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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.

2017 Advent Devotional from the Diocese of Virginia and Forma

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 3:24pm

[Episopal Diocese of Virginia] The Diocese of Virginia and Forma have partnered to offer a simple Advent devotional for households. There is a brief overview of the scriptural themes for each week, ideas to try in the home to deepen the experience of Advent, and some short prayers and rituals to make the Advent experience complete.

Download or print the 2017 Advent Devotional: 

Anglican Communion secretary general ‘excited’ by his new peace role in Nigeria

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 1:46pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The secretary general of the Anglican Communion, Josiah Idowu-Fearon, has spoken of his excitement at being appointed to lead a peace commission in the northern Nigeria state of Kaduna. The state, where dowu-Fearon previously served as bishop, has been wracked by violence between rival groups for decades.

He insisted that he would be able to fulfil his new role alongside his responsibilities with the Anglican Communion. And he added that he had the backing of the archbishop of Canterbury and also his successor as bishop in Kaduna in his new position.

Read the full article here.

Mexican churches work with United Nations to implement Sustainable Development Goals

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 1:43pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Churches in Mexico have met members of the United Nations Development Program to discuss the implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 17 goals were agreed by the UN in September 2015 and welcomed by church leaders around the world. They are a follow-on to the Millennium Development Goals which were introduced in 1999.  This week, members of La Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico (IAM) – the Anglican Church of Mexico – together with Christians from other denominations and ecumenical groups, met to discuss their role in implementing the SDGs.

Read the full article here.

Advent on Instagram: see the Anglican world celebrate and join in!

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 1:38pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Communion News Service is launching a new feature on social media – and giving Anglicans around the world the chance to share their experience of Advent and Christmas.

The new Instagram feed will begin life on Sunday, Dec. 3. It will carry images and videos of how Anglicans are marking these seasons. ACNS is hopping to show how different traditions within the Communion celebrate – so why not take some photos or do some filming and send us the material?

The feed can be followed here @anglicannews. Readers can send photos and videos showing how theiur church, parish or diocese is celebrating Advent and Christmas.

Email news@aco.org with INSTAGRAM in the subject heading. In the New Year, ACNS will continue to use its Instagram account to mark other seasons and events in the Church calendar.

Not on Instagram?

Social media can feel a bit daunting. But Instagram is very straightforward. It is all about sharing images and videos via desktop, laptop or smartphone. Participants need to download the app for their cell phones, or visit instagram.com if they are using their desktop or laptop.

For more information, visit help.instagram.com.

Le Magazine Anglican : Lafayette nous voici !

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 7:07am

Pour écouter l’émission cliquer sur : http://frequenceprotestante.com/emission/magazine-anglican

116 500 américains ont été tués lors de la Première Guerre Mondiale. À la Cathédrale américaine de Paris, avenue George V,  a été inauguré dès 1923, un mur mémorial sur lequel sont apposées des plaques commémoratives.

Ces plaques portent les insignes des différentes unités militaires qui ont servi en Europe de 1917 à 1918 avec les pertes pour chaque unité. Mais on peut aussi y voir des plaques aux noms d’unités civiles volontaires dont certaines sont venues en aide à la France dès 1914.

C’est l’histoire de ces unités que relate dans le Magazine Anglican, Ellen Hampton, historienne et écrivaine, membre de la Cathédrale.

À l’appel des gouverneurs de l’hôpital américain de Paris (situé à Neuilly), un corps d’étudiants américains de l’École des Beaux-Arts a transformé un lycée en hôpital. À l’issue de cette transformation, réalisée en trois semaines, l’hôpital pouvait, dès septembre 1914, offrir 175 lits aux blessés de la bataille de la Marne.

En janvier 1915 est arrivée la première équipe médicale des États-Unis, en provenance de l’hôpital de Cleveland. Suivront d’autres équipes et d’éminents praticiens dont George Crile, Harvey Cushing et Mary Merritt Crawford, l’une des premières femmes chirurgiens de l’hôpital de Brooklyn.

Mais Neuilly était bien loin du front et ce fut le début de la grande aventure des ambulanciers américains sur le front. Avec quelques centaines de voitures, on estime qu’ils ont transporté plus de 400 000 blessés.

Les ambulanciers transportaient les blessés du front à un hôpital de campagne ou à un train sanitaire. Un travail très dangereux, au cours duquel au moins 155 ont perdu la vie sur les routes boueuses de l’Est de la France.

Nombre de ces ambulanciers s’engageront dans l’Escadrille Lafayette, un corps de pilotes volontaires qui ont appris à voler dans le Sud de la France. 67 d’entre eux, tués au combat, sont enterrés à Marnes-la-Coquette près de Paris.

Le nom de l’escadrille avait été choisi en hommage à Lafayette et à l’aide apportée par la France aux insurgés de la guerre d’indépendance américaine.

Au moment de l’arrivée du corps expéditionnaire américain en 1917, le général Pershing s’est rendu au cimetière de Picpus sur la tombe de Lafayette. L’histoire lui prête cette phrase historique : Lafayette, nous voici !

Pour écouter l’émission et les enregistrements d’époque des chansons populaires, choisies par Mark Caroll, paroissien de la Cathédrale américaine, cliquer sur : http://frequenceprotestante.com/emission/magazine-anglican

Le Magazine Anglican est diffusé, le 4e samedi du mois, à l’antenne parisienne de Fréquence Protestante. Via la radio numérique, chaque émission est accessible pendant six mois, aux auditeurs francophones d’Europe, d’Amérique, d’Afrique et d’Océanie.

Animé depuis 2012, par Laurence Moachon, paroissienne de la Cathédrale de la Sainte Trinité à Paris, le Magazine Anglican a pour objectif de mieux faire connaître la tradition anglicane / épiscopale