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R.I.P.: The Rt. Rev. A. Theodore Eastman, retired bishop of Maryland

Fri, 04/27/2018 - 3:58pm

[Diocese of Maryland] Albert Theodore Eastman, 12th bishop of Maryland, died April 26, at the age of 89. Your prayers are requested for Mrs. Sarah Eastman and their family.

Bishop Eastman was elected Bishop Coadjutor in 1982 and became Bishop Diocesan upon the retirement of Bishop David Leighton in 1986. He retired in 1994.

Prior to coming to Maryland, Bishop Eastman served as a chaplain at California’s Soledad State Prison. He lectured at the Episcopal Theological School in Boston and also served churches in Tokyo and Mexico City. In 1973 he became the rector of St. Alban’s in Washington, D.C. serving until his election in 1982. Bishop Eastman’s ministry was marked by a continuing concern for the mission and unity of the Christian Church. He served as vice chair of the Standing Commission on World Mission, chair of the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief, and chair of the Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations.

Following his retirement, Bishop Eastman served in various capacities at Washington National Cathedral and in 2003 was appointed Vicar. He was awarded honorary doctorates from St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Virginia Seminary and the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas.

Bishop Eastman was born in San Mateo, California in 1928. He was graduated from Haverford College in Pennsylvania in 1950, and Virginia Seminary in 1953. He married Sarah Tice soon after and they became parents to three children.

Funeral arrangements will be announced as plans are finalized.

For your servant +Theodore, O Lord, we pray: Rest eternal grant to him and let light perpetual shine upon him. May his soul, and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Grant, O Lord, to all who are bereaved the spirit of faith and courage, that they may have strength to meet the days to come with steadfastness and patience; not sorrowing as those without hope, but in thankful remembrance of your great goodness, and in the joyful expectation of eternal life with those they love. And this we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Diocese of Missouri Bishop Wayne Smith announces plan to retire in 2020

Fri, 04/27/2018 - 3:39pm

[Diocese of Missouri] Bishop Wayne Smith released the following letter to the diocese on April 27, announcing his plans to retire in 2020 and outlining the process for electing his successor, the 11th bishop of Missouri.

Diocese of Missouri Bishop Wayne Smith

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is with a whirlwind of emotions that I write this letter, for no ministry have I loved more than serving as the Tenth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. Even so, the time has come for me to set in motion a process for electing and calling the Eleventh Bishop. In a lengthy meeting yesterday, I announced this decision to the Standing Committee, who from this time forward will have complete responsibility for the process. The Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley, Bishop for the Office for Pastoral Development, was present to present a framework for this season ahead. I have called for the election of my successor during the 2019 meeting of Diocesan Convention, November 15-16. The ordination of the new bishop will be sometime in the spring 2020, probably in April. My resignation will become effective on that date.

I am young and healthy, and I am not at all certain that my active ministry will come to an end with my retirement from Missouri. I am indeed open to new possibilities. It is clear to me, nonetheless, that it is time for a transition in episcopal ministry in this venue. Conversation with my wife, Debbie Smith, and our family, consultation with colleagues in this Diocese and with other bishops, and extensive pondering and praying have brought me to this point. I am at ease with the decision.

It is usual and customary for a bishop, writing this sort of letter, to claim that his or her tenure as bishop is not over, that there is still time left (in my case, two years) for the ministry to continue. This much is true, and I pledge to remain faithful in my duties in providing oversight for the Diocese of Missouri, and to take my place in the councils of the wider Church. I realize, however, that this announcement alters the trajectory of our work together, and that emotionally, spiritually, and realistically, attention turns to the next chapter in the Diocese’s life, both in its continuities and its necessary changes. I pledge to honor that shift, and support your work in making it.

I write this letter with some sadness and some relief—but most of all with deep gratitude for the privilege of serving as your bishop these past sixteen years—with a couple more yet to come.

Ever faithfully, in Christ
The Rt. Rev. George Wayne Smith
Bishop of Missouri

Compass Rose Society confirm million-dollar Lambeth Conference scholarship program

Fri, 04/27/2018 - 11:33am

[Anglican Communion News Service] An international charity that supports the work of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Consultative Council has announced a sponsorship program to enable bishops from poorer countries attend the Lambeth Conference in 2020. The Compass Rose Society announced that $1 million will provide scholarships to bishops requiring financial aid to attend the decennial meeting, which will take place in Canterbury, Kent, from July 24 to Aug. 3, 2020.

Read the full article here.

Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil consecrates its first female bishop

Fri, 04/27/2018 - 11:30am

[Anglican Communion News Service] The first woman to be elected as an Anglican bishop in south America has been consecrated. Bishop Marinez Bassotto will lead the Diocese of Amazon in the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil. Thousands of people from Brazil and around the world attended the service at the sports court of St. Mary’s Anglican Cathedral compound in Belém do Pará.

Read the full article here.

Group of Episcopal Church bishops adds voices to Supreme Court case on Trump travel ban

Thu, 04/26/2018 - 2:49pm

[Episcopal News Service] More than 50 bishops of the Episcopal Church are among the hundreds of voices the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing as it considers the constitutionality of President Donald Trump’s travel bans.

The current and retired bishops have asked the court to rule that the ban violates the establishment clause of the Constitution, which prevents the government from establishing an official religion, acting in a way that unduly favors one religion over another or preventing people from exercising their faith.

The main question before the justices is whether any president can ban travel and immigration to the United States based on nationality if that ban contradicts the power over such immigration and travel given to Congress in Article I of the Constitution. The state of Hawaii and others asked the Supreme Court to review Trump’s ban. The court heard arguments in the case April 25 in the last scheduled hearing of its term.

Trump’s executive order suspends entry, subject to exceptions and case-by-case waivers, of certain categories of people from eight countries that do not share adequate information with the United States or that present other risk factors.

Protesters gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., April 25, while the court justices consider a case regarding presidential powers as it weighs the legality of President Donald Trump’s latest travel ban targeting people from Muslim-majority countries. Photo: REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Other challengers have argued that Trump’s campaign speeches and tweets about Muslims were a clear indication that the ban was aimed at a particular religious group and not justified by security concerns. The ban sought to restrict travel from eight nations — Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Venezuela and North Korea — six of which are predominantly Muslim. Chad was recently removed by the administration.

The 57 bishops told the justices in an amici curiae (friends of the court) brief that among the central tenets of the Episcopal Church is a call “to welcome and assist strangers, especially those who are poor, sick, and most in need of help, to provide a safe haven for those seeking freedom from oppression, and to uphold the dignity of every human being.

“To those ends, the Episcopal Church has long supported a robust refugee resettlement program for those fleeing their countries to escape persecution, oppression, and war,” they wrote, referring to the church’s more than 75-year-old Episcopal Migration Ministries, or EMM.

The bishops said Trump’s travel ban has “significantly undermined the efforts of religious organizations in the United States, including the Episcopal Church, to render aid to those fleeing war and oppression. For many Americans, this type of refugee-assistance work is an expression of their faith and one of the ways in which they keep their covenant with God.”

The travel bans, they wrote, “have caused and will continue to cause significant harm to these religious organizations and to the very vulnerable people that they serve” and “have debilitated and will continue to debilitate the vital mission of religious organizations, and will deprive Americans of the opportunity to practice their faith through service to others in need.”

EMM is one of nine agencies that contract with the U.S. government to resettle refugees. The other resettlement agencies are Church World Service, Ethiopian Community Development Council, HIAS (formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), International Rescue Committee, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services, and World Relief.

Diocese of Olympia Bishop Greg Rickel organized the amici brief effort, following his work on two similar actions when challenges to the travel ban were being heard at the federal court of appeals level. Rickel invited the church’s bishops to sign on to the brief.

The bishops were not the only Episcopalians who have raised their voices in the case. Thomas H. Kean, who was the Republican governor of New Jersey from 1982 to 1990 and chairman of the 9/11 Commission, and John Danforth, a Republican senator from Missouri from 1976 to 1995 and an ambassador to the United Nations, are among a group that filed their own amicus brief. Kean and Danforth, both of whom have ties to the Episcopal Church, signed the brief with other former Republican members of Congress or lawyers who have worked in previous Republican administrations.

Kean, Danforth and a third Republican in that group argued April 22 in the New York Times that the Constitution grants Congress the power to make immigration and foreign travel laws, and “Congress cannot give any president the power to dismantle our immigration statutes.”

