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Episcopalians continue humanitarian response along Southwest border

Mon, 04/15/2019 - 12:59pm

People belonging to a caravan of migrants from Honduras en route to the United States walk on a road as they leave Tapachula, Mexico, April 15, 2019. Photo: Jose Cabezas/REUTERS

[Episcopal News Service] A month and a half ago, asylum-seekers arriving in Nogales, Mexico, faced a three-week wait for an initial interview to enter the United States legally. More recently, those wait times have more than doubled, putting a strain on humanitarian relief efforts.

“The biggest challenge is the wait time. … It’s up to eight weeks now, and we need to keep collecting monetary donations to feed these people,” said the Rev. Rodger Babnew, a deacon at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church just across the border in Nogales, Arizona.

Like other Episcopalians living along the Southwest border – which stretches more than 1,550 miles from Brownsville, Texas, to San Diego, California – Babnew’s ministry has turned toward meeting the humanitarian needs of asylum-seekers. Through an ecumenical partnership with the United Church of Christ and the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Babnew coordinates the Diocese of Arizona’s border ministry, which includes a 600-person capacity shelter system (including two homes set aside for people quarantined with chickenpox and measles) in Mexico, where asylum-seekers receive a place to sleep, food, medical attention, clothing and transportation assistance.

Asylum-seekers began arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in caravans last fall, many of them attempting to cross through Tijuana to San Diego. Since that time, asylum-seekers increasingly have moved east along the border, to crossing points in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

By definition, asylum-seekers are fleeing violence or persecution in their homeland and seeking sanctuary elsewhere. When asylum-seekers arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border, typically they are given a number that guarantees their place in line for what’s called a “credible fear” interview.

If credible fear is established, asylum-seekers are given an electronic bracelet and released from U.S. custody, the majority reuniting with family members already in the United States while they await a formal asylum hearing. Wait times for court hearings now can last up to two years.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents might release asylum-seekers onto the streets and at bus stations, as the government does not provide humanitarian assistance. This is where faith-based and other nonprofit organizations come in, supplying asylum-seekers with shelter, food, medical care, clothing and assistance booking travel arrangements so they can reunite with sponsors, typically family members throughout the country who pay for the bus or plane tickets and offer support during the long wait for a formal hearing. Increasingly, as trust has grown, border agents cooperate with faith-based and other humanitarian groups and release asylum seekers into their care, said Babnew, at least in Nogales, Arizona.

Unlike in El Paso, Texas, where asylum-seekers crossing through Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, have been held in fenced-in areas under bridges while waiting for credible fear interviews, things have gone more smoothly in Nogales, a small 20,000-population city an hour’s drive south of Tucson.

“We don’t have that, we don’t have people sleeping on the border or standing in line,” said Babnew, in a telephone interview with Episcopal News Service.

At the current rate of 100,000 “migrants” attempting to cross the border monthly, 1 million will have entered over a 12-month period. Asylum-seekers and migrants are not one in the same; the latter is someone who typically moves temporarily for work or other reasons.

“Each asylum-seeker who enters the United States and expresses fear of return or declares an intention to seek asylum is granted an interview with a trained U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) asylum officer,” said Lacy Broemel, The Episcopal Church’s refugee and immigration policy adviser, in an email message to ENS. “This interview, which is aimed at determining whether the asylum-seeker has a ‘credible fear’ is the first step in the asylum process. If [asylum-seekers are] found to have a credible fear of returning home, they are legally entitled to be able to apply for asylum and present their case to an immigration judge.”

In recent years, asylum-seekers increasingly have joined the flow of migrants seeking economic security in the United States. Many of them are fleeing gang- and drug-related violence in Central America’s Northern Triangle, a region that includes El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. More than 700,000 people have been forcibly displaced by violence in the Northern Triangle. (Forcible displacement is a global phenomenon affecting a record 68.5 million people worldwide.)

“Rates of violent death in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala are some of the highest in the world and comparable with those of other armed conflicts internationally,” wrote Noah Bullock, executive director of Cristosal, in response to a New York Times’ editorial that called for building up Central America, rather than building a border wall.

“The optics of death and destruction in the region differ from those of traditional armed conflicts, yet the humanitarian consequences are acute; people are tortured, raped, disappeared, killed; families torn apart, livelihoods and property are destroyed,” he wrote.

Cristosal is a San Salvador, El Salvador-based human rights organizations with longstanding ties to The Episcopal Church. Because of its early work addressing forced displacement, the organization receives funding from USAID and has expanded its operations into Guatemala and Honduras.

