Irmãos e Irmãs,
“Digo isto porque sabemos tempo que já é hora de vos despertardes do sono; porque agora está mais perto de nós a salvação, do que quando recebemos a fé” Rom 13:11
O Advento é tempo de preparação. A Igreja celebra cada ano esta quadra que deve significar para nós um momento de mergulho para dentro de nós mesmos e percebermos até onde estamos preparados para receber o “Bendito que vem em nome do Senhor”! A coleta do Primeiro Domingo do Advento nos exige rejeitar as obras das trevas e vestirmos das armas da luz o que parece ser uma linguagem militar, de confronto claro, onde não é possível se ficar neutro. Para alguns isso pode parecer uma linguagem exagerada! Mas, dispensando o imaginário de uma batalha literalmente renhida, o Advento é tempo de deixarmos claro que projeto de vida e de sociedade o Principe da Paz deseja para a humanidade.
Nossa sociedade está estruturada sobre uma ideologia do consumo e da coisificação de tudo. Estamos assistindo uma excêntrica exploração da festa do Natal pelos poderosos deste mundo. Vivemos um espécie de síndrome de Herodes. Explico: o interesse de Herodes de ver o Menino não era para adora-lo, como disse aos Magos. Assim também o mercado não quer saber de Jesus. Quer saber de lucro, de consumo. O que menos importa é o Menino. Aliás, muitos meninos e meninas, como Jesus, estão jogados à própria sorte em nossa sociedade. Meninos e meninas não interessam, a menos que sejam consumidores!
Humildade, diz o mercado, é coisa para quem não tem ambição. Mas se esquecem que o Menino Deus se humilhou, se desconstruiu a si mesmo como Deus supremo para assumir a nossa natureza. A Igreja, neste tempo, é chamada a assumir também a humildade de Jesus e acolhe-lo como uma criança, frágil, sem teto e num universo de incertezas.
Onde estaremos nós durante este tempo de Advento? Estaremos orando e nos preparando para cantar o Gloria in Excelsis Deo, quando chegar a noite do Natal? Estaremos esvaziados de nossas preocupações consumistas no frenesi das lojas, dos shoppings, das festas (algumas delas de pura aparência), ou daquilo que o mercado configura indevidamente como espírito de Natal? Estaremos redescobrindo a solidariedade? Estaremos pedindo a Deus que nos afaste das obras de injustiça? Se estamos neste caminho, dou graças a Deus!
O encontro com o Menino Deus é experiência transformadora. Mas para isso precisamos nos preparar com disciplina para que em nós se manifeste a graça divina, a sabedoria para distinguir entre as obras das trevas e as obras da luz. As primeiras escravizam nossos espíritos. As segundas nos fazem sentir livres, disponíveis para Deus! Que caminho queremos seguir?
As obras das trevas são multiplicadoras de exclusões, de violência contra os mais fracos, de vaidades que não preenchem a real necessidade das pessoas humanas. As obras da luz geram respeito, justiça, libertação! Sigamos as obras da luz e assim estaremos livres para acolher o Menino Deus!
Um abençoado tempo de Advento para tod@s nós!
BISPO PRIMAZ DA IEAB
[Episcopal News Service] Whether boxing up turkey with all the trimmings or serving delicious home-cooked meals restaurant-style, Episcopal churches across the country are giving thanks this holiday season by giving to the hungry, the homeless and the lonely.
A Florida priest who received a criminal citation for feeding the homeless in a public park earlier this month says he’ll be doing just that come Thanksgiving morning.
“I will be accompanying my adult parishioners and youth group members to one of the [Southeast Florida] diocese’s outreach centers, St. Laurence Chapel, to serve Thanksgiving dinner between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thanksgiving Day,” according to the Rev. Canon Mark Sims, rector of St. Mary Magdalene Church in Coral Gables.
“We will serve a traditional dinner of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, vegetables, drink and dessert. We will also make sandwiches and to-go meals, to be delivered to individuals who are homeless on the streets of downtown Fort Lauderdale,” said Sims, who has challenged the constitutionality of the city ordinance.
And Norman Lee, 63, says he will consider himself an honored guest at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Detroit where he plans to arrive bright and early for a Thanksgiving meal.
“It’s real nice, especially when you’re out on the street and no one invited you for the family dinner, and you have no money to spend for a nice meal,” added Lee, a self-described regular at the church’s five-day-a-week soup kitchen, a collaborative effort among several local congregations.
“They serve turkey dinner first thing in the morning, starting about 7:30 a.m. or 8 a.m.,” Lee said. And not just turkey but “all the fixings, cranberry sauce, dressing. They bring it to your seat. They dress up the kitchen; they decorate it and put tablecloths on the table and decorations to set the mood.”
It reminds him of holidays past, “to be able to have a real, old-fashioned dinner,” he said.
Marianne Arbogast, who manages the church’s Manna Community Meal soup kitchen, said she expects to serve between 700 and 800 meals on Thanksgiving Day with the help of hundreds of volunteers.
In Southern California, one woman’s gift of love has multiplied by the thousands.
Kim McCurdy, a parishioner at St. Ambrose Episcopal Church in Claremont began sharing Thanksgiving meals with a few homeless people 21 years ago.
This year, with the help of volunteers, McCurdy and her catering business partner Gayle Jensen will help organize, cook and distribute meals for several thousand people at the church and four other locations in Southern California.
When she noticed homeless and hungry people “it reminded me of when I was growing up in Vietnam,” she said. “My mother had eight children and my father died young. We were hungry all the time.”
McCurdy approached her rector about wanting to help feed local people who are homeless. She and Jensen use the parish’s kitchen and their efforts have garnered thousands of donated turkeys and other food items. The women also have organized a weekly interfaith food program that feeds hundreds.
“There are so many working poor and people alone, seniors, and people are hungry year-round,” Jensen said.
In Ohio and Virginia: Boxing up holiday delights
Jill Burket Ragase’s 6-year-old twins, Pippa and Truman, and even her 18-month-old twins, Penelope and Quentin, are “Thanksgiving box experts now.”
And Ragase, volunteer coordinator for Cincinnati’s Episcopal Church of the Redeemer’s Thanksgiving outreach program, says she thinks they may even understand a little bit about food scarcity because they’ve rubbed elbows with those experiencing it.
Sharing a family ministry while helping others is a reason she agreed to lead Redeemer’s program this year, said Ragase. She and other volunteers recently divvied up an estimated 940 sticks of butter, 2,820 extra large eggs and enough 5-pound bags of potatoes to fill 250 boxes with turkey and all the ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal for local working poor residents.
“We are so blessed,” said Ragase. “A local grocery store offers the turkeys at 99 cents a pound and gives us 10 percent off the rest of the perishable items. So, I got to go and order those this week.”
According to Sharon Jenkins, Redeemer’s communications director, the parish has partnered for several years with the Madisonville Education and Assistance Center (MEAC) and negotiates with the grocery store “to get the turkeys at a reduced rate, and we include eggs, potatoes, and all the makings for a big meal.”
After donated bundles of corrugated boxes arrive, parishioners sign up in October to commit to fill at least one. “Some take as many as three boxes,” increasing this year’s total from the 225 filled in 2013, Ragase said.
Parishioners “include a $15 donation toward the cost of the turkeys” and the boxes come with a shopping list for nonperishable items such as macaroni shells, mashed potatoes, stuffing mix, pie filling and pie crust mixes. The boxes are filled and then “this week is the best part” because the turkeys arrive, Ragase said Nov. 21.
On Nov. 22, volunteers arrived in shifts, some to pick up turkeys and other perishables from the local grocery store, others to deliver the boxes to MEAC’s food pantry for a Nov. 23 distribution.
Similarly, members of Historic Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, helped fill boxes with turkey and all the trimmings for 150 local families to make a complete Thanksgiving meal, according to development director Tara Knox.
“The families are Alexandrians who have requested assistance from the church’s Lazarus Outreach Ministry which serves local people in need,” according to Knox.
On Nov. 23, youth in grades six to 12 helped set up for the food distribution by converting part of the parish hall into a Thanksgiving food pantry, she said. They receive donated turkeys and canned goods.
When those who’ve requested assistance arrive, a personal shopper accompanies them through the pantry, Knox said.
“It’s a nice opportunity to have their family meal cooked in their own home,” she said. “And it’s really fun for us because everybody can get in on the act and the kids get to set up the food pantry. It’s kind of fancy, and the Sunday school kids put together treats and inspirational messages to go with the bags.”
–The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal News Service – Charleston, South Carolina] The three newest mission congregations of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina worship in two United Methodist churches and a former martial arts studio next to a barbecue joint and a bar.
On Nov. 15, the members of the Episcopal Church in Okatie, Episcopal Church of the Messiah in Myrtle Beach and East Cooper Episcopal Church became the sixth, seventh and eighth such congregations to have formed in the last two years. Their membership brings to 30 the number of congregations that form The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.
The three newest missions’ worship arrangements are not unusual for such fledgling congregations in the Low Country of South Carolina. For instance, the Episcopal Church on Edisto began meeting in a barbecue restaurant and now shares space with New First Missionary Baptist Church, an African-American Baptist church that worships in a newer building next door.
St. Francis Episcopal Church in Charleston meets in a funeral home chapel, J. Henry Stuhr’s West Ashley Chapel. In October, the mission congregation held an animal blessing service at the dog park down the street.
Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Summerville shares space with an African-American congregation, Wesley United Methodist Church, and holds Sunday school in the public library around the corner.
And St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Conway worships in the interdenominational Lackey Chapel of Coastal Carolina University.
“Unlikely groups have been the most welcoming of us,” South Carolina Bishop Provisional Charles vonRosenberg told ENS.
Beginning November 2012, and in some cases earlier, many Episcopalians felt forced to leave their parish homes in a dispute led by then-diocesan Bishop Mark Lawrence over policy decisions made by the wider Episcopal Church. Lawrence was deemed to have renounced his Episcopal orders.
Those who wished to remain in The Episcopal Church are now part of what is known as The Episcopal Church in South Carolina. The entity has been so named since Jan. 26, 2013 in order to comply with a temporary restraining order that prevented the group from using the diocesan seal and the names “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina,” “The Diocese of South Carolina” and “The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.”
