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Pilgrimage to new ‘lynching memorial’ fosters racial understanding

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 11:43am

This April 28, 2018, photo shows pillars inscribed with the names of victims of lynching from southern states hang from the ceilings inside the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. Photo: Evan Frost/AP

[Episcopal News Service — Montgomery, Alabama] A spiritual pilgrimage can lay bare old scars, change who you are and how you see other people. That’s what many members of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta, Georgia, reported after experiencing the new National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the collective story of more than 4,400 people who were lynched in this country.

These 82 travelers also stopped at the Legacy Museum nearby, which connects slavery and racial terrorism to the mass incarceration in the United States. Their long-planned journey followed last month’s General Convention support for “Becoming Beloved Community,” the Episcopal Church’s interrelated resources for responding to racial injustice and organizing for reconciliation and healing. The convention passed resolutions tied to racial reconciliation, which is among the church’s three main priorities.

“I don’t think anything can fully prepare one for the atrocity that is part of our history,” the Rev. Angela Shepherd, St. Bartholomew’s rector, preached on Aug. 26 the morning after the pilgrimage, as participants continued to process the reality that between 1877 and 1950, more than 4,400 African-American men, women, and children were hanged, burned alive, shot, drowned and beaten to death by white mobs

Facing that history, she and the pilgrimage participants believe, is a critical first step to countering the racial injustices embedded in our society today. Building this bridge is important at St. Bartholomew’s, which in April called Shepherd as its first female rector and first African-American rector. Located in DeKalb County, a fast-growing refugee and non-English speaking county that includes part of the city of Atlanta, St. Bartholomew’s 2017 profile described its membership as 96 percent white.

“We long for a more racially and ethnically diverse community, but have not yet made the necessary changes for that community to flourish,” the profile stated. “We are seeking new strategies.”

Barriers to the destination

This marker for DeKalb County, Georgia, where St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church is located, indicates that the most recent lynching happened less than a decade before the church opened its doors. Photo: Virginia Murray

Despite careful planning for the 340-mile round trip journey, the group from St. Bartholomew’s encountered barriers that for many symbolized the profound discomfort of spiritual change.

The departure was delayed while the chartered bus service located an approved driver. Near Tuskegee, Alabama, the bus broke down in the hot summer heat. Its replacement was a shuttle full of items belonging to another tour group. Transformation apparently had its own itinerary.

The 3-hour delay extended the travelers’ time for considering the history of racial violence along the Interstate 85 route, as researched and shared by trip organizers. Near the Newnan, Georgia, exit, the 1899 lynching of Sam Hose drew trainloads of Atlanta spectators who watched his burning and mutilation, with parts of his body taken as souvenirs. Near Lanett, Alabama, in 1912, four African-Americans were shot 300 times and left strung up beside a baptismal font outside a church.

Deaths by mob violence recall the crucifixion of Christ, a connection that the group had explored this summer by reading and discussing “The Cross and the Lynching Tree,” by black liberation theologian James H. Cone.

As the travelers reached their destination, Shepherd read from the book’s closing exhortation, that Christians grasp the cross and lynching tree as blueprints for racial reconciliation.

“We were made brothers and sisters by the blood of the lynching tree, the blood of sexual union, and the blood of the cross of Jesus,” she read. “No gulf between blacks and whites is too great to overcome, for our beauty is more enduring than our brutality.”

Personal stories intertwine with past violence

Our common humanity was a message that gained momentum at the stark national memorial. No selfies are allowed, and the coffin-sized, rusting metal sculptures—each representing a county where lynching occurred, and stenciled with the names of those executed—are meant to inspire individual and communal commitment to a just and peaceful future.

“Your names were never lost, each name a holy word,” Elizabeth Alexander wrote in her poem “Invocation” posted at the memorial.

The six-acre memorial grew out of the conviction that lynching was the single most powerful way that Americans enforced racial inequalities after slavery ended. This sanctioned violence spurred the exodus of 6 million African-Americans (the Great Migration) that indelibly changed the United States economically, physically, demographically, spiritually.

The country’s first national memorial acknowledging victims of racial terror lynchings is based on research by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), led by public interest attorney Bryan Stevenson, a visionary public interest attorney, bestselling memoirist (“Just Mercy”) and MacArthur Foundation “genius” Award recipient. Stevenson has said that this work is driven by his Christian faith, nurtured in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

For some in the mostly white St. Bartholomew’s group, the memorial sculptures summoned personal history. Nora Robillard found 10 names inscribed on the one for Clarke County, Mississippi, “That’s where I was born,” she remarked.

Juliana Lancaster recognized a surname on the Spalding County, Georgia. memorial. “I think I found a relative,” she said.

“Fifteen unknown people in Texas died on my birthdate,” said Loren Williams. “I can’t believe I will celebrate another birthday without thinking about that.”

Meanwhile, Shepherd discovered familiar names on memorials for the counties in Kentucky and Tennessee where her family is rooted.

In DeKalb County, Georgia, St Bartholomew’s established itself as a longtime community leader in civil rights, AIDS outreach, LGBTQI issues, homelessness and other concerns starting in 1954. The memorial noted that the last of four lynchings documented in that county occurred in 1945.

“’The past is never dead. It’s not even past,’” said Williams, quoting William Faulkner.

“The fact that we went as a church, a community of faith, amplified, almost prism-like, the ferocity of getting as close as we possibly could to the evil reality of lynching,” trip organizer Scotty Greene added. “Our shared faith in Christ got us down that road to do that. For me, this pilgrimage was functioning as Ken Wilber described religion, ‘not a conventional bolstering of consciousness but a radical transmutation and transformation at the deepest seat of consciousness itself.’ As another pilgrim shared with me, I’ll never be the same.”

The August light amid these hanging memorials to lynching victims created a strong sense of the sacred, almost like being in church. Photo: John Agel

The memorial hinted at Christianity’s influence in the lives of victims and perpetrators. Biblical names dotted the sculptures: Amos, Emanuel, Caleb, Luke, Solomon, Ephraim, Isaac, Moses, Simon, Elijah, Abraham, Samuel and Mary. A minister from Hernando County, Florida., Arthur St. Clair, was lynched in 1877 for performing an interracial wedding.

