[Anglican Communion News Service] The bishop of Madhya Kerala, Thomas Oommen, has been chosen to be the new moderator of the Church of South India. He was elected by an overwhelming majority at the CSI Synod meeting at Kottayam in the state of Kerala. Thomas had been the deputy moderator. He succeeds Bishop Govada Dyvasiryvadam who is stepping down after three years in office.
[Episcopal News Service] What began as a small gathering with a big dream has transformed into a commitment by millions of Christians around the world to pray for one another.
First begun in 1908, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity runs Jan.18-25 with hundreds of celebrations and gatherings: from Houston to Boston; Waterloo, Belgium, to the Vatican; in Episcopal and Roman Catholic cathedrals and churches; with United Methodists and Lutherans and scores of other denominations.
“The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity reminds us every year that it is Jesus’ prayer for us all to be one,” said the Rev. David Simmons, rector of St. Matthias Episcopal Church in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and president of the Episcopal Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers Association. “The idea of Roman Catholics and Protestants sitting down and praying together 150 years ago was almost unthinkable. Today, so much has changed. It’s a time to celebrate how far we’ve come, and a time to look at the long road ahead of us.”
Although it’s difficult to determine exactly how many Episcopal congregations are participating in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, numerous services are planned across the country and around the world. In Wisconsin, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, and United Methodists will come together to host a Taizé service on Jan. 25. All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Waterloo, Belgium, will offer an ecumenical worship service on Jan. 18, with a forum led by an Anglican scholar and religion historian.
Christ Church Cathedral in Houston, Texas, opens its doors for a Unity Service on Jan. 18. Although this is the fourth year for the Concert of Praise and Ecumenical Prayer Service in Houston, it’s the first time that the Episcopal cathedral is hosting.
The cathedral considers the opportunity an honor and privilege, said the Rev. Art Callaham, canon vicar. Generally, the Houston community uses the liturgy prepared and offered by the international Week of Prayer for Christian Unity organizers. But the music is reflective of particular traditions. This year, the service will offer the liturgical experience of choral evensong – a deeply Anglican tradition.
“There was a lot of head-scratching and wondering when we first mentioned this idea,” admitted Callaham. “It’s not common in a lot of the Christian traditions. But the service not only gives us this unified experience of worshiping and praying together, but we have an opportunity to share what makes and keeps our traditions unique.”
Callaham recalls the words of St. Paul that each gives according to ability. “This applies at both the individual level but also the congregational and denominational level,” he said. “We have a variety of gifts. … When we see these all knit together, it is a beautiful thing. We are not trying to rub out what makes us different to create some homogenous whole, but rather when we act of our giftedness, we bring together our differences into something that none of can create or support individually.”
Indeed, for the Rev. Margaret Rose, deputy for ecumenical and interreligious relations for the Episcopal Church, this understanding of ecumenism is a guiding principle.
“Ecumenical work is not so much about creating something that has not been before, but about revealing what God created in the beginning,” she said. “We find ways to explore our unity, not conformity.”
The theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity builds upon that concept: It honors the 500th anniversary of the beginnings of the Reformation. “Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us,” calls on Christians to examine the concerns that sparked the Reformation and to acknowledge the pain caused by deep divisions among Christians.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity traces its history to 1908, when the Rev. Paul James Francis Wattson, then an Episcopal priest, initiated the Church Unity Octave. Wattson founded a religious order, the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement at Graymoor in Garrison, New York, in the late 1800s. Committed to a reconciliation between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, he believed that “a time set aside for prayers and seminars would hasten Christian unity,” according to the Graymoor Ecumenical Interreligious Institute. Wattson was joined by the Rev. Spencer Jones, an Anglican priest serving in England, in promoting and advocating for the week of prayer.
Wattson ultimately was ordained into the Roman Catholic tradition, but his commitment to ecumenism continued. The founders decided to settle the event between the feast of St. Peter on Jan. 18 and the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul on Jan. 25.
“It was such a breakthrough when these prayers for unity first started,” said Richard Mammana, secretary of the Episcopal Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Association. “There was a lot of hesitation about Christians even praying together, let alone collaborating on projects. … But from the very beginning, Paul Wattson said, ‘We can do this very basic thing. We can pray together.’ ”
This devoted time to praying together has begun to break down barriers, said Mammana. “We begin to see we have more in common across denominations than we imagined.”
Over the years, Rose has seen the rise and wane of interest in ecumenism and participation in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
“We’re back on the rise,” said Rose. “We understand the need for conversation. We are in a very divisive time, and the need for Christians to find a way to have a common voice, especially in prayer, is critical. We are in deep need of reconciliation.”
Further, said Simmons, many denominations are shrinking in size and influence in this post-Christian age.
“The reality of this time is forcing us to work together,” said Simmons. “In small-town Wisconsin, we used to have the luxury of each denomination having its own congregation and pastor. That’s no longer the case.”
Regardless of what is prompting an ecumenical revival, Simmons is excited about the opportunities to collaborate with other denominations on issues of poverty and hunger, the status of women, and other areas of advocacy.
“The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is a way for us to liturgically remember the reality of what we’re trying to live into. The real work of ecumenism is what happens day-to-day among churches in communities,” said Simmons. “It’s not an end in itself. It’s supposed to lead us into greater conversation. But it’s a good place to start.”
– Richelle Thompson is deputy director and managing editor of Forward Movement.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Jeremy Tackett has been named the Episcopal Church digital evangelist, a member of the presiding bishop’s staff.
In this new full-time position, Tackett’s duties will include strategizing efforts for the building of relationships, creating community and fostering an aspirational online social presence by managing and implementing the Episcopal Church’s growing digital evangelism ministry.
Most recently, Tackett was director of communications at Christ Episcopal Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. Prior to that, he was coordinator of publications at the University of Pikeville, in Kentucky.
Tackett boasts an extensive background in digital and social media platforms, web data analytics (Google Analytics, strategic email marketing, social media engagement) and web engagement. He holds inbound and email marketing certifications from Hubspot and is a member of the American Institute of Graphic Arts.
Tackett holds a Bachelor of Science degrees in communication from the University of Kentucky.
Additionally, he has more than 10 years of experience in ministry and church leadership, in a variety of church settings and roles as both a professional and volunteer.
A member of the Office of Communications, Tackett will be based in Raleigh, North Carolina, and will report to the presiding bishop’s canon for ministry within the Episcopal Church
Tackett will begin his new position on Feb. 1. At that time he will be available at email@example.com.
At Episcopal-Lutheran King celebration in Los Angeles, Presiding Bishop says: ‘stick together and hold hands’
[Episcopal News Service – Los Angeles] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry invoked the prophet Isaiah and Robert Fulghum’s, “Everything I Need to Know I learned in Kindergarten,” charming and challenging a packed Jan. 15 celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday in Los Angeles, to move forward in tough times is by seeking “ancient wisdom … tried and true and tested.”
Curry spurred hundreds of Episcopalians and Lutherans at the historic joint celebration to laughter, applause, cheers and a standing ovation. He echoed Isaiah’s theme “Look to the rock” (51:1-2) with his characteristic energetic, extemporaneous and whooping preaching style, attributed to the influence of his grandmother, “a dyed-in-the-wool, rock-rib Baptist.”
