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Presiding Bishop’s royal wedding sermon on love draws global praise, boosts Episcopal evangelism

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 2:01pm

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle listen to a sermon by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, primate of the Episcopal Church, in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle during their wedding service on May 19. Photo: Reuters

[Episcopal News Service] It’s never polite to upstage the newlyweds, but when the royal couple invited Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to deliver the sermon at their wedding on May 19, they surely knew that the leader of the Episcopal Church was bound to generate headlines of his own.

“The surprise star of Harry and Meghan’s wedding” is how the Washington Post’s headline described Curry.

“There are some things you come to expect from royal weddings,” the Post said. “One thing you don’t expect: That sermon.”

The Post called Curry’s 14-minute sermon a “barnstorming address.” Canada’s CBC called it the “highlight” of the royal wedding. Vox said Curry “stole the show,” adding that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were “all but upstaged” by Curry’s “fiery sermon.” And the U.K. Guardian commentary asserted that Curry’s “royal wedding sermon will go down in history as a  moment when the enduring seat of colonialism was brought before the Lord, and questioned in its own house.”

The New York Times described it as a “searing, soaring” sermon about the power of love. “With its repetition and emphasis, his sermon drew upon the devices of black ecclesiastical tradition,” the Times wrote, calling it a “striking contrast” to the bishop of London’s sermon at the 2011 royal wedding.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle during their wedding May 19. Photo: Reuters

The sermon itself never strayed far from the theme of love, even as Curry incorporated references to both the Old Testament and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as black spirituals. The message appeared to resonate with the royal couple, with Prince Harry at one point wiping tears from his cheeks while his bride’s smile widened.

The media attention to Curry’s sermon had been intense since the moment on May 12 that he was announced as preacher.

Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle have asked that The Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry, the 27th Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church, give the address at their wedding : https://t.co/a14L7JGcAd #RoyalWedding pic.twitter.com/njqCaN55Gr

— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) May 12, 2018

It was an unexpected choice, given that royal wedding sermons typically are delivered by clergy in the Church of England, which, like the Episcopal Church, is a province of the Anglican Communion. Much of the reaction focused on the fact that Markle is a biracial American actress and on Curry’s status as the Episcopal Church’s the first black presiding bishop.

In the flurry of news stories about Curry leading up to the wedding, he sometimes was mistakenly identified as a “Chicago bishop” – he was born in Chicago but grew up in Buffalo, New York – and confusion about church hierarchy and titles may have played a role in some outlets diminishing Curry slightly, as merely “a black Episcopal priest,” for example.

Many also noted his emphasis on applying the Christian faith and Jesus’ teachings to contemporary social justice issues, part of what Curry often calls the “Jesus Movement.” Curry didn’t shy away from such issues in his sermon, asking those gathered to “imagine a world where love is the way.”

The Most Rev Bishop Michael Curry, primate of the Episcopal Church, delivers the sermon at the royal wedding. Photo: Reuters

“Imagine our governments and nations when love is the way,” he said. “When love is the way, then no child would go to bed hungry in this world every again. When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook. When love is the way, poverty would become history. When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary. When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields down by the riverside to study war no more.”

As the buzz grew leading up to the ceremony, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby called Curry a “brilliant pastor.” Afterward, Welby, who officiated at the wedding, told Sky News he had spoken to members of the royal family, whose reaction to Curry’s sermon was overwhelmingly positive.

“I think what we saw in that is that preaching is not a past art, that the use of language to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ just blew the place open,” Welby said. “It was fantastic. And you could see people just caught up in it, and excited by it.”

The sermon also captured the imagination of some British tabloid headline writers, who borrowed Curry’s light-hearted line “Two people fell in love and we all showed up” for their covers. The Sun even gave Curry the pun-kissed new title of “Frock Star.”

Some of the praise come from unexpected sources. Former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, an atheist, tweeted, “Rev. Michael Curry could almost make me a believer.”

Rev Michael Curry could almost make me a believer

— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) May 19, 2018

“Still reeling from Rev. Curry,” British TV host Piers Morgan tweeted. “What a guy!”

Wow. Still reeling from Rev Curry.
What a moment. What a guy!
He may have gone on a bit long but as my youngest son just rang to say: ‘Dad, imagine being a black American watching this wedding? It’s historic – and brilliant.’ He’s right. pic.twitter.com/JkPM8E4xeS

— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) May 19, 2018

The sermon even caught the attention of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” which dressed up cast member Kenan Thompson as Curry for a short parody during the “Weekend Update” sketch on May 19.

Curry gave his own take on the wedding and his sermon during an appearance the next day on NPR’s “Weekend Edition.” The sermon took its cues from the Bible passages that the couple chose, though he also hopes the message resonates beyond the walls of St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.

“I hope it was a message for all of us, because all of us no matter our political persuasion, no matter our social class, beyond all of that we all are fundamentally, children of God, and that means we’re part of God’s human family if you will,” he told NPR. “It means that we must always find ways to better the human condition, find ways to make a world where there’s room and space for all of us.”

The cover of “Crazy Christians,” by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

The global exposure generated by Curry’s sermon already has brought renewed attention to his two books, “Crazy Christians” and “Songs My Grandma Sang.” It also could create unique opportunities for evangelism by the Episcopal Church, and some congregations say they already are seeing a modest impact.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in San Diego, California, posted a Facebook ad linking to Curry’s sermon for the 24 hours leading up to its 10:30 a.m. service on May 20. During the service, “I asked if anyone had come because of the sermon. Three young people in the back waved their hands,” St. Paul’s Dean Penny Bridges said in an email.

“There was a very positive buzz among the congregation yesterday too, and people reported getting messages from non-church-going friends who were curious.”

Proud day for Episcopalians to have our leader represent the heart of our faith on such a visible stage #ProudEpiscopalian

— Julia Kirt (@JuliaKirt) May 20, 2018

Some Episcopalians have been reacting to Curry’s sermon on social media by using the hashtag #proudEpiscopalian, and St. Bart’s Episcopal Church in New York is hoping the excitement will increase turnout at the congregation’s “Bring a Friend to Church” Sunday on June 3.

“We are now developing messaging that encourages parishioners to invite friends who may have been inspired by Bishop Curry’s preaching on Saturday,” said Kara Flannery, the congregation’s director of communications.

Two weeks earlier, Curry had spoken on discipleship at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Austin, Texas, the city where General Convention kicks off on July 5. So it seemed natural for The Rev. Morgan Allen, rector of Good Shepherd, to make Curry’s royal wedding sermon the focal point of his own sermon on May 20.

“Wow, what a weekend to be Episcopalian!” Allen said.

