Episcopal News Service

Subscribe to Episcopal News Service feed
The official news service of the Episcopal Church.
Updated: 1 hour 48 min ago

Episcopalians dive into local voter mobilization efforts leading up to November elections

Thu, 08/09/2018 - 4:41pm

[Episcopal News Service] The election in November will catch no one by surprise at the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dozens of church members are participating in voter education drives, and the congregation’s goal is 100 percent parishioner turnout on election day.

Civic engagement is running just as high at Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Decatur, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb. The congregation is sending parishioners to canvas the neighborhood around the church in support of statewide efforts to register up to 1.2 million new voters.

And in Indiana, the Diocese of Indianapolis has hosted voter outreach events where church volunteers are part of an interfaith initiative seeking to reach more than 100,000 Indianans who haven’t voted before.

“We often talk about how Jesus’ life shows us to be politically active. … We need to care about the most vulnerable members of our community,” said the Rev. Carol Duncan, a deacon who is coordinating St. Martin-in-the-Fields’ participation in election-related efforts. Episcopalians like Duncan have been outspoken in their call to “vote faithfully” because the church alone cannot change unjust systems. “You can’t do that unless you vote.”

The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations is based in Washington, D.C., near the Capitol and offers resources to help Episcopalians mobilize for elections in nonpartisan ways. Photo: David Paulsen

Although Episcopalians may be motivated by personal political beliefs, their church-based election efforts are necessarily nonpartisan. Those efforts also are grounded in church policies established by General Convention, which just last month passed additional resolutions calling Episcopalians to greater political engagement. That engagement has the continued support of the church’s Office of Government Relations in Washington, D.C.

“Voting and participation in our government is a way of participating in our common life, and that is a Christian obligation,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said in a video statement before the 2016 presidential election. The Office of Government Relations’ Episcopal Public Policy Network referenced Curry’s comments again this week in an updated message about the upcoming elections.

How does someone “vote faithfully”? The message issued Aug. 7 provides resources, including links to voter registration information, states’ voting policies and poling locations. It also links to the Episcopal Church’s voter “toolkit,” which provides further guidance on individual action and how to mobilize communities in ways guided by faith.

“We encourage Episcopalians to engage in the democratic process this fall by promoting voter registration, learning about candidates on the ballot in your area, making a plan for yourself to vote on Election Day, and helping others to do the same,” Office of Government Relations Director Rebecca Linder Blachly told Episcopal News Service. “Our Vote Faithfully Toolkit provides resources for parishes and individuals to get involved and to participate in our civic duty.”

We're aware folks want physical stickers of this graphic! Working on some troubleshooting with a recommended printer and will get back with folks for recommendations on ordering. #VoteFaithfully pic.twitter.com/sISJrbQUp7

— The EPPN (@TheEPPN) August 8, 2018

The Rev. Fatima Yakuba-Madus, missioner for community engagement for the Diocese of Indianapolis, saw the emailed message this week and thought it was perfect material to adapt for an upcoming diocesan newsletter. Not everyone in her diocese has time to volunteer with the ongoing voter engagement drives.

Yakuba-Madus took on the missioner role just this year, after serving since 2010 as a deacon at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Speedway, Indiana. While at St. John’s, she regularly participated in neighborhood canvasing – knocking on doors, encouraging people to vote and helping them register if they weren’t yet registered.

She now is active in the collective of congregations known as Faith in Indiana, which is leading the effort to reach more than 100,000 unregistered voters and persuade them to go to the polls on Nov. 6. Church volunteers have called some of those residents during the phone banks that diocese has hosted at Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis and St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church north of the capital in Carmel. The Episcopal volunteers are specifically focused on reaching residents in a legislative district with historically low voter turnout.

Why is that a church function? Civic action is rightly influenced by faith, Yakuba-Madus argued, taking her cue from the presiding bishop’s comments on the subject.

“We have to participate in voting,” she said. Government agencies have unparalleled capacity to fulfill the Christian mission of serving people living on the economic margins of society, and “nobody’s going to if we don’t vote.”

General Convention regularly affirms the church’s commitment to political engagement.

“Our church has policy that urges all of us to advocate for the right to vote, including eliminating barriers to voting,” Blachly said. “Voter registration issues are addressed at the state level, so we encourage you to get involved.”

Two resolutions approved in Austin last month address voting rights issues. Resolution C047 commits the church to advocating in support of the principle of “one person, one vote” – that all citizens’ votes should have equal impact on electoral outcomes.

Although the resolution doesn’t elaborate, its supporting explanation lists some examples of areas of concern: “Some impediments are as old as our nation and are embedded within the U.S. Constitution, such as the electoral college and the manner in which U.S. senators are elected,” the explanation says. “Other impediments are newer or have become increasingly problematic over recent decades, such as gerrymandering, variations in ballot access and in how votes are cast and counted across the country, certain aspects of campaign financing, and the increasingly sophisticated technology used in micro-targeting voters.”

Resolution D003 condemns measures that result in voter suppression and supports steps to increase voter participation, such as “policies that will increase early voting, extend registration periods, guarantee an adequate number of voting locations, allow absentee balloting without the necessity of having an excuse, and prohibit forms of identification that restrict voter participation.”

The resolution also singles out partisan gerrymandering for criticism and urges the National Conference of State Legislators to develop a fair process for establishing legislative and congressional districts.

Gerrymandering is the tactic of drawing districts that will favor one party over the other in elections, usually by packing similar voters into just a few districts or diluting them across several districts where they will remain in the minority. The U.S. Supreme Court chose not to rule on the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering in a decision issued earlier this year, leaving open the door to further legal challenges.

The debate over gerrymandering is complicated further by gerrymandering’s use, under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to ensure greater minority representation in Congress by drawing district lines to create what are known as “majority-minority” districts. Critics have argued, however, that this has had the long-term partisan effect of pooling more Democratic voters together and ceding more districts to Republicans.

So why should churches and Christians get involved?

“For the follower of Jesus, gerrymandering undercuts our fundamental vow to respect the dignity of every human being,” the Rev. Jarrett Kerbel, rector of Philadelphia’s St. Martin-in-the-Fields, wrote in an October 2017 article. “Participation in shaping our common life is a Christian duty and something Christians regard, respect and protect for all people regardless of affiliation, belief or nonbelief.”