As the Supreme Court was hearing oral arguments in the case April 25, the Washington Post reported that some religious freedom groups had avoided taking a stand on the constitutionality of the travel bans and “are more concerned about how the court will consider the legal issues than they are with the actual outcome.” The article notes that other groups, such as the group of Episcopal Church bishops, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Muslim Justice League and the Muslim Public Affairs Council, actively oppose Trump’s executive order.

Many observers who listened to the oral arguments seemed to think that, in the words of SCOTUSblog’s Amy Howe, “a majority of the court (and perhaps even a solid one) appeared ready to rule for the government and uphold the order in response to concerns about second-guessing the president on national-security issues.”

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is interim managing editor of the Episcopal News Service.

Regional ecumenical group prays for success of Korean peace summit

Thu, 04/26/2018 - 12:16pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Christians in Asia are praying for the success of talks involving the leaders of North and South Korea. The talks are due to take place April 27 in Panmunjom, a village in the demilitarised zone between the two countries. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will become the first leader from the north to cross into the south since the end of hostilities in 1953 when he arrives in Panmunjom for talks with the South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in.

Read the full article here.

Stolen heart of Saint Laurence O’Toole to be returned to Dublin cathedral

Thu, 04/26/2018 - 12:14pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A priceless relic of the patron saint of Ireland’s capital city Dublin will be returned to the Anglican Christ Church Cathedral in the city April 26, six years after it was stolen. The heart of St Laurence O’Toole – also known as Lorcán Ua Tuathail – was stolen from the cathedral’s Saint Laud Chapel in March 2012. The heart, in a wooden heart-shaped box sealed within a small iron barred cage, had been in the cathedral for 800 years. It was recovered from Dublin’s Pheonix Park after a recent breakthrough in the police investigation, state broadcaster RTE reports. It was recovered undamaged.

Read the full article here.

Ugandan bishop lauds church-backed diocesan savings and credit cooperative

Thu, 04/26/2018 - 12:12pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] In the five years since it launched, a Savings and Credit Cooperative Society (SACCOS) launched by the Diocese of Ankole has continued to grow, Bishop Fred Sheldon Mwesigwa said. Writing in the New Vision newspaper, Mwesigwa said the Ankole Diocesan Millennium SACCOS, which was launched in December 2012, now has 6,084 members, 18 staff members and branches in Mbarara, Ibanda, Rugaaga, Kabuyanda, Kinoni and Bishop Stuart University.

Read the full article here.

Obispos de la Iglesia Episcopal suman sus voces al caso de la prohibición de viajes de Trump que examina el Tribunal Supremo

Thu, 04/26/2018 - 7:04am

[Episcopal News Service] Más de 50 obispos de la Iglesia Episcopal se encuentran entre centenares de voces que llegan hasta el Tribunal Supremo de EE.UU. mientras examina la constitucionalidad de las prohibiciones de viajar a este país impuestas por el presidente Donald Trump.

Los obispos, entre los cuales los hay en ejercicio y jubilados, le han advertido al alto tribunal que la prohibición viola la cláusula de la Constitución que le impide al gobierno el establecimiento de una religión oficial, al actuar de una manera que indebidamente favorezca a una religión en detrimento de otra o de prohibir a las personas el ejercicio de su fe.

La principal interrogante que enfrentan los magistrados del Supremo es si cualquier presidente puede impedir viajes e inmigración a Estados Unidos basándose en la nacionalidad y se esa prohibición contradice el poder sobre tal inmigración y viajes dada al Congreso en el Artículo I de la Constitución. El estado de Hawái y otros le han pedido al Tribunal Supremo que revise la prohibición de Trump. El tribunal oyó argumentos sobre el caso el 25 de abril en la última vista programada de este período.

El decreto de Trump suspende la entrada al país, sujeta a excepciones y dispensas en casos particulares, a ciertas categorías de personas proveniente de ocho países que no comparten adecuada información con Estados Unidos o que presentan otros factores de riesgo.

Un grupo de manifestantes se reúne frente al Tribunal Supremo de EE.UU. en Washington, D.C., el 25 de abril, mientras los magistrados del tribunal examinan un caso sobre los poderes presidenciales que sopesa la legalidad de la última prohibición de viajes del presidente Donald Trump que excluye a personas provenientes de países de mayoría musulmana. Foto de Yuri Gripas/REUTERS.

Otros  adversarios [de los decretos] han argüido que los discursos de campaña de Trump y sus mensajes en Twitter sobre los musulmanes eran un claro indicio de que la prohibición se dirige a un grupo religioso en particular y no se justifica con razones de seguridad. La prohibición busca reducir los viajes de personas provenientes de ocho naciones —Chad, Irán, Libia, Siria, Yemen, Somalia, Venezuela y Corea del Norte — seis de las cuales son predominantemente musulmanas. Recientemente, el gobierno quitó a Chad de la lista.

Los 57 obispos les dijeron a los magistrados en un memorial amici curiae (amigos del tribunal)  que uno de los principios centrales de la Iglesia Episcopal es un llamado “a acoger y asistir a forasteros, especialmente a los que pobres, enfermos y más necesitados de ayuda, a proporcionar un seguro asilo a todos los que buscan libertad huyendo de la opresión y a sostener la dignidad de todo ser humano.

“A esos fines, la Iglesia Episcopal ha sostenido durante mucho tiempo un sólido programa de reasentamiento de refugiados para los que huyen de sus países al objeto de escapar de la persecución, la opresión y la guerra”, escribieron ellos, refiriéndose al Ministerio Episcopal de Migración, o EMM, con más de 75 años de existencia.

Los obispos dijeron que la prohibición de viajar de Trump “socaba significativamente los esfuerzos de las organizaciones religiosas en Estados Unidos, incluida la Iglesia Episcopal, de prestarles ayuda a los que huyen de la guerra y de la opresión. Para muchos estadounidenses, este tipo de trabajo asistencial con refugiados es una expresión de su fe y uno de los medios por los que mantienen su pacto con Dios”.

Las prohibiciones de viaje, escribieron ellos, “han causado y seguirán causando un perjuicio significativo a las organizaciones religiosas y a las mismas personas vulnerables a las que sirven” y “han debilitado y seguirán debilitando la misión vital de las organizaciones religiosas, y privarán a los estadounidenses de la oportunidad de practicar su fe a través del servicio a otras [personas] necesitadas”.

El EMM es una de nueve agencias que tiene contratos con el gobierno de EE.UU. para reasentar refugiados. Las otras agencias de reasentamiento son el Servicio Mundial de Iglesias, el Consejo Etíope de Desarrollo Comunitario, la HIAS (anteriormente conocido como la Sociedad de Ayuda a Inmigrantes Hebreos), el Comité de Rescate Internacional, el Servicio Luterano de Inmigración y Refugiados, el Servicio de Migración y Refugiados de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de EE.UU. y Ayuda Mundial.

Greg Rickel, obispo de la Diócesis de Olympia, organizó el empeño del memorial de amici curiae, siguiendo su propia labor en dos decisiones semejantes cuando se presentaron impugnaciones a las prohibiciones de viaje a la altura del tribunal federal de apelaciones.

Los obispos no fueron los únicos episcopales que han alzado sus voces en el caso. Thomas H. Kean, que fue gobernador republicano de Nueva Jersey de 1982 a 1990 y presidente de la Comisión del 11 de septiembre, y John Danforth, senador republicano de Misurí de 1976 a 1995 y embajador ante las Naciones Unidas, forman parte de un grupo que también presentó su propio memorial de amicus.   Kean y Danforth, que tienen nexos con la Iglesia Episcopal, firmaron el memorial con otros republicanos ex miembros del Congreso o abogados que han trabajado con anteriores gobiernos republicanos.

Kean, Danforth y un tercer republicano en ese grupo arguyeron el 22 de abril en The New York Times que la Constitución le otorga al Congreso la potestad de hacer leyes migratorias y de viajes del extranjero y que “el Congreso no puede darle a ningún presidente el poder de desmantelar nuestros estatutos migratorios”


En tanto el Tribunal Supremo escuchaba los argumentos orales del caso el 25 de abril, el Washington Post informaba que algunos grupos defensores de la libertad religiosa habían evitado pronunciarse sobre la constitucionalidad de las prohibiciones de viaje y “están más preocupados de la manera en que el tribunal examinará los problemas legales que de los resultados efectivos”. El artículo destaca que otros grupos, tales como el de los obispos de la Iglesia Episcopal, la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de EE.UU. el Comité Judío Americano, la Liga Antidifamatoria, la Liga Musulmana de Justicia y el Consejo Musulmán de Asuntos Públicos, se oponen activamente al decreto ejecutivo de Trump.

