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Detroit delays water shutoff 15 days

Episcopal News Service - seg, 21/07/2014 - 18:58

More than a thousand protesters gathered in Detroit, Michigan, July 18 in defense of water rights including actor Mark Ruffalo, a water rights activist, who attended the march and rally. Photo: T.R. Smith/Diocese of Michigan

[Episcopal News Service] The building crowd – which swelled to more than 1,000 protesters on July 18 in downtown Detroit – had a chant growing ever louder.

“What do we want?  Water. When do we want it? Now.”

Their voices were apparently heard. Monday, after months of residential water shutoffs designed to help the bankrupt city of Detroit raise money and after several protests, the city’s water department announced it has suspended residential cutoffs for 15 days.

“This is a pause. This is not a moratorium,” water department spokesman Bill Johnson told The Detroit News. “We are pausing to give an opportunity to customers who have trouble paying their bills to come in and make arrangements with us. We want to make sure we haven’t missed any truly needy people.”

Increase efforts will also be made for the department to communicate methods of making payment arrangements with religious and community leaders.

Prior to the 15-day suspension, cutoffs were met with protests from civic and religious leaders, who believe if businesses were held to the same standard as the residents, there would be no need for “heavy-handed tactics.”

Last week, the protesters marched from Cobo Center to Hart Plaza, near the city’s riverfront. Earlier in the day, a group of protesters was arrested as it blocked trucks from leaving a facility contracted to administer the shutoffs. One of those arrested was the Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman, rector at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Corktown.

It was the second time in a little more than a week Wylie-Kellerman was arrested in an act of civil disobedience, blocking the entrance to Homrich Industries.

The police tried to “move us forcibly, and we sat down,” he said after his first arrest. “We’re here to appeal to the workers to stop shutting off the water.”

It is estimated up to 3,000 residences weekly are having their water service cut for being at least two months behind in payments and that nearly 30,000 homes could have their service cut. So far, around 17,000 homes had their service stopped.

Although the city’s water department has encouraged those with accounts in arrears to set up a repayment plan to prevent service from being stopped, it hasn’t been a smooth process.

“I’m on assistance, which I’m not proud to say,” said Detroiter Carl Gardner, part of a march protesting the water shutoffs. “Yeah, money from welfare helps pay utilities. At least, it’s supposed to. But, man, it doesn’t pay it all.

“Understand, when you are deciding what to do with what’s left, do you choose food or paying on a bill that the city hasn’t tried to collect on in as long as I can remember?”

More than a thousand people marched in Detroit, Michigan, in defense of water rights on July 18. Photo: T.R. Smith/Diocese of Michigan

Many who have been shut off claim to have not received water bills lately, or in any sort of regular fashion.

“The water shutoffs in Detroit are a catastrophe,” said the Rt. Rev. Wendell N. Gibbs Jr., bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. “The people most at risk have no voice.”

A big part of Detroit’s ailments has been a shrinking tax base caused by a dwindling population. Over the course of several decades, Detroit’s population has tumbled from 2 million in the 1950s to 700,000. What was once one of the nation’s wealthiest cities is now one of the poorest.  So distressed is the city that steps were taken by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to appoint an emergency financial manager, Kevyn Orr, to oversee the economic recovery of the city by handling all of its financial matters.

However, the idea of stepping up collection efforts with shutoffs in a city with more than 40 percent of its residents living below the poverty level is troubling to many.

“Disconnections due to non-payment are only permissible if it can be shown that the resident is able to pay but is not paying. In other words, when there is genuine inability to pay, human rights simply forbids disconnections,” said Catarina de Albuquerque, who specializes on water and sanitations issues for the United Nations, in a statement.

At Friday’s rally in Detroit, organizers from the National Nurses United presented their opposition to the shutoffs, citing a potential public health crisis.

“This is not a Third World country,” explained Ivie Jefferson, a Detroit resident for 52 years. “Prisoners are afforded the opportunity to use water, even behind bars. You can’t just hold prisoners without giving them basic human essentials, such as water. I see it as a God-given right for prisoners, and it’s a God-given right for common folk.

“It’s another case of the poor being oppressed by thugs masquerading as being dictators in charge. It ain’t right. And it ain’t staying this way. We will continue to protest – peacefully, I have to say – until our voices are heard. See all these brothers and sisters walking with me? We’re not happy.

“Community groups support us. Many churches and religious leaders believe in challenging the wrongness of this.”

“People could get sick,” said L.C. Witt, a nurse from Kalamazoo, Michigan, who traveled two hours to attend the rally and march. “In the most basic human conditions, you have to understand fresh water is needed to clean, nourish and to deal with human waste. How unreasonable is it to afford the poorest of our citizens not only water for reasons of health and safety, but also for the issue of basic human dignity?

“We are a not asking for a handout. We’re asking that the marginalized citizens of Detroit be treated with the same respect given to large corporations.”

First-term Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan admitted while there is a need to collect water and other overdue bills due to the city, he also expressed disapproval over the collection methods and the lack of fully communicating the shutoffs before they began. But, because of the emergency financial manager arrangement, he has no real authority over Detroit’s water department.

Judge Steven Rhodes, however, did take the opportunity to address the collection methods during bankruptcy court proceedings last week.

“Your residential shutoff program has caused not only a lot of anger in the city and also a lot of hardship,” Rhodes said to the deputy director of the water department, Darryl Latimer. “It’s caused a lot of bad publicity for the city it doesn’t need right now.”

Here’s another spin-off from the water shutoffs: According to Leilani Farha, a U.N. adequate housing authority, children could be separated from their families by social services representatives due to inadequate living conditions.

“If these water disconnections disproportionately affect African-Americans they may be discriminatory, in violation of treaties the U.S. has ratified,” Farha said.

The irony, as many people see it? The region has no issues with a water shortage. Nearly 20 percent of the world’s freshwater supply can be found in the five Great Lakes surrounding Michigan.

“The lack of affordable access to clean water in the United States in 2014 is shameful,” Gibbs said. “And yet, the government persists in spending more money to shut off the water than it would in assistance to needy citizens to pay their water bill.

“It seems that Detroit has taken a further negative step in bankruptcy – from financial to moral bankruptcy.”

– Rick Schulte is director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan.

Grace Cathedral dean to become Stanford’s dean for religious life

Episcopal News Service - seg, 21/07/2014 - 17:18

[Stanford University Press release] The Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, has been named dean for religious life at Stanford University, Provost John Etchemendy announced today. Shaw will also be joining the faculty in Stanford’s Department of Religious Studies.

Shaw, a historian and theologian who is at present also a visiting scholar at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, has served as dean of the Episcopal Grace Cathedral since 2010. She previously taught at the University of Oxford.

Shaw, 51, will succeed the Rev. William “Scotty” McLennan Jr., who is stepping down after 14 years. She will assume her position as Stanford’s spiritual leader this fall.

At Stanford, Shaw will provide spiritual, religious and ethical leadership to the university community, serve as minister of Memorial Church and also teach undergraduates and graduate students as a professor of religious studies.

“We are lucky to have found in Jane Shaw both a charismatic leader and an accomplished academic to lead our Office for Religious Life,” said Etchemendy. “Dean Shaw is equally committed to the educational mission of the university and the ecumenical mission of Memorial Church.”

“I am delighted to be joining Stanford as dean for religious life,” Shaw said. “The opportunity to serve at this extraordinary university is a great privilege. It will be my pleasure to work with so many wonderful colleagues and students to relate religious and ethical questions to the cutting-edge work being done at Stanford University, and to provide spiritual leadership for this exceptional academic community. I am also thrilled to be joining the excellent Religious Studies Department as a professor.”

At Grace Cathedral, Shaw has been responsible for overseeing its mission, vision and spiritual life, and has provided leadership to the extended community of an iconic house of prayer known locally, nationally and internationally. The inclusive Grace Cathedral congregation is known for welcoming pilgrims, seekers and believers; embracing innovation; fostering open-minded conversation; and putting beliefs into action.

During her time as dean of Grace Cathedral, Shaw has overseen growth in all areas of the cathedral community’s life, not least in its artistic, cultural and educational events, which have tripled over the past four years. She founded a resident artist program, and also developed educational programming that related questions of values and ethics to the issues of the day, such as the environment and technology.

“Jane Shaw will bring her vision, broad experience and deep commitment to service to the Office for Religious Life,” said William Damon, a professor in the Graduate School of Education at Stanford and co-chair of the search committee for the position. “The Stanford community will be enhanced by her spiritual leadership.”