“I found myself with tears in my eyes as I thought about how some must have felt abandoned by the law or even by God,” said pilgrimage participant Alexander Escobar. “In response I found myself saying, ‘I care.’”

We are more than the worst thing we have ever done

At the Legacy Museum, built at the riverfront where slave trading businesses once outnumbered Montgomery’s churches, the travelers learned how the elaborate narrative of white supremacy allows racial terrorism to flourish as a social custom outside the law.

While faith in God enabled many African-Americans to endure inhumane treatment, their oppressors often saw their domination as a God-given right.

“Lord, how come me [cq] here?” is a lyric to a spiritual sung by holograms of actors depicting chained slaves. As slavery gave way to a legal system that metes out excessive punishment to African-Americans, a newspaper reported a 14-year-old African-American boy was sentenced in 1944 to die in South Carolina’s electric chair. Because the boy was too short for his head to reach the electrodes, guards used a Bible as a booster seat.

These truths created a fresh, searing awareness among those on the pilgrimage.

“The stunning justification that ‘the other’ is not really a human being—and therefore deserves slavery, lynching, unfair prosecution, segregation, languishing imprisonment, legal killing—brings home to me the objectification of human beings in our society,” said Marilyn Hughes. “It hurts in my heart and it hurts our nation. And yet, there is still love enough for forgiveness and healing. This was my learning.”

“This memorial shows us how our country’s original sins—economic cruelty, slavery and genocide—are eating away at our social fabric like cancers,” said Ray Gangarosa, a pilgrimage participant. “As we observe, in real time, these echoes from our sordid past eroding our democratic institutions and those of other nations around the world, God is making it crystal clear that there is no cure, no redemption, no salvation for these sins but total excision.”

Many faith groups seeking reconciliation in Montgomery

The memorial and museum have hosted more than 100,000 visitors since opening in April.

“We are especially thrilled to be seeing great interest from church groups and faith communities, thousands of whom have already visited the sites,” said Sia Sanneh, an attorney with the Equal Justice Institute, in an email response for this story. “It has been moving to see so many faith groups honoring the lives lost during the era of racial terror, and we are also seeing faith groups interested both in confronting this difficult history and in better understanding the links between the history of racial injustice and our contemporary challenges.”

In downtown Montgomery, the pilgrimage rested at St. John’s Episcopal Church, where the Rev. Robert C. Wisnewski Jr., rector, (in blue shirt) explained its history as the home church of Confederacy president Jefferson Davis. Photo: Virginia Murray

St. John’s Episcopal Church in downtown Montgomery, known as the parish where Confederacy president Jefferson Davis worshipped, has hosted several groups in conjunction with their visits to the memorial and museum. St. Bartholomew’s was the latest one.

Its rector, the Rev. Robert C. Wisnewski Jr., related how Episcopalians of Montgomery built the church and installed a spectacular Tiffany stained glass window. Tourists enjoy seeing the Jefferson Davis Pew, architecture and history.

Wealth, in Montgomery and other cities across the Southern states, was acquired through free slave labor and protected by Jim Crow laws.

“I loved looking at the beautiful decor, but it reminded me of how easy it is to be lulled into ignoring the ugly foundation of our privilege,” said Virginia Murray of St. Bartholomew’s. “The rector’s informal talk to us also demonstrated the challenges the Episcopal Church has, to make a place for Episcopalians on all stages of the reconciliation process. Although my church building was erected after slavery ended, I am still voluntarily a member of a denomination that was complicit in slavery, lynching, etc.”

The pilgrimage’s return bus trip included a closing liturgy, partly drawn from “Seeing the Face of God in Each Other: Antiracism Training Manual” and led by the Rev. Beverley Elliott, St. Bartholomew’s senior associate for pastoral care and adult formation and learning.

“The old satanic foe of racism is still woven into the fabric of our lives,” she read.

“Although, without you, we are not equal to this foe, through your grace empower us to overcome the forces that break community,” the travelers answered

“You have created us as your own family. You have called us together,” she said. “The time is now for new beginnings.”

“May we do the work we must do in your church and world, while it is still day, before it is too late,” the travelers responded. “May we never tire, nor turn our back, nor believe our work is ever done. For each day we must begin anew.”

— Michelle Hiskey is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and member of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church.

Washington National Cathedral prepares to help family, nation honor McCain

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 10:18am

Sen. John McCain, who died Aug. 25 of brain cancer, served in the U.S. Senate from 1987 until his death. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983 until he entered the Senate. Photo: Office of Sen. John McCain

[Episcopal News Service] Washington National Cathedral may be the site of state funerals and national memorial services and celebrations, but it is also a worshipping community whose members come to the cavernous building on the highest hill in Washington, D.C. to mark the significant moments of their lives. And that is why on Sept. 1 the morning’s funeral for Sen. John McCain will be followed that afternoon by a wedding. 

“This couple is actually having their reception in the back of the nave so we’re going to be moving in hundreds of chairs and moving out hundreds of chairs and then flipping it over again Saturday night for services on Sunday morning,” the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, cathedral dean, told Episcopal News Service in an interview.

It’s all hands on deck for the cathedral’s 80-plus employees as they prepare for McCain’s funeral, set for 10 a.m. local time, and the services that follow. “Some employees will be here all-night Friday night and well into Saturday night,” he said.

Sen. John McCain delivers remarks on the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 2017. Photo: Office of Sen. John McCain

McCain’s funeral will no doubt be the largest such service held in the cathedral since former President Gerald R. Ford’s service in 2007, he said. The cathedral has been the setting for many presidential funerals and other services at times of national crises and natural disasters. There have been prayers for peace and services to remember the victims of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the Space Shuttle disaster, Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake, among others.

McCain, who died Aug. 25 from brain cancer just before his 82nd birthday, was a long time Arizona senator who also spent years as a prisoner of war after being shot down over Hanoi during the Vietnam War.

It takes more than 80 people to stage a service such as the McCain funeral. More than 150 volunteers are being pressed into action, according to the dean.

“Just the Secret Service needs alone can be immense,” Hollerith said. “Shutting down streets, sweeping the buildings hours ahead, days ahead sometimes. It will involve 250 folks from the media. You’ve got lines of people outside with security getting guests in. It’s a ticketed, private event, only because the cathedral is only so large.”