For a better understanding of the violence females face in Central America’s Northern Triangle read ‘Someone is Always Trying to Kill You’ in the New York Times.

In late March, President Donald Trump announced his administration would cut $1 billion in designated aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The aid funds programs like those developed by Cristosal that address poverty, gang violence, security and drug trafficking. Some lawmakers criticized the president’s decision, saying the aid cuts would only worsen the situation on the ground.

In February, Trump declared a national emergency to build a border wall, citing an invasion at the southern border. More recently, the president declared: “Our country is full” and called the U.S. asylum system a “scam.”

Trump made curtailing immigration a centerpiece of his 2016 campaign and, since taking office, has issued executive orders and has supported policies and legislation to cut legal immigration.

Read The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations statement on cuts in aid to Central America here.

“As we have seen over the past two years, the administration is creating chaos at our southern border in order to advance harmful policies like long-term detention of children and disregarding guaranteed rights of asylum-seekers. The Episcopal Church believes that families, children, and individuals seeking protection should not be condemned as creating a national emergency or crisis, but rather should be recognized as children of God who deserve to be treated with fairness and dignity,” said Broemel, who works for the church’s Washington, D.C.-based Office of Government Relations.

“There are strategies and solutions to process asylum-seekers in a safe and orderly manner, to address the situations forcing these persons to flee in the first place, and to ensure that the U.S. is maintaining its moral and legal obligations when it comes to asylum-seekers,” she said. “The Episcopal Church has official policies passed by General Convention that urge the administration to employ such strategies as increasing aid to Central America, employing alternatives to detention, modernizing our ports of entry, and hiring child welfare professionals to assist with the children and families at the border.”

On April 4, The Episcopal Church joined the National Immigrant Justice Center and other human and civil rights and faith-based organizations in issuing a framework to address the “crisis” at the border. The framework “describes steps the U.S. government must take to uphold U.S. and international law, and basic human rights, in a region that has been increasingly destabilized by the president’s anti-immigrant agenda.”

The Episcopal Church, through General Convention and Executive Council resolutions, has a long history of supporting refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants. During the 79th General Convention, the church strengthened its stance on immigration.

In November 2018, the Episcopal Diocese of Rio Grande, whose geographical territory includes 40 percent of the Southwest border, hosted a summit that brought together people engaged in borderland ministry to share experiences and practices.

This network of Episcopal borderland ministries has led to increased cooperation across the Southwest. For instance, when immigration agents in the Rio Grande region told Babnew they intended to release 1,500 asylum-seekers over a three-day period, he called Rio Grande Bishop Michael Hunn, and together they found shelter space for everyone.

The Rio Grande diocese also has responded to humanitarian need in El Paso and in Las Cruces and Albuquerque, New Mexico, where St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church recently helped 55 asylum-seekers over a four-day period. When the asylum-seekers were released from U.S. custody, the church provided them with beds, shelter, food and medical care and helped arrange transportation to reunite them with family members.

In El Paso, the Rev. Justin Gibson, vicar of St. Francis on the Hill Episcopal Church, issued a call on April 3 for baby formula, some of it for new mothers unable to produce breast milk to feed their babies.

“Formula – that’s a sign of how desperate the situation is,” said Hunn. “Women are under such stressful conditions that they are not lactating; we reached a different level of humanitarian need.”

– 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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La Diócesis de Texas notificada del exitoso proceso de consentimiento canónico

Fri, 04/12/2019 - 4:43pm

[12 de abril de 2019] La Diócesis Episcopal de Texas recibió una notificación del Obispo Presidente y Primado Michael B. Curry y del registrador de la Convención General, el Reverendo Canónigo Michael Barlowe, que la obispa sufragánea-electa Kathryn ‘Kai’ Ryan ha recibido la mayoría de los consentimientos necesarios en el proceso de consentimiento canónico detallado en el Canon III.11.3.

Al dar el consentimiento a su ordenación y consagración, los Comités Permanentes y los obispos con jurisdicción dan fe de que “no hay impedimentos por los cuales” la obispa sufragánea-electa Ryan no deba ser ordenada como obispa, y que su elección se realizó de acuerdo con los cánones.

La Reverenda Canóniga Kathryn ´Kai´ Ryan fue elegida obispa el 22 de febrero. El Obispo Presidente Curry oficiará en su ordenación y servicio de consagración el 1 de junio.

