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Episcopales alegan valores en toda una variedad de empeños contra el hambre, desde comedores de beneficencia hasta ayuda global

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 9:14am

Invitados y voluntarios oran juntos durante uno de los desayunos gratuitos que ofrece la iglesia episcopal de Sn Lucas en Seattle, uno  de los varios ministerios para combatir el hambre en que participa la Iglesia Episcopal en todos los niveles. Foto de Sara Bates/San Lucas.

[Episcopal News Service] En el cristianismo, el alimento es inseparable de la fe. [Esa unión] la subraya un amplio espectro de las enseñanzas bíblicas y de las tradiciones cristianas, desde el ayuno individual hasta la Última Cena de Jesús y la celebración de la eucaristía. El viaje de la fe es un trayecto del hambre a la plenitud.

“Bienaventurados los que tienen hambre, por que ellos serán saciados”, dice Jesús en Lucas 6:21.

Pero los seguidores de Jesús también fueron llamados a dar a los pobres, proporcionando alimento físico junto con el alimento espiritual de Jesús. Definir esa misión, para no decir cumplirla, puede ser difícil, y las iglesias y creyentes se han enfrentado desde los tiempos de Jesús con la pregunta de cuál es la mejor manera de abordar el problema del hambre. En la actualidad, el hambre física sigue siendo un azote persistente en el mundo, incluidos países de gran riqueza como Estados Unidos.

‘Alimento y fe’

Episcopal News Service inicia una serie en cinco partes sobre los empeños para combatir el hambre en el ámbito de la Iglesia Episcopal. Otros artículos se centrarán en despensas de alimentos, un comedor de beneficencia, un camión de alimentos y la intervención de la Iglesia en la defensa de los programas del gobierno que combaten el hambre. La segunda parte aparecerá el 6 de noviembre.

La esperanza también se mantiene. Episcopal News Service la encontró en un programa de servicio a indigentes en Seattle, Washington, en el ministerio de un camión de comidas en Houston, Texas, y en un comedor de beneficencia en la ciudad de Nueva York.  Esos y otros ejemplos de soluciones al problema del hambre basadas en la fe forman el tuétano de la serie  “Alimento y fe” en este mes de noviembre, en el cual ENS cuenta las historias de varios empeños contra el hambre que se llevan a cabo en todos los confines de la Iglesia Episcopal.

La necesidad está bien documentada. Más de 41,2 millones de estadounidenses y el 12 por ciento de las familias se definen como alimentariamente inseguros por carecer de acceso al alimento suficiente para mantener vidas activas y sanas, según la más reciente “Ficha descriptiva de la pobreza y el hambre” de Feeding America. Y el hambre no es solamente un problema de pobreza. Más de la mitad de todos los estadounidenses con inseguridad alimentaria viven en familias por encima del nivel de la pobreza.

Ni es el hambre una emergencia súbita para muchas familias. Puede ser una realidad implacable e insuperable de la vida diaria.

“Muchísima gente que vive por debajo o cerca del nivel de la pobreza se preguntan de dónde les llegará su próxima comida”, dijo Catherine Davis, encargada principal de mercadeo y comunicaciones de Feeding America, [organización] que distribuye alimento a través de sus bancos de alimentos a despensas de beneficencias tanto religiosas como seculares en todo el país.

La Iglesia Episcopal hace énfasis en los empeños para combatir el hambre en todos los niveles. Las congregaciones en todas partes funcionan como despensas de alimentos y ministerios de comida para asistir a los necesitados con alimentos enlatados o un plato de sopa en cualquier momento. Existe la Despensa de la Gracia  [Grace Food Pantry] en Madison, Wisconsin, que ha distribuido alimentos a personas necesitadas durante 38 años. Existe Cosecha Abundante [Abundant Harvest] un ministerio episcopal relativamente nuevo de camión de comidas en el área de Houston que es parte de una congregación que se propone encontrar la comunión en torno a la mesa de la comida.

Los voluntarios Clare Manthey y John Mitchell se disponen a servir el desayuno diario gratuito a través del ministerio Cocina de la Esperanza Comestible. Foto de Sara Bates/San Lucas.

Para ministerios como éstos, el objetivo es hacer más que poner alimento en las bocas de los necesitados.

“Es un testimonio para nuestra comunidad y nuestro barrio de lo que significa vivir una vida cristiana”, dijo Sara Bates, coordinadora de Cocina de la Esperanza Comestible [Edible Hope Kitchen] en la iglesia episcopal de San Lucas [St. Luke’s Episcopal Church] en Seattle, que sirve desayuno gratuito todas las mañanas a cientos de indigentes de su bario de Ballard.

La lucha contra el hambre no es sólo local. El dinero donado al Fondo Episcopal de Ayuda y Desarrollo [Episcopal Relief & Development] sostiene programas que combaten el hambre en lugares como Sudán del Sur. Las campañas denominacionales de promoción social procuran influir la política de EE.UU. sobre la mitigación del hambre, a través de la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales de la Iglesia Episcopal,  de maneras que reflejen los valores cristianos.

En mayo, el obispo primado Michael Curry se unió a “Para un tiempo como éste”  [For Such a Time as This] una campaña ecuménica de oración, activismo social y ayuno, programada para el día 21 de cada mes durante el actual período congresional a fin de resaltar el cambio que pueden hacer en las vidas de personas que luchan con el hambre algunos programas gubernamentales , como es el Programa de Asistencia Nutricional Suplementaria, también conocido por SNAP [su sigla en inglés] o sellos de alimentos.

Curry dijo a Episcopal News Service que, al alimentar tanto el cuerpo como el alma, la Iglesia estaba siguiendo los pasos de Jesús.

“Jesús alimentó a 5.000 personas con pan físico y tangible porque estaban hambrientos. Al mismo tiempo, alimentó sus almas al enseñarles el camino del Evangelio”, expresó Curry. “Los sacramentos, la palabra de Dios, el culto, el estudio bíblico, los grupos de oración, alimentan el alma. Los comedores de caridad, las despensas de alientos, las distribuciones de alimentos ecuménicos e interreligiosos, los huertos comunitarios, alimentan el cuerpo. De estas formas, buscamos ponerle fin al hambre… hambre del cuerpo y hambre del espíritu”.

Raíces bíblicas de los ministerios de alimentación

Jesús también alude a esta dualidad en las Bienaventuranzas: “Bienaventurados los que tienen hambre y sed de justicia, porque ellos serán saciados”, dicen Mateo 5:1-12.

