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Congregations’ pet ministries offer support to pet owners and their four-legged companions

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 10:40am

The Perfect Paws Pet Ministry at All Saints Episcopal Church in Danvers, Massachusetts, hosted a meeting of the West Highland White Terrier Club in September.

[Episcopal News Service] Lord God made them all, the creatures of the world great and small, and God’s smaller creatures are getting a helping hand from the numerous Episcopal congregations around the country with pet outreach in their lineup of parish ministries.

In Roswell, New Mexico, there’s the Four Paws Pet Pantry, a ministry of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. In Danvers, Massachusetts, All Saints Episcopal Church calls its ministry Perfect Paws, with services ranging from pet food drives to a therapy dog program in local schools. And St. Paul’s Church By-the-Lake in Chicago, Illinois, has a monthly food pantry called AniMeals that doubles as a basic pet clinic, with local veterinarians donating their time.

Pets are the focus, but such outreach would more precisely be described as serving the needs of human members of the congregations’ communities who struggle financially with taking care of their pets. AniMeals, for example, was created about 20 years ago out of concern for older and low-income residents forced to decide between self-care and pet care.

“Instead of buying food for themselves, they were buying food for their animals and depriving themselves of that nutrition,” said the Rev. John Heschle, the longtime rector of St. Paul’s. The AniMeals “pet food café” now draws 15 to 25 pet owners every third Saturday of the month.

One of the simplest pet ministries can be found in Episcopal churches across the country: Annual services offering pet blessings have become commonplace and typically are held in early October around the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals. Such services were relatively new in metro Chicago in the late 1990s when St. Paul’s held its first pet blessing service, which soon grew into the AniMeals ministry.

Some churches, though, take pet outreach a step further. The Episcopal Church Asset Map, though not a comprehensive listing, shows at least a dozen congregations that offer some form of concerted pet ministry, from the pet supplies collections led by St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Waterford, Michigan,  to the fundraisers that St. Jude’s Episcopal Church in Niceville, Florida, holds to support a local no-kill shelter.

Cat and dog food repackaged in gallon plastic bags is stacked for distribution at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Roswell, New Mexico, for the church’s Four Paws Pet Pantry.

Several churches run their own pet food pantries – think of it like a church food pantry, but for pets – such as St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and St. Andrew’s in New Mexico.

“There’s a whole lot of us there that are big pet lovers, and we saw the need in Roswell,” said Enid Smith, who helps organize the Four Paws Pet Pantry at St. Andrews. “People were having to decide if they could keep a pet or not.”

The pet food pantry was created about two years ago and now serves 70 to 80 pet owners on the third Wednesday each month. The congregation has rallied behind the new ministry, and some local school groups have volunteered to help as service projects.

“I just feel like it’s both community and church,” Smith said. “We’re really helping a lot of people in the community.

St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church in Alden, New York, created its Pet Food Cupboard about four years ago and runs it out of the church basement. The congregation, directly east of Buffalo, chose the name “cupboard” to clearly differentiate it from its food pantry, said James Wojcik, who organizes the Pet Food Cupboard with his wife, Christine.

“We were volunteering for the food pantry here at the church, and every so often a veterinarian or some people who were donating things would donate some pet food,” James Wojcik, 78, told Episcopal News Service. They began offering the pet food on pantry days, “and pretty soon people started asking for it.”

Now the pet ministry has grown to serve 70 people or more on the second Saturday of each month. Wojcik estimates they give out up to 300 pounds of cat food and 200 pounds of dog food a month. They also sometimes distribute cat litter. They don’t have any income or residency requirements for recipients, and no one is denied the pet supplies.

Their typical clients “just desperately need help feeding the animals,” he said.

Clients of AniMeals in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood can get more than just food and supplies. Its volunteer veterinarians also will spay or neuter pets as needed and even offer microchipping, in case the pets get lost.

St. Paul’s requires pet owners who visit AniMeals to meet income requirements showing financial need, though clients don’t need to be a church member or Episcopalian. Some choose to come back to attend attending church services, but it’s not expected.

“That’s not our primary reason for doing this,” Heschle said. “It really was to meet sort of a need that we saw in the neighborhood.”

These ministries often are driven by the congregation members’ love of animals. What else but love would compel a ministry like Perfect Paws in Danvers, Massachusetts, to host a presentation on dog body language for owners of white terriers on the church green?

Heschle’s congregation goes as far as to set out food and water in dishes between the rectory and church building, for any feral cats roaming the neighborhood. Those cats are then trapped so they can be spayed and neutered.

Wojcik and his wife have two dogs of their own, a hound and a boxer, both shelter dogs.

“We always have been pet lovers,” he said, though he sees a greater purpose in the Pet Food Cupboard at St. Aidan’s. “It’s like the letter of James: Faith without good works is kind of hollow.”

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

Gayle Fisher-Stewart appointed chaplain for Takoma Park Police Department

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 10:07am

[Takoma Park Police Department] Takoma Park, Maryland, Police Chief Antonio DeVaul announces that the Rev. Gayle Fisher-Stewart has been appointed police chaplain for the Takoma Park Police Department.

“It is an honor to have the Rev. Dr. Fisher-Stewart as our official department chaplain. Her compassion and expertise will be an asset to our agency and the City of Takoma Park,” said DeVaul.

Fisher-Stewart currently serves as the assistant pastor at Calvary Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. A native Washingtonian, prior to accepting the call to ordained ministry, she retired from the Metropolitan Police Department as a captain and then taught at the university level. Her area of special interest is the history of policing as it intersects with race in America. She is the founder of the Center for the Study of Faith in Justice at Calvary which conducts research and creates a safe space for the discussion of issues that vex both society and the church and is the president for the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians.

Fisher-Stewart is a graduate of the University of Maryland University College (BS), the University of Maryland (MS, Ph.D), American University (MS), the University of the District of Columbia (MA) and Wesley Theological Seminary (MTS). She was the 2015 recipient of the Director’s Award, Episcopal Evangelism Society and, in 2017, she was awarded an honorary doctorate of divinity from Colgate University.

Fisher-Stewart is the mother of a son, David, who is her heart.

“As a long-time resident of Takoma Park, I am honored to be working with my police department and I thank Chief DeVaul for the opportunity to serve,” said Fisher-Stewart.

South Sudan: Bishop casts doubt on possible rival leaders’ meeting

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 2:37pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The retired South Sudanese Anglican bishop who leads the faith based group in the ongoing peace talks, Enock Tombe, says he is pessimistic about a proposed face-to-face meeting between President Salva Kiir and his rival Dr Riek Machar. The meeting was proposed by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development during talks at the Council of Ministers’ extra-ordinary session in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, last week.

Read the entire article here.

Church, interfaith leaders call for US government to end its immigration policy separating families

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 2:32pm

Outside of City Hall in Los Angeles on June 7, people hold signs to protest against President Donald Trump’s executive order to detain children crossing the southern U.S. border, which separates families. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/REUTERS

[Episcopal News Service] In mid-May, a Honduran man who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into southeast Texas with his wife and 3-year-old son committed suicide at a detention center, where after requesting asylum, border agents told him he’d be separated from his family.

Family separations aren’t just happening at the border, roundups are happening nationwide. In early June, in Seattle, Washington, 206 undocumented immigrants apprehended at the border and held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody – 174 of the women, at least half of them mothers – were transferred to a detention facility near the airport. Somewhere along their journey, the mothers were separated from their children. Some weren’t given the chance to say goodbye and could hear their children screaming in a nearby room; some don’t know their children’s whereabouts. Most, though not all, of the women fled ongoing gang and domestic violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, three of the most violent countries in the world.

Unaccompanied minors and families from Central America began arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in record numbers in 2014. The numbers later dropped off, but there’s a new surge happening now at the Southwest border where Customs and Border Control agents have detained more than 252,000 people – 32,371 unaccompanied minors and 59,113 families – over the last eight months. There are some 11,000 unaccompanied minors in federal custody.

On June 11, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions further clarified the Trump administration’s immigration policy saying gang violence and domestic abuse are not grounds for asylum, overturning a precedent set in 2016 by the Department of Justice’s Federal Board of Immigration Appeals.