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Bible Challenge connects parish with women’s prison

Fri, 04/12/2019 - 12:35pm

[Episcopal News Service] On both prison cots and comfy parlor chairs, two communities in the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania are taking a singular journey of reading the entire Bible together over the course of the next year.

The Rev. Jennifer Mattson presented an idea to the leadership of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Take up the Bible Challenge — an initiative to read the entire Bible over the course of a year, with 15 minutes each day reading sections from the Old and New Testaments, a psalm, and a proverb. But Mattson didn’t stop there. She wanted to extend the initiative to the local women’s prison, inviting the inmates to participate in the Bible Challenge alongside the people of St. Thomas.

“This is a congregation truly willing to try new ideas,” says Mattson. “Their commitment to inclusion and love blows me away. Reading scripture is foundational to discipleship, to having a relationship with God. There is something so profound about being steeped in God’s Word. When you do that as a community, I think there’s something transformational that happens.”

In a congregation with an average Sunday attendance of 100, 60 people of all ages joined the Bible Challenge. And the congregation made a commitment to the prison as well, purchasing thirty Bible Challenge books for the women’s spirituality group there.

“These are ladies who have been isolated, rejected, for all sorts of reasons,” says Stacey Catigano, a chaplain at the prison and postulant for the diaconate. Doing the Bible Challenge with the people of St. Thomas “reminds them that community is beyond walls, beyond barbed wire, that God is with them. This practice is a divine thread, connecting them to the larger community.”

The path to this shared journey of engaging scripture wasn’t straight.

Catigano didn’t plan on ministering in a prison. After a career as an assistant chaplain in the Army, she thought she was called to hospice ministry. But for one reason or another, things weren’t working out, and the niggling idea of volunteering at a prison kept resurfacing.

It was difficult at first. Hot. Lots of angry people. Not the type of ministry Catigano thought God was calling her to, until one day, she looked at the prison roster and noticed a bunch of women with the same first name as hers, even spelled the same.

“God converted my heart that day. I had been ‘othering’ the women in the prison, and I realized that I am them and they are me, and we are all children of God,” says Catigano, her voice tight with emotion. “I see beautiful things happening here. God is definitely here.”

Like Catigano, the Rev. Jane Miron had no desire to visit prisons. She lived out her diaconal vocation through food banks and clothing closets and other hands-on ministry, but something about the locked doors of a prison scared her.

But Catigano’s repeated invitation to help with a Bible study in the prison wore down her resolve, and she made her first visit.

“During that time with the women, something changed for me,” Miron said. “The honesty and realness of the women keeps me balanced and focused…I can get so caught up with doing ‘God’s work’ and being busy in the church that I forget that we are called to go out into our communities—all of our communities.”

Miron and Mattson alternate leading the women’s spirituality group at the prison, along with Catigano. Perhaps because of their commitment to this ministry, the people of St. Thomas were very receptive to the idea of taking on the Bible Challenge within the congregation as well as in the prison community.

People have covenanted to pray with and for one another throughout the year, Mattson said. In the congregation, affinity groups are developing: parents with kids under the age of 13, the Wednesday lectionary group. In the prison, the women are engaging the Bible Challenge in a variety of ways, from lectio divina to adventure/comic book Bibles.

“God speaks to people in different ways,” says Catigano. “Overall, what I’ve noticed is that the women know that I am reading the Bible and that the people of St. Thomas are reading it with them. It broadens the sense of community, and that’s very important to the women. For me personally, this process connects me to God and connects me to God’s community in a very profound way.”

The women’s spirituality group and the people of St. Thomas are part of a much bigger community: More than 1 million people have participated in The Bible Challenge since it began in 2011, says the Rev. Marek Zabriskie, founder of the program.

“We’ve experienced enormous spiritual hunger in the Episcopal Church as well as other mainline churches,” says Zabriskie, now rector of Christ Church in Greenwich, Connecticut.

“Members have been eager to engage scripture and to develop a daily spiritual practice of reading the Bible in a prayerful manner that leads to spiritual growth and transformation.”

Zabriskie said this is the first such prison/congregation partnership for the Bible Challenge, but other creative partnerships have flourished, such as with schools and book clubs.

“It can work wherever there is a willing spirit,” he says.

For Miron, the Bible Challenge is both an opportunity to dive deep into scripture—and to live out the words.

“Whenever we yoke with other groups that are in a different place or different part of our community, I think there’s something really powerful in that,” she says. “It’s so easy to get isolated in our individual parishes—any time you partner with different groups and focus on what we have in common, on God’s word, then it strengthens your spiritual foundation and leads to our collective spiritual growth.”

