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African diocese awards stoves to winners of plastic artwork contest

Thu, 06/29/2017 - 3:58pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Environmentally friendly stoves were the prize on offer in the southern Africa country of Swaziland to winners of an Anglican diocese artwork competition that threw up the challenge of making mats out of plastic waste.

Bishop of Swaziland Ellinah Wamukoya launched the plastic artwork competition for the Mother’s Union with the objective of encouraging people to recycle and to reduce waste being disposed of in the environment. The Dean of All Saints Cathedral Rev. A. Dlamini, who was representing the bishop, awarded the stoves to nine winning parishes.

Full article.

Presiding Bishop ‘deeply concerned’ about Bruno’s actions, places ‘partial restriction’

Thu, 06/29/2017 - 2:56pm

Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno spent nearly seven hours March 29 and 30 talking to the Hearing Panel considering the disciplinary action against him. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, citing behavior that “may threaten the good order and welfare of the Church,” has taken disciplinary action against Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno while a disciplinary panel weighs whether to punish Bruno further over his role in a failed land sale.

“I am deeply concerned that his act of entering into a new contract for sale of the same property, while his approach to the earlier sale is still under review, has the potential to undermine the integrity of the Church’s disciplinary process,” Curry said in a statement released June 29. “The secrecy with which the recent sales contract was undertaken adds to the potential for undermining the integrity of the Church’s disciplinary process.”

The full statement is posted here.

Curry placed a “partial restriction on the ministry of a bishop,” meaning the Los Angeles bishop is forbidden from taken any action related to the property of the congregation in question, St. James Episcopal Church.

– This is a developing story. Refresh for updates as they are available. David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

Northern California youth trek centered on racial reconciliation, environmental justice

Thu, 06/29/2017 - 12:40pm

Young people hike in Yosemite National Park during the Pathways pilgrimage organized by the Diocese of Northern California from June 19 to 23. Photo: Diocese of Northern California, via Facebook.

[Episcopal Diocese of Northern California] A great movement doesn’t always begin with great big steps. And young people in the Diocese of Northern California are discovering that when it comes to racial reconciliation and environmental justice, the small steps they are taking may help others to understand what it takes to break down barriers and truly become the family of God.

From June 19 to 23, 24 young people ages 14 to 18 joined with nine young adult leaders and 12 older leaders, the bishop and a couple of visitors from the Office of the Bishop to explore unusual and historic places where racial discrimination and environmental degradation led people to fight injustice.

After a day of hiking through Yosemite, and talking about the national parks system and the prophetic voice of John Muir, they boarded a bus on June 21 to take them to California’s Central Valley, where they visited Cesar Chavez’s 40 Acres and Allensworth State Park, enduring 109-degree walks across nearly treeless farmland.

As one of the older adult leaders, the Rev. Kathy Hopner of Trinity Cathedral, pointed out, the younger participants had the most incredible insights into their pilgrimages, such as the following:

  • “This week has been full of discovery. Not only discovery from all the different sites, but from each other and our adults.”
  • “I loved how we went straight to the source of water. Most groups just talk about issues but never get to truly experience them.”
  • “Water is everywhere and is part of everyone, and connects all of us despite our differences.”
  • “It’s eye-opening to see all the good in the world amidst all the bad.”

Bishop Barry Beisner said he was awed and impressed by the depth of the involvement of the participants. “They really took seriously what it means to be followers of Jesus and I was taken with how responsive they were to the call to be part of the Jesus Movement. They were so authentic and involved in the music and liturgy. It was so inspiring to me.

“Without a doubt, Lift Every Voice and Pathways in the past three years have been the greatest lessons in my time as bishop.”

Another one of the older adult leaders was Beth Crow, youth missioner of the Diocese of North Carolina, who came to see how the program she started, Lift Every Voice, traveled across the country and was uniquely reborn as Pathways.

“The young adult leaders (most of whom were returnees from previous years of the program) really ‘get’ this, in ways that us older leaders don’t, whether it’s from our woundedness from growing up segregated or not having the chance to explore our feelings about race in a safe environment,” Crow said. “They are really running with this, and it’s beautiful to see.”

This year, the Northern California group spent a sweat-drenched day in the Central Valley, but after dinner, they seemed very grateful for the experience.

“I didn’t think I’d learn much more, since we had already heard about Cesar Chavez in school,” Giovanna Zampa from St. Paul’s, Benicia, said, “but being there where he was on his hunger strikes” — it made that history come alive for her.

And most agreed that Chavez’s longtime personal assistant, Marc Grossman, who now works for the Cesar Chavez Foundation, not only provided a wealth of information on the United Farm Workers movement then and now, but spiced up the talk with personal recollections of Chavez’s meetings with growers, politicians (including Robert Kennedy) and world leaders, and the toll his work took on his personal life. “I never got bored – I’ve met presidents and movie stars – you name it,” Grossman said.

Allensworth provided another perspective, one that is not well-known: The Col. Allensworth State Park is the site of a failed farming community that had started as a place of refuge for African-Americans after the Civil War.

“It was sold as an agricultural community,” said park ranger Steven Ptomey, “and they were farming, farming successfully alfalfa, but then California had one of its worst droughts on record.” The land got drier and drier, and the soil became too alkaline to farm, he said.

Ptomey led the group through the modest houses, the church and a glass-walled drug store that sold all manner of merchandise.

Later, the group met to process all they had seen during the day, talking about race and how they personally felt about its role in their lives. They sang, they prayed, they thought deeply, but still many were in awe of the day. The insights would come later.

“I was particularly struck by the curiosity, sharp minds and open hearts of all the participants. Both years I’ve learned so much from these young people, and I am inspired by them and their willingness to take on tough issues and to dig deeply with evidence of strong faith,” said the Rev. Mary Heller Taggart, a deacon at St. Paul’s, Healdsburg.

Lift Every Voice, the North Carolina program that was a model for Pathways, started out as a “freedom ride” to civil rights sights around the state, Crow said. On the bus was the Most Rev. Michael Curry, who was elected presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church just before the ride. Because the ride was intended for the spiritual development and growth of the youth involved, the leaders decided they could not allow a media presence, since that would put the focus on Curry, Crow said. But it also hampered the spread of the program, she said.

