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Victoria Pretti called as rector of St. Mary’s, Stone Harbor, New Jersey

Episcopal News Service - qui, 30/10/2014 - 19:57

Bishop William H. Stokes of New Jersey will lead a “Celebration of New Ministry” on Saturday, Nov. 8, for the Rev. Victoria Pretti, as she formally assumes her duties as rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Stone Harbor. The service will begin at 11 a.m. at the church, which is located at 95th Street and Third Avenue.

Pretti, or “Mother Victoria” as she prefers to be called, was selected by a Search Committee last March following a nationwide search process. She succeeds the Rev. John Sosnowski, who served as St. Mary’s rector for nearly 15 years and was well known throughout the county. The Rev. Susan Osborne-Mott was interim rector during the search process.

“I am delighted to begin this new journey with God’s people at St. Mary’s in Stone Harbor,” said Pretti. “This is a very special place filled with people who are joyfully serious about living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am eager to work with our wonderful parish members, my colleagues in ministry, and the people of Stone Harbor and those throughout Cape May County to proclaim the Gospel in both word and action.”

Formerly the vicar of the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour in Milton, Massachusetts, and All Saints Episcopal Church in West Newbury, Massachusetts, Pretti also has many years of experience in the fields of healthcare and social services. She was previously on staff at Boston’s Pine Street Inn, one of New England’s largest homeless shelters and social service organizations. It was this background that made her particularly attractive to St. Mary’s, which has over the past 10 years established an active outreach ministry.

“We feel truly blessed to have been able to find someone like Mother Victoria to help us in trying to realize God’s call to us,” said Lawrence Schmidt, senior warden of St. Mary’s. “She has many outstanding gifts and together we believe we can do great service in Christ’s name.”

Pretti is married to Anthony Pretti. She and her husband moved from Boston to Cape May County in June and have been residing in Cape May Court House while renovations are undertaken at the parish rectory.

Young radio reporters in Liberia to spread the word about Ebola

Episcopal News Service - qui, 30/10/2014 - 12:12

Children’s Radio Foundation partners with local radio stations and community organizations on more than 50 projects across Africa to create opportunities for broadcast, youth dialogue, leadership, and social engagement. Photo: Children’s Radio Foundation

[Anglican Communion News Service] Young radio reporters in Liberia will soon be broadcasting programs to teach people there about how to prevent the spread of Ebola.

The Children’s Radio Foundation, led in the U.K. by Anglican priest the Rev. Charlotte Bannister-Parker, has worked hard to build up this network of youth reporters across 29 of the country’s radio stations.

The charity exists to provide young people in countries across Africa with the skills to make radio and connect them with local radio stations where their packages can be aired.

“We already have an army of young people who are active youth reporters,” said Bannister-Parker, “So what we’re doing now is putting together an Ebola Health Information Pack (EHIP) to send out to their 29 stations containing accurate, effective information about Ebola.”

Over the years CRF quickly learned from young people in the countries where they worked that there can be a lack of trust among children and young adults about public health messages that come from government officials.

“Government messages can often fall on deaf ears because they’re not created by young people for young people,” she said. “What we’ve been doing is putting together an information pack that is also appropriate for young people to engage with and use.”

Bannister-Parker added that CRF’s radio packages will also compliment the work and appeals of those charities that would normally respond to such a multi-national crisis.

“Thanks to the other appeals people are getting buckets and soap and protective clothing, but if they don’t know how best to use them there’s almost no point in getting them. So our radio messages come in at a crucial point in that educational process.”

She added that radio is also a safe, contact-free form of distributing information and is locally contextual: CRF-trained young reporters exist in five other countries South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, the DR Congo and Kenya and the organization works in 25 languages.

“Because there’s a chance Ebola may spread to other countries across Africa we’re going to use these EHIPs in all our other radio stations, with all our other children in the other partner countries.”

Bannister-Parker, who used to work in television broadcasting, explained that the charity has also been invited to connect with the Disasters Emergency Committee and other major humanitarian charities as well as to consider bringing their radio education model to Sierra Leone — another country affected by the killer disease.

She added that she considers the charity’s presence in Liberia was “God-given. It’s a very unusual country for us to be in in the first place—I believe Unicef invited us in because of the high infant mortality and low education levels. It’s the epicenter of the disease and we’ve been given an incredible opportunity to help.”


The Children’s Radio Foundation has launched a £20,000 appeal at to help create an Ebola-ready continent.

Donations will go towards creating and distributing CRF’s EHIPs (Ebola Health Information Packs), using these information packs for radio outreach in schools, clinics and community centres; training their radio youth reporters to air the EHIP’s accurate health information via community radio stations; and hiring a full-time Health Educational Director to launch the EHIPs and training across Liberia and their other partner counties.

Archbishop Makgoba tackles South African government on corruption

Episcopal News Service - qui, 30/10/2014 - 10:22

[Anglican Church of Southern Africa] The “insidious cancer of corruption” is “the most egregious threat” to South Africa’s democracy today, Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba has said in a public lecture.

Delivering the Beyers Naude Memorial Lecture at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, on Oct. 27, Makgoba also criticized suggestions that criminalizing corruption was a “Western paradigm.”

“Actually, I think it’s the other way around,” he said. “Corruption is a two-way street, a two-way transaction. For corruption to happen, you have to have a corrupter, someone willing to pay the bribe, and what I will call a “corruptee,” someone willing to take a bribe. For Africans, over the 50 or 60 years since liberation, the Western paradigm — if indeed there can be said to be one — is one in which Westerners have been the corrupters, and African elites the corruptees.”

The archbishop also quoted from the African Union’s 2003 “Convention On Preventing And Combating Corruption,” which said corruption and impunity had “devastating effects on the economic and social development of the African peoples.”