Muchos observadores que escucharon los argumentos orales les parece creer, dicho en palabras de Amy Howe del SCOTUSblog , que “una mayoría del tribunal (y tal vez hasta una sólida mayoría ) parece dispuesta a decidir a favor del gobierno y sostener el decreto en respuesta a preocupaciones y conjeturas del Presidente en asuntos de seguridad nacional”.

— La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es jefa de redacción interina de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Pop music’s Beyoncé inspires Eucharist at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco

Wed, 04/25/2018 - 5:22pm

Beyoncé Knowles-Carter is a multiplatinum-selling, Grammy Award-winning recording artist and trendsetter. Her music, lyrics and life inspire the theme of a Eucharist at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Photo: Wikipedia Commons

[Episcopal News Service] They liked it, so they created a Eucharist on it.

Sometimes controversial, often empowering, pop culture icon Beyoncé Knowles-Carter’s music, lyrics and life have inspired faith leaders to organize an alternative church service April 25 at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.

At Beyoncé Mass, churchgoers can learn about the formation of the wild (or not-so wild?) idea that this celebrated singer’s lyrics can be tied to biblical messages.

It’s a Wednesday evening service created by The Vine for faith seekers and fans to sing their Beyoncé favorites and “discover how her art opens a window into the lives of the marginalized and forgotten, particularly black women,” the cathedral’s event announcement says. Launched in March 2017, The Vine is both a service and an offer of community for city folks and spiritual seekers through contemporary worship with great music on Wednesday nights, or small “Grace Groups” throughout the city, according to the website.

The idea for this Eucharist originates from the “Beyoncé and the Hebrew Bible” class taught by the Rev. Yolanda Norton, assistant professor of Old Testament at San Francisco Theological Seminary.

The Rev. Yolanda Norton is assistant professor at San Francisco Theological Seminary, where she teaches a class called “Beyoncé and the Hebrew Bible.” Photo: San Francisco Theological Seminary

Norton plans to preach at the Beyoncé Mass at Grace Cathedral’s ecumenical service. She’s a Disciples of Christ minister who teaches at the Presbyterian seminary. Her scholarly work specializes in women in scripture, liberation and people of color. Norton was in high school when Beyoncé first came on the scene as part of the Destiny’s Child singing group.

“I mentor young black women watching [Beyoncé] come into her own, which has helped them come into their own. To me, to have these conversations allows women to examine how they fit in society,” Norton told Episcopal News Service two days before the mass.

“It’s a way of saying to dominant culture, ‘We’re here.’ Nobody’s ignoring Beyoncé, and because of that, you can’t ignore black women and our contribution to the church and to society,” she continued. “This is our reality: being called the angry black woman or being called too sexual or too black. All these issues are embodied in one figure.”

But is Beyoncé Mass just another gimmicky way to make lemonade out of lemons (see Beyoncé’s 2016 Lemonade album, a product of her personal pain) to get young people more active in church? Church of almost all denominations — you know, those places where couples walk down the aisle and put a ring on it, like Beyoncé suggests her paramour should’ve done if he liked her so much, in her song “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” — have had lagging attendance for years, but Episcopal naysayers on social media worry that this kind of themed service is a form of idolatry. They also say that Beyoncé should not be held up as a Christian example.

Addressing those concerns, organizers want to emphasize that the service’s focus of worship remains on the ultimate “survivor” long before Queen Bey: the one and only OG (original gangster) and superstar, Jesus Christ. (See her “Survivor” song when she was part of Destiny’s Child.)

“You may have heard criticisms from our fundamentalist brothers and sisters that Grace Cathedral worships Beyoncé rather than our Lord Jesus,” said the Very Rev. Malcolm Clemens Young, dean of Grace Cathedral, in an April 20 message to his congregation.

“As supporters of the cathedral, you know how important it is for us to be involved in the public life of our city and the world. A longing for justice lies at the heart of our identity. We have a tradition of engaging popular culture on issues of social justice that stretches back long before our controversial Duke Ellington Jazz Service in the mid-1960s,” Young said.

Ellington aside, this service is by no means one of the first pop-themed Eucharist or Episcopal services, says the Rev. Scott Gunn, executive director of Forward Movement, who followed the Beyoncé Mass discussion on social media. His April 20 post on Twitter started: “Theme masses are all the rage!”

For example, Gunn pointed out, Episcopal and Anglican churches have hosted U2ucharist services with glow sticks and streamers across the United States since 2006 and earlier, a Dr. Seuss-charist in Canada (“That’s unfortunate,” Gunn quipped), rave dance party masses, a pirate Eucharist and a Zydeco mass on Shrove Tuesday in 2015 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in San Diego.

“St. Paul said that Jesus talked about being all things to all people, that we have to preach the gospel in the way that people can hear it,” Gunn told ENS. “If a themed Eucharist reaches more people, that’s fine. My concern is that the themed Eucharist should always be most focused on Jesus.”

Theme masses are all the rage! As for me, because I’m always keen to be au courant, I’m getting a press release ready to trumpet my shiny new BCP-charist.

— Scott Gunn ن (@scottagunn) April 20, 2018

This is the third week in The Vine’s teaching series, “Speaking Truth: The Power of Story in Community.”

A historic symbol of the #MeToo movement if there ever was one, Mary Magdalene was the theme of a previous Wednesday night service. This independent, strong disciple of Christ was wrongly depicted as a reformed prostitute in religious art and interpretations for centuries, said Sam Lundquist, a seminary student taking Norton’s class. He’s interning at The Vine and helped the cathedral partner with the seminary to translate what was used as a 25-minute seminary chapel service into an hour-long Eucharist that will include liturgical dance.

Grace Cathedral in San Francisco is hosting a Beyoncé Mass as part of its The Vine series on Wednesday nights. Photo: Wikipedia Commons

“The church is in so much need of connecting people to the amazing Christian story in new and exciting ways. We’ve done that well for so many hundreds and hundreds of years, and this is no different. This is connecting people using something in culture. And this is just as spiritual as anything else,” Lundquist told ENS.

The class uses Beyoncé as a central figure for what black women face in society and in church; black motherhood and womanhood; the ways their bodies are judged or policed; and respectability politics, Norton said.

“We use her career and music to have those conversations to examine biblical text. It’s important to me as a biblical scholar and a minister to say to these students, ‘I want you to begin thinking what this means for the church, for your faith,’” she said.

Norton and Lundquist didn’t want to give away any surprises, but they did say one of the service’s central theme songs will be Beyoncé’s “Flaws and All” song. She might’ve written it for husband and rapper Jay-Z or for their children, but it easily translates to something intended for God, she said.

Beyoncé Knowles-Carter is the first female artist to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with her first five studio albums, according to Biography.com. Photo: Wikipedia Commons

“She talks about being a train wreck and when I need attention, I tend to nag. I neglect you when I’m working, and you see past all that. The chorus of that is ‘I don’t know why you love me, and that’s why I love you.’ It’s an intimate conversation we can have with God,” Norton said. “God sees us, flaws and all, and loves us anyway.”

— Amy Sowder is a special correspondent for the Episcopal News Service and a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn. She can be reached at amysowderepiscopalnews@gmail.com.

Episcopalians offer prayers, support for Florida island hit by hurricane and now wildfire

Wed, 04/25/2018 - 5:16pm

A wildfire this week burned about 100 acres, mostly forestland, on Big Pine Key, Florida, about a mile from St. Francis in the Keys Episcopal Church. Photo: Chris Todd

[Episcopal News Service] Residents of a Florida island community still recovering from last year’s Hurricane Irma were rattled this week when a wildfire broke out a short distance from the Episcopal church on the island.

The fire has burned about 100 acres on Big Pine Key, about a half-hour drive east of Key West. No injuries or fatalities have been reported in the blaze, which has mostly spared residential neighborhoods since it started early April 22. Authorities told the Miami Herald that the fire appeared to be mostly under control by midday April 25.

The fire zone was about a mile southeast of St. Francis in the Keys Episcopal Church – not dangerously close, but “enough that we were concerned, because we just got through the hurricane,” the Rev. Chris Todd, priest-in-charge, told Episcopal News Service.