– Richelle Thompson is deputy director and managing editor of Forward Movement, a ministry of the Episcopal Church committed to inspiring disciples and empowering evangelists.

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Lambeth Conference 2020: Over 500 bishops in 39 Anglican Communion Churches register

Fri, 04/12/2019 - 12:19pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Organizers of next year’s Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops have announced that 502 bishops and 382 spouses have so far registered for the decennial event, with the numbers rising each day. Registrations to date come from 39 of the Anglican Communion’s 45 member provinces and extra-provincial churches. “In comparison to the 2008 event when registrations had not started at this point, this is a most encouraging position to be in,” Lambeth Conference Chief Executive Phil George said.

Read the entire article here.

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Pope Francis kisses the feet of South Sudan’s leaders at conclusion of ecumenical retreat

Fri, 04/12/2019 - 12:16pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] An ecumenical spiritual retreat led by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Francis at the Vatican ended April 11 with Pope Francis kissing the feet of South Sudan’s political leaders. The unprecedented two day retreat was organized in an effort to support the country’s fragile peace deal. The political leaders present at the retreat included South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit and opposition leader Vice President Riek Machar. The two are expected to form a national unity government under a fragile peace deal designed to end six years of civil war in the world’s newest country.

Pope Francis shocked the church and political leaders present at the retreat in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the official Vatican guest house which is also home to Pope Francis, when he broke off from his prepared remarks to make a personal plea to Sudan’s political leaders.

Read the entire article here.

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Nuevo recurso litúrgico: El Libro de servicios ocasionales 2018 Descarga disponible en inglés y español.

Fri, 04/12/2019 - 12:11pm

[9 de abril, 2019] La Comisión Permanente de Liturgia y Música (SCLM) se complace en anunciar la publicación del Libro de servicios ocasionales 2018. La disponibilidad de este recurso litúrgico es el resultado de las medidas adoptadas en la 79ª Convención General de La Iglesia Episcopal del verano pasado.

El Libro de servicios ocasionales 2018, un volumen que acompaña al Libro de Oración Común, es una colección de recursos litúrgicos relacionados con ocasiones que no ocurren, con la frecuencia suficiente, para justificar su inclusión en el Libro de Oración Común. Diseñado para brindar a las congregaciones los recursos que forman a nuestros miembros en la fe episcopal, los ritos y ceremonias contenidos en este libro deben ser entendidos, interpretados y utilizados a la luz de la teología, estructura y direcciones del Libro de Oración Común.

El material incluido en esta colección proviene de una variedad de fuentes, que generalmente surgen del uso específico de las comunidades de culto involucradas en el proceso de crear respuestas litúrgicas en ocasiones particulares en la vida de la Iglesia. Se incluyen las bendiciones de animales del día de San Francisco y los ritos para el 12 de diciembre, día de la Virgen de Guadalupe.

Donde sea apropiado, en lugar de los ritos completos, el Libro de servicios ocasionales 2018 incluye párrafos de los principios y pautas establecidos para elaborar liturgias en contextos particulares. Por ejemplo, los recursos para el Día de Muertos se ofrecen en forma de esquema. Una parte del formato del esquema es un deseo expresado de que aquellas congregaciones que quieran desarrollar y utilizar el rito, lo hagan en colaboración con las comunidades para quienes la celebración ya es un evento culturalmente importante, creando oportunidades para un aprecio más profundo y amor en las congregaciones.

Este material incluido en el Libro de servicios ocasionales 2018 está autorizado por la Convención General para su uso en toda La Iglesia Episcopal.

El Libro de servicios ocasionales 2018, que se ofrece en inglés y en español, está disponible como descarga gratuita en la página de publicaciones del sitio web de la Convención General, en https://www.generalconvention.org/publications#liturgy.

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La Dióceis de Maine anunció el exitoso proceso de consentimiento canónico

Fri, 04/12/2019 - 12:07pm

[11 de abril de 2019] La Diócesis Episcopal de Maine recibió una notificación del Obispo Presidente y Primado Michael B. Curry y del Registrador de la Convención General, el Reverendo Canónigo Michael Barlowe, de que el obispo electo Thomas James Brown ha recibido la mayoría requerida de consentimientos en el proceso de consentimiento canónico detallado en Canon III.11.3.