He recalled the dispersal of Israelites during the Babylonian exile. “This is what the prophet said: ‘Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and you who seek the Lord. Look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham, your father and to Sarah, who bore you.’ Look to the rock.”
While acknowledging current political uncertainty and ambiguity, Curry emphasized themes of unity, love and building relationship: “It is fitting that we should be observing the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King at this moment and this time. We need him seriously now.”
Bishop Guy Erwin of the Southwest Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America called the joint gathering “historic” and welcomed worshippers, including Curry and other Episcopalians, as well as ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and representatives of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Erwin also thanked Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles for the “great joy” of the close working relationship that allowed the two churches to collaborate on the King celebration. Later, at a panel discussion, he also heralded a joint collaborative anti-gun violence task force.
Bruce conveyed greetings from Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno, who was unable to attend after a minor slip and fall on ice during a visit to Oregon. “This is our first real joint multicultural Martin Luther King service between the ELCA and the Episcopal Church, and I hope it’s not the last. We can top anything,” Bruce said.
Worshippers packed the multi-lingual celebration, held at Westchester Lutheran Church, near downtown Los Angeles. It featured the rousing music of Canon Chas Cheatham and the Episcopal Chorale Society, and Lutheran choirs. The service, at times both poignant and humorous, may be viewed here.
Amongst applause, Curry told the mayor, who also addressed the gathering, “We need political leaders like you. We need you.”
Garcetti told worshippers the diversity and purpose of the gathering “reminds us of what is possible. I feel at home here, the product of a Catholic father and Jewish mother who compromised and sent me to an Episcopal school,” he said amid laughter.
Acknowledging the current tense political climate, he echoed King’s edict to “stand in someone else’s shoes … and let their stories open our hearts and souls.” Especially those who are vulnerable, like “students (who) will go to school this week in our city wondering if their parents will be home when they get home as the administration changes.
“Students who will be making decisions whether to drop out of school because they won’t have hope or a job. When we see people returning from prison wondering will I have another pathway when I get back.”
Now is the time for both prophets and pastors, Garcetti said. “We must chart, as Dr. King did, where we need to go, but we also need to put out our hand to our neighbor and make sure we take them with us.”
Paraphrasing former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, he said human rights “begin in places so small, they’re not found on any human map: the places we work, the places we live, the places we worship.”
Noting that King’s dream encompassed both racial and economic equality, he challenged worshippers to use “the power that we have” by standing together. That power, he said, enabled Los Angelenos recently to increase the minimum wage to $10.50, compared to a $7.25 federal minimum wage, and also to pass a homeless housing initiative.
“Know that what we feel in our hearts, what we think in our heads and what we must move forward with in our guts in these coming days, is that Dr. King would expect us not just to sit here and complain but to go out there and do something.”
Curry’s sermon evoked the image of the “Sankofa” bird, a Ghanaian symbol “that reminded people that the way into an uncertain future is by knowing how to look back and to glean wisdom from the past and strength from the ancestors so that you can go forward in uncertain and ambiguous times.”
He recalled the 1991 discovery of a colonial-era slave and free African burial ground in lower Manhattan, now a national monument. Etched into one of the surviving wooden caskets, workers discovered that symbol, of the Sankofa, which translated to English means roughly “go back and get it.”
“The Hebrew prophet understood this,” Curry said, referring to Isaiah, who preached during the Jewish dispersion. “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness … in a time of real polarity and uncertainty and profound division…. Listen to me, you who seek the Lord. Look to the rock … to the ancient wisdom. Listen to the old, tried and true and tested ways.”
“The prophet (Isaiah) knew it … he was doing Sankofa. Look back to the wisdom of the past. Bring it into the present to go into the future. This was at a time when Jewish people found their world disrupted. Their world had been one way, one day, and the next, a nightmare.
“These were days when as James Weldon Johnson (“Lift Every Voice and Sing”) says, these were the days when hope unborn had died … and it is in this context that the Hebrew prophet spoke to his people. Listen to me, you who seek God’s dream in the midst of a nightmare … you who believe in love.
“Look to the rock whence you were hewn and the quarry whence you were dug. Look to Abraham. Look to Sarah. Look to Martin. Or, better yet, look to Jesus. The truth is … we ignore the wisdom of the past at our peril.”
Citing the lessons in Fulghum’s book, such as sharing your things and playing fair, Curry sparked laughter by asking: “Can you imagine Congress with this?”
Returning to the “deep roots of who we are” by honoring the nation’s foundational principles of inalienable rights, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, Curry said “there, we will find our way forward as a nation.”
“But,” he added that, “for us who are Christian, who follow in the way of Jesus, these are going to be some tough times. Because there will be times when we will feel like we must react to hatred and bigotry and wrong with more hatred and bigotry and wrong. There will be times when we are so hurt and angry that we want to respond in anger.”
He cited the “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” a turning point in the civil rights movement, in which King instructed activists to meditate on the life and teachings of Jesus as they prepared to march. “Remember the nonviolent movement seeks justice and ultimately reconciliation; never victory,” King wrote.
In a message echoing the tenets of Jesus they were also instructed to live in love “so that all God’s children may one day be free.”
Not, said Curry, “because it’s easy, but because love is the only way.”
He added: Fashion a world “that treats everybody like a child of God … then America will truly be America and then when we celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday, what a great day it will be. We’ll be able to say Free at Last, Happy Birthday Martin King.”
Curry joined a panel discussion after the service. Panelists said the church can most effectively begin to live out King’s dream by building relationships in their communities.
The ELCA’s Eaton said a pastor formed a relationship with local police in the wake of the 1999 Bronx, New York, killing of Amadou Diallo. Diallo was a 22-year-old West African man shot more than 40 times by police who mistakenly thought he was carrying a gun.
Rather than adopting an “us-versus-them mentality,” that pastor adhered to King’s vision of “us together,” she said.
Commander Phil Tingirides of the Los Angeles Police Department’s South Bureau, said the police partner with churches regularly because “there is an expectation you are leaders within the community, a place where people come to hear how to be good people, to hear how to reach out to people in need.”
“The vast majority of people involved in crime are people in need” who have issues with love, anger management, and issues economically and mentally, he said.
“This service we went to today to me was amazing; you had people from so many diverse backgrounds, different religions, differing beliefs and that’s how we are going to solve a lot of the race issues,” he said. “By getting to know each other, by reaching out and understanding each other. Churches are a place for that. You have a huge role. It’s not one that ends on Sunday when the doors close.”
Los Angeles Episcopal Bishop Coadjutor-elect John Taylor said that, while the early years of the civil rights movement were about changing discriminatory laws, in later years King spoke out against the Vietnam War and “called for a true revolution of values, to try to think of a way for society to overcome structural and economic inequities and move forward together.”
Curry agreed that churches can be “bridge communities bringing together people … that we might not be in relationship with. That, in itself, is part of the knitting together of the fabric of the social contract that we need in this country that’s the basis for any democracy to be able to work.”
To an 18-year-old who pondered how young people might help make a difference, Curry said: “You have to be wise, be smart. Pay attention to yourself. Don’t be afraid to stand for what’s right and to help somebody who doesn’t have anybody to help them.
“The truth is, there are more good people out there, there are far more good people out there … but a lot of times they get scared off by the loudest people around. And if somebody stands up and brings the good together, the truth is you can win the day.
“You can, but it’s tough. But don’t give up.”