En griego, la palabra que se traduce [al español] como justicia era la misma para equidad, hacía notar la Rda. Jane Patterson, profesora asociada de Nuevo Testamento en el Seminario del Sudoeste en Austin, Texas. Sin embargo, la manera en que el mundo antiguo entendió el hambre y el ayuno era diferente de cómo la entendemos hoy.

“La mayoría de la gente en el mundo antiguo estaban hambrientos la mayor parte del tiempo”, dijo Patterson a ENS, y los profetas plantearon el argumento moral de la alimentación de los hambrientos.

La idea de Jesús como el “buen pastor” se basa en Ezequiel 34, dijo Patterson. Dios le pregunta a los pastores por qué se alimentan ellos, pero no cuidan del rebaño. Dios promete cuidar de sus ovejas, los israelitas, y “proporcionarles una tierra famosa por sus cosechas, y donde ellos no sigan siendo víctima del hambre ni el escarnio de las naciones”.

La referencias a la abundancia y a la escasez continúan a través del Nuevo Testamento. Las palabras “hambre” y “hambriento[s]” se encuentran 19 veces en los evangelios. “Comer” aparece varias docenas de veces más. En Marcos 11:12-14, Jesús tiene hambre, pero no encuentra higos en la higuera, y condena el árbol a secarse. El hijo pródigo Lucas 15 está tan hambriento que codicia la comida de los cerdos, “pero nadie le da nada”. Y en Mateo 6:25, Jesús dice “no se preocupen por vuestra vida, lo que han de comer o de beber… ¿No es la vida más que la comida?”

Para los discípulos, Jesús compartió la Última Cena en un momento de incertidumbre y cuando una gran injusticia estaba a punto de ocurrir, dijo Patterson. Hoy se vuelve a contar antes de cada eucaristía debido a la manera en que Jesús vinculó la comida con su próximo sacrificio, ofreciéndose como pan y vino.

“El alimento es básico para la vida”, siguió diciendo Patterson, pero las necesidades espirituales son igualmente esenciales. Con frecuencia hay poca distinción entre las dos en la Biblia. “Las personas que están hambrientas necesitan alimentos reales, y también necesitan sostén espiritual”.

Uno de los relatos evangélicos más conocidos es el citado por Curry, la alimentación de los 5.000 con sólo cinco hogazas de pan y dos peses tal como lo cuentan los cuatro evangelios. A ese milagro sigue la enseñanza de Jesús sobre “el pan de vida”.

“El que a mí viene nunca tendrá hambre, y el que en mí cree no tendrá sed jamás”, dice en Juan 6:35.

Los discípulos de Jesús “necesitaban que les enseñaran tanto como necesitaban el pan”, apuntó Patterson. Ella también enfatiza la naturaleza comunal del milagro. No se dice que Jesús multiplicara los panes y los peces. El milagro consiste en que todos los que estaban reunidos se alimentaron del poco alimento que había disponible, y nadie se quedó sin comer por darles a los necesitados.

“En la economía de Dios, nunca las cosas se reducen a cero”, afirmó ella.

Dar mucho, carecer de nada

La Rda. Melanie Mullen, directora de reconciliación, justicia y cuidado de la creación de la Iglesia Episcopal, busca inspiración en Proverbios 28 en la lucha contra el hambre: “El que le da al pobre no carecerá de nada”.

Mullen supervisa el Ministerio de Jubileo y la Ofrenda Unida de Gracias, dos programas a través de los cuales la Iglesia Episcopal brinda un apoyo económico substancial a las iniciativas para combatir la pobreza. El Ministerio de Jubileo se centra específicamente en la pobreza a través de su red de 600 centros de jubileo, los cuales ofrecen toda una gama de servicios, que incluyen alimento, albergue y atención sanitaria.

La Ofrenda Unida de Gracias o UTO [por su sigla en inglés] recoge donaciones de individuos a través de la Iglesia Episcopal y distribuye el dinero a una amplia variedad de ministerios valiosos, muchos de ellos ministerios de alimentación.

Este año se otorgaron más de $1.200.000 en subvenciones de la UTO. Entre los beneficiarios se incluían una granja dirigida por la Diócesis de Ohio, un huerto de una iglesia en Connecticut y ministerios de alimentación en California Central. Los ministerios de alimentación regularmente se benefician de subvenciones de la UTO, tal como los $12.500 otorgados en 2016  en apoyo de este huerto en la iglesia episcopal de Santiago Apóstol [St. James] en Kent, Washington.

La Iglesia Episcopal puede ejercer su liderazgo desde una posición de claridad moral basándose en las enseñanzas de Jesús, dijo Mullen.

“Cuando ayudamos a los pobres no sólo estamos haciendo una obra de caridad, estamos viviendo como Jesús dijo”, afirmó ella.

La Iglesia Episcopal, a través de la Comunión Anglicana, también promueve una red mundial de creyentes dispuestos a dar su dinero, a apoyar a extranjeros que necesitan ayuda para poner comida en la mesa. El Fondo Episcopal de Ayuda y Desarrollo desempeña un papel protagónico en esos empeños en nombre de la Iglesia Episcopal.

Mitigar el hambre es un área esencial de la obra del Fondo Episcopal de Ayuda y Desarrollo, con un énfasis en lo programas comunitarios. “Estos programas que se elaboran localmente abordan el contexto específico de los hambrientos y tienen un impacto más amplio en la salud y el bienestar económico de la comunidad”, dice el sitio web de la agencia. “Al trabajar con iglesias asociadas y organizaciones locales, capacitamos a las personas para vivir vidas más sanas y productivas”.

El Fondo Episcopal de Ayuda y Desarrollo pudo gastar $6,9 millones en seguridad alimentaria en 2015 y casi $4 millones en 2016, según los informes anuales de la agencia, con la ayuda de episcopales que han sido económicamente generosos a través de los años.

Hay también al parecer ilimitados ejemplos de episcopales que trabajan en sus propias comunidades para ayudar a sus vecinos a poner alimentos en la mesa.

El ministerio de alimentación de la iglesia de San Lucas en Seattle comenzó hace unos 30 años como un almuerzo semanal comunitario, la labor de amor del grupo de estudio bíblico de la iglesia. Más recientemente también ha ayudado a salvar la congregación, que se esfuerza por sobrevivir luego de sufrir una importante división debido a la ordenación de homosexuales.

En 2011, la iglesia perdió aproximadamente el 80 por ciento de sus miembros en esa división, lo cual redujo la asistencia al culto a una docena de personas algunos domingos, dijo Bates. Entre los que se quedaron estaban las mujeres mayores que se encargaban del ministerio de alimentación de la iglesia, y que estaban decididas a mantenerlo.