Pennsylvania was then grappling with its own gerrymandering controversy, and in January, the state Supreme Court ruled the congressional district boundaries were unconstitutional. The court followed up with a map establishing new district lines that will take effect when the next term of Congress begins in 2019.

The reform group Fair Districts PA held a presentation in October 2017 at the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Pennsylvania about redistricting. The event featured the map of Pennsylvania in the form of a puzzle that attendees could piece together. Photo courtesy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields

St. Martin-in-the-Fields, meanwhile, has turned its focus to voter education and voter registration.

“We know how important voting is, particularly this year,” said Duncan, St. Martin’s deacon. Her church has partnered with a group called POWER, an interfaith coalition of more than 50 congregations focused on community organizing in southeastern and central Pennsylvania.

POWER organizers led a forum in July at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and about 40 parishioners attended to learn more about voter mobilization efforts, Duncan said. A training is scheduled Aug. 26 to coincide with the kickoff event for a voter education drive.

Other examples of Episcopal engagement can be found across the country. Good Samaritan Episcopal Church in San Diego, California, will host the League of Women Voters on Sept. 29 for a presentation about state propositions. The Diocese of Texas’ Episcopal Health Foundation partnered in 2016 with Mi Familia Vota to register Latino voters, and similar efforts in metropolitan  Houston and Atlanta are in the works for this election cycle.

“People’s votes really do matter,” said Soyini Coke, a member of Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Decatur, who is coordinating the congregation’s voter registration efforts in the metro Atlanta area.

Soyini Coke, right, arranged for a voter mobilization training at Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Decatur, Georgia, led Aug. 4 by the New Georgia Project organizers, including Carey C.J. Jenkins. Photo: Dennis Patterson Jr.

Coke admitted she was one of the citizens who never voted in elections and had been disinterested in the political process – until the November 2016 presidential election. She was disheartened by the outcome but committed herself to turning her anger into action.

“It is not sufficient to just complain,” she said, so she and about 20 parishioners met at Holy Cross on Aug. 4 for voter registration training followed by making direct contact with voters. Some broke into teams of two to knock on doors, guiding unregistered voters through the process of signing up. Others remained at the church to call potential voters on lists provided by the New Georgia Project.

The nonpartisan project has been registering Georgians to vote for several years with a goal of full participation of all eligible voters. It was able to identify 400 unregistered residents within a two-mile radius of Holy Cross, Coke said. The Aug. 4 registration drive generated 396 phone calls, 97 contacts with voters and seven new voter registrations.

That’s just the beginning. Holy Cross hopes to organize similar drives in the months leading up to the November election, Coke said. It is a majority black church, and such activism has deep roots in the black church tradition, she said.

“It’s very natural there,” she said. “If you’re going to talk about activism in the black community, the church is at the center of that and always has been.”

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

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby set to address UN Security Council

Thu, 08/09/2018 - 3:42pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop Justin Welby will become the first archbishop of Canterbury to address the U.N. Security Council when he takes part in an open debate later this month. The archbishop has been invited to brief an open debate on “mediation and its role in conflict prevention” by the U.K.’s Ambassador to the U.N., Karen Pierce. The event, on Aug. 29, is one two big “discretionary events” being organized by the U.K. during their rolling presidency of the U.N. in August.

Read the entire article here.

Christchurch Diocese in New Zealand to end residential elderly care provision

Thu, 08/09/2018 - 3:38pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglican Care, the social action agency of the New Zealand Diocese of Christchurch, is to close its two residential elderly care centres. The agency cited “exponential growth in the aged care sector” as one of the reasons behind its decision to gradually wind down operations at Bishopspark and Fitzgerald residential centres. Currently, both sites offer independent living and rest home care. Fitzgerald also offers hospital and dementia care.

Read the entire article here.

Jamaican government office apologizes to bishop over marriage form mixup

Wed, 08/08/2018 - 3:57pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Registrar General’s Department in Jamaica has apologized to Kingston Bishop Suffragan Robert Thompson after a bureaucratic mixup left him stripped of the right to conduct marriages. The mixup comes amid an ongoing controversy over a new registration system and annual fees for wedding celebrants.

Read the full article here.

Anglican cathedral damaged by World War II bomb to get repairs

Tue, 08/07/2018 - 4:17pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A bomb or shell dropped on Malta during World War II struck the tower of the Anglican cathedral and “in all likelihood affected the structural integrity of the tower and spire,” the Diocese in Europe said. Both will be “painstakingly repaired and restored” as part of major restoration project planned for the 175-year-old building, which is a dominant feature of the Valetta skyline.

Read the full article here.

Wales archbishop to highlight child poverty at cultural festival

Tue, 08/07/2018 - 4:09pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Wales John Davies will use an appearance at the National Eisteddfod, the annual Welsh cultural festival, on Aug. 8 to highlight increasing levels of child poverty in the country. The Church in Wales will lead the event alongside the Children’s Commissioner for Wales as part of a week of activities organized by Cytûn, the ecumenical group Churches Together in Wales, at the Eisteddfod.

Read the full article here.

Sydney archbishop launches emergency appeal following crippling drought

Tue, 08/07/2018 - 4:07pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The archbishop of Sydney’s development agency, Anglican Aid, has launched an emergency appeal to help communities hit by a crippling drought in Australia’s Western New South Wales. The state government says that 99 percent of New South Wales is now in drought and it has launched its own emergency aid package. The church’s aid efforts will provide resources to churches in north and western New South Wales, which are already dealing with requests for practical support for families impacted by what, in many places, is the worst drought since 1900.

Read the full article here.

Las nominaciones para los nombramientos a los Organismos Interinos vencen el 20 de agosto

Mon, 08/06/2018 - 2:42pm

[6 de agosto de 2018] El Reverendo Canónigo Michael Barlowe, secretario de la Convención General, invita a los episcopales de toda la Iglesia a solicitar su participación como miembros de los diferentes Organismos Interinos creados por la Convención General. Estos comités, comisiones y grupos de trabajo llevan a cabo la labor de la Iglesia Episcopal entre convenciones. La lista de los Organismos Interinos y el alcance de su labor está disponible aquí.

