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Medieval register of 14th century Bishop of Ossory made available online

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 3:42pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The medieval episcopal register of Richard Ledred, the tempestuous 14th century Bishop of Ossory in Ireland, has been digitized and made available to a worldwide audience. The 79 vellum leaves, bound in red leather – giving rise the book’s evocative name the “Red Book of Ossory” – is one of the most significant medieval manuscripts in the archives of the Church of Ireland’s Representative Church Body (RCB), the executive trustees of the province.

You can see the book – and the rest of the collection – at ireland.anglican.org/library/archive.

Read the full article here.

West Virginia church pays off families’ toy layaway bills, receives praise from White House

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 11:07am

Members of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Wheeling, West Virginia, participate Dec. 3 in an Advent procession of lessons and carols. Photo: St. Matthew’s, via Facebook

[Episcopal News Service] An Episcopal church’s century-old tradition of playing secret Santa for West Virginia children has received national recognition, including a mention this week by the White House.

St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Wheeling, West Virginia, made local headlines after it paid the Walmart layaway balances on toys for several families in its community. The congregation had intended to remain anonymous, but word got out after news of the donations spread on social media.

“It’s just such a blessing and I don’t know if words can really describe how grateful we are and so very happy that someone would do something like this,” Nathan Robinson, whose family was one of those benefiting from the layaway payoffs, told WTRF-TV.

The Rev. Mark Seitz, rector at St. Matthew’s, said the tradition is rooted in the grief of a local family who lost a daughter to illness more than 100 years ago. They gave the church an endowment in their daughter’s memory to be used each year to brighten the season for families in need.

“The criteria for this was that the people had to be residents of Ohio County, either Wheeling or Triadelphia, and they needed to have children,” Seitz told WTRF-TV. “They needed to be buying toys.”

The church paid off about $5,000 in layaway balances in late November, helping several families who live in the area. About 50 accounts were paid off by the church, a Walmart store manager told The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, and the newspaper articles added that a White House representative reached out to Seitz on Dec. 5 for more information.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders recognized the church’s good deeds at the beginning of her daily press briefing on Dec. 7.

“St. Matthew’s Church wasn’t looking for credit and neither are so many others,” Sanders said. “But these stories are important because they remind us what this season is all about, and that’s the greatest gift of all, that a savior was born, and hopefully we can all focus and take time out of our busy schedules to enjoy the Christmas season or however you may celebrate.”

The church pays for the toys each year with interest on an endowment initially established by U.S. Sen. Nathan Scott and his wife in memory of their daughter, Daisy, The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register reported. Scott, a prominent local businessman, represented West Virginia as a Republican from 1899 to 1911.

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

Church leaders criticise President Trump over recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 12:28pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Dec. 6 announcement by U.S. President Donald Trump that the United States will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city and move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has been criticized by church leaders. With both Israelis and the Palestinians claiming Jerusalem as their capital, the international community has, until yesterday, refused to recognise Israel’s claim to Jerusalem, insisting that its final status must be settled as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians.

Read the full article here.

Australian Royal Commission criticizes diocese and two former bishops over child safeguarding failures

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 12:24pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] An official inquiry looking at institutional response to child sex abuse in Australia has heavily criticised the Diocese of Newcastle and two former bishops for their “do nothing approach.” The Royal Commission, an official statutory inquiry, found that by failing to act,  former Bishop of Newcastle Alfred Holland enabled the continued abuse of children by two priests: Peter Rushton and James Brown; and it said that failings by his successor, Bishop Roger Herft, of “weak and ineffectual” leadership which “showed no regard for the need to protect children.”

Read the full article here.


Christian groups raise alarm over Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 3:19pm

President Donald Trump speaks Dec. 6 at the White House, announcing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Photo: White House, via video

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church is joining a global chorus of Christian voices speaking against President Donald Trump’s announcement Dec. 6 that the United States will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, reversing longstanding U.S. policy toward the city.

“Today we finally acknowledge the obvious, that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” Trump said at the White House in remarks that lasted just over 10 minutes. “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do.”

Leaders of the Christian churches in Jerusalem, including the Anglican primate, released a letter to Trump on Dec. 6 before his announcement warning that the decision “will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby tweeted that keeping the status quo on Jerusalem “is one of the few stable elements of hope for peace and reconciliation.”

The status quo of the City of Jerusalem is one of the few stable elements of hope for peace and reconciliation for Christians, Jews and Muslims in the Holy Lands. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

— Justin Welby ن (@JustinWelby) December 6, 2017

Also earlier in the day, Pope Francis, in his weekly general audience at the Vatican, called Jerusalem “a unique city, sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, where the Holy Places for the respective religions are venerated, and it has a special vocation to peace.” He raised concerns that changing the city’s status quo could lead to greater conflict.

World Council of Churches, too, expressed “grave concern” over Trump’s move.

“Such a step breaks with the longstanding international consensus, and almost seven decades of established American policy, that the status of Jerusalem remains to be settled,” said the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, World Council of Churches’ general secretary. “It also pre-empts a negotiated resolution of this most difficult issue in any final peace agreement, which must be achieved between Israelis and Palestinians themselves.”

