feel fortunate for surviving. A tree crashed through the window of their son’s bedroom soon after the family had fled the room to retreat into a bathroom.

Though their house sustained little additional damage, some neighbors’ homes are a total loss. Fuller said local pride has helped the community pull through such turmoil, and she also credits her faith.

“Every day, every single day, I pray for strength and courage and wisdom, and then patience,” she said. “It’s definitely strengthened my faith a lot. It had to. I don’t see any other way I would have been able to get through this.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

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Death row inmates’ first-person stories featured in prison ministry’s tour of Episcopal churches

Wed, 05/15/2019 - 2:59pm

“On the Row” is a production of Prison Story Project featuring six actors reading the words of death row inmates in Arkansas. Photo: Kathy McGregor

[Episcopal News Service] An Arkansas Episcopal congregation’s prison storytelling ministry will embark next month on a brief tour, visiting Episcopal churches from Missouri to Texas to stage dramatic readings of death row inmates’ first-person stories.

Prison Story Project, founded by Kathy McGregor at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, spent the summer of 2016 helping 11 inmates write about their lives and the experience of awaiting execution at the Varner Supermax prison in Grady. The inmates’ stories are collected in “On the Row,” a script for six actors. The script’s incarcerated authors also formed the audience for its first performance on Oct. 8, 2016.

Six months later, two of the 11 contributors to “On the Row” were executed by the state of Arkansas.

The executions drew national attention as part of the state’s rush to carry out eight executions in April 2017 before Arkansas’ stock of lethal injection drugs was to expire. Four of the eight men were put to death, while the other four executions were postponed amid vocal opposition from anti-death penalty activists, including Arkansas Episcopalians. The Episcopal Church has long taken a public stance against the death penalty.

Although the executions are referenced at the beginning of “On the Row,” McGregor told Episcopal News Service that the inmates’ words are presented mostly as they were written, before anyone knew of the state’s plans for expedited executions. The script is structured to build a compelling narrative arch, and the stories avoid any overt arguments in favor of abolishing the death penalty.

“We’re not political about that. We just let the words of the inmates speak for themselves,” McGregor said, yet the project seeks to show the humanity behind those words in ways that may surprise listeners. “The audiences should come prepared to feel changed at the end of it.”

The Episcopal Church’s opposition to capital punishment is well-established, dating back more than 60 years. General Convention has passed numerous resolutions on the issue. A resolution adopted last year calls for all death row inmates’ sentences to be reduced, orders letters to that effect be sent to all governors of states where the death penalty is legal and enlists bishops in those states to take up greater advocacy.

The Prison Story Project makes clear that readings of “On the Row” are presented in the context of The Episcopal Church’s ongoing advocacy. It is promoting the upcoming tour as “a call to action … for parishes and dioceses to explore and understand the reasons for our opposition; the inequity as applied to minorities, the poor and those who cannot afford adequate legal representation; the contribution to continued violence, and the violation of our Baptismal Covenant.”

The number of executions nationwide has dropped steadily since 1999, from a high of 98 that year to 20 in 2016, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Arkansas is one of 30 states with the death penalty, including all of the states on the Prison Story Project’s four-city tour – Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

The June performances were “the easiest bookings I ever had to do,” McGregor said. The host churches didn’t hesitate to open their doors for readings of “On the Row”:

  • St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Kansas City, Missouri, on June 13.
  • James’ Episcopal Church, Wichita, Kansas, on June 14
  • Christ Church Episcopal, Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 15
  • Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, Dallas, Texas, on June 16

St. Paul’s  has been active in a range of social justice ministries in Kansas City that emphasize giving voice to the voiceless in society, the Rev. Stan Runnells said in an interview with ENS, so it seemed natural to host a performance of “On the Row” in the church’s parish hall.

“We believe very strongly in the power of the narrative and the power of the voice of the marginalized to tell their stories better than anybody else,” said Runnells, who is rector at St. Paul’s.

Runnells spent four years in the late 1980s as a volunteer chaplain to death row inmates in Mississippi. He had just recently been ordained as a priest, and he experienced a “deep monasticism” on death row that had a profound effect on his own spiritual growth.

“I found death row inmates to be remarkably honest about some of the deep questions of life and faith and spirituality,” he said. “Because there’s nothing like knowing the day you’re going to die, or the day the state wants to kill you, to grapple with the deep questions of life.”

When McGregor founded Prison Story Project in 2012, her initial focus was on holding writing workshops at a correctional center for women in northwest Arkansas. A second class of inmates in 2013 produced stories that were compiled in a script titled “Stories From the Inside Out,” with performances in the prison and out in the community.

From the start, the hope was that writing would allow the inmates to face the truth of their lives and find redemption, McGregor said. The “outside” performances of the inmates’ words achieved a second goal of giving the public a sense for the real lives of those locked away out of sight.

After several subsequent classes, McGregor and her team turned their focus to death row. They reached out to officials at Varner in 2015, and after months of conversations, they receive permission to begin working with death row inmates in May 2016.

“We were a little nervous, but it didn’t take long for us to settle in,” McGregor said.

Out of 34 inmates on death row at the time, 11 volunteered and were selected for the project. McGregor and the project’s creative writing director met with the inmates once a month and followed up by email, giving them prompts to begin their writing and coaching them on techniques. Write from the heart, McGregor told them.

The written compositions were then shared with the project’s theater director, Troy Schremmer, who suggested additional prompts to elicit more detail from the inmates. When Schremmer had enough material, he compiled the inmates’ writings into the narrative that became “On the Row.”

Six actors visited Varner for their first staged reading in front of the inmates, who were separated in individual cages because they were not allowed direct contact with each other, McGregor said.