Hollerith expects that as many as 2,500 people or more will attend.

Even at that scale, the dean said, the funeral is still a funeral just like any of the many done in the cathedral each year for the famous and not-so-famous. Just as in any congregation, some preparations can be done in advance, either by the family or by the person who wants to be “well-prepared,” in the dean’s words. Then, after the death of a loved one, the family works out the timing of the service. He did not say how much preplanning has gone into the McCain funeral.

“What happens here that you can’t prepare for are the logistics involved in a service like this because of who may attend, who may be involved in speaking and when the event will happen,” he said.

Then-President Richard Nixon greets John McCain upon returning home after his 1973 release from captivity in North Vietnam. Photo: Office of Sen. John McCain

An order of service is not yet available for the funeral, which will be livestreamed. However, the McCain family has announced that that tributes will be offered by former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, as well as by Henry Kissinger, former Sen. Joseph Lieberman and by Meghan McCain, one of the senator’s daughters. The Rev. Edward A. Reese, S.J., president of St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco, California, will preach.

Hollerith, Diocese of Washington Bishop Mariann Budde and the Rev. Jan Cope, cathedral provost, will also participate. The details of the service made public thus far are here.

The dean said that it is an honor for the cathedral to host such services. “It is an opportunity to honor a grieving family and to help a grieving nation,” he said. Hollerith added that it is also an opportunity to show the Episcopal Church at its best with powerful and comforting liturgy.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on Aug. 26 called McCain “a witness to the nobility of living not for self alone but for the ideals and values that make for a better world.”

The nation says good-bye and honors McCain

A series of ceremonies to mark the passing of McCain will begin Aug. 29 when his body will lie in state in the Arizona State Capitol. It would have been his 82nd birthday. A private service at 10 a.m. local time will be followed by six hours of public viewing. The next day, a memorial service is set for 10 a.m. at North Phoenix Baptist Church.

McCain’s body will then be flown to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C., in preparation for lying in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Aug. 31. A ceremony will take place at approximately 11 a.m. ET and then a Capitol Hill Guard of Honor will preside as the public pay their respects between 2 and 8 p.m.

The cathedral service is the next day and McCain will be laid to rest Sept. 2 at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland, next to his Naval Academy classmate and lifelong friend, Admiral Chuck Larson, following a private service in the academy’s chapel.

Hints of the faith life of John McCain

The Arizona Republic newspaper in Phoenix devoted its front page to John McCain the day after his death. Photo: Newseum Front Pages

McCain was baptized an Episcopalian and was the great-grandson of an Episcopal priest. However, for the last nearly 27 years he has worshipped at North Phoenix Baptist Church.

It appears that McCain never became a member of the church, which like all Baptist-affiliated churches, requires full-immersion baptism. Ten years ago, then-pastor Dan Yeary told the Baptist Global News website that he had “dialogued” McCain, then in his second bid to become president, about such a baptism. Episcopalians believe that a person who has been baptized at any age with water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit does not need subsequent re-baptism.

McCain spent five and a half years as a POW in North Vietnam, a time that included torture and extended periods of isolation, some of it because he was the son of the admiral who commanded the war in the Pacific. In a 1973 essay for U.S. News and World Report, he wrote that he prayed not for “superhuman strength or for God to strike the North Vietnamese dead” but for “moral and physical courage, for guidance and wisdom to do the right thing.

“I asked for comfort when I was in pain, and sometimes I received relief. I was sustained in many times of trial.”

In 2007, he told the Christian Science Monitor that “there were times when I didn’t pray for one more day or one more hour, but I prayed for one more minute. So, I have very little doubt that it was reliance on someone stronger than me that not only got me through but got me through honorably.”

The Monitor reported that McCain helped run what it called a “covert church.” Orson Swindle, who spent the last 20 months of his captivity with McCain said that every Sunday, after the midday meal was finished, the dishes were washed, and the guards had departed, the senior officer in the area would signal that it was time to pray together, by coughing in a way that signaled the letter “c” for church – one cough and then three coughs.

Swindle said the signal was the call for “a solid stream of thought among those of us there” during which the men in their separate cells silently said the Pledge of Allegiance, the 23rd Psalm and the Lord’s Prayer, “and anything else you’d want to [say] in there that would get us some help – but not out loud. If we were heard talking, they would come in and start torturing us.”

Toward the end of the war, the North Vietnamese put the POWs together in a room and the prisoners were able to have organized Sunday church services. McCain said he became a chaplain “not because the senior ranking officer thought I was imbued with any particular extra brand of religion, but because I knew all of the words of the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed.”

McCain said he conducted the services and gave a short talk. “We had a choir that was marvelous…. The guy who directed it happened to have been previously the director of the Air Force Academy choir,” he said.

George “Bud” Day, a fellow POW, told Religion News Service, that McCain “was a very good preacher, much to my surprise. He could remember all of the liturgy from the Episcopal services … word for word.”

The senator recalled the first Christmas the prisoners were allowed to have a service together. Some of the men had been held for seven years. The North Vietnamese handed McCain a King James Bible, a piece of paper] and a pencil. He jotted down bits of the nativity story from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. He read parts of the story in between Christmas hymns.

“We got to the point where we talked about the birth of Christ, and then sang ‘Silent Night,’ and I still remember looking at the faces of those guys – skinny, worn out – but most of them, a lot of them, had tears down their faces,” McCain told the Monitor. “And they weren’t sorrow, they were happiness that for the first time in so many years we were able to worship together.”

In his book “Faith of My Fathers,” the senator said that service “was more scared to me than any service I had attended in the past, or any service I have attended since.”

McCain also recalled a Christmas Day when he was allowed to stand outside for 10 minutes in a courtyard. A guard came beside him and then drew a cross in the dirt with his sandal and stood there for a minute, looking at McCain silently. A few minutes later he rubbed it out and walked away, he recalled. This was the same guard who a few months earlier had come to his cell one night to loosen the ropes that held McCain’s arms behind his back in a painful position.

In an essay titled “The Moment I Came to Love My Enemy,” McCain called this guard his Good Samaritan and said that in that courtyard “for just that moment I forgot all my hatred for my enemies, and all the hatred most of them felt for me… I forgot about the war, and the terrible things that war does to you. I was just one Christian venerating the cross with a fellow Christian on Christmas morning.”

