Episcopal News Service

Subscribe to Episcopal News Service feed
The news service of the Episcopal Church
Updated: 11 min 15 sec ago

Virginia Theological Seminary: Statement from the dean

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 10:50am

[Virginia Theological Seminary] Charlottesville, Virginia, August 2017 will unfortunately go down in history. The shocking murder of Heather D. Heyer, just 32 years of age, while she protested the white supremacists who had come to Charlottesville, is a crude and brutal reminder that racism is still an ever present reality that forms a tragic worldview that expresses itself in violence and death. Along with Heather, we remember in our prayers Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates and Lt. H. Jay Cullen, the two State Patrol troopers who died on Saturday, and the many others wounded, including those who remain in a critical condition.

For a seminary committed to the Gospel, we read the events of Charlottesville 2017 through the lens of the Gospel. We see the sinfulness of humanity—we see the persistence of conspiracy theories, hatred, and paranoia that forms the basis of the white supremacist worldview. We see the persistence of sin. For all of us who imagined that the victory of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s was enduring and secure, Charlottesville 2017 is a cruel reminder that just below the surface racism is seeking to “take the country back again.” We see the tragedy of suffering, where we trust the Crucified Christ is present. And we see the Church seeking to witness to a Gospel that rejects any ideology that denies the full humanity of all.

I am proud of all of our VTS alumni who were present in Charlottesville. Bishop Shannon Johnston had encouraged clergy to attend. His call was heard. And the Episcopal Church wants to point to a world which is different—a world in which racism is explicitly condemned and persons commit to anticipating the reign of God in our society.

Let us hear the challenge of Charlottesville, VA August 2017. The mystery of white sinfulness that allowed centuries of slavery and decades of segregation and even now seeks to recreate a racist society was present on Saturday. We must not be complacent. We must all work hard to eradicate the sinful dispositions that allow racism to thrive.

The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
Dean and President

Washington: What we saw in Charlottesville

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 10:44am

[Episcopal Diocese of Washington] Hatred cannot drive out hatred. Only love can do that.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Once again our nation’s demon of racism has reared its head, spewing hatred and inciting violence. What we saw in Charlottesville was unmasked and ugly, culminating in a deadly act of domestic terrorism.

But something else was also present in Charlottesville: the power of collective resolve and mobilized love.

Among the hundreds of people who took to the streets, stood firm in the face of evil, and did not respond in kind were members of the Charlottesville Clergy Collective (CCC). Established after the racially motivated murders in Charleston, the CCC’s mission is “to establish, develop, and promote racial unity within the faith leadership of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Region.”

For more than two years, CCC clergy and lay leaders have met monthly to strengthen friendships across racial lines; to highlight issues of race and social justice in their community; to promote strong relationships of accountability with law enforcement and community government; and to prepare themselves for the times when their united witness is needed.

Their witness was needed on Saturday, and they were ready. As white supremacists shouted words of hatred and violence, people of faith stood resolute in prayer and song. And the Episcopal Church was strong among their number: “Our purpose,” wrote the Virginia Episcopal bishops, “is to bear visible witness to the entirety of the beloved community in which people of all races are equal.”

I also give thanks for all in the Diocese of Washington and the communities we serve who are already working to meet this grotesque display of hatred with organized love. I’m proud to stand among you as we strengthen our resolve to work proactively for racial justice and prepare ourselves to stand firm in love wherever hatred rears its head. We, too, need to be ready for times such as this.

The Spirit of God is at work in our world and will prevail. The evil of racism is real, but it is not stronger than God’s love embodied in the lives of those committed to justice.

There is another important lesson here: there can remain no doubt that symbols carry tremendous power. It was chilling on Saturday to hear white supremacists chant the Nazi slogan, “Blood and Soil,” and to see them carry swastikas.

Likewise, the symbols and monuments of the Confederacy serve as touchstones and rallying sites for  racial hatred.  We must treat them accordingly. There are, in my mind, only two morally defensible options: either remove Confederate symbols and monuments or contextualize them with the truth of their origins and a broader narrative of our past to include the voices we’ve silenced and the stories we’ve never heard.

We cannot expunge the sin of racism from our past and present, but we can redeem it. And we must.

The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde

Central Pennsylvania: Bishop’s statement on Charlottesville

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 10:35am

[Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania] Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The events that unfolded on Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia resulting in the death of one person and the injuries of dozens of others have put a spotlight on the deeply disturbing, profound dysfunction in our country that is personal, systemic and institutional racism. The brutal violence in Virginia that led to declaring a state of emergency and the involvement of the police and National Guard is intolerable and sinful.

On Saturday afternoon we looked to television and computer screens to inform us of the developing tragedy in the South. To do so without reflecting on the same behavior and attitudes in our own towns here in Central Pennsylvania would be shortsighted. As Christians, we are called to be peacemakers. We vow to embrace the dignity of every human being. We are called to a ministry of reconciliation in the name of Jesus. And this work is vital in our own neighborhoods and our own hearts.

I hope that you will keep the people of Charlottesville in your prayers and ask for God to comfort those who were involved in the violence this weekend. Pray for the dead and injured and their families, pray for those who witnessed the viciousness, pray in thanksgiving for those who came to control the chaos, and pray for the perpetrators. And then, commit to work in your own sphere of influence for change. Educate yourself about the sin of racism. Discover the resources that our diocese has for leading change. Open your heart to understanding that change must be broad and deep – even for those who believe themselves already redeemed- for the sake of a just and whole society.

God dreams of our complete restoration, and our final consummation as One – One in Christ, One with each other, One in peace. Together, we will strive for this wholeness and freedom.

