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

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

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

Read the full article here.

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

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

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

Read the entire article here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full article here.

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

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

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

Read the full article here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— TODAY (@TODAYshow) May 22, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

— TMZ (@TMZ) May 22, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jennings alluded to the challenges ahead in a written statement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full article here.

Two new bishops elected for Scottish Episcopal Church

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

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

Read the full article here.

Brtitish bishop elected vice president of European ecumenical group

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

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

Read the full article here.

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

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

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

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

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

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




US Supreme Court says baker could refuse to bake cake for same-sex wedding

Mon, 06/04/2018 - 2:33pm

[Episcopal News Service] The U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 4 that the state of Colorado violated a baker’s rights when its Civil Rights Commission said that he had to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

Colorado courts had upheld the commission’s finding that baker Jack Phillips’ refusal went against the state’s anti-discrimination laws. The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed because of the way the commission reached its conclusion.

“The Civil Rights Commission’s treatment of his case has some elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs that motivated his objection,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the 7-2 majority. He said that comments by some of the commissioners were clearly hostile to Phillips and his claims.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented, writing that those comments should not be taken as sufficient evidence that the commission’s ruling was flawed. They noted that the commission’s ruling had been upheld by other “layers of independent decisionmaking.”

The much-watched case drew nearly 100 amicus briefs, including one from Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry and the leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and the Chicago Theological Seminary.

The leaders said that Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws protect religious liberty by prohibiting discrimination based on religion while also exempting religious institutions from their application, so that houses of worship may exercise religion freely within their walls.

They said such laws promote human dignity, which is a religious value, by ensuring that all individuals have equal access to the commercial marketplace. When Phillips opened his bakery, he entered the public marketplace and made his shop subject to Colorado’s laws governing public accommodations, including the statute forbidding discrimination, they said.

Phillips contended that his First Amendment rights protected him against Colorado’s public accommodations laws.

The court said the ruling was not to be seen as a precedent for future discrimination claims.

“The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts,” Kennedy wrote, “all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”

The ruling in the case known as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, No. 16-111 is here.

Diocese of Tasmania’s Synod approves property-sales to fund abuse redress

Mon, 06/04/2018 - 12:53pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Tasmania Diocesan Synod has approved in principle the sale of up to 108 properties to fund redress for victims of abuse in Australia. Under the proposals adopted by the Synod, parishes and communities have until the Autumn make submissions about any properties on the list that should be excluded. The final decision will then be taken by the Diocesan Council in December.

Read the full article here.

Uganda’s president pledges to rebuild Anglican Martyrs shrine in Namugongo

Mon, 06/04/2018 - 12:51pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni, has pledged government funds to help re-build the Anglican Martyrs Shrine at Namugongo. His comments were made as a reported four million pilgrims descended on the area June 3 for Martyrs Day services. Reports indicate that an estimated 700,000 of them were at the service at the Anglican shrine. The museum at the Anglican site re-opened after refurbishment ahead of a visit by Pope Francis in 2015. There are now plans to improve the shrine itself.

Read the full article here.

Brazil’s Anglican Church changes its canons to permit same-sex marriage

Mon, 06/04/2018 - 12:48pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The General Synod of the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil has approved changes to its canons to permit same-sex marriages. Civil same-sex marriages have been legal in Brazil since 2012. In a statement, the province said that the move would not require liturgical changes, because gender neutral language had already been introduced into its service for the solemnization of marriage in the 2015 Book of Common Prayer.

The move was overwhelmingly carried by the Synod members with 57 voting in favor and three against. There were two abstentions.

Read the full article here.

Charlottesville congregation’s food education ministry grows into its social justice mission

Mon, 06/04/2018 - 11:49am

Children help tend to some of the raised beds in the gardens at Trinity Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, Virginia. The food grown in the gardens is used by Bread & Roses in its cooking classes and to support feeding efforts in the community. Photo: Trinity Episcopal Church

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

[Episcopal News Service] The food ministry at Trinity Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, Virginia, starts in the church’s garden. Volunteers till the soil. They weed and water the raised beds. They harvest the produce when it’s ready, their work sessions filled with fellowship and concluding in prayer.

The ministry, called Bread & Roses, then brings that fresh produce into the church’s commercially certified kitchen, where it becomes a learning tool in cooking classes that teach lessons in nutrition and healthy cooking techniques.

