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Le diocèse anglican de Montréal autorise désormais le mariage gai

Fri, 09/08/2017 - 9:30am

[Présence – information religieuse] À deux ans du Synode général qui tranchera la question du mariage gai à l’intérieur de l’Église anglicane du Canada, l’union sacramentelle des couples gais demeure un sujet délicat, sous étroite surveillance. Mais certains évêques ont d’emblée choisi de ne pas attendre et ont déjà commencé à autoriser des mariages gais chez eux.

C’est le cas de Mary Irwin-Gibson, l’évêque anglicane de Montréal. Première femme à diriger le diocèse montréalais, son engagement envers les enjeux d’inclusion et de diversité se manifeste notamment par ses efforts pour s’exprimer en français et en mohawk. Même ouverture face à l’homosexualité: celle qui a voté en faveur du mariage gai au Synode général de 2016 a, le 13 août, officié la Messe de la fierté sans gêne aucune, devant 200 personnes.

«Peu importe qui nous sommes, a déclaré l’évêque, nous faisons partie de la communauté de Dieu. Le Christ accepte tout le monde dans son Corps.»

Accès limité pour l’instant

En entrevue, Mgr Irwin-Gibson explique cependant que les couples homosexuels qui demandent le mariage doivent répondre à plusieurs critères.

«Ils font la demande au curé de leur paroisse. Le curé me demande la permission. Pour le moment, nous n’acceptons que des gens qui sont pratiquants. Ils sont membres d’une paroisse, ils participent financièrement. Ils sont engagés, parfois même au niveau du ministère.»

Pas question, donc, de visiter l’Église anglicane le temps d’un mariage.

«J’ai déjà dit non à quelques demandes, confirme-t-elle. C’était des gens qui voulaient le service de l’Église, mais qui n’étaient pas engagés du tout… Pour le moment, c’est juste pour les pratiquants. Nous reverrons notre position quand la loi sera complètement changée.»

Pour qu’une loi canonique puisse être modifiée au sein de l’Église anglicane du Canada, il faut que le Synode général approuve le changement à deux reprises en ralliant les deux tiers des votes. La première lecture visant à inclure les conjoints de même sexe dans la définition du mariage anglican a eu lieu au synode de 2016, où la proposition a été adoptée de manière rocambolesque, après la rectification d’une erreur de comptage électronique. Comme les synodes nationaux ont lieu aux trois ans, la prochaine lecture se déroulera en 2019.

Or, plusieurs diocèses, dont ceux de Niagara, Toronto et Ottawa, ont choisi de ne pas attendre et d’autoriser dès maintenant les mariages gais.

Prudence avant le second vote

«Entre la première et la deuxième lecture, explique Mgr Mary Irwin-Gibson, je ne voulais pas faire de coup d’éclat ni de presse à ce sujet. Notre objectif était d’accepter au cas par cas les couples qui ne pouvaient attendre.»

Trois mariages auraient été célébrés jusqu’à présent.

La révérende rappelle que, même si l’Église anglicane du Canada est complètement autonome de celle de l’Angleterre, des États-Unis ou même d’Afrique, qui est aujourd’hui le berceau de l’anglicanisme, la question n’est pas si simple.

«Ça cause quand même des tensions, confirme-t-elle, parce que les Églises sont en partenariat dans une alliance anglicane. Et elles ne voient pas toujours du même œil comment les choses doivent aller.»

Mgr Mary Irwin-Gibson cite l’exemple de l’ordination des femmes prêtres.

«En Afrique, c’est sûr que l’ordination des femmes a été beaucoup plus lente qu’au Canada et aux États-Unis. Même à l’intérieur du Canada, il y a eu différentes vitesses pour l’adoption de ce changement. Ça va être la même chose pour le mariage gai. Il y a des régions au Canada où ce n’est vraiment pas correct pour eux. Ils ne sont pas prêts, ils ne sont pas heureux. Ils ne voient pas cela comme un geste chrétien.»

Ultimement, Mgr Mary Irwin-Gibson veut éviter de froisser les sensibilités avant le second vote de 2019 qui risque d’être à nouveau très serré. Et selon l’évêque de Montréal, c’est loin d’être gagné.

The best ways to help hurricane survivors, now and later

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 5:46pm

Several churches including Trinity by the Sea, businesses and other organizations in Port Aransas, Texas, can no longer take unsolicited donations because there is no clean, secure space for storage. A group left these donations when they were told they were creating chaos on the corner. Photo: Jennifer Wickham via Facebook

[Episcopal News Service] Brett Covington didn’t have any money to donate to people devastated by Hurricane Harvey. But she gave what she had: a steer.

Only in Texas, right?

Before accepting this gift, Christy Orman, the Diocese of Texas hurricane relief coordinator from Christ Church Cathedral in Houston, had to lock down a place that could use 400 pounds of meat. She immediately thought of The Abundant Harvest, a food truck that acts like a mobile food pantry. Once that end was secured, plus a butcher paid for, Orman decided to travel to Covington’s ranch in Hutto, Texas.

Christy Orman of Christ Church Cathedral in Houston said a prayer from The Book of Common Prayer to give thanks for the gift of the steer, which will provide 400 pounds of meat for hungry people affected by Hurricane Harvey. Photo: Courtesy of Christy Orman

“I told my husband, ‘I have to meet this cow.’ I want to honor this animal,” said Orman, who named the steer “Walstan” after the patron saint of farmers and ranchers. “We thanked Walstan for giving to so many that are in need right now … this was exactly where I needed to be, with this woman giving us a piece of her land, her living. The whole situation was just so surreal.”

Standing a few feet from his shiny charcoal coat, Orman read aloud the “For stewardship of creation” prayer from The Book of Common Prayer. The meat will likely become a casserole to nourish those in need since Hurricane Harvey made its first landfall August 25, near Rockport, Texas, on the barrier islands beyond Corpus Christi. The Category 4 hurricane is responsible for at least 60 deaths, record flooding and the destruction or damage of thousands of homes.

Walstan is the exception to the rule repeated by everyone leading ground-zero hurricane relief efforts. For those who want to help, please give money and gift cards — not supplies, unless specifically requested, said Carol Barnwell, communications coordinator for the Diocese of Texas who’s also organizing many of these efforts.

And most of all, don’t donate clothes, especially used clothes.

“I know it’s not as sexy to donate gift cards or funds, but it really is the best stewardship,” Barnwell said.

The diocese’s chaplains and mission groups bring the gift cards to families when they go to Episcopalians’ homes and to their neighbors’ homes. If the family needs dinner, they can buy dinner; if they need gas, they can buy gas. They can buy diapers that fit.

“One of the main things is the dignity of giving the person the ability to buy specifically what they need. It puts the money into the local economy, which is desperately needed,” Barnwell said. And yes, stores are stocked enough.

The most useful gift cards are the general ones, such as Visa and Mastercard, rather than grocery stores or other chains that might not have a location in the neighborhood where it lands. Cards for The Home Depot and Lowe’s are a pretty safe bet too.

Parishes that want to harness the giving energy of their congregations can gather to create prayer cards to go with the gift cards. The Texas diocese is creating slip covers for gift cards with a prayer on one side, and plans to put the template on its website so churches can print them out for their parish. Also, parishioners can organize creative fundraiser events.

The best way for someone living outside the affected areas to help is by donating to the Hurricane Harvey Response Fund managed by Episcopal Relief & Development. Staff are coordinating with diocesan leaders to ensure that the gift cards they purchase with the donated funds are from stores located in or near the impacted community, said Katie Mears, Episcopal Relief & Development’s U.S. Disaster Program director, in an email to Episcopal News Service.

Christy Orman (left) of Christ Church Cathedral in Houston drove with her husband, Alex (right) to the farm of Brett Covington (center) in Hutto, Texas, to say a prayer over Covington’s steer, which she donated to feed people in need after Hurricane Harvey. Photo: Courtesy of Christy Orman

It’s also important to distinguish between donated goods from local groups and those from outside of the affected communities.

“Donated goods coming from church groups and others within the impacted community can be helpful when they are based on the specific needs of local church partners and contacts. That said, transporting goods over large distances can make things more complicated and is rarely advisable,” Mears said.

Skilled labor and other volunteers won’t be needed from outside the area for a while, maybe even six months, she said. Episcopal Relief & Development’s church partners are still assessing needs and caring for those impacted. While volunteers aren’t needed yet, it’s certainly helpful to start planning for volunteers in the coming months and years, Mears said. Individuals and groups can sign up in the Ready to Serve database so church partners can reach out in the future as needs become clearer.

Mears is traveling to Texas this week to meet with leaders in the Episcopal dioceses of Texas and West Texas to survey and assess the coastal damage. She’s traveling with the Rev. Elaine Clements, the Louisiana diocesan disaster coordinator and member of Episcopal Relief & Development’s Partner in Response team. They will also be continuing to implement disaster recovery plans and map out most urgent needs throughout the region.

Unrequested donations, especially clothes, can become a problem in hurricane-affected areas, attracting rats and mosquitoes. Photo: Jennifer Wickham via Facebook

Trinity by the Sea Episcopal Church in Port Aransas, Texas, served as an early gathering point for the large amount of donated material that flooded the city after Harvey hit. By Sept. 1, however, the church had to stop accepting donations because there were no more secure, clean places to put the supplies, said Jennifer Wickham, a volunteer whose husband is rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Corpus Christi, which is about 40 miles west of Port Aransas.

On Sept. 4, what had become known as Trinity GraceMart relocated its donations to the open-air pavilion at Roberts Point Park. Workers also moved donations from the city’s community center to that space, now known as Port Aransas Recovery Supply Depot.

Wickham, who has worked in disaster relief for many years, said sometimes donations aren’t useful or even useable. Food banks, for instance, often get opened, half-eaten food items such as peanut butter or pasta. It seems like some people are cleaning out their cabinets, Wickham said. Or the donations could be from someone who has the desire to give, but not the financial ability to give any other way.

“Or, is it someone thinking ‘let’s give it to the poor people; they’ll take anything.’ That is a completely disrespectful way to look at the people we’re helping,” Wickham said. A fellow volunteer in Port Aransas told her the deluge of donations felt like “somebody’s invited themselves to dinner at my house and they didn’t ask if I wanted it; they didn’t ask if it was helpful.”

It can offend donors when they’re told their gifts can cause more harm than good when, for instance, the trucks bearing supplies block the roads for residents returning home. When businesses, people and organizations receive unsolicited donations of supplies, it can create what Wickham called a “secondary disaster.” Rain destroys donations left outside, attracting rats and mosquitos.

One way to avoid the added effort caused by unsolicited donations is to work within a specific network that publicizes what materials are needed, when and where, and coordinates delivery.

For those who live not too far away, make sure to gather only what is on the organizer’s list of specific items needed, said the Rev. Nancy Springer, disaster relief coordinator from the Diocese of Western Louisiana, in an online letter to the diocese’s clergy and lay people.

