[Episcopal News Service – Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic] Two hours. That’s how long it took a medical mission team from upstate New York to set up its clinic at Santo Tomas, an Episcopal Church in Gautier.
The mission, now in its 16th year, runs like clockwork in the former sugarcane community located not far from the popular tourist beach in Boca Chica.
Patients arrive with problems including high blood pressure, respiratory trouble, gastrointestinal difficulties, skin rashes, diabetes. A visit can take between three and four hours, depending on the number of patients awaiting treatment; the team typically sees between 1,000 and 1,500 patients during the five-day clinic.
Upon entering the clinic, a patient visits a registration table, where forms are issued. Intake follows, where weight and blood pressure are measured. Then Rita Bush, a dietician and diabetes educator from Malta, New York, pricks the fingers of those wishing to have their blood sugar tested. Many patients have high blood pressure and diabetes, and many go without medication.
If a person has fasted, normal blood sugar, or glucose, levels range between 70 and 100 milligrams per deciliter. If a person has eaten, you might see 130 milligrams. Anything over 160 indicates diabetes. On the morning on March 3, two patients had blood sugar levels of 500 milligrams, one of them an insulin-dependent child, said Bush.
After these preliminary checks, the patient waits to see a doctor or physician assistant before visiting the pharmacy. The final stop is a prayer station to receive, not only prayers, but also a care package with soap, toothpaste and other practical personal-hygiene items.
“For some of these people, it’s the only time [during the year] they see a doctor,” said Kevin Bolan, a physician assistant from Newcomb, New York. As the week progresses, he added, people arrive at the clinic from further and further away.
The upstate New York team’s journey began around 2:30 a.m. on Feb. 28 when the members boarded a bus bound for John F. Kennedy International Airport at St. Eustace Episcopal Church in Lake Placid. Besides their personal luggage, they brought 40 large plastic bins filled with supplies and medication.
Just as the New York group arrived in the Dominican Republic, another medical mission team from North Carolina was traveling back to Santo Domingo from Jimaní, a border town where it had spent the week operating a clinic out of San Pablo Apostol, another Episcopal Church.
It was the first time Giga Smith, a registered nurse and member of Christ Church in New Bern, North Carolina, joined a medical mission team.
“I’ve always wanted to do this,” she said. “At first it felt very emotional, but then I got into the mindset that I was going to do all I could.”
Jimaní, population 13,000, is one of two main border crossings between the Dominican Republic and its neighbor to the west, Haiti. In four days, the team treated 716 people, ranging in age from 22 months to 90 years. A local Haitian doctor was on hand throughout the clinic and will provide follow-up care for the patients.
“In giving of their time, the teams are showing an example of God’s love to all humanity,” said Karen Carroll, an Episcopal Church-appointed missionary serving the Diocese of the Dominican Republic.
To administer medical care in the Dominican Republic, professionals must provide valid credentials and a list of all medications, including expiration dates, lot numbers and intended uses, to Carroll, who files the appropriate paperwork with the public heath ministry.
In total, 14 U.S.-based medical mission teams will travel to the Dominican Republic in 2014, up from nine teams in 2013, said Carroll.
It’s as much about being a Christian mission and accompanying the Dominican church as it is about providing medical care, say team members.
“First and foremost, we are a Christian mission,” said Connie Reynolds, a licensed practical nurse and a Baptist member of the upstate New York team. “And then a medical mission.”
Still the doctors, nurses, dieticians and physical therapists provide medical care to many poor and impoverished people who otherwise might fall through the cracks of the country’s public-health system.
In 2001, the Dominican Republic approved health-care reforms aimed at providing universal coverage to its citizens. The implementation, however, has been lacking, with rural areas lagging behind urban areas, and fee-based medical care surpassing the care offered through the public system, according to the World Health Organization.
International medical missions are sometimes described as “Band-aides,” with criticisms including foreign practitioners’ disrespect for local health-care providers; missioners’ lack of appropriate cultural practices; teams’ inadequate language skills and interpretation for treating patients in a foreign language; and the high travel costs when funds potentially could be spent in more appropriate ways.
Well aware of the criticism, the teams making annual visits to the Dominican Republic say that saving just one life and seeing the overall improvement in health and hygiene in the community from year to year justifies their worth.
For instance, a young man came to the clinic in Jimaní on the verge of a diabetic crisis, said Dr. Richard Taft, a retired OBGNY from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Greenville, North Carolina. After receiving insulin, the young man quickly recovered. Another man whose eyelids were swollen shut began an immediate recovery when treated with antibiotics, added Taft.
Gautier has one medical clinic staffed by a doctor; the nearest hospital is 15-20 minutes away by car. Jimaní has a rudimentary hospital that was built in 1948 and is staffed by six general practitioners, two OBGYNs and one general surgeon, according to North Carolina team members who toured the facility.
In many ways, said Dr. Allen Van Dyke, an OBGYN from Ashville, North Carolina, “the medical care is relative to the living conditions.”
Witnessing the amount of suffering on the border stirred emotions and thoughts about the U.S.-health care system in team members from North Carolina.
It was hard to reconcile the enormous amount of money spent on medical care in the United States, said Sandy Johnson, a pediatric nurse, with the enormous amount of suffering many people endure.
“I don’t know what you do with the disparity,” said Susan Bickery-Mercer, who’d read “Mountains Beyond Mountains,” Tracy Kidder’s biography of Dr. Paul Farmer and his experience providing medical care to people in Haiti, before making the trip.
One of the most powerful things Bickery-Mercer, youth minister at St. Paul’s in Greenville, witnessed as part of the team was the ease with which the local people share their lives.
When people are clearly suffering and in need, the connection tends to be at the heart level, she said. It was something Taft sensed as well, and added, that for Christians, ritual Sunday worship can sometimes become a blinder to the Spirit.
“To see the rawness of life is a very powerful thing,” said Taft. “Getting out of your comfort zone allows you to step back and reflect. That’s the essence of mission.
“We just happen to do it with medicine.”
Back in Gautier, community residents must travel either to Boca Chica or Santo Domingo to visit a hospital, said Ermita Reyes, a community and church leader, and even though the hospital in Boca Chica is just a short distance away, it can cost a life.
“Their [the team’s] presence is an example of the grace of God in the community,” she said.
The New York team’s medical clinic is the only full medical clinic to visit the community annually, said Connie Reynolds, the LPN, who brings her daughter, Savannah Gordon, along to help out.
It was the fifth time Gordon, a college student, took part in the medical mission.
“After the first year, I came back a different person,” she said. “It’s humbling to see how people live and be part of the community and develop friendships.
“It’s heartbreaking to come back and learn that someone has died.”
Kevin Bolan’s daughter also accompanies him. Laura Bolan recently graduated with a master’s degree in public health and plans to follow her father’s example and become a physician assistant. To her, the need for more frequent clinics and follow-up trips, as well as efforts toward disease mitigation, are obvious.
“It would be great if we could partner with another group and come down every six months,” she said.
The care packages, providing soap and toothpaste, and the clean-water bucket-filtration system that Paul Gutmann provides are important because many of the problems people present with come from drinking parasite-infected water and poor personal hygiene, said Laura Bolan.
Gutmann works with a local contact to distribute the filtration systems. Each unit costs about $33, but Gutmann raises money and contributes his own money to make them affordable. He may not have high success rates now, but he hopes the next generation, one that has grown up knowing the risks of drinking contaminated water, will begin to filter its own water, he said.
With 40 bins of supplies and medication, each weighing between 40 and 50 pounds, the New York medical team brings enough medication to leave behind to be distributed by a nurse working locally. Patients leave the clinic with three months’ worth and can return for follow-up tests and more medication, as needed.
“The challenge is leaving them with enough medication,” said Kevin Bolan, who already had been thinking about organizing a skeleton crew to return and run a clinic over Labor Day weekend. “It’s a work in progress; we have to figure out what works.”
– Lynette Wilson is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Terry Star, a 40 year-old deacon in the Diocese of North Dakota and a member of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council, has died suddenly at Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Wisconsin, where he was studying for ordination to the priesthood.
After Star did not attend chapel the morning of March 4 and failed to show up for classes or meals a member of the Nashotah House community went to check on him and found he had died, according to the Rev. Canon John Floberg, a fellow member of the Diocese of North Dakota and also an Executive Council member, and the Rev. Phillip Cunningham, Nashotah House associate dean of administration.
Floberg told Episcopal News Service that there was no indication Star was ill. “It took everybody by surprise,” he said.
Star, whose council term would have ended after General Convention in 2015, was also a convention deputy. He belonged to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and considered St. James Episcopal Church in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, to be his home church. He served as a deacon for the Standing Rock Episcopal Community.
Star had been a youth minister on the reservation for many years. When Episcopal News Service reached Floberg on March 5, he was en route to the reservation high schools to talk with students who knew Star. Floberg reported that the principal of the high school in Fort Yates, North Dakota, had asked him to come in as a counselor after word was received of Star’s death. Floberg said he also planned to go to the high school in Solen, North Dakota, “because they’re in the same place” about Star’s death.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in a statement that “the Episcopal Church has been much blessed by the ministry of Deacon Terry Star, on Standing Rock, as a member of Executive Council, and through the many relationships he had built throughout the church and beyond.”
“We give thanks for his life and witness, his prophetic voice, and his reconciling heart. All his relatives are grieving, and we pray that his soul may rest in peace and his spirit continue to prod us all in continuing the ministry of healing we have from Jesus.”