“The Exodus event seems to relate to our experiences in various ways,” vonRosenberg said during his address to the church’s 224th annual convention Nov. 15. “For instance, I have heard from many of you about the sense and reality of oppression in this part of the church, in previous times. Then, a kind of separation and exodus took place. And now, people of God, we find ourselves traveling through the wilderness.”
Theirs is not a barren wilderness, however, vonRosenberg said during an ENS interview prior to the convention. In addition to numerical growth, there has been spiritual growth.
“There’s meaning here, which is deep and profound. It has to do with building community, knowing what is important, claiming that and wanting to go forward with that conviction,” he said. “We’re not looking back because the future is bright and what’s in the past is something that we don’t need or want to relive.”
Or as Andrea McKellar, St. Francis’ senior warden, put it: “It’s been very joyful. It’s a truly resurrection experience that we went from what seemed in the first days to be the worst situation in the world to now I wouldn’t change anything about it.”
These eight new worshiping communities are pilgrims, journeying towards a destination they may not yet see clearly but knowing they are committed to being Episcopalians, the bishop and others said.
“There’s a holy patience” among those pilgrims, said the Ven. Calhoun Walpole, who serves as archdeacon of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.
“People know that they won’t see the fruits. There’s a deep sense that I see; a deep understanding that the harvest is not ours; that it can never be ours, it’s the Lord’s; that we are here laboring in these fields right now, laboring for future generations,” said Walpole, who is also vicar of Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston. “You boil that all down and it’s the church being the church. It’s what the church has done in every time in every generation in every place. We just have the gift of experiencing a heightened sense of that reality.”
Those people who are experiencing that reality have made the sacrifice of leaving church buildings that held parts of their families’ histories and in some cases family and friends who also carried that history, vonRosenberg and Walpole said. And Walpole suggested that other sacrifices are being made as well, acknowledging that some Episcopalians have stayed in the parishes that have followed Lawrence’s lead.
“I think the story that is not told for obvious reasons is the story of those people who have made the decision to stay in their respective parishes that broke away,” Walpole explained. “I believe those numbers are large and I believe those people, while they may not even use the language of ‘call’ or even ‘sacrifice,’ knowingly or unknowingly are continuing to bear witness quietly to the presence of The Episcopal Church in those parishes.”
In the midst of The Episcopal Church’s reorganization in South Carolina, its members were called during the Nov. 14-15 convention to look outward, as well as inward. The convention’s theme was “Christ to the world we bring.” Its leaders wanted to start to change the church’s focus from survival to mission, while reestablishing a sense of Episcopal and Anglican identity and accountability. VonRosenberg said the leadership wants to encourage all of its congregations, and especially its start-ups, “to be recognized in the larger community for a purpose which involves the mission of Jesus.”
More than 300 people attended the convention, including 77 lay delegates and 36 clergy members. Information about the work of the convention, held at Church of the Holy Communion in Charleston, is here. The Rev. Thomas Brackett, Episcopal Church missioner for new church starts and missional initiatives, conducted a series of workshops on Nov. 14 as part of that effort. The Rev. Canon Mark Stevenson, domestic poverty missioner for The Episcopal Church, also spoke to the convention.
And former Southern Malawi Bishop James Tengatenga, who chairs the Anglican Consultative Council, was the preacher during the opening Eucharist. Tengatenga’s presence was meant to show the church and the wider community that, in vonRosenberg’s words during his address, “The Episcopal Church is the only recognized member of the Anglican Communion in this country.”
During the business part of the convention, delegates unanimously rolled back constitutional and canonical changes made by Lawrence-led conventions to pull the church away from The Episcopal Church. Chancellor Thomas Tisdale told the convention that the Nov. 15 corrective actions had the effect of “making us a part of The Episcopal Church.”
Legal work remains to be done. There are court actions focused on which group should have legal control of the Diocese of South Carolina. And while vonRosenberg and other leaders do not want to focus the Episcopalians on the court actions, those legal cases do make a claim on the organization’s attention and finances. And the bishop says they represent important work for the Episcopalians’ reorganization and their future “in this part of South Carolina.” Details about the court actions are here.
Still, vonRosenberg told ENS, Episcopalians in South Carolina are telling him that “we’re not looking back because the future is bright and what’s in the past is something that we don’t need or want to relive.”
Eve Pinckey, a founding member of the Episcopal Church in Okatie who now serves on its vestry, describes it this way: “We’re going to grow, grow, grow and love, love, love one another, just as we always have. It’s going to be wonderful. I can’t wait.”
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church in Okatie, which recently became an official mission of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, is on a journey of renewal which began on a dock.
[Episcopal News Service – Montevideo, Uruguay] Some of the women began saving money more than six months in advance and some traveled 12 hours by bus across the border to attend a bi-national conference, which has united for more than eight years Brazilian and Uruguayan women through stories of challenge, courage, strength and love.
Their world is changing, and a few women are moving into leadership roles. Yet much needs to be done to carry out the pioneering Convention of Belém, which required countries who signed it 20 years ago to educate their people about women’s rights, to fight machismo and pass laws to protect women from violence.
Earlier this month, 100 women and more than a dozen men representing the three southern most dioceses – Southwest, Southern, and Pelotas – of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil and the Anglican Diocese of Uruguay gathered at a spiritual retreat center 30 minutes outside the capital here for a two-day conference focused on the theme “church women committed to social change.”
The annual gathering offers the space, said the women, for the storytelling and relationship-building that empowers them in their lives and their community ministries; one of the ways women are committed to social change in their communities is through building awareness about gender-based violence prevention and intervention.
Violence against women and children is prevalent and often commonplace throughout Latin America, where often “women are not even aware of the violence they are in, or they believe that they are the only ones being abused,” said Christina Takatsu Winnischofer, president of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil’s Women’s Union.
Throughout the Nov. 8-9 meeting, women and men shared stories of church and community ministries and social programs that were working well and those that faced challenges, ranging from having the resources to address the community’s needs to the red tape and restrictions that apply when churches work with government agencies to provide social services.
The focus on violence against women and children, the majority of that being domestic violence, was a theme that carried over from the previous year’s conference held in the Diocese of Southern Brazil.
The U.S.-based Episcopal Church, which shares a covenant agreement with the church in Brazil (which became an autonomous province in 1965), also had a presence at the two-day conference, with the Rev. Glenda McQueen, the officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Rev. David Copley, officer for mission personnel, both of whom work in the church’s office of global partnerships; Episcopal Church-appointed missionaries Monica Vega and Heidi Schmidt, who are serving the province of Brazil, and Young Adult Service Corps missionaries Nina Boe of the Diocese of Olympia and Kirsten Lowell of the Diocese of Maine, who serve in the Diocese of Rio de Janeiro and the Diocese of Uruguay, respectively.
“There is this movement toward addressing women’s issues in our churches today, which is critical,” said Vega, who in addition to serving the church’s provincial office, also works with a nonprofit organization that works to empower women street vendors.
To work on women’s issues is not something to do because it is trendy, she added, “but because it’s a sign of the Kingdom. Giving back dignity to women is a sign of the Kingdom, that’s what Jesus did.”
Uruguay, one of the smallest countries in terms of both land area and population in South America, shares borders with two of the largest, Argentina to the west and the much larger Brazil to its north and east. There are 200 million people in Brazil compared with 3.5 million in Uruguay, with 9 percent and 11.5 percent of the population living in poverty, respectively, according to data from the World Bank.
Still, when it comes to violence against women, size, income and other development data don’t tell the story of what the United Nations calls a “pandemic in diverse forms.” An average of 68 domestic violence cases were reported daily in Uruguay in 2013; Amnesty International has criticized the government for its inability to respond adequately to cases of violence against women. Between 2001 and 2011 more than 50,000 women were murdered mainly as a result of domestic violence, according to the Brazilian Institute for Applied Research. Brazil is the seventh most dangerous country in the world as measured by rates of violence toward women.
During the Nov. 9 Eucharist service, women in pairs acted out an exercise that demonstrated what it’s like when women are treated as things, or objects – the point being that when women are treated as things, they don’t matter.
When the church first started talking about violence against women it walked into uncharted territory because “violence against women isn’t something you talk about in the church,” said Archbishop Francisco de Assis da Silva, Brazil’s primate since 2013, and bishop of the Diocese of Southwest Brazil.
It was something, however, that the church needed to do despite the “taboo,” da Silva said when he addressed the conference on its second day. When the church began talking about violence against women, it couldn’t deny that it exists in the church as well, and that unfortunately men don’t see it as an important topic.
“It’s something that is presented by women, for women,” he said, and that’s one of the biggest obstacles to addressing the violence against women and children. “It’s something that men need to bring to the table.”
Taking the lead on women’s rights
Coordinated by Anglican Service of Diakonia and Development (SADD), which coordinates social services and projects at all levels of the church, the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil embarked on a two–year study of human rights, which through grassroots feedback led to a focus on domestic violence, explained Sandra Andrade, the director of SADD.
In August 2013, SADD, in partnership with Christian Aid, released its first booklet aimed at the prevention and intervention of gender-based violence against women. The booklet, which included 10 workshops aimed at both men and women, was later translated from Portuguese into Spanish and English with the help of Episcopal Relief & Development; it since has been shared in Latin America as well as Africa.
A second version of the booklet updated with an additional workshop on HIV prevention strategies was released earlier this year and distributed at the conference.
“Domestic Violence Against Women is a consequence of a culture constructed by a society that promotes inequalities based on the differences considered to be natural (biological) between the sexes, which determine how each person should behave because they are of one gender or another,” it reads.
“Just as in all social spaces, the religious communities are not exempt from this reality and, often, contribute to the perpetration of this violence through their declarations and practices. Therefore, if as religious communities we are capable of practicing gender-related violence against women, we can also admit that we are capable of overcoming and beating this reality and of building a culture of peace based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Amazonia, which covers more than 2 million square miles of Northern Brazil, can feel particularly isolated since it often is disconnected from government services. A bishop and two priests cover nine distinct communities where domestic violence is prevalent. “Women are literally dying from violence,” said Maria Elizabeth Santos Teixeira, a policewoman from the Diocese of Amazonia who serves as vice president of the Women’s Union.