Todd also leads a nearby Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregation, Lord of the Seas Lutheran Church, which is hosting a group of crisis counselors on May 1 to meet with residents who want to discuss the recent disasters. Life on Big Pine Key has yet to fully return to normal, and tensions returned with the recent fire, Todd said.

“First by water and wind, now by fire. It’s like the elements are taking up arms against us,” he said.

Hurricane Irma caused widespread destruction when it swept across the Florida Keys in September. The hurricane’s 12 inches of rain and 130-mph winds hit the middle and lower Keys hard, damaging more than 10,000 homes. And while Cudjoe Key is where the storm made landfall, the impact on Big Pine Key was severe.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, left, poses for a photo with the Rev. Chris Todd during a January visit to St. Francis in the Keys Episcopal Church. Photo provided by Chris Todd

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry visited the Keys in January to offer his support on behalf of the Episcopal Church. St. Francis in the Keys was one of the churches Curry visited.

Todd said the island’s Roman Catholic church likely will have to be rebuilt, while the United Methodist church was hit by severe flooding. Todd’s two churches fared better, but Irma damaged the roof of St. Francis in the Keys. Its title floor will need to be replaced because of flooding. For the first two and a half months, the congregation worshiped with the Lutherans at Lord of the Seas, which is built on stilts and sustained only damage to its gutters.

The congregation at St. Francis in the Keys grows to about 30 people at Sunday services during the winter, and services at Lord of the Seas draw up to 50 people in the same months, Todd said. They have continued to worship together but began alternating between the two churches, once conditions allowed it at St. Francis in the Keys.

Irma damaged the roof of St. Francis in the Keys Episcopal Church and flooding will require floor tiles to be replaced. Photo: Chris Todd

Todd and his wife fled the island before Irma hit, staying with family in northwestern Alabama. When they returned to their home, they found a hole in the roof and the basement flooded, which knocked out their air conditioning and other utilities. A tarp still is being used to patch the roof, but the rest of the damage has been repaired.

Others on the island weren’t so lucky.

“We know people who lost everything, or almost everything,” he said.

As for the fire, it mainly has affected forested areas of the island, Todd said, but it’s still “kind of scary, because down every dirt road somebody lives.”

The Florida Forest Service said on the first day of the fire that two homes had been destroyed. Authorities have not ordered evacuations, though there were reports of some displaced residents.

Power was cut to the island when the fire first ignited, but it has since been restored. The cause of the fire isn’t yet known. Authorities don’t think it was started by lightning or other natural causes, according to the Miami Herald.

The emergency response involves 46 firefighters and several bulldozers and fire trucks, as well as helicopters dropping water from above.

From the Rev. Chris Todd’s porch on April 22 smoke could be seen rising over the tree line where a wildfire had ignited earlier in the day. Photo: Chris Todd

The fire prompted Bishop Peter Eaton to send a message April 24 to the Diocese of Southeast Florida asking Episcopalians to pray for the community of Big Pine Key. “The fire is widespread and a real threat,” Eaton said. “It is also a further drain on an already challenged community that still has so much to do to recover from Hurricane Irma.”

Todd said he and his wife have watched the helicopters fly over their home as smoke rose on the horizon over the trees. He and others on the island are hopeful that the worst of the threat is behind them.

“The response has been amazing,” he said, “very fast.”

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

El Consejo Ejecutivo concluye su labor trienal con la mirada puesta en la Convención General

Wed, 04/25/2018 - 2:58pm

El obispo primado Michael Curry y la presidente de la Cámara de Diputados Rda. Gay Clark Jennings sirvieron como maestros de ceremonias de una cena durante la cual los miembros del Consejo Ejecutivo que continúan en sus cargos honraron el servicio de sus colegas que concluyeron sus períodos de seis años. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] Atando cabos sueltos, haciendo avanzar la misión y ministerio de la Iglesia y diciendo adiós a la mitad de sus miembros, el Consejo Ejecutivo de la Iglesia Episcopal concluyó su labor trienal el 23 de abril.

En su último acto oficial del trienio 2016-2018, el Consejo dedicó 45 minutos en sesión ejecutiva a revisar su labor durante los últimos tres años.

En una conferencia de prensa una vez terminada la reunión, el obispo primado Michael Curry dijo que el Consejo terminaba su labor “risueñamente, con una sensación de júbilo y de misión cumplida.

“Hemos logrado hacer algunas cosas. Hemos enfrentado algunos problemas difíciles. Los enfrentamos, los hemos resuelto, hemos dicho nuestras oraciones y hemos hecho algún trabajo formidablemente bien”, dijo él.

La Rda. Gay Clark Jennings, presidente de la Cámara de Diputados, dijo que el Consejo y el equipo del liderazgo ejecutivo de la Iglesia han esclarecido sus papeles y sus responsabilidades, así como sus obligaciones los unos con los otros y con la Iglesia en general.

“Ha sido una bonita trayectoria, y creo que hemos crecido inmensamente en nuestro respeto de unos por otros”, afirmó ella. “Confiamos los unos en los otros. No siempre estamos de acuerdo, pero nos parece que somos capaces de perseverar. Cuando no estamos de acuerdo o cuando tenemos un problema, mi experiencia ha sido que decimos la verdad con amor”.

La Iglesia Episcopal tiene una tradición de llamar a líderes que aportan sabiduría,  énfasis centrado en la espiritualidad y profunda experiencia, dijo el Rdo. Michael Barlowe, director ejecutivo de la Convención General y secretario del Consejo. Curry y Jennings, afirmó él, encarnan esa tradición.

Tanto Jennings como Curry dijeron que esperan regresar a Austin para la reunión de la 79ª. Convención General a principios de julio. “El Movimiento de Jesús está empezando a echar raíces”, dijo ella, añadiendo que le entusiasma descubrir qué nuevas ideas saldrán a relucir en la convención. Curry se mostró de acuerdo , diciendo que él espera que la reunión de la Convención  “será más profunda”.

El Rdo.. Jabriel Ballentine, miembro del Consejo Ejecutivo que continúa, rinde tributo a la miembro Anita George durante la cena de celebración del Consejo el 22 de abril. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

El 23 de abril, los presidentes salientes de cinco comités del Consejo presentaron sus informes finales. Algunos incluyeron exhortaciones acerca de la labor futura [de los miembros] del  Consejo como líderes de la Iglesia Episcopal. Anita George, presidente de la Comité Permanente Conjunto de Promoción Social e Interconexión del Consejo, dijo que su comité está encargado de “darle voz y de conectar a los episcopales al objeto de promover la obra de unión en la misión de Dios de justicia, paz, reconciliación y transformación”.

El logro de ese objetivo comienza con cada episcopal, dijo George, incluidos sus líderes. Durante la reunión, George dijo que los miembros de Promoción Social e Interconexión “participaron en largas deliberaciones respecto a la actual y perentoria necesidad del Consejo Ejecutivo y de la Iglesia Episcopal de profundizar el adiestramiento y el debate en torno al racismo y la reconciliación racial”.

Los miembros del comité debatieron el hecho de que “muchos ejemplos de incidentes dentro y fuera de la Iglesia nos recuerdan que la tarea dista de haberse terminado”, apuntó George.

El comité “insta a la Iglesia a exigir a todos los líderes de la Iglesia Episcopal, incluido el Consejo Ejecutivo, a participar en el adiestramiento antirracista y en profundas conversaciones sobre raza”, dijo George. “También anima a la Iglesia a participar en debates que exploren el uso y la fuerza de un lenguaje potencialmente lesivo cuando interactúe con los grupos amplios y diversos que componen nuestra amada Iglesia”.

El comité dijo que los líderes de la Iglesia deben reconocer que “incluso con las mejores intenciones podemos insultar o lastimar a otros por falta de sensibilidad o por un lenguaje inapropiado cuando nos dedicamos a las buenas obras”, dijo George.

George agregó, al tiempo de retirarse del Consejo, que se va con “grandes esperanzas y muy, muy elevadas expectativas de este organismo. Los reto, los reto a recordar los rostros de Dios que no están aquí y que dependen de ustedes para que siga habiendo un espacio para ellos y sus voces en la amada comunidad. Yo se los imploro y yo les quiero”.

Ella volvió a su asiento en medio de una ovación de pie.

