[Episcopal News Service – San Salvador, El Salvador] As Syrian refugees continue to risk death embarking on a dangerous journey to Europe in search of a better life, Central Americans forcibly displaced by an ongoing social conflict in the Northern Triangle also are fleeing, traveling both north and south in search of safety.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees last month warned of the “looming refugee crisis” emanating from Central America.
The region’s ongoing forced migration and internal displacement were two topics discussed during a Nov. 23-24 conference in San Salvador on forced migration, human trafficking and new forms of slavery in Central America. Representatives and ombudsmen from the region’s human rights ombudsmen offices, nongovernment and civil society organizations, and Anglican and Episcopal bishops attended the conference. During the conference the bishops also took the first step in creating a regional Anglican commission on human rights.
The Anglican Alliance and the American Friends Service Committee sponsored the two-day conference held at the InterContinental Hotel and organized by Foundation Cristosal, an organization rooted in the Anglican and Episcopal churches committed to defending and advocating for human rights.
“The conference was something that Cristosal proposed because of the work we are doing on forced displacement,” said Executive Director Noah Bullock, adding that forced displacement isn’t a problem confined to the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Foundation Cristosal has worked to establish legal precedents for the protection of victims displaced by violence in El Salvador, provides shelter and protection for victims and is working to build regional resettlement capacity.
In addition to those seeking asylum in the United States, in the last two years asylum claims initiated mainly by Salvadorans and Hondurans in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama have increased by 1,200 percent.
“And the trend will likely continue to increase,” he said, adding that bringing bishops together with human rights advocates presented an opportunity to share expertise and create alliances aimed at influencing public policy and responding to emergency humanitarian needs.
“The region is not prepared to receive an influx of refugees. Leadership needs to be assumed on the issue and Cristosal has been positioned well to work with the council of ombudsmen and some of the other networks in the region to open the door for the church to fill that leadership void.”
As Anglicans and Episcopalians, “we are obligated to fight for justice and peace in all communities and respect the dignity of every human being,” said Honduras Bishop Lloyd Allen, who during the meeting already had initiated a conversation to begin to address the issue with his diocese back home. “We cannot close our eyes to the abuse.”
The Episcopal and Anglican churches are present in the three Northern Triangle countries: The Diocese of Honduras belongs to Province IX of The Episcopal Church, and the dioceses of Guatemala and El Salvador belong to the Anglican Church of the Central Region of America, known by its Spanish acronym, IARCA.
The crisis in Central America briefly held the world’s attention in the summer of 2014, when record numbers of unaccompanied minors and women traveling with children surrendered to authorities at U.S.-Mexico border. Episcopal churches responded to the immediate crisis, and more recently General Convention passed a resolution in support of the rights of refugees and acknowledging the continued violence against and displacement of citizens in Central America.
Vulnerable communities across the region suffer casualties due to violence at a level on par with conflicts raging in other parts of the world, according to studies. In the first seven months of this year, more than 4,000 Salvadorans were murdered, and on one single day in August, 52 people were killed. In Honduras, the number in the first six months was estimated at 2,720 and in Guatemala, the largest of the Northern Triangle countries, 4,261 people had been assassinated between January and September.
“El Salvador and Honduras compete with Syria in terms of death rates,” said Bullock, who stressed the lack of durable solutions. “There really are no options for (these) people who flee one of the most violent, deadly conflicts in the world.”
In El Salvador alone, an estimated 289,000 people are internally displaced, whereas in Honduras, a conservative estimate puts the number at 170,000. In Guatemala, the number is closer to 250,000 people.
Of the three Northern Triangle countries, only Honduras has recognized the existence of forced displacement, establishing a national commission to study and document cases.
“Displacement as a form of violence cannot be ignored,” said Ricardo Lopez, who works in human rights ombudsman’s office in Honduras. “If people have received threats, (the threats) will be carried out … our streets are full of blood.”
In addition to bishops and ombudsmen, representatives of UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration and the International Committee of the Red Cross, which left El Salvador following the end of the civil war but returned in recent years, were present at the conference.
Last year marked the 30th anniversary of the Cartagena Declaration, which amended the 1951 refugee convention and the 1967 protocol definition of what it means to be a refugee: “persons who have fled their country because their lives, safety or freedom have been threatened by generalized violence, foreign aggression, internal conflicts, massive violation of human rights or other circumstances which have seriously disturbed public order.”
The countries of Central America and Mexico adopted the protocol, which was not recognized by the United States, at a time when both Guatemala and El Salvador were fighting civil wars and when Contra rebels were fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
In December 2014, Latin American adopted the Brazil Declaration to address the region’s new displacement trends. The declaration aims to end statelessness by 2024, building upon previous actions to strengthen international protection of refugees in Latin America.
“The problems aren’t just the problem of one country; they are shared regionally,” said Guatemala Bishop Armando Guerra. “It needs the attention of all of us.”
In some ways, the high levels of societal violence in the Northern Triangle are a legacy of the civil wars of the 20th century. More than 200,000 civilians were killed during Guatemala’s 36-year civil war and 75,000 people were killed in El Salvador’s 12-year conflict between the military-led government and left-wing guerilla groups. Although Honduras didn’t have its own civil war, it felt the ramifications of regional conflicts, and was a base for the U.S.-backed Contras fighting in Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990.
The problem of forced migration in the Northern Triangle is a result of violence, said El Salvador Bishop David Alvarado, adding that the violence itself is part of the larger, structural problems including poverty, limited economic opportunities, access to education, healthcare and other social problems.
“We are still recovering from the civil war and today we have problems with youth and gangs,” he said.
In the 20-year period following signing of the peace accords, 100,000 Salvadorans have been killed, more than during the civil war, and today some 70,000 people are reported to be gang members. In Honduras, the number of gang members is estimated at 116,000 and in Guatemala, the largest of the three countries, an estimated 14,000 people belong to gangs and another 30,000 are counted as gang sympathizers.
The gangs control territory through violence, including murder and rape, and extortion. Young males, particularly, are coerced into joining gangs. Refusal to join can be interpreted as expressing loyalty to a rival gang, and the uninitiated become a target for murder. Women and young girls often are taken as “girlfriends” of gang members, and often suffer rape and other forms of sexual violence as they are shared among the gang members.
It’s in this context that people are fleeing; moreover, a UNHCR survey of women detained at the U.S.-Mexico border determined that of the tens of thousands of women seeking protection, a large percentage had significant protection claims under the Convention against Torture.
Before a person crosses an international border, however, they’ve likely suffered internal displacement, first to another family’s home.
“This is a phenomenon that primarily affects poor people so usually the move (is) from one poor household to another poor household that’s likely controlled by a different gang or the same gang,” said Bullock. “Their presence in the territory is detected within two or three days, and so then they are obligated to move again and again until the resources run out. When they make the decision to leave the country they hide, because they are going irregularly to the United States or somewhere else.”
“What the victims say constantly to us is that ‘in these conditions I cannot develop as a human being.’ When you are being persecuted and your life is controlled when your life is threatened, you don’t get to develop, you don’t have opportunities and you leave to find them.”
Bullock has begun framing a response to the refugee and internal displacement crisis as a “preferential option for the victim,” and ultimately the bishops concluded the church’s witness is to respond to the needs of people in their communities and to welcome the stranger.
In Costa Rica, for example, where 15-20 percent of the population is foreign-born, mainly Nicaraguans looking for economic opportunities, the church provides assistance to mothers and their children, 90 percent of them migrants, through two schools it operates in the capital, said Costa Rica Bishop Hector Monterroso.
It’s important not only that the church responds to human need, but that it also works to raise awareness around forced migration, said Panama Bishop Julio Murray. This is why a regional Anglican commission on human rights is being formulated, in connection with the countries’ human rights commissions.
“The strategic purpose is that if we are going to form an Anglican body, we should form it with good, strong connections with other human rights bodies – and in this case it was specifically the ombudsmen, which are autonomous state entities,” said Bullock.
“It’s a good fit because the ombudsmen can do the technical work around human rights, they can make public policy and do advocacy,” he said. “And the churches, they can make an appeal to people, to change the people, so that policy isn’t empty, that there’s actually a social change that is backing it and so it might be real, and that’s important.”
– Lynette Wilson is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service.
[Anglican Communion News Service] Pope Francis has made a visit to the Anglican shrine to the Ugandan Martyrs in Namugongo, and spoke of the “ecumenism of blood”.
The Pope looked visibly pained and shocked as Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, primate of the Anglican Church of Uganda, explained how the martyrs were put to death on the orders of the King of Buganda in the late 19th Century for refusing to renounce their faith.
Later, in a sermon during a Papal Mass outside the Catholic shrine, Pope Francis spoke of the sacrifice of the 45 men – 23 Anglicans and 22 Roman Catholics – saying that their “witness of love for Christ and his Church has truly gone ‘to the end of the earth.’
“We remember also the Anglican martyrs whose deaths for Christ testify to the ecumenism of blood. All these witnesses nurtured the gift of the Holy Spirit in their lives and freely gave testimony of their faith in Jesus Christ, even at the cost of their lives, many at such a young age.
“The gift of the Holy Spirit is a gift which is meant to be shared. It unites us to one another as believers and living members of Christ’s mystical Body. We do not receive the gift of the Spirit for ourselves alone, but to build up one another in faith, hope and love.”
He said that the Ugandan Martyrs “had tended to their faith and deepened their love of God, they were fearless in bringing Christ to others, even at the cost of their lives. Their faith became witness; today, venerated as martyrs, their example continues to inspire people throughout the world. They continue to proclaim Jesus Christ and the power of his Cross.
“Like the Apostles and the Uganda martyrs before us, we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit to become missionary disciples called to go forth and bring the Gospel to all. At times this may take us to the end of the earth, as missionaries to faraway lands.
This is essential to the spread of God’s Kingdom, and I ask always for your generous response to this need. But we do not need to travel to be missionary disciples. In fact, we need only to open our eyes and see the needs in our homes and our local communities to realize how many opportunities await us.
“Here too the Uganda martyrs show us the way. Their faith sought the good of all people, including the very King who condemned them for their Christian beliefs. Their response was to meet hatred with love, and thus to radiate the splendour of the Gospel. They did not simply tell the King what the Gospel does not allow, but showed through their lives what saying ‘yes’ to Jesus really means. It means mercy and purity of heart, being meek and poor in spirit, and thirsting for righteousness in the hope of an eternal reward.”
During the tour of the new Uganda Martyrs Museum at the Anglican Shrine, Pope Francis and Archbishop Stanley paused at the fire pit where the twenty-three Anglicans and twenty-two Roman Catholic converts to Christianity were brutally martyred on 3rd June 1886. “This is ecumenism,” Pope Francis told Archbishop Stanley.