“The most egregious threat to our democracy today is the insidious cancer of corruption. I cannot say it any more simply than that corruption is anti-democracy,” he added.

Quoting his Roman Catholic counterpart in Cape Town, Archbishop Stephen Brislin, he said corruption was not new in South Africa – the colonial and apartheid systems were highly corrupt. Nor did corruption affect only governments, it affected business, corporations, NGOs and even churches.

“So, while all of must be concerned about corruption, no institution can be holier-than-thou about it,” Makgoba said.

“Corruption is paralyzing progress across South Africa today … The moral compasses guiding our leaders and public servants are misaligned.”

The full text of the address is available here.


16 Days of Activism – Anglican men speak out

Episcopal News Service - qua, 29/10/2014 - 14:25

[Anglican Communion News Service] “As men of faith, we can take responsibility to speak out and end violence against women and girls.” This is the core message of a short video just released in the run-up to the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence.

The video features 10 men in different parts of the Anglican Communion. They are (in order of appearance) Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Canada; Felipe Saravia, Chile; Bishop William Mchombo, Eastern Zambia, Central Africa; Archbishop Barry Morgan, Wales; Bishop Andy Doyle, Texas, USA; Archbishop Philip Freier, Melbourne, Australia; Archbishop Francisco da Silva, Brazil; Revd Professor Renta Nishihara, Rikkyo University, Japan; Bishop Chad Gandiya, Harare, Zimbabwe, and Archbishop Winston Halapua, Polynesia.

“Typically, activists during the 16 Days have been women”, said the Rev. Terrie Robinson, director for women in church & society at the Anglican Communion Office. “So it’s always very encouraging when men stand in solidarity with women, speak out and make a commitment to act to end and prevent gender based violence – and encourage other men to do the same.”

“The video is an inspiring addition to the growing collection of resources we now have to help us plan for participation in the 16 Days in our dioceses and parishes. I am so grateful to the Anglican men who were filmed separately in their home locations for the final video. They didn’t hesitate for a second when asked to take part in the project. Their positive message will affirm work that’s already going on around the Communion to end the misery caused by gender-based violence and it will inspire new work too.

“We know that men and boys can be victims and survivors of gender based violence too. For the 16 Days, the focus is on ending violence against women and girls but any activism that promotes equal and respectful relationship will be good news, all year round, whoever and wherever we are.”

The video is at An accompanying leaflet is at

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence begin on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and end on 10 December, Human Rights Day.

The Anglican Communion is a member of the We Will Speak Out coalition against sexual violence

For more resources for the 16 Days, see:
Follow @AnglicansEndGBV

Contact: The Revd Terrie Robinson

Program, Budget and Finance begins triennial budget work

Episcopal News Service - qua, 29/10/2014 - 14:18

Maine Bishop Stephen Lane, vice chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance, makes a point during the committee’s final plenary session Oct. 29. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] The Episcopal Church’s Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) has begun the many months of work that will result in a 2016-2018 budget being proposed to the 78th General Convention in July 2015.

PB&F members spent the bulk of their Oct. 27-29 meeting getting a crash course on how the triennial budget has been constructed in the past and how the process has been changed this time around.

Both Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings were each asked to describe for PB&F members their vision for the 2016-2018 budget and the process being used to build it.

“My sense is that the churchwide budget really ought to do what we cannot do as individual dioceses,” Jefferts Schori said. “I do deeply believe that our budget ought to be based on our vision of mission. That’s who we are and who we are meant to be, that’s what God sends us into the world to be and do, to work toward the kingdom of God – a vision of shalom – to reconciling the world to God in Christ.”

Another foundation for her vision for the budget, the presiding bishop said, comes from a historic definition that says a mature Christian community is “missional in that deep sense and in doing that is self-sustaining, self-propagating and self-governing [and] not just concerned with its inward life but it is outwardly directed and doing God’s work in the world.”

Jefferts Schori outlined what she called “three broad categories” of work that she sees as most properly being done by churchwide structures.

First is service to the wider Episcopal Church, she said, which includes attending to small, new, isolated populations; responding to crises on behalf of the whole church; responding to changing realities in the church and society; helping to foster the life of other Episcopal and Anglican communities that are not yet self-sustaining; and maintaining and overseeing the church’s financial, institutional, reputational and governance legacies “so it will be fruitful in generations to come.”

The second category, Jefferts Schori said, is fostering relationships with other churches and religious communities, including relations within the Anglican Communion and ecumenical and interfaith relationships.

The third category, stewarding relationships with governments and supranational institutions, includes advocacy at the federal and state levels, the church’s work at the United Nations, development work such as that done by Episcopal Relief & Development and through other grants, and providing the ministerial endorsements required for some ministers such as chaplains.

Saying that the budgeting processes for the previous two triennia “were very difficult for a number of reasons,” Jennings said many people “longed for a more transparent, less contentious, more gospel-based budget process with ample time to do this very serious work.”

Jennings said Executive Council’s process for crafting its proposed draft of the 2016-2018 budget is “inclusive, transparent, responsive, collegial and collaborative.” She noted that a plan to release the working draft of council’s proposed draft budget is the first time she knows of where the church at large will have a chance to comment on the triennial budget at this point in its development.

The Rev. Doug Sparks, Program, Budget and Finance secretary from Rochester, Minnesota, keeps notes and his colleagues list their initial questions on the 2016-2018 budgeting process. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

As another way to improve the overall budgeting process, the House of Deputies will handle resolutions differently during the 2015 convention, she said. There will be a Resolutions Review Committee to study pre-filed resolutions to ensure that they are consistent with polity, are in the form required by canons and to assess if they have funding implications. The committee will report on each resolution to the appropriate legislative committee chair.

And, a proposed rule revision would allow the Deputies Committee on the Dispatch of Business to schedule the flow of resolutions so that those with funding implications can be handled more quickly. The proposed change is to be voted on before the business of convention begins.

