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Irish bishop and English priest lead cross-cultural mission training in Myanmar

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 2:30pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] An ecumenical association for theological educators in Myanmar held a training workshop on cross cultural mission and research approaches this month. The four-day event was led by the Church of Ireland’s Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson and a Church of England vicar from the diocese of Birmingham, the Rev. Joshva Raja.

Full article.

Synod to consider gifting Christchurch Cathedral to New Zealand government

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 2:27pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Synod of the diocese of Christchurch will consider donating its earthquake-ravaged cathedral to the country’s government as a gift to the people of New Zealand. This new option will go alongside two existing options – to reinstate the existing cathedral or to demolish and replace it with a modern building – when the Synod meets to decide the building’s future on the last day of its three-day meeting next month.

Full article.

Cathedral of St. John the Divine dean on Charlottesville violence

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 1:25pm

[Cathedral of St. John the Divine] The violence in Charlottesville, Virginia during white nationalist/“Unite the Right” rallies over this past weekend is beyond distressing and disturbing. Such hate-driven violence has no legitimate place in our life as a nation and stands in stark opposition to the Gospel we proclaim and to our values as a nation. The Gospel calls us to be peacemakers and to stand up to injustice and oppression. The right to peaceful assembly and protest is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution; the right to commit violence against those who disagree with us is not.

The message of hatred and exclusion such as we have seen expressed and acted out in Charlottesville since Friday night is contrary to the Gospel we proclaim. The message of hatred proclaimed by right wing groups points to an ugly streak of hatred that lives in the soul of this country. I am saddened beyond words that the sin of hate-driven violence persists in our national life.

As a Christian and as an American I am ashamed to see Nazi salutes and slogans used and anti-Semitic chants voiced at the white nationalist rallies. In the video clips of the rallies shown in the media, most of those participating appear to be young white males carrying torches in a style reminiscent of Ku Klux Klan gatherings in this nation in the last century in this country and Nazi rallies in Germany in the 1930s. Amid these demonstrations of racial hatred other forms of oppression are referenced and acted out and raise their ugly heads: patriarchy, white privilege and “Jim Crow.”

I pray that in the face of such hatred and violence our commitment as Christians to eradicate all forms of prejudice that cripple and damage human life grows more fierce. I pray that our witness and work toward the eradication of racism, prejudice, oppression of LGBT persons, religious persecution and sexism grows bolder.

It is time for our President to stand up and as our nation’s leader clearly and definitively proclaim his opposition to and condemnation of violence and all expressions of hatred. I am disappointed that the President has not stood up and been clear in his support for an end to racism and all forms of prejudice in terms at least as clear and strong as his threat of “fire and fury” to the North Korean leader.

To remain silent in the face of oppression and violence is to condone and further fear, hatred and violence. In the love of Jesus, we are all part of one another. One thing our baptism means is that we can never truly escape our bonds to one another established in our baptism, either in this life or the resurrected life in God’s kingdom. Over four hundred years ago the Dean of another great Cathedral (John Donne, Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, 1624) proclaimed in a poem entitled “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “No man is an island, entire of itself … [we are all] a piece of the continent, a part of the main … Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.” Either we wake up to Jesus’s call to love one another and claim our strength by acknowledging that in baptism we are entrusted to one another; or else we deny Gospel truth and our nation’s ideals.

On this day, let us proclaim and let us rededicate ourselves to ministering in this nation as healers, peacemakers, justice seekers and reconcilers in Jesus’s name. Let us commit ourselves to our Baptismal calling by displaying boldness in our efforts to live in peace with our neighbors; by working to enact justice for all people; by boldly striving to protect the dignity of every person. Let us join hands with all our brothers and sisters in proclaiming that what makes us one in the love of Jesus is greater than anything that might divide us.

Prayer: O God, through the gift of baptism you have grafted our lives into your life. Grant that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart that barriers which divide us may crumble and suspicions disappear and hatreds cease. And grant that, our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

— The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III, dean

Newark: Reflection on Charlottesville

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 9:46am

[Episcopal Diocese of Newark] Perhaps it was inevitable. The bloody confrontation in Charlottesville between white supremacists and those opposing their racist ideology poignantly exposed and confirmed the political/racial/cultural/ideological divide that has existed in this country for quite some time.

Even before this most recent incident, hate crimes and acts of violence perpetrated by those espousing an agenda of bigotry have soared. The Southern Poverty Law Center has chronicled over 2900 instances of hate-fueled attacks and intimidation since the 2016 election. Moreover, hate-speech, masquerading as free speech, broadcast over various media is on the rise as well. We would do well to be alarmed not only about the future of civil discourse in this country, but also about the fear, anxiety, and violence that bigotry and hatred in its myriad forms has spawned.

Any and all pronouncements, demonstrations, and acts of violence intended to fuel hatred of another’s race, culture, religion, gender, or sexual orientation must be universally condemned whether the perpetrator is wearing a suit, a collar, khakis, or blue jeans. Recently, protests against the removal of Confederate commemorative statues have become a convenient venue for spreading racist propaganda. Yet, regardless of what we choose to call this rising tide of intolerance – “domestic terrorism”, “hate speech,” or “supremacist rhetoric” –we are increasingly being confronted by venomous ideologies and worldviews that seek to divide this country.

