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Executive Council moves toward proposed draft budget

Episcopal News Service - sex, 24/10/2014 - 20:30

[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council opened its four-day meeting here considering its proposed draft 2016-2018 budget as well as reviewing in committees resolutions that are due for council action on the last meeting day.

The Rev. Susan Snook, a member of council’s Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission (FFM), gave her colleagues an update on the committee’s work on the budget thus far. Because that work is not complete, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori advised council members and observers not to report the details of the work Snook presented. The committee will return to council on Oct. 27 with a preliminary draft.

After council considers that version, it soon will be released to the church for comment. In addition some FFM members will stay at the Maritime Institute in Linthicum Heights, Maryland, after that meeting to discuss the document with the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) during its Oct. 27-29 meeting.

Then FFM will revise the budget based on comments from PB&F and the wider church and have a final draft budget ready for the full council’s consideration during its Jan. 9-11, 2015 meeting. According to the joint rules of General Convention (joint rule II.10.c.ii), council must give its draft budget to PB&F no less than four months before the start of General Convention (essentially by February of convention year).

PB&F is due to meet next from Feb. 23-25, 2015, to begin work on that draft budget. PB&F uses the draft budget and any legislation passed by or being considered by General Convention to create a final budget proposal. That budget must be presented to a joint session of the Houses of Bishops and Deputies no later than the third day before convention’s scheduled adjournment. The two houses then debate and vote on the budget separately and the budget needs the approval of both houses.

In a related matter, Treasurer Kurt Barnes updated the council on the state of the current 2013-2015 triennial budget. He reported that the 2014 budget year-to-date through September is generally in line with the revised version council had previously approved.

General Convention approves the triennial budget, and council often revises the three annual budgets, based on changes in income and expenses.

Council will be asked to approve a 2015 budget that has a deficit but, Barnes said, the three-year budget overall, which must at least be balanced, will show $4 million in income above what is needed to cover expenses. He attributed that excess income to $1.5 million in unbudgeted income from rental of space at the Church Center in New York. An additional $2.9 million comes from an increased draw on endowment income to support the work of the church’s development office. Some increased expenses shaved money off that $4.4 million additional income, Barnes said.

He noted that while diocesan income has increased from what was budgeted, the increase is attributable to better performance of diocesan investments leading to greater diocesan income and a generally improving economy.

“We have not seen any increase of dioceses stepping up with higher [percentage] contributions,” he said.

The Episcopal Church’s three-year budget is funded primarily by pledges from the church’s dioceses and regional mission areas. Each year’s annual giving in the three-year budget is based on a diocese’s income two years earlier, minus $120,000. Diocesan commitments for 2013 and 2014, based on the budget’s request of a 19 percent contribution, are here.

Presiding bishop says church must learn to share it resources in new ways

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori focused her opening remarks to council on how the church must change the way it educates its leaders and how it might foster financial autonomy for every diocese and other jurisdiction in the church.

“We’re not called to build a church that leaves poor and struggling relatives either shamed or incapacitated by their poverty,” she said. “We are called to build societies of abundance where resources are directed where needed, and no one lives in want …We should be challenging all Episcopalians to see the abundance we enjoy as gifts to be shared. When those gifts are shared, we know that it brings joy and flourishing to all members of the body. It looks like abundant life.”

Jefferts Schori also complimented the entire council for its “growth in capacity in this triennium.”

“We are engaging the mission and ministry of this Church in larger and more strategic ways than we have in recent years,” she said. “I continue to believe that the primary mission of this body is those larger and strategic questions, and I firmly hope the Convention will help us to clarify that role.”

The complete text of the presiding bishop’s remarks is here.

House of Deputies president outlines General Convention changes

In her opening remarks to council, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, House of Deputies president, outlined a series of changes for to the 2015 meeting of General Convention that she said are aimed at “make[ing] the legislative process one that can best help us discern our mission and ministry.”

Those changes include a new slate of legislative committees that are more closely aligned with the framework of the Five Marks of Mission, Jennings and Jefferts Schori said in a July letter to bishops and deputies. The new committees are here.

Jennings said she plans to appoint House of Deputies legislative committees by the end of this year and instruct committee chairs to begin work before General Convention. The current Rules of Order permit that early start and Jennings told council she hopes that it “will make it possible for us to consider legislation much more efficiently once we arrive at General Convention.”

Another change at convention is the scheduling of four joint sessions of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, including:

* June 24, the day before the first legislative day, an afternoon session during which the nominees for presiding bishop will be presented,

* June 26, joint session to receive officially the nominations from the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the 27th Presiding Bishop and to receive nominations that may have come through the petition process. (The House of Bishops elects the presiding bishop on June 27, after which the House of Deputies is asked to vote to confirm or not confirm the bishops’ choice.) That session will also include a conversation on church structure, according to Jennings,

* June 30, joint session for a conversation on mission,

* July 1, for the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget & Finance to present its proposed budget for the 2016-2018 triennium (both houses will debate the budget and must concur on the same budget for it to be approved), and

* July 3 (final legislative day), a special Eucharist for convention to welcome the presiding bishop-elect. Jennings said that although the new presiding bishop will also be seated at the Washington National Cathedral later in the year, “we intend for the service at General Convention to be the primary celebration so that we can all participate in an event with only modest additional costs.”

The complete text of Jennings’ remarks is here and an Oct. 22 letter she wrote to deputies explaining the General Convention changes is here.

The rest of the meeting agenda

Council will spend all of Oct. 25 in committee meetings. After Eucharist on Oct. 26, committee sessions will continue until mid-afternoon when the whole council gathers for another session on the 2016-2018 proposed draft budget. On Oct. 27, council meets as a whole to consider various reports and act on proposed resolutions from its five committees. That day will include a closed session for the council to hear a report from its subcommittee considering options for use of the Church Center at 815 Second Ave. in New York.

The Oct. 24-27 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)(a). The council is composed of 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.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

GTS Board of Trustees moves to reinstate faculty members

Episcopal News Service - sex, 24/10/2014 - 19:02

[General Theological Seminary press release] In a spirit of reconciliation and healing for the entire Seminary community, The General Theological Seminary (GTS) Board of Trustees announced this week an offer to presently reinstate eight faculty members.  At that time the Board also affirmed its call to the Very Reverend Kurt Dunkle as President and Dean of GTS.  

“During this challenging time, the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee have maintained open and honest communication with faculty members in the hopes that we may reconcile and end this disruption to our academic year,” said the Rt. Reverend Mark Sisk, Chair of the General Theological Seminary Board of Trustees.  “We are grateful that our prayers have been answered and the good faith of all has been rewarded. We look forward to the faculty members returning to what they do best: educating and forming the future leaders of our Church in an environment of faith, respect and collegiality. The Very Reverend Kurt Dunkle, our Dean and President, is deeply committed to moving the Seminary forward.” 

Professors Joshua Davis, the Reverend Mitties McDonald DeChamplain, Deirdre Good, David Hurd, Andrew Irving, the Reverend Andrew Kadel, the Reverend Amy Bentley Lamborn and the Reverend Patrick Malloy issued a joint response: “Thank you for your invitation to come together to find a way forward.  We receive this invitation in the good faith in which it is offered.  Thank you also for acknowledging that healing is not an easy thing to accomplish; we are appreciative of both the alacrity with which you seek to facilitate our return to work and the attention you are giving to a long-term process of reconciliation for the entire Seminary community.”

This week’s invitation would return faculty members to salaries and health benefits for the remainder of the academic year as they work to resolve all outstanding issues with the Board of Trustees.  The faculty members would agree to not only return to the classroom, but also to participate in all campus activities such as common meals and community worship and abide by the terms of the Seminary Constitution, Bylaws and policies, and will work together with both the Board, President and Dean Dunkle and an outside mediator appointed to facilitate permanent reconciliation.  A process of integrating the returning faculty back into classroom activity is under development so that there is as little disruption of class work as possible.

“The Board has the duty to set policy for a nearly 200-year-old religious institution which seeks to educate and form leaders – ordained and lay – for a church which is changing,” said Bishop Sisk.  “Our students have always remained our top priority, both in their continuing education at the Seminary and their spiritual well-being. Together with our faculty, we look forward to turning our full attention to a fruitful and fulfilling academic year that befits our great responsibility.”

The Rev. Steven Peay named dean and president of Nashotah House

Episcopal News Service - sex, 24/10/2014 - 07:47

[Nashotah House Theological Seminary press release] The Nashotah House Theological Seminary Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the appointment of the Rev. Steven Peay as the 20th Dean and President of Nashotah House.

The Dean and President Search Committee reported to the Board of Trustees a unanimous recommendation for Father Peay’s election as Dean and President during their regularly scheduled meeting on October 23rd. The Board of Trustees enthusiastically approved Father Peay’s election.

Chairman of the Board of Trustees, the Right Reverend Daniel Martins, expresses his strong support for Father Peay’s appointment:

I am completely delighted with the election of Father Peay to be our next Dean and President. He has already shown himself to be an effective leader, pastor, and scholar while a member of the Nashotah House faculty. He is intimately familiar with our operations and will be able to hit the ground running in a seamless transition from the ministry of Bishop Edward Salmon.

