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Global prayer urged as tribal violence claims lives in Congo

Mon, 02/05/2018 - 2:29pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans around the world are being asked to pray for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo as tribal violence continues to claim lives in the Ituri Province in the north-eastern area of the country. The Ituri city of Bunia is home to one of the largest UN peacekeeping forces in Africa as international troops seek to intercede between the warring Lendu and Hema peoples. At the weekend, 26 people were killed when a Hema village 31 miles north of Bunia was attacked by Lendu tribes people. The Rev. Bisoke Balikenga, national youth co-ordinator of the Anglican Church of Congo is urging Anglicans to pray for the country.

Read the full article here.

La Ofrenda del Beato Absalón Jones Asiste a los Institutos y Universidades Episcopales Históricamente Negros

Fri, 02/02/2018 - 2:53pm

En honor a la celebración del Mes de la Historia Negra durante febrero y al Beato Absalón Jones, el primer sacerdote afroamericano en la Iglesia Episcopal, el Obispo Presidente Michael Curry ha pedido mayor comprensión y compromiso con los Institutos y Universidades Históricamente Negros, conocidos como HBCUs.

El Obispo Presidente invita a los episcopales “a profundizar nuestra participación en el ministerio de reconciliación de Cristo dedicando las ofrendas en las celebraciones de las festividades de Absalón Jones para apoyar a los dos Institutos y Universidades Episcopales Históricamente Negros (HBCU) que quedan: La Universidad de San Agustín en Raleigh, Carolina del Norte, y el Instituto Voorhees en Dinamarca, S.C.”

Los dos institutos de educación superior se fundaron a finales del siglo XIX como empresa misionera de la Iglesia Episcopal. “Estas universidades brindan oportunidades educativas, económicas y sociales a comunidades de escasos recursos, y ofrecen muchas bendiciones en la vida de la Iglesia Episcopal”, dijo.

Las donaciones a HBCUs proporcionarán ayuda muy necesaria para ofrecer becas competitivas y ayuda financiera, atraer y retener a profesores excepcionales, apoyar investigación de vanguardia de la facultad, instalar nueva y mejorada tecnología en todo el campus, y proporcionar un aula de última generación y equipo atlético.

“La Iglesia Episcopal estableció e hizo un convenio de por vida con estas universidades, y son una parte esencial del tejido de nuestra vida compartida”, señaló el Obispo Presidente.

HBCUs
Si bien una vez hubo diez universidades episcopales como estas, hoy en día Voorhees y San Agustín son las únicas que quedan.

La Universidad de San Agustín (SAU, por su sigla en inglés) fue fundada en 1867 por la diócesis episcopal de Carolina del Norte. Ubicada en Raleigh, la Universidad de San Agustín cuenta con más de 1.000 estudiantes que buscan completar sus Licenciaturas en Artes o Ciencias, mientras que estudiantes adultos emprenden estudios avanzados en Justicia Penal, Gestión Organizativa y Estudios Religiosos. La misión de la universidad es respaldar una comunidad de aprendizaje en la cual los estudiantes se preparan académica, social y espiritualmente para asumir posiciones de liderazgo en un mundo complejo, diverso y en constante cambio.

El Instituto Voorhes, localizado en Denmark, Carolina del Sur, es un instituto privado históricamente negro que provee licenciaturas en el campo de las Artes Liberales. El Instituto Voorhees fue fundado en 1897 por la joven afroamericana Elizabeth Evelyn Wright como la Escuela Industrial Denmark. La Srta. Wright, que estudio bajo Booker T. Washington, soñaba con lo que parecía entonces un sueño imposible, empezar una escuela para jóvenes afroamericanos en el condado rural de Bamberg en Carolina del Sur.

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Para más información comuníquese con Tara Elgin Holley, directora de Desarrollo de la Iglesia Episcopal a tholley@episcopalchurch.org

Absalón Jones
Absalón Jones es honrado en la Iglesia Episcopal el 13 de febrero. Jones fue un clérigo afroamericano abolicionista, y el primer afroamericano ordenado sacerdote en la Iglesia Episcopal. Absalón Jones nació esclavizado bajo Abrahán Wynkoop en 1746 en Delaware. Jones se mudó a Filadelfia después de que su amo vendió su plantación junto con la madre de Absalón y seis hermanos. Jones compró la libertad de su esposa Mary y más tarde su amo le concedió la emancipación en 1784.

En 1787, junto con su amigo Richard Allen, fundó la Sociedad Africana Libre, una organización benéfica de ayuda mutua que fue la primera de este tipo organizada por y para las personas negras. El obispo William White ordenó diácono a Jones en 1795 y sacerdote el 21 de septiembre de 1802. Jones sirvió fielmente a la gente en la Iglesia Episcopal Africana de Santo Tomás en Filadelfia, una iglesia que sigue siendo una congregación vibrante.

“A medida que nos acercamos a febrero, el recuerdo del Beato Absalón Jones, el primer sacerdote afroamericano en la Iglesia Episcopal, tenemos la oportunidad única de celebrar su memoria y honrar el testimonio de las dos universidades que continúan formando nuevos líderes”, dijo el Obispo Presidente Curry. “En honor al compromiso de Jones de promover la educación de los afroamericanos y promover el desarrollo de líderes afroamericanos en todos los ámbitos de la vida, la Iglesia Episcopal se complace en designar a la Universidad de San Agustín y al Instituto Voorhees como beneficiarios de las ofrendas de las Festividades de Absalón Jones de 2018”.