–The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.
[Anglican Communion News Service] The head of the Scottish Episcopal Church says the Church is “deeply distressed” at the offense caused by the reading of a passage from the Quran in a Glasgow cathedral. The primus, the Most Rev. David Chillingworth, also condemned a subsequent wave of abuse received by St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral. Police have confirmed they are investigating offensive online messages received by the cathedral.
Members of the city’s Muslim community had been invited to join the congregation at an Epiphany service as a way of promoting understanding between the two faiths. The passage that was read out, sparking criticism, related to the Virgin Birth.
In an online post, the primus said: “The decisions which have led to the situation in St. Mary’s Cathedral are a matter for the provost and the cathedral community but the Scottish Episcopal Church is deeply distressed at the widespread offense which has been caused. We also deeply regret the widespread abuse which has been received by the cathedral community.”
He pledged to bring those involved in developing interfaith relations together: “Those who seek to work in the area of interfaith relationships must weigh carefully whether the choices which they make are appropriate or otherwise. In today’s world, those judgements must give careful consideration to good relationships which have been carefully nurtured over many years in a local context. They must also weigh carefully the way in which national and international issues shape perceptions of what is appropriate or inappropriate.”
He added: “Our intention will be as a church to explore how, particularly in the area of worship, this work can be carried forward in ways which will command respect. Our desire is that this should be a worthy expression of the reconciliation to which all Christians are called.”
Responding to the furore, the Cathedral’s provost, the Very Rev. Kelvin Holdsworth, in his sermon on Sunday, Jan. 15, said the Epiphany service was aimed at promoting understanding between the two faiths – but said he had witnessed a “storm of abuse” from “10,000 ‘Christian’ voices claiming to know what happened here that night.”
“I would not have wished the week that I have had on anyone,” he went on. “The international hue and cry about our Epiphany service was not something anyone here was seeking. Our aim and the aim of all involved was to bring God’s people together and learn from one another – something that did, beneath the waves of the storm happen, and continues to happen. Nobody at that service that night could be in any doubt that we proclaimed the divinity of Christ and preached the Gospel of God’s love.”
[Episcopal News Service – Fort Worth (Texas)] Aux épiscopaliens qui considèrent « l’église » comme un lieu où l’on va plutôt que ce que l’on est, le Diocèse de Fort Worth a de quoi raconter.
Son histoire va bien au-delà de la restructuration – voire même de la réanimation – d’une structure diocésaine et congrégationnelle après le vote en novembre 2008 par une majorité d’anciens membres du clergé et leaders laïcs de quitter l’Église épiscopale. C’est une histoire de résurrection – celle d’épiscopaliens réinventant leur église et, ce faisant, eux-mêmes.
« Nous n’essayons pas de reconstruire une vieille église », déclare J. Scott Mayer, l’évêque provisoire de Fort Worth, qui est également l’évêque du Diocèse du Nord-Ouest du Texas. « Nous essayons de prendre part à la résurrection pour devenir un nouveau corps ».
Ces épiscopaliens ont établi de nouveaux ministères et, ce faisant, développent de nouvelles manières d’être une église dans leur façon de servir leurs communautés.
Et lorsqu’ils « vont à l’église », certains épiscopaliens de Fort Worth se réunissent dans des espaces atypiques comme un théâtre ou un centre commercial. Les Wise County Episcopalians (épiscopaliens du comté de Wise) ont par exemple leur lieu de culte dans un bâtiment qui était à l’origine celui de l’Episcopal Mission of the Ascension (mission épiscopale de l’Ascension) en 1889, puis est ensuite devenu une fabrique de matelas et, plus récemment, une chapelle pour les mariages.
Même le poste d’évêque est différent. Bien que la formule d’évêque provisoire soit utilisée ailleurs dans l’église épiscopale, c’est tout de même quelque chose de relativement rare qui, selon Scott Mayer, illustre la façon dont les diocèses pourraient mettre en commun leurs ressources.
Il fait remarquer que l’évêque Sean Rowe du diocèse du Nord-Ouest de la Pennsylvanie (qui est également évêque provisoire du Diocèse de Bethlehem dans la partie Est de l’État), souligne que dans les années 1960 l’Église épiscopale avait un moindre nombre de diocèses mais que maintenant elle a un plus grand nombre de diocèses et un moindre nombre de fidèles.
« Il se pourrait bien que ce ne soit pas un modèle durable pour nous tous », poursuit Scott Mayer, ajoutant qu’il ne préconise pas nécessairement d’associer des diocèses mais que l’Église va probablement devoir trouver de nouveaux moyens de partager les ressources diocésaines.
« Et, dans ce cas, la ressource à partager ce serait l’évêque », conclut-il.
Scott Mayer est le quatrième évêque provisoire de Fort Worth. Le premier était Edwin F. « Ted » Gulick Jr., alors évêque du Kentucky, suivi de C. Wallis Ohl Jr. évêque retraité du Nord-Ouest du Texas puis de Rayford B. High Jr., évêque suffragant retraité.
Forth Worth compte dix-sept congrégations dont une congrégation luthérienne ayant comme pasteur un prêtre épiscopalien. Depuis la scission, le diocèse a connu une augmentation de 19,3 % de ses membres pratiquants et une augmentation de 11,9 % de son revenu d’exploitation. Depuis sa restructuration en 2009, Fort Worth a chaque année versé l’intégralité du montant demandé par l’Église épiscopale pour soutenir le budget triennal de toute l’église. Il est le seul des six diocèses de l’État du Texas à l’avoir fait.
Katie Sherrod, directrice des communications à Forth Worth a déclaré à Episcopal News Service qu’au sortir de la restructuration de 2009, toute l’administration était totalement désorganisée car l’ancien évêque occupait les bureaux diocésains et d’autres biens appartenant à l’Église épiscopale. « Nous avons passé 2009 et 2010 à localiser les épiscopaliens, reconstruire les congrégations, trouver le clergé et localiser des lieux de culte. En 2011/2012, nous avons finalement eu une évaluation réaliste du nombre de membres dans les congrégations du diocèse », explique-t-elle. « C’est sur la base de ces chiffres qu’est faite l’évaluation de notre croissance ».
Transformer la manière dont l’Église épiscopale gère les vingt-quatre comtés du Centre-Nord du Texas vient en partie de la nécessité en tant qu’Église épiscopale et que diocèse de chercher à récupérer les biens immeubles et autres actifs encore contrôlés par ceux qui ont quitté l’église. La Cour d’appel du Texas étudie l’affaire après avoir entendu les plaidoiries orales, lors de l’audience du 19 avril 2016.
« On prévoit, cependant, que la décision de la Cour d’appel soit portée en appel devant la Cour suprême du Texas par la partie à l’encontre de qui la Cour d’appel aura tranché », explique Katie Sherrod.
L’Église épiscopale dans son ensemble a soutenu la réinvention du diocèse. Le Conseil exécutif, qui s’est réuni dans le diocèse deux fois depuis la scission, a en juin offert une aide sous la double forme d’une subvention directe prise sur le budget global de l’église – de l’argent recueilli par le Bureau du développement de l’Église et l’Évêque Primat – et de subventions pour l’implantation d’églises et le développement de missions locales par le biais de la résolution 2015-D005 du processus d’implantation d’églises.