“It’s one thing to say that there are difficulties, it’s another to be able to sit with others and tell your stories,” said Santos Teixeira.
The isolation Santos Teixeira sometimes feels in Amazonia can be felt in Uruguay as well. The Diocese of Uruguay was thwarted in its attempt in 2012 to become part of the province of Brazil.
The Uruguayan women’s participation in the conference began out of a companion diocese relationship with the Diocese of Southwest Brazil, but the relationship extends beyond that. The church in Uruguay is more connected to the church in Brazil than to its own province.
“It was the work with southern Brazil that really brought the church in Uruguay back to life; they really worked with getting a grassroots church going,” said the Rt. Rev. Michele Pollesel, who became the bishop of Uruguay in 2013 after first being rejected by the bishops of the Anglican Church of South America, formerly called the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone.
One of the things the church in Uruguay has long fought for, said Pollesel, is women’s ordination, which he said he believes will come in the next 12 months as the province is in the process of approving new provincial canons.
In Brazil, a long history of women’s involvement
The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil has existed for 150 years in what is considered a mostly Roman Catholic country. In contrast, the Diocese of Uruguay celebrated 25 years in 2014 in a largely secular country that is considered the most liberal in Latin America.
Despite Uruguay’s liberal reputation, women aren’t typically seen in decision-making roles in society; the same goes for the church.
Church women in Uruguay tend to take a more traditional role, providing support at the parish level, said Gabriela Nuñez, a lay leader and psychologist who is married to a priest.
On the other hand, the Episcopal Anglican Women’s Union has existed in Brazil under different names for more than 100 years, and adopted its existing name in the 1980s “to reflect the need for women to be united,” said Winnischofer, the union’s president and general secretary of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil from 2003 to 2006.
The name change also symbolized a shift in focus from what had been a traditional auxiliary role in support of the church, the elderly and the poor, to one that included women’s needs; and it happened at a time when church women came together in support of women’s ordination, which also raised the issue of the status of women in the church, said Winnischofer.
In 1985, the Rev. Carmen Gomes became the first woman ordained in the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, which today has 30 women priests serving throughout its nine dioceses. Additionally, women have served in leadership roles at all levels of the church.
Through meetings, sharing stories and offering support for one another, the Women’s Union still works to raise the status of women in the church and society, a task that’s ever more difficult when women have full-time work and family demands, said Winnischofer.
“Women are more visible in society,” she said, but they are still underrepresented in leadership roles despite the advances. She said the persistent attitude has been that “on the one hand we are visible and have a presence, that we don’t need to come to the table because we are already in the room.”
– Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for Episcopal News Service.
[Anglican Communion News Service] Christians in Pakistan worry that the persecution they have experienced to date may be “just the tip of the iceberg.”
In the latest newsletter from the Diocese of Peshawar, a list of 22 incidents of violence against Christians in the country since 2013 accompanied a warning that “things are likely to get worse” because of the possibility of the presence of an extremist group called “Daish” (ISIS) in Pakistan.
Along with the 2013 twin suicide bombing of All Saints’ Church, Peshawar – that killed 119 people and injured many more – the writer compiled other attacks on Christians in Pakistan from information provided by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
These included an assassination attempt on a Christian lawyer in Lahore; a 58-year-old man killed for allegedly blaspheming Islam; shops belonging to Christians in Islamabad being burned down; several people being killed for converting to Christianity; and Christian girls raped and, in some instances, forced to convert to Islam.
The most recent incident was the burning of a Christian couple, Shahzad and Shama Bibi, in a brick kiln following trumped up blasphemy charges. [Read a report about it here].
November’s special edition of the Frontier News newsletter, with the headline The Diocese Condemns!, contained a report of the protest march earlier in the month led by the diocese. It started at St. John’s Cathedral and ended at the Peshawar Press Club where church leaders held a press conference to condemn the murders.
The newsletter author wrote, “According to the sources, Shahzad and his wife Shama Bibi came to Chak-59 for their livelihood. The owner of the kiln Yousaf Gujar, over a dispute about a non-payment of advance money, locked the couple in a room and called upon the villagers. He blamed the couple for blasphemy. After severely beating them, the infuriated mob threw them in the brick kiln and set them afire.
“Once again, the personal vendetta against poor Christians is changed into the allegation of Blasphemy Law of Pakistan. This section of the law is always used, rather misused against the Christians for their persecution and extra judicial killings in Pakistan.”
Speaking at the press conference, Bishop Munawar Rumalshah, bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Peshawar, said the incident was “a national disgrace” and called the government to bring the killers to book.
He added, “The Christians of Pakistan are law abiding citizens, and they respect other people’s beliefs. Christians believe in peaceful co-existence of different religions and always play a proactive and positive role for interfaith harmony in the region.”
The diocese’s newsletter concluded: “Nowadays, talking against the blasphemy law in any manner has itself become an act of blasphemy. This is just the tip of the iceberg, things are likely to get worse as there are rumours of the presence of an extremist group called “Daish” (ISIS) in Pakistan.”
[Episcopal News Service] The charisms of Episcopal schools – a “generous comprehensiveness, patience with ambiguity, and a search for wisdom grounded in a deep and abiding belief in the goodness and creativity of the world” – make them particularly suited to forming leaders for an increasingly globalized and interconnected world, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told a gathering Nov. 21 in Anaheim, California.
Some 570 teachers, heads of schools, bishops, parish rectors, administrators, chaplains and others from across the world gathered Nov. 20-22 to celebrate Episcopal education and the 50th anniversary of the National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES).
“Episcopal education is about the big picture … overseeing, climbing up the hill in a strategic sense to see the whole landscape, and not only the immediate and very local context,” the presiding bishop said.
“It is about comprehension and inclusiveness; it’s an orientation toward the whole body rather than only one part. That fundamental given is why you gather students from so many different faith traditions and none, why you look for students from varied social locations, why Episcopal schools so often draw international students, why they increasingly seek to be more diverse than the communities in which they’re set.”
She challenged the group to consider a name that reflects its global character. School representatives from Haiti, Australia, and Canada were also in attendance.
Notable examples of education as mission include, she said, Cuttington University in Liberia, Rikkyo University in Japan, historic St. John’s in Shanghai, and Trinity University in Manila.
NAES encompasses more than 1,000 schools in the United States and other countries, according to the Rev. Dan Heischman, executive director.
“This is one of the most important and valued mission fields of the church, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “It’s about planting seeds. In terms of potential, the church frets a great deal about what it can do to reach the unchurched or people out there who might be interested in the Episcopal Church. Only about 20 percent of students who go to Episcopal schools are Episcopalian, so we have a tremendous opportunity of reaching people … of having a real impact in their lives in a variety of ways.”
Schools range in size from very small, such as the seven-student St. Timothy’s School in Compton, California, to the largest, Iolani, with more than 2,000 students in Honolulu, he said. Most tend to focus on preschool and early childhood development.
In addition to gathering educators for collaboration and networking, the conference “is casting a vision for the next 50 years,” Heischman said. “It’s an opportunity for Episcopal schools throughout the church to gather, to celebrate the wonderful things schools do and the impact they have. Many of our schools are isolated from one another.”
Retired Los Angeles Laker basketball great Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. addressed the gathering as a parent whose two children attended Campbell Hall, an Episcopal school in the Los Angeles area.
Johnson, who now is part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, the Los Angeles Sparks women’s national basketball team, and the Los Angeles Football Club, a professional soccer team, described the importance of sending his children – and now a grandchild – to an Episcopal school.
“A lot of times, you’ve got a thankless job because young people don’t understand what you’ve done for them. I’ve enjoyed every moment of my children going to Campbell Hall. I’m so proud of my kids going to Campbell Hall that I couldn’t see them at any other school,” he said.
“I love chapel on Fridays, but also each and every day they’re getting a quality education that didn’t change who they are as E.J. and Elisa. It allowed them to be themselves and have a little cool factor to them … because that’s important.”
He also described the importance of education in preparing young people to be leaders, including his own humble beginnings in urban Lansing, Michigan, where he and nine siblings lived in a three-room house.
A teacher asked him for help during a period of racial tension, and Johnson, 55, told the gathering, “that day God made me a leader,” a tradition he has since continued.
Workshop themes and conversations also focused on some of the challenges schools face, including maintaining an identity as an Episcopal school in the midst of changing demographics, technology, and an increasingly secular culture.
Keynote speaker psychologist Madeline Levine, author of The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids (HarperCollins, 2008), addressed how narrow definitions of success unnecessarily stress and marginalize creative students.
As a practicing psychologist her clients include kids who’ve “hit a wall because they’ve been so totally protected from failure, challenge, disappointment.”
Citing a parent who told her she couldn’t stand to see her child unhappy, Levine said, “If you can’t stand to see your child unhappy, you’re in the wrong business … because it’s a reality of life. How does a child go from having a favorite toy broken at five to having their heart broken by a first love at 15, to being fired at a first job at 25, to losing their own parents at 55… that’s just life and preparation for life includes not just college acceptances but a capacity to deal with challenge in ways that are healthy.”
She said one in four graduating high school seniors in affluent communities has a diagnosable mental illness. “In terms of the loss of potential children, it’s enormous. In terms of workers, it’s enormous. In terms of a vibrant democracy, it’s enormous. And if it was anything but mental illness there’d be a huge campaign, but mental health is a huge stepchild.”
She said a high school affiliated with Stanford University, California, where she works, “just had its seventh suicide in two years.” Contributing factors include a lack of support, a lack of meaning and a lack of wise adults mentoring them, she said.
The conference also featured more than 60 sessions on such wide-ranging topics as equity and justice; leadership and governance; the ministry of teaching; school life, culture and management; the study of religion; service and service-learning; and a self-study of Episcopal identity led by Heischman.
Daily worship and chapel featured young voices, including Sarah Engel, 17, a student at St. Margaret Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano, who preached about hope for the future and the Old Testament story of Jonah (Jonah 1:17).