Father Peay’s undergraduate study of Church History led him toward monastic life, which he entered at Saint Vincent Archabbey (Latrobe, PA) in 1977. Following his first profession of vows he studied for the priesthood and after final vows was ordained deacon in 1981 and priest in 1982. The studies he began in college and pursued in seminary continued following ordination. He returned to Saint Vincent to teach as Assistant Professor of Homiletics and Historical Theology. During his tenure at the seminary he also served as Academic Dean for five years. Leaving monastic life in 1994, he devoted himself to parish work for the next fifteen years in Congregational churches in Wisconsin, while continuing to research, write, and teach in various venues. Father Peay came to Nashotah House as Adjunct Professor of Church History in 2008 and was elected to the faculty in 2010. His orders were received in August 2010, and he is now a priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany.

Father Peay was married to his wife Julie in 1996 and is the proud stepfather of Jeremy and Matthew.

The Rev. Jon M. White named next editor of Episcopal Café

Episcopal News Service - qui, 23/10/2014 - 11:19

[Canticle Communications] The Rev. Jon M. White, rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, in Beckley, West Virginia will become the new editor of Episcopal Café on November 25, the Café’s founding editor Jim Naughton announced today.

“I am excited that Jon has volunteered to lead the Café into a new phase in its life,” Naughton said. “Many talented people expressed an interest in the editorship when I announced that I planned to step down. What set Jon apart was a firm understanding of the importance of the Café’s role as an independent source of church news, and a clear vision of how to sustain the site in the years ahead.

White, 47, is a 2012 graduate of Bexley Seabury, and was ordained in the Diocese of Oregon. He is a native of Indianapolis and an alumnus of Portland State University. White served seven years in the U. S. Navy’s Submarine Service and later in the Coast Guard Reserve. Prior to ordination he worked as an engineer in the high tech industry. He has lived in Australia, England and Zimbabwe.

“As a long time reader of the Café, I am excited about this new adventure;” said White. “The Café opened up the church to me when I was just beginning my Episcopal adventure and I am hopeful and eager that we will continue to provide ways for people to learn about and engage with their church.”

In speaking of the future, White said that his intention is to continue to provide the kind of quality content that has been the Café’s hallmark. “Our first goal,” White said, “is to maintain the integrity of the Café and ensure its place as the prominent place for news and insight about the Episcopal Church.”

The Café was launched in mid-April, 2007 and according to Google Analytics has been visited from more than 367,000 computers in the last 12 months. It has more than 13,000 followers on Facebook and more than 11,000 on Twitter.

“A lot has changed since 2007, technology-wise,” White said, “and we need to move the site to a new platform to ensure we can keep it up and running. So, since we need to make that move we’ll be taking the opportunity to redesign the look and feel of the site as well.” White said that the plan is to shutdown the site Thanksgiving Week and re-launch on December 1st, the beginning of Advent.

Naughton, who maintained two blogs before launching the Café, has been writing about Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion news online for almost nine years. He plans to work on a writing project unrelated to the church after signing off on November 24.

“I want to thank John Chilton of the Diocese of Virginia, the Rev. Ann Fontaine of the Diocese of Oregon and the Rev. Andrew Gerns of the Diocese of Bethlehem, who have been contributing to the Café for as long as it has been in existence,” Naughton said. “Ann deserves special thanks for her tireless work in spotting news items and working with writers on the Daily Episcopalian and Speaking to the Soul blogs.”

Naughton also thanked Bill Joseph, the Café’s webmaster, C. Robin Janning of Episcopal Church in the Visual Arts, who maintains the Café’s art blog, and Bishop Nicholas Knisely of the Diocese of Rhode Island and the Rev. Torey Lightcap of the Diocese of Iowa for their long associate with the Café.

“I’ll miss working with new bloggers like the Rev. Kurt Weisner of the Diocese of New Hampshire, Theresa Johnson of the Diocese of Florida, the Rev. Megan Castellan of the Diocese of West Missouri and the Rev. Weston Mathews of the Diocese of Virginia,” he added. “They do an excellent job not only in keeping the church informed, but in provoking conversation, and, every now and then, making people laugh.”

The Diocese of Washington sponsored Episcopal Café from 2007-09, but the site became independent when Naughton left the diocese.

Former Connecticut church sold for benefit of local Muslim community

Episcopal News Service - qui, 23/10/2014 - 05:05

Trustees of the Farmington Valley American Muslim Center, Inc. with the Rev. Audrey Scanlan of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut at the real estate closing for the property in Avon, Oct. 21. Center: Khamis Abu-Hasaballah, Ph.D., President of the FVAMC Board of Trustees, with his wife, Noora Brown, M.A., chair of the FVAMC Interfaith Committee. Right of Khamis Abu-Hasaballah, Canon Audrey Scanlan of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut.

[Episcopal Church in Connecticut] The Episcopal Church in Connecticut (ECCT) has sold its property at 35 Harris Road, Avon, former home to Christ Episcopal Church, to the Farmington Valley American Muslim Center, Inc. (FVAMC).

The sale, for $1.1 million, was completed on Oct. 21.

The building was vacated after the congregation voted in 2012 to dissolve as a parish and close by the end of that year.

The following spring, Bishop Ian T. Douglas and other ECCT staff hosted a meeting of community leaders and interested residents to discern how the property could best be used “as an asset to God’s mission of restoration and reconciliation” in greater Avon and beyond.

At the meeting they learned that the local Muslim community needed a place to gather for prayers, teaching, youth programs and interfaith work. In September 2013, the ECCT entered into an interfaith partnership with FVAMC that included leasing the Avon building.

Since then the FVAMC has reached out to its neighbors with open houses and other interfaith efforts, expanded its worship and service work, and grown its programs, particularly for youth.

The several committees of the ECCT needed to approve the sale gave it their solid endorsement and support.

Both ECCT and the FVAMC share the understanding that the sale isn’t the end of their relationship but the beginning of a new phase in this interfaith collaboration.

Douglas said of the growing relationship between the Episcopal Church in Connecticut and the Farmington Valley American Muslim Center: “I thank God that through the stewardship of our property in Avon we have come into relationship with our Muslim neighbors in the Farmington valley. Together we are learning about what it means to be people of faith working together for peace and understanding. It is a blessing to cooperate with the FVAMC in the development of their new home.”

“We are grateful to our brothers and sisters in the Diocese for their partnership,” said Khamis Abu-Hasaballah, president of the Board of Trustees of the FVAMC. “This house of worship will serve as a foundation for our efforts to continue building bridges with our neighbors, the local community, and other faith traditions. Our relationship with the ECCT serves as a shining example in our region, and as a beacon of hope for inter-religious understanding and cooperation the world over.

The net income from the sale will be returned to the Missionary Society of ECCT, which provides funding for missional work, among other uses.

– Karin Hamilton is the director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut.

Canada: Bishop calls for prayers following Parliament Hill shooting

Episcopal News Service - qui, 23/10/2014 - 04:53

[Anglican Journal] Diocese of Ottawa Bishop John H. Chapman has called for prayers following the shooting on Parliament Hill the morning of Oct. 22. “Like all Canadians, we are following today’s news from Parliament Hill with shock and trepidation,” he said in a statement issued this afternoon.

Chapman noted that the shooting took place “just blocks from our synod office.”

The shooting began shortly before 10 a.m. when a man who has not yet been identified opened fire on a soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial before hi-jacking a car, driving to the Parliament Buildings and entering the Centre Block. He opened fire again, injuring two security guards, but was shot dead shortly afterwards, reportedly by Parliamentary sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers.

The soldier who was fatally wounded has been identified as Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, age 24, a reservist from Hamilton, Ont. Chapman urged prayers for the victim, “for all those at the centre of this situation and for a return to calm in our homes, hearts and streets.”

He added: “In this moment of huge uncertainty, building lockdowns, evacuated streets, barricaded shopping malls and minute-by-minute updates, we draw strength and courage from our faith and pray that this event will soon be over.”

When contacted this morning, the Ottawa diocesan synod office (located about a mile from Parliament Hill) reported being put on lockdown. Michael Herbert, who serves as director of financial ministry at the synod office, told the Anglican Journal that while many people were “going about their business,” police were also stopping and searching vehicles coming down Wellington Street (the main thoroughfare passing Parliament Hill).

Those at the synod office were later advised to stay away from windows and doors, and citizens have been told to avoid the downtown core as police search for other suspects, according to Art Babych, editor of the diocesan newspaper, Crosstalk.

No one has been taken into custody at this time.

Churches have role to play in fostering civil discourse in society

Episcopal News Service - qui, 23/10/2014 - 04:49

The Rev. Tim Safford, rector of Christ Church in Philadelphia, Oct. 22 greets those attending the Episcopal Church’s forum, Civil Discourse in America: Finding Common Ground for the Greater Good, while Diocese of Pennsylvania Bishop Provisional Clifton Daniel looks on. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Philadelphia] Americans are increasingly worried about the country’s polarized political debate and religious communities can help foster a return to respectful dialogue, said panelists in the Episcopal Church’s civil discourse forum here Oct. 22.

All three Abrahamic faiths — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — believe people are created in God’s image, Rabbi Steve Gutow, president and CEO of the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, reminded participants, and so people of faith must encounter each other as if they have a spark of God’s great wisdom in them that others can learn from, even when they do not agree with each other.

Faith communities, he said, must act out of what he called a passionate commitment to what they believe God is telling them to do as well as a passionate commitment to the idea that each person is created in the image of God and thus must be honored.

Diocese of Rochester Bishop Prince Singh, noting that the forum had gathered on the Hindu festival of lights known as Diwali, said that it is a spiritual discipline to resist the urge to demonize opponents and instead to strive to bring light rather than heat to conversations on potentially divisive issues.