In response, we look first to our elected leaders and those in authority to condemn in unconditional and unambiguous terms any speech or conduct that demeans, demonizes, and devalues the humanity of any of God’s children. The failure to do so not only gives apparent legitimacy and encouragement to those who espouse hate and violence, but also calls into question the moral integrity of those to whom we have entrusted the protection of “liberty and justice for all.”

We as God’s people have a critical role to play. Edmund Burke once remarked that the only thing that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing. Remaining silent in the face of rhetoric and conduct that seeks to divide us and prevent us from coming together, is not an option. Charlottesville, Orlando, and Charleston stand as grim reminders that the intolerance and violence that is unfolding in city after city cannot be minimalized or trivialized. Lest we forget, none of us is free so long as one person is the object of unbridled and unmerited hate.

Our failure to speak out boldly and courageously will be tantamount to making peace with oppression. In times like these, we are being reminded that our baptismal vow to “respect the dignity of every human being” compels us to speak out and to act out wherever we encounter hatred and bigotry.

“Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle, the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. Without persistent effort, time itself will become an ally of the insurgent and primitive forces of irrational emotionalism and social destruction. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

We must not allow injustice to go unchallenged any longer. We will need to risk going to places where we have never been comfortable – engaging in conversations that risk being unpleasant and disturbing to us, our colleagues, and friends – conversations even with those we would rather avoid. But this we must do for our sake and the sake of future generations.
Make no mistake, it will take all the strength, faith, and determination that we can muster for the “living of these days.” Let us pray for the wisdom and the courage to be uncompromising in our desire to be people of light united against the forces of darkness, bringing us one step closer to the Kingdom of God.

The Rev. Greg Jacobs, canon to the ordinary

Chicago: Standing against white supremacy is a gospel imperative

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 7:31am

[Episcopal Diocese of Chicago]

August 14, 2017

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ:

In April, the Diocese of Chicago hosted a Bishops United Against Gun Violence conference about the unholy trinity of racism, poverty and violence. This weekend in Charlottesville, as white supremacists rioted and terrorized people of goodwill, we saw yet again the wages of these sins and the destruction that they wreak in families, communities, and in our country.

Whenever we witness this kind of horrific violence, Christians are called to pray and act. Pray for Heather Heyer, who was killed in Charlottesville while she was demonstrating against hatred, and for the state troopers who died when their helicopter crashed. Pray for an end to racism and white supremacy, and pray for the fortitude to continue working for justice and peace through dark days like these.

On Saturday, September 30 from 9 am until noon, we have an opportunity to put our prayers into action when the Rev. Julian DeShazier, senior pastor of University Church, Chicago, visits St. James Commons for a discussion in which he will expand on his remarks at our April conference and help us chart a course for our diocese’s continued work against systemic racism and its interlocking oppressions. You can find out more about Julian’s visit and register on our website.

Educating ourselves for the work of dismantling systemic racism is a lifelong job, and in these times, wise people are writing words we need to read. I invite you to study this piercing theological essay by the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, who also spoke at our April conference. And if you haven’t yet had a chance to see the reflection written by our sister Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, I commend it to you.

Standing against white supremacy is a gospel imperative, and I am grateful for all of you across our diocese who are answering God’s call in these difficult times.


The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee
Bishop of Chicago

St. Bartholomew’s Church: Rector’s response to Charlotte’s violence

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 7:25am

[St. Bartholomew’s Church — New York]