“The Roman Catholic martyrs died for the same Jesus Christ as the Anglican martyrs,” Archbishop Stanley said. “Together, they suffered; together, they sacrificed; together, they sang. Together, their blood has been the seed of the church in Uganda.”
It is a message that echoed Pope Francis’ words in July this year in St peter’s Square in Rome as he anticipated his visit to Uganda. “The blood of the martyrs makes us one,” he said. “We know that those who kill Christians in hatred of Jesus Christ, before killing, do not ask: ‘Are you an Evangelical, or [Anglican], or Orthodox?’ They say: ‘You are Christian,’ and behead them.”
Last week, the same message was repeated by the Preacher to the Papal Household, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, in a sermon at Westminster Abbey ahead of the Church of England’s General Synod: “In many parts of the world people are killed and churches burned not because they are Catholic, or Anglican, or Pentecostals, but because they are Christians,” he said. “In their eyes we are already one! Let us be one also in our eyes and in the eyes of God.”
Alluding to a traditional African proverb, Archbishop Stanley said, “If we want to go fast, let us go alone. As the wider Christian community in Uganda, however, if we want to go far, let us go together. This is why we were very happy to welcome the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church to the [Anglican] Church of Uganda.”
During the Pope’s brief visit to the Anglican Martyrs’ Shrine, he also emphasised the importance of prayer by kneeling at the torture tree and offering a personal prayer.
When he emerged from his private tour of the museum, he was welcomed by a very large, enthusiastic, and ululating crowd. He responded by inviting everyone to pray The Lord’s Prayer together.
The assembled congregation then received a double apostolic blessing with Pope Francis and Archbishop Stanley together conferring on everyone the Blessing of God Almighty: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda, along with the Provincial Heads of Laity and Clergy, the Provincial President of Mother’s Union, and several thousand Anglican clergy and laity arrived at the Martyrs’ Shrine at sunrise to prepare to welcome the Pope.
Retired Archbishop Livingstone Mpalanyi Nkoyoyo has spearheaded the development of the Uganda Martyrs’ Museum to ensure their legacy for future generations.
Pope Francis unveiled a dedication stone and offered a prayer that the Uganda Martyrs would continue to inspire generations of youth to follow Christ. Later in the afternoon he met thousands of Ugandan youth in Kampala to encourage them to pray and be faithful to Christ.
The President of Uganda and the First Lady were also present at the Anglican Martyrs’ Shrine.
Pope Francis is the third Pope to visit the Anglican shrine. Paul VI visited on 2nd August 1969; five years earlier, in 1964, he had canonized the Roman Catholic martyrs. Pope John Paul II visited on 7th March 1993.
[Anglican Communion News Service] If you wish to see something launched with style, fervor and commitment then you could do no better than have been in Lusaka Cathedral yesterday (29 November) when the Province of Central Africa launched the preparations for the 16th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-16), which will take place in Lusaka next April.
The Advent Sunday service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross provided an ideal context for the launch. It was packed to over-flowing with people from all the congregations in Lusaka and some from as far as field as Lake Malawi Diocese. There was music of all kinds – choirs, music groups, brass bands – and guests from the diplomatic community in Lusaka as well as all the 15 bishops of the Province.
In welcoming the congregation Archbishop Albert Chama described it as “a great day for the Province” stressing that they had the privilege next year of “welcoming the entire Anglican Church to Zambia”.
In his sermon Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, thanked the congregation for “accepting the challenge to help with the preparations for the 16th Council of the ACC”. He went on to tell them that “come April 2016 we shall all be here!” As he experienced the exuberant joy expressed in the service he said that he would tell all those coming to the ACC “to come with their dancing shoes” to great whoops of delight from the congregation.
During the service a group of nine children offered a poem, written specifically for the occasion, on love. It was delivered with dramatic energy and two lines seemed to capture the atmosphere of the service, “love is never love until it is given away” and ended with the message to us all, “let love lead the Anglican Communion!”
The launch itself came towards the end of the service. In a video message the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby told the congregation that he was looking forward to being with them as the ACC was again hosted in Africa. He emphasised that he was wanting to hear the voice of the youth who are meeting prior to the ACC.
He also asked the congregation to do two things in preparation. To pray that “we encounter Christ afresh” and that this “will have an effect on the whole Anglican Communion”. He also challenged the congregation to be “very open with us” and “share what it is like to live as Anglican Christians in this part of the world.”
A message was read from Bishop James Tengatenga, the Chair of the ACC, expressing his excitement about the ACC coming to Lusaka, a province he has formerly served in. He went on to ask that those involved might be “energized for all the preparation (being made) for us for April next year.”
The launch was completed by the cutting of a large cake before a large number of purple and white balloons were released and floated slowly to the high ceiling of the Cathedral.
The thoughts behind this launch service were summed up in the special prayer written for the day:
Release your direction for your church,
That in launching this Consultative Council,
All things shall work to God’s praise and glory.
To that the congregation at the Cathedral said “Amen!”
EDITAL DE SELEÇÃO (Nº. 01/2015)
PROCESSO SELETIVO DE CONTRATAÇÃO DE PESSOAL
A Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil, através da Secretaria Geral, torna pública a realização do processo seletivo para a contratação de Assessor/a de Projetos para atuar no planejamento, monitoramento e avaliação de projetos no Serviço Anglicano de Diaconia e Desenvolvimento – SADD.
I – DO LANÇAMENTO DO EDITAL DE SELEÇÃO (Nº. 01/2015) Tendo em vista a seleção de profissional para a função de Assessor/a de Projetos para compor a Equipe da Secretaria Geral, o Edital para Contratação, em Processo Seletivo Simplificado de pessoal para a seguinte vaga.
II – DA VAGA: Assessor/a de Projetos Sociais – 1 vaga
III – DAS ATRIBUIÇÕES DA FUNÇÃO
- Acompanhar as atividades dos projetos apoiados pelo SADD, via visitas de campo e leitura de materiais.
- Acompanhar a execução das atividades dos projetos apoiado.
- Divulgar os resultados alcançados pelos projetos nos canais de comunicação do SADD e da IEAB.
- Elaborar os relatórios periódicos tanto narrativos como financeiros.
IV – REQUISITO EXIGIDOS PARA A FUNÇÃO
- Ter experiência comprovada de no mínimo 5 anos em planejamento, monitoramento e avaliação de projetos sociais.
- Ter domínio de conceitos, instrumentais e ferramentas de planejamento estratégico e medição de impacto.
- Domínio da linguagem escrita, boa expressão oral e manejo das mídias sociais.
- Ser fluente nas línguas portuguesa e inglesa.
- Ter participado de gestão de projetos sociais.
- Compreender a dinâmica de funcionamento das ONGs, empreendimentos solidários, fóruns e redes de organizações dos movimentos sociais e baseados na fé.
- Ter experiência voltada para a educação popular e mobilização.
- Ter capacidade de trabalho em equipe.
- Orientação a resultados e compromisso com metas e acordos.
10. Disponibilidade para viagens e fixar moradia em São Paulo.
V – FORMAÇÃO EXIGIDA: Curso superior completo na área de Humanas
VI – CRITÉRIOS DE SELEÇÃO:
- Avaliação de Currículo
- Avaliação da Carta de Intenção e Cartas de Apresentação
VII – CONDIÇÕES SALARIAIS E DE TRABALHO
- Salário compatível com a função descrita nesse edital no valor de R$ 1.800,00.
- Contratação por prazo determinado.
- Regime de trabalho: 35 horas semanais.
- Estará sob a responsabilidade da Secretaria Geral da IEAB e se reportará à Coordenação do SADD.
VIII – DOCUMENTAÇÃO EXIGIDA
· Currículo, 02 (duas) cartas de apresentação, sendo uma de trabalho anterior e 01 (uma) Carta de Intenções, explicitando a motivação para assumir o cargo.
IX – SELEÇÃO O processo seletivo constará das seguintes etapas:
· Análise de currículo e Carta de intenção
· Entrevista para os/as candidatos/as pré-selecionados/as.
X – PRAZOS – Publicação do Edital no sítio da IEAB/SADD dia 25 de novembro de 2015. Recepção dos documentos exigidos a ser enviados via correio eletrônico (firstname.lastname@example.org) até o dia 23 de dezembro de 2015 às 17h, horário de Brasília, com o título ASSESSOR de PROJETOS. A carta de intenções, deverá no máximo conter 2 (duas) páginas, papel A4, espaço 1,5, times new roman, fonte 12, margens esquerda, direita, superior e inferior 2,5 cm. A divulgação do resultado da pré-seleção e convocatória para entrevista será realizada a partir de 15 de janeiro de 2016. A entrevista será realizada na cidade de São Paulo de 26 a 29 de janeiro de 2016. A admissão será a partir de 01 de março de 2016.
· Obs.: Currículos recebidos após o dia e hora estipulados serão desconsiderados.
São Paulo, 25 de novembro de 2015.
Reverendo Arthur Cavalcante
Secretário Geral da IEAB
[Anglican Communion News Service] For the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence, we have joined together as a faith-based coalition to focus on ending violence against girls and young women in education, confident that all activism promoting equal and respectful relationship is good news, all year round, wherever and whoever we are.
The 16 Days begin on Nov. 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and end on Dec. 10, Human Rights Day.
Education provides the foundation for girls’ development on their journey toward adult life. It plays a vital role in helping women realize their potential economically, politically and socially.
But school is often not a safe place for a girl.
Girls in School
For girls around the world, exercising their right to education can be full of risk. They are at risk from violence on the journey to and from school and in the classroom itself. This violence may take the form of aggressive sexual behaviour, intimidation and physical assault by boys, sexual advances by male students and teachers, corporal punishment and verbal abuse.
In most parts of the world, our religious institutions are major contributors to education, providing schools, colleges, universities and theological seminaries. Our sacred texts and faith traditions give us stories that empower and give voice to women and girls. We have myriad opportunities to teach and embed values that recognize and promote the equal dignity of girls and boys, young women and young men.
Our schools and all our educational institutions can practice zero tolerance of sexual and gender-based violence and teach young women and men the full meaning of sexual and reproductive rights. We can work with families and wider communities to ensure that girls can complete their education, and are safe as they travel to and from school.
Girls out of School
Every girl has an inherent dignity as God’s creation. Making sure that every girl has access to education honors that dignity. Yet in spite of promises made to children in many international conventions and national constitutions, one in five adolescents and one in 11 primary school-aged children are excluded from the classroom. Fifteen million girls are unlikely to set foot inside a classroom (UIS/UNICEF 2015). Girls who miss out on education or who leave school too soon are less likely to develop themselves and their families and communities. They are less likely to have any say in what happens to their lives and their bodies. They are more likely to live in poverty, be trafficked and prostituted, be exposed to HIV and sexually transmitted infections, be coerced into early marriage, have pregnancies at an early age, and to die or suffer serious physical injury during childbirth.