Produced by The Episcopal Church, the 90-minute forum, titled Civil Discourse in America: Finding Common Ground for the Greater Good, was webcast from Christ Church in Philadelphia (Diocese of Pennsylvania), the birthplace of the Episcopal Church and the church that significantly figured in the United States’ founding.

The sessions are available for on-demand viewing here.

Organizers developed a facilitator’s guide to assist in group discussions and better understanding of the forum. Information about the guide is here and it is available for downloading here.

“Our conversations are limited by human frailty, but they can also partake of divine and eternal possibilities,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in her keynote address, adding that the latter is possible when conservationalists approach each other not as enemies but instead as a “gifted, blessed human being who might have a gift to give us.”

“I remain convinced that face-to-face conversations have more possibility of being life-giving than the disembodied ones we engage so much in by text, tweet and blog,” she said.

“When we fail to see the very human beauty and blemishes in our conversation partners, it is easy to injection venom rather than expect transformation.”

Before the forum’s two panels began, Robert Jones, the chief executive office of the Public Religion Research Institute, briefly summarized an overview of public opinion polls his organization conducted with the Episcopal Church in conjunction with the forum. The overview, “Is Civility Still Possible? What Americans Want in Public Leaders and Public Discourse,” concluded that “despite being divided by generation, by religion, by race, and by political party allegiances, Americans express a strong preference for compromise” and the “public appetite for compromise is growing.”

The country’s fragmented and polarized media contribute to the lack of civility in public discourse, the report concluded, as media outlets “reward extreme rhetoric with political discussion that often aims to create conflict and drama at the expense of moderation.”

Yet, “the overwhelming majority of the public believes that the lack of civil discourse is a major problem for the functioning of our political system,” according to the report.

Religious institutions are hampered in their efforts to foster dialogue because congregations continue to be segregated along racial and even ideological lines, the report concluded. “Religious bodies must also navigate the declining levels of trust in civic institutions, particularly among young adults,” the report said. “When religious leaders focus on divisive issues, Americans are more likely to perceive them as part of the problem rather than as a potential solution.”

Civil discourse forum panelist John J. DeGioia, president of Georgetown University, makes a comment while, from left, Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, executive religion editor for the Huffington Post; Rabbi Steve Gutow, president and CEO of the Jewish Council on Public Affairs; Elizabeth McCloskey, president and CEO of The Faith & Politics Institute; and Bishop Prince Singh of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester listen. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

During the panel on civil discourse and faith, John J. DeGioia, president of Georgetown University, agreed with Jefferts Schori’s focus on face-to-face conversations. One-on-one conversations, he said, often result in far fewer disagreements than do larger discussions during which individuals rarely connect with each other.

In those small conversations, the participants find there is far more that hold them together than that separates them, he said, adding that churches need to emphasize the commonalities in the human community.

Elizabeth McCloskey, president and CEO of The Faith & Politics Institute, invoked what she called President Abraham Lincoln’s humility and conviction that each person has a vocation to try to achieve a more perfect union. She urged faith leaders to preach both that humility and that assumption of honorable intent.

Saying that many in the U.S. Congress want to compromise but think their constituents do not want them to do so, McCloskey said she would like to see faith leaders model civil discourse “and then have people of faith … start to demand political leaders who will compromise, who will engage in deliberative debate.”

South by Southwest Interactive Festival Director Hugh Forrest talks about creativity and diversity while, from left, moderator Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, executive religion editor for the Huffington Post; Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, executive director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse; and David Boardman, dean of the School of Media and Communication at Temple University in Philadelphia, listen. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

During the second panel, on civil discourse in politics and policy, Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, executive director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, warned against believing that the country is truly as divided as the U.S. Congress. Instead, she said, what Alexis de Tocqueville saw in Americans in 1838 is still true today: Presented with a problem, they quickly leave behind ideologies and look for solutions.

“That is an extraordinary asset about where we are right now,” she said.

Addressing the media’s role in civil discourse, David Boardman, dean of the School of Media and Communications at Temple University, said, “Americans use the media the way a drunk uses a lamp post – for support, not illumination.” While American “media monopolies” have been fractured in ways that have often led to a loss of resources that support deep, investigative reporting, the fracturing has also led to the creation of very issue- and geographically-specific media that are providing willing consumers with reporting at a greater depth and breadth than ever before.

South by Southwest Interactive Festival Director Hugh Forrest said the festival discovered that requiring diversity among the festival’s panelists resulted in a creativity that the gathering had lacked earlier.

Rabbi Gutow and Bishop Singh also participated in the first panel.

Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, executive religion editor for the Huffington Post, moderated the panel discussions.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

ENUJAB/2015- “Acolher e Servir: Jovem em Oração”

SNIEAB Feeds - qua, 22/10/2014 - 15:59

Nos dias 03 a 05 de outubro, o GT Juventude esteve reunido em Brasília, para sua segunda reunião. Com o desafio de revitalizar o ministério da juventude na IEAB, este GT esta organizando mais um ENUJAB (Encontro Nacional da Juventude Anglicana do Brasil) e uma proposta de 5 estudos para a juventude.

ENUJAB/2015

O ENUJAB tem como objetivo unir jovens de todas as comunidades da IEAB, para juntos estudar a Bíblia, orar, comungar da mesma fé e alegria!

O ENUJAB/2015, terá como mote: “Acolher e Servir: Jovem em Oração”; a cidade ainda está sendo decidida, pois dependerá do local e do orçamento final para o encontro. Até final de outubro, será feito o lançamento oficial do encontro, com data e local.

CADERNOS DE ESTUDOS PARA AS JUVENTUDES

Com os temas abrangendo, a Bíblia, Espiritualidade, Vocação, Missão e Diaconia, os estudos serão enviados para as Dioceses e Distrito Missionário com o objetivo de serem utilizados como um elo de unidade da juventude nas suas diversas formas de expressão, e servirão de preparo para os nossos jovens até o Encontro Nacional.

DESTAQUES DAS REUNIÕES

Na sexta-feira (03) o GT teve a oportunidade de participar de uma vídeo conferência com o Bispo Primaz Dom Francisco de Assis (Santa Maria/RS) e com o Secretário Geral Reverendo Arthur Cavalcante (São Paulo/SP) que puderam ouvir as novas propostas do GT e também contribuíram com propostas de articulação com instâncias provinciais.

No domingo (05), o GT Juventude acompanhou Dom Mauricio Andrade, Bispo Diocesano da DAB, em sua visita a comunidade da Paroquia do Espírito Santo, Pedregal – Novo Gama/GO. Após a celebração houve um momento de conversa com os jovens da comunidade, e  de motivação para o ENUJAB/2015.

NOVA MARCA DA UJAB


O Conselho Executivo do Sínodo (CEXEC), acolheu a proposta do GT Juventude de uma nova marca que irá simbolizar a União da Juventude Anglicana do Brasil (UJAB).  O material foi preparado pelo jovem Darlan Fernandes, membro da Paróquia da Crucifixão/Bagé (DSO), e é formado em publicidade e propaganda.

APRESENTAÇÃO DE MARCA

O QUE É O GT JUVENTUDE?

Este Grupo de Trabalho da Juventude, foi nomeado pelo Bispo Primaz, Dom Francisco Assis, cumprindo uma das recomendações do 32º Sínodo que elegeu a Juventude como uma prioridade na IEAB. O GT é composto por Débora Del Nero – DASP, Dominique  Lima – DAR, Revd. Jordan Santos – DSO, Pedro Andrade – DAB e Revda. Tatiana Ribeiro – DAB, coordenadora do Grupo.

O GT Juventude, encerrou o texto de apresentação dos estudos com um desafio a IEAB: “Parafraseando Dom Helder Câmara: “Bem aventurados os jovens que sonham porque correm o doce risco de ver o seu sonho realizado.”

Convidamos você a correr esse doce risco. Sonhe conosco!”

* Reverenda Tatiana Ribeiro, Coordenadora do GT Juventude

Civil Discourse in America: Watch live webcast at 2pm Eastern

Episcopal News Service - qua, 22/10/2014 - 11:56

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Watch the live webcast, listen to the information and email your questions as political, interfaith and education leaders discuss a topic of great importance to our society: Civil Discourse in America: Finding Common Ground for the Greater Good.  Produced by The Episcopal Church, the 90-minute live webcast on October 22 begins at 2 pm Eastern (1 pm Central, noon Mountain, 11 am Pacific, 10 am Alaska, 9 am Hawaii). There is no fee to watch the live webcast here.

Email questions to publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org. Follow on Twitter at #EpiscopalForum

Forum Participants
The forum will be moderated by Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Executive Religion Editor for the Huffington Post.

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will present the keynote address.

Two panel discussions will focus on main themes: Civil discourse and faith; and Civil discourse in politics and policy. Panelists include:

David Boardman, Dean of the School of Media and Communication at Temple University

Dr. John J. DeGioia, President of Georgetown University, Washington DC.

Rabbi Steve Gutow, President and CEO of the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, Washington DC.

Hugh Forrest, Director of the South by Southwest Interactive Festival,

Dr. Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, Executive Director of the National Institute on Civil Discourse

Dr. Elizabeth McCloskey, President and CEO of The Faith & Politics Institute,

Bishop Prince Singh of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, NY.

The forum will be available on-demand following the live webcast.