Both steps are aimed at easing the tension that develops when resolutions that have budget implications come to PB&F late in that committee’s process.

Speaking of another parallel track that will be running at convention, Jennings said she believes “PB&F needs to build a budget on what currently exists in terms of governance, structure and administration” rather than on what the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church might propose to convention and what convention might do about those proposals. If the TREC process results in major changes, then the Executive Council will have to amend the budget after convention, she said.

Jennings also told PB&F she hoped the members would listen to what the church has said about having a budget based on a smaller diocesan asking. She said she would like to see it reduced in a way that is “strategic and sensible.”

Maine Bishop Stephen Lane, PB&F vice chair, told his colleagues that their work calls them to balance listening to the church’s desires with “our own passions and commitments.”

“We will receive data from across the church… it’s not agendas, its data; listening to people [and learning] what their concerns are is [the] data,” he said. “We start with data and there will be lots of it, but eventually we take that data and make choices about it. That’s where your own visions are really critical.”

Executive Council Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission (FFM) chair Bishop Mark Hollingsworth and the Rev. Susan Snook, who heads FFM’s budget subcommittee, discussed with PB&F the current triennial budget and council’s budget process thus far.

Snook told PB&F that her committee had used some basic principles for its budget process, including that the budget should be a “visionary document” based on “some high-level visioning” and that it ought to be built via a process that is as inclusive as possible.

FFM has discussed how much money to ask dioceses to contribute to the churchwide budget, Snook said, and many members acknowledged that talking about the so-called “diocesan asking” can be difficult.

The Episcopal Church’s three-year budget is funded primarily by pledges from the church’s dioceses and regional mission areas. Each year’s annual giving in the three-year budget is based on a diocese’s income two years earlier, minus $120,000. Diocesan commitments for 2013 and 2014, based on the budget’s asking of a 19 percent contribution, are here. Not all dioceses pay the full asking for a variety of reasons.

A conversation at the September 2013 House of Bishops meeting, led by Hollingsworth and Lane, “affirmed what we thought all along, the discussion about the asking process is the hardest discussion to have in the church,” according to Hollingsworth.

Lane said that while diocesan response to the asking is a “source of division” among the bishops, “no diocese wants to be an outlier.”

“There is a desire for everyone to participate fully [in funding the churchwide budget] and part of what’s hard about the conversation is reaching that point where we can talk about the things that are necessary for all of us to participate fully,” he said.

Hollingsworth agreed, adding that “the system that we use doesn’t invite participation the way we would like it to and it is vulnerable to shame, judgment and division.”

Snook told PB&F that FFM will suggest to Executive Council that, in the next triennium, it create a diocesan asking review commission to talk to dioceses “in an inclusive and encouraging way about the fact that they don’t pay the full asking.” For instance, she said, the commission could negotiate a lower amount with dioceses whose financial challenges prevent them from fully participating.

It could also negotiate plans with dioceses that are able to pay the full asking but do not. And council could create “consequences” for those dioceses if they still choose not to participate fully, Snook suggested, such as making them ineligible to receive grants.

Snook also walked the committee through the current working version of council’s eventual proposed draft budget that FFM worked on during Executive Council’s just-concluded four-day meeting here.

Jefferts Schori has asked both council members and the PB&F committee not to disclose the details of that working version because of its pending public release.

Next steps in the budget process

  • Soon after PB&F’s meeting concludes, FFM will post its working version of the proposed draft budget on the General Convention Office’s website, along with a narrative that is still in the works explaining its assumptions and construction. Hollingsworth told PB&F on Oct. 29 that the posting will also have a short survey, including an inquiry about the level of the diocesan asking. There will be a dedicated e-mail address for people who want to comment on the yet-to-be-finalized version.
  • FFM will revise the budget based on comments from PB&F and the wider church, and have a final draft budget ready for the full council’s consideration during its Jan. 9-11, 2015 meeting.
  • According to the joint rules of General Convention (joint rule II.10.c.ii), Executive Council must give its proposed draft budget to PB&F no less than four months before the start of General Convention (essentially by February of convention year).
  • PB&F meets again Feb. 23-25, 2015, to begin work on council’s proposed draft budget. PB&F uses that budget and any legislation passed by or being considered by General Convention to create a final budget proposal. Convention legislative committees and PB&F will begin meeting in Salt Lake City on June 23, 2015, ahead of the June 25-July 3 meeting of convention in the Utah capital city.
  • PB&F’s budget must be presented to a joint session of the houses of Bishops and Deputies no later than the third day before convention’s scheduled adjournment. According to the draft convention schedule, that presentation is set to take place at 2:15 p.m. MDT on July 1.
  • The two houses then debate and vote on the budget separately. Both houses must approve the same version of the budget, which takes effect at the beginning of 2016.
  • Typically, Executive Council often has to revise each of the three annual budgets based on changing income and expenses.

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

Anglicans, Oriental Orthodox agree on Christ’s incarnation

Episcopal News Service - ter, 28/10/2014 - 15:15

[Anglican Communion News Service] Senior theologians in Anglican Communion and Oriental Orthodox Churches recently made history by signing an agreement on their mutual understanding of Christ’s incarnation.

This was not just a minor point of theology, rather it was a subject that divided the Church following the Council of Chalcedon* in 451 AD, leaving the Oriental Orthodox Churches separated from the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Church of Rome.

The work to reconcile these branches of the Christian family on the question of how the two natures, human and divine, were united in one human being: Jesus Christ began in earnest in the 1990s.

By 2002 an Agreed Statement on Christology had been prepared by the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission (AOOIC) and sent to the participating Churches and an updated statement was recirculated in 2013. By the October meeting in Cairo, AOOIC members were able to finalise the document and Bishop Geoffrey Rowell and His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy of Damietta signed on behalf of their Churches.