Al dar consentimiento a su ordenación y consagración, los Comités Permanentes y los obispos con jurisdicción dan fe de que “no hay impedimento debido al cual” el obispo electo Brown no debe ser ordenado como obispo, y que su elección se llevó a cabo de acuerdo con los cánones.

El Reverendo Thomas James Brown fue elegido obispo el 9 de febrero. El Obispo Presidente Curry oficiará en su ordenación y servicio de consagración el 22 de junio.

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La Diócesis de San Diego anunció el exitoso proceso de consentimiento canónico

Fri, 04/12/2019 - 12:05pm

[12 de abril de 2019] La Diócesis Episcopal de San Diego recibió una notificación del Obispo Presidente y Primado Michael B. Curry y del registrador de la Convención General, el Reverendo Canónigo Michael Barlowe, de que la obispa electa Susan Brown Snook ha recibido la mayoría requerida de consentimientos en el proceso de consentimiento canónico detallado en Canon III.11.3.

Al dar consentimiento a su ordenación y consagración, los Comités Permanentes y los obispos con jurisdicción dan fe de que “no hay impedimento debido al cual” la obispa electa Snook no debe ser ordenada como obispa, y que su elección se llevó a cabo de acuerdo con los cánones.

La Reverenda Canóniga Susan Brown Snook fue elegida obispa el 2 de febrero. El Obispo Presidente Curry oficiará en su ordenación y servicio de consagración el 15 de junio.

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Maryland partnership blends Episcopal-Lutheran congregations while upholding both traditions

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 4:03pm

Parishioners of the Churches of Holy Apostles & St. Stephen gather for the first time March 3 in the home of their partnered congregation in Arbutus, Maryland. Photo: Diocese of Maryland

[Episcopal News Service] Communion at 901 Courtney Road in Arbutus, Maryland, looks a bit different from Communion at most Episcopal congregations. Worshipers choose between wine and grape juice, with the option of drinking out of small individual cups instead of the common cup.

The reason? This congregation is a little bit Episcopal and a little bit Lutheran.

The Episcopal Church of the Holy Apostles hasn’t quite merged with St. Stephen Lutheran Church, but on March 3, through a cost-saving partnership between the two struggling congregations, they began worshipping together in the same building and sharing the leadership of the Rev. Jim Perra, an Episcopal priest who now serves as both rector of Holy Apostles and pastor of St. Stephen.

The Rev. Jim Perra presides March 3 at the last service in the former Church of the Holy Apostles in Arbutus, Maryland. The congregation now worships with at a nearby Lutheran church through a partnership with that congregation. Photo: Diocese of Maryland

“It shows the faithfulness of the people in these two congregations that they had less interest in a comfortable death … than they did in doing hard and sacrificial things,” Perra told Episcopal News Service by phone. His expanded congregation now calls itself the Churches of the Holy Apostles & St. Stephen.

With The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, or ELCA, in full communion with each other since 2001, these kinds of partnerships, though still rare, are growing more common around the country for a variety of reasons, including in places like Arbutus where two congregations see sharing worship space and clergy as a difficult but fruitful path to continued viability.

“There’s no one way this happens,” said the Rev. Margaret Rose, ecumenical and interreligious deputy to The Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop, and she added that these partnerships aren’t solely motivated by an interest in financial survival.

“That’s, I really think, the important thing,” Rose told ENS. “It’s about uncovering or revealing the unity of the church.”

Rose referenced part of the Book of Common Prayer’s Eucharistic Prayer D: “Remember, Lord, your one holy catholic and apostolic Church, redeemed by the blood of your Christ. Reveal its unity, guard its faith, and preserve it in peace.”

“What Maryland has discovered is how joyful that is,” Rose said, “much to their surprise.”

The Churches of the Holy Apostles & St. Stephen benefited from a successful “Lutherpalian” model close by, in Baltimore, where the Church of the Nativity and Holy Comforter has nurtured the two Christian traditions under one roof since 2015. At Nativity and Holy Comforter, the two congregations took their partnership a step further and formerly merged into one, overcoming an array of logistical challenges.

The Rev. Stewart Lucas celebrates Holy Baptism at the Church of the Nativity and Holy Comforter in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Rev. Stewart Lucas, the Episcopal priest who leads Nativity and Holy Comforter, said his congregation decided early on that it didn’t want administrative duplication – the committees, the bank accounts, the insurance policies, the tax IDs – to hinder the congregation’s higher focus on mission and ministry. And the congregation chose not to split its Sunday Eucharist into distinctly Episcopal and Lutheran services. They preferred worshiping together.