Los encartes para los boletines están disponibles aquí.

El Obispo Primado visita congregaciones de Houston y ofrece apoyo en medio de las secuelas del huracán Harvey

Fri, 02/02/2018 - 2:44pm

El Obispo primado Michael Curry conversa con el Rdo. Andy Parker, rector de la iglesia episcopal Emanuel en Houston occidental, una iglesia que sufrió grandes daños al paso del huracán Harvey. Foto de Carol Barnwell

[Diócesis Episcopal de Texas] Durante la visita del obispo primado Michael Curry a la Diócesis de Texas los días 30 y 31 de enero, el clero y los miembros de la Iglesia compartieron historias de la épica inundación que trajo consigo el huracán  Harvey.

En algunos lugares, Harvey dejó caer más de 127 centímetros de lluvia durante cuatro días a finales de agosto, y su impacto se dejó sentir a través de 41 condados con medio millón de viviendas afectadas y daños que se calculan en más de $190.000 millones.

La tormenta que causó esa inundación histórica parecía difícil de imaginar esta semana en Houston en que un cielo despejado y temperaturas suaves recibían al Obispo Primado y a su equipo. Curry estaba acompañado por Sharon Jones, su coordinadora ejecutiva; Abigail Nelson, vicepresidente de programas del Fondo Episcopal de Ayuda y Desarrollo y Geoffrey Smith, director de operaciones de la Iglesia Episcopal.

Una vez que retiraron los escombros, las cosas pueden parecer bastante normales, hasta que uno entra en la nave de una iglesia, y mira a través de los travesaños, aulas, oficinas y el salón parroquial que se encuentra más allá y tiene que andar con cuidado para no tropezar con los grandes pernos que sobresalen en el desnudo piso de concreto que alguna vez sostuvieron la baranda del altar. Cinco meses después del Harvey, en muchas iglesias y en miles de casas se sigue percibiendo el hedor de las aguas pútridas que dejó la inundación y el moho sigue buscando un asidero.

La Fundación Episcopal para la Salud [Episcopal Health Foundation] tomó  la pronta decisión de destinar sus recursos a la investigación, le dijo a Curry la presidente y directora ejecutiva Elena Marks en una sesión informativa en la mañana del 30 de enero. La Fundación para la Salud se asoció con la Fundación Kaiser para supervisar la zona afectada y localizar el impacto de la tormenta a fin de mostrar dónde se concentraban los daños y quiénes eran los más afectados.

“No se trata sólo de investigación y mapas”, enfatizó Marks. “Queríamos captar a las comunidades y estamos haciéndoles presentaciones a grupos que realizan labores de socorro con la esperanza de que utilizarán los datos para establecer sus prioridades”.  Los mapas y la investigación resultantes ya han sido consultados más de 30.000 veces.

La investigación revela algunas cosas que merecen mirarse más de cerca. Shao-Chee Sim, vicepresidente de investigación aplicada en la Fundación Episcopal para la Salud, contó que de las 900.000 solicitudes de ayuda que le han presentado a la Agencia Federal para el Manejo de Emergencias (FEMA por su sigla en inglés) la tasa de aprobación para los propietarios de viviendas fue de un 45 por ciento, mientras era del 36 por ciento para los inquilinos. En la lujosa zona Memorial del oeste de Houston, el 66 por ciento de las 2000 solicitudes que se presentaron habían sido aprobadas.

Andy Doyle, el obispo de la Diócesis de Texas, dijo que los datos ayudarán a los episcopales y otras personas a proporcionar un diferente tipo de respuesta al desastre. “Queremos aprovechar la investigación para ayudar a los más vulnerables, para tener un efecto a largo plazo dentro de estas comunidades”, señaló.

Al este de Houston, la zona de Beaumont, Orange y Port Arthur —conocida como el Triángulo de Oro — recibió más de 150 centímetros de lluvia durante el Harvey.

Curry escuchó el relato del Keith Giblin, juez federal y sacerdote episcopal bivocacional, que atiende a San Pablo [St. Paul`s] en Orange, donde el 86 por ciento de las casas quedaron dañadas. Aislado de su congregación durante la tormenta, Giblin navegó en su bote de aluminio por las zanjas de drenaje de Beaumont para rescatar a personas. Él fue uno de los miles de ciudadanos que estuvieron entre los primeros en acudir para dedicar días y noches a buscar a personas atrapadas en ocasiones con el agua al cuello.

“Teníamos que arrastrar los botes en algunos lugares debido a que el agua tenía apenas 33 centímetros de profundidad, y a veces más de un metro”, dijo Giblin. Los autos sumergidos, los enjambres flotantes de hormigas rojas, los cables derribados de la electricidad y las serpientes acuáticas asediaban a los que utilizábamos botes, kayaks y flotadores para rescatar víctimas.

Luego del “caos absoluto” de la inundación, siguió diciendo Giblin, San Pablo, que tenía agua en la iglesia, el salón parroquial y las oficinas, celebró oficios en el patio durante más de un mes. “El servir juntos [durante este desastre] nos acercaría más a todos”, afirmó. “Eso es lo que hacemos, ayudarnos unos a otros”.