McCain also recounted the role of his faith and of communal worship during those years here.

Diocese of Arizona Bishop Kirk Smith told ENS that he knew McCain from two perspectives. As a policy maker, the senator met with Smith at least three times to discuss immigration, a controversial topic in the state. “He was very down to earth and receptive and wanted to hear what we thought,” Smith said. “he was a good listener.”

Once, on the spur of the moment, Smith invited McCain to come to an interfaith meeting on immigration south of Phoenix. For a man whose schedule was often made months ahead, the senator was free that afternoon and came.

“He was very well-loved and respected in Arizona, even though some people disagreed with him,” Smith said. “I disagreed with him on a lot of things, but people admired his character and his forthrightness.”

Smith recalled McCain’s sometimes-changing stance on immigration, but he also recounted a story that McCain told to explain why he eventually favored amnesty of immigrants. The senator had gone to a naturalization ceremony and had seen empty seats in the front row with combat boots in front of each chair. They represented soldiers who had died in action while they were in the process of becoming United States citizens. “That was the thing that pushed him over,” Smith said. “He said, if these young men were willing to give their lives for this country, why aren’t we making them citizens.”

The soldiers were posthumously made citizens, Smith said.

Smith also knew McCain by way of the senator’s aunt, his mother’s identical twin sister, who was a parishioner of his at St. James’ Church in Los Angeles. He would remind McCain of that connection, Smith said, and that led to swapping of stories.

McCain attended Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia. While at the school, McCain was influenced by English teacher and football coach William Ravenel. “I worshipped him,” said McCain, according to Robert Timberg’s “John McCain: An American Odyssey.” “He saw something in me that others did not. And he took a very personal interest in me and we spent a good deal of time together. He had a very important influence on my life.”

Diocese of California Bishop Marc Andrus recalled on Aug. 27 that he heard McCain speak twice at Episcopal High School while Andrus was the school’s chaplain. As a student, the senator said he was not happy about the school’s compulsory chapel services.

“During those daily services that I imagine not only bored but frustrated McCain, something unexpected happened: he memorized prayers, parts of psalms, and other spiritual resources that he says sustained him and others during his almost six years of imprisonment in Vietnam during the Vietnam War,” Andrus wrote.

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

Episcopalians invited to grow as evangelists thorough 30-day challenge

Tue, 08/28/2018 - 5:31pm

[Episcopal News Service] Think about the last 24 hours. What has given you joy?

There’s no right or wrong answer, but if you’ve taken up the 30-Day Evangelism Challenge, the answer to that question was just the beginning.

“The reason it’s 30 days is it takes 30 days to change a habit,” said the Rev. Becky Zartman, one of the creators of the challenge, which launched Aug. 4 on the Episcopal Evangelists’ Facebook page and is scheduled to conclude on Sept. 2.

The new habit formed by challenge participants is the practice of evangelism. The game-like series of daily prompts encourages reflection and action, harnessing the recent energy in the Episcopal Church around evangelism and seizing on the spirit of experimentation encouraged by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s Way of Love and its seven rule-of-life practices.

“Sometimes the narrative of decline in our church is so heavy on the heart,” said the Rev. Patricia Lyons, the Diocese of Washington’s missioner for evangelism and community engagement. “And as a result, we lose creativity in that scarcity, and we’re afraid to play and experiment. And I understand why. The stakes are huge in a post-Christian culture.”

She and Zartman were determined to try something new and learn from the experience. Zartman serves as an Episcopal chaplain at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Both were part of the team of advisers who met with the presiding bishop last year to discuss evangelism and who produced the framework for the Way of Love.

The 30-Day Evangelism Challenge grew out of those conversations, as well as Lyons’ experimenting with what she calls “micro-formation.” She saw social media as the ideal platform.

Lyons and Zartman are both Facebook administrators on the Episcopal Evangelists page, which is now approaching 4,000 members after its launch just a few months ago. This became their test group for the Evangelism Challenge. So far, the response has been encouraging, with more than 50 churches sharing the Episcopal Evangelists’ posts about the challenge and more than 2,000 engagements with those posts, Lyons said.

The 30 days are broken into three phases. Over the first 10 days, Zartman, tasked with writing the individual posts, challenged participants to look inward and think about the place of God in their own lives.

Day 4: “Think about your life. When did you feel close to God? When did you feel far away? What brought you home?”

Day 7: “Write a thank you note to someone who’s been influential in your faith journey. Who did you write to, and why?”

“Where Jesus shows up in people’s lives never ceases to amaze me,” Zartman said.

For the second phase, participants were encouraged to look around and seek God in their neighborhoods and their neighbors. Zartman sees such exercises building the foundation of a uniquely Episcopal brand of evangelism.

“This isn’t about just going out and handing out tracts,” she said. “Rather it’s about where Jesus is already working in the world and discovering where you can join.”

The challenge’s final 10 days are more of a call to action, encouraging participants to pray, serve, show kindness and, when the moment is right, talk about their faith with others.

“My hope is to make a curriculum that people can use in their parishes that will help people stay accountable to each other and actually foster a sense of the practice of evangelism on the ground in parishes,” Zartman said.

Part of the challenge’s value is the Facebook discussion it fosters among participants, though Zartman also created a simple website to house the daily posts. Lyons also thought one of the most interesting mixes of responses came on Day 6, when participants were encouraged to consider where God is working in their own lives by asking their social media followers.

Many expressed feeling awkward at even asking the question, with one comparing it to a teenager posting a selfie and asking for compliments. But some were pleasantly surprised by the feedback they received from friends, and several commenters felt encouraged at hearing their efforts to lead a Christian life had not gone unnoticed.

“I was really taken with how hard that question was,” Lyons said, but part of the challenge is to brave the uncomfortable. “This is a very good Episcopal formation moment.”

Lyons said she has received numerous emails from churches interested in modifying this challenge for different contexts, and she and Zartman plan to spend time after these first 30 days are over to review what worked and what could be improved. Eventually, they envision any number of similar 30-day challenges centered around other aspects of faith, including the seven practices of the Way of Love.

“It seems like the church is hungry for an Episcopal-style evangelism,” Zartman said, and Episcopalians are learning how to articulate their faith in their own way. “This is about the amazingness of God and sharing that love.”