Prestar servicio en un Organismo Interino es una forma en la que los episcopales de toda la iglesia pueden participar en su gestión de gobierno. Mientras que los Comités Permanentes Conjuntos están destinados solamente a los obispos y diputados a la 79.ª Convención General, el resto de los Organismos Interinos están abiertos a todos los miembros de la Iglesia Episcopal. Los nombramientos a los Comités Permanentes son por lo general para seis años mientras que los nombramientos a los Comités Permanentes Conjuntos o grupos de trabajo son por lo general por tres años. Puede encontrar más información sobre la labor especifica de un Organismo Interino haciendo clic en su respectivo nombre.

Si desea más información o desea enviar su solicitud, puede seleccionar el formulario, ya sea eninglés o en español. Se pedirá a los solicitantes que señalen su interés por un máximo de tres Organismos Interinos.

La fecha límite para las nominaciones es el 20 de agosto de 2018. Los nombramientos estarán a cargo del Primado y la Presidente de la Cámara de Diputados y serán anunciados a fines de septiembre.

Si tiene alguna pregunta, por favor contacte la Oficina de la Convención General agcoffice@episcopalchurch.org.

Asian ecumenical leader expresses ‘profound grief’ after 100 killed in Indonesia earthquakes

Mon, 08/06/2018 - 2:41pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The general secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia has expressed his “profound grief” and condolences following the deaths of more than 100 people in a series of earthquakes in Indonesia. A 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit the island of Lombok, a popular international tourist destination, on July 29. It resulted in the deaths of 16 people. On Aug. 5, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake 19 miles damaged thousands of houses and buildings and caused the deaths of at least 98 people. There have been at least 130 aftershocks.

Read the full article here.

Nominations for appointment to interim bodies due Aug. 20

Mon, 08/06/2018 - 2:40pm

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Michael Barlowe, secretary of General Convention, invites Episcopalians from across the church to apply for appointment to the various interim bodies created by General Convention. These committees, commissions, and task forces carry out the work of the Episcopal Church between conventions. A list of the interim bodies and the scope of their work is here.

Serving on an interim body is a way for Episcopalians across the church to participate in its governance. While the Joint Standing Committees are only open to bishops and deputies to the 79thGeneral Convention, all other interim bodies are open to all members of the Episcopal Church. Appointments to standing commissions are generally for six years while appointments to joint standing committees or task forces are generally for three years. Information regarding the work of a specific interim body may be found by clicking on its name.

For more information or to submit an application, please select either the English or Spanish language survey. Applicants will be asked to indicate their interest in up to three interim bodies.

The deadline for nominations is Aug. 20, 2018. Appointments will be made by the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies and announced in late September.

If you have any questions, please contact the Office of the General Convention at gcoffice@episcopalchurch.org.

Zimbabwean churches issue plea for end to international isolation

Mon, 08/06/2018 - 2:37pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The ecumenical body representing the Christian churches in Zimbabwe has called for an end to sanctions and international isolation imposed on the country. In a “pastoral statement” issued on Aug. 3, after the announcement of the country’s presidential election results, the churches include a message to the international community in which they say punitive measures imposed on Zimbabwe will affect ordinary Zimbabweans rather than the country’s leaders.

Read the full article here.

Cristóbal León Lozano is elected bishop of Ecuador Litoral

Mon, 08/06/2018 - 2:36pm

Cristóbal León Lozano was elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Ecuador Litoral on August 4, 2018. Photo Glenda McQueen

[Episcopal News Service] Cristobal Leon Lozano was elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Ecuador Litoral on Aug. 4, 2018.

He will succeed to the Rt. Rev. Alfredo Morante España, who has been the diocesan bishop for 23 years.

León was elected in the first ballot taken during the electoral assembly held at the Cathedral Church of Christ the King [Cristo Rey] in Guayaquil. The election was attended by the President of Province IX [of The Episcopal Church] and bishop of Ecuador Central, the Rt. Rev. Víctor Scantlebury; the Bishop of Puerto Rico and Vice President of Province IX, the Rt. Rev. Rafael Morales; the Rev. Glenda McQueen from the President Bishop’s staff, and two representatives of the companion Diocese of New Jersey.

The two others nominated are also archdeacons in the diocese:

The Rev. Canon. Gina Angulo  – archdeacon of Los Rios Area.

The Rev. Canon Jerónimo Álava – archdeacon of Santa Elena Area

León was ordained priest on March 22, 1998 and he is the archdeacon of Manabí. He is married to Chila and they have three children: Rocío, Jaime and Shirley. Bishop Morante reports that the consecration of the new bishop is scheduled by Jan. 12, 2019.

Ecuador Litoral elige Cristobal Leon Lozano obispo

Mon, 08/06/2018 - 1:37pm

Cristobal Leon Lozano fue electo Obispo en la Diócesis Episcopal de Ecuador Litoral el 4 de agosto de 2018. Foto: Glenda McQueen

Cristobal Leon Lozano fue electo Obispo en la Diócesis Episcopal de Ecuador Litoral el 4 de agosto de 2018.

Sucederá al Revdmo Alfredo Morante España quien ha sido diocesano por 23 años.

Leon resultó electo en la primera votación durante la asamblea electoral celebrada en la Catedral de Cristo Rey en Guayaquil. Presentes en la elección estuvieron el Presidente de la IX Provincia y Obispo de Ecuador Central, Revdmo. Víctor Scantlebury, el Obispo de Puerto Rico y Vice’presidente de la IX Provincia, Revdmo. Rafael Morales, del Staff del Primado la Revda. Glenda McQueen y dos representantes de la Diócesis Compañera de New Jersey.

Los otros dos nominados son tambien Arcedianos en la Diócesis:

La Revda. Canóniga Gina Angulo  – Arcediana del Área de Los Rios

El Revdo. Canónigo Jerónimo Álava – Arcediano del Área de Santa Elena

León fue ordenado Presbítero el 22 de marzo de 1998 y es el Arcediano de Manabí. Esta casado con Ita Chila y tienen 3 hijos: Rocio, Jaime y Shirley Leon Chila. El Obispo Morante informa que la Consagración del nuevo obispo esta programada para el 12 de enero de 2019.

