Episcopal News Service

Subscribe to Episcopal News Service feed
The official news service of the Episcopal Church.
Updated: 2 hours 50 min ago

Strengthening family ties, sparking transformation with Cuba

Wed, 11/28/2018 - 11:41am

The Episcopal Church in Cuba held its annual General Synod in Havana Feb. 21-23, 2014, and adopted a three-year strategic plan. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] Now that the Diocese of Cuba is officially back in the Episcopal Church’s fold, Bishop Griselda Delgado Del Carpio has big dreams for strengthening family ties and sparking transformation.

For starters, Delgado wants “everybody to know how happy I am to be back in the family” and hopes to extend to other dioceses and congregations the bridges she’s built with the Diocese of Florida, over the past 30 years.

“For 30 years, we have learned to love each other, to work together, to respect each other and share gifts that each community has to offer the other,” she said in a recent telephone interview with the Episcopal News Service, via an interpreter.

“For us, a partnership means for two communities to work together, receiving and giving and valuing each other’s journey in the process, and valuing each other’s gifts.”

After a 52-year estrangement, the 79th General Convention July 5-13, 2018. in Austin, Texas, approved reunification with the Episcopal Church in Cuba.

Resolution A238 called “upon the dioceses, congregations and members of The Episcopal Church to acquaint themselves with the ministries of La Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba,” and to work in harmony and companionship for evangelism, mutual understanding, and the full expression of God’s mission, and to consider ways to be in partnership.

Bishop Griselda—as she is affectionately called—is hoping to live more fully and deeply into the spirit of the resolution, creating partnerships while deepening relationship with U.S. siblings. She aims to spark transformation by focusing on building community through rebuilding churches, and hopes to provide pensions for diocesan clergy.

The diocese encompasses 46 congregations and five small missions that are “becoming and growing and staring to grow up” she said. Each one faces different challenges but “each one can be worked out individually,” Delgado said confidently.

“The main thing is to be able to continue to bring the Good News to the people,” she said, “with the evangelistic tool of love and of knowing Jesus.

“We have much to learn from each other,” she added. “We want to do all of that while reaffirming the identity of the people of Cuba. This is what Cubans have to give to the world, their own experience and journey of faith in the church.”

Evangelism: clean water, hot meals, gardens

Chip Weismiller recently returned from helping to install a water filtration system at Santa Cruz del Norte Episcopal Church near Havana, along with others from St. Luke’s Church in Darien, Connecticut, and from Christ Church in Bronxville, New York.

Members of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Darien, Connecticut, and Christ Church, Bronxville, New York, join their Cuban counterparts to help assemble and install water filtration systems at Santa Cruz del Norte Church. Photo: Stuart Weismiller

It means clean water, not just for the church, but for the entire community, “they are expecting to have 100 people a day come there to get fresh water,” he said.

It is a model for jump-starting ministries in areas with crumbling infrastructure and where, for several generations, the society has not approved of church, according to Pat Cage, who helped form Friends of the Episcopal Church of Cuba, at Delgado’s request.

The U.S.-based volunteer organization was created to assist Delgado to “realize their transformational vision of creating a church that, united in diversity, celebrates, preaches, teaches, serves and shares the love of God,” according to Cage.

“A way Bishop Griselda is trying to rebuild the church community is to serve the basic needs of the people,” according to Cage, a member of St. Luke’s, Darien, who has also visited Cuba.

The Rev. Yamily Bass-Choate, vicar of Iglesia Memorial de San Andres, Yonkers, New York, said her congregation, along with members of Christ Church, Bronxville, has partnered with the Diocese of Cuba, taking groups of teenagers to learn about the culture and people and to assist with establishing water filtrations systems.

“We have installed about 26 water filtration systems since we began several years ago, and have also trained people there to do it,” Bass-Choate told ENS.

“Bishop Griselda has a wonderful vision for the diocese,” said Michael Pollack, a Christ Church parishioner who recently returned from his eighth visit to Cuba to help with the water systems.

He keeps returning because “Cuba is a special place. The people are wonderfully warm. Their joyfulness for life and the goodness in it is palpable. It was right out there in front of everything, right there. There is a real sense of ‘we’re in this together and we need to help each other,’” he said.

Delgado’s vision originated during her ministry as priest at Iglesia Maria Virgen in Itabo, the congregation she served for about 25 years before she was elected bishop.

Partnering with churches in the Diocese of North Florida, the installation of a water filtration system sparked transformation.