Maria Niechwiadowicz of Bread & Roses holds a cooking demonstration at Trinity Episcopal Church. Teaching nutritional cooking techniques is a key focus of the ministry’s efforts. Photo: Trinity Episcopal Church

As a bonus, Bread & Roses, led by program coordinator Maria Niechwiadowicz, is now standing on its own financial legs after getting an early boost from Mission Enterprise Zone and United Thank Offering, or UTO, grants from the Episcopal Church, and more recently, it received a Jubilee Grant. Bread & Roses’ sustainability relies partly on opening up the kitchen to low-cost rentals by entrepreneurs with upstart food businesses.

“Our mission is to transform the ways in which we acquire, cook and relate to the food we eat in Charlottesville,” Niechwiadowicz said. And last year, after a white supremacist rally in the city turned violent and deadly, the ministry “became a really positive place of conversation and healing, trying to dissect what’s going on in our city.”

The Unite the Right rally on Aug. 12 drew a mix of neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and other hate groups in defense of Charlottesville’s statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, which had been slated for removal. Violence broke out, one counter-protester was killed and dozens of others were wounded despite the fact that city shut down the rally at the last minute as tensions escalated.

Episcopalians were among the faith-based groups who joined together in nonviolent marches against the hate groups, and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry made a pastoral visit to the city in September.

Bread & Roses wasn’t originally intended to support racial reconciliation. But after the clashes last year drew national attention to Charlottesville, Niechwiadowicz said it became clear that the fight for social justice has many fronts and is strengthened by people of faith.

“One thing that has really stood out to me, particularly in the events of Charlottesville, there’s a lot of work put into advocacy movements, whether that be racial justice or food equity, but it’s all connected,” she said.

That interconnection of social justice issues has guided Bread & Roses from the start. It wasn’t created to be another soup kitchen or food pantry; feeding the hungry isn’t as central to its mission as food education.

“We wanted to do something that would address more systemic issues related to food and food justice,” said the Rev. Cass Bailey, vicar of Trinity Episcopal Church.

A UTO grant of $17,000 in 2014 helped the church to upgrade its kitchen, part of the church’s $115,000 capital campaign. The Mission Enterprise Zone grants helped pay the part-time program coordinator’s salary through 2017. After an initial $20,000 MEZ grant, Bread & Roses applied for and received additional $10,000 grants to maintain momentum as the ministry began to flourish. And this year, the ministry received a $3,000 grant from Jubilee Ministries, which supports anti-poverty initiatives.

Bread & Roses, a ministry of Trinity Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, Virginia, has partnered with International Rescue Committee to hold cooking demonstrations at a city farmer’s market aimed at promoting nutritional cooking techniques and vegetables grown by refugees living in Charlottesville. Photo: International Rescue Committee

“They started as an experiment. We probably wouldn’t have funded them [again] if they hadn’t taken off in the first triennium with their first round of grants,” the Rev. Thomas Brackett, Episcopal Church manager for church planting and mission development. “But they did take off, and they’re making such a huge impact in their community that we couldn’t not fund them [again].”

He also noted that Niechwiadowicz has successfully carried the program forward after picking up where the program’s previous coordinators left off. As with many of the ministries that receive MEZ grants, the vision transcends the individual.

“They have incredible stories of engaging their community and making a difference in people’s lives,” Brackett said.

And beyond the financial support, ministries like Bread & Roses benefit from mentorship provided by Brackett’s team. After receiving the first MEZ grant, Bailey attended a conference with other church planters and new ministry leaders, where he learned about the wide variety of programs that were funded and also saw plenty of similarities.

“We were all asking similar questions about how to get this idea that we had off the ground and what kind of issues are common among us in doing a startup ministry,” Bailey said. He also participated in monthly phone conferences that allowed the grant recipients to share their experiences and learn from each other.

“We just could not have done it without the support of the MEZ grant,” he said.

Niechwiadowicz has been coordinator since 2016, and this year, her salary is funded directly through the ministry $43,000 budget. About a third of its income comes from kitchen rentals, another third from local grants and the rest from Trinity.

Bailey said the congregation measures the success of Bread & Roses by how many programs it provides, and by that measure it is going strong. The original mission hasn’t changed, but it has evolved in how it partners and collaborates with organizations in the community to expand those programs.