Grant program to be developed to support congregations’ grassroots work on racial healing

Mon, 08/06/2018 - 11:19am

[Episcopal News Service] One of the biggest developments at the 79th General Convention related to the Episcopal Church’s work on racial reconciliation was the approval of a new grant program to support grassroots efforts, building on the progress made under the church’s new Becoming Beloved Community framework.

The grant program outlined in Resolution D002 marks the first time the church will provide direct financial support for Episcopalians working toward racial healing and justice in their congregations and communities. The 2019-2021 church budget includes $750,000 for the grants, much less than the $5 million recommended by D002, but these initiatives – such as forums, workshops and informal gatherings – often don’t need a lot of money to become viable and thrive.

“It is exciting to think about how $750,000 over three years could really seed some powerful work,” said Heidi Kim, the church’s staff officer for racial reconciliation, and she is hopeful that the grant process will shine a brighter light on existing efforts already making a difference. “I think people all over the church are doing amazing things that we just don’t know about.”

The church also is taking steps to bring those people together to share their insights. Another resolution, A228, calls for the creation of a Becoming Beloved Community summit by the end of 2019 to support and inspire the leaders of such initiatives.

The resolution references the church’s aspiration to create “a network of healers, justice makers, and reconcilers” who would benefit from the pool of knowledge and shared experiences. Church leaders and staff members point to the model of the Episcopal Church’s church planting network, through which the creators of new ministries receive grant money and learn from fellow church planters.

“That’s when grants make a huge difference in the church, and that’s what we now have the opportunity to build around Beloved Community,” said the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, the presiding bishop’s canon for evangelism, reconciliation and creation care.

General Convention in 2015 identified racial reconciliation as one of the church’s three top priorities, along with evangelism and creation care, acknowledging the church’s decades-old efforts to confront its historic complicity in the sin of racism during the eras of slavery and segregation.

The labyrinth diagram showing the four parts of the Episcopal Church’s Becoming Beloved Community is colored for an Advent mailing.

Becoming Beloved Community is a framework that launched just last year. It is broken into four parts that are illustrated as a labyrinth: telling the truth about our churches and race, proclaiming the dream of Beloved Community, practicing the way of love in the pattern of Jesus and repairing the breach in society.

Because Becoming Beloved Community launched in the middle of the triennium, about $1 million was left from the money budgeted for implementation in 2016-18. When the 79th General Convention met last month in Austin, Texas, it approved a new budget that applies that unused amount to continued implementation in the new triennium.

A total of $10.4 million was OK’d for racial justice and reconciliation work over the next three years. That amount includes a range of expenses, from anti-poverty initiatives to ethnic ministries, as well as Becoming Beloved Community and the new grant program. The grant program was assigned to Executive Council for development and implementation. Executive Council meets next in October.

The local focus of the grants will be critical, said the Rev. Edwin Johnson, a deputy from Massachusetts and chair of General Convention’s Racial Justice and Reconciliation Committee.

“We’re excited because there is considerable funding available for communities to do this work in their own context,” said Johnson, who is rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Dorchester, Massachusetts. “There was overwhelming support in both houses [of General Convention] for this work and, in particular, for work that is decentralized.”

Johnson points to the experience of his own congregation, which is largely Afro-Caribbean. He received a Mission Enterprise Zone grant to start a Spanish-language ministry there, and it has thrived with support from the network of Episcopal church planters.

Johnson is active in the development of a similar network of racial reconciliation leaders. About 50 people testified before Johnson’s committee at General Convention about the various resolutions assigned to the committee, and afterward, he reached out to each of them to enlist them in a new community of action around racial healing.

“I think we did a really good job of bringing forth and calling forth new leadership in this area,” he said. Their energy is “precisely what we’re going to need for the long haul.”

Catherine Meeks, one of the pre-eminent leaders in the church’s longtime push for racial justice, echoed Johnson in emphasizing the role of congregations.

“This work has to be done at the parish level ultimately. … Becoming Beloved Community is trying to make that happen,” she said. “The more informed, the more conscious people are, hopefully, the more they engage with the work.”

Meeks’ work in developing and conducting anti-racism training for the Diocese of Atlanta has served as a model churchwide for such training, which was mandated for ordained and lay leaders by a 2000 resolution passed by General Convention. Implementation has been uneven.

“It’s a mandate that nobody really enforces,” she said, and dioceses’ track record of implementing plans for the training continues to be a topic regularly taken up by General Convention.

Last month, General Convention passed Resolution A044 attempting to clarify the criteria for such training, suggesting a structure that coincides with the four parts of Becoming Beloved Community. Another resolution, A045, acknowledges “not all dioceses have followed the spirit of the anti-racism training required,” and it calls for better documentation of participation in the training.

The training is vital, Meeks said, because it provides a safe setting for Episcopalians to confront tough questions about their church and themselves while helping them open their minds and consider ways they engage in racial healing and justice.

Meeks now serves as executive director of the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing, a ministry of the Diocese of Atlanta that offers a churchwide resource for fostering open dialogue about race and racism.

At the same time, Meeks led a push this year to move away from the term “anti-racism” in favor of a greater focus on healing, justice and reconciliation. She helped Atlanta Bishop Robert Wright and others draft Resolution B004, which sought that shift in language.

“To talk about our work under the rubric of healing and justice and reconciliation just has a more positive energy around it and states what we’re trying to do in the world,” Meeks said.

Questions about the language of reconciliation and clarifying the mandate of the Executive Council Committee on Anti-Racism generated spirited debate during General Convention, and it ultimately ended in something of a compromise. “Anti-racism” remains in the committee’s name, but “reconciliation” was added, making it the Executive Council Committee on Anti-Racism & Reconciliation. And the approved version of B004 adjusts the church’s focus to “dismantling racism” while adding the emphasis on “racial healing, justice and reconciliation.”

“What pleased me the most was the conversation we had around the issue, because I think that conversation was very healthy and very needed,” Meeks said.