Shaw joined Grace Cathedral from the University of Oxford, where she taught history and theology for 16 years and was Dean of Divinity and Fellow of New College. A historian of modern religion, she is the author ofMiracles in Enlightenment England (Yale, 2006); Octavia, Daughter of God: The Story of a Female Messiah and Her Followers (Yale, 2011), which won the San Francisco Book Festival History Prize; and A Practical Christianity: Meditations for the Season of Lent (Morehouse, 2012).

Shaw has given several lectures at Stanford on topics including the role of the modern cathedral and reasons behind the 20th-century flight from institutional religion. In 2009, Shaw delivered the Palm Sunday sermon in Memorial Church. While at Stanford this spring, on a short sabbatical leave from Grace Cathedral, she has been researching the moral imagination, a project she is working on with actress, playwright and Grace Cathedral trustee Anna Deavere Smith. Shaw is also working on a book on spirituality and mysticism in the early 20th century.

Shaw was educated as an undergraduate at Oxford; she holds an MDiv from Harvard and a PhD in history from the University of California, Berkeley. She has been awarded honorary doctorates by Colgate University and Episcopal Divinity School.

Will Mebane to serve St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buffalo, as interim dean

Episcopal News Service - sex, 18/07/2014 - 11:31

[St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral press release] The Rev. Will Mebane will assume interim leadership of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral on July 1. Mebane comes to Buffalo from Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio, where he has served as Canon since 2011.

Mebane entered ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church after an eclectic career in media.  After receiving his B.A. degree in Radio,Television and Motion Pictures from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he held positions with several radio and television stations, including WKBW-Channel 7 here in Buffalo in from 1977 to 1980.

Mebane’s heart was always drawn to social justice. And he is a founding board member and served as vice president of AMISTAD America, Inc. It was this thirst for social justice that originally led the teenaged Mebane to the Episcopal Church.  He had wrestled since childhood with a call to ordained ministry and entered a formal discernment process just short of his 50th birthday. He was accepted into Yale Divinity School and earned his Master of Divinity along with an award for excellence in preaching. He received a Diploma in Anglican Studies from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale at that same time. He was ordained to the priesthood in 2010.

At Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland he shared in serving as a pastor, prophet and priest to the more than 900 individuals that gather there. He worked with clergy, staff and laity on neighborhood ministry, congregational life and social justice programs. He served as chaplain to the Wilma Ruth Combs Union of Black Episcopalians Chapter in Northern Ohio and served on the Strategy Leadership Team of Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC). He was also an active diocesan leader.

Recently, Mebane was appointed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, to The Episcopal Church’s new Task Force on the Study of Marriage.

Mebane and his wife Paulette (aka “Ronnie”), a registered and master’s prepared nurse affiliated with University Hospitals Case Medical Center, have parented two sons during their 40+ years of marriage.

Mebane’s first Sunday at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral will be Sunday, July 6th. Summer Eucharist Hours are 8:00 am in the Richmond Chapel, and 9:00 am in Cathedral Park. All are welcome.

Mebane’s full bio may be read at

Hester Mathes named curate, Church of the Holy Communion, Memphis

Episcopal News Service - sex, 18/07/2014 - 09:23

The Rev. Hester Mathes with Bishop Don E. Johnson of West Tennessee.

For six years as a student at St. Mary’s Episcopal School, Hester Shipp Mathes attended morning chapel in the sanctuary of Church of the Holy Communion. Twenty-two years later, she has returned to that sanctuary, now as an ordained deacon and the new curate of Church of the Holy Communion. Mathes’ ordination as deacon, which took place June 28 at St. Mary’s Cathedral, is the last major step before being ordained to the priesthood.

The Reverend Hester Mathes joins the Reverend Sandy Webb, who became priest in charge of Holy Communion one year ago, and the Reverend Randy McCloy, deacon. “Hester brings to her ministry a wealth of experience as an educator and church professional, and will learn here the craft of priesthood,” says Webb. “I am very grateful to Bishop Don E. Johnson for appointing Hester to serve at Holy Communion, and to the vestry for creating a position in which someone as talented as Hester can come to learn.”

This is Mathes’ second homecoming to Memphis. After graduating from the College of William & Mary, studying music, art and psychology, she returned to serve as youth coordinator at Calvary Episcopal, the parish in which she grew up, and to teach at St. George’s Independent School.

“Teaching in itself was a ministry,” says Mathes, but the “little voice” of a call to priesthood had started making itself known during her college years. She returned to Virginia in 2011 for graduate school, this time at Virginia Theological Seminary, and graduated this spring.

Mathes’ work at Church of the Holy Communion will focus on young adult ministry and sharing in sacramental, preaching and teaching responsibilities. Assuming that all of the canonical consents are received, Mathes will be ordained as a priest this winter.
Mathes and her husband Andy, who has recently opened the Tennessee office of Farr, Miller & Washington Investment Counsel (based in Washington, D.C.), have two children: Neeley, 11, and Zander, nine.

Archbishop writes to ecumenical partners about women bishops

Episcopal News Service - sex, 18/07/2014 - 09:11

[Lambeth Palace] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has written to ecumenical partners about the General Synod’s decision to allow women to become bishops, emphasizing that churches “need each other.”

An ENS article about the Church of England’s decision to enable women to serve as bishops is available here.

The text of Welby’s letter, which is being posted to partner churches, follows.

This comes to you with warm Christian greetings and the wish to communicate personally to you the decision of the General Synod of the Church of England to admit women to the episcopate.

This is an occasion of deep rejoicing for many, especially for many of the women clergy in the Church of England. They feel that this decision affirms their place and ministry in the life of the Church. For others in the Church of England, the decision may be a source of disappointment and concern.

As the Synod moved towards the decision many were struck by the spirit of the debate: frankness, passion and, I am glad to say, a good deal of Christian charity.  It all indicated an intention and sincere assurance to hold all of us together in one Church. There appeared a determination that the genuinely held differences on the issue of the ordination of women to the episcopate should not become a dividing factor in the Church of England, and there was care and expressions of love for those troubled by the outcome.

The Bishops have sought to build trust across the Church. The five principles outlined by them in their declaration form part of the package approved. Principles 3 and 4 are ecumenically relevant.

I give below these principles:

1.  Now that legislation has been passed to enable women to become bishops the Church of England is fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender, and holds that those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to office are the true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and canonical obedience;                          

2.  Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must be prepared to acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter;

3.  Since it continues to share the historic episcopate with other Churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and those provinces of the Anglican Communion which continue to ordain only men as priests or bishops, the Church of England acknowledges that its own clear decision on ministry and gender is set within a broader process of discernment within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of God;

 4. Since those within the Church of England who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests continue to be within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of the Anglican Communion, the Church of England remains committed to enabling them to flourish within its life and structures; and

5.  Pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority within the Church of England will be made without specifying a limit of time and in a way that maintains the highest possible degree of communion and contributes to mutual flourishing across the whole Church of England. 

The Church of England continues in its quest to make our unity more visible with those with whom we are in communion, and to seek greater unity with those with whom we are not yet in communion. Some of our Sister Churches in communion will share the joy of those in the Church of England, who welcome the development of having women in the episcopate. But we are also aware that our other ecumenical partners may find this a further difficulty on the journey towards full communion. There is, however, much that unites us, and I pray that the bonds of friendship will continue to be strengthened and that our understanding of each other’s traditions will grow.

Finally, it is clear to me that whilst our theological dialogue will face new challenges, there is nonetheless so much troubling our world today that our common witness to the Gospel is of more importance than ever. There is conflict in many regions of our world, acute poverty, unemployment and an influx of oppressed people driven away from their own countries and seeking refuge elsewhere. We need each other, as we, as churches empowered by the Holy Spirit, rise to the challenge and proclaim the good news of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and strive for closer fellowship and greater unity. I do recognise that there are issues that raise difficulties, but I do also take courage from the words communicated to one of my predecessors by a significant Orthodox brother which have become dear to me:

In spite of such obstacles, we cannot allow ourselves to congeal the love between us which is also manifested in dialogue so “let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us” with the good hope that the Lord of powers and mercy “will not let us be tested beyond our strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that we may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

It is therefore in this spirit that I greet you and ask for your prayers for our ministry in the Church of England.

The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby
Archbishop of Canterbury

Religious leaders of Africa commit to post-2015 development

Episcopal News Service - sex, 18/07/2014 - 09:08

CAPA General Secretary Grace Kaiso said the widest cooperation was necessary for success. Photo: CAPA

[Anglican Communion News Service] Hundreds of faith leaders from across Africa recently met in Uganda’s capital for a three-day summit on sustainable development and the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

More than 200 religious leaders gathered in Kampala between June 30 and July 2 for the Africa Faith Leaders’ Summit with its theme of Enhancing Faith Communities’ Engagement on the post 2015 Development Agenda in the Context of the Rising Africa.

