Episcopal News Service
[Anglican Communion News Service] Twelve years after Burundi’s brutal civil war, which resulted in the deaths of more than 300,000 people, the country’s faith leaders have called on the international community to “re-establish good diplomatic relationships” with their government. The call came in a communiqué signed by the Anglican primate of Burundi, Archbishop Martin Nyaboho and the bishop of Bujumbura, Eraste Bigirimana, alongside 18 other faith leaders. It was issued after two days of talks in Arusha, in neighboring Tanzania, on sustaining peace in Burundi, sponsored by the World Council of Churches and the United Nations Office on Genocide Protection and the Responsibility to Protect.
Read the entire article here.
[Anglican Communion News Service] Three women from the Diocese of the Upper Shire in Malawi are to receive the Order of the Epiphany – the highest lay honor of the Anglican Church of Central Africa. The awards will be presented Oct. 21 at a large service at the Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul in Mangochi.
Read the full article here.
[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] The Episcopal Church’s roadmap of the Jesus Movement has been guiding Episcopalians in their response to the chain of disasters that have struck the world in the last two months.
“You can see it in that we have various departments of the presiding bishop’s staff, the companion dioceses, Church Insurance, ourselves [at Episcopal Relief & Development], diaspora Episcopalians, friends and good people of faith all working together,” Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development senior vice president of programs, told the Executive Council Oct. 19.
Nelson gave council members an overview of the kinds of work Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting by way of what she called “this great chain of strength and assets” that is enabling Episcopalians to “do much more than we can do alone.” That work includes such efforts as setting up online tools for effected Episcopalians to communicate with each other and keep track of work done and help needed. The organization is also supporting such efforts helping to supply water, tarps, solar batteries, pastoral care, and connecting with other relief and government agencies.
“You can see glimmers of the Jesus Movement when clergy are speaking up at government meetings,” she said, explaining that those clergy members were advocating for their communities. “You can see it in how homeless people are living on church property in the Florida Keys. You can see it in the pastoral care that is being given to the thousands who have lost everything. You can see it in how we are texting and talking and trying to figure out how best to be of support.”
Since early August, Episcopal Relief & Development has been responding, in partnership with local Episcopalians and Anglicans, and other relief agencies, to the effects of:
- severe flooding in the Indian state of West Bengal after heavy rains in July and August.
- Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall as a Category 4 storm near Rockport, Texas, on the barrier islands beyond Corpus Christi on Aug. 25, and then moved northwest to flood the greater Houston area.
- Hurricane Irma, which pulverized parts of the Leeward Islands as a Category 5 on Sept. 5-6, and then moved north to hit Florida and Georgia.
- a magnitude 1 earthquake that caused major damage Sept. 19 in central Mexico, including in Mexico City, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Morelos and Puebla.
- Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 hurricane that tore through the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Sept. 20.
- wildfires in Northern California that erupted the night of Oct. 8 and are still raging.
“I have been here 18 years and I have never seen anything like this,” Nelson said of her work with Episcopal Relief & Development. “We’re here living in extraordinary times and I think they require extraordinary response from us.”
“We are a widow’s mite,” Nelson acknowledged. “The money we have – and it’s still coming in and everyone’s doing their best – will be nowhere near what is needed. We are the widow’s mite so we really need to think carefully about where that mite goes and how to leverage our relations, how we network into other resources and not think ourselves as the only resource to our churches.”
Nelson urged patience as more and more Episcopalians want to come to hard-hit areas and lend a hand. Those areas will be ready to receive volunteers at various times, based on the situation on the ground. “No one is quite up to it yet,” she said.
Right now, there is a major need for pilots and planes able to fly into areas where air-traffic control systems are not functioning. “We’re looking for clear, leverage-able ways to get supplies into islands that we can trust,” she said.
Nelson also urged Episcopalians to keep their wicks trimmed and their go-bags ready. “I’m really serious,” she said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen next year or tomorrow or with winter storms or whatever. So, think of ourselves and your family, your church, your diocese – how you will stay in touch with each other, how you [could] be [living] by yourself for at least two weeks.
“There is no cavalry. We need to be really mindful of each other.”
— Frank Logue (@franklogue) October 19, 2017
Council member the Rev. Jabriel Ballentine tearfully described how Nelson and other Episcopal Relief & Development staff members supported him after Hurricane Irma as he tried to learn the fate of his parents who live in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he was born.
“It was three days, I didn’t know if my parents were alive,” he said, but people from Episcopal Relief & Development kept him company during that time. Ballentine’s mother, Rosalie, is a member of the group’s board and is also the Episcopal Church’s lay member of the Anglican Consultative Council.
“Thank you so much for what you all do,” Ballentine said. “I’ve noticed that it’s a mite but, it’s a mighty mite. And we need more of those.”
Ballantine also asked for the council’s help in remembering that “we’re American – we’re supposed to be anyway – please, we’re Episcopalians, don’t let us be forgotten”
The Rev. John Floberg, council member from North Dakota and supervising priest for three Episcopal congregations at Standing Rock Sioux Nation, received an emotional response from council when he stood and explained to the members how people at powwows honor dancers whose artistry they value. “They put money down at the feet of the dancer,” he said. “That’s what I am about to do.”
Floberg walked to the middle of council’s meeting room, bent down and put money on the floor in front of the podium where Nelson was speaking. His colleagues applauded and followed his example as Nelson continued to answer questions.
— Frank Logue (@franklogue) October 19, 2017
The rest of the meeting
Council’s Oct. 18-21 meeting is taking place at the Maritime Institute Conference Center. Committee meetings will take up most of Oct. 20 and, on Oct. 21, the committees will each report to the full body, proposing resolutions for the full body to consider.
Some council members are tweeting from the meeting using #ExCoun.
