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

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

ENUJAB/2015

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

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

CADERNOS DE ESTUDOS PARA AS JUVENTUDES

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

DESTAQUES DAS REUNIÕES

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

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

NOVA MARCA DA UJAB


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

APRESENTAÇÃO DE MARCA

O QUE É O GT JUVENTUDE?

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

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

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

* Reverenda Tatiana Ribeiro, Coordenadora do GT Juventude

General Seminary faculty returning to work, devoted to reconciliation

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

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

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

Dear Bishop Sisk,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catholic bishops narrowly reject a wider welcome to gays, divorcees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

General Seminary trustees issue statement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Requiescat in pace: Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE

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

The Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE

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

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

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

Funeral service arrangements are pending.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canon John Gibaut (left) meets Pope Francis.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Amy Sowder is an ENS correspondent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

Griswold to facilitate meeting between GTS professors, trustees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Hire a fundraiser to begin a capital campaign.

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

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

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

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

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

The professors have said they never tendered their resignations.

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

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

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

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

Anglican Archbishop of Hong Kong comments on protests

Episcopal News Service - ter, 14/10/2014 - 15:01

[Anglican Communion News Service] The following is a statement from Archbishop Paul Kwong of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (Anglican Church of Hong Kong) on the Occupy protests.

Many people have asked me about the present situation in Hong Kong, which has drawn the attention of people on the mainland and all over the world. As the situation continues to change and develop, I wish to respond in the following statement:

The past few weeks have been times of turbulence and unease in our city.  The Occupy Central movement has revealed the increasing polarisation in our society in terms of ideas about political reform, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the position of Hong Kong in China and the world.  Student groups in the Occupy movement are pressing for what they see as the need for more democracy and challenging the nomination process that has been laid down in the electoral framework for our Chief Executive Election in 2017.

The government says there can be no change in the National People’s Congress decision on the election procedures.  Men and women from all walks of life have taken different standpoints on the Occupy movement as communities, families, schools, and churches become increasingly divided over claims and counter-claims that have been made.

Many people have been inconvenienced by what is happening on the streets, and although the number of protesters has decreased over the past week, the conflict has not been resolved.  Events continue to unfold, and we are following the situation closely.

We are deeply saddened and distressed by the increasing social conflict. Fortunately, the violent confrontations and use of tear gas on the first night of the protest have not been repeated, and both the demonstrators and the police have been able to keep the peace. The police have been able to remove some of the barricades from the roads peacefully.

In order to engage in real dialogue, we need to develop greater trust in one another. However this is not yet happening.  Our clergy and laity, and all people in Hong Kong share the gravity of the situation, and acknowledge the present ordeal as an extraordinarily difficult time of trial.  We will face a situation of deep internal conflict and division for a long time to come.

The Church is called to a ministry of reconciliation and pastoral care for all.  In this time of uncertainty, we open ourselves to our community, as we seek to promote mutual understanding in the spirit of dialogue through both a recognition of differences and a commitment to the common good.  We seek to provide care for those who suffer injury in their spirit. We extend our love and prayers for those who take part in demonstrations, for those entrusted with maintaining public order, and for those who hold government office. We offer our unreserved assistance to those who are in need of support, as we recommit ourselves to working for peace and concord of the society of Hong Kong.

The Prophet Jeremiah writes, “But seek the welfare of this city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare, you will find your welfare.”

Let us work together for this territory and for our country as we seek to understand one another and resolve our differences.

Southeast Florida diocese announces 5 nominees for bishop coadjutor

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

[Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida press release] The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida has announced its slate of nominees for bishop coadjutor of the diocese. The nominees were presented to the Standing Committee by the Bishop Coadjutor Search Committee, which was tasked with leading the process, which began seven months ago.

The nominees are:

Detailed information about each nominee can be found online here.

A bishop coadjutor is elected to replace the diocesan bishop upon retirement. The Rt. Rev. Leopold Frade, the third (and current) diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Southeast Florida will retire in January 2016. The election of bishop coadjutor for the Diocese of Southeast Florida will occur in January 2015.

The next step in the process of the election is the petition period, which opens Oct. 14. During this time, clergy are able self-nominate as a possible additional nominee. This two-week petition process ends on Oct. 28. Complete information about this process and the application are both available on the diocesan website.

After the petition period ends, and additional nominees are vetted by the Standing Committee, a series of meet-and-greets, commonly called “walkabouts,” will be held around the diocese. This allows members of the diocese to learn more about the nominees for bishop coadjutor. The walkabouts will be announced at a later date and will be held at various locations around the diocese.

The Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida includes 76 congregations, with approximately 38,000 parishioners, from Key West north to Jensen Beach and west to Clewiston. The mission of the Diocese of Southeast Florida is to make known to all people the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, including all, excluding none.

SA Anglicans challenged to find out why young people are leaving church

Episcopal News Service - seg, 13/10/2014 - 08:35

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA) has been challenged to conduct a study to find out exactly why young people are leaving the church and the extent to which it is affecting the different communities within the church.

In a motion raised at the recent annual Provincial Standing Committee meeting held in Johannesburg from Sept. 21-24, the proposer, the Rev. Jacques Pieterse, said that a study should be conducted to “establish the extent to which young people are leaving the church, and their reasons for doing so.”

The conversations that ensued after the motion saw different points of view being raised with others suggesting that such a study should also include older members among those that may be leaving the church.

Barney Pityana, committee member and rector of the province’s College of Transfiguration, raised another important perspective when he suggested that trends might be different in the white and black communities revealing that when he visited parishes in the black areas, he found “a burgeoning ministry among young people” and that the phenomenon may “only affect white Anglicans.”

He added that there should be a study of whether there was “a flight of white people from the Anglican Church, and if so, we need to come to an understanding of why this is happening.”

In an interview with ACNS, Tony Lawrence, the provincial youth coordinator, said, “It is imperative that the study is done. One needs to regularly evaluate our effectiveness as an organization and people leaving would be one of the key indicators of our efficacy,” he said.

Lawrence also suggested that a reputable institution be approached to do the study. “I would be very interested in the question list that will be developed to determine why people are leaving, as well as what approaches will be taken to get the information from the people who have left.”

The question was also put out to members of the church through the youth Facebook page. Most of those that responded agreed that a study is needed.

Demakatso Malele Mashile, a young person from the province, said from what she has seen in her parish, “the youth leave because of the elders failing to address or talk to them.”

Recently, the Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba, primate of the province, agreed that “the church now realizes that young people need to be given an opportunity [to take part in mission]” but challenged the youth not always to seek permission from adults all the time but rather take the initiative to get things done.