The second year’s program took a group, including six Northern California representatives, on a Pilgrimage of Reconciliation in South Africa, focusing on the history of apartheid there and on the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

That same summer, the newly formed Pathways pilgrimage took a group of pilgrims to sacred Indian sites near the Oregon border and Tule Lake Segregation Center to learn what had happened when Japanese-Americans were imprisoned during World War II. Growing up in the area, a park ranger said she was told the stories that the camps were for the protection of those interned.

“At the end of [Lift Every Voice] in 2015, we were tasked with what we wanted to take away from the week and take home with us,” said Elizabeth Potts, a young adult leader from Church of the Epiphany in Vacaville, California. “And the group from Northern California decided that we had such a spectacular week and that it was so influential to us that we wanted to bring back some sort of similar experience for the other young adults and youth in Northern California that weren’t able to go with us. … We still have reconciliation work to do.”

– Lori Korleski Richardson is interim communications director for the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California.

Katharine Jefferts Schori to be assisting bishop in San Diego

Thu, 06/29/2017 - 11:51am

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori during her sermon in 2014 at Church of the Advocate uses a pair of red high heels to illustrate the expectations set upon ordained women. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal Diocese of San Diego] We are excited to announce the selection of former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as our assisting bishop.

Jefferts Schori will begin her tenure with us on Aug. 13. She will serve three-quarters time performing episcopal functions such as visitations, confirmations, ordinations and receptions. She will share with the standing committee the task of providing leadership and vision for the diocese and shall generally perform the functions of a diocesan bishop as delegated to her by the standing committee in its capacity as the ecclesiastical authority during the transition. She will work closely with the executive council as well.

Jefferts Schori served as the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church from 2006 until 2015. Prior to her role as primate, she was the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada.

She earned a biology degree from Stanford University in 1974, followed by a master’s in oceanography in 1977 and a doctorate, also in oceanography, in 1983 from Oregon State University. In 1994 she earned a master’s in divinity from Church Divinity School of the Pacific.

She is married to Richard Schori, a retired topology professor. Their daughter, Katharine, served 10 years in the U.S. Air Force; she separated as a major. Bishop Jefferts Schori is an instrument-rated pilot and is fluent in Spanish.

We thank you for your continued prayers as we move forward with this transition.

New canons installed in Jerusalem during Anglican pilgrimage to Holy Land

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 3:53pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop in Jerusalem and the Middle East Suheil Dawani has installed four new canons at St George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem during an international Anglican pilgrimage.

Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon and Archbishop of Hong Kong Paul Kwong, who is chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council, became Episcopal canons. Bishop Andrew Doyle of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas was installed as an honorary Episcopal canon, and Provincial Secretary of Hong Kong Peter Koon became an honorary canon.

Full article.

Haiti Partnership Committee offers report, looks to the future

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 2:27pm

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] At its recent meeting in June in Port-au-Prince, the Haiti Partnership Committee took steps that enable progress on three projects: Holy Trinity Cathedral Complex, St. Barnabas Agricultural College and St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children. 

The Haiti Partnership Committee was established in 2016 through a memorandum of understanding between the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Haiti, and is charged with assisting in the three projects. The group first met in February 2017. The Haiti Partnership Committee is comprised of a team of four members appointed by the Diocesan Bishop of Haiti and four members appointed by the Presiding Bishop. The work of the Haiti Partnership Committee continues as the diocese prepares to call its next bishop.

The Haiti Partnership Committee reports on the following actions:

• The Haiti Partnership Committee voted to name the current Board of St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children as the Project Committee for that work and to continue the development and fundraising for that work.  The St. Vincent’s Board is chaired by William S. Craddock and has been moving forward on the relocation to a new site and facility. The St. Vincent’s Board acquired a new property, renovated an existing house to meet student needs, and is planning other buildings on the site. Bishop Mark Bourlakas of the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia will serve on the St. Vincent’s Board and provide a liaison to The Haiti Partnership Committee.

• The St. Barnabas Agricultural College in Terrier Rouge, established in partnership with the Presbyterian Church USA, is currently seeking a new director and has begun to develop programs for new projects. St. Barnabas also looks to expand the school through reconstruction, reorganization with a board of directors, and in concert with the Project Committee of the Haiti Partnership.

The Episcopal Diocese of Haiti’s Holy Trinity Cathedral in downtown Port-au-Prince as it stood in October 2006, a little more than three years before it was destroyed by the magnitude-7 earthquake that struck at 4:53 p.m. local time on Jan. 12, 2010. The quake’s epicenter was 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince. Photo: Dave Drachlis/Diocese of Alabama

• The Holy Trinity Cathedral Complex work is focused on a new cathedral to replace the one destroyed in 2010 earthquake and the temporary structure currently in place. The Haiti Partnership Committee is in the process of identifying persons to serve on the project committee.  The Haiti Partnership Committee will also meet with the project architects to reduce the cost estimates and move forward on construction drawings.  A design for the new structure was accepted in 2013.

For more information contact the Rev. Canon Rosemari Sullivan, sullivanreg@gmail.com.

Members of the Haiti Partnership Committee are: the Rev. Pierre Gasner Damus (Co-Chair), Long Island; the Rev. Canon Rosemari Sullivan (Co-Chair), Virginia; the Rev. Roldano Auguste, Haiti; Dr. Marise Bayard-Mc Neeley, New York; Bishop Mark Bourlakas, Southwestern Virginia; the Rev. Yvan Francois, Haiti; the Rev.  MacDonald Jean, Haiti; Bill Robison, Milwaukee; Presiding Bishop Michael Curry (Ex Officio); the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies (Ex Officio).

Le Magazine Anglican : cathédrales anglaises « en chœurs »

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 10:24am

La cathédrale de Wells dans le Somerset.

[Episcopal News Service] Pour écouter l’émission cliquer ici.

Outre leur histoire, l’Angleterre et la France ont en commun leurs cathédrales gothiques. À la veille des vacances propices aux voyages, le Magazine Anglican nous invite à découvrir d’est en ouest et du nord au sud, une dizaine de cathédrales anglaises.

La plupart ont été fondées à l’époque normande, après l’invasion de Guillaume le conquérant en 1066, ou pendant le siècle suivant sous le règne de rois normands.

Cantorbéry, siège de l’Archevêque de Cantorbéry, leader spirituel des 85 millions d’anglicans dans le monde, a des origines encore plus anciennes. La nef actuelle repose sur les fondations de la cathédrale construite par Augustin, le premier archevêque de Cantorbéry. Il avait été missionné par le Pape Grégoire le Grand pour convertir les Angles, à la fin du VIe siècle.

