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South Carolina Supreme Court says lower court will resolve enforcement of church property decision

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 5:09pm

[The Episcopal Church in South Carolina] Saying it is “confident” that the 1st Circuit Court will act “in an expeditious manner” to resolve the case, the South Carolina Supreme Court has denied a petition from The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) and The Episcopal Church that asked the court to order enforcement of the 2017 decision to return control of diocesan property and 29 parish properties to The Episcopal Church and TECSC.

In an order signed June 28, the Supreme Court denied a petition for writ of mandamus that asked it to require Circuit Judge Edgar W. Dickson to take action on the decision that the high court remitted to Dickson for enforcement nearly 2 years ago.

Because Dickson “is in the process of scheduling hearings on the matters filed in the circuit court, we are confident that (the judge) will resolve the petition to enforce the judgment, as well as any related matters that are pending, in an expeditious manner,” the order says.

The order was signed by Chief Justice Donald W. Beatty and Justices John W. Kittredge, John Cannon Few and George C. James Jr. Justice Kaye G. Hearn did not participate.

The disputed properties currently are under the control of a group led by Bishop Mark Lawrence that left The Episcopal Church in 2012 and then sued the church in an attempt to keep the property.

TECSC and The Episcopal Church filed the petition for writ of mandamus on March 20, noting it was seeking such an “extraordinary remedy” because the delay in enforcing the high court’s decision is continuing to cause harm to the church and its diocese.

To date, the Orangeburg-based court has held one scheduling conference and one hearing on a motion for “clarification” filed by the disassociated group. Another hearing that had been scheduled for March 27 was cancelled a few days beforehand, and the court has not set a new date.

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Women are joining the House of Bishops at unprecedented rate

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 10:42am

All the women bishops and bishops-elect who had received the church’s consent to their ordination and consecration who attended the March 12-15 House of Bishops meeting at Kanuga Conference and Retreat Center in Hendersonville, North Carolina, posed for a group photo. Since that meeting, three more women have been elected. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] The first day of June was a historic, if somewhat distracting, day in the life of The Episcopal Church.

Kathryn McCrossen Ryan was consecrated bishop suffragan of
the western region of the Diocese of Texas on June 1. Photo: Diocese of Texas

While Kathryn McCrossen Ryan was being ordained and consecrated as a bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Texas, many people in attendance were surreptitiously checking on the outcomes of two bishop elections happening that day. In both cases, laity and clergy elected women: the Rev. Bonnie Perry in the Diocese of Michigan and the Rev. Lucinda Ashby in the Diocese of El Camino Real.

Perry and Ashby are the seventh and eighth bishops elected in The Episcopal Church this year, and the fifth and sixth women, the most ever elected in one year in the church’s history.

“What a day for the church; what a day for women,” recalled Bishop Todd Ousley, the head of church’s Office of Pastoral Development who shepherds diocesan bishop searches. He admitted he was one of those people checking his phone.

Thus far in 2019, in addition to the six women elected as diocesan or suffragan bishops, Episcopalians in two dioceses have elected men to be their diocesan bishops. Four of those eight bishops-elect, all women, identify as people of color. At least one more woman will be elected bishop this year, on July 26, when the Diocese of Montana chooses from a slate of three women.

The Rev. Frank Logue, Diocese of Georgia canon to the ordinary, used data from a variety of sources for this graph and the two infographics below.

Diocese of El Camino Real Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, a leading advocate for women discerning calls to the episcopate,  has a two-fold reaction to the pattern of recent elections. “One is I’m elated,” she told Episcopal News Service. “Two, I recognize there is a tipping point happening.”

Merriam-Webster defines “tipping point” as “the critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place.”

Five more elections are set for this year. Two women are on the four-priest slate in the Diocese of Southern Virginia’s Sept. 21 election. The dioceses of Taiwan, Missouri, Oklahoma and Georgia have not yet announced their nominees.

Currently, 24 of the 127 active bishops (diocesan, suffragan, assistant or assisting) are women, according to statistics from Ousley’s office. They make up 18.9 percent of the total. If women and men elected but not yet ordained and consecrated are included, the count increases to 27 women bishops among 131 active bishops, or 20.6 percent.

Among the active bishops there are 26 people of color (African American, Latino, Native American, Asian), accounting for 20.5 percent. Thirteen are African American men and five are African American women.

“As a female person of color, I have always seen the leadership in some of these women, so it is nice for the wider church to also embrace the leadership and the gifts of these women,” Zena Link, a member of Executive Council who also chairs the General Convention Task Force on Women, Truth and Reconciliation, told ENS.

The current House of Bishops roster, which includes retired bishops, is here.

What is prompting this trend?

Many observers credit the recent increase in the number of women elected as bishops to a confluence of societal and ecclesiastical trends, as well as years of active encouragement of women to consider an episcopal vocation. And, they all credit the persistence of the Holy Spirit.

“I feel like the church has always been right on the edge of wanting to do this but didn’t know how to do it and needed the right time to do it, and now is the time,” Link said. “I feel like it goes beyond the church right now.”

Ousley suggested that there has been what he called a dance between the larger culture’s changing attitude toward women as leaders and “the church’s efforts or, at certain points, the church’s resistance to making this shift.”

Ever since he was in seminary in early 1990s, Ousley said, there have been equal numbers of men and women coming into the church’s ordained ranks. Yet, church leadership at all levels still does not reflect the demographics of the church. “I think the church has fumbled along at times in trying to figure out how we can begin to shift that,” he said, adding that there has been a “steady but slow gathering of interest and commitment to shifting the balance of power, if you want to use that kind language.”

Now, he says, “the leadership in the church is clear that the balance must shift, and we’ve got to use everything that we can in our power to help make that happen.”

Bishops lament and confess the church’s role in sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse https://t.co/RdY1taSonN #GC79 pic.twitter.com/of4tDwaGKu

— Episcopal News (ENS) (@episcopal_news) July 5, 2018

The voices and stories of women that played a significant role in the 79th General Convention are a recent example. A liturgy during which bishops confessed and lamented the church’s role in sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse included stories of both women’s and men’s experiences. The House of Bishops later adoptedA Working Covenant for the Practice of Equity and Justice for All in The Episcopal Church” that commits them to seek changes in their dioceses to combat abuse, harassment and exploitation.

Convention also approved a wide array of resolutions, many from the House of Deputies Special Committee on Sexual Harassment and Exploitation appointed by House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, ranging from clergy discipline and clergy compensation and pension equity for lay employees to gendered language and patterns of clergy employment.

Link’s committee is one of four General Convention called for in those resolutions. Another is tasked with developing model anti-sexual harassment policies, a third is studying sexism in the church and developing anti-sexism training materials and the fourth committee is developing a proposal for a church-wide paid family leave policy.

But, work behind the scenes has been going on for years. “There has been a concerted effort; this did not happen by accident,” the Rev. Helen Svoboda-Barber, administrator of the Facebook group Breaking the Episcopal Glass Ceiling, told ENS.

Svoboda-Barber and Gray-Reeves might well be two of those credited with helping the church reach this point. Gray-Reeves and a group of other senior female clergy leaders organized Beautiful Authority in 2011 to gather young female clergy for formation, support, networking and friendship.