The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, House of Deputies president and vice chair of Executive Council, called Star “a dedicated and passionate deputy from the Diocese of North Dakota and member of Executive Council, a fierce advocate for the people of his beloved Standing Rock, and a loyal and faithful Episcopalian.”
“He was also smart, witty, and a good pastor and friend. His death is an enormous loss for his family, the Cannon Ball community, the Episcopal Church, and all of us who served with him,” she added.
Reaction to his death and tributes to his life soon began to appear on Facebook.
“Deacon Terry Star was a holy witness to the lived gospel – I am so sorry to hear the news of his death,” Diocese of Long Island Bishop Larry Provenzano said in reaction to Diocese of North Dakota Assisting Bishop Carol Gallagher’s posting of the news on her Facebook page. “May he rest in the loving arms of Jesus, whom he served so well.”
The Rev. Jennifer Phillips, of St. Francis Episcopal Church in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, said “May he feast with the ancestors!”
Star’s own Facebook page is now filled with messages and tributes.
“Oh my friend, I know you are where your light will continue to shine and we will always feel your support and love,” wrote Janet A. Routzen from Mission, South Dakota. “Praying for your family….”
BobbiBrandon Bear Heels wrote “RIP my sundance brother we shall see each other again…look down on us from time to time from the heavens my brother. will miss seeing you every year at Mato Woapiya sundance.”
Fellow Executive Council member John B. Johnson wrote on Star’s page that he was “deeply saddened to learn this news.”
“Terry was literally a rising star in the Episcopal Church. I will miss him terribly on Executive Council of the Episcopal Church. My heart goes out to all of his friends, classmates and family. May he rest in peace.”
It would appear that Star last posted on his page at 10:35 a.m. on March 3 and he last tweeted on his account at 1:46 a.m. on March 4 when he was listening to Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” on Spotify.
Star was prayed for at the Chapel of Christ the Lord at the Episcopal Church Center in New York on Ash Wednesday morning “for his journey to the spirit world and for comfort to his mother Charlotte Star in her time of grief,” according to Sarah Eagle Heart, missioner for indigenous ministries.
Eagle Heart said a group involved in native youth ministry that was meeting at the church center “will continue this work in his memory.”
Star, a member of council’s Joint Standing Committee on Local Ministry and Mission, was an advocate for people marginalized by society, especially native peoples.
At the most recent council meeting, Star helped lead an effort that resulted in the council joining what has become a nationwide effort that has reached to the White House to convince the National Football League’s Washington Redskins team to change its name.
“I’ve been fighting with this issue since I was in high school 22 years ago,” he said at the time.
Star was born in Seattle, Washington. He lived on 10 Indian reservations, in part because of his father’s career in tribal law enforcement, according to information on Star’s LinkedIn page.
Lillian Ironbull-Martinez, his maternal grandmother, raised him in the Episcopal Church and, according to his LinkedIn biography, he and other members of the Standing Rock Episcopal Community liked to joke that they are “cradle-board Episcopalians.”
When Star was confirmed at Our Father’s House/St. Michael’s Mission in Ethete, Wyoming, his grandmother predicted that someday he would be ordained in the Episcopal Church. Star was ordained into the diaconate in June 2007.
He is survived by his parents Charlotte and Woodrow Star of Pendleton, Oregon; his brothers and sisters and “many relatives and friends,” according to Diocese of North Dakota Bishop Michael Smith.
Funeral service arrangements have not yet been announced, but Floberg said they will take place on the Standing Rock reservation. He said Star’s parents were en route to the reservation on March 5.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal News Service] In its first step toward welcoming the LGBTQ community, the Episcopal Church of Costa Rica March 4 partnered with other religious and human rights organizations to sponsor a forum on faith, the Bible, sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Episcopal Church of Costa Rica joined the Lutheran Church of Costa Rica, the U.S.-based Human Rights Campaign, and two local groups – the Diversity Movement and the Student Federation of the University of Costa Rica – for the event at the University of Costa Rica that included a screening of “Before God, We Are All Family,” a short film produced by HRC, followed by a panel discussion.
Costa Rica Bishop Héctor Monterroso, in an e-mail to ENS regarding the church’s participation in the event, said that openness is part of the identity of the Episcopal Church, and that includes supporting initiatives that respect human rights, efforts toward equality and accompanying people of faith in their struggle.
“In Costa Rica many people are talking about and campaigning in favor of human rights, particularly regarding the LGBT community,” he said. “At the same time, [the] country’s churches also are talking about LGBT rights, some positively and some not so positively.”
Richard Weinberg, who helped to organize the event, is on leave from his job as director of communications at Washington National Cathedral and has spent the last two months as a volunteer missionary serving the Episcopal Church of Costa Rica.
“The help of Richard and his own testimony coincided with an important moment in Costa Rican society and in the Episcopal Church,” said Monterroso, adding that Lent offers an appropriate time for the church to “reflect, listen and learn.”
The church’s participation in the forum marked its first public effort toward the full inclusion of LGBT people.
“The first step is to promote dialogue, learn, listen and declare what we always have said. We want to heal the wounds that many LGBT people have with religion. We should understand that they are God’s creation and God does not err. We must accept them as God created them,” said Monterroso in a press release announcing the event.
The film “Before God, We Are All Family,” details the lives of five Latino religious families who have lived with the pain of the church’s repressive teachings on sexuality and gender identity. Filmed in the United States and Puerto Rico, the film explores the experiences of LGBT people of profound faith who say they have no place in their churches of origin, and their parents and families who at times have felt they’ve had to choose between their religion and their loved ones.
“I believe that this forum, this space for dialogue between the Episcopal Church and the LGBT community, will help us discover how we can work together and how both communities can contribute to the building of the reign of God,” said Monterroso, in the e-mail. “What I would like to see clearly is that the members of the Episcopal Church eliminate all forms of discrimination toward LGBT people and whatever other kind of discrimination.”
As an American serving as a volunteer missionary in Costa Rica, Weinberg has remained conscious of his outsider status, but through cross-cultural exchanges, friendships and social media, he became acquainted with the local activist scene.
And although he didn’t arrive in Costa Rica with an agenda toward advancing LGBT rights, as he and Monterroso became better acquainted the issue surfaced naturally, he said. (Weinberg shared his experience in a first-person piece published by the Huffington Post.)
Washington National Cathedral and the Very Rev. Gary Hall, its dean, have long been involved in the struggle for LGBTQ full inclusion, both in the church and society. Weinberg co-chairs the cathedral’s LGBT ministry group.
“Bishop Héctor knew about my work, but wasn’t sure if I was interested in getting involved,” said Weinberg, adding also that he was curious about the bishop’s and the church’s position, especially since the Anglican-Episcopal Church of El Salvador, a church in a country less developed than Costa Rica, has embraced the LGBT community.
Across Central and Latin America, LGBT people continue to suffer discrimination and violence, often with impunity. And despite the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity violates international law, legal protections vary widely across the region.
The Anglican-Episcopal Church of El Salvador is the only Episcopal church in the region to have an official LGBT ministry, which it started in 2009. The Episcopal Church is present in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Guatemala and El Salvador, and all have formed a covenant with the U.S.-based Episcopal Church.
The hope in Costa Rica, said Weinberg, is that those in the local LGBT community who might feel called may step forward and the leaders might emerge.
“We’re planting a seed and hope that something grows,” said Weinberg.
– Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Anglican Communion News Service] Women from 18 provinces of the Anglican Communion are converging on New York to take part collectively in the annual session of the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women.
On Monday, March 10, the United Nations will launch the 58th session of the commission, which this year has the theme of Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls.
Anglicans and Episcopalians were selected by their primates to attend on behalf of their provinces and will be monitoring plenary sessions and attending parallel events (panels and meetings) on topics that all speak to that theme.
After the commission concludes, the women will be returning to brief their provinces on the discussions and outcomes from the event.
The Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations is hosting several panels and events, including a presentation by Lakshmi Puri, assistant secretary general of the United Nations and deputy executive director of U.N. women. She will be presenting on The Beijing Platform for Action and the global development agenda – from the Millennium Development Goals to the Post-2015 development agenda.
Anglican Louisa Mojela, founder and group chief executive officer of women’s investment portfolio holdings limited, based in South Africa, will be presenting on Enhancing women’s investment opportunities in Africa and the world.
Mojela will also be joining Ayra Inderyas, secretary of the women desk, Diocese of Lahore, Church of Pakistan; Ariella Rojhani, senior advocacy manager of the NCD Alliance; and Ann M. Starrs, president of Family Care International; on a panel considering Accelerating access, integrating services, focusing on women: the challenges of the Millennium Development Goals, sustainable development goals, low and middle income countries, and non-communicable diseases. The panel will be moderated by global public health expert Lucille B. Pilling, who is the Episcopal Church’s delegate at UNCSW58.
The Anglican Communion attendees will also have the opportunity to hear a presentation at the Episcopal Church Center by 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee – a Liberian peace activist, trained social worker, public speaker, and women’s rights advocate. She is also founder and current president of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa.
The women attending on behalf of the Anglican Communion are from Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Central Africa, Congo, England, Hong Kong, Indian Ocean, Japan, Korea, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Rwanda, Scotland, South Africa and the United States.
[Anglican Communion News Service] Social media posts about life and ministry of the Anglican/Episcopal world are being shared on a new Facebook page facebook.com/TheAnglicanCommunion.
While AnglicanNews.org and its Facebook page have been sharing news from around the Anglican Communion for the past few years, other non-news posts have been confined to individual accounts unless intentionally shared.
The new Facebook page aims to gather the best posts from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and elsewhere into one place and – in conjunction with the Twitter account @acoffice - to give visitors and followers a birds-eye view of Communion activity.