Otras iglesias episcopales en Beaumont se convirtieron en centros de distribución de agua y útiles de limpieza. El Rdo. Tony Clark, rector de San Marcos  [St. Mark’s] dijo que después de chequear con la congregación y de ofrecer socorro inmediato a los necesitados, su junta parroquial puso el gimnasio al servicio de la comunidad. “ Éramos un almacén, un hotel y un estacionamiento”, dijo. “ La tienda de segunda mano proporcionó paquetes de socorro. Almacenábamos suministros y albergamos a 75 voluntarios de la Cruz Roja durante varias semanas para que no se fueran a un albergue público”.

El Rdo. Stephen Balke rector de San Esteban [St. Stephen’s] le agradeció a Curry el vídeo que él grabó después de la tormenta para ofrecerles [a las víctimas] oraciones y apoyo. “Nos reunimos para adorar y pusimos su vídeo. No puedo decirle cuánto eso nos reanimó el espíritu”.

La congregación ayudó a más de dos docenas de feligreses cuyas casas se inundaron, y cocinaron para toda la comunidad durante semanas.

“Paramos de contar cuando llegamos a servir a 4.000 personas”, dijo Balke. “Cada vez que nuestros suministros escaseaban, se aparecía otro camión. Fue una gran bendición decir ‘sí’, cuando las personas necesitaban ayuda”.

La Rda. Lacy Largent, a cargo de los equipos de auxilios espirituales, enfatizó que el apoyo que llegó de otras partes fue decisivo. Ella puso el ejemplo de Kate Hello, maestra en Lamay, Misurí, que le envió cartas de sus alumnos.

“Le di una carta a un hombre para que la leyera y se echó a llorar”, dijo Largent. “Me excusé por haberlo perturbado, pero él me dijo. ‘No! Usted me ayudó a llorar. Voy a buscarle a mi esposa, para que usted la ayude a llorar”.

Si bien el trauma de la situación que siguió a las inundaciones puede calar hondo, para muchos se ha acentuado con el paso de los meses. “Nadie tenía seguros contra inundaciones”, dijo Giblin. “Esto nunca había sucedido antes y ahora tenemos ancianos que no pueden recuperarse económicamente. Están usando sus cheque de la Seguridad Social para compras planchas de cartón yeso”.

La Rda. Pat Richie, diácona de San Esteban, dijo que ella está viendo más traumas familiares ahora. La gente —especialmente niños— están experimentando alguna especie de choque postraumático. “Ahora cuando llueve, los niños quieren saber si Harvey va a volver. Es una herida que sigue abierta”.

El proceso de reconstrucción se compara a una maratón más bien que a una carrera corta, y Curry afirmó el apoyo de la Iglesia Episcopal a largo plazo. “Somos corredores de largas distancias”, afirmó.

Durante una escala en La Trinidad [Trinity], en Baytown, el Obispo Primado escuchó testimonios del guardián mayor Robert Jordan y de una pareja que él rescató.

“Estuve durante cinco días en el agua en tareas de búsqueda y rescate”. Dio la casualidad que él estaba cerca del hogar donde habían vivido los miembros de la iglesia Duane y Lois Luallin durante 40 años, cuando se enteró de que la pareja de ancianos necesitaba ayuda.

Duane se había caído y era incapaz de levantarse, y los servicios de emergencia estaban sobrecargados. Jordan llegó en cinco minutos y transportó a los Luallin a un sitio seguro. Los llevó a su casa donde se secaron y les dio de comer y donde se quedaron durante casi un mes hasta que se mudaron a un apartamento.

“¿Cree usted que el Señor nos abandonó? No, él estaba allí con nosotros”, dijo Luallin. “La gente trajo cajas, cosas empacadas, y se llevó las nuestras para enviarlas a la lavandería y a la tintorería. No hubiéramos podido hacer todo por nuestra cuenta”.

Lois Luallin, a la izquierda, le cuenta a  Curry como ella y su marido, Duane, fueron rescatados por Robert Jordan, guardián mayor de la iglesia de La Trinidad, en Baytown, mientras las aguas del huracán Harvey inundaban su casa de 40 años. Foto de Carol Barnwell.

La iglesia de La Trinidad también le sirvió desayuno a los primeros intervinientes y le brindó alimento a toda hora a cualquiera que estuviera hambriento.

“Obispo Curry, puede sentirse alentado de que el Movimiento de Jesús está vivo en La Trinidad”, le dijo la Rda. Micki Ríos, diácona de esa iglesia.

Durante su visita a Texas, Curry y su equipo también se reunieron con clérigos hispanos de la iglesia episcopal de San Mateo en el suroeste de Houston.

El Rdo. Janssen Gutiérrez, rector de San Mateo, acababa de empezar su nuevo trabajo cuando Harvey derribó cuatro de los seis edificios del campus. La congregación de 300 a 400 feligreses estuvo congregándose en tiendas de campaña durante dos meses y actualmente ha visto acrecido su número, dijo Gutiérrez.

Andy Doyle, obispo de la  Diócesis de Texas, a la derecha, observa mientras algunas personas toman fotos con sus celulares del obispo Curry que posa con miembros de la iglesia episcopal de San Mateo. Foto de Carol Barnwell

El Rdo. Pedro López, vicario de la iglesia de San Pedro, en el sureste de Houston, contó que los vecinos ayudaban a los vecinos. “Nos convertimos en distribuidores de alimentos durante casi dos meses”, dijo.  “La iglesia fue fundamental en ayudar a las personas a encontrar lo que necesitaban. Acudieron millares de personas”.