“At her church in Itabo, people come from literally a hundred miles away in horses and buggies to get clean drinking water,” Cage said. “You can imagine the impact clean drinking water has on the community from a health and wellness standpoint; illness has been significantly reduced.”

Iglesia Maria Virgen, located in a rural area about 850 miles from Havana, also created a garden, growing beans, corn, coffee, eventually adding chickens and pigs. “The agricultural products are sold at a very low price to the community. At the end of each season, the seeds are given out to the community,” Cage said.

As a result, gardens are on the rise around the entire community of Itabo and so is church attendance. “It is meeting the needs, showing compassion and love and bringing church into the community,” said Cage. She said the Friends’ organization is hoping to facilitate similar partnerships between U.S. and Cuban churches.

Additionally, Delgado was able to shore up an unstable church facility and erect a dormitory-style dwelling for visitors in Itabo, Pollack said. A bio-gas generator uses waste from pigs to make cooking gas, and developing the gardens was vitally important, said Pollack, “because it was explained to me that before, food had to be imported.”

He added that: “Bishop Griselda’s vision is sustainable. There is no way to deny what she’s accomplished, given the circumstances in Cuba and the historical situation.”

Partnerships: a transformational, ‘relational’ ministry

Eating together, worshipping together, visiting the sick in their homes and praying for them felt as powerful for Stuart Weismiller as did watching a young girl sip her first drops of clean water for her husband Chip during their Nov. 6-13, 2018, trip.

St. Luke’s and Christ Church’s team joined their Cuban counterparts for meals, worship, even pastoral visits to pray for the sick in their homes, developing relationships and strengthening family ties. Photo: Stuart Weismiller

It was the second trip to Santa Cruz del Norte for the couple, members of St. Luke’s, Darien, who consider it pure evangelism, not a “project” ministry. “We want to have a relationship with the people. It was very important for us to partake in all parts of the worship services. Some members of our group read lessons. We ate together. We hugged each other,” according to Chip Weismiller.

He said Delgado’s vision is sustainable and transformational because “one of the ways you attract people to church is to provide a loving, accepting environment, and, way before you preach anything, you behave in deeds and actions.”

Roger Martin, also a St. Luke’s member who joined the trip, agreed. Delgado’s church, he said, “is a model for what can be done.”

According to Martin, the partnership between St. Luke’s and Santa Cruz del Norte Church has grown and blossomed. The addition of a Sunday evening meal has begun to build community, and the donation of baseball equipment has allowed the rector, the Rev. Frank Fernandez Triana, to organize teams of young people and also to bring them into the church.

“The wonderful thing about Cuba is the people going to Episcopal churches are young. Their parents may not come to church, but they do,” Martin said.Other opportunities continue to unfold: “because of the hurricanes [specifically Irma], the roof of the church is unstable,” said Martin, who served as associate dean of the Divinity School at Harvard from 1980 to 1986. “Our plan is to help them reconstruct the roof of the church and have it painted and fixed up. As we move forward, there’s going to be a lot of things to do to really improve the church.”

He added: “I taught mission at Harvard. I don’t see this as mission. I see this as working with people who can teach us a whole lot about the church.”

Big challenges, bigger dreams: Rest, pensions for clergy

Delgado’s vision also includes aid and support to Cuban clergy, who “have no state pensions or equivalent kind of social security because their service is not recognized as employment,” said former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, now assisting bishop in the Diocese of San Diego.

“At General Convention last summer, during our conversation about Cuba in the House of Bishops, I challenged the House to ask their congregants to offer $0.50 to help fund pensions for the Cuban clergy,” said Jefferts Schori.

“The total need is about $800,000 and that amounts to about $0.50 per Episcopalian,” she said in a recent email to ENS. “Several have already responded, and some dioceses have sent more than that. The [Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s] treasurer has established a dedicated fund to receive donations, and any diocesan finance officer can ask Kurt Barnes for details.”

She said retired Cuban clergy often “live in penury, depending on family members or their own meagre savings for support.  Some clergy in Cuba who served in Cuba before that diocese was set adrift in 1965 do receive small pensions from CPG [the Church Pension Group], but until the last few years it’s been very difficult to send those limited funds from the USA.”

Several dioceses, among them San Diego, Arkansas, Louisiana, New York, Vermont and Utah, have responded, issuing calls to their congregations to aid the effort. Episcopal Church Treasurer N. Kurt Barnes declined, however, to comment about the amounts raised thus far.