La iglesia episcopal de San Lucas en Seattle, Washington, donde se sirve diariamente un desayuno gratuito al que acuden cientos d personas cada semana, ha visto un aumento de la indigencia en su barrio de Ballard. Foto de Sara Bates/San Lucas.

Por ese tiempo, la comida se había convertido en un desayuno que se servía cinco días a la semana, en tanto el grupo notaba la presencia de más y más indigentes en el barrio, pero sin programas de alimentación en la mañana. Hace un par de años, según las comidas se fueron haciendo cada vez más populares, tomaron el nombre de Cocina de la Esperanza Comestible a partir de la sugerencia de uno de sus clientes habituales.

“Él les dijo, ‘chicos, ustedes no sirven aquí solo comida. Ustedes sirven esperanza comestible’”, recordaba Bates.

Ella comenzó a trabajar en la iglesia como pasante en 2015, poco después llegó un nuevo vicario y empezó a inyectar nueva vida en la congregación. Bates, de 33 años, ahora trabaja 20 horas a la semana pagada por la iglesia como coordinadora de la Cocina de la Esperanza Comestible gracias a una subvención de $22.000 que San Lucas recibió de la UTO este año.

San Lucas consigue la mayor parte de sus alimentos de donaciones o a costo reducido de un banco de alimentos afiliado a Feeding America en Seattle. La subvención de la UTO también ayudará a que la iglesia actualice el equipo de su cocina. Comprar, por ejemplo, una nueva cortadora de pan es una gran mejora, porque Esperanza Comestible ofrece ilimitadas tostadas de hogazas pan que con frecuencia llegan sin rebanar.

El objetivo es poder alimentar hasta 250 personas entre las 7 y la 10 A.M. todos los días hábiles este [próximo] invierno. Eso significa muchísimas tostadas. La iglesia también consume por lo menos seis docenas de huevos al día, y a veces hasta 14 docenas. De cuatro a 10 voluntarios preparan las comidas la noche anterior, y alrededor de una docena de personas cada mañana las instalan, las sirven y luego se ocupan de la limpieza.

“Sinceramente, no debería ser posible hacer todo lo que hacemos con lo que tenemos. Es verdaderamente milagroso”, dijo Bates.

Las comidas han ayudado a conectar dos grupos en el barrio —los indigentes y los pudientes— que de otro modo pueden encontrar pocos motivos para relacionarse. Bates cree también que el ministerio de alimentación es una de las razones por las que nuevas personas están descubriendo la congregación y haciéndose miembros, especialmente jóvenes y familias. La Cocina de la Esperanza Comestible les ofrece un modo de estar activos en su fe, afirmó ella, haciendo notar que la asistencia el domingo a San Lucas ahora llega a ser a veces de 80 personas.

“No es siempre conveniente tener 200 personas indigentes en nuestra propiedad. No siempre resulta limpio y cómodo, y sin embargo queremos que sea un lugar donde todos nuestros vecinos se sientan acogidos y cómodos”, dijo Bates. “Nos sentimos muy, pero muy llamados a alimentar a nuestros vecinos hambrientos”.

– David Paulsen es redactor y reportero de Episcopal News Service. Pueden dirigirse a él a dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s pain at broken communion

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 4:18pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has spoken of the pain caused by the broken communion between Christians brought about as a result of the Protestant Reformation. But, as the churches mark tomorrow’s 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his theses to the door of the Schlosskirche (All Saints/Castle Church) in Wittenberg, Welby said that “we have learned once again to love one another — and to seek to bless and love the world in which we live.”

Read the entire article here.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s pain at broken communion

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 3:27pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has spoken of the pain caused by the broken communion between Christians brought about as a result of the Protestant Reformation. But, as the churches mark tomorrow’s 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his theses to the door of the Schlosskirche (All Saints/Castle Church) in Wittenberg, Welby said that “we have learned once again to love one another — and to seek to bless and love the world in which we live.”

Read the entire article here.

The Rev. Ronald Byrd named Episcopal Church Missioner for Black Ministries

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 3:00pm

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] The Rev. Ronald Byrd of Haslett, Michigan, has been named the Episcopal Church  Missioner for Black Ministries, a member of the Presiding Bishop’s staff.

Ronald Byrd

“I am thrilled that Ron has accepted the call to serve as the next Missioner for Black Ministries,” commented the Rev. Canon Anthony Guillén, Episcopal Church Missioner for Latino/Hispanic Ministries and Director of Ethnic Ministries. “I am thankful for the hard work that the search committee undertook during the search process. In previous ministries, he has worked with many kinds of Black congregations where he has focused on practical leadership development and congregational vitality. His collaborative and innovative spirit will fit well with the Department of Ethnic Ministries.”

In his new position, Byrd will be a part of the Department of Ethnic Ministries, representing the Black community throughout the Episcopal Church. Among the varied duties, Byrd will work to ensure Black congregational vitality; to inspire and equip Black Episcopalians in every context to be agents of reconciliation; and to foster unity, collaboration and communication among individuals, ministries and organizations concerned about Black people and the Episcopal Church.

His office will be located in Michigan and he begins his new position on November 6. At that time, he can be reached at rbyrd@episcopalchurch.org.

Meet the Rev. Ronald Byrd

Since 2011, Byrd has served as the rector of St. Katherine’s Episcopal Church, Williamston, MI (Diocese of Michigan). He previously served churches in Michigan, Washington, DC, and Virginia. He served on numerous committees and groups in the Diocese of Michigan including the Diocesan Council.

In addition to serving as a deputy to General Convention 2015, Byrd has extensive experience on Episcopal Church committees including: Design Team Member for the International Black Clergy Conference, Houston, TX (2016); member of the Joint Nominating Committee for Presiding Bishop (2015 – present); and Executive Committee, Fund Raising, National Union of Black Episcopalians (2013 – 2016).

‘Fantabulous’ news as West Yorkshire church re-opens two years after flood

Fri, 10/27/2017 - 3:32pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A church in West Yorkshire is to be rededicated by the archbishop of York, John Sentamu, next weekend, almost two years after it was severely damaged after being engulfed in 1.2 meter-high flood water. Saint Michael’s Church in Mytholmroyd was one of 3,000 buildings – including more than 2,000 homes – in the Calder Valley damaged when the area was flooded on Boxing Day in 2015. The damage caused by the flood was estimated at £150 million GBP. Since the flooding, the congregation held services in the town’s cricket club before being invited to share the building of the local Good Shepherd Roman Catholic church.

Read the entire article here.