“Please don’t think you know more than those on the ground or know of other products that would supplement your donation,” Springer wrote. “For example, the people in the hardest hit communities are asking for vinegar, but this doesn’t mean they need olive oil, too. Vinegar goes with hydrogen peroxide to help with mold clean up.”

This is the reason the Rev. Bill Miller of Christ Church in Covington, Louisiana, was meticulous about his church’s collection for Hurricane Harvey.

Volunteers from St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church & School in New Orleans helped load a truck of supplies, headed to relief organizers in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Photo: the Rev. Robert Beazley

On Sept. 7, trucks with filled with $50,000 in requested supplies and $10,000 in gift cards headed to a donated warehouse space with a forklift and pallet jack, overseen by the Rev. Jimmy Grace, rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in the Heights of Houston, and the Rev. Carissa Baldwin-McGinnis, associate rector. That Houston church has a network with congregations in lower-income congregations in Houston, San Pablo, San Pedro and The Metropolitan Organization of Houston, a group of institutions dedicated to developing power and leadership among citizens in order to transform the city. St. Andrew’s is also in communication with the Venerable Russ Oechsel, Jr., the Texas diocesan archdeacon in charge of relief who’s working with Episcopal Relief & Development.

“A big part of what we did was talking to the right people,” Miller said. “You have to appreciate the good intentions of people, but we also have the responsibility to educate ourselves and stay informed. It really speaks to the power of partnerships.”

Houston is Miller’s hometown where he has a lot of family and friends and was ordained to begin his ministry. “Within 24 hours of the flooding, or less than that, I had people in shelters texting me what they needed,” he said.

Besides those gift cards, the key word here is “requested” supplies. Miller learned what specifically to round up by doing his homework after people from a Covington construction company came to him and said they wanted to help. So, Miller talked to three people organizing relief efforts in the Diocese of Texas: Grace from St. Andrew’s, Lord of the Streets Episcopal Church and an American Red Cross representative.

“So basically, we had three lists. The construction company waited for me to give them the list, and then they got the supplies in bulk, got the transportation — two trucks and drivers — donated,” Miller said.

The Rev. Robert Beazley, associate rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church & School in New Orleans, helped volunteers at Catholic Charities in Lake Charles, Louisiana, transport 300 buckets and bags of cleaning supplies using his rented 16-foot truck. Photo: Courtesy of the Rev. Robert Beazley

Verifying the best thing to do sometimes takes a lot of phone calls. When students, their families and other parishioners clamored for a way to help, the Rev. Robert Beazley, associate rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church & School in New Orleans, contacted the Rev. Lois Maberry, who is in charge of disaster response in the Diocese of Western Louisiana. She connected him with Rev. Jack Myers, rector of Church of the Good Shepherd in Lake Charles, Louisiana, who then connected him to a nearby Catholic Charities facility that could handle the delivery and sorting of supplies.

Beazley drove a 16-foot truck of supplies to the designated spot and after unloading, found he could be of more service: Volunteers asked to use his empty truck to move 300 cleaning kits for families from a nearby church to the places that needed them. Otherwise, they would’ve had to pack dozens of volunteers’ vehicles.

“I kept hearing phrases like, ‘You’re a godsend!’ But if it hadn’t been for the students and parishioners stepping up and donating the original supplies, that truck would have never been there in the first place,” Beazley said on Facebook.

He continued in a phone interview with Episcopal News Service: “I’ve been at this church less than two months, and they’ve already blown me away with their willingness to help the stranger.”

What helps and what hinders

Katie Mears, Episcopal Relief & Development’s U.S. Disaster Program director, provided a list of what donations help and what hinders recovery from hurricanes:

Helps

  • Prayer: Pray for people impacted by the storms as well as church partners responding compassionately to the crisis.
  • Financial gifts: Donate to Episcopal Relief & Development to help those most in need.
  • Share information: Help circulate bulletin inserts for your congregation to use during Sunday services.
  • Sign up to volunteer: Register in the Ready to Serve database as a possible volunteer in the future when local needs have been identified.
  • Stay informed: Visit episcopalrelief.org and follow Episcopal Relief & Development on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
  • Be active in your own preparedness plans: Here are resources and information to help prepare for disasters.

Hinders

  • Sending food, clothing and other items.
  • Self-deploying as a volunteer. Local churches might not be ready for outside volunteers.   

— Amy Sowder is a special correspondent for the Episcopal News Service and is also a writer and editor living in Brooklyn, New York. Mary Frances Schjonberg, interim managing editor for the Episcopal News Service, contributed to this report.

Time includes Katharine Jefferts Schori in series on women changing the world

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 12:10pm

[Episcopal News Service] Time magazine’s new multimedia project, Firsts: Women Who Are Changing the World, features the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, 26th presiding bishop, as one of 46 profiled women.

A trailer for the video interview with Jefferts Schori, along with the text, is here.

Jefferts Schori was the bishop of Nevada when she was elected in June 2006. She was installed as presiding bishop in November of that year. Her term ended in November 2015 when current Presiding Bishop Michael Curry succeeded her.

She is now serving as assisting bishop in the Diocese of San Diego while that diocese discerns who to call as its next bishop.

The Time project, which debuted Sept. 7, uses the metaphor of the glass ceiling. “What a jagged image we use for women who achieve greatly, defining accomplishment in terms of the barrier rather than the triumph. There she is up where the air is thin, where men still outnumber women, but where the altitude is awesome,” the introduction says. “Our goal with Firsts is for every woman and girl to find someone whose presence in the highest reaches of success says to her that it is safe to climb, come on up, the view is spectacular.”

The list of the other 45 women is here, and includes such women as Hillary Rodham Clinton, Serena Williams, Oprah Winfrey and Kellyanne Conway.

Time plans to publish a book from the series Sept. 17.

Episcopal Relief & Development continues to respond to needs in Texas after Hurricane Harvey

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 2:15pm

[Episcopal Relief & Development] Hurricane Harvey, the first major storm of the 2017 hurricane season, caused heavy rain and catastrophic flooding as it hovered over Houston, Galveston and other parts of Texas and Louisiana in late August. More than 60 deaths have been reported to date. This powerful storm first made landfall on August 25 as a category 4 hurricane with record rainfall. After downgrading to a tropical storm several days later, it devastated cities and towns throughout Texas.

Episcopal Relief & Development is working in partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas to provide gift cards to families in impacted communities along the southern Texas Coast. These gift cards will enable people to purchase food, water and basic hygiene products as well as cleaning supplies, power tools and other equipment.

In the Diocese of West Texas, thousands were forced to seek shelter and many have lost their homes. Several areas remain without electricity and a viable infrastructure and with no equipment and resources to clean up in the aftermath of the storm. Buildings have been destroyed with trees and power lines still down. It may take weeks and even months to fully assess the scope of Hurricane Harvey’s damage.

Katie Mears, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Director of the US Disaster Program, is visiting Texas this week to meet with leaders in the Episcopal dioceses of Texas and West Texas to survey and assess the coastal damage while continuing to implement disaster recovery plans and map out most urgent needs throughout the region. Mears is traveling with Deacon Elaine Clements, the Diocesan Disaster Coordinator for the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana and a member of Episcopal Relief & Development’s Partner in Response team, who will accompany diocesan and congregational leaders through the stages of long-term recovery.

“One of the strengths of our Church is its ability to identify where the greatest needs are in the community and leverage the strengths of our church partners who are intimately connected with their communities,” noted Mears, who will be in Houston and San Antonio this week.

Episcopal Relief & Development has also partnered with the Episcopal Diocese of Texas to respond to the immediate needs of people throughout the impacted region including Beaumont, Houston, Galveston and other areas. The diocese is providing temporary housing for families, recruiting volunteers to help clean out homes and deploying trained, spiritual care teams to reach out to people in shelters and in impacted communities. These teams are also distributing gift cards to help with purchasing food, basic supplies and other necessities.

“We have a tremendous amount of work ahead of us,” noted Mears. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and communities affected by this devastating storm.”

Donate to the Hurricane Harvey Response Fund to help Episcopal Relief & Development in responding to critical needs.

For bulletin inserts and other Hurricane Harvey resources, visit episcopalrelief.org/harvey

Hong Kong could host ACC-17 after Brazil ‘postponement’

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 2:02pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Sao Paulo, Brazil, was unveiled as the host of the 2019 conference at last year’s ACC conference in Lusaka. But the ACC Standing Committee, meeting in London, heard that the event was scheduled to go ahead at what would be a challenging time for the country and for the Anglican Church there.

In particular, concerns were raised about the political and economic instability and also the church’s discussions on human sexuality and marriage which will take place at the provincial synod next year. Whatever the outcome of those discussions, it was felt this would have an impact on the Anglican Church in Brazil and hamper its ability to stage ACC-17. Specifically, it was thought that the leadership of the church would need time to deal with pastoral issues arising from the discussions.

Read the entire article here.

New archbishop of Wales elected

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 1:56pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] John Davies, who has served as the bishop of Swansea and Brecon for the past nine years, has been chosen as the 13th Archbishop of Wales.

He succeeds Barry Morgan who retired in January after 14 years as the leader of the Church in Wales.

Read the entire article here.

Preachers offer comfort, challenge and humor in the face of Harvey

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 1:14pm

The Rev. James Derkits, rector of Trinity by the Sea Episcopal Church in Port Aransas, Texas, said Sept. 3 that people there were “living out the teaching of Romans.” Photo: Jennifer Wickham via Facebook

[Episcopal News Service] Sometimes, it is the simplest words that work the best. That, and some humor.

“So.”

“Wow.”

“What a week.”

That is how the Rev. Russell J. Levenson Jr., rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, began his Sept. 3 sermon. Like many preachers faced with the task of bringing the word of God to bear on the experience of Hurricane Harvey, Levenson combined simple comfort laced with humor and biblical interpretation with a call to ministry.

When he asked his congregation how they were doing and there was what seemed to be a positive murmuring reply, Levenson said gently: “Yeah, you’re all lying.”

He elicited a good laugh.

At Trinity by the Sea Episcopal Church in Port Aransas, Texas, near where Harvey first struck on Aug. 25, the Rev. James Derkits described in his sermon a typical conversation.

“Hey, how’re you doing?”

“Oh, holding up all right.”

“And then we cry for a minute. And then we say, OK, back to work.’”

“We’re just going to keep on doing that,” Derkits said.

He admitted that he didn’t know if he could preach that day. “I wasn’t sure I could say one word without crying,” said Derkits, whose family lost much when Harvey destroyed the rectory. He has been helping to lead recovery efforts in his town.

At St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church in Houston, the rector, the Rev. Rob Price, confessed that he had been busy that week with “the work of doing the word of God and I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to prepare for preaching upon the word of God.”