El Consejo Ejecutivo lleva a cabo los programas y políticas adoptadas por la Convención General, según el Canon I.4 (1). El Consejo está compuesto de 38 miembros, 20 de los cuales (cuatro obispos, cuatro presbíteros o diáconos y 12 laicos) son elegidos por la Convención General, y 18 por los nueve sínodos provinciales (un clérigo y un laico cada uno) por períodos de seis años, además del Obispo Primado y el Presidente de la Cámara de Diputados [que son miembros ex oficio]. Además, el vicepresidente de la Cámara de Diputados, el Secretario, el Director de Operaciones, el Tesorero y Director de Finanzas tienen asiento y voz, pero no voto. Por consiguiente, 19 miembros del Consejo terminarán oficialmente su período de seis años durante la Convención General en julio próximo.

Andy Doyle, obispo de la Diócesis de Texas, le dijo a los miembros del Consejo Ejecutivo y al personal denominacional durante una recepción el 22 de abril que la diócesis espera recibir a la Convención General en Austin en el próximo mes de julio. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

A continuación algunas de las decisiones que tomó el Consejo en la última jornada de su reunión de tres días:

  • Los miembros convinieron en proporcionar ayuda económica a 13 diócesis y a una zona de misión que han dicho que necesitan ayuda para cubrir los costos de asistencia a la Convención General. Todas las entidades ya recibieron subvenciones globales del presupuesto denominacional. El obispo de Honduras, Lloyd Allen, miembro del Consejo, dijo que la asistencia [a la Convención] “es un sueño hecho realidad. Hemos llorado, hemos pedido, hemos suplicado”.
  • Aunque cada entidad recibirá $1.200, lo cual otro miembro del Consejo hizo notar que asciende aproximadamente a $150 por diputado por cada día de la convención, Allen dijo que la mayor preocupación ha sido acerca de la ayuda para cubrir el costo de la inscripción, “lo cual le ha impedido a nuestra delegación estar completa en la Convención General”.
  • Cada obispo, diputado y diputado suplente debe pagar una tarifa de inscripción de $600, además de sus gastos de alojamiento y transporte.
  • El Rdo. Nathaniel Pierce, miembro saliente del Consejo, hizo notar que el Consejo había aprobado una resolución semejante, si bien por un monto inferior, a principios de 2015 para ayudar a cubrir tales costos para la última Convención General. El Consejo debe considerar lo él llamó “los problemas sistémicos” que seguirán provocando esta financiación remedial.
  • “Yo, por mi parte, me siento avergonzado de que haya personas que tengan que pedir este dinero”, dijo él.
  • El Rdo. Jabriel Ballentine, miembro que continúa en el Consejo Ejecutivo, dijo que los beneficiarios de las subvenciones globales hacen una gran labor con ese dinero “y en consecuencia decir que debemos obligar a personas que están haciendo un gran ministerio a decidir entre usar esos limitados recursos para llevar a cabo el ministerio o reservar esos recursos a fin de venir a la mesa [la Convención General] es una falsa dicotomía”.
  • Nancy Koonce, miembro saliente del Consejo, dijo que el Comité Permanente Conjunto de Finanzas para la Misión (FFM) ha instado a sus sucesores a considerar ese dilema.
  • Barlowe estuvo de acuerdo que si bien esas entidades han sido “amables” en pedir ese dinero, “no deberíamos depender constantemente de su amabilidad”. El problema, dijo él, va a la raíz de la política de la Iglesia respecto a la amplia participación de los organismos que toman las decisiones. Agregó que el comité ejecutivo del Consejo considerará el asunto entre el fin de la próxima Convención General y el comienzo de la próxima reunión del Consejo en octubre.
  • Pragedes Coromoto Jiménez de Salazar, miembro saliente del Consejo procedente de Venezuela, en primer plano,  le dice a sus colegas que seguirá trabajando por el bien de toda la Iglesia Episcopal. La Intérprete Dinorah Padro tradujo sus palabras. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

    Los miembros oyeron que un pequeño grupo de personas que han participado en el proceso de [composición] del presupuesto trienal de la Iglesia se reunirán entre ahora y el comienzo de la Convención General para considerar cómo perfeccionar el proceso. Un objetivo, según Tess Judge, presidente saliente del FFM, sería establecer un proceso “que permita la temprana intervención del PB&F (el Comité Permanente Conjunto de Programa, Presupuesto y Finanzas), así como más tiempo para que el FFM se ocupe de otros asuntos relacionados con la situación financiera de la Iglesia”.

  • La Comisión Permanente de Gobierno, Estructura, Constitución y Cánones de la Iglesia en su informe del Libro Azul  (que empieza en la página 402 aquí) solicita un equipo de trabajo que rehaga el proceso del presupuesto. “La Iglesia está empantanada en un proceso presupuestario que no deja suficiente tiempo disponible para [procesar] el aporte de toda la Iglesia antes de la Convención General”, dijo la comisión.
  • Sin embargo, cuando el FFM se reunió el 33 de abril con el Comité Permanente conjunto de Gobierno y Administración para la Misión, los miembros estuvieron de acuerdo en que tenía más sentido abordar inmediatamente los problemas implícitos.
  • El Consejo tuvo buenas noticias acerca de la labor del Comité de Revisión de Tasaciones. El comité ha estado al habla con unas 18 diócesis que actualmente no pagan el monto total de la tasación o que anticipan que pedirán una dispensa parcial o total en 2019. “Esperamos montos significativamente más bajos que lo que se propone en el presupuesto”, dijo Judge.
  • Ese presupuestoforma la base pare que el PB&F elabore en la Convención General el presupuesto 2019-2021 que incluye una partida en que reserva $5,9 millones para tales dispensas.
  • El Consejo estableció el comité a principios de 2015 antes de la Convención General de ese verano que hace obligatorio el actual sistema voluntario de solicitud diocesana para el ciclo presupuestario 2019-2021.  La contribución diocesana anual en el presupuesto trienal se ha basado en el ingreso de la diócesis de dos años antes menos $150.000. Cualquier diócesis que no pueda o no quiera pagar el porcentaje requerido de su ingreso anual debe solicitar una dispensa parcial o total para evitar sanciones, tal como la de no tener derecho a subvenciones denominacionales.
  • Los miembros del Consejo aprobaron una norma sobre el uso de bebidas alcohólicas por parte de los empleados de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera (DFMS). (La DFMS es el nombre con el cual la Iglesia Episcopal está incorporada, funciona empresarialmente y lleva a cabo la misión). Basándose en la Resolución A158 de la Convención General de 2015, que exigió tales normas, el Consejo convino en la política para los empleados que establece “límites apropiados en el servicio y consumo de bebidas alcohólicas” en el trabajo, reuniones, “actividades y eventos celebratorios” de la DFMS.
  • “El excesivo consumo de alcohol puede poner en peligro la salud y seguridad de los empleados de la DFMS y de otros en su entorno y empañar la reputación de la DFMS”, dice la norma. La cual añadió que los que eligen ingerir bebidas alcohólicas en esos ambientes “se espera que se comporten respetuosa y profesionalmente, dentro de los límites legales y en conformidad con todas las normas de la DFMS”.
  • La norma incluye detalles sobre la accesibilidad y el consumo de bebidas alcohólicas.
  • La decisión del Consejo se produjo al final de una reunión durante la cual los miembros oyeron a Curry resumir los resultados y recomendaciones de la Comisión sobre Impedimento y Liderazgo.
  • Polly Getz, miembro del Consejo, y Craig Worth, director de Comunicaciones de la Diócesis de Utah, invitaron al Consejo a ayudarles con la prueba beta, un nuevo sitio web diseñado para ayudar a instruir a la Iglesia en el proceso disciplinario del clero en conformidad con el Título IV. El público se abrirá al público durante la Convención General en julio próximo. Episcopal News Service publicará un artículo acerca de la página web esta semana.

Resúmenes de todas las resoluciones aprobadas por el Consejo en esta reunión se encuentran aquí.

Algunos miembros del consejo enviaron mensajes por Twitter desde la reunión valiéndose del hashtag  #ExCoun.

La reunión del 21 al 23 de abril tuvo lugar en el hotel Wyndham Garden Austin.

— La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es la jefa de redacción interina de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Archbishop of York speaks out 25 years after racially-motivated murder of Stephen Lawrence

Wed, 04/25/2018 - 11:59am

[Anglican Communion News Service] The British government has announced an annual memorial day in honor of a murdered teenager, Stephen Lawrence, who was killed in a racist attack near his south London home 25 years ago. Lawrence was born to Jamaican immigrants to the United Kingdom. He died at 18 of stab wounds after being attacked by a gang of white youths while he waited at a bus stop April 22, 1993. A formal independent public inquiry, led by retired High Court Judge Sir William Macpherson, was held into the police investigation and subsequent events. Archbishop Sentamu was one of three independent advisors appointed to the inquiry, which found “institutional racism” within the metropolitan police.