Many people feel strongly about these issues, whether affirming the need to maintain a focus on dismantling racism or pushing for a more theological approach to racial healing, said Kim, the staff officer for reconciliation. The value of the Becoming Beloved Community framework, she said, is that it seeks to engage all Episcopalians in that conversation, wherever they may be on their spiritual journey.

“We all have room to grow in terms of how we can be reconcilers and healers,” she said.

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

La Unión de Episcopales Negros cumple 50

Fri, 08/03/2018 - 4:13pm

[Episcopal News Service – Nassau, Bahamas] La Unión de Episcopales Negros [UBE por su sigla en inglés] resumió aquí un foro celebratorio el 27 de julio, revisando y renovando el compromiso histórico de la organización con la justicia para todos, abrazando el camino del amor del Movimiento de Jesús y afirmando su llamado a los jóvenes y a ministrar a los más vulnerables.

Unos 300 jóvenes, jóvenes adultos, laicos y clérigos de toda América y el Reino Unido disfrutaron de la cálida hospitalidad y clima isleño de Nassau, así como de oportunidades de Oración Matutina y estudio bíblico diarios. El sermón de apertura del obispo primado Michael Curry el día 23 en la iglesia catedral de Cristo [Christ Church Cathedral] provocó animados y abarrotados cultos nocturnos en los que hubo coros de góspel, música de jazz y ministerios de danza en las congregaciones locales.

Cuando el 25 de julio Curry anunció que tenía que someterse a una cirugía por cáncer de próstata, los asistentes al [evento] de la UBE  se sintieron consternados y guardaron silencio, respondiendo en oración como lo hicieron miles de episcopales y anglicanos en todo el mundo.

Audaces ponentes y panelistas sopesaron el papel de la UBE y su continua importancia en un mundo postcristiano, cada vez más dividido racial y étnicamente y  políticamente peligroso. Los debates incluyeron las complejidades del multiculturalismo, el convertirse en la amada comunidad, el Movimiento de Jesús, la justicia medioambiental y las tendencias clericales y el liderazgo de la juventud en la actualidad.

Annette Buchanan, presidente nacional de la UBE, renovó la misión de la organización de apoyar a seminaristas afroamericanos como Shawn Evelyn, a la izquierda, de la Diócesis de Los Ángeles, que asiste al Seminario Teológico de Virginia. Foto de Pat McCaughan/ENS.

La presidente nacional de la UBE, Annette Buchanan, definió la organización como “la mayor  agrupación de defensa social de la Iglesia Episcopal”. Y anunció la adición de nuevos capítulos, expandiendo así la iniciativa de promoción social colaborativa y brindando constante apoyo a jóvenes, seminaristas, congregaciones, clérigos e instituciones negros.

Aaron Ferguson ex becario de la UBE, y al presente asesor financiero en Atlanta, le dijo a los asistentes al banquete el 26 de julio que la mentoría y el apoyo de la organización transformó su vida. Le dio oportunidades de viajar, de crear amistades duraderas, de obtener becas universitarias y de conseguir nombramientos para organismos de la Iglesia tales como la Comisión Permanente sobre Intereses Nacionales a la edad de 19 años.

“Oímos hablar de las reuniones de la junta, de las reuniones de negocios, hablamos de todas esas cosas Pero la UBE está imbuida de un espíritu que ha afectado mi vida enormemente”, afirmó él. “Yo les prometo, que hay algunos jóvenes aquí cuyas vidas cambiarán de un modo que no pueden imaginarse, con la manera extraordinaria que tiene la UBE de funcionar, de crear ese santuario interior de paz, de confianza y seguridad para los jóvenes negros en la Iglesia”.

La UBE: ‘hecha para una época como ésta’

No ajena a tiempos tormentosos, la UBE surgió en 1968, el mismo año en que asesinaron al Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. y en que la Comisión Kerner llegaba a la conclusión de que las revueltas y disturbios civiles de la nación en 1967 los provocaba una tendencia constante hacia dos sociedades: una negra, otra blanca; separadas y desiguales.

La Rda. Gayle Fisher Stewart, pastora asociada en la iglesia El Calvario [Calvary Church] en Washington, D.C., y codecana de la conferencia,  dijo que ese conocimiento hacía la celebración del aniversario “apasionante, pero también agridulce, porque estamos viendo las mismas condiciones en nuestra sociedad entonces y ahora”.

La Rda. Kelly Brown Douglas, decana de la Escuela de Teología Episcopal en el Seminario Teológico Unión, y una de los ponentes, se mostró de acuerdo.

“Hemos recorrido un largo, largo trecho durante estos 50 años, sin embargo… la misma violencia que le quitó la vida a Martin Luther King sigue siendo una realidad dominante y extendida en nuestro país, en nuestra nación hoy día”, le dijo ella a la reunión vía Skype desde Nueva York.

“La bala de ese asesino es una manifestación de la mismísima violencia que es el legado de la esclavitud, la mismísima violencia que es la supremacía blanca… que consiste en ‘hacer a Estados Unidos grande de nuevo’”, dijo ella en medio de aplausos.

Los afroamericanos siguen padeciendo desproporcionadamente de extrema pobreza, de racismo institucionalizado y de falta de viviendas decentes, de oportunidades laborales, educativas y recreativas. Tales carencias contribuyen a la violencia generalizada —tanto autoinfligida como, frecuentemente, a manos de los agentes de la autoridad— y hace más probable la posible encarcelación, contribuyendo a lo que Douglas llamó  “una vía de la pobreza a la prisión y a la muerte”.

Las tasas de pobreza en EE.UU. ascienden a un 22 por ciento para los negros y a un 19 por ciento para los latinos, más del doble del 8,8 por ciento para los blancos. Los afroamericanos constituyen el 13,2 por ciento de la población de EE.UU., pero tienen 5,1 veces más probabilidades que los blancos de estar encarcelados; constituyendo casi el 40 por ciento de la población penal, dijo ella.

Pero Douglas y la Rda. Stephanie Spellers, canóniga del Obispo Primado para la evangelización y la reconciliación, describieron las iniciativas del Primado como un modo para la Iglesia negra de fortalecer su fe característica y de ayudar a otros a progresar a pesar del clima actual.