Trump, in changing U.S. policy on Jerusalem, was taking a step toward fulfilling a campaign pledge to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that has strong support among American evangelicals and pro-Israel Jews.  The president chose in February to maintain the embassy in Tel Aviv for at least six months, and he is expected to formally extend that period for another six months. But by recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, the president is putting in motion plans to eventually relocate the embassy to Jerusalem.

The Episcopal Church’s stance on the issue was set by General Convention in a 1985 resolution, in which the church “expresses its opposition to the movement of the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, except within the context of a broad resolution of Middle East problems, with the status of Jerusalem having been determined by negotiation and not by unilateral action by any one community, religion, race or nation.”

The resolution was cited by Episcopal Public Policy Network in a February policy alert opposing relocation of the embassy. At that time, the Office of Government Relations advocated the church’s position to members of Congress in partnership with Churches for Middle East Peace, an ecumenical coalition of 27 American denominations that includes the Episcopal Church.

On Dec. 5, Churches for Middle East Peace repeated its objection to changing U.S. policy toward Jerusalem.

“Rather than being a broker for peace, the U.S. will be undermining trust and making the resumption of meaningful negotiations and achieving a viable solution all the more difficult, if not impossible,” said the Rev. Mae Elise Cannon, executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace.

Trump, in his remarks Dec. 6, affirmed the United States’ commitment to helping facilitate Middle East peace and to a two-state solution that has the support of both sides. But he defended his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by saying past policy has not gotten the Israelis and Palestinians any closer to a lasting peace.

“We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past,” he said. “Old challenges demand new approaches. My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Trump cited a law Congress passed in 1995 calling for the U.S. embassy to be moved to Jerusalem. Every president since Bill Clinton has waived that requirement six months at a time, citing security concerns, and Trump initially followed suit in February.

For decades, the United Nations has insisted on Jerusalem’s unique status as an “international city” despite Israel declaring it as the nation’s capital in 1980. Because of that history, 86 countries have their embassies in Tel Aviv, while none has an embassy in Jerusalem, according to CNN. And while most Israeli government offices are in West Jerusalem, East Jerusalem is considered by much of the world to be an occupied territory, which the Palestinians hope will someday become the capital of a Palestinian state.

The city is considered a sacred place for Jews, Muslims and Christians alike, which Trump alluded to in his remarks on Dec. 6. “Jerusalem is today and must remain a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the Stations of the Cross and where Muslims worship at al-Aqsa Mosque.”

The mosque is at a site known by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and by Jews as the Temple Mount, and it was the focus of renewed tensions earlier this year between Israelis and Palestinians after a deadly July 14 shooting between Arab-Israeli gunman and Israeli policemen prompted the mosque’s closure. https://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/article/anglican-primate-joins-christian-leaders-jerusalem-calling-calm-holy-site

It was the first time the mosque had been closed for Friday prayers in 17 years. Protests escalated when the mosque was reopened with new metal detectors, but the scanners were removed days later.

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

Vermont Episcopal Bishop Thomas Ely announces plan to retire

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 2:02pm

The Right Rev. Thomas C. Ely, bishop of the Diocese of Vermont, announced his retirement.

[The Episcopal Church in Vermont — Burlington, Vermont] The Right Reverend Thomas C. Ely, tenth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont, recently announced his intention to retire and resign his ministry, no later than September 30, 2019. He has agreed to remain in his position until a successor is chosen and is in place.

Ely, 65, was consecrated as bishop of the Vermont diocese in 2001, having previously served as a priest in the Diocese of Connecticut for 20 years. In a message to the people of the Diocese of Vermont, Ely said that by the time of his retirement he will have served in the priesthood for nearly 39 years.

“There are other interests and ministries to which I am feeling called to devote my time and energy while my health and stamina are still good,” Ely said, “including family, community theatre, various justice ministries and a bit more golf.”

During his episcopate, Ely has been a leader both within the diocese and throughout the wider Episcopal Church on such controversial issues as marriage equality, the ordination of LGBT clergy, increased gun safety and racial justice. He is also a leading voice on matters of environmental and economic justice.

As part of his global outreach, Ely serves on the board of Cristosal, a nongovernmental agency based in El Salvador that works to advance human rights in Central America. Additionally, he is a co-founder of the Vermont chapter of Kids4Peace, a grassroots interfaith youth movement dedicated to ending conflict and inspiring hope in Jerusalem and divided societies around the world. More locally, Ely is a leading advocate for the Vermont Ecumenical Council and Vermont Interfaith Action.

Ely has been instrumental in the stewardship and revitalization of Rock Point, a 130-acre property in Burlington, owned by the Vermont diocese, known for its natural beauty and peaceful atmosphere. Each year, nearly 10,000 people visit Rock Point, and Ely is overseeing a $1.7 million partnership campaign aimed at improving facilities, strengthening leadership and expanding public access.

Ely said that he and his wife, Ann, will take up residence in their house in Newfane, Vermont, upon his retirement. In the meantime, he says, “I plan to use these months ahead to continue encouraging full and passionate engagement in our local mission approaches, and I plan to continue my efforts related to a sustainable Rock Point and all that means to our life as the Episcopal Church in Vermont.”

Ely’s message to the people of the diocese can be found at this link.