Le financement, assuré conjointement par le diocèse et ses congrégations, aide à soutenir le clergé en charge des communautés de foi à croissance rapide.
Le projet « 4 Saints Food Pantry » (aide alimentaire des quatre saints) qui vise à répondre aux besoins et établir des relations avec des personnes qui souffrent de la faim dans le désert alimentaire de la partie Est de Fort Worth, a reçu une subvention de 20 000 dollars au titre de la « Mission Enterprise Zone ». Le ministère emploiera l’argent pour commencer à acheter de l’équipement nécessaire pour une banque alimentaire homologuée. La banque alimentaire aura ses activités à St. Luke’s in the Meadow Episcopal Church (Fort Worth). Ultérieurement, elle établira un partenariat officiel avec la Tarrant Area Food Bank. St. Luke, St. Martin (Keller-Southlake), St. Stephen (Hurst) et St. Alban (culte au Théâtre Arlington) sont les quatre « saints » associés à ce ministère.
En vue d’obtenir des fonds supplémentaires liés à la résolution D005, d’autres demandes de subventions sont en cours, dont une pour l’implantation dune église dans la partie Ouest de Fort Worth à croissance rapide, ajoute Katie Sherrod.
[Episcopal News Service] The involvement of Washington National Cathedral and its choir in the upcoming inauguration of President-elect Donald J. Trump has stirred concern in parts of the Episcopal Church.
The Cathedral Choir accepted an invitation to perform during the musical prelude to the Jan. 20 inauguration ceremony. That prelude begins at 9:30 a.m. EST. The actual ceremony is scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m. The program is here.
The cathedral confirmed three weeks ago that it would once again play out one of its traditional roles in U.S. life by offering Trump and the nation a chance to come together in prayer. The invitation-only 58th Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service will take place at 10 a.m. Jan. 21, the day after Trump is sworn in as the 45th president.
After news of the choir’s participation prompted a deluge of comments on social media as well as emails to officials involved, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Diocese of Washington Bishop Mariann Budde and Cathedral Dean Randolph Hollerith all issued statements on Jan. 12 addressing those concerns.
“We all know this election has been contentious and there are deep feelings being felt by Episcopalians on all sides of the issues,” Curry said in his statement. “We recognize that this election has been contentious, and the Episcopal Church, like our nation, has expressed a diversity of views, some of which have been born in deep pain.”
Acknowledging that there has been “much discussion, and some controversy” about the appropriateness of the cathedral hosting the traditional prayer service, and of one of its choirs singing at the inauguration, Curry said that those issues raise “some basic Christian questions about prayer.”
“When I pray for our leaders, why am I doing so? Should I pray for a leader I disagree with? When I pray, what do I think I am accomplishing?” is how Curry described the questions.
The presiding bishop said the practice of prayer for leaders is “deep in our biblical and Anglican/Episcopalian traditions.”
Curry said that tradition of prayer means Episcopalians are praying that “their leadership will truly serve not partisan interest, but the common good.”
“We can and, indeed, I believe we must pray for all who lead in our civic order, nationally and internationally. I pray for the president in part because Jesus Christ is my Savior and Lord,” he said. “If Jesus is my Lord and the model and guide for my life, his way must be my way, however difficult. And the way of prayer for others is a part of how I follow the way of Jesus.”
Prayer is both “contemplative and active,” Curry said, adding that people who pray should both listen to God, and serve and witness to the world in the name of Jesus.
“We participate as followers of Jesus in the life of our government and society, caring for each other and others, and working for policies and laws that reflect the values and teachings of Jesus, to ‘love your neighbor,’ to ‘do unto others as you who have them do unto you,’ to fashion a civic order that reflects the goodness, the justice, the compassion that we see in the face of Jesus, that we know to reflect the very heart and dream of God for all of God’s children and God’s creation,” he said.
Hollerith replied to questions about the choir’s participation in his statement.
“Our choir is singing at the inauguration to honor the peaceful transition of power that is at the heart of our democratic government,” he said. “Let me be clear: We do not pray or sing to bless a political ideology or partisan agenda, regardless of the man (or woman) taking that sacred oath of office. We sing to honor the nation.”
The dean said choir members are not required to participate in what he called “part of our call to serve as a spiritual home for the nation.”
“In our bruised and polarized country, we hope the gift of our music can help remind us of our highest ideals and aspirations as one nation under God,” he said.
Budde said that “while I do not ask you to agree, I simply ask you to consider that we, too, acted on spiritual principles.
“Those principles, while they may seem to conflict with yours, are also essential for the work that lies ahead.”
The first principle, she said, is that Episcopal churches “welcome all people into our houses of prayer.”
“Welcoming does not mean condoning offensive speech or behavior; it does not mean that we agree with or seek to legitimize,” she said. “We simply welcome all into this house of prayer, in full acknowledgment that every one of us stands in need of prayer.”
The second principle, Budde said, is that “in times of national division, the Episcopal Church is called to be a place where those who disagree can gather for prayer and learning and to work for the good of all.”
Saying she is “alarmed by some of Mr. Trump’s words and deeds and by those who now feel emboldened to speak and act in hateful ways,” Budde said. “I believe in the power of God to work for good, and the capacity of our nation to rise to our highest ideals.”
Episcopalians and others have also questioned whether the cathedral ought to host the customary prayer service for the incoming president on the day after the inauguration.
Beginning with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first inauguration in 1933, presidential inaugural prayer services have taken place at Washington National Cathedral, which calls itself a “house of prayer for all people.” That tradition has been more recently consistent since President Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration in 1985. The exception was President Bill Clinton, who chose Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, the historic black church in downtown Washington, for both of his inaugural prayer services. The cathedral has also been the location of funeral and memorial services for nearly all the 21 U.S. presidents who have died since the cathedral’s founding.
“At a time when emotions are raw, we hope to offer a few moments of spiritual solace and the healing gift of transcendent beauty,” Budde said. “We also want the nation to know that we are still here, as people of hope. While the inauguration is a civic rather than a religious ceremony, it is also an occasion for prayer and an opportunity to offer the balm of beauty.”
Budde previously said she would participate in that service, as is traditional for the bishop of Washington which includes the District of Columbia and four neighboring counties in Maryland.
Curry has asked Bishop Suffragan for the Armed Forces and Federal Ministries James “Jay” Magness to represent him at the prayer service because the presiding bishop will be leading a pilgrimage of reconciliation to Ghana, a commitment he made more than a year ago.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story indicated that the Washington National Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys is scheduled to participate in the inauguration’s musical prelude. This story was updated at 11:15 EST Jan. 13 to clarify the fact that the entire cathedral choir is participating.
[Anglican Communion News Service] Church leaders from the Diocese of Madras in India distributed food parcels and other aid to some of the thousands of people displaced by Cyclone Vardah. The cyclone hit Chennai on Dec. 12, 2016, killing 10 people. It was the strongest storm in the region for two decades. Trees were uprooted, cattle killed and buildings damaged. Even modern buildings like the Hyatt Regency hotel were severely affected – with many windows blown out of the structure. Many huts and asbestos homes lived in by poorer people were destroyed.
[Episcopal News Service] Part of the legacy of the Episcopal Church’s history on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming intersects with the issue of ownership of tribal cultural artifacts as portrayed in a new documentary.