The Executive Council carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1). The council comprises 38 members – 20 of whom (four bishops, four priests or deacons, and 12 lay people) are elected by General Convention and 18 (one clergy and one lay) by the nine provincial synods for six-year terms – plus the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies. In addition, the vice president of the House of Deputies, secretary, chief operating officer, treasurer and chief financial officer have seat and voice but no vote.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is interim managing editor of the Episcopal News Service.
[Nashotah House Theological Seminary – Nashotah, Wisconsin] It is with great sadness that Nashotah House Theological Seminary announces the passing of the Rev. Daniel A. Westberg, a professor of ethics and moral theology. Westberg died Oct. 18, in a boating accident on Upper Nashotah Lake.
A faculty member at Nashotah House since 2000, Westberg was a leading scholar in the area of moral theology. Westberg grew up in Japan, where his parents were missionaries with the Evangelical Covenant Church. While in graduate school in Toronto, Canada, he became an Anglican and experienced a call to ordained ministry. After seminary training and ordination in 1978, he served in the Diocese of Toronto for 10 years, in both rural and city parishes. After the death of his first wife, Lynne, Westberg married Lisa and moved the family temporarily to Oxford, England, where he studied at Oxford University with Oliver O’Donovan and Herbert McCabe and wrote a dissertation on Thomas Aquinas and the virtue of prudence.
From 1990 to 1998, Westberg taught ethics at the University of Virginia, followed by an interim year teaching theology at a seminary in Canada. Since his appointment to the Nashotah House faculty in 2000, Westberg had been the seminary’s professor of ethics and moral theology. His publications include the following books: “Right Practical Reason: Action, Aristotle and Prudence in Aquinas” (Oxford UP, 1994), “Preaching the Lectionary” (3rd ed.; Liturgical Press, 2006) in collaboration with the late Reginald Fuller, and “Renewing Moral Theology: Christian Ethics as Action, Character and Grace” (InterVarsity Press, 2015). He also published extensively in journals such as The Anglican Theological Review, The Thomist and New Blackfriars, as well as several short articles in The New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology (InterVarsity Press, 1995).
“The Rev. Dr. Daniel Westberg was a faithful priest of the Diocese of Milwaukee whose gifts as a teacher were a blessing to us all. Our hearts and prayers go out to his wife Lisa, their family and the community of Nashotah House at this sad time. We pray that Dan will go from strength to strength in God’s perfect kingdom,” stated the Rt. Rev. Steven A. Miller, bishop of Milwaukee.
Westberg is survived by his wife, Lisa, his father, a brother and three sisters, four adult children and three grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending. On the morning of Oct. 19, Garwood Anderson, acting dean of Nashotah House, gave a homily on the occasion of Westberg’s passing.
Founded in 1842, Nashotah House is a seminary serving the Episcopal Church, Anglican Communion and other ecumenical partners.
The following is the conclusion of a two-part story detailing the experience and aftermath of the B.C. summer wildfires from an Anglican perspective. You can read the first part here.
[Anglican Church of Canada] Though the height of the summer wildfire season in British Columbia may have passed, the efforts of communities to rebuild in its wake remain ongoing.
Anglicans residing within the Territory of the People have been on the front lines of devastation caused by the fires. Driving out to St. Luke’s Anglican Church in the Chilcoten area, the Rev. Kris Dobyns witnessed the scope of the damage firsthand.
“It was awful driving out there,” Dobyns said. “You could just see the burned trees on both sides … You could see maybe a chimney and a fire place, and the whole house just burned to ashes.
“We saw a place where there were six or seven cars just completely burned out … just devastating. It’s going to take years to recover.”
All residents in the area were affected by the large amounts of smoke that billowed into the air over a protracted period. The poor air quality could reach dangerous levels for weeks at a time, putting at particular risk those with respiratory health issues.
Meanwhile, the effect on livestock threatened the livelihood of ranchers, with many of the 35,000 cattle in fire-affected regions remaining unaccounted for.
“A lot of our folks who are ranchers are of course devastated,” episcopal commissary Ken Gray said.
“They’ve lost fencing, they’ve lost animals, they’ve lost grazing land, they’ve lost forest cover … In terms of the area the territory covers … the effect on ranchers and the effect on the forest industry is huge.
“That’s going to affect local economies, and it’s going to affect parish fiscal stability as well.”
In Kamloops, where Gray serves as dean of St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, the city has experienced a significant increase in homelessness. Many have been displaced from their home communities, and Anglicans active in shelter ministry are expecting an increase in demand. Some workers have opted not to return, prompting a labour shortage in communities such as Williams Lake and Cache Creek.
The economic repercussions of the fires are prominent in the mind of the Rev. Jim White, a retired Anglican priest and non-Indigenous pastoral elder who sometimes provides ministry to the First Nations community in Lytton, as well as at an ecumenical parish in Logan Lake.
“My biggest concern right now is the number of small businesses that are going to survive the next year,” White said. He offered the example of Cache Creek Golf Course, which recently closed because not enough people could reach the golf course to provide the necessary revenue for it to stay in business.
“I am somewhat pessimistic that the businesses that are in existence today will be here a year from now,” he added.
In response, local Anglicans are making a push for residents to “buy local” in order to support small businesses in the area.Community solidarity
At the peak of the fire, residents worked together to help each other out wherever they could. During the month of July, White’s son putting in 1,300 hours of volunteer hours as a volunteer firefighter along with his crew.
At another point, when the town of Ashcroft lost utilities, including electricity and phone service, his neighbour used a portable generator and extension cord to help people recharge their mobile phones.
“It’s things you don’t think of,” White said.
The Rev. Clara Plamondon brings prayer shawls from the Diocese of British Columbia during a visit to St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Kamloops, B.C. Photo by Rae Long
In the wake of the fire, affected communities have worked together to rebuild and persevere. The decreasing level of wildfires since summer has in its own way helped restore a greater sense of normalcy for residents.
“Anxiety levels are significantly reduced,” Gray said. “Air quality has significantly improved. Really, especially in the smaller communities, folks are getting back on their feet.”