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

Cuddly bears bring early Christmas joy to South Sudanese refugees in Uganda

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 1:09pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Seven-hundred teddy bears, which sat on the steps of London’s Saint Paul’s Cathedral in early 2017, are now providing comfort to thousands of child refugees who fled their homes in South Sudan for sanctuary in Uganda. The 700 bears were collected by the aid agency World Vision as part of a social media campaign and flown to Uganda by Kenya Airways. “We’re very grateful to people in the UK who donated these bears,” World Vision’s northern Uganda response director, Paul Sitnam, said in a statement. “Thanks to them, Christmas has come a little early for children here!”

Read the entire article here.

Nathaniel Pierce elected to board of Anglican Pacifist Fellowship

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 11:00am

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Nathaniel W. Pierce, supply priest at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Trappe, Maryland, and ecumenical officer for the Diocese of Easton, was elected to the Board of Trustees for the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship (APF) based in Great Britain by the Annual General Meeting in November 2017.

The APF was established in 1937 and now has some 1100 members in more than 40 countries, as well as a sister organization, the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, in the United States of America. The APF founded the Week of Prayer for World Peace and is a member of the Network of Christian Peace Organizations and of the International Peace Bureau.

Sue Clayton, newly elected chair of the APF, commented: “We are now a worldwide organization; peace and justices issues are of world-wide concern. We felt it was time that the Board of Trustees of the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship reflected this new reality.”

Elected along with Pierce were Cloud Mabaudi from Zimbabwe and the Rev. Nathanael Ruess from Australia.

Pierce was ordained a priest in 1973 and has served congregations in California, Idaho, and Massachusetts before coming to the Eastern Shore of Maryland in 1991. He is the co-author of the book, The Voice of Conscience: A Loud and Unusual Noise – A History of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship 1939 – 1989 (Charles River Press, 1989) and numerous articles published in various national journals.

Pierce was a member of the Episcopal Church’s Joint Standing Committees on Peace (1980-82 and 1983-85) and served as the first chair of the Standing Commission on Peace (1986-88).

Nombradas las delegadas provincial y episcopales para marzo de 2018 Comisión de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Estatus de la Mujer

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 7:13am

El Obispo Presidente y Primado, Michael Curry, nombró la delegada provincial y las delegadas de toda la Iglesia para representarlo en la 62ma sesión de la Comisión de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Estatus de la Mujer (UNCSW) en Nueva York, Nueva York, del 12 al 23 de marzo, 2018.

La delegada provincial y las delegadas de toda la Iglesia podrán asistir a los procedimientos oficiales de la UNCSW en las Naciones Unidas y representarán al Obispo Presidente con las delegaciones de la Iglesia Episcopal y de la Comunión Anglicana en su defensa en la ONU, incluida la defensa conjunta con el grupo de Mujeres Ecuménicas.

Las delegadas nombradas por el Obispo Presidente Curry son: Dr. K. Holly Carter, Diócesis de Massachusetts; la Rda. Annalise Castro Pasalo, Diócesis de Hawái; Dra. Damaris De Jesús Carrasquillo, Diócesis de Puerto Rico; Lois Frankforter, Diócesis de Connecticut; María González, Diócesis de Olympia; Stephanie Gray, Diócesis de Arkansas; Claudia Haltom, Diócesis de West Tennessee; Dr. John Harris, Diócesis de Oklahoma; Clare Hendricks, Diócesis de Montana; Pragedes Coromoto Jiménez de Salazar, Diócesis de Venezuela; la Rda. Diaconisa Myra Kingsley, Diócesis de Arizona; la Rda. Dra. Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook, Diócesis de Los Ángeles; Annika Lewis, Diócesis de Colorado; Maire Powell, Diócesis de Iowa; Lydia Simmons, Diócesis de Dakota del Sur; la Rda. Stacy Walker, Diócesis de Chicago; y Amanda Ziebell Mawanda, Diócesis de Minnesota.

Los miembros del personal del Obispo Presidente que acompañan a la delegación son: Lynnaia Main, representante de la Iglesia Episcopal en las Naciones Unidas; Katelyn Kenney, Julia Chester Emery Pasante de la Ofrenda Unida de Acción de Gracias; y la Rda. Glenda McQueen, Funcionaria para América Latina y el Caribe.

El Obispo Presidente Curry nombró a la Rvda. Dra. Deborah Jackson de la Diócesis de Florida como delegada provincial episcopal ante la delegación de la Comunión Anglicana.

El tema prioritario de la UNCSW para 2018 es “Desafíos y oportunidades para lograr la igualdad de género y el empoderamiento de las mujeres y las niñas de las zonas rurales”. Vea más aquí.

Para obtener más información, comuníquese con Main a lmain@episcopalchurch.org.

ONU Mujeres
La Iglesia Episcopal y las Naciones Unidas
Oficina de la Comunión Anglicana en las Naciones Unidas
Alianzas Globales
Iglesia Episcopal

Episcopalians flee fast-moving fire, helping neighbors along the way

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 5:16pm

Emergency crews block a roadway as flames spread from a Santa Ana wind-driven brush fire called the Thomas Fire near Ventura, California, Dec. 4. Photo: REUTERS/Gene Blevins

[Episcopal News Service] For some, the warning came via an alert on their cellphones. For others, it was a neighbor knocking on their doors with a shouted message to leave.

Episcopalians joined their neighbors Dec. 4 in fleeing the swift advance of the Thomas Fire that has burned from the mountains near Ojai, California, into the city of Ventura on the Pacific Ocean.