During the conference the leaders, from a wide variety of religious traditions, considered ways to work together to ensure post-2015 goals were implemented.

They made a host of commitments, including doing more to promote peace and reconciliation in countries and communities currently facing violence; to promote interfaith dialogue and co-operation as a means of eradicating religious radicalization; to ensure women, children, youth, people with disabilities and people living with HIV/AIDS are included in finding solutions to Africa’s development challenges; and to promote the resourcefulness of Africa as opposed to its poverty and misery.

Canon Grace Kaiso, general secretary of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) who attended the event, said, “The shaping of our common future must not be left to a few but must involve people at all levels.

“Our expectation of support from partners worldwide should not stop us as Africans from bearing our responsibility to turn life on the Continent around by being responsible and accountable stewards of the enormous resources God the Creator has endowed us with.

“CAPA, like many others at the meeting, is committed to the unlocking of the potential of  the continent for the thriving of the human family.”

The summit was organized under the auspices of the African Interfaith Initiative on Post-2015 Development Agenda, a coalition of faith communities and their leaders across Africa with technical support from the United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC) and other development partners.

Participants included representatives of the African Council of Religious Leaders, Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar; All Africa Council of Churches; Organization of African Instituted Churches; Hindu Council of Africa; Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa; Union of Muslim Councils of Central, Eastern and Southern Africa; the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’i; the Association of the Evangelicals of Africa; Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa; and Arigatou International, Nairobi.

The Post-2015 Development Agenda will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that will expire in 2015. Of the eight goals, it is believed that only three will be fully met by 2015, hence the need for a successive agenda to build on the achievements made to date.

Read the faith leaders’ Position Paper here 

Read the faith leaders’ statement From Lament to Action here

Terrie Robinson named ACO director for women in church and society

Episcopal News Service - sex, 18/07/2014 - 09:01

[Anglican Communion Office press release] The Rev. Terrie Robinson, formerly networks coordinator and women’s desk officer at the Anglican Communion Office, has been named its director for women in church and society.

Mrs Robinson1 has moved into the new role following a decision by the Standing Committee2 that more needs to be done to support Communion-wide efforts to promote equal, influential and safe participation of women in the life and decision-making of the churches of the Anglican Communion and society.

Speaking about the change of role, Mrs Robinson said, “I’m very excited at the prospect of being able to spend more time working with women and men in the Anglican Communion to promote the full inclusion of women’s gifts, voices and concerns in the life, mission and structures of the Anglican Communion and beyond.

The Rev. Terrie Robinson (left) with Africa’s first female bishop the Rt Rev. Ellinah Wamukoya.

“There are already so many Anglicans committed to this, who bring every gift imaginable to the task. It will be a blessing to support them and to contribute everything I can to making sure that women are given voice and space wherever they are.

“In many ways, my engagement with the Anglican Communion’s Networks will continue. They provide a vital mechanism for Anglicans who want to share their stories and resources, and who want to join in advocacy and pray for each other with greater knowledge and understanding.

“I know how important several of the Networks will be to my own ministry as it unfolds. All the Networks will continue to receive the support they need from the Anglican Communion Office to make sure their activities continue to inform decision-making and action at the international level.”

The Anglican Communion Office has also recruited Stephanie Taylor to be Information and Records Manager.

Mrs Taylor, who come to the ACO from The National Autistic Society where she was Content Manager – Information, Advice and Advocacy.

Mrs Taylor said, “I am a passionate believer in the power of information and the difference that dynamically, well-managed, accessible information can make to the lives of individuals, and the effectiveness of organisations. Effective knowledge sharing builds connections and makes things happen, and in a Communion serving 165 countries that’s vital.”

Editor’s note

1 As there are a variety of ways to refer to clergy across the Anglican Communion, ACNS uses the standard practice of the Church of England which considers ‘The Reverend’ to be an adjective. We therefore refer to priests as ‘The Revd’ once and subsequently use titles: Mr, Mrs, Miss, Bp., Dr. Canon, etc, as appropriate.

2 The Standing Committee comprises members elected by the Anglican Consultative Council and of the Primates’ Standing Committee. See

Janet Pullen, Cynthia Weldon-Lassiter elected to NAES governing board

Episcopal News Service - qui, 17/07/2014 - 10:17

[National Association of Episcopal Schools press release] The Governing Board of the National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES) is pleased to announce the election of Janet S. Pullen, Ed.D., Head of School at Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School, Bradenton, Florida, and Cynthia Weldon-Lassiter, Ed.D., Head of School at St. Andrew’s School, Richmond, Virginia, to three- year terms on the board that began July 1, 2014.

“We are thrilled to welcome to the Governing Board leaders of such distinction and commitment to Episcopal schools and education,” said Doreen S. Oleson, Ed.D., NAES Governing Board President and Head of School at St. Mark’s Episcopal School, Altadena, California. “I look forward to working with Jan and Cyndy over the next three years as we continue to expand the reach of our mission and ministry,” said the Rev. Daniel R. Heischman, D.D., NAES Executive Director.

About Janet S. Pullen, Ed.D.
Jan Pullen is in her 12th year as Head of School and in her 27th year as an administrator at Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School. She arrived at Saint Stephen’s in 1988 as the Lower School Director when the school’s K-12 enrollment was 222 students. During her tenure at Saint Stephen’s, the school has been completely rebuilt on the one-campus, 36-acre site and has grown into a school of approximately 700 students in PreK-12, including the United States U-17 Men’s National Soccer team. Jan spent six years as the Associate Head of School and led the Intermediate School (grades 4-6) and the Middle School (grades 7-8) before becoming Head of School.

Dr. Pullen holds degrees from Manatee Junior College (A.A.), Florida State University (B.S.) and National Louis University (M.Ed.). In May 2013, she graduated with a doctorate degree (Ed.D.) in educational leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Pullen is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Global Outreach-Tanzania, the University of
South Florida Bradenton-Sarasota Community Council, and the Board of Directors of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce. She leads accreditation teams for the Florida Council of Independent Schools and continues to make conference presentations for a variety of education organizations. In the community, she is a sustainer member of the Junior League of Manatee County and the Service Club of Manatee County.

About Cynthia Weldon-Lassiter, Ed.D.
Cyndy Weldon-Lassiter is the seventh Head of School at St. Andrew’s School, which was founded by Grace Arents in 1894. This independent elementary school provides quality, progressive education to children from families with limited financial resources through a full scholarship for every child. The school currently serves 94 students in kindergarten through fifth grade, all from low-income families.

Dr. Weldon-Lassiter became Head of School in July 2010, bringing nearly two decades of experience as a teacher, researcher and leader in curriculum and faculty development. Prior to her current position, she was an educator in the Chesterfield County Public School system, as well as The Collegiate School in Richmond, Virginia. Following that, she taught in a K-12 setting at an independent school in Montclair, New Jersey, while attending her doctoral program.

Dr. Weldon-Lassiter is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where she received degrees in psychology and education. She earned her doctorate in Curriculum and Teaching from Columbia University after completing research focused on homeless families with young children.

About the National Association of Episcopal Schools
The National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES) is an independently incorporated, voluntary membership organization that supports, serves, and advocates for the vital work and ministry of those who serve nearly 1,200 Episcopal schools, early childhood education programs, and school establishment efforts throughout the Episcopal Church. Chartered in 1965, with historic roots dating to the 1930s, NAES is the only pre-collegiate educational association that is both national in scope and Episcopal in character. Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014- 2015, NAES advances Episcopal education and strengthens Episcopal schools through essential services, resources, conferences, and networking opportunities on Episcopal school identity, leadership, and governance, and on the spiritual and professional development of school leaders. For additional information, call (800) 334-7626, ext. 6134, or (212) 716-6134; or email; or visit

Jeffrey Smith joins Christ Church Cranbrook as interim director of music

Episcopal News Service - qua, 16/07/2014 - 13:59

[Christ Church Cranbrook] Christ Church Cranbrook, an Episcopal church, is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Jeffrey Smith as Interim Director of Music. Dr. Smith comes to Christ Church Cranbrook (CCC) with an impressive international reputation among church musicians and is recognized as one of the leading Anglican musicians in the world.

Since 2009, Jeffrey Smith has served on the organ and church music faculty of Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Based in London, he has served as organist to its oldest parish church, St Bartholomew-the-Great. He was previously Canon Director of Music at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, where he conducted its Choir of Men and Boys in an extensive liturgical program, devised tours and recordings, and directed a weekly concert series. Smith was Music Director at Saint Paul’s Parish, K Street, in Washington D.C. from 1992 to 2004.

Before his time in Washington, D.C., Jeffrey Smith was the organist-choirmaster of Christ Church Cathedral in Lexington, Kentucky.