+Audrey Scanlon

Pittsburgh: A Message from Bishop McConnell

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 10:30am

[Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh] Dear Friends in Christ,

We mourn for our country this evening. The most violent public assembly of hate groups in decades has taken place yesterday and today in Charlottesville, Virginia. The deaths and injuries are the direct result of the white nationalist ideology at the core of the gathering.

Some of those espousing these views see their movement as a holy crusade, and even invoke a Christian God to support their efforts.  Yet, nothing could be further from the love of Christ in His Cross than the politics of racial purity.

Our Lord founded His Church to be a Kingdom of priests to our God, gathered from every family, language, people and nation (Revelation 5: 9-10). Any suggestion that God desires the triumph of any race over others is a slander against the Holy Spirit, and must be rejected by Christians of every party.

In the wake of this terrible day, I call upon the churches to be obedient to our calling: pray fervently for justice, reconciliation, and peace. Pray that God will turn all our hearts toward Him and to one another. Then, beloved sisters and brothers, act on what you pray for.  Reach out to those who may fear or suspect you. Particularly in this time, I ask my white brothers and sisters humbly to offer to African American and other people of color an expression of sorrow and repentance, not only on our behalf, but on behalf of those who do not know they need to repent.  Above all, let us remember that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18) and let us act accordingly.

I thank God that, through the fledgling movement we are calling the Church Without Walls, the Holy Spirit is building bridges to racial unity among many Christian bodies in our region. I ask us to pray that the work of these groups, and other efforts from many people of good will, may be strengthened and may spread, and that God may use us mightily in healing the legacy of racism that underlies so much of our history.

In the meantime, pray for the dead and the wounded in Charlottesville, and for all those whose actions and words have injured or offended. We pray that we may have the grace to see what God would next have us do in the furtherance of His Kingdom, and that we may have the courage and power to accomplish it.

Faithfully your bishop,
The Rt. Rev. Dorsey W.M. McConnell, D.D.

Oklahoma: A Message from Bishop Ed about Charlottesville, Virginia

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 10:25am

[Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma] My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

By now, many of you have heard the news or seen the horrific acts of violence from the political demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia. Acts that have left one person dead and several others injured.

As people of faith, we cannot let these actions occur without speaking out against the hatred, bigotry, and injustice perpetrated by those who commit these cruel and violent acts.

We are a nation founded upon the principles that all people are created equal, regardless of race, gender, orientation, religious persuasion, or station in life. The violence and rhetoric witnessed today do not reflect these principles, they should be condemned in the strongest possible manner, and those responsible should be held accountable.

I fear that we have lost the desire to live in community. I fear that the world has been telling us far too loudly, and for far too long, that our primary desire above all else should be promotion of self-interest. I fear that the opinion that the ends justify the means, has resulted in a common message that whatever course of action we see fit to use to accomplish our goals can be justified: dishonesty, hatred, violence, etc.

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ, I write to you today to remind you that the world doesn’t have the final say! We have the ability and the power to change the trajectory in which we find our world and society. Through the teachings and example of Jesus Christ, our Savior, and with the power of the Holy Spirit, we can and will make a difference. We must not allow acts of violence, hatred, bigotry, and injustice to continue. We must speak out in love; extend a hand to our neighbor; give hope to the lost and cast aside. Together our voices can drown out the vicious rhetoric that has taken over our country; and we can create a new conversation.

In the urgency of this moment, I ask your prayers for all who have been affected by today’s events. Pray for our first responders; medical personnel; victims and their loved ones; the community of Charlottesville; and all those affected by this situation. I ask you also, as our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us, to pray for those who commit these acts of injustice and violence that they may find amendment of heart, and be filled with a desire to live in the peace and love of Jesus Christ!

I ask all congregations to include the Prayer for the Human Family in their worship services, and I ask you to pray with me now:

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.

+Bishop Ed Konieczny

Western North Carolina: A statement from the bishop in solidarity with Charlottesville

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 10:23am

[Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina] Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As followers of Jesus, we boldly proclaim that he is the perfect manifestation and fulfillment of the promises echoed in the 85th Psalm:

Mercy and truth have met together;
righteousness and peace have kissed each other

By word and action, Jesus taught his disciples that hatred, bigotry, racism and violence is anathema to the Kingdom of God. Our Lord modeled peace and unity by naming the evil voices of discord, division and oppression. Indeed, there is no other way to be faithful servants of God.

Like many of you, I’ve been watching with uneasiness as extremist groups have gathered in Charlottesvile, Virginia. Today, we saw these groups violently clash with counter-protestors, and the governor of Viriginia has declared a state of emergency.

I want to be clear that as Jesus’ disciples, we are commanded to not only pray for peace but to also be the embodiment of God’s love and justice. As Christians, we must speak out against both the bigotry and hatred espoused by these extremists as well as the violence that has occurred because of their actions.

I invite all Episcopalians of the Diocese of Western North Carolina to join me in prayer for those who were injured or died in the violent outbreaks in Charlottesville. Pray for the safety of all who live in that community and pray for those charged with keeping the peace. Tomorrow, as you gather in your churches, I encourage you to remember our Baptismal Covenant — may we persevere in resisting evil, hatred, violence and prejudice in any form, and may we respect the dignity of every human being, striving for peace and justice in all things.

Finally, I also ask everyone to join me in taking measurable steps to build bridges in our communities and be agents of our Lord’s mercy, grace, truth and love. There is great strength in the unity of our faith. Together, we will stand as one body holding fast to the teachings of Christ.


The Rt. Rev. José A. McLoughlin
VII Bishop of Western North Carolina

Maryland: Speak Out, A Response to the Tragedy in Charlottesville

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 10:20am

[Episcopal Diocese of Maryland] Racism, anti-Semitism and violence rear their ugly head once again, this time in Charlottesville, Virginia. Reports are coming in of death and injuries there caused by a car driving through a crowd of persons protesting at a white nationalist rally.