The first public performances were held at the end of October 2016 at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Additional performances were scheduled in 2017, but McGregor and her team didn’t learn until February that the state planned to execute eight prisoners in 10 days at the end of April.

Four of the “On the Row” writers were among those scheduled for execution. Jack Jones, sentenced for the 1995 rape and strangulation of a 34-year-old woman, was executed on April 24. Kenneth Williams was executed April 27 after killing a university cheerleader in 1998 and then killing another person after escaping from prison in 1999. Last-minute stays of execution were granted for the other two inmates who had worked with McGregor’s team.

The “On the Row” tour in June is backed by several grants, including from the Episcopal Evangelism Society. A second tour is planned for October around Arkansas. In addition, Prison Story Project will record one of the performances for a video that will allow McGregor to hold screenings and question-and-answer sessions without requiring actors and directors to join her each time.

After getting to know the inmates personally, McGregor said she is committed to sharing their stories to all who will listen, “until they abolish the death penalty in every state.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

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Colorado Episcopalians, interfaith social justice advocates hold ‘Faithful Tuesdays’ at state capitol

Tue, 05/14/2019 - 2:55pm

Beginning Feb. 5 and continuing throughout the Colorado General Assembly’s first 2019 regular session, an interfaith coalition Faithful Tuesdays’ events at the capitol in Denver focused on specific legislation and on forwarding a shared narrative of justice, love, healing, reconciliation and care for others. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Denver, Colorado] A coalition of interfaith leaders and their allies regularly brought a social justice message to the Colorado General Assembly’s first 2019 regular session. The effort was formed from long-standing relationships rooted in multiple faith traditions, all recognizing a common humanity, shared values and a desire to change the public narrative.

“About a year and a half ago we started talking about what it would look like, what kinds of issues we could really come together on, and the power that we might have if we joined forces and called on both the people in our congregations, as well as our legislators — who are our leaders — to lead out of values grounded in our shared humanity and human dignity,” said the Rev. Amanda Henderson, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado.

Over the last two years of anti-immigrant sentiment, increased incidences of racism and racial violence, and the proliferation of shootings in schools and houses of worship, the effort, coalition members agreed, has taken on greater urgency. Hence, Faithful Tuesdays.

“I feel like we have this real challenge to the soul of who we are, and there are so many powers that are seeking to divide us. There are real acts of violence happening in our faith communities and around our country at large that are grounded in hate and dehumanizing people,” said Henderson, who is a Disciples of Christ ordained minister. “We have a different story to tell and we see that the time is urgent to tell a different story and to live a different story together.”

Interested in getting involved in advocacy? The Episcopal Public Policy Network is a grassroots network of Episcopalians across the country dedicated to carrying out the Baptismal Covenant call to “strive for justice and peace” through the active ministry of public policy advocacy. Click here to learn more and join.

The diverse coalition of interfaith leaders, organizations and community members who committed themselves to add a deeper, moral dimension to the public policymaking process in Colorado met weekly for Faithful Tuesdays. Their focus: “To advance a faith narrative and collaborative process that supports a just economy, promotes equity, and eradicates racism in Colorado.”

Beginning on the first Tuesday in February and continuing every Tuesday throughout the first 2019 legislative session, which ended May 3, the coalition held events at the capitol focused on specific legislation and on forwarding a shared narrative of justice, love, healing, reconciliation and care for others.

“The coalition formed specifically [because] for The Episcopal Church and the Interfaith Alliance, it’s a way for us to reclaim a faith voice in public life that is not a regressive, far-right faith voice, which is the only faith voice that has existed in a substantive way in many places for decades,” said Anthony Suggs, director of advocacy and social justice for The Episcopal Church in Colorado.

“For The Episcopal Church, this coincides pretty well with the reclaiming Jesus movement,” he said. “For us how do we stop being, ‘we’re Christians, but we’re not that,’ ‘we’re Christians, but we’re not this’ ‘we’re people of faith, but we’re not that.’ How do we say, ‘we’re people of faith and this is what we care about because this is what Jesus cares about?’”

The “Reclaiming Jesus: A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis,” initiative launched in March 2018 to “reclaim Jesus” from those believed to be using Christian theology for political gain. From its inception, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has been onboard.

“For me it’s important to get people involved in this work because I don’t see a division between this and ministry; this is ministry,” said Suggs. “I don’t see a division between what we do in our churches and what we do at the capitol, and so both of them are ways to live our calling as servants for justice and followers of Jesus.”

Laura Peniche of Together Colorado testified April 30 in celebration of progress made on immigration, including the expansion of driver’s license program for undocumented immigrants. Sixty to 70% of deportations in Colorado begin with a traffic stop. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

On April 30, the last Tuesday of the legislative session, some 60 coalition members gathered one last time for a closing celebration and lament in the capitol’s south foyer. They celebrated the expansion of an existing bipartisan program that grants driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, a program widely support by the state’s dairy farmers; and they lamented setbacks to a proposed family leave program, which was relegated to a feasibility study. They also lamented a bill that would have allowed cities to set their own minimum wage.

“The laments that we talked about today were family leave; it’s something 9to5 working women have been the lead on [for the last five years] … and it was supposed to be a priority in the majority party this year and we couldn’t get it over the finish line. It’s like an example of what we would see as modest pro-family legislation, but we have a long ways to go on that,” said Mike Kromrey, executive director of Together Colorado, a faith-based nonprofit that has worked alongside community leaders to uplift children and protect human dignity since 1978 .