In addition to his doctoral degree from Yale University, Smith holds degrees and diplomas from Northwestern University, the Royal College of Music, and Royal College of Organists. He won highest honors in receiving the Fellowship of the American Guild of Organists and was awarded the Fellowship of the Royal School of Church Music in 2004. The Archbishop of Canterbury presented him with an Honorary Fellowship of the Guild of Church Musicians in 2011.

Jeffrey studied under such notable musicians as Thomas Murray, Gerre Hancock, Wolfgang Rübsam, John Birch, David Willcocks, and Philippe Lefebvre, organist of Notre Dame de Paris.

As a commentator on church music, Dr. Smith has been heard on both NPR and BBC Radio. His choral and organ disks on the Pro Organo label have been critically praised. He is also active as a guest choral conductor, workshop leader, and recitalist.

Dr. Smith will plan and oversee all music ministries of the parish during the active recruitment of a permanent director. He will work with other parish musicians in recruiting, maintaining, and conducting the adult choir, give oversight to C3, the Cranbrook Ringers, children’s choirs, and other ensembles at scheduled worship services and other performances. He will also be working with members of the parish to establish a program of chorister training and liturgical singing, along the lines of Royal School of Church Music model and/or school-affiliated models.

Dr. Smith grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and currently lives with his family in London, U.K., where his wife works as a journalist and his son is a chorister at Westminster Abbey. His ministry at Christ Church Cranbrook will begin on August 1 and continue until June 30, 2015.

Smith replaces John Repulski, a well-known musician throughout the region. Repulski has accepted an exciting opportunity in a joint position as Director of Music/Music Missioner at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland.

Marites (Tess) N. Sison named as editor of Canada’s Anglican Journal

Episcopal News Service - qua, 16/07/2014 - 08:05

Marites (Tess) Sison, senior staff writer, has been appointed editor of the Anglican Journal. She brings almost three decades of professional journalism to her new role. Photo: Saskia Rowley

[Anglican Journal] Marites (Tess) N. Sison has been appointed editor of the 139-year-old Anglican Journal. She moves to the editorship from her longstanding position as senior writer, taking the helm from Archdeacon Paul Feheley, who has served as interim managing editor since January 2013.

A graduate in mass communications at the University of the Philippines in Manila, Sison brings almost three decades of professional journalism to her new role. Her work includes contributions to The New York Times, the Toronto Star and CBC Radio. Since joining the editorial staff of the Anglican Journal in 2003, she has received 28 awards for writing and photography. As skilled in digital communications as she is in the printed word, Sison has also played a pivotal part in developing and managing the newspaper’s online strategies and social media platforms.

“Tess has a long and very positive history with the Journal, but that’s only a small part of what made her stand out. She also has a strong vision for the future of the paper, website and social media,” said the Ven. Dr. Michael Thompson, general secretary and interim director of communications of the Anglican Church of Canada. “And she sees the Journal as a ministry that serves the church and strengthens our sense of mission.”

In her 11 years on staff, Sison, 49, has reported news and crafted features on a wide array of topics in religion, human rights, humanitarian crises and social justice—from the tiniest local congregations to the farthest-flung reaches of the Anglican Communion. But she is perhaps best known recently for her insightful, painstaking and drill-down coverage of Canadian aboriginal issues, including the Indian residential schools tragedy and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“Tess’s coverage has always been sensitive, probing and fair—especially on indigenous issues,” said Bishop Mark MacDonald, the church’s national indigenous bishop. “She has not only depicted the concerns of Indigenous peoples accurately, but she has also helped the whole church to see realities that have often been hidden in plain sight. It will be good to have her skill and art helping us see the world.”

The editors of the diocesan newspapers also expressed their approval. “This is a great step forward for the Journal and for the church to have acknowledged Tess’s talents and dedication lo these many years,” said Tim Christison, editor of The Sower in the diocese of Calgary. “Her professionalism and life experience will serve us all well as the Journal and church journalism continue to evolve. We are blessed that she is willing to take on the challenges while maintaining her high standards.”

Poised to step into her new role, Sison shared her editorial hopes for the future. “As the church goes through an epochal shift, I would like the Journal to review its mission and vision to see whether it responds to today’s needs and challenges,” she said. “As editor, I would like to see the Journal go beyond reporting on church governance issues and events and also tackle issues and questions about faith, ethics, religion, spirituality, social issues and, yes, everyday living.”

Sison also plans to strengthen the newspaper’s relationship with Church House, bishops and dioceses, diocesan newspaper editors and Anglicans across Canada. “I would like the Journal to be out there on the ground and on the road, gathering stories that offer encouragement and hope, provoke deep thought and inspire positive change and capture the challenges as well as the courage, dynamism and goodness of those who have dedicated their lives to God’s plan.”

Yet she remains aware of the need for journalistic integrity and objectivity, vowing to uphold the paper’s editorial independence and continue its role of informing and challenging readers.

Sison is also mindful of the editor’s crucial role in developing new writers. “I would like to help train the next generation of religious journalists through a mentorship program for young Anglicans and Lutherans,” she said. “I would also like to add more value to our website, and we will embark on more multimedia projects in the coming months.

El Salvador: Violence, insecurity, impunity lead to displacement

Episcopal News Service - ter, 15/07/2014 - 18:19

[Episcopal News Service – San Salvador, El Salvador] Irene’s 13-year-old daughter disappeared leaving school on Feb. 15, 2012, in a gang-controlled municipality just northwest of San Salvador. The teen’s body was found two days later; Irene learned about it from a local television station.

“I’m very afraid for my other children, that something will happen to them because of the violence,” said Irene, during an interview with ENS at the Institute for Human Rights based at the University of Central America in San Salvador.

She has two sons aged 10 and 13; one disappeared briefly and won’t talk about it.

Although Irene, not her real name, would like to see her daughter’s killers prosecuted, the state’s ongoing investigation, which involves the abduction and similar murder of four other girls, means she and her family live in constant fear of retaliation. Regardless of whether Irene pursues the investigation, explained human rights lawyer Karla Salas, the gang members associated with the killers threaten and harass her and her family. They have no protection.

“When the state is negligent in handling these cases, the people come here,” said Salas.

Two of Central America’s most violent gangs, the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18, each control and battle for territory in El Salvador, mostly in poor marginalized communities where violence, murder, rape, extortion and threats permeate residents’ everyday life, including children. It’s this reality that has in part led to the humanitarian crisis currently unfolding along the U.S.-Mexico border, where more than 44,000 unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, the two other Northern Triangle countries with gang problems, have been detained crossing the border.

“The issue of unaccompanied minors is just one element of a broader immigration problem. It’s not new; it’s something that has been building over two or three years, but it’s caught fire in the media now,” said Noah Bullock, executive director of Foundation Cristosal, a human rights-based community development organization rooted in the Anglican and Episcopal churches operating in El Salvador.

“When we look at immigration in the United States we tend to look at one big block, and we understand it as people looking for jobs and a better life. But we don’t look at the people who are fleeing very serious conflicts and threats of violence, and those cases bring up protection issues,” he said.

In Colombia, decades of civil war and associated organized crime have internally displaced five million people and close to 400,000 have met refugee criteria. Gang violence and organized crime has led to the internal and external displacement of Central Americans, though in the absence of declared war and the criminal nature of the fighting, the phenomenon hasn’t formally been addressed from the perspective of human rights violations and international protection; typical asylum procedures are difficult to apply.

Unlike Colombia, where internal and external displacement have been well-documented by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other nongovernment agencies, displacement is less studied in Central America.

“It’s a less visible, less documented phenomenon in El Salvador and there isn’t really a national strategy to deal with it,” said Bullock.

In fact, the UNHCR country profiles for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras combined do not list one person as being internally displaced.

Foundation Cristosal first became aware of the stories of people displaced by violence when it, along with the Anglican-Episcopal Church of El Salvador, supervised the local UNHCR refugee resettlement program.

“Last year we got more than 150 people who were Salvadorans seeking asylum outside the country, so what we see in the kids is should be seen as part of a historic pattern of displacement that has been happening for a long time,” said Bullock, in an interview with ENS in his San Salvador office.

Both internal and external displacement, Bullock added, have common causes: lack of well-being in Salvadoran communities, generalized violence and the state’s inability to safeguard people’s lives and impose rule of law by prosecuting criminal organizations.

“All those things, the inability to protect witnesses, the inability to keep safe schools and areas where children do recreation … those are areas that have been recruitment grounds for gangs and where threats are primarily made,” said Bullock. “They’re a common cause for internal and external displacement.”

UNHCR, in its 2014 report of projected global resettlement needs, estimated there would be 691,000 refugees, not factoring for the outflow of Syrian refugees. In 2012, there were 86,000 spaces available.