In early April, Sessions announced that anyone caught crossing the border illegally or attempting to cross the border illegally would be criminally prosecuted. Then, on May 7, during a speech in San Diego, Sessions clarified the zero-tolerance policy, stating it includes separating children and parents.

“Immigrants should ask to apply lawfully before they enter our country,” said Sessions. “Citizens of other countries don’t get to violate our laws or rewrite them for us. People around the world have no right to demand entry in violation of our sovereignty.”

To carry out the new enforcement policies, Sessions sent 35 prosecutors to the Southwest and moved 18 immigration judges to the border.

On June 6, a federal judge in San Diego refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union challenging the Trump administration’s immigration policy by saying family separation may violate the Constitution’s due process clause. The judge did, however, dismiss a separate challenge saying that the practice violates asylum laws.

Entering or attempting to enter the United States illegally, however, and requesting asylum are not one in the same.

Under international law, people fleeing violence and persecution have the right to request asylum. The Episcopal Church has a longstanding policy affirming the universal right to seek asylum; it recognizes the need to protect vulnerable people.

Last week, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry signed an ecumenical and interfaith statement expressing concerns over a recent U.S. government policy “calling for more stringent enforcement of federal immigration laws.” A policy, they say, will likely result in an increase in family separations.

“I really appreciated that Bishop Curry signed the statement … decrying the separation of families in faith-based terms,” said longtime immigration advocate Sarah Lawton, who chairs the House of Deputies’ General Convention Social Justice and International Policy Committee and is a lay deputy from the Diocese of California. “I appreciate that he recognized that we, as Christians, as Episcopalians, respect the family as one of the fundamental building blocks of society and recognize that in our own sacraments.”

That the United States would deploy a punitive policy separating families at the border – taking children and not telling their parents where they are going in some cases, not allowing them to say goodbye – to deter asylum seekers is unimaginable, she said, in a phone call with Episcopal News Service.

“It’s so cruel, depraved really. They don’t need to do that. … Under international law, they have the right to make an asylum claim,” said Lawton. “We should all be on the phone – out in the streets – calling our legislators. U.S. policy has been in crisis for a long time; it has intensified under Trump and has become more racist. The administration is going after the low-hanging fruit, families that are registered [in government tracking systems]. It’s a terror that’s descending on families. As a church, it’s our duty to protect the dignity of every human being.”

The stories of fathers and mothers being separated from their children at the border are deeply disturbing, said Lacy Broemel, the Episcopal Church’s immigration and refugee policy analyst working out of the Washington, D.C.-based Office of Government Relations, in an email to ENS.

“The Office of Government Relations is urging Episcopalians to contact their members of Congress to ask the administration to end this harmful policy of separating families at the border. Our office is sharing the presiding bishop’s statement with members of Congress and meeting with them to share the Episcopal Church’s deep concern about this practice and advocating through the appropriations process to oppose additional funding to detention centers,” she said.

“Further, we are continuing to focus on advocating for larger-scale changes to our immigration policies such as citizenship for Dreamers and other undocumented persons in the U.S., implementing humane and reasonable policies at our border, and addressing the violence and poverty these families are fleeing in their home countries,” said Broemel.

At its 79th General Convention in July in Austin, Texas, the Episcopal Church will consider legislation reinforcing its positions on refugees, immigration and migration, including Resolution D009, which examines the Christian principles for responding to human migration. (The 2015 General Convention passed several resolutions strengthening its position on immigration and refugees.)

Convention will look not only to respond to the current migration crisis, but also to adopt a long-term response strategy in the United States, as well as in places such as the Dominican Republic, where Haitian migrants often suffer abuse, and in areas where climate change threatens to displace entire communities.

“The Episcopal Church has a long-standing and well-documented history of championing comprehensive immigration reform as well as humanitarian support for refugees,” said the Rt. Rev. Anne Hodges-Copple, bishop suffragan for the Diocese of North Carolina. “The interest and energy for this work is only increasing as our local communities are continuing to be blessed with new neighbors from others countries. The stories of families torn apart and suffering under the current broken immigration system are the stories of families we know from work, school and church.

“Five resolutions on immigration reform have been submitted to the Committee on Social Justice and U.S. Policy so far. We expect more submissions addressing the Justice Department’s policy of separating children from their parents. This pointed departure from decades of previous Republican and Democratic-led administrations’ policies defy any commonly held definition of family values,” she said. “A great gift of General Convention is our resolution process as a way to listen, speak and learn from a wide variety of voices and prayerfully discern a biblically, theologically informed position and call to action.”

Earlier this month, Rebecca Linder Blachly, the director of the Office of Government Relations, signed on to an interfaith statement decrying family separation and urging national leaders to protect family unity.

Churches and religious communities have a constitutional right to petition the government. The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause does not prohibit churches from meeting with, educating or advocating to elected officials with the aim of creating laws in line with the churches’ values. Throughout U.S. history, religious communities have engaged politically on issues of the era: from abolition to civil rights movements to immigration reform.

The Office of Government Relations – housed on Capitol Hill – carries out the church’s nonpartisan, values-based agenda. Every three years, the Episcopal Church’s General Convention meets to conduct church-related business and to discuss and pass legislation ranging from revisions of the Book of Common Prayer to resolutions supporting criminal justice and immigration reform. Episcopalians can join the Episcopal Public Policy Network to become involved in this work.

To write your elected officials to request they defend access to asylum, click here.

In May, the Office of Government Relations hosted a webinar on immigration policies and advocacy titled “Loving Your Neighbor: Faithful Actions on Immigration.” Click here to watch it.

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

Peace. Prayer. Productivity: California ‘day monastery’ melds prayer, work

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 3:51pm

While money for renovation are still being raised, one of the co-creators of The Divine Office at St. Augustine by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Santa Monica, California, Deborah Kaufman Giordano, a healthcare recruiter, uses hymnals to make plastic card-table “desks” work for her. Photo courtesy of Katie Cadigan

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series profiling the Episcopal Church’s recent work planting new churches and other faith communities. Other stories about recipients of grants from the Episcopal Church’s Genesis Advisory Group on Church Planting can be found here.

[Episcopal News Service] When Dennis Doherty found working from his West Los Angeles home too distracting and isolating, he went to coffee shops and even the local IHOP.

Then he heard about The Divine Office (TDO) at St. Augustine by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Santa Monica, California, a few miles away. It blends monastic style spirituality and the secular phenomenon of creative co-work spaces.

Initially, “I wondered, what’s all this prayer business?” Doherty told the Episcopal News Service, during a recent telephone interview. “Then I decided, well, if this is the price I have to pay for having a quiet place to work, I’ll check it out.”

The Rev. Katie Cadigan, associate rector and TDO founder, views it as a “micro-monastic community” operating in under-utilized rooms on St. Augustine’s campus.

With growing numbers of people working remotely, Cadigan hoped the church’s location – a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean – and its available space would draw from the area’s boom in younger, home-based professionals.

Funded, in part, through a $40,000 Episcopal Church New Church Start grant last year, she said it is “like a ‘We-Work’ or like the people who work in Starbucks independently,” but whose participants pray several times daily.

The Rev. Katie Cadigan

“This is kind of like a day monastery, where people will come to work and worship,” Cadigan said.

“Instead of going off to a monastery, having a wonderful retreat and coming home and realizing, after a day, a week, all that good feeling and connection is gone, what if we brought monastery-like experiences into our everyday world? What if we wrapped and enveloped our work lives in prayer?”

Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Diane Bruce, a TDO advisor, said the idea immediately intrigued her. “People, working from their homes can be and feel so isolated, which is the opposite of what Jesus modeled in being in community,” she told ENS.

“The Divine Office offers a space in which people can come together and connect—it is a holy space and time!”

The Rev. Thomas Brackett, Episcopal Church manager for church planting and mission development, said TDO’s application captured the imagination of reviewers from the Genesis Advisory Group on Church Planting by saying basically that, “we believe that a rhythm of life blesses anybody who engages this.

“And, instead of waiting for people to come and learn our prayer book or the Daily Office, we want to take it to them in ways that are meaningful to them.”

And that it is a work in progress.