Read the entire article here.

Toronto Anglicans join in ‘prayer and lament’ after van attack kills 10

Wed, 04/25/2018 - 11:56am

[Anglican Communion News Service] “Tragedy has struck our city today.” These were the words of Archbishop Colin Johnson of the dioceses of Toronto and Moosonee and metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario, in a statement releasedApril 23) Around 1:30 p.m. that day, in the North York area of Toronto, a white rental van drove onto the sidewalk of busy Yonge Street and accelerated.

Read the entire article here.

Season of Intentional Discipleship sparks growing worldwide movement

Tue, 04/24/2018 - 12:49pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans around the world are joining in a movement of discipleship, equipping each other to spread the power of the Gospel. The coordinating group for the Season of Intentional Discipleship is meeting this week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia amid growing excitement. As they gather, a film highlighting the Season of Intentional Discipleship has been released.


Primate-elect of Central America calls Anglicans ‘a people of hope’

Tue, 04/24/2018 - 12:45pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop Julip Muray has been setting out his hopes and vision after he was elected the new primate of the province of Central America. He was unanimously chosen during the province’s sixth synod, which was held in San Jose, Costa Rica. The province includes five dioceses: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama.

Read the full article here.

New interactive website aims to help Episcopalians navigate church’s clergy discipline procedures

Tue, 04/24/2018 - 10:23am

A nearly two-year effort to develop an interactive website to help Episcopalians navigate the church’s Title IV clergy disciplinary process came in under budget and will debut this July during the 79th meeting of General Convention.

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] The Episcopal Church’s decades-long process of refining its clergy discipline process will take a big logistical step forward this summer when an interactive website debuts. The site was developed with the hope of bringing a common understanding of the rules and helping clergy avoid getting into trouble and injuring others in the first place.

The website is in the beta testing phase, and members of the church’s Executive Council have been invited to join that process. The site is designed to help Episcopalians navigate the church’s Title IV clergy disciplinary process (those canons can be found beginning on page 131 of the church’s Constitution and Canons here).

Council member Polly Getz, who has long-time experience as a chancellor at various levels of the church, explained to her colleagues April 21 that the website is the result of nearly two years of work by a subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Structure, Governance, Constitution and Canons.

The project drew praise from three of the church’s leaders after it was presented to the council.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry noted during a news conference after the end of the meeting April 23 that the invitation to the council to give feedback on the website occurred during the same meeting in which he briefed the members on the report of the Commission on Impairment and Leadership.

Both the website and the report and its recommendations address what happens when “people are hurt or wounded,” he said. Each represents “this church’s commitment to be a place where every human child of God is safe, is respected as a child of God made in God’s image and where we can be as sure of that as we can. That’s this church saying to #MeToo: we’re taking that seriously. It is worth putting all this time and energy into this because we’re serious about this.”

House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings said “this has become a project of the heart, mind and soul” for Getz and Diocese of Utah Communications Director Craig Wirth, with whom Getz worked.

The website project will “deepen our ability to respond to unfortunate situations in ways that are constructive, positive and help all parties move ahead,” Jennings said.

The Episcopal Church has been a leader in addressing and trying to prevent clergy misconduct, according to the Rev. Michael Barlowe, the executive officer of General Convention. The current effort is “a continuing unfolding of the Episcopal Church’s historic emphasis on making our church the safe church that we want to be.”

Barlowe also pointed to the work of the General Convention Task Force to Update Sexual Misconduct Policies. The group recently released updated safe church policies.

A model policy for the protection of children and youth is here, as well as one for the protection of vulnerable adults here. An frequently asked questions document is available here,

“This is yet another example of how the Episcopal Church is trying to walk its talk,” Barlowe said.

Executive Council member Polly Getz of San Diego briefed her colleagues on the construction of an interactive website to help Episcopalians learn how to live into the spirit of the church’s clergy discipline rules, known as Title IV. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Getz told Episcopal News Service after the council concluded its meeting here that despite the best efforts of those who have had a hand in rewriting the clergy discipline rules and trying to streamline them, those rules have gotten more complicated. “The more important reason for wanting to do the website is that we had folks across the church doing [Title IV] training and they were not necessarily interpreting what they were reading in the same way,” Getz said. Those differences have led to inconsistencies in how the canons were being interpreted and “lived into,” she added.

Plus, Getz said, the website pays more attention to Title IV’s theological underpinnings than previous training efforts, including the importance of grounding all over around clergy discipline in the principles stated in the preamble to the rules. “By virtue of Baptism, all members of the church are called to holiness of life and accountability to one another,” that canon says. “The church and each diocese shall support their members in their life in Christ and seek to resolve conflicts by promoting healing, repentance, forgiveness, restitution, justice, amendment of life and reconciliation among all involved or affected.”

Getz said chancellors always discuss how Title IV is being used across the church. “The conclusion has been, for the last 15 years, that no matter how much we study and talk about it, we still end up with folks interpreting it differently in one place versus another,” she said. Her hope for and the objective of the project is to rectify those situations and help the church develop a common understanding of the process and its goals.

“I believe if everyone fully understands and works with and implements Title IV in the manner in which it was written, we will achieve our goals of fairness, of justice, of transparency and so forth, creating meaningful opportunities for restoration, for amendment of life, reconciliation to the church,” Getz said.

The work that resulted in the website came in response to Resolution A150 in which the General Convention called in 2015 for the development and implementation Title IV training materials for the church.

The subcommittee joined with Wirth and diocesan communications assistant Halle Oliver to develop the website, which Getz said came in under budget.

One part of the new website, titled General Education and Best Practices, has about 250 videos on various topics involved in clergy discipline. Each video runs about 2:30 minutes and features Episcopalians who have had experience with implementing the Title IV canons.

One part of the site, titled General Education and Best Practices, has about 250 videos that each run about 2:30 minutes each. Getz and Wirth sought a variety of bishops, priests and deacons, including the current and previous presiding bishops, to contribute to the section, its explanation says. There are also contributions from experts in theology, church law, church administration and communications, and those who have studied and revised Title IV since the early 1990s.

“We wanted the broadest possible spectrum of leaders in the church to talk about their experiences, to talk about what they have found to be best practices, flowing from the nitty gritty of the canons,” Getz said.

The other part of the website is more technical, she explained. It outlines the roles of what she called various “stakeholders” in the disciplinary process. The section offers a method for each participant to understand his or her responsibilities and to see alternatives and possible outcomes at each step of the process, as well as observe the big picture, according to the page’s explanation.

While information in that section is “derived from the canons after considerable research and reflects each step as determined by a committee of those who are recognized authorities of Title IV, it is not intended to be the sole source of canonical law for use in the Title IV proceedings,” the explanation says.

The site will also offer a frequently asked questions page, a glossary and a library of templates for the many forms used in the Title IV process. The site is optimized to be responsive on all devices from desktop computers to mobile phones.

The other main part of the website offers a step-by-step process of a Title IV proceeding for each participant who is part of the process.

Episcopal Church canons have expressed concern about clergy behavior since the General Convention in 1789 made it wrong for clergy — except “for their honest necessities” — to “resort to taverns, or other places most liable to be abused to licentiousness.”

That original Canon 13 also warned that clergy who “[gave] themselves to base or servile labor, or to drinking or riot, or to spending their time idly” would face a range of disciplinary actions.

The church ever since has been refining its answer to the question of how best to discipline errant clergy. The tradition continued at the 77th meeting of General Convention in 2012 when bishops and deputies tweaked the then-current version of the Title IV disciplinary canons that had been in use for just more than a year.

There were more changes to come. In 2015, bishops and deputies approved several Title IV revisions, including adding sanctions for those who may attempt to delay or disrupt the disciplinary process, and allocating money for training materials to help streamline proceedings. As the subcommittee began to do its work, it realized that perhaps it needed to “break out of the mold of how the wider church gets its projects done,” Getz said.

Diocese of Utah Chancellor Steve Hutchinson, who has been deeply involved in Title IV revisions, suggested that the subcommittee work with Wirth. Getz said Wirth brought fresh eyes to the projects and helped the group see there might be a better way to present the training materials than the way that people whom she called the “linear lawyers” have always done it. She said they look at the discipline process and potential training materials through a timeline approach.