Faith leaders and the whole faith community have a vital role to play in advocating for compliance of the universal right to education and for national policy – adequately resourced – for the prevention and elimination of violence against girls in school. The new Sustainable Development Goals 4 (Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning) and 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls) provide fresh impetus for this.
Thursdays in Black
Join us as we link with a growing global movement of women and men who lament violence against women and girls and show their solidarity and commitment to ending it by wearing black every Thursday. The Thursdays in Black website links to information and tools to help us, including resources on girls’ safety in and out of school.
We are using each of the three Thursdays during the 16 Days:
- to gather sacred narratives from the Christian and Islamic traditions that empower and give voice to girls and women
- to tell the stories of initiatives by our faith institutions or faith-based organisations to end violence against girls and women
- to promote a prayer of lament and confession and a prayer of blessing relating to the girl child.
Ending Early and Forced Marriage
We recognize the connection between early and forced marriage and the lack of access to education for girls. We seek to interact with faith leaders and schools both in Muslim and Christian contexts with a view to providing safe spaces for girls and support for families faced with the economic necessity and/or the tradition of marrying their daughters at an early age. The role that faith leaders and religious belief can play in raising awareness and protecting girls is at the core of our initiative. This will be reflected in a series of short videos, stories of local initiatives, and other resources that can be downloaded here.
The NoXcuses campaign gives an additional faith dimension to discussions around violence against women. Testimonies have been gathered from Church leaders that reflect both the negative and positive roles that the Church plays in addressing violence. Click here for the NoXcuses website and advocacy toolkit.
- See here for many other resources and updates throughout the 16 Days.
Anglican Communion, Church of Sweden, Finn Church Aid, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Lutheran World Federation, Mission 21, World Communion of Reformed Churches, World Council of Churches, World Young Christian Women’s Association (YWCA)
- For more information can contact the Rev. Terrie Robinson, Anglican Communion’s director for Women in Church and Society.
[Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem] The Most Rev. Suheil S. Dawani, Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, has issued his 2015 Christmas message and encourages the use of a Litany for Peace in the Holy Land. The message and the litany follow.
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I write this message from the Holy City of Jerusalem to wish you a peaceful Advent, as we journey together towards the Incarnation in a stable in Bethlehem.
The message of the Prince of Peace is dear to us, and so important for us to meditate and reflect on throughout our earthly pilgrimage. In this Diocese, I have called all to reflect on their ministries, recognizing that situations are not easy: In Syria people face extraordinary difficulties. We have had to close our church – I hope temporarily – in Damascus. In Jordan the church’s understanding of hospitality – as throughout Europe and the world – is challenged in welcoming the refugee: to welcome the stranger is to welcome Christ in our midst (Matt. 25:35). In Lebanon we are challenged again to respond with compassion in the wake of horrific violence in November. And in Palestine and Israel, we are called daily to seek and pray for peace between Palestinian and Israeli.
Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of Christ, when we ready ourselves for His presence revealed in the world. The Prince of Peace teaches us to serve and shows us that through the Holy Spirit we must not give up hope when things seem hopeless; that in the face of violence we must not be tempted to hate, but that we must have compassion. The Prince of Peace shows us what healing is, between neighbors and between communities. I pray daily for those who grieve, that the Holy Spirit, the comforter (John 14.26), may grant them solace and healing in their hearts.
As part of our discipline of prayer here in Jerusalem, we have invited our friends, far and near, to use at the beginning of Advent and on Christmas Eve a special litany, which is set out below. This litany was written as the troubles here in Jerusalem escalated and I believe can be used in this Diocese and adapted for other places where there is conflict, pain and suffering.
I pray that God is with you, your families and your friends this Advent and Christmastide that He may inspire you in your ministry, wherever that may be. May Christ sow a seed of love in your heart that pours out in abundance (2 Cor.9.6) through your life.
Grace and Peace,
The Most Revd Suheil S. Dawani
Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem & the Middle East
A Litany for Peace in the Holy Land
This litany has evolved out of prayers said daily in the Cathedral Church of St George-the-Martyr, Jerusalem, as a result of the tensions, violence, paranoia and fear that has swept through Jerusalem and is continuing to affect the entire region since October 2015.
O Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
All Have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
All Have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
All Grant us your peace.
Lord, have mercy.
All Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the birth in Bethlehem of the Word made flesh, your Son, Jesus Christ; who dwelt among us full of grace and truth.
For your love and your goodness
All We give you thanks, O God
We thank you for his life; his death here in Jerusalem as he carried our sins and suffering, and for his glorious Resurrection in which he gave us new life with him.
For your love and your goodness
All We give you thanks, O God
We thank you for entrusting to us the ministry of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace-making for the healing of your creation.
For your love and your goodness
All We give you thanks, O God
We pray for all victims of bloodshed, violence, and persecution. We especially pray for all in danger and those fleeing persecution in the Holy Land, and throughout the Middle East.
Lord, hear our prayer
All And let our cry come unto you
We pray for all who grieve for those they have loved and lost as a result of violence, particularly those grieving in Palestine and Israel.
Lord, hear our prayer
All And let our cry come unto you
We pray for the Holy Spirit to guide all leaders, especially on those who lead the peoples in the Land of the Holy One, the United Nations and upon all in authority, so Your people may seek ways of peace and justice.
Lord, hear our prayer
All And let our cry come unto you
Heavenly Father, we praise and glorify you. You are our only refuge in a troubled world.
Lord, hear our prayer
All And let our cry come unto you
The Lord be with you.
All And also with you.
Let us pray.
All Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to us and the people of all the nations a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that all of your people may use their liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
[Episcopal Church in South Carolina press release] Episcopalians from across eastern South Carolina named a new cathedral, celebrated their connections to the wider church and adopted resolutions to work for racial reconciliation as they gathered for the 225th Annual Diocesan Convention of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina Nov. 13-14 at Holy Cross Faith Memorial Episcopal Church in Pawleys Island.
More than 300 delegates and visitors heard addresses from the Rt. Rev. Robert Gilliesthe bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and their own bishop, the Rt. Rev. Charles G. vonRosenberg. Both talks built on the convention theme, encouraging both lay and clergy to listen for God’s call to ministry. (Video and texts of both addresses can be found here.)
The gathering was the annual business meeting for the local diocese of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion in eastern South Carolina.
The convention voted overwhelmingly to designate historic Grace Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston as the cathedral of the diocese, to be known as “Grace Church Cathedral.” The revised Canon 17 affirms a role that Grace has been serving since early 2013, when a breakaway group left The Episcopal Church along with the parish that formerly served as the cathedral.
Chancellor Thomas S. Tisdale Jr., who worked on the cathedral canon, said that naming a cathedral is a positive move for the unity of the diocese. Grace houses the offices of the Bishop and diocesan staff, and will continue to serve as host for a variety of diocesan events, including the 226th Convention in November 2016.
The convention also unanimously adopted two resolutions aimed at racial reconciliation. Resolution 1 calls for continued prayer for those affected by the deaths at Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston on June 17, and urges congregations in the diocese to follow Mother Emanuel’s example of love and forgiveness.
Resolution 2 calls for a renewed commitment to racial justice and reconciliation, and directs the Diocesan Council to develop plans for training, community dialogue, internal examination, and the development of partnerships with other churches and institutions, reporting regularly to the convention and diocesan leadership.
Worship services at the convention also included time for prayer and reflection following the news of the attacks in Paris. The meeting reconvened the next day with prayers for the victims and for peace.
As part of the diocesan commitment to outreach, the offering at the Nov. 13 Eucharist, totaling $3,478, was designated for two flood relief efforts for South Carolina: the Black River United Way Flood Relief Fund, and Episcopal Relief & Development.
Convention-goers also celebrated a milestone for St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Port Royal. After significant growth in membership and resources, this mission church serving the Beaufort area applied for recognition as a parish of the diocese. The Convention approved the change by acclamation on Saturday, welcoming a parade of St. Mark’s members into the church with a standing ovation.
The convention also heard a report from Tisdale Jr. on the status of legal action resulting from the actions of a group that broke away from The Episcopal Church in 2012. A decision from the South Carolina Supreme Court on property issues is expected to come in the next several weeks, but Tisdale said that the future of the diocese is bright, no matter which way the decision goes. “Whatever fork the road takes, we will flourish in either direction,” he said.
[Episcopal Public Policy Network] “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.”
It’s no secret that the Bureau of Federal Prisons is severely overcrowded. Operating at nearly 40 percent of its capacity, the federal prison population has grown about 800 percent since 1980. Many prisoners receive mandatory minimum sentences, a “one-size-fits-all” approach to sentencing that can result in harsh sentences that are disproportionate to the crime committed. An inordinate percentage of the prison population consists of people of color, and these racial disparities are often exacerbated by mandatory minimum sentences.
As Episcopalians, we believe that mandatory minimum sentencing should be repealed so that federal trial judges can craft individualized, proportional sentences. We also support rehabilitative and educational opportunities for prisoners so that they can be contributing citizens upon their release rather than fall into the destructive trap of recidivism.
- 2123, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, is a bipartisan bill that takes modest steps toward reforming our criminal justice system through reducing certain mandatory minimum sentences, restoring some discretion to the federal trial judges, and making the Fair Sentencing Act retroactive. The bill also expands recidivism reduction programming for qualifying prisoners and limits the use of juvenile solitary confinement.
While The Episcopal Church objects to the new mandatory minimum sentences introduced in S. 2123, overall the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act will help to make the U.S. prison system a more just and compassionate place for our brothers and sisters living behind bars. Please contact your senator today and ask them to cosponsor S. 2123!
[Anglican Communion News Service] Queen Elizabeth II has opened the 10th five-year-term of the Church of England’s General Synod with an address which spoke of major advances in Christian unity and the need for prayer for January’s Primates Meeting.
Earlier, during a sermon at a Eucharist in Westminster Abbey attended by the Queen and other members of the General Synod, the Preacher to the Papal Household, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, said that disagreements over moral issues should not divide churches.
“The presence among us today of the Preacher to the Papal Household would not have been possible but for the notable advances since 1970 in co-operation across the great Christian traditions,” the Queen said in her speech to the Synod. “There are many other examples. The covenant between the Church of England and the Methodist Church; the recent visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch; the participation in this Synod of observers from so many Christian traditions; the newly created ecumenical community of St. Anselm at Lambeth. Each of these serves as a reminder both of the progress already made and of the journey that still lies ahead in the pursuit of Christian unity,” she said.