Luckily, he said, the lectionary came to the rescue. The appointed readings included the story of Moses standing on holy ground before the burning bush to receive God’s call to lead his people out of misery, Paul’s exhortation to the Romans not to lag in zeal and be ardent in spirit as they serve the Lord, and Jesus’ call to his disciples to take up their cross and follow him.

Price said he had seen St. Dunstan parishioners engaged in “simple acts of love that will persist long after the media has left Houston.” And, he pledged that “we will be walking with our [church] family and your friends for as long as it takes.”

Levenson at St. Martin’s told his congregation that God was everywhere while Harvey was submerging Houston under nearly 52 inches of rain, whether they themselves suffered damage or had to be rescued – or not. He urged his listeners to act.

“In the wake of nature’s havoc, now comes the work of God. You, as you stand before him in prayer, are like Moses,” he said, telling them they have the opportunity to show the world that they are the body of Christ. “You, as you allow genuine love to pour out of you. You, as you show others you’re his disciples by loving” the people in their communities.

He warned against despair. “You can allow this storm to define you in such a way that you are frozen and stagnant or you can allow this storm to pass through us and over us, because as its waters recede, even slowly in some places, life will begin again,” Levenson said.

The waters of baptism are stronger that Harvey’s flood, he said, urging the congregation to transplant the holy ground of their worship space into the community. “My friends, it’s what we’re called to do,” he said.

That ministry will help rebuild Harvey-hit areas, preachers said.

A thank-you sign hangs outside a downtown hotel housing emergency response teams in the aftermath of Harvey in Houston. Hebrews 6:10 says “or God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do” Photo: REUTERS/Mike Blake –

At St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Rockport, Texas, also near where Harvey first came on land, the Rev. Jim Friedel pointed to symbolic new growth. “When I returned from evacuating a few days ago, every single tree was bare,” he said. “But today, if you look closely at the oak trees on our church grounds, new leaves are budding.”

Friedel held Eucharist in the church’s parking lot in muggy weather under a blazing sun. During the readings, a neighboring congregation could be heard singing “Bless the Lord, my soul.”

“We have an opportunity to respond in a way that will give new life,” the rector said as helicopters droned overhead.

Reminding worshippers that God heard the cries of the Israelites, Friedel said “he has heard our cries and the cries of this community. We have suffered, and now with grateful hearts, we will press forward.”

The Very Rev. Barkley Thompson, dean of Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Houston, also used the image of communities being stripped bare but beginning to show new life. In a Sept. 3 blog post, he described what Houston looked like “after the world ended.”

“In the wake of disaster, beyond the wilderness, when everything is stripped bare, the God whom fire cannot consume and water cannot drown comes to us and says, “I will send you’,” he wrote. “God is calling now – us, this cathedral, this community of disciples – and he does not send us alone. We are Christ Church together, and we will see the dawn.”

Eucharist at Trinity by the Sea in neighboring Port Aransas took place with the sounds of recovery in the background. Derkits thanked the police chief, mayor and city manager for being at the service, and for their leadership.

He said that Paul could have found on the battered streets of Port Aransas the basis for the inventory of Christian behavior that he gave to the Romans.

“This is what the kingdom of God looks like; this is what the Son of Man coming into his kingdom looks like,” Derkits said. “People are reaching out in love to each other and so we are living out this gospel teaching and we are living out the teaching of Romans.”

Earlier in the service, Derkits gathered children around the baptismal font and showed them shells he had found along the hurricane-littered beach. He called them treasures that Harvey had washed up, adding that they were symbols of what was happening in their city.

“We’ve had this challenging terrible hurricane that’s come through and all these treasures have been stirred up in people’s hearts,” he said, explaining how residents and volunteers alike were taking care of the city and of each other.

He asked each child to take a shell to serve “as a reminder to watch out for the treasures because even though we’ve had a hard time and it’s going to be a rough road ahead, there’s lots of good treasures out there to be had.”

Diocese of Texas Bishop Andy Doyle told the congregation at St. Cuthbert’s Episcopal Church in Houston that seeing Episcopalians helping their communities was among the most joyous parts of his job.

“Nothing shows me the kingdom and God’s love for us more than the work you all have undertaken in the last week and the work that is before you,” he said in his sermon. “And it would be easy to say we don’t have the resources or we don’t know what we’re doing. We’re not professionals. We don’t know about remediation. But that does not stop the kingdom of God.

“God gives us a spirit to walk into the breach and change people’s lives. Christ’s church is at its best when it puts down all its mightiness, when it puts down all its victory, when it puts down its ‘church knows all’ attitude. And instead, it is at its best when it rolls up its sleeves and creates a new community out of generosity, hospitality, vulnerability and love.”

To the east, the Rev. Sharon A. Alexander, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, recalled for her congregation Hurricane Katrina in 2005, last year’s so-called 1,000-year flood in Baton Rouge and her city’s deep economic connections to Texas through the energy and chemical industries.

“They extended their help to us last year after our flood. It is our turn to return the favor. It is not in our DNA at Trinity to ignore the suffering of others,” she said of Texans. “You all have demonstrated many times qualities set forth in today’s passage from Romans: hope, zeal, prayer, hospitality – these are keys to the kingdom that we have inherited from St. Peter.”

Alexander said Trinity will use those keys to help people in the Beaumont, Texas area. She asked parishioners to ask in their prayers “how we can be bearers of Jesus’ compassion and hope, as we were once the receivers of these holy gifts.”

Preachers as far away as California spoke of Harvey. The Rev. Peggy Bryan, pastoral assistant at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, in Saratoga, California, described how her two sons and their families, spared from the flooding in Houston, had taken in evacuees, human, dog and guinea pig. In part, she said, their actions reciprocated the help they received in the wake of Hurricane Rita in September 2005.

Bryan noted that both CNN and Breitbart News had acknowledged this sort of volunteerism on the part of ordinary people. “Seriously, if those two news sources can spin the same direction, even for a fleeting moment, there is hope,” she said. “And it’s not hope for more unifying disasters but hope we can pursue bold love and courageous hospitality, so one divine day it’s not radical, but natural.”

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is interim managing editor of the Episcopal News Service.

Washington National Cathedral decides to remove windows with Confederate generals

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 12:44pm

[Episcopal News Service] Washington National Cathedral and the Diocese of Washington announced Sept. 6 that the cathedral’s stained-glass windows depicting two Confederate generals will be removed, bringing to an abrupt close a discernment process that was expected to last into next year.

“These windows are not only inconsistent with our current mission to serve as a house of prayer for all people, but also a barrier to our important work on racial justice and racial reconciliation,” cathedral and diocesan leaders said in a written statement. “Their association with racial oppression, human subjugation and white supremacy does not belong in the sacred fabric of this Cathedral.”

The expedited decision comes less than a month after the violent clashes between hate groups and anti-racism counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, that amplified the national debate over Confederate symbols in public places, including in Episcopal institutions.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will visit Charlottesville on Sept. 7 to meet with clergy, diocesan staff and Episcopal students from the University of Virginia. He also will preach at an evening worship service near where Episcopal leaders and others joined in solidarity Aug. 12 against white supremacists who were rallying around a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

The melee, which left one counter-protester dead, prompted renewed scrutiny of Confederate symbols in Episcopal institutions, from Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati, Ohio, to a church named after Lee in Lexington, Virginia.

Washington National Cathedral had been halfway through a two-year period of discernment over its windows honoring Lee and Stonewall Jackson. That process began in the wake of the June 2015 massacre of nine members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Gunman Dylann Roof’s fondness for the Confederate flag sparked a broad re-examination of the flag as a controversial symbol of the South that had been co-opted by white supremacists.

The cathedral removed depictions of the Confederate flag almost immediately. Dean Randy Hollerith wrote a June 30 letter to the congregation urging patience with the longer process of discerning the fate of the windows themselves.

“There is real frustration that we have not yet decided the ultimate disposition of the windows,” Hollerith said. “I want you to know I hear that frustration, and I appreciate that many people have good reasons for feeling that this decision-making process is taking too long.”

But he said the congregation had embarked on the work of reconciliation “for the long haul” and would continue the conversations “over the next year.”

“These windows, and these questions, have exposed emotions that are raw and sometimes wounds that have not yet healed,” Hollerith wrote. “They have helped to reveal how much we still have to learn as we work toward repairing the breach of racial injustice and building the beloved community.”

A cathedral spokesman told Episcopal News Service last month that the events in Charlottesville added a sense of urgency to the process, but the cathedral gave no updated timetable for a decision on the windows.

Instead of dragging on for months, the process came to an end with the statement Sept. 6 signed by Hollerith, Bishop Mariann Budde and Cathedral Chapter Chair John Donoghue. They said the windows, installed in 1953 when the civil rights movement was gaining steam, “will be deconsecrated, removed, conserved and stored until we can determine a more appropriate future for them.”

The statement also alluded to the violence in Charlottesville.

“The continued presence of white supremacy, anti-Semitism and other forms of hate in our nation cannot be ignored – nor will they be solved simply by removing these windows or other monuments,” the statement said. “The racial wounds that we have seen across our nation compel us to renew our commitment to building God’s Beloved Community.”

The full text of the statement follows.

6 September 2017

Dear friends,

Two years ago, following a tragic shooting at a church in Charleston, S.C., then-Dean Gary Hall called for the removal of two stained glass windows at the Cathedral that honor Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

At that time, we began a process to engage this community in deep questions of racial justice, the legacy of slavery and God’s call to us in the 21st century. Over the past two years, we have heard from deeply passionate voices who have engaged with us and held us accountable to this process, and we thank them.

The programs we have hosted, the conversations within our community and national events have brought greater focus on the key question facing us: Are these windows, installed in 1953, an appropriate part of the sacred fabric of a spiritual home for the nation?

After considerable prayer and deliberation, the Cathedral Chapter voted Tuesday to immediately remove the windows. The Chapter believes that these windows are not only inconsistent with our current mission to serve as a house of prayer for all people, but also a barrier to our important work on racial justice and racial reconciliation. Their association with racial oppression, human subjugation and white supremacy does not belong in the sacred fabric of this Cathedral.

These windows will be deconsecrated, removed, conserved and stored until we can determine a more appropriate future for them. The window openings and stone work in the Lee-Jackson Bay will be covered over until we determine what will go in their place.

There are several things that we know to be true:

• Whatever their origins, we recognize that these windows are more than benign historical markers. For many of God’s children, they are an obstacle to worship in a sacred space; for some, these and other Confederate memorials serve as lampposts along a path that leads back to racial subjugation and oppression.

• A central question we have asked throughout this process is what narratives are shared within the sacred fabric of the Cathedral, and which are yet untold. We have concluded that these windows tell an incomplete and misleading account of our history. We are committed to finding ways to offer a richer, more balanced expression of our nation’s history.

• We have asked whether it is possible to contextualize these windows or to augment them with other narratives. The Chapter concluded that there is no way to adequately contextualize these windows while keeping them within the sacred fabric of the Cathedral.