This statement, which is a significant step of reconciliation, will now be sent to “the responsible authorities of the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Anglican Communion for their consideration and action”.

Click here to read the Agreed Statement on Christology

Click here to read the Communique from the meeting of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission that met in Cairo, Egypt from 13-17 October, 2014.


*The Council of Chalcedon was a highly influential church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon (a city of Bithynia in Asia Minor), on the Asian side of the Bosporus.

Barnett-Cowan named Anglican Communion’s interim secretary general

Episcopal News Service - ter, 28/10/2014 - 13:24

[Anglican Communion Office] The Rev. Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan will serve as interim secretary general for the Anglican Communion, according to an announcement from the Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga and Elizabeth Paver, chair and vice chair of the Standing Committee.

Barnett-Cowan, who will retire at the end of January as director for Unity, Faith and Order, has agreed to be a half-time consultant for the position until the position of secretary general has been filled. She will be based at her home in Canada but will work at the Anglican Communion Office for some days each month.

The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, the present secretary general, will leave the post at the end of December as he has been elected bishop of Limerick and Killaloe in the Church of Ireland. His consecration date is Jan. 24.

Barnett-Cowan said that she has surprised herself by undertaking this task as she was looking forward to her retirement, but that she is happy to fill in to bridge the gap while the search process is going on.

The Standing Committee meets at the end of November to review the job description for the secretary general of the Anglican Communion and to set the appointment process in motion.

Johnson is Episcopal Migration Ministries communications manager

Episcopal News Service - ter, 28/10/2014 - 12:49

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Bishop Stacy F. Sauls, Chief Operating Officer of The Episcopal Church, has announced that Wendy Johnson has been named Program Manager of Communications for the Episcopal Migration Ministries of The Episcopal Church.

Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) is the program of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS) that serves and welcomes refugees, uprooted by persecution and violence abroad, in communities across the United States. EMM’s work is a continuation of the Episcopal Church’s commitment to welcoming the stranger in our midst.  EMM resettles refugees through a network of 30 affiliate offices nationwide, linking these affiliates with Episcopal dioceses and parishes that together carry out the ministry begun over 75 years ago to relieve the burden of the world’s suffering through refugee resettlement and immigration assistance.

As Manager of Communications, Johnson, working in collaboration with The Episcopal Church’s Office of Communications, will be responsible for all areas of media related to EMM’s mission and ministry, including media relations, publicity, and internal and network communications support.

Among her work experience Johnson was most recently: a partner in Inspiring Mission, an organization that supports and facilitates youth mission experiences; a communications and marketing consultant at; and Communications Director for the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota.

Johnson began her new position on October 27.  She is based in St. Paul, MN.  She can be reached at

GTS8 issue statement, ‘clarify’ their efforts to return to the seminary

Episcopal News Service - ter, 28/10/2014 - 10:36

Eight General Theological Seminary faculty members, who had accepted the GTS board of trustees’ invitation to accept “provisional reinstatement” and to enter a process of reconciliation, have issued an Oct. 27 statement “to clarify just where we are in the negotiating process.” The full text of the statement follows.

The GTS Board of Trustees saw fit last Friday to release a statement that prematurely implied our return to the Seminary was imminent. We therefore believe it is necessary to clarify just where we are in the negotiating process.

From the outset, the central issue we have sought to address is the existence of an abusive environment at GTS. This is why we called our Facebook page “Safe Space.” Many of the details have been well-publicized and do not need repeating here.

The Board of Trustees’ unqualified vote of confidence in President and Dean Dunkle understandably raises a concern about whether anything would be different upon our return other than our reduced academic roles and our new status as “provisional.” Our proposed solution to this concern has been for the Board to name an unaligned, objective ombudsperson who would be available to any member of the GTS community who believes he or she has a legitimate complaint. That doesn’t seem like a radical step to us, but on Monday evening the Board’s attorney informed us that this idea was unacceptable.

Rather than name a single impartial person to act as ombudsperson, the Board proposes to appoint a four-person committee of trustees, chaired by the Rev. Ellen Tillotson, to field any complaints. But a month ago, the Rev. Tillotson sharply criticized us in a 1,200-word essay she posted on social media. One of the first trustees to speak out on the dispute, the Rev. Tillotson said she felt “profoundly betrayed” by us, and she falsely accused us of timing our work stoppage to cause as much distress as possible to the GTS students. Her view of the situation has been made crystal clear, and it is not an objective one.

The other point the Board seems to miss is that, despite deciding that there were not sufficient grounds to terminate Dean Dunkle, the complaints we made about him remain, and continue to create a toxic work environment. A four-person committee chaired by an outspoken critic is not going to rectify that problem.

In its Friday public statement, the Board lifted language from an earlier letter we wrote for an entirely different purpose to suggest that in a “joint response” we had thanked the trustees for giving attention “to a long-term process of reconciliation for the entire Seminary community.” There can be no reconciliation as long as students and faculty lack the confidence that their work, their contributions – even their presence – are valued by the President and Dean.

So here is where we really stand in our efforts to return to GTS: We have made a proposal that we consider reasonable and essential, the naming of an ombudsperson, and the Board has rejected it.

We cannot know whether all the trustees are listening to what we say. For the sake of the institution we all love, we pray that they are.

RIP: Former South Dakota Bishop Creighton Robertson

Episcopal News Service - ter, 28/10/2014 - 07:57

IX Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota Creighton L. Robertson (Mato Ohitika) died of heart failure Oct. 24. He was 70.

The funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 30, at Calvary Episcopal Cathedral, 500 South Main, Sioux Falls. A wake service will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 29, also at Calvary Episcopal Cathedral. Visitation will be Tuesday, Oct. 28, at 2 p.m., with the family present from 5-7 p.m., and a 6:45 p.m. prayer service at Miller Funeral Home, 507 South Main, Sioux Falls.