On World Refugee Day in June it was reported that the number of refugees worldwide has surpassed 50 million for the first time since World War II.

2014 marks the 30th anniversary of the Cartagena Declaration, which amended the 1951 and 1967 definition of what it means to be a refugee to include “persons who have fled their country because their lives, safety or freedom have been threatened by generalized violence, foreign aggression, internal conflicts, massive violation of human rights or other circumstances which have seriously disturbed public order.”

The countries of Central America and Mexico adopted the protocol, which was not recognized by the United States, at a time when both Guatemala and El Salvador were fighting civil wars and when Contra rebels were fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

“In Central America there were from the end of the 1960s into the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, three pretty solid decades of war. And then the wars ended and there was not a very good resolution to some of those structural causes; then you get two decades of a social conflict that doesn’t have a name like a traditional armed conflict but produces death on the same scale,” said Bullock. “So essentially you have 50 years of low-intensity warfare going on in Central America and we really shouldn’t be surprised that we have a refugee crisis in the United States.”

“Never did we dare to use the word ‘refugee’; before they were immigrants, they were illegals … and now because they are kids we are more open to seeing the Central Americans who arrive at our borders as something else,” said Bullock. “Three weeks of a humanitarian and refugee crisis, five decades of conflict.”

In a July 10 statement addressing the crisis on the border, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori urged Episcopalians to contact their legislators and ask them to support an “appropriate humanitarian response to the crisis.”

Meanwhile, Foundation Cristosal is working with human rights and civil society organizations, including the University of Central America’s Institute for Human Rights, to develop a more comprehensive analysis of internal and external displacement and a proposal to address both phenomena, said Bullock.

“What we are trying to do now with our program is respond to those needs, but there are no perfect answers because the causes are so structural and deep,” he said. “You have to be able to try and help someone in an immediate humanitarian crisis, but also try to work to resolve some of the structural issues that are creating the humanitarian crisis,” he said.

In the July 13 edition of La Prensa, one of El Salvador’s top two daily newspapers, the front-page headlines went from the World Cup to the 375,000 immigration cases backlogged in U.S. courts to the homicide of two teenagers. Inside, there was a story about a teenage girl raped by her uncle on her journey north, a story meant to dissuade similar journeys. Earlier in the week, there were stories focused on trying to dissuade families from sending their children north.

“This is one thing the White House points out,” said Bullock. “The human traffickers and the information they’re giving the families seems to motivate them to send their kids; they think they’re better of taking the risk based on the information the coyote gives them…  we want people to have another resource to get information that is a little more objective than what would be given to them by a human trafficker.”

Foundation Cristosal’s lawyers, he said, however, don’t participate in making a life-and-death decisions with people; that’s something that ultimately up to a family member. What the lawyers do is try to give the families good information so that they can make informed decisions.

“The White House is spending a million dollars in publicity to dissuade families from sending their children,” Bullock said. “But that’s just another form of propaganda; the thing people respond to is real objective advising from organizations like Cristosal.”

The University of Central America started the Institute for Human Rights in 1986 in response to the overwhelming number of human rights violations committed during El Salvador’s 12-year civil war during which 75,000 people were killed. At the time the institute adopted immigration as a focus because of the large number of people fleeing the country to escape the armed conflict, said Salas, the human rights lawyer representing Irene, in an interview in her office at the university.

Irene wakes up at 3 a.m. every morning and heads to her food stall in an informal market. By 2 p.m., she is back at home where she stays in doors. Her sons go to and from school, and nothing more. The family, including Irene’s mother, lives on $6 a day, she said.

UNHCR doesn’t operate an in-country office for asylum-seekers; Irene and her family must petition for asylum outside El Salvador. Salas said she and others are working with a Roman Catholic agency in Europe – the University of Central America is a Roman Catholic university – that has agreed to help the family with its petition, but they need to cover the transportation costs themselves.

In the meantime, the family lives in fear and continues to receive threats from gang members mockingly wanting to know how the investigation is going. Even if the state offered witness- or whistle-blower protection, it couldn’t keep her safe, said Salas.

“She’d be placed with the people who killed her daughter,” she said.

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

Gaza’s Al Ahli Hospital appeals for urgent help

Episcopal News Service - ter, 15/07/2014 - 12:07

[Episcopal News Service] Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City is appealing for urgent aid as it struggles to provide critical healthcare services to anyone in need following more than a week of Israeli airstrikes targeting Hamas militants.

One of more than 35 institutions run by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, the hospital is striving to meet the increased demands on its already-overburdened staff, who have tended to the wounded despite being surrounded by conflict, the challenges of diminishing medical supplies, and their own fatigue.

“Like many hospitals in Gaza, Al Ahli Hospital is receiving patients who have been wounded, with staff working around the clock to provide them with critical medical care,” wrote Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani in an e-mail to church partners. “At the same time, Al Ahli is experiencing shortages in medicine, fuel, and food for both patients and those in the community who need help.”

During the past week, the Israeli military has carried out hundreds of airstrikes on Gaza, which includes 1.7 million residents and is one of the world’s most densely populated regions, in an effort to stamp out terrorist attacks against its citizens. Meanwhile, Hamas continues to fire rockets indiscriminately into Israel, with some having reached as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, even as Egypt attempted to broker a peace deal early on July 15.

“In the last two days, the impact of the airstrikes has caused structural damages to the hospital, including its ventilation system in the operating theater and the emergency room. In addition, windows have been broken in many buildings, as well as in the new diagnostic center,” Dawani wrote in a statement.

The latest statistics from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, published on July 14, report that more than 1,140 Palestinians have been wounded and 168 killed, including 133 civilians, and 36 children; more than 940 residential houses have been fully destroyed, leaving 5,600 people displaced; and 25,000 children have been traumatized and in need of psychosocial support.

“As the Israeli authorities have called up 40,000 reserve troops, there are fears the conflict will escalate and many more Palestinians will be killed, wounded, or displaced,” Dawani said.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who visited Gaza in 2008 and again in 2013, told ENS that “God weeps at this war between his children. We weep as we watch the destruction, and we should be storming heaven with prayers for peace.”

She noted that the Al Ahli hospital “cares for all people in Gaza, both Muslim and Christian, with selfless dedication … Please help the Diocese of Jerusalem respond to the suffering in this latest violent chapter in the Land of the Holy One.”

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani listen to a Muslim woman talk about the importance of Al Ahli Arab Hospital on Jan. 2, 2013. ENS Photo/Lynette Wilson

The Episcopal Church’s policy, as agreed by the 2012 General Convention, affirms positive investment “as a necessary means to create a sound economy and a sustainable infrastructure” in the Palestinian Territories and calls on the church to support “the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian study on peace with justice in the Middle East.”

Alexander Baumgarten, director of justice and advocacy ministries for The Episcopal Church, told ENS: “It is imperative for Israeli and Palestinian leaders to return to the table, with the strong support of international leaders like President Obama, to negotiate a just, durable, and permanent two-state peace agreement. Until a secure and universally recognized Israel exists alongside a sovereign and viable state for the Palestinian people, the tragedy of the present moment threatens to become an increasingly encompassing reality for two people who have suffered the strife of conflict far too long.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in a recent statement that he is “deeply saddened and distressed by the eruption and escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip and across Israel” and urged “all sides to show restraint and pursue dialogue to end all conflict in the region.”

“As we continue urgently to hold the people of the region in our prayers, we must pray also for all people of goodwill to come together to protect the innocent and promote peace in the land.”

The violence erupted following the recent abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers, and the subsequent abduction and murder of a Palestinian youth in retaliation.

“These senseless crimes are wicked and must be condemned by decent people everywhere,” said Welby. “But the conflict that has arisen in the aftermath of these tragic events is the wrong way to proceed. As each day passes we see more innocent lives, including those of children, lost in the terrible cycle of revenge – no good can possibly come of this. It makes the search for a lasting peace that much harder and more elusive. We must all join hands to appeal to all sides to show restraint and to seek the way of dialogue to end all conflict in the region.”

Dawani joined the patriarchs and heads of churches in Jerusalem last week in condemning the “kidnapping and murder of young people and the violence which took place following these horrific incidents. We convey our deepest sympathy and sincere condolences to their families, friends and communities.

“We call upon both sides for an immediate ceasefire and the urgent resumption of peace talks.”

For further information about the Diocese of Jerusalem’s appeal is available here.

To support the Diocese of Jerusalem’s relief efforts in Gaza:

Episcopal Relief & Development’s Middle East Fund at or call 855-312-HEAL (4325).

American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem,

– Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

Nota do Primaz sobre Sagração de Mulheres na Igreja da Inglaterra

SNIEAB Feeds - seg, 14/07/2014 - 17:08

Acolhemos com alegria a decisão do Sínodo da Igreja da Inglaterra em aprovar a sagração de mulheres ao episcopado.