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

Episcopal priests join other faith leaders to sue New Jersey county over ICE contract

Tue, 08/28/2018 - 3:31pm

[Episcopal News Service] Advocacy for immigration detainees can take many forms and four Episcopal priests in one New Jersey county have joined three other faith leaders to add an open-meetings law challenge to their efforts.

The seven, represented by the ACLU of New Jersey, filed a lawsuit Aug. 27 accusing the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders of violating the state’s Sunshine Law when it voted to renew a 10-year contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to house in its county jail immigrant detainees who are awaiting deportation hearings. The contract earns the county millions of dollars.

The lawsuit says that the freeholders on July 10 unanimously agreed to postpone discussing and voting on whether to reauthorize for 10 more years what has become a controversial contract until the regular August meeting. The freeholders published an agenda of a July 12 meeting with the postponement noted and, the seven say, told people who arrived early to that meeting that the vote was postponed. However, after the meeting began, the board put the ICE contract back on the agenda and rapidly voted to renew it, over the opposition of two individual freeholders and those activists who happened to attend, they say.

The July 12 renewal resolution calls for ICE to pay the county $120 per detainee per day, a $10 increase from the $110 it had paid previously. Radio station WNYC reported that about two-thirds of inmates at the Hudson County Correctional Facility — 800 people — are immigration detainees.

Hudson and two neighboring counties are paid $6 million a month on ICE contracts and have collected more than $150 million since 2015, the station reported. Along with the privately-run Elizabeth Contract Detention Center, the four New Jersey facilities house approximately 2,000 immigrants.

If Hudson County’s current detainee count remains near 800, it will receive approximately $35 million a year, more than half of its total Department of Corrections budget. The freeholders predict massive layoffs at the jail or a big tax hike if the contract is severed, according to published reports.

Anthony Vainieri, a Democrat who chairs the board, has previously said that the contract allows immigrant detainees to stay close to their families and friends. Most of the detainees in the jail located in Kearny, New Jersey, are from across the Hudson River in New York. He has also said that ICE will not stop detaining people if the county stops holding them.

The first named plaintiff in the lawsuit, the Rev. Thomas Murphy, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Church of the Incarnation in Jersey City, told Episcopal News Service via email that “first of all, the freeholders should void their previous vote and start over, allowing for public input about the possibility of renewing the contract with ICE.

“My hope is that this free and open discussion will allow for reflection on whether Hudson County should be in this business at all and, especially, if the county should be profiting from the misery of the detainees.”

Murphy said that question goes to what Episcopalians mean when they repent, in the words of the confession in Enriching Our Worship 1, (page 19 here) “the evil done on our behalf.”

The Rev. Elaine Ellis Thomas, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Hoboken and another of the plaintiffs, said in an interview with ENS that the freeholders “deliberately deceived the public about when [the contract] would be discussed and voted on.”

But there is also a larger issue, Thomas said. The advocates don’t believe that the detainees ought to be jailed while they await those deportation hearings or asylum determinations. “Hudson County is balancing their budget on the backs of detainees who are denied due process,” she said. “They’re not being given the same legal rights under ICE as anyone else that might be a prisoner there.”

However, Thomas said, “fighting that battle from a legal perspective is probably too high a bar right now.” Those who have visited with detainees say the argument about detaining them near their families does not carry much weight because families are often denied access to the jail or they live far away to begin with.

And then there are the deaths. Between June 2017 and March 2018, six people died while in the jail, the lawsuit says. The first death was a detained immigrant and, of the five others, four were by suicide. The lawsuit says the freeholders investigated and promised an overhaul of the medical care provided at the jail, arrangements of which are still being finalized.

“The Hudson County jail is just a really bad place to be,” Thomas said.

The other five religious leaders who brought the suit include the Rev. Gary Commins, an associate priest at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Church of the Incarnation in Jersey City; the Rev. Laurie Jean Wurm, rector of Grace Church Van Vorst in Jersey City; Ashraf Eisa, board member of the Islamic Center of Jersey City;  the Rev. William Henkel, pastor of the First Reformed Church of Secaucus; and the Rev. Frances Teabout, and pastor of the Open Door Worship Center in Jersey City.

They were among 56 signers of a statement condemning the freeholders’ action. Those signers also included Diocese of Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith and Roman Catholic Archbishop of Newark Joseph Tobin. The statement was read at an Aug. 9 meeting of the board.

The signers said that they are grateful to have been given access for pastoral ministry among ICE detainees and are sensitive to the concerns that canceling the ICE contract entirely might put detainees far from lawyers, activists and family. Those concerns “should be part of a public conversation about what the county is pushing for in contract negotiations with the federal government, and how the funds that are generated from housing immigrant detainees are spent,” they wrote. “Diverting at least some of these funds to immigrant services or direct aid would be appropriate.”

The Episcopal Church’s support for immigrants, including those facing deportation, was underscored last month by the 79th General Convention, which passed multiple resolutions on immigration issues. Thomas said that the way Episcopalians have been formed in the church, especially by the baptismal covenant, “have led us to this point and I think it’s really important that people know that this is what the Episcopal Church is about. That’s our Episcopal identity.”

Thomas, who admits to being “the new kid on the block” having come to Hoboken eight months ago from St. Paul’s Memorial Church in Charlottesville, Virginia, said her involvement is “what my faith compels me to do, to stand up to powers and principalities and to advocate for humane, dignified treatment for all human beings.

“The other component of it is that the narrative of religion, Christianity in particular, is being hijacked by a certain narrative that does not match my own.”

That narrative, she said, is centered on law and order, the attitude that might makes right, protecting borders and the need to insulate and protect. “We want people to know that there are faith leaders, and there are Christians, who believe that we’re not on the side of the rich and the powerful and the privileged but on the side of the poor and the oppressed and those who need advocates who do have the privilege and the power to do that.”

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

Solidarity Walk in New Hampshire helps energize state’s immigrant justice efforts

Mon, 08/27/2018 - 6:00pm

Participants in the Solidarity Walk for Immigrant Justice make their way from Manchester, New Hampshire, to Dover, tracing the path immigrants take when they are detained by federal authorities and held in the Stratford County jail. Photo: David Price

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians and their faith and community partners in a New Hampshire immigrant justice movement hope to build on the momentum gained during last week’s Solidarity Walk and a concluding prayer vigil held outside the county jail where federal immigrant detainees are held.