The founders realized that such a group, which holds regular retreats, was needed because younger female priests “were asking the same questions that the first generation of ordained women were asking,” Gray-Reeves said. In terms of how women were experiencing and being experienced in ordained life, things had not changed very much in the then 34 years since women began being ordained as priest and bishops, she added.

Gray-Reeves explained that the younger women had to function as a minority in the church’s leadership structure, using coping skills they learned for survival in the system: the ability to listen well, to figure out how one fits into the system, to manage one’s affect in order to be heard.

“And yet, the very skills that we need to build the church today are the skills that people develop when they’re part of the non-dominant group,” said Gray-Reeves, who in 2007 became El Camino Real’s third diocesan bishop and the church’s seventh female diocesan.

It took 10 days to fill the 20 places available for the first Beautiful Authority gathering. “We stumbled on a very serious need,” Gray-Reeves said.

At least four of the 20 attendees were ready to leave their jobs and leave ordained ministry all together, “and they didn’t, because they made friends,” she said, noting that young women priests are still few and far between in the church. Some priests brought their newborn babies to the meeting.

Building on the success of that first gathering, Gray-Reeves went to her colleagues in the House of Bishops, seeking 15 bishops who would each donate $200. She soon had $4,000 and a conference center for the next gathering.

“The men understood that this needed to happen but that they couldn’t do it,” she said.

Gray-Reeves will soon leave El Camino Real to become the managing director of the church’s College for Bishops, which trains new bishops. Beautiful Authority is now led by Diocese of Virginia Bishop Suffragan Susan Goff and the Rev. Augusta Anderson, the canon to the ordinary for the Diocese of Western North Carolina.

Svoboda-Barber created Women Embodying Executive Leadership, or WEEL, a discernment program for Episcopal clergywomen, during which six to 12 women meet together for four three-day gatherings over up to two years to support one another. The members consider how God might be calling them to use their own leadership skills in the episcopate. Three groups have met thus far.

Research shows, Svoboda-Barber said, WEEL “enlivened all of those women to go back to their dioceses, to go back to their colleague groups and really talk more about the possibility of women being bishops.” They also set to work on getting women on bishop search committees and diocesan standing committees, she said. Between 30 and 40 women have participated in WEEL, but their influence has been greater than their number, Svoboda-Barber added.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry stands with West Tennessee Bishop Phoebe Roaf at Roaf’s consecration May 4. Photo: Diocese of West Tennessee

She and others have also encouraged search committees to get training in implicit bias early in their processes, and to use techniques such as removing all identifying information and demographics from their first review of applicants’ materials. So-called “blind rounds” are “having a pretty profound effect on the search committees,” she said.

Svoboda-Barber is also an organizer of Leading Women, a joint effort of women in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada to explore a sense of being called to senior leadership position in both churches.

The election trend is not confined to The Episcopal Church. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a full-communion partner, recently completed its spring assembly season during which regional synods elected eight women and five men as bishops. The Lutherans’ elections mean that there are now 23 female synod bishops plus ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton in the denomination’s Conference of Bishops. The conference includes Eaton and one bishop each from the church’s 65 synods, along with and the ELCA secretary, thus meaning 36 percent of ELCA bishops are women.

Eaton is up for re-election during the ELCA’s Churchwide Assembly set for Aug. 5-10 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That assembly will also consider a proposed social statement of women and justice called “Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Lutheran Call to Action.”

“It’s definitely the year of the women,” the Rev. William O. Voss, the ELCA’s representative to The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council, told that group June 13. “We’ve had a number of women become bishops in the past but never the kinds of numbers that we’re see this year.”

Canonical barriers came down more than 40 years ago

There has been no canonical prohibition against women in The Episcopal Church’s episcopate since Jan. 1, 1977. That was the effective date of General Convention’s decision the previous Sept. 16 allowing women to become priests and bishops. (Women were eligible to become deaconesses since 1889 and deacons since 1970.) It took 12 years for the Rev. Barbara Harris to be elected bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Massachusetts, becoming the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion.

An interactive timeline of the history of women’s ordination in the Anglican Communion is here.

Of the 286 bishops elected since 1989, 249 have been men and 37 have been women. Twenty women have been elected to head dioceses, beginning with Diocese of Vermont Bishop Mary Adelia Mcleod in 1993, while 184 men were elected diocesan bishops.

In 2018, Kansas became the first diocese in the history of The Episcopal Church to offer electors an all-women slate. Svoboda-Barber was one of the three nominees. That year five women and five men were elected. Four of the women were chosen in October and November. The previous year saw three men and one woman elected.

The movement of the Holy Spirit in the recent elections is not to be missed. “I am thrilled with the diversity, not just gender, but also people of color and LGBTQ folks. It is thrilling to see. I believe the Holy Spirit is at work in this,” Svoboda-Barber said. “It’s not that women are better than men, but we will be better when our House of Bishops is more diversified. We’re going to be a better church when we are more diverse.”

I’m asked almost weekly if women are taking over the #Episcopal #HouseOfBishops. These charts show visually what we know intuitively—we have a long way to go before getting anywhere close. The goal is barrier removal. https://t.co/Gb4Jsx1H1x

— Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows (@JenniferBB) June 2, 2019

The Rev. Frank Logue, Diocese of Georgia canon to the ordinary and a nominee in the 2017 East Tennessee bishop election, agreed with Baskerville-Burrows. “The goal is to lower the barriers so that all candidates will be considered fairly and so that those the Holy Spirit is calling will be elected,” he told ENS. “When those God is calling find their way into our House of Bishops, I am quite sure it will more fully reflect the body of Christ in ways quite beyond gender. Then the question will no longer be whether someone is ‘electable,” but whether the person is called by God to this diocese at this time.”

Ousley echoed the belief that the needed change needs to go beyond a demographic balance. “This is an issue of doing the right thing, the just thing, and also reflecting the fullness of the whole people of God,” he said. “That’s the deeper call.”

A changed House of Bishops?

Logue, who compiled the data for the infographics in this story (some of which are updated versions of the ones BAskerville-Burrows retweeted on June 2), predicted the changes he charted “will change the house in ways we can’t imagine.”

New bishops go through three years of training from the College for Bishops. Gray-Reeves will oversee that formation project in a context “radically different than it was 10 years ago,” she said. “What we have to offer will be different. The people with whom we will be working will be different. That requires significant consideration and change.”

“For instance, skills in adaptive change are going to be pretty critical,” she said. “I think we’re going to have some work around the biases piece because there is going to be bias.”

Link said she hopes that “these women will actually be able to lead without being micromanaged in their leadership. There’s a cultural tendency to challenge the authority of people of color. I’m not saying that happens in church, but I could see biases coming out possibly.”

For now, the new additions to the roster means the house “is going to look as if it’s changed,” she said. “But with that needs to come some relinquishing of control, some openness, some willingness to support and [be] less likely to critique” and more willing to mentor.

“They’re there, but then what happens?” Link asked. “Will they be chairing committees? Will they be given the same opportunities? What will that look like exactly?”