Curry les agradeció a los miembros de la iglesia que hubieran preparado, la segunda mañana de la visita, un abundante desayuno con pupusas,  hojuelas de plátano y frijoles colorados hechos en casa.

Él les recordó que Jesús siempre alimentaba a la gente antes de enseñarles.

“Durante los momentos de prueba, cuando la Iglesia está abierta para ofrecer apoyo, esa es la alimentación de la gente”, dijo. Cuando ayudan a las personas a arreglar sus autos para que puedan ir a trabajar, eso es alimentar a la gente. Gracias por lo que han hecho. Quiero ofrecerles el amor, el afecto y las oraciones de nuestros hermanos y hermanas de la Iglesia Episcopal. Ellos están prestos a unirse a ustedes en el trabajo de la reconstrucción”.

Curry también visitó la iglesia episcopal de Santo Tomás [St. Thomas] en el suroeste de Houston donde el grupo fue amenizado brevemente por varios estudiantes que tocaban gaitas en el patio. La iglesia y la escuela de 600 estudiantes resultó seriamente afectada por las inundaciones por tercera vez en dos años. A resulta de lo cual gran parte de la escuela tiene que ser reconstruida.

El grupo concluyó su recorrido de la zonas afectadas en la iglesia Emanuel [Emmanuel Church], donde fueron recibidos por el rector, Rdo. Andy Parker. El edificio de Emanuel está desnudo luego de que el campus se inundara cuando dejaron salir el agua de los depósitos de reserva en los días siguientes al Harvey. Han removido todo hasta las bases, y también deben reemplazar el revestimiento externo.

Miembros del equipo del obispo primado Michael Curry, personal de la Diócesis de Texas y miembros de la iglesia Emanuel y del templo Sinaí se reúnen para orar al término de la visita pastoral del Obispo Primado a las áreas afectadas por el Harvey. Foto de Carol Barnwell.

La congregación de Emanuel sigue reuniéndose en el vecino templo Sinaí [una sinagoga] donde no pasa inadvertida la sacralidad de colocar el altar temporal encima de la plataforma desde donde se lee la Torá.

“Ha sido una bendición cada semana¨, dijo la rabina Annie Belford, aunque ella reconoce que algunos de los miembros de su congregación se sorprendieron de tener una cruz en su santuario. “La colaboración cariñosa es increíble. Es lo que hacemos por nuestros prójimos”.

La rabina Annie Belford del templo Sinaí, a la izquierda, y el Rdo. Andy Parker, rector de la iglesia episcopal Emanuel en Houston posan con el Obispo Primado durante una visita de Curry a Emanuel. Belford se puso en contacto con Parker inmediatamente después de que Emanuel se inundó  —luego que vaciaran los depósitos de agua de Houston en agosto pasado— para ofrecer un espacio de culto en el templo Sinaí.  Foto de Carol Barnwell.

Esa bendición fluye en ambos sentidos, explicó Belford. “En el curso de todo esto, a mi madre le diagnosticaron cáncer y las mujeres de Emanuel le hicieron una manta de retazos de manera que ella duerme todas las noches arropada por las oraciones de la iglesia Emanuel”.

El Obispo Primado le preguntó a todas las personas con quienes se reunió lo que querían decirles a sus hermanos episcopales, Para una persona, todo el mundo reconocía que recibir oraciones y apoyo de los demás les había dado impulsos para proseguir.

Lance Ferguson, recién electo guardián mayor en Emanuel, dijo, “hemos tenido ayuda de todas partes del mundo. No lo logramos solos, y eso les ha abierto los ojos a la gente aquí. Uno puede sobreponerse a cualquier cosa si sabe que cuenta con apoyo”, afirmó.

Algunas encuestas hechas por el Fondo Episcopal de Ayuda y Desarrollo después de Harvey mostraban que en sólo unos pocos meses, y con el apoyo económico y los suministros enviados por episcopales de todo el país y del mundo, la Iglesia Episcopal en la Diócesis de Texas ha prestado servicios a más de 90.000 personas afectadas por la tormenta.

“Nos alzamos sobres vuestros hombros”, dijo Richie, el diácono de San Esteban. “Es el vigor de toda la Iglesia el que ha hecho posible la labor que se ha realizado aquí”.

Curry alentó al grupo que se reunió para adorar en Emanuel. “Ustedes, nosotros, no estamos solos, aunque a veces lo sintamos así”, dijo Curry. “Somos hechos para Dios y los unos para los otros, e incluso en medio del infierno puede haber atisbos de cielo cuando no estamos solos”, expresó. resaltando las muchas veces que los vecinos han acudido en ayuda de sus  vecinos durante las inundaciones del Harvey y después.

Yendo más lejos, la misión de la Iglesia se orientará hacia la restauración y la reconstrucción, y eso exigirá mucho apoyo, de las iglesias episcopales de la Diócesis de Texas y de más allá. Al Rdo. Stacy Stringer lo han nombrado director de recuperación del huracán para supervisar los centros regionales en las zonas afectadas que ayudarán a coordinar los empeños de reconstrucción que se calcula que tomen de dos a tres años.