“What Was Ours,” follows the journey of Jordan Dresser, a young Northern Arapaho journalist who returned to the reservation southeast of Yellowstone National Park after graduating college. Dresser got a job at the Wind River Casino where he was asked to establish a tribal museum. However, he found that the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribal members no longer possessed many sacred objects from their pasts.
The documentary, directed by Mat Hames, will premiere on PBS’ Independent Lens Jan. 16 from 10 to 11 p.m. Eastern (check local listings).
Mikala SunRhodes, a Northern Arapaho high-school student and powwow princess, and Philbert McLeod, an Eastern Shoshone elder whose last trip off the reservation was when he left to fight in Vietnam, travel with Dresser literally and figuratively as they search for their cultural artifacts.
The object of the project was, in Dresser’s words, “to be able to tell our story in the way we want to tell it.”
Part of their journey took them 150 miles off the reservation to the Diocese of Wyoming’s offices in Casper where they viewed artifacts that form the Edith May Adams Collection.
Adams, a deacon of the church, lived on the Wind River Reservation decades ago and purchased items from tribal members in need of cash. She specified in her will that the artifacts be turned over to the church for safekeeping for the tribes. She supplied a substantial amount of money for the maintenance of the nearly 200 objects at the direction of the diocesan bishop.
The fact that she wanted to make the objects accessible to the tribes is “such a simple thing, but it is such a strong thing,” Dresser says. Adams may not have known who to go to or where to go to accomplish her goals, he adds, “so she went with the organization she trusted; that was her Episcopal faith.”
“In a way, I am grateful for her to do that because who knows where they could have ended up.”
Using a casino to achieve that accessibility was not a clear choice. Wyoming Bishop John Smylie says in the film that at first, he was hesitant to loan objects for the project. Admitting that his first reaction “was not hugely positive.” He says he thought there were “moral and ethical issues” about displaying the objects in a place where people might be coping with gambling addictions. “I wanted to be sure we were doing the right thing,” he said.
Smylie was not the only one. The bishop came to St. Michael’s Episcopal Mission in Ethete on the Wind River Reservation and said he would not lend the casino any of the objects without the Northern Arapaho congregation’s blessing. “The first reaction on the artifacts going to the casino was ‘no’,” says Aaron Friday, a St. Michael’s member. “The older ones told us ‘No, we don’t want them there. They don’t belong there.’”
Members of both tribes had qualms – some of them cultural – about displaying such objects anywhere. They were concerned about the objects’ power and whether some had come from burial sites or simply that they once belonged to people who are now dead.
“You have to go through all sorts of rituals for them things before you can even touch them,” one Shoshone woman, a tribal elder, warns during a discussion about the proposed display. “Otherwise the tribe could be hurt.”
After such soul-searching, the diocese agreed to loan objects from the collection to be displayed at the Experience Room at the Wind River Casino in Fort Washakie on the Shoshone side of the reservation. The casino is one of four on the reservation and the four are the only casinos in Wyoming.
The decision to approach the diocese was partially expedient and partially strategic. The collection was close by, Dresser says, and forging an agreement might show large museums elsewhere that the tribes could care for the artifacts.
The Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois, was one such museum. Dresser, McLeod, SunRhodes and other tribal members traveled there after learning that the museum contains many cultural artifacts of the two tribes, purchased from tribal members in the early 20th century.
Although a museum official offers in the film to help the tribes open discussions about repatriating the object, Dresser says the visit was bittersweet. “We went there to view pieces of ourselves but we had to leave them there,” he says.
The documentary also addresses why Adams and the Field’s curators could acquire such artifacts. Dresser says the late 1800s and early 1900s were hard times for Indians. “Selling objects was a way for them to eat, a way for them to live,” he says. Smylie agrees, saying some tribal members bartered for food and other necessities with the objects.
“These were people who needed those cash funds,” says Jonathan Haas, a Field Museum curator emeritus. “Their traditional culture had been removed from them and they were forced to participate in an economy what wasn’t theirs.”
Smylie says in the documentary that it takes a long time to heal from the kind of trauma and abuse that the Wind River members suffered, but that building relationships is one way to help heal those wounds. The decision to loan some of the Adams collection’s objects to the reservation means “we can open up the collection more than we were ever able to over the last 50 years.”
The bishop adds that the new relationships that formed during the decision-making process were a test. “It was a test for them. It was a test for us. It was a test for the tribes,” he says.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Anglican Communion News Service] The Archbishop of Jos in the Anglican Church of Nigeria has spoken about how Christians are finding refuge in God “in the face of turbulence, persecution and wickedness” in the north of the country. Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi made the comments at the opening service at the annual retreat of Anglican bishops in the province, which is being held at St. Peters Chapel at the IBRU International Ecumenical Centre in Agbarha-Otor. He said that the “forces of evil are still at work but Jesus has already defeated powers of hell, of darkness of wickedness and of evil.”
Les leaders de l’Église épiscopale s’expliquent sur la participation de l’église à l’inauguration de Donald Trump
[Episcopal News Service] La participation de la Cathédrale nationale de Washington et de sa chorale à l’investiture prochaine du Président élu Donald J. Trump suscite l’inquiétude d’une certaine partie de l’Église épiscopale.
La chorale de la cathédrale a accepté l’invitation à se produire lors du prélude musical de la cérémonie d’investiture du 20 janvier. Ce prélude commence à 9h30, heure de Washington. Le début de la cérémonie elle-même est prévu à 11h30. Le programme se trouve ici.
La cathédrale a confirmé il y a trois semaines qu’elle remplirait à nouveau l’un de ses rôles traditionnels dans la vie américaine en offrant à Donald Trump et à la nation une occasion de se rassembler dans la prière. Le 58e service de prière pour l’investiture présidentielle aura lieu, sur invitation uniquement, à 10h le 21 janvier, le lendemain de la prestation de serment de Donald Trump en tant que 45e président.
Après que la nouvelle de la participation de la chorale a déchainé un déluge de commentaires sur les médias sociaux ainsi que des messages électroniques adressés aux dirigeants concernés, l’Évêque Primat Michael Curry, Mariann Budde, évêque du Diocèse de Washington et Randolph Hollerith, doyen de la Cathédrale ont tous publié le 12 janvier des déclarations en réponse à ces inquiétudes.
« Nous savons tous que cette élection est controversée et que des épiscopaliens de tous bords se sentent profondément concernés », a dit Michael Curry dans sa déclaration. « Nous reconnaissons que cette élection est controversée et que l’Église épiscopale, tout comme notre nation, a exprimé une diversité de points de vue dont certains sont l’expression d’une douleur profonde ».
Reconnaissant qu’il y a « beaucoup de discussions et certaines controverses » sur le bien-fondé de l’organisation par la cathédrale du service traditionnel de prière et sur le fait que l’une de ses chorales se produise à l’investiture, Michael Curry explique que cela pose « certaines questions chrétiennes fondamentales au sujet de la prière ».
« Lorsque je prie pour nos dirigeants, pour quelle raison le fais-je ? Dois-je prier pour un dirigeant avec qui je suis en désaccord ? Lorsque je prie, qu’est-ce que je pense faire ? » : telles sont les questions évoquées par Michael Curry.
L’évêque primat explique que la pratique de la prière pour les dirigeants est « profondément ancrée dans nos traditions bibliques et anglicanes/ épiscopaliennes ».