Nevertheless, the emotional toll has affected many residents and prompted the creation of mutual support groups. In Williams Lake and 100 Mile House, Dobyns and her husband Keith have attended meetings as part of the 2017 Wildfire Recovery Mental Health Working Group, with pastors’ fellowships in both towns working to address mental health issues amidst the recovery.
Anglicans in other parts of the country have also come together in a variety of ways to provide aid for communities impacted by the wildfires. Gray said the Territory of the People has received donations totalling more than $35,000 from individuals and organizations such as the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, with the money being sent to clergy for use in their discretionary funds to help individuals resettle and rebuild.
A moving symbolic gesture came when Dobyns attended the recent provincial synod executive council as a delegate and saw more than 70 prayer shawls brought by a priest from Vancouver Island, whose parish had decided to make the shawls to help support the Territory of the People during the fires.
Taking six of the prayer shawls back to the cathedral, Dobyns distributed them at a joint annual worship service and potluck for the 100 Mile House and Williams Lake parishes. The shawls were received so enthusiastically that she planned to return and pick up more.
“People were so moved to receive those … It is so comforting to know that people have been praying for you, and to wrap yourself in what feels like a blanket of prayers,” Dobyns said.‘New normal’
With the continued exacerbation of wildfire seasons due to climate change, B.C. communities are pondering how they might minimize further wildfire damage in the years to come.
Later this fall, St. Paul’s Cathedral in Kamloops will host a meeting of community leaders and care providers to examine lessons from this year’s fires and how they might incorporate them moving forward.
“Something like this is going to be the new normal, and we’re wondering what we can do now to ensure an effective and appropriate response next year,” Gray said.
“Both in Prince George and Kamloops, I think the community response was extremely good,” he added. “Folks mobilized very quickly and very effectively. But we’re going to have to organize not just for this year, but … for the foreseeable future. I think that’s worth noting.”
[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans around the world have taken part in a wide variety of events to mark this year’s Season of Creation, an ecumenical focus on the environment that ran from Sept. 1 to Oct. 4. The Season of Creation was originally proposed by the Ecumenical Patriarch to run from the Orthodox Church’s World Day of Prayer for Creation and ending on the Feast of St Francis. The idea was endorsed by the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2012; it was backed by Pope Francis in 2015.
Read the entire article here.
[Anglican Communion News Service] Five Anglican archbishops have joined other Christian leaders in calling for governments to implement the promises they made at the Paris Climate Change talks. Political leaders from 197 nations will gather in Bonn, Germany, in November for the next phase of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23); and the Christian leaders are urging them to “keep the promises they made in the Paris Agreement, to restore the natural balance.”
Read the entire article here.
[Episcopal Public Policy Network policy alert] In the next year, the Secretary of Homeland Security must decide whether or not to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to approximately 320,000 individuals. TPS is a temporary immigration status provided to nationals of certain countries experiencing environmental disasters or armed conflict. TPS is granted when returning home – via departure or deportation – would place those nationals at risk, or if the foreign government’s ability to absorb the return of its nationals is compromised. TPS has been a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of individuals already in the United States when problems in a home country suddenly make return untenable.
Countries with current TPS designations include South Sudan, Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti, El Salvador, Syria, Nepal, Yemen and Somalia. The administration terminated TPS for Sudan last month. TPS holders receive protection from deportation and work authorization to support themselves while they remain in the U.S. Over the years, as conditions in their home countries have not improved, many TPS beneficiaries have stayed, with legal permission, and built lives in the U.S. Sending TPS beneficiaries back to the unstable conditions in their home countries presents grave concerns for families, our local economies, and the stability of receiving countries.
Policy passed by The Episcopal Church’s General Convention advocates for the designation of TPS for all immigrants fleeing for refuge from violence, environmental disaster, economic devastation, cultural abuse or other forms of abuse.
[Episcopal News Service] Grace Episcopal Church in Lexington, Virginia, has begun growing into its new name. Its website homepage is updated. The stationery is new. And perhaps more consequentially, the annual stewardship appeal has been sent to members under the new church name.
A month ago, the vestry voted to remove Robert E. Lee from the name of the church he once attended, changing it from R.E. Memorial Church back to its previous Grace. That move ended two years of sometimes tense debate over the Confederate general’s legacy, both as a prominent member of the congregation’s past and a symbol of racial hatred in contemporary America.
At least one couple has formally left the congregation in protest of the name change. At the same time, the congregation faces a change in leadership: The Rev. Tom Crittenden announced this month he plans to step down as rector after Nov. 5.
Despite the recent upheaval, some parish leaders who had disagreed over whether to remain as R.E. Lee Memorial now express a mutual desire to move forward together as Grace Episcopal.
“There’s still some hurt feelings, but [the congregation] seems to be pulling together,” senior warden Woody Sadler told Episcopal News Service this week by phone.
Sadler had long opposed the name change and voted against it Sept. 18, partly because the vestry hadn’t polled the full congregation.
The vestry’s 7-5 vote adopted a change recommended in April by a Discovery and Discernment Committee of vestry members and parishioners. A more recent and direct catalyst for the Lexington vestry’s decision was the Aug. 14 violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Hate groups had gathered in Charlottesville to “unite the right” in support of a Lee statue that the city had slated for removal. Clashes with anti-racism counter-protesters left one of the counter-protesters dead.
Doug Cumming, one of the Lexington vestry members who supported removal of Lee from the church’s name, said he thinks resolving that issue last month has put the congregation on the path to spiritual renewal.
“We’re coming back together. We’re now in a period of real healing and reconciliation,” Cumming said in an interview with ENS, and he already senses that people who had shied away from the church during the debate over the name have started returning to Sunday services.
The changes have been difficult, though, for those who felt the congregation’s identity was closely tied to Lee.
“I think it just hurts some people so much to see the name changing and to see things happening so fast,” Cumming said.