He concluded, “Young people should not be undermined because they are also equally called as a child of God.”

Primate calls for prayers as Canada joins Iraq mission

Episcopal News Service - seg, 13/10/2014 - 08:23

[Anglican Journal] As more Canadian troops prepare for deployment to Iraq to join the combat mission against the militant Sunni group known as the Islamic State (ISIS), Archbishop Fred Hiltz urged Anglicans to pray for the people of Syria and Iraq and for the members of the Canadian Armed Forces and their families.

“Once again we are at a moment in history when the world God loves is on high alert,” said the primate of the Anglican Church in Canada in a statement. “The world has witnessed horrific crimes against humanity and in the considered opinion of global leaders ISIS poses a very real threat to international security.”

The statement follows a vote in the Canadian parliament on Oct. 7 to join a U.S.-led coalition in airstrikes against ISIS. The vote, which passed 157-134, was not uncontroversial. Opposition leader Thomas Mulcair expressed concern that Canada was committing to a prolonged war with an insufficient plan, and suggested instead that Canada provide support to moderate forces already engaged in fighting ISIS and increase its humanitarian response.

The question of what to do in response to the violence of ISIS is a troubling one for many Canadians. Even as he recognized that there are many views within the Anglican Church of Canada as to the appropriateness of military actions such as this, Hiltz did not himself take a position. He instead emphasized a pastoral response, saying that “While I am deeply aware of the significant debates among people of faith with respect to ‘just war,’ it is not my intent at this moment to draw us into that but rather to call us to prayer.”

More than 5,500 people have been killed and 1.8 million others have been displaced since the ISIS attacks began in Iraq in June, according to a recent U.N. report.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has already thrown his support behind the United Kingdom’s participation in the coalition, but has also challenged his government to provide a more robust response that counters the underlying ideologies and social conditions that give rise to terrorism.

Hiltz closed his statement with a sobering call for Canadians to keep Syria and Iraq in mind over the Thanksgiving weekend. “Let us be mindful of all the blessings we enjoy, including religious freedom. Let us remember those who are denied this freedom and persecuted for their faith.”

Dioceses respond to marriage equality decision by US Supreme Court

Episcopal News Service - sex, 10/10/2014 - 17:46

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians in many dioceses across the church have been considering how to respond to Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court action clearing the way for same-sex marriage to start in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The court let stand appeals court rulings in three U.S. federal court districts which had overturned bans on same-sex marriage in those states. While it was predicted that access to same-sex marriage could soon be extended to six other states in those circuits, the situation is far from settled, with confusion at even the highest level.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy mistakenly blocked the start of same-sex marriage in Nevada in an order that spawned confusion among state officials and disappointment in couples hoping to be wed, the Associated Press reported Oct. 10. Due to the confusion, AP reported that 30 states, “give or take a few,” currently allow same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile, the issue of how the Episcopal Church ought to respond to the changing legal map across the United States is due to be discussed at the 78th meeting of General Convention in July 2015.

The A050 Task Force on the Study of Marriage recently issued a report on its work to date, saying that it was finalizing its report to convention, including considering a response to its mandate to “address the pastoral need for priests to officiate at a civil marriage of a same-sex couple.”

The task force was formed in response to a call (via Resolution A050 (click on “current version”)) from the 77th General Convention in July 2012 for a group of “theologians, liturgists, pastors and educators to identify and explore biblical, theological, historical, liturgical and canonical dimensions of marriage.

That same meeting of convention authorized provisional use of a rite to bless same-sex relationships. Use of that rite, Liturgical Resources I: I Will Bless You and You Will Be A Blessing, is due to be reviewed by the General Convention in 2015.

Here is a state-by-state look at the diocesan responses thus far in the five jurisdictions immediately affected by the Supreme Court’s decision:

Indiana

In the Diocese of Indianapolis Bishop Catherine Waynick wrote to clergy on Oct. 10 saying that her previous policy of allowing priests to bless same-sex relationships would now apply in those Indiana counties that are granting marriage licenses to such couples.

She also encouraged any diocesan parish that has not yet provided a study of the issue for its members to arrange to do so during the coming year. “Whether or not there are any same gender couples in the congregation, whether or not a priest feels able to preside, same gender marriage is now a legal reality, and the Church as a whole can benefit from reflection on the meaning of marriage, how the provisional rite meets the needs of same gender couples (or not) and what is at stake when decisions about same gender celebrations are made,” she said.

Her letter to clergy is posted on the front page of the diocesan website.

Since September 2012, Waynick has allowed the blessing of same-sex relationships on a case-by-case basis, as have her predecessors over the last 20 years. She approved diocesan use of the General Convention provisional rite in 2012. Waynick also laid out conditions for its optional use in the diocese.

Information about Indianapolis’ approach to same-sex blessings is here.

When the federal appeals court overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, Diocese of Northern Indiana Bishop Edward Little asked clergy in that diocese to decline any requests they received to solemnize such marriages because the Book of Common Prayer defines marriage as the union of husband and wife and because “our liturgical and constitutional understanding of marriage remains unchanged,” he told Episcopal News Service via e-mail.

“The policy articulated in that letter remains in place,” he said.

Oklahoma

When the Diocese of Oklahoma went through a discernment process in 2012 and 2013 that resulted in Bishop Edward J. Konieczny authorizing use of the General Convention provisional rite in that diocese, it was agreed that if and when the law changed in Oklahoma with regard to marriage, the diocese “would once again be deliberate in our discernment of how to move forward,” Konieczny told ENS via e-mail. He reported that that conversation began Oct. 7 during the diocese’s annual clergy conference.

Information about Oklahoma’s approach is here.

Utah

Same-sex blessings have been allowed in the Diocese of Utah since Advent 2012. Details of that policy are here.

Bishop Scott Hayashi told diocesan clergy after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that he would soon issue a new policy allowing priests to solemnize same-sex marriages. In an e-mail advance of issuing that policy, Hayashi asked priests to amend the church’s provisional rite to declare couples united “in marriage according to the laws of the State of Utah.”

Meanwhile he told clergy that “because we live in a web of relationships it is very important that we proceed forward with care for all people regardless of their opinion in this matter.”

“Remember also that The Episcopal Church has not yet decided on the matter of same-sex marriage,” he added. “That will most likely happen at the 78th General Convention here in Utah. Until then, we have been given the option of the ‘generous pastoral response’.”