A panel of journalists will discuss Civil Discourse in a 30 minute panel that will be videotaped and posted after the event. David Crabtree WRAL; Kevin Eckstrom Religion News Service; Chris Satullo WHYY; Mary Frances Schjonberg Episcopal News Service; Neva Rae Fox is the moderator.

The discussion originates from historic Christ Church, Philadelphia (Diocese of Pennsylvania).

The forum is ideal for live group watching and discussion, or on-demand viewing later.  It will be appropriate for Sunday School, discussions groups, and community gatherings.

Forum information is available here

The Facilitator’s Guide to assist in group discussions and better understanding is available for downloading here

For more information contact Neva Rae Fox, Public Affairs Officer, publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org.

General Seminary faculty returning to work, devoted to reconciliation

Episcopal News Service - ter, 21/10/2014 - 19:47

[Episcopal News Service] In a letter to Bishop Mark Sisk, chair of the board of trustees for the General Theological Seminary, the eight striking faculty members have accepted the board’s invitation to accept “provisional reinstatement” and to enter a process of reconciliation. A conflict between eight of the 11-member faculty and the Very Rev. Kurt Dunkle, who became GTS dean and president in July 2013, was made public late in September when e-mails and letters from the departing professors to students were circulated and the professors announced a work stoppage.

The full text of the Oct. 20 letter to Sisk follows.

Dear Bishop Sisk,

Thank you for your invitation to come together to find a way forward.

We receive this invitation in the good faith in which it is offered. Thank you also for acknowledging that healing is not an easy thing to accomplish; we are appreciative of both the alacrity with which you seek to facilitate our return to work and the attention you are giving to a long-­term process of reconciliation for the entire Seminary community.

We accept your offer of reinstatement to our positions, and the salaries and benefits outlined in our contracts in effect prior to September 25, 2014. We look forward to being able to do this as soon as possible. Like any member of the Seminary’s faculty we agree to abide by the terms of the Seminary Constitution, Bylaws and policies. Given some of the confusion that has arisen about these texts in recent weeks, we will need you to provide us with copies of them: this would help us as we seek together to work within them. We are pleased to see that during the “cooling off period” all of the parties’ respective legal arguments and positions will be reserved.

We also commit with energy to the holy work of reconciliation which we understand to be very important for the health of the entire institution and all of its constituent members: faculty, board, administration, staff and students alike. You mentioned in a telephone conversation the possibility of using a Mennonite group to facilitate this process. We heartily accept this proposal, since we have great respect for their expertise in this area.

If, God forbid, at the end of the academic year we find that the collective process of reconciliation has not worked well, we ask that there be some understanding that appropriate severance will be made available to enable us and our families to make a transition. Lest we be misunderstood here, let us state clearly that we will devote ourselves fully to the difficult work of reconciliation this  year.

As you know, one of our principal concerns has been to ensure that the seminary workplace be one of mutual respect and collegiality. As we move forward and return to our work, we ask that  you consider the appointment of an ombudsperson agreeable to all sides who would act during this “cooling off period” as an interlocutor and safe person to whom complaints could be referred if need be. This will help all of us to feel less on edge and safer, and so will be an indispensible means of helping the process of reconciliation to work well.

As an important sign of our movement forward together, any public acknowledgement of these agreements should be issued together.

Thank you for this very positive step forward for the sake of our Seminary, our students, and staff and God’s church.

Yours sincerely,
Professors  Davis,  DeChamplain,  Good,  Hurd,  Irving,  Kadel,  Lamborn, Malloy.

Catholic bishops narrowly reject a wider welcome to gays, divorcees

Episcopal News Service - seg, 20/10/2014 - 15:23

[Religion News Service - Vatican City] Catholic bishops meeting here narrowly defeated proposals that would have signaled greater acceptance of gays and lesbians and divorced Catholics, a sign of the deep divisions facing the hierarchy as Pope Francis continues his push for a more open church.

While the various proposals received a majority of support from the bishops gathered for the Synod on the Family, they failed on Saturday (Oct. 18) to receive the required two-thirds majority that would have carried the weight of formal approval and churchwide consensus.

Saturday’s vote was an abrupt about-face from Monday’s mid-term report from the Synod, which spoke of “welcoming homosexual persons” and acknowledging the gifts they have to offer the wider church.

The revised proposal on homosexuality, that “men and women with homosexual tendencies should be welcomed with respect and delicacy,” failed in a vote of 118 to 62; a similar statement about opening Communion to divorced Catholics who remarry outside the church failed in a vote of 104-74.

Despite the divide, Francis received a standing ovation that lasted several minutes in his final address to the Synod, where he had called for  “sincere and open” debate.

After days in which divisions inside the Vatican spilled over into the press, the pope described the two-week summit as a “journey together,” and like any human journey, one that featured moments of “desolation, tension and temptations”.

He said the role of the pope was to guarantee the unity of the church, and that he would have been “very worried and saddened if there had not been these temptations and animated discussions.”

Even though the sections on homosexuality and divorce did not pass with formal approval, Francis ordered them into the Synod’s final report so that Catholics could continue to debate the ideas.

Saturday’s vote, however, is not the final word. Francis plans to host a follow-up summit a year from now, and both sides are expected to spend the next 12 months trying to either reinforce existing policy or trying to nudge the bishops toward a more open approach.

Nonetheless, the closeness of the votes reflected a deep divide within the hierarchy that erupted into the open after Monday’s gesture toward gay Catholics.  After a vocal conservative revolt, English-speaking bishops pressed to change the wording from “welcoming” to  “providing for homosexual persons”.

Catholic reformers and gay groups wasted no time in expressing their disappointment. The progressive reform group Call To Action said the bishops’ report showed “positive steps” but also “missed opportunities.”

“It’s disappointing that some in the institutional church are not yet ready to welcome all God’s children to the table,” said Jim FitzGerald, the group’s executive director.

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, a Maryland-based gay Catholic group that’s often at odds with the hierarchy, was disappointed that the bishops’ final report overturned the “gracious welcome” issued to gays earlier in the week.

“Instead, the bishops have taken a narrow view of pastoral care by defining it simply as opposition to marriage for same-gender couples,” he said in a statement, adding that the bishops had failed to take account of those gays who receive “unjust and oppressive treatment” from governments, church, families, and society.

At a Vatican media conference earlier Saturday, Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India, insisted there was “no cleavage,” or divide, among the bishops, and that gays and lesbians were welcome in the church.

“Are gays welcome? I would say certainly, they are part of the church,” he said. “There’s no question of condemnation. I would say we are working together.”

American Cardinal Raymond Burke, the conservative former archbishop of St. Louis who now heads the Vatican’s highest court, earlier blasted Francis for allowing the synod’s message to stray from official church teaching, especially on homosexuality.

“The pope, more than anyone else as the pastor of the universal church, is bound to serve the truth,” Burke told BuzzFeed from Rome. “The pope is not free to change the church’s teachings with regard to the immorality of homosexual acts or the insolubility of marriage or any other doctrine of the faith.”

Burke also acknowledged rumors that Francis is poised to demote the fiery conservative to a ceremonial post far away from the church’s center of power.

“I very much have enjoyed and have been happy to give this service, so it is a disappointment to leave it,” Burke said. “On the other hand, in the church as priests, we always have to be ready to accept whatever assignment we’re given. And so I trust, by accepting this assignment, I trust that God will bless me, and that’s what’s in the end most important.”

Asked by the National Catholic Reporter who had told him of the pending demotion, Burke replied: “Who do you think?”

Ferguson: ‘The ‘come to Jesus’ moment for us in the church’

Episcopal News Service - seg, 20/10/2014 - 12:12

Danielle Dowd, youth missioner for the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, has been spending several days a week on the streets of Ferguson and St. Louis.

[Episcopal News Service] Danielle Dowd was back in front of the Ferguson police department Oct. 15, just two days after being arrested there while protesting the fatal police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown and other African-American youths.

Since Brown’s Aug. 9 death, “I’ve come a couple of days every week, except for when my 7-year-old daughter had her tonsils out and I needed to do the mom thing. I’ve been able to form some good relationships with young people, whose voices need to be heard,” Dowd, 26, youth missioner for the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, told the Episcopal News Service (ENS).

Similarly, the Rev. Jon Stratton, director of Episcopal Service Corps in the diocese, spent Oct. 13 – his 30th birthday – marching, singing, chanting “Whose streets? Our streets. Whose streets? God’s streets,” and ultimately, being arrested.

They and other Episcopalians were among dozens jailed during a “Moral Monday” action at the Ferguson police department. It was part of a weekend series of acts of civil disobedience across the St. Louis region coordinated by “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and the Organization for Black Struggle.

The emerging movement, its youthful leadership and developing relationships have been compared to 1960s civil rights activism by some and called a human rights movement by others. It has also brought into the open long-festering tensions between the African-American community and the police department, and spawned calls for sweeping educational, economic and institutional change.

The moment presents interesting opportunities for the church, says the Very Rev. Mike Kinman, dean of Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis. “This is the ‘come to Jesus’ moment for us in the church.”

Chuck Wynder, missioner for social justice and advocacy for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, agreed. “We recognize that the church increasingly has a role to play in being a prophetic voice in a safe place for the work of racial justice and reconciliation. We continue to be a resource for the Diocese of Missouri and to bridge the events and the developments in Ferguson with the issues, the dynamics and the conversation around the country.”

Among other things, “we are in the process of building a resource page, through [the wider church’s] Episcopal Public Policy Network, of voices, resources and practices about the death of Michael Brown, the situation in Ferguson and how that relates to the work of social justice and racial reconciliation through the church around the country,” Wynder said.