As fast as change is coming, it is hardly complete. The website that advertises services at Grace Episcopal Church is still hosted on the domain releechurch.org. A new domain is in the works, Cumming said.
Grace is the name on the outdoor sign listing worship times and on a banner advertising an upcoming bazaar. But the main sign out front has not yet been replaced and still welcomes passersby to “R.E. Lee Memorial Church.” Cumming, as chair of the church’s History Committee, presented the lowest bid on a replacement sign to the vestry at its most recent meeting, Oct. 16. The cost will be $930.
Sadler said he signed off on that expense the following day. The new sign should be installed in a few weeks.
Deeper change in the congregation may take time and require more than a new name and sign. Crittenden is personally well liked, Cumming said, but his resignation reflected the congregation’s desire for new leadership as it looks to the future. Its Discovery and Discernment Committee’s report identified “a loss of confidence in the ability of the current rector to lead the parish forward.”
Diocese of Southwest Virginia Bishop Mark Bourlakas met with the congregation, vestry and Crittenden in the months leading up to Crittenden’s decision to resign, and Bourlakas plans to attend the November vestry meeting to discuss calling an interim rector while Grace recruits someone new to the role permanently.
The Discovery and Discernment Committee also singled out the vestry as part of the leadership “vacuum” in the congregation, including but not limited to its role in the debate over the church’s name. The committee recommended the vestry focus on coordinating its vision, mission and long-range planning and communicate better with parishioners.
The vestry will have several new faces leading those efforts starting in January. The congregation on Oct. 15 elected five new vestry members to the 12-member body, out of 10 people who were interested in serving, an unusually high number, Cumming said. (He was one of the vestry members who chose not to return when their terms expire at the end of this year.)
The new vestry members appear to support the name change, Cumming said, but it is more difficult to gauge the change’s effect on the larger congregation. Cumming sensed increased attendance since the name change, due to the return of families who had stopped attending. Sadler, on the other hand, said he hadn’t noticed Sunday attendance swell in the past month.
The Oct. 15 service was well attended, but it also was unique: The congregation combined its 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. services for a special joint service that will be repeated every three months.
“There’s a lot of reconciliation and healing that has to go on,” said Bourlakas, who had encouraged changing the church name. He told ENS he is pleased by the progress. “People seem to be trying to work together. I know it hasn’t pleased everybody but there seems to be some acceptance and voices for moving forward.”
Cumming, despite voting to remove Lee from the church name, doesn’t think the church is erasing history. His committee is discussing other ways of highlighting Lee’s historic role.
While serving in Lexington as president of Washington College, later renamed Washington and Lee University, the former Confederate general spent the last five years of his life, until his death in 1870, helping the struggling congregation survive. There is no record, however, of why the congregation chose to rename the church for Lee in 1903.
One suggestion received by the History Committee was to rename the parish hall after Lee, but Cumming said the committee also is looking for ways to highlight other historical figures’ ties to the church.
An interpretative historical marker might include info on Lee, but also on Jonathan Daniels, a civil rights worker who was killed in 1965 while saving the life of a black teenage girl. Daniels attended R.E. Lee Memorial Church while a student at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington. He was class valedictorian when he graduated in 1961.
– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
[Trinity Church Wall Street and Union Theological Seminary] Trinity Church Wall Street and Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York (Union) today announced the creation of the Trinity Union Fellows program, which will bring international students to Trinity and Union for one year of academic training and faith formation.
The program will begin in the 2018-2019 academic year with an initial cohort of up to six students from China and India. Funded by a $750,000 grant from Trinity, the Fellows will join other students in the Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M) degree program. The grant will cover a full range of expenses for students, including English language courses and living stipends. Union and Trinity will be partnering with sister institutions in China and India to identify applicants for the program.
“A key aspect of Trinity Church’s mission is to help train and develop church leadership,” said the Rev. Dr. William Lupfer, Rector of Trinity Church Wall Street. “This program will provide an opportunity for international students to immerse themselves in the rigorous academic environment at Union, as well as the community life of the growing congregation at Trinity Church, providing a well-rounded experience for these future Christian leaders.”
“We are excited to be partnering with Union Theological Seminary, which has a long and well-respected history of educating international students to act as catalysts in their communities and their churches,” said Dr. Lupfer.
At Trinity, students will participate in all facets of worship, as well as learn about the committee structure and governance of the church. Students will discover how Trinity’s core values of faith, integrity, inclusion, compassion, social justice and stewardship guide the church in fulfilling its mission.
“Union is committed to cultivating a new generation of international scholars and global faith leaders, and we are thrilled to partner with Trinity in this endeavor,” said the Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, President of Union Theological Seminary. “This program will expand and strengthen Union’s longstanding partnerships with Christian seminaries in China and India. In today’s world, theological education is, at its best, global in reach and intercultural in scope.”
Fellows who enroll in the S.T.M. program will participate in advanced theological study that prepares them for some forms of teaching, enhancement of ministerial practice, focus on a specialized function of ministry, or doctoral level study.
About Trinity Church Wall Street:
Trinity Church Wall Street is a growing and inclusive Episcopal parish that seeks to serve and heal the world by building neighborhoods that live Gospel truths, generations of faithful leaders, and sustainable communities. The parish is guided by its core values: faith, integrity, inclusiveness, compassion, social justice, and stewardship. Members come from the five boroughs of New York City and surrounding areas to form a racially, ethnically, and economically diverse congregation. More than 20 worship services are offered every week at its historic sanctuaries, Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel, the cornerstones of the parish’s community life, worship, and mission, and online at trinitywallstreet.org. The parish welcomes approximately 3 million visitors per year.