“We want to sing with a hundred instead of 50 people,” Lucas said.

He now offers guidance to other congregations considering similar partnerships, and he advised Perra on the process at Holy Apostles & St. Stephen. “We’re kind of cheerleaders for them, because we think the church is about people and not the buildings,” Lucas said.

Those sentiments were echoed by Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton. “The church is not distinct along congregational and denominational lines,” Sutton said in an emailed statement. “We’re all in this together. All of us. Visionary leadership such as that demonstrated by Jim Perra and Stewart Lucas leads the way for the people of the congregation to see the possibilities, praise, joy and happiness inherent in partnering.”

The Maryland congregations are just two of about 65 Episcopal-Lutheran partnerships of various kinds across the country, such as Epiphany Lutheran-Episcopal Church in Valdez, Alaska, and All Saints in Big Sky, Montana, both of which ENS profiled in 2016 for a series on the 15th anniversary of Called to Common Mission.

That 2001 full communion agreement between The Episcopal Church and the ECLA, which allowed Episcopal clergy to preside at Lutheran services and Lutheran clergy at Episcopal services, acknowledged the theological common ground between two denominations and their shared Christian roots. It also opened the door for Episcopal and Lutheran congregations to pursue blended worshiping communities.

Ecumenism “is about revealing that unity God intended from the very beginning,” Rose said, but it doesn’t require elimination of differences. “Our unity is not about uniformity.”

That spirit guides the partnership at Holy Apostles & St. Stephen in Arbutus. “Who knows what the future will hold, but we’re interested in what it would mean to have an Episcopal and Lutheran church that celebrates the two traditions with a degree of specificity,” Perra said.

Before the partnership, Holy Apostles’ Sunday services were only drawing about 50 people, Perra said. The numbers were about the same at St. Stephen. Each congregation began taking a sobering look at the future, and each concluded it could not survive for long with revenue failing to match expenses.

“We could count the death of both congregations within a decade,” said Perra, who joined Holy Apostles as rector in 2014.

Perra’s counterpart at St. Stephen, the Rev. John Sabatelli, was looking to retire as pastor, but his Lutheran congregation hadn’t found a pastor to replace him. After discussions between the two congregations, church leaders proposed giving Perra the dual role of rector and pastor, and the blended congregation would worship at the St. Stephen church.

Holy Apostles parishioners carry items from their old church building as they make their way to their new home at St. Stephen on March 3.

That plan, with the approval and support of both churches’ bishops, gained momentum last summer with a trial clergy swap: When Perra went on vacation, Sabatelli presided that Sunday at Holy Apostles – and took his Lutheran congregation with him to worship at the Episcopal church. And Perra took his congregation with him to worship at St. Stephen when he covered for Sabatelli’s vacation.

From there, the partnership came together rather quickly, “by the standards of two mainline Protestant traditions, where things move at a glacial pace,” Perra said.

On March 3, to celebrate finalizing the partnership, the two congregations began their Sunday worship service at Holy Apostles. After Communion, they said a prayer of thanks for that church space. They collected items from Holy Apostles and carried them in a procession of about a mile to the worship space at St. Stephen. There, they dressed the altar and concluded the service.

That has been home base ever since.

Parishioners of the Churches of the Holy Apostles & St. Stephen walk in a procession March 3 from the former Holy Apostles church to their new combined worship space at St. Stephen. Photo: Diocese of Maryland

“This is not something I’d ever thought I’d be party to,” Perra said, but he sees a newfound energy in his combined worshiping community as it commits itself to thriving, not just surviving.

The blended congregation will keep both church properties, since the former Holy Apostles facility remains an active site for community meetings, and several Burmese congregations rent the former Episcopal church for their worship services.

With Holy Apostles & St. Stephen’s typical Sunday attendance now reaching about 100, the two congregations haven’t really lost any members in the transition, Perra said, though some might feel more comfortable taking a Sunday off now and then because they don’t fear their church is at the verge of folding in their absence.

As for denominational distinctions, Episcopalians still can attend a spoken service from the Book of Common Prayer at 8 a.m., but few of them do. Most parishioners attend a hybrid service with singing at 10 a.m., which Perra calls “the big show.”