The Feast of Jonathan Myrick Daniels, 2017 Dear Friends, As a boy growing up in Appalachian Ohio in the 1950s and 1960s, I knew people who believed in the inferiority of others based upon the color of their skin. They were white, poorly educated, and mostly poor. They were also deeply afraid. They believed the lies their parents and neighbors had told them about those who were different from them. Most of them were so far down on the economic ladder that they believed equality for people of any other race or religion could only mean that their own prospects for prosperity would be diminished. In those days, I didn’t know what a white supremacist or a white nationalist was, but I did know something about poor, ignorant, and very frightened people. In my naiveté, I believed, as the 1960s turned into the 1970s and then the ’80s, Americans would make progress in overcoming such racism. And, certainly, significant progress was achieved. Overt racism was challenged through the bipartisan passage of the Civil Rights Act, and our nation made progress by outlawing certain racist practices and by working towards greater equality through the Affirmative Action movement. As we crossed into a new millennium, I along with many others thought we would never fall back into the baseless fears of a previous generation. I was wrong. The fear I witnessed as a child in the 1950s and ’60s morphed over time into a newer version of white supremacy. White men (and some white women) from certain geographic and economic segments of the country have come to believe that movement towards equality for all has diminished their standing and identity. They are now the ones who feel “victimized” and “discriminated” against. In the process of our society moving toward greater racial equality and religious inclusivity, they believe people of color have been granted privileges they no longer possess, and they believe people of other religions pose a threat to their own religious identity. It is surreal to be writing a statement in 2017 in the United States of America condemning the violence and hatred of white supremacists and white nationalists marching in Charlottesville, Virginia. We must remember the reason white supremacists and nationalists gathered there was to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from a prominent place in a city park, and to protest the removal of such symbols from a number of public places around the country. As they marched, they chanted racist and anti-Semitic slogans, including one slogan borrowed from the Nazis. They brought into the public domain a fearsome racism that is usually found only behind closed doors. I understood that language used in the recent presidential election granted a kind of permission to white supremacists and nationalists to more freely express these abhorrent beliefs. I knew there had been an uptick in the number of violent statements being made against people of color and against people of other religions, particularly against Jews and Muslims. I also knew there had been an uptick in the number of violent acts against people of color and other religions. Still, I was shocked, as many of you were, to see a news video of a crowd of mostly white men making their way, with burning torches, to a church filled with people who had gathered there in opposition to the hate-filled rhetoric these men had come to proclaim. This was a scene reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan marches of years gone by. I count among my friends a number of clergy who were present in that church as witnesses to the inclusive embrace of Christ’s love.  They put themselves in harm’s way, in the ancient tradition of Christians who did not count the cost when it came to proclaiming the loving, inclusive power of the Good News of God in Christ. Good people of every allegiance should condemn these actions unambiguously. White supremacy is a danger to the moral fabric of our nation and it is particularly abhorrent to Christians of good will who take the words of the Apostle Paul seriously: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”  Galatians 3: 28 So, what can we do as members of the St. Bart’s community of faith?  What does any of this have to do with us? We can pray. We will continue to pray publicly and privately for healing, reconciliation, and an end to the violence and hatred which characterizes these anti-Christian movements. We can speak out. We can deplore detestable and outrageous statements made by members of the white supremacist and nationalist movements and we can make our voices heard with our family and friends and colleagues. We can act. We can stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are proclaiming the inclusiveness of God’s love. There are any number of groups engaged in prophetic action opposing these hate groups, and we can get involved in supporting them. I will be sending a check from the Rector’s Discretionary Account to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia to be distributed to parishes engaged in this effort, and you are welcome to contribute to the Rector’s Discretionary Account for this purpose. Silence in the face of evil is a form of consent, and we cannot and will not remain silent regarding matters crucial to morality and justice. It seems more than a coincidence that I am writing this letter on the Feast Day of Jonathan Myrick Daniels, a young seminarian who, in the process of protecting a teenage, black woman during the Civil Rights Movement in Selma, Alabama, was killed by a shotgun blast. The letters he wrote during that time are an eloquent testimony to his faith. Jonathan Daniels wrote: “I began to know in my bones and sinews that I had been truly baptized in the Lord’s death and resurrection… with them, the black men and white men, with all life, in him whose Name is above all the names that the races and nations shout… We are indelibly and unspeakably one.” 

(From Holy Women, Holy Men; Celebrating the Saints, copyright 2010, Church Pension Fund) May our loving God continue to watch over us to guide us and to guard us and, in perfect love, to cast out all fear. Faithfully,  \ The Rt. Rev. Dean Elliott Wolfe, D.D. Recto

Virginia: A statement from the bishops about the Charlottesville tragedy

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 5:36pm

[Episcopal Diocese of Virginia] On Saturday our hearts were broken.  An angry group of neo-Nazi and fascist protesters came into Charlottesville, Virginia, armed and armored, looking for trouble.  The violence and loss of life suffered in their wake signaled yet another escalation of the hate-filled divisions of our time.  The peace of a beautiful university town was shattered.  The images that some had of America were broken. The echoes of the heartbreaking tragedy that was Charlottesville will remain with us for a long time to come.  We have every indication that we will be seeing more of this.  Angry white supremacists seem already to be organizing to bring their ugly and racist rhetoric to other towns and cities across our Commonwealth and across the United States.

The echoes of the heartbreaking tragedy that was Charlottesville will remain with us for a long time to come.  We have every indication that we will be seeing more of this.  Angry white supremacists seem already to be organizing to bring their ugly and racist rhetoric to other towns and cities across our Commonwealth and across the United States.  Angry resisters are more than ready to meet their violence with violence.It’s hard to imagine a time when the Church is more needed in the public square.  It’s hard to imagine a time when our need would be greater for God to take our broken hearts and break them open for wise, loving and faithful witness in Christ’s name.

It’s hard to imagine a time when the Church is more needed in the public square.  It’s hard to imagine a time when our need would be greater for God to take our broken hearts and break them open for wise, loving and faithful witness in Christ’s name.As followers of Jesus Christ, we are admonished to heed God’s call to love our neighbors through prayer, through speaking out and through other concrete action for the sake of all, particularly the poor, the oppressed, the judged, the demonized.  That witness was on display Saturday in Charlottesville in the peaceful march by hundreds of clergy leaders from Charlottesville, from our Diocese, and from other religious traditions in Virginia and beyond.  Such witness must continue.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are admonished to heed God’s call to love our neighbors through prayer, through speaking out and through other concrete action for the sake of all, particularly the poor, the oppressed, the judged, the demonized.  That witness was on display Saturday in Charlottesville in the peaceful march by hundreds of clergy leaders from Charlottesville, from our Diocese, and from other religious traditions in Virginia and beyond.  Such witness must continue.There will be more rallies and more divisions. We must be prepared to meet those challenges, not with violent confrontation, but by exemplifying the power of love made known in concrete action.

There will be more rallies and more divisions. We must be prepared to meet those challenges, not with violent confrontation, but by exemplifying the power of love made known in concrete action.As your bishops, we commit ourselves to

As your bishops, we commit ourselves to action of the kinds we list below.  We invite you to join us and to share your actions with us so that we can grow together in wisdom, faithfulness and love.

Whatever we do we may not, we must not, be quiet in the face of evil during this violent era of our lives together.