• We want to be clear that we are not attempting to remove history, but rather are removing two windows from the sacred fabric of the Cathedral that do not reflect our values. We believe these windows can yet have a second life as an effective teaching tool in a place and context yet to be determined.

• The recent violence in Charlottesville brought urgency to our discernment process.  We find ourselves compelled by the witness of others, moved by the presence of God in our midst and convicted that the Holy Spirit is pointing us toward the answer. The continued presence of white supremacy, anti-Semitism and other forms of hate in our nation cannot be ignored – nor will they be solved simply by removing these windows or other monuments. The racial wounds that we have seen across our nation compel us to renew our commitment to building God’s Beloved Community.

There are questions we cannot yet answer, such as what will replace these windows. Those answers will come after careful thought and deliberation. But we know this for sure: while this part of our work has reached its end, the harder task of working for racial justice, combating intolerance and fostering reconciliation continues with renewed urgency.

We recognize that there are people of goodwill who disagree with our decision, and also others who have been hurt or confused by the amount of time it took us to reach it. We trust, however, that what unites us in Christ is greater than our differences. We continue to hold the entire Cathedral community in prayer as we strive always to see each other as beloved children of God.

In the coming weeks and months, the Cathedral leadership will create opportunities for all in the Cathedral community to express their views and feelings. We promise to listen carefully to all who are willing to share. And we renew our commitment to follow Jesus and do our part to build the Kingdom of God, on earth as it is in heaven.

Faithfully,

The Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Washington 

The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith
Dean, Washington National Cathedral

John Donoghue
Chair, Cathedral Chapter

Anglican Communion secretary general: ACNA isn’t a province

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 3:43pm

Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, addresses members of General Synod 2016. Photo: Art Babych

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, has stressed that the Anglican Church of North America is not a province of the Anglican Communion.

Speaking to ACNS as he delivered his report to the Standing Committee, Idowu-Fearon said he wanted to correct any suggestion that ANCA was the 39th province of the Communion rather than Sudan, which was inaugurated in July. “It is simply not true to say that ACNA is part of the Anglican Communion,” he said.

Full article.

Episcopalians say Trump’s DACA decision is not the last word

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 3:15pm

Demonstrators protest in front of the White House after the Trump administration Sept. 5 scrapped the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that protects from deportation almost 800,000 young men and women who were brought into the U.S. illegally as children. In Washington, D.C., Diocese of Washington Bishop Mariann Budde joined other faith leaders at the demonstration. Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

[Episcopal News Service] Many Episcopalians vowed to fight to preserve the federal immigration policy known as DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and to support the 800,000 “Dreamers” it impacts, after the Trump administration announced Sept. 5 an end to the program.

The administration announced that it would phase out the DACA policy, giving Congress six months to act legislatively to save the program that allowed qualifying undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children to remain in the country.

President Barack Obama instituted DACA in June 2012 by executive action, giving so-called “Dreamers” the ability to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for work permits.

For the Rev. Nancy Frausto, associate rector at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Long Beach, California, in the Diocese of Los Angeles, and a Dreamer, the Sept. 5 news was terrifying.

Frausto, 33, who came to the United States at age 7, said she and her brother “are very proud of our Mexican heritage, but we know no other country. We have worked so hard to achieve our dreams, and it all could be taken away in a second.

“I am trying very hard to stay positive, to remember the words from last Sunday’s reading, ‘do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil by good.’ But, let me tell you, it’s not easy.”

Frausto was ordained a priest in 2013; she grew up attending All Saints’ Episcopal Church in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles where she was a popular youth leader. Because of her undocumented status, she was unable to apply for financial aid for college, so the church created a scholarship fund and assisted her education.

In 2013, she was named an Episcopal Church Foundation Fellow, and she is popular at conferences for speaking about “scrappy” or struggling churches. She also serves as a consultant evangelist for the Presiding Bishop’s Office on Evangelism.

“I know a lot of the church will rise up and will defend the rights of all people, and there’s people doing amazing work,” Frausto told ENS, amid frequent pauses and tears. “But, it’s so hard to stay positive right now.”

Frausto said she knows immigration can be “a touchy subject.”

“And I know that in our church there are people who stand on both sides. And with all due respect to anyone who agrees with the side that all undocumented persons should be sent back to their country, I would hope that their Christian value would be stronger than their political values.”

The Episcopal Church’s presiding officers issued a statement after the Trump administration’s announcement, vowing to work for immigration reform and to support Dreamers like Frausto.

“We believe that these young people are children of God and deserve a chance to live full lives, free from fear of deportation to countries that they may have never known and whose languages they may not speak,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and President of the House of Deputies Gay Clark Jennings said. “As people of faith, our obligation is first to the most vulnerable, especially to children. In this moment, we are called by God to protect Dreamers from being punished for something they had no agency in doing.”

The complete statement is here.

The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations, as well as its Episcopal Public Policy Network, has long been engaged in advocacy for “a humane and proportional immigration system,” based on the General Convention’s stance on the issues involved. The office has a collection of resources for advocacy and action on immigration policy, as well as information on current policies and proposed legislation.

In Los Angeles, members of Episcopal Sacred Resistance, the diocesan task force on immigration, said they would join a demonstration at 5 p.m. in the city where thousands were expected to protest the decision.

Just last week, they had rejoiced at the Aug. 30 release from detention of Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents took him into custody in the presence of his teen daughter, after he had dropped another daughter off at school. The case was widely publicized, and after a six-month detention, he was returned to his family.

Avelica-Gonzalez, 49, has lived in California for 30 years and has four U.S.-born children. The nation’s highest immigration court vacated a final deportation order on Aug. 10, and his case will return to a local court for another hearing.

“In the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, home to one of the largest immigrant populations in the nation, the bishops reaffirm the diocese’s continuing commitment to Dreamers and their families and call upon the president and Congress to strengthen the status of these deserving persons rather than jeopardize it through partisan politics,” Bishop J. Jon Bruno, Bishop Suffragan Diane Bruce and Bishop Coadjutor John Taylor said in a statement.

“Dreamers add daily, long-term value to all aspects of life across the United States and should receive respect and fairness from our government rather than equivocation rooted in fear and racism and that must be eradicated for the common good.”

Immigration activists will continue to press for justice, said the Rev. Mike Kinman, rector of All Saints Church, in Pasadena, California.

“This is us,” Kinman told ENS in a telephone interview Sept. 5. “This is not some other. These are our sisters and brothers and members of our family, members of our community. These are God’s beloved and our beloved. God has joined us together, and Scripture tells us that which God has joined together, let no one put asunder.”

Kinman said the administration’s decision means the government is “literally trying to tear our family apart, and we can’t do that because family is a gift from God.”

“We know how to fight this and we’re going to fight it. It starts by doing what we’re doing today, taking to the street and saying, not on our watch, especially here in California, where about 223,000 of the 800,000 people who are Dreamers live,” he said of the demonstration planned for La Placita Olvera in Los Angeles later in the day.

He called the statement released by Attorney General Jeff Sessions “a tragic rejection of the actual gospel of Jesus Christ.”

“From a nation that has for centuries stolen resources from Central American nations, pauperizing them and leaving their citizens little choice but to follow those resources north in search of survival, this action is particularly cruel and deeply ironic,” Kinman added.

The Rev. Joanne Leslie, a member of the Los Angeles diocesan immigration task force, called the Trump administration’s action “pointless.”

“It seems [Trump] has so little political capital left, why would he spend any of it on something that seems to me to have no upside?” Leslie said.

Leslie, who recently retired as archdeacon of the diocese, said she also planned to be at the demonstration in downtown Los Angeles and she vowed to continue to fight for just immigration reform.

“There’s a lot that creative legal minds can do,” Leslie said, adding, “we haven’t finished pushing the envelope yet.”

Leslie said the release of Avelica-Gonzalez after six months of dogged work proved a point. “It just means you can, when motivated people work together, you can get something done,” she said. “I’m looking forward to being with a bunch of motivated people today.”

Avelica-Gonzalez’s release doesn’t make up for the other people, she said, who are being unfairly held in Adelanto detention center in Los Angeles. However, each time activists are faced with a new challenge “and we gather together, it gives me hope,” Leslie added.

Meanwhile, Diocese of Washington Bishop Mariann Budde was among the immigration advocates, Dreamers and other faith leaders who demonstrated in front of the White House on Sept. 5. Speaking to the crowd, she noted that last week she joined with Cardinal Donald Wuerl of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington; Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig, senior rabbi of Washington Hebrew Congregation, and Imam Talib M. Shareef of Masjid Muhammad, The Nation’s Mosque, to send a letter to Trump and members of Congress, saying that each religion’s sacred texts and teachings are clear that supporting Dreamers “is consistent with the moral imperative of extending hospitality to the stranger, of caring for immigrants and children, and of loving our neighbors as ourselves.”

“Now that the president has acted, we will turn our attention to Congress,” Budde said outside the White House.

Dreamers are part of the U.S., she said. “I want you to know that you belong here. We love you; we are so proud of you; and we need your gifts, talents and hard work to help make this country live up to its greatest ideals.

“Your dream is the American dream of opportunity and diversity, of safe haven and of building a better life for ourselves and our families. The future of this country is in your hands. The president’s decision is not the final answer on DACA. We commit ourselves to work with and alongside you for a better day.”

As for Frausto, she admits to struggling against “being in a very dark place now.” She was able to work in the church because of DACA, after previously fearing she would need to leave the country for at least 10 years.

As to what she’d say to the Trump administration: “Have a little heart. Stop trying to dehumanize us, we are God’s children.”

— The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. She is based in Los Angeles.

Presiding Bishop, House of Deputies president on DACA

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 2:07pm

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings have issued the following statement concerning the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Today our hearts are with those known as the Dreamers—those young women and men who were brought to this country as children, who were raised here and whose primary cultural and country identity is American. We believe that these young people are children of God and deserve a chance to live full lives, free from fear of deportation to countries that they may have never known and whose languages they may not speak. As people of faith, our obligation is first to the most vulnerable, especially to children. In this moment, we are called by God to protect Dreamers from being punished for something they had no agency in doing.

Since 2012, individuals who are undocumented and who were brought to the U.S. as children have benefitted from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Through this program, those eligible have the opportunity to obtain a work permit and can secure protection from deportation. The nearly 800,000 recipients of DACA have proven that when given the opportunity, they succeed and contribute positively to our country. Without protection afforded by DACA or a legislative solution, these young people will live in fear of arrest, detention, and deportation to countries they may not remember. In six months those fears may become reality, so we must use that time wisely to advocate for their protection.