“And right now, we still have not secured another bill to allow cities to do a higher minimum wage; that got laid over today ’till tomorrow. We thought that was a relatively simple bill to allow localities to make their own decision, it doesn’t force anyone to ever do anything,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do, especially around economic issues. We’re very, very much a purple state; you know those kinds of issues are harder to forward either at the ballot box or the legislature or even in cities, but there are hopeful signs I would say.”

The House-initiated local wage option later passed the Senate with amendments. Interest groups spent the most money on the Family Leave Act, with more than 200 lobbyists tracking the bill.

“The family act has sort of been gutted at this point. It was one of Gov. [Jared] Polis‘ primary focuses but the Democrats only hold the Senate by two seats and the fact that they hold it by only two seats has shined a pretty bright light on the moderate to conservative Democrats that are in that chamber, so folks from the business community, whatever that means, have been opposed to it,” said Suggs.

The act would have covered more than maternity and paternity leave; it would have allowed employees to take paid time off to care for family members suffering an illness or recovering from abuse. “For employees it would add up to about $100 a year in taxes,” he said. But ultimately, “employers didn’t want to pay for it.”

Some businesses were on board, like Illegal Pete’s, a popular restaurant chain that started in Boulder in 1995; and, theoretically, family leave could still take effect in 2022, said Suggs.

Rabbi Eliot Baskin of Temple Emanuel in Denver issued a call to action April 30 on bills to address local minimum wage options and protecting immigrants from federal overreach. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Coalition members, including the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, the Colorado Catholic Conference, the Colorado Council of Churches, the Rocky Mountain Rabbinical Council, The Episcopal Church in Colorado, Colorado Sikhs, the Evangelical Lutheran Church’s Rocky Mountain Synod, Together Colorado and others, took turns hosting the Tuesday events. Some of the topics and specific legislation addressed included criminal justice, the death penalty, immigration, homelessness financial and racial equity and economic justice.

“The Colorado Council of Churches has been involved with several of the groups involved here and we all have been doing work separately on advocating for social justice,” said Adrian Miller, the council’s executive director and a member of Campbell Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church. “Toward the end of 2018, we all came together and said this might be a really cool thing to do and what we had in mind was Moral Mondays in North Carolina and were just wondering; can we replicate that here in Colorado.”

The coalition wanted to show a more progressive Christian-interfaith voice in Colorado, which typically polls as one of the least religious states in the country, though believers are majority evangelical Christian.

“This is important especially in the Christian faith tradition, if you look at the Bible; I mean most of it is about social justice, and we are called in this time to be prophetic witnesses for social justice,” said Miller. “And I think it’s important that the progressive aspect of the church have a more public witness because I think when people hear Christianity these days they think immediately of the very conservative segment of Christianity.”

Interested in learning more about the Episcopal Service Corps? Click here.

A Durham, North Carolina, native raised Free Will Baptist, Suggs studied history at New York University, where he happened upon Grace Episcopal Church at the corner of 10th and Broadway in Manhattan.

“I walked into the college service at the college parish with the college priest and was hooked from there,” he said. He later worked summer camps for the Diocese of Long Island and halfway through senior year became the camp and retreat coordinator at Camp DeWolfe. In September 2017, he joined the Colorado Episcopal Service Corps volunteering at the diocese in what is now his permanent role as director of advocacy and social justice.

“NYU’s history department is very good at teaching its students to think critically about why history has been written a certain way, who wrote it, why they wrote it, what was left out on purpose, what was put in on purpose, and how do we look at the ways history affects current structures,” said Suggs. “So that’s mostly how I approach my work now: What has led to this moment? What are the pieces that have led to this and what are the pieces that we are completely forgetting?”

Though the legislative session has ended, the leg work at the local level, the coalition and relationship building continue year-round.

“All of this work happens in relationship, none of it happens while just filling out paperwork and giving testimony,” Suggs said. “We have relationships with legislators, we have relationships with community organizers and with each other, so all of the big wins that we have legislatively have come through relationship and I think that’s a big lesson for people who want to get involved but think that they have to do it all on their own.”

-Lynette Wilson is a reporter and managing editor of the Episcopal News Service. She can be reached at lwilson@episcopalchurch.org.

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Diocese of Egypt teams with British university to open archive research center

Mon, 05/13/2019 - 4:18pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A new research center has been opened in Cairo as part of a newly renovated archive facility for the Episcopal Diocese of Egypt. The new Cairo Research Centre has been created by the Diocese of Egypt, in collaboration with the U.K.’s University of Leicester.

British Ambassador to Egypt Geoffrey Adams attended the opening ceremony May 9 alongside Bishop of Egypt Mouneer Anis and James Moore of the University of Leicester and Richard Gauvain from the British University in Cairo.

Read the full article here.

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Recent Anglican Consultative Council meeting mapped out work in mission, governance, ecumenism

Mon, 05/13/2019 - 4:13pm

Anglican Consultative Council members raise their hands May 4 in a rare actual vote on a measure. Most resolutions were passed by “general consent” or “general assent,” rather than by a show of hands. Photo: Neil Vigers/Anglican Communion News Service

[Episcopal News Service] During long days of reports and discussions, often at a rushed pace, the 99 members of the Anglican Consultative Council who met in Hong Kong for its 17th meeting set the Anglican Communion’s mission and ministry agenda for the coming years.

Amid concerns about process and unity, the ACC spent April 28-May 5 considering work in three categories: the Five Marks of Mission; issues of unity, faith and order; and governance. In the end they passed 24 resolutions.

The members also made “public statements” about the Easter Day terror attacks in Sri Lanka; the disasters left in the wake of Cyclones Idai and Kenneth in eastern Africa; and about on-going peace and reconciliation efforts in South Sudan, Pakistan and India, and the Korean peninsula.