Faithfully yours, The Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston The Rt. Rev. Susan E. Goff The Rt. Rev. Edwin F. Gulick

Concrete actions in the face of white supremacists and others whose message is counter to Christ’s embracing love.

1. Be clear about the issues.  Make distinctions of the following kinds:

  • All individuals and groups in this country have a right to free speech.  All have a right to their convictions and to speak those convictions publicly.  Individuals and groups do not have a right to assault, attack or cause violence against anyone else based on their views – or for any reason.
  • The issue of removing Confederate monuments is a complex one with a number of legitimate points of view. Reasoned discussion and decision-making processes are called for.  Using these points of view to justify violence is wrong and cannot be tolerated under any circumstances.
  • Many Americans lovingly cling to their heritage, which provides them with pride and identity.  Some suggest that the white people who gathered to protest in Charlottesville were there to proclaim and protect Southern heritage.  However, Nazi and fascist flags, symbols, salutes, slogans and uniforms are not and never have been part of the heritage and history of the American South.  We as a nation suffered over a million American casualties in order to defeat the Nazi regime.  We have been clear as a nation that the Nazi worldview is evil, and we must remain clear.
  • As Americans and as the Church, we believe that inclusion of all persons in our common life is central to our identity.  We seek to welcome and include all people.  We understand that there is a wide range of legitimate perspectives on the issues that are most important to us.  We do not, however, welcome, include or legitimize all behaviors and all words. Some words and actions are simply not acceptable.  We need to keep making distinctions about what behaviors and actions we will not tolerate.

2. Write to your representatives in the Virginia General Assembly:

  • Urging them to enact legislation to track hate crimes in the Commonwealth.  As it stands now, we do not have the tools we need as citizens to track what seems to be an escalation of violent acts and therefore to respond appropriately.
  • Urging the Legislature to form a task group, in the language of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, “to propose how Virginia can create an environment that welcomes and offers opportunity to all people of color, Muslims, immigrants, women, LGB and poor white men.”

3. Create conversation groups in which you can get to know people from different backgrounds or with different political perspectives from your own.  Talk to one another.  Listen deeply to one another.  We as a society have forgotten how to talk and listen openly.  We in the Church can help rediscover the skills.

4. Pray.

  • For the civic and religious leaders of Charlottesville, for all citizens of Charlottesville, for all the people who live and work in the Charlottesville area.
  • For those who died in Charlottesville on Saturday:  Heather Heyer, Lt. H. Jay Cullen, Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, and for their families.
  • For all who were injured in violence in Charlottesville on Saturday.
  • For those with whom we disagree.
  • For peace in our nation and in the world.

5. Pray alone and in groups.  Join in the prayers of those who pray from different traditions or styles from your own.  Hearing the prayers of others can expand and deepen our own praying.

6. Do a moral inventory of yourself.  How do you feel about free speech?  Are there limits?  If so, where do they lie?  What is not acceptable?  What resonance do you have with exclusionary rhetoric either on the right or on the left?  As Jesus said, take the log out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

7. White people, speak out against white supremacy.  It is we white people who must speak to white supremacists to make clear that we do not agree with them, that they do not speak for the “white race.”  Our silence will be heard as complicity.

House of Deputies: President Gay Clark Jennings on Charlottesville violence

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 4:53pm

[Episcopal Church House of Deputies] Like many Americans, I was horrified to watch white supremacist violence in Charlottesville spiral out of control this weekend. As an Episcopalian, I was particularly sickened to watch racists perpetrate violence and hatred in the name of Christianity.

When confronted with the ugly underbelly of our history and tradition, it is tempting to say that racism is not Christian, and that what we saw in Charlottesville this weekend is no part of who we are or what we believe. But far too often throughout history, Christians have killed, maimed, and abused people in the name of our religion. What happened in Charlottesville was part of a Christian tradition that we would far rather forget.

Even though we sometimes fall short, we Episcopalians strive to be Christians who follow Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as ourselves and who have promised to respect the dignity of every human being. And so, we bear a special responsibility to recognize and atone for the perversions of Christianity espoused by white racists and to work for a more just vision of the church and the world.

Please pray for Heather Heyer, who was killed on Saturday in Charlottesville, for the state troopers who died when their helicopter crashed, and for their family and friends. And then act. Join a vigil in your community, oppose racism in your churches, schools, and workplaces, educate yourself about systemic racism and the ways in which it deforms our lives and country, and raise your children to build a more just and equal world.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president, House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church

Episcopalians rally against hate as white supremacists bring violence to Charlottesville

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 4:34pm

Clergy from all faith traditions link arms on Aug. 13 as protestors marched through Charlottesville. White supremacists marched on the sidewalk behind the clergy line while men wearing camouflage and carrying long guns came down the street, claiming they were there to “protect free speech.” Photo: Steven D. Martin/National Council of Churches

[Episcopal News Service] When white supremacists descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, sparking violence that left a counter-protester dead and dozens more injured, Episcopalians and other people of faith were among the most visible groups standing in solidarity against hate and bigotry.

St. Paul’s Memorial Church overlooking the University of Virginia campus hosted a prayer service on Aug. 11, the evening before the clashes. The next morning, members of St. Paul’s, Trinity Episcopal and Christ Episcopal joined an interfaith prayer service and then participated in a march to Emancipation Park to rally against the supremacists’ event planned there. The outbreak of violence prompted authorities to shut that event down before it even got started.