“They said from the very beginning, we don’t know what that is going to look like yet but if you are willing to venture with us, we’re going to figure it out and we will let you know what we learn.”

Christopher Curzon, IT consultant (left), and Dennis Doherty, founder of DohertyTech GOSLYN (right), are two of more than a dozen co-creators of The Divine Office, working on rickety chairs and card tables while funds for renovation are being raised. Photo courtesy of Katie Cadigan

A work in progress

Doherty is among at least a dozen TDO “co-creators” who meet once, sometimes twice weekly and who take turns leading intervals of morning, noonday and closing prayers.

Another member of the group, Deborah Kaufman Giordano, president and founder of Healthcare Recruiting, Inc, especially appreciated that “not everything needed to be perfect to start this community plant … we didn’t have to have it all figured out on day one.”

While at times working with laptops on card tables and spotty internet has a rough-around-the-edges feel, the collective wisdom of the group of writers, filmmakers, editors and others is rewarding, said Giordano, who is married to actor James Giordano, of Twin Peaks fame.

“TDO is making a huge difference in my life, and holds the potential of making a big difference in the lives of others … by balancing our work lives with our God-lives. This isn’t a space where we are trying to convert anyone. We never ever proselytize. But … I’m working on not compartmentalizing God, not pushing God into a box where I only reflect on Him maybe once a week, in Sunday worship. It gives me hope.”

Currently, the group meets on Thursdays and some Tuesdays. Eventually, the goal is to expand to five days a week.

Madeline Stewart, storyteller and community builder, co-leads one of the three prayer and meditation services that envelop each workday at The Divine Office. Photo courtesy of Katie Cadigan

The days begin with 9 a.m. Morning Prayer and have fallen into a rhythm of morning prayers and a lifting up of daily intentions.

A bell chimes at noon to signal worship and, everyone “puts down the laptop,” Cadigan said. “They do not finish the email they were typing. Just like monks, way back when, would not finish their calligraphy. They would put down the pen, and at the sound of the bell, go into the chapel and do prayer meditation.”

Noonday prayers are a “kind of check-in, a where we’re at right now, vis-à-vis what we’d prayed for in the morning … and people are in gratitude,” Giordano said.

Lunch is fluid; some people bring sack meals. Others walk the four blocks to the Santa Monica Pier or to local restaurants. Closing prayers are typically around 4 p.m., “the group decides when … and the prayers are more around reintegrating with the world or family or what’s next on the horizon,” Cadigan said.

She joins the group for their regular prayer intervals, but “I have never, ever led prayer,” Cadigan said. “My role is as a visionary and a shepherd. The challenge is, how do I grow this organically and listen to the Spirit, so the gifts people have in the community can rise up and flourish in the ways the Spirit calls them to grow.”

The TDO’s pattern is a modern-day take on the traditional daily round of prayer known as the Divine Office, the Liturgy of the Hours, or the Daily Office that has been practiced since the earliest days of the Christian church. The practice has its roots in the ancient Jewish custom of offering prayers and psalms periodically throughout the day.

Doherty, a distributor for restaurant environmental waste management systems, said he usually schedules his work week around TDO, and spends his time there invoicing clients and responding to emails.

“The good news is, the prayer has become very important to me. It’s not the price to pay for having a quiet place to work,” he told ENS during a telephone interview from Ireland, where he was vacationing. “Prayer is really part of the appeal and the value … so it’s pretty exciting.”

Jesus as a co-worker

Cadigan, 56, began the TDO start-up in August 2017, recruiting Giordano, 53, and Doherty, 64, both St. Augustine’s members.

Over time, and with a more reliable internet connection, she anticipates that gradually, TDO’s reach will expand, hopefully, to a broader base, “since the nature of independent work is that you are not showing up every day.”

For example, “there’s a writer who’s now in Atlanta, a filmmaker who just got back from several months in Cambodia, filming, and another one in Boston, editing, so the day-to-day makeup is a bit more fluid.”

There are also physical plant and financial issues: a future building renovation is planned, plans are in the works for that more reliable internet access, as well as a campaign to raise the additional $220,000 needed to finance it all. Eventually, a membership fee will be charged to help defray those costs.

Unanticipated, but necessary additions will include “phone booths” for private calls and even a shower. “The first week, we had a guy go swimming and then come up and work,” she recalled, chuckling. “So, we discovered we’re going to need a shower … and a feeding station.”

She also discovered that “a good number of people who work and worship with us for just one or two days experience a spiritually meaningful shift of some sort and emerge seeing The Divine Office as a community to participate in on a more infrequent basis than I had originally envisioned.”

This “unexpected rhythm is … stretching us to conceive of membership as something far broader than initially assumed. And a new dimension of discernment opens up for us around how we go about creating a cohesive community with far wider and more fluid edges than anticipated,” she said.

Eventually, she hopes the model of being a cloister in and of the world, will be replicable “in any denomination, any space.”

“The way we think about monasteries is, they’re places you go away to,” she said. “You go to get your spirituality fix, but in the life of a monastic, the work and prayer is all integrated.”

So, TDO is reclaiming the experience of the monastic, “milking cows and praying, writing your emails and you’re praying and, as we Episcopalians like to say, praying shapes believing.”

We need places like The Divine Office to help us all to daily grow into discipleship, Cadigan added, quoting Giordano: “‘Jesus is our co-worker, sitting right beside us for every email, every phone call, every everything’.”

–The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. She is based in Los Angeles.


South American Anglicans meet to discuss joint action on climate change

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 3:38pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishops and other delegates from the six countries in the Anglican Church of South America have met to discuss joint action on the “rapidly mounting issues of global climate change and environmental destruction.” Bishop of Argentina Greg Venables, the presiding bishop of the Anglican Church of South America, called the meeting together with the support of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network. “The church, for the most part, has been in denial about climate change,” he said. “And unless we respond quickly we face not just the tragic outcome, but God’s judgment, since Scripture makes our responsibility clear. We have among us key gifted people to help us, and we pray that this will provide a much-needed point of unity as we move forward.”

Read the entire article here.

Church of South India looks to establish ‘child-friendly churches’ in Karnataka North

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 3:35pm

[Anglican Commuion News Service] Sunday school teachers and Christian educators from the Diocese of Karnataka North in the united Church of South India have received training to develop child-friendly churches. They gathered at the CSI Synod Centre in Chennai for three days of training, sponsored by Evangelical Mission in Solidarity, a German-based mission agency. The training was organised as part of a challenge “to reach out to children with a commitment to establish God’s reign in this present world.”

Read the entire article here.

US Supreme Court refuses to hear South Carolina Episcopal Church property case

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 1:32pm

[Episcopal News Service] The United States Supreme Court refused June 11 a petition by a group that broke away from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina asking it to review a state court ruling that said property, assets and most of the diocese’s parishes must be returned to the Episcopal Church and its recognized diocese, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

The petition for a writ of certiorari from a group that broke away from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina asked the court to consider “whether the ‘neutral principles of law’ approach to resolving church property disputes requires courts to recognize a trust on church property even if the alleged trust does not comply with the state’s ordinary trust and property law.”

The breakaway group said in its Feb. 13 petition that the majority of the South Carolina Supreme Court justices did not take the “neutral” approach.

The high court justices discussed the case (17.1136) during their June 7 conference and denied the request without comment on June 11.

Episcopalians in South Carolina have been reorganizing their common life since late 2012, after then-Bishop Mark Lawrence and a majority of clergy and lay leadership said that the diocese had left the Episcopal Church. They disagreed with the wider Episcopal Church about biblical authority and theology, primarily centered on the full inclusion of LGBT people in the life of the church.

The breakaway group filed a lawsuit in 2013 seeking to control diocesan and parish properties, and a Dorchester County court found in their favor in 2015. The state Supreme Court overturned that decision in August 2017. It was the latter ruling that the group asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review.

“We are grateful for the clarity that this decision offers, and hopeful that it brings all of us closer to having real conversations on how we can bring healing and reconciliation to the church, the body of Christ, in this part of South Carolina,” Episcopal Church South Carolina Bishop Provisional Gladstone B. Adams III said in a statement after the denial.