Episcopal Church Anglican Consultative Council members (from left) the Rev. Michael Barlowe, Rosalie Ballentine and Oklahoma Bishop Edward J. Konieczny pose May 4 for a formal portrait with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, center. Photo: Neil Vigers/Anglican Communion News Service

The ACC on May 4 stumbled over how to word a resolution calling for the communion’s Standing Committee to gather information about the provinces’ efforts to listen to people “who have been marginalized due to their human sexuality.” The original version of the resolution, proposed by Oklahoma Bishop Ed Konieczny, contained a preamble reaffirming “the respect and dignity of persons as Children of God who have been marginalized due to their human sexuality” and stated that “they should be fully included in the life of the Anglican Communion.”

That language went too far for some. After more than two hours of frank debate and intense negotiations the result was a completely rewritten resolution which “noted with concern” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s 2020 Lambeth Conference decision about bishops who are in same-sex relationships and requesting him to renew the communion’s 21-year-old promise to listen to the experiences of LGBTQ people. Concerns have been raised in the communion both about Welby’s refusal to invite the same-sex spouses of bishops and his decision to invite those bishops themselves. The latter is departure from the previous Lambeth Conference.

“It is easy to let one disagreement dominate but, the reality is we only care enough to disagree because Jesus has made us one,” Welby said during his closing address later that same day.

“There are all kinds of things that we’ve gotten wrong this week – plenty that I’ve gotten wrong – but here we are at the end of the week and under the grace of God we are called to go out now and change the world, to go on changing the world, in the power of Jesus Christ, carrying out the mission of God, bringing in the kingdom, all of you with each other and loving one another because we are family. In a divided world what more precious gift can we bring than one that respects diversity, loves one another and provides hope.”

“We are called to go out now and change the world, to go on changing the world,” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby tells members of the Anglican Consultative Council during his May 4 closing address. Photo: Neil Vigers/Anglican Communion News Service

The ACC passed resolutions:

* calling for continued support of the colleges and universities of the Anglican Communion (A17.01);

* affirming support of the International Anglican Women’s Network and women’s ministries (A17.02);

* affirming that gender justice and equality are an inherent part of intentional discipleship embedded in the Gospel and rooted in Christian values of human dignity, justice, and love; commending for use “God’s Justice: Just Relationships between Women and Men, Girls and Boys,” requesting member churches to involve men, boys, women and girls in building mutually just and equitable relationships in families, churches and other communities, and encourage shared decision-making and leadership (A17.03)

* welcoming and supporting the work of the International Anglican Family Network (A17.04);

* recognizing that there is a global climate emergency, encouraging member churches to make the Fifth Mark of Mission (To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth) “a living testament to our faith,” and encouraging the Lambeth Conference 2020 to be as environmentally sustainable as possible (A17.05);

* celebrating the work by some member churches and the Anglican Communion Environmental Network to shift messaging and action from climate vulnerability to climate resilience, and express regret about the ongoing impacts of climate change (A17.06);

* calling for work to develop an Anglican Health Network (A17.07);

* noting with concern the pattern of invitations to the Lambeth Conference 2020, requesting the archbishop of Canterbury ensure that a listening process is put in place with supportive and independent facilitation in order to hear the concerns and voices of people especially those who have felt themselves marginalized with regard to sexuality, as well as compiling all the work done in this area across the communion since Lambeth 1998, and requesting the archbishop of Canterbury look at all issues of discrimination across the communion to make recommendations to the Standing Committee and to report to ACC18  (A17.08);

Archbishop of Hong Kong and Anglican Consultative Council Chair Paul Kwong preaches May 5 during ACC-17’s closing Eucharist at St. John’s Cathedral in the heart of Hong Kong’s financial district. Photo: Old Dog/ St. John’s Cathedral

* encouraging networks to improve theological education in the Anglican Communion (A17.09);

* affirming the work of the Anglican Alliance and encouraging provinces to support it (A17.10);

* encouraging member churches and communion agencies to continue and extend their work to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, requesting  that the Secretary General reports to the Standing Committee, no later than its first meeting in 2020, on a 10-year strategy on communion engagement with the goals (A17.11);

* commending the emphasis on intentional discipleship and disciple-making in the Anglican Communion Office’s Strategic Plan and asking the Mission Department to develop a resource hub “to support and equip the culture change in the communion towards intentional sharing and living a Jesus-shaped life” (A17.12);

* encouraging further engagement with the Five Marks of Mission, repentance when people have fallen short of being true disciples, amend their lives accordingly and make a greater commitment of prayer for the redemption and salvation of the world and all its people (A17.13);

* reiterating past statements on the development, use and impact of nuclear weapons; lamenting the lack of justice for those communities most impacted by testing of nuclear weapons; acknowledging the work of member churches and the World Council of Churches on these issues; requiring the Secretary General to report on the implementation of the commitments made in past resolutions; requesting the Standing Committee to ensure that ACC18 develops a contemporary Anglican response to these issues (A17.140;

* encouraging member churches to invest in pathways to education and employment for young laypeople. (A17.15).

* welcoming and commending for study “Walking Together on the Way: Learning to Be the Church – Local, Regional, Universal,” the Agreed Statement of the Anglican–Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC III), along with two commentaries, one Anglican and one Roman Catholic (B17.01); the report of the Anglican–Old Catholic International Coordinating Council (B17.02) and “The Procession and Work of the Holy Spirit,” the Agreed Statement of the Anglican–Oriental Orthodox International Commission (B17.03);

Full ENS coverage of the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council is available here.