The Queen recognized the divisive nature of the some of the Synod’s business, saying that the “last Synod will be particularly remembered for the way in which, after prolonged reflection and conversation, even in the midst of deep disagreements, it was able to approve the legislation to enable women to be consecrated as bishops.
“This new Synod too will have to grapple with the difficult issues confronting our Church and our world. On some of these there will be many different views. And I am sure that members of the Synod will pray earnestly that the gathering in January of the Primates of the Anglican Communion will be a time when, together, they may know what is God’s will.”
Quoting St. Paul, the Queen said that all Christians “as ambassadors for Christ, are entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation. Spreading God’s word and the onerous but rewarding task of peace-making and conflict resolution are important parts of that ministry.
“So too is the Church of England’s particular vocation to work in partnership with those of other faiths and none, to serve the common good in this land. . .
“Your Graces, each new Synod inherits from its predecessor the same weighty responsibilities. Collectively, you must continue to draw deeply on your faith, judgement, and life experiences, as well as that precious Anglican tradition of unity in fellowship, to discern the future path of the Church of England.
“At the beginning of this new Synod, as you put your hand into the hand of God, my prayer is that, as we sang in that joyous hymn this morning, ‘His glorious light may shine ever on our sight, and clothe us round, the while our path illuming.’”
The Church of England’s General Synod is elected for a period of five years and meets two or three times a year. Archbishop of York John Sentamu said that this differed from other churches’ assemblies where the members are elected for each meeting and sometimes meet only once per year; or, in some cases, once every three years.
“There is time for us to grow together as a body of Christians, sharing fellowship and worship with each other and bearing each other’s burdens as we engage in the common task and, most importantly, sharing the joy of the Gospel of Christ.”
The Synod was gathering “at a moment of great uncertainty and conflict in our world,” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said. “We shall, in the midst of all our other business, want to take time to pray earnestly for the leaders of the nations as they grapple with problems so intractable that solutions are likely to be neither simple nor quick.
“As we seek to take counsel together here to discern the mind of Christ for the Church of England, and for those whom we serve in this land, we shall draw strength from knowing that Your Majesty’s prayers will be with us,” he said as he addressed the Queen.”
Earlier, the Archbishop of Canterbury presided over a pre-Synod Eucharist at Westminster Abbey attended by the Queen and civil and religious dignitaries. The sermon was given by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the Preacher to the Papal Household.
He raised the forthcoming 500th anniversary of the Reformation – the great divide between the Western churches. “It is vital for the whole Church that this opportunity is not wasted by people remaining prisoners of the past, trying to establish each other’s rights and wrongs,” he said. “Rather, let us take a qualitative leap forward, like what happens when the sluice gates of a river or a canal enable ships to continue to navigate at a higher water level.
“The situation has dramatically changed since [Reformation times]. We need to start again with the person of Jesus, humbly helping our contemporaries to experience a personal encounter with Him. ‘All things were created through him and for him’; Christ is the light of the world, the one who gives meaning and hope to every human life – and the majority of people around us live and die as if He had never existed! How can we be unconcerned, and each remain ‘in the comfort of our own well panelled houses’?
“We should never allow a moral issue like that of sexuality divide us more than faith in Jesus unites us.
“We need to go back to the time of the Apostles: they faced a pre-Christian world, and we are facing a largely post-Christian world. When Paul wants to summarise the essence of the Christian message in one sentence, he does not say, ‘I proclaim this or that doctrine to you.’ He says, ‘We preach Christ crucified’ (1 Cor 1:23), and again ‘We preach . . . Jesus Christ as Lord’ (2 Cor 4:5).”
He continued: “This does not mean ignoring the great theological and spiritual enrichment that came from the Reformation or desiring to go back to the time before it. It means instead allowing all of Christianity to benefit from its achievements, once they are freed from certain distortions due to the heated atmosphere of the time and of later controversies.
“Justification by faith, for example, ought to be preached by the whole Church – and with more vigour than ever. Not in opposition to good works – the issue is already settled – but rather in opposition to the claim of people today that they can save themselves thanks to their science, technology or their man-made spirituality, without the need for a redeemer coming from outside humanity. Self-justification!
“I am convinced that if they were alive today this is the way Martin Luther and Thomas Cranmer would preach justification through faith!”
Addressing the issue of Christian unity, Father Cantalamessa said that it was “not a simple matter.”
“One has to start with the big Churches, those that are well structured, putting together that which unites them, which is vastly more important than what divides them,” he said. “Nothing is more important than to fulfil Christ’s heart desire for unity expressed in today’s gospel.
“In many parts of the world people are killed and churches burned not because they are Catholic, or Anglican, or Pentecostals, but because they are Christians. In their eyes we are already one! Let us be one also in our eyes and in the eyes of God.
“The Anglican Church has a special role in all of this. It has often defined itself as a ‘via media’ (a Middle Way) between Roman Catholicism and Reformed Christianity. From being a ‘via media’ in a static sense, it must now become more and more a via media in a dynamic sense, exercising an active function as a bridge between the Churches.
“The presence among you of a priest of the Catholic Church, in circumstances of such special significance, is a sign that something of the kind is already happening.”
Over the next two days, members of the Synod will debate the C of E’s program of reform and renewal, the refugee crisis, and the future of its church buildings.
[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has spoken of the “utterly heart-breaking” attacks in Paris earlier this month, during an interview for the BBC television worship program Songs of Praise.
“My wife and I lived in Paris for five years and it was one of the happiest places we have lived; and to think of a place of such celebration of life seeing such suffering is utterly heart-breaking,” he told presenter Aled Jones.
Asked where God was in this, Welby said that “He is alongside, with that deep involvement in the suffering and pain of the world that took him to the cross”; and he admitted that when such atrocities occur, his faith is put to the test.
He said that as he was out walking on the day following the attacks, “I was praying and saying ‘God, Why? Where? Why is this happening? Where are you in all this?’; and then engaging and talking with God. Yes, I doubt.”
As he prayed, he sensed God answered him in the words of Psalm 56 – “He stores up our tears in a bottle,” he said. “None of our sufferings are lost.”
He criticized the perpetrators of the attacks for the way they had misused religious belief. “Religion is so powerful in the way humans behave that it has always been a tool used by the wicked to twist people into doing what they want them to do,” he said.
“Yes, [the terrorists] do believe that [they are doing it to glorify God], but just because someone believes something deeply wrong, it doesn’t mean that they are right in some strange way just because they put God in it.
“The perversion of faith is one of the most desperate aspects of our world today.”
He said that he, like others, felt the instant reaction of “an eye for an eye;” but added that “two injustices do not make justice. If we start randomly killing those who have not done wrong, that’s not going to provide solutions.
“Governments have to be the means of justice – the Bible tells us that they are put there by God with the sword for justice – but they also have to lead us into a place where peace can be established.”
Welby was joined on the program by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. He said that it had taken him “quite a while” to come to terms with the reality of what happened when “people who had just gone out for a drink, gone out for a meal, gone out for a football match and were not coming home [and] had just been slaughtered.”
On the question of faith and the terrorists’ motives, Nichols said that: “Often, society looks on faith as a problem. But at moments like this we have to recover our sense of living in the presence of God and see that as a great strength.
“I think the purpose that terrorists have in mind is first of all, to make us live in fear; secondly, to breed hatred within us; and thirdly and consequently, to strike divisions within our society, to split us apart. I have been trying to stress the importance of resisting those three things.
“I think their intention is deeply distorted in terms of any claim of a religious motive. And, as Pope Francis has said, their actions are a blasphemy against God. So rather than with any rationality or validity claiming to act in the name of God; this is an absolute blasphemy for everything that God stands for.”
He called for strong action to be taken against those responsible, saying: “Terrorists, and those who persecute and belittle people in the most terrible ways, have to be stopped. The decision about how best to stop them is a political and a military judgment; but there is no doubt that strong action has to be taken.”
The Songs of Praise program is one of longest running televised worship program in the world. It does not broadcast church services, but a mixture of hymns and worship songs interspersed with testimonies and interviews.
The worship element is predominantly, if not exclusively, Christian; from a variety of Church traditions. This week’s edition featured an interview with Imam Ibrahim Mogra, the assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain.
He said that he learned of the atrocities with “absolute shock”, continuing: “And what made it worse was that these perpetrators claim to have done it in the name of God. Far from it. This was Satan’s work and they did the bidding of the devil.
“Islam totally condemns this kind of murderous atrocities wherever they take place; and our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost their loved ones.”
World continues to mourn attacks
Memorial services continue to be held around the world for the victims of the terrorist attacks; including at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in the Fijian capital Suva, where 130 candles were lit yesterday (Sunday) to represent the lives lost after the attacks in Paris.
The service also remembered the victims of other terrorist atrocities, including the Nov. 20 attack on a hotel in Bamako, the capital of Mali; recent attacks in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey; and the 224 passengers and crew of Metrojet flight 9268, which exploded over the Sinai Peninsula en route from Cairo to Saint Petersburg.
“There is no excuse whatsoever for these acts of terror, especially in the name of God,” Fiji’s acting prime minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum told the congregation.
“Paris, France, and the democratic world have been targeted through these inhuman actions. The victims of the attacks, 130 dead and more than 350 injured were just ordinary people leading ordinary lives, enjoying an evening in restaurants, listening to a music concert or watching a football game.
“The attacks in Paris, as is the goal of terrorists, were, yet again an unspeakable attempt to bring hate and terror in people’s hearts, by taking life of fellow human,” he said.
Another service was held at St John the Baptist Church in Cardiff on Sunday, bringing together members of the diplomatic community in Wales.
The president of the principality’s consular association, the Indian Honorary Consul Raj K Aggarwal, said: “It is essential that we held this event of remembrance in Cardiff for those who were killed in Paris last week. . . We must remember those who were so needlessly killed and we need to let all nations know, the French, Germans, Belgian, Portuguese and of course our own countrymen, that we stand together and that we care.
“This attack on France in Paris was an attack on Cardiff, an attack on Wales and the UK. We must show the French that it will not be forgotten just because it happened 200 miles away across the English Channel. We support the French people and our consular colleague, Marie Brousseau-Navarro.”
Brousseau-Navarro, the French honorary consul in Wales, said: “I am very grateful to my colleagues of the Consular Association in Wales and to our great friends for organizing the event. As France is struck in its heart in Paris for the second time this year, French people know that they can count on the strong reaction of solidarity from the UK and Wales. We are touched by the many demonstrations of support in Wales and throughout the world.
“Our thoughts are with the families of the victims and our compatriots in France and as our communities remain united and strong together, I thank you all for your compassion, support and solidarity.”