About Union Theological Seminary:
Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York is a seminary and a graduate school of theology, grounded in the Christian tradition and embracing of multiple religious traditions. Union prepares students for committed lives of service to both faith communities and the broader world. Our unique educational programs develop practices of mind and body that encourage compassionate wisdom and foster academic excellence and social justice. Union believes that a new interreligious spiritualty of radical openness and love is the world’s best hope for peace, justice, and planetary flourishing. www.utsnyc.edu
[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] It would seem obvious that Episcopalians have Jesus at the center of their lives and that the Episcopal Church centers on Jesus. Yet, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry challenged the church’s Executive Council Oct. 18 to deeply reflect on whether the church and its members are truly answering the call of Christ during these times of challenges from outside and inside the church.
Curry’s remarks came during the opening session of council’s Oct. 18-21 meeting. The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies and Executive Council vice chair, joined him in that challenge. Council spent nearly 90 minutes listening to and discussing Curry’s challenge. The members and staff will continue that work Oct. 19, albeit from a different angle, in a session Jennings will lead on council committee reorganization.
Curry acknowledged that recently released data from the 2016 parochial reports from each congregation and diocese show that membership in the Episcopal Church continues to decline. The pace has slowed some, he said, but the trajectory remains downward. There were 6,473 domestic parishes and missions in 2016 compared with 6,510 in 2015. The number of baptized members who were active in 2016 was 1,745,156, compared with 1,779,335 in 2015.
— Frank Logue (@franklogue) October 18, 2017
While it may be tempting to despair and search for ways to return to a church that Episcopalians believe existed in the past, Curry said, he believes that if the church concentrates on making and forming disciples who truly live the way of Jesus “we won’t have time to worry about Average Sunday Attendance; that will take care of itself.”
“If we continue to navel gaze, then we won’t survive, and probably shouldn’t,” he said. “If our concern is being the church of the 1950s, maintaining an institutional reality for the sake of the institution, maybe we don’t need to continue.”
But, if Episcopalians are concerned about keeping Jesus at the center of their lives, then “that’s church that has a reason to exist and will have a future.”
The presiding bishop asked the council to consider the story told in Acts 16:6-10, known as the Macedonian Call. Paul, “having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia,” according to the passage, has a vision one night of a man pleading with him to come help him and his friends in Macedonia. Once there, Paul meets and converts Lydia, her household and many others, and plants many churches, on what is now known as his second missionary journey.
Curry insisted that the Episcopal Church might be experiencing its own Macedonian Call. The attendance data he cited is “either a cause for despair or a call to go to Macedonia.” The despair comes from feeling as if the church is blocked from resuscitating “the church we thought we once were.”
“Macedonia” needs Episcopalians, he said, in a time when “there are voices in our culture that masquerade as Christians.” However, those voices “do not even show basic humanitarian concern and care,” much less echoing Jesus’s message of love and forgiveness.
“I really believe that the way of Jesus, the way that is gracious, kind, loving, just, good – that way and that Jesus – is what the world is hungry for and God help us, we’re getting a Macedonian Call.”
When Episcopalians answer that call, they will be a church reoriented around the gospel in the way, as in most congregations, the gospel is processed into the midst of the people and they turn to face the person who proclaims it, the presiding bishop said.
Curry acknowledged that his description of the world in need of authentic Christianity was an echo of what Jennings evoked for the council in her remarks earlier in the session. Jennings reviewed a litany of what she has said is a “difficult season for Christians in the United States who are committed to doing justice, protecting God’s creation and safeguarding the dignity of every human being.”
— Frank Logue (@franklogue) October 18, 2017
“The situation feels unstable, and to many Americans, it is downright frightening,” Jennings said.
“I am encouraged that many Christians, and many of you here this morning, are mobilizing to resist the onslaught of policies and pronouncements – and tweets – that run counter to our gospel values and our vision of the kingdom of God,” she said. “People of faith have played important roles in opposing several unsuccessful attempts to take health care away from millions of Americans, and we are also committed to defeating the current attempt to deport hundreds of thousands of young ‘dreamers’ who were brought to this country without documentation as children.”
Jennings anchored that advocacy in the public policy actions taken by the General Convention, and she praised the support of the Office of Government Relations in Washington D.C., for helping mobilize the Episcopal Church, especially when legislative remedies are sought.
“We are working hard; the issues come at us fast these days. But we are organized, we are mobilizing more quickly than in the past, and we are resisting for the sake of the most vulnerable people in our communities and our congregations,” she said.
Episcopalians must “counter an impoverished and vindictive interpretation of our faith with what my friend here calls the loving, liberating and life-giving message of the Jesus Movement,” Jennings said, referring to Curry.
Given the gravity of what Jennings described, she admitted that council might think it odd when, on Oct. 19, she leads a session on the group’s committee structure.
“Now, I realize that the kingdom of God is not like a committee meeting, or at least I hope not,” she said. “But the work we do here to fulfill our canonical responsibility – which is to provide board-level oversight and direction to the work of the DFMS as defined by General Convention – makes it possible for the rest of the church do its work. In our tradition, governance does not stand in opposition to mission or even detract from mission. Governance, done efficiently, transparently and collaboratively, makes mission and witness, prophetic witness, possible.”
The rest of the meeting
After the opening plenary on Oct. 18, council spent the rest of the day and the morning of Oct. 19 meeting in its five committees. Later on Oct. 19, council members will get an update on the recent work of Episcopal Relief & Development, and they will have the Jennings-led discussion on possible ways to reorganize their work on council. Committee meetings will also take up most of Oct. 20 and, on Oct. 21, the committees will each report to the full body, proposing resolutions for the full body to consider.
The Oct. 18-21 meeting is taking place at the Maritime Institute Conference Center.
Some council members are tweeting from the meeting using #ExCoun.
The Executive Council carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1). The council comprises 38 members – 20 of whom (four bishops, four priests or deacons, and 12 lay people) are elected by General Convention and 18 (one clergy and one lay) by the nine provincial synods for six-year terms – plus the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies. In addition, the vice president of the House of Deputies, secretary, chief operating officer, treasurer and chief financial officer have seats and voice but no vote.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is interim managing editor of the Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal Office of Public Affairs] There is still time for high school students to apply to participate in the General Convention Official Youth Presence (OYP) at the Episcopal Church‘s 79th General Convention to be held July 5 to 13 at The Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas, part of the Diocese of Texas.