* approving a new Anglican Communion process for receiving ecumenical texts developed out of its dialogues with other Christian traditions (B170.4);

* recognizing the failures of the past and determined that every church in the Anglican Communion is a safe place for everyone, especially children, young people and vulnerable adults; approving the “Guidelines to enhance the safety of all persons – especially children, young people and vulnerable adults – within the provinces of the Anglican Communion;” requesting member churches and extra-provincial churches under the direct metro-political jurisdiction of the archbishop of Canterbury to take specific steps (outlined in resolution’s text) toward this end; requesting the Secretary General to reconstitute the Anglican Communion Safe Church Commission. (C17.01);

* welcoming an outline budget structure for 2020–25 for improved financial planning and transparency by the Anglican Communion Office (ACO) and the commitment of the ACO to seek to maximize voluntary income from sources beyond member churches, reaffirming ACC resolutions calling on all member churches to contribute to the Anglican Consultative Council budget, endorsing proposed formula for member church contributions, encouraging member churches to discuss the formula with the ACO during 2020–2022, requiring the Secretary General to report annually on implementation of the formula (C17.02);

* calling on member churches to consider the appointment of a young person as one of its ACC members from ACC18 onwards, encouraging the inclusion of young people in the work of Anglican Communion networks, encouraging member churches to include youth representation in their synods (resolve to guarantee one Standing Committee place for an ACC youth representative was defeated) (C17.03); and

* approving the 2019-25 Strategic Plan for the ACO serving the Anglican Communion and its member churches, requesting member churches to engage with the ACO to implement the plan, requiring the Secretary General to report on the implementation to the Standing Committee at least annually, requiring periodic reviews by the Standing Committee and explaining any changes to the next ACC meeting (C17.08).

The texts of some of the 24 resolutions are posted here, where the rest are due to be posted soon. Written versions of all the reports given to ACC-17 are here.

Read more about it

ACC background is here.

ENS coverage of the ACC is here.

The Anglican Communion News Service covered the meeting here.

Tweeting happened with #ACC17HK.

The bulk of the meeting took place at the Gold Coast Hotel, about 45 minutes from central Hong Kong.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.

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Church of Ceylon bishop urges Sri Lankan unity ‘to rebuild our dear, shattered motherland’

Mon, 05/13/2019 - 4:13pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Bishop of Colombo Dhiloraj Canagasabey, the senior bishop of the Church of Ceylon, has urged Sri Lankans to unite and appreciate religious and ethnic diversity. Speaking to reporters, Dhiloraj issued a “humble and earnest” appeal “to the intelligentsia of this country, to all religious leaders, civil society, youth leaders and all our citizens who truly love this land, to come together to overcome all … ethnic, religious and ideological divisions and to formulate policies and to mobilize the people to rebuild our dear, shattered motherland.”

He also issued urged an end to the demonization of the country’s Muslim community following the Easter Day massacre in which 257 people were killed when Islamist terrorists attacked churches and hotels in the country. He described Sri Lankan Muslims as “our fellow citizens” who had “lived with us in this country for many hundreds of years.”

Read the full article here.

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Congregation to celebrate legacy of parishioner who died in Civil War, was buried under church

Mon, 05/13/2019 - 1:02pm

A bell honoring John Codman Pollitz has been a fixture at Trinity Episcopal Church in Roslyn, New York, for more than a century, but the precise location of Pollitz’s grave under the church remained a mystery until last year. Photo: Trinity Episcopal Church

[Episcopal News Service] A 19-year-old parishioner who died while serving in the Civil War has been buried under Trinity Episcopal Church in Roslyn, New York, for more than a century, but until now, the final resting place of this hometown hero mostly was the stuff of legend.

Much of that legend is embodied by Trinity’s historic bell, which has long been on display at the church and bears the name of the young soldier, John Goodman Pollitz, who paid for the bell out of his army pay. It was first tolled at his funeral, Feb. 1, 1863.

“His grave is under this church,” a plaque on the bell reads, providing no further detail about the location of the grave. The burial site hadn’t been accessed since 1914, and its place wasn’t marked.

Then last year, Trinity Episcopal embarked on an extensive renovation project that involved replacing the church’s floor. Parishioner Karl Hansen told Episcopal News Service he and other members of the congregation who were familiar with Pollitz’s history were curious if construction crews would find evidence of the grave. Sure enough, removing the old floor, they revealed Pollitz’s gravestone resting on the dirt of a crawl space.

“Legend had it that he was buried under there, but now it’s completely confirmed,” Hansen said, adding that the congregation brought in a specialist with a radar device to pinpoint the location of an underground box presumed to be Pollitz’s coffin.

The congregation plans to celebrate Pollitz while dedicating his burial site and a new plaque at a ceremony June 2 after the Sunday Eucharist.

The floor has since been restored, and the plaque was placed over the site of the grave, its location precise – 16 feet off the west wall and 15 feet off the south wall of the church, at the back of the church’s nave, Hansen said.

Though the location had been a mystery, Pollitz’s story was well-known. He had taught Sunday school for the Episcopal congregation in Roslyn starting in 1859, a decade before Trinity parish was founded. The early congregation worshipped in a chapel that Pollitz thought was “a dream come true” for his religious classes, according to an excerpt of a 1969 parish history article that was reprinted in a 2007 newsletter.

He was barely 18 when he joined the Union Army. With his regiment in New Bern, North Carolina, he fell ill and died on Jan. 7, 1863. The parish history reported exhaustion as the cause of his death. A 1914 article in The New York Times about Pollitz said he died of “camp fever.” Hansen, who served in the Marines in the early 1970s, said he and others suspect Pollitz succumbed to dysentery.