The Episcopal Church supports these undocumented youth as part of our decades-long commitment to walking with immigrants and refugees. Out of that commitment, we call on our nation to live up to its highest ideals and most deeply held values, and we call on Congress to take action to protect these young people and to formulate a comprehensive immigration policy that is moral and consistent and that allows immigrants who want to contribute to this country the chance to do so while keeping our borders secure from those whose business is in drugs, human trafficking or terror. We are committed to working actively toward both the passage of a bipartisan Dream Act by Congress and comprehensive immigration reform, and we will provide resources for Episcopalians who want to participate in this work.

For those of us who follow Jesus Christ, our Christian values are at stake. Humane and loving care for the stranger, the alien, and the foreigner is considered a sacred duty and moral value for those who would follow the way of God. In his parable of the last judgment, Jesus commended those who welcomed the stranger and condemned those who did not (Matthew 25:35 & 25:43). This teaching of Jesus was based on the law of Moses that tells the people of God: “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:33-35).

We stand with the Dreamers and will do all that we can to support them while we also work for the kind of immigration reform that truly reflects the best of our spiritual and moral values as people of faith and as citizens of the United States.

-The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop and primate, and The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies

Episcopalians labor on to help Hurricane Harvey-hit Gulf Coast

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 6:56pm

Volunteers at Trinity by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Port Aransas, Texas, sort donations on Aug. 31. The church is serving as a staging ground for recovery workers in the town that is near where Hurricane Harvey made landfall. Photo: Jennifer Wickham via Facebook

[Episcopal News Service] The rest of the United States might be headed into the three-day Labor Day weekend with thoughts of picnics and beaches, but Episcopalians along the Harvey-hit Gulf Coast will be working to clean up the damage and begin to put their lives, and the lives of their neighbors, back together.

That work comes a week after Hurricane Harvey developed into a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico and made landfall as a Category 4 storm near Rockport, Texas, on the barrier islands beyond Corpus Christi shortly before 10 p.m. CDT Aug. 25. Harvey then moved over Copano Bay and made landfall again, this time as a Category 3 hurricane.

After moving east and submerging the Houston area under nearly 52 inches of rain, a weakened Harvey wobbled back out over the gulf and then returned to land on Aug. 30, hitting again near Cameron, Louisiana.

The New York Times reported Sept. 1 that at least 46 deaths were related to, or suspected to be related to, the storm. That number could still rise.

The remnants of Harvey, now classified by the National Hurricane Center as Post-Tropical Cyclone Harvey, are moving northeastward across the Ohio Valley and pushing as much as 1 to 6 inches of rain into Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia.

Harvey’s rainfall totals as of 5 p.m. EDT Sept. 1 are here.

“All of the churches in the Diocese of West Texas are standing strong,” said the diocese on whose southern portion Harvey made its first two U.S. landfalls on Aug. 25. “There is damage, which is to be expected after a direct hit from such a large storm. Much of the damage includes fallen and broken trees and limbs, as well as large amounts of debris that were distributed with the 100+ mph winds and the storm surges.”

The churches across the diocese are “doing what they are supposed to be doing,” the statement said. “They are responding and issuing calls to action by making numerous hygiene kits and beginning to gather and organize volunteer efforts.”

In Port Aransas, Texas, Trinity by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, with its parish hall and church in relatively good shape, has become a gathering point for volunteers before they go out in neighborhoods. Once there, they are helping survivors clean up massive amounts of debris from their properties and ruined items from their homes and businesses.

One volunteer, Eddie Roberson, said other folks “are out in droves providing free food and everything imaginable to help all of us working.”

“A beautiful ray of hope in a place that desperately needs it,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “God Bless us all!”

Roberson said it is hard to navigate through Port Aransas because most of the street signs are missing. “Be prepared, the devastation is unreal. The working conditions beyond the heat zaps your energy fast,” he wrote. “The mildew, humidity and heat from the sun make for a very humbling experience even for the most in-shape individual.”

Volunteers need to have good gloves, cool clothing, baby wipes, mosquito spray and a lot of water, Roberson suggested.

 

Jennifer Wickham, who lives in Corpus Christi where her husband is rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, is helping coordinate volunteers at Trinity. “We were overwhelmed at several times today, not only by the generosity of volunteers who came to help, but also by the sheer volume of people bringing truckloads of supplies,” she said in an update late on Aug. 31.

The outpouring is wonderful, she wrote, but “it is becoming clear that the storage of donations will quickly become a challenge — not only for us, but also from many of the grassroots organizations working in the community.” The few places in town that are clean and secure are filling with large deliveries of supplies, and some groups have even begun to turn donations away.

“But this is not because we have enough items,” wrote Wickham, who is also the development coordinator for Saint Vincent Centre for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. “It is simply a reality that there are not enough places to put all of the things we need.”

Thus, Wickham suggested that people donate in just one of two ways: labor and money.

“I am exhausted, but amazed by the people, resources, and love that keep pouring in,” the Rev. James Derkits, Trinity by-the-Sea’s rector, said in West Texas’ update.

Derkits, his wife, Laura, and their family had to relocate when they discovered after Harvey that the storm destroyed the nearby rectory. They hope to move back to Port Aransas into a friend’s condominium once power is restored, he told Episcopal News Service.

Meanwhile, Trinity will have two services on Sept. 3.

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church (http://www.stpeterbythesea.com/) in Rockport, Texas, near where Harvey made landfall, sustained minor damage. Photo: St. Peter’s Episcopal Church via Facebook

In nearby Rockport, Texas, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church sustained minor damage. The congregation used its Facebook page to check on its members.

St. Peter’s state is unusual. Rockport Mayor Charles Wax estimated that 30 to 40 percent of the town’s houses and businesses were destroyed, and another 30 percent are so damaged that they will need to be demolished.

A parishioner of St. James Episcopal Church and School in Alexandria, Louisiana, Babs Leggett is worried about Trinity Episcopal Church in Galveston, Texas, where she and her husband, Jim Leggett III, attend when vacationing and visiting family. Leggett is on the church’s email list, and she received an email warning people that there would be no Sunday service on Sept. 3.

“It’s like a second home to us,” Leggett told Episcopal News Service. Her cousins were away from their Houston home when Harvey hit, and their house sitter had to evacuate to a hotel with their cat. They still don’t know how their home fared, Leggett said. The Leggetts plan to send a check to help the parish recover. “We’re just grieving for what’s happening next door. We went through it with Katrina, and it’s unbelievably challenging.”

 

As the barrier island towns near Corpus Christi pick of the pieces, Episcopalians in Houston are helping their neighbors in that waterlogged city.

Harvey survivors are finding food, cleaning supplies, underwear and more at Epiphany Community Health Outreach Services, a ministry of the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany. ECHOS helped 104 families on Aug. 31.

“Virtually all of them needed cleaning supplies, food, diapers, baby formula and other staples for their homes,” the agency said in an emailed update. “Each of them had a story to tell … Most who walked in our doors today lost everything. Some had damaged apartments. All have been traumatized. For many, it will take months for life to go back to normal. For others, it will be a new normal.”

ECHOS will host what it is calling a Disaster Relief Food Fair on Sept. 2. Ten pallets of water, and disaster relief food kits will be available. Bee Busy Wellness Center will have a nurse practitioner onsite to provide health assessments.

And, because relief work needs fuel, a local Starbucks delivered donated coffee on Aug. 31 for ECHOS workers and clients.

 

“These days of disaster have also been marked by many occasions of grace,” the Very Rev. Barkley Thompson, dean of Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Houston, wrote in a Sept. 1 Facebook post.

The most recent example of that grace, he said, was the Rev. Steve Wells, the pastor of South Main Baptist Church, and his congregation delivering shoes to the Beacon. The Beacon is a cathedral ministry that offers homeless people daily services, civil legal aid, counseling and mentoring and access to housing. The facility still has no power, Thompson said, “but as soon as we are able to reopen, every homeless woman or man who enters the door with waterlogged shoes will be able to receive a new pair. What a phenomenal act of generosity.”

Thompson is helping to coordinate the rectors of Houston’s largest Episcopal churches to respond in the recovery effort. He noted on Aug. 31 that “this work is in no way restricted to the Episcopal Church,” citing Wells, along with the Rev. Tommy Williams of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church and Rabbi Oren Hayon of Temple Emanu El.

“I’m humbled and blessed to witness the faith community in action,” he wrote. “For those who say the world would be better off without the church, I say visit Houston.”

There are lists posted around Trinity by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Port Aransas, Texas, with information and instructions for volunteers. Photo: Jennifer Wickham via Facebook

Many congregations will be taking up special collections on Sept. 3 for the work of Episcopal Relief & Development. Individual donations can be made here.

The organization, in partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, is responding to the immediate needs of people in the Greater Houston area, including Galveston. That support will help the diocese provide temporary housing for 50 families, recruit volunteers to help clean out homes and deploy trained, spiritual care teams to reach out to people evacuated to the George R. Brown Convention Center and in other hard-hit areas.

Those teams are also distributing gift cards to help with purchasing food, basic supplies and necessities. The organization said its U.S. Disaster Program staff is in regular contact with the affected dioceses in Texas and Louisiana.

“Our church partners are providing critical assistance and caring for their neighbors in the aftermath of this devastating storm,” said Robert W. Radtke, president of Episcopal Relief & Development. “I am deeply grateful to them and to our community of faithful supporters for their compassion and enormous generosity.”

At the Diocese of Western Louisiana office, Holly Davis, communications missioner, said she was without power and cell phone service for most of Aug. 30, but was back to work by Sept. 1. So far, she had no reports of flooding at the diocesan churches.

Dee Drell, senior warden at St. James Episcopal Church in Alexandria, which is northeast of Lake Charles and in the center of the state, said his and Leggett’s church will do a special offering for relief efforts Sept. 3.

Louisiana’s mega-shelter in Alexandria is filling up with flood victims, Leggett said. More than 1,100 evacuees filled the 2,500 beds by the evening of Aug. 31, according to The Town Talk newspaper. “And now we’re expecting the shelter to overflow with people coming in from Lake Charles,” said Leggett, who’s also a part-time TV news producer.

Across the Diocese of Louisiana, Episcopalians are remembering the generosity of the wider church after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and they are responding by collecting supplies and money. The diocese’s Facebook page is filled with such notices.

The Rev. Deacon Elaine G. Clements, the Louisiana diocesan disaster coordinator, reiterated the warning, however, to keep it simple and stick to monetary donations for now, unless there is a personal relationship with someone on the ground in the most affected areas.

“Two days ago, Houston needed divers; now they are overflowing with divers. Distribution and storage is a nightmare. So, money to Episcopal Relief & Development and gift cards [to local churches] are the way to go,” Clements told Episcopal News Service.

 

Still, some churches are trying to donate material goods. Christ Church in Covington, Louisiana, has given 100 blankets to a shelter Houston. The donation started when a friend texted the Rev. William Miller: “I had to tell 300 people that we were out of blankets. If you could have seen the look in their eyes…”

Miller, the church’s rector, writes here about the quest that followed. The Rev. Scott Painter, curate at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Houston and Miller’s friend, found his way to a Costco store that had just reopened and that had blankets. He texted photos of the options and Miller had him buy 100, sending him a check. Painter delivered them to NRG Stadium, where 10,000 people were expected by the end of that day.