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

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More than 1000 bishops and their spouses book for the Lambeth Conference 2020

Fri, 06/28/2019 - 3:34pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] More than one thousand bishops and their spouses have so far registered to take part in the Lambeth Conference 2020, the decennial gathering of the bishops of the Anglican Communion. Bishops from 40 Anglican Communion provinces and five extra-provincial areas have been invited to the event by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. The Lambeth Conference Co. – the team organising the event in collaboration with Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office – announced on June 26  that registrations had topped 566 bishops and 435 spouses.

Read the entire article here.

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Bishop of Temotu, Leonard Dawea, elected Primate of the Anglican Church of Melanesia

Fri, 06/28/2019 - 3:30pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Church of Melanesia will have a new primate later this year when the Bishop of Temotu, Leonard Dawea, is installed at St. Barnabas Provincial Cathedral on 15 September. The archbishop-elect was chosen as the new primate during a meeting of the Provincial Electoral Board last week.

Read the entire article here.

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Chaplain to the UK’s House of Commons, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, named bishop of Dover

Fri, 06/28/2019 - 3:28pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A London-based Jamaican-born Anglican priest who serves as chaplain to members of the UK’s Parliament alongside her duties as priest in charge of St Mary-at-Hill near Monument in the City of London, has June 28 been named as the next bishop of Dover. The bishopric is an unusual one: it is a suffragan see in the Diocese of Canterbury, but the bishop effectively runs the diocese, allowing the archbishop to spend more time on his primatial duties for the Church of England and his role as primus inter pares in the Anglican Communion. Canon Rose Hudson-Wilkin will take up her new role in November, after being consecrated in London’s St Paul’s Cathedral.

Read the entire article here.

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Political tensions in Washington over immigration policy fuel Episcopal advocacy, outreach

Thu, 06/27/2019 - 11:35am

Migrants walk toward a U.S. Border Patrol officer after crossing illegally into El Paso, Texas, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on May 31. Photo: Reuters

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church is stepping up its advocacy and outreach on immigration issues as political tensions grow in Washington over looming deportation raids, pending plans for humanitarian aid on the border and the treatment of migrant children held in U.S. detention centers.

The federal raids reportedly were scheduled to take place in 10 cities on June 23 but were postponed at the last minute. One of the cities said to be targeted is Chicago, where Diocese of Chicago Bishop Jeffery Lee issued a statement June 21 expressing solidarity with immigrants living in fear.

“This news of new raids and mass deportations threatens to make these fears real, as families are torn apart and members of our communities and congregations are wrenched away from lives they have labored for years to build,” Lee said. “The threat of these raids makes it difficult not to conclude that our immigration system is failing to operate with common humanity or to embody the highest values of our country or its people.”

Bishop David Reed in West Texas issued a statement on June 20, World Refugee Day, calling on his diocese to support immigration ministries. He asked that Episcopalians set aside political differences to care for all in need, as Jesus taught.

“We can and should, and desperately need to, have informed, respectful debate on our country’s immigration laws and policies. But the time for that is not when a weary, confused, and hungry person stands before you,” Reed said, whether that person is an asylum seeker or a Border Patrol agent.


— EMM (@EMMRefugees) June 20, 2019

Reed’s diocese, which includes the borderlands from Del Rio, Texas, to the Gulf of Mexico, hosted a “Walk in Love” border tour in May that featured outreach to both migrants living in tents on the Mexico side of the border and law enforcement officials in the United States.

Arizona Bishop Jennifer Reddall sent a letter June 25 to Arizona’s two U.S. senators and representatives from two of its congregational districts, expressing her opposition to “the holding of migrant children in filthy conditions” and requesting “immediate action.”

Reddall was responding specifically to a New York Times report of squalid conditions at a border station in Clint, Texas, where migrant children as young as 7 years old are being held. Conditions reportedly are similar at other border facilities overwhelmed by the influx of migrant families.

“The lack of sanitation, supervision, and humane treatment is appalling, and far from what any citizen should expect of its government,” Reddall said. “All children, regardless of their country of origin, warrant the most basic elements of care: a toothbrush, a bed, a blanket, and an adult to see to their medical, psychological, and social needs.”

Her letter followed a joint statement issued June 6 by ecumenical leaders, including Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, addressing the issue of children in detention more broadly.

“As U.S. religious leaders representing diverse faith perspectives, we are united in our concern for the well-being of vulnerable migrants who cross our borders fleeing from danger and threats to their lives,” the religious leaders said, singling out the cases of six young migrants who have died in U.S. custody since September.

“Our houses of worship and agencies have welcomed, engaged and served many migrant families that have recently arrived in the U.S.,” the statement reads. “These migrants have left their communities to provide safety for their children and protect them from harm. … We urge the Administration to maintain its commitment to international law and defend human rights by implementing safeguards to ensure the safety and health of all of those seeking protection in our land, especially those children who fall under our care.”

The potentially dangerous path followed by many migrant families seeking safety, opportunity and stability in the United States was brought into graphic detail this week by a photo of a Salvadoran father and his toddler lying dead in the Rio Grande. The image, captured by a Mexican journalist, has prompted international outcry and evoked comparisons to the 2015 image of a dead Syrian refugee boy washed up on a beach in Turkey.

Ten Actions You Can Take to Accompany Undocumented Immigrantshttps://t.co/eIJ9UNnApe #EpiscopalAdvocacy pic.twitter.com/TRY4hCfAsI

— The EPPN (@TheEPPN) June 26, 2019

Even before the recent escalation of the political and humanitarian crisis on the border, The Episcopal Church has been outspoken on immigration issues. In July 2018, during General Convention in Austin, Texas, more than a thousand Episcopalians gathered at a prayer service outside an immigrant detention center in a nearby city. The spirit of that event, in support of immigrant parents and children who had been separated, carried through to the church’s legislative activity, with General Convention passing three resolutions related to immigration. One of the resolutions took a forceful stand against family separation and treatment of immigrant parents and children.

Another resolution emphasized respecting the dignity of immigrants, while the third encouraged Episcopalians to seek ways to offer sanctuary or support to immigrants. Some Episcopal churches have committed to providing physical sanctuary, if needed, for immigrants inside church walls, such as St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle, Washington, which in March began housing a Mexico-born man who faces deportation.

More recently, the Rev. Michael Kinman, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, wrote a letter June 22 for Pasadena News Now in which he offered his church as sanctuary to any immigrants who might be targeted by looming federal deportation actions.

President Donald Trump had recently announced on Twitter that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, planned to “begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United State.”

ICE reportedly would be going after about 2,000 immigrants who had received deportation orders in select cities, including Los Angeles. Kinman condemned those plans and said he had the support of his parish’s wardens and parishioners in offering the church as a place of sanctuary.

“We have always stood for love over fear, reconciliation over division and restoration over retribution,” Kinman wrote. “As such, we call on President Trump, as president of a nation largely populated by immigrants and descendants of immigrants like himself, to stand down these raids.”

Trump said June 22 on Twitter he had put the raids on hold for two weeks, to allow Congress time to reach a “solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border. If not, Deportations start!”