Both traditions are reflected at the Churches of the Holy Apostles & St. Stephen, though Perra admits his Episcopal training still leaves him with a learning curve as a new Lutheran pastor. “I’m in the process of being Lutheran enough for my Lutherans,” 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 Diócesis de Northern California anunció el exitoso proceso de consentimiento canónico

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 11:58am

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] La Diócesis Episcopal de Northern California recibió una notificación del Obispo Presidente y Primado Michael B. Curry y del registrador de la Convención General, el Reverendo Canónigo Michael Barlowe, de que la obispa electa Megan Traquair ha recibido la mayoría requerida de consentimientos en el proceso de consentimiento canónico detallado en Canon III.11.3.

Al dar consentimiento a su ordenación y consagración, los Comités Permanentes y los obispos con jurisdicción dan fe de que “no hay impedimento debido al cual” la obispa electa Traquair no debe ser ordenada como obispa, y que su elección se llevó a cabo de acuerdo con los cánones.

La Reverenda Canóniga Megan Traquair fue elegida obispa el 9 de febrero. El Obispo Presidente Curry oficiará en su ordenación y servicio de consagración el 29 de junio.

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Episcopal groups plan gun violence ‘action’ weekend in Colorado 20 years after Columbine

Tue, 04/09/2019 - 4:04pm

Students arrive for class March 14, 2018, at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, before participating in a National School Walkout to honor the 17 students and staff members killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Photo: Reuters

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Peace Fellowship, in collaboration with Bishops United Against Gun Violence and more than a dozen other groups, is planning a series of anti-gun violence events this month to remember the victims of the Columbine school shooting 20 years ago and to renew advocates’ commitment to preventing future massacres.

The “Remember and Renew Weekend,” described as an anti-violence pilgrimage to Columbine, will be held April 26 to 28 in and around Littleton, Colorado, where on April 20, 1999, two students opened fire at Columbine High School killing 12 fellow students and one teacher before the pair shot and killed themselves. The violence at Columbine shocked the nation, with its tragic distinction as the United States’ deadliest school shooting, but that attack has since been eclipsed by even deadlier horrors at schools, from Newtown, Connecticut, to Parkland, Florida.

Bishop Mark Beckwith, the former diocesan bishop in Newark, New Jersey, remembers being a parish priest in Worcester, Massachusetts, and in the middle of a vestry meeting when the news about Columbine broke.

“It sank everybody’s stomach down to the floor, and we stopped the meeting and we prayed. It’s important to do that,” Beckwith told Episcopal News Service. “What we’re learning in Bishops United Against Gun Violence is thoughts and prayers are essential, but if we stop there, we’re involuntarily allowing this epidemic to continue.”

Beckwith and Bishop Dan Edwards, the former Nevada bishop, will be in Colorado this month to attend the Remember and Renew Weekend as part of their involvement with Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a network of 80 bishops that formed in the wake of the 2014 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown that killed 26 students and educators.

Advocates for gun safety reforms face an uphill battle despite the continued frequency of mass shootings, but Beckwith and others involved with the Columbine pilgrimage expressed cautious optimism for the future. “It seems that the landscape is changing with respect to gun violence prevention,” Beckwith said.

That new landscape has a lot to do with the advocacy of young people, particularly after the February 2018 shooting in Parkland at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 14 students and three teachers were killed. Survivors of the Parkland shooting responded by fueling a grassroots movement, March for Our Lives, that supporters say has the potential to shake up the political status quo.

“They refused to simply accept our thoughts and prayers and demanded ‘never again,’” said Bob Lotz, an Episcopalian from Lexington, Michigan, who leads the Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s gun violence prevention action group. Lotz will moderate a discussion April 26 after a viewing of the Michael Moore documentary “Bowling for Columbine” at Iliff School of Theology in Denver.

Also that day at the seminary, Colorado Bishop-elect Kym Lucas will participate in a panel discussion on the culture of violence in the United States from an African American perspective. Lucas told ENS in an emailed statement that violence, such as the horrors of Columbine in 1999, is enabled by a “culture of contempt and resentment.”

The Rev. Kym Lucas

“The Christian faith is a faith that affirms life and love,” Lucas said. “Those who follow Jesus must speak and live those values. … We have chosen to let love, not contempt, define us. We know violence is not the answer and we will be that witness now and in the future.”

The weekend series was scheduled a week after the Columbine anniversary partly to avoid overlapping with Holy Week observances – April 20 falls on Holy Saturday this year.

The community of Littleton has scheduled its own events to remember the victims of the massacre 20 years ago. Those events include a memorial service at a Littleton church on April 18, a community vigil at the Columbine Memorial on April 19 and a remembrance service in a Littleton park on April 20.