[Anglican Communion News Service] The Church of England has launched an online campaign to encourage a renewal of prayer life in the nation; but the organizers could not have expected that the launch of its new website would have received quite as much publicity as it has – thanks to a decision by the UK’s three largest cinema chains to ban an advertisement featuring the Lord’s Prayer.
The advertisement, which features a range of characters reciting the Lord’s Prayer, including weight lifters, a police officer, a commuter, refugees in a support center, school children, a mourner at a graveside, a festival goer and the Archbishop of Canterbury, was prepared by the communications department of the C of E, working with the cinema’s advertising agency. It had been intended to show the advertisement ahead of screenings for the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, which opens on 18 December.
The 60-second advertisement has been granted a U certificate by the British Board of Film Classification, meaning that it is suitable for all audiences; and has been cleared by the Cinema Advertising Authority. But the UK’s three largest cinema chains – Odeon, Cineworld and Vue – have refused to show the it, saying that it “carries the risk of upsetting, or offending, audiences.” This effectively bans the advert from 80 per cent of all cinema screens in the country.
“I find it extraordinary that cinemas rule that it is inappropriate for an advert on prayer to be shown in the week before Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ,” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said. “Billions of people across the world pray this prayer on a daily basis. I think they would be astonished and deeply saddened by this decision, especially in the light of the terrorist attack in Paris where many people have found comfort and solace in prayer.
“This advert is about as ‘offensive’ as a carol service or church service on Christmas Day. As a church we are a Jesus movement and this is the prayer which Jesus taught his disciples.”
Welby urged people to watch the advert “and come to their own conclusions as to whether it is offensive or upsetting. Let the public judge for themselves rather than be censored or dictated to.”
The ban was described as “plain silly” by the Archbishops’ Council’s director of communications, the Rev. Arun Arora.
“The Lord’s Prayer is prayed by billions of people across the globe every day and in this country has been part of everyday life for centuries,” he said. “Prayer permeates every aspect of our culture from pop songs and requiems to daily assemblies and national commemorations.
“For millions of people in the United Kingdom, prayer is a constant part of their lives whether as part thanksgiving and praise, or as a companion through their darkest hours.
”In one way the decision of the cinemas is just plain silly but the fact that they have insisted upon it makes it rather chilling in terms of limiting free speech. There is still time for the cinemas to change their mind and we would certainly welcome that.”
In 1999, the British Christian singer Cliff Richard released the Millennium Prayer, a single featuring the words of the Lord’s Prayer set to the music from Auld Lang Syne. It was released by the independent record label Papillon after his own record company, EMI, said that they wouldn’t release it; and many radio stations refused to play it.
But it was an unlikely hit with the public – reaching number one in the official charts for three weeks running; staying in the Top 10 for seven weeks and the Top 75 for 16 weeks. In 2000, it received an Ivor Novello Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, in recognition of it being the biggest selling UK single of 1999.
The justpray.uk website, which has been produced by the C of E with the support of the Allchurches Trust – owners of Ecclesiastical Insurance, the company which insures most C of E churches – has been designed to “promote the renewal of prayer in a digital age.”
It creates a place for prayer with advice on what prayer is and how to pray. The site also provides a ‘live prayer feed’ of prayers being prayed across the globe through social media platforms.
In addition to the banned cinema advert, the C of E has produced a range of postcards and postcards to promote the new website.
[Episcopal News Service] After three years in a Jordanian refugee camp, the Syrian family of four – soon to be five – arrived Nov. 12 at the Los Angeles International Airport with the few possessions they’d stuffed into suitcases and bags.
The church is partnering with IRIS, a program of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and one of about 30 affiliate agencies of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s resettlement service, Episcopal Migration Ministries, which has resettled refugees nationally for more than 75 years.
With no family or friends in the United States, no established credit or employment history, locating and furnishing housing for the new arrivals present a huge challenge, Manser said.
That’s where All Saints stepped up to help, stocking the apartment, located in Azusa about 15 miles east of Pasadena, said Juliana Serrano, senior associate for peace and justice. “Through our welcome team, we secured donations to make their move-in possible. They arrived to a fully furnished apartment with pantry and refrigerator filled with grocery items.”
She said the congregation’s “journey in this began before Friday and the attacks in Paris. Where it began for us was with those tragic images of Syrian refugees fleeing their country by boat, and the shocking, disturbing, grotesque image of that young boy floating to shore” on Sept. 3.
“At that point, we began considering among ourselves what was going to be our response,” said Serrano.
That resolve is unchanged, despite a climate of fear sparked by the Nov. 13 attacks, which killed at least 129 and wounded many others. “We stand on the other end of the spectrum, saying we welcome these individuals and we welcome these families,” Serrano said. “We acknowledge that these refugees are not the Islamic extremists that have participated in these attacks. They are also people who are suffering from this extremism and are victims of this extremism themselves, and need someone to stand up with them and to stand up for them.”
Calls for justice amid a climate of fear
More than half of U.S. governors may plan to reject Syrian refugees, but Episcopalians are pushing back, saying welcoming the stranger now is more crucial than ever before.
Wendy Johnson, communications manager for Episcopal Migration Ministries, said 175 people participated in a Nov. 19 webinar to explore how Episcopalians can be involved; another webinar is planned for Nov. 23.
“We need to make our voices heard,” said Episcopal Migration Ministries Director Deborah Stein during the webinar. She noted that the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 19 passed by a vote of 289-137 a measure that could limit resettlement and prevent Syrian and Iraqi refugees from entering the country. Forty-seven Democrats joined the vote. President Barack Obama has said he will veto the bill, should it pass the Senate.
A Nov. 19 White House Tweet at #RefugeesWelcome noted that, while the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has referred 23,092 Syrian refugees to the U.S. Refugees Admission Program, the Department of Homeland Security has interviewed just 7,014 since 2011. Since fiscal year 2011 only 2,034 Syrian refugees have been admitted to the United States Of those, none have been arrested or removed on terrorism charges.
Stein said she’d heard from local affiliates that the climate of fear sparked by the Paris attacks has caused some refugees to fear for their safety in the United States. “We’re concerned they’re not being welcomed and it’s re-traumatizing to them.”
But Episcopal Church Presiding and Primate Bishop Michael B. Curry counsels “Be Not Afraid” and elsewhere in the church bishops are speaking up, urging public officials to honor moral and ethical values, and encouraging constituencies to recall their faith roots.
Massachusetts Bishop Alan Gates, along with Suffragan Gayle Harris, and Western Massachusetts Bishop Doug Fisher, joined other faith leaders in defying Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision: “We are prepared to welcome and support Syrian refugees,” according to the Nov. 18 letter sent by the Massachusetts Council of Churches.
“Our churches are in every single city and town of Massachusetts,” the letter continued. “We believe in a commonwealth and a nation that lives out of our deepest values, not our fears. We welcome the opportunity to meet with you and strategize for the resettlement of those fleeing violence in Syria.”
Arizona Bishop Kirk Smith disputed Gov. Doug Ducey’s authority to limit, not just Syrians, but all refugees from entering the state. “We Christians cannot give into the kind of thirst for vengeance that seems to be sweeping through our country in response to the ISIS attacks in France, Egypt and Lebanon this week,” he said. “We have a long biblical tradition of aiding the homeless and the refugees.”
Similarly, Eastern Michigan Bishop Todd Ousley called Gov. Rick Snyder’s “attempt to block acceptance of refugees beyond the authority of his office … a fear-based reaction to a very complex set of political and humanitarian concerns. As Christians in the Episcopal tradition, our love of God compels us to love our neighbor and Jesus teaches us that acts of mercy demonstrate our own neighborliness.”
Fort Worth Provisional Bishop J. Scott Mayer also encouraged politicians “to stay grounded in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the promise of our Lord Jesus.”
“I urge Episcopalians to find ways to help the refugees in your communities. Pray for them. And let your hands be the hands of Jesus. Let your smiles show the welcoming love of Jesus, your courage in the face of fear model the courage of Jesus, your quiet confidence that all will be well shine like that of Jesus. For like Mary, like you and me, the refugees carry within themselves the image of God, a God waiting to be born again this Christmas.”
Interfaith Refugee and Immigration Service: Many ways to assist
For IRIS’s Manser, the hours are long and unpredictable but rewarding. He counts his November caseload at 10, not including the cases he still oversees from previous months.
The new arrivals are young and old; families of five, single individuals, elderly couples. Some are Christian, some Muslim, from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, some displaced for years, some from camps or urban areas, all awaiting the opportunity to begin again.
“Each refugee has his or her own story” and is assisted by IRIS caseworkers for 90 days, receiving cultural orientation and English language classes, and transportation, job training and search assistance, physical and mental health assessments, case management, and social and other local services.
Three years ago Manser, 32, had just arrived from Baghdad.
Fluent in English, Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian and Arabic, he soon began volunteering at IRIS, assisting other refugees with stories similar to his own. His own story, the only one he is comfortable sharing, includes helping with the U.S. Army in Iraq. Eventually, he received a special visa through the U.S. Embassy.
IRIS Executive Director Meghan Tumilty said the agency, also an affiliate of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and Church World Service, resettled 378 refugees from October 2014 through September 2015. “About 75 percent were Iranian religious minorities with U.S. ties,” she said. Others included refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba and the former Soviet Union.
The agency is projected to resettle 530 refugees in the current fiscal year, including some from Syria. She said that about 50 percent of the Syrian population has been displaced; more than 4 million Syrian refugees are in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and other countries.
About 76 percent are women and children “so about 2 million children have lost everything they have,” Tumilty said.
Like All Saints, communities of faith may partner to help furnish apartments, but there are many other ways to support refugees, including transportation to and from appointments, tutoring, sharing meals, donating backpacks or other gifts and often continuing the relationship beyond the anticipated six months.
Those interested in volunteering are asked to connect with local affiliates, which can be found on the Episcopal Migration Ministries’ website. Additionally, educational and informational resources available to congregations include “Called to Transformation” through Episcopal Relief & Development.
“It’s important as Episcopalians (that we welcome) the stranger,” Tumilty said.
– The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal News Service] The longstanding partnership between The Episcopal Church and the (Lutheran) Church of Sweden was formally celebrated during a Eucharist service at Uppsala Cathedral on Nov. 18 at the close of the church’s General Synod.
Former Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori joined the celebration, during which Church of Sweden Archbishop Antje Jackelén offered a prayer for The Episcopal Church and Jefferts Schori offered one for the Church of Sweden.
“The relationship between the Svenska Kyrkan and The Episcopal Church has been a gift to both for nearly three centuries. Recognizing and affirming that as a full-communion relationship will enable us to be far stronger partners in God’s mission,” said Jefferts Schori, in an e-mail message following the service. “We share a great deal, beginning with histories of migration, and we have very similar ways of worship, doing theology, and engaging ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.