With roots in the 1980s sanctuary movement that offered refuge to Central Americans fleeing war, the new sanctuary movement has been growing in recent years in response to rising animosity toward immigrants and the anti-immigration policies of the Trump administration.

Churches are considered “sensitive locations” that traditionally are not targeted for immigration enforcement. In one case, at St. Barnabas’ Episcopal Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, the congregation has for more than two years provided refuge for a Guatemalan woman ordered to return home.

The Diocese of the Rio Grande, which includes parts of New Mexico and Texas, has identified asylum seekers as a key focus for its outreach efforts on the border, particularly in the El Paso, Texas, area. In December, the diocese hosted a pilgrimage to the city, welcoming about 30 people representing large urban and suburban congregations, so they could learn firsthand about the circumstances facing asylum seekers.

Most asylum seekers come from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, typically fleeing violence or persecution. Episcopal churches in the region are responding to the crisis in a variety of ways.

“We would like … to join together in fellowship by soliciting, gathering, and delivering critically needed items to the El Paso area where shelters are currently overwhelmed, with refugees being released at times by the hundreds on a daily basis,” the diocese says on a web page listing resources for assisting asylum seekers.

The diocese also recently began providing bus transportation for some of the asylum seekers.

“All through this involvement in immigration ministry we’ve always had the sense that when the knock came on the door it was Jesus who was knocking, and it certainly has been our experience that opening the door to the migrants has been letting him into our lives and it’s been very powerful,” the Rev. Joe Britton, rector of St. Michael and All Angels Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, said in an online video about his congregation’s and the diocese’s work.

Rio Grande Bishop Michael Hunn is scheduled to speak during a July 2 webinar on immigration issues organized by Episcopal Migration Ministries. Registration for the webinar is still open.

The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations, based in Washington, D.C., also offers a range of resources for Episcopalians interested in advocating for the church’s positions on these issues.

“The Episcopal Church, through General Convention policy, calls for an immediate end to the inhumane practice of family detention, calls for the immediate release of detained asylum seekers … and upholds the sanctity of the asylum process and urges strong support for the protection of vulnerable individuals,” the agency says in an online summary.

In April, The Episcopal Church signed a letter to Congress drafted by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition asking lawmakers to prioritize human needs rather than immigration enforcement.

“We believe that our nation’s budget and the decisions made by Congress in the coming weeks should be treated as a moral roadmap toward a world where every child of God is clothed, fed, safe, loved, and free,” the letter said. It was signed by more than 30 interreligious groups and denominations. “As people of faith, our various traditions command us to love our neighbors and welcome guests as we would welcome God.”

On June 25, the House voted to approve $4.5 billion in humanitarian aid to ease the crisis on the border, though the bill’s restrictions on how that money can be spent – not to bolster ICE raids on immigrants – are at odds with a parallel bill that the Senate approved on June 26, The New York Times reported. The White House has threatened to veto the House’s bill.

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

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West Virginia ministry recruits work groups for revamped outreach to county gripped by poverty

Wed, 06/26/2019 - 11:04am

Members of a youth group from All Saints Episcopal Church in Hershey, Pennsylvania, pose for a photo on the wheelchair ramp they built this month at a home in Keystone, West Virginia. Photo: Susan Claytor

[Episcopal News Service] An Episcopal ministry in West Virginia that dates back more than 70 years is undergoing a rejuvenation as organizers expand its range of outreach efforts to serve residents of McDowell County, one of the poorest counties in the United States.

The ministry, Highland Educational Project, has been busy in June welcoming work groups. All Saints Episcopal Church in Hershey, Pennsylvania, sent a youth group last week to complete a handful of home repair projects in the county. Another Pennsylvania congregation, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon, spent time this month volunteering with a local food bank, and residents from Boys Home of Virginia, an Episcopal boarding school in Covington, traveled to McDowell County to help with food distribution.

“It’s a chance to change another human being’s life, but also a chance to even enrich your own,” said Mary Green, who doubles as the Diocese of West Virginia’s communications coordinator and the interim director of the Highland Educational Project.

If you or your group are interest in volunteering, contact Mary Green at mgreen@wvdiocese.org or 304-545-7666.

The ministry and its visiting work groups have long served the needs of the remote Appalachian hill communities of McDowell County, which dips to the southernmost point in West Virginia. Highland Educational Project once was “the only full-time mission-based organization that was open to provide area residents with aid every day of the week,” the diocese says on its website, and that aid included food, clothing, help with utility bills and other basic assistance.

Such efforts had stalled in recent years, culminating in a temporary closure of Highland Educational Project last year amid a leadership transition. Since Green took the helm in April as interim director, the ministry has renewed ties with local partner organizations, and Green has developed a growing slate of activities around the project’s core ministry areas: spiritual, educational, environmental and personal wellbeing.

View this post on Instagram

A huge thank you to the @wadecenter in Bluefield for allowing us to support their student programs! . . . . . #nonprofit #wadecenter #bluefieldwv #childrensprogram #workcrew #missionwork #workgroup #mcdowellcountywv

A post shared by Highland Education Project (@highlandeducationalproject) on Jun 21, 2019 at 8:46am PDT

The work groups’ efforts fall into the environmental category. Green coordinated with the McDowell County Commission on Aging and the county’s school district to identify residents in need of home repairs, and one of the project’s longtime volunteers, the Rev. Susan Claytor, helped evaluate potential projects for safety and viability.

Claytor has been involved with Highland Educational Project since the early 1990s, when she was a youth minister in Florida. Until recently, she served as rector at All Saints Episcopal Church in Hershey, and she helped facilitate the All Saints youth group’s trip last week to McDowell County.

In March, Claytor took over as rector at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Beckley, West Virginia, which is a little over an hour’s drive from the Highland Educational Project center in Welch. One of her future goals is to schedule day trips with members of her congregation to complete service projects for McDowell County residents.

“Every hour we spend there, telling them the outside world cares, is so powerful,” Claytor said in an interview with Episcopal News Service.

McDowell County, with a declining population of about 20,000 people, is positioned on the Virginia state line and just east of Kentucky. It is a region of Appalachia that once rode the fortunes of the mining industry, but now, after years of coal mine closures, it is struggling with unemployment, drug addiction, water quality issues, deteriorating homes and failing infrastructure. About 35 percent of county residents lived in poverty in 2017, according to census data, and median household income was less than $26,000.

“To see where it is now, it’s saddening,” Green told ENS. “But there’s such a resilience, and the people … they’re proud of where they’re from, if we could just make a difference in their life.”

The Highland Educational Project’s mission, then, is based on the belief that residents here deserve things like clean water, a quality education for their children, good-paying jobs and homes with roofs that don’t leak, Green said. Other organizations active in the county already are providing for some such needs, and the Diocese of West Virginia wants to partner with them without duplicating services.

At the same time, Green sees the Diocese of West Virginia as well equipped to mobilize resources to address needs that aren’t being met. Highland Educational Project, for example, will host a reading camp this summer for third, fourth and fifth graders – one simple step toward boosting the county’s low literacy rates. The ministry also is partnering with a local hospital to give the parents of all newborns in McDowell County a bag with a blanket and tips for keeping their babies safe and for helping them grow.