Whatever the cause, he was remembered at Trinity as a hero. His remains were buried “under the shadow of the chapel belfry,” the newsletter article says.

The bell he had purchased for the congregation arrived at about the same time that his body returned home for burial, and it “was sweet in tone” when it first tolled at his funeral, according to the Times. The bell soon produced a note, however, that suggested to the congregation that it had cracked, prompting the decision to lower it, turn it upside down and fill it with dirt and flowers “to serve as an urn in the grave enclosure” at the chapel, the Times reported.

Trinity Episcopal Church was built in 1906, and the floor was installed over John Codman Pollitz’s burial site. Photo: Trinity Episcopal Church

A new, larger church was built in 1906 over the grave and bell, but no record was kept of the grave’s location. It was accessed and the bell recovered and restored in 1914 when a crack in the church foundation led to “a crawling circuit of inspection under the parts of the church most difficult to access,” the Times said in its article that year previewing the dedication of the restored bell.

For a century, the congregation maintained only a general sense of the grave’s position under the floor, with no visible evidence of its existence. Now that it again has been uncovered, Trinity is giving it a permanent marker on the floor so no one will ever forget.

Trinity is a small congregation, with about 50 people typically attending Eucharist on Sundays. Its rector, the Rev. Margaret Peckham Clark, presided over her final service at the church this month before leaving for a new call in the Diocese of Newark, so Trinity is welcoming supply priests on Sundays until it names an interim rector and embarks on a search for a permanent replacement.

At a time when Trinity is planning for its future, the June 2 dedication of Pollitz’s grave is an opportunity for parishioners to take another look back, at the short life of a young man who gave his time to the education of the congregation’s children, his money to the parish’s early growth and his life in service to his country at war, said Hansen.

“Pretty impressive, I think,” he said.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

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La disculpa de Welby sobre la invitación a Lambeth allana el camino para que el Consejo Consultivo Anglicano marche unido

Mon, 05/13/2019 - 10:13am

El obispo burundés Eraste Bigirimana, a la derecha, y el obispo de Nairobi Joel Waweru, abrazan a Ed Konieczny, obispo de Oklahoma, el 4 de mayo, pese a que ambos se opusieron a la resolución que él propuso. Los dos participaron en la redacción de un texto de avenimiento que el Consejo Consultivo Anglicano aprobó por unanimidad. Foto de Paul Feheley/ACNS.

[Episcopal News Service — Hong Kong] El arzobispo de Cantórbery, Justin Welby, trabajando con otras personas, preservó la unidad de la 17ª. reunión  del Consejo Consultivo Anglicano el 4 de mayo al disculparse por  su decisión de no invitar a cónyuges del mismo sexo de los obispos que asistirán a la Conferencia de Lambeth  y convenir en renovar la promesa de la Comunión de hace 21 años de escuchar las experiencias de personas LGBTQ.

“Les pido perdón por los errores que pueda haber cometido” dijo Welby.

La reunión del 28 de abril al 5 de mayo estuvo a punto de romperse durante la tarde de su último día trabajo, no por la Conferencia de Lambeth, sino por el mayor problema de cuánto el Consejo debe decir acerca de la plena inclusión de personas LGBTQ en la vida de la Iglesia.

El conflicto surgió por vía de la resolución del obispo de Oklahoma, Ed Konieczny, que pedía que el Comité Permanente de la Comunión reuniera información acerca del esfuerzo de las provincias de escuchar a personas “que, debido a su sexualidad humana, han sido marginadas dentro de la Iglesia, la sociedad y en sus respectivas culturas”.

La cobertura completa de ENS de la 17ª. reunión del Consejo Consultivo Anglicano puede encontrarse aquí

Los miembros no pusieron objeción a esa labor. Sin embargo, un buen número de ellos rehusó aceptar el preámbulo de la resolución, que habría reafirmado “el respeto y dignidad de personas como hijos de Dios que han sido marginadas debido a su humana sexualidad” y dice que “deberían ser plenamente incluidas en la vida de la Comunión Anglicana”.

El franco, pero amable debate por la resolución, las intensas negociaciones que tuvieron lugar durante los recesos de ese debate y la resultante resolución completamente reescrita probó que “al final, el amor de Cristo se manifestó”, dijo Konieczny a Episcopal News Service después de la reunión. “Probamos que somos capaces de tener una conversación y capaces de entendernos mutuamente y capaces de llegar a un acuerdo”.

“Tal vez lo poquito que hicimos aquí puede ser un ejemplo para la Comunión en general y, para aquellos que eligieron quedarse fuera, y quizás en alguna medida esto les ayudará al menos a pensar en volver”.

Nigeria, Ruanda y Uganda no enviaron representantes a la reunión del CCA-17. Algunos obispos han dicho que no asistirán a la Conferencia de Lambeth porque objetan las posiciones teológicas de otros obispos y provincias.

El Rdo. Michael Barlowe, representante del clero en la delegación de la Iglesia Episcopal, calificó el empeño de Konieczny de toda una semana como “valiente”. La Iglesia Episcopal, dijo él después de la reunión, resultó bien servida por Konieczny que  “amablemente intentó abordar un asunto muy controvertido”.

Todo el CCA fue amable durante las casi tres horas que duró el debate y la negociación, dijo Rosalie Ballentine de la Diócesis de Islas Vírgenes, la representante laica de la Iglesia Episcopal.

“Eso prueba que podemos discrepar de una forma amorosa”, afirmó ella. “Algunos de nosotros en la Iglesia Episcopal a veces debemos aprender a dar un paso atrás y darnos cuenta de que realmente se trata de Jesús, de Dios, de cómo andamos en la fe, en lugar de seguir nuestro camino. Mucho de eso se demostró hoy”.