“It was like watching the sun rise over the mountains last night,” said the Rev. Greg Kimura, rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Ojai. “The whole horizon above the mountains was glowing but it wasn’t the sun; it was the fire.”

Kimura, whose phone lit up with an emergency signal about the fire the night of Dec. 4, spoke by phone with Episcopal News Service on Dec. 5, just after he arrived at a hotel north of Santa Barbara with his family.

The fire began close to Ojai near California State Highway 150 the previous evening and spread into nearby Santa Paula before racing south into Ventura.

A vestry member called the Rev. Cynthia Jew, priest and pastor of the blended congregations of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Santa Paula, to tell her about the fire. Jew lives in Thousand Oaks. She told ENS that some members of the congregation evacuated to Ventura overnight, only to be forced to leave there because of the advancing fire.

The fire quickly blew into Ventura. “An angel who came out of nowhere” banged on the door of the Ventura home where the Rev. Anthony Guillen, the Episcopal Church’s missioner for Latino/Hispanic ministries, lives with his wife, Guadalupe Moriel-Guillen, and their dog and cat. He pointed toward the pinkish-orange glow over the ridge above his home. In the short hour they took to pack some clothes and gather important papers and some computer hardware, that glow turned red and seemed to be advancing toward their driveway, Guillen told ENS.

As they drove both of their cars away, Guillen said friends called him from Oxnard, offering him and his wife a place to stay. Guillen spent the drive calling other friends to make sure they were evacuating as well.

Around 9 a.m. Dec. 5, Guillen had no word on the fate of his home of the last seven years. A friend sent an aerial news clip of their neighborhood. “Our house is not on fire in that shot, but that was a few hours ago,” he said.

Having lived in Ventura since 1999, Guillen said his family is very aware this time of the year about the dangers of fire season, living as they do up in the hills, but this kind of fast-moving fire was “totally new” to him.

The Rev. Melissa McCarthy, Diocese of Los Angeles canon to the ordinary, agreed that Southern Californians are used to wildfires. “This is a little bit out of the box in that it is actually burning in downtown Ventura on Main Street,” she said. “It’s an entirely different situation than our normal wildfire season” when most fires burn in wild lands and might endanger small clusters of far-flung homes or distant suburbs.

“I don’t ever expect the fires to be raging through Ventura, the city of, and that’s what’s happening right now.”

The Rev. Susan Bek, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Ventura, reported on Facebook that the church was still safe and open for those needing shelter.

Those flames over the entire ridgeline above Ventura prompted the Rev. Nicole Janelle and her family to get out of town as well. “Given that we have two small children, we thought it would be more prudent to leave on the early end [of the evacuation] than on the later end,” she told ENS. “I am glad we did because shortly after we left traffic really picked up, and it took some folks several hours to leave the area.”

Janelle and her family went to stay with the Rev. Julie Morris in Camarillo, near Ventura. Morris is a founding member of The Abundant Table, a sustainable working farm for which Janelle is currently the executive director. The farm is not in the direction of the wind-blown flames, although Janelle said those winds can damage crops. The farm grows food for its community-supported agriculture program and its farm store, as well as for several public school districts.

The farm has a weekly Sunday evening worship service and meal, and Janelle said she was spending time Dec. 5 checking in with worshippers and staff, many of whom were forced to evacuate. So far, none of their homes have burned, she said.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the Thomas blaze followed Foothill Road from Santa Paula to Ventura, taking out homes and winding along canyons in the process.

At 11:30 a.m. Dec. 5, the fire had burned 150 structures over 45,500 acres as it was driven by strong Santa Ana winds. About 1,000 firefighters are battling the fire, and there are high wind warnings for the ridgelines in the area, with winds predicted to stay at 35-45 mph with gusts up to 70 mph through Dec. 7.

Damaging #SantaAnaWinds and very critical fire weather conditions today and again late Wed night-Thu. Main impacts include downed trees/powerlines, blowing dust, power outages, and very rapid fire spread. #LAWind #cawx pic.twitter.com/cvUEA2bDc2

— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) December 5, 2017

The Thomas Fire – along with two fires that started on Dec. 5, the Creek Fire, which has burned more than 4,000 acres near Sylmar and Lake View Terrace about 60 miles east of Ventura, and another nearby in Santa Clarita – is causing highway and school closures as well as evacuations. These fires have exploded two months after the mid-October fires in Northern California. Those fires killed 43 people and destroyed more than 10,000 structures. This has been the worst year on record for wildfires in California.

After Kimura and his family got the emergency alert about the fire in Ojai, the priest went to St. Andrew’s, which was hosting about 30 overnight guests of the Ojai Valley Family Shelter. The church is the Monday night location for the shelter. Kimura helped get those people to an American Red Cross shelter set up at the local high school. Then he began calling elderly and shut-in parishioners, as well as others he thought might need help evacuating.

Downtown Ojai, where the church is located, was not then under a mandatory evacuation order, but officials “highly suggested” residents leave. “So, I basically went around and knocked on some doors and woke a bunch of people up – and scared the bejesus out of them and drove them to the high school,” he said.

He and Jew in neighboring Santa Paula are worried about the fire’s impact on their communities both now and long after the flames die out.

“I’m concerned for the evacuation and I am concerned that afterwards there’s going to be a tremendous amount of need for rebuilding,” he said.