‘Fantabulous’ news as West Yorkshire church re-opens two years after flood

Fri, 10/27/2017 - 3:25pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A church in West Yorkshire is to be rededicated by the archbishop of York, John Sentamu, next weekend, almost two years after it was severely damaged after being engulfed in 1.2 meter-high flood water. Saint Michael’s Church in Mytholmroyd was one of 3,000 buildings – including more than 2,000 homes – in the Calder Valley damaged when the area was flooded on Boxing Day in 2015. The damage caused by the flood was estimated at £150 million GBP. Since the flooding, the congregation held services in the town’s cricket club before being invited to share the building of the local Good Shepherd Roman Catholic church.

Read the entire article here.

Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi installed as director of Anglican Centre in Rome

Fri, 10/27/2017 - 3:21pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The former primate of Burundi, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, has been installed in his combined role director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and the archbishop of Canterbury’s personal representative to the Holy See. The installation as director of the Anglican Centre took place the evening of Oct. 26, during Anglican evensong at the Caravita  – the Oratorio di San Francesco Saverio del Caravita – a Catholic church that is often used by the Anglican Centre in Rome. The morning of Oct. 27, the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, took Bernard to the vatican for a private audience with Pope Francis. The meeting was followed by lunch at the pope’s residence.

Read the entire article here.

Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi installed as director of Anglican Centre in Rome

Fri, 10/27/2017 - 3:19pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The former primate of Burundi, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, has been installed in his combined role director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and the archbishop of Canterbury’s personal representative to the Holy See. The installation as director of the Anglican Centre took place the evening of Oct. 26, during Anglican evensong at the Caravita  – the Oratorio di San Francesco Saverio del Caravita – a Catholic church that is often used by the Anglican Centre in Rome. The morning of Oct. 27, the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, took Bernard to the vatican for a private audience with Pope Francis. The meeting was followed by lunch at the pope’s residence.

Read the entire article here.

How these churches handle Halloween

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 6:34pm

The placement of multicolored decor, photos, mementos and skulls on the altar at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, is part of the congregation’s Nov. 2 event to honor loved ones who’ve passed away. It’s one aspect of the All Saints and Faithful Departed holiday rooted in Mexican cultural traditions. Photo: Carlos Carrillo/ All Saints Episcopal Church

[Episcopal News Service] At the start of November, Carlos Carrillo thinks of his ancestors, deceased family members and his partner of 18 years, Rodney Goodwin, who died four years ago. It’s a Mexican cultural tradition, as well as a Christian rite, to remember and honor loved ones, while many of us simply go trick-or-treating with our kids for Halloween or ignore the hoopla.

Carrillo has organized a colorful, joyful commemoration of the Day of Saints and Faithful Departed on Nov. 2, the day following All Saints Day, for the last 12 years at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California.

A couple hours before the traditional Episcopal All Saints liturgy, people bring photos and mementos of their loved ones, as well as the food, wine, tequila and music they liked. They place it at the church’s altar. There’s a singing musical group that performs traditional Spanish music.

“People want to participate no matter what culture they come from, to honor their loved ones. We ask the congregation during the homily to go very deep and very personal,” Carrillo said. “It’s become something of a cultural bridge to bring our entire church together. More and more it’s becoming the norm to make space for untraditional services, especially Mexican-American services.”

Episcopal churches handle this time of year in different ways, from spooky storytelling and safe trick-or-treating events to themed liturgies and harvest festivals. All of it is family friendly. No truly scary monsters here.

Silent film organist Peter Krasinski stands inside the pipe chamber of the 1894 Hook & Hastings organ at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Newport, Rhode Island. Photo: Peter Berton

Halloween and the commemorations that come the two days afterward — such as All Saints Day, Faithful Departed and the Hispanic Day of the Dead — have a mix of pagan and Christian roots.

The ancient Celts celebrated the Samhain (pronounced sah-win) festival on Nov. 1. The Gaelic festival marked the end of harvest season and the start of winter, or the darker half of the year. Today’s Halloween traditions of carving pumpkins and bobbing for apples originated from this pagan festival.

The night before the festival, they believed the dead returned as ghosts. “They would leave food and wine on their doorsteps to keep roaming spirits at bay,” according to the History Channel, “and wear masks when they leave the house so they’d be mistaken for fellow ghosts.”

Samhain traditions were blended into the Christian Church’s All Saints Day, or All Hallows Day, as culture evolved in the 8th century. The night before became All Hallows Eve, later shortened to Halloween.

In 2001, the Rev. Charles T.A. Flood provided his version of one of many prayers for Episcopalians on All Saints Day. It begins: “We remember the saints in the security of our hearts, those whom we have carried within us since childhood, those with whom we speak in the dark moments of cold and loneliness and those who give us, by their example, the courage the go forth and prevail…”

The Episcopal Church also offers an All Hallows Eve liturgy in its Book of Occasional Services.

At Christ Church Cathedral in Houston, Texas, there’s a Boo Bash for congregation members as well as downtown neighbors, who often have nowhere to trick-or-treat. This year, the welcoming and evangelizing event is Oct. 27. Cathedral organist Daryl Robinson will offer a “haunting” postlude after a brief All Hallows Eve prayer service. Children get the unusual chance to look at the organ console up close while Robinson plays seasonal favorites such as “Thriller” and “The Addams Family.” There’s still yellow caution tape and a sign saying “Please don’t feed the organist” as a light-hearted way to keep kids from disturbing the impressive instrument, says KariAnn Lessner, one of the Boo Bash organizers.

Left to right: Christy Orman and family members Lorelei, Jolene, Grace, Kathy and Vanina celebrated at the Boo Bash in 2016 at Christ Church Cathedral in Houston, Texas. Photo: Alex Orman

Children are encouraged to wear nonviolent, non-scary costumes and trick-or-treat in Reynolds Hall at stations hosted by cathedral members. In the event’s previous two years, more than 100 families arrived dressed up as characters from “Batman,” “The Incredibles” and “Alice in Wonderland.” A scavenger hunt, food and games are part of the fun.

“I think God just delights in the fact that kids can have fun in his house,” Lessner said. “It feels very much like a neighborhood, very much like family and I feel little bit of awe. It’s really kinda epic.”

For the first time at Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City, New York, there will be an All Hallows Eve liturgy and tour on the day itself, Oct. 31. The event will tell the story of the cathedral’s founders, A.T. and Cornelia Stewart.

The cathedral was built with the sole funding of Cornelia Stewart as a mausoleum for her husband, who was the founder of Garden City, Vieira said by email. While the building was being constructed, his body was temporarily placed in the cemetery at St. Mark’s on the Bowery in New York City.

Then his body was stolen by grave robbers and held for ransom.