The three Episcopal churches in the city also have been active in the Charlottesville Clergy Collective, which now is helping the faith community regroup in the aftermath of the riot.

“I think that it’s incumbent upon us as people of faith to claim that ground, that we’re all created in God’s image, and those who are targets of this hate need people of faith, people of privilege, to show up,” said the Rev. Elaine Thomas, associate rector at St. Paul’s and the co-leader of the Charlottesville Clergy Collective.

The Charlottesville faith community drew support, both in person and verbally, from Episcopal congregations across the country, from Trinity Wall Street in New York City to All Saints Pasadena in California, and several Episcopal bishops and deans released statements condemning the violence.

“In the days and weeks to come, there will be much to discuss as the Jesus Movement responds to the violence and inequality in our world,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry in a post Aug. 14 on Facebook that added this was a time “remember in prayer those who died and were injured in the violent clashes in Charlottesville.”

Curry, though not in Charlottesville, was deeply engaged with the Episcopal clergy and lay people participating in the rally against hatred, said the Rev. Melanie Mullen, the Episcopal Church’s director of reconciliation, justice and creation care. Curry conveyed his support through social media and text messages.

Mullen was among the Episcopal clergy who responded to a call to travel to Charlottesville in a show of unity, though local clergy were the driving force behind the action. “It was us responding to their needs and encircling this community in prayer.”

The Rev. Gay Jennings, president of the Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies, also released a statement Aug. 14, saying she was “sickened” by the racist violence.

“Even though we sometimes fall short, we Episcopalians strive to be Christians who follow Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as ourselves and who have promised to respect the dignity of every human being,” Jennings said. “And so, we bear a special responsibility to recognize and atone for the perversions of Christianity espoused by white racists and to work for a more just vision of the church and the world.”

Confederate statue has been lightning rod

Seemingly overnight, Charlottesville has become a flashpoint in the ongoing national debate over an increasingly visible strain of racial hatred, promoted by neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and white nationalists who describe themselves as part of an “alt-right” movement. But religious leaders in Charlottesville know the tension has been building for months, over the city’s plan to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate war general.

Support for that decision was not unanimous, even in a college town seen as more liberal than much of the rest of Virginia. Yet, “people of conscience from a variety of perspectives have made a good-faith effort to strive for understanding and reconciliation in seeking a resolution to the painful local question of our statues,” said the Rev. Will Peyton, the rector at St. Paul’s.

“And it’s very clear that that good-faith effort has made us a lightning rod, because people came from far and wide to express their white supremacist views,” he said. “It’s not about Robert E. Lee.”

The push to remove Confederate monuments has fueled tensions in other cities as well, including New Orleans and St. Louis. The Charlottesville Clergy Collective dates back further, to 2015 when it formed in response to another outbreak of violence fueled by racial hatred – the killing of nine black worshippers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, by Dylann Roof.

The collective began meeting once a month for breakfast to build relationships. “So that we trust each other, we know each other,” Thomas said. “So that when things like this come up we are able to address them quickly.” The gatherings now draw representatives from 50 to 60 congregations, including all three city Episcopal churches, Thomas said.

In June, they started meeting nearly every week, on Wednesdays, to discuss how the congregations would respond when hate groups come to town.

The increased sense of urgency followed a May 13 rally in which prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer led torch-bearing demonstrators, chanting “you will not replace us.”

The City Council had voted, 3-2, in February to remove the Lee statue. Opponents of the removal sued. Then in June, the city renamed Lee Park, home of the statute, as Emancipation Park.

On July 8, when a small group of Ku Klux Klan demonstrators from North Carolina marched in Charlottesville, the faith community was ready for them. The Charlottesville Clergy Collective organized a unified, peaceful counter-demonstrations and events in which an estimated 2,000 people participated.

But the July 8 rally was nothing like what the city would experience on Aug. 12. The earlier rally drew barely 30 participants who “looked like clownish misfits,” Peyton said. “Everybody in town knew that [Aug. 12] would be bigger.”

‘Truly horrifying’

Billed as a “Unite the Right” rally, it drew white supremacists from far beyond Virginia. Peyton said he saw one car with a license plate from Ontario, Canada, and an Ohio man was charged with driving a car into a crowd of counter-demonstrators, killing one and wounding 19.

“It’s just become so perfectly clear that these people are using our small city here to promote their national and even global agendas or white nationalism and white supremacy,” Peyton said. “We wish they would just leave us in peace.”

On the eve of the supremacists’ rally, as anxiety grew in Charlottesville, St. Paul’s hosted a prayer service organized by a group called Congregate Charlottesville that featured guest speaker Cornell West, a philosopher and political activist who teaches at Harvard, and the Rev. Traci Blackmon, executive minister of justice and witness ministries of the United Church of Christ. About 700 people packed the church to capacity that evening. But toward the end of the service, Peyton learned they had company nearby on the University of Virginia campus.

Clergy and laity pack St. Paul’s Memorial Church, an Episcopal church across the street from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, for a prayer service on the evening of Aug. 11. The service was planned in anticipation of the “United the Right” demonstration the next morning and was a call for a peaceful presence. Photo: Steven D. Martin/National Council of Churches

A group of torch-carrying white supremacists had marched to the iconic rotunda across from St. Paul’s and had gathered at the statue of Thomas Jefferson. Peyton went outside to analyze the scene.