Selon lui, la tradition de la prière signifie que les épiscopaliens prient pour que « leurs dirigeants soient véritablement au service, non pas d’intérêts partisans mais du bien commun ».
« Nous pouvons et, quant à moi, je crois que nous devons prier pour tous ceux qui nous dirigent dans la société civile au plan national et international. Je prie pour le président en partie parce que Jésus Christ est mon Sauveur et Seigneur », poursuit-il. « Si Jésus est mon Seigneur et qu’il est le modèle et le guide de ma vie, sa voie doit être ma voie, quelle qu’en soit la difficulté. Et la voie de la prière pour les autres fait partie de la façon dont je suis la voie de Jésus ».
La prière est à la fois « contemplative et active », explique Michael Curry, ajoutant que ceux qui prient doivent à la foi écouter Dieu et servir et témoigner dans le monde au nom de Jésus.
« Nous participons en tant que disciples de Jésus à la vie de notre gouvernement et de notre société, en veillant au bien-être de chacun d’entre nous et des autres et en œuvrant pour des politiques et des lois qui reflètent les valeurs et les enseignements de Jésus d’« aimer son prochain », d’« agir envers les autres comme vous voudriez qu’ils agissent envers vous », de façonner un ordre civil qui reflète la bonté, la justice, la compassion que nous voyons sur le visage de Jésus qui, nous le savons reflète le cœur et le rêve de Dieu pour tous les enfants de Dieu et la création de Dieu », explique-t-il.
Randolph Hollerith a répondu aux questions relatives à la participation de la chorale dans sa déclaration.
« Notre chorale va chanter à l’investiture pour honorer la transition pacifique du pouvoir qui est au cœur de notre gouvernement démocratique », déclare-t-il. « Que ce soit bien clair : nous ne prions pas et ne chantons pas pour bénir une idéologie politique ou un programme partisan, quel que soit l’homme (ou la femme) qui prête ce serment sacré pour la fonction. Nous chantons pour honorer la nation ».
Le doyen a expliqué que les membres de la chorale ne sont pas obligés de participer à ce qu’il appelle la « partie de notre appel à servir de maison spirituelle pour la nation ».
« Dans notre pays meurtri et divisé, nous espérons que le don de notre musique puisse aider à nous rappeler nos idéaux et nos aspirations les plus élevés en tant qu’une seule nation en Dieu », explique-t-il.
Mariann Budde a déclaré : « je ne vous demande pas d’être d’accord, je vous demande simplement de considérer que nous avons, nous aussi, agi suivant des principes spirituels.
« Ces principes qui peuvent sembler s’opposer aux vôtres, sont aussi essentiels pour le travail qui nous attend ».
Le premier principe, explique-t-elle, est que les églises épiscopales « accueillent tout un chacun dans nos maisons de prière ».
« Accueillir ne veut pas dire cautionner un discours ou un comportement blessant, cela ne veut pas dire que nous sommes d’accord ou que nous cherchons à le légitimer », poursuit-elle. « C’est simplement que nous faisons bon accueil à tous dans cette maison de prière, en reconnaissant pleinement que chacun d’entre nous a besoin de prière ».
Le deuxième principe, explique Mariann Budde, est que « dans les moments de division nationale, l’Église épiscopale est appelée à être le lieu où ceux qui sont en désaccord peuvent se rassembler pour prier, apprendre et œuvrer pour le bien de tous ».
Disant être « préoccupée par certaines paroles et certains actes de M. Trump et par ceux qui se sentent maintenant encouragés à parler et agir de manière haineuse », Marian Budde déclare : « je crois au pouvoir de Dieu de faire le bien et en la capacité de notre nation à être à la hauteur de nos plus grands idéaux ».
Les épiscopaliens et d’autres se sont également posé la question de savoir si la cathédrale devait organiser le service traditionnel de prière pour le nouveau président le jour suivant son investiture.
Depuis la première investiture du Président Franklin Delano Roosevelt en 1933, les services de prière pour l’investiture présidentielle se sont déroulés à la Cathédrale nationale de Washington, qui se nomme elle-même la « maison de prière pour tous ». Cette tradition a, de nos jours, été ininterrompue depuis la deuxième investiture du Président Ronald Reagan en 1985, exception faite du Président Bill Clinton, qui a choisi pour les services de prière de ses deux investitures la Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, l’église historique noire du centre-ville de Washington. La cathédrale a été également le lieu des services funèbres et commémoratifs de quasiment tous les vingt-et-un présidents des États-Unis qui sont morts depuis la fondation de la cathédrale.
« Dans un moment où les émotions sont vives, nous espérons offrir quelques instants de réconfort spirituel et le don de guérison de la beauté transcendante », explique Mariann Budde. « Nous voulons également que la nation sache que nous, nous sommes toujours là, animés par l’espoir. Bien que l’investiture soit une cérémonie civile plutôt que religieuse, c’est également une occasion de prier et d’offre du baume de beauté ».
Mariann Budde a précédemment déclaré qu’elle participerait au service, comme c’est la tradition pour l’évêque de Washington, évêché qui comprend le District de Columbia et les quatre comtés voisins du Maryland.
Michael Curry qui doit conduire un pèlerinage de réconciliation au Ghana, engagement pris il y a plus d’un an, a demandé à James « Jay » Magness, évêque suffragant pour les forces armées et les ministères fédéraux, de le représenter au service de prière.
[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has announced the retirement of John E. Colón as the Episcopal Church’s director of human resources, a position he has held since 1989.
“John has served the church as a member of the staff of four presiding bishops,” Curry said. “What a tenure of service and witness! We will miss his kind, faithful and delightful presence, but we thank God that we have served with him. As was said when John Glenn was about to orbit the earth, we say now, ‘Godspeed’ John Colón.”
“It has been a privilege and an honor to have served at the churchwide offices for more than 28 years under four presiding bishops and with current and former colleagues,” Colón said. “Be assured that as the Jesus Movement continues to revive us in this Church, I will be there walking alongside you in prayer, action and thanksgiving.”
Colón joined the staff of the Episcopal Church in September 1988 and was named director of human resources in June 1989. Prior to the Episcopal Church, Colón was the corporate secretary and director of personnel and director of the Christian Herald Youth Program for Christian Herald Children’s Home, and Bowery Mission and Young Men’s Home, New York, New York. He has taught courses as a lead adjunct instructor at Cornell University’s New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations and as an adjunct faculty member at the New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies. He has been dedicated to Family Services of Westchester’s Camp Viva in Yonkers, New York, since 2001, and currently serves as a program coordinator.
A graduate of Colgate University with a Bachelor of Arts and the State University of New York, Binghamton, New York, with a Master of Arts, Colón holds numerous certifications and professional licenses.
Colón will retire on Feb. 28. In his retirement, Colón plans to continue providing consultant services focused on diversity, inclusion and managing difference in varied organizational systems.
[Diocese of Northern California] It may signal the end of a long, hard drought for California, but the storm that blew in the weekend after New Year’s also brought flooding and misery, especially for those without permanent shelter.
But St. Paul’s in downtown Healdsburg, Sonoma County, was ready for the influx of homeless people displaced from makeshift camps along the Russian River by the rising waters. And they did it by marshaling the resources of an entire community.
On Jan. 8, the river crested at close to 20 feet near Healdsburg – 23 feet is considered flood stage according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – and people who call the riverbank home had to be moved quickly to safer areas.