Deadline for applications and nominations is Nov. 1.
“Each General Convention, we look forward to welcoming the members of the Official Youth Presence to the House of Deputies,” the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies , has said. “The perspectives and experiences of high school students are critical to our legislative deliberations and make our debates more lively.”
“General Convention resolutions dating back to 1982 provide for an Official Youth Presence,” noted Bronwyn Clark Skov, Episcopal Church director for formation, youth and young Adult ministries. Skov’s office, together with the General Convention office and Jennings, coordinates the application and discernment process for teens who want to become members of the OYP. “Under the current Rules of Order of the House of Deputies, members of the OYP are granted seat and voice in that house,” Skov said.
Skov explained that no more than two high school youth from each of the Episcopal Church’s nine provinces will be selected.
To be eligible to apply, candidates must meet the following criteria:
• Be an active member and communicant in good standing of an Episcopal Church congregation.
• Be at least 16 years old and no older than 19 during General Convention 2018.
• Be a current high school student enrolled in 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade during the 2017/18 school year.
• Be capable of traveling alone by plane or train to and from the meetings in the United States with no escort.
• Be available to travel to the mandatory orientation and training from April 5 to 8. This weekend will include community building, worship and training on the legislative process.
• Be available to be present at General Convention in Austin from July 2 to 13.
The Episcopal Church budget covers travel, lodging and meals for OYP participants attending the orientation weekend and General Convention.
All applicants must identify a non-family member nominator who can complete an online essay nomination form by Nov. 1.
Applications will be reviewed by a committee that includes House of Deputies Vice President Byron Rushing of Massachusetts, Deputy Ariana Gonzalez Bonillas of Arizona, members of the Youth Ministry Network Leadership Council and the Formation Department staff.
Nominators may be contacted in early January, and applicants will be notified of their status in February. The Official Youth Presence team will be announced in March.
Questions should be directed to Wendy Johnson at email@example.com.
The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years to consider the legislative business of the church. General Convention is the bicameral governing body of the Church, comprised of the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 109 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members. Between Conventions, the General Convention continues to work through its committees and commissions. The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church carries out the programs and policies adopted by General Convention.
[Anglican Communion News Service] The archbishop of Dublin, Michael Jackson, has used a speech to the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) to talk about how people encounter what he termed “the other.” Respect for the other was needed for people of distinct faiths to engage in encounters with one another, he said. And he argued that today’s mass migrations were once again bringing people together who might not otherwise have met, saying: “Neutral territory and public space have become contested once again in ways that are all too familiar to Jewish people in history and today.”
Read the entire article here.
[Anglican Communion News Service] The bishop of Jabalpur, Prem Singh, has been elected as the new moderator and Anglican primate of the united Church of North India. The church’s recent synod also elected a new deputy moderator: Bishop Probal Kanto Dutta of the Diocese of Durgapur. A new treasurer, Jayant Agarwal, was also elected. Alwan Masih will continue in his role as general secretary.
Read the entire article here.
[Episcopal Office of Public Affairs] The Rev. Canon Dr. Michael Barlowe, executive officer of the General Convention, has announced that nominations to serve as the Episcopal Church bishop member on the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) are now being accepted through Nov. 20.
The ACC is one of the four instruments of communion in the Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is one of the 39 province members. According to the ACC website, the role of the ACC is to facilitate the cooperative work of the churches of the Anglican Communion.
The position has been vacated because the term expired for Bishop Ian Douglas of Connecticut.
The term is for three meetings of the ACC, which is generally nine years. The triennial meetings require a two-week commitment. The next ACC meeting is slated for 2019; location to be finalized. The ACC is the only instrument of communion that includes clergy and lay people along with bishops. It is also the only instrument of communion that is a registered charity under British law, and as such, it is the corporate entity of the Anglican Communion.
Among the requirements, the bishop must be a member of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops. Also a thorough knowledge of the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church is required, as well as familiarity with governance structures.
Nominations must include the nominee’s permission to stand for election, a one-page explanation of the nominee’s qualifications and a digital photo. Materials should be submitted to Barlowe at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline is Nov. 20.
The bishop member will be elected by Executive Council, according to Canon 1.4.2(g), at the January 2018 Executive Council meeting in Baltimore, Maryland. Following a review of the nominations by the Executive Committee of Executive Council, two to five names will be presented for voting. Nominations may also be made by Executive Council. The term will take effect immediately.
Current Episcopal Church members of ACC are the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings of the Diocese of Ohio and president of the House of Deputies (priest/deacon); and Rosalie Ballantine of the Virgin Islands (lay).
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Save the dates for the next Evangelism Matters, an Episcopal Evangelism Conference on March 15-17 for anyone excited to learn about sharing and growing loving, liberating, life-giving relationships with God.
The March 2018 gathering follows the first successful Evangelism Matters conference in November 2016.
“Evangelism Matters 2016 proved just how hungry Episcopalians are to share, learn and grow our capacity for evangelism,” said the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, the Presiding Bishop’s Canon for Evangelism, Reconciliation and Creation Care. “This time, we hope to welcome even more people and to focus on sharing and growing the love of God in a variety of contexts: rural, urban, suburban, small church, new church, big church, secular communities and heavily churched spaces. This ministry belongs to us all.”
“We are thrilled to partner with the Presiding Bishop’s office to offer what promises to be an exciting opportunity for the whole church,” said the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, Executive Director of Forward Movement. “Evangelism Matters will once again provide a forum to focus on both Jesus and on movement, that is, sharing Good News by word and deed with the world.”