And, in a statement on the diocesan website, the bishop acknowledged that not all would be happy with the court’s decision. Hayashi attended the Mormon Church’s General Conference the weekend before the court’s decision and he reported that Dallin H. Oaks, one of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, told the assembly that the church may come out on the losing side of the same-sex marriage debate. He advised church members to “accept unfavorable results graciously, and practice civility with our adversaries.”

Hayashi said he plans to exercise Oaks’ advice and will “practice not only civility but also compassion.”

Virginia

Shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling, Bishop Shannon Johnston issued guidelines saying priests in the diocese may officiate at the civil marriage of a same sex couple as a “generous pastoral response” to lesbian and gay couples seeking to be married, and may bless their civil marriage.

Johnston said priests should use the General Convention rite and, at the pronouncement, should add the words “according to the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia” where appropriate.

He expressly said that the Book of Common Prayer’s Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage rite may not be used because the church has not yet changed its canonical definition of marriage of that between a man and a woman.

Diocese of Southwestern Virginia Bishop Mark A. Bourlakas told Episcopal News Service Oct. 10 in a telephone interview that “it’s a priority for me that our three dioceses are on the same page [on policies towards same-sex marriage] and therefore our policy will look almost identical in every substantive way” as Virginia’s.

The policy has not yet been formally adopted but Bourlakas said he thinks Virginia has taken a “measured approach and not inconsistent with where we’ve already been” on the issue.

For Bourlakas the wider c0ncern prompted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision is that the Episcopal Church is still talking about how to respond and that the conversation must continue within the church.

“My hope is that parishes and clergy will have conversations about their common life and seek understanding; that is what I want to promote in this diocese,” he said. “One of my really strong messages, coming out of our Baptismal Covenant to respect the dignity of every human being, is that we begin by listening and trying to seek understanding, and we don’t begin with our prejudices. And that can lead us in a variety of directions but oftentimes I think in these discussions we start with people already in their corners.”

Clergy in the diocese have been able to bless same-sex couples, using the convention provisional rite, since  Bourlakas’ consecration in July 2013.

His policy on same-sex blessings is here.

In the Diocese of Southern Virginia, Bishop Herman Hollerith is on sabbatical until November and was not available to comment on the impact of the court’s decision on policies in that diocese. However, Bourlakas said Oct. 10 that Hollerith told him that day that Southern Virginia’s policy will be similar to those of Virginia and Southwestern Virginia for consistency’s sake as the Episcopal Church continues its conversation about same-sex marriage as it approaches the 2015 meeting of General Convention.

Hollerith authorized the use of the General Convention blessing rite as of January 2013. The details of that policy and related resources are here.

Wisconsin

Diocese of Milwaukee Bishop Steven Miller told his clergy on Oct. 8 that the Episcopal Church is “still involved in a discussion relative to the theology of marriage” and that the Supreme Court’s decision did not change either the church’s canons or rubrics on marriage. The provisional rite approved by the General Convention in 2012 is not a marriage liturgy, he noted, “therefore it is inappropriate for clergy of this Church to act as agents of the State and sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples.”

Miller had announced in late August that he would allow clergy to bless same-sex couples who had been married civilly. Priests must use a modified rite that Miller has authorized. His response came after the diocesan Standing Committee sent him a report recommending that he allow clergy the option to bless same-sex relationships.

The bishop, who signed an amicus brief that supported overturning Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriage, objected to the convention’s rite because he said it creates a “second class of citizens in the church” who cannot marry, creates injustice for those who “would suffer dire economic consequences” if they married, obscures the church’s teaching that the place for sexual intimacy is marriage and assumes that previous convention action has all been on one side of the issue.

Miller’s policy on same-sex blessings is here.

Diocese of Eau Claire Bishop William Lambert and Diocese of Fond du Lac Bishop Matt Gunter did not respond to ENS’ request for information about their positions.

Same-sex blessings have not been officially allowed in Fond du Lac. As a nominee for bishop, Gunter said in reply to a question from the bishop search committee earlier this year that the church “must decide for itself what is faithful” regardless of the law in the state but that if same-sex marriage did become legal in Wisconsin, “there will be new urgency for the diocese to deal with its divisions” on the issue.

To meet that urgency, he said, “I would lead the diocese through open conversation along with biblical and theological reflection on the issue itself.”

“And then, assuming division remains, what does it look like to live together in spite of those divisions and what decisions can be made by the diocese such that its faith and discipline are clear even while acknowledging a faithful ‘minority report’?

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

Integrity elects new president

Episcopal News Service - sex, 10/10/2014 - 17:11

[Integrity USA press release] Integrity USA is pleased to announce the special election of Matt Haines as President of the Board of Directors.

Haines will guide Integrity as it celebrates its 40th anniversary year, leading into the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church to be held in Salt Lake City, Utah June 25-July 3, 2015. Prior to this position, he held the title of Vice President of Local Affairs for Integrity USA.

For the first time in several years, Integrity has elected a non-ordained individual to lead the board. His service to Integrity and the LGBTQ community has been extensive: he has also served as the Provincial Coordinator for Province VIII, Portland Diocesan Organizer, Lead Facilitator and Ex-Officio Board member of Rainbow Youth of Salem Oregon, and much work at the diocesan and parish level.

The election featured Haines and the Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Kaeton, both of whom recognized the desire to celebrate Integrity’s successes of that past 40 years with the needs and mission of the coming 40 years. Haines specifically spoke of renewal and the inclusion of all members of the LGBTQ community, in addition to the issues of marriage equality, and the involvement at all levels of the Episcopal Church.

Haines will serve out a vacancy created by the departure of Rev Dr. Caro Hall, and will retain his position through October 1, 2015. He has released a statement “Renewal in Grace and Communion” at the “Walking With Integrity” blog. You may find it at this link.

Integrity is a member-supported nonprofit organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender [LGBT] Episcopalians and straight friends. Since its founding by Dr. Louie Crew in 1974, Integrity has been the leading grassroots voice for the full inclusion of LGBT persons in the Episcopal Church and equal access to its rites. Integrity activities include advocacy, worship, fellowship, education, communication, outreach, and service to the church. Through Integrity’s evangelism, thousands of LGBT people, estranged from the Episcopal Church and other denominations, have returned to parish life.

Ministry serves farmworkers through sacraments, outreach

Episcopal News Service - sex, 10/10/2014 - 13:35

Farmworkers wear long pants, sleeves and gloves to work in the fields partly to protect themselves from pesticide exposure. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

[Episcopal News Service – Newton Grove, North Carolina] On a rainy, humid mid-September morning five hours before the Sunday noon Eucharist at Sacred Family, the Rev. Tony Rojas got behind the wheel of a white van and began making the rounds to pick up men from the farmworker camps set back on highways and county roads among the single- and double-wide trailers and more stately brick homes of rural North Carolina.