The Rev. Sally Hubbell, priest-in-charge of St. Paul’s, said in a phone interview that she began making plans ahead of the projected storm with Colleen Carmichael, a parishioner and executive director of North Sonoma County Services, whose mission is to end homelessness in northern Sonoma County. Weather forecasts were predicting that Northern California was due to be hit by what’s known as an “atmospheric river,” or water vapor in the atmosphere that changes to rain or snow when it makes landfall. The last major event of that kind in California happened in 2005 and caused $300 million in damage, according to news reports.
Hubbell and Carmichael arranged for cots to be brought into the church parish hall and volunteers from the church and the community to staff an emergency shelter.
The advanced planning turned out to be fortuitous.
“Around 6 or 6:30 [on Sunday morning] we got a call saying people’s camps had been washed out,” Hubbell said. “And we started getting people coming into our parish hall.”
Sonoma County counts 2,906 homeless people; with about 155 in Healdsburg. More than 30 people sought shelter at St. Paul’s on Jan. 8; 16 spent the night.
“This storm was a reminder that we have a community that is impacted more than others during these types of events,” said Carmichael in a statement. “We were grateful to all the people in the community who came together to help those in need.”
Community members kept on showing up. On the evening of Jan. 8, after the people staying over were already resting on their cots, a person unknown to the volunteers delivered five pizzas to the temporary shelter.
One of the reasons St. Paul’s was able to mobilize so quickly is that it has a long tradition of service to the homeless, and is a focal point for coordinated efforts with government agencies and nearby churches.
St. Paul’s hosts a regular shower ministry from Tuesday to Friday every week, providing an essential service for those without shelter. It also founded a group that managed 11 units of transitional housing owned by the city; that group eventually became the non-profit North Sonoma County Services.
Hospitality celebrated through communal meals is another tradition at St. Paul’s. The church has a large coffee hour on Sunday, along with three services, plus a community meal in the evening where a group of area churches offers a meal and hospitality at St. Paul’s. On Jan. 8, it was the Healdsburg Adventist Church’s turn to provide a meal, and there were also “lots of other food donations,” Hubbell said.
Neighbors and parishioners also donated clothing, much needed by people who got soaked in the rain.
Still another faith community, Healdsburg Community Church, answered the call and brought food to St. Paul’s on the morning of Jan. 9 to provide breakfast for those seeking sustenance and shelter.
It was fitting that in her Jan. 8 sermon celebrating the Baptism of Our Lord, Hubbell preached about “a partnership in righteousness.”
“How about when one person washes dirty towels for the shower ministry, delivers them folded and clean, and another person hands them out to people who have come to take showers,” she said. “The whole shower ministry at St. Paul’s is a partnership in righteousness!”
The weather system that drenched the region over the Jan. 7-8 weekend passed, but Jan. 9 brought more rain and falling temperatures.
The partnership between St. Paul’s, its faith partners and its community will continue, Hubbell said, with the church committed to keeping the temporary shelter open until the storm has abated. Further down the road, the church hopes to find and support more programs that offer solutions to the complex problems of homelessness.
— Paula Schaap is communications director in the Diocese of Northern California.
[Diocese of Dallas] On a recent cold, blustery Saturday morning a group of volunteers from St. Mark’s in Irving gathered with tools and shovels at one of the Texas’ oldest slave burial sites, Shelton’s Bear Creek Cemetery, to make repairs and tend the grounds.
“It’s great to honor the slaves and their descendants who are buried here,” said Julie Esstman, a member of St. Mark’s. “We’ve met wonderful people who care about this cemetery and it’s been a great opportunity to help.” Her husband, Mike Esstman agreed, “It’s a piece of history – history of our country that we are not proud of. This shows respect for the people who came before us,” he said.
The historical marker at the site says the land between Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Story Road was owned by Chilton S. Smith, and developed as a cotton and cattle plantation by hundreds of slaves. The cemetery grounds are nestled off Highway 161, adjacent to an apartment complex. Over the years, the cemetery has overgrown with weeds and some of the markers are missing or are no longer visible. An aging fence needs repair and some of the trees could use significant trimming.
The Rev. Bob Corley, St. Mark’s rector, said when he heard the cemetery caretakers were asking for volunteers, he thought it would be a great outreach for St. Mark’s. “I liked that it was an opportunity to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with residents of the community and to build relationships,” he said.
Anthony Bond, past-president and founder of the Irving Chapter of the NAACP, said he’s grateful to the volunteers from St. Mark’s who have taken an interest in maintaining the burial site. “This is God’s work through all people,” Bond said. “God is love, that’s what this represents. My heart is filled with joy and thanksgiving.”
More than 60 volunteers from the region arrived throughout the day to help with the effort. “We are taking care of sacred ground,” said St. Mark’s parishioner Katherine Nelson as she helped to paint fences and unearth stumps. “It’s our honor and duty to do this.”
During a current time of national racial tension, working with a diverse, multi-cultural group to care for a slave cemetery is a great way to strengthen a community, Corley said.
Each clean up comes with a deep sense of purpose and harmony, said Nicole Foster, St. Mark’s director of Christian formation. “This took us out of the church building and into the community, and helped with racial reconciliation. And now we have meaningful relationships with people who live in Irving and are un-churched,” Foster said. “The outreach was healing for everyone. Some of the people we worked side-by-side with are now coming to St. Mark’s. It’s such a beautiful experience.”
Bond said he is grateful for the leadership and hard work St. Mark’s brought to the cause, and also for the love and care of the volunteers. “The outreach that St. Mark’s has done is immeasurable and invaluable. They are so full of passion and fervor. They legitimized this project,” Bond said. “How can you thank a whole church? I will pray that God and His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit will continually bless all the efforts of this wonderful House of God, and each and every member of it. All of Irving should visit this church and experience the love of Christ.”
— Kimberly Durnan is director of communications in the Diocese of Dallas.
[Diocese of Vermont] The Episcopal Church in Vermont recently completed its purchase of the Solar Installation (aka the Solar Farm) at Rock Point, the diocese’s 146-acre center in Burlington best known for its school, conference center, community gardens, and hiking trails. The 35-tracker, 147-kilowatt solar array, which was previously under the ownership of AllEarth Renewables, was originally valued at close to $1million. The diocese acquired it for $269,700 with the help of early contributions to the Rock Point Partnership Campaign—an ongoing initiative to preserve and improve Rock Point—and a loan from the Bishop Butterfield Loan Fund.
The investment is expected to produce slightly more energy than is consumed on Rock Point and generate a financial benefit of more than $40,000 annually, a portion of which will be used to repay the Bishop Butterfield Loan, even as other pledges and gifts to the partnership campaign help reduce the loan balance.
“Five years ago, the Trustees of the Diocese of Vermont—title-holders to Rock Point—entered an agreement with AllEarth Renewables, Inc. for the installation of the Solar Farm,” said Vermont Bishop Thomas C. Ely. “Our long-term goal was to purchase rather than lease it, and we are glad to have achieved that goal on the fifth anniversary of the installation.”
During the lease arrangement, and in cooperation with Burlington Electric, the Rock Point Energy Coop paid AllEarth Renewables 18 cents per kilowatt hour of energy produced by the solar array, and Burlington Electric credited the electric bills at the rate of 20 cents per kilowatt hour.