For the “haunted” tour, volunteers in Victorian-era costumes will re-enact the funeral service with a borrowed casket from a local funeral home. Guests will walk through the imaginary graveyard with A.T. Stewart’s temporary grave and witness the grave robbery. The tour ends in the crypt where A.T. and Cornelia are buried. Then begins the All Hallows Eve liturgy from the Book of Occasional Services, featuring the biblical readings of the Witch of Endor and the Valley of Dry Bones.

“We think it’s a great way to keep the ‘spirit’ of the day and engage in the unique history of our cathedral. At the same time, it’s a way to get people to church on a day that has become completely secularized,” Kris Vieira, assistant to the dean of the cathedral, said by email.

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is participating in a city-wide trick-or-treating effort, plus providing more fun such as pumpking-carving. Photo: St. Mark’s Episcopal Church

Aside from the special Faithful Departed service in Pasadena, All Saints church has separate Spanish-speaking services every week in addition to the English-speaking ones. Carrillo has been a leader on the Hispanic/Latino committee and immigration task force, trying to make transplants from Mexico and other cultures feel welcome.

“But we always honor our Episcopalian and Anglican traditions,” Carrillo said. “We understand that we live in an ever-changing, more multicultural world and that we have to be open to welcoming everyone, without losing our Episcopalian tradition.”

At the Nov. 2 celebration, people are encouraged to stand up and tell a story of their loved ones. At the end of the service, everyone has a chance to call out their loved ones’ names, and then the rest of the congregation says “presente!” to acknowledge their presence.

“It helps me remember him, remember his smile, remember how good he was, not only to me, but to everyone he met,” Carrillo said about Goodwin. “It’s a feeling of joy when I see his picture on the altar. When I call his name and everyone yells ‘presente,’ I feel happy.

“It gives me chills … and I see other people crying because they’re happy.”

Check out what a few other Episcopal churches across the United States are doing for their celebrations:

— Amy Sowder is a special correspondent for the Episcopal News Service and a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn. She can be reached at amysowderepiscopalnews@gmail.com.

Church Pension Group’s ‘centennial conversations’ begin dialogue

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 6:10pm

[Episcopal News Service – New York, New York] The implications of declines in church-going and the aging trend of people who do go to church do not all have to be gloom and doom. Instread, they can prompt Episcopalians to be agents of change in the church and in the world.

That was the hopeful message heard by people participating in the first of four Insights & Ideas events, held in recognition of the Church Pension Group’s 100 years service to the Episcopal Church. The so-called “Centennial Conversation,” held at St. Bartholomew’s Church in Manhattan, featured two panels of experts, as well as interaction with audience members.

“Some see the aging of the church as the gasp of a great church. I just don’t see that at all,” said the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III, acting/interim dean at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, New York. “I don’t think we need to worry about the death of forms and shapes and ministries that it’s taken. The church is going on.”

Daniel said the church is “being challenged both by culture and our own numbers to reimagine how we go about doing church, how we go about diaconal, priestly and episcopal ministry.”

“Through all that the Pension Fund has been a stream of support and encouragement,” he said.

Daniel was responding to the statistics and anecdotal evidence offered in the first panel: “The Demographics of a Changing Church” examined demographics, deployment and compensation trends impacting the church now and in the future.

Mark Chaves, professor of sociology, religious studies and divinity at Duke University, outlined seven of what he said were many possible trends with which to tell the story of American religion in the 21st century. He listed the following trends, reflecting the full spectrum of faiths and denominations:

Declining average congregational size
Chaves said the average number of “regular participants” in congregations stood at 80 in 1998 and is now down to 70.

Clergy working fewer hours
Six percent of all clergy were employed part time in 1998, and now 15 percent are. Part-time employment is defined as working less than 35 hours a week.

Greater concentration of churchgoers in the country’s largest congregations
The largest 7 percent of the country’s congregations (defined as having 400 members or more) contain half of all churchgoers, one third of all ministers employed full time and two-thirds of all those employed part-time. Chaves said this trend, which is “intensifying,” began around 1975 and hasn’t yet peaked. Members of these large congregations tend to give less money and participate in fewer church activities, he said. The large congregations are attracting members from medium-size congregations, not from outside of the church, he said. Congregations with less than 100 members are also growing, according to Chaves.

Greater ethnic diversity in predominantly white congregations
The number of completely white congregations accounted for 25 percent of the total number of congregations in 1998 but has since declined to 11 percent. There are few of what Chaves called “deeply diverse” congregations but rather many white congregations with a “smattering” of other ethnicities. This trend, he said, “has staying power” whose implications are worth pondering. Even in congregations with those “smatterings” are changed by the membership of non-white congregants, he said. “Church works differently and preachers preach differently,” Chaves said.

Aging of both clergy and congregants
Only one third of all churchgoers belong to congregations with clergy who are younger than 50, according to Chaves. Meanwhile, the number of congregants who were older than 60 has increased from 29 percent in 1998 to 37 percent now. And whereas 30 percent were younger than 35 in 1998, that rate has declined to 25 percent.

Greater gender inclusion
While Chaves said there is evidence of more congregations being open to being led by women, only 11 percent have female clergy leaders.

Greater sexual orientation inclusion
This trend tends to reflect cultural changes, Chaves said. That reflection includes variation across denominations.

The data Chaves presented come from the National Congregational Survey, which has been ongoing since 1998.

Matthew Price, CPG senior vice president for research and data, discussed how the Episcopal Church’s demographics fit into the picture Chaves painted. In 1967, when CPG celebrated its 50th anniversary, the so-called “traditional model” for clergy leadership was the norm, Price suggested. Clergy were employed full time by a single Episcopal Church employer. He rarely had his service interrupted and always saw his salary increase. Once he retired, he rarely did regular work in the church.

Today, only 58 percent of clergy now fit into that model, Price said, but 44 percent wish that they could take advantage of the aspects of that traditional model. Instead, they work with in a model that typically features part-time work for multiple church employers along with some employment outside the church. Many clergy have their ministerial service interrupted for many different reasons. Their compensation does not necessarily increase over time, and many clerics continue to work after their retirement.

In fact, 58 percent of retired clergy younger than 72 still serve in come capacity, and 95 percent of retired vocational deacons do the same, Price said. “For many parishes, this is a lifeline,” he added.

Ian S. Markham, dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary, said 88 percent of VTS Master of Divinity graduates over the last five years have found jobs centered in the more traditional model of ministry Price described. The average age of its class is now 32, which is a decline from recent years. The graduates VTS sends to the church, he said, have “energy and passion.”

“And they believe in the church; they’re impressed with the Episcopal Church,” he added. “I think they will make a difference over the next 30 years.”