Highland Educational Project also is offering its center in Welch for free as a site for residents to schedule reunions, baby showers, birthday parties and other gatherings, because few such venues exist, Green said. Other outreach opportunities include sports programs for young people, providing recreational opportunities and alternatives to drug use. Green, meanwhile, is reaching out to ecumenical partners in the area to discuss ways to offer spiritual enrichment.

“If we could give two messages through our work and through our interaction in the community it’s that you’re cared about and you deserve to have better,” Green said. She is based in Charleston but drives to McDowell County at least once a week.

Home repairs are among the most visible outreach projects in McDowell County and also among the most fulfilling for the volunteers who travel many miles to participate.

“Young people love hammers and nails,” Claytor said, and these projects resonate more deeply with the youth groups she leads. Participants often ask to return again and again. “They’re attached to the area. They’ve really grown to care for the people.”

The team from her former church in Hershey included a dozen youths and four adult chaperones, and despite the rain last week, they were able to complete five projects, from building a wheelchair ramp for a house in Keystone to repainting the city’s rusted water tank.

Claytor leads two congregations in Beckley. In addition to serving as rector at St. Stephen’s, she is pastor of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church. She said she plans to help spread the word around her Episcopal diocese and Lutheran synod that work groups are needed in McDowell County.

“I’ve always believed in mission trips, because the young people think that they’re going to improve someone else’s lives,” she said. “What they’re really doing is growing.”

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

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Ya se aceptan las nominaciones para llenar vacante en el Consejo Ejecutivo de La Iglesia Episcopal

Tue, 06/25/2019 - 12:45pm

[25 de junio de 2019] Las nominaciones para servir como miembro del Consejo Ejecutivo de La Iglesia Episcopal se aceptan desde ya hasta el 31 de julio de 2019. El Rvdo. Canónigo Michael Barlowe, Secretario de la Convención General, anunció que la vacante fue creada por la renuncia de un miembro del Consejo Ejecutivo cuyo mandato concluye en la Convención General 2021.

El Canónigo Barlowe señaló que debido a que la vacante fue creada por un sacerdote, sólo se puede nominar a sacerdotes o diáconos. Añadió que, “De conformidad con las Reglas de Orden, el Comité Ejecutivo del Consejo Ejecutivo revisará todas las nominaciones y remitirá al menos dos y no más de cinco candidatos, entre los cuales una persona será elegida por el Consejo Ejecutivo.”

Las funciones canónicas del Consejo Ejecutivo y sus miembros se pueden encontrar aquí.

Canon Barlowe señaló que los candidatos deben poder asistir a las próximas reuniones del Consejo Ejecutivo: del 13 al 15 de febrero de 2020; del 8 al 11 de junio de 2020; del 9 al 12 de octubre de 2020; del 22 al 25 de enero de 2021; del 14 al 17 de abril de 2021.

Las nominaciones deben enviarse en línea aquí (en inglés) o aquí (en español) antes del 31 de julio de 2019.

De conformidad con el Reglamento Conjunto de la Convención General, Regla VII.17, los candidatos elegidos por el Comité Ejecutivo estarán sujetos a una verificación de antecedentes que “cubrirá los controles de antecedentes penales y los controles del registro de delincuentes sexuales en cualquier estado en el que un candidato propuesto haya residido durante los siete (7) años anteriores, cualquier organismo profesional de licencias apropiado con jurisdicción sobre el estatus profesional de un candidato y cualquier violación de valores estatales o federales o leyes bancarias.” Además, tenga en cuenta que “la información de verificación de antecedentes no se compartirá más allá de la Oficina del Secretario de La Convención General, el Director Jurídico, y aquellos candidatos propuestos que soliciten su propia información. El costo de los controles de antecedentes en virtud de esta regla estará cubierto por el presupuesto del Convenio General.”

Como se señala en el sitio web de La Iglesia Episcopal: El Consejo Ejecutivo de La Iglesia Episcopal es un órgano electo que representa a toda la Iglesia. A lo largo de los tres años entre convenciones, conocidos como el “trienio”, el Consejo Ejecutivo se reunirá habitualmente una vez en cada una de las nueve provincias de La Iglesia Episcopal.

Nominations now being accepted to fill vacancy on The Episcopal Church Executive Council
Ya se aceptan las nominaciones para llenar vacante en el Consejo Ejecutivo de La Iglesia Episcopal

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Boston cathedral’s ‘Ministry of the Steps’ takes church’s welcome to the street

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 4:39pm

[Diocese of Massachusetts] A chess match between a police officer and a person who is homeless isn’t what you would necessarily expect to see while walking down Tremont Street in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. On the portico of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, however, this has become the new normal during the summer months, thanks to the cathedral’s “Ministry of the Steps.”

The Ministry of the Steps officially launched as a pilot program last summer, with just a tent canopy, some AstroTurf from Costco and an invitation to the community to join cathedral staff and volunteers in offering various outdoor activities to engage the community and those walking by.

Dean Amy McCreath, right, plays bingo outside of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston, as part of its “Ministry of the Steps.” Photo: Bridget K. Wood/Diocese of Massachusetts

The activities range from chess, checkers and bingo games to art projects, drum circles, musical performances and chanting. Last year’s Ministry of the Steps included voter registration drives, as well as a witness against gun violence by the B-PEACE for Jorge Campaign. The Ministry of the Steps has now begun its second summer of programming with activities happening outside the cathedral on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays beginning at 9 a.m.

Eva Ortez serves as a Life Together fellow for the MANNA ministry at the cathedral, a ministry of and with the homeless community in downtown Boston. Ortez experienced a powerful moment during a recent day of chess and checkers under the Ministry of the Steps canopy.

“I took a step back and just wanted to take it all in, and in that moment, I noticed the amount of joy everyone there was experiencing,” Ortez said. “The group of people there was so diverse. There was a cop and an unhoused person playing, a young student and a recently housed person playing, and in the background there was a group of MANNA community members playing music, singing and dancing. Watching all of this and being part of something so beautiful almost brought tears to my eyes.”

While the Ministry of the Steps is still new, it’s in keeping with the intent behind the decision to make St. Paul’s Church in downtown Boston the cathedral church of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts in 1912, according to the cathedral’s dean, the Very Rev. Amy E. McCreath.

“Bishop Lawrence chose St. Paul’s Church as the location for the cathedral of the diocese very much intentionally, wanting it to be in a place that was in the downtown area, where people from lots of different backgrounds were coming through,” McCreath explained in an interview. “Being on Boston Common is just perfect for that.”

“Jesus encountered people in the marketplace, on the road and over meals, and a lot of Jesus’ style was to do something familiar but in a different way,” McCreath said. “People know about chess, they know about voter registration drives, they know about labyrinths, but they’re not expecting all of that to be kind of on the sidewalk and presented by somebody in a [clerical] collar, so it shakes things up a bit.”

McCreath said that one of her favorite parts of the Ministry of the Steps is seeing people who are walking by stop and notice what is going on outside the cathedral, even if just for a brief moment.

“There’s this kind of attention that may not translate into that person ever coming into the church, but they’re aware of it and they have a positive encounter,” McCreath said. “Part of what we are doing through the Ministry of the Steps is reclaiming all of that space in front of the cathedral for good, in a neighborhood where the steps are not always used for good.”