“Estamos muy agradecidos de la visita pastoral del obispo Curry y de sus garantías de oraciones y apoyo continuos de la Iglesia de que él fue portador”, dijo Doyle. “Nosotros también seguimos orando por nuestros hermanos y hermanas que se han visto afectados por huracanes, incendios y deslaves. Es en momentos como estos que nuestra comunidad de creyentes resplandece”.

– Carol Barnwell es directora de comunicaciones de la Diócesis Episcopal de Texas. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

This flu season, congregations urged to take common sense health precautions

Fri, 02/02/2018 - 2:31pm

[Episcopal News Service] Has the sound of coughing and the sight of runny noses got you questioning whether to shake hands during the peace or sip from the common cup on Sunday?

With this flu season said to be the worst since 2009, you have reason to be concerned for your health, but Episcopal leaders are advising parishioners to use common sense during worship without letting their precautions get in the way of participating fully in the life of the church.

“There are, I suppose, a million ways to get the flu, and it troubles me that we bring so much of our attention to the common cup as a particular danger,” Diocese of New York Bishop Andrew Dietsche said in a Jan. 19 letter to the diocese, adding there is little evidence that sharing wine during the Eucharist poses a great risk of spreading illness.

“I am concerned that extraordinary practices adopted during the flu season may send the message to our worshippers that the cup is a threat to us – that communion with one another is itself a threat to us – and that those perceptions may be hard to overcome later when the flu danger passes,” Dietsche writes.

The Rev. Thomas Mousin, rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Charlestown, Massachusetts, summed up his advice to the congregation with the phrase, “be a good neighbor.”

“If you are sick, or feeling sick, stay home if you can,” Mousin said Jan. 25 in his weekly email message to parishioners. “It is OK to miss a Sunday at church if you have any reason to believe that you might be catching the flu or are capable of spreading it.”

For those who are well enough to attend services, it also is fine if they choose a friendly wave instead of a handshake as a sign of peace, Mousin said, and “since we understand that Christ is fully present in both the bread and wine, you may choose to refrain from receiving the wine until the flu season has passed.”

Mousin told Episcopal News Service in a phone interview that he agreed with Dietsche that fear of infection need not prevent Episcopalians from remaining active in their congregations, especially when celebrating the Eucharist.

“We don’t want to discourage people from seeing this as a communal activity that’s meant to be part of our regular life,” Mousin said. His intent was to provide liturgical guidance to parishioners so they could decide for themselves whether to alter their routine during the flu season.

Peak flu season typically occurs sometime from November through March, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reports that flu activity now is widespread across the country.

The influenza virus can cause mild to severe respiratory illness that in some cases can lead to hospitalization or death, especially among high-risk populations, such as young children, older patients and people with certain health conditions. Symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.

The CDC’s top recommendation for preventing the flu is to receive the vaccine, even in years when the particular flu strain may seem more resistant to vaccination. Some Episcopal churches have done their part by hosting vaccination clinics, like the one in October at Grace Episcopal Church in Fairfield, California. Grace Episcopal wanted the community to see the church as a “health and wellness resource,” outreach coordinator Ron Cupid told the Daily Republic.

The CDC’s other recommendations for preventing the flu’s spread include avoiding close contact with sick people, covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, washing your hands with soap and water and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

Episcopal Relief & Development’s website also offers faith-based guidelines for how to respond to large-scale outbreaks of diseases like influenza. For example, clergy members should wash their hands before services. Other guidelines mirror the advice Mousin and others have given their parishioners: Stay home if you’re sick. Share the peace with a wave if you don’t want to shake hands.

“Those who are concerned may abstain from communion or receive ‘in one kind’ (host only),” Episcopal Relief & Development advises, though it also says there is little need for concern. “Use of the common cup with proper purificator procedure presents relatively low risk; intinction should be avoided.”

Cases of flu and hospitalizations are on the rise across the country, and the CDC said last week people are seeing their health care providers for flu-like illnesses at the highest rate since the 2009 pandemic, when the flu season also was dominated by fears of a strain called “swine flu.” Congregations took special precautions during that flu outbreak, too, with some going as far as to replace the handshake with a bow and doing away with the communal cup altogether.

The precautions being considered this year aren’t limited to Episcopal congregations.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, Maine, announced in January it was asking parishes to suspend certain rituals of Mass: sharing wine, shaking hands at the peace and holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer. In Buffalo, New York, the Roman Catholic diocese issued a similar list of directives, including a command to parishes to drain their holy water fonts and clean them regularly.

Mousin emphasized that the precautions at St. John’s are voluntary, and he hasn’t noticed a decrease in the 75 to 80 people who typically attend the church’s two services on Sunday.

“Our parish has not, knock on wood, been significantly affected by the flu this season,” he said.

Dietsche, in his letter to the Diocese of New York, shared his personal list of precautions, which he followed during the 2009 flu outbreak and is following this year, starting with getting the flu shot and washing his hands often.

“I never failed to drink from the common cup. I never failed to shake the hands of my brothers and sisters as I greeted them at the door. I used a little Purel after those greetings. I washed my hands before I ate food.

“I didn’t worry about getting the flu at church.”