So, he said, while the school does not seem to have a placement problem, it does have a recruitment problem, which he attributed in part to a vicious cycle of stories of decline that prompt some people to reject the possibility of a career in the church. That rejection can, in turn, add more stories of decline.

The second panel, titled “Investing for Positive Impact,” discussed ways in which CPG invests some of its money to achieve measurable social and environmental impacts alongside competitive financial returns. Speaking on that issue were Casey C. Clark, Glenmede Corp. director of sustainable and impact investing; Michele Giddens, co-founder, Bridges Fund Management; Meredith Jenkins, Trinity Church Wall Street chief investment officer; Solomon Owayda, founding partner, Mozaic Capital; and Alan Snoddy, managing director, Church Pension Fund.

Participants were encouraged to think about how they, too, can invest in ways that bring a good financial return while doing good in the world. That goal of “doing good in the world,” Giddens suggested, can come by way of investing to encourage change as well as the more traditional goal of socially responsible investing, of refusing to invest in business perceived to harm people and the world. Examples would be tobacco companies and weapons manufacturing.

Mary Kate Wold, CPG’s chief executive officer and president who moderated both discussions, also noted that, when needed, the fund advocates for “better behavior” by businesses in which it invests – by means of shareholder resolutions and, sometimes, “just a constant badgering that may go on for years.” It tries to convince companies why CPG’s stances that are aligned with the Episcopal Church’s values are also good business decisions.

Clark of Glenmede commended the efforts that Wold described, saying if every investor made decisions that echoed what CPG did, “there would be enormous impact.”

And Giddens of Bridges Fund Management said such investing philosophies are still a minority school of thought “and there’s still a lot of to fight for.” CPG’s investment decisions, she said, especially in the arena of socially responsible investing, serve as a signal to other investors, encouraging them to take the same steps.

This video was shown during the second session as an illustration of CPG’s social responsible investing efforts.

Additional Issues and Insights events will take place in Minneapolis (Nov. 3), Houston (Jan. 24) and San Francisco (Feb. 7). The conversations are especially meant for clergy and those who serve the Episcopal Church professionally, wardens and vestry members, according to a press release. Each event will follow the same pattern as the New York one, with the two panel discussions.

About CPG

Canon I.8 of the Episcopal Church’s Constitution and Canons (page 41 here) authorizes the Church Pension Fund provide retirement, health, and life insurance benefits to clergy and lay employees of the Episcopal Church. With approximately $13 billion in assets, CPF and its affiliated companies are known collectively the Church Pension Group. CPG also offers property and casualty insurance as well as book and music publishing, including the official worship materials of the Episcopal Church such as The Book of Common Prayer and The Hymnal 1982

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

How these Episcopal churches handle Halloween

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 5:24pm

The placement of multicolored decor, photos, mementos and skulls on the altar at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, is part of the congregation’s Nov. 2 event to honor loved ones who’ve passed away. It’s one aspect of the All Saints and Faithful Departed holiday rooted in Mexican cultural traditions. Photo: Carlos Carrillo/ All Saints Episcopal Church

[Episcopal News Service] At the start of November, Carlos Carrillo thinks of his ancestors, deceased family members and his partner of 18 years, Rodney Goodwin, who died four years ago. It’s a Mexican cultural tradition, as well as a Christian rite, to remember and honor loved ones, while many of us simply go trick-or-treating with our kids for Halloween or ignore the hoopla.

Carrillo has organized a colorful, joyful commemoration of the Day of Saints and Faithful Departed on Nov. 2, the day following All Saints Day, for the last 12 years at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California.

A couple hours before the traditional Episcopal All Saints liturgy, people bring photos and mementos of their loved ones, as well as the food, wine, tequila and music they liked. They place it at the church’s altar. There’s a singing musical group that performs traditional Spanish music.

“People want to participate no matter what culture they come from, to honor their loved ones. We ask the congregation during the homily to go very deep and very personal,” Carrillo said. “It’s become something of a cultural bridge to bring our entire church together. More and more it’s becoming the norm to make space for untraditional services, especially Mexican-American services.”

Episcopal churches handle this time of year in different ways, from spooky storytelling and safe trick-or-treating events to themed liturgies and harvest festivals. All of it is family friendly. No truly scary monsters here.

Silent film organist Peter Krasinski stands inside the pipe chamber of the 1894 Hook & Hastings organ at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Newport, Rhode Island. The church hosted PipeScreams on the Point, a family-friendly Halloween organ recital with wacky overtones. Photo: Peter Berton

Halloween and the commemorations that come the two days afterward — such as All Saints Day, Faithful Departed and the Hispanic Day of the Dead — have a mix of pagan and Christian roots.

The ancient Celts celebrated the Samhain (pronounced sah-win) festival on Nov. 1. The Gaelic festival marked the end of harvest season and the start of winter, or the darker half of the year. Today’s Halloween traditions of carving pumpkins and bobbing for apples originated from this pagan festival.

The night before the festival, they believed the dead returned as ghosts. “They would leave food and wine on their doorsteps to keep roaming spirits at bay,” according to the History Channel, “and wear masks when they leave the house so they’d be mistaken for fellow ghosts.”


Samhain traditions were blended into the Christian Church’s All Saints Day, or All Hallows Day, as culture evolved in the 8th century. The night before became All Hallows Eve, later shortened to Halloween.

In 2001, the Rev. Charles T.A. Flood provided his version of one of many prayers for Episcopalians on All Saints Day. It begins: “We remember the saints in the security of our hearts, those whom we have carried within us since childhood, those with whom we speak in the dark moments of cold and loneliness and those who give us, by their example, the courage the go forth and prevail…”

The Episcopal Church also offers an All Hallows Eve liturgy in its Book of Occasional Services.

At Christ Church Cathedral in Houston, Texas, there’s a Boo Bash for congregation members as well as downtown neighbors, who often have nowhere to trick-or-treat. This year, the welcoming and evangelizing event is Oct. 27. Cathedral organist Daryl Robinson will offer a “haunting” postlude after a brief All Hallows Eve prayer service. Children get the unusual chance to look at the organ console up close while Robinson plays seasonal favorites such as “Thriller” and “The Addams Family.” There’s still yellow caution tape and a sign saying “Please don’t feed the organist” as a light-hearted way to keep kids from disturbing the impressive instrument, says KariAnn Lessner, one of the Boo Bash organizers.