“This has only recently begun; and I don’t think we are likely to provide running totals,” he told ENS in an email. “We have, however, established a custodial account to receive and hold the funds.  Cuba Pensions custodial account number 20-101-2711-5787.”

Jefferts Schori added that the U.S. church has much to learn from its Cuban sibling.

“They are highly entrepreneurial and passionately focused on aiding their neighbors,” she told ENS in an email. Additionally, Bishop Griselda “has helped produce a development plan for the diocese that is beginning to bear abundant fruit – in terms of formation, accountability, partnerships and pastorally. I would encourage anyone with an interest to visit, learn more, and build a long-term relationship of mutuality.

“Our brothers and sisters in Christ in Cuba have much to show and teach and offer,” she said. “What they don’t have is much in the way of dollars. Think of this as something like Paul’s collection for the poor in Jerusalem. We have welcomed the Diocese of Cuba back into the Episcopal Church – this is a way of bridging the divide between the U.S. and Cuba.”

— The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.

The post Strengthening family ties, sparking transformation with Cuba appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

UTO grant allows seminarian to work for peace internationally

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 4:26pm

[Episcopal News Service] When her kindergarten teacher issued the classic assignment, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, Caroline Carson, 47, didn’t have a single answer. Instead, she had about 25 options—including becoming a horse and an interest in space travel.

Remarkable curiosity and uncommon exuberance have been a divining rod of sorts for Carson, helping her seek out spiritual nourishment by building relationships with people around the world.

Carson, a third-year seminarian at the School of Theology at The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, has visited 40 countries, most in a quest to see and experience firsthand the movement of the Holy Spirit. Her latest endeavor has been teaching and learning about pastoral care for refugees in Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

Funded by a United Thank Offering grant, the project included a trip this spring to Cairo to serve as a volunteer for Refuge Egypt. Pastoral care—especially interreligious care—is often an unfamiliar concept in the Arab community, Carson said. During her visit, she led a training about pastoral care, showing the variety of ways that care can be expressed, including art and music, and she spoke about the Anglican Communion’s commitment to peace and reconciliation. But most of her time was spent listening, learning about the needs of the community and talking with asylum seekers and refugees.

“When you look in the eyes of so many of these asylum seekers, you see that they’re lost,” said Carson. “They’re in shock. Sometimes they just need someone to listen to them, to be with them. There’s a story behind every person.”

The United Thank Offering, a ministry of the Episcopal Church, receives the offerings from individuals and congregations and distributes 100 percent of the collections to innovative mission and ministry.

“Goodness can foster goodness,” Carson wrote in her application for the grant. She recalled the directive from Leviticus 19:34: “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

“The care of soul is of vital importance. Addressing injustice can spur the actions of justice. The displaced deserve a change to be shown godly love whether by sharing silence and presence, a story, a meal or being allowed to grieve.”

Though fascinated by ancient history, Carson’s connection to Egypt began with a post-modern twist: a priest in Egypt re-tweeted a photo that she had posted in her role as a volunteer in NASA’s Solar System Ambassadors Program.

“I thought, ‘I wonder who re-tweeted that picture?’ So I followed up,” said Carson. Her curious nature found a friend in the Rev. Kerry Buttram, a priest at All Saints Cathedral in Cairo. “I told him that I was going on a choir tour to Jerusalem and since that’s pretty close, what would it be like to come by the cathedral and shake his hand.”

So she did. And a few years later, Carson reached out again, asking, “What would it be like to offer some teaching on pastoral care?” So she did.

What might seem bold to some is part of Carson’s approach to a faithful life, one that takes joyful risks in seeking and building relationships with people around the world. This commitment to community is evident in another passion: music. Although she considered becoming a nun in high school, Carson couldn’t resist the sound of music; she eventually earned a doctorate degree from the University of South Carolina with a major in conducting.

“I love working with students, of being a part of making something collaborative happen,” Carson said. “Choral music is about communication, not just with your audience but with the text … that’s the nature of an ensemble. You might have that one flute line or an alto part, but you’re still part of the whole, part of a community.”

Her work as a conductor and teacher took her around the world. She began adding time on either end of her music trips to volunteer for mission work. Soon, she felt God beckoning her to a different vocation, and within the community of the Diocese of Louisiana, Carson discerned a call to the priesthood.

Scheduled to graduate from seminary in the spring of 2019 – and, God willing, ordained as a transitional deacon on Dec. 15, Carson has sought numerous opportunities to develop relationships. She traveled to the Philippines and taught a liturgy and music course at Saint Andrew’s Theological Seminary, and she volunteered at the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center in Rome, Italy, before making her way to Egypt.