Born in Kansas City, Robertson was a graduate of Black Hill State University, the University of South Dakota, and the University of the South’s School of Theology.

He was ordained deacon in 1989 and priest in 1990, and served as priest-in-charge at Santee Episcopal Mission in Nebraska from 1990-94.

Robertson was a Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux, and the first Native American to be elected bishop of South Dakota. While serving as bishop from 1994 to 2009, he emphasized forms of training and deployment that became known as Mutual Ministry.

– With files from Miller Funeral Home and The Living Church.

Executive Council defers proposal to make diocesan asking progressive

Episcopal News Service - seg, 27/10/2014 - 19:17

[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council Oct. 27 tabled until its next meeting a resolution calling for the 2016-2018 budget to be predicated on a progressive diocesan income asking structure.

The action came as council’s Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission (FFM) prepared to release to the church for comment its “current working draft” version of next triennium’s budget.

Council member John Johnson, who proposed the resolution via his membership on the Joint Standing Committee on Advocacy and Networking, moved to table his proposal just after it was introduced, saying that he was doing so because of that opportunity council will soon have to hear from the wider church on its work on the 2016-2018 budget thus far.

The tabled resolution would have asked dioceses with annual income of $2 million or more to give 19 percent of their income to the churchwide budget, those with incomes between $1,999,999.99 and $1 million to give 15 percent and those with less than $1 million to give 10 percent.

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

FFM spent a great deal if its time during this meeting building on the proposed draft budget that council is required to give to the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) prior to the start of the next meeting of General Convention.

The current working draft’s revenue lines included a diocesan commitment amount that was based on assumed levels of the diocesan asking but council has not yet decided how it will calculate diocesan income for purposes of drafting its proposed budget. That decision will be articulated when council delivers the final version of its budget proposal to PB&F following council’s Jan 9-11 meeting.

After FFM had worked most of Oct. 25 and 26 in executive session, FFM chair Bishop Mark Hollingsworth and the Rev. Susan Snook, who headed FFM’s budget subcommittee, presented council during an open session late in the day on the 26th with what Hollingsworth called its “current working draft.”

Similar to her request when council got a budget review in its opening session on Oct. 24, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori instructed all who attended the Oct. 26 session not to publicize the details of the budget, pending its publication.

Hollingsworth, Snook, Jefferts Schori, House of Deputies President Gay Jennings and Chief Operating Officer Stacy Sauls will stay at the Maritime Institute here to discuss the working draft and council’s budget process with PB&F during its Oct. 27-29 meeting.

Soon after PB&F’s meeting concludes, FFM will release the working draft to the church along with a narrative to explain its assumptions and construction. It will be posted on the General Convention Office’s website and there will be a dedicated e-mail address for those who want to comment.

“Please do not hold us to a date as to when this will be sent out to everybody,” Hollingsworth said to council on Oct. 26, adding that FFM members need time to write the narrative and be sure that the budget document correctly reflects the committee’s thinking at this point in the process. He predicted a release in the “next week or so.”

On Oct. 26, Hollingsworth reminded council that when the working draft is posted it will not reflect a decision by council “but rather to continue the conversation” that will enable council to make “the best decision we can make.” He also noted that the comment mechanism on the General Convention website “won’t be a format for dialogue but for us to be able to receive input” and that FFM members will frequently access the comments.

During a post-meeting news conference, Jefferts Schori said that she hoped those who commented on the budget would consider whether it “expands our capacity for mission on behalf of the whole Episcopal Church.”

Jennings said she hoped that people “would not make a false dichotomy between, on the one hand, governance and administration and, on the other hand, mission,” adding that the portion of the budget devoted to governance and administration “is always as a servant of mission.”

FFM, she said, “is looking always at how mission is facilitated but also how local ministry is empowered,” predicting the working draft of the budget will include expenditures meant to encourage mission work at the local level.

The Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe, executive officer of the General Convention, said during the news conference that he hopes those who decide to comment on the budget “not become too fixated” on their particular interest, but instead consider “what God is calling us to do collectively to expand God’s mission.”

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

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

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

Social justice issues attract Executive Council’s attention

Episcopal News Service - seg, 27/10/2014 - 19:08

Heidi J. Kim, Episcopal Church missioner for racial reconciliation, right, makes a point Oct. 25 during an Executive Council committee conversation on racism. Navita Jones, chair of the Executive Council on Anti-Racism, center, and Chuck Wynder, the church’s missioner for social justice and advocacy engagement, respond. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] In addition to working towards a draft proposed 2016-2018 budget, the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council Oct. 27 approved resolutions on a number of social issues facing the church and the world.

Prompted by the work of its Joint Standing Committees on Advocacy and Networking (A&N) and Local Mission and Ministry (LMM), council went on record as:

A&N and LMM members met together Oct. 25 for most of the day to have a discussion about race, racism and racial justice in the church and in the world, and what the church might do to continue to combat racism. The discussion also included Episcopal Church Missioner for Social Justice and Advocacy Engagement Charles Allen Wynder, Jr., Episcopal Church Missioner for Racial Reconciliation Heidi Kim and Navita Jones, chair of council’s Committee on Anti-Racism.

A&N Chair Lelanda Lee told the rest of council that the conversation arose in part because of a desire to have a meaningful exploration that was more than a “frustratingly short and superficial brush” with the subject.

“We all need to do this work [of meaningful conversations], every single one of us for our salvation and for the salvation of our beloved community,” Lee said.