Left to right: Christy Orman and family members Lorelei, Jolene, Grace, Kathy and Vanina celebrated at the Boo Bash in 2016 at Christ Church Cathedral in Houston, Texas. Photo: Alex Orman

Children are encouraged to wear nonviolent, non-scary costumes and trick-or-treat in Reynolds Hall at stations hosted by cathedral members. In the event’s previous two years, more than 100 families arrived dressed up as characters from “Batman,” “The Incredibles” and “Alice in Wonderland.” A scavenger hunt, food and games are part of the fun.

“I think God just delights in the fact that kids can have fun in his house,” Lessner said. “It feels very much like a neighborhood, very much like family and I feel little bit of awe. It’s really kinda epic.”

For the first time at Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City, New York, there will be an All Hallows Eve liturgy and tour on the day itself, Oct. 31. The event will tell the story of the cathedral’s founders, A.T. and Cornelia Stewart.

The cathedral was built with the sole funding of Cornelia Stewart as a mausoleum for her husband, who was the founder of Garden City, Vieira said by email. While the building was being constructed, his body was temporarily placed in the cemetery at St. Mark’s on the Bowery in New York City.

Then his body was stolen by grave robbers and held for ransom.

For the “haunted” tour, volunteers in Victorian-era costumes will re-enact the funeral service with a borrowed casket from a local funeral home. Guests will walk through the imaginary graveyard with A.T. Stewart’s temporary grave and witness the grave robbery. The tour ends in the crypt where A.T. and Cornelia are buried. Then begins the All Hallows Eve liturgy from the Book of Occasional Services, featuring the biblical readings of the Witch of Endor and the Valley of Dry Bones.

“We think it’s a great way to keep the ‘spirit’ of the day and engage in the unique history of our cathedral. At the same time, it’s a way to get people to church on a day that has become completely secularized,” Kris Vieira, assistant to the dean of the cathedral, said by email.

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is participating in a city-wide trick-or-treating effort, plus providing more fun such as pumpkin-carving. Photo: St. Mark’s Episcopal Church

Aside from the special Faithful Departed service in Pasadena, All Saints church has separate Spanish-speaking services every week in addition to the English-speaking ones. Carrillo has been a leader on the Hispanic/Latino committee and immigration task force, trying to make transplants from Mexico and other cultures feel welcome.

“But we always honor our Episcopalian and Anglican traditions,” Carrillo said. “We understand that we live in an ever-changing, more multicultural world and that we have to be open to welcoming everyone, without losing our Episcopalian tradition.”

At the Nov. 2 celebration, people are encouraged to stand up and tell a story of their loved ones. At the end of the service, everyone has a chance to call out their loved ones’ names, and then the rest of the congregation says “presente!” to acknowledge their presence.

“It helps me remember him, remember his smile, remember how good he was, not only to me, but to everyone he met,” Carrillo said about Goodwin. “It’s a feeling of joy when I see his picture on the altar. When I call his name and everyone yells ‘presente,’ I feel happy.

“It gives me chills … and I see other people crying because they’re happy.”

Check out what a few other Episcopal churches across the United States are doing for their celebrations:

— Amy Sowder is a special correspondent for the Episcopal News Service and a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn. She can be reached at amysowderepiscopalnews@gmail.com.

After 174-year wait, cathedral prepares for consecration in Auckland, New Zealand

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 4:49pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] In 1843, the first Bishop of New Zealand, George Augustus Selwyn, purchased land for a cathedral in Auckland, On Oct. 28 – 174 years later – the finally-completed Holy Trinity cathedral will be consecrated. The cathedral’s foundation stone wasn’t laid until 1957 – some 114 after the land was purchased. Work on the cathedral finally came to an end this year, following the completion of a “Selwyn’s Vision” project to complete the work he started.

Read the full article here.

After 174-year wait, cathedral prepares for consecration in Auckland, New Zealand

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 4:48pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] In 1843, the first Bishop of New Zealand, George Augustus Selwyn, purchased land for a cathedral in Auckland, On Oct. 28 – 174 years later – the finally-completed Holy Trinity cathedral will be consecrated. The cathedral’s foundation stone wasn’t laid until 1957 – some 114 after the land was purchased. Work on the cathedral finally came to an end this year, following the completion of a “Selwyn’s Vision” project to complete the work he started.

Read the full article here.

Pakistan politician speaking at Anglican event rejects treating non-Muslims as minorities

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 4:44pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The leader of Pakistan’s Jamat-e-Islami political party, Senator Siraj ul Haq, has said that non-Muslims should not be referred to as minorities or put into an inferiority complex. Senator ul Haq, who has led the Islamist party since March 2014, made his comments at an event to mark the completion of the Diocese of Peshawar’s two-year peace and harmony project.

Read the full article here.

Pakistan politician speaking at Anglican event rejects treating non-Muslims as minorities

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 4:40pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The leader of Pakistan’s Jamat-e-Islami political party, Senator Siraj ul Haq, has said that non-Muslims should not be referred to as minorities or put into an inferiority complex. Senator ul Haq, who has led the Islamist party since March 2014, made his comments at an event to mark the completion of the Diocese of Peshawar’s two-year peace and harmony project.

Read the full article here.

NYC grassroots racial reform network lives out ‘Beloved Community’ mission

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 6:39pm

Rahson Johnson (right), a member of the Circles of Support advisory board, spoke to the crowd as moderator Dawn Jewel Fraser (left) listened at the Fit the Description interactive film series and discussion Oct. 24, at St. Philips Episcopal Church in Harlem, a neighborhood in New York City’s northern Manhattan borough. Photo: Amy Sowder/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] Rahson Johnson stood behind the microphone, in front of the ornate altar at St. Philips Episcopal Church in Harlem, the northern Manhattan neighborhood in New York City. He looked at more than 200 people filling the pews on the evening of Oct. 24, recalling two critical moments as a 16-year-old growing up in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.

The first critical moment: His friends told him to get the gun from his apartment.

He did, and they played around, doing nothing, really. The police came by. On instinct, Johnson ran, so he was chased. He tossed the gun in a flower pot and ran more. Police tackled him, beat him up and arrested him, telling him he was no good, even though he turned out not to be the suspect they were looking for.

Regardless of his noncriminal past, Johnson fit the description.

Attendees heard and offered all sorts of perspectives at the evening’s #KnowJusticeHarlem, a film and interactive discussion brought by the Fit the Description series organized by the Circles of Support Advisory board, which is comprised of formerly incarcerated people, including Johnson. Circles of Support is a local Harlem re-entry partnership that cultivates leadership among the formerly incarcerated, their families and faith leaders to strengthen communities.

The second critical moment Johnson recalled at the event was the day he returned from a harrowing seven days at Riker’s Island Prison Complex. Those same neighborhood kids put another gun in his hand. What did he do? Johnson took it. Not long afterward, Johnson was jailed again, this time for 23 years, on armed robbery charges.