“We have volunteers from Africa, Asia, Oceania, North and Latin Americe, and Europe who will be posting and reposting anything they think will interest Anglicans and Episcopalians around the globe,” said Jan Butter, director for communication at the Anglican Communion Office.
“There are now so many Anglican Communion members, churches and initiatives sharing on these digital platforms that we thought it would make sense to create one place where at least the highlights could appear.”
Butter added that he has encouraged the volunteers to post in their own languages where possible to reflect the global nature of the Anglican Communion’s faith tradition.
The Anglican Communion Facebook page joins AnglicanNews.org, the @acoffice Twitter account, the Anglican Communion News Service Facebook page and the Anglican Communion website, and the Anglican Communion Office’s issuu.com account as yet another digital channel providing news, information and resources to members of the Anglican/Episcopal community worldwide.
[Episcopal Diocese of Texas] A pilot project that is being watched closely by utility companies around the country now has all 576 panels in place in downtown Austin. Today, the last few panels were mounted on the roof of St. David’s Episcopal Church’s nine-story garage. The system is sized to produce 200 MWh per year, which will provide electricity for a day school, coffee shop, homeless resource center, and off-site classes for AISD.
The idea for the project, which is the first of its size in downtown Austin, was first discussed by church leaders 10 years ago. “We had a window of opportunity that opened with a newly created pilot program by Austin Energy, federal rebates, low interest rates, and the advancement of technology. Everything came together so well with the help of Austin Energy and Meridian Solar, we were finally able to carry it out,” said St. David’s Parish Administrator Terry Nathan.
In the past, a project of this size was too risky. Downtown networks have been set up to only allow electricity to flow in, creating better protection for densely populated areas. An initial concern of the project was that on the days when more solar energy was generated than needed, the excess would try and pump back into the grid causing significant problems. With this project in mind, Meridian Solar helped create a sophisticated control system that permits the solar array to be connected to the utility’s electrical service, all while prohibiting the excess generation from back feeding into the downtown network.
“This achievement is the latest chapter in St. Davids’ long history of contributions of the Austin community,” said Austin City Council Member Chris Riley. “By helping resolve difficult issues related to our electric grid, St. David’s has moved us closer to our goals for local solar generation, and has demonstrated once again the value of its longtime partnership with the City.”
Beyond the obvious benefit of saving on energy costs (St. David’s also houses a day school, coffee shop, homeless resource center, and off-site classes for AISD), the solar panel project reflects St. David’s values on protecting the environment and conserving resources. St. David’s is a certified GreenFaith Sanctuary, houses and maintains a certified Wildlife Habitat in the middle of downtown, is a City of Austin Green Business Partner (Platinum level); and winner of the 2012 Keep Austin Beautiful Award in the category of Recycling and Waste Reduction.
St. David’s Rector, the Rev. David Boyd, shares his excitement about the project, “Through our solar energy project, we are fulfilling God’s call to be stewards of creation. In addition, as we save significant money on our utility costs, those resources enable us to fulfill other aspects of the Gospel as we care for those in the Austin community, including our homeless brothers and sisters and local service agencies.”
About St. David’s Episcopal Church: St. David’s, established in 1848, has approximately 2,400 members and offers seven services each Sunday and prayer services during the week. The church, which occupies an entire city block in downtown Austin, supports the Austin community by serving homeless neighbors, providing grants to local non-profits, and organizing volunteers to support local projects like Habitat for Humanity and Wildfire Relief efforts. Learn more at www.stdave.org
About Meridian Solar: Meridian Solar specializes in the development, engineering, construction, and financing of high quality solar electric projects. Blue-chip commercial clients, State and Federal entities, non-profit organizations, and utility providers repeatedly count on Meridian Solar when considering renewable energy for their facilities. With more than a decade of experience, comprised of hundreds of installationstotaling 39 MW of generating capacity, MeridianSolar is truly a seasoned veteran in the burgeoning solar industry. Learn more at www.meridiansolar.com.
[Episcopal News Service] The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has announced one additional candidate to stand for election as bishop suffragan.
The Rev. Martha N. Macgill, 56, who was nominated via a petition process, is the rector of Memorial Episcopal Church in Bolton Hill in Baltimore, where she has served for 14 years. Macgill previously served communities in South Africa and Richmond, Virginia.
Macgill joins three other candidates who were announced in early February. They are:
- the Rev. Canon Heather Cook, 57, canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Easton;
- the Rev. Nancy Gossling, 61, who is currently on a discernment sabbatical after having completed a ministry experience at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland and a Spanish immersion course in Barcelona, Spain; and
- the Rev. Canon Victoria Sirota, 64, canon pastor and vicar of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City.
The nominees will visit the diocese and meet with clergy and laity April 2-5, with locations to be announced. The election will take place during Diocesan Convention May 2-3 at Turf Valley Resort, Ellicott City.
The Rt. Rev. Joe G. Burnett served the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland as its assistant bishop since April 1, 2011, following the retirement of the Rt. Rev. John L. Rabb, bishop suffragan. Burnett had planned to end his tenure as assistant bishop with the consecration of the new bishop suffragan in the fall of 2014; however, his final day in the Maryland diocese was Dec. 31, 2013. Burnett became interim rector of St. Columba’s Church, Washington, D.C., on Jan. 1, 2014.
For videos and photographs, and detailed biographies, resumes and letters of introduction from the nominees, visit http://bishopsearchmd.org.
[Sydney Anglicans] The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will visit St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney in April, as part of their Australian tour.
The royal couple, along with Prince George, will fly to Australia via New Zealand, landing on April 16th.
Buckingham Palace has now released the itinerary showing Prince William and the Duchess will attend the Easter Day service at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney and sign the First Fleet Bible.
Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies, who will preach at the service, said he will be “delighted to welcome the royal couple to the celebration of Easter at the Cathedral church of St. Andrew.”
The couple will also visit Brisbane, Uluru and Canberra.
On Anzac Day, Prince William will lay a wreath during a Commemorative Service at the Australian War Memorial and plant a Lone Pine tree, the seed of which came from Gallipoli in the Memorial Garden.
The diocese comprises 14 counties in northeastern Pennsylvania and includes the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Hazleton, Reading, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre.
“It’s a great day in the kingdom,” said Rowe after his election. “I am humbled and count it a privilege to stand before you today as your bishop. I am excited about this opportunity to serve you.”
Rowe has been bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania for seven years, and will continue in that role. His position in the diocese of Bethlehem will continue for three years.
“My style is a collaborative one in which we will work together — bishop, clergy and lay leaders,” said Rowe in an address to the convention following his election. “I hope you will find yourself welcome to a table large enough to hear your voice. Collaboration requires relationships of substance, and I want to spent time getting to know you, hear your stories, and learn to care about those ministries for which you have great passion and excitement.”
All of 64 of the clergy present and 99 of the 100 laypeople voted in favor of Rowe’s election, which required a two-thirds vote.
“The Standing Committee chose Bishop Sean as our nominee for provisional bishop because of his stable, forward-thinking leadership in Northwestern Pennsylvania,” said the Rev. Canon Andrew T. Gerns, president of the Standing Committee in Bethlehem and rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Easton. “He has a strong track record of building relationships with clergy and lay leaders and proven skill at resolving conflict directly and effectively. We’re delighted at his election and grateful that the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania has so readily agreed to undertake this innovative arrangement with us.”
“Today you did not elect the smartest or the most spiritual bishop ever. The fact is, there are people here who have been praying twice as long as I’ve been alive,” said Rowe, who is 39. “What you’ll get is one who is faithful to God, at least most of the time, and one who stands firmly on the promises of Jesus Christ. I am your servant.”
The Diocese of Bethlehem’s previous bishop, the Rt. Rev. Paul V. Marshall, retired on Dec. 31 after a terminal sabbatical. On Jan. 1, the Standing Committee announced its plan to call a provisional bishop for a three-year term.
Rowe will take up his new duties immediately and by August 2014 spend half of his time in each diocese. He, his wife, Carly, and their one-year-old daughter, Lauren, will have a home in both suburban Erie and in Bethlehem.
Rowe was ordained bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania, which comprises 33 congregations in 13 counties, in 2007. He is known for developing transformational leadership and is a Ph.D. candidate in organizational learning and leadership at Gannon University. He is a 2000 graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary and a 1997 graduate of Grove City College. He serves as parliamentarian for the House of Bishops, chair of the Episcopal Church Building Fund, and member of the General Board of Examining Chaplains, the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church, and the Council of Advice to the President of the House of Deputies.
The Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem comprises 63 congregations in the 14 counties of northeastern Pennsylvania. To learn more, visit www.diobeth.org. The Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania comprises 33 congregations in the 13 counties in northwestern Pennsylvania. To learn more, visit www.dionwpa.org.
[Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi] The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Mississippi announced its slate of nominees for election as bishop coadjutor to become the 10th bishop of the Diocese of Mississippi. The announcement was made on Saturday, March 1.
The nominees are:
- the Very Rev. Michael J. Battle, vicar, St. Titus Episcopal Church, Durham, North Carolina;
- the Rev. Marian Dulaney Fortner, rector, Trinity Episcopal Church, Hattiesburg, Mississippi;
- the Rev. Dr. R. Stan Runnels, rector, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Day School, Kansas City, Missouri;
- the Very Rev. Brian R. Seage, rector, St. Columb’s Episcopal Church, Ridgeland, Mississippi; and
- the Rev. Ruth Woodliff-Stanley, rector, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Denver, Colorado.