Debatiendo “incluidos” vs. “acogidos”

El lenguaje en el preámbulo de la resolución tocó todas las desavenencias  [que existen] en la Comunión sobre la sexualidad y fue demasiado lejos para algunos. No fue mucho mejor cuando una enmienda propuso cambiar la última cláusula , “deben ser plenamente incluidos en la vida de la Comunión Anglicana” por “son plenamente acogidos en la vida de la Comunión Anglicana”.

Los miembros debatieron los matices de ser “incluido” o “acogido” y si la interpretación de cualquier de las dos palabras cambiaba cuando se traducía a otros idiomas.

Konieczny aceptó la enmienda para hacer avanzar la resolución que terminó aprobándose con 38 votos a favor, 20 en contra y 17 abstenciones.

Durante el consiguiente debate sobre la resolución, el arzobispo sudanés Ezekiel Kondo dijo que en su país de mayoría musulmana “mañana la Iglesia cerraría”, si el CCA aprobará la resolución. “Si aprobamos esta resolución, estaríamos enviando un mensaje equivocado” a la Iglesia y al mundo, afirmó.

El obispo Eraste Bigirimana, de la diócesis burundesa de Bujumbura, dijo que la Comunión ha estado dividida desde que los anglicanos comenzaron a hablar formalmente de la sexualidad en la Conferencia de Lambeth de 1998. La división, dijo él, porque no todos creen que “la Biblia es muy clara: la fornicación es un pecado, el adulterio es un pecado; la homosexualidad es un pecado para los cristianos”, dijo Bigirimana. “La Biblia tiene que ser nuestra referencia”.

Joel Waweru, obispo de la Diócesis de Nairobi, se opuso a la resolución porque “sienta doctrina”, algo que el CCA no hace. Él dijo que los miembros del CCA “no han tenido tiempo de discutir temas de la sexualidad humana, pero ahora se les pide que voten una resolución sobre eso. Y Waweru arguyó, la resolución debe extenderse para incluir a personas que han sufrido discriminación por alguna razón.

“Como alguien que proviene del hemisferio sur”, el obispo dijo que él estaba de acuerdo con los otros que temían que la aprobación de la resolución le daría argumentos a los conservadores anglicanos, llevando a más de ellos a boicotear la Conferencia de Lambeth 2020.

Jane Alexander, obispa de la Diócesis canadiense de Edmonton, dijo a sus colegas que la resolución del CCA simplemente le recordaba a la Iglesia acerca del compromiso incumplido de la Conferencia de Lambeth 1.10 de escuchar a las personas LGBTQ.

Si el CCA no reafirma el respeto y la dignidad de los que han sido marginados debido a su sexualidad humana, afirmó ella, “entonces se me rompe el corazón y habremos quebrantado nuestro Pacto Bautismal” “para no mencionar el Código de Conducta que los miembros aprobaron al comienzo de la reunión y que contiene una declaración semejante”.

Casi al final del debate de cerca de 45 minutos, Konieczny dijo que él no respaldaría una propuesta que se hizo para borrar todo el preámbulo. “Subrayó que había trabajado en la resolución toda la semana y había aceptado “múltiples revisiones” porque era consciente de las diferencias que representan los miembros del CCA.

“Me siento angustiado. Estoy desconsolado. Cuestiona mi fe que” el Consejo no pueda afirmar la declaración que hizo en el Código de Conducta de hace una semana y  “que queramos enviar un mensaje al mundo de que te respetaremos a la distancia, que no eres bienvenido. Este no es el cuerpo de Cristo al cual yo pertenezco”, dijo Konieczny.

Que el CCA debata si alguien es hijo de Dios y bienvenido en la Iglesia “está más allá de mi comprensión”, dijo él, añadiendo que en el 50% de las zonas geográficas de las iglesias miembros “privan de sus derechos, encarcelan y ejecutan a personas que difieren de su sexualidad humana, sin que digamos nada”.

“Por el contrario, nos preocupamos de la política, en lugar de las personas”.

Durante el receso para el té de la tarde, un creciente número de miembros se reunieron en torno al arzobispo de Cantórbery y al obispo de Oklahoma Ed Konieczny mientras se encontraban debajo del estrado en el salón de reuniones del Consejo, intentando llegar a un acuerdo. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

Después de que los miembros hicieran un receso para orar, Margaret Swinson, vicepresidente del CCA, dictaminó que la propuesta de borrar el preámbulo “destruye demasiado el espíritu en que esta moción se presentó “ para que ella ejerciera su discreción de permitir que llegara a someterse a votación.

Welby sugirió que el Consejo se tomara un receso para que hubiera discusiones de grupos en las mesas. Esa pausa  dio lugar a lo que convirtió en un “receso de té” de casi 50 minutos, durante el cual varios grupos de representantes y de miembros del personal se agruparon, a los cuales a veces se incorporó Konieczny, en el intento de alcanzar un acuerdo.  Welby con frecuencia se encontraba en el centro. Waweru y Konieczny trabajaron juntos en un punto. Waweru, mantuvo la puesta sobre la espalda de Konieczny, mientras éste se sentó y leyó la propuesta final.

Con ese borrador en la mano, Swinson le pidió a los miembros que escucharan a Welby y decidieran si ellos podía aceptarlo como una avenencia. Él les recordó a los miembros que la Comunión Anglicana ha discrepado fieramente en el pasado acerca de los contraceptivos, del divorcio y de la ordenación de las mujeres. “Luego, no debemos entrar en pánico” sobre el capítulo actual del debate sobre la identidad sexual que ha sido parte de la Comunión por casi 30 años, dijo Welby.