“This is a living partnership which will undoubtedly grow far deeper in coming years, particularly in this season in ministry with migrants, where we meet Jesus in the other.”
The Episcopal Church and the Church of Sweden have for centuries have been in relationship.
“The churches have had good relations for quite a long time,” said Jackelén, in a news clip. “We have taken it for granted. Now we feel it is time to look into the process and see how we can further our partnership.”
The relationship between the two churches dates to the mid-18th century, when in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania there were some instances of Eucharistic sharing and priests serving across denominations without re-ordination.
“Both churches are actively involved in the striving for greater unity between Christians in the ecumenical movement,” according to a declaration read during the Nov. 18 service. “We desire to deepen this fellowship. We ask God at this moment to bless this undertaking and give the Episcopal Church and the Church of Sweden the grace to serve the Gospel of Jesus Christ together when it is called for. We will pray for each other.”
During her nine-year term as presiding bishop, Jefferts Schori, whose great-grandparents emigrated from Sweden to the United States in the late 19th century, visited the Church of Sweden several times and encouraged the relationship and cooperation between the two churches to be deepened.
During a Nov. 15-18 visit to Sweden, she was joined by the Rev. Chuck Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop for ministry beyond The Episcopal Church, and the Rev. Margaret Rose, ecumenical and interreligious officer for The Episcopal Church. Earlier in the week, they attended the Church of Sweden’s General Synod and visited Katerina Church in Stockholm, which is working with the local mosque and Islamic Relief to house refugees and provide immigration assistance.
Representatives of both churches met at the close of they synod to speak not just about the past, but also the future, said Rose, in an e-mail message.
“How to learn from each other in the area of interreligious relations, partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Swedish churches abroad, discussing questions of church state relations, refugee resettlement, gender justice and the continuation of our shared work on climate change,” she said. “The Church of Sweden shares a liturgical and governance tradition that is akin to ours. In these challenging times, we are both looking at the call of the Gospel to challenge our churches’ engagement in a world beyond our walls.”
The 78th General Convention, meeting last summer in Salt Lake City, commended through Resolution B004 the recently published “Report on the Grounds for Future Relations Between the Church of Sweden and The Episcopal Church,” and called on the presiding bishop to explore ways for the relationship with the Church of Sweden to be deepened.
Each church has entered into local full-communion agreements between Anglicans and Lutherans and many regard it as a natural development for the Church of Sweden and The Episcopal Church to recognize that they are in full communion with one another. “The recognition of this relationship will better equip each international church to minister in presence, mission, and advocacy throughout the world,” according to the explanation that accompanied the proposed General Convention resolution.
The Church of Sweden is a member of the Porvoo Communion, which groups the British and Irish Anglican churches and the Nordic and Baltic Lutheran churches that entered into a full communion agreement in 1992 to “share a common life in mission and service.”
The churches that signed the agreement are the Evangelical Lutheran churches of Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and the Anglican churches of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The Lusitanian Church in Portugal and the Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain — both extra-provincial dioceses under the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury — also signed onto the agreement. The Evangelical Lutheran churches of Denmark and Latvia have observer status.
The name Porvoo comes from the town in Finland where a joint celebration of Holy Communion was held after the formal signing of the agreement in Järvenpää.
With 6.9 million members in 13 dioceses, the Church of Sweden — known locally as Svenska Kyrkan — is the world’s largest Evangelical Lutheran Church and a member of the Lutheran World Federation.
— Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal News Service] A few days after a series of terrorist attacks devastated France and Lebanon, Muslim and Christian leaders gathered in Paris on Nov. 17 for an evening of discussions about peacemaking efforts and the role of religion in education, promoting dialogue and bringing an end to violence around the world.
The event was hosted by the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity (Anglican/Episcopal) in Paris, and led by a panel of Muslim theologians who are members of the World Union of Experts of Islam for Peace and Against Violence. Roman Catholic and Protestant leaders also attended the gathering.
The evening was held at the initiative of Jean Maher, president of the Franco-Egyptian Association for Human Rights, at the invitation of Bishop Pierre Whalon of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe.
In opening remarks for the evening, Whalon quoted The Episcopal Church’s statement on interreligious relations in Toward Our Mutual Flourishing, commended by the 2009 General Convention. “We acknowledge that ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and that he commanded us to love our neighbors. In order to do so, we must first come to know our neighbors, through dialogue. So dialogue with Muslims is required by our faith,” said Whalon, who was part of the commission that produced the report.
The Union of Experts, founded just four months ago, already comprises 500 Muslim dignitaries from around the world – Sunnis, Shi’ites, and Sufis – and “it has no ties to any organization or government,” said Sheik Mustafa Rashed, imam from Australia and president of the union. The group aims to promote peace between peoples and religions, and is calling for reforms within their own tradition.
“There are acts of violence committed, like those in Paris on Friday night, that can be attributed to a false teachings of hatred [that foment violence in the name of Islam],” said Rashed. “We want to update this sort of teaching, now that we have done a complete evaluation of it. We are at a turning point. We are cannot rewrite the Qu’ran. But there is enormous latitude in the interpretation of its verses. Those that evoke violence must be contextualized in light of history; they are no longer applicable.”
“There are 660,000 hadith [sayings], but only 2,240 are true,” he added. “There is an immediate action to take, and another that is very long-term – a reform of Muslim teaching. That has never before been done … We have launched a reform coming from inside Islam to train imams who reject violence.”
After the imams’ speeches, the Most Rev. Michel Dubost, Roman Catholic bishop of Evry and president of the French Bishop’s Council for Interreligious Affairs, and Pastor François Clavairoly, president of the Protestant Federation of France, praised this fresh, new initiative and called for renewed dialogue with Muslims.
In his concluding remarks, Whalon observed that the teachings of all religious traditions are potentially susceptible to extremist views and violence. “Christianity has no moral high ground historically. The wars of religion in the seventeenth century left a third of Europe’s population dead, all in the name of the Prince of Peace. Dialogue is the only way forward.”
Finally, at Whalon’s invitation, Rashed concluded the evening with a prayer in Arabic.
Church services and vigils have been held throughout the world in response to the terrorist attacks on Nov. 13 in Paris which killed at least 129 people.
However, the Nov. 17 discussion at the cathedral had been planned well in advance of the terrorist attacks and was part of the project Islam et Vivre ensemble, a series of meetings and events linked to the International Day of Tolerance (Nov. 16). From Nov. 10-20, the imams are making their voices heard in Brussels and in Paris. Scheduled events include participation in various conferences and high-level meetings at the European Parliament (Brussels), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (France), the Assemblée Nationale and the Senate (France), and UNESCO.
[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] During its Nov. 15-18 meeting here The Episcopal Church Executive Council laughed, cried, sang, took photos and videos, and worked with what Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry called a sense of being “joyful in Jesus Christ.”
“This was a good meeting,” Curry said in a news conference after the meeting adjourned. “It was a joy-filled meeting but, joy, unlike giddy happiness, is a deeper thing. It’s not just a response to being happy in the neighborhood. Joy has to do with our joy in being in Jesus Christ. So we could be joyful and serious about the work God has given us to do.”
Curry said council’s work was done “in the context of a real, deep commitment to following the way of Jesus; to take that more seriously and to go ever deeper in that and to commit evangelism in the best sense of that word, evangelism and racial reconciliation as the beginning of broader ways of human reconciliation.”
Council members cried over recent attacks in Paris and Beirut and when they heard about the transformative experiences during a recent young adult pilgrimage to Ferguson, Missouri, Curry said.
House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings noted that this was mainly an organizational meeting for council. The 2016-2018 has not yet begun but 19 new members, whose terms expire in 2021, joined their colleagues whose terms end in 2018 to begin their service. Council’s five joint standing committees began looking at the scope of their work for the coming triennium and examined General Convention resolutions that were referred to them for action in the coming three years, she said.
Jennings told the council in her closing remarks that she appreciated what she called the “generous” spirit of the meeting and reminded the members that they had been talking about being elastic in response to change. “I do hope we will embrace the notion of being elastic,” she said.
General Convention’s call for the church to focus on evangelism and racial reconciliation was front and center as council organized itself. Curry refused during the news conference to claim to be the originator of that dual call. Saying that convention “spoke with some remarkable clarity that I really believe that is of the spirit of God,” the presiding bishop said. “It wasn’t just Michael Curry. I think this was bigger than Michael Curry; this was the General Convention.”
Curry added that evangelism and racial reconciliation are “intimately related,” noting that the Holy Spirit brought together disparate groups on Pentecost. Those groups eventually found a way to become a new community based on the sense that those who follow Jesus are family. “This is the gospel’s work and our General Convention claimed that work anew,” he said.
Both Curry and Jennings described how they see the church’s work on evangelism and racial reconciliation proceeding. The presiding bishop said he envisions The Episcopal Church engaged in evangelism on two levels. One would be centered on planting and nurturing new churches as well as helping existing churches find ways to expand their reach into their surrounding communities. The second part of the work, he said, ought to involve nurturing as followers of Jesus “the actual Episcopalian who is sitting in the pews Sunday by Sunday” so that they are intentionally living as Christians and growing in the authentic “capacity to share and bear witness to the faith that’s in them.”
“That’s the probably the longer-term impact and the one that will take more time and more intentional work,” he said.
When people learn how to tell their faith stories they help build “a church that comes alive in some new ways,” Curry said, adding that those individual Episcopalians will then “have an impact in the world and in lives in ways that we could never program.”
Imagine, he said, if the nearly 2 million Episcopalians did this. “We could change the world.”
Jennings said racial reconciliation “is a hugely complex complicated set of issues and concerns, and there are any number of ways to dive into this.” Convention Resolution C019 charges the president and vice president of the two houses of convention “to lead, direct, and be present to assure and account for the Church’s work of racial justice and reconciliation,” Jennings noted.
Those officers, plus the Rev. Michael Barlowe in his role of secretary of convention, have been meeting to discuss how to move the church forward, she said. It became clear, Jennings said, that was important to heed the advice of Deputies Vice President Byron Rushing who urged that “before we started planning, we need to listen and to listen deeply and carefully to people who are on the frontlines doing this work who can inform whatever plan or strategy we develop to engage every Episcopalian in this vital gospel-based work,” according to Jennings.
The officers are arranging some hearings and developing a list of people to whom they want to listen. Jennings predicted that the group would have more information to share with the church in the first quarter of 2016.
Council took a step in doing its own work around racial reconciliation during a session Nov. 16 with Brite Divinity School theology professor Keri Day. Day challenged the council to struggle with her contention that the Christian church has been and still is situated in what she called “America’s racist democratic ideal.”