Another display of bigotry and hatred. Another act of domestic terrorism. And another example of the collective failure of our nation to expend the moral and political capital needed to stop our spiral into racial and violent madness.

Now more than ever, we need people of good will to speak out clearly and courageously against the disturbing tide of white supremacist rhetoric that wants to divide and prevent us from coming together. Too often in our nation’s history, people of goodwill have chosen to remain silent in the face of bigotry, refusing to risk having unpleasant conversations that might disturb colleagues, friends and the ones we love.

All too often, we prefer maintaining a tenuous “peace” with bigots rather than doing the harder work of telling the truth and committing to a justice that leads to reconciliation.

We cannot make peace with hatred. We cannot let injustice go unchallenged…anywhere, anytime.

On this Sunday, I call upon churches to remember in their prayers the dead and injured today in Charlottesville.

I also call for a minute of silence in our worship services to reflect upon these events, and to consider how we might respond both individually and as a community of faith.

At last year’s annual convention I asked for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland to live into the vision of being known as “a community of love.” I now call for us to devote this program year to consider ways of making that vision statement a deeper reality. We will initiate conversations this fall about building up loving communities, beginning with the clergy at their annual conference in October.

Let’s not let this tragedy go unnoticed and forgotten. Let’s not let this opportunity to challenge hate and bigotry pass us by.

If we in the Jesus movement do not speak out, who will?


The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Maryland

ENS managing editor to take leave of absence, updated contact information

Fri, 08/11/2017 - 1:13pm

[Episcopal News Service] Lynette Wilson, managing editor of Episcopal News Service, will be on leave of absence beginning Aug. 14 and returning in May 2018. Wilson is one of five 2017-18 Scripps Fellows at the Center for Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg, senior editor and reporter will serve as interim managing editor.

Please direct editorial inquiries to Schjonberg at mfschjonberg@episcopalchurch.org and continue to address advertising inquiries to Matthew Davies mdavies@episcopalchurch.org.


National Council of Churches calls for cessation of ‘hostile acts and rhetoric’ between US, North Korea

Thu, 08/10/2017 - 4:13pm

[National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA] The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA calls for an immediate cessation of hostile acts and rhetoric between the leaders of North Korea and the United States. Steps must be taken immediately to avoid the possibility of a cataclysmic nuclear war. Increased tension and destabilizing actions and rhetoric by both sides make such a war more likely.

In the past months, we have seen aggressions by both the United States and North Korea.  In May the United States deployed the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system in South Korea. This was seen as a destabilizing move by China and other neighbors and a threat by North Korea (see previous NCCCUSA and NCCK letter to President Trump on this matter). Critics point out that THAAD is incapable of countering North Korean missiles with their low-angle trajectory; thus, this so-called defensive system is being used in an aggressive manner.

At the same time, North Korea’s testing of missile technology is well known.  The nation’s development of a miniaturized nuclear weapon brings destabilization unseen since the end of the Cold War, and its apparent new capacity to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles is of great concern.

Recent comments by the leaders of the United States and North Korea threatening hostilities are beyond alarming.  Such threats, of “fire and fury…the likes of which the world has never seen” by President Donald J. Trump, and “all-out war wiping out all the strongholds of enemies, including the US mainland” by spokespersons of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, only serve to bring our countries, and the world, to the brink of war.  We therefore urgently call upon both leaders to tone down their similar and mutually inflammatory rhetoric.

Further, the movement of US military assets to the region, including aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines, places the world on the brink of war. Threats by North Korea regarding an attack on Guam place the US and its allies in a precarious position, bringing the world closer to the possibility that a quick and devastating nuclear exchange will take place.

Threats and bluster will not help this situation but are likely only to provoke hostilities.  Indeed, if this rhetoric were to become a reality, it would only mean the horrifying exchange of nuclear weapons.  This would not only threaten US and North Korean civilians, soldiers, and territories; nuclear and conventional war would be a complete disaster for the people of South Korea, Japan, and other countries in Asia and the Pacific.

It is therefore essential that bilateral dialogue take place, that aggressive language be discarded, and that paths to peace be pursued.  We will continue to urge our government to tone down its rhetoric and to utilize diplomacy and work with the many partners, both governmental and nongovernmental, who stand ready to assist both the United States and North Korea to de-escalate this crisis.

The National Council of Churches USA is praying fervently and will continue to pray for peace. We stand in solidarity with the National Council of Churches of Korea (South Korea), the Korean Christian Federation (North Korea), and all others who are committed to a nonviolent resolution of this conflict.

National Council of Churches in Korea issues emergency letter to Moon

Thu, 08/10/2017 - 4:07pm

The Rev. Kim Young Ju, general secretary of National Council of Churches in Korea. Photo: NCCK

[World Council of Churches] In an emergency letter to South Korean president Moon Jae-In, the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) urged immediate dialogue to ease military tension in the Korean Peninsula.

In the letter, the NCCK reiterated its hope to see a peaceful reunification of South and North Korea, but tension has has caused grave concern. “To make matters worse, President Trump has declared that ‘North Korea would face fire and fury, one never witnessed by the world,’ ” states the letter. “Military tension is at its height in the Korean peninsula and there is fear of war spreading among the people.”

The lives of the people in South Korea should not be threatened by the provocative acts of the US and North Korea, said the letter. “The road to peace is a difficult one, but the harder it gets the more important it is that we keep the principle,” the letter states. “We cannot start sincere dialogues when we place blame for the opponent’s extreme actions or when we insist various pre-conditions for dialogue.”