St. Andrew’s is involved in sanctuary work, and it is part of a rapid-response team to help people who run afoul with immigration agents. “I have to believe that a number of people who are being displaced are people who are feeling vulnerable for a number of reasons,” Kimura said. “I am very concerned about the humanitarian response afterwards when we get a better sense of how many people have been displaced and lost homes.”

“Our main concern right now is the homeless,” Jew said. The fire burned over Steckel Park in Santa Paula, the site of a homeless encampment.

Jew said Episcopalians might be called on to provide tents and sleeping bags to homeless people who might have lost their belongings in the fire. Some homeless in Santa Paula, which has a high percentage of Hispanic residents, left their belongings at the church but walked away. “I am not quite sure where they went,” she said. “I think they are hiding out.”

Meanwhile, if the need is there, she will open the church “to provide emergency shelter for people who are unable or unwilling to go to the shelter because they fear deportation. Right now, that’s not what’s happening, but I am definitely willing to take that action.”

McCarthy confirmed that homeless people and undocumented people are the two “priority populations” in the diocesan response to the fires.

“We’re trying to identify and help and protect both homeless populations, which in Ventura is not a small number and where it’s burning is where they live, and also our undocumented people” who right now are afraid to go to shelters, she said.

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

African Anglicans host discussion on how to support bishops in their ministry

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:22pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] How can the church offer support and training to bishops as they both enter into and develop in their ministry? That was the question being discussed at a round-table meeting organized in Nairobi, Kenya, by the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa and the Anglican mission agency USPG. The discussion arose from an impact report on work undertaken by USPG in its Episcopal Accompaniment program, which found that being a bishop can often be lonely and challenging.

Read the full article here.

Anglican priest leads local earthquake relief efforts in Mexico after losing her home

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:14pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans in Mexico are continuing to support the victims of September’s 7.1 magnitude earthquake. And in the Morelos-State town of Jojutla, parish priest the Rev. Ericka Fierro is spearheading the support, even though she lost her house in the quake and was advised to leave the town and take shelter in the diocesan office. Fierro rejected the offer of sanctuary and stayed behind with her 8-year-old daughter, Kissel. 370 people were killed in the earthquake – 228 of them in Mexico City.

Read the full article here.

Brian Lee Cole ordained and consecrated as fifth bishop of East Tennessee

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 10:28am

Bishops lay hands on the Rt. Rev. Brian Cole to ordain and consecrate him Dec. 2 as the new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee Brian Lee Cole during his Dec. 2 ordination and consecration service at Church of the Ascension in Knoxville, Tenn. Photo: Ed Barels

[Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee] The Rt. Rev. Brian Lee Cole was ordained and consecrated as the fifth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee on Dec. 2 at Church of the Ascension in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Three former bishops of the diocese participated in the service: the Rt. Rev. William E. Sanders, first and founding bishop; the Rt. Rev. Charles G. vonRosenberg, third bishop; and the Rt. Rev. George D. Young, fourth bishop. The Rt. Rev. Robert Gould Tharp, second bishop of the diocese died in 2003.

During the course of the service,  Cole received gifts from friends, churches at which he previously served, and the Very Rev. John Ross, dean of St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Knoxville, Tennessee. The gifts included a pectoral cross, bishop’s ring, mitre and crozier. The bishop’s family participated in the service. Son, Jess Cole, served as a lector, and Cole’s wife, Susan Weatherford, played the recorder during communion.

Around 1,000 people attended the ordination and consecration service, and more than 6,700 participated by live stream. The entire service may be viewed on the diocesan website here.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, led the service as chief consecrator. The Rev. Dr. Lauren Winner, author, and associate professor of Christian Spirituality at Duke Divinity School, was the preacher.

Cole was seated in the cathedra, or bishop’s chair symbolic of the bishop’s office, in a service at St. John’s Cathedral in Knoxville on Dec. 3.

He was elected July 28 on the fifth ballot out of a field of four nominees. He succeeds Young, who served the diocese from 2011 to 2017. Cole served as the rector at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Lexington, Kentucky, from 2012 until his election as bishop.

Previously, he served as sub-dean at the Cathedral of All Souls in Asheville for seven years, and as vicar at Church of the Advocate, a worshiping community for homeless in downtown Asheville, for 3 years. He received a Master of Divinity from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with additional studies in Anglican church history in 2001. His Bachelor of Science is in Business Administration, received in 1989 from Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky.

Cole has served on the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, and has five times been a featured preacher on the popular multi-denominational Day 1 weekly podcast/radio broadcast. Cole taught in the religion department at Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa, North Carolina, Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston Salem, North Carolina,, and Luther Seminary, St, Paul., Minnesota. He served on the program staff of the Appalachian Ministries Educational Resource Center (AMERC) in Berea, Kentucky, for seven years before his ordination as a priest.

The Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee is approximately 14,350 square miles in area, comprising 34 counties in East Tennessee and three counties in North Georgia with the Cumberland Plateau as the western border. There are 50 congregations and worshiping communities servicing nearly 16,000 active members. The population of the diocese is concentrated in the major metropolitan areas: Chattanooga, Knoxville and the Tri-Cities area, which includes Kingsport, Bristol and Johnson City, areas totaling more than 2.4 million people according to Tennessee state government statistics.