Al arzobispo de Cantórbery se le conoce como el “centro de la unidad” del CCA, la Conferencia de Lambeth y la Reunión de los Primados. En ese espíritu, Welby dijo que era “mi falta y mi responsabilidad” que ciertas personas se sintieran disgustadas porque algunas fueron invitados a la Conferencia de Lambeth 2020 y otras no.

“Puede ser que al final de los tiempos, entienda que hice eso mal, y responderé por ello de una u otra manera en el día del juicio”, dijo. “Donde lo manejé mal, lo cual estoy seguro que lo hice, para un grupo u otro, quiero disculparme con ustedes porque no he ayudado a la Comunión, tanto a los que están preocupados por quiénes fueron invitados o los que están preocupados por quiénes no fueron invitados.

“Les pido perdón por los errores que pueda haber cometido”.

El obispo de la Diócesis de Nairobi, Joel Waweru, de pie a la izquierda, tiene la mano sobre el hombro del obispo de Oklahoma Ed Konieczny mientras éste lee el texto de un posible arreglo a una resolución que amenazó con descarrilar el último día de sesiones del ACC-17. El arzobispo de Cantórbery Justin Welby lee de pie a la izquierda de Konieczny, el obispo de Lambeth Tim Thornton está a su derecha, y próximo a Thornton se encuentra Stephen Knott, subjefe de personal del Palacio de Lambeth. La vicepresidente del CCA, Margaret Swinson, a la derecha, habla con Darren Oliver, asesor legal del CCA, mientras el obispo Anthony Poggo se recuesta sobre la mesa. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

El texto de compromiso, que se presentó ante el Consejo como una enmienda hecha por Waweru y que eliminó el preámbulo original, advierte “con preocupación el patrón de invitaciones a la Conferencia de Lambeth 2020” y le pide a Welby que establezca  un proceso de escucha ,con asesoramiento solidario e independiente a fin de oír las preocupaciones y voces de personas, especialmente las de aquellos que se han sentido marginados por cuenta de su sexualidad”.

Welby debe también hacer acopio de la labor que se haya hecho en la Comunión desde que la Resolución 1.10 de Lambeth 1998 demandó tal proceso. Él ha de informar al Comité Permanente y al ACC-18 en 2012. Finalmente la resolución le pide que informe  a ambos organismos acerca de “todos los problemas de discriminación” a través de la Comunión.

Luego de sus disculpas y de la explicación de la enmienda de Waweru, Elby se excusó en francés y tradujo la enmienda al francés. Y le pidió al Nick Drayson, de la Diócesis del Norte de Argentina, que tradujera ambas al español, y al obispo de la Diócesis de Tanganica Central, Dickson Chilongani, que hiciera lo mismo al swahili. Los miembros para quienes el inglés no es su primer idioma han tenido dificultades durante la reunión debido a la falta de servicios formales de interpretación o traducción.

“Por respeto y amor y afecto a nuestro Arzobispo y por amor y afecto a nuestros iglesias miembros, y especialmente por mis hermanos del hemisferio sur, y por la unidad de la Iglesia”, Konieczny dijo que estaba “dispuesto a aceptar esta enmienda de mi hermano Joel”.

Esforzándose para hablar, Konieczny dijo que él quería que “sus hermanos obispos del sur” supieran que “estamos dispuestos a conversar y a andar juntos en unidad y amor, y les insto a venir y reunirse con nosotros”.

La enmienda de Waweru fue aprobada 83 a 0 con tres abstenciones en un sondeo tentativo para probar su solidez. Waweru, Chilongani y Bigirimana se acercaron a Konieczny para abrazarlo. El obispo keniano besó el anillo episcopal de Konieczny, quien respondió de la misma manera y los presentes comenzaron a cantar “Alma, bendice al Señor”.

El Consejo se reunió formalmente y la resolución enmendada se aprobó por “consenso general”.

La resolución, titulada ‘La dignidad de los seres humanos’, dice:

“El Consejo Consultivo Anglicano

  1. Advierte con preocupación el patrón de las invitaciones a la Conferencia de Lambeth 2020 y solicita que el arzobispo de Cantórbery como centro de unidad garantice que un proceso de escucha se ponga en vigor con moderación solidaria e independiente a fin de escuchar las inquietudes y voces  de personas, especialmente de aquellas que se han sentido marginadas por cuenta de su sexualidad. El arzobispo de Cantórbery también será responsable de compilar  todo el trabajo hecho en esta área a través de la Comunión Anglicana desde Lambeth 1998 e informarle  al Comité Permanente [del CCA] y al CCA-18.

El Consejo rechazó posteriormente una resolución presentada con antelación en que se le pedía a Welby que contemplara el establecimiento de un equipo de trabajo para esclarecer la identidad esencial y los lindes de la Comunión Anglicana en el siglo XIX. Konieczny dijo que temía que la verdadera intención de la resolución era crear un organismo con la facultad de declarar “quien estaba dentro y quien fuera en la Comunión Anglicana”. La votación 43-35 con ocho abstenciones,  se produjo después que Swinson dictaminó que había sido aprobada luego de su petición de “consenso general”, y Konieczny, junto con un tercio de sus colegas, pidió una votación a mano alzada. Fue la primer vez que se recuerde que el CCA rehusaba aceptar una medida favorecida por el arzobispo de Cantórbery.

“Alabado sea Dios por haber votado en contra de lo que yo quería”, le dijo Welby luego a los miembros. “Eso es el anglicanismo”.

– La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora sénior y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

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