“In the grand scheme of relief efforts, in a swampy region spread out over a vast territory with 6 million inhabitants, 100 blankets delivered to one shelter probably won’t make much of a difference,” Miller wrote. “But for the 100 people at the shelter who end up with one, it might make some difference. And you and I can each make some difference. Together, we can make a big difference.”

Previous ENS coverage of Hurricane Harvey is here.

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is interim managing editor of the Episcopal News Service. Amy Sowder is a special correspondent for the Episcopal News Service, as well as a writer and editor based in Brooklyn, New York.

Bishop of Polynesia addresses festivalgoers in England on climate change

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 10:47am

[Anglican Taonga] Archbishop Winston Halapua of Polynesia has taken his concerns about climate justice and his moana theology message to a new stage – to the immaculate grounds of a stately hall in the English midlands. He’d been invited by the United Society Partners in the Gospel (USPG) to be their keynote speaker at the Greenbelt Festival, which was held in the grounds of Boughton House. The Greenbelt Festival has been a British fixture for more than four decades and its organisers say their mission is “to create spaces, like festivals, where art, faith and justice collide.”

Read the full article here.

 

Summering Episcopalians love their seasonal chapels

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 3:35pm

St. Elisabeth’s Chapel by the Sea near the Atlantic Ocean in Ortley Beach, New Jersey, has been housed in two different buildings since its founding. Superstorm Sandy destroyed the 1885 chapel, and nearly five years later, on July 23, 2017, the congregation dedicated its new building. Photo: St. Elisabeth’s Chapel by the Sea

[Episcopal News Service] They have clergy every Sunday, but few have a priest to call their own. Most are only open for a few weeks, but some meet every Sunday of the year. Most Episcopalians have never set foot in one, but for those who have worshipped in them for years, they are imprinted on their faith journeys.

They have been compared to Brigadoon, the mysterious Scottish village that legend says appears for only one day every 100 years. However, the summer chapels of the Episcopal Church, most with three months or less of seasonal life, have far more staying power.

For more than a century, these often-small buildings have weathered changes in church attendance and vacation trends. They evoke an era when people decamped from the heat of the city to “summer” in the natural beauty of the countryside, preferably near a body of water, large or small.

Far away from their winter church homes, Episcopalians pooled their money and built chapels in those summer enclaves. The chapels have a deep hold on generations of summering families. Many people, along with some newcomers, mark the major passages of their lives in the chapels: baptisms, weddings, even memorial funerals.

Most chapels were built at a time when people walked to church. For instance, in a 22-mile stretch of New Jersey Shore towns, there are five summer chapels along with eight year-round congregations. Over the years, some chapels have grown into year-round congregations.

Regardless of their deep hold on some Episcopalians’ faith lives, the chapels have tenuous – and varied – relationships with the dioceses in which they exist. Some chapels are held by private trusts, some are incorporated, some are associated with Episcopal summer camps, some are missions of nearby year-round congregations. Very few file the annual Parochial Report required of year-round congregations. Most have no formal list of members because most of the Episcopalians who worship in them officially belong to other congregations. Some dioceses prevent seasonal chapels from formally enrolling members.

Thus, an accurate count of their number and attendance is hard to come by. Kirk Hadaway, the since-retired Episcopal Church officer for congregational research, compiled a list in 2015 of known seasonal chapels. It held the names of 85 such chapels, but he acknowledged that there might be more. The list ranged from St. Francis of the Mountains in South Lake Tahoe, California, and St. Hubert the Hunter in Bondurant, Wyoming, to some in the Midwest and a long chain of chapels lining the Eastern Seaboard from Maine to Florida.

The Episcopal Chapel of the Transfiguration, built in 1925 very near Grand Teton National Park and now a part of St. John’s Episcopal Church 15 miles away in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, held an eclipse service on Aug. 18. Afterward, the congregation went outside to witness the 2:20 minutes of totality. The 65-seat chapel offers two Eucharists each Sunday in summer. St John’s also has a summer Sunday service at the Chapel of St. Hubert the Hunter in Bondurant, 35 miles from Jackson. Photo: St. John’s Episcopal Church

The chapel with the newest building on that list is, arguably, St. Elisabeth’s Chapel, just steps from the Atlantic Ocean in Ortley Beach, New Jersey. Nearly five years after Superstorm Sandy swept the chapel off its moorings, across Barnegat peninsula and into the bay during the night of Oct. 29, 2012, the congregation has rebuilt. New Jersey Bishop Williams “Chip” Stokes dedicated that $1.2 million building this past July.

“When the chapel went down, we all mourned the loss and realized that we couldn’t mourn too long because we had to rebuild,” Senior Warden Dennis Bellars said.

The old chapel sat about 70 people; the new cedar-lined building can hold 120 comfortably, according to Bellars. The altar furniture and the pews are new. The bishop’s chair, which was found wedged in Ortley Beach’s wreckage, has been restored. Bellars even found an antique bell for the new steeple that was made in 1885, the year St. Elisabeth’s was founded.

The congregation combined the proceeds of a capital campaign with its insurance settlement from the lost chapel and added some congregational savings to finance the project that began in 2015. A member of the summer congregation pledged the largest individual amount to the effort. (While St. Elisabeth’s is classified as a summer chapel, it is open for worship all year. It averaged 40 people per Sunday during the 2016-2017 winter months.)

“The neighborhood is very, very pleased to have us back,” Bellars said, although he joked that he worries about the loudness of the “new” old bell.

Seasonal chapels “fill a need for the summer people to worship in an Episcopal service,” Bellars said.

 

“The people that go to summer chapels are really faithful,” said Stokes. “They understand that God doesn’t take a vacation.” Returning to their chapel every summer “is the way by which they keep up the rhythm of their faith lives and stay connected to their life in Jesus Christ, and remain connected to a community that they’ve been part of, for many of them, since they were children.”

“You walk into some of these places and that comes through loud and clear,” Stokes said. “That’s really quite special.”

Sometimes, the seasonal opening of a summer chapel means even local Episcopalians will choose to worship there. Their move can cause attendance and, sometimes, giving to dip at nearby full-year churches. While recognizing that this can be a bit disruptive and might raise the question of the best use of resources, Stokes sees “health, vitality and life” in the seasonal communities and in their neighboring churches.

“Some people discover Jesus when they see these pretty churches and chapels and maybe wander in during the summer,” he said. “What a nice thing, what a grace-filled thing.”

Stokes, whose family used to vacation in Bay Head, New Jersey, and did believe that “God took a vacation in the summer,” remembers pedaling his bike past All Saints Episcopal Church and hearing the hymns coming from what was then a summer chapel. The chapel, founded in 1888, became a year-round congregation in the mid-1980s.

Episcopalians in the pews are not the only ones for whom summer chapels are a tradition. Many priests – and their families – look forward to coming back for a few weeks each season to serve the congregations. Plus, along with taking the services and being available for pastoral care, they get vacation in popular, scenic spots.

Stokes recalls earlier in his ministry when he spent nine years with his wife, Susan, and their family opening the season at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Harbor Springs, Michigan. Stokes explained that the seasonal position, which came with a stipend and a house, provided a “respite” for his family, which then included his wife, four children and a nephew who was living with them. Stokes was a curate earning $23,000 when he got the chance to serve on the clergy rotation for St. Andrew’s by-the-Sea in Saltaire, New York, on Fire Island.

“I can promise you I would never have been able to afford a beach house rental on Fire Island,” he said. “My kids remember that as some of the best times of their lives.”

 

The Very Rev. Timothy Kimbrough, dean of the Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville, Tennessee, would agree. His 28-year stint as one of the priests for the Episcopal Church of St. Simon-by-the-Sea, a summer chapel in Mantoloking on the Jersey Shore, has frequently served as his family’s vacation.

“It always felt like grace and like you just sort of stumbled into this privilege,” he said.

Kimbrough has roots in the area. He was a boy in 1962 when his parents moved to nearby Bay Head, where his Methodist minister father took a small church for four years while working on a doctorate at Princeton.

St. Simon-by-the-Sea was built in 1889 on land donated by Frederick W. Downer, the founder of Mantoloking, New Jersey, who was a Presbyterian. The church became an Episcopal church because the first minister was an Episcopalian, according to the church’s website. It is believed to be a copy of a Norwegian fishermen’s church. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg

During what Kimbrough called the last chapter of his father’s working life, his family moved back to Bay Head and his father commuted to New York. His mother became an Episcopalian at All Saints in Bay Head after Kimbrough was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1984.

Having been a part of the St. Simon clergy roster for so long, Kimbrough said that “a collection of relationships begins to form that become dear.” Those relationships, some of which were forged during one summer when the congregation lost a young member in a traffic accident, are now a large part of what makes Kimbrough and his wife agree to come back every summer, even now that their children are grown.

Summer chapels have both a ministry and a mission, he said, to busy people who are taking a summer break. They can be, he suggested, a place where people can “actively cultivate the spiritual when, maybe in the rest of their lives, life has gotten too busy to do that.”

Kimbrough said when “we are all trying to come to terms with what it means to be church” and when the church is exploring new ways of reaching people, “the summer chapel is not just a point of contact where the faithful are able to maintain the habits of faith.”

It might also be, he said, “where people, maybe, who aren’t otherwise exposed to the gospel or who haven’t developed regular habits of faith in the winter, have the opportunity to be exposed to good news and have the possibility of developing them.”

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is interim managing editor of the Episcopal News Service.

RIP: Richard Sui On Chang, fourth bishop of Hawai’i

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 2:51pm

[Episcopal News Service] The Rt. Rev. Richard Sui On Chang, the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Hawaii, died Aug. 30 after a short illness.

Chang served from 1997 to 2006 when he was succeeded by Robert L. Fitzpatrick, who had been his canon to the ordinary.

He was the first bishop of Hawaii who was native to the islands. Chang earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and a Master of Divinity degree from Church Divinity School of the Pacific, the Episcopal seminary in Berkeley, California. He also studied at the University of Hawaii.

George Richard Millard, the suffragan bishop of the Diocese of California, ordained Chang to the diaconate in March 1966. Then-Bishop of Hawaii Harry S. Kennedy ordained him to the priesthood six months later.

Chang served in several roles in Hawaii before becoming the diocese’s archdeacon from 1970 to 1974. After the first bishop of Hawaii, the Rt. Rev. Edmond Browning, was installed as the Episcopal Church’s 24th presiding bishop, Chang served as his assistant. He was the executive officer of the diocese when Browning was bishop in Hawaii.

Chang served for a time as vice president of the House of Bishops.

He is survived by his wife, Delia Chang, and daughters Holly and Hannah. Service arrangements are pending.