The church continues to position itself to be an instrumental resource as Ferguson – and the rest of the nation – anxiously awaits the grand jury decision and if charges will stem from the Michael Brown shooting, said Wynder, who added: “We are ramping up for what we know is coming.”

The Episcopal Church has been focusing resources on the Ferguson area since shortly after Brown’s death. In September it awarded $30,000 and Episcopal Relief & Development contributed another $10,000 for a grant to three area churches for domestic poverty, pastoral and community work in Ferguson.

St. Stephen’s (Ferguson), Ascension (Northwoods), and All Saints’ (St. Louis City) have been significantly impacted by the upheaval in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Brown and the community’s response to it. The churches have been at the forefront of mobilizing resources for the community, ministering to the needs of protestors and police alike and simply “being the church” for all.

The march: Repentance, confession, absolution, arrest
Stratton was among an estimated several thousand people who joined the Oct. 13 largely youth-led march, braving so much rain that, at one point, “We were singing ‘Wade in the Water,’” he told ENS on Oct. 15.

“The theme was of repentance and confession and absolution and turning from systems that perpetuate racism and injustice,” including church systems, he said. Clergy confessed their complicity in such systems and called upon police officers, standing in a line outside the Ferguson police station, to do likewise.

“We want to be very clear that the clergy, speaking for myself and those by me, were not talking about individual sin, this is systematic sin,” he added. “We were telling the police officers they were very valued and beloved children of God, but they’re part of a system that not only stereotypes and dehumanizes folks on the other side, but also that leads to the dehumanization of the police force.

“Every time they come out in riot gear, it is a tangible sign of dehumanization. They cease to be seen as people and more as machines or as weapons of violence.”

The occasion marked the second time in her life that the Rev. Anne Kelsey, 67, retired rector of Trinity Church in St. Louis’s Central West End, was arrested. She recalled demonstrating at the Pentagon with the Episcopal Peace Fellowship and Witness for Peace 42 years ago “and this was not like that,” she told ENS. Then, “we were in the concourse of the Pentagon having a Mass for peace.”

From left, the Rev. Anne Kelsey, the Rev. Jeff Moore, and the Rev. Jonathon Stratton, director of the Deaconess Anne House in St. Louis, were arrested together on Oct. 13.

For Kelsey, the weekend, especially a Saturday evening rally, felt historic, like “we were seeing the rebirth of the civil rights movement.”

So she attended the “Moral Monday” action in a cassock and surplice and stole “and we got there and it rained and rained, and halfway through, there was a tornado warning.”

Kelsey joined the protests after the Oct. 8 fatal police shooting of another young African-American man, Vonderrit Myers, near her Shaw neighborhood home.

“I heard the shots and my husband and I walked the three blocks to see what was going on. It was just terrible, the rage and grief and crowds,” she recalled. The circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of Myers – who allegedly had a weapon and fired at police – differ from accounts of the death of Michael Brown, who was unarmed. But, “it was really traumatizing after the Michael Brown thing.”

After police removed the body and crime scene tape, “we stood right on the spot where he died and prayed,” Kelsey said slowly, haltingly, painfully. “I just got involved in ways that I hadn’t planned on. This was my neighborhood,” she said. “There is a divide in this neighborhood. I stood there while this woman yelled at me for a long time. She said she had worked for Amnesty International and was berating the white clergy for not doing enough. It’s not a comfortable situation.”

While demonstrating Oct. 13, Kelsey and others stood in front of the police line at the Ferguson Police Department and asked officers “to repent of the institutional sins of the police department. I told the man I was facing that, whether or not I like it, when I wear my collar, I’m the face of the church for people and I have to be the first one to ask forgiveness for the sins of the church whether I’ve committed them or not in the same way. Police officers wear the face of the justice system. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask them to reflect on that.”

When she knelt in front of him she “fell through the line” and was arrested and immediately handcuffed and placed in a police vehicle. She was jailed for several hours and then released.

An emerging movement: ‘The young people are mentoring us’
Dowd and Stratton have both spent several days a week on the streets of Ferguson and St. Louis “getting to know the young folks who’ve been out there every day for 67 days. Part of what I want to do is to support them and follow them,” Stratton said.

“They’re the ones most affected by the police brutality, who were friends of Michael Brown and live in Ferguson. They are the folks the church needs to be listening to and in many ways, taking our cue from.”

Like Joshua Williams, 18, and Jermell Hasson, 27, who on Oct. 15 were outside the Ferguson police department along with Dowd.

“I’ve been out here every day because Michael Brown was my first cousin,” said Williams. “What brought me out here was, I saw him on the ground. I saw his blood on the ground. I put myself in his position. That could have been me on the ground, could have been anybody else’s child on the ground, So, I’m fighting for the rights of children.

“That made me come out here, for everybody in the world and their kids.”

Hasson agreed that the issue means fuller, deeper justice for Michael Brown, “but that is just one aspect of what’s at stake. “

“This has a lot to do with human rights,” he added. “This isn’t a civil rights movement, it’s a human rights movement. I should be able to get the same treatment as anyone else who steps into a police station across the United States and I will be here till forever.”

But for now, “I’m focusing on Michael Brown. I want a killer to go jail,” added Hasson, who was arrested at the protest and said he had just been released from jail Oct. 15 following a previous protest arrest. “If I had to find a word for Ferguson,” he said, “it’s ‘fragile.’ It can go either way. It’s just very, very hard.”

Unaffiliated with a church, Hasson said maintaining a presence outside the police department has given him hope because of “the diversity I see out here. It shows me that it’s not just African-American women and men that stand for me. I see a lot of white women and brothers, and Asians. I like the diversity, that everyone can relate to what we go through in this society. I’ve learned about other cultures out here in side conversations. This is a learning experience.”

‘This is what theology looks like’
Kinman says that “one of the most insidious pieces of living in a segregated society is that we don’t have relationships where we know each other ” and so are tempted not to see each other in images of God and are tempted into fear and, particularly when we’re tired and in trauma, we’re tempted to act out of those places,” which affords the church really interesting roles that may seem contradictory.

One role is to be “where the Gospel is emerging, from these young leaders on the street. We need to be present with these young leaders on the street, amazing nonviolent young leaders,” Kinman said.

Another is to build relationships with police officers, also victims of an institutional system, Dowd said Oct.15. “I am not out here to demonize police officers or law enforcement. I want us all to work together to find something better,” she said.

“The system doesn’t benefit police officers, either. It strips them of their humanity and it doesn’t benefit young African-Americans. Many times, it strips them of their lives.”

Dowd said she is learning more about privilege and “the misconceptions I’ve had or ways I’ve benefitted from being white in this country. I’m learning to do a lot of listening and realizing I don’t have to always be the one in charge. It’s important to listen and learn from and follow the lead of young black people on the ground here, day in and day out, living it all the time.

“For me, this is a choice; for them, it’s not,” she added. “I can step into this and step away any time I want. But this is their everyday life. This is something that these young people feel is a matter of life and death for them. I am proud and honored and humbled to be able to stand in solidarity to show them I mean it when I say I’m with them all the way.”

Kinman said that on Oct. 13 demonstrators revised a traditional protest call-and-response chant from “show me what democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like’ to “show me what theology looks like, this is what theology looks like” and added that many protestors have called upon the church to get more fully involved.

But he added: “this isn’t your grandmother’s civil rights movement. These young people met on Twitter and are using technology for social change. And, they’re not Episcopalian. One of the major teachable moments for us is, these are people who have not been in our churches. Some go to church but in general the voices coming out are voices that feel like the church has left them behind. They want to know where we’ve been.”

– The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.

General Seminary trustees issue statement

Episcopal News Service - sex, 17/10/2014 - 19:50

[General Theological Seminary press release] On October 17, 2014, The General Theological Seminary issues this statement:

“Shaping the future leaders of our Church is a responsibility we take very seriously; to that end, the concerns raised by eight members of the Faculty were given full consideration by both the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee. Our chief goal is a fruitful and fulfilling school year for our students.

“We are above all an institution of the Church, and we – both as individuals and as officials of the Seminary – strive to conduct ourselves in a manner befitting our guiding Christian principles. In this spirit, the Board has reviewed the findings of an independent investigation and reached three resolutions.

“First, the Board has heard the findings of an independent report and the advice of the Board’s Chancellor, and has concluded after extensive discussion that there are not sufficient grounds for terminating the Very Reverend Kurt Dunkle as President and Dean. We reaffirm our call to him as President and Dean and offer him our continuing support.

“Second, all eight Faculty members are invited to request provisional reinstatement as professors of the seminary. Our goal in the immediate term will be to promote an atmosphere of reconciliation so that the Seminary can turn the page and move forward with a full focus on the student body.

“The Executive Committee stands ready to meet next week to hear requests of any of the eight former faculty members for reinstatement and to negotiate the terms of their provisional employment for the remainder of the academic year.”

“Lastly, the Board commits itself to repairing the significant damage this issue has inflicted upon our Seminary, and calls upon all members of the GTS community – the Board, the Dean, students, Faculty, staff, and alumni – to foster greater accountability, repentance, reconciliation, and healing.

“For nearly 200 years, the General Theological Seminary has shaped current and future leaders of our Church. In an ever more challenging and volatile world, our Christian faith is an invaluable beacon that we all must strive to protect. We thank our Executive Committee, our Church leadership, our Faculty, and most of all our students for their continued faith during this challenging time. We commit ourselves to meditate upon these scriptures: Matthew 18:15-20, 2 Corinthians 5:16-20, and Ephesians 2:13-14.