Acting on its own, A&N also put forward resolutions which council approved on:

  • condemning the use of rape and other forms of sexual violence in war as a crime against humanity;
  • supporting legislation and non-legislative efforts calling for an end to discrimination against women’s access to healthcare;

The Executive Council celebrated Eucharist the morning of Oct. 26 during its meeting at the Maritime Institute Conference Center in Linthicum Heights, Maryland. The center hosts many other conferences, along with sailors taking specialized training, and council member the Rev. Dahn Gandell posted a number of flyers inviting them and center staff to that Eucharist. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

  • supporting “Net Neutrality,” also known as “Open Internet”; and
  • asking the next meeting of General Convention to fund a Criminal Justice Reform Coordinating Committee for developing educational information, advocacy tools and church policy to assist dioceses and church members, in their ministry to prisoners, people returning home from prisons, and their families, and in advocacy for comprehensive criminal justice reform. The resolution also would have the church take a stand on various criminal-justice system reforms.

Council members also passed an A&N resolution about the losses suffered by both Palestinians and Israelis as a result of the 2014 Gaza War and, among other things, requesting that council’s Economic Justice Loan Committee consider supplementing its 2013 investment in the Palestinian Territories and to challenge dioceses to make similar investments.

The council also said it stands in prayer “with our sisters and brothers in Liberia, the Church of the Province of West Africa, and all countries where this virus [Ebola] threatens human health and societal structures and has claimed the lives of thousands.” The resolution applauds the work of the Episcopal Church in Liberia, that country’s religious community, grassroots organizations, and individuals, including Liberian clergy, and all organizations and individuals that have “raised hope, awareness, and materials and funds.” The resolution challenged the world faith communities to encourage a more aggressive and generous response to the challenges of the Ebola epidemic.

Finally, the resolution, that originated in council’s Joint Standing Committee on World Mission, “commend[s] the souls of those who have died into God’s loving care and pray for those who mourn,” and says council members “live in hope of the day we will celebrate the good news that this virus has been contained and we can cheer our sisters and brothers on as they rebuild their lives and their country.”

In other action
Also during the final plenary session, council:

  • granted $150,000 in increments of $50,000 annually beginning yet this year to Li-Tim Oi Chinese Ministries in the Diocese of Los Angeles as a way to enable expansion of ministries to people of Chinese descent. The money will come from income of specific trust funds given for ministry to Chinese after the Communist takeover.
  • spent nearly two hours at the beginning of the day in an executive session to discuss the latest report from its subcommittee on relocation of the Church Center in Manhattan. No action was taken on the report.
  • directed the presiding officers (Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings) to appoint a working group to study the issue of dioceses that are unable to afford to participate fully in General Convention to identify the issues surrounding this challenge and identify funding sources that might be brought to bear. The group is to report to Executive Council in January 2015. The resolution began with World Mission’s concern about Province IX dioceses’ ability to participate in convention, according to committee chair Martha Gardner.
  • approved a revised 2015 budget for the Episcopal Church. General Convention approves the triennial budget, and the council often revises the three annual budgets, based on changes in income and expenses. The revised 2015 budget will be posted here soon.

Brother Robert Sevensky, superior of the Order of the Holy Cross and chaplain to Executive Council, speaks before Eucharist on Oct. 26 as the Rev. Brandon Mauai, deacon and council member from North Dakota; Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, council member and preacher the Rev. Dahn Gandell from Rochester listen. Council celebrated Eucharist during its meeting at the Maritime Institute Conference Center in Linthicum Heights, Maryland. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

  • discussed if and how it might respond to the anticipated report of the Task Force for Reimagining The Episcopal Church. The discussion happened around a proposed resolution to form a working group to prepare a council response to TREC’s report, which is due to be released to the church in December. That report will include the recommendations TREC wants to make to the next meeting of General Convention in the summer of 2015.

Steve Hutchinson, chair of council’s Joint Standing Committee on Governance and Administration for Mission which had proposed the resolution, said it was prompted by concern on the part of some that from what TREC has said thus far, “I know this sounds judgmental but it … does not reflect a really comprehensive understanding of what Executive Council does and how we operate, the scope and breadth and depth of our responsibility.”

The Rev. Brian Baker, GAM member, said part of the intent of the proposed resolution was a sense that council should “have a voice in the conversation” about TREC’s work. The Rev. Nathaniel Pierce, another council member, said he was prompted to suggest the resolution because of a “very specific proposal that is on the table now” from TREC to reduce the size of council and the way provincial representatives are elected.

In the end, council referred the resolution to its executive committee to consider a process to use at the January 2015 meeting and possibly beyond for council to consider any response it might want to make to the TREC report.

The Oct. 24-27 meeting took place at the Maritime Institute Conference Center.

Summaries of the resolutions council passed at this meeting are here.

Previous ENS coverage from this meeting is here.

Some council members tweeted from the meeting using #ExCoun.

The Executive Council carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1)(a). The council is composed of 38 members, 20 of whom (four bishops, four priests or deacons and 12 lay people) are elected by General Convention and 18 (one clergy and one lay) by the nine provincial synods for six-year terms – plus the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies.

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

Atlanta diocese calls all towards The Beloved Community

Episcopal News Service - seg, 27/10/2014 - 09:23

[Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta] Georgia’s first African-American Episcopal bishop called on a cathedral filled with Episcopalians – and many more around Middle and North Georgia linked by video stream — to remember and repent of the church’s complicity in the sin of slavery and in the conditions that followed.

Bishop Rob Wright opened the Oct. 22 service in silence and with a somber prayer. Nearly 800 people gathered at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta for a Service of Repentance and Reconciliation hosted by the Diocese of Atlanta’s Beloved Community: the Commission on Dismantling Racism.

Courtesy of the Cathedral of St. Philip, the service can be viewed now here.