“Our path continues to be one of reconciliation and love, for love is the way of Jesus,” he said.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision does not immediately change the physical control of the properties, according to diocesan Chancellor Thomas S. Tisdale Jr. The state court must enforce the ruling.

However, the breakaway group, which calls itself the Diocese of South Carolina, has vowed to continue the legal fight. “The diocese remains confident that the law and the facts of this case favor our congregations,” the group said. “We plan to continue to press both to their logical conclusion, even if that requires a second appearance before the South Carolina Supreme Court.”

In the same statement, Lawrence expressed disappointment, but added “our hope remains steadfast in our heavenly father.

“There are many unresolved legal questions which remain before the State Court as well as matters for prayerful discernment as we seek to carry out the mission to which we are called in Jesus Christ. We shall seek his guidance for both.”

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina said in its statement that it and the Episcopal Church asked the state court May 8 to place diocesan property and assets under control of local Episcopalians, hand over ownership of property of the 28 affected parishes to the Episcopal Church and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, and appoint a special master to oversee the transition.

The Episcopal Church has been hoping to engage with leaders of the breakaway group since the state Supreme Court ruling in August, according to the statement. Adams and other diocesan leaders have been seeking direct contact with people in the affected parishes, offering a “Frequently Asked Questions” publication and arranging individual meetings to work with those who want to remain in their home churches as Episcopalians.

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina’s Standing Committee, Diocesan Council, Trustees of the Diocese and deans, will meet June 12 for prayer, hear information and discuss plans for the months ahead.

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

La Convención General adopta un Nuevo enfoque sobre los temas de Israel y Palestina que provocan un amplio debate

Fri, 06/08/2018 - 4:03am

Una mujer palestina pasa el 1 de junio por el punto de control israelí en Belén, en la Cisjordania ocupada, para asistir a la oración del viernes en la mezquita de Al-Aqsa de Jerusalén, durante el mes de ayuno ritual de Ramadán.

[Episcopal News Service] Un grupo de obispos y diputados a los que les pidieron que encontraran un modo de abordar las discusiones con frecuencia espinosas de la política de la Iglesia Episcopal hacia el conflicto israelí-palestino ha dado a conocer sus recomendaciones auspiciando un debate abierto y productivo sobre el tema en la Convención General en el próximo mes de julio.

Cinco obispos y cinco miembros de la Cámara de Diputados participaron en el Equipo de Trabajo sobre Israel y Palestina, creado el año pasado por el obispo primado Michael Curry y la Rda. Gay Clark Jennings, presidente de la Cámara de Diputados. Curry y Jennings han aceptado las tres recomendaciones fundamentales del equipo de trabajo, según un correo electrónico enviado el 31 de mayo a los miembros de ambas cámaras por el Rdo. Michael Barlowe, director ejecutivo de la Convención General.

“A los miembros del equipo de trabajo no se les pidió que orientaran a la Convención General de ningún modo particular sobre los asuntos esenciales, acerca de los cuales los miembros tienen varios puntos de vista”, dijo Barlowe. En lugar de eso, los 10 miembros dieron a conocer las recomendaciones siguientes para facilitar “una participación devota, ponderada y respetuosa que facilite un genuino discernimiento”.

  • Se insta a todos los miembros de la Cámara de Obispos y de la Cámara de Diputados a revisar la lista de materialesacopiados por el equipo de trabajo. La lista incluye lecturas que se sugieren sobre problemas relacionados con las relaciones israelí-palestinas y antecedentes respecto al papel de la Iglesia Episcopal en el pasado sobre esos asuntos.
  • Cada cámara conviene en reanudar estos temas a través de un “orden del día especial” que permitirá que audiencias y discusiones tengan lugar a principios de la Convención y garantice que el debate no se vea marginado por barreras de procedimiento (Véase aquí la página 204para más información sobre el orden del día especial).
  • La Cámara de Diputados será la cámara donde se inicie cada resolución relacionada con Israel y Palestina.

“Estoy muy agradecido al equipo de trabajo por su labor”, dijo Curry en un comunicado por email. “Su tarea hará posible que la Convención tenga un discusión profunda y piadosa que tome en consideración los aspectos humanitarios en Israel y Palestina. Haciendo así podemos orar y laborar por la paz de Jerusalén”.

Jennings aludió en una declaración por escrito a los retos [que el tema] ha de enfrentar.

“Se nos avecinan algunas conversaciones difíciles sobre Tierra Santa en la Convención General” afirmó. “Le estoy agradecida a los diputados y obispos del Equipo de Trabajo sobre Israel y Palestina por recomendar una estructura que nos ayudará a sostener esas conversaciones de manera que sean respetuosas, sustantivas y representativas de la amplia gama de experiencias y opiniones de los episcopales”.

Iniciar el debate en la Cámara de Diputados, que es un organismo más grande y más diverso, ayudará a garantizar un debate más amplio, dijo el Rdo. Brian Grieves, miembro de la Cámara de Diputados que formó parte del Equipo de Trabajo sobre Israel y Palestina. Ambas cámaras tienen interés en llevar adelante este debate.

Subyacente en las deliberaciones del equipo de trabajo estaba el imperativo: “¿cómo podríamos tener un debate que sea abierto y respetuoso y transparente en el proceso?”, dijo Grieves a Episcopal News Service. “Porque en el pasado ha habido preocupaciones de que no ha sido así. Las cosas se han embotellado en los comités”.

La Convención General ha votado durante décadas en apoyo de la paz para el Oriente Medio; sin embargo, la cuestión de si aplicar mayor presión económica a Israel por su ocupación de los Territorios Palestinos ha sido un punto candente en los últimos años. En 2012, los obispos se unieron a los diputados en aprobar una resolución a favor de una “inversión positiva” en la región como parte de una muestra de apoyo a la paz entre judíos, musulmanes y cristianos en Tierra Santa, pero las dos cámara fueron incapaces de ponerse de acuerdo en una segunda resolución que pedía una mayor participación en la responsabilidad social empresarial a través de la cartera de inversiones de la Iglesia.

En la Convención General de 2015, una resolución que llamaba a la Iglesia a desinvertir en compañías que sostuvieran ciertos negocios con Israel fue rechazada en una votación en la Cámara de Obispos, lo cual significó que nunca se llegó a someter a la consideración de la Cámara de Diputados.

Grieves, que es miembro del Comité Legislativo de Mayordomía e Inversión Socialmente Responsable de la Cámara de Diputados, dijo que la Iglesia ya participa en compromisos empresariales relacionados con Israel y Palestina basados en un informe de 2005 de lo que entonces se llamaba el Comité de Responsabilidad Social en Inversiones del Consejo Ejecutivo. Ese informe tuvo el apoyo del Consejo Ejecutivo, y los resultados pueden verse este año en resoluciones de accionistas respaldadas por la Iglesia que busca influir en Motorola y Caterpillar, dos compañías que tienen contratos con el gobierno israelí.

“Creo que el compromiso empresarial ha sido muy bueno, pero creo que aquí puede que estemos en un punto donde nosotros, como Iglesia, [tendríamos] que ponerle fin a nuestra complicidad en seguir trabajando con estas compañías”, dijo Grieves. “No sé cuándo debe llegarse a ese punto. Creo que debemos pensar con cuidado al respecto, y eso es parte de la discusión que va a tener lugar en la Convención”.

Se esperan numerosas resoluciones de la Convención General sobre temas relacionados con Israel y Palestina para el tiempo en que se inicie la reunión el 5 de julio en Austin, Texas. Hasta ahora se han presentado por lo menos tres, entre ellas una propuesta por la Diócesis de California que reintroduce una presión en pro de la desinversión de “esas compañías que lucran de la ocupación de Israel de tierras palestinas o cuyos productos o acciones apoyan la infraestructura de la ocupación”.

El compromiso empresarial no será el único tema relacionado con Tierra Santa. Dos resoluciones adicionales piden mayor atención al sufrimiento de los niños palestinos, incluidos los que son juzgados en tribunales militares israelíes.

El conflicto israelí-palestino debe finalmente generar una mayor diversidad de resoluciones en esta Convención General, dijo Sarah Lawton, que preside el comité de Justicia Social y Política Internacional de la Cámara de Diputados. Esa variedad está relacionada con el número de importantes sucesos en la región en los últimos años, desde la ruptura del proceso de paz a la indignación mundial por la decisión del gobierno de Trump de mudar la embajada de EE.UU. de Tel Aviv a Jerusalén.