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

Anglican school in Sri Lanka welcomes British royal visitors

Fri, 02/02/2018 - 11:01am

[Anglican Communion News Service] A Sri Lankan Anglican school founded in 1872 by a priest working for the Church Missionary Society was this week visited by the Earl and Countess of Wessex – Prince Edward and his wife Sophie. Trinity College in Kandy was founded as the Kandy Collegiate School by the Rev. Richard Collins in what was then British Ceylon. Prince Edward, the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II, is visiting Sri Lanka with his wife on behalf of the queen as part of celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the country’s independence.

Read the full article here.

Martyred Ugandan archbishop honored in church’s new finance building

Fri, 02/02/2018 - 10:55am

[Anglican Communion News Service] A new 16-story commercial office suite in the heart of Uganda’s financial district will carry the name of martyred Archbishop Janani Luwum.

The building, to be known as Janani Luwum Church House, was first envisioned by Archbishop Luwum before he was murdered on the orders of Idi Amin in February 1977. The building, which is being constructed by the Church of Uganda with the support of the Kenyan-based Equity Bank, will provide an income stream to support the ministry of the province.

Read the full article here.

Presiding Bishop tours Houston-area congregations, offers support in aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

Thu, 02/01/2018 - 5:45pm

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry talks with the Rev. Andy Parker, rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in west Houston, a church that sustained major damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Photo: Carol Barnwell

[Episcopal Diocese of Texas] During Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s visit to the Diocese of Texas on Jan. 30 and 31, clergy and church members shared stories of Hurricane Harvey’s epic flooding and aftermath.

In some places, Harvey dropped more than 50 inches of rain in four days last August, and its impact was felt across 41 counties and a half million homes, with damages estimated at more than $190 billion.

The storm that caused such historic flooding seemed hard to imagine this week in Houston as clear skies and mild temperatures greeted the presiding bishop and his team. Curry was joined by Sharon Jones, his executive coordinator; Episcopal Relief & Development Senior Vice President for Programs Abigail Nelson, and Geoffrey Smith, chief operating officer of the Episcopal Church.

Once the debris is hauled away, things can seem pretty normal, until one walks into the nave of a church, looks through the studs to classrooms, offices and the parish hall beyond and has to be careful to avoid tripping over large bolts in the bare concrete floor that once secured the altar railing. Five months after Harvey, in many churches and thousands of homes there remains the odor of floodwaters, and mold still seeks a foothold.

Episcopal Health Foundation made an early decision to deploy its resources into research, President and CEO Elena Marks told Curry at an early morning briefing on Jan. 30. The Health Foundation partnered with the Kaiser Foundation to survey the area affected by Harvey and mapped the storm’s impact to show where damage was concentrated and who was most affected.

“It’s not just research and maps,’’ Marks emphasized. “We wanted to engage communities and are making presentations to groups doing relief work with the hope that they will use data to set their priorities.” The resulting maps and research already have been accessed more than 30,000 times.

The research reveals some things that deserve a closer look. Shao-Chee Sim, vice president of applied research at the Episcopal Health Foundation, said of the 900,000 relief applications filed with Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, the approval rate for homeowners was 45 percent, while it was 36 percent for renters.  In the upscale Memorial area of west Houston, 66 percent of the 2000 applications filed had been approved.

Diocese of Texas Bishop Andy Doyle said the data will help Episcopalians and others provide a different kind of disaster response. “We want to leverage the research to help the most vulnerable, to have a long-term effect within these communities,” he said.

East of Houston, the area of Beaumont, Orange and Port Arthur—known as the Golden Triangle—received more than 60 inches of rain during Harvey.

Curry heard from the Rev. Keith Giblin, a federal judge and bi-vocational Episcopal priest, who serves St. Paul’s in Orange, where 86 percent of the homes were affected. Cut off from his congregation during the storm, Giblin navigated drainage ditches in Beaumont to rescue people in his aluminum fishing boat. He was among thousands of citizens who joined first responders to spend days and nights searching for people trapped in sometimes neck-deep water.

“We had to drag the boats in places because the water could be 13 inches deep, sometimes four feet deep,” Giblin said. Submerged cars, floating clumps of fire ants, downed power lines and water moccasins plagued those who used boats, kayaks and pool floats to rescue victims.

After the “utter chaos” of the flooding, Giblin said, St. Paul’s, which had water in the church, parish hall and offices, held services out in the yard for more than a month. “Serving together [through this disaster] has brought us all closer,” he said. “That’s what we do, we help each other.”

Other Episcopal churches in Beaumont became distribution centers for water and cleaning supplies. The Rev. Tony Clark, rector of St. Mark’s, said after checking on the congregation and providing immediate relief to those in need, his vestry put the church gymnasium to good use for the community. “We were a warehouse, a hotel and a parking lot,” he said. “The thrift shop provided care packages. We warehoused supplies and hosted 75 Red Cross volunteers for several weeks in lieu of being a public shelter.”

St. Stephen’s rector, the Rev. Stephen Balke, thanked Curry for the video he recorded after the storm to offer prayers and support. “We gathered to worship and put your video up. I can’t tell you how much that rallied our spirits,” he said.

The congregation helped the more than two dozen parishioners whose homes were flooded and cooked for the entire community for weeks.

“We stopped counting at 4,000 people served,” Balke said. “Every time our supplies ran low, another truck would pull up. It was a great blessing to say, ‘Yes,’ when people needed help.”

The Rev. Lacy Largent, in charge of spiritual care teams, emphasized that support from elsewhere was critical. She gave the example of Kate Hello, a teacher in Lamay, Missouri, who sent letters from her students.