A petition process for submitting additional names opens on March 3 and will close on March 7, 5 p.m. CST. Complete information about the petition process and the petition form are available on the diocesan website.
The slate is the result of a 10-month discernment process conducted by the Nominating Committee, made up of lay and clergy members representing all convocations of the diocese. The Nominating Committee was established and charged by the Standing Committee. With the announcement of the slate, a Transition Committee, also reporting to the Standing Committee and comprising lay and clergy members from across the diocese, implements the next stages of the election process.
The nominees will be in Mississippi, April 7-11 and will be introduced at three open question-and-answer sessions. The sessions will be held at Coast Episcopal School, Long Beach on April 8; St. Andrew’s School, Ridgeland on April 9; and All Saints Church, Grenada on April 10. While in Mississippi, the nominees will visit the John M. Allin Diocesan House, St. Andrew’s Cathedral, the Duncan M. Gray Camp and Conference Center and various ministries of the diocese.
The election will take place on Saturday, May 3 at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Jackson. All canonically resident clergy of the diocese and lay delegates vote separately as “orders”; a majority of votes on the same ballot from both the clergy and lay orders is required for election.
Pending consent from a majority of the Episcopal Church’s diocesan bishops and a majority of dioceses (via their Standing Committees), the consecration and ordination of the bishop-elect is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Sept. 27 at the Jackson Convention Complex in Jackson, with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori presiding.
Benitez graduated from West Point in 1949 and was commissioned in the U. S. Air Force, when he met and married Joanne Dossett. In 1950 the couple was stationed at Williams Air Force Base, Chandler, Arizona, where Benitez flew jet fighters, later serving with the 527th Fighter-Bomber Squadron in Germany during the tense days of the Cold War.
In 1955, he entered seminary at the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, and was ordained in 1958. He served at St James’ Episcopal Church, Lake City, Florida, and at St. John’s Cathedral, Jacksonville, Florida, before being called as rector of Grace Church, Ocala, Florida. His years at Grace were marked by tensions of the civil rights movement. Benitez received threats and hate messages as he stood against segregation, integrating his parish school even before the public school system did the same. He was held in such wide respect that when the public system’s teachers later went on strike, he was asked by both sides to act as mediator.
He was called as rector of Christ Church in San Antonio in 1968 where his reputation and energy for evangelism continued to grow. Benitez came to St. John the Divine, Houston, as rector in 1974, where he implemented popular forms of Christian renewal and evangelism.
During his 15-year tenure as bishop (1980-1995), the diocese continued to present more people of all ages for confirmation than any other diocese in the Episcopal Church. Benitez was widely regarded as a friend of the popular renewal movement in the church and early in his episcopacy, he conducted a Venture in Mission campaign to support domestic and world mission. Benitez provided strong leadership in the nascent years of the Episcopal Foundation and founded Episcopal High School in Houston, raising more than $40 million over a 12-year period for land and construction. The school’s chapel is named in honor of Bishop and Mrs. Benitez.
Benitez served as chair of St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital and provided leadership during a period of growth for the hospital and the Texas Heart Institute. While he was bishop, the Diocese’s Quin Foundation more than doubled its value and Camp Allen added a third campsite, a lake and a chapel to respond to growing needs of youth from the diocese’s 150 congregations.
Benitez also brought a focus on the changing demographics in Texas. While he coped with challenges to the church brought by the recession in the late 1980s, the collapse of the oil business and the resulting banking crisis, he laid the foundations for a vibrant Spanish-speaking ministry in the diocese, opening the first Hispanic missions, recruiting Spanish-speaking clergy and appointing the first Hispanic missioner for the Province. He responded to the increasing Hispanic populations’ needs with the establishment of El Buen Samaritano, the diocesan social service agency in Austin.
Benitez served on the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, and for 12 years on the board of the Church Pension Fund as well as chair of Seminary of the Southwest in Austin.
Benitez was predeceased by his beloved wife of 63 years, Joanne, and is survived by their three daughters Jennifer Benitez Shand, Leslie Anne Benitez and Deborah Benitez Smith; grandsons Ben Shand, Peter Shand, Isaac Young, Evan Young, Taylor Smith and Charlie Smith; and by his sons-in-law, the Rev. William M. Shand, III and Dr. James L. Smith, Jr.
Services for Benitez will be held at St. Luke’s on the Lake, 5600 Ranch Road 620 N. in Austin on Monday, March 3 at 3 p.m., and at St. John the Divine, 2450 River Oaks Blvd. in Houston on Thursday, March 6 at 12 noon. Memorials are suggested to the Episcopal High School, Camp Allen Conference & Retreat Center, or to one’s home parish.
Obituary and memorial guestbook available online here.
[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Church in Zambia has launched its early childhood development (ECD) program in Eastern Zambia to “provide integrated services that address the child holistically in terms of health, nutrition, protection and education.”
The launch was held in one of Zambia’s rural constituencies called Msanzala in the Anglican Diocese of Eastern Zambia. In attendance were government officials and all bishops from Zambia, including the Archbishop of the Church of the Province of Central Africa, the Most Rev. Albert Chama. Others attendees included the local area traditional chief and representatives from UNICEF.
“The Anglican Church does not just end by preaching the good news at the pulpit,” Chama told the more than 1000 people at the event. “We’re here also to touch the people’s lives and hence our desire to collaborate with the state and other partners to improve the people’s lives.”
The archbishop was hopeful that the program would not only be limited to one area but spread to other parts of the country. He also expressed his wish for an education that will not only make children excel in academia alone, but also make them responsive members of our communities.
The government of the Republic of Zambia was represented by Dr. John Phiri, the minister of education, science, vocational training and early education. He was accompanied by his Deputy Minister Patrick Ngoma as well as the area Member of Parliament Col. Joseph Lungu who is also Deputy Minister of Defense.
“I thank the Zambia Anglican Council for inviting me to launch this program because it is an opportunity for me to see the germination and growth of early childhood education especially in the rural areas of this country,” said the education minister.
He added: “Early childhood education is part of our mandate as a government but a lot of collaboration is needed in order for us to effectively implement the program.”
Grace Mazala Phiri is the national programmes director for the Zambia Anglican Council. She explained that the main purpose of the programs is to help the children reach all the developmental milestones as well as to support their parents or caregivers.
“We’re focusing on children who are 0-6 years so that their health is good and minds stimulated to learn. Most African parents have little or no time to play with their children,” she said.
She added: “We have decided to scale up this program because of the progress that we made in similar programs in the past. We have been able to partner with many other organizations such as UNICEF and have been able to increase the early childhood centers to 53 in this area.”
A typical early childhood education center would have a sizable play park with swings and slides for children and would often offer food supplements to the children who usually come from impoverished and disadvantaged homes.
One of the UNICEF-Zambia representatives Given Daka said that children who have had early childhood education usually have a head start in primary education. “Investment in ECD is in essence an investment in Zambia’s future,” she said.
“ECD is a priority for UNICEF world over and well as in Zambia and we have been providing financial and technical support to the Ministry of Education in Zambia.”
Despite overwhelming evidence that early childhood education is a critical requirement for the later social and intellectual growth of the child, only 2 per cent of Zambian children have access to early childhood education.
The Zambia Anglican Council (ZAC) in partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development in the USA established this community-based, volunteer-driven Early Childhood Development Program which started in three provinces of copperbelt, central and north western.
The program, involving more than 8,000 children under five years and their caregivers, tries to address the multiple deprivations in terms of health, nutrition, protection, and early stimulation, which combine to effect their cognitive, language, social-emotional and physical development during the critical formative period.
Oração e retiro ocuparam a maior parte da reunião da Câmara dos Bispos da IEAB, realizada em São Paulo, entre os dias 24 e 26 de fevereiro. Com o apoio de uma equipe de liturgia e com a assessoria do monge Marcelo Barros, os bispos tiveram a oportunidade de refletir sobre a natureza do ministério pastoral, especialmente nos desafios que se enfrenta nos dias de hoje.
A partilha ministerial, vivida num clima de colegialidade, oportunizou momentos de oração e abraço fraterno na dimensão de que o ministério episcopal precisa ser vivido cada vez mais em interdependência.
Um momento especial foi vivido na acolhida calorosa que a Câmara recebeu na Paróquia São Lucas, em Vila Maria, onde a Eucaristia foi celebrada junto com a comunidade, seguida de momento de confraternização. Foi visível a emoção daquela comunidade que expressou publicamente o seu agradecimento à Câmara pelo apoio pastoral recebido durante a crise cismática ocorrida na Diocese. Conforme afirmou o bispo Primaz, Dom Francisco, a Câmara fica agradecida pelo reconhecimento do cuidado pastoral mas que como bispos, a tarefa da Câmara é garantir a fé e a unidade da Igreja e cuidar com carinho do rebanho de Deus confiado aos cuidados de seus bispos.
A vivência litúrgica foi rica e dela se apreendeu a importância do ministério episcopal como um ministério de serviço, de nutrição na fé e de cuidado pastoral com o rebanho confiado à responsabilidade de cada bispo, não somente como Igreja local, mas igualmente numa dimensão universal.
A Câmara intercedeu constantemente pela Diocese do Rio de janeiro, vez que Dom Filadelfo não pode se fazer presente por razões de tratamento médico. Ao final do encontro, cada bispo escolheu dentre os círios de cada diocese que foram acesos na oração matutina da quarta-feira, um círio de uma diocese distinta da sua para levar consigo e orar por ela.