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

Carlye J. Hughes elected Diocese of Newark’s 11th bishop

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 12:37pm

The Rev. Carlye J. Hughes was elected the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Newark during a special convention on May 19, 2018, at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown, New Jersey. Photo: Nina Nicholson/Diocese of Newark

[Episcopal Diocese of Newark] The Rev. Carlye J. Hughes was chosen 11th bishop of the Diocese of Newark during a special convention on May 19 at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown, New Jersey.

The first woman and first African-American to be elected bishop in the Diocese of Newark, Hughes, 59, is currently rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, Texas, in the Diocese of Fort Worth, and was one of three nominees.

In order to be elected, a candidate needs to receive a simple majority of votes from both the clergy and the lay delegates, voting separately as orders in the same balloting round. Hughes was elected on the first ballot, receiving 62 of 116 clergy votes and 141 of 241 lay votes.

The other two nominees were:

Hughes was ordained a priest in 2005 after graduating from Virginia Theological Seminary, and has served as rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in the continuing Diocese of Fort Worth since 2012. No stranger to the northeast, her first call was to St. James’ Church on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Before ordination, she worked as a corporate trainer. She is married to David Smedley. More about the Rev. Carlye J. Hughes.

Pending consent of a majority of the bishops with jurisdiction and the diocesan standing committees, Hughes will be ordained and consecrated September 22, 2018, at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will preside.

— Nina Nicholson is the director of communications for the Diocese of Newark.

El Obispo primado Michael Curry comparte su amor de Jesús con el mundo al predicar en la boda real

Sun, 05/20/2018 - 9:27am

El príncipe Harry y Meghan Markle en la capilla de San Jorge del castillo de Windsor durante la ceremonia de su boda el 19 de mayo de 2018. Foto de Jonathan Brady/REUTERS.

[Episcopal News Service – Windsor, Reino Unido] Cuando millones de personas en todo el mundo sintonizaron sus receptores para ver y celebrar la boda real del príncipe Harry y la actriz estadounidense Meghan Markle, se enfrentaron también a uno de los predicadores más dinámicos que la feliz pareja pudo haber elegido para sus nupcias.

El obispo primado Michael Curry, el líder afroamericano de la Iglesia Episcopal en Estados Unidos, habló apasionadamente durante 13 minutos acerca del poder del amor.

“El desaparecido Dr. Martin Luther King dijo una vez, y lo cito: ‘Debemos descubrir el poder del amor, el poder redentor del amor, y cuando hagamos eso convertiremos a este viejo mundo en un mundo nuevo. Porque el amor es la única vía’.

“Hay poder en el amor. No lo subestimemos”, dijo el Obispo Primado. “Cualquiera que se haya enamorado alguna vez, sabe lo que quiero decir. Pero piensen en el amor, en cualquiera de sus formas o experiencias. En verdad uno se siente bien al ser amado y al expresar amor. Hay algo acertado en esto y existe una razón.

El obispo primado Michael Curry predicó durante la boda del príncipe Harry y Meghan Markle en la capilla de San Jorge del castillo de Windsor, Inglaterra. Foto de Owen Humphreys/REUTERS

“El amor, el amor es la única vía. Hay un poder en el amor. No lo subestimen, ni lo sentimentalicen demasiado. Hay poder en el amor. Si no me crees, piensa en el momento en que te enamoraste por primera vez, [y como] el mundo entero parecía girar en torno tuyo y a la persona amada.

“Hay poder en el amor, pero no sólo en su forma romántica, sino en cualquier forma, en cualquier forma de amar, de tal manera que cuando estás enamorado y lo sabes, cuando alguien te quiere y lo sabes, cuando amas y lo demuestras, realmente sienta bien, hay algo ideal en eso. Y hay una razón para ello. La razón tiene que ver con la fuente, fuimos creados por un poder amoroso y nuestras vidas estaban diseñadas y están diseñadas para ser vividas en ese amor. Es por eso que estamos aquí.

“En última instancia, la fuente del amor es Dios mismo. Allí donde se encuentra el verdadero amor, está Dios mismo… Hay poder en el amor para ayudar y para sanar cuando ninguna otra cosa puede hacerlo. Hay poder en el amor para mejorar y para liberar cuando ninguna otra cosa podrá hacerlo, hay poder en el amor para mostrarnos la manera de vivir.

“Pero el amor no es sólo acerca de una joven pareja. No es sólo acerca de una joven pareja con la que celebramos y nos regocijamos”.

A partir de ahí, el Obispo Primado se refirió al Movimiento de Jesús.

“Jesús comenzó el movimiento más revolucionario de toda la historia humana. Un movimiento basado en el amor incondicional de Dios por el mundo. Y un movimiento que encarga a las personas a vivir y a amar, y al hacerlo cambia no sólo nuestras vidas, sino la vida misma del mundo en sí Estoy hablando de poder, de genuino poder para cambiar al mundo”.

Él siguió hablando acerca de la redención y del amor altruista y sacrificial.

“Jesús sacrificó su vida por el bien de los demás, por el bienestar del mundo. Por nosotros. Tal es el amor. El amor no es egoísta ni egocéntrico, el amor puede ser sacrificial. Y al operar de esta manera se hace redentor. Esa vía de amor altruista, sacrificial y redentor cambia vidas. Y puede cambiar a este mundo… Piensen e imaginen un mundo donde el amor sea la vía. Imaginen nuestros hogares y familias, donde el amor es la vía. Imagínense barrios y comunidades donde el amor sea la vía. Imagínense gobiernos y naciones donde el amor sea la vía. Imagínense empresas y comercio donde el amor sea la vía. Imagínense a este viejo mundo fatigado cuando el amor sea la vía… altruista, sacrificial, redentor. Entonces ningún niño se acostaría hambriento en este mundo nunca más. Cuando el amor  sea la vía dejaremos que la justicia fluya como un torrente impetuoso y la equidad como un arroyo inagotable”. (El sermón completo se encuentra aquí en vídeo y texto).

El obispo primado Michael Curry predicó durante la boda del príncipe Harry y Meghan Markle en la capilla de San Jorge del castillo de Windsor, Inglaterra. Foto de Owen Humphreys/REUTERS

“Hoy hubo una boda real y una joven pareja entregó mutuamente sus vidas ante Dios y ante el pueblo de Dios, no sólo en la capilla, sino a través del mundo… Y yo les doy las gracias por sus oraciones por ellos y sus continuas oraciones por ellos y por mí y por el Arzobispo”, dijo el Obispo Primado en una entrevista en video con Episcopal News Service después del oficio.

Fue una alegría, dijo él, ver a personas de todo el país y del mundo “regocijándose y felices juntos”. Dentro de la capilla, los invitados podían oír a la gente aplaudiendo afuera.