While Carson plans to work in parish ministry after graduation and ordination to the priesthood, she hasn’t lost her youthful enthusiasm. She still has a full list of things she wants to do. Returning to Egypt and continuing to listen to the needs and stories of refugees is a top priority. She has plenty of other plans too, all focused on peace building—in our churches, in our communities and in our world.

“Peace-building is the future of our church,” said Carson. “We are all called to be missionaries.”

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

The post UTO grant allows seminarian to work for peace internationally appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Diocese of Texas announces slate for bishop suffragan

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 4:18pm

[Diocese of Texas] Three candidates for bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Texas were approved by the Standing Committee on November 26. They include: the Rev. Hannah E. Atkins Romero, the Rev. Canon Glenice Robinson-Como, and the Rev. Canon Kathryn ‘Kai’ Ryan.

“After diligent work and prayerful discernment with male and female applicants from inside and outside the Diocese, it was our joy to present these three outstanding candidates for Bishop Suffragan to the Standing Committee for final approval,” said the Rev. Chuck Treadwell, chair of the Search Committee and rector of St. David’s, Austin. The Standing Committee met Monday, November 26 to finalize the slate of candidates. Instructions for the petition process for additional candidates, which opens at 9 a.m. CST on Nov. 27 and closes five business days later on Dec. 3 at 5 p.m. CST, can be found here. Please save Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, at Camp Allen to meet the candidates for bishop suffragan. The day will begin at 9:30 a.m. with prayer. Each candidate will offer a brief presentation followed by a question and answer session. Register here. The election of the new bishop suffragan will take place at the diocese’s 170th Council at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Conference Center on Feb. 22, 2019. The new bishop suffragan will succeed the Rt. Rev. Dena A. Harrison, who retires at the end of 2018. A celebration of Harrison’s ministry will be held at Council.

The post Diocese of Texas announces slate for bishop suffragan appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Lambeth Conference seen as chance to proclaim ‘good news of Jesus’

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 3:10pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has set out his vision for the next once-in-a-decade meeting of the bishops of the Anglican Communion, saying that “the world . . . needs the good news of Jesus Christ.” Welby said that the world “needs to see it in our actions, envy it in our love together, and hear it in our confident proclamation of the good news of Jesus.” He made his comments in a video for the brand new Lambeth Conference website as the dates for the meeting were confirmed as July 23 to Aug. 2, 2020.

Read the full article here.

The post Lambeth Conference seen as chance to proclaim ‘good news of Jesus’ appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Bishop Silvestre Romero installed as Anglican leader in Guatemala

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 3:06pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop Silvestre Romero has been installed at the new Bishop of Guatemala in a special service at St James cathedral in the capital, Guatemala City. Silvestre, who was consecrated as coadjutor bishop a year ago, succeeds Bishop Armando Guerra, who has held office in the Church for more than 35 years.

Read the full article here.

The post Bishop Silvestre Romero installed as Anglican leader in Guatemala appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Anglican leaders from the Americas gather in Toronto for regional primates meeting

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 3:04pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The leaders of eight Anglican Provinces whose churches cover the territory from Cape Horn to the Arctic are gathering in Toronto for a regional Primates’ Meeting. Seven Primates and a bishop from the West Indies, where there is a primatial vacancy, are meeting in to discuss the Lambeth Conference 2020 and other issues including the Anglican Communion’s Instruments of Communion and relationships within the Communion.

Read the full article here.

The post Anglican leaders from the Americas gather in Toronto for regional primates meeting appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Diocese of West Tennessee elects Phoebe Roaf as bishop

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 3:00pm

[Diocese of West Tennessee] The Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee elected the Rev. Phoebe Roaf, rector of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, Virginia, as its fourth bishop on Nov. 17.

Roaf will be in stalled in a consecration service May 4 at Hope Presbyterian Church. The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, will preside.

The Rev. Phoebe Roaf

Roaf is a lifelong Episcopalian. She grew up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. She is rector at St. Philip’s, the oldest African-American church in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, where she has served as the parish leader since 2011. Before St. Philips’s, Roaf was associate rector for three years at Trinity Episcopal Church in New Orleans.

Roaf, who earned a law degree from the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, and clerked two years for Judge James L. Dennis, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, worked in commercial real estate before pursuing a call to serve the Episcopal Church as clergy.