 

 

 

Le Primat Michael Curry sur le sujet de l’ouragan Harvey

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 5:03am

[Bureau des Relations publiques de l’Église épiscopale] Il y a fort longtemps le prophète Malachie nous a enseigné que nous sommes tous des enfants de Dieu en vertu de notre création par le même Dieu. « N’avons-nous pas tous un seul père ? Un seul Dieu ne nous a-t-il pas créés ? », demandait-il (2 :10). Jésus nous a enseigné la même chose lorsqu’il a relaté le récit du Bon Samaritain. Nous sommes tous en effet les enfants de Dieu. Et si nous sommes tous les enfants de Dieu, nous sommes alors tous frères et sœurs.

Nous avons ces derniers jours vu et été les témoins de la dévastation causée par l’ouragan Harvey. Nos frères et sœurs du Texas et de Louisiane ont besoin de notre aide.

Episcopal Relief & Development nous rappelle de ne pas envoyer d’aliments, de vêtements ou d’autres articles car les diocèses affectés n’ont qu’une capacité limitée voire inexistante pour recevoir, stocker ou distribuer des marchandises. C’est plus efficace et mieux pour l’économie locale de faire un don.

Episcopal Relief & Development a déjà mis en place une action d’aide en première ligne.

  • Pour faire un don au Hurricane Harvey Response Fund pour soutenir les diocèses touchés afin qu’ils répondent aux besoins de leurs voisins les plus vulnérables à la suite de cet événement, vérifier ici.
  • Inscrivez-vous sur la page Prêt à servir pour figurer sur la liste des bénévoles potentiels pour l’avenir. Le personnel d’Episcopal Relief & Development communique ces listes aux diocèses lorsqu’ils sont prêts à recruter des bénévoles externes.
  • L’encart à utiliser pour le bulletin de ce dimanche est disponible ici.
  • Les dernières mises à jour du programme d’Episcopal Relief & Development sont disponibles sur FacebookTwitter(@EpiscopalRelief) et ici sur le site Web.
  • Vérifier sur le site Web de l’Église épiscopale toutes mises à jour et informations importantes.

Alors que nos frères et sœurs épiscopaliens se mettent au service de ceux qui sont dans le besoin, ils ont besoin de notre aide maintenant à court terme mais aussi sur le long terme. Notre soutien à Episcopal Relief & Development est une manière concrète, pratique, efficace et fiable de le faire. Gardez dans vos prières les populations du Texas et de Louisiane dont la vie se trouve à jamais changée par l’ouragan Harvey.

Ensemble, nous sommes la famille humaine de Dieu et nos efforts dans des moments comme celui-ci aident véritablement à apporter l’amour de Dieu et le nôtre à nos sœurs et frères qui en ont grandement besoin.

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Primat de l’Église épiscopale

With Harvey still drenching the South, Episcopalians minister to neighbors

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 5:53pm

There’s debris in the yard but it’s getting cleaned up and Episcopalians at Trinity by the Sea in Port Aransas, Texas, are mobilizing to clean up their community as well. Photo: James Derkits and Trinity by the Sea via Facebook

[Episcopal News Service] Robert Jordan, senior warden of Trinity Episcopal Church in Baywater, Texas, says it was just something that had to be done: going out onto the Houston floodwaters in his 18-foot aluminum boat to discover people who needed rescuing.

So far, he has found about 30 folks. Some he rescued from their garages; some he plucked from second-story windows. A few times he waded into homes to find people he heard calling out.

“It’s a really eerie, spooky kind of feeling because you go in and, I wouldn’t say you’re scared but you are just very, very aware of the seriousness of the situation,” Jordan told Episcopal News Service by phone Aug. 30. “Then, when you have to go into the house to get them out, it really puts everything in perspective for you.”

A few suddenly-homeless Trinity members — and some of their animals — are staying in Jordan’s house in Baywater, which is west of Houston proper and just northwest of Trinity Bay.

Jordan worked with two rescuers. Those men waited in pickup trucks for him to bring people out so they could ferry them to safer places.

“You have to go by yourself if you can, because you don’t know how many people you’re going to pick up,” he said. “If you take anybody with you, it gives you less capacity.”

The days since Hurricane Harvey swamped the Houston area are running together for Jordan, so he said it is hard to remember what he has done on which day. But, early on, he went to Trinity and saw some water encroaching. He dug a ditch to divert it.

The 10-year-old building has some minor damage and a few leaks, but not so bad as to prevent nearly 150 people from sheltering there overnight on Aug. 29. People from all denominations have come to the church to help and to donate supplies, Jordan said.

Piloting his rugged boat through an area where only some treetops, and no houses, were visible above the water shocked Jordan. “I’ve been here all my life and I have seen it bad but never anything like this,” he said.

 

Two Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers in a boat with a Houston Fire Department captain rescued Bob Schorr, Diocese of Texas manager of church plants & strategic development, and his family from their flooded home on Aug. 29.

The family had hoped to ride out the storm at home. That was until they had 6 feet of water in the garage and 4 feet in the house.

“By the time we left this morning, there were U.S. Coast Guard and National Guard helicopters overhead and a flotilla of boats, wave runners and other volunteers patrolling the street looking to take people to safety,” Schorr wrote in a Facebook post after getting to a friend’s home. “I told Nancy, ‘I think it is time to leave’. I was no longer convinced that we could stay dry on the second floor. I thought it better to be rescued through the front door than out the second-floor bedroom window.”

He said all 30 homes in his section of Kingwood, one of the last areas to flood, were inundated.

“Just like any loss or death, your emotions are raw – and well up without warning,” he wrote. “We have just begun the process of recovery – and for us and everyone in Houston and South Texas, it will be a journey of months and years, not days and weeks.”

 

Rescued and evacuated people are spread over the Houston area, and beyond. Close to 10,000 have been at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Diocese of Texas Assistant Bishop Hector Monterroso was at the convention center on Aug. 28, and the next day he visited a Red Cross shelter set up in the gym at Forge for Families, in Houston’s predominately African American Third Ward.

The former bishop of Costa Rica, who recently moved to Houston, said he hopes he can contribute his experience of living through past hurricanes that wreaked damage across Central America. At both shelters he met people from many countries who now call Houston home. Monterroso also spoke with French tourists who got caught up in the hurricane, losing their money and their passports.

Regardless of their languages and their social status prior to the hurricane, the bishop said, people in the shelters are finding ways to communicate, to build community and support each other.

“My first idea was to go there and to be around and look for the opportunity to pray with the people. After some minutes, I discovered that when people saw a clergy person, they wanted to talk and share their concerns, their situation, their realities and their hopes,” the bishop said. “The most important experience that I had with them is that they feel thankful for their lives. They lost many things. They left their houses and their personal belongings but they say, ‘Thank God, we are here. We are alive and we are safe.”

By the weekend, Texas Archdeacon Russ Oeschel, head of the diocesan disaster relief efforts, will have deacons and lay chaplains in the hardest-hit neighborhoods to offer comfort and emergency funds, the diocese said on Facebook Aug. 29. Spiritual care teams are already visiting the shelter at the convention center.

The Very Rev. Barkley Thompson, dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Houston, is helping to coordinate the rectors of Houston’s largest Episcopal churches to respond in the recovery effort. The cathedral was without power for five days until Aug. 30 and some buildings took on water, according to a Facebook post.

“I give thanks for each of you who have offered a warm, dry bed, a hot meal or simply comfort to your neighbors,” Texas Bishop Andy Doyle wrote on Facebook. “While it is frustrating to see so much devastation and not be able to fix it, we must first be safe and not create more work for our first responders. Where you have been able to help, it is the reflection of Christ’s love that is shared and it is this love that will bring hope in the darkest moments for many people.”

 

Some Harvey evacuees are heading to Dallas and the nearby Diocese of Forth Worth is updating a webpage about how Episcopalians there can help. Dallas Bishop George Sumner has urged Episcopalians there to donate to Episcopal Relief & Development.

That organization is partnering with the Diocese of Texas to provide emergency support in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the largest rainstorm in the history of the United States. Emergency support includes pastoral care, gift cards and funding for temporary housing, according to an Aug. 30 web update.

Meanwhile, the towns that took Harvey’s first hits are starting the arduous process of cleaning up and facing the future. Volunteers from Trinity by the Sea Episcopal Church in Port Aransas are among them. The Rev. James Derkits, Trinity’s rector, said Aug. 30 that he is dividing his time three ways: trying to recover his family’s possessions from the wrecked rectory, seeing that the Trinity campus gets cleaned up and working with the city to get access for church volunteers who can help in the community.

The parish hall opened on Aug. 29 to serve as a staging center for Texas Episcopal volunteers. They’re starting to line up, he said. In addition, Episcopalians at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Gulfport, Mississippi, “are just waiting for us to say come on,” Derkits said. St. Peter’s was one of the churches Hurricane Katrina damaged on Aug. 29, 2005.

Derkits has a lot of help. Brother-in-law Brad Allen is working at the rectory and Jennifer Wickham is helping coordinate volunteers. Wickham, who lives in Corpus Christi where her husband is rector of All Saints Episcopal Church, is the development coordinator for Saint Vincent Centre for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

“It’s very grassroots right now and so there’s a lot of independent groups of people that are beginning to coordinate with each other and share resources,” Wickham said of the volunteer effort. The Episcopal congregations in Corpus Christi are working together to help the communities to their south that Harvey damaged the most.

“The big work is damage assessment and identifying what the major tasks area are and trying to figure out how best to communicate that to people so that nobody needs a boss to get it done,” she said.

Wickham posted a detailed account of the work on Facebook early on Aug. 30. She and others are struggling to communicate their needs because of inconsistent cellular phone service and internet access.

Prayer surrounds the work. The doors of the church are open “for people to come and pray if they need to,” Derkits said.

He has been livestreaming Morning Prayer on Facebook. “It’s been helpful because our people are so scattered all over the place and at least the ones who are on Facebook can be connected,” he said. “And it’s been helpful to me as their pastor to have some sense of providing for their spiritual needs as we’re spread out all over place.”

The city’s volunteer coordinator joined Morning Prayer on Aug. 30 before briefing the Episcopalians on where volunteers are needed in the city.

An Aug. 30 view from space via a NASA satellite shows now-Tropical Storm Harvey spreading across the southern United States. Photo: NASA GOES Project

The Diocese of Western Louisiana covers the area where Harvey made its third landfall at about 4 a.m. Aug. 30. Diocesan disaster relief coordinator the Rev. Deacon Lois Maberry told ENS by phone on the afternoon of Aug. 30, she hadn’t heard how the parishes were faring around Lake Charles, where the eye of Tropical Storm Harvey crossed over at about 8 a.m.

The Diocese of Western Louisiana covers the area where Harvey made its third landfall at about 4 a.m. Aug. 30. Diocesan disaster relief coordinator the Rev. Deacon Lois Maberry told ENS by phone on the afternoon of Aug. 30, she hadn’t heard how the parishes were faring around Lake Charles, where the eye of Tropical Storm Harvey crossed over at about 8 a.m.