The four-day trek covered about 40 miles from Manchester to Dover, with several dozen people joining at least one of the segments along the way. On the final day, Aug. 25, Diocese of New Hampshire Bishop Rob Hirschfeld was among the speakers who addressed a crowd of about 100 people gathered on the lawn in front of the Strafford County Jail.

“Jesus said to have compassion for those who are in prison,” Hirschfield told Episcopal News Service by phone on Aug. 27, recapping the experience. He compared it to his experience in July when hundreds of Episcopalians who were attending the 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas, gathered for a prayer service outside an immigrant detention facility in the area.

New Hampshire Bishop Rob Hirschfeld speaks Aug. 25 outside the Strafford County jail in Dover during the prayer vigil that concluded the Solidarity Walk for Immigrant Justice. Photo: David Price

“What I remember about both [vigils] is the Spanish sentence ‘te vemos’ – ‘we see you,’” Hirschfeld said. “The walk in New Hampshire was a way of our saying we see you, we value you, we see your plight. And I would also say we need to see ourselves and what this country is becoming, which is increasingly callous, brutal, insensitive to the suffering of our neighbors.”

The New Hampshire Council of Churches was one of the lead organizers of the Solidarity Walk for Immigrant Justice, which sought to raise awareness of the plight of immigrants in the state at a time when much of the focus has been on conflict along the Mexican border, especially under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy toward immigrants crossing into the United States.

And as Hirschfeld mentioned, another goal was to offer support for those who have been detained or who face deportation, said the Rev. Jason Wells, an Episcopal priest who serves as executive director of the council. He also noted that these several days on the road have strengthened the state’s community of immigrant supporters.

“There is a real shared experience, a real shared struggle in a way, to make the walk, and it brought us closer together,” he said. That solidary is expected to carry through to the weekly prayer vigils held outside the offices of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Manchester, with the next one scheduled for Aug. 28.

The Solidarity Walk kicked off with about 50 walkers, Wells said. About 25 people participated on each of the following two days, and participation rose to about 75 on the final day. Wells walked some of the segments and served as a support vehicle driver on other segments.

The walkers were met by a mix of reactions from the public. Negative responses ranged from drivers giving them thumbs down signs – or a certain other crude hand gesture – to people shouting, “build the wall,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s signature campaign promise of a border wall.

But many people instead gave honks of support, and walkers were greeted by other “pieces of solidarity,” Wells said. They were joined on one segment by a Christian leader from the local Indonesian immigrant community, who was stopped along the way by an Indonesian Muslim leader offering words of support. At another point, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen visited with the walkers and wished them well.

A family from El Salvador joined the walk for some of the segments, and their stories of fleeing to the United States and seeking asylum filled the walkers’ conversations with a sense of purpose as friendships were formed around a common cause, said the Rev. Gail Avery, the Diocese of New Hampshire’s canon for transition and community engagement.

“It was amazing to see the support that we did get along the way,” said Avery, who participated on the first three days. “We had people that came out of their houses, offered us water, offered us a bathroom break, which was amazing.”

Avery’s commitment to working for immigrant justice has been strengthened by the experience of passing through a checkpoint that the Border Patrol had set up on a highway through her state. As a white woman driving alone, she was waved through without delay, but she suspects that if she had been traveling with her daughter-in-law – a Salvadoran immigrant – authorities would not have let her pass without stopping her.

“I just believe that we are a land of liberty and freedom, and we’re a land of immigrants, a nation of immigrants, and we have just lost sight of it,” she said.

The Strafford County jail, one of six facilities in New England holding immigration detainees for the federal government. Photo: David Price

The Episcopal Church’s support for immigrants, including those facing deportation, was underscored last month by the 79th General Convention, which passed multiple resolutions on immigration issues.

The church and other faith communities are not taking political stances but rather pushing back against “the tyranny of ideology over humanity,” Hirschfeld said. Respecting the dignity of all humans is part of Episcopalians’ baptismal covenant, he said, and that message will live on in the ongoing prayer vigils held in Manchester when immigrants are called to check in with federal authorities.

The only thing that might change now at the vigils is the footwear, Wells said.

“We’ll see if people need to buy some new shoes before they go,” he said, after walking so many miles last week.

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

Los datos de los Informes parroquiales de 2017 ya están disponibles

Mon, 08/27/2018 - 9:24am

El Rev. canónigo Dr. Michael Barlowe, oficial ejecutivo de la Convención General, ha anunciado que los datos de los Informes parroquiales de 2017 de la Iglesia Episcopal ya están disponibles en inglés y español aquí.

El canónigo Barlowe observó que los datos de 2017 “continúan las tendencias recientes, con una disminución en las cifras claves de membresía y asistencia”, aunque “el ingreso congregacional a través de las promesas y otras ofertas ha aumentado”, incluso a pesar de que el número general de congregantes ha disminuido.

El Informe parroquial es la recopilación de datos más antigua y continua de la Iglesia Episcopal. Por tradición y regla, los requisitos de presentación de informes son desarrollados por el Comité de la Cámara de Diputados sobre el estado de la Iglesia, utilizando un formulario aprobado por el Consejo Ejecutivo de la Iglesia. Supervisado por el Oficial Ejecutivo de la Convención General, el Informe parroquial toca a todas las congregaciones de la iglesia. Junto con otros datos, incluido el de Registrador de ordenaciones y el Registro de la Convención General, el Informe parroquial proporciona una visión interna del estado de la iglesia.

Los documentos recientemente publicados incluyen:

•           Datos Domésticos Rápidos Episcopales y Tendencias de Datos Domésticos

Rápidos Episcopales 2013-2017

•           Miembros bautizados por provincia y diócesis 2007-2017

•           Asistencia promedio del domingo por provincia y diócesis 2007-2017

•           Totales estadísticos para la Iglesia Episcopal por provincia 2016-2017

•           Totales estadísticos para la Iglesia Episcopal por Provincia y Diócesis 2016-2017

•           Ingresos de bandeja nacional y de la promesa de donación 2012-2017

•           Promesa de donación promedio por provincia y diócesis 2012-2017

•           Totales financieros y ASA por diócesis 2017

Los informes se pueden encontrar en el sitio web de la Convención General en http://www.generalconvention.org/research-and-statistics/#PR-Results.