She completed her bachelor’s degree at Harvard University and MPA at Princeton University. She attended Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria. She is vice chair of the board of trustees at Virginia Theological Seminary.

The other nominees for the position were the Rev. Marian Dulaney Fortner, rector, Trinity Episcopal Church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and the Rev. Sarah Hollar, rector, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Huntersville, North Carolina.

“The mission of the church is to promote reconciliation among people and with God. Phoebe Roaf has the creativity and vision to help the Diocese of West Tennessee set a bold vision for the work of Christ in this region at this time, and the ideal skillset to help us achieve it,” said the Rev. Sandy Webb, rector of the Church of the Holy Communion and chairman of the committee overseeing the bishop transition process.

Roaf was chosen in a balloting process in the diocese’s annual convention at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Germantown. All clergy and elected lay delegates are allowed to vote. Under the canons of the denomination, bishops are chosen by a clergy and lay leader votes. They must receive a majority from each group on the same ballot in order to be elected.

Roaf succeeds Bishop Don E. Johnson, who has served the Diocese of West Tennessee as bishop since 2001. The diocese, which covers all of Tennessee west of the Tennessee River, has 8,260 active members and an average Sunday attendance of more than 3,000.

The diocese announced the three nominees in late summer. They visited in late October, meeting with parishioners and clergy in Memphis and Dyersburg and responding to questions in a public forum.

In her application materials, Roaf referenced the divisions in the society and the role of the church.

“The Episcopal Church is ideally suited for a time such as this, when community building and reconciliation are needed. There is a deep hunger among many people to bridge our differences and to form meaningful connections. My life and ministry in multicultural and multiracial environments make me uniquely suited to serve among the geographic, economic, racial and ethnic diversity found within in the Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee.”

For more information on Roaf, including her resume, photo and video reflection, go to wtnbishop.com/bishop-elect.

The post Diocese of West Tennessee elects Phoebe Roaf as bishop appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Oklahoma Bishop Konieczny to retire in 2021

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 3:25pm

[Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma] The Rt. Rev. Dr. Edward J. Konieczny, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma, has announced his intention to retire on January 1, 2021. Bishop Konieczny was elected and consecrated as the fifth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma in 2007, and at the time of his retirement will be in his 15th year as Bishop.

Bishop Konieczny intends to call for the election of a Bishop Coadjutor to be consecrated on April 18, 2020. A Bishop Coadjutor is elected to succeed a Diocesan Bishop. By electing a Bishop Coadjutor, there will be a time of overlap for the new Bishop and Bishop Konieczny to work together to ensure a smooth transition.

The responsibility for discerning Bishop candidates and conducting an election rests with the Standing Committee of the Diocese. More information about the process and timeline for the election of the new Bishop will be published soon.

In his letter to the diocese, Bishop Konieczny stated, “We have accomplished much during my tenure: we are healthy spiritually, financially, and prepared to grow and develop in new and emerging ways. It is time to discern the next Bishop who will lead the Diocese of Oklahoma into this new season of ministry.”

During his tenure, Bishop Konieczny has served in numerous leadership roles throughout The Episcopal Church, including as member of Bishops United Against Gun Violence who participated in the Claiming Common Ground Against Gun Violence March at 2015 General Convention, member of Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, member of Executive Committee of Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, member of the Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice, member of the Presiding Bishop Transition and Installation Committee, Co-Chair of the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop, and Key Note Speaker at the Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace Conference, and is a participating member in the Consultation of Anglican Bishops. In 2018, Bishop Ed was elected and appointed as the Bishop Representative to the Anglican Consultative Council for The Episcopal Church, a role in which he will continue to serve.

Additionally, Bishop Konieczny has served on numerous community, civic, and faith-based committees and commissions, as well as a consultant to corporations and municipalities on corporate leadership.

The Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma includes all Episcopal congregations in the state of Oklahoma, spanning nearly 70,000 square miles and including numerous geographic landscapes. Our diocese includes approximately 25,000 Episcopalians; 70 congregations; and 150 resident clergy. We support 5 Episcopal schools, 2 residential communities for mature adults, and St. Crispin’s, a thriving Camp and Conference Center. The Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma is a member of The Episcopal Church’s Province VII, which consists of 12 other dioceses in close proximity. Our Diocesan Offices are located in downtown Oklahoma City, and our Cathedral, St. Paul’s, is located just one block away.

The post Oklahoma Bishop Konieczny to retire in 2021 appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Pages