During a presentation about the Ministry of the Steps at the diocesan Ministry Network Showcase last fall, the Rev. Jennifer McCracken, who serves as head pastor to the cathedral’s MANNA community, described it as a new ministry through recreation. “Or better still, re-creation,“ McCracken said. “Re-creating a sacred space outside for people to come and be welcomed to engage in community.”

“Following Jesus into the neighborhood of chaos is always risky because it asks us to confront our fears and our doubts and our risk of failure,” McCracken said. “It also asks us to let go of our fenced-in spaces that confine us to smaller areas, and to move out into the world.”

As part of the Ministry of the Steps, clergy will often stand outside on the sidewalk with a sign asking, “Do you want a blessing?”

McCreath said this allows people to receive a blessing without having to climb the steps of the cathedral and go inside the church.

“Those front steps are very intimidating — what we call a ‘high threshold to entry’ — so by coming down the steps, that just eliminates that barrier,” McCreath said.

Kevin Neil serves on the MANNA pastoral team and helped to facilitate chess and checkers games as part of the Ministry of the Steps. Neil explained in an interview that this ministry allows the cathedral to interact with different groups of people than those who might walk up the steps and through the doors.

“The concept of extending the welcome and the culture of hospitality, which we work really hard in the cathedral to cultivate on Sunday mornings and throughout the week in the building, are harder to extend beyond the building,” Neil said. “I think this is really helpful in making that possible and making it seem possible to folks actually outside on the sidewalk or across the street.”

Libby Gatti serves as the chaplain to the MANNA community and said in an interview that one thing that makes this ministry unique is that people of all backgrounds are coming together on equal ground.

“If you’re an unhoused person and you are coming to play chess or checkers … it’s not a transactional thing, it’s not like someone giving you money or handing you a plate of food,” Gatti said. “You’re two players playing a game together, so this is a little bit of a chance for deeper connection and for coming together on equal ground.”

Andrew Fortes works downtown in the finance industry. An avid chess player, he noticed the chess games happening outside of the cathedral last summer and began to join in on his lunch breaks. Through these weekly chess games, Fortes built relationships with members of the MANNA community, and when the Ministry of the Steps came to an end with the fall weather, Fortes was invited to attend the Monday lunch program that MANNA hosts at the cathedral — a place where anyone can come and get a hot lunch on Mondays. Fortes began attending the lunches and subsequently began volunteering to help serve.

In an interview, Fortes said that he keeps coming back to the Monday lunches not only because he feels like he is contributing to society and it brings him a sense of goodwill, but also because he gains wisdom from those he meets and has conversations with.

“Just meeting people from different backgrounds really opens your eyes, and creates a level of openness in your mind,” Fortes said. “At the end of the day, everybody’s experience of life is different, and anybody that you can talk to can offer you some wisdom. Going to the Monday lunches, I always find myself gaining some type of wisdom.”

Karen Sargent has been hired by the cathedral for the summer as the Ministry of the Steps intern, in charge of coordinating all of the programming for the ministry this summer. She is a seminarian at Boston University School of Theology.

Sargent said that the goal of the Ministry of the Steps is to be a bridge between the cathedral church and the outside world and to let people know that they are welcome.

“It’s just extending a welcome, which sometimes looks religious and sometimes it doesn’t,” Sargent said. “We are multidimensional humans, and the way faith is expressed is multifaceted, and so, bringing people’s passions into the space is just as much about religion as blessings are.”

Sargent said that one of her goals with this ministry is to get more people involved from across the diocese, emphasizing that it is people’s individual passions and gifts that make a difference.

“Come for an hour, come for two hours, bring your talent, bring your passions, bring your joy, and let’s see what we can do,” Sargent said. “Something can only be gained by stepping into something a little uncomfortable or a little new.”

McCreath, the cathedral dean, encourages congregations of all sizes and locations to try something new in order to engage the world around them.

“Not every church is in a location like this where they can just open their front doors and start doing a drum circle,” McCreath said. “But I think there’s something to be learned from it about just trying something out as a pilot project, that it doesn’t need to cost a lot of money, there’s always something to learn and that people are more ready to be engaged than we often think they are.”

— Bridget K. Wood is communications assistant for the Diocese of Massachusetts.

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Thomas James Brown ordained and consecrated as bishop of Maine

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 2:17pm

Newly ordained and consecrated Bishop of Maine Thomas J. Brown, center, poses with his two most-previous predecessors, the Rt. Rev. Chilton Knudsen, left, and the Rt. Rev. Steve Lane. Photo: Episcopal Diocese of Maine

[Episcopal Diocese of Maine] The Rt. Rev. Thomas James Brown was ordained and consecrated the tenth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine on June 22 in a ceremony witnessed by more than 900 people at St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was the chief consecrator, along with six other bishops from across the church, as well as Jim Hazelwood, bishop of the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

In all, 27 Episcopal bishops, and more than 100 clergy from Maine, participated in the two-hour service. Bishops from eight of the denomination’s nine geographical provinces were on hand to celebrate the new ministry. Each of the six diocesan bishops from Province I, which includes Maine, were in attendance.

“The Episcopal Church in New England offers a closeness that is partly about geography and partly about culture that the church outside of New England doesn’t always have,” Brown said. “I am especially grateful to be welcomed by loving and wise bishops in New England.”

The first woman ordained a bishop, and who is also an African American, retired Diocese of Massachusetts Bishop Suffragan Barbara C. Harris, was on hand to witness another first. Brown is the first openly gay, married man to be elected to the office of bishop in Maine. Retired Diocese of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson, The Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop, participated as well. The new bishop says he “stands on the shoulders of many other LGBTQ priests,” and stated, “what the church in Maine is doing today is also every bit about them.”

Brown is the chair of the Church Pension Fund Board of Trustees, which provides retirement, health, life insurance and related benefits for Episcopal Church clergy and lay employees. Bishops in The Episcopal Church often serve the wider church in many different ways. Brown said that he is excited to continue the tradition of service and leadership that both of his immediate predecessors offered the church. In fact, he commented, it is those leadership opportunities that “remind me that it’s all about serving others.”

The family of Brown and his husband, Tom Mousin, arrived in Maine from all over the country to witness the joyful occasion. The couple’s 15 year-old nephew, Andachew Mousin, served as an acolyte in the service. Seminary classmates, mentors, former parishioners from Massachusetts and Vermont joined hundreds of people from Maine congregations at St. Luke’s Cathedral to witness their son, brother, uncle, friend and priest as the laying on of hands by the bishops continued the tradition of apostolic succession.

The guest preacher was the Rev. Dr. Barbara K. Lundblad, the Joe R. Engle Professor Emeritus of Preaching at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and a friend of the bishop’s family. She is an ordained pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Lundblad spoke of the many small congregations in Maine and how the Holy Spirit is not geographically limited. She mentioned how some parishes may be one of the primary social service agencies in a town or village.