The NCCK expressed its readiness to take active participation. “In order to transform the present crisis into an opportunity and open the door for dialogue, we humbly ask you to immediately dispatch a special envoy to North Korea,” the letter concluded. “Our prayers will be with you always, as you are desperately struggling for a better future of our country.”

For more information:

NCCK Emergency letter to president Moon Jae-In urging immediate dialogue

Read the WCC statement on 9 August 2017

Sunday of Prayer for the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula

Banning nuclear weapons, 122 governments take leadership where nuclear powers have failed (WCC press release, 8 July 2017)

Mutuality and cooperation focus at Korean peace meeting in Leipzig (WCC news release, 14 July 2017)

‘Summer in the City’ offers refugee youth a domestic mission field

Wed, 08/09/2017 - 4:55pm

Kay Yeh, center, offers watermelon to two men sitting under a tree in Garrett Park. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Dallas, Texas] On a hot, humid Wednesday evening in late June, 18 youth set out from St. Matthew’s Cathedral in central Dallas to nearby Garrett Park, a popular spot for homeless people. They carried a cooler of Gatorade and trays of sliced watermelon.

Offering a cold drink and watermelon to the homeless men and women seeking shade and to the children playing in the park was the last task on the day’s packed agenda. The youth had already visited residents of a nursing home; practiced a skit based Jesus’ healing of the paralyzed man; and eaten lunch with neighborhood low-income children enrolled in Bishop’s Camp, an annual diocesan summer camp.

It was all part of “Summer in the City,” a weeklong, domestic mission trip where youth in the Diocese of Dallas camp out at the cathedral, sleeping on inflatable mattresses on the floor in a classroom, and spend their days engaged in mission, including encounters with people living on the margins.

“[Part of it] is focused on serving homeless people, impoverished people in the Dallas area,” said Amanda Payne, youth minister at St. James Episcopal Church in Lake Highlands, a neighborhood in northeast Dallas. “We’re about 15 minutes away from our church, so it’s not far, but it’s removing the kids from their everyday environment and letting them see that there is poverty and need so close to home.”

Youth from St. James Episcopal Church and Church of the Epiphany spent a morning harvesting fruits and vegetables in a garden at Our Saviour Episcopal Church in Dallas, Texas. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

It was the second year that Payne’s group, the majority Burmese refugees, mostly of the Karen ethnic minority, participated in Summer in the City, and like the previous year, some of the most intense interactions happened between the youth and homeless people in Garrett Park.

“How many times do you get a chance to stop in a safe situation, especially as a teenager, to interact with someone whose been on the street for 10 years,” said Payne, adding that the gospel calls on Christians to reach out to the poor, not shy away from them. “People that are poor get life; and, interacting with them helps us understand why Christ had such a heart for the poor.”

Understanding life and hardship is something the Karen youth also get. Of the Karen ethnic group, many of them were born in refugee camps in Thailand, their families fleeing violence in Myanmar, formerly Burma, the site of Southeast Asia’s decades’ long civil war. Some 100,000 Burmese refugees, many of them ethnic Karen, continue to live in refugee camps along the border in Thailand.

It continues to be a place where people “are running for their lives,” said Moo Eh Hser, 18, who spent the first half of her life living in and around the refugee camps in Thailand. Her parents, she said, fled Burma because the military was driving Karen out of their villages. “There was no freedom for them, no peace for them.” If the military came and a person couldn’t hide, they would kill them.

“It’s still happening. There’s still war going on. It’s just that they have to run for their lives, people taking over their land, it’s just hard for them,” she said.

Moo Eh Hser carried the watermelon. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Moo Eh Hser’s family as lucky. Less than 1 percent of refugees worldwide ever are resettled. Many children are born and raised in refugee camps. Of the 22.5 million people with refugee status, more than half of them are under the age of 18, according to UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Images of people running for their lives and the hardships faced by refugees in the camps remains on the minds of the youth as they go about their daily lives and serve others. And the Karen youth themselves come from working poor families and often live in food-insecure households. Witnessing another side of poverty can lead to interesting questions and compassion.

The youth, said Payne, sometimes struggle to understand how someone who speaks English cannot find a job. Many of their parents work long hours in meat processing plants or other low-skilled jobs, their opportunities limited by their level of English proficiency.

“We’re asking them to show compassion for these people who live on the street who is some ways have more resources than they do,” said Payne, who often sees the youth reach into their wallets to give what little money they have, to those on the street.

“Giving when it doesn’t make sense …  for me it rages against what is fair, they are giving even though it doesn’t make sense for them to give,” she said. “But that’s the Kingdom of God.”

St. James’ youth group this year has grown from eight to 50 youth, most of them Karen. They live in a cluster of low-income apartments not far from Vickery Meadow, a neighborhood just west of Lake Highlands and home to a diverse population of immigrants and refugees. Youth from Church of the Epiphany in Richardson, a suburb to the north, also attended Summer in the City.

St. James began working with Karen refugees when Catholic Charities, a refugee services provider, contacted the Rev. Cliff Gardner, the former rector, and asked him if he was interested in working with a group of Karen Anglicans in Vickery Meadow. Gardner began offering communion in an apartment complex and a year or so later families began coming to the church. Karen children attended vacation Bible school, parishioners, led by Ginny Keeling, stepped up to help the new members learn English, and relationships began to form.

“There’s a really nice community of people out here. A lot of people support us, like St. James, the church community, they really helped me and my family come up from scratches,” said 17-year-old Soe Win, who came to the United States when he was 9.

Soe Win fist bumps Sel during lunch with the Bishop’s Camp kids. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Soe Win spent his early years in a refugee camp, where there was chaos and a scarcity of resources. His parents were luckier than others because they have permission to work outside the camp. They got picked up early in the morning and worked all day for maybe the equivalent of $2 or $3, and that was just to cover food, there wasn’t money left for clothing or other necessities. He never expected to leave the camp.