“I could see the line of torches coming down the steps of the rotunda,” he said. “I could see the torches and I could hear the chants of ‘white lives matter.’”

The demonstrators, however, did not seem to be aware of the prayer service that was underway. When the service concluded, rather than draw attention to themselves by all leaving out the front, Peyton and other local religious leaders coordinated a more inconspicuous exit from the church in smaller groups that dispersed quickly.

The next morning, the kickoff interfaith prayer service was held at 6 a.m. at the First Baptist Church. Then one procession made its way to Emancipation Park while another group stopped first for an event at a black heritage center before moving on to the First United Methodist Church, across the street from Emancipation Park.

Soon, chaos broke loose.

“It was truly horrifying,” Thomas said, describing bands of white supremacists roaming the streets hours before their rally at noon, in some cases picking fights with counter-protesters on their way to the park. “They came to town to cause violence, there’s no question about.”

“Menacing” was the word Peyton used. They carried shields, clubs, Nazi flags. Some were dressed professionally while others wore black helmets and black sunglasses. “When I watched all these people on Saturday unloading from these vans, they were all clearly eager for violence.”

Less than a half hour before the “Unite the Right” was scheduled to begin, city police declared it an unlawful assembly. Minutes later, Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency.

Governor McAuliffe has declared a state of emergency to aid state response to violence at Alt-Right rally in Charlottesville

— Terry McAuliffe (@GovernorVA) August 12, 2017

Episcopalians around the United States came together in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville to pray for peace and witness to their baptismal promise to work for justice and
respect the dignity of every human being. Vigils took place from All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, to the steps of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston shown
here. Photo: Bill Parnell/Diocese of Massachusetts

The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia announced at noon on Facebook that none of its clergy or parishioners had been injured. The deadly afternoon crash targeting counter-protesters was followed by an eerie quiet that raised concerns that the supremacists were planning more violence in the evening, Peyton said. The interfaith gathering concluded with a prayer vigil around 5 p.m. at the Methodist church, and everyone went home safely in groups before sundown.

Charlottesville leaders don’t think this is the last they’ve seen of the hate groups, but the faith community has time to regroup.

“We’re just catching our breath right now. Everyone here is exhausted,” Peyton said. “We just need to continue to build bonds between our congregations.”

That mission picks up again on Wednesday, when the Charlottesville Clergy Collective holds its next meeting over breakfast.

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

Christchurch releases third option for earthquake-destroyed cathedral

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 1:56pm

[Anglican  Taonga] The Diocese of Christchurch has issued details of a third option for the future of ChristChurch Cathedral that would offer the building as a gift to the government for the people of Aotearoa New Zealand.

If Christchurch Diocesan Synod selects the new option, it would direct the Church Property Trustees (CPT) to enter into negotiations with the Government for the gifting of the ChristChurch Cathedral building to the people of New Zealand.

“We love and have always loved the Cathedral building in the Square” said Bishop Victoria Matthews in the Aug. 14 statement.

“Our concern with CPT committing to full reinstatement has always been about the risk of the cost going over what we are able to commit to the reinstatement.

“For example, if the damage is worse than anticipated, or there is a fundraising shortfall, we would be in serious trouble even with the generous government offer.

“We need to be good stewards.

“By gifting the cathedral building to the government, it would be reinstated to its former glory and managed by them on behalf of all New Zealanders for use as a public space.”

If synod chooses to offer the cathedral to the nation, the CPT would share its knowledge and experience of the building to assist the government in its reinstatement.

Although the cathedral would no longer be owned by the Anglican Church, the diocese would seek permission to use the building for large services, such as Easter and Christmas, as part of any agreement.

The new option ‘C’ will now sit alongside the two existing options for synod members to consider before their September 8-9 meeting:

Option A: full reinstatement of the building taking up the government grant and loan, Christchurch City Council loan and Great Christchurch Buildings Trust fundraising pledge, alongside the Church’s cathedral insurance payout.

Option B: construction of an inspiring highly functional new cathedral in the square on the current site, incorporating features and materials from the old cathedral building, using the church’s cathedral insurance payout.

Option C: gifting ChristChurch Cathedral to the government for the people of New Zealand.

The full statement released by the Diocese of Christchurch is here

Archbishop of Canterbury backs ‘sex-workers’ charity

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 1:53pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has given his backing to a charity set up to support women involved in the “sex industry”. Charis Tiwala works to “give people in the sex industry the opportunity for choice again; a choice to exit if they wish, and a choice to rebuild a new life as they would choose to live it,” the Archbishop’s office said in a statement.

The charity’s workers build relationships with the women through baking courses, Bible studies, Pilates classes and assistance with sexual health. Staff and volunteers visit establishments such as saunas to offer chaplaincy and befriending services and to “engage at whatever the point of need is with the utmost care and respect for each person.”

Read the full article here.

Child abuse inquiry recommends an end to seal of the confessional

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 1:50pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – the official independent inquiry in Australia, has recommended that the failure to report child sexual abuse in institutions should be made a criminal offence. And it said that there should be “no exemption, excuse, protection or privilege from the offence granted to clergy for failing to report information disclosed in connection with a religious confession.”