Que esta decisão fortaleça ainda mais a missão da Igreja e que os dons oferecidos pelas mulheres revelem cada vez mais a face maternal da Igreja.

Que esta maturidade e inclusividade transforme a nossa maneira de dialogar com o mundo e garantir a igualdade de todas as pessoas na vida de fé e serviço ao mundo.

++ Francisco de Assis da Silva

Bispo Primaz da IEAB

Scenes from Episcopal Youth Event 2014

Episcopal News Service - seg, 14/07/2014 - 15:21

[Episcopal News Service – Villanova, Pennsylvania] The Episcopal Youth Event 2014 here July 9-12 at Villanova University was a visual feast. Here are some examples.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori poses July 12 with Haven Waldrip and Dayton Hobson from the Diocese of Oklahoma for one of the many selfies Episcopal Youth Event 2014 participants captured with her during the July 9-12 gathering. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Acolyte Lillian Hardaway, a member of the Episcopal Youth Event 2014 planning team from the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, fills a bowl with holy water for Diocese of Central Pennsylvania Bishop Sean Rowe as she had just done for Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton (to Rowe’s right), Pennsylvania Bishop Clifton Daniel and North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, gathers with five Episcopal Youth Event 2014 participants who were members of the Official Youth Presence at the last meeting of General Convention in 2012. All five will be deputies from their dioceses when convention meets again June 25-July 3, 2015 in Salt Lake City. They are, left to right, Thomas Alexander of Arkansas, Pat Melendez of California, Will Burton-Edwards of Indianapolis, Ariana Gonzales-Bonillas of Arizona and David Kilp of Central Pennsylvania. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

One of the many prayers that filled a nine-panel prayer wall that greeted Episcopal Youth Event 2014 participants when they entered the Pavilion at Villanova University for worship and plenary sessions. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Three Episcopal Youth Event 2014 participants kick along to the prelude for EYE14’s closing Eucharist July 12 inside the Pavilion at Villanova University. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Director Walt Blocker asks for more from the St. Thomas Gospel Choir of Philadelphia during Evening Prayer July 11 that was part of the Episcopal Youth Event 2014 at Villanova University. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The HighLite Vibes of the Diocese of Long Island praise God in song during Evening Prayer July 11 that was part of the Episcopal Youth Event 2014 at Villanova University. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

EYE14 participants from St. John’s in Lodi, California, in the Diocese of San Joaquin added their prayers to a nine-panel prayer wall that greeted Episcopal Youth Event 2014 participants when they entered the Pavilion at Villanova University for worship and plenary sessions. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Diocese of Indianapolis Bishop Cate Waynick blesses an Episcopal Youth Event 2014 participant during the EYE14 opening Eucharist July 10. During the distribution of communion Waynick got clipped on her stole by another EYE member. Rather than give away diocesan pins, some delegations clipped people with clothes pins on which they had written blessings, prayers and welcome messages. Some groups urged recipients to add the name of their diocese and then clip someone else with the pin. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Sammy Fusco of Stillwater, Minnesota, finishes the detail work on a Common Loon, the state bird of Minnesota, that Johannah Frisby of St. Paul drew on one of the nine panels that formed a prayer wall that greeted Episcopal Youth Event 2014 participants when they entered the Pavilion at Villanova University for worship and plenary sessions. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The Pavilion at Villanova University rocked during Episcopal Youth Event 2014 worship. The backdrop for worship was a quilt created by 13 Nigerian women who are HIV-positive. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America loaned the quilt to EYE14. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

‘Marked for Mission’ EYE14 is sent out to heal the world with love

Episcopal News Service - seg, 14/07/2014 - 13:22

A group of Episcopal Youth Event 2014 participants from Massachusetts take a moment to pray July 11 inside the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas. The group visited the historic church during the day’s pilgrimage around the Philadelphia area to visit historic sites and places of Episcopal Church mission work. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Villanova, Pennsylvania] After four days of worship, workshops, prayer, long walks across the Villanova University campus, late-night conversations and contemplation of Scripture and the Five Marks of Mission, EYE14 all came down to the call to go out into the world and love it.

“Whenever God is about to change the world, God tells somebody to ‘Go’” and that is what is happening now, Diocese of North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry said during this sermon at the Episcopal Youth Event 14 closing Eucharist July 12.

God, Curry said, is the “very essence” and source of love, and “our mission is to love this world and ourselves into the very dream of God and when you do that, you’ll have the strength you need to bear any hardship and carry any cross because you’ll find power.”

This love is not the sentimental type, Curry said during his sermon.

“When the way is getting tough, when it’s getting hard and difficult, that’s when Jesus starts to talk about love,” he said, noting that it was in Holy Week “when Jesus knows he’s likely to sacrifice his life” that Jesus talked constantly about love.

“‘Love’ as Judas is about to betray him. ‘Love’ as Simon Peter would soon deny him. ‘Love’ as he would be arrested in the garden. ‘Love’ as he would be tried on unjust charges. ‘Love’ as he would be mocked and scourged and tortured. ‘Love’ as they would nail him to a tree. ‘Love’ as he would breathe his last. ‘Love’ as he would die and ‘Love’ as God raised him from the dead. ‘Love!’”

Curry’s sermon had congregation members on their feet as often as they were in their seats as he roamed the dais and, at one point, crouched on the floor to show what his family’s ugly and bumbling cat looked like when she “was able to do what the Lord  put a cat on this earth to do” and hunt mice with a vengeance. In nearly 30 minutes he invoked St. Augustine, Jimi Hendrix and Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey, as well as Muffin the Ugly Cat.

Video of the entire closing Eucharist is here.

Earlier in the day EYE14 heard a story of that sort of love enacted outside the walls of church from the Rev. Becca Stevens, founder of Magdalene and Thistle Farms, residential and social enterprises run by women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets.

Her stories, which ranged from Tennessee to Rwanda to a women’s prison in Texas, brought some to tears and held others spellbound. She told her listeners that all of the women “never doubted the idea that love heals.”

Stevens, the Episcopal chaplain to Vanderbilt University, warned EYE14 that the work of Thistle Farms and Magdalene and all other efforts like them for which the Episcopal Church is known have to be movements based in community and not individual efforts. Showing them a painting of the Last Supper, she said, “If we’re not a movement … the church becomes a still life.”

“And it’s beautiful to look at but we’re not going to sit there forever and we are going to move on,” she said, adding that when she looks at that painting she imagines the apostles pushing back from the table and going back out into the world. “If they had stayed there – as beautiful as it was, as meaningful as it was, as important as it was to the life of the world – if they had not turned around and gone back out, we would never know that story.”

Episcopal Youth Event 2014 participants, some wearing very popular glow sticks given away by the United Thanks Offering, watch a video July 12 about the mission and ministry of the Community of Magdalene and Thistle Farms, a residential and social enterprise run by women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction, and life on the streets; and led by the Rev. Becca Stevens. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Stevens told EYE14 that “we are called to love the world,” she said.

“There is nothing in Scripture that says we have to change it. There is nothing in Scripture that says the world has to love us,” she said. “The calling is that you and I go back out and love [the world] over and over and over again until we get it right. We love it in such a way that we’re willing to change. We love it in such a way that we’re willing not to judge it. We’re loving it in a way where we’re not willing to leave anyone behind.”

Video of Stevens’ presentation is here.

The Episcopal Youth Event 2014 included 786 youth in grades 9-12 during the 2013-2014 academic year and 263 adult leaders who spent July 9-12 here on the campus of Villanova University near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. EYE14’s theme was “Marked for Mission” and the gathering was built around helping participants discern how the Holy Spirit has marked them for mission and how they might engage in the work of the Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission, as a way to enact the call to love that they were hearing.

During the opening plenary session July 10 Bronwyn Clark Skov, Episcopal Church Youth Ministries Officer, gave what was for many participants an introduction to the Five Marks of Mission. She suggested they spend their time together at EYE14 exploring the connection between Scripture, responding to God’s call and “discerning our personal paths to ministry within the greater context of the community.” Her presentation begins at the 32:00 mark here.

The 14 youth members of the EYE14 planning team (listed here) gave her a shorthand way to remember the intent of each marks, Clark Skov said. The method, easily counted off on the fingers of one had, is Tell, Teach, Tend, Transform, Treasure. A video the youth made connecting a favorite Scripture passage to each mark is here.

On July 11, EYE14 participants went on a “Philadelphia Pilgrimage.” They boarded 20 buses and fanned out to 16 sites all over the Philadelphia area to learn about the current ministry of the Episcopal Church in city and get a glimpse of the history of the Episcopal Church.