Trump sharply reduces size of Bears Ears National Monument despite interfaith opposition

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:11pm

An interfaith delegation gathers in November at Bears Ears National Monument to call on the Trump administration to maintain the more than a million protected acres. Photo: The Rev. Andrew Block, via New Mexico Wildlife Federation

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians are standing firm alongside an interfaith community of activists to defend land in Utah considered sacred by Native American tribes as President Donald Trump on Dec. 4 announced he would dramatically reduce the size of the Bears Ears National Monument.

Some of those activists have rallied in recent days in Salt Lake City, where Trump traveled to make his announcement. Others have offered their support from across the country and now are condemning the president’s decision.

“It demonstrates a clear lack of understanding on his part for what the land means to indigenous people and the relationship that we have with the land,” the Rev. Brad Hauff, Episcopal Church missioner for indigenous ministries, told Episcopal News Service after Trump’s action. “When you take away the land or you damage the land, you’re assaulting the indigenous people’s identity.”

The fate of Bears Ears has been a regular topic of discussion among members of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Mission in Bluff, Utah, directly south of Bears Ears.

“People are not happy about it,” the Rev. Kay Rohde, priest-in-charge at St. Christopher’s, told ENS. “It’s just beautiful country, and to see oil rigs doting the landscape is not exactly what I think this place could be.”

Bears Ears is 1.35 million acres of federal land in southeast Utah that was designated as a national monument in December 2016 by President Barack Obama as one of his final acts as president. In a statement announcing the creation of Bears Ears and Gold Butte National Monument in southern Nevada, Obama said his goal was “to protect some of our country’s most important cultural treasures, including abundant rock art, archeological sites, and lands considered sacred by Native American tribes.”

The designation barred new natural resource extraction on the land, a move that was cheered by Native tribes in the region and conservationists but opposed by state lawmakers, who accused Obama of overreach.

Trump took office vowing to undo much of his predecessor’s legacy, and in April he ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review 27 national monuments and recommend changes. Zinke’s recommendations included reducing the size of at least four national monuments, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, another vast national monument in Utah that was created by President Bill Clinton in 1996.

In response to looming threats to the monuments, Episcopal leaders have joined a chorus of faith leaders this year in speaking out. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was one of five heads of Christian denominations who signed a letter to Zinke in July opposing changes to Bears Ears.

“As Christian leaders, we are committed to taking an active role in the work of remembering, repenting, healing from, and never repeating historic racial injustices,” the letter said. “Collectively, we are deeply concerned about the proposed action to reduce the size of the Bears Ears monument and the process being utilized.”

Last month, dozens of interfaith clergy members, including a representative of the Episcopal Church’s Navajoland Mission, traveled to Bears Ears to show solidarity with the cause of the five tribes, including the Navajo Nation, that have fought to protect the land.

Much of the interfaith activism on Bears Ears has been led by the group Creation Justice, which gathered hundreds of supporters’ signatures on a letter to Trump dated Dec. 1 with a final plea that he preserve the “spiritual riches we have been blessed to inherit from past generations.” (The Episcopal Church is a member of Creation Justice.)

“The church believes in the stewardship of creation and the stewardship of resources for the benefit of all rather than the benefit of a few,” the Rev. Vanessa Cato told ENS. Cato, priest-in-charge of Episcopal Church of the Good Shephard in Ogden, Utah, was among those who signed the letter. Some of her congregation’s members participated in the rallies in Salt Lake City supporting preservation of the national monuments.

By rejecting their pleas, the president has opened the door to renewed commercial activity in Bears Ears, a possibility he alluded to in his remarks Dec. 4.

“Some people think that the natural resources should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington,” he said. “And guess what, they’re wrong.”

Trump removed more than 1.1 million acres from Bears Ears National Monument and nearly 862,000 acres from Grand Staircase-Escalante. The president’s move, however, likely will face legal cases challenging his authority to reduce federal protected land on such a scale.

“We expect to see the issue thoroughly discussed,” said Mark Maryboy, a member of St. Christopher’s in Bluff. “I think we’ll have opportunity to sit at the table and explain exactly why we want the land protected.”

Maryboy, 61, is a leader of the conservation group Utah Dine Bikeyah that first began advocating for creation of the Bears Ears National Monument. This week, while some fellow activists, including his brother, traveled to the state capital to protest Trump’s decision, he has remained back home near Bears Ears, fielding interview requests from national and international news outlets.

Utahns #StandWithBearsEars! "More than 5,000 people rallied on the steps of the Utah State Capitol on Saturday afternoon to protest U.S. President @realDonaldTrump's expected shrinking of two national monument areas in the state." https://t.co/P4PVQqkDHu #MonumentsForAll pic.twitter.com/n5bCtD0psn

— Protect Bears Ears (@savebearsears) December 3, 2017

In Native American spirituality, church isn’t just a place to visit once a week on Sundays, he said. It is visited daily in the mountains, rocks, streams and wildlife of sacred places like Bears Ears. The fight to protect such places is far from over, he said.

“We believe that we will prevail,” he said.

The Rev. Mary June Nestler, canon to the ordinary of the Diocese of Utah, noted that the Episcopal Church’s outreach to Native Americans in the region dates back more than a hundred years, and its support for Native heritage continues today.