El Movimiento de Jesús de Curry nos llama a una regla de vida, a un modo de vida,  a volver “al centro de la  fe de los negros… a descubrir lo que impulsaba a los esclavos a seguir luchando por la justicia contra toda esperanza y nunca sucumbir a las esclavizantes condiciones de muerte que los rodeaban”, dijo Douglas.

Esa fe nació de la lucha y del reto, sin embargo cuando los esclavos cantaban spirituals tales como “Presenciaste la muerte del Señor” [Were You There When They Crucified My Lord], estaban afirmando la presencia de Jesús con ellos en su sufrimiento y en su dolor. Que no sólo él estaba allí con ellos, sino que ellos estaban presentes para él también. “Ellos vivían en esta realidad crucificada” de la cual extrajeron fuerzas para sobrevivir, afirmó.

Ese cántico representa tanto un llamado como un desafío para la realidad presente de la Iglesia negra, añadió. “¿Qué significa estar allí con Jesús, no al pie de la cruz, sino en la cruz? ¿Qué significa eso : estar con las clases de personas crucificadas de nuestro propio tiempo?”

Douglas dijo que lo que significa no es luchar para estar en el centro interno (de las instituciones), sino más bien ser responsable y estar en solidaridad con los que están en “el lado inferior de los de afuera”: en solidaridad con los más vulnerables en la actualidad, tales como los adolescentes transexuales, que tienen el índice de suicidios más alto de la nación, o con padres inmigrantes que buscan asilo separados de sus hijos.

Spellers dijo a la reunión que el 19 de mayo, el sermón de Curry en la boda real “proclamó el Evangelio y el mundo respondió con un resonante ‘¡amén!”Ahora, los episcopales negros tienen que salir de las sombras y afuera de nuestras iglesias y proclamarlo también, proclamar el Evangelio que conocemos. Proclamar el amor y el poder salvífico del Dios que conocemos en Cristo de manera que el mundo pueda conocerlo y amarlo también”.

El 19 de mayo fue el día en que “los cristianos despertaron y dijeron, “esa no es la Iglesia que yo dejé cuando tenía 13 años. Voy a volver’. Ese fue el día en que los ateos comenzaron a enviar mensajes por Twitter. ‘Si eso es ser cristiano, apúntenme’”.

En el transcurso de una semana después de la boda real, una recién creada página de Facebook, Episcopal Evangelists, tenía 2.000 seguidores, señaló ella. En una parodia de  “Saturday Night Live” en la que Kenan Thompson hacía el papel de Curry, este tuvo algunas frases que le encantaron al Obispo Primado, como “me dieron cinco minutos, pero el buen Dios los multiplicó por unos fantásticos 15”.

Después que  Curry predicó, la gente no sólo comentó su sermón, dijo Spellers, sino que “debatieron acerca del poder del amor. La palabra ‘episcopal’ fue el término más buscado en Google ese sábado. La gente estaba muy curiosa respecto a lo que es esta Iglesia, y la clase de Jesús que esta conoce”.

El Obispo Primado alertó al mundo acerca de la Iglesia Episcopal. Pero “en momentos como estos…cuando la supremacía blanca ha ganado no sólo un asidero, sino que duerme en la Casa Blanca… cuando nuestra nación se burla de los pobres y de los refugiados y de las viudas y de los niños y de todos los que Jesús tanto amó”, el mundo también necesita cristianos para despertarse, dijo Spellers.

“El mundo necesita episcopales cuyas vidas dependen del Dios que conocemos en Jesucristo, y si hay personas en esta Iglesia que han necesitado esta fe para sobrevivir, que han arrancado esta fe de la mano del colonizador y de la mano del amo, sin duda esos son los episcopales negros”, le dijo Spellers a los reunidos.

La UBE está celebrando no sólo medio siglo, sino 400 años de anglicanos negros en este continente, añadió ella, con “los altibajos, las pruebas y los triunfos que nos han traído hasta este momento… La cuestión ahora es, ¿Sabemos qué hora es?”.

Multiculturalismo y convertirse en la amada comunidad

Gayle Harris, la obispa sufragánea de Massachusetts, fue la primera mujer en celebrar la eucaristía en la iglesia anglicana de la Santa Cruz en Nassau, Bahamas. Foto de Pat McCaughan/ENS.

Los debates de panel se centraron en las cambiantes circunstancias que afectan a muchas iglesias negras que ya son vulnerables, tales como las decrecientes oportunidades de empleo para el clero tradicional de jornada completa, y medios para acoger a las diferentes identidades culturales, entre ellos los jóvenes que en gran medida han abandonado la Iglesia.

Elliston Rahming, autor y embajador de Bahamas ante las Naciones Unidas, dijo a la asamblea que, si bien Estados Unidos se enorgullece de ser un “crisol” para todas las identidades culturales, el porcentaje de extranjeros en la población en general ha permanecido estático durante los últimos 156 años.

“En 1860, los ciudadanos de EE.UU. que habían nacido en el exterior representaban alrededor del 13,2 por ciento de la población. En 2016, había 43 millones de ciudadanos nacidos en el exterior dentro de Estados Unidos, los cuales representan alrededor del 13,5”, afirmó.

Citando un  artículo de Ed Stetzer en Christianity Today, Rahming añadió:  “La Iglesia está llamada a ser un instrumento para mostrar y compartir el amor de Jesús en el mundo. La Iglesia es también una señal que apunta al Reino de Dios y que actúa como un testigo creíble del poder e Dios. Se supone que la gente mire a la Iglesia y diga que es a lo que el Reino de Dios debe parecerse”.

Sin embargo, para parafrasear a Martin Luther King, “las 11 de la mañana del domingo, sigue siendo la hora de mayor segregación en EE.UU.”, dijo él.

Heidi Kim, la misionera para reconciliación racial de la Iglesia, y el Rdo. Chuck Wynder, misionero para la justicia social y el activismo promocional, presentaron “Convertirse en la Amada Comunidad” una iniciativa reconciliadora para ayudar a “reparar la brecha”.

Kim y Wynder, que han organizado peregrinaciones  de justicia como una manera de recuperación y transformación, calificaron este recurso de creativo, adaptable y diferente.

“Anteriormente creíamos que bastaba con que todo el mundo hiciera su adiestramiento antirracista y luego todos estaríamos adiestrados y todo andaría bien, pero eso no funcionó”, dio Kim.