The night before, the Rev. Randy Callender, a Philadelphia native, who is the rector of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Annapolis, Maryland, told them that “the city of Philadelphia will help you to understand the Five Marks of Mission” and may transform their understanding of mission.

“One day, the young people here at EYE will make a difference in someone’s life,” he predicted, adding that they will end “racism and sexism and classism and all other -isms and people will no longer use those -isms as tools to keep others out of the church.”

Video of Callender’s presentation is here.

Before the pilgrims left early on July 11, Diocese of Pennsylvania Bishop Clifton Daniel III told them that it was a “joy” to host EYE14. He recalled attending an event for Episcopal Church youth in 1964, an event which “formed me and shaped me in ways that I could not imagine” at the time. The same is true for the youth who have come to Philadelphia, said Daniel, who added he could see the future ordained and lay leadership of the Episcopal Church sitting before him.

“I am proud to be here with you, and I thank God for you,” Daniel said.

Every one of the 20 pilgrimage buses visited Independence National Historic Park and Christ Church, Philadelphia, where those who became known as Episcopalians gathered for the first time in General Convention at Christ Church in Philadelphia in 1785.

The other pilgrimage sites were:
St. James School
St. Mark’s Church, Locust Street
The Free Church of St. John, Kensington
The Church of St. Martin-in-the-Field, Chestnut Hill
Church of St. Thomas, Whitemarsh
Episcopal Community Services
St. Peter’s Church, Third and Pine
St. Paul’s Church, Chester
St. Mary’s Church, Chester
St. Luke’s Church, Germantown
The Church of the Advocate
Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany
The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas
The Cathedral Church of Our Savior, Philadelphia Cathedral

Along the way, the EYE14 pilgrims were welcomed and, at times, challenged. For some who went the Episcopal Community Services’ St. Barnabas Mission the challenge came to their attitudes about the nature of homelessness. Others had their liturgical piety challenged by the experience of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at St. Mark’s Church.

The Diocese of Massachusetts delegation had the eye-opening experience of seeing the diocese’s retired Bishop Suffragan Barbara Harris portrayed in a stained glass window at St. Thomas. “Wow,” said one pilgrim. “I know someone in a stained glass window. I never thought that would happen.”

Three of nearly 800 youth sit on a wall on the terrace of the Philadelphia Museum of Art during a hug picnic July 11 during the Episcopal Youth Event 2014. EYE14’s theme was “Marked for Mission” and their T-shirts and accompanying tote bags were donated by the Diocese of Pennsylvania, co-sponsor of the July 9-12 gathering. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Late in the afternoon the buses dropped the pilgrims off at the bottom of the Rocky Steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art where, after they made the traditional run up the stairs, they encountered a dinner on the terrace featuring classic Philly foods, including cheesesteaks, hoagies, water ice and local sodas. There was a rousing dance party and a chance to play cornhole, a bean bag toss game that is very popular in Pennsylvania.

The day was not over yet. EYE14 returned to Villanova for Evening Prayer with the high-energy music of the St. Thomas Gospel Choir of Philadelphia and the HighLite Vibes of the Diocese of Long Island. Video of the complete service is here.

During her sermon Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori challenged the pilgrims to contemplate and then tell the stories of their experience that day.

“You’ve been out and about in this city today, discovering its diversity, both its need and its blessings. Each one of you has a story to tell about the encounters of this day,” she said. “I hope you have been moved and marked and changed by someone or something you encountered today.”

Jefferts Schori said she hoped EYE14 participants would tell the stories of that pilgrimage because their friends and the entire world need to pay attention to the brokenness of the world and its causes, and they need to hear about the dreams Christians have for the wholeness that is the kingdom of God.

When encountering a person who is hurting or hungry, she said, there is a choice. “Will we engage or will we ignore that person? If we connect, we’ve got to share something of that good news – that all of us are loved beyond imagining, and that we’re willing to show that love in concrete ways.”

And, Christians are called to do more, said Jefferts Schori. “It may start by feeding somebody who’s hungry, but it doesn’t end there. We can feed someone a meal, but if nothing changes, that person is going to be hungry again in a few hours,” she said. “That’s where the longer-term and bigger-picture work of transformation starts – asking why this person is hungry, or why so many people are standing on street corners asking for help.”

Those sorts of questions can be annoying and irritating, she said, but they come from the Holy Spirit “acting more like a mosquito than a dove” that will “pester us and make us restless until there is justice for all.”

“We all need to be bitten, marked with an itch for what the world could be like,” Jefferts Schori said, adding in an echo of the celebration at the museum earlier that evening: “We’re not going to live in peace until everybody can sit down and share God’s great picnic together in peace.”

The text of the presiding bishop’s sermon is here.

Episcopal Youth Event 2014 participants were encouraged to pick their favorite Scripture verse. Many posted their choice on the nine-panel prayer wall that greeted EYE14 inside the Pavilion at Villanova University for worship and plenary sessions. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Following EYE14, more than 300 stayed in Philadelphia to engage 3 Days of Urban Mission. The majority of 3 Days of Urban Mission volunteers will stay at the University of Pennsylvania in inner-city Philadelphia. About 60 additional volunteers will be housed at the Episcopal Mission Center, managed by the Diocese of Pennsylvania. A map of the mission sites is here.

Also at EYE14

  • Offertory collections at the opening and closing Eucharists as well during Evening Prayer on July 11 brought in nearly $7,000 which will be divided among Episcopal Relief & Development, the United Thank Offering and the Church of the Advocate, a Philadelphia Episcopal church with an array of outreach activities.
  • Participants were given the chance to choose the first saint for the 2015 Lent Madness bracket. The Rev. Scott Gunn and the Rev. Tim Schenck, members of the Lent Madness Supreme Executive Committee sent video greetings to EYE14 along with their invitation to choose between St. Francis of Assisi and the Archangel Gabriel. Gunn and Schenck were present on campus to supervise the vote and tally the results. Francis won with 60 percent of the vote, according an announcement made before the closing Eucharist.
  • The event’s Twitter Hashtag #EYE14 was a trending topic during the evening of July 10, according to organizers.

EYE 14 was present on these social media outlets:

EYE14 social media hub
Archived video
EYE14 Facebook

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

Church of England says ‘yes’ to women as bishops

Episcopal News Service - seg, 14/07/2014 - 12:29

Members of the Church of England’s Synod attend the session during which they discussed and voted on the consecration of women bishops, in York, July 14. Photo: REUTERS/Nigel Roddis

[Episcopal News Service] The Church of England made history July 14 when its General Synod, meeting in York, approved legislation to enable women to serve as bishops, possibly by 2015.

The vote ends centuries of tradition and follows more than a decade of often-emotional debate accompanied by various stages of legislative action.

Before the vote, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said to pass the legislation “is to commit ourselves to an adventure in faith and hope. Like all adventures it carries danger [and] uncertainties and for success requires perseverance, integrity and courage.”

Welby said the legislation “allows us to move forward together, all of us as faithful Anglicans and all of us committed to each other flourishing in the life of the church … Today we can start on a challenging and adventurous journey to embrace a radical new way to be the church … Jesus invites us to radical belonging to one another so that all the world will know that we are his disciples.”

One synod member read out a message from Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town Desmond Tutu. “I’m thrilled to hope that our mother church, the Church of England, will do the right thing today … to allow women to become bishops as we have in Swaziland and in Cape Town,” said Tutu. “Wow, you are in for a great surprise and treat should you do this. Your church will be enriched no end … Just look at what we have denied ourselves. God be praised. Yippee.”

On hearing the news, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first female primate in the Anglican Communion, said: “I am overjoyed for the Church of England as it has finally consented to the ordination and consecration of women as bishops. I believe that the inclusion of women in this order will bring new gifts and possibilities for its partnership in God’s mission in England. This represents one more step in the long transformation of church and society toward the Reign of God.”

The legislation, called a measure, affirms the church’s commitment to “enabling women, as well as men, to be consecrated to the office of bishop if they otherwise satisfy the requirements of Canon Law as to the persons who may be consecrated as bishops.”

The vote comes almost 20 months after the synod narrowly rejected similar, but more complex, legislation to accept women as bishops. While passed by the bishops and clergy, that November 2012 vote failed in the House of Laity by six votes. Various groups, including a steering committee and the House of Bishops, have since worked towards advancing as efficiently as possible a legislative package that could be supported by the required two-thirds majority in all three houses of laity, clergy and bishops.

The General Synod gave its assent to the new legislation when it last met in February. Since then, through an abbreviated process, a majority of the church’s 44 dioceses have given their assent to the legislation, a step required whenever synod is proposing a change to church and U.K. law.