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will address the conference, and a diverse team of evangelism leaders will lead plenary sessions and workshops. A pre-conference is also underway for “evangelism catalysts” who have been designated by each diocese. Many sessions will be live webcast and available for download, and individual and satellite group participation is warmly welcomed.
Registration and sponsor sign-ups open October 30 and will be available here.
[Episcopal News Service] Episcopal clergy and congregation members are resuming church services and school classes when they can and how they can, despite the vast devastation in Puerto Rico almost a month after Hurricane Maria swept through Sept. 20.
It was the strongest storm the island has faced since before the Great Depression, a Category 4 hurricane that spewed up to 40 inches of rain in some places in one day, whereas Houston, Texas, saw 32 inches in three days from Hurricane Harvey in late August, according to the Weather Channel and the National Hurricane Center.
Almost a month after Maria, Puerto Ricans are still in crisis mode.
Forty-five deaths have been reported so far related to the storm, and residents in the northern part of the island have no clean water to drink so they are drinking contaminated water in nearby rivers, according to Episcopal Relief & Development. About 90 percent of the island was still without electricity as of Oct. 11, three weeks after Maria hit. In comparison, 22 percent of the homes and businesses on the Virgin Islands are without power from Maria.
“The lives of so many people have been turned upside down,” said Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development’s senior vice president of programs in the latest Hurricane Maria report. “This is a humanitarian crisis that will affect many people in the years to come.”
Coordinating donations with local agencies to get basic supplies to those who most need it is a logistics challenge that Episcopal Relief & Development is working on daily, along with many others. Volunteers are organizing shipments of water and food to residents of Maricao, Ponce and other remote areas. The organization is planning on supplying water-purification systems to those isolated communities.
Communication is still dicey and is expected to remain that way for several more months. Satellite phones are helping diocesan members communicate with each other, church partners, emergency services and communities.
Social media has been the most reliable way to communicate. The Episcopal Cathedral School in San Juan closed like most institutions, and parents didn’t have to pay September fees. The K-12 school reopened for classes Oct. 10 and restarted its after-school program Oct. 16. Like most places, the school still has no electrical power, so students are advised to bring, if they can, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, bottled water and insect repellent spray. They are allowed to wear Bermuda-style pants and sleeveless shirts and won’t have any tests for the time being and limited homework.
Also on Oct. 16, the school counselor announced that college admission deadlines have been extended for both Puerto Rico and mainland U.S. colleges. “I hope that this serves as a means of reassurance that we will continue to have a successful academic year,” said Karen Santiago Garcia, guidance counselor.
On Oct. 15, the Rt. Rev. Rafael Morales Maldonado, bishop of the Diocese of Puerto Rico, celebrated Holy Eucharist at Misión San Gabriel Arcángel in Humacao on the east side of the island.
“We cry and laugh together. We discovered the strength of the Lord in our new project to lift and build,” Morales said in a Facebook post, as translated by the social media site.
The bishop has been working with Xavier Castellanos, the Episcopal Relief & Development representative who’s onsite to lend his expertise, to mobilize church partners as they continue to assess the needs of different areas of the island, and to especially send help and food to the more remote mountainous regions. The organization sent emergency support in advance of Hurricane Maria in order to help the diocese provide assistance quickly.
Meanwhile, back in the continental United States, people with family and friends in Puerto Rico are still worrying about them.
The Rev. Gladys Rodriguez of Church of the Incarnation in Oviedo, Florida, has been able to speak only briefly a few times with her husband, Victor Rivera Gonzalez, who is in Puerto Rico. They have homes in both places, and before the storm, she’d travel back and forth. Their house in the Guaynabo area of the island is made of cement and held up well, but their roof is damaged. Gonzalez had stocked up on water and was able to share it with neighbors. “He has been eating canned food. He has no electricity. There is no communication with the center of the island,” Rodriguez said in an email.
One of Rodriguez’s church members in Florida lost contact with a relative in Ponce who needed cash, food, water and medicines. Eventually, that relative found someone to drive through the hazardous roads to help her. “Everyone is in desperate need for cash, water, electricity, food and medicines,” Rodriguez said. When air travel becomes easier, probably by the end of October, her husband plans to fly to her in Oviedo.
Lynn Hendricks, president of the National Altar Guild Association based in Birmingham, Alabama, built Eucharist kits for Puerto Rico. One of her fellow church members planned to fly his plane to the island to deliver generators, water and other supplies for the relief effort and offered to take the kits along.
“He said transportation is a problem on the island, and he was being met so wasn’t sure if he would be able to deliver them personally, but he would see the diocese was contacted and told where they could pick them up if he wasn’t able to hand deliver them,” Hendricks said in an email to Episcopal News Service.
The Rt. Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche, bishop of New York, held a service for the victims of natural disasters in the Caribbean and Mexico on Oct. 7, at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. The hurricane that ravaged Puerto Rico was, sadly, one the latest in a series of natural disasters that have, in just over a month, visited “unspeakable ruin upon Texas, Florida, the Caribbean (especially the Virgin Islands and Cuba), Mexico, and now Puerto Rico,” Dietsche said in his advance announcement of the service.
“Countless people in our diocese have been personally affected by these storms. Indeed, members of my own staff have lived through harrowing days in the last week waiting for word from missing family members,” he said. “I know that they represent thousands of New Yorkers who have carried the same fears for those they love.”
People can help by donating to Episcopal Relief & Development’s Hurricane Relief Fund, which will help partners reach the vulnerable communities devastated by the recent tropical storms.
— Amy Sowder is a special correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. She is also a journalist and editor based in New York City. Reach her at email@example.com.
[Anglican Church of Canada] This summer’s wildfire season was the worst-ever recorded in British Columbia’s history. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from their homes, hundreds of buildings were destroyed, and much of the province’s livestock was put at risk. As of Sept. 28, more than 100 wildfires were still burning across the province.