En el pasado, la Convención General ha debatido en ocasiones una sola resolución más amplia que aborda en su conjunto múltiples aspectos del conflicto, lo cual dificulta el avance de medidas individuales, pero Lawton dijo que esta vez debe ser diferente. “No se trata de llevar adelante una sola resolución grande, sino de varias de ellas”, explicó Lawton, que también fue miembro del Equipo de Trabajo sobre Israel y Palestina.

El obispo Barry Beisner, otro miembro del equipo de trabajo, ha presentado una resolución en la que busca reafirmar la posición de la Iglesia en apoyo de Jerusalén como una ciudad abierta, donde cristianos, musulmanes y judíos tengan libre acceso a los lugares sagrados. Él no espera que esa resolución genere mucha controversia, pero “hay un amplio espectro de opinión sobre cualquier número de temas relacionados”.

Beisner enfatizó el valor de la lista de materiales reunidos por el equipo de trabajo, para ayudar a la Convención General a prepararse para esas discusiones. Y los obispos no están renunciando a su voz al convenir en que las deliberaciones comiencen en la Cámara de Diputados, expresó él.

“Ayudará a acelerar la consideración de estas resoluciones el tenerlas inicialmente bajo esa única tienda”, dijo Beisner, que es miembro del Comité de Justicia Social y Política Internacional.

Con tantos asuntos en juego, Lawton cree que las personas de todos los bandos en este debate tienen interés en evitar los errores de procedimiento que puedan conducir a la inacción.

“Hemos tenido un momento difícil con esta conversación [acerca de Israel y Palestina]. Una de las maneras en que resultó difícil se materializó en el proceso”, dijo ella. “Estos son asuntos importantes, y debemos ser capaces de hablar de ellos y no sentir temor de decir algo”.

– David Paulsen es redactor y reportero de Episcopal News Service. Pueden dirigirse a él en dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Ex-vicar of Baghdad not charged after allegations he paid Islamic State to free girls

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 4:26pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The former vicar of Baghdad, the Rev. Andrew White, has said that he faces no charges after police concluded an investigation into allegations that he paid money to Daesh – the so-called Islamic State or ISIS – to secure the release of girls held as sex-slaves. White has denied paying money to secure the release of the girls.

Read the full article here.

‘Even the word ‘help,” I didn’t know how to say it’ – abuse survivor tells her story

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 4:25pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Survivors of abuse have been telling their stories to members of the Anglican Communion’s Safe Church Commission. The commission was set up to promote the safety of people within churches of the Anglican Communion throughout the world, with a particular focus on children, young people and vulnerable adults. It met last month in South Africa to plan the next step of its work, and to meet with abuse survivors.

Read the entire article here.

Growing dental care ministry has roots in Tennessee cathedral’s outreach to struggling women

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 4:14pm

Smiles for Hope, led by Dr. Smita Borole, center, is a nonprofit providing free dental care in Knoxville, Tennessee, that grew out of outreach by St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral to the YWCA and the work of congregation member Pattie Thiel, front left. They pose here with other Smiles for Hope volunteers. Photo: Smiles for Hope

[Episcopal News Service] Sometimes outreach can take on a life of its own. That’s the case at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Knoxville, Tennessee, where the congregation’s decade of support for the local YWCA sprouted a dental care ministry that has grown into a nonprofit organization with a model that leaders hope can be replicated around the country.

“There’s not much in the way of free dental care in this country,” said Pattie Thiel, a member of St. John’s and one of the lead volunteers with Smiles for Hope. “There’s free health care if you need it, but not free dental care.”

Smiles for Hope started with the idea that dental care was nearly as important as medical care for people living on the economic margins. In a little over two years, the ministry has provided an estimated $200,000 in pro bono dental work, from routine cleanings to tooth extractions and dentures, to the women living in transitional housing at YWCA Knoxville. And although those dental services have expanded well beyond the outreach that initially was supported by St. John’s, a spiritual mission still inspires Smiles for Hope’s volunteers.

“I’m convinced that this is something that is meant to be,” said Dr. Smita Borole, the dentist who now is the driving force behind the Smiles for Hope nonprofit. Borole is from India, where she was raised in the Hindu faith but also attended a Catholic school, and she feels a higher power guiding her work with Thiel and the YWCA.

“The mission is so important, and the difference that we’re making in people’s lives, it is so impactful,” Borole told Episcopal News Service.

St. John’s connection to the YWCA began through a group of lay members that call themselves St. John’s Friends. The group began by offering dinners for the women living at the YWCA, and over the years members of the congregation have led Christmas craft projects, donated movie passes and gift cards to the women and worked to provide items from wish lists created by the YWCA.

“The Y is just a block from our cathedral, so they are our neighbors,” said Zulette Melnick, who has volunteered with the St. John’s Friends group in the past. “It kind of started on that premise. … It certainly has evolved over the years.”

That kind of outreach “really means the world to our residents,” said Emma Parrott, social services coordinator with the YWCA. “We just really appreciate their involvement with us.”

The YWCA’s 58-bed facility opened in 1925, and since then it has offered transitional housing for women struggling with a variety of challenges, such as homelessness, the threat of eviction and domestic violence. The demand is great, and the YWCA’s waiting list for rooms is long, Parrott said.

St. John’s offers a grant program to help the women pay part of their $140 move-in fees. Residents must have some form of income and can stay up to two years in the single-occupancy rooms, with the average stay being a little more than a year. “The goal is to get them into something more permanent,” Parrott said.

YWCA officials gather the women once a month for meetings that provide guidance, support and connections to other services. And at each meeting, the women are offered dental screenings and invited to make appointments with Smiles for Hope.

The dental care ministry had been underway for a few years, at Thiel’s instigation, before it became known as Smiles for Hope. Thiel, now 77, previously worked as a dental assistant, and after retiring about 10 years ago she began looking for volunteer opportunities. At the same time, she was wrapping up participation in the Education for Ministry program and scanning the church bulletin when she spotted an opening for a volunteer dental assistant at Knoxville’s Volunteer Ministry Center, which supports people who are homeless.

“It was kind of like, OK, well, I guess that’s God saying I need to do something about this,” she said.

The Volunteer Ministry Center was developing a new headquarters to include a three-chair dental clinic to serve the chronically homeless, and when that was up and running, Thiel signed on to help. But she also thought of the women staying at the YWCA, who wouldn’t qualify for the Volunteer Ministry Center’s services but still would benefit from free dental care.

Thiel said she approached the dentist who was working with the center and asked if he’d be open to treating the YWCA residents on one Saturday a month, when the dental clinic otherwise wouldn’t be in use. He agreed to help, and a new ministry was born.

After a few years of that work, the clinic received a fortuitous visit from another dentist who was interested in volunteering. That dentist was Borole, and as she joined the team, she took on more of a leadership role.

“She was the spark that we needed,” Thiel said. “She is committed, very, very committed to this ministry.”

Under Borole, the ministry incorporated as the Smiles for Hope nonprofit in October 2017 and continues to schedule appointments once a month. Borole attends the YWCA’s meeting with its residents on the first Wednesday of every month and schedules women for appointments over four hours on the following Saturday. The Smiles for Hope clinic typically serves a dozen or more women each month, and Borole and Thiel are supported by several other volunteers, such as hygienists, dental assistants, a lab technician and people who handle paperwork and the intake process.

Some patients receive root canals, fillings or crowns. Dental cleanings are common, but Borole’s team also often handles more intensive procedures, such as removing multiple teeth at a time to outfit the women with dentures. Many of the patients have had little to no dental care in the past, either because of the expense or lack of an opportunity to see a dentist, Borole said, so their teeth are decaying or already missing.

The goal is to get as much dental work done at once, so the women don’t have to keep coming back for follow-up visits. “They’re leaving that day with a smile,” Borole said.

She said she approaches each patient in a gentle manner, because dentistry’s intimacy sometimes can be intimidating. It may be uncomfortable to let a stranger into your personal space, especially for women who have been physically and emotionally abused.