He picked up men like Abraham Cruz, 47, of Tlaxcala state in east-central Mexico, who for the last seven years has traveled to the United States on a temporary agricultural worker visa to work eight- to 12-hour days in the fields planting and harvesting cucumbers, watermelons, tobacco and sweet potatoes. Cruz’s earnings go to support his family in Mexico, whom he sees two to three months a year.

Over the past 18 years, Rojas has built up the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry, a joint ministry of the dioceses of North and East Carolina, with a 16-acre campus on Easy Street in Newton Grove. The ministry serves farmworkers in 47 camps scattered across Sampson, Harnett and Johnston counties.

The men arrive by van or decommissioned school buses early for the ministry’s free ESL classes, haircuts, immigration services and tax and legal advising, and to play soccer. Farmworkers, who spend six days laboring in the fields wearing long sleeves and pants to protect themselves from pesticide exposure, on Sundays change into shorts, jerseys and cleats, practicing for an annual daylong soccer tournament organized by the ministry.

Farmworkers typically range in age from 18 or 19 to more than 50 years old. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

The ministry began in 1982 when a single outreach worker identified a need and from her car began distributing clothing and personal care items to farmworkers, then mostly Haitian migrants. Today, with its sacramental ministry that includes three mission congregations and its 20-plus outreach programs, the ministry reaches 3,500 farmworkers directly and impacts the lives of thousands more.

There are some 150,000 farmworkers, the majority of them from Mexico, working in North Carolina’s fields; some documented, some undocumented. The ministry serves them all.

Providing sacraments and outreach to farmworkers, regardless of their immigration status, is rooted in the Baptismal Covenant’s call to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.”

By focusing on the sacraments and social outreach, the ministry remains “bipartisan,” said North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry during an interview with ENS in his office in Raleigh, the state’s capital. “That’s the work of Jesus that can be done by Republicans and Democrats.”

Curry has publicly called for immigration reform that would reunite families, but the church’s official advocacy for farmworker justice or immigration reform on the state level is coordinated through the North Carolina Council of Churches, of which the dioceses of North, East and Western North Carolina all are members.

Farmworkers head to the fields early in the morning picking sweet potatoes by the bucket load to fill trucks like these. Photo: Christine McTaggart/Diocese of North Carolina

Agriculture has a rich legacy in North Carolina which today ranks fifth nationally with 8.4 million acres under cultivation and more than 50,000 farms producing $11.7 billion annually in agricultural commodities. Though corn, soybeans and cotton are machine-harvested crops, 85 percent of fruits and vegetables – beans, melons, sweet potatoes, tobacco, strawberries –are picked by hand.

When members of the North Carolina Growers Association can demonstrate the local labor force is insufficient to meet the production needs of the farms, they can fill the gap through the U.S. Department of Labor’s H-2A temporary agricultural worker program. North Carolina has close to 7,000 H-2A agricultural workers, and ranks high among agricultural states using the program. (The visa program provides legal entry to work, but critics see it as a means to keep farm wages low.)

Growers can ask for anywhere between 20 and 200 farmworkers, Rojas said.

In 2000, Latinos made up 50 percent of the state’s farmworkers; today that percentage is 95, said Jennie Wilburn, a program associate with the Raleigh-based North Carolina Council of Churches.

The North Carolina Council of Churches, its history advocating for the rights of farmworkers going back decades, runs public awareness campaigns in English and Spanish and uses a Bible-based curriculum to involve the churches, said Wilburn.

Still, she said, “The political climate for vulnerable groups isn’t great.”

Wilburn said, “One thing that’s gotten a lot of attention recently is the Human Rights Watch report on tobacco.”

Farmworkers live in trailers like this set back off rural, county roads. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

The 138-page report released in May documents the hazardous conditions and nicotine poisoning faced by children working in the top four tobacco producing states, including North Carolina.

Alice Freeman, who serves on the farmworker ministry’s board, knows what it’s like to work on a tobacco farm.

“I am the daughter of sharecroppers … my dad had five girls, his brother had five girls, they always farmed together, no boys,” she said. “When you grow up on a farm, a tobacco farm with cotton, tobacco, soybeans, corn, you do the work yourselves. We didn’t have brothers to do the work, we didn’t have so much money to hire other workers, we did the work in the fields; I know what it’s like to be in the fields.”

The farmworker ministry addresses a need, seeks to treat people as humans, to be compassionate. “When you are a long way from home, a friendly face, a helping hand goes a along way,” said Freeman.

(Click here for a video of Alice Freeman talking about the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry and its programs.)

In addition to working long hours under the hot sun, migrant and seasonal farmworkers often live in substandard housing sleeping on filthy mattresses or the floor; there might be a shared toilet, or an outhouse, a single shower for bathing and a washtub for laundry.

The Rev. Tony Rojas, or “Father Tony,” came to the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry 18 years ago. Rojas himself comes from the Roman Catholic tradition.  Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

During his first three years of ministry to farmworkers and witnessing the living conditions, Rojas said he had trouble sleeping. He’d visit camps at 2 a.m. and all the lights would be on and the farmworkers would be preparing their lunches, which sometimes they’d crouch under the bus to eat to get out of the mid-day sun. He’s seen farmworkers suffering nicotine poisoning through their exposed skin rolling on the ground in agony.

Even after 18 years of working with farmworkers, Rojas still doesn’t understand how they do it, he said. Like the growers, who face the challenges of farming and often carry heavy loan burdens, farm work is a vocation. The farmworkers and the growers provide human beings with the food necessary to sustain the miracle that is life. “Without food we cannot survive, cannot keep the life,” he said.

In 1960, before Cesar Chavez founded the National Farmworkers Association bringing attention to the plight of farmworkers, broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow, a native North Carolinian, co-produced an hour-long documentary “Harvest of Shame,” which examined the lives of migrant farmworkers and the poverty that marked their lives.

Murrow’s film depicts the lives of primarily white and African-American farmworkers; today’s farmworkers come mostly from Mexico and Central America. Otherwise, the lives of migrant farmworkers have changed little, according to a follow-up, 30-minute documentary, “Harvest of Dignity,” produced in 2011 in association with the Durham-based Student Action with Farmworkers.

Farmworkers with temporary worker status, or the seasonal workers, are guaranteed certain employee rights, their travel to and from the United States paid for, housing and food provided, and they live on the farm to which they are assigned. Seasonal workers rely on the growers to bring them back to work year after year, and can sit idle while waiting for crops to come in; undocumented workers tend to be migratory and follow their crew leaders to where the work is.