“I gave a letter to a man to read and he broke down in tears,” Largent said. “I apologized for upsetting him, but he said, ‘No! You helped me cry. I’m going to get my wife so you can help her cry.’”

While trauma in the immediate aftermath of the flood ran deep, for many it has become more profound months later. “No one had flood insurance,” Giblin said. “This has never happened before and now we have senior citizens who can’t come back financially. They are using their Social Security checks to buy drywall.”

The Rev. Pat Richie, deacon at St. Stephens, said she is seeing more family trauma today. People—children especially—are experiencing some post-traumatic shock. “When it rains now, kids want to know if Harvey is coming back. It’s a wound that is still there.”

The process of rebuilding was compared to a marathon rather than a sprint, and Curry affirmed Episcopal Church’s long-term support. “We are long distance runners,” he said.

During a stop at Trinity, Baytown, the presiding bishop heard from Senior Warden Robert Jordan and one couple he rescued.

“I was in the water for five days doing search and rescue,” Jordan told Curry. He happened to be near church members Duane and Lois Luallin’s home of 40 years, when he learned the elderly couple needed help.

Duane had fallen and was unable to get up, and 911 responders were overwhelmed. Jordan arrived in five minutes and ferried the Luallins to safety. He had them dry out and eat at his home, where they stayed for nearly a month before moving to an apartment.

“You think the Lord left us? No, he was right there with us,” Lois Luallin said. “People brought boxes, packed things, took our wash and dry cleaning. We could not have done all that by ourselves.”

Lois Luallin, left, tells Curry how she and her husband, Duane, were rescued by Trinity Episcopal Church’s senior warden, Robert Jordan, in Baytown as flood waters from Harvey rose in their home of 40 years. Photo: Carol Barnwell

Trinity also fed first responders breakfast and provided food at all hours for anyone who was hungry.

“Bishop Curry, you can be encouraged that the Jesus Movement is alive at Trinity,” said the Rev. Micki Rios, Trinity’s deacon.

During his visit to Texas, Curry and his team also met with Hispanic clergy from the Iglesia Episcopal San Mateo in southwest Houston.

The Rev. Janssen Gutierrez, rector of San Mateo, had just begun his new job when Harvey took out four of the campus’ six buildings. The congregation of 300 to 400 worshipped in tents for two months and actually saw an increase in their numbers, Gutierrez said.

The Rev. Pedro Lopez, vicar of Iglesia San Pedro, in southeast Houston, described neighbors helping neighbors. “We became a food distributor for almost two months,” he said. “The church was central to helping people find what they needed. Thousands of people came.”

Diocese of Texas Bishop Andy Doyle, right, looks on cellphones are used to snap photos of Bishop Curry posing with members of Iglesia Episcopal San Mateo. Photo: Carol Barnwell

Curry thanked church members who had prepared a large breakfast of papusas, plantains and homemade red beans on the second morning of his visit.

He reminded them that Jesus always fed people before he would teach them.

“During trying times, when the church is open to offer support, that’s feeding folks,” he said. “When you are helping people get their cars fixed so they can get to work, that’s feeding folks. Thank you for what you have done. I want to offer the love, affection and prayers of your brothers and sisters in the Episcopal Church. They stand ready to join you in the work of rebuilding.”

Curry also toured St. Thomas Episcopal Church in southwest Houston where the group was entertained briefly by several bagpipe students’ practice in the courtyard. The church and school of 600 students was hit hard by flood waters for the third time in two years. Much of the school will be rebuilt as a result.

The group concluded their tour of affected areas at Emmanuel Church, hosted by the rector, the Rev. Andy Parker. Emmanuel’s buildings are bare after the campus flooded when water from the reservoirs was released in the days after Harvey. Everything has been taken down to the studs, and the exterior will also be replaced.

Members of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s team, Diocese of Texas staff and members of Emmanuel and Temple Sinai gather to offer prayers at the conclusion of the presiding bishop’s pastoral visit to areas affected by Harvey. Photo: Carol Barnwell

Emmanuel’s congregation continues to worship at nearby Temple Sinai where the sacredness of placing a temporary altar over the bema, from where to Torah is read, is not lost on anyone.

“It’s been a blessing every week,” Rabbi Annie Belford said, although she admits some of her congregation wondered at having a cross in their sanctuary. “The partnership of the heart is incredible. It’s what we do for our neighbors.’”

Rabbi Annie Belford of Temple Sinai, left, and the Rev. Andy Parker, rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Houston pose with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry during Curry’s visit to Emmanuel. Belford contacted Parker immediately after Emmanuel flooded during the release of water from Houston’s reservoirs last August to offer worship space at Temple Sinai. Photo: Carol Barnwell

That blessing goes both ways, Belford found. “In the course of all this, my mom was diagnosed with cancer and the women of Emmanuel handmade her a quilt so she is sleeping every night wrapped in the prayers of Emmanuel Church.”

The presiding bishop asked all of the people with whom he met what they wanted to tell fellow Episcopalians. To a person, everyone acknowledged that receiving prayers and support from others had kept them going.

Lance Ferguson, newly elected senior warden at Emmanuel, said, “We’ve had help from around the world. We didn’t do it alone, and that’s been an eye-opener for people here. You can get through anything if you know you have support,” he said.