“Often in our lives we find ourselves fleeing our purpose – whether we mean to or not. Thank goodness that the moment we goofs realize we’ve got it wrong, the moment it hits us that we’re really in trouble, God sends us a big old fish to swallow us whole,” she told the gathering during the closing worship.
“In other words, God gives us a chance to think, all the while actively carrying us toward our second chance. If we’re like the people of Nineveh, we allow that second chance to transform us. We take the hint of hope, the whisper of salvation, in any bad fix we’re in, and latch onto it. We can take God’s clue and make it the center of our lives.
“As a Christian and as an overly dramatic, hormonal teenager, this hope is the most important thing to me, the greatest comfort in my life,” she said.
“I look into the eyes of my parents, I look to the stories I’ve been told since I was a toddler, I look up into the starry night sky, and I feel God telling me that this hope is unbreakable. I strive to carry this knowledge into my daily life. It’s a challenge, something I think is a lifelong journey. The point is, the hope we find in God is just a small clue, and it doesn’t narrow anything down. Yet it means everything. My prayer is that I keep this clue before me as I go through my days, and that I value it for the miracle it is.”
– The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.
MENSAGEM DO BISPO PRIMAZ E DA COMISSÃO DE INCIDÊNCIA PÚBLICA
Estamos vivendo mais uma Campanha que tem tido alcance mundial. Trata-se da Campanha de ativismo contra a violência de Gênero que tem mobilizado Igrejas – nossa Igreja Anglicana tem assumido esta Campanha – ONGs, Movimentos Sociais e Organismos Ecumênicos.
Precisamos continuar erguendo nossas vozes contra a violência institucionalizada contra as mulheres no mundo inteiro. Aqui no Brasil, mesmo com avanços nas políticas afirmativas, ainda somos um país que ocupa vergonhoso posto de país onde a violência contra as mulheres alcança níveis insuportáveis.
Dia a dia, em nossa sociedade construída sobre padrões de comportamento machista, vemos a continuidade do feminicídio, da exclusão das mulheres ao acesso ao mercado de trabalho, da desigualdade salarial, da exclusão de políticas públicas de saúde, entre tantos outros desafios que parecem crescer a uma velocidade exponencial e cujas soluções e enfrentamento se dão ainda de forma lenta e com raríssimos sucessos.
A IEAB tem afirmado seu compromisso claro de enfrentar o problema da violência contra as mulheres. O SADD tem sido um uma importante âncora no processo de conscientização e educação da Igreja sobre este tema. No entanto, reconhecemos que sozinho(a)s não temos logrado os avanços concretos que desejamos. É necessário juntar forças com a sociedade civil e com outros atores políticos e sociais para que esta mancha que envergonha nossa sociedade possa ser eliminada.
É oportuno que em nossas comunidades se realize rodas de conversa sobre o problema da violência de gênero. É importante que nossas lideranças clericais e leigas se levantem para refletir sobre as violências que tem sido cometida contra nossas irmãs, muitas vezes bem próximas de nós e inclusive dentro de nossas comunidades eclesiais. Precisamos assumir o projeto de Jesus que nos deixou exemplos de acolhimento, respeito, escuta e afirmação da dignidade humana. E neste contexto, as mulheres receberam dele uma atenção muito especial. Diante de Jesus, as mulheres tiveram sua fala respeitada, seus direitos reconhecidos, sua dignidade assegurada.
Mesmo distante historicamente de nossos tempos, percebemos que as categorias opressoras da mulher – conforme se vê nos relatos do ministério de Jesus – apenas mudaram de aparência, mas na essência continuam as mesmas. Vergonha, dor, desesperança, silêncio continuam povoando a alma de muitas de nossas irmãs contemporâneas. Não importa a classe social nem o nível cultural e econômico das vítimas de violência física e emocional em nossos dias. A violência institucionalizada continua vitimando muitos milhões de mulheres no mundo. Este não é um problema para ser ignorado. Precisa ser enfrentado com coragem!
Que nestes dias de ativismo e não apenas neles, possamos assumir dentro e fora da Igreja o compromisso com a superação da violência contra as mulheres.
Santa Maria, 24 de novembro de 2014
Primaz da Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil
Irmãos e Irmãs
“E mais, que o povo (ouvindo as Escrituras Sagradas lidas na Igreja) pudesse aprofundar-se cada vez mais no conhecimento de Deus, e ser contagiado pelo amor da sua verdadeira religião”.
Prefácio do LOC de 1549
Tenho a imensa satisfação de anunciar que neste tempo de começo litúrgico de um novo ano, a IEAB passa a usar o Lecionário Comum Revisado. A Comissão Provincial de Liturgia (*) está ultimando as revisões dos ofícios que estarão contidos no novo LOC brasileiro, programado para ser lançado no mês de Junho de 2015. Quero parabenizar todos os membros dedicados desta Comissão que não tem medido esforços para atender a demanda de toda a Igreja que é ter em suas mãos um novo LOC, revisado, ampliado, e atualizado teológica e culturalmente à realidade brasileira. Todo este processo tem recebido o aval da Câmara dos Bispos, do Conselho Executivo e do próprio Sínodo de nossa IEAB.
Neste processo rico de aprendizado e de produção de uma liturgia bem brasileira, a Igreja tem experimentado, nas dioceses e nos eventos provinciais, as liturgias eucarísticas com linguagem apropriada, inclusiva e mais próxima possível do jeito brasileiro de celebrar a nossa fé anglicana.
Ao lado dos Ofícios em suas múltiplas relações com a vida comunitária e individual e do Saltério, com sua poesia litúrgica dos Salmos da Bíblia, temos uma importante ferramenta que educa a Igreja em seu dia a dia: o Lecionário. Nele encontramos as leituras apropriadas para os ofícios eucarísticos, dominicais e também para as devoções diárias. Por isso, e também abraçando a riqueza ecumênica, a IEAB, com expressa autorização da Câmara dos Bispos, adota com alegria o Lecionário Comum Revisado.
Construído ecumenicamente durante um longo processo, O Lecionário Comum Revisado hoje é adotado pela grande maioria das Igrejas Cristãs que estão em diálogo umas com as outras para permitir que assim todos possamos celebrar da forma mais sinérgica possível a liturgia da Palavra e os temas chaves do Ano Cristão.
O novo Lecionário Comum Revisado tem algumas mudanças importantes. Nem sempre haverá um salmo interlecional nas leituras dominicais e de dias santos. Em alguns casos, será um cântico das Escrituras. Esse cântico ou salmo interlecional é também chamado de gradual. Também será possível observar que aumentou a oferta de comemorações litúrgicas no nosso calendário, em concordância com a prática de algumas de nossas comunidades e de nossas províncias irmãs da Comunhão Anglicana. Sendo assim, foram introduzidos próprios para a celebração da solenidade do Sacramento do Corpo e Sangue de nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo (Corpus Christi), do Memorial de todos os Fiéis (Finados), entre outras. O LCR, em conjunto com o calendário litúrgico do novo LOC, permite uma maior versatilidade na adoção e celebração de festas e comemorações.
Durante o Tempo Comum, haverá duas opções de leituras do Antigo Testamento. Uma delas é mais relacionada à temática do Evangelho. A outra, chamada semicontínua, permite a leitura corrida de textos do Antigo Testamento, ao longo de diversos domingos. O LCR busca reforçar as possibilidades de leitura do Antigo Testamento – ponto fraco do lecionário anterior.
Mas a mudança mais importante e radical é a adoção de um Lecionário de Ofícios Diários em 3 anos, correndo paralelamente ao Lecionário de Domingos e Dias Santos. Desse modo, ambos trabalham juntos, para fins distintos. O Lecionário de Domingos e Dias Santos está voltado à adoração comunitária na Santa Eucaristia. O Lecionário de Ofícios Diários busca avivar a oração comum nos lares e nas igrejas, sob a forma dos ofícios diários (sobretudo a oração matutina e a oração vespertina. O princípio das leituras diárias é seu relacionamento com as leituras eucarísticas dos domingos e dos festivais. As leituras dos ofícios diários foram escolhidas de modo a permitir que os dias que se aproximam do domingo (quinta-feira até sábado) sirvam de preparação às leituras dominicais. Os dias que seguem ao domingo (segunda-feira a quarta-feira) são reflexões das leituras de domingo.
O Lecionário de Ofícios Diários deve ser usado apenas para ofícios de oração. Nos domingos e festas principais, caso se queira realizar um ofício de oração, usam-se as leituras do Lecionário de Domingos e Festas Principais. Para a Santa Eucaristia, devem ser utilizadas as leituras do Lecionário de Domingos e Festas Principais. No caso de Eucaristia em dia de semana, se não houver festa principal para aquele dia, usam-se as leituras do domingo anterior. Assim, seremos forçados a voltar ao hábito das liturgias diárias de oração, nos nossos lares e famílias. Existe um lecionário especialmente para isso. E o melhor: ele nos prepara para o ofício eucarístico comunitário.
Que possamos vivenciar com alegria e espirito orante o novo lecionário. Ele está disponível nos links ao final desta matéria, e estará repleto de recursos adicionais no site http://liturgia.ieab.org.br, podendo ser baixado a partir da quarta-feira da semana que vem, para uso já a partir deste Primeiro Domingo do Advento!
Que a meditação sobre a Palavra de Deus inspire e alimente a nossa fé tanto individual como comunitária!
* Dom Mauricio Andrade (DAB, presidente), Revda Deã Marinez Bassotto (Custódia do LOC – ex officio), Revda Dilce de Paiva (DAP), Revda Rose Cunha (DAR), Rev. Luiz Coelho (DARJ) e Sra. Noemi Buyo (DM)
BAIXE AQUI OS NOSSOS NOVOS LECIONÁRIOS, EFETIVAMENTE VÁLIDOS A PARTIR DA QUINTA-FEIRA ANTERIOR AO PRIMEIRO DOMINGO DO ADVENTO EM 2014 (ANO B):
[Seminary of the Southwest] Stephanie Knott will testify that staying debt-free while attending a private graduate school is almost as challenging as the coursework.