Para obtener más información, comuníquese con la oficina de la Convención General a gcoffice@episcopalchurch.org o pr@dfms.org.

Bishops of Iowa, Swaziland to attend consecration in Scotland

Fri, 08/24/2018 - 2:08pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop Alan Scarfe of Iowa and Bishop Ellinah Wamukoya of Swaziland will be taking part the consecration Aug. 25 of the Very Rev. Andrew Swift as new bishop of Brechin of the Scottish Episcopal Church. The service will take place at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Dundee and will be presided over by Scottish Episcopal Church Primus Mark Strange. The Dioceses of Iowa, Swaziland and Brechin have been a three-way companion link for the past 30 years.

Read the full article here.

Unity and reconciliation in Democratic Republic of Congo

Thu, 08/23/2018 - 12:12pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Young people from the Democratic Republic of Congo are rising up as reconcilers in their communities. At the Diocese of Goma’s second annual youth conference, teenagers and young adults from across the diocese spent four days praying, worshiping, and playing football together, creating friendships that cross tribal lines. The conference, which began on Aug. 16, was titled “Whole Life Discipleship,” with a focus on unity and reconciliation.

Read the full article here.

El Tribunal de Revisión de la II Provincia emite un Informe de resultados

Thu, 08/23/2018 - 10:32am

[23 de agosto de 2018] El Tribunal de Revisión de la II Provincia dio a conocer su Informe de Resultados respecto a la impugnación de la elección del obispo coadjutor de la Diócesis de Haití.

Luego de la elección, el 2 de junio, del Ven. Joseph Kerwin Délicat como obispo coadjutor de la Diócesis de Haití, un grupo de delegados laicos y clericales a la Convención Electoral presentaron por escrito objeciones al proceso de la elección. El Canon III.11.8 (a) describe los pasos a seguir para impugnar el proceso de una elección.

Tal como lo estipula el Título III.8, el Obispo Primado remitió el asunto al Tribunal de Revisión de la II Provincia para que investigara la denuncia (la Diócesis de Haití es parte de la II Provincia). El Informe de Resultados se encuentra aquí. Copias del informe se les distribuirán a los obispos con jurisdicción y a todos los comités permanentes diocesanos como parte del proceso de consentimiento de la elección.

Las diócesis tienen 120 días después que se hayan enviado las solicitudes de consentimiento para dar o retirar su consentimiento a la elección diocesana.

Court of Review of Province II issues report of findings on Haiti bishop election

Thu, 08/23/2018 - 10:31am

[Episcopal News Service] The Province II Court of Review has released its Report of Findings regarding the contestation of the election of the bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Haiti.

Following the June 2 election of the Ven. Joseph Kerwin Delicat as bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Haiti, a group of lay and clergy delegates to the Electing Convention filed written objections to the election process. Canon III.11.8 (a) outlines the process for contesting the election process.

As required by Title III.8, the presiding bishop referred the matter to the Province II Court of Review for investigation of the complaint. (Province II includes the Diocese of Haiti.) The Court’s Report of Findings is here. Copies of the report will be distributed to bishops with jurisdiction and all Diocesan Standing Committees as part of the election consent process.

Dioceses have 120 days after requests for consents are sent out to give or withhold their consent to a diocesan election.

Read more on this story here.

Diocese of Newark notified of successful canonical consent process for bishop-elect

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 5:05pm

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Diocese of Newark has received notification from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Michael Barlowe, registrar of General Convention, that Bishop-Elect Carlye J. Hughes has received the required majority of consents in the canonical consent process detailed in Canon III.11.3.

In giving consent to her ordination and consecration, standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction attest to knowing of “no impediment on account of which” Bishop-Elect Hughes ought to be ordained to the office of bishop and believing that her election was conducted in accordance with the Canons.

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

The Rev. Hughes was chosen 11th bishop of the Diocese of Newark during a special convention on May 19 at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown, New Jersey. The presiding bishop will officiate at her September 22 ordination and consecration service.

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

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

Therapy dogs are soothing ambassadors for Massachusetts church’s pet ministry

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 4:05pm

Some of Perfect Paws Pet Ministry’s therapy dogs and their owners pose for a photo in Danvers, Massachusetts. Photo: Fran Weil

[Episcopal News Service] Paxton may not understand the full significance of his calling, but the 10-year-old Westie is one of All Saints Episcopal Church’s most dedicated ministers serving as Jesus’ paws in the world.

As a therapy dog dispatched by Perfect Paws Pet Ministry at All Saints in Danvers, Massachusetts, Paxton and his human, Fran Weil, have brought the soothing presence of a canine companion to students of all ages, nursing home residents, hospital patients and recovering addicts in drug rehabilitation centers. Weil is always amazed by the sense of calm that can be conveyed from simply patting her dog’s head.

“As terrific as the response is to our dogs wherever we go, it’s so rewarding for us,” Weil said. “It is really God’s work, and we are so blessed to use one of God’s creatures to do this amazing outreach.”

Weil, the therapy dog coordinator for the church, is one of several parishioners with dogs certified to do this work, along with the other 600 active members of Dog B.O.N.E.S. Therapy Dogs of Massachusetts. Some of these therapy dogs were called on to provide comfort to victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Others regularly serve as captive listeners for elementary schoolers learning to read.

In another case a while back, Perfect Paws dispatched one of its therapy dogs to provide “a little comfort time” for the family and friends of a 10-year-old who was hit and killed by a train, Weil said. It offered “a wonderful diversion” from the pain of loss.

Episcopal churches across the country are engaged in pet ministries of one kind or another. One of the most common are the annual services offering pet blessings, typically held in early October around the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals.

The Episcopal Church Asset Map, though not a comprehensive listing, shows at least a dozen congregations that take their pet outreach a step further, from pet supply collections to fundraisers benefiting the local no-kill animal shelter.

All Saints appears to be the only Episcopal church so fully engaged with a therapy dog ministry, thanks largely to the work of Weil, 71. She describes herself as a longtime lapsed Catholic who began attending Episcopal services late in life and “had never experienced such welcome ever.” She has worshipped at All Saints since 2001.