Getz said, “people have tried for several years to create flow charts of how Title IV works; I have yet to see one that you could logically follow.”

Wirth told ENS that his work in integrative marketing communications and broadcast news has always been driven by providing material in a way that serves the audience. In the case of the clergy discipline process, there were multiple audiences ranging from clergy to people who feel they have been mistreated to lawyers to every Episcopalian to those outside the church who watch how it handles these issues. He proposed a website built, in part, around the stakeholders in the process so each could learn about their roles and see how they interacted with the roles of others.

An interactive website made sense, Wirth said, because “online learning is not the future; it’s the present.”

Thus, the subcommittee developed a different way to look at the process. Users can click on one stakeholder category, see the squares on the web page’s grid light up if they relate to that person and follow those responsibilities for that stakeholder. However, that person can also look at the roles of other participants and how they fit together.

Wirth said he thinks the site’s other goal of presenting best practices and teaching about clergy discipline issues is perhaps even more important that the process side. A major success for the website in his eyes, he said, would be “preventing Title IV incidents” in the future.

Thus, the best practices section includes people offering what Wirth called “very frank discussions” about the pressures, stresses and obligations that come with living an ordained life. Clergy promise in their ordination vows to do their best to live their lives “in accordance with the teachings of Christ,” so that they “may be a wholesome example to all people.”

Getz and Wirth said they hope seminaries and local clergy-formation programs especially will make use of those videos so that more and more new clergy will be schooled in the process and aware of how to protect the people they are meant to shepherd. Getz sees the website as offering a flexible way for formation programs to provide students with uniform knowledge about the rules and their intentions.

For instance, Getz said, some clergy members are concerned about the canonical requirements that they report when they see what they fear are possible violations by other clergy. They need to understand that such reporting is meant to open the possibility for someone in authority “to intervene where risky or dangerous behavior is noticed and stop the conduct from going further, whether it’s through counseling or issuing a pastoral directive or something else” so that it doesn’t result in some sort of abuse and a claim of clergy misconduct.

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is interim managing editor of the Episcopal News Service.

Executive Council wraps up its triennial work, looks to General Convention

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 6:45pm

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
served April 22 as the emcees of a dinner during which continuing members of Executive Council honored the service of their colleagues who are completing their six-year terms. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] Tying up loose ends, moving the mission and ministry of the church forward and saying good-bye to half of its members, the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council on April 23 wrapped up its triennial work.

In its last official act of the 2016-2018 triennium, council spent 45 minutes in executive session, reviewing its work during the last three years.

At a news conference after council adjourned, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said council concluded its work “with laughter, a sense of joy and a sense of accomplishment.

“We got some stuff done. We faced some difficult issues. We faced them, we figured them out, we said our prayers and did some pretty darn good work,” he said.

House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings said that council and the church’s executive leadership team have clarified their roles and responsibilities, as well as their obligations to each other and the wider church.

“It’s been a lovely journey, and I think we’ve grown immensely in our respect for one another,” she said. “We trust one another. We don’t always agree with each other, but we seem to be able to just keep at it. When we don’t agree or when we have an issue, my experience has been that we speak the truth in love.”

The Episcopal Church has a tradition of calling leaders who bring wisdom, spiritual centeredness and deep experience, said the Rev. Michael Barlowe, the secretary of General Convention. Curry and Jennings, he said, embody that tradition.

Both Jennings and Curry said they are looking forward to returning to Austin for the 79th meeting of General Convention in early July. “The Jesus Movement is beginning to grow roots,” she said, adding that she is excited to discover what new ideas will bubble up at convention. Curry agreed, saying he anticipates that this meeting of convention “will be going deeper.”

The Rev. Jabriel Ballentine, a continuing Executive Council member, pays tribute to member Anita George during the council’s celebratory dinner April 22. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

On April 23, the outgoing chairs of council’s five committees gave their final reports. Some included exhortations about the future work of the council as leaders in the Episcopal Church. Anita George, chair of the council’s Joint Standing Committee on Advocacy and Networking, said that her committee is charged with “giving voice and connecting Episcopalians for the purpose of advancing the work of joining in God’s mission of justice, peace, reconciliation and transformation.”

Achieving that goal begins with each Episcopalian, George said, including its leaders. During this meeting, George said Advocacy and Networking members “engaged in lengthy deliberations regarding the ongoing and critical need for Executive Council and the Episcopal Church to engage in deep training and discussions around racism and racial reconciliation.”

Committee members discussed the fact that “many examples of incidents within and without the church remind us that the work is far from over,” George said.

The committee “urges the church to require all leaders of the Episcopal Church, including Executive Council, to engage in antiracism training and deep conversations around race,” George said. “It further encourages the church to engage in discussion to explore the use and power of potentially harmful language when interacting with the wide and diverse groups that comprise our beloved church.”

The committee said church leaders must recognize that “even with the best intentions we may insult or harm others without sensitivity inappropriate language when we are engaged with good works,” George said.

George said, as she departs the council, she leaves with “high hopes and very, very high expectations of this body. I challenge you, I challenge you, to remember the faces of God who are not here and who depend on you to continue to make space for them and their voices in the beloved community. I implore you, and I love you.”

She returned to her seat amid a standing ovation.

The Executive Council carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1). The council comprises 38 members – 20 (four bishops, four priests or deacons and 12 lay people) elected by General Convention and 18 (one clergy and one lay) by the nine provincial synods for six-year terms – plus the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies. In addition, the vice president of the House of Deputies, secretary, chief operating officer, treasurer and chief financial officer have seat and voice but no vote. Thus, 19 members of council will officially finish their six-year terms during General Convention this July.

Diocese of Texas Bishop Andy Doyle told members of the Executive Council and the church-wide staff during an April 22 reception that the diocese is looking forward to hosting General Convention in Austin this July. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Here are some of the actions that council took on the last day of its three-day meeting:

* The members agreed to provide financial assistance to 13 dioceses and one area mission that have said they need help covering the costs of attending General Convention. All of the entities already receive block grants from the church-wide budget. Bishop of Honduras Lloyd Allen, a council member, said the assistance “is a dream come true. We have cried, we have asked, we have begged.”

Although each entity will receive $1,200, which another council member noted amounts to about $150 per deputy per day of convention, Allen said the biggest concern has been about help in covering the registration cost, “which has prevented our delegation from being complete at General Convention.”

Each bishop, deputy and alternate deputy must pay a $600 registration fee, in addition to their lodging and transportation costs.

The Rev. Nathaniel Pierce, outgoing council member, noted that council had passed a similar resolution, albeit for a smaller amount, early in 2015 to help cover such costs for the last General Convention. Council needs to consider what he called “the systemic issues” that will continue to prompt this stop-gap funding.

“I, for one, am ashamed that folks have to beg for this money,” he said.

The Rev. Jabriel Ballentine, continuing Executive Council member, said that the block grant recipients do great work with that money “and so to say that we should force people who are doing great ministry to decide between using those limited resources to do ministry or holding onto those resources in order to come to the table [General Convention] is a false dichotomy.”

Outgoing council member Nancy Koonce said that the Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission (FFM) has urged its successors to consider this dilemma.

Barlowe agreed that while those entities that have been “gracious” in asking for this money, “we shouldn’t constantly have to rely on their graciousness.” The issue, he said, goes to the root of the church’s polity about broad participation in policy-making bodies. He said the council’s executive committee will be considering the issue between the end of the upcoming General Convention and the beginning of council’s next meeting in October.

Outgoing Executive Council member Pragedes Coromoto Jimenez de Salazar, foreground, of Venezuela, tells her colleagues that she will continue to work for the good of the entire the Episcopal Church. Interpreter Dinorah Padro assisted her during her remarks. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

* The members heard that a small group of people who have been involved in the church’s triennial budgeting process will convene between now and the start of General Convention to consider how to improve that process. A goal, according to outgoing FFM Chair Tess Judge, would be to establish a process “that allows early involvement by PB&F (the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance), as well as more time for FFM to deal with other matters related to the financial status of the church.”

The church’s Standing Commission on Governance, Structure, Constitution and Canons called in its Blue Book report (beginning on page 402 here) for a task force to reshape the budget process. “The church is mired in a budget process that does not make enough time available for input by the church at large prior to General Convention,” the commission said.

However, when FFM met together April 22 with council’s Joint Standing Committee on Governance and Administration for Mission, the members agreed that it made more sense to address the issues involved immediately.