The recommendations are amongst a sweep of 85 legislative and policy changes proposed in a report Criminal Justice, released by the Commission Aug. 14, “aimed at reforming the Australian criminal justice system in order to provide a fairer response to victims of institutional child sexual abuse.”

Read the complete article here.

Arizona: Bishop’s statement on Charlottesville demonstrations

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 1:46pm

[Episcopal Diocese of Arizona] I join with our Presiding Bishop in praying for those who died and were injured, and with my fellow bishops and clergy, and Arizona elected representatives in condemning the acts of domestic terrorism we witnessed [Aug. 12] in Charlottesville, Virginia. Members of “alt-right” groups, Klan Members, and Neo-Nazis are not patriots and they are not Christian. They are evil and we in the church must be unequivocal in condemning both their ideology and their actions. I would ask that you continue to pray for those killed or injured and that you demand that our political leadership might courageously and completely reject such behavior as anti-American. Please also include in your prayers religious leaders that we allow no place in our communities for the sin of racism.

The Rt. Rev. Kirk Smith

Episcopal Divinity School: Deans says Charlottesville reflected ‘ugly truth’ about America

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 1:41pm

[Black Theology Project] While the Charlottesville, Virginia, “Unite the Right Rally” is certainly alarming, it should come as no real surprise. For as disgusting as many Americans find the beliefs of these “alt-right” crusaders, their white supremacist beliefs reflect an ugly truth about this country. The truth is this country, even as it proclaims freedom and justice for all, was founded on an “Anglo-Saxon myth” of white racial superiority.

This is a truth that Donald Trump’s politics has tapped into and brought into clear relief. Simply put, during his campaign and now presidency, Mr. Trump guilefully exploited America’s defining Anglo-Saxon myth while dangerously revitalizing the culture of whiteness that serves to protect it.

Many Americans, horrified by the hate and violence on display in Charlottesville, exclaim, “This is not America!” But the truth we need to know to actually root out white supremacy is that this is integral to America, and has been, from the very beginning.

Read the full essay here.

The Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas

Dean, Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary

Western Louisiana: Bishop says Christians must ‘denounce this hate and violence’

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 1:36pm

[Huffington Post] The nation and the world watched in heartsick disbelief this weekend as white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia. Waving Nazi flags and raising the Nazi salute, the mob could not have made its racist ideology clearer.

Chillingly, the mob chanted “blood and soil,” a notorious catchphrase of the Third Reich. “Blood” refers to racial distinctions and asserts the superiority of whites over all others. Suppression of non-whites in a struggle for racial dominance is part of this distorted worldview.

Read the full essay here.

The Rt. Rev. Jake Owensby


New Jersey: Pastoral letter from the bishop on events in Charlottesville

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 1:29pm

[Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey]

The Feast of Jonathan Myrick Daniels – August 14, 2017

Dear People of the Diocese of New Jersey,

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good….Romans 12:21

This past weekend great evil was manifested in Charlottesville, Virginia, as white American nationalist terrorists openly marched and fomented violence, hatred, and murder. Unregulated militia in uniform, carrying long-rifles, used the power of threat in an attempt to intimidate those who oppose them. Imitating other terrorists in other countries, Nazi-sympathizer and White Nationalist, 20-year old James Alex Fields, Jr. allegedly used his car to mow down 19 people, in addition to killing Heather Heyer who was there as a peaceful demonstrator showing her opposition to the injustice and hatred Fields and his companions spouted.

No one should be surprised by what happened in Charlottesville. In our current political climate, so-called white supremacy, white nationalism, neo-Nazism and the overt racism of the KKK have been empowered and emboldened to spew hatred publicly and without shame. Sadly, some counter-protesters allowed themselves to be baited and responded to the violence with violence. There is no moral equivalence, however. White nationalists and white supremacists holding hateful, racist positions armed themselves and came to Charlottesville to instigate violence and hatred. They succeeded.

I was thankful for the clergy who were present in Charlottesville, including my colleagues in the Diocese of Virginia, The Right Reverend Shannon Johnston, The Right Reverend Susan Goff, and Right Reverend Ted Gulick. They went to Charlottesville to pray, to evidence that authentic Christianity has no place for the kind of hatred peddled by white supremacists and white nationalists. They were resolute, calm and overtly non-violent.

It needs to be stated without equivocation that racism, the tenets of white supremacy, white nationalism, Nazism and similar ideologies cannot be reconciled with the teachings of Jesus or the Christian faith. Those who claim Christian identity while holding these types of views can only be viewed as heretics and in error. As Episcopalians, we are sworn to oppose these. Our baptismal promises allow no room for compromise:

Will you persevere in resisting evil and whenever you sin, repent and return to the Lord?

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons loving your neighbor as yourself?

Will strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being?

(BCP pp. 304-305)

All are welcome in the Episcopal Church; hatred and bigotry are not. Being clear with those who hold hateful, bigoted views, or who act in hateful and bigoted ways, that these views and actions are not acceptable and cannot be harmonized with authentic Christian faith and living is an act of love. A wise priest once said to me, “Sometimes ‘no’ is the language of love.”

Sadly, racism and bigotry still infect not only our nation, but also our Church and our diocese. With society, we all still have much work to do. I will be consulting with our Anti-Racism Commission and Team to consider how we might deepen our work and be more effective in the days and weeks ahead.