L’architecture de la Cathédrale de Cantorbéry, aujourd’hui classée au patrimoine de l’Unesco, est de style gothique perpendiculaire. Un style typiquement anglais, caractérisé par le quadrillage de lignes verticales et horizontales. À voir à l’intérieur, un magnifique jubé, devant le chœur construit par l’architecte français Guillaume de Sens, les voutes en éventail de la cour et celles du cloître avec leurs 800 écussons.

Après Londres, la Cathédrale Saint Paul et l’abbaye de Westminster, le Magazine Anglican se dirige vers l’ouest. La cathédrale de Wells dans le Somerset est un magnifique exemple de gothique anglais. Sa façade de 46 m de large relativise le volume des deux tours pourtant deux fois plus hautes. Elle est ornée à profusion de sculptures du XIIIe siècle vraiment exceptionnelles. À l’intérieur des arcs renversés se superposent aux ogives pour créer des 8 tout à fait uniques.

Retour vers l’Est, dans le Wiltshire, avec la cathédrale de Salisbury, immortalisée par la série de peintures de John Constable. Sa flèche est la plus haute du Royaume-Uni. Dans la salle capitulaire, on peut admirer la mieux préservée des quatre copies restantes de la Magna Carta, cette grande charte des libertés anglaises qui a inspiré la rédaction des déclarations de droits de l’homme dans le monde entier.

Après être passé à Oxford, Cambridge et Ely, le Magazine anglican prend la direction du Nord de l’Angleterre. Une brève halte à Liverpool, puis c’est la découverte de la Cathédrale de York.

Le Yorkshire est le plus vaste comté du Royaume-Uni. L’archevêque de York est le second dans la hiérarchie de l’Église d’Angleterre. Là encore la cathédrale a été fondée en 1080, par un archevêque normand : Thomas de Bayeux. Dans sa large et lumineuse nef, deux chef d’œuvres du XVe siècle à ne pas manquer : le jubé avec les statues des rois d’Angleterre et la rosace commémorant l’union des deux branches de la famille royale qui s’étaient affrontées lors de la guerre des deux roses.

Outre leur architecture et leur histoire, les cathédrales anglaises sont remarquables par leurs Chœurs.

Jusqu’à il y a deux ans la tradition chorale dans les cathédrales anglicanes était maintenue par des choristes exclusivement masculins. A l’initiative des cathédrales de Salisbury et de Cantorbéry, il ya maintenant des chœurs de jeunes filles et des chœurs mixtes pour chanter le dimanche matin ou Evensong.

Le magazine Anglican propose d’écouter les chœurs de toutes les cathédrales visitées. Œuvres et interprétations inattendues !

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

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

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

Tennessee Episcopalians add to growing efforts to honor lynching victims

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 10:04am

This memorial marker honoring lynching victims in Davidson County, Tennessee, was dedicated at St. Anselm’s Episcopal Church in Nashville on June 7. Photo: Natasha Deane.

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee is leading efforts to research and memorialize lynching victims in Nashville and statewide, following in the footsteps of a prominent commission conducting similar racial reconciliation work in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Tennessee diocese, which covers the geographic middle third of the state, created its Task Force on Anti-Racism last year, and one of its first projects has been to shed new light on the racial violence buried deep in Nashville’s past. This initial focus on remembering lynching victims culminated June 7 in a Eucharistic service and memorial litany for three named victims and others whose identities are lost to history.

The task force aims to expand its work from Davidson County to the rest of the diocese. More than 200 lynchings occurred within the diocese’s current boundaries, including an estimated 162 lynchings in counties with at least one Episcopal congregation, task-force co-chair Natasha Deane said in an interview with Episcopal News Service. The initial focus is local, though the Diocese of West Tennessee and Diocese of East Tennessee also are invited to join in the effort.

“Telling these stories plays a role in both education and in healing racial wounds, because when a piece of a story isn’t told, it’s a lot like undiagnosed illness,” said Deane, a retired Vanderbilt University Medical Center researcher. The racial wound “only gets worse.”

The 2014 killing by police of an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Missouri, and similar police shootings were a direct catalyst for the creation of the task force, said Bill Gittens, the other co-chair.

“We were concerned that … the shootings were a continuation of the trauma that black people in general, and black men in particular, had experienced, and it was important for us to initially say that this was enough and that we needed to not only deal with the present but also deal with the past,” said Gittens, a retired Tennessee State University administrator.

The diocese approved a resolution in 2015 calling for the creation of a task force on racism, and the next year the task force was formed, its membership a mix of clergy and lay people. Gittens said the group saw its mission not as political but as church-centered, invoking the Book of Common Prayer and the baptismal covenant’s call to strive for justice and respect the dignity of all people.

That call has been taken up churchwide in the many General Convention resolutions through the years focused on racial reconciliation. The Episcopal Church stresses that racism is a sin that must be overcome – by worshipers and by the institution itself.

A resolution approved at the 1991 General Convention, for example, committed the church to “addressing institutional racism inside our Church and in society,” and a 2000 resolution lamented “the historic silence and complicity of our church in the sin of racism.”

The church amplified its call to racial reconciliation this year when it released “Becoming Beloved Community,” a guide for Episcopalians to work toward racial healing.

“You’re looking at a path for how we, as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement, can more fully and prayerfully embody the loving, liberating, life-giving way of Jesus in our relationships with each other,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said in a May news release unveiling the guide.

The work of the Diocese of Atlanta’s anti-racism commission is often cited when discussing such churchwide efforts. That commission also named itself Beloved Community, and its success in developing church-mandated anti-racism training has served as a model for other dioceses.

In October, Atlanta’s Beloved Community: Commission for Dismantling Racism launched a three-year series of pilgrimages to sites of lynchings in Georgia, starting with a trip to Macon.  One of the members of the Tennessee Task Force on Anti-Racism attended the Macon pilgrimage and brought the idea of honoring lynching victims back to Nashville.

Since then, the Diocese of Tennessee’s task force has been busy. In addition to researching lynchings in Davidson County’s history, it held a ceremony in February to honor Absalom Jones and a march in April to commemorate a key moment in Nashville’s history, the 1960 bombing of the home of civil rights leader Z. Alexander Looby.