The subsequent Remember and Renew Weekend to be convened by the Episcopal Peace Fellowship is part of the organization’s 80th anniversary Year of Action, which started last year with a pilgrimage to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. Standing Rock’s opposition to an oil pipeline project, seen as a threat to the reservation’s drinking water, generated support from across The Episcopal Church.

By remembering the victims of Columbine as part of Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s Year of Action, organizers are emphasizing ways that participants and Episcopalians back home can get involved in the fight against gun violence. “We want to empower the people who come to the pilgrimage to do something about it,” Episcopal Peace Fellowship Executive Director Melanie Atha told ENS.

Events on April 27 have been planned with that goal in mind. St. John’s Cathedral in Denver will host a morning session on advocacy called “Finding Your Voice.” Then St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Centennial will host a networking lunch followed by educational and policy workshops. The day will conclude with a vigil at the Columbine Memorial followed by a dinner and reflection at Columbine Unitarian Universalist Church.

The events on April 28 will include a worship service at St. Timothy’s in the morning and an interfaith service in the evening at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch.

Faith groups have been active in collaborating on this weekend of events, but the list of supporters also includes a range of Colorado nonprofits and advocacy groups that aren’t tied to faith traditions, such as Colorado Ceasefire and Colorado Healing Fund.

“We’re looking forward to ongoing collaboration between the organizations into the next year,” said the Rev. Bob Davidson, national chair of Episcopal Peace Fellowship and an associate rector at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Estes Park, Colorado. “I hope that there’s a legacy of commitment to not have an incident like Columbine happen in our community again.”

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

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Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury to lead spiritual retreat for South Sudan’s leaders

Tue, 04/09/2019 - 2:23pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Political and Christian leaders from South Sudan will gather in the Vatican this week for an unprecedented spiritual retreat led by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Pope Francis. The retreat was described by Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti as a “propitious occasion for reflection and prayer, as well as an occasion for encounter and reconciliation, in a spirit of respect and trust, to those who in this moment have the mission and the responsibility to work for a future of peace and prosperity for the South Sudanese people.”

Read the entire article here.

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Anglican treasurer shot dead in robbery at diocesan office in Akure, Nigeria

Tue, 04/09/2019 - 2:22pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The “gentle and soft spoken” bursar of the Anglican Diocese of Akure in Nigeria’s Ondo State, Gabriel Abiodun, has been shot and killed by robbers who escaped with ₦500,000 Naira (approximately $1,300). The incident happened April 4 at 8:30 a.m. Abiodun had returned to the diocesan offices from the bank, where he had just withdrew the money, when the gunmen struck.

Read the entire article here.

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Thy Kingdom Come: Archbishops invite global church to pray for people to come faith

Tue, 04/09/2019 - 12:33pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and John Sentamu, have invited Christians around the world to pray for more people to know Christ. The invitation comes in the run-up to the now-annual Thy Kingdom Come global wave of prayer, which runs from Ascension to Pentecost. The invitation was initially given to clergy of the Church of England in 2016, but was quickly adopted by Christian leaders of different denominations in the UK and around the world.

Read the entire article here.

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Anglican Communion appoints ACNS Editor Gavin Drake as director for communications

Tue, 04/09/2019 - 12:31pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The editor of the Anglican Communion News Service, Gavin Drake, is to be the next director for communications for the Anglican Communion. Drake, who has a long track record as a respected journalist, also has extensive experience in communications and public relations, having previously worked as senior communications officer for the Evangelical Alliance in the UK and director of communications for the Church of England’s Diocese of Lichfield. He will succeed Adrian Butcher when he stands down next month.

Read the entire article here.

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Anglican Communion’s gender-justice champion, Terrie Robinson, to step down

Tue, 04/09/2019 - 12:29pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglican Communion Director for Women in Church and Society the Rev. Terrie Robinson is to step down at the end of May.  Robinson joined the staff of the Anglican Communion Office more than 16 years ago to support ecumenical and intra-Anglican dialogues. Within a few years she was asked to take on a role supporting the official Anglican Communion Networks and was asked to create a women’s desk.

Read the entire article here.

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Archbishops invite global church to pray for people to come to faith

Tue, 04/09/2019 - 10:12am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of York John Sentamu have invited Christians around the world to pray for more people to know Christ. The invitation comes in the run-up to the annual Thy Kingdom Come global wave of prayer, which runs from Ascension to Pentecost. The invitation was initially given to clergy of the Church of England in 2016, but was quickly adopted by Christian leaders of different denominations in the U.K. and around the world.

Read the full article here.

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