“Cuando la pareja recitó sus votos, la multitud prorrumpió en aplausos. En verdad que esto fue algo como el Día de Pentecostés, y la gente lo oyó en muchas lenguas diferentes, en muchas culturas diferentes, de muchas maneras diferentes, y eso es algo para regocijarse”, afirmó Curry.

Unos 150.000 entusiastas simpatizantes que inundaban las calles de Windsor, y que siguieron la ceremonia en vivo en sus teléfonos o en grandes pantallas estacionadas a lo largo de toda la ruta de la procesión, quedaron obviamente cautivadas por el mensaje carismático de Curry acerca del amor de Jesús por el mundo y sus palabras de aliento para la pareja de recién casados que inmediatamente antes de la boda fueron nombrados duque y duquesa de Sussex.

El oficio comenzó al mediodía, hora local, en la capilla de San Jorge [St. George’s] del castillo de Windsor, a 33 kilómetros al oeste de Londres. De muchas maneras, las celebraciones del día fueron un típico despliegue de la pompa británica, pero algunos elementos, incluido el papel central de Curry y la elección del pastel de boda, se apartaron de la tradición.

Los predicadores en las bodas reales suelen ser miembros del alto clero de la Iglesia de Inglaterra.

La novia recorrió el pasillo de la iglesia mientras la soprano galesa Elin Manahan Thomas cantaba “Eterna fuente de la luz divina” de G. F. Händel. Y el príncipe Carlos fue quien entregó la novia a su hijo el príncipe Harry, mientras la madre de la novia, Doria Ragland, miraba la escena con lágrimas en los ojos.

Entre las celebridades invitadas se encontraban Elton John, David y Victoria Beckham, George y Amal Clooney, Serena Williams y Alexis Ohanian, Carey Mulligan y Marcus Mumford, Oprah Winfrey e Idris Elba. La novia llevaba un vestido diseñado por Clare Waight Keller para Givenchy. En lugar del tradicional pastel de frutas que se espera en una boda real, la pareja escogió al repostero estadounidense Claire Ptak para crear un pastel de limón con flor de saúco que incorporara los vivos sabores de la primavera, cubierto con crema de mantequilla y decorado con flores frescas.

Luego del oficio, Curry y su esposa, Sharon, se unieron a la pareja y a otros 600 invitados en el salón de San Jorge del castillo de Windsor para una recepción-almuerzo ofrecida por la reina Isabel II.

La capilla de San Jorge ha sido escenario de bodas reales durante siglos. La capilla tiene estatuto de “royal peculiar”es decir, un lugar de culto que cae directamente bajo la jurisdicción del monarca británico, en lugar de un obispo.

El Rvdmo. David Conner, deán de la capilla, dirigió el oficio del 19 de mayo según una versión de 1966 de la liturgia del matrimonio del Libro de Oración Común, mientras el arzobispo de Cantórbery, Justin Welby, como líder de la Iglesia de Inglaterra, presidió la boda real y solemnizó el matrimonio.

Markle fue bautizada por Welby y luego confirmada en una ceremonia privada en marzo.

La Reina es la suprema gobernante de la Iglesia de Inglaterra, que es parte de la Comunión Anglicana, y los miembros de la familia real se espera que sean miembros activos de la Iglesia.

La música coral del oficio estuvo a cargo del coro de la capilla de San Jorge, bajo la dirección de James Vivian, organista y maestro de cantores. Otros músicos incluyeron al cellista de 19 años Sheku Kanneh-Mason y al Coro del Reino [Kingdom Choir], un grupo cristiano de góspel dirigido por Karen Gibson. La orquesta fue dirigida por Christopher Warren-Green e incluyó músicos de la Orquesta Nacional de la BBC de Gales, la Orquesta de Cámara Iglesia y la Orquesta Filarmónica. La soprano Elin Manahan Thomas, el trompetista David Blackadder y el organista Luke Bond se incorporaron a la orquesta. Trompetistas oficiales, provenientes de todos los rangos de la Banda de la Caballería de la Casa Real,  ofrecieron apoyo ceremonial.

Voces y trompetas se combinaron para acompañar a la radiante novia hasta el altar al son de la majestuosa música del conocido himno “Fui feliz”[I was Glad], compuesto por C. Hubert Parry para la coronación de Eduardo VII, el padre del tatarabuelo del príncipe Harry.

Entre los himnos que se cantaron en el oficio estaban “Señor Jesús, eterno rey” [Lord of All Hopefulness] y “Dios de gracia, Dios de gloria” [Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer]. El orden del oficio se encuentra aquí.

Luego de la ceremonia, la novia y el novio salieron del castillo en un coche de caballos descubierto Ascot Landau, para una procesión por las calles de Windsor.

Mientras las calles de Windsor se animaban con las celebraciones, los festejos de la boda real se extendían mucho más allá del castillo de Windsor y sus áreas circundantes.

Iglesias anglicanas y episcopales de todo el mundo, que remontan sus orígenes a la Iglesia de Inglaterra, también celebraron eventos y oficios locales para honrar a la feliz pareja.

-Matthew Davies cubrió la boda en directo. Lynette Wilson es jefa de redacción de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Video & Text: Presiding Bishop’s royal wedding sermon

Sat, 05/19/2018 - 11:19am

[Episcopal News Service – Windsor, U.K.] This video was recorded on one of the large public screens stationed along the procession route in Windsor, where 150,000 well-wishers thronged the streets.

“The Power of Love”—A Sermon
by the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
The Marriage of
HRH Prince Henry of Wales & Ms. Meghan Markle
Saturday, May 19, 2018 

And now in the name of our loving, liberating, and life-giving God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

From the Song of Solomon, in the Bible:

Set me as a seal upon your heart,

as a seal upon your arm;

for love is (as) strong as death,

passion fierce as the grave.

Its flashes are flashes of fire,

a raging flame.

Many waters cannot quench love,

neither can floods drown it (out).

Song of Songs 8:6-7


The late Dr. Martin Luther King once said, and I quote:

       “We must discover the power of love,

     the redemptive power of love.

And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world

a new world.  Love is the only way.”

There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t even over-sentimentalize it. There’s power, power in love.  If you don’t believe me, think about a time when you first fell in love.  The whole world seemed to center around you, and your beloved.  Oh, there’s power, power in love.  Not just in its romantic forms, but any form, any shape, of love.  There’s a certain sense, in which when you are loved, and you know it, when someone cares for you and you know it, when you love and you show it, it actually feels right.  There’s something right about it.  And there’s a reason for it.