Many liberal Christians, as well as many liberal Americans in general, believe that the democratic ideal is a “moral blueprint” from which the country has strayed, Day said. However, she said, that the ideal is rooted in what she called white supremacy. Such supremacy is about how economic and political power accrues to whites in the United States and thus systematically excludes others.
Thus, she said, there has always been a “real Darwinian barbarity” at the heart of the construction of American culture. Americans have failed to value all lives in their conception of democracy from the very beginning, Day said.
“We must tell the truth about ourselves,” Day said, urging council to recognize that the Christian church has been complicit in the construction of American society and that “the church’s racist past is the church’s racist present.”
Such truth-telling, she acknowledged, can be risky. And some council members said during their discussion with Day that they wonder about how to encourage Episcopal Church congregations to struggle with racism in U.S. culture and in themselves.
Heidi Kim, Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society missioner for racial reconciliation, facilitated a discussion among council members and staff after Day’s presentation. She suggested that each person was probably reacting differently to what Day had said. For some, it was “brand new information” and for some “it’s the kind of thing we’ve been reading and doing and engaging in and been up to our ears in for a very long time, and trying to talk about it and not getting anywhere.” None of the experiences on that spectrum of reaction is right or wrong and none makes for experts or rookies.
“The point of Dr. Day’s presentation today was to stir up the Holy Spirit among us,” she said.
The Very Rev. Brian Baker, council member from Province VIII, said hearing Day’s presentation was an important step in having council model how The Episcopal Church could do this work. “If we’re expecting The Episcopal Church to get it right, we should be able to get it right,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s anything more important for us to do than to embrace this task,” said Navajoland Bishop David Bailey. “If we do it well, it’s something we can give to the rest of the church. But until we’re willing to step forth and invest the time, the energy and the pain that’s involved with this, all the work we do in Executive Council is truly not going to matter.” Doing that work, Bailey said, “would truly be a gift to the rest of the church.”
In other action on Nov. 18, council also:
* heard a report about the Oct. 8-12 Young Adult Pilgrimage to Ferguson, Missouri, from three staff members, including Kim, Chuck Wynder, Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society missioner for social justice and advocacy engagement, and Bronwyn Skov, Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society officer for youth ministries. Kim said the pilgrimage was meant to be an experience of spiritual transformation and formation rather than a conference or a training session on activism. The planners’ goal, according to Skov, was not to give the young adults a mountain-top experience but instead to create a “very uncomfortable space in which the Holy Spirit could hopefully dig in and work.” Staff was available to assist the pilgrims as they needed. As it turned out, she said, “There was a lot of white guilt in the room that many of us didn’t know how to deal with it.” Wynder said that the group went “beyond the black and white binary.” Of the 25 participants, 10 were white, 10 were black and the remaining five were Latino, Native American and Pacific Islander.
* elected new council members Warren Wong and Oklahoma Bishop Ed Konieczny to council’s executive committee.
* heard that Curry and Jennings have established an ad hoc legal review committee to assess the current legal functions as well as the legal needs of both the council and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. The committee comes in anticipation of the new position of chief legal officer that General Convention created by way of a rewrite of Canon 1.4. The canonical change goes into effect in January. The ad hoc committee will also develop a job description for the process.
* met in executive session for about 45 minutes during the morning. In moving to go into the closed session, council member Fredrica Thompsett said the session would “consider a couple items stated in Bishop Stacy’s report, one concerning Haiti and the other concerning some staff and personnel issues.” Chief Operating Officer Bishop Stacy Sauls had spoken to the council Nov. 17 about the organization and responsibilities of the church-wide staff. His presentation was part of the typical council orientation that happens at the start of each triennium.
The Nov. 15-18 meeting took place at the Maritime Institute Conference Center.
As the final morning session got underway Nov. 18, Barlowe told the members that a concealed audio recording device had been found on the floor of the plenary room near the table where he, Curry, Jennings and other members had been seated during the plenary sessions. He asked council members to check their tabletops and to look under their tables for any additional devices. Barlowe also said that his staff was checking to see if there were security tapes that could be reviewed to determine what happened.
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, the president of the House of Deputies. In addition, the vice president of the House of Deputies, secretary, chief operating officer, treasurer and chief financial officer have seat and voice but no vote.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry addresses the current Syrian refugee crisis:
“Be not afraid!”
Often in the gospels, fear grips the people of God, and time and again, either the angels, or Our Lord himself, respond with the same words of comfort: “Be not afraid.”
In times like this fear is real. And I share that fear with you. Our instinct tells us to be afraid. The fight-or-flight mentality takes hold. At the present moment, many across our Church and our world are grasped by fear in response to the terrorist attacks that unfolded in Paris last Friday. These fears are not unfounded. We can and should support law enforcement officials who are working hard and at great risk to protect us from crime and keep us safe. And yet, especially when we feel legitimate fear, our faith reminds us “Be not afraid.” The larger truth is that our ultimate security comes from God in Christ.
In the Book of Leviticus, God says to the people of Israel that, “the foreigner who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the foreigner as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.” Accordingly, we welcome the stranger. We love our neighbor. The Episcopal Church has long been committed to resettling refugees in our own communities fleeing violence and persecution.
The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, through its Episcopal Migration Ministries service, works with dioceses and congregations, and the United States government, to settle refugees in communities across this great country. The Episcopal Church has been engaged in this ministry for more than 75 years. We will not let the nightmare this world often is keep us from carrying out the words of Jesus who told us to be a neighbor to those in need.
Refugees from places like Syria seek to escape the precise same ideological and religious extremism that gave birth to the attacks in Paris. They seek entry into our communities because their lives are imprisoned by daily fear for their existence. Just as Jesus bids us not to be afraid, we must, in turn, pass those words of comfort to those who turn to us for help.
But Jesus calls us to go even further: not just to love our neighbors and our kin, but to love our enemies. This is particularly difficult when we are afraid. But even in the midst of our fear we stand on the solid ground of our faith and proclaim the faith in Christ crucified and risen from the dead. In practical terms, this may mean finding strength in prayer, or in our neighbors, or in our churches, or in acts of solidarity with others who live in fear. This is the hope that casts out fear.
The fear is real. So we pray. We go to church. We remember who we are in Jesus. Our resurrection hope is larger than fear. Let nothing keep us from that hope, that faith, that security in Gods dream for all of humanity.
“Be not afraid!”
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
The following resources are offered for education and understanding of the Syrian refugee crisis.
• Episcopal Public Policy Network has posted an overview and a call to action here
• Two live webinars have been slated for November 19 and November 23. Information is here.
[Episcopal News Service] Daisy, a 37-year-old mother, hasn’t seen her three children in more than seven-and-a-half years, since she left them in the care of her husband in the Philippines so that she could come to work cleaning hotel rooms in New York.
Through the assistance of a Manila-based employment firm, Daisy secured a visa, housing and a full-time job with a major hotel chain. Or so she thought.
Daisy shared her story during a panel on human trafficking sponsored by Anglican Women’s Empowerment held earlier this fall at the Episcopal Church Center in New York.
The Rev. Adrian Dannhauser, chair of the Episcopal Diocese of New York’s Task Force Against Human Trafficking, moderated the panel of lawyers, migration specialists and human rights advocates, including Bernadette Ellorin, director of Asiamerica Mission to End Modern Slavery, based at St. James’ Episcopal Church in Elmhurst, Queens.
Following the panel, in a telephone interview with Episcopal News Service, Ellorin explained how employment agencies coordinate the recruitment of migrant laborers. Instead of dealing with what appears to be a legitimate employment recruitment system, people become victims of human trafficking.
When Daisy arrived in the United States, the contract guarantees never materialized.
Daisy was not alone.
“There were a bunch of them recruited; it’s a common story people go into debt to pay the necessary fees,” said Ellorin, adding that people borrow from lending agencies affiliated with the employment agencies to pay recruitment fees and fall into debt bondage. “It’s a racket.”
Daisy and the others came to New York with the promise their work visas would be processed, which didn’t happen; their passports were confiscated and held by the employer “processing” the work visas, essentially leaving the workers undocumented and vulnerable, binding them to the employer, she added.
Eventually, Daisy was able to find work as a domestic.
“She has her T-visa but she had to go through the whole process and still hasn’t paid off her debt,” said Ellorin.
U.S. immigration law allows victims of human trafficking to obtain non-immigrant T-visas and remain in the country while trafficking violators are investigated and prosecuted.
Worldwide, 21 million people, including 11.4 million women and girls, are victims of trafficking. The United States is a major destination country for men, women and children trafficked for the purposes of labor and sexual exploitation.
“Immigration and labor are the same issue – and until we begin talking about them together, we’ll be in this state of inertia,” said Ellorin.
In 2000, the U.S. Congress enacted the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act in 2000. The act, which emphasizes protections for women and children, seeks to prevent human trafficking, protect its victims and prosecute traffickers; it was reauthorized in 2013.
Episcopalians nationwide have begun to form networks and to create awareness of the existence of human trafficking and to look for ways to assist in eradicating it; moreover Episcopalians and Anglicans are working worldwide to build awareness and educate people about human trafficking. The panel earlier this year, organized by Christina Hing, chair of Anglican Woman’s Empowerment, was part of that continuing effort. In addition to building awareness, it is looking for ways individuals and churches can respond to victims’ needs, the kind of work the Asiamerica Mission to End Modern Slavery is engaged in.
“The vision of Asiamerica Mission to End Modern Slavery came about following the first Summit Against Human Trafficking held at St. James Episcopal Church in Elmhurst last May 10, 2014,” said the Rev. Winfred Vergara, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s missioner for Asiamerica Ministries.
Vergara, who also serves as priest-in-charge of St. James’ Episcopal Church, led the effort along with several grassroots organizations including the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns and the New York chapter of GABRIELA USA to form the Asiamerica Mission to End Slavery with the support of St. James’ Church.
The mission aims to develop a comprehensive resource center – for education and awareness to address human trafficking, and programs to support and empower victims, including legal and immigration assistance, referrals to women’s shelters and advocacy efforts focused on the plight of migrants, said Vergara.
Queens, where Elmhurst is located, is the third most racially diverse county in the United States, with 22.8 percent of its population identifying as Asian-American and 27.5 percent as Latin. The borough sits at the western tip of Long Island and is the port of entry for both air and sea traffic into New York City.
The borough is also “the epicenter of human trafficking in the United States, especially labor trafficking, (with) the victims mostly coming from Asia,” said Vergara.
Located in the western Pacific Ocean, the Philippines is a lower middle-income nation that is home to 96.7 million people, 25 percent of them living in poverty; the export of labor is government policy and workers ranging from low-skilled to professionals are expected to migrate. Moreover, Daisy’s story is common in a global labor market that increasingly favors female workers over male workers in healthcare, childcare and eldercare, and hospitality.