The legislation passed on July 14 with 37 votes for, 2 against and 1 abstention in the House of Bishops; 162 votes for, 25 against and 4 abstentions in the House of Clergy; and 152 votes for, 45 against and 5 abstentions in the House of Laity.

The measure now requires approval by the U.K. Parliament and royal assent, because the legislation effectively changes English law. (The Church of England is an officially established Christian church with Queen Elizabeth II as its supreme governor.) Following the failure of the previous legislation, during parliamentary debate some U.K. politicians bemoaned the church’s decision and its drawn-out journey towards acceptance of women bishops. It is expected that the U.K. Parliament will take up the matter before the end of 2014, which would mean the first female bishop could be appointed in 2015.

Meanwhile, an Amending Canon, which was passed by synod without debate, will change the gender-specific language in the church’s legal and formal documents.

Some of synod’s former opponents of the legislation signaled their willingness to commit to the new legislative package, in part due to a declaration from the House of Bishops outlining procedures for handling grievances, mediation and resolving disputes arising from those who are unable to accept the new legislation or the ministry of women bishops.

The declaration lists five guiding principles acknowledging that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter; accepting that there will be those who disagree with the decision; and committing to maintaining the highest degree of communion through “pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority.”

Back in February, Bishop James Langstaff of Rochester, who chaired the steering committee that produced the new legislative package, raised up the five principles as the linchpin of the declaration. “If we stick with those then we will find that we will behave with each other as we should,” he said.

Before the July 11 debate, Langstaff said, “There are many eyes and ears that are attentive to what we do … The wider church, both Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners, also look on. While we may properly be aware of those others we are here today to do what we believe through God is right.”

Langstaff said he believes that this is the moment to vote yes but that he fully recognizes and respects that there will be those who in good conscience cannot vote in favor. “The Church of England has spoken very clearly through the voting of our diocesan synods … We have a responsibility to be guided by what we assess to be the settled view” of the overwhelming majority in the church.”

Theologian and scholar Paula Gooder, a lay synod member from the Diocese of Birmingham and also a member of the women bishop’s steering committee, urged synod to vote in favor of the legislation, but warned that changing law can only do so much. “Trust and flourishing are down to us…and that can only happen through how we live our own lives,” she said. “Take upon yourselves that great challenge…to live out the life of reconciliation in all that we say and do.”

Tom Sutcliffe of the Diocese of Southwark voted against the legislation in 2012 because he felt it would have divided the church. He told synod on July 14 that he would be voting in favor of the measure today because he believes it makes adequate provisions for those who cannot accept women as bishops. “We must act on our conviction that the church needs the gifts of women bishops,” he said, adding that he is “immensely optimistic” about the future.

Bishop John Goddard of Burnley said he would be voting against the legislation, but acknowledged that if the measure passes he would commit to working with those who disagree with him. “I respect your ‘yes’ just as I hope you respect my ‘no’,” he said. “So we live in disagreement and we look forward … to working in a way in which we participate in the Lordship of Christ, in his grace together and above all in engaging in mission together. By engaging in mission together we will be transformed.”

Jane Patterson, a lay member from the Diocese of Sheffield, also said she’d be voting against the measure. However, she noted that the guiding principles give some grounds for hope and “I commit to serving [God] in his church whatever the result today.”

Prudence Dailey of the Diocese of Oxford, who in November 2012 voted against the measure, told synod that today she would be abstaining because, although “we’ve arrived at a much better point” with the current legislation, she still struggles with the principle of women being bishops.

The news comes as the U.S.-based Episcopal Church prepares to celebrate 40 years since the first women were ordained as priests, albeit irregularly, on July 29, 1974.

The Episcopal Church passed legislation to enable women to become priests and bishops in 1976, although it would be another 13 years before the Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris was consecrated as suffragan bishop of Massachusetts, becoming the Anglican Communion’s first female bishop.

History of women’s ordained ministry in the Church of England
The Church of England opened the priesthood to women in November 1992, five years after women first were ordained to the diaconate. More than 5,000 women have been ordained as priests in England since 1994 and today they represent nearly 40 percent of all clergy.

In July 2005, 13 years after agreeing to ordain female priests, the General Synod began its steady course toward allowing them to become bishops when it passed a motion to remove the legal obstacles to ordaining women as bishops.

In July 2006, the synod called for the practical and legislative arrangements of admitting women to the episcopate to be explored. It also called for the formation of a legislative drafting group to prepare a draft measure and amending canon necessary to remove the legal obstacles.

At its July 2008 group of sessions, synod agreed that it was the “wish of its majority … for women to be admitted to the episcopate” and affirmed that “special arrangements be available, within the existing structures of the Church of England, for those who as a matter of theological conviction will not be able to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests.”

General Synod voted in February 2009 to send a draft measure on women becoming bishops to a revision committee so it could rework the legislation.

The revision committee met 16 times beginning in May 2009 and considered 114 submissions from synod members and a further 183 submissions from others. In May 2010, the committee published a 142-page report, which offered a detailed analysis of the draft legislation in time for the July 2010 synod debate and vote.

The July 2010 synod backed legislation that paved the way for women to become bishops and referred the measure to diocesan synods for their consideration. A majority of diocesan synods needed to approve the measure for it to return to General Synod.

From July 2010 to February 2012, 42 of the 44 diocesan synods throughout England approved the legislation supporting female bishops.

The February 2012 General Synod rejected a bid to provide greater concessions for those opposed to female bishops. Those concessions essentially were an amendment to the legislation that would have enabled two bishops to exercise episcopal functions within the same jurisdiction by way of “co-ordinating” their ministries.

The Anglican Communion’s path to women’s ordination
The long path towards accepting women’s ordained ministry in the Anglican Communion began in 1920 when the Lambeth Conference called (via Resolutions 47-52) for the diaconate of women to be restored “formally and canonically,” adding that it should be recognized throughout the communion.

The first female priest in the communion, the Rev. Li Tim-Oi, was ordained in Hong Kong in 1944. Due to outside pressure, she resigned her license, but not her holy orders, following World War II. In 1971, the Rev. Jane Hwang and the Rev. Joyce Bennett were ordained priests in the Diocese of Hong Kong, though their ministries were not recognized in many parts of the Anglican Communion.

In 1974, there was the “irregular” ordination of 11 women in the U.S.-based Episcopal Church, which officially authorized women’s priestly ordination two years later.

Bishop Barbara Harris, now retired, was elected bishop suffragan of Massachusetts in 1988 and became the Anglican Communion’s first female bishop after her consecration and ordination in 1989.

The Rt. Rev. Penelope Jamieson made history in 1989 when she was elected bishop of the Diocese of Dunedin, New Zealand, and became the first woman to serve as a diocesan bishop in the Anglican Communion.

The Rt. Rev. Mary Adelia McLeod, who was ordained a priest in 1980, was ordained and consecrated in 1993 as bishop of the Diocese of Vermont, becoming the first female diocesan bishop in the U.S.-based Episcopal Church. She retired in 2001.

The Rt. Rev. Canon Nerva Cot Aguilera became the first female Anglican bishop in Latin America when she was consecrated bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Church of Cuba in June 2007.

The Rev. Ellinah Ntombi Wamukoya on Nov. 17, 2012 was ordained as bishop of Swaziland and became the first female bishop in any of the 12 Anglican provinces in Africa.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, previously bishop of Nevada, became the Anglican Communion’s first female primate in November 2006 when she was invested as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

– Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

Video: Chloe Kolbet’s favorite part of Scripture

Episcopal News Service - dom, 13/07/2014 - 00:05

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.]

[Episcopal News Service – Villanova, Pennsylvania] Episcopal Youth Event 2104 participant Chloe Kolbet from the Diocese of Massachusetts tells why Romans 8:37-39 is her favorite Bible verse.

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

Video: David Kilp’s favorite part of Scripture

Episcopal News Service - sab, 12/07/2014 - 16:57

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.][Episcopal News Service – Villanova, Pennsylvania] Episcopal Youth Event 2104 participant David Kilp from the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania tells why 1 Corinthians 12:24-27 is his favorite Bible verse.

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

Video: Ashley Buffa’s favorite part of Scripture

Episcopal News Service - sab, 12/07/2014 - 16:55

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.][Episcopal News Service – Villanova, Pennsylvania] Episcopal Youth Event 2104 participant Ashley Buffa from the Diocese of East Carolina tells why Matthew 4:19 is her favorite Bible verse.

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

Video: Lindon Phillips-Johnson’s favorite part of Scripture

Episcopal News Service - sab, 12/07/2014 - 16:53

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.][Episcopal News Service – Villanova, Pennsylvania] Episcopal Youth Event 2104 participant Lindon Phillips-Johnson from the Diocese of Massachusetts tells why the story of the resurrection of Jesus is his favorite part of the Bible.

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