A report released in 2011 studying migrant farmworkers’ housing conditions in North Carolina conducted by the National Institutes of Health found housing standards inadequately enforced and farmworkers living in substandard conditions, with undocumented workers living in worse conditions than temporary workers.

Over the years Rojas said he’s seen some camps’ living conditions improve. And through grassroots efforts, like those of the North Carolina Council of Churches, Student Action with Farmworkers and the Farmworker Advocacy Network, more and more people in urban areas, like Raleigh, Durham and Research Triangle Park are becoming aware of the farmworkers living within 50 miles of them.

For instance, “Harvest of Dignity,” said Wilburn, led the North Carolina Department of Labor, which inspects migrant and seasonal farmworker housing, to require camps to have one toilet per every 10 and one washtub per every 30 residents.

(Jon Showalter and his family, members of Church of the Nativity in Raleigh, North Carolina, have for a decade driven the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle some 40 miles to the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry in Newton Grove, the first Saturday of every month. “It has been a blessing for our family to be involved in this ministry,” Showalter said. Click here for video of the food shuttle.)

Changing demographics

“Strong roots, new growth,” reads a sign at the entrance to Harnett County, where on one side of Highway 55 is the campus of Stoney Run Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church and on the other is Iglesia de Dios Cristo Redentor, or Christ the Redeemer Church of God.

For the Episcopal Church, said Rojas, to have a presence in this part of the state is itself an anomaly, and building it up among the Latino population, with its Catholic roots, wasn’t easy.

“Latinos by culture and tradition come from the Roman Catholic Church, that’s the one true church,” he said. For them, a different church “means the devil is coming.

Now, however, at peak harvest, the Sacred Family mission, which meets on a concrete slab under a metal roof on the ministry’s property, is one of the largest Episcopal congregation in North Carolina, serving migrant farmworkers, families and immigrants who’ve made the state home.

Soccer has always played a strong role in Rojas’s ministry. Here on a Sunday morning farmworkers practice for an upcoming annual tournament before the Eucharist. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

At 78, Rojas, a former Roman Catholic priest-cum professional soccer player in his native Colombia, maintains a youthful appearance. And when he first began his ministry in the camps, it was the soccer ball that gave him entrance, not the Bible.

“That was how I built a natural relationship with the farmworkers,” he said. After he’d gained their trust, he said, they began asking for blessings and the sacraments.

It took seven years, working for three of those years with the same 18 people.

Today, however, Rojas said, it’s understood that all are welcome and the message is simple: “Christ is our lord and savior … and to live a Christian life: love God, love self and love the other.”

It touches Father Tony to administer the Eucharist to men, like Abraham Cruz, here,  with calloused hands, because in Latino culture, women are more likely to present themselves for the Eucharist, he said. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

After making inroads into the Latino community and building up the farmworker ministry, for a time serving as both the sacramental minister and the ministry’s executive director, Rojas’ next priority is to fortify Sacred Family, which is housed on the ministry’s administrative campus in Newton Grove, and the two other congregations he serves, St. Joseph’s in Smithfield and St. Francis in Goldsboro.

After noon Eucharist, Rojas drives some of the farmworkers back to the camps, and then drives some 25 miles to Goldsboro for a 4 p.m. Eucharist. (Click here for a video of Rojas reflecting on his ministry.)

Since the year 2000, North Carolina’s Hispanic population has increased by 111 percent, according to a report by the Center for American Progress, a Washington, D.C.-based bipartisan, independent educational institute.

In rural schools, like Hobbton Middle School, where 12-year-old Idalia Rubio-Trejo is a sixth grader, the student body is almost half Latino, Rubio-Trejo said.

Idalia’s father is a farmworker and her mother is a homemaker. Idalia, who is fully bilingual, has three brothers and two sisters; the family has been in North Carolina for 16 years and attends services at Sacred Family on Sundays.

In addition to Rojas, the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry is staffed by Silvia Cendejas, assistant director; and Maria Acosta, an immigration specialist who annually assists some 3,000 immigrants navigate paperwork, work visa renewals and petitions for family reunification.

One need Cendejas and Acosta have identified that is not being met is to provide assistance to women in domestic violence situations. The women are confronted with three or four cases weekly, they said.

An individual farmworker on average must pick two tons, 4,000 pounds, of sweet potatoes to earn $50. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

The population increase and the fact that more often farmworkers and their families are choosing to remain in North Carolina year-round has put increased demands on the ministry, said Patti Trainor, the Diocese of North Carolina’s development coordinator for the farmworker ministry.

Longtime volunteer Rolffs Pinkerton, a retired psychologist and member of Church of the Holy Family in Chapel Hill, who 10 years ago began volunteering as a translator, framed it this way: “We’re asked to serve the neediest of the neediest,” said Pinkerton, a North Carolinian who grew up in Venezuela. “And this is probably as close as you can come in North Carolina; I don’t know of a population more in need.”

To meet the demands of a growing Latino population and to continue to serve farmworkers, in 2013 the Diocese of North Carolina initiated the Harvest for Hospitality campaign aimed at raising $400,000 – double the ministry’s annual budget – by June 2015.

Robert E. Wright, who co-chairs the campaign, said Harvest for Hospitality is an investment: “They [immigrants] are a part of our community, and us, a part of theirs.

“It’s a holistic ministry, body, soul and spirit; it’s really seeing people as people, as fellow human beings. It’s empowering, not paternalistic.”

Harvest for Hospitality also aims to bring the farmworker ministry into the 21st century, said the Rev. Lisa Fischbeck, who co-chairs the campaign with Wright and serves as vicar of Church of the Advocate in Chapel Hill.

A successful campaign will not only to provide the ministry with the financial resources necessary for transformation – the hiring of a new executive director and a person to serve as a liaison between the growers and the farmworkers – but also engage young people, both as participants in the ministry and financial supporters.

Already, young people are active in the ministry’s visitation program. In June, for example, the youth group at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Southern Pines helped out at a nearby Head Start program for children of migrants, did yard work, and with Rojas, visited the camps distributing clothing and personal care items to farmworkers.

The participants, said Paul Collins, the youth minister at Emmanuel, took their experiences and their stories about farmworkers home with them and shared them; they’ll continue to engage in the work and educate themselves about issues affecting farmworkers. After all, he said, they are the future voters.

– Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

Texas church helps preserve rare prairie

Episcopal News Service - qui, 09/10/2014 - 10:03

The Rev. Peter Conaty blesses the Nash Prairie at a special service with church members and The Nature Conservancy. Photo: Diocese of Texas

[Episcopal News Service] St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in West Columbia, Texas, sits in the midst of a once majestic coastal prairie that stretched from Louisiana, across the rolling grasslands of the Gulf Coast, and nearly to Mexico at the Rio Grande.

Less than 1 percent of this extensive tall-grass Eden remains and only a tiny fraction of that is as pristine as when humans first set foot on the vast landscape. Today, 400 acres of it are being preserved for posterity through the joint efforts of St. Mary’s and The Nature Conservancy, the international land preservation organization.

This piece of ecologically rare land – called the Nash Prairie – is considered the largest remnant of the original prairie on the upper Texas coast. Except for the occasional cutting of hay for livestock, it has never encountered the cut of a plow. Plus, “it is one of the most diverse prairies left in Texas,” said Dan Snodgrass, associate director of land conservation for The Nature Conservancy in Texas.

Scientists have identified more than 300 species of plants – some rare and one even thought extinct in Texas – and over 120 species of birds on this biological treasure box.

St. Mary’s rector, the Rev. Peter Conaty, his wife Susan and the church’s parishioners are in large measure responsible for ensuring that this priceless prairie will never be covered up by a subdivision spilling over from Houston, 60 miles northeast.

A Texas A&M University botanist explains the plant life on the Nash Prairie on a guided tour. Photo: Diocese of Texas

The Nash Prairie was carved out of the 12,000-acre KNG Ranch, a sprawling spread named after the owners’ daughter, Kittie Nash Groce. A Houston socialite and Episcopalian, she took over management of the ranch after her father died in 1930. A major contribution from her helped fund the construction of St. Mary’s Church and Parish Hall. At her death in 1957, her will left the ranch to St. Mary’s, the local hospital district and a series of heirs. The ranch completely reverted to the church and hospital district in 2006 when the last of the heirs passed away.

Conaty and his wife suspected the Nash Prairie portion of the ranch, some 20 miles from St. Mary’s, deserved special protection for its historical and biological significance. Scientists studied the land and confirmed their hunches. Following conversations with various preservation organizations, The Nature Conservancy eventually purchased the prairie from the beneficiaries in 2011.

Since the Conservancy’s staff members live more than an hour away, the Conatys, church members and other community volunteers keep an eye on the preserve and “spend a lot of time helping with the management,” Snodgrass said. This includes harvesting seeds from the plants that are used in other prairie restoration projects.

In 2004, even before the Conservancy acquired the prairie, the Bishop Quin Foundation of the Diocese of Texas granted $300 to St. Mary’s to create a Prairie Prayer Garden on the church’s campus and planting it with seeds and grasses from Nash. The garden brings the prairie into town as a community educational tool, serves as an outdoor worship space and provides a prayerful spot for people when the church is locked or “they really don’t feel comfortable in a church,” Conaty said.

Preserving the prairie ties in with the Episcopal Church’s mission of protecting the environment, Conaty said. “God created the earth and we should honor God for this earthly creation,” he said.

St. Mary’s work on the prairie also addresses the Episcopal Church’s endorsement of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal of ensuring environmental sustainability. “St. Mary’s is fulfilling one of those goals since we are blessed with the coastal prairie in our back yard,” he said.

He also believes in what theologians call a “thin place” where heaven and earth meet. “To me, the Nash Prairie is that place,” he said.

With the funds it has received from the KNG Ranch, St. Mary’s has worked to encourage environmental awareness among school children by sending 5th graders from West Columbia Elementary School to the Discovery Program, an environmental and leadership program.

St. Mary’s is not finished with preserving the KNG Ranch property, Conaty said. “Preserving the Nash Prairie was just the first step,” he said. Eventually, the church would like to preserve a section of the ranch that encompasses a stretch along the Brazos River that is a major flyway for migrating birds.

– Mike Patterson is a San Antonio-based freelance writer and member of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Blanco, Texas.

Province IX bishops study self-sustainability in the Philippines

Episcopal News Service - qua, 08/10/2014 - 17:43

Bishops from Province IX spent Sept. 24-28 in the Philippines studying the church’s journey to financial self-sustainability in the local context. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

[Episcopal News Service – Manila, Philippines] In sewing workshops, homes and sheds on either side of the road reaching to the top of a hill where Holy Faith Episcopal Church sits in Igorot Village, men weave hats, scarves and sweaters and women sew labels on finished goods. It’s a cottage industry started by six women who sell knitwear to wholesalers; it keeps the village humming.

The village was founded in the 1950s on 1.5 hectares of land that was once part of a cattle ranch by Igorots, or “mountain people,” from Luzon, the largest, northernmost island province of the Philippines where Anglican missionaries established a presence in the late 19th century. Located on the outskirts of Manila, the village of former bamboo and grass huts, now is home to more than 100 families living in concrete homes with metal roofs.

As the community developed, a preaching station became a mission congregation, an aided parish, and in 2010 called a full-time rector.

The Rev. Echanes A. Cadiogan poses with some of the co-op’s women. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

Yet in 2013, at a time when the parish already was 80 percent self-supporting, the congregation felt it couldn’t reach the goal of 100 percent by 2018. That’s where the Episcopal Church of the Philippines’ unique approach to Asset-based Community Development, an approach that includes congregational development, applied. In taking stock of the village’s assets leaders determined that wholesalers were selling on three months’ consignment meanwhile taking out private loans to maintain operations; and the church stepped in to address a need.

With an $11,000 loan from 22 communities in the Diocese of the Southern Philippines, Holy Faith began making loans to the wholesalers at 1.5 percent interest, less than half the 3 to 5 percentage rate charged by private lenders. In a win-win, the wholesalers invested a percentage of the savings into the church In February 2014, Holy Faith members requested full-fledged parish status.

Holy Faith is just one example in the Episcopal Church of the Philippines where community and congregational development have gone hand-in-hand, creating a situation where both thrive.

Holy Faith’s stone stonework is modeled after that in the north’s mountain province, where the Igorot people are from. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

When the church first began thinking about autonomy and financial self-sustainability it invested in programs and projects to raise money, but in the end, without the community development component, the investments were a “complete failure,” said Floyd Lalwet, the church’s provincial secretary, during a Sept. 24 gathering at the church’s national office in Quezon City. Over time the church began to see the communities and the congregations as one, things began to change.

The Episcopal Church in the Philippines’ journey toward financial self-sustainability serves as an example of covenant partnership, one that can be replicated in other contexts.