“I thought that’s where my life would start and that’s where my life would end,” Soe Win said. “I didn’t even know about this place. People would talk about it but I didn’t have an interest to come here. My mom, she didn’t have an interest to come here, either, but my dad wanted us to come over here. My dad told me we moved here so that I could have a better life and not have to struggle like he did.”

When Soe Win’s family first arrived in the United States they received little help from the resettlement agency assigned to their case, he said. Through Karen connections, they found St. James.

“That’s when I started knowing a lot of people who loves me and my family,” he said, during an interview with Episcopal News Service in the garden at Our Saviour Episcopal Church in southeast Dallas, where the youth spent the morning harvesting figs from trees and cherry tomatoes and squash from the garden, some of which was donated to a food pantry.

As one of the older members of the youth group, Soe Win is a role model. It’s obvious in his interactions with younger members and with the children enrolled in Bishop’s Camp. During lunchtime, while eating with the Bishop’s Camp children, Soe Win held his table’s attention and later led the youth group in the cleanup, stacking chairs on tables and sweeping the floor.

“The Karen have a real servant’s heart,” said Payne.

That servant’s heart can also be seen in Moo Eh Hser, who joined the St. James’ youth group two years ago. Once, while serving meals at a homeless shelter, she decided to stand at the end of the serving line and hug people. She hugged 411 people that day.

She isn’t afraid to serve others, in fact, she said, “It’s also beautiful while you are doing it, God shows miracle and mystery … everybody has a story.”

Moo Eh Hser graduated from high school this year and this fall plans to study business and theology at Howard Payne University, a private, Baptist university in Brownwood, Texas. Moo Eh Hser goes to St. James and to Dallas Karen Baptist Church, where services are in Karen.

At Garrett Park, while many of the youth sat talking around a picnic table, or playing soccer, Moo Eh Hser, flanked by Payne, offered watermelon to the mostly men sitting or lounging in the shade. One man lay asleep under a tree, and she left him a cup of Gatorade.

“God shows you things through service,” she said. “It’s like Jesus; he came to serve not to be served.”

To learn more about refugees and ministry among refugees visit Episcopal Migration Ministries.

-Lynette Wilson is managing editor for the Episcopal News Service.

Solar eclipse on Aug. 21 is outreach opportunity for Episcopal congregations along its path

Tue, 08/08/2017 - 2:50pm

A total solar eclipse is seen from the beach of Ternate island, Indonesia, March 9, 2016. A total solar eclipse will be visible in the United States on Aug. 21, 2017. Photo: Reuters

[Episcopal News Service] Dixie Nelson, parish administrator at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Alliance, Nebraska, was working at a motel several years ago when she got a call from a professor in California. He was planning to be in town on Aug. 21, 2017, and wanted to book some rooms – all the rooms.

It was Nelson’s first taste of solar eclipse fever, which has since swept up her town and many more along the path of the coming total solar eclipse on Aug. 21. Episcopal churches along that path, from Oregon to South Carolina, are throwing out the welcome mat to eclipse-watching tourists this month, turning churchyards into campgrounds, hosting viewing parties and inviting the public to contemplate the mysteries of God’s creation.

“God made the universe. This is one of his spectacular shows,” Nelson told Episcopal News Service by phone this week.

She has been busy making arrangements for a makeshift campground at St. Matthew’s. By Aug. 21, the church property will accommodate campers at 30 RV sites and 26 tent sites. The congregation hopes to raise about $4,000 by collecting a suggested donation of $25 per night from some of the thousands of visitors expected to descend on this small city in Nebraska’s Panhandle.

An even bigger celebration is expected in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, which is said to be near the point of greatest eclipse. Astronomers describe that as the point where the moon’s shadow will take its most direct aim at the Earth during the total eclipse. With that the distinction, Hopkinsville is marketing itself “Eclipseville.”

“The community’s been talking about it for years and getting ready,” said the Rev. Alice Nichols, rector at Grace Episcopal Church in Hopkinsville.

Nichols said she has heard estimates that more than 100,000 visitors may converge in Hopkinsville on Aug. 21, which would quadruple the city’s non-eclipse population of about 32,000. She has contacted Episcopal churches across Kentucky inviting parishioners to come to Grace Episcopal to view the eclipse. Grace Episcopal isn’t offering camping, but visitors can pay $30 per adult and $15 per child to reserve one of 75 parking spots and join the church viewing party, with proceeds benefiting the church’s Graceworks ministry.

Grace Episcopal also will offer its guests a boxed lunch before the total eclipse begins at 1:24 p.m. Eye protection is included as well. Nichols stocked up with 300 certified sunglasses, a must for anyone wishing to view the eclipse.

“I hope that it starts people asking questions,” Nichols said in a phone interview with ENS. “I hope that it will kind of bring attention to the fact that religion and science are not at odds with each other.”

Solar eclipses are not unusual. Partial solar eclipses can occur several times in a year, as they will in 2018. In a partial eclipse, the moon passes in front of the sun but does not block it altogether. A total solar eclipse is rarer, occurring only when the moon passes fully in front of the sun, darkening part of the Earth and creating a thin, shimmering corona around the edges of the moon.

Nowhere in the world will experience a total solar eclipse again until July 2019, when South America will get its turn in the shadow. The eclipse this month is generating additional excitement in the U.S. because it is the rare total solar eclipse that will only be experienced in this country, and from coast to coast.

Peak eclipse, known as totality, will only occur on a narrow swath of the country and will last less than three minutes. The longest duration of totality will occur near Carbondale, Illinois, making that another top destination for eclipse watchers. St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Carbondale is holding a cosmic-themed hymn sing the evening before the eclipse, and the church is raffling an eclipse quilt.