Os desafios pastorais da IEAB foram discutidos pelos bispos e todos foram unanimes em assumir o compromisso de conduzir a Igreja no processo de diálogo e reflexão em torno do tema da família e das sexualidade humanas. Este é um processo recomendado expressamente no Sínodo de novembro passado e que contará com a facilitação metodológica do Centro de Estudos Anglicanos.
Outro ponto importante a destacar foi a interação dos clérigos e leigos das dioceses através das redes sociais, com mensagens e orações pelos seus bispos durante a reunião, numa demonstração de carinho.
Mais que uma reunião dos bispos, o encontro foi um grande sinal da colegialidade, de fortalecimento de laços comuns e de sonhos a se realizarem através da IEAB nos caminhos de Missão.
[Episcopal News Service] For more than a century, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) affiliated with the Episcopal Church have worked to provide high-quality education to students who often faced limited academic opportunities. Formed to educate African-Americans when schools were segregated, they continue to fill an important academic role and serve their host communities as well, say school and church leaders.
But economic challenges, including the tightening of federal loan standards that has reduced enrollments and thus cut revenues, are stressing such institutions nationwide. Of the three affiliated with the Episcopal Church, St. Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, Virginia, closed in June, and St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina, recently furloughed employees as part of an effort to combat financial troubles. Voorhees College in Denmark, South Carolina, has seen enrollment drop and is planning a capital campaign to improve its financial situation, its president said.
“They’re all struggling financially, even state institutions,” said Dr. Belle Wheelan, president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, which provides school accreditations in the region. “[Of] the small, private institutions, of which most of the HBCUs are, a lot of the faith-based ones are struggling financially and trying to keep tuitions low.”
Seventy-five historically black colleges and universities are accredited by the association, which Wheelan said accounted for about three-quarters of such institutions nationwide.
“Devastating to just about all of the HBCUs this past year were the changes in the Parent PLUS Loan [program],” she said. The federal Department of Education tightened loan requirements, so many parents who had received approval for educational loans one semester then lost approval the next, and their children couldn’t afford to return to school, she explained.
Voorhees’ enrollment is some 550 students, down about 100 since last year, said Cleveland Sellers Jr., college president. The economic downturn and unemployment hit the college’s families hard, and interest on college loans rose last year, he said. Sequestration cuts also hurt. “The message is that college is not affordable, especially to lower-income families. That’s wrong. That’s just a sin. It’s the most important investment you can make.”
In the fall of 2013, the nation’s 100-plus HBCUs lost 17,000 students, cutting revenue by $150 million, he said. “We can’t stand any reduction in revenue. We’re already on the margin in many instances.”
Most of the schools have minimal endowments, he said. “We don’t have any kind of way to make up for our students who are not here.”
St. Paul’s announced in a June 4 press release that it was closing “temporarily to pursue other opportunities consistent with its purpose and mission” after the “unexpected termination of a proposed merger with another HBCU.”
Before the 125-year-old school ceased operations June 30, its enrollment had slipped below 100 students, according to a Diverse: Issues in Higher Education article. St. Augustine’s decided in May to nix a proposed merger, which would have meant the assumption of $4 million to $5 million in St. Paul’s debts by the North Carolina college, Diverse reported.
“St. Paul’s worked with surrounding schools to get their students transferred,” Wheelan said.
“The Episcopal Church was very much involved in the conversation with St. Paul’s and making every effort possible to avoid the closing of St. Paul’s College,” said the Rev. Canon Angela Ifill, missioner for black ministries and liaison to the three church-affiliated HBCUs. “It is very, very sad for us.”
Now, St. Augustine’s also is struggling financially, Wheelan said.
The Raleigh News and Observer reported Feb. 20 that declining enrollment in 2013 caused a $3 million drop in net tuition revenue; a contractor of the school’s football stadium sued for breach of contract, alleging the university owed it almost $675,000; and the university had eliminated 15 jobs, mostly through attrition and retirements.
Five days later, a university press release announced staff furloughs for March 9-16 as “part of a strategic plan to help the university maintain a strong financial footing.”
“Although not a complete solution, the institution is doing what is necessary to combat the impact of federal and state cuts, which has had a direct impact on our enrollment,” the release said.
“Although our situation is not unique, we are regretful that we have had to take this type of action,” President Dianne Boardley Suber said in the release. “We recognize the impact that this furlough will have on families, and we don’t take this decision lightly. As an institution, we are focused on moving forward and are confident that the tough decisions we are making now will be of great benefit to the institution in the long run.”
The four-year liberal arts institution, which achieved university status in 2012, was established in 1867. It enrolled 1,299 students in the fall 2013 semester, said Communications Director Pamela Tolson.
Suber was traveling and unavailable for an interview.
A powerful influence
“One of the things you have to know about HBCUs, we have been underfunded since our inception,” Sellers said. “We’ve always had to do more with less.”
The schools began soon after Reconstruction to educate newly freed slaves, he said. “They started out pretty much as secondary schools, high schools … and then they transformed themselves. One of the architects of the curriculum in those institutions was Booker T. Washington, who talked about industrial education. He thought that African-Americans needed to be able to develop industrial skills, entrepreneurial skills, and then they could be more productive in the economic arena and through that process work their way into a pluralistic society.”
Voorhees was launched in 1897 by Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, a protégé of Washington and a graduate of his Tuskeegee Institute. A New Jersey philanthropist, Ralph Voorhees, and his wife gave her the funds to buy the 450 acres where the school was built.
Sellers grew up in Denmark and attended elementary school through high school at the Voorhees School and Junior College. Voorhees became a four-year college in 1962.
Voorhees was the first HBCU accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and never has lost accreditation, said Lugenia Rochelle, chair of the division of general studies and interim executive vice president for academic affairs. The college also has special accreditations for its business and child-development and elementary-education programs, and it boasts a strong biology program, she said. “Many of our students go on to graduate school to pursue careers as doctors.”
While HBCUs constitute 3 percent of America’s colleges and universities, they award 20 percent of the baccalaureates earned by African-Americans, Sellers said. Sixty percent of African-American lawyers and half of African-American school teachers receive degrees from HBCUs, he said.
Located in a poor, rural area, Voorhees serves students who mostly are economically disadvantaged and often come from single-parent households and failing schools, Sellers said. Most students come from South Carolina, with 96 percent receiving financial aid and 42 percent representing the first generation in their family to attend college.
HBCUs like Voorhees are needed to continue to serve these populations of students, who “can make good citizens and can do things that transform our economy and this world,” Sellers said. “But somebody has to invest in them.”
The Episcopal Church has played a significant role at Voorhees. The school has received support from both South Carolina dioceses and had buildings constructed with funds from churches and dioceses as far away as the Diocese of Massachusetts.
Starting in the 1960s, the Episcopal Church began providing an allocation for the three schools – initially about $1 million per year – but more recently switched to awarding block grants, Sellers said. The current triennial budget awarded $2,025,000 for the schools.
(A fourth Episcopal-affiliated institution, Okolona College, was founded in Mississippi as Okolona Industrial School in 1902 “to provide normal and industrial education for African-American young people,” according to the College History Garden blog. It became a college in 1932. “In 1965, the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi decided to withdraw support and the institution soon closed.”)
Voorhees has used its block grant funds for activities related to historic St. Phillip’s Chapel on campus, which operates as an independent Episcopal Church, said Sellers, himself an Episcopalian. Rochelle, who became an Episcopalian after attending St. Augustine’s, serves on the vestry and as a lay minister.
“The Episcopal tradition is well-kept here,” said the church’s vicar and campus chaplain, the Rev. James Yarsiah. On Feb. 11, the chapel hosted an Absalom Jones service, with bishops and other clergy and laity from the dioceses of South Carolina and Upper South Carolina participating.
Besides regular Sunday worship for the congregation, St. Phillip’s offers Tuesday chapel services for the school community. “That is part of our tradition,” Yarsiah said.
Tuesday services are “not strictly Episcopalian,” he said. “I do invite other pastors and ministers in the community to come and share.”
Perhaps 5 to 6 percent of Voorhees students are Episcopalians; about 85 percent are Baptists, he said. “This is the Baptist corridor. … We accept all faiths, all traditions.”
Because the school receives federal funds, it cannot require students to attend chapel, Rochelle said. But it does encourage participation, counting chapel attendance toward a required 72 hours of cultural enrichment, she said. “We do try to impress on them the importance and value of having an abiding faith in God, and we do require all of our students to take a course called Religion and Philosophy.”
The Episcopal Church supports the schools in multiple ways.
It provides the financial support approved by General Convention, “but it goes beyond the financials,” Ifill said. For example, she holds campus symposiums, taking clergy and laity to spend two-and-a-half days on campus interacting with students in classrooms and in one-on-one meetings. Every two years, the church invites the institutions’ students, presidents, faculty and staff to attend a recognition day. The most recent was held in Atlanta in 2013.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori “was present for the entire event, and that says a great deal about the Episcopal Church’s commitment to the colleges,” Ifill said. “Bishop Katharine’s attendance at the event gave the students a sense of how much they are valued, and the work of the colleges, which could be called a ministry because of their involvement beyond the college campus and into their local communities.”
“The students were just blown away by the fact that the leader of the Episcopal Church saw them as important enough to be there, talking heart to heart with them,” she said. “That’s what our students need. They need positive role models in their lives at every turn whose presence and interaction say to them: We care about you. We do care about what happens to you.”
One of the attractions of these schools for students, she noted, is that “the classes are smaller.
“There is an intimacy in the sense that the president of the college, faculty and staff know the students by name. And if a student does not show up to class, they might just find one of them at their dormitory door.”