La Rda. Sandye Wilson dijo que coordinar auténticas relaciones en la iglesia episcopal de San Andrés y la Santa Comunión [St. Andrew and Holy Communion] en South Orange, Nueva Jersey, donde ella es rectora, exige “intensa oración, con un profundo respeto por las tradiciones de todas las personas que están allí, con una oportunidad de que las personas aprendan unas de otras”.

Wilson dijo: “Mi reto para nosotros es reconocer que el tipo de hospitalidad que tenemos que ofrecer a la gente es muy diferente del de hace años cuando los negros norteamericanos se sentaban en un lado del pasillo en las iglesias y la gente del Caribe se sentaba en el otro. Sólo porque nos parezcamos, no significa que nuestras experiencias hayan sido semejantes. Y nuestra hermenéutica de la vida está determinada por nuestras experiencias vividas”.

En otra discusión de taller, la Rda. Anne Mallonee, vicepresidente ejecutiva y primera directora eclesiástica del Grupo de Pensiones de la Iglesia, dijo que el modelo tradicional del sacerdote de jornada completa está en decadencia debido al decreciente número de miembros, a las congregaciones que envejecen, a las promesas y a las ofrendas de bandeja que se mantienen estáticas, acompañado por un alza de los costos —tendencias que provocaron que algunos delegados jóvenes de la UBE cuestionaran el objetivo de la Iglesia de crear un liderazgo cuando las congregaciones son incapaces de compensarlos equitativamente.

Activismo estratégico: ‘Un asiento a la mesa’

La UBE añadió tres nuevos capítulos —Haití, Alabama y Costa del Golfo Central— a las 35 con que cuenta al presente, colaboró con la Consulta y Diputados de Color para ayudar a garantizar una representación en los organismos electos de la Iglesia, y aprobó una legislación de apoyo en la 79ª. Convención General, lo cual le permitió a sus miembros tener “un asiento a la mesa”, según Buchanan en su discurso en la reunión del negocios del 26 de julio.

La UBE también apoyó el nombramiento de la Iglesia Episcopal del Rdo. Ron Byrd como misionero para la oficina del Ministerio de los Negros, dijo ella. Byrd, que estaba programado para hablar en la reunión, tuvo que ausentarse debido a una enfermedad de familia.

Los participantes jóvenes de la UBE planearon y llevaron a cabo un servicio de culto en la iglesia anglicana de la Santa Cruz en Nassau, Bahamas. Foto de Pat McCaughan/ENS.

Julia Jones y Cameron Scott, representantes de los jóvenes informaron que una docena de jóvenes  procedentes de Texas, Florida, Pensilvania, Alaska, Michigan y Georgia asistieron a la conferencia. Participaron en un proyecto de servicio local justo con sus homólogos bahameños, explicó Jones.

También dirigieron el culto vespertino el 25 de julio, una misa de jazz en la iglesia anglicana de la Santa Cruz [Holy Cross Anglican Church], “el momento culminante de nuestra conferencia”,  según Jones. “Indudablemente, sentimos el movimiento del Espíritu Santo”.

Y si bien un panel de representantes de los jóvenes reclamaron un cambio, diciéndole a la asamblea que estaban frustrados con su falta de voz, poder y desempeño en el liderazgo de la Iglesia, dijo Jones, “Sabemos que somos el futuro y estamos orgullosos de vivir a la altura de ese desafío”.

El continuo apoyo de la UBE a la Universidad de San Agustín [St. Augustine’s University] en Raleigh, Carolina del Norte, y Voorhees College en Denmark, Carolina del Sur, dos colegios universitarios tradicionalmente negros, fue reconocido por sus respectivos presidentes, que informaron del aumento en la matrícula y los empeños de recaudación de fondos, la expansión de los currículos y los índices de retención más elevados.

Buchanan dijo que las prioridades de la UBE siguen siendo fomentar la vitalidad de las iglesias negras y apoyar al laicado y al clero. La organización planea ofrecer programas de tutoría para ambos y ya ha procurado robustecer sus lazos con clérigos en las diócesis de Nueva Jersey, Newark, Nueva York, Long Island y Maryland.

Asimismo, la organización ofreció ayuda económica y material a las víctimas del huracán Irma, tanto en Estados Unidos como en las Islas Vírgenes Británicas. La organización espera contratar clérigos para estadas de tres o cuatro semanas en las Islas Vírgenes y ofrecerle un descanso necesario al clero sobrecargado, dijo ella.

La próxima reunión anual está programada para fines de julio de 2019 en Los Ángeles.

Las personas galardonadas en el banquete de la organización del 27 de julio fueron:

  • Diane Porter, con el Premio Marie Hopkins, por notables contribuciones a la misión social de la Iglesia.
  • La concejal de Austin, Texas, Ora Houston, con el Premio Dra. Verna Dozier, por labor orientada al servicio.
  • El Dr. John F. Robertson, miembro fundador de la UBE, con un reconocimiento especial de la comunidad por iniciativas relativas a la salud física y mental y “por garantizar que la UBE siga siendo una comunidad sana”, dijo Buchanan.
  • El Rdo. Donald G. Kerr, cura auxiliar de la parroquia de San Bernabé [ Barnabas] en Nassau, por coordinar la primera reunión de la organización fuera de Estados Unidos; y
  • El obispo de Panamá Julio Murray, que en agosto será consagrado como primado de la Iglesia en América Central, con el Premio Presidencial 2018 por su constante apoyo a los jóvenes y a la UBE.

Él llamó al premio “una sorpresa. Ustedes hacen lo que hacen porque Dios nos ha dado talentos y dones y debemos compartir”, le dijo él a los presentes.

“La Unión ha desempeñado una parte muy importante en mi vida”, dijo Murray, añadiendo que la organización da voz a hermanos y hermanas a través de la diáspora y levanta líderes jóvenes. Nos necesitamos mutuamente; debemos cuidar los unos de los otros.

“Unión de Episcopales Negros, no se detengan solamente en el cambio. Debemos seguir trabajando por la transformación”, afirmó él.