Lundblad also said some people feel “it’s not safe to advocate for poor people if it means raising taxes. Not safe to challenge the racism that shapes our nation and some of our churches. Not safe to stand with those seeking asylum at our southern borders. Not safe to care for creation more than we care for profits.” Lundblad challenged the witnesses to this new ministry in Maine to “follow the Spirit to the State House as well as into the sanctuary.”

The new bishop is both humbled and excited to be asked to serve a Maine-wide denomination that has proudly proclaimed the good news of Christ since 1820. Looking forward, as the church plans to celebrate 200 years of service next year, there will be the opportunity to honor the past, but more importantly, to plan for the future. A future that this church of ours is “open to all.”

Brown, originally from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, relishes the idea of serving in Maine, including the many parts that might feel a lot like home. Before his election, Brown trained at parishes in Menlo Park, California; Traverse City, Michigan; and San Francisco, California. Brown reflected, “These chapters of my life – from college until ordination – stand out for their significance in my growing relationship with Jesus Christ, a joyous journey that continues day-by-day.” The priests from both California churches, and his sponsoring priest from Michigan, were in attendance at the service, along with scores of other cherished friends and mentors.

In 2000, Brown was called to be the rector of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Brattleboro, Vermont, and most recently, the parish of the Epiphany in Winchester, Massachusetts.

The service was live streamed and parishes all across Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont hosted watch parties to celebrate with their priest and friend.

Brown traveled to Waterville on June 23 to celebrate the Eucharist with the people of St. Mark’s. Maine’s eighth bishop, the Rt. Rev. Chilton Knudsen, was the guest preacher at St. Luke’s Cathedral while Curry preached at an ecumenical service at the Temple in Ocean Park.

The Episcopal Diocese of Maine is made up of more than 10,000 people in 59 churches and ministries across Maine.

Click here for Brown’s bio and related information.

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South Sudan clerics denounce stigmatization of survivors of conflict related sexual violence

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 4:57pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Marking the international day for the elimination of sexual violence in conflict this week, the south Sudan Council of Churches issued a statement on the importance of care for the survivors of sexual violence during the conflict in south Sudan. In a statement the church leaders expressed concern that some survivors of conflict-related sexual violence are condemned and rejected by their families and as a result they are ostracized and relegated to the margins of society turning them into outcast.

Read the entire article here.

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Archbishop of Canterbury highlights missional role of religious communities

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 4:55pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The vital role of religious communities in the Anglican Communion was highlighted at an Anglican Communion conference at St Paul’s University in Limuru, Kenya, last month. Addressing delegates the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “Religious communities are an integral part of the church today and in places they are a vibrant part of the church.”

Read the entire article here.

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Research shows most Sydney Anglicans found faith as teenagers

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 4:53pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Youth and children’s work in churches received a boost in Australia after research analysis revealed the majority of Sydney Anglicans became Christians in their teens. Sydney Anglican’s youth section, Youthworks, has issued a renewed call for churches and families to work together to support the faith of young people.

Read the entire article here.


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Anglican Church of Kenya helps tackle food and plastic waste

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 4:51pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Church of Kenya has been tackling the issue of food security through its development wing, the Anglican Development Services (ADS). Food waste is a real problem in Kenya. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, growers lost over 1.9 million tonnes of food in 2017, worth $1.5 billion USD.

Read the entire article here.

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South India’s youth experience interfaith peace-making

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 4:48pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A cross cultural visit to Nepal for young people from the Church of South India (CSI) has revealed the impact of peacebuilding across different faith groups in Asia. Young people from the CSI, Pakistan and Nepal were part of a group of 22 young people who took part in a trip in May when they met with community leaders to learn how to take forward peace initiatives, especially in places like Sunsari which shares border with India.

Read the entire article here.

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House of Bishops theology committee examining ‘infection’ of white supremacy

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 1:27pm

[Episcopal News Service] A committee of bishops and academic theologians is discussing how The Episcopal Church and its bishops can confront what its chair has called “the comprehensive role of white supremacy in our lives.”

The House of Bishops Theology Committee wants to give The Episcopal Church some theological resources to help it respond to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s invitation to become Beloved Community.

The Beloved Community initiative is rooted in the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s call for racial equality, economic justice and world peace.

However, “it sort of hit us like a ton of bricks that there was no way we could really move forward with integrity on a theological exploration of the very concepts of Beloved Community unless we acknowledged the reality and challenge of the ideology of white supremacy,” Diocese of Southern Ohio Bishop Thomas Breidenthal, who chairs the committee, told Episcopal News Service.

In a letter to the House of Bishops earlier this year Breidenthal said that the committee realizes that the church’s effort must begin by recognizing the role of white supremacy in “infecting all our perceptions, passions and patterns of thought.”

The committee is working on “a fuller theological and historical account of white supremacy and its impact on The Episcopal Church,” according to his letter.

However, Breidenthal acknowledged to ENS, that “this might be a very difficult conversation to have in the house and certainly in the church as a whole.” The committee wants to provide ways to “model honest and truthful conversations,” he said.

Diocese of New York Bishop Suffragan Allen Shin told the House of Bishops in March that the committee “would like your guidance on the best way to invite this house and the wider church into reflection and dialogue on this issue.” He said the group hopes to have time at its next meeting to begin those conversations, centering first on three groups of questions that Breidenthal posed in his letter. They are:

  • How do you understand white supremacy? How have you experienced it?
  • How has white supremacy influenced your view of God? The church?
  • What does your vision of Beloved Community that repents of white supremacy look like? What will you do to work towards that vision?

Breidenthal said in his letter that the committee is identifying historical documents relating to marginalized populations, including African American, Latino, Asian, indigenous and LGBTQ communities.

To that end, Mark Duffy, the church’s canonical archivist and director of The Episcopal Church Archives told ENS that the committee has asked the Archives for help. The committee, he said, admired the Archives’ digital exhibit on African Americans in The Episcopal Church and wondered about developing a similar effort to tell the stories of the church’s Asian Americans.

“For me, it says there’s been a lot of talk about reconciliation, there’s been a lot of talk about ‘beloved community,’ but are we doing the hard work here?” Duffy said. “Are we really looking at what we’ve done?”

Duffy said his “historian side wants to see us do something that can be passed on, that can be brought to the next generation.”

The committee is working in two other directions, as well. “More broadly, we are interested in noting the stories that The Episcopal Church has forgotten or never told about its minority members,” Breidenthal wrote in his letter. The committee also is looking at how human beings “generate narratives and repeat and alter them endlessly.” The members also are investigating “resources in Scripture and practices embedded in the history of the church that might help us embody faithful habits of listening to God and each other.”

Racism and it impact on society and the church has drawn the bishops’ attention for more than 25 years. The house has issued two letters to the church, one adopted by the house in April 1994 and another one issued March 22, 2006.

The House of Bishops Theology Committee, whose members are appointed by the presiding bishop, undertakes projects of theological inquiry as requested by him or her and the house. General Convention makes occasional requests of the committee. In the past, the committee has developed resources for the wider church and the bishops’ teaching ministry on such subjects as human sexuality, the environment and just war theory. In the 2013-15 triennium the committee worked on a theology of discipleship and mission in the global economy that resulted in a digital interactive resource during Lent 2016.