Requiescat in pace: Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE

Episcopal News Service - sex, 17/10/2014 - 17:57

The Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE

[Diocese of Massachusetts press release] The Society of St. John the Evangelist has announced that the Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE, monk and, for 20 years, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, died on Oct. 17 in the care of his SSJE brothers at Emery House in West Newbury, Massachusetts. He was 69.

“During his last days, our brother Tom spoke of how very, very thankful he was for the life God had given him:  for the many wonderful people he had met, for the opportunities and challenges he had faced and for the amazing grace he had experienced throughout his life,” the Rev. Geoffrey Tristram, SSJE, Superior of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, said in the announcement.

Shaw “was a man of deep prayer, a charismatic figure who connected easily with young and old alike and a leader whose creativity and entrepreneurial spirit led him to invent what was needed and new. He was known for his sometimes-mischievous sense of humor, his tenacious courage and his passion to serve Jesus, both among the privileged and the poor,” the SSJE announcement said.

Funeral service arrangements are pending.

“The whole of The Episcopal Church gives thanks for the life and witness of Bishop Thomas Shaw.  He was a light in our generation, and his quiet and committed passion will not soon be extinguished.  May he rest in peace and rise in glory,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in a written statement. “And may his brothers in the Society of St. John the Evangelist, and his family, know that we share their grief – and their joy in Tom’s return to the One who loves beyond imagining.  The hosts of heaven sound the refrain, ‘well done, good and faithful servant – rest in peace.'”

Marvil Thomas Shaw III was born in Battle Creek, Michigan, on Aug. 28, 1945, the son of Marvil Thomas Shaw Jr. and Wilma Sylvia (Janes) Shaw. He grew up in the family’s parish, St. Mark’s Church in Coldwater, Mich., and graduated from Alma College. He earned a Master of Divinity degree from General Theological Seminary and a Master of Arts degree in theology from the Catholic University of America. Ordained to the priesthood in 1971, he served as curate at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire, England, from 1970 to 1971, and as assistant rector of St. James’s Church in Milwaukee, from 1972 to 1974.

In 1975 Shaw entered the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE), the oldest religious order for men in the Episcopal/Anglican church. Life-professed in the order in 1981, he was elected its superior the following year and served a 10-year term. During that time, according to the SSJE, he was instrumental in developing the society’s rural Emery House property as a retreat center, establishing the Cowley publishing imprint for books on prayer and spirituality and renewing the society’s longtime commitment to at-risk children in Boston through Camp St. Augustine in Foxborough, Massachusetts. He also initiated the brothers’ rewriting of their The Rule of Life of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, an eight-year process that resulted in a unique contemporary monastic rule.

He was in demand nationwide as a preacher, retreat leader and spiritual director, and served, beginning in 1993, as chaplain to the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church.

Shaw was elected bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Massachusetts on the first ballot at a special Diocesan Convention on March 12, 1994, at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston. He was ordained and consecrated a bishop on Sept. 24, 1994, and succeeded the late Rt. Rev. David E. Johnson on Jan. 15, 1995, to become the 15th bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts.

At a retirement celebration for Shaw in June, the Rt. Rev. Frank T. Griswold III, former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, acknowledged the difficult circumstances of Shaw’s abrupt entry into office following the suicide of his predecessor, and how the subsequent years were about both diocese and bishop shaping one another “according to St. Paul’s notion of the church as Christ’s risen body constituted by the relationship of its diverse limbs one to another.”

Calling his friend and colleague “a catalyst and at times a provocateur,” Griswold highlighted Shaw’s success at fundraising, his initiatives focused on young people and his work to build global relationships.

“During these last 20 years he has exercised a ministry of accompaniment in various parts of our Anglican Communion that has both respected and transcended difference,” Griswold said.

Shaw traveled frequently and led groups to Israel and Palestine, Africa and Central America, developing and strengthening mission relationships with Anglican partners to further the church’s work of reconciliation and service in the world, with particular focus on peacemaking and alleviating poverty and disease. In 1998 he contributed to the work of the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops on international debt and economic issues.

When Shaw returned for his second Lambeth Conference 10 years later, there was rift in the Anglican Communion over issues of sexuality surfaced by the 2003 consecration of the openly gay bishop of New Hampshire, the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson.

Shaw, himself a gay man, often spoke of conversation as the hard work that is necessary to conversion — a theme of his 2008 book, Conversations with Scripture and with Each Other — and he attended Lambeth with a commitment to sharing the experience of the Diocese of Massachusetts, where the ordination process was open to all qualified candidates and same-sex marriage had been legal statewide since 2004.

“You know, we didn’t come to where we are around ordaining gay and lesbian people or blessing same-sex unions lightly. It is the context out of which Christ has called us to minister, and we’re trying to do that as faithfully as we can to tradition, to Scripture and to the experience that we have,” Shaw said in an interview upon his return from Lambeth. Remaining faithful to God’s mission in the world — particularly where that meant advocating and implementing poverty-alleviating measures — was the communion’s way forward, he said.

Shaw saw no dichotomy between the daily hours he spent in solitary prayer and the public demonstrations he joined on city streets and State House steps; he believed that prayer leads to action, and sought to make the Episcopal Church a visible and vocal presence in the public arena.

“We are what God has to do good in the world.  Every one of us has a voice and can make a difference if we exercise that,” he said in a 2004 interview. “I don’t think that on most civil rights issues, for instance, we can point to one huge event that’s changed everything.  I think instead it’s thousands of ordinary people doing what they think is right, taking risks, speaking out in their lives in big ways and small ways.  Eventually that turns the tide.  God really depends on us for that.”

He spoke out over the years against the death penalty and for immigration policy and gun law reform, marriage equality and transgender civil rights, among numerous other social justice issues. Annually he led groups of Episcopalians across Boston Common to the Massachusetts State House to be lobbyists for a day. In the spring of 2000, he spent a month in Washington, D.C., as a congressional intern, exploring the church’s role in public life. In 2001 he caused an uproar when he and his assisting bishops joined a peace witness outside Boston’s Israeli consulate to bring attention to the situation of Palestinians.

Monk in the Midst,” Shaw’s 2013 blog of videos and personal reflections, “encapsulates the dual blessing he brought to his episcopate,” according to his successor, the Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates. “Because he was a monk, he brought the heritage of a Christian spirituality which invited us to deeper prayer, deeper reflection, a more disciplined approach to ‘going deep.’ But he was also ‘in the midst’ — fully present to the realities of societal change and communal need far beyond the walls of his monastic dwelling, realities which demanded the church’s engagement and response,” Gates said.

Within the diocese, Shaw was especially committed to ministry with young people, advocating full inclusion of children, youth and young adults in the life of the church. He was unstinting in his support for start-up projects to serve them, including the establishment of tuition-free schools for economically disadvantaged children in Boston and Lawrence; summer programs for city children hosted in Episcopal churches located in violence-plagued neighborhoods; the creation of a youth leadership training program for high school-aged Episcopalians; and the financing and construction of the Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center in Greenfield, New Hampshire.

He would clear his calendar to chaplain children’s summer camp sessions, travel with teens and college students on mission trips and venture into downtown bars to speak to young adult gatherings, often returning with enthusiasm for replicating something transformative he had learned or experienced.

Recognizing that young adults are more inclined to seek out faith connections through engagement with their peers and public service, for example, he fostered vocational discernment and intern programs in the diocese that, in their current iteration, deploy young adults trained in community organizing to serve in churches and nonprofits while devoting themselves to spiritual practices and living together in intentional Christian community.

Shaw proved over his tenure to be a bishop who was not only unafraid to talk about money but who also didn’t mind asking people for it when he believed it would do Gospel good in the world. On the heels of the recession, he persistently  launched a $20-million fundraising campaign, completed a year-and-a-half later, for an array of initiatives focused on building up congregational life and mission in the diocese through collaboration and by expanding the reach of successful diocesan programs that had begun as experiments. Campaign funds are now making possible “green” grants and loans to help churches make energy-efficiency improvements to their buildings and reduce their carbon footprint; regional “mission hubs” through which Episcopal churches are collaborating on community service projects to meet local needs; a Mission Institute to provide ministry and leadership training; and renovations to the diocese’s Cathedral Church of St. Paul to make it more accessible and energy efficient and better configured to host and model innovative worship, ministry and public witness.

“I don’t think this is a time that is appropriate for raising endowment to preserve the institution,” Shaw said of the campaign’s success, in a 2013 interview. “God is calling the church into change, and to have funding for experimentation and to further mission in ways that we know are capturing people’s attention is critical.  From that we’ll discover what has lasting value,” he said.

Shaw announced in January 2013 his intention to retire; later that year, in May, he was diagnosed with brain cancer.  He resigned his office on Sept. 13, 2014, at the consecration of Gates as his successor.
“To follow in the footsteps of Bishop Tom Shaw is a very great gift, and a very positive challenge. Christ’s ministry through the church in this diocese is strong and vital, the legacy of leadership left by Bishop Tom is inspiring,” Gates said.

Throughout his years as bishop, Shaw continued to live at the SSJE monastery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, retreating regularly to his cottage studio at Emery House where he enjoyed crafting pottery. He is survived by his SSJE brothers and his family, including his sister, Penny (Lee Deters) Shaw, of Louisville, Kentuckey, brothers Sam (Nancy) Shaw of Boulder, Colorado, and Stephen (Linda) Shaw of Sherwood, Oregon, and his nieces, nephews and godchildren.