In some cases, these schools also provide “an education for young people who otherwise could not get an education,” she said.
But the HBCUs provide more than an education for their students.
“The colleges function today in a much broader sense in that they have become pivotal in the communities in which they are located,” Ifill said. “Very much like some congregations, they’re the center of a community and what happens in that community.”
Voorhees, for example, is the largest employer in its community, she said. “Voorhees is instrumental in providing a health-care center. … Also, St. Augustine’s is very much plugged into the community.”
Located in a rural part of a state with high poverty levels, Voorhees is in a county that just lost a hospital. There is a high infant mortality rate but not one OB/GYN in a three-county area, Sellers said. “We have a lot of other issues that we have to address. So we do a lot of community-service work.”
A valued education
Those sort of values factored into Rochelle’s decision to attend St. Augustine’s for her college education. She chose the school because of its proximity to her home, about an hour and 45 minutes’ drive away; an offered scholarship; and its church affiliation, although she wasn’t then an Episcopalian.
“I thought I could get additional nurturing that I would need to mature into the kind of person that I wanted to be,” she said. She liked “the idea of being able to combine spiritual and religious values with educational or academic values.”
“Of course, then the rules were strict, but I was brought up in a very disciplined environment,” she said. “I think that that experience at St. Augustine’s College really did help me to become who I am today. The academic experience was great.”
Rochelle joined the drama club and helped serve as hostess at social functions for faculty at the college president’s house. “I learned a lot about the social graces,” she said. “I think St. Augustine’s expanded my mind … to become more of an inquiring person.”
That inquisitiveness also led her into the Episcopal Church. She grew up worshiping in Baptist, Pentecostal and Methodist churches, “but I found I was looking for something else, and I wasn’t sure what it was before I graduated from high school. But when I went to St. Augustine’s, it was then that I determined what it was I was looking for. I decided as a freshman that I would be a free-thinking Christian.”
She formally joined the Episcopal Church after graduating and moving to Greensboro.
Looking back, she said, “I can’t tell you that I was a top student. But I was a good student, and I think I learned well, and it prepared me to go on to other levels of education, and that’s something that I’m trying to pass on to my students.”
– Sharon Sheridan is an ENS correspondent.
[Episcopal News Service – Cárdenas, Cuba] “If we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem,” reads the sign at the entrance of the Center for Reflection and Dialogue here. It’s a slogan that resonates in the center’s ministry, outreach programs and approach to human and community development.
The center and its methodology “serve as a good model for churches across Latin American,” said Dominican Republic Bishop Julio César Holguín, adding that through its programs and outreach, the center works on formation at both the individual and the community level.
Holguín led a small delegation to Cuba Feb. 18-25, to attend the Episcopal Church of Cuba’s annual General Synod in Havana. The Feb. 20 visit to the center, which was founded more than 20 years ago, was an opportunity to witness and learn about Cuba’s ecumenical movement.
From an inclusive Christian worldview, the center seeks to contribute to the sense of human existence; promote a holistic conception of life and health; promote human dignity; and to develop a culture of peace and community participation with emphasis on the poor, the weak and the marginalized people in society, according to its mission.
“I was most impressed by the interplay, the connection between their reflection and practice,” said Diocese of Eastern Michigan Bishop Todd Ousley, adding that their approach to programs and processes are grounded in theologically.
The purpose of the center is to promote interreligious dialogue focused on social integration at the community level, with four goals toward that end:
- to encourage the recognition of human dignity inspired by the Gospel;
- to encourage the process of reconciliation, peace and the development of human values;
- to stimulate community participation and development of the individual; and
- to promote services for the poor and the sick.
Regarding the latter, four of the center’s employees – two women and two men – provide meals, basic hygiene, laundry and other services five days a week to 120 elderly, and HIV-positive citizens.
“It’s a hard ministry,” said Rita García Morris, the center’s deputy director. “The people are very poor, living in just a room without a toilet.”
In addition to the elder-care program, the center has a library and computer center, offers craft workshops for children and senior citizens, hosts cultural programs for people of all ages, panel discussions on topics ranging from theology and human rights to domestic violence, as well as serving as a place of worship.
“[It’s] very impressive – mind, body, spirit, you’re doing it all,” said Ousley during a tour of the center.
In the future, the center hopes to provide an elder-care home, where the people it serves can live and receive daily care, and also a shelter from victims of domestic violence, another population the center serves in its outreach ministry.
These are “dreams,” said Garcia Morris. “Dreams are for people with faith.”
Housed in a former factory, the center began operating in the early 1990s, but it wasn’t until 2011 that the Cuban government granted the center its official license.
In addition to its local outreach ministries, the center hosts national and international youth and adult groups, accommodating between 80 and 90 people in its 28 guestrooms. The staff requests that reservations be made three to four months in advance to coordinate the necessary religious visas. The center also offers a wide variety of publications.
Holguín served as the interim bishop of the Episcopal Church of Cuba from 2003-4, while also serving the Dominican Republic. In addition to Ousley, he was accompanied by the Rev. Emilio Martin, who is Cuban, and served on the center’s board of directors when he was the priest at St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church in Cárdenas; Bill Kunkle, executive director of the Dominican Development Group; and David Morrow, president of the DDG’s board of directors.
The DDG’s board of directors, on which Ousley also serves, met the previous week in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, for its annual board meeting following the annual diocesan convention.
– Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service. She traveled with the delegation to Cuba.
[Episcopal News Service – Havana, Cuba] The Episcopal Church of Cuba has a clear vision moving into its next triennium: to be a church united in diversity, celebration, evangelism, teaching, serving and sharing the love of God.
Arriving at that vision has been “a very rich experience,” yet at times “somewhat difficult,” said Bishop Griselda Delgado de Carpio, during a post-General Synod interview with Episcopal News Service on Feb. 23.
For its 2014-16 strategic plan, the church finds inspiration from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, specifically Chapter 4, Verses 15-16: “But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.”
At the close of the last three years, Delgado’s first full triennium serving as bishop, a clearer vision for the church began to develop, with evangelism taking center stage in the church’s mission, she said.
“From there we could visualize a concrete plan that we have to work from,” she added.
The three-year plan’s objectives include:
- strengthening the continued growth of the pastoral ministry of laity and clergy;
- increasing financial sustainability through stewardship, project management and the exploration of other country sources;
- providing through its own leadership capacity the space for biblical and theological reflection at the local and diocesan level focused on values, ethics, history of the church, and spirituality and family;
- reinforcing the visibility of the work of the church, both inside and outside;
- strengthening management capacity and organization, including planning, control, evaluation and systematization;
- promoting pastoral programs and accompaniment for marginalized people and groups, those who are vulnerable, the aged, those who suffer from addictions or are HIV positive; and
- achieving better communication across the church.
“Thanks to God we are involving young people in the church,” she said. “We believe that they are not only the future, but the present.”
It’s for that reason, she added, that the plan focuses on the formation of young people, children and adolescents and also those on the path toward priesthood who will inherit big responsibilities.
“I continue to be amazed at the tenacity and missional heart of the Episcopal Church in Cuba,” said Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in an e-mail to ENS.
“They are a great example to Episcopal Church congregations of what Asset Based Community Development looks like — valuing all the gifts God has provided in this place, listening to the needs of the wider community, and collaborating for mission and ministry. Bishop Griselda is leading transformative ministry in Cuba — I urge you to go and see if you are able, develop a diocesan or parish partnership, and learn more.”
The Episcopal Church of Cuba’s annual General Synod, held Feb. 21-23 at Trinity Cathedral in Havana, was attended by Episcopalians and Anglicans from the United States and Canada, including Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.
During his introduction to convention, Hiltz described Delgado as “a great ambassador for Cuba, putting the church in Cuba on the map of the Anglican Communion in very important ways.”
Delgado was installed in November 2010, replacing Bishop Miguel Tamayo of the Anglican Church of Uruguay who served the church as an interim bishop for six years, splitting his time between Montevideo and Havana.
Following Delgado’s election, Dominican Republic Bishop Julio César Holguín became her mentor for three years, a relationship that continues informally today. Holguín led a small delegation, including members of companion dioceses, to Cuba Feb. 18-25, to attend General Synod.
The Diocese of the Dominican Republic has some 15 U.S.-based companion diocese relationships, and itself serves as a companion to the church in Cuba, though in a more informal, “sentimental” way as an expression of solidarity, said Holguín.
But the relationship also has taken on a practical nature, for example in 2009 the Episcopal Church’s General Convention initiated $23 million in budget cuts necessitated by declining revenue, which meant a decrease in grants to Province IX dioceses and the church’s covenant partners, including Cuba.
Following that action, the clergy in the Diocese of the Dominican Republic committed to giving 1 percent of their salaries, which amounts to about $3,000 total, to be shared by the clergy in Cuba, said Holguín, adding that the monthly salary for clergy might be $7 or $8.
“We were in a better position than anyone to support the church in Cuba,” he said.
The Episcopal Church’s triennial budget allocates $106,000 to the church in Cuba.
Like the U.S.-based Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada has had a longstanding relationship with the Episcopal Church of Cuba, said Hiltz.
The Episcopal Church of Cuba is an autonomous diocese of the Anglican Communion under the authority of the Metropolitan Council of Cuba. The council is chaired by Hiltz and includes Jefferts Schori and Archbishop of the West Indies John Holder. The council has overseen the church in Cuba since it separated from the U.S.-based Episcopal Church in 1967.
In the six- and-a half years that Hiltz has served on the council, he said, despite the continued hardship, he’s sees a lot of hope in the church, as well as a push toward leadership development. Having a full-time bishop has helped, he added.
“The church here in Cuba is not an institution, but a movement, a gospel movement,” said Hiltz.
The Sunday prior to the convention, Feb. 16, Hiltz and other visitors from the Anglican Church of Canada visited a house church in Luyano, a poor section of Havana, where the packed congregation celebrated Valentine’s Day by exchanging practical gifts of soap and toothpaste, two necessities that can be difficult to come by in Cuba.
Following the Eucharist, the congregation led the group to the building site of their church, which after being destroyed 30 years earlier by a hurricane is being readied for an Easter Sunday consecration.
Rather than just build a place of worship, however, Hiltz said, the temple includes medical and elder-care clinics and a community center.
“You get the sense that the church is really in the community, there for the sake of the community,” said Hiltz. “Seeing it on the ground enriches my understanding and helps the way we uphold them in prayer.”
In offering prayer, context makes a difference, he added.
In the Anglican Church of Canada’s Diocese of Niagara, the 91 parishes pray weekly for the churches in Cuba, said Bishop Michael Bird, when introduced to the synod.
The Canadian church provides support for the Cuban church through program support, clergy and seminary faculty stipends and through diocesan companion relationships.
The Diocese of Niagara, for example, recently renewed its decade-long companion diocese relationship with the church in Cuba for another five years.
“Cuba is kind of a special diocese in the Anglican Communion, and our partnership is a way of expressing solidarity and friendship; a grassroots expression of that,” said the Rev. Bill Mous, the diocese’s director of justice, community and global ministries.
The Episcopal Church of Cuba traces its origins back to an Anglican presence beginning in 1901. Today there are some 46 congregations and missions serving 10,000 members and the wider communities. During the 1960s, Fidel Castro’s government began cracking down on religion, jailing religious leaders and believers, and it wasn’t until the Pope John Paul II’s 1998 visit to Cuba, the first ever visit by a Roman Catholic pope to the island, that the government began a move back toward tolerance of religion.
The Cuban Revolution, led by Castro, began in 1953 and lasted until President Fulgencio Batista was forced from power in 1959. Batista’s anti-communist, authoritarian government was replaced with a socialist state, which in 1965 aligned itself with the communist party. In 2008 Raul Castro replaced as president his ailing brother.
What struck Diocese of Eastern Michigan Bishop Todd Ousley most was the uniquely Cuban way of being Anglican.
“What was most striking to me was the sense of how they strategically contextualize the church by very carefully honoring their Cuban culture and melding that with Anglicanism,” he said, adding that it’s clear from the strategic plan that not only the leadership of the bishop is important, but also that of the clergy and the laity.
He also was impressed, he said, with the church’s focus on justice issues and helping the “least of these
The Cuban church’s experience with socialism and its understanding that everyone must work together in solidarity serves as a good model for the church in North and Latin America, said Ousley.
Overlapping with the start of the church’s General Synod, a diverse Anglican-Episcopal mission group – including people from the United States, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, El Salvador – visited St. Francisco de Assisi Church in Cárdenas, in Matanzas Province, about a two hours’ drive east of Havana. The group was led by the Rev. Canon Juan Andrés Quevedo, rector of the Church of the Redeemer in Astoria, Queens, and an archdeacon in the Diocese of Long Island.
It was the first time in 13 years that Quevedo, who was born in the city of Matanzas and who attended the local evangelical seminary before studying at Trinity College in Toronto, Canada, had been back in Cuba.
In the grass alongside St. Francisco de Assisi cinderblocks were neatly arranged in rows, almost like headstones in a cemetery, only they were there to keep the church’s newly sanded and stained pews from touching the grass.
The mission group needed a service project to be completed within a week so, along with the Rev. Aurelio de la Paz Cot, they decided it would be best to refinish the pews, and to passersby the neatly arranged cinderblocks and the drying pews looked curious.
“For us it was an evangelism event,” said de la Paz, who was a seminary mate of Quevedo’s in Matanza, adding that the people nearby, curious about the work and the workers, would stop by and ask, “Who are these people?”
And more than that, for de la Paz it was a “marvelous experience” and it meant a lot for him and his congregation that people would use their vacation time and their personal resources to come to Cuba, to learn about its culture and its people and share something of themselves, with people who are otherwise somewhat isolated.
For those who traveled to the island, the experience was at the same time one of both joy and pain, said Quevedo, with many comparing their own country’s experience with totalitarian regimes and high levels of poverty.
“They have seen a side of poverty not familiar to them,” he said, during a visit to an organic farm near Cádenas run by the Christian Center for Reflection and Dialogue.
“Our poor are educated and that makes them self-aware of how to live better, where in their countries the poor have been beaten into despair.”
That self-awareness also can be seen in the way the church operates in Cuba.
“It’s a very cultural church, rooted in the history of Cuba,” said Carlos Austin, a second-year seminarian from the Episcopal Church of Panama.
The church has strong leadership, he said, but one of its most defining characteristics is its youth presence.
“Young people really get involved,” said Austin. “It’s not like in our countries; maybe they aren’t as organized but they have the manpower.”
As a seminarian at Evangelical Theological Seminary in Matanzas, Austin spends his weekends serving Cuatro Esquinas, a church in Los Arabos, a community some 65 miles away.
“They are an example of what a church should do community-wise,” said Austin, adding that the church serves as a community center and dispenses medicines and purified water. “The priest and the leadership are seen as helpers; where I come from we [the church] have to learn more about the community.
“Many times it looks like we are focused on inward evangelism; here they don’t focus on evangelism, they focus on mission and the evangelism will follow.”
It was the Rt. Rev. Julio Murray, bishop of Panama, who decided Austin would attend seminary in Cuba, rather than in Brazil, Austin’s other alternative. He’s one of 17 resident seminarians; the school has 500 distance-learning students across Cuba.
The bishop wanted Austin to study theology in the Latin-American context, and for Austin, at least in the beginning, it was difficult because everyday life in Cuba requires fortitude.
Public transportation in Cuba is limited and it can take hours to cover short distances; basic goods like toilet paper, soap and toothpaste can be difficult to come by, regardless of whether you have the money or not to buy them; salaries are low, with doctors earning less than $20 a month.
If not for the kindness of church members, Austin said, he would have left.
“That’s what’s made the difference for me here, the church and the people took me in,” he said.
– Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service. She traveled to Cuba Feb. 18-25 with a delegation led by Dominican Republic Bishop Julio César Holguín.
[Anglican Communion News Service] The surviving metropolitan archbishop of the Church of the Province of West Africa has been elevated to become its 10th primate.
According to a statement, Daniel Sarfo, archbishop of the internal province of Ghana, becomes the province’s new leader following the death of Archbishop S. Tilewa Johnson.
The statement read: “Following the demise of the 9th primate of the Church of the Province of West Africa (CPWA), the late Most Rev. Dr. S. Tilewa Johnson and by the provisions of our Constitution, the Most Rev. Dr. Daniel Yinkah Sarfo, the archbishop of the internal province of Ghana, automatically becomes the 10th primate and metropolitan archbishop of the CPWA.”
Johnson, 59, was primate, metropolitan archbishop of the internal province of West Africa and bishop of Gambia. A popular figure both home and abroad, he died in Fajara on Jan. 21 while playing tennis – one of his favorite pastimes.
His unexpected death prompted tributes from around the world and from across Christian denominations and other religions. His funeral, which took place last Friday at the Independence Stadium in Bakau, Gambia, was attended by, among others, a high-level government delegation, and senior members of the Anglican Communion – including its Secretary General Canon Kenneth Kearon.
[Episcopal News Service] For 7-year-old Chelsea West, learning to play guitar at All Saints Episcopal Church in St. Louis, Missouri, is a grand invitation into a wondrous new world.
“I’m learning the E string and the B string,” the second-grader proclaimed excitedly during a Feb. 25 telephone interview with the Episcopal News Service. “It’s fun. I wanted to take the class because I don’t have anything to do when I go home. I like working with Miss Jillian because she makes guitar fun. I want to be able to sing and play the guitar.”
Jillian Smith, an Episcopal Service Corps intern who serves part time at All Saints, said that sometimes “Chelsea will say, this is hard, this is so hard. We’ll be in the middle of learning something and then suddenly she’ll say, ‘I’ve got it. I’ve got it’ and she looks at me, and it’s wonderful.”
All Saints’ Music and Arts Village offers free classes for underserved youth aged 7-11 in North St. Louis. “The Arts Village is designed for underprivileged families who could not otherwise afford music lessons,” she said.
“It is just one way All Saints is really embodying a lot of what the church should do,” Smith added. “They are really putting their heart and soul into the community and neighborhood and trying to do the best they can for the people in this area.”
It wouldn’t be the first time the 140-year-old historically black congregation saw a need and responded. In 1945, when local banks declined to offer financial services to African Americans, All Saints founded a credit union for that express purpose, according to Pat Heeter, church historian and a third-generation member.
Back in the day, the congregation was like family, recalled Heeter, who at 71 is happy to be actively engaged as junior warden and in the Episcopal Church Women. “I’m going to serve my church as best I can,” she said.
(Founded in 1874, the church is the third to be featured in the Episcopal News Service’s series of historically black congregations during February, Black History Month. Others include the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia, the first historically black congregation in the nation, founded in 1792 by the Rev. Absalom Jones, and St. Barnabas, in Pasadena, California, founded in 1923 by seven women in a living room.)
They are among 90 historically black congregations still in existence, churches founded by African Americans post-slavery and during racial segregation in the United States because they were not welcome in mainstream Episcopal churches.
Like many historically black congregations, All Saints’ story converges with the social and politic realities of its community, of the nation and of the Episcopal Church.
It was the first African American Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Missouri and west of the Mississippi, and has occupied at least six sites, according to Heeter. It moved as membership swelled – to a high of 900-plus members in 1961.
At one point, members declined to participate in what was largely viewed as an attempt to create “a racial episcopate” after All Saints hosted the consecration of Rt. Rev. Edward Thomas Demby as the first black bishop suffragan in the continental United States.
That was in 1918 and Demby, who served in the Diocese of Arkansas, was “the suffragan bishop for colored work” and was appointed “jurisdiction for all African-American congregations in the Province of the Southwest,” according to a history compiled by Heeter.
“All Saints did not wish to be turned over formally to the suffragan bishop of Arkansas” but considered itself part of the Diocese of Missouri, according to the history. However, the parish financially supported Demby’s ministry.
By then, All Saints was well known and had already occupied several locations. It grew out of a Sunday school begun in 1871 by James Thompson, an administrator and teacher at a “free colored school” in Louisiana, Missouri, about 100 miles north of St. Louis.
Thompson became the first African-American deacon and priest in the Diocese of Missouri, which at the time encompassed the entire state.
Initial services were held in Trinity Episcopal Church as Our Savior mission. In just a year’s time, the church outgrew the spot and moved to a former Jewish synagogue where there was a name change – they worshiped as the Good Samaritan mission.
In 1882, a third building was purchased. Shortly afterwards, the mission was incorporated as All Saints Parish. By 1901, a rectory had been built beside the church.
Five years later, membership had grown to about 250 communicants and another move, to the former Messiah Unitarian Church building, increased seating capacity. “The Unitarians had spent more than $100,000 to erect this building,” according to the Heeter’s history.
“The building passed with all its furnishings, including the grand organ, into the possession of All Saints’. Three thousand dollars was spent in remodeling the interior and adapting the chancel to the requirements of the worship of the church. At this time All Saints’ voted itself self-sustaining, relinquishing all aid from the Missionary Board and has remained self-sustaining ever since.”
In 1917, the Rev. Douchette Redmond Clarke of Philadelphia became rector, and was “like my grandfather,” Heeter recalled. “He was close with our family because my father’s father died. My father was a very little boy, so the male image in his household became Fr. Clarke.”
A retired school psychologist, Heeter has painstakingly researched historical photos and documents while developing a church archives to preserve the church’s story. There were formative years when the name All Saints immediately telegraphed the church’s mission and identity throughout the community, she recalled.
“I was in the youth choir and we had a very active Sunday school for children and adults and a young teenage group. Our church was the gathering place for the youth of the area,” she recalled. “They didn’t necessarily belong to the church. Our youth group met and we had dances in the parish hall, and that kept us off the street.
“I’ve even run into people who weren’t members and they’d say, ‘do you remember the dances at All Saints?’ Even when I left and went away to college and attended another Episcopal church in Denver, I still told people my church was All Saints, St. Louis,” she said.
Christine Crenshaw, 80, whose parents and grandparents were also members, also recalled the days when church was both a family affair and an identity.
“We had a strong Sunday school and … I remember my grandmother took me on the streetcar every Sunday morning. We never missed church.”
She remembered hearing how the church helped out after her grandfather’s death at an early age. “My grandmother had to make it as best she could without a husband,” she recalled. “But every holiday the church brought baskets of food and turkey.”
She has served on the altar guild for nearly six decades and proudly notes that her grandsons – and a daughter – were acolytes, she said. “I enjoyed going to church,” Crenshaw said. “That was a big thing for me. It was a very, very prestigious church. When you said All Saints, it meant something, that was big time.”
Being church in the 21st century
Heeter’s parents, Solomon and Lucille James, established a tradition as church movers and shakers. “My father was an acolyte, a vestry person, and did volunteer work with buildings and grounds, as well as serving as a board member of the credit union,” Heeter recalled.
Her mother was altar guild president, participated in the St. Ann’s Guild and “something we used to call the Women’s Auxiliary that turned into the ECW” as well as becoming church liaison for a community program that provided home care for cancer patients, she said. “They used to make bandages and lap blankets for the patients.”
In addition to written records – births, marriages, deaths – Heeter is in possession of the original church font, she believes. But portions of the written history are missing, and Heeter has even enlisted the aid of a local PBS television station in her efforts to recover historical photos of the church’s past.
Parts of that history tell the story of ministries that soared and others that, after outliving their usefulness, ended. Like Bethany Mission, a church plant in 1921 that closed five years later. And, like the All Saints Credit Union, faced with stiff competition after mainstream financial institutions no longer excluded African Americans, which closed in 2007.
Heeter said the baptismal font – at which she was baptized – and other memorabilia, currently “is packed away because we don’t have space.”
A room designated for the archives doubles as the music room where Chelsea West and about a dozen other students pluck guitars and learn valuable life lessons – a sign of the times for the 140-year-old church facing changed circumstances, according to the rector, the Rev. Michael Dunnington.
Four years ago, the senior warden invited him to serve as rector and added: “I don’t know if it makes any difference that we’re a historically African-American church,” Dunnington recalled. “I was going to joke that, it’s OK, because I’m a historically white priest.”
True to history, the church again finds itself attempting to respond to community needs, he said.
“We’re struggling,” Dunnington said. With an average Sunday attendance of about 65, meeting in a 1930s-era building with “leaky roofs and malfunctioning boilers … part of the question that floats around here is, ‘what is the place for an African-American church, founded really because of segregation? You want to preserve the history, but that’s the question.
“Like any parish of our age and our congregants, we’re facing the challenges of where do we go from here and what does it mean to be church in the 21st century?”
The answer, at least in part, has been mission.
Parishioners, many of whom commute, “have been really good with responding to the challenges of taking a missional approach to this neighborhood” which remains largely African-American and poor, Dunnington said.
Outreach has included hosting community picnics and seasonal events, like a Halloween ‘Trunk or Treat’ safe neighborhood party. A food pantry ministry has expanded to include health screenings and flu shots and the Arts and Music Village is also hoping to expand.
It takes a village … and a church
The All Saints Arts and Music Village is, for Chelsea West, a “fun” place.
“I made a lot of friends in the class,” she said. “I’m learning the first two strings on the guitar and we’re learning notes on those right now. We haven’t gotten to singing yet.”
Students meet after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There are snacks along with keyboard and guitar lessons. Intern Jillian Smith, 22, a cellist from Tennessee, said music has been such a big part of her life that she wanted to share it with others.
“I try to instill in them that they can do this,” said Smith. “I have them say, ‘yes I can’ all the time and I let them know how proud I am of them. It’s so good to know that you have the ability to do something; that somebody believes in you. They are so talented and smart and sweet.”
Music “really is a new way of thinking; it’s such a process,” she said. “You have to count beats, to remember which note goes where, and why, and the timing. I explain to the students that music is a cool, different language.
“It can teach you so much. It can help in your subjects in school, like learning another language; it can help you set goals, and achieve normally what you otherwise wouldn’t be able to achieve.”
A recent recital added a goal-setting exercise outside the academic world, added Smith.
Sharing the “love and joy that can come from music” means a lot to her, too, she added. “I’m happy everyday that I have this job. The church really is doing a lot of good stuff here, to reach out and be a resource to the community and neighborhood like this. It’s one of the big things the church can do, be a voice for the neighborhood.”
–The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.
[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Church in Zambia says the fight against malaria in the central African region cannot be won unless all stakeholders come together to address the disease, which remains a “major public health and development challenge on the continent.”
Speaking during a cross-border initiative roundtable discussion last week at the Zambia-Namibia border, the Zambia Anglican Council (ZAC) National Programmes Director Grace Mazala Phiri said, “The elimination of malaria in Zambia and neighburing countries cannot be addressed by government alone.”
Despite improvements in malaria incidence in the past seven years, it still remains the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in Zambia. The improvements have been attributed to efforts made by the Zambian government and key partners such as ZAC through a campaign called Roll-Back Malaria.
Phiri explained, “The overall achievements were made through implementing various strategies which include use of insecticide treated nets, indoor residual spraying, prevention during pregnancy and early diagnosis, case management of malaria and surveillance as stipulated in the National Malaria Strategic Plan of 2006-2010.”
The Anglican Alliance, whose mission is to build a world free of poverty and injustice, also participated in the discussions. Co-Director at the Anglican Alliance the Rev. Rachel Carnegie said, “Church leaders from around the world can learn a lot from this initiative and similar strategies can be applied in different contexts around the [Anglican] Communion.
“The church’s reach in communities is unmatched and this can be used to address various health issues. There is so much to learn in this effective partnership between governments, communities and NGOs.”
Phiri said that the programs have been a success due to the strong partnership which ZAC has made with JC Flowers Foundation, Coke Africa Foundation, Christian Aid, JCP, the Ministry of Health in Zambia and the communities in the operational sites.
“The financial and technical support from these partners has made it possible to implement activities successfully,” she said. “This success especially in the ZAC-operated sites cannot go without mention of the contributions of the community-based volunteers from which we draw our strength in implementing the activities.”
The Zambia Anglican Council which has been implementing the Cross Border Malaria Prevention Initiative since 2010 along the borders with Angola and Namibia, and the roundtable discussions provided an opportunity for sharing experiences among participants from the four participating countries of Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola.
There was a general consensus that there is need to integrate the malaria project with other health issues affecting the community such as reproductive health and HIV and AIDS. The team also agreed that the cross-border initiative should continue, even if the malaria burden is lessening, to reach the elimination stage.