Earlier that day on Sept. 24 seven bishops and two spouses representing Province IX traveled to the Philippines with the purpose of affirming and strengthening the companionship between the Episcopal Church in the Philippines and the U.S.-based Episcopal Church, and to experience the work of the local church as related to its attainment of full-financial autonomy and, more specifically, the implementation of its Asset-Based Congregational/Community Development program and the application of its “from receivers to givers” policy.

Prior to traveling to the Philippines to study the church’s journey to financial self-sustainability in the local context, the bishops and spouses spent Sept. 17-23 in Taiwan attending the fall House of Bishops. meeting, where Prime Bishop Edward P. Malecdan spoke about the theological context and mission challenges in the Philippines.

Staying true to the House of Bishops’ meeting’s theme of “expanding the apostolic imagination,” bishops explored the mission and ministry of the Diocese of Taiwan; following the meeting other bishops and spouses traveled in groups to Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea to continue learning about mission and ministry of the Anglican Church.

The Province IX bishops visit to the Philippines was three years in the making.

Men weave hats, scarves and sweaters in workshops like these in Igorot Village. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

Clergy and lay leadership in the Episcopal Church’s seven Latin American dioceses, covering the Caribbean, Central and South America, first became acquainted with Episcopal Church of the Philippines’ story during a 2011 conference on self-sustainability in Tela, Honduras.

The Province IX dioceses – the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Central Ecuador, Ecuador Litoral, Colombia, Venezuela and Puerto Rico – adopted self-sustainability as a focus in a 2012 synod meeting.

Each of the Province IX dioceses are on their own path to financial self-sustainability, with the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Central Ecuador, with a recent $4 million land sale, closer than the others.

The comprehensive approach to financial sustainability in Province IX is driven by the needs of each individual diocese, and the approach has come from the diocese’s themselves, said Samuel McDonald, the Episcopal Church’s deputy chief operating officer and director of mission.

“Here’s where the rubber meets the road,” he said.

Executive Council in February 2014 adopted the Second Mark of Mission Province IX Sustainability Plan, which was the result the result of a July 2013 meeting of lay and ordained leaders of the province and church center staff.

Following the Tela conference, said Lalwet, the Province IX bishops began asking for specifics regarding the Philippines’ church’s capacity building projects and processes, specifically how cooperatives have aided congregations in becoming full-fledged parishes and the Episcopal Development Foundation of St. Mark’s, a lending institution which transformed the Diocese of Santiago in the northern Philippines.

There are some 43 registered cooperatives and about 65 un-registered co-ops, farmers associations and development organizations operating under the church’s church and community development model. The Episcopal Care Foundation, or ECARE as the development model is called, strives through partnerships to work with communities to leverage their assets and resources to move from subsistence to self-reliance, while emphasizing sharing, caring, witness and environmental stewardship.

The cooperative concept was something new to Diocese of Colombia Bishop Francisco Duque, who also serves as the Province IX president; it’s something, he said, he’ll look at implementing in his own diocese, one of the youngest in the Episcopal Church.

In Colombia, as in the Philippines and the other Province IX dioceses, many Episcopal churches are located in poor, marginalized communities in need of economic and social development.

More than 25 percent of the Philippines’ 100 million people live below the poverty line, a percentage similar to Ecuador and Venezuela, though their populations are a fraction of that of the Philippines’, according to World Bank statistics. Each of the other Province IX dioceses has a higher percentage of people, between 33 and 65, living below the poverty line.

“The economic and political reality is that our people live in poverty and that our churches are located in marginalized communities,” Lalwet said, adding that by focusing on improving the economic livelihood of people in the community the people are better able to support the church.

This approach, however, from the outset necessitates church and community consensus, he said. “It would also be an error to separate the community development program from church development.”

It also meant a change in mindset, congregations that historically had been recipients, needed to become the givers. “We were breaking the mindset that the church should support the congregations,” said Lalwet.

Historical background

The Episcopal Church established a missionary district in the Philippines in 1898; in 1965 the church became a missionary diocese and in 1990 the Episcopal Church of the Philippines became an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion. However, autonomy came before financial self-sustainability: in 1990 the Philippines’ church still relied on the U.S.-based Episcopal Church to finance 60 percent of its operating budget.

In 1992, the Joint Committee on the Philippine Covenant proposed a 15-year stepped reduction plan to gradually reduce every five years’ the Episcopal Church’s support from $800,000 to $533,333 to $267,667. In 2003, Philippine Church ran its highest-ever budget deficit of 6.5 million pesos ($120,000 at the time). And in 2004, the church decided to ask the Episcopal Church for a three-year extension before reversing course.

In 14 years of being autonomous all anyone ever talked about was the subsidy, said Lalwet, until finally someone proposed, “Why don’t we do away with it?”

So they did. And on January 1, 2005, “everyone predicted that the 6.5 million peso deficit would double,” he said, but it didn’t. Instead, for the first time ever, the church had a $55,000 budget surplus.

Lalwet often equates the 15-year period of the subsidy’s attenuation as an addict going through withdrawal. “There were times when people didn’t receive a salary for six months,” he said.

The covenant relationship between the U.S.-based Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church in the Philippines remained intact in 2005, but rather than use the subsidy for operating expenses the money was added to the church’s Centennial Endowment Fund, established in 2001.

To encourage the church’s then-six dioceses to contribute to the fund, the church changed the fund’s structure. Rather than position the endowment fund as a “national fund” with monies going to support the Episcopal Church of the Philippines, the church split the fund between the dioceses, used a grant and rental income to provide matching funds and loaned the money back to the dioceses for local investment, said Lalwet.

Additionally, Lalwet explained, rather than rely on the subsidy for its operating budget, the church looked to its existing assets and institutions for support; during the period from 2005-08, with the support of St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City, some of the province’s most beautiful churches were built.

Today there are more than 120,000 baptized Episcopalians worshipping in 400 churches across the Episcopal Church in the Philippines’ seven dioceses covering the archipelago in the Pacific Ocean

Development cooperatives

In the 1960s and ‘70s when the church first began to consider autonomy it started founding cooperatives, which during the period of martial law from 1972 to 1981 implemented by President Ferdinand Marcos, was dangerous.

“Co-ops were considered subversive,” said Lalwet, adding that the church, specifically in Diocese of Northern Luzon, where Bishop Richard Abellon, who would become the first-ever Filipino prime bishop. “The bishop became public enemy number one.”

Despite the harassment and threats directed at Abellon and others, the church continued to found cooperatives because the leadership believed it was the way forward.

Santiago

A 40-minute flight north from Manila to Tuguegarao and another two to three hours by minibus along a two-lane highway deep in the country’s rice basket, where yellow corn for livestock feed and rice dry along the road’s narrow shoulder and on any unused pavement with access to direct sunlight, the bishops arrived in Santiago, where local investment has defined the Diocese of Santiago’s success.