–Tracy J. Sukraw is director of communications of the Diocese of Massachusetts.

RIP: The Rev. John Andrew, former rector of St. Thomas Fifth Avenue

Episcopal News Service - sex, 17/10/2014 - 17:41

[St. Thomas Fifth Avenue] The Rev. Canon John Andrew, faithful priest and XI rector of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, entered into glory at 5:20 a.m. (EDT) on Friday, Oct. 17 at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

On Wednesday evening, Father Andrew had dinner with Bishop John O’Hara, of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. On his way home, Father Andrew suffered a massive cardiac episode and collapsed. He was taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital but never regained consciousness.

Father Carl Turner, XIII Rector, celebrated the last rites of the church with Father Andrew Thursday afternoon. Father Andrew was not in pain and was receiving exemplary care. He was surrounded by many prayers and much love as he died.

Bishop O’Hara told us that he had a wonderful evening with Father Andrew; he was reminiscing with great happiness and especially about Saint Thomas Church. Very appropriately, he died furthering ecumenism and feeling loved by his friends and family.

Details of his funeral arrangements will be posted here in due course.

Andrew OBE, DD, who was born in Yorkshire, England, was a priest in the Church of England and served as domestic chaplain to Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey, a position from which he was called to Saint Thomas in 1972. As XI Rector, he had a distinguished tenure, in which his preaching, pastoral presence and leadership of the liturgy drew large congregations to the Church, an achievement especially notable during an era of general decline in the Episcopal Church. He was awarded honorary degrees from several Episcopal/Anglican seminaries in recognition of his work.

John Andrew was a friend and confidant of many church leaders both within and outside Anglicanism. He was a particular friend of Cardinal Terence Cooke and was a promoter of ecumenical relations between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.

Father Andrew’s ministry was remarkable for his ability in social conversation, humor, and joyousness – for which reasons many were eager to claim him as their friend. The secret of his influence was a gift he received and passed on from Archbishop Ramsey – namely, his transparent faith in Jesus and the miracles of the Gospel.

After a brief retirement to England, Father Andrew returned to New York in 1999 where he eventually returned to Saint Thomas at his successor’s invitation to be the “junior curate” as Rector Emeritus. In this role he took part in the liturgy, in social conversation with parishioners, and in fund raising. He departs this life as a beloved member of the Saint Thomas family for over 40 years.

Gibaut named as Anglican Communion director of unity, faith and order

Episcopal News Service - sex, 17/10/2014 - 09:58

Canon John Gibaut (left) meets Pope Francis.

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Rev. Canon John Gibaut has been appointed to succeed the Rev. Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan in March 2015 as director for Unity, Faith and Order of the Anglican Communion.

Gibaut is currently the Director of the World Council of Churches’ Commission on Faith and Order based in Geneva Switzerland. Faith and Order is the theological commission that resolves issues of Christian disunity, and promotes a vision of the Church as a communion of unity in diversty.

A priest and canon theologian of the Diocese of Ottawa, Anglican Church of Canada, Canon Gibaut is currently an assistant priest of Eglise St-Germain, Geneva, église catholique-chrétienne (Old Catholic Diocese of Switzerland).

Previously to his appointment to the WCC position, he was a professor at Faculty of Theology, Saint Paul University, Ottawa. Here he taught in the areas of ecumenism, liturgy, church history, historical theology, homiletics, and Anglican studies. Canon Gibaut has also served at Toronto’s St James’s Cathedral and St Clement’s Mission Centre in the Diocese of Quebec.

Well known in ecumenical circles, the 55-year-old Canadian has served on several national and international dialogues and commissions including the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue, the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations, and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order.

Responding to his appointment, Canon Gibaut said, “I am excited to take up the post of Director of Unity, Faith and Order of the Anglican Communion, and to continue the fine work undertaken by Alyson Barnett-Cowan and her predecessors in this office.

“The Anglican Communion has a robust tradition of ecumenical engagement that has contributed so much to the unity of the Church, including the World Council of Churches. It is a particular privilege for me to bring to the Anglican Communion the experience that I have gained during the past seven years working at the World Council of Churches and its Commission on Faith and Order.

“I look forward to accompanying the Anglican Communion, as together we rediscover and proclaim a compelling vision of Communion as the gift by which the Church lives, and at the same time, the gift that God calls the Church to offer to a wounded and divided humanity.”

Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Canon Kenneth Kearon welcomed the appointment, “There are few more important positions in the Anglican Communion than that of Director for Unity, Faith and Order, a role which supports and enables our relationships with other Christian churches and communions, our ecumenical dialogues, and our internal conversations about our faith.

“In Canon Gibaut we will have someone of immense experience, ability and wisdom to lead us. I am truly delighted he has accepted this position, and wish him and his wife Terri every blessing as they prepare for this transition to London and the Anglican Communion Office.”

Christian, Muslim and Jewish artists unite in prayer for the world

Episcopal News Service - qui, 16/10/2014 - 14:03

The Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler, president and founder of CARAVAN, an interfaith nonprofit organization that unites cultures and creeds of the West and Middle East through the arts, stands next to an art piece by Mahmoud Hamdy in the 2014 CARAVAN art exhibition, “AMEN: A Prayer for the World” at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York City until Nov. 23. Photo: Amy Sowder

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler grew up in Senegal, a predominately Muslim country in West Africa where his father was a minister.

Throughout his childhood he observed the tension between Muslims and Christians.

“I thought there has to be a better way. Most of my best friends were Muslims, and today still, Muslims number among my closest friends,” the Episcopal priest said, sitting on a wooden bench at New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the world’s largest Gothic cathedral. He answered logistics calls and texts on his cell phone while taking a break from working on the 2014 CARAVAN Exhibition of Visual Art, “AMEN: A Prayer for the World.”

Open to the public until Nov. 23, the art show embodies Chandler’s lifelong mission: to ease that religious and cultural tension by focusing on commonalities rather than trying to overcome differences. With religious extremism and persecution so prevalent and interwoven so thickly with politics, especially in the Middle East, this mission is needed now more than ever, he said.

Artwork by Reda Abdel Rahman, co-curator in the 2014 CARAVAN art exhibition, “AMEN: A Prayer for the World” at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York City until Nov. 23. Photo: Amy Sowder

Participating Egyptian artist Reda Abdel Rahman co-curated the show with Chandler, founder and president of CARAVAN, an international interfaith arts nonprofit organization, with the annual CARAVAN exhibition as a flagship initiative. This year, they selected 48 artists – 30 Egyptian artists with Muslim and Christian backgrounds, and 18 Western artists with Jewish and Christian backgrounds. CARAVAN originated out of Cairo, Egypt in 2009 to build bridges between the cultures and creeds of Middle East and West through the arts.

The work of 30 Egyptian artists was first unveiled in June at the Museum of Modern Art in Cairo, Egypt, and joined the work of 18 artists in the West for a joint exhibition at Washington National Cathedral, before its final stop, in New York City.

This sixth annual exhibition includes Jewish artists for the first time.

Chandler and Rahman chose prominent as well as emerging artists who share their mission of using art to foster unity, friendship and peace worldwide. The artists are charged with interpreting the exhibition’s theme on the sculptural form they’re given. This year, it’s the human form in prayer in poses from the Abrahamic faiths. The face on the model for the sculptural prayer form is Amun, the deity of ancient Thebes in the 11th dynasty (in 21st century BC) who is considered the first to develop religion toward monotheism.

The “Amen” theme also embodies the spirit of the January 2011 Egyptian Revolution, when hordes of people from Muslim and Christian backgrounds, levels of education, economic background and ethnicity joined in solidarity against the human rights violations of the almost 30-year rule by the Hosni Mubarak-led autocratic government. After ousting Mubarak, the country’s first free parliamentary elections chose Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi for president. But protests against Morsi’s authoritarianism led to a 2013 military coup d’etat and the election of former general Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as president in 2014. Chandler was residing in Cairo during all this political turmoil.

Art pieces in the 2014 CARAVAN art exhibition, “AMEN: A Prayer for the World.” Photo: Amy Sowder

Whoever usurps power inevitably has ties to religious groups, whether it’s the Muslim Brotherhood, the Coptic Church, moderate Muslims or other religious allies, and often the religious-political sect that loses clout in top government loses dignity, freedom and all too often, their lives as well. So the cultural and religious clashes continue.

“What we need is high visibility in the media of Christians and Muslims working together,” Chandler said. “It begins to shape the world view.” That’s his intent with uniting the artists for CARAVAN events.

Rahman was born in Ismailia, Egypt, and is one of his country’s leading contemporary artists today. He grew up surrounded by Pharaonic monuments and Coptic monasteries, and it’s evident in his work. Also clear is his admiration for the female figure and women’s key role in the family and society at large.

For his contribution to the “AMEN” exhibition, Rahman created an ancient Egyptian queen emanating good all around her while sitting on Set, the ancient Egyptian god of evil, which demonstrates her control over the forces of political Islam that have damaged civilization. Many of his works combine different systems of belief.

“We’re only thinking one way,” Rahman said, “so I do my portraits in many ways, with the Jewish star and Christian cross and Muslim crescent. I want different people to feel we are the same, the same God also, just different culture only.”