During her first year at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas, Knott commuted from her home in San Marcos to Austin for classes, then to New Braunfels for her day job and back again to Austin for her overnight job. Sometimes she would be awake for 24 hours straight.
Her determination to leave seminary without debt is palpable. At one point, she was working four jobs to keep afloat while pursuing a master’s degree in counseling.
“It has been a roller coaster,” she said. “But I’m investing in myself and my future, so I don’t regret it.”
Southwest never wants students to buckle under the financial stress of paying for an education, said Jennielle Strother, vice president of Enrollment Management. So the seminary has created a plan to help alleviate the monetary burden of following God’s call and to prepare students for a healthy financial future.
Profound peace of mind
Since its founding in 1952, Southwest hasn’t accepted federal financial aid; instead, it has offered scholarships to encourage students to remain debt-free. Last year, more than half of Southwest’s students received tuition scholarships averaging $7,500 towards the $13,150 annual tuition cost, and students also raised an average of $1,400 from their dioceses, families and parishes.
But some students find there’s still a wide gap between the sticker price and available funding; therefore, the seminary will make federal loans available for the first time in its history.
To uphold a commitment to students’ financial health, Southwest has established two new programs to help seminarians maintain fiscal stability: One program will provide financial literacy resources throughout a student’s entire lifecycle – from prospect to alum. The other will provide a guide for all facets of a pastor’s or lay minister’s lifelong wellbeing.
The Enrollment Management Office plans to create an array of tools to prepare seminarians to manage their finances wisely, starting as early as the prospective student stage. Resources such as webinars, personal phone calls and even one-on-one counseling sessions will help them understand the true cost of student loans. With the help of a Lilly Endowment grant, Southwest will make those resources available, said Strother. The Lilly Endowment has long supported projects that strengthen congregations and the ministers that serve them, and it offered Southwest a $250,000 grant over three years to offset the cost of this robust initiative.
“I want anyone who is discerning a call to ministry to have access to resources in order to plan financially to attend seminary,” Strother said. “Being saddled with debt will only impede their ability to do God’s work.”
Lending students a hand
When Pam Hallmark felt her call to attend seminary, she knew the journey would be difficult and slow going. First, she needed to complete her bachelor’s degree. So she quit her job to attend the University of Washington and earned a degree in comparative world religion. Financially, life was a struggle. She and her family lived on food stamps while she worked toward her Bachelor of Arts.
“You would think it would be scary, but it was one of the most certain things I’ve ever known in my life,” Hallmark said of quitting her job to return to school. “This was something that I had to do. I can’t not do this.”
She’s now a senior at Southwest and expects to graduate in May with a master’s in Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care with plans to become a hospice chaplain. Although she felt sure of the direction she was headed, she wasn’t sure how she would get there. She felt a huge burden lifted when she received a 50 percent tuition scholarship from Southwest. Still, coming up with the remaining sum strained her family’s budget.
“I started paying as much as we could afford on a weekly basis,” she said.
Some students struggle so much that they are forced to leave the seminary, a painful option both for the student and Southwest. To prevent that unwelcome choice, federal loans can now assist Hallmark and her peers.
“We felt like not offering federal aid was closing doors to students who wanted to come here but financially couldn’t make it work,” Strother said. “Offering federal loans makes the seminary an option for people who want a degree with a theological foundation rather than a purely clinical degree from a state school.”
The availability of federal loans couldn’t have come at a better time. Hallmark’s husband lost his job, and her temporary part-time job recently ended. She feels relieved that she’s now able to apply for federal aid, which will help her complete her final year.
A rewarding investment
Like Hallmark, Knott had no doubts when she decided to attend seminary. As a prospective student, she searched for a counseling program with a spiritual foundation, which she hadn’t been able to find at state schools. A faculty member at the University of Texas recommended Southwest.
“I visited the campus and there was an overwhelming sense of peace that came over me,” she said.
Knott also received a scholarship that covered 50 percent of her tuition. The rest she committed to paying out of pocket, and she’s not the only student to take on that challenging endeavor.
“Full time residential seminary requires a substantial commitment from our students,” said the Very Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, dean and president of Southwest. “But in this intensive formation, they become bearers of the Christian tradition and its creative adapters in the contemporary world.”
Like Knott, first-year student J.P. Arrossa will use federal aid only as a last resort. Before coming to Southwest, Arrossa worked as a financial expert, managing other people’s money for a living. When he sat down to calculate the price he’d pay to follow God’s calling, he fully realized what he would be getting himself into while he pursued a Master of Divinity degree.
But Arrossa has felt called to the priesthood since he was 12 years old, so he and his partner created a budget and saved money to pay for his tuition. He also approached his parish to request funding, something Strother’s office will teach students how to do as part of the seminary’s resources for financial literacy. Asking for money can be an uncomfortable topic, so the enrollment office will provide workshops on how to craft a message to make the request.
“We will talk to students about how to raise money to get through seminary,” Strother said. “We encourage them that it’s common to reach out to their parish, their community, their family and friends.”
A lifetime of well-being
Southwest students may be leading these parishes one day, and Kittredge wants alumni to be healthy enough to do the job well. “Sometimes a temptation for Christian leaders is to overlook their own health and wellness,” Kittredge said. “We want to instill this awareness as part of the education here.”
The seminary’s goal of promoting financial, spiritual, physical and vocational wellness developed into an extensive new program called Comprehensive Wellness for Ministry, now required for all incoming students.
“If you aren’t physically well enough to do your job properly, you’re going to run into financial issues, as well as vocational and spiritual issues,” said Micah Jackson, dean of Community Life. “They are strongly interdependent, so we wanted to address all of these areas at once.”
Students helped design the mandatory program, providing insight on what seminarians could realistically handle with the rest of their workload. They didn’t have time for busywork. They wanted a practical plan for lifelong wellbeing. The idea that emerged – the Rule of Life – provided a blueprint of wellness.
The Rule of Life is a decision-making guide for students to write while at seminary and later amend as their financial, spiritual, physical and vocational situations change. A student might, for example, include a financial aspect to the rule that limits the amount of debt he will carry. The rule reduces the temptation of a dazzling opportunity because the student has already determined the limit in a clearheaded moment.
As an incoming student, Arrossa already has ideas for his Rule of Life.
“It’s natural to worry about those we serve and forget the importance of our own wellbeing,” said Arrossa, one of the first students to learn about the new program. “One aspect of my rule will be creating some sacred space and boundaries around that space. Personal time will allow me to rest and recharge.”
The Rule of Life will change as a person advances through the stages of life. Age, health, financial position and career changes will affect the evolution of a rule as students move from seminary to workplace to retirement.
“I hope this shows students that we care about their whole person,” Jackson said. “We’re not just dispensing factual information. We understand that they are undergoing transformation based on a call from God, and we want to be part of that process. It’s a promise to help them live well.”
– Ashley Festa is a higher education freelance writer.
The Vestry of Trinity Episcopal Church (St. Louis/Diocese of Missouri) is very happy to announce that The Rev. Jon Stratton has accepted the call to be the next Rector at Trinity. The Rev. Stratton will be starting at Trinity in January 2015. He is currently the Executive Director of The Episcopal Service Corps STL (The Deaconess Anne House) and a priest associate at Christ Church Cathedral.
Jon is a native of south eastern Illinois, and has lived in St. Louis for six years. He and his wife Susie love the city and are proud parents of a four month old daughter (Alice). Before serving as Executive Director at The Deaconess Anne House and priest associate at Christ Church Cathedral, Jon served as youth minister for The Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion and Diocesan Youth Missioner for The Diocese of Missouri. Besides his ecclesial duties, Jon co-chairs the Faith and Labor Alliance for Missouri Jobs with Justice and enjoys pedaling around the city on his bicycle.
We give thanks to the Search Committee for their demanding and prayerful ministry, to the Vestry for its leadership and affirmation, and to the entire parish during this fruitful and productive interim time. May God bless all that is, and all that is still to be.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued the following statement on President Obama’s recently announced immigration policies:
Together with families and communities across the United States, I give thanks for President Obama’s announcement that nearly five million undocumented immigrants will soon be eligible for relief from the threat of deportation. Too many families have lived for too long continually worried about parents being separated from children, wage-earners and caregivers from those who depend on them, and unable to participate fully in their communities and the nation’s economy. Permanent and comprehensive reform of our broken immigration system through congressional action is still urgently needed, but the President’s action is a constructive step toward a system that honors the dignity and intrinsic value of every human being. It will immediately strengthen our nation’s communities by allowing immigrant families much fuller participation in American civic and economic life.
The Episcopal Church will work with Congressional leaders and the White House to press for implementation of the President’s plan as quickly, fairly, and inclusively as possible. The President’s plan is not perfect. Some deserving persons and families are excluded, meaning that additional work lies ahead. All persons equally deserve the ability to pursue their dreams and contribute to their communities and families with liberty, dignity, and freedom. I pray that the President’s action will lead our nation toward a future in which those sacred possibilities are open to all.
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has urged Episcopalians to observe the Second Sunday in Advent, December 7, as a day of prayer for those in the Diocese of Liberia and the entire Anglican Church of the Province of West Africa, areas heavily affected by the current Ebola pandemic.
“The Diocese of Liberia was founded by Episcopalians in 1836, and was a diocese of The Episcopal Church until the early 1980s, when it joined the Province of West Africa,” noted Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori. “Today we continue in a covenant relationship of mutual support and fellowship.”
She continued, “Liberia is at the epicenter of the recent Ebola outbreak, and Episcopalians have turned Cuttington University (Suakoku) into a center for response in rural northern Liberia. The Anglican Province of West Africa includes all three nations (Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone) where the pandemic continues to develop. The suffering and death is enormous, the economy is devastated, schools are closed, yet the caring and compassionate response continues.”
The Presiding Bishop concluded, “I ask your prayers for the people of West Africa in the midst of this plague. Please include this in your intentions on the Second Sundayof Advent. With Isaiah, pray for comfort and strength for all God’s children; seek out the builder of straight roads and giver of healing balm for all on this difficult journey. Learn about this crisis, and instead of fear, let your hearts be moved to respond in generosity of spirit and of purse.”