“We wish that sustained, substantive dialogue had been undertaken with Utah Native Americans, people of faith communities, and other constituents who do not want to see these precious monuments despoiled to enrich the few, to desecrate sacred places, to further the fossil fuel industry, and to subject these beautiful and lands to commercial degradation,” Nestler said in an emailed statement.

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

Savannah honors Episcopal mayor who led desegregation effort

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 5:04pm

Bishop Scott Benhase poses near the 32nd marker on the state’s Civil Rights Trail with the Rev. Michael White, left, rector of Christ Church and Stephen Williams, senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Savannah. Photo: Anna Iredale

[Episcopal Diocese of Georgia] The summer of 1963 was a hot one in Savannah and in the words of one observer, the city could have exploded. Instead, a coalition of the city’s leaders was able to accomplish a peaceful desegregation of Savannah before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Georgia Historical Society recently ecognized one of those leaders, the late Malcolm Maclean, mayor of Savannah from 1960-66 and lifelong Episcopalian, with the dedication of the 32nd marker on the state’s Civil Rights Trail.

Otis Johnson, the mayor of Savannah from 2004-2012, provided an historical context, saying that “In 1963, during a hot summer, the city could have exploded: the first 19 African Americans went to Savannah High School and there were two-a-day demonstrations downtown. Maclean, along with W.W. Law, Eugene Gadsden, Curtis Cooper… the bishop of the Catholic Diocese [the Rev. Thomas J. McDonough] and the Episcopal diocese [the Rev. Albert Stuart], worked to calm things down.”

In 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. declared Savannah the most desegregated city south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

The marker honors Malcolm Maclean, the mayor of Savannah from 1960-66 and lifelong Episcopalian who help to achieve the largely peaceful desegregation of Savannah. Photo: Anna Iredale

Johnson also quoted King as saying: “Where evil men would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice. Mayor Malcolm Maclean was a good man who fought to bring a real order of justice to Savannah during a turbulent time in the 60s. I am proud to have known him.”

Current Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach,remembered Maclean as a man who “stood when others did not.”

“Savannah is a better place than it otherwise would be because of Mr. Maclean’s witness,” said Georgia Bishop Scott Benhase. “His commitment to doing what was right, regardless of the political costs, makes him an example to all who hold elective office in our country today. His Christian faith shaped his politics without him needing to trumpet it. His faith was simply who he was.”

Maclean was a lifelong member of Christ Church in  Savannah where his wife Frances still attends services. The marker can be found at the Atlantic Mall, 45th and Atlantic Avenues.

— Anna Iredale is the director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.

Freda Marie Brown resigns as executive director of Texas diocese’s St. Vincent’s House

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 3:29pm

[Episcopal Diocese of Texas] Bishop Andy Doyle has announced that he’s received and accepted the resignation of the Rev. Freda Marie Brown, executive director of St. Vincent’s House, a social service agency of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas in Galveston. Her last day will be Dec. 31, 2017.

“Since 2014, Brown has achieved much in a short amount of time, devoting herself to hope and healing, with a mission to the least, the last and the left out in Galveston County. The board of directors of St. Vincent’s House give thanks for Freda Marie’s ministry as she goes on to pursue other opportunities in ordained ministry,” said the Rt. Rev. Jeff W.Fisher, board chair.

Born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, Brown grew up during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s; giving her a unique experience of the under-served and working poor. This led to her passion of helping those who are often times ignored.

“I believe I have accomplished all that was assigned to do when I was called by God in 2014,” Brown said, adding, “It has been a great honor and privilege to see the amazing positive changes that have occurred since that fateful time and I celebrate the grace that has been bestowed upon my ministry in this place.”

Brown’s ministry involved fostering the health and education for all of God’s children who come needing hope and a caring hand.

SVH offers low-cost childcare and pre-school programs, a free clinic, emergency assistance and referrals, a food pantry and many other community outreach programs for the working poor of Galveston.

Closed Episcopal church finds new life as center for farm workers on New York’s Long Island

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 12:19pm

Members of the Center of Alliance, Solidarity and Accompaniment, or CASA, gather outside Grace Episcopal Church in Riverhead, New York, for a recent celebration of CASA’s use of the church as ministry center through a partnership between the Diocese of Long Island and Rural & Migrant Ministry. Photo: The Rev. Gerardo Romo Garcia

[Episcopal News Service] Grace Episcopal Church in Riverhead, New York, had been a parish in decline for decades, according to its last priest-in-charge, the Rev. Mary Garde. Its deep roots on the East End of Long Island, dating to the mid-19th century, weren’t enough to stem the gradual erosion in membership that ended early this year in the church’s closure.

Garde called it “the usual story when you have an aging congregation,” but the church’s closing also has paved the way for its rebirth as a center for the region’s farm laborers, a big step forward in the ongoing support they have received from the Diocese of Long Island.

The diocese has long partnered with Rural & Migrant Ministry, a nonprofit agency that works around New York State to give voice to the concerns of farm laborers, many of them Latinos. The agency and the diocese now are working with other faith-based partners, including the Presbytery of Long Island, to develop the Center of Alliance, Solidarity and Accompaniment, or CASA, at Grace Episcopal Church.