Rahman met Chandler while the Episcopal priest served from 2003 to 2013 as rector of the Church of St. John the Baptist/Maadi in Cairo, Egypt, the international English-speaking Episcopal/Anglican church within the Episcopal Diocese of Egypt and North Africa. Chandler is also a mission partner of the Episcopal Church, focused on the Middle East. Rahman was a participant artist the initial CARAVAN Exhibition of Visual Art in Cairo. This is his second year co-curating the CARAVAN art exhibition. He lives with his wife and children in Queens, New York, and they also have a home in Cairo.

The last few years, Rahman’s art has dealt with the religious and political strife in Egypt, which applies to many areas of the Middle East, particularly the tumultuous Islamic extremism in Iraq and Syria.

“In today’s world, we need peace,” Rahman said. “We don’t have to make all these problems.”

For her art piece in the show, Jewish artist Lilianne Milgrom enjoyed researching about winged messenger angels in the Islamic, Jewish and Christian sacred texts. Born in Paris, France, Milgrom lived in Australia during part of her childhood and later spent 17 years in Israel before settling in Washington D.C.

She received the “AMEN” sculptural form in the traditional Jewish sitting prayerful pose, and she added wings. The front of her angel’s chest is emblazoned with a QR code to connect the spiritual world with the digital world. Visitors can wave their cell phones in front of her sculpture to scan the code, which will take them to www.virtualangel.weebly.com, where they can post a prayer.

“Prayer is a dialogue no matter which religion, and I wanted to make it interactive on whatever level the viewer is on, from atheist to believer,” Milgrom said.

The prayers on the website do range from atheist to Christian, ethical humanist and beyond, with a variety of entries: “Please save us from ourselves,” “Peace for the World,” “Why?” and “May people see the good in each other.”

Chandler wears a ring symbolizing the bridge a person can build to connect Muslims and Christians. Photo: Amy Sowder

Milgrom and Chandler will co-curate the 2015 Caravan exhibition, which will launch in Paris, France. Chandler is adamant that Caravan’s mission is to go further than encouraging interfaith dialogue.

“I’m passionate about interfaith friendships,” Chandler said, slipping off the silver ring he wears, which depicts a person bridging the gap between the symbols of the Christian cross and Muslim crescent.

“Friendship involves time and investment in the other,” he said. “CARAVAN is a creative catalyst for that.”

– Amy Sowder is an ENS correspondent.

‘Please pray for us,’ say Bermuda Anglicans facing hurricane

Episcopal News Service - qui, 16/10/2014 - 12:00

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans in Bermuda have called for urgent prayer support as the country steels itself for another battering at the hands of Mother Nature.

Some 64,000 inhabitants of the North Atlantic Ocean island have been dealing with the aftermath of Tropical Storm Fay which hit on Sunday morning. Winds of up to 100mph caused flooding from sea swell in coastal areas. They also left many roads impassable because of fallen trees, and left most people without electricity, cellphone coverage or access to the Internet

According to news reports the country’s ability to receive much-needed supplies have been put at risk after shipping containers were blown into the harbor. The only airport lost its roof and was flooded with thousands of gallons of water rendering the customs and immigration departments useless.

Sunday’s storm thankfully caused no fatalities, though there were numerous injuries as windows and doors blew out under the pressure of the wind. However, Bermuda is now facing another, more severe weather system. Tropical Depression Gonzalo* has become a Category 4 hurricane and is predicted to make a direct hit on Bermuda on Friday morning with wind speeds in excess of 130mph.

As the island and its churches prepare for the next onslaught of bad weather, the Archdeacon of Bermuda, The Ven. Andrew Doughty asked the Anglican Communion to pray. “We ask them to pray for safety and security,” he said, “for of our churches – a couple of whom have been hit quite badly. St. James in Sandys Parish lost part of its roof. Also, please pray for the government and emergency teams as the island recovers.”

The Church there has spent the time since Sunday’s storm working hard to ensure the most vulnerable inhabitants had access to water, food and shelter.

One church which was among the first to have power restored was St. Paul’s in Paget Parish. The Priest-in-Charge the Rev. Anthony Pettit said, “We opened our doors to anyone needing a place to prepare food, wash, get water, iron clothes, charge electronics and use the internet. Over three days, the church had a steady stream of folk using our facilities.

“Our motto is A loving family of God, serving our community and this was a very simple way to do just that. Community is what St Paul’s is all about. Although, we’re hoping we’re not practicing for this weekend but if we have to we’ll do this again.”

Bermudians are used to keeping an eye on each and every tropical depression throughout the season, knowing that any of them could become severe. Local people remember the names of each Hurricane which struck the island and what damage it did – Fabian and Emily being the two most common. However, they do not usually come this late in the season – the last time a hurricane hit Bermuda this late was 1851.

Comments made to clergy there demonstrate the fear among locals as Hurricane Gonzalo approaches. Mother-of-three Nicole Simons said, “We did OK in Fay – we lost power but my children were fine. I’m concerned for this next one and just praying that we make out ok. I’m really worried about the people who don’t have a roof – my friend doesn’t have a roof and her upstairs tenants have had to move out and now the whole roof might come off. It’s scary – crazy! I’m going around now just trying to get ready with food and clearing up the yard, buying batteries and whatever”

These tropical storm have even affected Bermudians who are living off-island. The Anglican Church of Bermuda’s current Ordinand, Jamaine Tucker, training at the School of Theology at Sewanee in Tennessee reached out to his family in Bermuda to find out what was going on – “I chatted with my brother. I haven’t heard from my mum since Saturday. I’m quite concerned.”

ENDS

Notes
*Gonzalo is a character in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” which was supposedly inspired by the discovery of Bermuda in 1609 by Sir George Somers and those aboard his ship “The Sea Venture” which foundered on the reefs during a hurricane.

Griswold to facilitate meeting between GTS professors, trustees

Episcopal News Service - ter, 14/10/2014 - 19:20

[Episcopal News Service] Former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold will facilitate the Oct. 16 meeting between trustees of the General Theological Seminary and eight professors whose employment is at the core of the dispute involving complaints about the conduct of the school’s dean and president.

The General trustees agreed Oct. 13 during a teleconference to have the facilitated discussion with the aim of achieving greater clarity, understanding, and reconciliation, according to trustee Chair Bishop Mark Sisk (retired of New York).

A meeting between trustees and the professors was already scheduled for Oct. 16. The addition of a facilitator is a new development, one apparently suggested by the eight professors and agreed to by the board. The board asked Griswold to fill that role.

When Sisk wrote to the eight on Oct. 1 reiterating an offer he said had been previously made to the professors, he said the meeting had to be “wholly confidential, off the record, and no one involved will make use of anything said at it.”

The conflict between the Very Rev. Kurt Dunkle, who became dean and president in July 2013, and eight of the 11-member faculty at the nearly 200-year-old seminary was made public late in September when e-mails and letters from the departing professors to students were circulated and the professors announced a work stoppage.

Professors Joshua Davis, Mitties DeChamplain, Deirdre Good, David Hurd, Andrew Irving, Andrew Kadel, Amy Lamborn and Patrick Malloy wrote to the board on Sept. 17 to outline their issues with Dunkle. They outlined what the seminary later called “alleged inappropriate and harassing statements by the Dean.” The eight also said his management of the faculty and staff and his relationship with students has created a climate of “deep despondency, anxiety, hostility, fear, and retaliation” in the GTS community.

The eight professors listed five actions they wanted trustees to take, including:

* Appoint a committee of board members, to be determined by the faculty, to meet with the eight during the October meeting of the Board of Trustees;

* Give faculty immediate oversight over the curriculum, schedule, worship, and overall program of formation for the seminary;

* Hire an outside person for pastoral support to staff, students, and faculty; and appoint a dean of students;

* “Restore and ensure” that faculty get due process in connection with appointments, worship and formation, and curriculum implementation and give the academic dean authority to “implement properly the academic program,” according to Association of Theological Schools (ATS) standards and the faculty’s Declaration of the Way of Wisdom; and

* Hire a fundraiser to begin a capital campaign.

“Simply put, we must respectfully inform you that if Dean Dunkle continues in his current position, then we will be unable to continue in ours,” the group told the trustees.

A week later, Sisk wrote to the trustees, Dunkle and the faculty to say that the board had hired the law firm of Covington and Burling “to determine the basis for the alleged inappropriate and harassing statements by the Dean.”

The next day the eight professors called that decision a refusal “to deal with the heart of the matter,” and announced that they would stop working beginning Sept. 26 and would not return to work until the board as a whole immediately scheduled a time to meet with them during the trustees’ October meeting.

And they said they had formed the General Theological Seminary Faculty Union and hired an attorney.

The executive committee of the seminary’s Board of Trustees said Sept. 30 that “after much prayer and deliberation and after consulting our legal counsel” its members had “voted with great regret to accept the resignations” of the eight faculty members.

The professors have said they never tendered their resignations.

The eight at the center of the controversy had been among a roster of 11 faculty members plus Dunkle. General now has four full-time faculty and 11 adjunct faculty, seminary spokesman Chad Rancourt has told ENS. This does not include any instructors who may be brought in to teach classes previously handled by the eight.

Eighty-six students are matriculated for the current semester, Rancourt said. General expects to be able to complete all of its classes this term. Out of 23 scheduled classes, 13 were not affected by the departure of the eight professors. General has tried to cover the remaining 10, he said, “drawing upon our remaining full-time faculty and noted scholars in the New York City metropolitan area.”

The school is currently on its fall break and reading days until Oct. 20. The trustee board is to gather Oct. 17 for its annual fall meeting.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.