Following is Bishop Wright’s sermon text:

“I will bless the Lord at all times, God’s praise shall continually be in my mouth.”  In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Good evening! Greetings to you in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And greetings on behalf of the 110 worshiping communities that are the Episcopal Church in Middle and North Georgia. We are brought together tonight, here at the Cathedral and around the diocese through live streaming, by the members of The Beloved Community: the Commission for Dismantling Racism. These courageous and insightful men and women have gathered us so that we might be in compliance with a General Convention Resolution of 2006 which invites us to “…make a full, faithful and informed accounting of our history… including the complicity of the Episcopal Church in the sin of slavery, segregation, discrimination and their aftermath.” And, that we would again fulfill our promise made at baptism: That faced with the fact of our sins, we “would repent and return to the Lord.”

Important as this is, we are here for a more profound reason. After all, commissions and confessions, resolutions and services of repentance and reconciliation are about one thing in the end. They’re about equipping the church to be The Beloved Community. That’s what this evening is about. That’s what Baptism is about. That’s what the Eucharist is about. We are here to be refreshed by our calling as people of water and Spirit, here to remember who we are and whose we are.

Acknowledging and laying aside
You remember “The Beloved Community.” It’s that phrase that Dr. King popularized. It’s the acknowledgement that practicing the love exemplified by Jesus of Nazareth can, has, will transform opposers into friends and bring about miracles in people’s hearts. The Beloved Community seeks to describe the reality that good is created, locally and cosmically when people practice Christian love through reconciliation and redemption. And that the practice of Christian love generates a unique goodwill that transforms old-age gloom into new-age exuberant gladness. If nothing else, friends, tonight remember Beloved Community work begins with us acknowledging and “laying aside the weight and the sin that entangles us and running with patience… looking to Jesus the perfecter and finisher of our faith.”

Tonight is the Diocese of Atlanta, once more, taking up the work of being the Beloved Community. And, to accomplish this work, our first commitment must be to look back together.

God would not have us to be blind to who we have been and what we have done to each other. Just the opposite. I was reminded just this evening how poignant this service is: 51 years ago the newspaper reported that Dr. King’s son was refused admission to the Lovett School, which was then housed on this campus. And the bishop then, Bishop Randolph Claiborne, refused to issue a statement about race, except to uphold the policy of segregation and to wonder “why a Baptist would want to go to school with Episcopalians.” You might be interested to know that I have on one of Bishop Claiborne’s vestments tonight. I believe you can rewrite old narratives. And you might be interested to know that it was a white priest, Father Morris, who confronted the bishop about desegregating the schools and the diocese, and who ultimately lost his license to serve as a priest in Atlanta as retribution for his actions.

We have to look back. But to look back as the Beloved Community is to see through the lens of repentance at the times when we have not loved the Lord or our neighbors with our whole heart. And through the eyes of reconciliation: “What was lost is now found, what was dead is now alive. Your sins are forgiven.” Without the twin virtues of repentance and reconciliation there is only the brittle, scared silence we maintain as we walk around each other on eggshells.

To look back at the history of Georgia with a courageous and objective eye is to see Africans sold into slavery by Africans and brought to Georgia by Europeans. It is to see human beings enslaved and strategically stripped of language, religion, culture and family. It is to see both the law and the church betray their ideals. It is to see immeasurable wealth created for individuals, businesses, churches and communities because of stolen labor. But not only that: As time marched on, it is to see human beings unchained from physical shackles only to be chained to poverty and illiteracy and discarded like rusty farm equipment. In modern times, it is to see the prison industrial complex of today replace the housing projects and plantations of yesterday. Then there are the rampant executions of black men and teenagers by vigilantes and police alike that produce rivers of tears and mountains of bitterness. To say nothing of the voter suppression movement that is happening in Georgia as I speak. This is because the number of black and brown people is increasing and the number of white people is decreasing. In Georgia, for the first time, white children are the new minority.

The forgetful community, or the Beloved Community?
Because all of this is dangerous to see and to speak about, some choose to be the forgetful community rather than the Beloved Community. Why? Because we wonder silently if Christian fellowship is durable enough for these kinds of conversations. Because we wonder if reconciliation isn’t just a word only used on Sundays. Because we’re Southerners, and this is just too unpleasant. The forgetful community argues that if we keep a blind eye and choose mass amnesia, then in some distant future all the brutality and blood of our past will simply evaporate, leaving a more polite narrative. They would rather expunge our history than process it. They call this a post-racial society. I call it the Etch-a- Sketch approach to human relationships.

Spiritually this would be the equivalent of erasing Jesus’ betrayal, beating and bloody death in favor of a sanitized Easter story. They would make Jesus a hologram holy man without nail holes. But it is precisely His nail holes that give His command to forgive, not to forget and to love enemy rather than to shame enemy for all of its persuasive power.

God is a genius! This is what it means to be the Beloved Community. Here is a word for oppressor and oppressed alike. Each week in our churches we come together to remember Christ’s life, death and resurrection. All of it! We do this so we can hear and know and trust that pain and guilt and shame don’t have to have the last word. That though we may be found culpable, there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Though we have colluded with systems of oppression, “where the Spirit is, now there is liberty.” Whether victim or oppressor, this is the opportunity of tonight. That remembering the past and then remembering God’s ability to make gold out of garbage, we press on. So, enveloped in the durable belovedness that flows first from God and then from person to person, the Beloved Community takes some risks together. We pledge to look and see together. And we pledge to allow what has been un-discussable now be discussed. This, the prophet Isaiah says, is the righteousness that God calls us to.

Choose judgment, or mercy?
After twenty-four months, I am happy to say I have visited the majority of our worshiping communities. And I have seen the Cross of Jesus on display in each place. But I wonder, if in addition to the Cross, maybe every church also needs to have some reminder of the Apostle Paul. You remember Paul. We first meet him watching Stephen be stoned in Jerusalem. He was oppressor, an abuser. He wrongfully incarcerated Christians. He did these things because his professional ambitions caused him to compromise on respecting the dignity of every human being.

But one bright day he met the risen Christ. After that he met the Beloved Community in Damascus. And at his coming, that Beloved Community had an immense choice to make.