Niechwiadowicz works about 20 hours a week as program coordinator – she also is Trinity’s part-time administrator – and teaches some of the cooking classes held in the Bread and Roses kitchen through a partnership with Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital.

Every other month, the hospital refers some of its patients to Niechwiadowicz, usually because they are trying to lose weight or lower their blood pressure. During those months, Niechwiadowicz teaches one morning class and one evening class one day a week for three weeks with an emphasis on quick, healthy meals. Class sizes range from two to a dozen students.

Other classes that Bread and Roses hosts are more spontaneous, Niechwiadowicz said, such as the classes in Afghan cooking that are being led by an Afghan refugee who lives in Charlottesville.

Maria Miseik, left, a Burmese refugee living in Charlottesville, works with Bread & Roses program coordinator Maria Niechwiadowicz on a cooking demonstration last year at the Charlottesville farmer’s market. Photo: International Rescue Committe

Bread and Roses has other partnerships with community organizations to offer additional classes, and the church has committed to giving half of the food grown in its garden to a free market set up at a public housing complex in the city.

Such partnerships “bolster the relationship building that happens through sharing food together. That’s one of the things that Bread & Roses has been really great at,” said Brooke Ray, senior manager of the food and agriculture programs at the Charlottesville branch of International Rescue Committee, or IRC.

IRC is the federally contracted agency that oversees resettlement of refugees in the Charlottesville area, and much of its work with Bread & Roses has focused on educating newly arrived refugees about healthy options in the American food system. The refugees also can grow vegetables native to their homelands at the urban farm and community gardens run by IRC, and that has provided additional opportunities for educational partnerships.

Last year, Niechwiadowicz started organizing cooking demonstrations once a month at a city farmers market featuring some of the produce harvested by IRC’s clients. The refugee gardeners were invited to help lead the demonstrations, which were a big hit among the farmer’s market customers, Ray said.

“It was so well received, people loved it,” she said. “We sold out of the highlighted vegetable every time we went.”

Trinity is doubling its own garden space this year. Volunteers from the congregation and the community tend to the garden beds weekly from May to October, giving them a hands-on role in the success of Bread & Roses. It also has played a role in other ministries at the church, such as the Christian formation program, which incorporates spring garden planting into its curriculum for the younger members of the congregation.

Bread & Roses “is an outreach program, but it’s connecting the members of Trinity Church to the broader community and vice versa,” Niechwiadowicz said.

The church underscored that connection in February by hosting a conference, “Faith-Rooted,” where participants discussed theology of food equity and the social justice work of faith communities.

For Niechwiadowicz, living a life of Christ means reaching out to people on the margins of society and listening to their needs, and she thinks such spirituality deepens the work of ministries like Bread & Roses.

“We need to continue to recognize that our passion for food equity comes directly out of our faith,” she said. “There’s just more weight to it because of our spirituality.”

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


Presiding Bishop Michael Curry delivers video message on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ finale

Mon, 06/04/2018 - 11:13am

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, after appearing on nearly every major TV news and talk show to discuss his royal wedding sermon, was invited to share his message of Christian love in a new genre this week: variety talent show.

No, Curry won’t be competing on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” (as far as we know), but he appeared June 3 on the finale of “Britain’s Got Talent” to offer a message of encouragement to the contestants and their fans.

The show asked Curry on May 31 if he was interested in the appearance, and he agreed and recorded a video for the show that night.

Curry was the surprise star May 19 when he preached on the power of love at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The royal couple appeared in the audience on the “Britain’s Got Talent” finale as host Declan Donnelly introduced Curry as “someone you two know very well.”

“Hello ‘Britain’s Got Talent,'” Curry said in his 25-second video message. “It’s a joy to bring you these greetings. To all of the contestants, to the judges, to the audience and to all who make this possible, thank you. Thank you for what you’re doing. Thank you to the contestants who offer yourselves and share your talents and your gifts with the rest of us. You actually bring some joy and happiness. So thank you. God bless you, God keep you and may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love.”

Donnelly couldn’t help getting in a wisecrack alluding to the length of Curry’s 14-minute royal wedding sermon.

“That’s quite a short one by his standards, wasn’t it. I was getting settled in for the night.”