* The council heard good news about the work of its Assessment Review Committee. The committee has been talking to about 18 dioceses that do not currently pay the full amount of the assessment or who anticipate asking for a partial or full waiver in 2019. “We anticipate significantly lower amounts than in the proposed budget,” Judge said.

That budget forms the basis for PB&F’s work at General Convention to craft the 2019-2021 budget includes a line item reserving $5.9 million for such waivers.

Council established the committee in early 2015 ahead of General Convention that summer making mandatory the current voluntary diocesan budgetary asking system for the 2019-2021 budget cycle. Each year’s annual diocesan giving in the three-year budget had been based on a diocese’s income two years earlier, minus $150,000. Any diocese that cannot or will not pay the soon-to-be-required percentage of its annual income must ask for a partial or full waiver to avoid any penalty, such as not being eligible for church-wide grants.

* Council members approved a policy on alcohol use by Domestic and Foreign Mission Society employees (DFMS is the name under which the Episcopal Church is incorporated, conducts business and carries out mission). Rooted in General Convention Resolution 2015-A158, which called for such policies, council agreed to the employee policy that puts “appropriate limits on the serving and consumption of alcohol” at DFMS work, gatherings, “activities and celebratory events.”

“Excessive alcohol consumption may endanger the health and safety of DFMS employees and others around them and tarnish the DFMS’ reputation,” the policy says. It added that those who choose to drink alcoholic beverages in such settings “are expected to behave respectfully, professionally, within legal limits, and in accordance with all DFMS policies.”

The policy includes details about availability and consumption of alcohol.

Council’s action came at the end of a meeting during which the members heard Curry summarize the Commission on Impairment and Leadership’s findings and recommendations.

* Council member Polly Getz and Diocese of Utah Communications Director Craig Worth invited the council to help them beta test a new website designed to help educate the church on its Title IV clergy disciplinary process. The site will debut to the public during General Convention this July. Episcopal News Service will post a story about the website this week.

Summaries of all the resolutions council passed at this meeting are here.

Some council members tweeted from the meeting using #ExCoun.

The April 21-23 meeting took place at the Wyndham Garden Austin hotel.

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is interim managing editor of the Episcopal News Service.

A summary of Executive Council resolutions

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 6:44pm

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] During its April 21-23 meeting here, the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council adopted multiple resolutions that are summarized below.

Finances for Mission

Allocate $1,200 for each of the 14 entities receiving block grants to support attendance at the 2018 General Convention. Funding sources to be identified by the treasurer and the presiding bishop. (Entities are the dioceses of Alaska, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador Central, Ecuador Litoral, Haiti, Honduras, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Taiwan, Venezuela and Virgin Islands and Navajoland Area Mission) (FFM105).

Establish Trust Fund 1175, St. Andrew’s Newcastle, ME HVF, as an investment account for St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church of Newcastle in Maine (FFM106).

Establish Trust Fund 1176, Outreach Endowment of the Master Endowment of the Church of the Incarnation, as an investment account for Church of the Incarnation of Franklin, North Carolina (FFM107).

Establish Trust Fund 1177, Music Endowment of the Master Endowment of the Church of the Incarnation, as an investment account for Church of the Incarnation of Franklin, North Carolina (FFM108).

Make annual income derived from The Emery Fund for Missionaries Home on Furlough be available beginning Jan. 1, 2019, to programs for missionaries appointed by the Episcopal Church; such programs will provide training or retreats with educational and recreational components not otherwise included in the annual operating budget; such programs, designed by mission personnel and senior staff will be reviewed and agreed to by an appropriate committee of Executive Council; any annual income not used be reinvested (FFM109).

Approve fundraising for TEC Talks at General Convention 2018, pursuant to resolutions FFM-013 (February 2010) and FFM-067 (October 2014) (FFM110).

Allocate 50 percent of the income from Trust Fund 815, The Vincent Astor Fund, to the Diocese of New York and 50 percent to the Diocese of Long Island for the period 2018 through 2020, pending receipt of appropriate accounting and narrative reports for previously disbursed funds (FFM111).

Establish Trust Fund 1178, Protestant Episcopal Bishop of San Joaquin a Corporation Sole, the Diocesan Reserve Account, as an investment account for the Diocese of San Joaquin (FFM112).

Establish Trust Fund 1179, Protestant Episcopal Bishop of San Joaquin, a Corporation Sole, the Episcopal Conference Center Oakhurst (ECCO), as an investment account for the Diocese of San Joaquin (FFM113).

Establish Trust Fund 1180, Protestant Episcopal Bishop of San Joaquin a Corporation Sole, Restricted Funds Account – Clipper Trust Sub-account, as an investment account for the Diocese of San Joaquin (FFM114).

Establish Trust Fund 1181, Protestant Episcopal Bishop of San Joaquin a Corporation Sole, Restricted Funds Account – Togni Remainder Trust Sub-account, as an investment account for the Diocese of San Joaquin (FFM115).

Establish Trust Fund 1182, Protestant Episcopal Bishop of San Joaquin a Corporation Sole, Restricted Funds Account – Mary Zita Turtle Trust Sub-account, as an investment account for the Diocese of San Joaquin (FFM116).

Approve, in addition to the draft budget recommendation, a supplementary grant of up to $330,000 to support the Episcopal Church in Navajoland to enable it to produce a balanced budget for 2018, funding to be determined by the treasurer considering triennial results and/or reserves if needed (FFM117).

Authorizes an additional secured line of credit to St. Augustine’s University of up to $1 million secured by a deed of trust of certain parcels with a combined appraised value of at least $2.5  million; draw will be subject to completion of due diligence satisfactory to the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society treasurer, including but not limited to confirming the value of the property, securing the loan, and implementing changes in corporate and university board governance (FFM118).

Approve request from Ethnic Ministries to apply for a grant from the Lily Endowment, pursuant to resolutions FFM-013 (February 2010) and FFM-067 (October 2014) (FFM119).

Governance and Administration for Mission

Adopt proposed human resources policy regarding alcohol use (GAM015).

Consent to the nomination by the presiding bishop of the slate of nominees for election to the Episcopal Church Women National Board as recommended by the ECW National Board Nominating Committee as follow, President: Jackie Meeks (Province VII-Fort Worth) and Karen Patterson (Province IV-SW Florida); 1st Vice President – Program: Patricia Wellnitz (Province VI-Nebraska); 2nd Vice President – Information & Communication:  None; Secretary: Samar Fay (Province VI-Colorado); At-Large Multimedia: Michelle Kuruma (Province VIII-Los Angeles) and Laura Orcutt (Province VIII-Utah); At-Large Social Justice: Delores Alleyne (Province I-Connecticut), Suzanne Miller (Province VIII-Utah), the Rev. Ema Rosero Nordalm (Province I-Massachusetts); Treasurer: None (GAM016).

Local Mission and Ministry

Fund grant requests as recommended by the Young Adult and Campus Ministry Council, approved for funding in 2018 from budget line 67, Goal: Formation (LMM016).

Approve grant process for the Roanridge Trust, revising it to parallel the grant process now in place for the Constable Fund (LMM017).

Approve grants recommended by the Evangelism Grants Committee to be funded in 2018 from budget line 28k, Goal: Evangelism (LMM18).

Modify the 2018 budget to transfer $100,000 from budget line 28k, Other General Evangelism initiatives, to line 27a, Church Planting grants (LMM019).

World Mission

Approve the United Thank Offering Grants for 2018 (WM035).

Approve 2019 United Thank Offering Young Adult and Seminarian Grants focus and criteria (WM036).

Adopt resolution to forward it to the secretary of General Convention asking that the 79th General Convention create an Advisory Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations to be appointed by the presiding officers; committee to work with the Office of Ecumenical Relations and to make recommendations to the Executive Council Joint Standing Committee on World Mission or its equivalent (WM037).

Canadian Anglicans to pray for the peace of Jerusalem

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 5:31pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans in Canada are being asked to pray for the peace of Jerusalem next month, on a date designated Jerusalem Sunday by the province. The Church’s General Synod passed a resolution at its 2013 meeting to “observe the Seventh Sunday of Easter, commonly known as the Sunday after Ascension Day, as Jerusalem Sunday.”

The annual day has been welcomed by the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Suheil Dawani, who described it as “a tremendous encouragement and further testimony to our oneness in the Body of Christ and our bond-of-affection as members of the Anglican Communion.”

Read the full article here.