Much of the devastation impacted Anglicans residing within the Territory of the People. For some, the threat of the encroaching fires forced the evacuation of friends and neighbours, while others were made to flee and leave their own homes. At the height of the evacuations, many Anglican clergy and lay people provided assistance and pastoral care to evacuees.
“One way or another, every single parish in our territory was affected,” said the Very Rev. Ken Gray, currently serving as episcopal commissary during the sabbatical of Bishop Barbara Andrews.Experience of evacuated parishes
In certain parishes, particularly 100 Mile House, Alexis Creek, and Williams Lake, residents were evacuated as the fire threatened buildings and parishioners’ homes. Meanwhile, major centres such as Kamloops and Prince George took in large numbers of evacuees.
The Revs. Kris and Keith Dobyns—who share positions serving St. Timothy’s Anglican Church in 100 Mile House and St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Williams Lake, as well as St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Alexis Creek—were among those those evacuated in July. Days after the fires began near their home in 100 Mile House, Kris received a warning from fire volunteers going door-to-door that she might have to leave.
“About 45 minutes before the evacuation, all of this black smoke started billowing in … I live downtown, and it looked pretty ominous,” she recalled. “My neighbours were out and they all decided to leave. They had ash falling in their backyards.”
Making the decision to evacuate, Dobyns packed and left a note with her name and phone number on her front door. She stayed with parishioners just outside the evacuation zone on a Sunday night before leaving early Monday morning. After meeting up with Keith, who had been away visiting their grandson in Ontario, they drove to stay with their son and his family in Abbotsford, B.C.
Two weeks later, officials re-opened 100 Mile for residents to return, and the couple returned home. But when fire threatened the surrounding areas of Elephant Hill and Canim Lake, Kris ended up leaving for Abbotsford for a few more days on the advice of Bishop Andrews.
“It was just so smoky and there had been more evacuations on both sides of us,” Dobyns said. “Our bishop was visiting to provide pastoral care and all these other evacuations had happened, and she looked at me and said, ‘You need a break.’”
During that time, members of the Canim Lake Band were themselves evacuated following a lightning strike and ended up in 100 Mile.
Partnering with the Stemete7uw’I Friendship Centre—which is located next to St. Timothy’s—to help care for evacuees, Anglicans joined band members for a potluck attended by Bishop Andrews, during which they brought food and other items such as clothing.
“We have a free store at our church that can be opened at any point,” Dobyns said. “So we opened that up for people who needed clothing or blankets, because they had just had to leave in the middle of the night with no warning.”Providing care to evacuees
In larger urban centres where many of those evacuated ended up, Anglican clergy were on the frontlines of helping evacuees.
The Rev. Isabel Healy-Morrow, regional dean for Kamloop-South Rivers, spent time at two areas set up by authorities to receive people evacuated from their homes in communities such as 100 Mile House, Clinton, Ashcroft, and Cache Creek. One was the Kamloops Powwow Grounds, where a cluster of tents and travel trailers had sprung up.
“I would go down and sit and visit with families, drink coffee with them, play with the children, and give them someone to vent their anxieties to,” Healy-Morrow said. “Those in the ranching industry were consumed with anxiety about their livestock.”
With a background in farming and ranching, Healy-Morrow was able to converse with fleeing ranchers about the evacuation of cattle and other livestock. Many horses were evacuated and taken to the Kamloops Exhibition Grounds and nearby farms.
For the evacuated people themselves, many had left quickly and been compelled to leave behind essentials such as prescriptions and clean clothing. At a second, indoor reception area, the Interior Community Savings Arena, hundreds of cots were set up, while provincial Emergency Social Services provided food, clothing, toiletries, and other benefits.
At the arena, Healy-Morrow encountered a group of First Nations elders from the coastal community of Bella Coola, who were unable to home after a Vancouver conference due to the Hanceville wildfire blocking the road from Williams Lake.
“There was no indication as to when it might be safe to travel,” she recalled. “I was able to provide a pastoral presence, hug people, [and] hand out water and snacks and pamphlets showing the location of St. Paul’s Cathedral, where evacuees were welcome to drop in and rest, pray, or talk.”
Healy-Morrow also visited evacuees who had been admitted to the emergency room at Royal Inland Hospital after experiencing cardiac and breathing issues, due to the cumulative effects of stress and poor air quality resulting from smoke, ash, and particulate matter—a particular health risk for those suffering from conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
“They were glad of a smile, a hug, someone to sit by their bed and talk, pray if requested, and bring them coffee and snacks,” she said.
“The pastoral presence of the clergy was appreciated by the evacuees, and it was clear that a smile and a hug went a long way to those who were frantic with anxiety over the possible loss of their homes and assets.”
Though the wildfires have subsided since their summer peak, residents in affected communities now find themselves dealing with the aftermath of the destruction.
ThisI is the first installment of a two-part story detailing the experience and aftermath of the B.C. summer wildfires from an Anglican perspective. Visit the Anglican Church of Canada website later this week for the conclusion.
[Anglican Communion News Service] From Oct. 11 to 16, twenty-eight Anglican archbishops and bishops of the Council of the Church in East Asia, including the Obispo Maximo of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, met in Yangon, Myanmar, with the theme “Living and Sharing Jesus-Shaped Life” from Colossians 2:6, hosted by the Rev. Stephen Than Myint Oo, archbishop and primate of the Church of the Province of Myanmar. Joining them were their spouses and clergy who are members of the executive committee of the council. The delegates were from Japan, Myanmar, Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan and Australia.
Read the entire story here.
[Anglican Communion News Service] The United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May has given her backing to the Church of England’s new anti-slavery program. The Clewer Initiative was launched Oct. 17, at Lambeth Palace, the London home and headquarters of the archbishop of Canterbury. “Modern slavery is a barbaric crime which destroys the lives of some of the most vulnerable in our society,” May said. “I value the work that the Clewer Initiative will be doing to enable the Church of England dioceses and wider church networks to develop strategies to tackle modem slavery.”
Read the entire story here.