The task force also teamed up with Lipscomb University’s Christian Scholars’ Conference to organize a service honor lynching victims.

Lynchings have been described as a kind of racial terrorism, using fear to keep blacks, as well as white sympathizers, from challenging white authority. Lynch mobs were most prevalent in the South in the late 1800s and the first half of the 20th century, and these brutal killings often were enabled by local institutions, from police departments to Christian churches.

“We say truly their blood is on our hands, and we come to you asking forgiveness,” the Rev. Nontombi Naomi Tutu said in her sermon at the June 7 service, according to the Nashville Tennessean. Tutu, a longtime Nashville resident, was born in South Africa and is Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s daughter. “Let us remember that in claiming their stories, we are claiming our own humanity.”

About 150 people attended the service at Fisk University, Deane and Gittens told ENS. Afterward, they processed to St. Anselm’s Episcopal Church to dedicate a memorial marker donated by the Diocese of Tennessee. “In memory of our martyred brothers and unknown others lynched in Davidson County, Tennessee,” the marker reads above the names of the three identified victims: The brothers Henry Grizzard and Ephraim Grizzard, and Samuel Smith.

Catherine Meeks, the chair of the Beloved Community commission in Atlanta, attended the service in Nashville and praised the work of the Diocese of Tennessee’s task force.

“I was really just very pleased, and very humbled that our work had been an inspiration to them,” Meeks told ENS.

Since then, Deane and Gittens said they have been contacted by people interested in conducting research on other lynching victims. One was a relative of a victim, the other a Baptist minister. The Episcopal task force connected each with an Episcopal congregation to assist.

The task force hopes to enlist more congregations to take up the cause locally and conduct research mirroring the effort in Nashville.

“This is an attempt to begin some sustained dialogue in the hopes of raising awareness,” Gittens said.

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

Sioux Episcopalians celebrate faith family, seek oneness through Jesus at Niobrara Convocation

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 6:17pm

The Red Shirt Project brought a missionary team from the Los Angeles area to Red Shirt Table, South Dakota, to help with the 145th Niobrara Convocation, from June 22-25. The project was created by the Rev. Michael Cunningham, in a black shirt and seated, and the Rev. Robert Two Bulls Jr., seated at right. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Red Shirt Table, South Dakota] The congregation here, Christ Episcopal, is known as a family church, where the longtime pastor and family patriarch, the Rev. Robert Two Bulls Sr., has led services for decades in a small building overlooking the western edge of South Dakota’s Badlands on Pine Ridge Reservation.

His ancestors arrived in the Red Shirt area in the late 1800s, “like a ship going through uncharted waters, but they fell in love with this place,” Two Bulls said. They built the first log church here in 1909.

The Rev. Robert Two Bulls Sr. hosted this year’s Niobrara Convocation at his family church, Christ Episcopal, overlooking the west edge South Dakota’s Badlands. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

It is a tiny congregation in one of the poorest counties in the United States, but Two Bulls has long dreamed of hosting the Niobrara Convocation, an annual gathering of Sioux Episcopalians. So last week, in an encampment full of welcoming smiles, few smiles were broader than that of Two Bulls as the 145th Niobrara Convocation convened in a big-top tent next to his church.

Several hundred attended June 22-25, as they have nearly every year since 1870. Two Bulls’ daughter, the Rev. Twilla Two Bulls, was ordained a deacon in the Saturday afternoon service, and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry delivered a rousing sermon June 25 at the convocation’s concluding Sunday service.

Themes of family and oneness seemed to be on the tip of every tongue.

“We all come from one God who made us all, and if we only got one God, I’m your brother,” Curry said toward the end of his half-hour sermon.

Family and relationship-building has been the driving force behind the Red Shirt Project, which served as a common thread running through much of this year’s convocation. The project’s youth missionary team helped with everything from raising the tents to preparing Saturday’s much-anticipated bison dinner.

The Red Shirt Project began in 2000 as a fledgling partnership between Two Bulls’ son, the Rev. Robert Two Bulls Jr., and the Rev. Michael Cunningham. It now organizes an annual summer road trip, bringing young people from the Los Angeles area to South Dakota to work with the local Oglala Lakota community on service projects.

“We’ve got to live the Gospel. We’ve got to work the Gospel,” said Cunningham, rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Lompoc, California.

Participants on past trips to Red Shirt have helped build a baseball field, an arbor and a straw-bale structure that someday will be used as a coffee shop and store.

“It’s being in the community, doing the work of the Gospel, which is very Lakota,” said Two Bulls Jr., who serves the Diocese of Minnesota as director of its Department of Indian Work. “We always help each other out. It’s just what you do.”

Bishop Don Tamihere speaks June 23 during a business session of the Niobrara Convocation. He was part of a Maori delegation from New Zealand that traveled to South Dakota with the Red Shirt Project. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

This year, the project’s group of 37 missionaries included a six-person Maori delegation from New Zealand, led by Bishop Don Tamihere.

“Indigenous people tend to share a common soul,” Tamihere said.

He and his diocese have been involved with Red Shirt Project for about 10 years, and they were eager to show their support for the Niobrara Convocation. The historic oppression and marginalization that the Maori have experienced in New Zealand mirror American Indians’ plight, he said.

A reunion built on community

The Episcopal Church’s involvement with the Sioux began in the mid- to late-1800s, when the federal government offered land to various Christian denominations in exchange for their complicity in its effort to force Indians to assimilate into the white settlers’ culture through the reservations system.

Today, Niobrara Convocation still functions like a family reunion, with tribal elders and church leaders reporting on what has happened in the past year in their congregations across the Niobrara Missionary District, created in 1871 and including parts or all of what are now North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska.

Some of the reports are bleak: Poverty is a persistent challenge in many Native American communities, as it is here. The pool of clergy members is spread thin. Those who are active spend much of their time presiding over funerals. Drug use is on the rise, and suicide is a constant scourge.

“That’s not supposed to happen,” Troy “Scott” Weston, the Oglala Sioux tribal president, said June 23 during one of the business sessions. “We are supposed to give our children a chance to live and be free the way they want to be.”

And yet, these gatherings also are filled with great joy and solidarity. Among the elders and church leaders presenting reports in a session known as “ingathering” was Gladys Hawk of St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church in Wakpala, South Dakota. Her son assisted her to the microphone so she could present donations that the congregation raised for the Niobrara Council.