Should they listen to their suspicions or make room for an exception? Should they be exclusively a community of friends or friends with the larger community. Should they choose judgment or should they choose mercy? We know the end of the story. They choose mercy over judgment. They choose to draw their circle wider. They choose to “repair the breach.” The very man Paul sought to destroy became the man who demonstrated for Paul what it meant to choose compassion over fear, and reconciliation over estrangement. That seemingly benign act, by one person, almost 2,000 years ago set loose on the world the most prolific spokesperson for reconciliation the world has ever known.

If we are to move forward as a church and state, we have a choice to make today. Like the Beloved Community in Damascus, will we tame our suspicions and prejudices and move towards each other, or will we fortify the distance that fear and enmity demand? The peace that Jesus brings does not make things easy or placid. His peace shakes things up until we are holding on to Him and Him alone for dear life. Without the work of the Beloved Community back in Damascus, there would be no Beloved Community here and now. Because of their repentance and reconciliation work then, Paul would later confess, “I was a persecutor of the church but by the grace of God, God’s grace was not in vain and so I labor….”

The response to grace is action. And grace on the ground becomes justice. And so this Service of Repentance and Reconciliation must not be a cheap grace. Yes, we must examine our hearts and attitudes and confess our polite hostility towards one another. But we shouldn’t stop there. Our world is made up of systems. And systems are always more immoral than individuals. Bureaucracies are belligerent. And so today, we should understand that we are being expelled from this gathering to actively dismantle systemic evil wherever we find it. In the church, among those who hold the public trust, in financial systems and in our schools. And to be clear, what is being asked of us tonight is more than financial charity. Like Dr. King told us, we must not only praise the Good Samaritan for bandaging the wounds of the stranger. But it is the church’s work, the Beloved Community’s work, to ask why the economic system is such that on the Jericho road crime is an attractive option for young people? What are the schools like in the Jericho road community? Is there a decent living wage in Jericho?

This gathering is more expulsion than it is anything else. And so on a night like this, I remember Jesus’ one-word sermon to his disciples. It was simply “Go. ” Go healing, go trusting, go planting, go to enemy territory, go naming demons and casting them out, and go tearing down strong holds.

But as we go He told us this, “Greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world.”

There is spiritual wickedness in high and low places. But our wrestling is more with the principalities and powers of this world than it is with each other. It may sound like a feeble sending off to the unschooled ear, given the velocity and ferocity of the world. But that’s what it means to be the Beloved Community too. To feel “afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

When the Bible finishes its story of God and of people of fear and love, of repentance and reconciliation, we are left with one image. And that is of a great gathering of people, a family reunion. Every nation, language and tribe are there. We’ve all got long white robes on and palm branches in our hands. And we’re singing, all of us. Singing together like one fantastic choir, singing, “Thanksgiving, power and might be to God forever!” And what we’re told is that in this place there is no hunger and no homelessness, no wealth and no war. And in that place neither are there any more tears! Just us finally together. No divisions. With God. In God. Raindrops returning to the ocean. Reconciled. Restored. Repaired. Rejoicing. What we have now beloved, is the grace of knowing that we can speed up this day with our words and with our deeds.

“I want to walk as a child of the light; I want to follow Jesus. God set the stars to give light to the world; the star of my life is Jesus. In him there is no darkness at all; the night and the day are both alike. The Lamb is the light of the city of God. Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.”

Thanks be to God!

                                                                                            Hymn text by Kathleen Thomerson

West Texas elects David Mitchell Reed as bishop coadjutor

Episcopal News Service - seg, 27/10/2014 - 09:07

[Episcopal Diocese of West Texas] The Rt. Rev. David Mitchell Reed was elected as bishop coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas at the Special Council of the diocese on Oct. 25, held at TMI – The Episcopal School of Texas in San Antonio.

Reed, 57, is currently the bishop suffragan of the diocese, and was one of six nominees. As bishop coadjutor, Reed will continue to serve alongside Bishop Gary Lillibridge. Upon Lillibridge’s retirement in 2017, Reed will become the 10th bishop of the Diocese of West Texas.

In order to be elected, a candidate needed to receive a majority of votes from both the clergy and the lay delegates, voting separately as “orders” on the same balloting round. Reed secured election on the first ballot, receiving 66 clergy votes and 207 lay votes, with 63 and 157 needed, respectively, for election.

Pending consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees of Episcopal Church dioceses, Reed will be recognized as bishop coadjutor during the worship service at Diocesan Council in February 2015. The service will be held on Feb. 28, in San Marcos, and the Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will preside.

Reed is the first Bishop Suffragan of the diocese to be elected Bishop Coadjutor and then to go on to serve as Diocesan Bishop. Reed was ordained in 1983 when he graduated from the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. Reed served as Assistant Rector of St. Alban’s, Harlingen, from 1983-1987; as Rector of St. Francis, Victoria, from 1987-1994; and as Rector of St. Alban’s, Harlingen, from 1994-2006. Bishop Reed was elected Bishop Suffragan of the diocese in 2006.

The other nominees were the Rev. Scott Brown, the Rev. Ram Lopez, the Rev. Jim Nelson, the Rev. David Read, and the Rev. Robert Woody.

Executive Council moves toward proposed draft budget

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

House of Deputies president outlines General Convention changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rest of the meeting agenda

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

The Oct. 24-27 meeting is taking place at the Maritime Institute Conference Center.

Some council members are tweeting from the meeting using #ExCoun.

The Executive Council carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1)(a). The council is composed of 38 members, 20 of whom (four bishops, four priests or deacons and 12 lay people) are elected by General Convention and 18 (one clergy and one lay) by the nine provincial synods for six-year terms – plus the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies.

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

GTS Board of Trustees moves to reinstate faculty members

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Former Connecticut church sold for benefit of local Muslim community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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