Over in the Diocese of Oregon, campers are invited to pay $250 for the privilege of staying in the path of totality in Silverton, home of St. Edward’s Episcopal Church. Included in that price is space enough for an RV up to 30 feet, two pairs of sunglasses and access to St. Edward’s labyrinth.

The real reward, though, is viewing “the most beautiful thing you can see in the sky,” as one astronomer described the corona to NPR.

Not able to travel on Aug. 21? A partial eclipse will be visible across all of North America. If you’re in Spokane, Washington, the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection invites you to their viewing party starting at 10 a.m. If you’re in Lexington, Kentucky, the Episcopal Church Women of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church want you to join them starting at noon.

Those two churches are both in the zone where it will be possible to see an eclipse of more than 90 percent – weather permitting, of course.

“I’m afraid to look at the forecast,” said Nichols, the rector in Hopkinsville.

Being at the point of greatest eclipse won’t mean as much if the skies are cloudy. Even then, Nichols said she would count on “a really interesting experience” of passing through the moon’s shadow. If the skies are clear, it will be “an amazing experience.”

Fare weather odds is one of the selling points for Nebraska, where Alliance is promoting itself as offering better than an 80 percent chance of clear skies on Aug. 21.

“Alliance won the geographical lottery,” Nelson said, adding the city’s popularity as an eclipse destination has been bolstered by the nearby outdoor art installation Carhenge. (Think Stonehenge, but made out of old cars.)

As parish administrator, Nelson, 63, typically spends most of her time producing St. Matthew’s newsletter, helping church committees, updating Facebook and taking care of other church business. Lately, eclipse planning has taken over her days, as the congregation prepares its 56 campsites.

The church took reservations for minimum three-night stays, so the excitement will stretch across the weekend that leads up to the eclipse, which falls on a Monday. The St. Matthew’s outreach committee will serve breakfast to campers that Sunday and Monday, and a cookout is planned for Sunday evening.

The city began stepping up its preparations about six months ago, Nelson said. Hotels are all booked, eclipse-related events are scheduled over the weekend and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is expected to make an appearance. Many of her neighbors underestimated at first what the eclipse would mean for Alliance, but they’re now bracing for a big turnout.

“It’s going to be huge,” she said. “It took them a while to wrap their minds around it.”

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

WCC calls for peaceful democratic process in Kenya

Tue, 08/08/2017 - 2:09pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] As general elections take place in Kenya, the World Council of Churches (WCC) joins the churches and people of the country in prayer for the peaceful and successful conduct of this pivotal democratic process.

“We call for all people and groups in Kenya to participate  in the democratic expression of the will of the people,” said WCC deputy general secretary Isabel Apawo Phiri, “to refrain from violence  or incitement to violence, and to respect the legitimate confirmed outcome of this election.”

Full article.

Brotherhood of St Andrew names Joe McDaniel Jr. to new racial reconciliation post

Tue, 08/08/2017 - 2:07pm

[Brotherhood of St. Andrew] Floridian Joe McDaniel Jr. has been appointed national vice president of  the Brotherhood of St Andrew’s newly created Committee on Racial Reconciliation.

He is tasked with creating a strategy to expose the 5,000-member men’s ministry to the Episcopal Church’s Ministry of Racial Reconciliation.

A former corporate finance attorney in New York City, McDaniel was a deputy to General Convention in 2018. He also served as the legislative assistant to the House of Deputies Committee for the Confirmation of the Presiding Bishop at the 2015 General Convention.

He is a trained facilitator in conducting racial reconciliation workshops in the Episcopal Diocese of The Central Gulf Coast, where he also serves on its Commission on Ministry and its Cursillo Commission. He has been a delegate at numerous diocesan conventions and has served as senior warden for Christ Church Episcopal Parish and on a various number of its committees and sub-committees.

“We are very excited about the ability to make a statement about expanding the men’s ministry movement into this vital area, which is a priority for The Episcopal Church,” Brotherhood President Jeffrey Butcher said making the announcement July 21 in Louisville during the Brotherhood’s annual national council meeting.

“We need men to address the issue of racism within the wider church and within our own organization.

“The creation of this Committee on Racial Reconciliation is a statement that tells the church and our members we are very serious concerning the challenges that racism presents us in bringing men and youth closer to Christ,” President Butcher said. “We are stepping up to the plate to address this serious issue.”

McDaniel quoted Matthew 15:21-28, where it states: “Yea. Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ tables.” This story in Matthew’s Gospel details Jesus’ encounter with a Canaanite woman. Her nationality makes her an outsider and on this basis even Jesus rejects her when she comes seeking help for her daughter. But the Canaanite woman challenges Jesus on his refusal and Jesus praises her faith and heals her daughter after all.

This story demonstrates that God’s love is so expansive, it can surprise and stretch even Jesus Christ himself. It encourages Christians to be mindful of our own prejudices and understand that God’s love isn’t as restrictive as our own.

It is in this spirit of the furtherance of justice, that the Brotherhood of St. Andrew has created the Committee on Racial Reconciliation where we will conduct an examination of our own unconscious and in some cases conscious prejudices. The work will sometimes be painful for some but it will be enlightening and hopefully rewarding as we seek to bridge an understanding between the races that led to the killings in Charleston at the AME Church of nine African American parishioners as they welcomed Dylann Roof to join them in a Bible study.

Roof is a self-confessed white supremacist whose goal was to create a race war. Yet in a move that stunned many observers, many of the family members of those who were murdered expressed their forgiveness to him for the unbelievable carnage which he had unleashed upon them and their family members.

It is this sense of reconciliation for the past sins of racism that we must achieve if we are to move forward reconciled to one another in a sense of love and unity, and to do so we must acknowledge the sins of the past. We must engage in active dialogue to discuss it, no matter how uncomfortable such a discussion may be.