“Si se detienen en el cambio, volveremos atrás a hacer lo que solíamos hacer y algo de eso está ocurriendo ahora. Luego, debemos movernos y trabajar juntos por la transformación, de manera que nunca sea lo que estamos acostumbrados a hacer, sino que será parte como (el obispo primado) Michael (Curry) diría, del sueño que Dios tiene para todos nosotros”.

– La Rda. Pat McCaughan es corresponsal de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Zimbabwe’s Churches call for calm following post-election violence

Fri, 08/03/2018 - 11:10am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Christian leaders in Zimbabwe have appealed for calm in the country following post-election violence in which at least three people have been killed. “Life is more important than everything else,” the Zimbabwe Council of Churches said on its Facebook page. “Let us desist from acts of violence.” Official results from Monday’s poll – the country’s first without Robert Mugabe in almost four decades – gave President Emmerson Mnangagwa from the Zanu-PF 2.46 million votes (50.8 per cent); and MDC opposition leader Nelson Chamisa 2.15 million votes (44.3 per cent). Chamisa has said that the MDC intend to launch a legal challenge against the official results.

Read the entire article here.

Rare 700-year-old Bible returns to Canterbury Cathedral, five centuries after it was removed

Fri, 08/03/2018 - 11:08am

[Anglican Communion News Service] A rare medieval Bible has been returned to Canterbury Cathedral, the mother church of the worldwide Anglican Communion, some 500 years after it was removed. The Lyghfield Bible – named after the 16th-century monk who once owned it – was amongst a number of items removed from the cathedral’s monastic library at the time of the reformation. The monastic community at Canterbury was one of many which were dissolved on the orders of Henry VIII as he attempted to assert his authority over the newly independent church and plunder its assets.

Read the entire article here.

Diocese of Virginia bishop to retire in November

Fri, 08/03/2018 - 10:56am

Editor’s note: Diocese of Virginia Bishop Shannon S. Johnston announced Aug. 3 that he will resign his office in three months.

The announcement appears to culminate a process that began in October 2017 when he announced plans to seek a bishop suffragan after the retirement of the Rt. Rev. Ted Gulick, assistant bishop. Then on May 24, Johnston announced an end to the search, citing “serious questions raised by members of the diocesan staff having to do with the leadership and the culture among diocesan staff,” and taking “full responsibility for this situation.” Johnston also said that he had begun to look more seriously about retiring earlier than he had originally planned, having reached age 60 and with 30 years of service in the Episcopal Church.

Diocese of Virginia Bishop Shannon S. Johnston Has announced he will resign Nov. 3. Photo: Diocese of Virginia via Facebook

Dear Diocesan Family,

After many months of intense prayer and reflection, and in close consultation with the presiding bishop and our Standing Committee, I am formally announcing that I have decided to resign my office and ministry as Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia effective November 3, 2018, prior to the adjournment of our annual convention. I will then serve the diocese in a consulting capacity to facilitate the transition to new leadership. I will fully retire effective July 1, 2019, having served over twelve years as a bishop in this diocese.

First of all, I want to say in all honesty that being the XIII Bishop of Virginia has been the greatest honor and privilege of my life. I love this diocese with all my heart. I have also had extraordinary opportunities in places across the globe. I have learned much about the “big things” as well as about how deeply meaningful the so-called small things can be. After all these years of ministry serving as your bishop, there is something surreal about letting go. I have no idea what will come next, except that I shall take an extended period of rest, which will include times for spiritual retreat and discernment.  I know that I shall miss my week-to-week ministry, especially spending time with our clergy and interacting with parishioners, but, actually, I am quite excited to have things so open-ended! Ellen and I shall remain in Richmond, where we very happily bought a home two years ago. We look forward to having more time to spend with friends as well as taking opportunities to travel. I also want to make up for a lot of lost time with my family in Alabama and Georgia.

I am proud of the work and accomplishments that we have achieved together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Several of these accomplishments include:

  • the successful resolution of the unprecedented lawsuit returning schismatically-claimed property for the mission of the Episcopal Church;
  • the historic success of the capital campaign for our camps program at Shrine Mont;
  • embracing and fully including LGBT Christians in our ordination process and in the rite of Christian marriage;
  • our recovery of the church’s voice for faith and advocacy in the “public square,” raised in our internationally-noted presence at the Charlottesville rally opposing the white supremacy demonstrations, as we had already opened a critical dialogue on the sin and experience of racism;
  • the newly re-drawn diocesan regions that better reflect-and thus will better serve-the demographics and growth of today’s Commonwealth of Virginia;
  • and (lastly but surely not least) our diocese is growing again, and our unity, confidence, and morale are high.

There is so much more that could be noted. I certainly do not claim or imply that “I” did all this, but we did, and I am rightly proud of this era I have shared with you in the life of the Diocese of Virginia.

My reasons for reaching this decision that a change of leadership is now good and wise begin with the fact that I feel that I have given my all. Quite simply, “the time” has come. I truly believe that I have done all that I can to accomplish what I feel I was called here to do. And so, I am convinced that it is now time for new vision and new energy for the church in our diocese.

Equally important as a factor in my decision is that my wife Ellen and I are looking toward sharing an active and full life in retirement years. As I reach the age of sixty (after serving the church for over thirty years), and being in strong health, I have confidently chosen to claim this season of life for the fuller nurture of our personal life.  Someone else can assume my responsibilities as bishop of Virginia, but no one else can love Ellen as I do.

As I write this letter I realize with certainty that my decision is for the best. While I am aware that there is some speculation about my retirement, please know that this letter conveys what is in fact my own personal truth about my decision to resign. You should also know that it is in consultation with my closest friends, colleagues, and advisors that Ellen and I agree that it is time for me to move on, in God’s grace for us and for the Diocese of Virginia. Be assured that the presiding bishop’s office will be in communication with our diocesan leadership regarding the next steps and the particulars for episcopal leadership in Virginia going forward.

I look upon my ministry as bishop among you in terms of having shared milestone moments of God moving decisively in the lives of Virginia Episcopalians. We have grown together as disciples of Jesus Christ. That is what the church is all about. In the end, I am profoundly gratified by what I believe to have been a consequential episcopate.

Faithfully yours,

The Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston

XIII Bishop of Virginia