Her role with Perfect Paws is negotiable: founder, lead volunteer, honorary pet chaplain. Each title might be appropriate, she said. She also sometimes serves as a pet bereavement counselor, and she accompanies pet owners on trips to the veterinarian when tough decisions need to be made about life and death.

Weil is a natural for that kind of work because her love of animals is nearly universal.

“I love any animal. I’ve never met an animal I haven’t liked,” she said. “Well, I haven’t met a tarantula. I might be a little reluctant.”

All Saints launched Perfect Paws Pet Ministry in May 2010 with a monthly evening Eucharist for pet owners and their pets, all pets – rabbits, birds, cats, but mostly dogs. A story about the service got picked up by the Associated Press and drew national and even international attention to the ministry, Weil said, but the outreach has remained local.

“We started this because we realized that people find God in different ways, and so often it’s through their animals,” she said. “We often say it’s not an accident that ‘God’ spelled backward is ‘dog.’”

The services draw about 30 to 50 people, some of whom have been attending since the beginning, even those whose pets have since died.

The Rev. Marya DeCarlen, rector at All Saints, said only a handful of the pet service regulars are also All Saints parishioners. Perfect Paws, then, has become a distinct worship community centered around pet ownership.

“It is a place for humans and their pets to share life transitions, so a lot of grief work happens in these services,” DeCarlen said. “And a lot of joy and appreciation is lifted up in these services,” such as new adoptions.

“It parallels our own lives when we join a community. This community is really more than Eucharist. It is the body of Christ sharing life transitions with each other.”

The Perfect Paws Pet Ministry at All Saints Episcopal Church in Danvers, Massachusetts, hosted a meeting of the West Highland White Terrier Club in September.

DeCarlen began serving at All Saints a little over four years ago and initially found the pet services to be a bit overwhelming, but she quickly warmed to the ministry and asked parishioners to suggest ways of expanding it beyond the monthly services.

All Saints now collects pet food to donate to the local food pantry, and members minister to police and military K-9 handlers who have lost their dogs. About five times a year, the church hosts therapy dog workshops in the parish hall led by Weil and another parishioner.

Most dogs, regardless of breed, can serve as therapy dogs as long as they aren’t skittish, can handle unfamiliar environments and can be trained to follow basic commands and negotiate around objects, such as a wheelchair or walker. The bond between dog and owner is the most important factor, Weil said.

“Nobody knows the dog better than the owner,” she said. “It’s always good to know that the person has a good relationship with the dog.”

Any organization can contact Perfect Paws or Dog B.O.N.E.S. and request a free visit from a therapy dog. Most of Perfect Paws’ therapy dogs spend time in schools, whether easing high school students’ stress before and during exams or helping younger students learn to read.

For the younger students, they are encouraged to read directly to the dog, an experience shown to have measurable benefits in improving reading skills.

The Rev. Marya DeCarlen and her dog, Blue, meet with a group at the library in Danvers, Massachusetts.

“They feel inhibited when reading in front of peers … but they don’t in front of the dog,” said DeCarlen, whose 13-year-old Labrador, Blue, is often on the receiving end of those children’s readings.

“That has been a wonderful experience, to see children not only read but to use expressions. They want the dog to have a reaction when they read,” DeCarlen said. As for Blue, “he just loves to be doted upon.”

Dogs are known for giving unconditional love, and Weil said that is one reason why reading to dogs is so beneficial. “The dog’s never going to say, ‘That’s the wrong word. You didn’t pronounce it right.’”

It’s like a theatrical performance, she added, with the children suspending their disbelief and reading as if the dog is really understanding the story.

The parishioners from All Saints who participate in the therapy dog ministry have become like a family, and they have supported each other in times of grief, particularly over the past year, during which four of the dogs died, Weil said.

That grief mirrors what many pet owners feel at the loss of longtime companions who, too, felt like part of the family, and this has been another motivation for All Saints to step up its outreach and its message of welcome.

Pets have “taken on a bigger importance in people’s lives, and when that happens you bring what’s important to you to church, whether it’s in your mind or heart or spirit,” DeCarlen said. To be a member of the body of Christ, she said, is to embrace a sense of purpose in those relationships while spreading compassion to others, whether they walk on two feet or four paws.

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

RIP: Chairperson of China’s National Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 3:36pm

Elder Fu Xianwei, chair of the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China, addresses Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and his staff during a Feb. 22 meeting at the National Office of China Christian Council and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement in Shanghai, China. To Fu’s left are Gu Mengfei, TSPM’s associate secretary general and director of the CCC’s research department, and Elder Ou Enlin, director of overseas relations for the CCC/TSPM. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] Elder Fu Xianwei, chairperson of the National Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Church in China and board chairperson of Nanjing Union Theological Seminary, passed away in Shanghai, China, on Aug. 20, aged 74.

Fu’s deep conviction and productive service to the Lord was a powerful encouragement to Christians in China. His immensely hardworking for the cause of the Church in China with consistent adherence to the Three-Self principle was a role model and support for his fellow colleagues. The ardent love and care for the state and the church over the decades of his leadership has been exemplified through his commitment to the reconstruction of theological thinking and the advocacy of the indigenization and contextualization of the Church in China.

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” (REVELATION 14:13)

The Episcopal Church’s and the Chinese church’s relationship started with Bishop K.H. Ting, who trained in the Anglican tradition at Union Theological Seminary in New York, served as long-time principal of the board of directors of Nanjing Union Theological Seminary, and in 1955 became the bishop of Zhejiang until the Cultural Revolution.

The funeral in remembrance of Elder Fu Xianwei will be hosted at Shanghai Longhua Funeral Parlor (No. 210 Caoxi Road, Shanghai) at 9 a.m. on Sept. 5.

The memorial service is to be held at Muen Church (No. 316 Middle Xizang Road, Shanghai) at 9:30am on Sept. 6.

South Sudanese bishop speaks out against corruption

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 11:03am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Diocese of Malek Bishop Peter Jon Mayom has written an open letter to church and government leaders, calling for an end to bribery and violence. In the letter, Mayom, condemns corruption and calls for all Christians, particularly leaders, to set examples of holiness.

Read the full article.