Led by the Most Rev. Dr Daniel Sarfo, Archbishop and Primate, and the Most Rev. Jonathan Hart, Internal Archbishop, the Anglican Church in the Province of West Africa includes the dioceses of Accra (Ghana); Bo (Sierra Leone); Cameroon (Region Missionaire); Cape Coast (Ghana); Dunkwa-on-Offin (Ghana); Freetown (Sierra Leone); Gambia; Guinea; Ho (Ghana); Koforidua (Ghana); Kumasi (Ghana); Liberia; Sekondi (Ghana); Sunyani (Ghana); Tamale (Ghana); and Wiawso (Ghana). More infohere.
Episcopal Church in Liberia and the Dioceses of Bo (Sierra Leone) and Guinea are participating in government-led task forces on all levels of government, and are coordinating activities, sharing information, and providing pastoral care.
Episcopal Migration Ministries is coordinating with its affiliates, the Department of State Bureau for Populations, Refugees and Migration (PRM), and the CDC in sharing information.
Episcopal Relief & Development is partnering with the Episcopal Diocese of Liberia and the Anglican Diocese of Bo in Sierra Leone to offer care and support for communities affected by the Ebola outbreak. They are providing critical food, hygiene supplies and protective equipment as well as delivering key health messaging. For more information, visit here. Donate to Episcopal Relief & Development here.
The Liberian Episcopal Community In The United States (LECUSA) recently collected and shipped of container of food and medical items to Liberia, collected from Liberians living in the United States.
What churches are doing
Currently the Global Partnerships Office of the Episcopal Church is compiling a list of churches and congregations in which relief and fundraising work is underway for Liberia and West Africa. The Dioceses of Virginia and Northern California as well as churches in Washington, DC have shared their activities. To present your work, contact the Rev. Ranjit Mathews, Episcopal Church Network Officer for Mission Personnel and Africa, at email@example.com.
Collect for the Day of Prayer
O God, our creator and preserver, we cry out to you along with our brothers and sisters in West Africa, especially Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, where so many lives have been lost. We pray that as they continue to live and struggle with the Ebola Virus Disease, you will grant them your grace and mercy that an end to this virus will come soon; and that life and community will be restored. Give us the courage and strength to respond willingly to this great human need. We ask this in the Name of the One who came and gave his life, so that we might live life fully, Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen
[Episcopal News Service] The pioneering missionary spirit of the Rev. Justo Andres just may help spark a revival of Filipino ministry at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist in Stockton, California, according to the Rev. Fred Vergara, missioner for Episcopal Church Asiamerica Ministries.
Some 30 years ago, Andres founded the Holy Cross Filipino Mission at St. John’s, in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, and on Nov. 16 the diocesan community gathered to celebrate that legacy and his 85th birthday as well as possibilities for new ministry.
San Joaquin Bishop David Rice officiated at a Eucharist in Andres’ honor. He said the service commemorated Andres’ 1983 call to the Stockton community and “the ministry he has provided and the significant place he represents in the life of the Diocese of San Joaquin and in the Filipino community and ways in which he has so faithfully lived out his priesthood in our midst.
“This is a response to our context as we’ve seen, experienced and engaged it in the Stockton area,” added Rice. “We think that responding to that part of our landscape, part of our population and community is the right thing to do.”
Andres often conducted services for migrant workers in the fields and for the sailors aboard ocean-going ships that docked at the Port of Stockton. The Holy Cross Mission served as a satellite agency of the former U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, assisting many in attaining their naturalized U.S. citizenship.
He also served as a translator within the Stockton court system and was a member of a police advisory committee.
In a telephone interview with the Episcopal News Service, Madeline Ruiz, sister-in-law of Andres, speaking for Andres who suffers from age-related hearing loss, described him as excited “but surprised about the celebration.
“He asked me why are they honoring him,” said Ruiz. “I said it’s because you started a Filipino ministry at St. John’s and now that they got the church back, they want to honor you.”
Under Andres’ leadership, the Holy Cross congregation flourished and included Filipinos, Latinos, Southeast Asians and Anglos among its membership. The congregation disbanded when theological differences split the diocese in 2008. St. John’s property had been held by a breakaway group, but was returned to the Episcopal Church earlier this year.
Rice said the diocese is considering revitalizing its ministry among the Filipino community. “We are discerning, praying through, contemplating, pondering and giving thought to how we might continue to engage and develop that ministry.”
The Rev. Canon Kate Cullinane, diocesan canon to the ordinary and St. John’s priest-in-charge, said nearly 200 well-wishers attended the gathering and a joyous reception afterward.
The reception included traditional Filipino food and dancing as well as line dancing, she said. There was also a serenade of Andres, with participants each presenting him a flower.
“I loved the fact that so many people from the neighboring Filipino congregations and the neighboring congregations from the deanery came” to support Andres and this service, Cullinane said in an e-mail to ENS.
Rekindling the ministry will be a collaborative effort within the diocese, she added. “We don’t see this as a St. John’s project, but a northern deanery project,” she said.
Andres was born in Bacarra, in the Ilocos Norte Province of the northern Philippines, the youngest of seven children. He was educated at St. Andrew’s Theological Seminary and the Far Eastern University in Manila and was ordained to the priesthood in 1955 by the Most Rev. Isabelo Delos Reyes Jr., obispo máximo of the Philippine Independent Church.
His first parish assignment was to Ozamiz City in the southern Philippines’ region of Mindanao, before accepting a call to Maui. He was among a trio of priests who were part of the first wave of Filipino priests called to the Episcopal Church.
Two other priests, the Rev. Timoteo Quintero and the Rev. Jacinto Tabili, also accepted calls to Hawaii. Quintero founded St. Paul’s Church in Honolulu and Tabili served in Hilo on Hawaii’s big island but later returned to become a bishop in the Philippines, according to Vergara. In the early 1960s, Andres was called to serve Good Shepherd Church in Wailuku on the island of Maui.
In 1983, Andres accepted a call to St. John’s in Stockton. He is the sole survivor of that first wave of Filipino priests serving with the Episcopal Church, Vergara said. Raquel Nancy Andres, his spouse and partner in ministry, died in 2009.
Vergara, who preached at the Nov. 16 Eucharist, noted that St. John’s was organized a year after the city of Stockton was founded and played a key role in the development of the city. The church has an equally important role in the future of the California city, he said.
Asians and Pacific Islanders account for 22 percent of Stockton’s 300,000 residents, according to 2013 U.S. Census data.
“We gather here today in the name of Christ to witness the work of a creating and re-creating God,” Vergara told those who gathered at the bilingual worship service at St. John’s.
“In this beautiful city of Stockton, God will start this work with you and me. Together, we shall be God’s instrument in starting the revival, renewal and re-creation of St. John’s.
“This is the challenge to us, to rediscover the treasure that is at St. John’s and to invest our talents to pray for the revival of Stockton’s destiny,” he said.
“Just as its history is tied with Stockton’s history, so is the revival of Stockton to be tied to the revival of St. John’s – and the destiny of Stockton be tied to the destiny of St. John’s. With the spiritual revival of St. John’s, will follow Stockton’s revival in peace, progress and prosperity.”
–The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal News Service] In the Episcopal Church in Minnesota two new deans have been installed in its two historic cathedrals within nine days of each other. Both are charged with bringing about change. Both face challenges. Both are young and determined.
The Very Rev. Justin P. Chapman, 35, was installed as the 19th dean of the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour in Faribault on Nov. 13, and the Very Rev. Paul J. Lebens-Englund, 40, was installed as the seventh dean of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Minneapolis on Nov. 2.
At St. Marks, deep hunger
Lebens-Englund previously served in several roles in the Diocese of Spokane, including canon to the ordinary. Most recently he was priest-in-charge of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Spokane. He is a graduate of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California.
The installation of Lebens-Englund marked the conclusion of two years of interim leadership at St. Mark’s. During this time both membership and financial support dropped significantly. A survey conducted during this period, the results of which were published on the cathedral’s website, indicated that major changes are necessary to regain vitality and health. Lebens-Englund said that he was attracted by the challenges ahead and the lay leadership that had developed during the transition period.
He said it was “a perfect constellation of factors: fun and creative members, gifted leadership, beautiful worship, synergistic location, intriguing challenges, expansive vision, deep faith, real hope, and concrete expressions of love and compassion.”
“Despite my best efforts to avoid the very real heartache and headache of moving a family across the country, it simply became clear to me, to my wife Erica and to our sons, Isaac and Owen, that God was doing the calling; that my particular gifts and unique experiences in the church make me the right person for the position right now. In a very real sense, I’m rediscovering my ‘deep gladness’ as it intersects with St. Mark’s ‘deep hunger,’” said Lebens-Englund.
Describing leadership transitions that even under the best of circumstances are “a mix of joy and sadness, hope and despair,” Lebens-Englund said that his starting point “is simply meeting the faith community where it’s at: grieving or celebrating, looking backward or forward as needed and ensuring there is room for every emotional response to our present reality.”
“At the same time, because leadership transitions can be so emotionally disorienting, we don’t always bring our ‘best selves’ to these times of change,” he said. “Casting a clear commitment to healthy behavior and mutual accountability within the faith community occurred the very first Sunday at the microphone and a covenant for healthy communication patterns has since been posted around the cathedral and on the website.”
St. Mark’s new dean also said that another essential contribution he can add over the next several months is to frame every ‘output’ in terms of sustainability. “Is it essential? Is it life-giving? Is it an individual initiative or an initiative of the whole faith community? Is there someone else better-positioned or equipped to do it? Which programs should persist and which should be laid to rest?”
“Our desire to be all things to all people and to address every care and concern around us, while well-meaning, has often spread us all to thin – to the point, in fact, that our core competencies as faith communities often fall out of balance and ‘outputs outpace inputs.’ The body gets tired, sometimes resentful, until at last the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of our church lives become completely disconnected from the ‘why,’” said Lebens-Englund.
“What we’re looking for is a healthy balance – a congregation through which individuals and families can put their faith into action in a meaningful, concrete and life-giving way. We want folks’ experience of God, self and life to be enhanced for having connected with us, not diminished, and that takes clarity, hard work and discipline.”