“Over half of the migrants leaving the Philippines are women and they are the bread winners. The family took out a big loan in order to send her [Daisy]; it destroys many families. The families get broken apart, and in more extreme cases, parents become commoditized by the children, they become accustomed to the gifts and … they don’t want to lose the support and are unfamiliar with their own parents,” said Ellorin, adding that the parent suffers racism, abuse and discrimination in the country where they work. “In many ways we are raising generations of parentless children and it’s being normalized.”
Daisy plans to visit her family in the Philippines in March.
– Lynette Wilson is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service.
Comunidades locais da América Latina, que enfrentam grande ameaças para garantir suas terras comuns dos interesses de poderosas corporações privadas, continuam fazendo teologia em defesa da sua luta e da sua vida. As lideranças religiosas querem ser “cumpridoras da Palavra, não somente ouvintes da mesma”.
Essa foi uma das fortes mensagens enviadas do encontro de Fé e Território que aconteceu em São Paulo no final de setembro de 2015. Foi o quarto encontro dessa natureza: “Nós chamamos a atenção para a necessidade de recuperar a teologia e espiritualidade vindas do Primeiro e Segundo Testamento judeu-cristão onde Deus está comprometido, por amor, com os mais vulnerareis pela justiça, onde a terra é considerada um dom, uma herança que não pode ser concentrada, destruída ou mercantilizada”, disseram as participantes na carta final. “A partir dessa profunda convicção, verdadeira teologia é baseada no amor e solidariedade com as pessoas e o planeta em situação de vulnerabilidade”, elas disseram.
Sob o lema “A força da fé em movimento de defesa dos territórios”, as participantes exploraram a conexão entre prática religiosa e espiritualidade, e a importante preocupação em defender os territórios onde se vive – a oikoumene ou a casa comum. Particularmente, as participantes trabalharam como a fé é vivida onde o território é considerado um objeto para um tipo de desenvolvimento que está unicamente preocupado com lucro e privilegiar uma minoria, ao custo de degradar a humanidade e a natureza.
O objetivo do encontro foi considerar outros paradigmas teológicos e práxicos para dar suporte ás lutas por sustentabilidade, resiliência e eco justiça. O facilitador regional para América Latina e Caribe da Aliança Anglicana, Paulo Ueti, foi um dos participantes do encontro. “Comunidades locais – sejam indígenas, afrodescendentes, quilombolas ou camponesas e urbanas – enfrentam o poder monstruoso dos megaprojetos, corporações transnacionais”, ele disse em resposta ao testemunho de representante de comunidades locais que compartilharam suas lutas para salvaguardar a integridade de nossa casa comum, enfrentando o poder das companhias de petróleo e mineração, monocultivo e militarização. “Práticas e crenças tradicionais tem sido perdidas, sufocadas, criminalizadas, as vezes intencionalmente descuidas através dos atos passados de conquista, colonização e genocídio físico e epistemológico”, ele disse. “Isto continua ainda hoje com a invasão das indústrias, onde o agronegócio, companhias mineradoras e projetos de mega infraestrutura afetam a natureza e as comunidades mais vulneráveis. Teólogas/os vindas/os da IEAB, da Rede Cristã Internacional Oscar Romero em Solidariedade com os Povos da América Latina (SICSAL), da Comissão Pastoral da Terra (ICAR), do CONIC-Conselho Nacional de Igrejas do Brasil, e da ONG Povo Índio do Equador foram convidadas/os para colaborar e levar adiante a reflexão sobre as conexões entre as lutas atuais pela eco justiça e as expressões passadas e presentes de fé e espiritualidades.“Nós acolhemos esse jeito de fazer teologia enraizado nos territórios e na vida cotidiana e incentivamos que isso aconteça em outras partes da Comunhão Anglicana”, disse Rev. Andy Bowerman, codiretor da Aliança Anglicana.
“Nós estamos muito encorajados para ver os resultados desse encontro. Nós nos asseguraremos que esses esforços e vozes sejam ouvidas em toda a Comunhão neste tempo em que construímos um “momentum” e uma peregrinação em direção a COP21, Conferência das Nações Unidas sobre as Mudanças Climáticas, em Paris em Dezembro desse ano”, acrescentou Rev. Bowerman.
A Aliança Anglicana está comprometida não só de ser um canal para as vozes silenciadas historicamente, mas também para ecoar e aumentar o volume das vozes marginalizadas para que sejam ouvidas nos centros de poder e influência.
O rompimento das Barragens do Fundão e Santarém, da mineradora Samarco, empresa controlada pela Vale do Rio Doce e pela anglo-australiana BHP, aconteceu no dia 5 de novembro provocando uma avalanche de lama misturada com resíduos tóxicos causando 24 mortes, mais de 600 pessoas deslocadas e principalmente a destruição ambiental de toda a região da cidade de Mariana e de todo o distrito de Bento Rodrigues. Os atingidos foram as comunidades ribeirinhas, camponesas, trabalhadores da mesma mineradora, famílias sem muito sustento. A tragédia adquiriu dimensões que vão além do estado de Minas Gerais, atingindo também diversas cidades do estado de Espirito Santo.
A indústria da mineração, no geral, é uma das atividades humanas que mais afeta a vida na Terra pelos seus impactos destrutivos nos ecossistemas, e é de enorme contribuição para o aquecimento global através das emissões de gases efeito estufa, quando não contempla estratégias de redução de riscos e mecanismos de desenvolvimento sustentável.
Igualmente, pelo seu enorme potencial de lucro e de dividendos, que somados à corrupção, é uma das atividades industriais que menos sofrem regulações de governos locais, regionais e federais os quais deveriam interferir para controlar a excessiva exploração do solo e impedi-la diante evidencias de catástrofe iminente, sempre priorizando o direito de proteção humana e ambiental como também o direito das gerações futuras, uma vez que, os danos causados em Mariana e Bento Rodrigues perdurarão pelas próximas duas gerações.
Uma tragédia como não se trata de um mero acidente, mas sim é resultado de uma sucessão de erros não contemplados com a devida relevância os quais levam ao desastre que dificilmente é causado somente por um fator. Esse conjunto de equívocos passa necessariamente pelo descaso no controle governamental, como também, pelo crime de priorizar o lucro em detrimento da segurança humana e ambiental.
Entendemos que foi um crime o fato de não se tomar as devidas precauções como também em não planejar mecanismos emergenciais para prever o rompimento e, no caso extremo, de avisar à população com antecedência para minorar os efeitos da avalanche de lama. Não basta somente com indenizar as famílias. É necessário descentralizar o poder das empresas nas decisões sobre os bens naturais, uma vez que eles não são infinitos e não são renováveis sem a devida sustentabilidade. No entanto, as proprietárias da mineradora Samarco não assumem as responsabilidades o que torna mais enfático o comportamento criminoso em não fornecer um mecanismo claro e efetivo na reparação de danos pós evento.
Tragédias como esta desperta sentimentos de compaixão e solidariedade mas também de indignação, impotência, raiva e dor. Qualquer um pode ser afetado no futuro. Por isso é necessário denunciar esse modelo predatório amparado na economia de mercado que favorece os lucros em detrimento da vida!
Assim, convoco a Igreja a ORAR:
Ø Para que sejam tomadas as devidas precauções e prontas ações tanto dos governos quanto das mineradoras responsáveis a fim de evitar que a terceira barragem de Germano venha se romper e aumentar assim os danos às populações.
Ø Para que as pessoas afetadas sejam ressarcidas e que lhe sejam oferecidas moradia, trabalho e infraestrutura dignas para reconstruir seus projetos.
Ø Para que a ambição humana pelo enriquecimento cesse e não seja colocado o interesse pelo lucro acima da vida e assim evitar outros desastres causados pelo descaso e corrupção.
Ø Para que as pessoas danificadas tenham direito a um atendimento humano e sejam supridas de alimentos, roupas e provisões básicas de qualidade.
Ø Para que o fornecimento de água seja garantido a todas populações nas cidades que têm sido afetadas pela avalanche de lama que está poluindo os rios e as nascentes .
Ø Para que os governos implementem estratégias direcionadas a evitar doenças, epidemias e contaminação toxica derivada da avalanche de lama.
Ø Para que nos tornemos mais conscientes das necessidades do nosso próximo, que neste caso, são os nossos irmãos de Mariana e do Distrito de Bento Rodrigues em Minas Gerais, como também dos diversos povoados e cidades do Espirito Santo.
Dom Francisco de Assis da Silva
Primaz da Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil
A visita ocorrerá em duas dioceses de nossa Província: Amazônia e Brasília. Será a primeira visita do Primaz ++Fred ao Brasil. Ele virá acompanhado do seu Secretário, Revd. Paul Feheley.
O objetivo da visita é fortalecer as relações sempre sólidas que tem existido entre a IEAB e a Igreja Anglicana do Canadá. Existem muitas semelhanças no jeito de fazer missão e no compromisso com a incidência pública e ação diaconal.
Algumas dioceses canadenses mantiveram companheirismo formal com dioceses brasileiras e mais recentemente, a Diocese de Huron estabeleceu companheirismo com a Diocese da Amazônia.
Dentro da Comunhão Anglicana, a Igreja Canadense tem um importante papel de liderança e em termos teológicos e litúrgicos, tem contribuído no âmbito da missão, do serviço e do ecumenismo.
O Primaz ++Fred foi eleito em 2007, em Sínodo Provincial. Antes havia sido bispo sufragâneo e depois diocesano da diocese de Nova Scotia e Príncipe Eduardo entre 1995 e 2007. Formado em Biologia e com Mestrado em Divindade, pela Universidade Atlântica de Teologia. É casado com Lynne Samways-Hiltz e o casal tem um filho, Nathan.
No ano passado, nosso Primaz, em visita ao Canadá, convidou o Arcebispo Fred para visitar nossa Província como gesto de acolhimento e agradecimento pela generosa interação entre as duas Igrejas.
O Canadá têm sido um dos países que, historicamente, tem um papel de acolhimento de estrangeiros e, igualmente, acolheu durante o período da ditadura muitos exilados e perseguidos políticos do Brasil e da América Latina.
Sua agenda em Belém e em Brasília incluirá celebrações eucarísticas - inclusive no Dia de Ação de Graças em Brasília – reuniões com clero e lideranças das dioceses visitadas, encontros ecumênicos e, claro, um pouco de lazer para mergulhar na cultura e nas belezas do Brasil.
Seja bem vindo Arcebispo Fred! A IEAB o acolhe com alegria!
Dom Francisco de Assis da Silva
Primaz da Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil
Diocesano em Santa Maria