The church already has become a regular meeting place for a “consejo,” or council, of farm workers who are helping to develop plans for the diocesan property in Riverhead, which includes the church, a rectory and a parish hall. Leadership counseling, vocational training and English-as-a-second-language classes are among the possible future uses.

“There are so many possibilities,” said the Rev. Gerardo Romo Garcia, who leads the diocese’s Latino outreach on Long Island’s East End. He emphasized that by reaching out to the community of laborers, church leaders hope to “empower the workers and teach them how to empower themselves.”

Garde, who retired and moved to Kansas after Grace Episcopal closed, said she was pleased the church is being put to new use.

“It’s a wonderful program, and I think it will do good things for the community,” she said, and she was pleased that the church would be put to ministry use rather than sitting vacant or being sold.

Rural & Migrant Ministry, founded by the Diocese of New York in the early 1980s, is based in Poughkeepsie. In recent years, it has assigned a staff member to Long Island in office space provided by the Diocese of Long Island in its Garden City headquarters, and the addition of a mission center follows the model of two centers the agency already operates in Upstate New York.

“It became clear that it would be really beneficial to have a center at the end of Long Island that could be an education center for nurturing leaders,” said the Rev. Richard Witt, Rural & Migrant Ministry’s executive director and an Episcopal priest.

About a year ago, as the agency was looking for a location for a new center, it had become clear the congregation at Grace Episcopal was not sustainable, said Mary Beth Welsh, executive director of Episcopal Ministries of Long Island, which provides fundraising and ministry-building support to the diocese and its congregations. But the property still was “a great space for us to serve and engage the communities of the East End of the island.”

While a school and day care continued to operate on the Grace Episcopal Church grounds, the diocese decided to turn the other church facilities into a ministry center, including for use by Rural & Migrant Ministry and the people it serves.

The focus on outreach to immigrant laborers on the East End is part of Long Island Bishop Lawrence Provenzano’s effort to bring the church to a community that had been mostly overlooked by the diocese in the past.

“It’s very clear that this is where our focus needs to be,” Provenzano told Episcopal News Service. “This is our call to minister to this group of people who have been in our midst as an almost invisible population.”

The Diocese of Long Island is anchored on the west by the densely populated New York City boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn, while to the east, the suburban counties of Nassau and Suffolk are nearly as populous and also home to 659 farms covering about 39,000 acres of farmland, according to a 2015 report by the Office of the State Comptroller. Suffolk, with Riverhead as its county seat, is the fourth largest county by population and ranks third in the state in overall agricultural sales.

Rural & Migrant Ministries was created to improve conditions for farm workers like those serving the agriculture industry in Suffolk County. They often work long hours without overtime or paid days off.

Last year, Rural & Migrant Ministries led a March for Farmworker Justice from Suffolk County to the state capital, Albany, to advocate for farm laborers’ rights. Members of the newly formed CASA council hope their voices will be heard even louder now that they have a permanent gathering place in Riverhead.

“We were looking for a place where we could form a community, not based on religion, but a place where people’s voices can be heard, where we can get educated, learn about our rights and responsibilities and to find our identities as rural workers living on the East End,” Ananias Canel, a CASA member, told Riverhead Local.

Episcopal Ministries of Long Island is coordinating the partnership at the new center in Riverhead. The agency, is serving as a leadership resource to the CASA members as they chart a path forward.

“The Diocese of Long Island has really thrown themselves into this,” Witt said. The people his agency serves “are used to being told they don’t belong somewhere, and so here’s a place where not only are they told they belong but they’re being invited to help run it.”

That mission aligns with the Episcopal Church’s outreach to people who live on the margins of society. Immigrants who work on the farms of Long Island often get overlooked, Episcopal Ministries’ Welsh said.

“As a church, we should be standing with the folks who have been sort of pushed aside,” she said.

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

Churches challenged to ‘rehabilitate and refresh’ how they explain the Gospel

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 12:16pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The new Archbishop of Wales, John Davies, has said churches are “not always seen for the good which we do, or for the just causes which we support or further, or for the justice and truth for which we call.” He called on churches to “rehabilitate and refresh” how they explain the Gospel message, particularly to young people who, he said, would high-five the prophet Job and queue for selfies with Jesus – if they properly understood Christianity. Davies made the comments as he was enthroned as the 13th archbishop of Wales during a service in Brecon Cathedral on Dec. 2.

Read the full article here.

Paper-based social-media campaign links Anglicans against gender-based violence

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 12:08pm

[Anglican Communion News Service]  Anglicans around the world are marking the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence in a simple social media campaign – that is based on paper. They are taking photos holding a poster with a simple pledge: “because we are precious in God’s eyes, I will not keep silent on sexual & gender-based violence.” The photos are being uploaded to Facebook and Twitter. They are being shared by a dedicated Twitter account: @AnglicansEndGBV.

Read the full article here.

New prior announced as Community of St Anselm opens applications for 2018

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 12:06pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The monastic community for young people based at Lambeth Palace, the office and official residence in London of the archbishop of Canterbury, has a new prior. The Community of St Anselm invites young Christians, aged 20-35 from around the world, to spend one year “in a radical Jesus-centred community of prayer, study and serving local communities.” It has just opened applications for next year’s intake. The Rev. Rosalyn Murphy, currently vicar of St Thomas’ Church in Blackpool, a resort town in the north-west of England, will take up the role of prior from April next year.

Read the full article here.