As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “Our common experience in fact is the opposite – that the past, far from disappearing or lying down and being quiet, has an embarrassing and persistent way of returning and haunting us unless it has in fact been dealt with adequately.

“Unless we look the beast in the eye we find it has an uncanny habit of returning to hold us hostage.”

To confront the beast, our goal is to conduct a series of workshops across the nation and invite all the Brotherhood of St. Andrew chapters in the applicable dioceses to attend these one-day workshops, where they will be exposed to the national curriculum developed by The Episcopal Church on Racial Reconciliation. The goal of such training is to expose and uncover the unconscious biases, in a non-threatening way, which we all harbor towards one another, with the purpose of learning who we are and why we think the way we do.

The goal is for The Brotherhood to be on the forefront of the Jesus Movement in its Ministry of Racial Reconciliation as we seek the furtherance of the beloved community.

— Jim Goodson is editor of the St. Andrew’s Cross, the publication of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew.




Nashotah House dean to step down at end of August

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 3:36pm

[Nashotah House Theological Seminary] The Board of Directors of Nashotah House Theological Seminary announced on Aug. 7 that the Very Rev. Steven Peay, dean and president, will step down from his leadership position on Aug. 31, 2017. Dean Peay has been appointed research professor of homiletics and will remain affiliated with the seminary upon the conclusion of his service as dean and president. Garwood P. Anderson, academic dean and professor of New Testament studies, will assume the position of acting dean, effective Sept. 1. Anderson is well-known to the Nashotah House community due to his many years of dedicated service as a teacher, scholar and previous academic dean.

Peay notified the Board, late last week, that he had decided to step down as dean and president, based upon a number of personal factors, including the need to concentrate on full recovery from a recent, non-life-threatening health issue and a desire to facilitate new leadership at the House.

“Father Peay has provided extraordinary leadership to the House at a pivotal, and critical, moment in its history,” observed the Rt. Rev. Daniel Martins, chairman of Nashotah House’s Board of Directors. “He has worked tirelessly over the course of the past 2 1/2 years to lead the House through a period of transition and institutional restructuring—and he has done a magnificent job. The board is grateful for his ministry and service in leadership and is pleased that Father Peay will remain affiliated with the seminary in the days ahead.”

During his tenure as dean and president, Peay worked closely with the corporate leadership of Nashotah House to implement successfully a new institutional governance structure. He also led a successful effort to ensure the seminary’s accreditation remained in good standing and laid the foundation for the upcoming accreditation process by the Association of Theological Schools, the accrediting entity for seminaries in North America. Moreover, during his term of service, Peay raised more than $7 million for the seminary’s endowment, the single largest fundraising effort in the history of the Nashotah House, and thus moved the institution closer to its goal of ensuring long-term financial viability. He also ensured that the gift of eight Whitechapel bells will ring out over the campus, securing the gifts necessary to build the tower to house them.

The board expressed its thanks also to Anderson for agreeing to serve as acting dean. “Dr. Anderson understands well the unique mission, ministry, and Benedictine character of the House and will provide thoughtful and effective leadership during this important time of transition,” noted Bishop Martins. “We appreciate his willingness to take on this important responsibility during at time of ongoing renewal and restructuring of the House’s financial and corporate governance structures.”

Founded in 1842, Nashotah House is a recognized seminary for the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church in North America, the Episcopal Missionary Church, and the North American Lutheran Church, among others. Nashotah House is a recognized center in the United States for High Church theology, discipline, and the ideals of the Oxford Movement.

Church of South India urged to back environmentally sustainable development

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 1:42pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Environmental campaigners from across the Church of South India have called on the CSI Synod to step up its commitment to sustainable values.

Delegates from 24 dioceses across CSI issued a wide-ranging declaration after a two-day workshop last month. The Kanyakumari Declaration urges the CSI to be more far-sighted – and support development which does not compromise future generations’ ability to meet their own needs.

Full article.

Bethlehem accepting nominations for bishop

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 1:28pm

[Diocese of Bethlehem] The search committee for the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Bethlehem is now accepting nominations. 

Information about the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem and the process for nominations can be found here.

The person elected will succeed the Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe, who was elected provisional bishop in 2014. Rowe is also bishop of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania.

The deadline for nominations is Sept. 11 and the deadline for applications is Sept. 18.

British bishop says that the church has forgotten the poor

Fri, 08/04/2017 - 1:13pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The bishop of Burnley in the northwest England diocese of Blackburn has accused priests of deserting the nation’s poor and working class areas.

In a speech at the evangelical New Wine festival, Bishop Philip North told the stories of people who had come to faith through ministry in deprived areas.

Full article.

Caribbean bishop calls for stronger rape laws in sexual offenses consultation

Fri, 08/04/2017 - 1:07pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands Howard Gregory has called for equal treatment for male and female victims of rape, a clearer definition of rape and an end to the exemption that prevents men being charged with raping their wives. He also called for the current legal prohibition against anal sex to be removed.

A Jamaican parliamentary committee has been set up to review the Sexual Offenses Act and related legislation.

Full article.

Episcopalians join immigration activists in vowing to ‘melt the ICE collusion’

Fri, 08/04/2017 - 12:52pm

Episcopal clergy join about 200 interfaith immigration activists calling upon the Los Angeles Sheriff to stop collaborating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in detaining and deporting undocumented persons. Photo: Cam Sanders

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians joined about 200 immigration activists in front of the Los Angeles County Hall of Justice on Aug. 3, bearing signs, beating drums and chanting “Escucha, estamos en la lucha” (“Listen, we are in the struggle”). They also chipped away at a melting ice sculpture, shaped in the letters I-C-E, acronym for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.