The reason has to do with the source.  We were made by a power of love.  And our lives were meant, and are meant to be lived in that love.  That’s why we are here.  Ultimately the source of love is God himself.

The source of all of our lives.

As an old medieval poem puts it:
“Where true love is found, God himself is there.”
1st John in the New Testament says it this way.

       “Beloved, let us love one another,

because love is from God;

Everyone who loves is born of God

Whoever does not love does not know God

For God is love.” (1John 4:4-8)

There’s power in love.

There’s power in love to help and heal when nothing else can.

There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will.

There’s power in love to show us the way to live

“Set me as a seal on your heart

A seal on your arm”

For love, it’s as strong as death.

But love is not only about a young couple.

Now the power of love is demonstrated by the fact that we’re all here.

Two young people fell in love, and we all showed up!

But it’s not just for and about a young couple who we rejoice with.

It’s more than that.

Jesus of Nazareth on one occasion was asked by a lawyer to sum up the essence of the teachings of Moses.  And he read back, and reached back into the Hebrew scriptures to Deuteronomy and Leviticus, and Jesus said:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength.

This is the first, and great commandment.

And the second is like it.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

And then in Matthew’s version, he added, he said:

         On these two, love of God and love of neighbor, hang all the law, all the prophets

Everything that Moses wrote, everything in the holy prophets, everything in the Scriptures, everything that God has been trying to tell the world!

Love God!

Love your neighbors.

And while you’re at it, love yourself.

Someone once said that Jesus began the most revolutionary movement in all of human history.  A movement grounded in the unconditional love of God for the world.  And a movement mandating people to live that love.  And in so doing, to change not only their lives, but the very life of the world itself.

I’m talking about some power.

Real power.

Power to change the world.

And if you don’t believe me, well, there were some old slaves in America’s Antebellum South, who explained the dynamic power of love and why it has the power to transform.  They explained it this way – they sang a spiritual, even in the midst of their captivity.  It’s one that says:

         “There is a balm in Gilead”

A healing balm, something that can make things right –

         “There is a balm in Gilead

To make the wounded whole

There is a balm in Gilead

To heal the sin-sick soul.”

And one of the stanzas actually explains why – they said:

         “If you cannot preach like Peter,

And you cannot pray like Paul,

You  tell the love of Jesus,

How he died to save us all.”

Oh, that’s the balm in Gilead!

This way of love, it is the way of life!  They got it!

He died to save us all!  He didn’t die for anything he could get out of it!

Jesus did not get an honorary doctorate for dying!

He wasn’t getting anything out of it!

He gave up his life, he sacrificed his life for the good of others, for the good of the other, for the well-being of the world, for us!

That’s what love is.

Love is not selfish and self-centered.

Love can be sacrificial.

And in so doing, becomes redemptive.

And that way of unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive love, changes lives.

And it can change this world.

If you don’t believe me, just stop and think, or imagine.

Think, and imagine.

Well, think and imagine a world where love is the way.

Imagine our homes and families when love is the way.

Imagine neighborhoods and communities when love is the way.

Imagine our governments and nations when love is the way.

Imagine business and commerce when love is the way.

Imagine this tired old world when love is the way.

When love is the way, unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive.

When love is the way, then no child would go to bed hungry in this world ever again.

When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook.

When love is the way, poverty would become history.

When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary.

When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields down by the riverside

to study war no more.

When love is the way, there’s plenty good room.  Plenty good room.  For all of God’s children.

And when love is the way, we actually treat each other – well, like we’re actually family.

When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all, and we are brothers and sisters.  Children of God.

My brothers and sisters, that’s a new heaven, a new earth, a new world.

A new human family.

And let me tell you something, old Solomon was right in the Old Testament, that’s fire.

Teilhard de Chardin – and with this, I will sit down, we gotta get you all married.

French Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin was arguably one of the great minds, great spirits of the 20th century.  A Jesuit, Roman Catholic priest, a scientist, a scholar, a mystic.  In some of his writings he said, from his scientific background, as well as his theological one.  Some of his writings he said, as others have, that the discovery, or invention, or harnessing of fire was one of the great scientific and technological discoveries in all of human history.

Fire to a great extent made human civilization possible.

Fire made it possible to cook food, and to provide sanitary ways of eating, which reduced the spread of disease in its time.

Fire made it possible to heat and warm environments and thereby made human migration around the world a possibility, even into colder climates.

Fire made it possible – there was no Bronze Age without fire.  No Iron Age without fire.  No Industrial Revolution without fire.

The advances of science and technology are greatly dependent on the human ability and capacity to take fire and use it for human good.

Anybody get here in a car today?  An automobile?

Nod your heads if you did, I’m guessing, I know there were some carriages.

For those of us who came in cars, fire, and the controlled, harnessed fire made that possible.

I know that the Bible says, and I believe it, that Jesus walked on the water, but I have to tell you, I didn’t walk across the Atlantic Ocean to get here!

Controlled fire in that plane got me here!

Fire makes it possible for us to text and Tweet and email and Instagram and Facebook and socially be dysfunctional with each other!

Fire makes all of that possible!

And de Chardin said fire was one of the greatest discoveries in all of human history.

And he then went on to say that if humanity ever harnesses the energy of fire again, if humanity ever captures the energy of love, it will be the second time in history that we have discovered fire.

Dr. King was right.

We must discover love.

The redemptive power of love.

And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world.

My brother, my sister,

God love you, God bless you.

And may God hold us all,

in those Almighty hands of love.


Royal wedding preacher Presiding Bishop Michael Curry shares his love of Jesus with the world

Sat, 05/19/2018 - 8:25am

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle during their wedding in Windsor, Britain, May 19, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Brady

[Episcopal News Service – Windsor, U.K.] When millions of people around the world tuned in to witness and celebrate the royal wedding of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle, they were also treated to one of the most dynamic preachers the happy couple could have chosen for their nuptials.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, the African-American leader of the U.S.-based Episcopal Church, spoke passionately for more than 12 minutes about the power of love.

“There’s power in love. Do not underestimate it. Anyone who has ever fallen in love, knows what I mean. But think about love in any form or experience of it. It actually feels good to be loved, and to express love. There is something right about it. And there’s a reason.

“Love, love is the only way. There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate. Don’t even over sentimentalize it. There’s power in love,” said the presiding bishop. “If you don’t believe me, think about a time when you first fell in love, the whole world seemed to center around you and your beloved.

“There’s power in love, not in just its romantic form, but any form, in any shape of love there’s a certain sense that when you are love and you know it, when someone cares for you and you know it. When you love and you show it. It actually feels right, there’s something right about it. And there’s a reason for it. The reason has to do with the source, we were made by a power of love. And our lives were meant and are meant to be lived in that love. That’s why we are here.

“Ultimately, the source of love is God himself. Where true love is found, God himself is there …  There’s power in love to help and heal when nothing else can. There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will there’s power in love to show us the way to live.”

“But love is not only about a young couple … it’s not just about a young couple we celebrate and rejoice with.

“Jesus began the most revolutionary movement in all of human history. A movement grounded in the unconditional love of God and for the world. And a movement mandating people to live and love and in so doing, to change not only their lives, but the very life of the world itself. I’m talking about power, real power to change the world.”

Crowds gathered to watch the royal wedding on screens throughout Windsor. Photo: Matthew Davies/ENS

Meanwhile, an estimated 100,000 well-wishers thronged the streets of Windsor, watching the ceremony broadcast live on their phones and large screens stationed along the whole procession route, clearly captivated by Curry’s charismatic message about Jesus’ love for the world and his words of encouragement for the newly married couple, named just before the wedding as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. 

The service began at noon local time at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, 21 miles west of London. In many ways, the day’s celebrations were a typical royal display of British pageantry, but some elements, including Curry’s pivotal role and the choice of wedding cake, are a departure from tradition.

Preachers at royal weddings are usually senior clergy members in the Church of England.

The bride walked down the aisle to Eternal Source of Light Divine by G.F Handel, sung by Welsh soprano Elin Manahan Thomas and was given to Prince Harry by his father, Prince Charles of Wales. The bride’s mother Doria Ragland looked on in tears.

Celebrity guests included Elton John, David and Victoria Beckham, George and Amal Clooney, Serena Williams and Carey Mulligan and Marcus Mumford. The bride wore a dress  designed by Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy. Instead of the traditional fruitcake expected at a royal wedding, the couple selected American pastry chef Claire Ptak to create a lemon elderflower cake to incorporate the bright flavors of spring, covered with buttercream and decorated with fresh flowers.

Following the service, Curry and his wife, Sharon, joined the couple and 600 other guests at St. George’s Hall in Windsor Castle for a luncheon reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth II.

St. George’s Chapel has hosted royal weddings for centuries. The chapel is known as a “royal peculiar,” a place of worship that falls directly under the jurisdiction of the British monarch, rather than a bishop.

The Rt. Rev. David Conner, chapel dean, conducted the May 19 service according to a 1966 version of the liturgy of matrimony from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, while Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, as head of the Church of England, presided over the royal wedding and solemnized the marriage.

Markle was baptized by Welby and then confirmed in a private ceremony in March.

The queen is the supreme governor of the Church of England, which is part of the Anglican Communion, and members of the royal family are expected to be active members in the church.

Choral music at the service was performed by the choir of St. George’s Chapel, under the direction of James Vivian, the organist and master of the choristers. Other musicians included 19-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and the Kingdom Choir, a Christian gospel group conducted by Karen Gibson. The orchestra was conducted by Christopher Warren-Green and included musicians from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the English Chamber Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra. Soprano Elin Manahan Thomas, trumpeter David Blackadder and organist Luke Bond joined the orchestra. State trumpeters drawn from all ranks of the Band of the Household Cavalry provided ceremonial support.

Voices and trumpets combined to usher in the radiant bride to the majestic sounds of C. Hubert Parry’s well-known anthem, “I Was Glad,” composed for the coronation of Edward VII, Prince Harry’s great-great-great-grandfather.

Hymn sung during the service included Lord of All Hopefulness and Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer.  The order of service is here.

Following the ceremony, the bride and bridegroom left Windsor Castle in an Ascot Landau carriage for a procession through the streets of Windsor.

As the streets of Windsor came alive with celebrations, the royal wedding festivities stretched far beyond Windsor Castle and its surrounding areas.

Anglican and Episcopal churches around the world that trace their origins to the Church of England also held local events and services to honor the happy couple.

Video: Presiding Bishop Michael, Archbishop Justin speak ahead of the Royal Wedding

Fri, 05/18/2018 - 4:32pm

The following clip is taken from an interview with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby on the eve of the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Courtesy of Press Association.

Presiding Bishop’s sermon at royal wedding is must-see TV for many Episcopalians

Fri, 05/18/2018 - 3:38pm

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle arrive at Windsor Castle on May 18, a day ahead of their wedding. Photo: REUTERS/Hannah McKay

[Episcopal News Service] With all due respect to the bride and groom, the preacher will be the real star of the royal wedding in the eyes of many Episcopalians.

Congregations across the United States are planning viewing parties, and there’s even a bingo card created by the Diocese of Fort Worth featuring some of the phrases Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is expected to deploy when he preaches at the wedding of Prince Harry, the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and sixth in line to the British throne, and American actress Meghan Markle at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle on May 19.

It’s hard to deny “this huge opportunity for evangelism that just landed in all our laps,” said Katie Sherrod, Diocese of Fort Worth communications director.

She was part of the team that came up with the “Michael Curry Bingo” card based on what Episcopalians have come to expect in a typical Curry sermon, such as references to the “Jesus Movement” and “loving, liberating and life-giving.” But will he change things up for the royal couple?

“It is a wedding, so we know he’s going to be talking about love,” Sherrod said. “I just can’t imagine him not going to ‘We are all beloved children of God,’ a message that the world is desperate to hear.”

Live coverage of the royal wedding can be viewed online via PBS here and BBC America here. On Episcopal social media, follow the event on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Full Episcopal News Service coverage can be found here.

Kensington Palace announced May 12 that the couple invited Curry to preach at the service, a departure from tradition for British royal weddings where sermons are usually given by senior Church of England clergy. Dean of Windsor David Conner will conduct the service and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will officiate.

The doors of the Episcopal Church of the Advocate in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, will open at 6:30 a.m. Eastern time, a half-hour before the noon wedding begins in England. As soon as the news of Curry’s address went public, the church’s senior warden said, “‘We have to have a party,’” said the Rev. Lisa G. Fischbeck, vicar.

“There’s this really funny blend of dread at getting up that early on a Saturday and excitement,” she said. Women are invited to wear hats and men ascots, and tea and coffee and scones and strawberries will be served.

“It’s splendid. … There seems to be such excitement about it from Episcopalians who are wondering whether he’ll stay in the pulpit, and wondering if he’ll stay to seven minutes, to have this joyful buzz,” said Fischbeck, who appeared live on BBC News earlier this week.

Grace Cathedral in San Francisco plans to host a short carillon concert at noon local time (after the royal wedding) to celebrate the newly married couple. “We love weddings,” the cathedral says on its website, though the Rev. Ellen Clark-King acknowledged to Episcopal News Service that this is no ordinary wedding, especially for members of her congregation.

“I would say the interest has definitely gone up since we knew about Bishop Michael’s involvement in the proceedings,” said Clark-King, who is the cathedral’s executive pastor and canon for social justice. “A lot of people who would not be particularly interested in a royal wedding want to know what he has to say.”

On the other side of the United States, St. Bart’s Episcopal Church in New York City plans to hold a “Royal Wedding Brunch” for those who don’t want to wake up early to watch Curry’s sermon live. A recording of the wedding will be shown at 1 p.m. accompanied by sandwiches, cookies and tea.

“Hats welcome!” the invitation says.

The Diocese of Fort Worth started thinking about opportunities for evangelism as soon as Curry was announced as preacher. The diocese had seen a surge in visits to its website in April when former first lady Barbara Bush’s funeral was held at an Episcopal church in an adjacent diocese. The diocese received 25,000 clicks just on its page outlining what Episcopalians believe.

“If Barbara Bush’s funeral did that, what is the royal wedding going to do?” Sherrod said.

In 2015, when Curry was installed as presiding bishop, Sherrod’s team produced an infographic based on a fun list of 10 things you typically hear in one of his sermons released by the Diocese of  North Carolina where Curry served as diocesan bishop. In preparation for the royal wedding, Fort Worth dusted off the infographic and came up with the idea of expanding it into a bingo card. As of May 18, the diocese’s post promoting the bingo card had been shared more than 200 times.

The challenge of writing a wedding sermon isn’t quite the same as writing a sermon for Holy Eucharist on Sunday, but Sherrod thinks Curry’s regular emphasis on God’s love will be a common thread.

“He is such a genuine man of such integrity that I can’t imagine he’s going to change very much,” Sherrod said. “I think they are very lucky to have him as a preacher.”

She also has been working with congregations to ensure their websites are updated and informative for people who might be interested in learning more about the Episcopal Church after hearing Curry speak.

“The next day is Pentecost, so it’s not like people aren’t busy around here, but I just think this is an opportunity to reach people who are hungry for the message Michael Curry is bound to deliver to them,” she said.

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

New Zealand church could appoint climate commissioner after synod motion

Fri, 05/18/2018 - 3:13pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia is set to appoint a climate commissioner as it steps up its fight against climate change. The move is after two environmental motions were combined into a composite motion at the province’s General Synod earlier this month.

Read the full article here.

Anglican Alliance stands ready to assist after Ebola outbreak confirmed in Congo

Fri, 05/18/2018 - 3:10pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The World Health Organization has expressed concern after 44 Ebola virus disease cases were reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “We are profoundly concerned to hear about the recent outbreak of Ebola in DRC,” the Rev. Rachel Carnegie, co-executive director of the Anglican Alliance, which helps to co-ordinate the activities of Anglican relief and development agencies, said.

Read the full article here.

10 dead in Texas school shooting; Episcopal church to host prayer service

Fri, 05/18/2018 - 3:01pm

[Episcopal News Service] Ten people – nine students, one teacher – are dead following a May 18 shooting at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, 40 miles south of Houston.

“Prayers are offered for the students, families and faculty who have been impacted by this act of violence,” said Bishop Andy Doyle in an email to the Diocese of Texas, which includes Santa Fe. “I have already received prayers from Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, who reached out immediately.”

Diocesan staff contacted area community leaders, and locally clergy and lay leaders are reaching out to those connected to the school, he said.

“Like any church in the midst of the community, we are a network of relationships that include the very lives of those who are at this very moment dealing with the horror of personal loss,” Doyle said. “We grieve gun violence perpetrated in one of the most vulnerable of situations – a school. Now is the time to grieve and pastor the families in our community who are hurting and dismayed and searching for hope. Our churches in the surrounding area stand ready with pastoral care for anyone affected by this tragedy.”

Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Dickinson, just north of Santa Fe, opened as a place of prayer and reflection following the shooting and will host a community-wide prayer service beginning at 6:30 p.m. local time.

The 17-year-old suspect, also a Santa Fe High School student, is in custody. The attack is the deadliest since the shooting deaths of 17 students at a Parkland, Florida, high school on Feb. 14. The February attack sparked a nationwide student movement against gun violence.

“Today we have experienced another event of deadly violence in a place to which we entrust our children for formation and safety,” Christ Church Cathedral Dean Barkley Thompson said in an email message. “‘How long?’ we ask. How long must we endure such events, and how often? Our excruciating lament is honest and inevitable… The answer to the lament, ‘How long?’ can be ‘No longer.’ God’s Spirit is with us, empowering us to stand for grace and peace in our world. May it be so.”

Church in Wales sets aside evangelism fund to engage society

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 5:34pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Church in Wales has announced a new £10 million program to help its six dioceses fund new evangelism projects. The Church in Wales’ first ever Evangelism Fund will be launched this weekend with the aim of engaging “Welsh society with the claims of the Christian faith in vibrant and exciting ways.” The fund will provide grants of between £250,000 and £3 million, for diocesan projects that “will focus on people rather than buildings,” the Church in Wales said.

Read the full article here.

Church of England welcomes British government’s gambling announcement

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 5:32pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The British government has announced that it is restricting the maximum stake on a type of electronic gambling terminal to just £2. The announcement follows a campaign by the Church of England and others to lower the maximum stake on Fixed Odd Betting Terminals from £100 to £2.

Read the full article here.

El Obispo Presidente Curry participará en la procesión del 24 de mayo con vigilia en la Casa Blanca

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 4:37pm

El Obispo Presidente de la Iglesia Episcopal, Michael Curry, se unirá a otros líderes religiosos y ancianos de la iglesia en Washington, DC para lanzar la Declaración para Rescatar a Jesús en un servicio religioso seguido de una vigilia silenciosa a la luz de las velas frente a la Casa Blanca, el 24 de mayo.

Todos están invitados a asistir al evento, comenzando a las 7 de la noche hora del este en la National City Christian Church, 5 Thomas Circle NW, Washington DC. En el servicio en la Iglesia, el Obispo Presidente Curry se unirá a 10 líderes religiosos y ancianos en oración y predicación.

Después del servicio en la iglesia, a las 8:30 de la noche, un grupo que se estima constará de más de mil  personas seguirá al Obispo Presidente Curry y a los líderes religiosos y ancianos mientras van en procesión desde la National City Christian Church hasta la Casa Blanca.

“El servicio en la iglesia, la procesión a la Casa Blanca y la vigilia silenciosa a la luz de las velas se planifican en respuesta a las crisis morales y políticas en los niveles más altos de liderazgo político que ponen en juego tanto el alma de la nación como la integridad de la fe cristiana”, señaló el reverendo Jim Wallis, presidente y fundador de Sojourners. “Los ancianos llaman a todos los cristianos a recordar que nuestra identidad en Jesús precede a cualquier otra identidad”.

La Declaración para Rescatar a Jesús se encuentra aquí.

La Oficina de Comunicaciones de la Iglesia Episcopal transmitirá el servicio en la iglesia, la procesión y la vigilia silenciosa. La transmisión en vivo estará disponible aquí.

El horario
El servicio en la National City Christian Church comienza a las 7 de la noche. La procesión a la Casa Blanca comienza a las 8:30 de la noche hora del este. Se espera que la vigilia silenciosa de velas comience de la 8:45 de la noche y dure hasta las 10 de la noche.

Los líderes religiosos y ancianos
Los líderes religiosos y los ancianos representan a muchas tradiciones cristianas: iglesias evangélicas, protestantes, católicas romanas y afroamericanas.

Incluyendo al Obispo Presidente Curry, otros participantes en el servicio en la iglesia y la vigilia serán:

  • El Rdo. Dr. Walter Brueggemann, Profesor Emérito, Seminario Teológico Columbia
  • El Dr. Tony Campolo, Cofundador, Red Letter Christians
  • El Rdo. Dr. James Forbes, Presidente y Fundador de la Fundación Healing of the Nations y Profesor de Predicación en el Union Theological Seminary
  • El Rdo. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, Secretario General Emérito de la Iglesia Reformada de América
  • El Rdo. Dr. Richard Hamm, ex Ministro General y Presidente de la Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo)
  • El P. Richard Rohr, Fundador, Centro de Acción y Contemplación
  • El Dr. Ron Sider, Presidente Emérito de Evangélicos para la Acción Social
  • El Rdo. Jim Wallis, Presidente y Fundador, Sojourners
  • La Rda. Dra. Sharon Watkins, Directora, NCC Verdad e Iniciativa de Justicia Racial
  • La Dra. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Co-organizadora, Red Nacional de Clero Afroamericana; Presidente, Skinner Leadership Institute

No se requiere inscripción anticipada para participar en el servicio en la iglesia, para la procesión y la vigilia; sin embargo, se recomienda a los participantes que marquen su asistencia en Facebook aquí.

Episcopalians help Muslims break their daily fast at interfaith iftar dinners during Ramadan

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 2:33pm

Muslims join Episcopalians in June 2017 for an iftar meal hosted by St. James Episcopal Church in Columbus, Ohio. The church’s 15th annual iftar will be May 31. Photo: St. James, via Facebook

[Episcopal News Service] The Muslim holy month of Ramadan started this week, and Episcopal congregations across the country have been encouraged to participate in an interfaith outpouring of support, including by hosting or joining the dinners at which Muslims break their daily fast.

The meals, called iftars, are served every evening after sundown during Ramadan, which started this year on May 16. Iftars often are festive community gatherings, sometimes held in homes, sometimes in mosques – and sometimes in Christian churches, an effort to bridge divides across faith traditions.

St. James Episcopal Church in Columbus, Ohio, is preparing to host its 15th annual iftar, and the meals have become so popular that the church has to take reservations and cap attendance at 150. Lead organizer Janet Bailey called the meal the church’s gift to its Muslim neighbors, “to let them know that we care and that we’re not afraid and that this is a safe environment for them.”

Similar iftars have been hosted in the past at Episcopal churches nationwide, such as in Miami and Houston. This year, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, on Long Island is gathering a group of parishioners to attend a community iftar hosted by a local Muslim organization. Teens specifically have been invited, part of a broader interfaith response to an incident last year involving hate speech at a local high school.

“Very few of our parishioners or our teens have ever been to a mosque or an Islamic center,” the Rev. Gideon L.K. Pollach, rector at St. John’s, told Episcopal News service. “This is part of a larger effort in our region to work together on issues of common cause.”

Ramadan is considered the holiest month of the year for Muslims, who abstain from food and drink during daytime hours as they heighten their focus on spiritual rejuvenation. The iftar, which means “breaking the fast,” commences at sunset.

“Inviting guests to break the fast or going to someone’s house for iftar is very common in Ramadan,” the Islamic Networks Group, or ING, says on its website.  “Many mosques also host open houses for their friends and neighbors of other faiths to join them for their fast-breaking dinner or iftar at the end of the fasting day.”

ING, an organization whose mission is to build interfaith alliances and dispel stereotypes about Muslims, is one of the supporting partners, along with the Episcopal Church, behind a campaign during Ramadan to connect people of different faiths around the iftar. The campaign, The United States of Love Over Hate, is led by the ecumenical organization Shoulder to Shoulder, of which the Episcopal Church is a member.

“The primary goal of this effort is to identify, support and connect people to iftars open to interfaith guests across the United States, in order to help facilitate local relationship building among Muslim and non-Muslim communities,” Shoulder to Shoulder says on its website. “Additionally, houses of worship are invited to display ‘Love – Your Neighbors’ signs outside their buildings during the month of Ramadan, to show their commitment to standing with and getting to know their neighbors.”

That mission has been taken up by the Episcopal Church’s Office of Ecumenical and Interreligous Relations and is being carried out by congregations like St. James in Ohio and St. John’s in New York.

The iftar at St. James was started in response to episodes of Islamaphobia after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, Bailey said. Part of the goal was to educate St. James parishioners about the Muslim faith, though the congregation also wanted to promote a spirit of welcome.

“It’s probably more to let them know here are Christians that are welcoming them to basically our church home and to show that we are no different than them, as far as our likes, our goals in life and wanting to live peacefully,” Bailey said.

The church’s first iftar drew a few dozen guests, and it has grown steadily each year. Most of those attending are Muslim, though the iftars also draw members of St. James and two other Episcopal churches in the area.

On May 31 at sundown, around 9 p.m., guests will gather in the downstairs of the St. James parish hall to break the fast with dates and water. They then will go upstairs, where an imam will lead the group in prayers on rugs laid out for them. After the prayers, all with gather again downstairs for a potluck meal that has been prepared following Muslim halal guidelines.

Given the popularity of the iftars, St. James has worked with All Saints Episcopal Church in New Albany, Ohio, and St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Westerville to host their own iftars later in Ramadan, Bailey said.

Pollach, the St. John’s rector, has never been to an iftar, though he worked as a seminarian in the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations under Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold.

“In general, learning more about people of different faiths and cultures adds context and depth to our understanding of our own culture,” he said.

Christians, Muslims and Jews in his community on Long Island have been working together in recent years to tackle shared challenges, most notably the opioid epidemic. Their work gained an added sense of urgency in August when swastikas and hate speech were found spray-painted on walls at Syosset High School. Five students were arrested in connection with the graffiti.

Teens and worshipers of all faiths are invited to the iftar on May 22 at the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury, and Pollach plans to bring a group of eight to 10 members of his church.

“I’m just looking forward to it,” he said. “The ecumenical community has been working really hard to develop a greater depth of understanding across the communities … to try and build relationships, not just around religious things but also around social and cultural issues.”

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

WCC calls for just peace and an end to impunity in the Holy Land

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 2:16pm

[World Council of Churches] World Council of Churches General Secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit condemned use of excessive violence by Israeli forces against civilian protestors in Gaza during last week in which many have lost their lives or lost their loved ones, and is particularly worried that some Christians are celebrating the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem as a gift from God, despite the disruptively provocative nature of this move.

The military responses to the demonstrations in Gaza have resulted in the deaths of many people – including several children – and injuries to thousands, and the numbers are still growing. This violence and bloodshed must be condemned by the international community and must be subject to international investigation. The situation calls for a deeper understanding that lies behind these events.

The protesters are exercising their civil rights to express their objection and despair at the current situation for them as Palestinian people. The “naqba”, the catastrophe their families experienced 70 years ago, continues to cause unresolved dispossession and suffering for many Palestinians – particularly for the people of Gaza. That unarmed civilians – including children – are shot at with live ammunition, even killed, and many injured – cannot be defended legally or morally as an expression of “the right to self-defense of a state”. This must be seen as an unacceptable use of violence against people that Israel rather has a duty to respect and protect.

Jerusalem is a shared Holy City of the three religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In the Holy Land, a comprehensive and sustainable peace must be based upon a two-state solution along internationally recognized borders.

The protest is against the unilateral U.S. decision to move its embassy to the “undivided Jerusalem.” That action is against all relevant U.N. resolutions, and it has created a serious obstacle to any peaceful and just solution. The issue of Jerusalem has not been ‘taken off the table’, but remains one of the most difficult issues on the table for peace negotiations, made even more volatile by the U.S. action.

Protests on May 14 coincided with the official transfer of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel. Protests on May 15 were marking the 70th anniversary of what Palestinians refer to as the naqba, or “catastrophe,” when hundreds of thousands of people were uprooted during Israel’s creation in 1948.

The World Council of Churches has consistently affirmed the long-held understanding that the status of the city of Jerusalem – which is of profound significance to and beloved of three faiths and two peoples – must be resolved through peaceful negotiations.

At a time such as this all actors – and particularly the powerful state of Israel and foreign states – must strive for a just peace, act with utmost respect for the sanctity of life and exercise restraint from all forms of violence, which will further escalate the ongoing tensions.

It is a very serious situation for the churches locally – and globally – that some Christians are thanking God for a decision that is so blatantly against international law and policy, so much undermining the peace process based on a common international understanding of the rights of both peoples to share Jerusalem as their capital, and so provocative to the occupied and oppressed people of Palestine. This should concern all who understand their religious faith as compelling them to work for reconciliation and peace.

It is deeply saddening that previous cautions that any unilateral decision about the future of Jerusalem would undermine the peace efforts in the Holy Land have gone unheeded, directly contributing to the current violence. This clearly could have been avoided. Further, we are deeply concerned about the repercussions that relocating the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem will have on finding a lasting solution to the situation in the Holy Land.

We urge the international community to accelerate all efforts toward a just and viable solution which respects the aspirations of all the people living in the Holy Land in line with international conventions and resolutions. Even as the threat of an increasing spiral of violence looms large, we join our member churches in hope and prayer that efforts toward peace will overcome the present tragic violence and lead to a time when “swords shall be beaten to plowshares and spears into pruning hooks.”

The WCC expresses its solidarity with its member churches in the Holy Land, and will continue to accompany them in their work for reconciliation, justice and peace.

Anglican priest in Mexico honored for work in US for female victims of violence

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 1:05pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Mexican government has bestowed an honor on an Anglican priest in recognition of her work helping female victims of violence in the United States. The Rev. María Elena Daniel Cristerna was presented with the Ohtli Award at the Mexican Consulate at Eagle Pass, Texas, earlier this month. Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told ACNS that Cristerna was one of 10 Ohtli Awards given to “Mexicans and friends of Mexico, who have dedicated their lives and professional activities, to forging a path for the Mexican community abroad” as part of the 156th anniversary of the Battle of Puebla and Cinco de Mayo.

Read the full article here.


Six Anglican churches in New Zealand shortlisted for post-earthquake heritage awards

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 12:46pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] More than half of the finalists for an award recognizing “commitment, investment or a unique solution to earthquake strengthening which has saved or will now protect a heritage building” in Christchurch, New Zealand, are Anglican churches and a school.

The six buildings have recently reopened following extensive renovation and repair work after the devastating 2011 earthquake in the city. They are among 290 Anglican properties in the Diocese of Christchurch under the care of the Church Property Trustees. Some 234 of them were damaged in the quake, the most notable being Christ Church Cathedral.

Read the full article here.

NCC laments opening of US embassy in Jerusalem

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 12:17pm

[National Council of Churches] The National Council of Churches laments the move of the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. We have previously warned that such an unwise and prejudicial action would make a peace settlement even more difficult to achieve and would indeed lead to violence.  The deadly violence that followed the opening of the embassy bears out the truth of this warning.

At the time of this writing, at the border between Israel and Gaza, at least 61 Palestinians who were protesting the opening of the embassy have been killed by Israeli forces and 2,700 more have been injured.  This is in addition to dozens already killed and thousands more wounded in recent weeks leading up to this move. The National Council of Churches condemns this violent and disproportionate response by Israeli forces.  We consider it an illustration of the failure of Israel, the United States, and the international community to address the injustice of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and the inability to conclude a two-state solution.

Moreover, we are deeply chagrined that Robert Jeffress, a Southern Baptist minister who has condemned Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Mormons, and others to hell led prayers at the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. We are further disappointed by the presence of evangelical pastor John Hagee, a proponent of the misguided theology of Christian Zionism, among the invited speakers.  Their unfortunate participation in this ceremony reflects the reality that yesterday’s event in Jerusalem represents pandering to a segment of evangelical Christianity here in the U.S. rather than an affirmation of the hopes, dreams, aspirations, and prayers of Christians who live in the Holy Land.

Finally, the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem illustrates the increasing isolation of our country within the international community when it comes to policy in the region.  In failing to help constructively address the prolonged crisis in Syria, and after unilaterally withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran, yesterday’s event in Jerusalem reflects the United States’ apparent abdication of its role as an honest proponent, broker, and partner for peace.