The results, however, can be transformative. Borole said she sometimes bumps into former patients in public and is encouraged by their boosted self-esteem and their successes, whether it be securing permanent housing or finding a job interacting with customers without feeling self-conscious about their teeth.

“We’ve really gotten to know these women personally, and it really is touching,” she said.

Thiel continues to help at the clinics every month, though her role has evolved into something of a general coordinator. Borole sees Thiel as sort of the glue that holds the ministry together, its tireless cheerleader. Thiel said she is happy simply directing traffic when things get hectic on a Saturday morning. Her years of experience with this work are a key asset.

“I’m 77 years old. I’ve seen it and done it, been there and back again,” she said. “They can’t present me with much I’ve never encountered.”

Thiel and Borole also hope to create a template for other organizations interested in offering free dental care in their own communities, and Smiles for Hope is looking for ways to expand within the Knoxville community as well, such as by working with domestic abuse shelters.

“Our goal is to be able to help as many women and children as we possibly can,” Borole said.

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

Diocese of London passes half-way mark in target for 100 new worshipping communities

Wed, 06/06/2018 - 2:07pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Diocese of London, which covers a large part of Britain’s capital city, has reached the half-way mark in its ambitious plan to open 100 new worshipping communities. Capital Vision 2020 was launched at St Paul’s Cathedral in June 2013. The new worshipping communities are a mixture of new churches and new congregations in existing churches. At the end of April, Bishop of Kensington Graham Tomlin and Bishop of Islington Ric Thorpe launched the 50th community – French Connect – to serve hundreds of thousands of French speakers living in west London.

Read the full article here.

Archbishop of Canterbury says reconciled church can dispel “fear of the ‘other’”

Wed, 06/06/2018 - 2:05pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has spoken of the danger that “fear of the other” poses to “Christian witness and presence.” Speaking to the General Assembly of the Conference of European Churches, meeting in Novi Sad, Serbia, he said that churches working together can help to break down the walls that others seek to build. “The church breaks across boundaries and frontiers as if they did not exist,” he said. “By being in Christ, I am made one by God in a family that stretches around the world and crosses cultural, linguistic and ecumenical frontiers, driven by the spirit who breaks down all the walls that we seek to erect.”

Read the full article here.

Después de la campaña mediática de la boda real, el Obispo Primado insta a los episcopales a propagar el mensaje de amor de Jesús

Wed, 06/06/2018 - 5:48am

El 21 de mayo fue un día muy atareado para el obispo primado Michael Curry, quien compareció en los programas “Good Morning America” y “The View” de la cadena ABC y “Today” de NBC, para hablar acerca de la boda real.

[Episcopal News Service] Mayo fue un mes extraordinario para un episcopal.

Durante una semana antes de la boda real, gente de todo el mundo quería saberlo todo acerca del obispo primado Michael Curry, incluido el porqué el líder de la Iglesia Episcopal predicaría en presencia de la reina de Inglaterra. Luego, el 19 de mayo, casi 30 millones de televidentes sólo en Estados Unidos vieron el sermón de Curry sobre el poder del amor de Dios en la boda del príncipe Harry y Meghan Markle. Durante una semana después, Curry fue entrevistado o reseñado por casi todos los más importantes medios de prensa, desde la BBC al programa“The View” de la ABC hasta TMZ, el sitio de chismes sobre celebridades.

El obispo primado Michael Curry predica durante la boda del príncipe Harry y Meghan Markle el 19 de mayo. Foto de Reuters/Owen Humphreys

Los episcopales, que han conocido durante un buen tiempo el talento de Curry como predicador, respondieron con una mezcla de júbilo de que “uno de los nuestros” recibiera tanta atención, y esperanza de que el perfil ascendente de Curry sirva para realzar el perfil de la Iglesia, —y acaso hasta para ayudar a llenar los bancos.

“Creo que uno no puede descontar esa especie de orgullo eufórico que los episcopales sintieron”, dijo Melodie Woerman, directora de Comunicaciones de la Diócesis de Kansas. Después de la boda real, las publicaciones cerca de Curry en las cuentas de las redes sociales de su diócesis generaron un nivel de intenso interés “como nunca antes lo había visto”, afirmó ella.

Curry hizo su parte de aprovechar esta oportunidad para la evangelización, tornando deliberadamente las conversaciones en las entrevistas en el mensaje de Jesús del poder del amor para cambiar el mundo. Y días después de la boda real, con algo de coincidencia programada, participó con otros líderes cristianos ecuménicos en “Recobrando a Jesús” un oficio religioso, procesión y vigilia con velas en Washington, D.C. Aunque planeados mucho antes de que a Curry le pidieran que predicara en el castillo de Windsor, esos actos, que tuvieron lugar el 24 de mayo, atrajeron cobertura de prensa adicional debido a su súbito estrellato.

Por supuesto, los ciclos noticiosos no duran para siempre. Si a Curry le concedieron los 15 minutos de fama de que habla Andy Warhol, tuvo éxito en extenderlos durante varios días. Pero él, la Iglesia y los episcopales ahora se enfrentan a la interrogante, ¿Qué es lo próximo?

“Parte de la evangelización es ayudar a la Iglesia a ser más visible, sencillamente como un asunto práctico, y la otra parte de ello es que la Iglesia tiene un mensaje que es digno de escucharse”, dijo Curry a Episcopal News Service en una entrevista telefónica el 31 de mayo, resumiendo el torbellino de sus últimas semanas. “Y esto nada tiene que ver con Michael Curry. Jesús resolvió esto. Jesús tenía razón. Está vía del amor es el único camino de la vida. Eso es todo”.

Curry fue ya una vez un fenómeno viral en la Internet. Su sermón en la Convención General de 2012 generó mucha atención dentro y fuera de la Iglesia y dio lugar a su libro Cristianos locos [Crazy Christians], aunque él no tienen planes inmediatos de escribir un nuevo libro ahora que se le conoce como el predicador de la boda real.

Es más probable que escriba columnas de opinión sobre temas cristianos para medios noticiosos, “si ello ayuda a propagar el mensaje”, afirmó, aunque lo más seguro es que el próximo acto para el Obispo Primado sea más de lo mismo. Además de prepararse para la 79ª. Convención General este julio en Austin, Texas, Curry hará lo que siempre hace: dedicar la mayoría de las semanas a viajar a varias diócesis, reunirse con episcopales y predicar.

Él está programado para estar presente en la Convención Anual de la Diócesis de Albany del 8 al 10 de junio en Albany, Nueva York, y seguirá ese viaje dedicando cuatro días en la Diócesis de Olympia, con varios actos públicos en Seattle, Washington, y en sus alrededores, a partir del 14 de junio. La discusión sobre la boda real será inevitable pero distará de ser el único tema.

“El mundo acaba de descubrir al obispo primado Curry y su asombrosa capacidad de hacer que el Evangelio cobre vida. La Cámara de Obispos y muchos en la Iglesia Episcopal y fuera de ella han sabido esto durante mucho tiempo”, dijo el obispo de Olympia Greg Rickel en una declaración escrita acerca de la próxima visita del Obispo Primado. “Será un don inapreciable tenerle con nosotros durante esos cuatro días en junio. Espero que todo el mundo encuentre tiempo para cruzarse con él en sitios públicos y oír su mensaje y su visión para el Movimiento de Jesús”.

Curry predicará el 14 de junio en la catedral de San Marcos [St. MarkCathedral] en Seattle y de nuevo el 17 de junio en la iglesia de San Lucas [St. Lukes] en Vancouver, Washington. La asistencia, que siempre es nutrida durante las visitas pastorales de Curry, puede ser aún mayor con la presencia incluso de no episcopales interesados en oírle, aunque la diócesis no ha alterado su programa en absoluto para aprovecharse de esto, dijo Josh Hornbeck, director de Comunicaciones de la Diócesis.

“Si bien reconocemos el interés que la boda real ha generado en el obispo primado Curry, también queremos cerciorarnos de que este no es nuestro foco principal”, dijo Hornbeck en un correo electrónico. “Para los cuatro actos públicos que estamos celebrando, queremos reafirmar que nuestra atención se centra en las cosas que más le interesan al Obispo Primado: ser la rama episcopal del Movimiento de Jesús y la reciente campaña de Recobrando a Jesús”.

La mayor interrogante para diócesis, congregaciones y feligreses puede ser si la atención que Curry ha atraído a la Iglesia Episcopal y a la iniciativa de Recobrando a Jesús llegará a ellos de manera que sirva a largo plazo a la misión de la Iglesia y a la obra de sus miembros. Incluso si es así, algunos dirán que aún queda mucho trabajo por hacer.

Dos días después de la boda real, Jim Naughton de Canticle Communications que trabaja regularmente con clientes episcopales les planteó esta pregunta al grupo privado de Facebook para comunicadores episcopales: ¿Cuáles creen las personas aquí que son nuestras oportunidades como resultado de la boda real?”

Eso dio lugar a casi 100 comentarios y respuestas, que iban desde sugerencias para los próximos pasos de Curry hasta maneras en que las congregaciones individuales puedan seguir su ejemplo, tales como expresar su mensaje en el ámbito local con una voz genuina.

Katie Sherrod, directora de Comunicaciones de la Diócesis de Fort Worth y miembro del grupo de Comunicadores Episcopales, dijo a Episcopal News Service que la boda real había generado miles de visitas en el sitio web de la diócesis, y que esta ha seguido promoviendo el sermón de Curry, así como la procesión de Recobrando a Jesús.

Curry ya era una figura familiar en la Diócesis de Fort Worth, especialmente después de su visita pastoral de abril de 2017, pero Sherrod dijo que su mayor popularidad desde la boda real es una ventaja práctica para la labor evangelizadora de los episcopales de Texas. Al hablarle a sus vecinos o a personas extrañas acerca de la Iglesia Episcopal, ellos pueden decir, “¿Se acuerdan de ese tipo que predicó en la boda real? Eso somos nosotros”.

Puede ser demasiado esperar que un sermón —incluso ese sermón— mueva de repente a las personas a buscar las congregaciones episcopales de su localidad y llenar los oficios dominicales a través del país, pero los episcopales tienen la capacidad de sacarle partido al mensaje de Curry de maneras semejantes, dijo Woerman de la Diócesis de Kansas, que también funge de presidente de Comunicadores Episcopales.

“La cultura estadounidense parece encontrarse ahora en medio de una gran disensión, y justamente ahora cuenta con un sencillo e impactante mensaje de amor… Creo que es un mensaje que muchísima gente en nuestra sociedad anhela oír”, afirmó ella.

Pero Curry no puede hacer todo el trabajo pesado. Ese fue el argumento del Rdo. Michael Michie, funcionario de la Iglesia Episcopal para la infraestructura de la fundación de iglesias, en una reciente entrada en su blog titulada “Una vez que nos hemos felicitado, ¿qué vamos a hacer?”

“El sermón es un llamado a nosotros a ir a la gente, no que la gente venga a nosotros”, escribió Michie. “Que Dios le dio a nuestro buen obispo esta increíble plataforma no es una licencia para que permanezcamos en nuestros bancos, asomados melancólicamente a la puerta principal. ¿Qué pasa si tomáramos en serio las increíbles palabras que él compartió y facilitáramos el nacimiento de nuevos ministerios?

El Rdo. Scott Gunn, director ejecutivo del Movimiento Adelante [Forward Movement] un ministerio episcopal de materiales para la evangelización, lo planteó de otra manera.

“Las iglesias con frecuencia creen que van a promocionar su manera de ser en el desarrollo de la Iglesia o que el Obispo Primado nos hará el trabajo”, dijo Gunn a ENS. “Pero la realidad es que la gente oye hablar de Jesús porque una persona invita a otra”.

Gunn admite que se sintió arrastrado por la fiebre de la boda real el 19 de mayo, levantándose temprano para ver los sombreros y el ceremonial mientras llevaba puesto su propio sombrero, una gorra de béisbol de los Rojos de Cincinnati. No me llevó mucho tiempo después del sermón de Curry darme cuenta de que la reacción sería enorme.

Gunn, que escribe ocasionalmente columnas de opinión de tema religioso para FoxNews.com, recibió una llamada esa tarde de Lynne Jordal Martin, la directora de opinión para el sitio web del canal de cable y miembro de la junta directiva del Movimiento Adelante. Ella le preguntó si podía escribir una columna con urgencia y le adelantó el titular: “Si le gustó el sermón en la boda real el sábado vaya a la iglesia el domingo.”

"Don’t let this moment pass you by. Don’t let love be reduced to a fleeting feeling. Let love sweep into your life and change you. Come to church. Meet people who, like Bishop Curry, are serious about love" #royalwedding https://t.co/QmAComIq2U

— Scott Gunn ن (@scottagunn) May 19, 2018

Él escribió la columna con entusiasmo. Desafortunadamente, sin embargo, no todas las iglesias están equipadas para sacarle partido a un momento de una boda real, dijo Gunn a ENS.

“Tristemente, demasiadas de nuestras iglesias sencillamente no están dando la bienvenida”, afirmó. “Creemos que somos amables, pero lo somos con las personas que ya están en el club. No somos hospitalarios con los extraños que entran por nuestras puertas, y somos muy torpes a la hora de invitar a personas a cruzar nuestras puertas”.

Dicho eso, él se siente esperanzado de que el sermón de Curry en la boda real y su subsecuente bombardeo mediático alentarán e incentivarán a las congregaciones a mejorar sus propios esfuerzos en [el terreno de] la evangelización. Gunn opinó que, incluso al participar en un programa ligero de la televisión, tal como “Today” de NBC, cuando Al Roker, un episcopal, le pidió a Curry que lo ayudara a dar el pronóstico del tiempo, el Obispo Primado estuvo a tono.

The Most Rev. Michael Curry helped @alroker deliver the MOST fantastic forecast pic.twitter.com/eKGO10QWvO

— TODAY (@TODAYshow) May 22, 2018

“El obispo Curry es una explosión de júbilo tal que, desde luego, va a disfrutar esto, pero mi percepción es que él no lo disfruta por enaltecimiento de su ego… Él lo hace para promover un mensaje del amor de Dios”, dijo Gunn. “No tenemos celebridades de Hollywood sentadas en nuestras congregaciones, pero creo que el mensaje funciona”.

Curry minimizó su propia celebridad reciente al hablar con ENS. “No soy un actor. No soy una celebridad. No soy una estrella de cine. No hay nada en mí que sea realmente interesante, no más que en cualquier otra persona”, expresó.

Aun así, el Rdo. Frank Logue, canónigo del ordinario en la Diócesis de Georgia, supo que el sermón de Curry en la boda real sería bien recibido, y reservó tiempo ese día para editar videoclips del sermón para que la diócesis los publicara en las redes sociales.

Desde entonces, Logue ha seguido las comparecencias de Curry en los medios e hizo notar cómo el Obispo Primado nunca se desenfoca. Incluso cuando TMZ le preguntó a Curry acerca de la entrevista anterior del sitio con Kanye West, la estrella del rap, Curry respondió de una manera que amplificó su criterio sobre el amor cristiano.

Royal Wedding's Bishop Curry Says 'Love is the Way' Theory Really Works https://t.co/SyD7BWfhM6

— TMZ (@TMZ) May 22, 2018

“Eso es brillante”, dijo Logue. “Pueden haberlo entrevistado como una celebridad, pero él respondió como un predicador”.

Logue, que también es parte del Consejo Ejecutivo de la Iglesia, se hacía eco de Gunn y Michie al afirmar que las congregaciones individuales y los episcopales aún deben realizar la ardua labor de establecer conexiones en sus propias comunidades. Pero es notable también ver el efecto del sermón de Curry en la vida diaria.

“Lo que yo advertí inmediatamente en los días siguientes, andando con mi alzacuello por Georgia, es que la personas seguían mencionándome el sermón. ‘¿Por casualidad vio la boda real?’”, recuerda él. Estas personas con frecuencia eran extraños que ni siquiera sabían en primer término que Logue era de la misma denominación que el predicador que tanto las había impresionado.