In Faribault, a hopeful spirit
Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour’s Chapman previously served as priest associate at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Rochester. He is also a graduate of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific.
Chapman’s installation’s marks the end of a relatively brief and smooth transition. Yet, the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour faces a number of challenges – some similar to those faced by countless other small congregations in small towns. Faribault, located 50 south of Minneapolis, has a population of approximately 24,000. There has been no growth in membership or worship attendance for the past decade.
“We are fortunate to have a hopeful spirit,” said Chapman. “Yet, the challenge we face is that our transformation is going to take time and that it isn’t going to look like we think it will.”
Chapman noted that one of the big challenges is a “near-total” absence of families with children.
“It’s sort of a catch-22: A good children’s program is critical to attracting children, but a critical mass of children is required for a good children’s program. Yet, this apparent vacuum is exciting because it gives us the opportunity to build something entirely new, something that connects people to God and to each other; something that begins to form disciples in a way that’s tailored to our community and culture.”
Chapman said a passionate community is ready to take on the challenges.
“I was initially attracted to the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour because of the community – the people, their hospitality, their participation in mission and even their ability to passionately disagree with each other but then truly come together for worship and communion. It gave me the sense (and still does) that this community has the gifts it needs to thrive. We’re in love with community, but we’re not afraid to tell it like it is.”
“My sense is that I’m called to help the cathedral community identify, bring forth and develop what it already possesses: a passion for mission and connection,” said Chapman.
Connecting with the neighborhoods
The calling of the two deans comes at a time when the Episcopal Church in Minnesota (no longer referred to as “the Diocese”) is well into a paradigm shift about how it thinks about mission – changes made under the leadership of Bishop Brian Prior, now in the fifth year of his episcopate.
Prior has described that shift as coming from a greater understanding of God’s mission in the world (“Missio Dei”) and a change of focus from a particular faith community’s internal life to the life of God in the world. He has challenged the faith communities in Minnesota to discover what God is up to in their neighborhoods and examine the unique context in which they are called to mission and ministry.
Minnesota’s new cathedral deans are discovering their new neighborhoods.
“We are fortunate to have a huge campus with beautiful buildings in the heart of downtown Faribault,” Chapman said. “I want us to ask three important questions: What is at the core of our belief and community? How do we best form people for mission? hat are the needs around us that God is calling us to engage? Then I want us to leverage our location and spaces to help others.”
In Minneapolis, Lebens-Englund has a vision for neighborhood connections based both on St. Mark’s role as a congregation located in a major metropolitan area and as the lead cathedral for the Episcopal Church in Minnesota.
“The most obvious neighbors with whom we need to be in conversation as a ‘congregation’ are, in my early estimation, the Walker Art Center, Metropolitan Community Technical College, the Loring Park Neighborhood Association, the Episcopal faith communities in the Central Mission Area and the downtown Minneapolis interfaith community,” said Lebens-Englund.
“The most obvious neighbors with whom we need to be in conversation as a ‘cathedral’ are, in my early estimation, the faith communities of the entire Episcopal Church in Minnesota, the mayor’s office, the state Capitol, the other cathedrals in the Episcopal Church and those cathedrals with whom we share a more global partnership.”
“Radical hospitality – despite its having become a cliché over the last decade – is still what I’m all about, trusting that disruption is often a sign of the Spirit’s presence, though we generally aspire to ‘deep peace,’ ” said Lebens-Englund.
No fear of failure
Both young Minnesota deans are focused on success as they begin their new ministries with a healthy understanding of their roles.
“I think I can succeed because I don’t think I’m the center of the mission and I’m not afraid to fail,” said Chapman. “I see my calling as helping the community to tap into God’s dream for us and to begin to take steps to live that out. Our success does not depend on me, it depends on God. My job – our job – is to do our best to discern God’s call to us and to live it out. That means trying a bunch of new ideas, knowing that some are bound to fail, but being confident that success will come.”
“Failure is hard at first because we are used to the idea that it’s bad – that we are doing the wrong thing – but that’s not the case at all. Failure is a sign that we are trying and that we are zeroing in on the mission God has for us. Once you get used to the fact that failure is just one of the steps to success, it actually becomes kind of fun. It’s not necessary to do things perfectly, it’s just enough to begin. God will take care of the rest.”
The Minneapolis dean has a similar understanding.
“The good news here is that it’s not all about me in the end, but is about connecting the faith community to the heart of God,” said Lebens-Englund.
“When it comes to God, I’m an eternal optimist, trusting, as they say, that the arc of history does, indeed, bend toward justice. But, as a pastor, when it comes to real people working out their salvation in the context of an intentional, experimental community, I’m a realist. The glimpses of the Kingdom are sometimes few and far between, but they are there, for sure, and my task is simply to name them, to celebrate them, and see if we can’t enable the next breakthrough sooner than later.”
“I don’t know fully what God has in store for us,” said Chapman. “But I do now that it’s going to be incredible.”
How did the Episcopal Church in Minnesota come to have two cathedrals?
The history surrounding both is rich with the hope and promise that settled the northern state.
The congregation of St. Mark’s Free Mission was established in 1858 in north Minneapolis, an outreach mission of Gethsemane Episcopal Church in downtown Minneapolis, which started 29 congregations throughout the diocese. St. Mark’s relocated to the heart of downtown Minneapolis in the late 1860s and moved into its new, cathedral-like building on southwest edge of downtown Minneapolis in 1910.
St. Mark’s was consecrated a cathedral in 1941 by then Bishop Stephen Keeler. It was Keeler who was instrumental in attracting the 1954 World Anglican Congress to Minneapolis and St. Mark’s. For 10 days in August of that year nearly 700 bishops, priests and lay people from the then 15 provinces of the Anglican Communion met for the first such gathering to be held outside Great Britain. It was for this congress that the now internationally-recognized emblem of the Communion – the Anglican Compass Rose – was designed and first used. Thus, St. Mark’s is also known as the birthplace of the Anglican Compass Rose.
The Faribault cathedral abides because of its unique history. The Right Rev. Henry Benjamin Whipple, consecrated the first bishop of the Diocese of Minnesota in 1858, laid the cornerstone of the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour on July 16,1862. It was the first church built as a cathedral in the Episcopal Church. Because of lack of funds in the young, missionary diocese, the cathedral would not be completed for seven years. It was consecrated in 1869.
Bishop Whipple visited the work of the church in Minnesota for a year, considering potential locations for the seat of the new diocese. The primary educational institutions of the young diocese (some established by the legendary Episcopal missionary, the Rev. James Lloyd Breck): Shattuck School for Boys, St. Mary’s School for Girls and Seabury Divinity School would be clustered there. He finally chose Faribault. Because it was at the crossroads of the Ojibwa, Dakota and European settlements; at the meeting point of the woodlands and prairie; and at the confluence of two rivers, it was anticipated to grow into a major center of commerce. It was not to be. The town, 50 miles south of the capital, has a population of only 24,000.
Like St. Mark’s, the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour has hosted historic Anglican gatherings. The delegates to the 1895 General Convention of the Episcopal Church, held in Minneapolis, took a day off from business and traveled to Faribault on train cars provided by Whipple’s friend James J. Hill. In Faribault they were met by 400 horse-drawn carriages providing transportation for a tour of what Harper’s Magazine that same year called “Episcopal Faribault.” The delegates to the 1954 World Anglican Congress also visited Faribault and the Cathedral – described to Bishop Keeler through many letters as a highlight of the gathering.
– Joe Bjordal is a writer, designer, photographer, and event planner based in Minneapolis.
[Lambeth Palace] In his presidential address to the General Synod on Nov. 17, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby spoke about the issues faced by the Anglican Communion and possible ways forward.
Read the full text of the address below:
During the last eighteen months or so I have had the opportunity to visit thirty-six other Primates of the Anglican Communion at various points. This has involved a total of 14 trips lasting 96 days in all. I incidentally calculated that it involves more than eleven days actually sitting in aeroplanes. This seemed to be a good moment therefore to speak a little about the state of the Communion and to look honestly at some of the issues that are faced and the possible ways forward.
A Flourishing Communion
First of all, and this needs to be heard very clearly, the Anglican Communion exists and is flourishing in roughly 165 countries. There has been comment over the last year that issues around the Communion should not trouble us in the Church of England because the Communion has for all practical purposes ceased to exist. Not only does it exist, but almost everywhere (there are some exceptions) the links to the See of Canterbury, notwithstanding its Archbishop, are profoundly valued. The question as to its existence is therefore about what it will look like in the future. That may be very different, and I will come back to the question.
Secondly, Anglicanism is incredibly diverse. To sit, in the space of a few months, in meetings with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Primate of Australia, the Primate of South Africa, the Moderator of the Church of South India, the Primate of Nigeria and many others is to come away utterly daunted by the differences that exist. They are huge, beyond capacity to deal with adequately in the time for this presentation. Within the Communion there are perhaps more than 2,000 languages and perhaps more than 500 distinct cultures and ways of looking at the world. Some of its churches sit in the middle of what are literally the richest parts of the globe, and have within them some of the richest people on earth. The vast majority are poor. Despite appearances here, we are a poor church for the poor. Many are in countries where change is at a rate that we cannot even begin to imagine. I think of the man I met in Papua New Guinea who is a civil engineer and whose grandfather was the first of his tribe to see a wheel as a small aircraft landed in a clearing in the forest.
At the same time there is a profound unity in many ways. Not in all ways, but having said what I have about diversity, which includes diversity on all sorts of matters including sexuality, marriage and its nature, the use of money, the relations between men and women, the environment, war and peace, distribution of wealth and food, and a million other things, underpinning us is a unity imposed by the Spirit of God on those who name Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. This diversity is both gift and challenge, to be accepted and embraced, as we seek to witness in truth and love to the good news of Jesus Christ.
Thirdly, the potential of the Communion under God is beyond anything we can imagine or think about. We need to hold on to that, there is a prize, the quest for which it is worth almost anything to achieve. The prize is visible unity in Christ despite functional diversity. It is a prize that is not only of infinite value, but also requires enormous sacrifice and struggle to achieve. Yet if we even get near it we can speak with authority to a world where over the last year we have seen more than ever an incapacity to deal with difference, and a desire to oversimplify the complex and diverse nature of human existence for no better reason than we cannot manage difference and dealing with The Other. Yet in Christ we are held together. In Christ the barriers are broken, peace is held out to us as a gift established, which needs living. In Christ there is hope of a life that provides hope of peace.