“Even though there are not too many of us [elders] left up there, we stay busy,” Hawk said.

She is 79, and afterward, she said she never misses a Niobrara. This year, she brought a quilt to auction, to raise money for a new multipurpose building at St. Elizabeth’s. The addition would provide the church with access to modern restrooms for the first time, among other improvements.

South Dakota Bishop John Tarrant described Niobrara Convocation as unlike any other gathering on the Episcopal Church’s calendar, starting with its minimal cost to attend – little more than the gas money to get there, if you’re willing to pitch a tent on the grounds.

“This is about relationship,” Tarrant said during the June 23 session. “It’s about relationship with each other, it’s about relationship with God and, I would suggest to you, it’s about relationship with the Earth.”

And the ordination June 24 was a jubilant moment. About 200 turned out for the service, nearly the same number as would attend the worship service the next day and hear Curry’s sermon.

The new deacon, Twilla Two Bulls, 58, was a figure of constant movement over the weekend, accepting congratulations while making the rounds to ensure meal preparation was progressing on schedule.

South Dakota Bishop John Tarrant celebrates the Eucharist during the diaconate ordination of the Rev. Twilla Two Bulls, standing next to Tarrant, on June 24. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

She has helped with worship services at Christ Episcopal for 50 years, since she learned to play the church organ as a child. Now as a deacon she will be able to play a greater role in keeping this family church running.

At her ordination, she was surrounded by family, including Cunningham, who has been adopted into the Two Bulls family as a brother. He delivered the service’s sermon, offering Twilla Two Bulls advice and encouragement.

“This, my dear sister, is like no other day of your life,” Cunningham said. “Our lives are lived in community, and it is your community that is affirming what God created in you at your formation. … Look at your family. They are affirming this to you. Your ancestors are here, affirming this to you.”

‘We are one people’

This year’s Niobrara was bittersweet for Cunningham. The Friday morning Eucharistic service, with Two Bulls Sr. as celebrant, was dedicated to the memory of Cunningham’s wife, the Rev. Deborah Dunn, who died suddenly in April from complications of a stroke. She was 65.

Dunn, ordained in 1991, was rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Santa Maria, California. She and Cunningham had just celebrated their 40th anniversary.

“She was a remarkable priest, a remarkably gifted priest,” Cunningham said.

He still speaks of her death with some difficulty, his emotions still raw, but he said he isn’t one to blame God for such inexplicable loss. Rather, “I do think God’s in the business of comforting us,” he said. And “as hard as it is to be here without my wife, it’s still phenomenal.”

Cunningham, 62, marveled at the notion of oneness found in various indigenous traditions. In the Lakota language, for example, there is a saying, “mitakuye oyasin,” that sometimes is translated “all are related.”

“We’re all connected,” Two Bulls Jr. explained, “because we all live on this Earth.”

Cunningham said he has heard the native people of Alaska use a phrase with a similar meaning. And in New Zealand, the Maori have a saying, “he whanau kotahi tatou,” which means “we are one people.”

Tamihere said he sees parallels, as a Christian, to Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor.” But the Maori also can hear in the New Testament echoes of their own native beliefs.

“Our first response to the Gospel was to say, ‘That’s very familiar,’ ” he said.

“God has done this cool trick,” Tamihere continued. By putting a piece of himself in everyone, “you can’t know God without meeting his people.”

The 145th Niobrara Convocation concluded July 25 with a Sunday service that featured a sermon by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Curry, in his Sunday sermon, initially was fired up by the Old Testament reading. He used the story of Hagar and her son, Ishmael, in Genesis 21 to make a point about the generational struggle against oppression. God told Hagar to fear not, because Ishmael would grow up to become a great nation.

“We must save the child,” Curry boomed, “because the child you save today may be the adult who saves you tomorrow.”

He repeated the sentence several times in the sermon. He later developed his point in the context of “the dynamics of oppression.” Teach a people to hate themselves and their traditions, and it becomes easy to control them, Curry said, equating the experience of African-Americans to that of Native Americans.

But Curry quizzed the congregation: What were Jesus’ two great commandments? “Love the lord your God,” and “love your neighbor as yourself.”

“And I want to throw in ‘love yourself,’” Curry said. “Teach the children to love God, to love their neighbor, to love each other and love themselves. And I’m telling you, that child in your hand will be blessed by God and can become a great nation.”

The worshipers were receptive to Curry’s message, but the day before, he was on the receiving end of a spiritual challenge.

During the service of ordination, Bishop Tamihere presented several Maori cultural items as gifts to the Episcopal leaders gathered there. He concluded by saying he offered the gifts with a cost attached.

His people suffered for centuries under colonial rule and an Anglican structure that, for much of the church’s time in New Zealand, deprived the Maori of a full voice in their church.

“But we continued to believe in the Gospel and continued to believe in God’s call,” Tamihere said, and now the Maori have won greater autonomy. His position as bishop is evidence of that progress.

Therefore, Tamihere said, the gifts he presented to Episcopal Church leaders come with this cost:

“That you would consider the plight of your native people, that you would do all that you can to alleviate the injustices that are still visited upon them … that you will expend all the energy that you have within your heart, body and soul to raise more native lay leaders, more native deacons, more native priests and more native bishops, so that there will be no injustice to be found in any corner of any diocese that you are responsible for.

“And I implore you to do that in Jesus’ name.”

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

Church of England, Methodists to consider full communion

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 5:17pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Church of England and the Methodist Church in Britain are to consider proposals that would bring them into a new relationship of full communion, after a period of some 200 years of formal separation.

The proposals are presented in “Mission and Ministry in Covenant,” a joint report from the two churches’ faith and order bodies. It sets out how the Methodist Church could come to have bishops in the historic episcopate, and how ministers from one church could become eligible to serve in the other.

Full article.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury resigns from church role after historical abuse review

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 5:15pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Lord Carey, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury for 11 years until 2002, has stepped down from his last formal role in the Church of England after being criticized in an independent review of the church’s handling of sex abuse. The review, into disgraced former Bishop Peter Ball, who was jailed two years ago, revealed Lord Carey had failed to pass information on Ball to the police back in 1992.

Full article.

New primus elected for Scottish Episcopal Church

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 5:12pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Episcopal Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church has elected as primus the Rt. Rev. Mark Strange, bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness. Strange, 56, is the youngest member of the College of Bishops and was consecrated in his current diocese in 2007. He succeeds the Most Rev. David Chillingworth, who stepped down this month after eight years in the post.

Full article.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry delivers sermon at 145th Niobrara Convocation

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 1:42pm

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry attended the 145th Niobrara Convocation from June 22 to 25 at Red Shirt Table, S.D., on the Pine Ridge Reservation. He delivered this sermon during the Sunday worship service on June 25. You can watch a video of the sermon below.


Presiding Bishop Michael Curry visits Mizeki festival in Zimbabwe, delivers sermon

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 3:28pm

Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Bishop William Jay Lambert, left, and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry attend a festival honoring Bernard Mizeki on June 17 in Harare, Zimbabwe. Photo: Chuck Robertson

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry traveled this month to Zimbabwe to attend an annual festival for the martyred 19th century missionary Bernard Mizeki and delivered a sermon there to more than 15,000 pilgrims from across Central and Southern Africa.

Curry was invited to the festival by Bishop William Jay Lambert of the Episcopal Diocese of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, who first attended in 2015. Lambert called Curry’s June 17 sermon “the best sermon he’s ever given.”

“I had hoped that that crowd would fire him up and he in turn would fire them up, and that’s what happened,” Lambert told the Episcopal News Service by phone.

Curry spoke of the Jesus Movement, one of his recurring themes as presiding bishop, and he emphasized Matthew’s account of the Great Commission, saying “go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” The repetition of that passage in Curry’s sermon eventually prompted to the crowd to respond by chanting “Go!” over and over.

“The energy was palpable, and the depth of feeling profound,” said the Rev. Chuck Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop for ministry beyond the Episcopal Church. Robertson was part of the American delegation that traveled to Zimbabwe for the Mizeki festival.

Mizeki was born in Mozambique in the mid-1800s. As an adult working in South Africa, he became a Christian in 1886 and helped translate Anglican sacred texts into African languages. Then from 1891 until his death in 1896, he served in what is now Zimbabwe as a missionary who converted many of the Mashona to Christianity.

Although Mizeki became well-versed in the local language and was sensitive to the Mashona’s spiritual traditions, his missionary work angered some African nationalists who saw such work as an extension of European colonial influence. He was speared to death outside his hut on June 18, 1896. Those on their way to help him reported seeing a great light and hearing the sound of wings. When they arrived, Mizeki’s body was gone.

A crowd of about 15,000 attended the outdoor worship service June 17 at the Bernard Mizeki festival in Zimbabwe. Photo Sharon Jones

The annual festival in Mizeki’s memory regularly draws 20,000 or more pilgrims, and it is held not far from where he was killed 121 years ago.

Lambert learned of the festival through Eau Claire’s companion diocese relationship with the Anglican Diocese of Harare, Zimbabwe. He journeyed to Harare for the festival for the first time in 2015, shortly before Curry was elected presiding bishop at the General Convention meeting that year in Salt Lake City.

“I knew right then and there I’d like to have him in Zimbabwe to preach at the Mizeki festival,” Lambert told ENS.

He posed the idea to Curry, who added it to his calendar for 2017.

“The presiding bishop was just blown away by the size of the crowd,” Lambert said, describing the crowd’s response to Curry’s sermon as “one of the most passionate things I’ve ever witnessed.”

The service itself was celebrated on a grand scale, lasting more than two hours. All 15,000 worshipers were able to receive the Eucharist through stations set up all around the field where the service was held, with Harare Bishop Chad Nicholas Gandiya presiding.

Afterward, Curry joined a group of church leaders who planted trees nearby. Robertson said this was part of Gandiya’s initiative aimed at reversing the tide of deforestation in the region.

“The presiding bishop and those of us who accompanied him gave thanks for the opportunity to witness and participate in an occasion that truly was a foretaste of the great heavenly celebration to come,” Robertson said.

It was an honor, Lambert said, to have Curry join the American delegation on the trip this year.

“Not only was I proud of the presiding bishop,” Lambert said. “It made me proud that he represented the Episcopal Church, and also that he represented our country.”

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

Dean Elliott Wolfe inducted rector of St. Bart’s in Manhattan

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 2:47pm

[St. Bartholomew’s Church] In a joyous Celebration of New Ministry, St. Bartholomew’s Church marked the beginning of a new chapter on June 6, with the institution of the Rt. Rev. Dean Elliott Wolfe as the 13th rector of the storied New York church. Following a stirring sermon on Christian Witness by Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry, Wolfe was formally instituted in a traditional service led by the Rt. Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche, bishop of New York. Dietsche declared that he couldn’t be happier with the choice St. Bart’s parish has made and added, “We now enter a new chapter. And the call of Dean to be the rector of this church fills me with absolute confidence that we are on a good road”

Participants in the service were drawn from Wolfe’s long friendships within the Episcopal Church as well as new relationships with the mid-Manhattan interfaith community.  Lectors included the the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for Evangelism, reconciliation and creation, and Pastor Amends Derr, senior pastor at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church.  The Gospel was read by Archdeacon Monte C. Giddings of the Diocese of Kansas, where Wolfe served as bishop for 14 years prior to his call to St. Bart’s.

The service included the presentation of gifts from members and friends of St. Bart’s representing the diverse programs and ministries housed in the landmark church on Park Avenue. These included the feeding program and shelter run by Crossroads Community Ministry, the St. Bart’s Preschool, and the welcome, liturgical, prayer and music ministries.  St. Bart’s Director of Music William K. Trafka composed a new hymn to mark the occasion, “Lord, we have come at your own invitation,” with words by F. Pratt Green (1903–2000) that were selected by Wolfe who also received Canons of the Church from Erika Meyer, Dean of Mid-Manhattan Episcopal Clericus and a New Jerusalem Bible from Monsignor Robert T. Ritchie, rector of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

According to Wolfe, he was drawn to St. Bart’s in part because of its long tradition as a welcoming place.  Said Wolfe, “It’s never been more important for the church to be an inclusive place for people who are straight or gay, people who are rich or poor, people who are of different racial backgrounds, ethnic backgrounds, cultural backgrounds, people who have different theologies, or different political points of view.”

A highlight of the service was the presiding bishop’s sermon on Christian witness. Passionately recalling the words of Jesus to the apostles: “You shall be my witnesses,” Curry asserted, “It may well be that this Episcopal Church has been summoned by God for this moment in our cultural history to be a witness.”  As Curry addressed the hundreds gathered, he emphasized the importance of our “witness to a way of being Christian that looks something like Jesus of Nazareth,” weaving in quotes from Scripture, the Book of Common Prayer,  Frederick Douglas, and Mahatma Gandhi. He suggested that the popularity of Pope Francis comes from the simple fact that the pontiff is “just living the Gospel” in a way the world hasn’t seen for a long time.”  When the world sees such an example, said Curry, “he becomes a rock star.”

In the most ambitious communications project the church as seen in 40 years, the service was livestreamed in a four-camera production with live commentary by Patrick Hornbeck, chair of the Theology Department at Fordham University.  The livestream was made possible by St. Bart’s member Greg Harper, president of Harpervision Associates and by Bob Marty, president at Inky Dinky Worldwide, Inc. Between the live broadcast and its later views, more than seven thousand people shared in this landmark event.  Curry’s sermon is embedded here.

Wolfe joins the parish with his wife of 36 years, Ellen Frantz-Wolfe. They have an adult son, William. He holds an undergraduate degree from Miami University (Ohio), graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1992, and received an honorary doctorate from the seminary in 2004.  Wolfe has served as a vice-president of the House of Bishops since 2009.


Canadian Primate: Look beyond quarrels to church’s wider calling of working for justice

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 1:18pm

[Anglican Journal] Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, reflected on the church’s role in society in an opening address to Council of General Synod, taking place in Mississauga, Ontario. Hiltz encouraged council members to look beyond the church’s quarrels and divisions to its wider calling of bringing justice to the world in areas such as indigenous rights, poverty and human trafficking.

Full article. 

Anglican Holy Land pilgrimage explores reconciliation

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 1:08pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans from around the Communion have begun a 12-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Five primates and Anglican Communion secretary general, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, are accompanying the pilgrims. Among the highlights of the tour are Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Capernaum and the Sea of Galilee.

Full article.

Niagara bishop describes African-Canadian dialogue as a model for whole communion

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 1:45pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The eighth annual meeting of bishops from Canada and Africa has just taken place in Kenya, with Bishop of Niagara Michael Bird suggesting the yearly encounter could act as a model for reconciliation across the Anglican Communion.

Full article.

‘Heartbroken’ bishops back South Sudan peace move

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 1:41pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglican leaders in Africa are sponsoring a church-led initiative to end the conflict in South Sudan. The Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa has invited South Sudanese church leaders to Zambia next month to press for the guns to be silenced.

Full article.

Teaching bishops to be bishops

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 10:35am

One of the goals of the College for Bishops is to connect new bishops. Diocese of Spokane Bishop Gretchen Rehberg (ordained March 18), left, and Diocese of Central New York Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe (ordained Dec. 3) and Diocese of Indianapolis Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows (ordained April 29) share conversation after lunch on June 14. They were at the Roslyn Retreat Center in Richmond, Virginia, for the 2017 session of Living Our Vows, the college’s three-year formation program for new bishops. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] How do you learn to be a bishop? For most of the Episcopal Church’s life, new bishops learned on the job with little or no outside help.

It’s only in the last 24 years that the church has had a formal process for such learning. That process, run by the College for Bishops, is about to undergo a major transition.

Bishop F. Clayton Matthews, who leads the college in his role as the head of the presiding bishop’s Office of Pastoral Development, will retire June 30. He served in that role since 1998.

Matthews led the formation of the College for Bishops’ three-year program for new bishops, known as Living Our Vows, in 2004. The college also provides continuing education offerings for all bishops. Living Our Vows was developed after a multi-year study of bishops’ needs. The resulting program is designed to help bishops grow spiritually, vocationally and in “their capacity to provide the kind of leadership that the Church needs for the mission of Jesus to which we are called,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said.

The College for Bishops will leave the pastoral development office with Matthews when he retires. He will report to Curry and direct the college’s formation mission for another two years on a part-time basis.

Eastern Michigan Bishop Todd Ousley succeeds Matthews as head of the pastoral development office on July 5. That office will continue to support the House of Bishops and the presiding bishop with pastoral care of bishops, their families and diocesan systems; and mediation in Title IV disciplinary matters.

The College for Bishops has been part of the Office of Pastoral Development until now. However, its status within the governance structure of the Episcopal Church changed in 2010. The House of Bishops unanimously voted to incorporate it as a separate nonprofit entity. Matthews explained that the college is now owned by the House of Bishops. It has a $6 million endowment, according to Matthews.

All of the changes come as the Task Force on the Episcopacy considers the election, appointment, roles and responsibilities of the church’s bishops. General Convention asked in 2015 for the study. It also charged the task force with proposing to the 2018 convention a new process for discernment, nomination, formation, search, election and transition of bishops.

Some members of the Task Force on the Episcopacy are challenging the ownership of the college and the fact that it reports directly to the presiding bishop.

Participants in the 2017 session of Living Our Vows, the College for Bishops’ three-year formation program for new bishops, discuss (via teleconference) author Donna Hicks’ research about the role of dignity in conflict resolution. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Living Our Vows – sometimes known around the church as “Baby Bishop School” – consists mainly of an annual one-week “residency” meeting. Some of the classes offered during the week are geared to whether a participant is a first-, second- or third-year bishop. They run the gamut from canon law to leadership training to dealing with the media. Bishops debrief each other on incidents that have occurred in their dioceses, offering them as a chance for all to learn.

A so-called “Hats and Sticks” session teaches bishops what to do with their miter and crozier, and when to do it. There is a session on the liturgies in the Book of Common Prayer at which only a bishop presides: confirmation and ordinations.

Bishops listen June 14 as Mary Kostel, special counsel to the presiding bishop for property litigation and discipline, explains the Episcopal Church’s clergy discipline canon, known as Title IV. The session was part of Living Our Vows, the College for Bishops’ three-year formation program for new bishops. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Building community is another goal of Living Our Vows. Beginning with a gathering of new bishops and their spouses each January, the college connects bishops elected around the same time. Some so-called “classes” are large – the 2017 one has 12 – while some are small, such as the Class of 2015 with four. Twenty-five bishops participated in the 2017 session, held June 12-16 at the Roslyn Retreat Center in Richmond, Virginia.

“You realize that you’re not alone,” said the Rt. Rev. Gretchen Rehberg, who became the bishop of Spokane in mid-March. The program, she said, is beginning to teach her to whom to turn for help in doing what she called “a singular job.”

Puerto Rico Bishop-elect Rafael Morales Maldonado said his first session of Living Our Vows comes at a “providential” time. He will be ordained as a bishop on July 22.

The Class of 2017 also includes bishops and bishops-elect from Central New York, Indianapolis, Northern Indiana, Pennsylvania, Los Angeles, Spokane and Western North Carolina, as well as the church’s federal ministries bishop and three from Toronto in the Anglican Church of Canada. That diversity is “a treasure for me,” Morales said.

“In many cases, their experiences are similar but in different contexts,” he said.

Diocese of Pennsylvania Bishop Daniel Gutierrez, center left, shares a smile with Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop Coadjutor-Elect John Taylor, center right, during the June 14 Bible study that was part of Living Our Vows. Presenter Matthew Sheep (striped shirt), Central Gulf Coast Bishop Russell Kendrick (light blue shirt back to camera), Eastern Oregon Bishop Patrick Bell and Bishop Suffragan for the Armed Forces and Federal Ministries Carl Wright were also part of the group. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Quebec Bishop Bruce Myers, in the Class of 2016, represents a growing trend for the college: welcoming bishops from elsewhere in the Anglican Communion. There are currently four Canadian bishops participating. And the session at Roslyn was the last for El Salvador Bishop David Alvarado from the Anglican Province of Central America.

Myers said the college is giving him “some intentional formation around what becoming a bishop and serving in the order of bishops is all about.” That work happens with the Canadian bishops in the program (there is no such training in Canada), as well as Episcopal Church bishops.

“In a way, this is a great leveling place and we find the common ground of our episcopal ministry,” he said.

Living Our Vows pairs new bishops with a “peer coach” bishop. Myers’ is Bishop Steve Lane of Maine, whose diocese forms a common border with Quebec.

The Canadian bishops might, he said, bring to the college “a glimpse of a church that’s similar in many ways, shares a common territory and common context in many ways, but is dealing with those realities, perhaps, in slightly different ways simply because of our circumstances,” he said

For example, the abusive legacy of the residential school system obligates Myers’ church to find ways to “walk together with indigenous Anglican and indigenous Canadians outside the church in meaningful and appropriate ways.” That work might be an example to the Episcopal Church bishops, he said.

Diocese of Massachusetts Bishop Alan Gates speaks to Bishop F. Clayton Matthews, right, and retired Bishop Suffragan Terry Dance of the Anglican Church of Canada’s Diocese of Huron, during a June 14 Bible study that was part of Living Our Vows. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Massachusetts Bishop Alan Gates, who finished Living Our Vows with the recent session, said the college is valuable in two ways. First is the content. “There is no training track for bishops in advance of election because our polity, our theology, suggests that we don’t know in advance who will be called to be a bishop,” he said.

Second, he said, “it would be hard to overstate the importance” of the creating support networks, he said, noting that many bishops work alone in their dioceses without bishop suffragans or assistants.

“It’s widely misconstrued as a kind of exclusive attitude that bishops would feel the need for more time together,” he said. “But, for me, that’s not what’s driving it. It really is a yearning for that kind of support, knowing and being known by others who face the particular challenges of this.”

Collegiality in the House of Bishops is one of the college’s goals. In an interview with Episcopal News Service (available here), Matthews said the atmosphere in the house when he began his work was “toxic” and one of “total distrust.” This stemmed mainly from the wider church’s debate about the full inclusion of LGBT people in the life of the church, he said.

“We had to create an atmosphere where there was more respect within the house for the context in which bishops worked,” he said.

The presiding bishop said the plan is working. “I have seen it in the 17 years that I have been a bishop,” he said. “I have seen real development and real growth in our capacity to be a community of bishops and spouses that is real and genuine.”

“I’ve seen the impact of that in the house in terms of our increased capacity to be able to navigate complex and sometimes difficult terrain in decision-making as a community and still maintain relationships that bind us together,” he said.

The college helps bishops be “more deeply faithful and effective in the performance of our duties and in the living out of our episcopal ministry,” the presiding bishop said.

A bishop’s work and ministry are different from that of a priest, Curry said, recalling that an older bishop told him that when he first became a bishop he was really changing careers.

The college faces a great challenge in forming bishops who can help lead the Episcopal Church into becoming a branch of the Jesus Movement, he said. The coming question is how to train bishops so they can provide spiritual leadership to the church so it can “bear witness to a way of being Christians that actually looks something like Jesus of Nazareth?”

Diocese of Texas Bishop Andy Doyle, a member of the college’s board of directors, sets up the June 14 Bible study that was part of Living Our Vows, the college’s three-year formation program for new bishops. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The presiding bishop chairs the college’s board of directors and nominates its members. Of the 19 current members, 14 are male bishops, four are lay people and one is a priest. The priest and one of the lay members are bishops’ wives.

In the next two years, Matthews said, he hopes he is “not having to spend all of my energy defending the right of the college to exist.”

The Very Rev. Gary Hall, a task force member, said he and others are not concerned about the existence of the college, but about its governance. If all orders of the church elect bishops, then the board of the entity charged with forming bishops ought to better represent all those orders.

Hall said that making the college a separate entity worries some on the task force because the curriculum and the logistics of the programs were developed when the college was part of the church. That intellectual property left the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (the name under which church is incorporated) when the college separately incorporated, Hall contended.

He sees nothing nefarious in the college’s effort.

“I think that the desire to make it a [nonprofit entity] was a desire to protect it financially, and nobody really thought through the implications of that in terms of the legal issues or the governance issues or accountability to the whole church.”

However, the move points to an attitude that Hall called “episcopal exceptionalism.”

“The culture of bishops in my working life has become much more distinct from the culture of the rest of the church,” he said.

This has happened in the same years that the church has moved to an understanding of baptism as being the “fundamental commissioning of ministry.”

“The culture of the episcopacy has gone in exactly the opposite direction,” said Hall, who was ordained in 1977. An insular formation process contributes to that trajectory, he added.

A bishop’s job is getting harder, Hall said, and he believes they need “all the professional education and support that they can get. That’s not the issue. The issue is we all have a stake in the education and wellness of bishops.”

The task force is due to make its proposals to General Convention via a “Blue Book” report sometime early next year. The suggestions will be debated during the July 5-13, 2018, meeting in Austin, Texas.

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