“Constituye un desafío, él ha asumido el papel de principal funcionario de evangelización de la Iglesia Episcopal”, dijo Logue. “Pero si esto va a ser un movimiento, necesitamos obispos que sean los principales evangelizadores de sus diócesis, sacerdotes que sean principales evangelizadores de sus congregaciones y feligreses que sean principales evangelizadores de sus familias y centros de trabajo”.

– David Paulsen es redactor y reportero de Episcopal News Service. Pueden dirigirse a él en dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

General Convention adopts new approach to Israel-Palestine issues promoting open debate

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 5:49pm

A Palestinian woman makes her way June 1 through an Israeli checkpoint to attend Friday prayer of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque, in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. Photo: Reuters

[Episcopal News Service] A group of bishops and deputies who were asked to find a way to navigate the often-thorny discussions of Episcopal Church policy toward Israel and Palestine has announced its recommendations for fostering open and productive debate on those issues at General Convention this July.

Five bishops and five members of the House of Deputies served on the Israel and Palestine Working Group, which was formed last year by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, House of Deputies president. Curry and Jennings have accepted the working group’s three core recommendations, according to an email to members of the two houses sent May 31 by the Rev. Michael Barlowe, General Convention’s executive officer.

“Members of the working group were not asked to guide General Convention in any particular way on the underlying issues, about which members have various points of view,” Barlowe said. Instead, the 10 members issued the following recommendations to enable “a prayerful, thoughtful and respectful engagement that facilitates genuine discernment”:

  • All members of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies are encouraged to review a resource list assembled by the working group. The list includes suggested reading on issues related to Israeli-Palestinian relations and background about the Episcopal Church’s past engagement on those issues.
  • Each house agrees to take up these issues through a “special order of business,” which will allow hearings and discussions to take place early in General Convention and ensure debate isn’t sidelined by procedural barriers. (See page 204 here for more on the special order of business.)
  • The House of Deputies will be the house of initial action for each resolution pertaining to Israel and Palestine.

“I am so grateful to the task force for their work,” Curry said in an emailed statement. “Their work will make it possible for the convention to have a thoughtful, prayerful discussion and consideration of the humanitarian concerns in Israel Palestine. In so doing may we pray and work for the peace of Jerusalem.”

Jennings alluded to the challenges ahead in a written statement.

“We’ve got some hard conversations about the Holy Land ahead of us at General Convention,” she said. “I’m grateful to the deputies and bishops of the Israel and Palestine Working Group for recommending a structure that will help us have those conversations in ways that are respectful, substantive and representative of the wide range of Episcopalians’ experiences and opinions.”

Beginning the debate in the House of Deputies, which is a larger and more diverse body, will help ensure a broader debate, said the Rev. Brian Grieves, a member of the House of Deputies who served on the Israel and Palestine Working Group. Both houses have an interest in moving this debate forward.

Underlying the working group’s deliberations was the imperative, “how could we have a discussion that is open and respectful and transparent in the process?” Grieves told Episcopal News Service. “Because there have been concerns in the past that is has not been. Things got bottled up in committees.”

General Convention has voted in support of Middle East peace for decades, however, the question of whether to apply more forceful economic pressure on Israel for its occupation of the Palestinian Territories has been a hot-button issue in recent years. In 2012, the bishops joined deputies in approving a resolution in favor of “positive investment” in the region as part of a show of support for peace among Jews, Muslims and Christians in the Holy Land, but the two houses were unable to agree on a second resolution calling for greater engagement in corporate social responsibility through the church’s investment portfolio.

At General Convention in 2015, a resolution calling on the church to divest from companies engaged in certain business with Israel failed in a vote of the House of Bishops, which meant it never made it to the House of Deputies for consideration.

Grieves, who is a member of the Stewardship and Socially Responsible Investing legislative committee in the House of Deputies, said the church already participates in corporate engagement related to Israel and Palestine based on a 2005 report by what was then known as the Executive Council’s Social Responsibility in Investments committee. That report was endorsed by Executive Council, and the results can be seen this year in church-backed shareholder resolutions seeking to influence Motorola and Caterpillar, two companies that have contracts with the Israeli government.

“I think corporate engagement has been very good, but I do think here may be a point where we as a church would end our complicity in continuing to work with these companies,” Grieves said. “I don’t know when that point should be reached. I think we need to do some careful thinking about that, and that’s part of the discussion that’s going to happen at convention.”

Numerous General Convention resolutions are expected on topics related to Israel and Palestine by the time the gathering gets underway on July 5 in Austin, Texas. At least three have been submitted so far, including one proposed by the Diocese of California that reintroduces a push for divestment from “those companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands or whose products or actions support the infrastructure of the occupation.”

Corporate engagement won’t be the only topic related to the Holy Land. Two additional proposed resolutions call for greater attention to the plight of Palestinian children, including those being tried in Israeli military courts.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict should eventually generate a greater diversity of resolutions at this General Convention, said Sarah Lawton, who chairs the Social Justice and International Policy committee for the House of Deputies. That variety is related to the number of big developments in the region in recent years, from the breakdown of the peace process to global outrage at the Trump administration moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In the past, General Convention has sometimes debated single larger resolutions addressing multiple aspects of the conflict together, making it difficult to move forward on individual measures, but Lawton said this time should be different. “It’s not just one big resolution going forward but a number of them,” said Lawton, who also was a member of the Israel and Palestine Working Group.

Bishop Barry Beisner, another member of the working group, has submitted a resolution seeking to reaffirm the church’s stance in support of Jerusalem as an open city, where Christians, Muslims and Jews have free access to the city’s holy sites. He doesn’t expect that resolution to generate much controversy, but “there’s a broad spectrum of opinion on any number of related issues.”

Beisner emphasized the value in the list of resources assembled by the working group, to help General Convention prepare for those discussions. And the bishops aren’t giving up their voice by agreeing to start deliberations in the House of Deputies, he said.

“It will help to expedite the consideration of these resolutions to have them all under that one tent initially,” said Beisner, who serves on the Social Justice and International Policy committee.

With so many issues at stake, Lawton thinks people on all sides of these debates have an interest in avoiding the procedural pratfalls that can lead to inaction.

“We’ve had a hard time with this conversation [about Israel and Palestine]. One of the ways that it was hard was played out in the process,” she said. “These are important issues, and we should be able to speak to them and not feel afraid to say something.”

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

Seminarians, clergy from around world visit Anglican Communion Office in London

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 5:38pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Communion Office in London on June 5 welcomed 31 Anglican seminarians and recently ordained clergy from across the world to learn more about the Communion and to network with each other. The group represents 18 countries, and a variety of cultures and languages.

Read the full article here.

Two new bishops elected for Scottish Episcopal Church

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 5:35pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Scottish Episcopal Church has elected new bishops to serve two of its seven dioceses. Following the installation of Anne Dyer as Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney earlier this year, the election of the Rev. Ian Paton as bishop of St. Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, and Dean Andrew Swift as bishop of Brechin amounts to a change of just under 50 percent in the Province’s Episcopal leadership this year.

Read the full article here.

Brtitish bishop elected vice president of European ecumenical group

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 5:33pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Loughborough Bishop Guli Francis-Dehqani has been elected vice president of the Conference of European Churches. The regional ecumenical body is a fellowship of some 116 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from across Europe. Her appointment maintains a Church of England presence at the senior leadership of CEC, following the retirement of Christopher Hill, the former Bishop of Guildford.

Read the full article here.

Haiti elects Port-au-Prince cathedral dean as bishop coadjutor

Mon, 06/04/2018 - 4:25pm

[Episcopal News Service] The Ven. Joseph Kerwin Delicat, dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, was elected June 2 as bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Haiti.

The election took place at the nursing school of the Episcopal University of Haiti in Leogane, Haiti.

Pending the canonically required consent of a majority of the church’s bishops with jurisdiction and its diocesan standing committees, Delicat will succeed Bishop Jean Zaché Duracin, who is retiring after serving as bishop since 1994. The ordination and consecration is set for Jan. 5, 2019.

The election comes just more than a year after Duracin, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Bishop Suffragan Ogé Beauvoir and the diocesan Standing Committee entered into a covenant that “seeks to address and resolve many of the issues of conflict that have been burdening the diocese.”