The full social and financial benefit of this project will accrue to the Rock Point Energy Coop and its several entities, which include Rock Point School, the Bishop Booth Conference Center, the bishop’s house and the diocesan offices of the Episcopal Church in Vermont. The Rock Point Energy Coop will also use available funds for other energy saving measures on Rock Point.
“Care for the environment is an important aspect of our message in the Jesus Movement. The Episcopal Church in Vermont remains committed to environmental stewardship not only in Rock Point but also throughout the wider community,” said Ely.
Vono formally notified Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on Jan. 3, seeking approval of his resignation as bishop diocesan, and permission to elect his successor in 2018. “By that time,” he wrote, “I will have served the church as deacon, priest and then bishop for a total of 42 years.” Vono announced the decision in a pastoral letter to the diocese on Jan. 4.
The Standing Committee, under the leadership of its president, the Rev. Paul Moore, has begun seeking members for the search and transition committees following consultations with Judy Stark of The Episcopal Church’s pastoral development office. The election is expected to be held in late spring 2018 with the ordination and consecration in the fall 2018.
Vono was elected the ninth bishop of the Diocese of the Rio Grande in April 2010, and was ordained and consecrated bishop at the annual Diocesan Convention in October 2010. He previously served as rector of St. Paul’s Within the Walls, Rome, Italy, for 18 years.
The following was the letter distributed to the congregations within the diocese on Jan. 4.
Beloved Laity and Clergy of the Diocese of the Rio Grande,
The month of January opens our hearts to a time of looking towards the future and beginning a hopeful, faith-filled journey into the New Year, and as Christians we do this both “in” and “with” Christ. New visions, new dreams, new bold goals and renewed anticipations lead us forward into realizing God’s plan for each one of us. January provides a time of new beginnings.
Time moves quickly. With deep and profound gratitude to each one of you and to my wonderful staff, I am entering the seventh year serving the Church of Jesus Christ as your Bishop. I thank the Lord for the great privilege of sharing these wonderful years with you. Now the time has come for us to look ahead. My heart and soul have been telling me, after forty years as a cleric, that my retiring time has come. I have properly notified the Standing Committee and my staff, as well as our Diocesan Council, of my intention to call for the election of the tenth Bishop of the Rio Grande in 2018. In due course I will formally make my request to the Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, who will inform the House of Bishops and thereby begin the process of granting consent for me to resign as Bishop Diocesan. More details will come to you in the months ahead from the President and members of the Standing Committee.
There are no words that can adequately express my love for each one of you. You have been my family and truly, as the Body of Christ, we have become a dynamic spiritual family in the Diocese of the Rio Grande. For many years and into eternity, I will keep and cherish all the extraordinary memories, joy and challenges of Jesus’ ministry shared with you. God is good. God will guide us forward and provide an episcopal Shepherd who will continue to nurture and empower New Mexico and Far West Texas as a Matthew 25 Diocese.
May God Bless and keep you and may the light of his countenance shine upon you this day and every New Year. Blessings.
[Anglican Taonga] Archbishop Brown Turei, one of the leaders of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, died peacefully in Gisborne Hospital on Jan. 9 surrounded by his family and loved ones. He was 92.
Turei, who had ties to the Ngati Porou and Te Whanau-a-Apanui Maori tribes, had signaled his intention to retire from ordained ministry earlier last year.
He had planned to step down as bishop of Tairawhiti, and also to resign as archbishop and pihopa o Aotearoa – or leader of Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa, the Maori arm of the Anglican Church – in March this year.
“Maoridom and the Anglican Church have lost a leader of enormous stature,” said Archbishop Philip Richardson. “Archbishop Brown was a gentle and wise leader, who brought grace, compassion and insight to all that he did and said.”
Archbishops Philip Richardson and Winston Halapua, who have shared the leadership of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia with Turei, say they have lost not only a colleague but also a dear friend.
Turei was ordained a deacon in 1949 and a priest the following year.
He was chosen as archdeacon of Tairawhiti in 1982, and has had a long association with Hukarere Maori Girls’ College. He became the chaplain there in 1984, and he also served as chaplain of the Napier Prison for four years.
His election as Te Pihopa ki Te Tai Rawhiti in 1992 followed the reforms of the Anglican church here in 1990.
In 2005, he was elected Te Pihopa o Aotearoa, and in 2006 he was installed as primate and archbishop of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. Last year Turei was made on officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for his services to the church.
Turei, who was highly respected for his ability to relate to people across all races and cultures, was the oldest primate in the Anglican Communion. The church is being asked to pray for Turei’s wife Mihi, and his children, grandchildren and extended whanau. Funeral arrangements are yet to be finalized.
[Episcopal News Service – Stephenville, Texas] The students start streaming across the campus of Tarleton State University here around 11 a.m. every Thursday. They are heading to lunch at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Some are trying to stretch their monthly meal plan, some are looking for a place that feels more like mom’s kitchen than a dormitory cafeteria, and others need the friendly faces that always greet them in the parish hall. They keep coming until 1 p.m., sometimes as many as 400 of them.
More than one of them will tell you that St. Luke’s meal is the tastiest of the four weekly lunches offered by local churches. “It’s the best; that’s a secret, but this place is the best. They always have great food and it’s always put together with love,” said Tarleton junior Nikita Grove. “Everybody’s so nice and friendly.”
That’s exactly what Mary Ferguson and Suzanne Meyers were aiming for when they began the lunch program in 2011 after newly-arrived rector, the Rev. Curt Norman, decided the parish ought to join the Baptists, Methodists and the Church of Christ in the weekly lunch rotation.
The women wanted the students to feel as if they were coming to have lunch in the best mom’s kitchen ever, using what Ferguson called “mom-type recipes.” All the tables are decorated differently each week, ranging from approaching holidays to a color theme and things like “Science Day” with lab flasks filled with colored water on each table.
“We want them to feel the sensation of having a hug when they walk in,” said Meyers. “Our job is to love ’em and feed ’em.”
St. Luke doesn’t require the students to listen to a sermon or prayers before they eat. “The food has been blessed between planning, purchasing, preparing, serving, cleaning up,” Meyers said. The students tell the lunch team that they appreciate that they can come to the Episcopal lunch program “and not feel pressured.”
There’s a prayer box for students to leave requests. Using those slips of paper, the volunteers pray for the students on an on-going basis. They also celebrate life’s passages such as students announcing their engagements during the lunch.
But, St. Luke’s lunch is not just about providing a nice place to get a good meal. “There are an amazing amount of students who have hunger issues,” Meyers said, adding that the university has started a food pantry to help those students. “These are profound issues that they’re having to deal with on top of studying, on top of figuring out what it’s like to not live at home.”
All three of Ferguson’s children attended Tarleton and sometimes ate at the lunch programs. Her daughter told her that “it’s not just the food, mom; it’s the fellowship.”
Students often volunteer to help with the lunch set-up and serving. “It just happens, and I know Jesus has a hand in that,” Ferguson said.
The cooks and servers, who range in age from their 40s to 90s, benefit from fellowship too, the women said. Some members have had health issues but are resolute about coming to help with the lunch because they say it gets them up and out of the house. The team members have achieved a depth of friendship they might not have without the program.
“We’ve all grown from this as a church,” Meyers said.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service.