Bishop Julio Cesar Holguin, Bishop Orlando Guerrero and Bishop Luis Ruiz pose with members of St. Peter’s co-op. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

The Diocese of Santiago, formerly a part of the Diocese of North Luzon, was founded in 2001, and at the time received 90 percent of its support from outside the diocese.

“This diocese was formed during the most difficult financial years of our church, when the Episcopal Church support was being reduced; when we were in withdrawal,” said Lalwet. “This diocese suffered because it was very dependent on the Episcopal Church of the Philippines.”

It wasn’t easy, explained Lalwet, as relationships, some of them longtime friendships, were strained as a result of the subsidy’s elimination.

Yet, in the end, the diocese started the Episcopal Development Foundation of St. Mark’s, the lending institution that has accumulated a $1.9 million loan portfolio in 10 years, and among other things has enabled farmers to acquire 30 hectares of land. But it is also the biggest source of support for the Diocese of Santiago, contributing $56,000 a year.

In addition to visiting the diocesan office, where they learned about the Foundation of St. Mark’s and shared a meal with clergy and lay leaders from both the North Luzon and Santiago dioceses, the bishops visited two cooperatives, each in very different stages of development.

The first was Del Pilar in Alicia, where the majority of the community’s 3,000 inhabitants are farmers working from a few to a dozen acres of land, mostly by hand and using water buffalos. The church in 2002 established St. Peter’s Savings and Credit Co-op with 15 members, which has since grown to 39. The co-op allows the farmers to negotiate better prices for seed, to rent a drying pavement (access to space for drying rice and corn is scarce), and has constructed a warehouse where grains can be stored and sold as commodity prices dictate. the co-op also has a nine hectare rice farm.

St. Peter’s was modeled after the second cooperative, Holy Spirit Mission and Multi-Purpose Cooperative, which was begun in 1995 and is further along, explained the Rev. Ralph Dampo, who serves as the parish’s director and manager of the cooperative.

Dampo, who was trained in both theology and business management with support from the church, began the mission with the simultaneous goal of improving the lives and economic livelihoods of the farmers in the community and the life of the mission station.

After first conducting a rural assessment: a survey of the land, number of households, linguistics, access to social and educative services, the cooperative started with 16 subsistence farmers, each of whom contributed one fifth of their annual income, about 1,000 pesos, or $22. “It was hard,” said Dampo.

Today, the co-op has more than 100 members, 10 regular employees, a warehouse, drying pavement, trucks. It contributes 10 percent of its income to the parish’s endowment and other funds, pays 70 percent of Dampo’s salary, while supporting the Holy Spirit’s children’s ministry, and has a feeding program, and a relief and rehabilitation ministry.

Holy Spirit Church was built in 2009. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

The first church building was constructed in 1997 and a modern building in 2009; Holy Spirit has 200 members, half of them members of the co-op, and an average Sunday attendance of 70, said Dampo.

Cotabato

From their base in Quezon City, the bishops then traveled south an hour and a half by airplane to Cotabato City where they met Diocese of the Southern Philippines Bishop Danilo Bustamante, visiting St. Francis Church and the Hillside Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Upi, in the province of Maguindanao in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, where at 30 percent of the population Christians are the minority.

The group also met with Upi Mayor Ramon A. Piang at his municipal office, where he told them that the local government supports church leaders, and has instituted civic panels, including religious and other civil society leaders, and coordinates with them on poverty reduction programs in the province where 98 percent of the people are farmers.

Seeing the cooperatives in action in the Philippines made Bishop of Venezuela Orlando Guerrero think about the 35 hectare coffee plantation his diocese owns in the country’s northeast, a plantation that isn’t producing to its full yield. Rather than work the plantation with local labor,Guerrero said, he’s considering forming a cooperative and giving local families parcels to work.

The Venezuelan government, he added, also works with religious organizations to empower communities, but that to date the Episcopal Church, unlike the Evangelical and Roman Catholic churches, has not taken advantage of that opportunity.

Hillside Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Upi has a rubber tree planation. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

The co-ops also got Diocese of Honduras Bishop Lloyd Allen thinking about how his diocese’s existing cooperative might be restructured to provide each of 10 deaneries in Honduras with more local authority.

The Southern Philippines program in Upi, like in the north, includes grain drying and storage facilities, but also a rubber tree plantation and nursery, the latter a partnership with the Diocese of Olympia in Seattle, Washington, that distributes seedlings to individual households.

Build the road as you walk it

“We are here as one church … we are here from Latin America to see with our own eyes,” said the Rev. Glenda McQueen, the Episcopal Church’s global partnership officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, during a sermon she preached at St. Francis Church in Upi, on the morning of Sunday, Sept. 28.

“To change direction is to say yes to life, to leave the past, the way things were done, and take the risk into the future.”

McQueen talked about how the Anglican and Episcopal churches planted the seed that today is the church in the Philippines, and how like the rubber trees, where grafting a branch from a mature tree onto a seedling makes the young tree stronger and more resistant to diseases, the Philippines’ sharing its journey toward financial self-sustainability gives strength to the Latin American churches who are on a similar path.

“We are that new tree, and you have given us the example of that new church that took the risk,” said McQueen, and she explained to those present that there’s a saying in Latin America Se hace el camino al andar or “build the road as you walk it”; it describes the journey the Province IX bishops and their dioceses now are on.

Moving forward with self-sustainability in Province IX, each diocese will need a person or a team to give oversight to the development process, McQueen said later in an interview with ENS.

Diocese of the Southern Philippines Bishop Danilo Bustamante and the Rev. Glenda McQueen, the Episcopal Church’s global partnership officer for Latin America and the Caribbean in Cotabato. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

Visiting the church in the Philippines provided the bishops with the principles that hold the process together — “you need to have that foundation,” she said.

It’s important, she added, the Latin American churches articulate their own vision for the future, and that they together look at what they have as a province.

Reflecting on the visit to the Philippines’ church, Dominican Republic Bishop Julio Cesar Holguin said he believed the clergy’s and laity’s entrepreneurial spirit in the face of losing the support of the Episcopal Church and that spirt allowed them to continue in their development.

“I believe that the Philippines’ model can serve as a great help and inspiration for all of the dioceses of Province IX, as in other parts of the Anglican Communion,” said Holguin.

“We are encouraged to throw ourselves into the goal of sustainability, and to carry out with more efficiency, the task of the Great Commission that our Lord Jesus Christ has charged us with.”

– Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.