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

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Diocese of Southern Virginia announces slate of candidates for 11th bishop diocesan

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 10:23am

[Diocese of Southern Virginia]  The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Southern Virginia announced June 21 a slate of four candidates for the 11th bishop of the diocese. The new bishop will succeed the Rt. Rev. Herman Hollerith IV, who retired from the position of bishop diocesan in December 2018.

In a statement, the Standing Committee thanked the Nominating and Search Committee for the diligent performance of their charge. “They have brought to us a slate of priests who have the gifts identified in our Diocesan profile as those we sought for the future of our life together in Christ.”

The candidates are (in alphabetical order):

  • The Rev. John T.W. Harmon; rector, Trinity Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.;
  • The Rev. Susan B. Haynes; rector, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Mishawaka, Indiana;
  • The Rev. Victoria Heard; rector, Redeemer Episcopal Church in Irving, Texas; and,
  • The Rev. Sven L. vanBaars; rector, Abingdon Episcopal Church in White Marsh, Virginia.

Their biographies and Q&A interviews are here.

Walkabouts will be held Sept. 3-14, 2019.

A special council for the election of the 11th bishop of Southern Virginia will be held Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. A service of ordination and consecration is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020.

A 14-day petition period is currently open, during which additional candidates may come forward. The petition requirements are available here. Nominations by petition may be filed until 5 p.m. EDT on July 5, 2019.

The Diocese of Southern Virginia encompasses 102 congregations from Virginia’s Dan River to the Eastern Shore.

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Episcopalians testify in support of Bill H.R. 40 in House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Juneteenth

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 3:32pm

[Episcopal News Service] The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties held a hearing June 19 on Bill H.R. 40, introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), which calls for the creation of Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act.

Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and Katrina Browne, producer of the documentary “Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North” and consultant for The Episcopal Church as part of its Becoming Beloved Community racial justice and healing initiatives. Also on their panel were actor Danny Glover, author Ta-Nehisi Coates (“Between the World and Me”), Columbia University undergraduate Coleman Hughes and former NFL player and author Burgess Owens. The hearing took place on Juneteenth, which commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in 1865.

Sutton was the only religious leader invited to testify. Last month the Diocese of Maryland unanimously passed a resolution on racial reconciliation affirming a pastoral letter from the bishop to the diocese on what reparations really means (repairing the breach) and how the diocese might move forward together in building a better world out of the wreckage of the past through programs and initiatives.

Sutton and Browne talked about the soul, and the importance of reconciliation, truth telling and healing for the souls of all Americans. Sutton noted that he often asked, “What do black people want?” His question is, “What do you want? If you are happy with the state of race relations in America, do nothing. If you are not happy, support the establishment of this commission for discussion and study.” Browne’s closing words were featured as the New York Times quote of the day today: “It is good for the soul of a person, a people and of a nation to set things right.”

Other testimony focused on what were named as prejudicial government actions that have had deleterious effects on the well-being of the African American community. Such practices as redlining, predatory lending, and mass incarceration were mentioned by the witnesses as demonstrating the modern oppression of African Americans. All of these issues, according to Coates, have to do with “the codification of black people as inferior” from the foundation of our nation.

Episcopal Diocese of Maryland Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton greets Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pennsylvania) in the subcommittee’s hearing room. Photo: Carrie Graves

Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pennsylvania) and Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pennsylvania), who are not co-sponsors of the bill, cited their work on predatory lending and environmental injustice as further recognition of societal injustice towards African Americans. Dean quoted admissions from Wells Fargo bank on pushing sub-prime lending in black church communities. Hughes and Coleman argued that reparations victimize African Americans, condescends to them and implies that they do not have the power to be self-made people.

Other discussion centered on knowing the nation’s history and its importance in guiding future action. Hughes argued that U.S. history resides in plain sight. Coates wondered, then, “Why do we have statues [confederate statues] in the Capitol? Why is there a flag flying in Mississippi?” Danny Glover quoted James Baldwin in saying, If we can’t tell ourselves the truth about the past we become trapped in it.

The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations provided support to Sutton and Browne before, during and after their testimonies. “Our work is to represent official Episcopal Church policies voted on and passed by General Convention or Executive Council, but our work is also to meet people where they are and to invite people into civil discourse by helping the Church participate in our common life,” said Director Rebecca Linder Blachly.

The Episcopal Church has a recent history of working to acknowledge the past and to discern how it can move forward as a people to repair the breach and heal a broken and divided society. Subcommittee Chair Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee), in introducing Browne, thanked The Episcopal Church for being ahead of Congress in passing an apology in 2006 (He introduced an apology bill, H.R. 194, in 2009 and it passed).

General Convention has passed resolutions 2006-C011 Support Legislation for Reparations for Slavery, 2006-A127 Endorse Restorative Justice and Anti-Racism, and 2006-A123 Study Economic Benefits Derived from Slavery, 2009-A144 Reaffirm a Resolution on Truth, Reconciliation and Restorative Justice (2006-A127) and 2009-A142 Recommit the Church to Anti-Racism and Request Annual Diocesan Reports.

Bill H.R. 40 asks that the United States government do the same. “H.R. 40 calls for the establishment of a commission,” said by Rep. Karen Bass (D-California). “It does not call for checks. To call for money trivializes reparations. Conversation is necessary and it begins with a commission.”

Economics, however, were not left out of the discussion. Economist Julianne Malveaux closed her testimony by asking that any future legislation with economic implications be audited for racial justice.

Full coverage of yesterday’s testimony can be found here.

— Carrie Graves is the director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.

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Susan Brown Snook ordained and consecrated as new bishop of San Diego

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 3:21pm

The Rt. Rev. Susan Brown Snook was ordained and consecrated as the fifth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego on June 15. Photo: Diocese of San Diego

[The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego] The Rt. Rev. Susan Brown Snook was ordained and consecrated as the fifth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego on June 15 at St. Paul’s Cathedral in San Diego. Brown Snook is the first woman to serve as bishop in the diocese’s 45-year history.

Assisting Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori led the service as chief consecrator. The Rev. Scott Gunn, executive director of Forward Movement, was the preacher. Following the service, a celebratory reception was held at The Abbey next door to St. Paul’s Cathedral.

On June 30, the newly consecrated bishop will be formally welcomed and seated at St. Paul’s Cathedral at the 5 p.m. Evensong service. Her seating in the cathedra, or bishop’s chair, is symbolic of the bishop’s office.

Brown Snook was elected bishop on the first ballot at a special convention of the diocese on Feb. 2. She has served as the canon for congregational growth in the Diocese of Oklahoma since 2017. From 2006 to 2017, she served in the Diocese of Arizona as the church planter, vicar and then rector of a new Episcopal Church in Scottsdale, Arizona, The Episcopal Church of the Nativity.

Brown Snook attended college at Rice University in Austin, Texas, where she earned her bachelor’s in English and managerial studies, and her master’s in business administration, and accountancy. She and her husband, Thomas Snook, have two adult daughters, one of whom lives in San Diego.

Brown Snook succeeded the Rt. Rev. James Mathes, who had served for 12 years. The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego was established in 1973 and has approximately 15,000 members across 43 congregations in the Southern California region.


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