Gathered in the 90-degree heat, they chanted, “Melt the ICE Collusion,” challenging Los Angeles Sheriff Jim McDonnell’s support of federal deportation policies deemed unjust, according to the Rev. Francisco Garcia, co-chair of Episcopal Sacred Resistance, the sanctuary task force of the Diocese of Los Angeles.

“In California, we really have an opportunity to show a different way,” said Garcia, rector of Holy Faith Episcopal Church in Inglewood.

“We are hearing all kinds of things coming from the White House in terms of immigration … including the president painting this broad picture of immigrants as criminals and how bad these people are and how they have hurt our country. But in California we can be a community that really does welcome and include all and make that policy and practice.”

The gathering of Jewish and Christian clergy and laity also intended to show that activists will keep fighting for immigrant rights, chipping away at law enforcement policies and agencies that intimidate undocumented persons and prevent them from reporting crimes when they are victimized, he said.

“Recent history has shown that President Trump’s statement about detaining and deporting only ‘violent felons’ has meant in practice the targeting and detention of people who have lived in this country for years or decades, have become central pillars of their communities, are supporting families and whose only crime is having come to this country illegally,” according to a letter the group attempted to hand deliver to McDonnell.

They were not allowed inside the Hall of Justice, where McDonnell’s office is located. Instead, they were met with barricades and by a wall of deputies stationed outside, but were promised that the letter would be given to him, according to the Rev. Jaime Edwards Acton, rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Hollywood, also co-chair of the diocesan sanctuary task force.

“We also wanted to highlight the stories of those who are affected by these policies,” he said.

The letter cited several cases, including that of the Rev. Noe Carias, leader of the Southern Pacific District of the Assemblies of God Church for more than two decades. Carias is married to a U.S. citizen and has two young children, and he was detained during a routine July 24 check-in with an immigration officer.

According to published reports, Carias was deported in 1993 as a teenager, but returned to the United States and ignored a deportation order two years later. He had been granted one-year stays in 2015 and 2016, but earlier this year a request for a third stay was denied.

Carias, according to the letter emailed to McDonnell earlier in the day and given to deputies, “is and has been a faithful and very active member, local church leader and … has 25-year-old deportation orders resulting simply from entering the U.S. without permission as a teenager.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that ICE explained the July 24 action in a written statement, calling Carias “a repeat immigration violator who has assumed multiple identities and nationalities over the years in order to evade federal immigration enforcement.

“During previous encounters with immigration authorities, his actions have established a pattern of misrepresentation or deception to law enforcement, resulting in his removal from the United States on at least three occasions,” according to the report.

Activists at the rally chipped away at the melting ice sculpture, symbolizing chipping away at unjust ICE policies and practices. Photo:Cam Sanders

The activists also cited the nationally publicized case of Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, 49, arrested in front of his daughter, now 14, after dropping off another daughter at her Lincoln Heights school. He could be deported as early as Aug. 7, Garcia said.

“He has been held at the Adelanto detention facility since Feb. 28. … He had two misdemeanor convictions from two decades ago,” Garcia said. The facility in San Bernardino County is run by GEO, the nation’s largest private prison company.

According to a Los Angeles Times report, lawyers for Avelica-Gonzalez in June settled those convictions, for driving under the influence and for receiving stolen car tags, in the hopes authorities would vacate the deportation order. A request for an emergency stay of removal of the deportation order filed with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeal was dismissed in June. Subsequent requests for stays have been denied.

“Nine detainees at the Adelanto facility staged a hunger strike because they were beaten and pepper sprayed,” according to Garcia and the Aug. 3 letter. “These were also not ‘violent felons;’ they were refugees who were demanding asylum, and were refused due process.”

The two-day hunger strike was intended to heighten awareness of conditions at the Adelanto facility, and the need for better medical care and lower bail amounts.

The letter also urged McDonnell to halt opposition to state Senate Bill 54, known as the California Values Act, authored by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León, a Los Angeles Democrat, which would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from using resources to investigate, detain, report or arrest people for immigration enforcement.

De León has argued that the bill, which would make California a sanctuary state and prohibit ICE agents from entering county jails without a warrant, is needed to ensure public safety.

The Rev. Francisco Garcia, rector of Holy Faith Episcopal Church in Inglewood, leads the demonstrators in one of several chants, calling for justice for all. Photo: Cam Sanders

But Garcia said that, as the Trump Administration has intensified its rhetoric, McDonnell has joined increased efforts to lobby state lawmakers to prevent the bill’s passage.

“We demand that, at the least, you stop lobbying against SB54,” according to the letter. “We also urge you to stop the Sheriff’s Department’s cooperation with ICE. The Trump era deportation agenda does not represent the will of the vast majority of Angelenos. As faith leaders and faithful residents of this city, we ask you to work with us to create a city ‘in which righteousness dwells,'” according to the letter, signed by Christian, Jewish, Muslim and a range of interfaith immigration activist groups.

Other law enforcement agencies have responded differently. The California College and University Police Chiefs Association, supports SB54. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck has said that he will not engage in law enforcement activities based on immigration status, nor will the department work in conjunction with Homeland Security on deportation issues.

The California Senate has passed the measure. It goes next to the State Assembly and, if approved there, to Gov. Jerry Brown to be signed into law.

The immigration activists also were met by a handful of counter-protestors, who carried signs saying they support law enforcement and attempted to disrupt the demonstration, Edwards Acton said.

Garcia said they were not deterred by the protestors or being turned away by deputies, and will continue to reach out to McDonnell.

“We plan to keep the pressure up, to pray and act,” Garcia said. “We’re going to continue to, as people of faith, make this case, so we can actually have a face-to-face sit-down with him.”

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