“It will be affecting quite a few parishes. We have to let it pass and assess,” Maberry said from the diocesan office about 300 miles north of Lake Charles in Shreveport. “We’re getting rain, and it’s increasing. We’re anticipating the storm will pass right over us in a swath tonight.”

In a statement released midday Aug. 30, Bishop Jacob W. Owensby said schools and offices have been closed in several of the parishes. Floodwaters encroached on some homes and businesses in the south and west areas of the diocese. Owensby is in the process of connecting with clergy in charge of congregations to check on their status.

“We wait together, not only to see what this storm brings, but also to discern how to be most helpful to those in need,” Owensby said. He continued later in the statement, “You are in my prayers for safety. Together we will get through this and bring aid to those in need.”

Farther east, in New Orleans, the rain was most intense late Aug. 28 and into Aug. 29, said the Very Rev. David A. duPlantier, dean of Christ Church Cathedral. Schools closed Aug. 29, but many were open Aug. 30, he said. The cathedral closed the afternoon of Aug. 29 so staff could be home, but it opened the following day, as staff cautiously went about their business. No churches have been damaged so far, the dean said.

New Orleans is used to periodic flooding, duPlantier said, so they’ve checked on the parishioners they know are most at risk and learned some people had water creep to the edges of their homes, but not much else.

The worst effect of Hurricane Harvey in New Orleans so far? Post-traumatic stress syndrome. Aug. 29 marked the 12-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which was responsible for 1,833 deaths.

“It’s a very emotional time here even when there’s not a storm coming here or elsewhere,” duPlantier said of the day. He was dean then and was in the thick of recovery and relief efforts.

The TV images of harrowing rescues in the floodwaters around Houston are bringing back memories among her friends and family, said Karen Mackey, Louisiana diocesan communications coordinator.

“We’re relieved the rain hasn’t been as heavy as predicted, and we’re all nervous, but it’s just that time of year,” Mackey said. “We’re just praying for our friends and hoping this thing gets out and over quickly so they can start healing and recovering.”

The Louisiana diocese has asked its churches to take up a special collection for Episcopal Relief & Development’s fund for Harvey at Sunday services on Sept. 3.

“We are people who have known first-hand the generosity of others,” Louisiana Bishop Morris K. Thompson urged the diocese on Aug. 29. “Give what you can.”

Harvey’s rains and tidal waves have affected areas as far as the Diocese of Southwest Florida, where people were trapped from leaving their homes and some were seen boating along the streets. St. George’s Episcopal Church in Bradenton opened to help people in a flooded mobile home park nearby, said Garland Pollard, Southwest Florida diocesan communications director.

For the Rt. Rev. Dabney Smith, bishop of the Southwest Florida diocese, the flood images in Houston also bring back terrible memories. He was rector of Trinity Church in New Orleans when Katrina hit. Smith remembers piles of garbage as high as rooftops, the constant smell of decay and hearing gunshots while he was trying to sleep at night.

“It was a horrible time, and it was a holy time,” Smith told ENS on Aug. 30. Once the flooding receded, he served on the Jericho Road Episcopal Housing Initiative, begun at the New Orleans cathedral to create desperately needed housing for Katrina victims.

“One of things I learned from my Katrina experience that I think they will learn in Houston, is that amidst systematic failures, there’s the power of the church. People from all walks of life came together to care for people who just needed compassion. I’d hear people say ‘Thank God for the church.’”

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is interim managing editor of the Episcopal News Service. Amy Sowder is a special correspondent for the Episcopal News Service, as well as a writer and editor based in Brooklyn, New York.

 

An ecclesiastical mystery with Civil War roots opens a new chapter

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 9:42am

[Episcopal News Service] A mid-1800s communion service that once was lost has now been found and returned home to Christ Church in Millwood, Virginia, but the story of its 162-year absence remains a mystery.

The latest chapter opens in late spring of this year in New Bern, North Carolina, when Cheryl Lawrence was sorting through boxes of donations to the local Knights of Columbus chapter for its semiannual yard sale. Lawrence knows her silver and wasn’t initially impressed with a tarnished and dinged pitcher she found in a box. Still, she put it aside and one day decided to polish some of the donated silver pieces.

As she worked on what seemed to be a pitcher, she could soon read the words “Cunningham Chapel From J.C. Terrell.” Lawrence, who said she loves to do research, turned to an internet search engine and typed the name of the chapel.

Christ Church’s stained-glass window reflects in the communion flagon that recently made its way home to Millwood, Virginia, after a 162-year disappearance. Photo: Christ Church

The only place that showed up was Christ Church in Millwood, home to Cunningham Chapel. Cunningham Chapel dates to 1762 when it opened its doors near Cunningham Tavern. It is the oldest Episcopal church in continuous use west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The congregation grew and later built Christ Church nearby in the mid-1830s.

Then she searched for J.C. Terrell, who turned out to be a lawyer from Fort Worth, Texas, who had family in the Millwood area. He came to visit in 1856. The hallmarks on the communion set date it to the 1840s-1850s. Lawrence consulted local cemetery records, which further tied Terrell to the area.

“That’s when I called the chapel,” she said.

Enter the Rev. Matt Rhodes, deacon in charge at Christ Church and Cunningham Chapel. He told Lawrence that the legend in the church says that someone either stole the silver during the Civil War – looted might be an appropriate term – or someone removed the silver to prevent it from being stolen. Millwood, about 70 miles northwest of Washington, D.C. in the lower Shenandoah Valley, and the surrounding Clarke County saw many Civil War battles.

Lawrence and her companions who handle the antiques and collectibles for the Knights of Columbus yard sale soon found among the donations two more pieces that match the pitcher. A chalice engraved with “CC” has trim matching that of what they now recognize as a flagon for communion wine. A second piece similarly marked and decorated turned out to be a pedestal-style paten.

They are very heavy silver plate and the hallmarks show they were made by what was then known as the Meriden Britannia Co. of Meriden, Connecticut. When the pieces were new, Lawrence said, they would have looked like sterling silver.

She called the service “just beautiful,” adding “We’re just really excited to get it back to them.”

Indeed, the set’s return, via FedEx and packed by the Knights of Columbus folks “like they were packing the crown jewels” in Rhodes’ words, is a boon to the congregation.

“One of the things I love about Clark County and this congregation is they put a very, very high premium on preserving history,” Rhodes said.

“I love liturgy and I love history. When you get something like this it’s the intersection of the two,” he said. “But I have spent a lot of time thinking about how for the brief period that they were here in the church, the hands of the priests blessed them and elevated them, and the members of the congregation drank from the chalice. People who spent time in their homes before Sunday baking the bread to be used in Eucharist. Even the fact that people at the Meriden Company made this.

“It’s not just a communion set; it’s a narrative of all these different strands of lives that come in these three pieces.”

The three-piece communion service that Fort Worth attorney and one-time U.S. ambassador to the Ottoman Empire J.C. Terrell donated to Christ Church in 1856 is now back home. The set was discovered in a box of silver donated to the local Knights of Columbus yard sale organizers in New Bern, North Carolina. Photo: Christ Church

The latest chapter in this mystery ended on Aug. 27 when the Christ Church congregation got its first glimpse at the long-vanished communion set. The pieces sat veiled on a credence table in the aisle through the 10:30 service until Rhodes revealed the set at the end.

It was “quite moving” to watch the congregation admire the three pieces that were back home after 162 years, he said, adding “It was a wonderful homecoming.”

The pieces need some work and Rhodes and other are exploring how to get that restoration work properly done. “Then, depending on the condition, it would be wonderful to use it in a Eucharist again,” he said, “even if it’s just one time.” They hope to find a way to make the set a “visible part of the parish again” by displaying them.

Rhodes is also wondering if the “disappearance and loss for a century and a half before it is returned” requires that the pieces be reconsecrated.

But, the mystery remains: How and why did the service disappear and where has it been since then?

A parishioner went through old vestry minutes and found mention that some silver had been removed from the church by an unnamed person. “We don’t know if they were stolen or hidden, or what circumstances were,” Rhodes said.

“It could have been any number of reasons it was removed,” he said of the set. “Safety, fear that it would be stolen; there’s a wide range possibilities.”

But then where did the set go for 162 years? No one knows.

The pieces came anonymously to the Knights of Columbus, which is not as suspicious as it might sound. Many folks simply leave boxes filled with items for the group to sell. The community knows that the semiannual sales are big moneymakers for the chapter of the Roman Catholic fraternal service organization. And, they know that the chapter puts the proceeds back into the community in the form of grants and other assistance.

Lawrence and Rhodes said they had hoped that publicity in the local New Bern newspaper about the mystery would have prompted the donor to get in touch. That way, Lawrence said, she could start tracing the set’s journey. For instance, did the donor have them in his or her garage? Did he or she buy them at a garage or estate sale? No one has come forward.

The people of Christ Church will continue their sleuthing, as will Lawrence in North Carolina.

Rhodes said there’s more to the sleuthing than simply solving the mystery.

“We would love to be able to thank the generations of people – whether it is a person or their descendants – that have cared for it.”

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is interim managing editor of the Episcopal News Service.

 

Anglicans in Perth elect Kay Goldsworthy as their new archbishop

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 9:19am

[Anglican Diocese of Perth] The Rt. Rev. Kay Goldsworthy, bishop of Gippsland, has been elected archbishop of Perth after an extensive eight-month selection process and has the honour of being the first woman elected in Australia to the role of archbishop.

The Archbishop Election Committee of 10 lay people and 10 priests considered candidates from around the world, electing a candidate who has served with distinction for almost a decade as a Bishop in the Australian Church.

The administrator of the Anglican Diocese of Perth, the Rt. Rev. Kate Wilmot, welcomed the election of Goldsworthy, commending her commitment and significant experience.

“The archbishop-elect has fulfilled her ministry for more than three decades in three Australian Dioceses and brings a breadth and depth of wisdom and an ability to collaborate with diverse members of the Church community,” Wilmot said.

“Bishop Kay was one of the first women ordained to the priesthood in St George’s Cathedral in 1992 by Archbishop Peter Carnley and in 2008 she was consecrated as the first woman Bishop in the Anglican Church of Australia by Archbishop Roger Herft,” Wilmot said.

“Bishop Kay has a wealth of diocesan, national and international experience, including being a long-standing member of General Synod and a member of the international Anglican Consultative Council. The Archbishop-elect is well known in Perth and has displayed excellent leadership and hospitality across the Perth community. We are very much looking forward to welcoming Bishop Kay and her husband Jeri James back to the Perth community.”

The installation of the eighth archbishop of Perth, and metropolitan of the Province of Western Australia will take place in St. George’s Cathedral, Perth, Feb. 10, 2018.

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