Fourthly, the Communion is extremely active. Let me give you a few examples. In Mexico, a small community abandoned by all, of people who had lost their homes and were living in the bad lands, where a priest (otherwise unoccupied apart from a full-time career in a professional area and running another church, as well as being unpaid) was sent by his bishop, to start a church, something he thought might well cost him his life. But there he went, to the poorest of the poor, and a community has been established with numerous baptisms, growing spirituality and a love and concern and compassion for one another that speaks of the living presence of Jesus among them.
Another example, a conference in Oklahoma City, in which from people around The Episcopal Church, with patience and courtesy to one another, there was discussion over the issues around the use of firearms and the meaning of the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, in practice in the modern-day USA.
The South Sudan, and after a day spent burying the dead of a great massacre, the Archbishop stood up with extraordinary courage and called for reconciliation. Those from the rebel group would already have opposed him, those from his own group would not necessarily have been impressed. To do that puts any of our struggles into a real perspective.
In England a church in the middle of an extraordinarily mixed area of religious faith, faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, active in its worship, lively in its preaching, yet being the centre and focus of religious leadership in the area so as to enable difference to be handled well.
There are so many others that merit a presentation of its own.
We live in a community that exists, that is deeply engaged with its world almost everywhere, that is diverse and argumentative and fractured, but yet shows in so many places both known and unknown the power and love of Christ through His Spirit at work in our world. We live in a Communion which merits celebration and thanksgiving as well as prayer and repentance.
A flourishing Communion but also a divided Communion.
I do not want to sound triumphalist. There are enormous problems. We have deep divisions in many areas, not only sexuality. There are areas of corruption, other areas where the power of the surrounding culture seems to overwhelm almost everyone at one point or another.
Our divisions may be too much to manage.
In many parts of the Communion, including here, there is a belief that opponents are either faithless to the tradition, or by contrast that they are cruel, judgemental, inhuman. I have to say that we are in a state so delicate that without prayer and repentance, it is hard to see how we can avoid some serious fractures.
In an age of near instant communication, because the Communion exists, and is full of life, vigour and growth, of faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and love for him, everything that one Province does echoes around the world. Every sermon or speech here is heard within minutes and analysed half to death. Every careless phrase in an interview is seen as a considered policy statement. And what is true of all Provinces is ten times more so for us, and especially us in this Synod. We never speak only to each other, and the weight of that responsibility, if we love each other and the world as we should, must affect our actions and our words.
A Communion under threat
There is persecution in the Communion, in many, many areas. We are a poor, and a persecuted Church.
We are well aware of that and need to remember it constantly. In very many parts of the world, particularly parts of Africa and the Middle East, but also South East Asia, persecution comes from jihadist attacks which have killed many, many Anglicans, other Christians and in largest number Muslims, over the last few years. Not a day goes by without some report being received of the suffering and persecution of churches around the world, and of cries for help and requests for support. Not a day goes by without something which should break one’s heart at the courage and the difficulties involved.
There is immense suffering in the Communion. The terrible spread of Ebola, indescribable, a Black Death sweeping through three Dioceses of West Africa, is by itself a catastrophe of historic proportions. I was briefed on it two weeks ago in Accra, and the suffering of people in the afflicted countries makes the blood run cold. We must help, pray and call for more help.
In the South Sudan the human created food shortage threatens to turn into a terrible famine. In DRC the war continues with the utmost cruelty, usually including rape.
The list could go on and on, especially in the Middle East, Palestine and Israel, the Levant and the Euphrates valley.
Where do we go?
So what do we do? Where does this extraordinary, fractious, diverse, argumentative, wonderful, united, ferocious, peaceful, persecuted, suffering body that is the Communion go, and what is the impact on us here in the Church of England?
First, as I have said nothing we say is heard only by us.
Secondly, we should rejoice in being part of this monumental challenge, of this great quest for the prize of being a people who can hold unity in diversity and love in difference. It is almost unimaginably difficult, and most certainly cannot be done except with a whole-hearted openness to the Holy Spirit at work amongst us. It comes with prayer, and us growing closer to God in Jesus Christ and nothing else is an effective substitute. There are no strategies and no plans beyond prayer and obedience.
Thirdly, the future of the Communion requires sacrifice. The biggest sacrifice is that we cannot only work with those we like, and hang out with those whose views are also ours. Groups of like-minded individuals meeting to support and encourage each other may be necessary, indeed often are very necessary, but they are never sufficient. Sufficiency is in loving those with whom we disagree. What may be necessary in the way of party politics, is not sufficient in what might be called the polity of the Church.
In this Church of England we must learn to hold in the right order our calling to be one and our calling to advance our own particular position and seek our own particular views to prevail in the Church generally, whether in England or around the world. We must speak the truth in love.
In practice that has to mean the discipline of meeting with those with whom we disagree and listening to each other carefully and lovingly. It means doing that as much as when we meet with those with whom we do agree, whether it is during sessions of General Synod or at other times. It means celebrating our salvation together and praying together to the God who is the sole source of our hope and future, together. It means that even when we feel a group is beyond the pale for its doctrine, or for its language about others or us, we must love. Love one another, love your neighbour, love your enemy. Who in the world is in none of those categories?
All of us prefer being with those whose tradition we know and in which we were brought up. I am as much part of that as anyone else here. But I have gained far more in my own walk with Jesus Christ through being willing to meet with others whose traditions I did not find sympathetic, and be as transparent with them as I am with my closest friends, as from anything else that I have ever done.
And for the future of the Communion? I have not called a Primates’ Meeting on my own authority (although I could) because I feel that it is necessary for the Anglican Communion to develop a collegial model of leadership, as much as it is necessary in the Church of England, and I have therefore waited for the end of the visits to Provinces.
If the majority view of the Primates is that such a meeting would be a good thing, one will be called in response. The agenda for that meeting will not be set centrally, but from around the Primates of the Communion. One issue that needs to be decided on, ideally by the Primates’ meeting, is whether and if so when there is another Lambeth Conference. It is certainly achievable, but the decision is better made together carefully, than in haste to meet an artificial deadline of a year ending in 8. A Lambeth Conference is so expensive and so complex that we have to be sure that it is worthwhile. It will not be imposed, but part of a collective decision.
The key general point to be established is how the Anglican Communion is led, and what its vision is in the 21st century, in a post-colonial world? How do we reflect the fact that the majority of its members are in the Global South, what is the role of the Instruments of Communion, especially the Archbishop of Canterbury, and what does that look like in lived out practice? These are great decisions, that must be taken to support the ongoing and uninterrupted work of ministering to a world in great need and in great conflict. Whatever the answer, it is likely to be very different from the past.
So, the good news. The Communion exists and is doing wonderful things. The bad news. There are great divisions and threats. The challenge. There is a prize of being able to develop unity in diversity and also with deeper and deeper ecumenical relations demonstrating the power of Christ to break down barriers and to provide hope for a broken world. We must grasp that challenge, it is the prize of a world seeing Christ loved and obeyed in His church, a world hearing the news of his salvation. So let us here, in the Church of England and above all in its General Synod, be amongst those who take a lead in our sacrificial, truthful and committed love for the sake of Christ for His mission in His world.
[Church of England] The General Synod has today enacted the measure enabling women to be ordained as bishops in the Church of England.
The formal enactment of the legislation – Amending Canon 33 – followed the vote on final approval by the synod at its meeting in July of this year. Since that time the legislation has been approved in the U.K. Parliament and received Royal Assent.
The final legislative requirements took place during a session chaired by Archbishop of York John Sentamu, on the first day of the synod’s meeting in London.
With the Instrument of Enactment having been read to synod, the motion was put without debate, with only a simple majority required for approval. Following the item being passed the legislation was signed into law by the archbishops of Canterbury and York before the whole synod.
Following the vote, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: “Today we can begin to embrace a new way of being the church and moving forward together. We will also continue to seek the flourishing of the church of those who disagree.”
The text of the amending canon and instrument of enactment can be seen here.
ENS coverage of the July synod debate and vote is available here.
[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Church in South Sudan has joined other stakeholders in the region to address the country’s continued conflicts by using a team of community members called “Peace Mobilisers.”
Peace Mobilisers are a group of about 80 well-trained community and faith-based practitioners from across South Sudan brought together to share knowledge and experiences on the various approaches to reconciliation and sent back into their communities to influence change.
At the end of a 30-day training period for this group last month, Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan told the media: “Peace in our country is paramount but building the unity of our people will be challenging and will need commitment and courage. But we are a big group, a battalion of peace and we can make peace in this county if we make a step together and we listen together,.”
Deng is the chairperson of the institution which organized the training, the South Sudan Committee for National Healing, Peace and Reconciliation. It is an independent peace and reconciliation body in South Sudan meant to “build bridges across political and social divides and promote healing and reconciling among all South Sudanese.”
Bishop Moses Deng Bol of South Sudan’s Diocese of Wau, who also attended the training, believes that this approach is effective and could be the solution to bringing lasting peace in the region.
He told ACNS in an interview: “We believe that this is a very effective approach in bringing peace to South Sudan because the mobilizers will be based in the communities and so they will be listening to their communities’ narratives, which is part of the healing process.”
He added, “Since they are based in the communities we hope that they will report anyone who does activities which may disturb peace or provoke conflict.”
The Peace Mobilisers represent different groups within the country such as the religious leaders, women’s associations, and youth unions among others. They were selected by the National Committee on Healing Peace and Reconciliation from the 10 states of South Sudan and Abyei Administrative Area and were brought to the town of Yei in the Central Equatorial State for one month to be trained as trainers of other Peace Mobilizers in their communities.
They are guided by a newly created and agreed on charter which indicates that members of this group are “peacemakers who do not take any sides and who see all people as equal in the face of God and who also endeavor to build trust and mutual understanding between divided communities, families and individuals.”