“Did I deserve to be put in prison? Yes,” Johnson told the crowd. “Did I deserve to be treated by the police the way I was? Probably not.”

Maybe if there was more support for people re-entering society after their prison release, Johnson’s repeated criminal activity might not have happened. Maybe if the relationships, procedure and accountability between police of any color and black men in particular were better, the first incident wouldn’t have happened, or the situation wouldn’t have escalated to the point of arrest.

These points were worth a deep-dive conversation.

“Think of the ways people have assumed you have fit the description, and think of the ways you fit others into a description,” discussion moderator Dawn Jewel Fraser told the crowd. Later, she said: “We realize this conversation is only a first step.”

Left to right: Rashon Johnson, the Rev. Matt Heyd, Lamont Bryant, Thomas Edwards, the Rev. Mary Fouke and Barbara Barron participated in the Fit the Description interactive film series and discussion Oct. 24, at St. Philips Episcopal Church in Harlem, a neighborhood in New York City’s Manhattan borough. Photo: Angela James

Many of the children and adults who attended the event have been directly impacted by the criminal justice system and mass incarceration. Several of the men from the film were there to speak to the gathering. In the film, eight men — four black police officers and four black civilians from New York City — met for the first time, face-to-face, to talk about the relationship between police and black men, sharing stories of their experiences, feelings and motivations behind their actions.

The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry for racial reconciliation, evangelism and creation care, sat in the first-row pew. Looking at the “awesome” crowd, Sellers was overjoyed at seeing Curry’s “Becoming Beloved Community” initiative on racial reconciliation in action.

Many Episcopal churches are engaged in re-entry programs in which the mentors and mentees serve and change each other for the better, she said. Also, the Episcopal Church is about to put together an advisory group on criminal justice ministries to help more churches figure out how to engage in these efforts.

“This is not only a chance to talk about Beloved Community, but to act on it,” Spellers said. “Unfortunately, our church has benefitted so much from systems of injustice and oppression. We have a special responsibility to dismantle those systems of privilege.”

Left to right: Thomas Edwards, Clifton Hollingsworth Jr., the Rev. Stephanie Spellers and Harold Thomas participated in the Fit the Description interactive film series and discussion Oct. 24, at St. Philips Episcopal Church in Harlem, a neighborhood in New York City’s Manhattan borough. Photo: Amy Sowder/Episcopal News Service

The Oct. 24 program received support also from the J.C. Flowers Foundation, the Episcopal Charities of New York and a network of seven Episcopal churches in Manhattan committed to the kind of criminal justice reform that’s rooted in the lived realities of actual people with the highest amounts of police contact. The J.C. Flowers Foundation works with a wide range of partners to solve critical health and social problems affecting hard-to-reach communities. The foundation looks for communities often overlooked by traditional donors.

Founded by Episcopalians Anne and Chris Flowers, the organization was born after they saw the malaria epidemic up close on an Africa trip in 2004 and then started the highly successful Nets for Life program, said Susan Lassen, the foundation’s executive director. Then the Flowerses used the same model to involve churches and communities in Harlem, training people and allowing them to do the work to help themselves. “It’s a unique way of looking at sustainable change,” Lassen said.

Left to right: Dawn Jewel Fraser, Clifton Hollingsworth Jr., Harold Thomas, Thomas Edwards and Rahson Johnson participated in an interactive panel discussion at the Fit the Description interactive film series and discussion Oct. 24, at St. Philips Episcopal Church in Harlem. Photo: Amy Sowder/Episcopal News Service

Change happens on a church-by-church basis.

St. Philips Church has been working on improving post-incarceration re-entry from a number of different angles, said the Rev. Chloe Breyer, associate priest at St. Philips, as well as executive director of the Interfaith Center of New York.

Volunteers provide drinks, snacks and “cheerful conversation” for people checking in with their parole officers at the Harlem Community Justice Center. They often have to wait for hours. Missing parole is a common reason men get sent back to prison, and men 18 to 35 years old are at the highest risk of becoming repeat offenders, she said.

“Our pastors can be a listening ear and offer spiritual support, but not from a sectarian point of view,” Breyer said. She pointed to an evaluation of the Harlem center’s Reentry Court, which revealed a 19 percent reduction in re-convictions among participants three years following their release from prison.

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Manhattanville hosts support network meetings for formerly imprisoned folks, offering resources for people with no place to live, no food or no medicine, plus community gardening and movie nights. The congregation has members who were formerly incarcerated.

“There’s a need in the community to get support right after they get out of prison,” said the Rev. Mary Foulke, rector of St. Mary’s. “The cards are stacked against them, and we as a church can help make things easier for them.”

— Amy Sowder is a special correspondent for the Episcopal News Service and a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn. She can be reached at amysowderepiscopalnews@gmail.com.

New bells dedicated at memorial church in Belgium

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 2:06pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A church built in the 1920s in memory of the 500,000 British and Commonwealth troops who died during the battles for Ypres during the first World War has finally been completed with the installation and dedication of a ring of eight bells. St George’s Memorial Church was built in the Belgium town of Ypres, which was all-but flattened during the war.

Read the full article here.

Australian Anglicans urge state government to drop euthanasia bill

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 1:57pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Melbourne Diocesan Synod has urged politicians in the Australian state of Victoria not to legalize medically assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia. The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill will be debated in the 40-member Legislative Council – the upper chamber of the state parliament – next week.

Read the full article here.

Former financial PR chief to head Church of England’s communications team

Tue, 10/24/2017 - 12:38pm

Tashi Lassalle will become director of communications for the Church of England next month. Photo: Church of England

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Church of England has appointed Tashi Lassalle, a former head of communications for insurance market Lloyds of London and private equity firm Actis as its new director of communications. When she takes up her post next month she will head a team of 14 people, including senior professionals who take the lead on safeguarding, finance, digital and media; as well as communications training and special projects. The Church House communications unit serves the Archbishops’ Council, the Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board; and works with separate communications teams serving the Archbishops of Canterbury and York at Lambeth and Bishopthorpe Palaces, and the regional dioceses.

Read the full article here.

Archbishop Welby to present ACC Reformation resolution to Catholic and Lutheran leaders

Tue, 10/24/2017 - 12:30pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A resolution from the Anglican Consultative Council welcoming an agreed Roman Catholic-Lutheran declaration on justification will feature at a service in Westminster Abbey next week. The service, on Oct. 31 will mark the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses, critical of Catholic teaching on justification, to the door of All Saints’ Church – the Schlosskirche – in Wittenberg, Germany.

Read the full article here.

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