Surveys done by Episcopal Relief & Development after Harvey showed that in just a few months, and with the financial support and supplies from Episcopalians throughout the country and the world, the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Texas had served more than 90,000 people affected by the storm.

“We stand on your shoulders,” said Richie, the St. Stephen’s deacon. “It’s the strength of the wider church that allows work to be done here.”

Curry encouraged the group gathered to worship at Emmanuel. “You, we, are not alone, even if it feels like it sometimes,” Curry said. “We were made for God and each other, and even in midst of hell there can be glimpses of heaven when we are not alone,” he said, noting the many times neighbors have come to the aid of neighbors during and after the waters of Harvey.

Going forward, the church’s mission will pivot to restoration and rebuilding, and that will take much support, from Episcopal churches in the Diocese of Texas and beyond. The Rev. Stacy Stringer has been named director of hurricane recovery to oversee regional centers in the affected areas that will help coordinate rebuilding efforts that are estimated to take two to three years.

“We are so grateful for Bishop Curry’s pastoral visit and for the assurances of continued prayers and support from across the church that he brought,” Doyle said. “We, too, continue to pray for our brothers and sisters who have been affected by hurricanes, fires and mud slides. It is in times such as these, that our community of believers shines the brightest.”

– Carol Barnwell is director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.

Vermont: Burlington’s urban cathedral meets massive change with bold imaginings

Thu, 02/01/2018 - 3:03pm

Members of the Urban Cathedral Study Group are pictured from left to right: John Rouleau, Jenny Sisk, Lisa Schnell, Jeanne Finan, Lee Williams, Paul Van de Graaf, and Josh Brown.

[The Episcopal Church in Vermont] Amid the bustle of construction in the heart of downtown Burlington, VT, there is no denying that the city is changing. To some, the latest architectural developments are outward expressions of cultural shifts that have been remaking the local landscape for some time. With this in mind, members of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul have been exploring the best ways to serve the community as it navigates these shifting internal and external dynamics.

The crux of their efforts has been the Urban Cathedral Study, a research project that has for the past 12 months challenged cathedral members to reimagine the meaning of church and its viability for people who may or may not have any religious leanings. The next phase of the Urban Cathedral project, which begins in February, will empower the congregation to move from imagining to planning.

As published in the January 2018 Urban Cathedral Report, when the members of the Urban Cathedral Study Group began their work a year ago, they decided that planning the future of the cathedral would, in fact, be excluded from their scope. Instead, their aim was “to spend an entire year learning what it means to be an urban cathedral in Burlington by reading, listening and asking questions.” They wanted “to avoid any tendencies toward the prescriptive by remaining open and interrogative” in their approach.

The Very Rev. Jeanne Finan, cathedral dean, explained, “With the Urban Cathedral Study, we wanted to look at what it means to be an urban cathedral in the 21st century, particularly in Burlington. We needed to know more about who we are, not only from our own inside view, but also by asking people in the community, everyone from the mayor to other religious leaders to city council members and so forth.”

In a recent communication to the cathedral, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger wrote, “I appreciate participating in St. Paul’s examination about its future as an urban cathedral. I look forward to seeing how St. Paul’s will become part of the new Cherry Street.”

This positive sentiment has been echoed by Rabbi Amy Small of Burlington’s Ohavi Zedek Synagogue, as well as urbanites outside Burlington who have faced similar challenges and have recognized the wider implications of the Urban Cathedral Study as a best practice, including the Rev. Anne B. Bonnyman, rector of Trinity Church in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Rev. Scott Gunn, director of Forward Movement based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Several members of the Urban Cathedral Study Group presented a creative summary of their progress during the cathedral’s Jan. 21 Annual Meeting. In a series of stories titled Bold Imaginings, the presenters described future possibilities inspired by their year-long practice of reading, listening and questioning.

The Rt. Rev. Thomas C. Ely, bishop of the Episcopal Church in Vermont, said, “We are so fortunate that the Urban Cathedral Study Group has worked so faithfully to bring this report and their Bold Imaginings to us.”

“The Urban Cathedral project is a powerful example of what it means to be a missional church in Vermont, where being missional is about changing, adapting, innovating and improvising to move more deeply into the neighborhoods and communities where we live and move and have our being.”

“The next step,” explains Finan, “will be a presentation to the congregation on February 11 where church members can reflect on the Bold Imaginings and the Urban Cathedral Study, ask additional questions of the Urban Cathedral Study Group, and — under the vestry’s guidance — begin planning for the future.”

The Episcopal Church in Vermont comprises 45 congregations across the Green Mountain State that share in the mission to pray the prayer of Christ, to learn the mind of Christ, and to do the deeds of Christ. The congregations live into this mission through ministries of Formation, Liberation, Communication, Connection, and Celebration. The Episcopal Church in Vermont is a member of the worldwide Anglican communion. Learn more at http://diovermont.org.

— Maurice L. Harris is communications minister for The Episcopal Church in Vermont.

Anglican Alliance launches global focus on anti-slavery initiatives in Freedom Year

Thu, 02/01/2018 - 12:18pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Alliance, which helps to coordinates Anglican churches and agencies to work for a world free of poverty and justice, has launched a yearlong focus on anti-slavery initiatives across the Communion. Through its Freedom Year initiative, the Alliance is inviting people to learn more about human trafficking and modern slavery in the world today, pray for change, and take action to end it.

Read the full article here.

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