Today, August 14 on the Church calendar, we remember Jonathan Myrick Daniels, who as a seminarian went to Selma, Alabama in 1965 to confront racism and oppression and and who became a martyr protecting a teenage African-American girl when he was killed by a shotgun blast at the hand of a white  supremacist.

On Saturday, Heather Heyer joined Jonathan Myrick Daniels, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., and a long list of martyrs – of many races and creeds – who died striving to oppose racial injustice and hatred in this country. The last post on Heather Heyer’s Facebook page stated, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

Needless to say, she was right.

I direct all congregations to pray the following prayer in unison either at the Offertory or after the postcommunion prayer beginning August 20th and for the next four Sundays:

For the Human Family – (BCP p. 815)

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessings and peace.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. William H. Stokes

Massachusetts: Bishop calls for prayer following Charlottesville violence

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 1:24pm

[Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts] We condemn the hatred behind Saturday’s gathering in Charlottesville of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other purveyors of bigotry, which is equally un-American and un-ChristianWe affirm, with the bishops of Virginia, that as followers of Christ “we have been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19) … [and] cannot remain silent in the face of those who seek to foment division.”

We pray with and for those who have sought to maintain peaceful witness in Charlottesville. In the face of continuing volatility there, all congregations are urged to pray on Sunday for peace, and for the courage to maintain our gospel ideals in the face of racism, anti-Semitism and all forms of hate-mongering.

The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates

North Carolina: Episcopal bishops respond to violence in Charlottesville

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 11:48am

[Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina] The violence this past weekend in Charlottesville is both heartbreaking and sickening. Heartbreaking that innocent lives were lost and others were seriously injured, and that violence was used to try and silence and intimidate those who stood against hatred, racism and evil. The events were sickening in that our divisions in this country have reached a crisis point that resulted in an eruption of violence with deadly consequences.

How are we to respond, as Christians, in a way that condemns these actions, but does not contribute to the rhetoric of hate? We will need to rediscover the deep roots of non-violence embedded in the gospel and the Jesus Movement: non-violence that calls us to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute others, to refuse to fight evil with evil, but to overcome evil with good.

Anger, even righteous, thirst-for-justice-anger, may be too volatile in this particular moment in time to be effective, especially if it escalates the situation. What we may need to do is to refocus and re-immerse ourselves in the powerful love of the vulnerable Jesus of Nazareth. We may need, now more than ever, to rededicate ourselves to principles Paul wrote about in his letter to the Philippians: “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God …” (Philippians 4:4-6)

Pray for the safety of the peacemakers who came to let their lights so shine. Pray for those who have been sucked into the powerful vacuum of evil that finds its force through the absence of love. Pray that those who resort to violence – no matter what their political perspective – will be met with soul force of goodness that must rise up, organize and unite people of faith from all traditions that teach and practice love of one’s neighbors.

Overcoming evil with good can happen only with an infusion of the holiness that comes from God. Our prayer is that we will be channels and vessels of the goodness and grace whose source is the author of life, the one who proclaims that all life is sacred, holy.

Yours faithfully,

The Rt. Rev. Sam Rodman
Bishop, Diocese of North Carolina

The Rt. Rev. Anne Hodges-Copple
Bishop Suffragan, Diocese of North Carolina

Indianapolis: A word from the bishop

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 11:29am

[Episcoapl Diocese of Indianapolis] Dear Ones,

In days like these I can’t help but think of my grandparents. My paternal grandfather grew up on the Shinnecock Indian reservation—a place awash with poverty surrounded by a sea of wealth in the Hamptons of Long Island—land they once owned. My paternal grandmother and maternal grandparents hailed from the Jim Crow south and eventually made their way north in one of the urban migrations to New York City. None of them lived to see the election of a black U.S. president. The hatred and violence of this past weekend in Charlottesville, VA was all too familiar to them. The stories of run-ins my paternal grandparents had with the KKK were told in hushed tones so that the children would not hear—but we did. And there were places my Grandma Anne, would not visit because of those incidents. Grandma Anne was tougher than nails—ask anyone who knew her—but fear of the Klan would keep her from visiting me when I lived outside of Binghamton, NY. I would tell her, my faith in God as revealed in Jesus Christ compelled me not to fear. It is perhaps both irony and destiny that as bishop of the Diocese of Indianapolis, I now visit churches in places where confederate flags fly on the houses next door. I wonder all the time what Grandma Anne would make of it.

All over our diocese, wherever the Episcopal Church is present, we offer sanctuaries of hope and communities of transformation where we learn over and over again how to die and rise again with Jesus Christ. This is not a dress rehearsal: the death and resurrection of Jesus, the triumph of love and light over evil and death is constant and we must be vigilant in naming both the evil and the love that defeats it. The events in Charlottesville this weekend, and the demonstrations of white supremacist hatred known all too well in Indiana and every corner of these United States show us evil without nuance. So let us be even more clear about our witness of love. Let our prayers be met in equal measure by our actions to dismantle systems of injustice and oppression that dehumanize and deny dignity to God’s beloved. This is what being “beacons of Jesus Christ for Central and Southern Indiana and the world” looks like. This diocese has been about this work for a long time, we must keep at it. As your bishop, I join you, encourage you, and support you in being relentless for the love of Jesus.

Be well, dear ones. May you know the love of God deeply that you may be fearless in sharing that love with the world.

Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows