[Anglican Communion News Service] One-third of the population of Lebanon are refugees from other countries, an Anglican delegation heard this week as they met with the Middle East Council of Churches in Beirut. The meeting came as Anglican members of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission took advantage of the group’s annual meeting, taking place in the city, to see for themselves how the region was responding to the refugee crisis.
[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop of Egypt Mouneer Anis has called on Anglicans to pray and advocate with their local Egyptian consulates and embassies after a court ruling effectively subsumed the diocese into a separate denominational body. Anis, who is also the archbishop of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, told ACNS that the Evangelical Church Association (ECA) has been laying claim to the Anglican Episcopal Diocese of Egypt for several years. Now, after a 14-year legal battle, a court has ruled that the Anglican Church in Egypt belongs to the ECA and can only be represented by the ECA president.
[Episcopal News Service] The U.S. Justice Department is monitoring the handling of the Dakota Access Pipeline project to “facilitate communication, defuse tensions, support peaceful protests, and maintain public safety.”
That Oct. 25 statement was emailed to Bismarck, North Dakota, television station KFYR hours after Standing Rocking Sioux Nation Tribal Chair Dave Archambault II asked U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate “potential civil rights violations” involving law enforcement’s response to the continuing opposition to the pipeline’s construction.
When contacted by KFYR, Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle also told the television station that the department “will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access Pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe” while the Army Corps of Engineers reviews issues raised by the Standing Rock Sioux and other tribal nations. He added that in the interim the departments of the Army, Interior and Justice “have reiterated our request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.”
Lake Oahe is the dammed section of the Missouri River just a half-mile from the reservation under which the pipeline is routed to run. The river is the water supply for the 8,000 members who live on the tribe’s nearly 2.3 million-acre reservation. The tribe, and its supporters, say the pipeline is also due to cross over its treaty lands and through some of its burial places.
The Episcopal Church has supported the tribe’s opposition to the pipeline since early in the protest actions.
The 1,154-mile pipeline will run from the Bakken oil fields in northwest North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois, carrying as much as 570,000 barrels of oil a day. Energy Transfer Partners, the Dallas-based company building the pipeline, says construction will create 8,000 to 12,000 local jobs, while the AFL-CIO has pegged the number at 4,500. The construction company also says the pipeline will provide a “more direct, cost-effective, safer and environmentally responsible” way to transport oil and reduce the current use of rail and truck transportation
Archambault told Lynch that “state and local law enforcement have increasingly taken steps to militarize their presence, to intimidate participants who are lawfully expressing their views, and to escalate tensions and promote fear.”
Saying that “too often these kinds of investigations take place only after some event regarding excessive force by the police has led to a well-publicized tragedy,” he wrote “I hope and pray that you will see the wisdom of acting now in an effort to prevent such a tragedy here.”
In fact, some out-of-state law-enforcement agencies that have sent reinforcements to assist the Morton Country Sherriff Department in policing the action are withdrawing those officers or facing protests at home over their involvement.
The sheriff of Dane County, based in the Wisconsin capital of Madison, ended his department’s participation in the policing action a week ago. Sheriff Dave Mahoney said that after talking with “a wide cross-section of the community who all share the opinion that our deputies should not be involved in this situation”
The original plan was to rotate three teams of deputies Sunday-to-Sunday over three weeks, according to a report in the Wisconsin State Journal. Mahoney said reduced reimbursement of costs also played a part in the decision.
Madison Alderwoman Rebecca Kemble traveled to Morton County over the Oct. 8-9 weekend to present the Standing Rock Sioux Nation with a parchment copy of a recent City Council resolution expressing solidarity with those protesting the pipeline. Kemble told the newspaper she was acting as a legal observer, recording video of a ceremony featuring prayer, drumming and dancing, when she was grabbed and arrested. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department characterized the incident as a riot, which Kemble disputed.
In Minnesota, hundreds of demonstrators protested in downtown Minneapolis Oct. 25, demanding that Hennepin County Sheriff Department officers not continue sending equipment and personnel to Morton County. The North Dakota request for out-of-state aid was made under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, a national mutual aid agreement among law enforcement and public safety agencies.
Meanwhile, the National Lawyers Guild, in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota, has made federal Freedom of Information Act and North Dakota Open Records Act requests to multiple state and federal agencies in response to the surveillance and arrests of the protestors attempting to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Opposition to the pipeline action has attracted the attention of a growing number of celebrities and activists, including Mark Ruffalo, Susan Sarandon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Shailene Woodley, Al Gore and Jesse Jackson Sr., as well as from organizations such as the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations.
On a day when 126 people were arrested for “illegal protest activities” during a day of often-violent encounters with those protesting the pipeline the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council asked that law-enforcement officials “de-escalate military and police provocation in and near the campsites of peaceful protest and witness of the Dakota Access Pipeline project.”
The arrests occurred Oct. 22 after a group of protestors, or “protectors” as they prefer to be called, went to a Dakota Access Pipeline construction site and began to set up a new camp and road block near Highway 1806. The private land was recently sold to the construction company but the land is also claimed by some as land belonging to the Sioux nation.
During a video news conference on Oct. 26, a Morton County deputy said that “we have the resource, we have the manpower to end this right now” but, he said, they “reached out” to protestors earlier in the day to ask them to move back to the Seven Councils camps, which are located on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land and to let the legal system and the federal government resolve the issue.
The deputy, who did not give his name, said the protestors at the new camp were told earlier in the day: “You have your point. The world knows you don’t want this pipeline to go through.” He said that the protestors who he said “talk about being peaceful and prayerful” were told they ought to return to their original camps and “engage the process.”
He also objected to out-of-state protestors whom he portrayed as trespassers “telling us how we should do things in North Dakota.”
“We keep getting portrayed as the jack-booted thugs coming down for a confrontation,” he said, adding that the only time we’ve engaged with them is when they are breaking the law,” such as when they trespass on private property or “assault other people.”
Protestors have complained of excessive use of force, unnecessary arrests and, in some cases, strip searches of female protestors in the presence of male law-enforcement officers.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said on Oct. 21, the day council passed the resolution, that the Church took a stand on the Dakota Access Pipeline project, not because of the question of whether oil should be used as an energy source. “The issue here is that decisions were made which adversely affect Native communities – the Sioux reservation itself – when there may have been other alternative ways to accomplish the same thing.”
During his sermon at the council’s Eucharist, Curry called the protest “a struggle for human decency” that is “not just a social struggle, because the souls of the children of God are at stake.”
“This is a spiritual struggle, it’s a gospel struggle,” he said.
Most major Christian denominations have come out in support of the Sioux Nation’s opposition, as have nearly 300 tribes. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton was scheduled to be in the Oceti Sakowin Camp on Oct. 26.
The Rev. John Floberg, supervising priest of the Episcopal churches on the North Dakota side of Standing Rock, is recruiting at least 100 ordained people for a day of “united clergy action,” now scheduled for Nov. 4, to show both the tribe and law-enforcement officials that clergy are standing with Standing Rock.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Burundi Bernard Ntahoturi joined a delegation from the World Council of Churches last week in a solidarity visit to churches in Ethiopia. The delegation, led by WCC Central Committee Moderator Agnes Abuom, of the Anglican Church of Kenya, met leaders of member churches, an interfaith body and political leaders, including Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome.
[Episcopal News Service] Following an August retreat in Panama with representatives from the different regions of Latin America and the Caribbean, Episcopal and Anglican leaders in theological education are clear that training must include analysis of regional problems so that clergy can perform quality pastoral work.
The Commission of Theological Education for Latin America and the Caribbean (CETALC) is clear that it wants to carry out pastoral work responding to the needs of each region. To achieve this, the first challenge lies in the preparation of clergy and lay members, say the commission’s members.
“Seminaries can’t focus on just one thing; theology must be integrated with the current reality, with everything that touches our society. The pastoral care has to move in diverse fields and attempt, through the message of the gospel, to nurture, change and transform society. But for that [to happen], good training is needed,” said Dominican Republic Bishop Julio Holguín, CETALC’s president.
As the first step toward putting the training on the right path, following the late summer gathering, the members of CETALC have agreed to standardize the curriculum throughout Latin America
“We feel that since we are one Church, the path of theological education cannot be pursued in a fragmented way. Creating a process of action and reflection [by] visualizing the challenges we face in this century can help us to create a broader perspective and to respond as a bloc,” said the Rev. Eduardo Chinchilla, who represents the Episcopal Church of Costa Rica’s representative on CETALC.
The CETALC representative also talked about the challenges of being Episcopalian in a Latin American context, which remains overwhelmingly Roman Catholic and patriarchal.
In many regions, the influence of other religious denominations is reflected in the Anglican and Episcopal churches. In other communities, however, clergy can be seen struggling to maintain Episcopal identity but forgetting the context in which they are evolving, said Holguín
Concerning this challenge, one of the great agreements in the last meeting of CETALC was the future publication of a book on the history of Anglicanism throughout Latin America and the Caribbean “to be used as a textbook throughout the Church,” said Chinchilla.
The Episcopal Church’s ninth province includes seven dioceses across the Caribbean and Central and South America. In addition to the Episcopal dioceses, CETALC also includes members from the Anglican Churches in Central America, or IARCA, its Spanish acronym.
Greater presence of women
The Episcopal Church has been very revolutionary in opening up to historically marginalized groups such as women and the LGBT community. However, the presence of women in the theological education is recent in Latin America.
“For me, one of the important points of the last meeting is that there were women in charge of theological education representing some countries. In the past, in that meeting you only saw men, but on this occasion there was more of a presence of women,” said the Rev. Glenda McQueen, the Episcopal Church’s staff officer for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Cuba, Mexico, El Salvador and Brazil have women priests as directors of theological education.
“On my work team I’m the only woman, but I’ve never felt that they treat me differently. They support my work and appreciate my qualities,” said the Rev. Irma Guerra de Alvarado, director of theological education for El Salvador.
In fact, her work in El Salvador right now is very important, since the Anglican-Episcopal Church of El Salvador plans to open its first seminary in El Salvador in 2017, and the training of future generations is in her hands.
Guerra was the first female Salvadoran priest trained and ordained in San Salvador. “There aren’t many of us, but we hope that with [more] opportunities for training in the country, the number of [women] clergy and lay women will increase,” she said.
Holguín recognized that in Latin American culture—where machismo is deeply rooted—the path for Episcopal women hasn’t been easy, but there has been progress, he said.
“There’s still a lot to fight for, especially in some areas of South America, because full ordination of women hasn’t been achieved; but we’ve made progress, and there’s no turning back. It’s clear that ministry and pastoral work is a task for men and women. We are all equally called [to ordained ministry],” he said.
Social Reality and Training
Today more than ever, Latin America and the Caribbean face social problems such as poverty, migration, violence, unemployment, political crisis, etc. CETALC believes that clergy and laypersons must be prepared to respond to these problems through faith and pastoral work. To that end, it hopes to reform and standardize all curricula of the region. Meanwhile, the commission continues in its efforts to extend educational opportunities via grants.
McQueen explained that grants planned in six categories would continue to be awarded. These range from individual grants to visit the Holy Land, research scholarships, grants to dioceses and even some financial support for education by province.
According to Chinchilla, the provinces have also decided to share training resources. In fact, the possibility was raised of exchanges of instructors and students, as well as of bibliographic resources. Brazil has already made its resource database, in Spanish and Portuguese, available to all participating seminaries through its web page.
Holguín said he hopes that these efforts will contribute to improved pastoral work in Latin America and the Caribbean. However, he recognizes that given the reality of the countries in the region, trained clergy often emigrate to the United States or other countries.
“We’re glad that our clergy are welcomed in the United States. We observe with satisfaction that many serve the Latino community there. Although ideally, they would also find good opportunities in their own countries,” he said.
CETALC has been operating since the 1970s and has assisted in training hundreds of deacons and priests. A study focused on the impact of theological education in Latin America is underway, with the final report expected at the end of the year.
— Clara Villatoro is a freelance writer based in El Salvador.
[Anglican Journal] An Ottawa architect is planning a new kind of residence for seniors—an intentional community, to be built on redeveloped church property.
Rosaline Hill, a member of St. Alban’s Anglican Church, hopes to build a residence containing 20-30 units in the nation’s capital, according to Crosstalk, the newspaper of the diocese of Ottawa. The development would be based on the idea of “co-housing”—the formation of communities organized by a group of like- minded people.
[Diocese of Atlanta] In an effort to confront racism and heal from it, 175 people made a pilgrimage Saturday, Oct. 22 to Macon and marked where a 1922 lynch mob dumped the body of John “Cockey” Glover.
“Telling the truth is the only path to real healing,” Catherine Meeks told the crowd assembled inside the Douglass Theatre, a historic landmark in Macon established by one of the city’s first African-American entrepreneurs. “People want to say that that the truth will lead to division, but it’s the lies that keep us divided.”
Meeks, a former professor of African-American studies at nearby Mercer University, led the pilgrimage on behalf of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta’s Beloved Community Commission for Dismantling Racism, which she chairs.
The pilgrimage grew out of the commission’s four-year effort to remove barriers to seeing God’s face in everyone. The commission last month hosted Alabama death penalty lawyer and “Just Mercy” author Bryan Stevenson, who drew a packed crowd at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta. “When you go to spaces where there has been abuse, trauma and horror, and do something reflective, you can begin to respond to the trauma,” he said.
The daylong pilgrimage began before dawn at Meeks’ home church, St. Augustine’s Episcopal in Morrow, where buses filled with people of various colors, ages, cultures, denominations and religions. Most were from the Atlanta diocese; others came from Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, Massachusetts and California. Some are planning similar commemorations around race-related violence where they live.
In general, those on the pilgrimage were seeking to change the narrative of racially-charged violence—including modern-day police killings of unarmed people of color—by bearing witness publically to its wrongness, sanctifying the lives of all people and honoring Glover and others as martyrs.
“Why am I as a white person 50 times safer walking down the street than a black person?” asked Chris Wight of Oak View, California, who works at a ministry devoted to social justice and was in Georgia to visit a similar one and support the pilgrimage. “In my local area, native peoples’ lands were built over by freeways and their histories demolished. We need to look at true histories, not whitewashed history.”
Recalling a violent death
At the Macon theater, the group celebrated Eucharist with Atlanta Bishop Robert C. Wright, who said that racial reconciliation isn’t about guilt or defensiveness—it’s critical to loving others like Jesus loves. “We ground what is and could be in this common cup,” he said.
The sermon by Simeon Bruce, a fellow in Atlanta’s Episcopal Service Corps, urged listeners that remembering must be followed by repenting from judging others and learning from our mistakes.
For the offertory anthem, a Clark Atlanta University Quartet soloist sang the protest ballad “Strange Fruit”: Black body swinging in the Southern breeze /Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
The service continued outside the theater, where on Aug. 1, 1922, Glover’s lynched body had been dumped “to make a statement,” said Gina Ward, the theater’s director.
Local historian Andrew Manis said Glover appeared at a poolroom drunk and waving a pistol, and when law enforcement responded, he fatally shot a white policeman and two white customers. He went into hiding as police searched and harassed the African-American community and the Ku Klux Klan put a $100 bounty on him. The Douglass Theatre, which had been built by African-American entrepreneur Charles Douglass, usually was a safe place for the community, but during the manhunt, Douglass himself received death threats.
As an American, Glover was supposed to have the constitutional right to equal protection under the law and a fair trial, guaranteed by the 14th Amendment passed in 1868. Still, in the years following the Civil War, rights were not applied equally. From 1886 to 1992, after the end of Reconstruction, at least 15 people were lynched in middle Georgia.
Two days after the poolroom shootings, Glover was apprehended 50 miles north in Griffin, but his police transport ended before he got to Macon.
“Just north of the city, they were stopped by a mob of an estimated 400 angry white men, who grabbed up Glover from the back floorboard of the car. [They] emptied shotguns into his body, left him lying face up in a small swampy ditch … then decided to dump the body in the back of a truck and take it into Macon,” Manis wrote in “Macon Black and White, An Unutterable Separation in the American Century.”
In downtown Macon, the biggest city in central Georgia then and now, “the mob jerked Glover’s remains out of the truck and dumped it in the street, where his clothing was cut to shreds and sold as souvenirs,” Manis wrote. “Later, the nearly nude body was dumped in the foyer of the Douglass Theatre. Someone shouted, ‘Get the gasoline,’ but the police arrived just before the body could be incinerated inside the theater. By that time hundreds of whites had converged on the area and overwhelmed police. Pushing and shoving, many shouted, ‘Burn him!’ or ‘Hang him up.’ Others yelled, ‘Let’s get a look at him.’”
On the spot where that happened, the service Saturday continued under a bright autumn sun.
Wright unveiled a stone and bronze marker embedded on the ground with Glover’s name and “martyred brothers and unknown others” lynched from 1886 to 1922 in middle Georgia, with the date and seal of the Atlanta diocese. Although almost a century has passed since Glover’s death, one purpose of the pilgrimage was to present lynchings in the context of injustice toward people of color, which many see continuing today in instances where police fatally shoot unarmed African-American men.
The Rev. Kimberly Jackson, an associate rector at All Saints Episcopal Church in Atlanta, led a litany of remembrance.
“We remember these martyrs who were targeted by racial terrorism and stripped of their humanity,” she said before reciting the names of Glover; James Moore; Owen Ogletree; Charles Gibson; Jack Hilsman; Charles Powell; William Bostick; Alonzo Green and his unnamed son; Paul Jones; Willie Singleton; Amos Gibson; John Goolsby; Henry Etheridge; John Gilham; and those unknown. “We lament the historical silence that surrounds their lynching and buries the truth,” she recited.
“Today we commit to break the silence, to uncover the hard truths of our history and to face the legacy of racial terrorism,” the congregation responded.
“We are poets and prophets, protestors and protectors, committed to dismantling racism in our homes, churches, schools, and beyond… Let us go forth in the world until justice, real justice, comes,” concluded Jackson.
One of the first offerings was a cluster of white sage. It came from Wight’s front yard, a sacred herb for native people in his part of California and his way of marking the sanctity of life across cultures.
Recognizing the civic and personal importance
The event attracted the blessing of the Macon-Bibb County government, which declared Oct. 22, 2016, “Reclaiming Hope through Remembering Day.”
“No resolution or ordinance means more than what we are to do today,” Elaine Lucas, a local elected official for 25 years, told the pilgrimage audience. “Even though we don’t know all the names and we never will know all the names of the martyrs, you are remembering them, and we are remembering them. I salute you, and we salute you… This gives me real hope that we can come together and do what’s right for everyone in this country.”
The pilgrimage continued at the nearby Tubman Museum, which focuses on African-American art, history and culture, where participants viewed historical photos of lynchings across the country, including Minnesota, Wyoming and Oklahoma. Facilitators worked with small groups to continue the dialogue before the pilgrimage ended.
“This is so important at a time in which our nation is politically and racially polarized,” said Tubman Museum Director Andy Ambrose. “We need to do this.”
For Christian clergy and lay leaders in Georgia and the South, reconciliation efforts such as the pilgrimage represent a significant historical shift.
“One great irony is that as this region was simultaneously becoming the lynching center of the United States, it was also becoming the Bible Belt,” Manis told the pilgrimage participants. “So many of those ghastly affairs were presided over by Christian clergy…. The white Christians at the time were certain that the ritual [of lynching] was a sign of their purity.”
Confronting evidence of lynching
Many of the museum’s lynching photos featured bystanders, with their expressions ranging from smiling to disinterest. Katie Capurso Ernst, program manager of the Mission Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, wondered if their response was any different from most Americans who view a police shooting video today.
“I don’t know in the moment if people are aware when history is being made,” said Ernst, who is helping plan a similar commemoration in the Diocese of Massachusetts. “In a thousand years, would people look back at [current] videos of police shootings, how many views they got and things still hadn’t changed?”
Others said connecting the lynching evidence in Macon to present racial violence represents a powerful call to social justice.
“We are drawing a line between lynching and police shootings. It‘s an evolution of the same intention,” said Paul Daniels II, a student at Yale’s Berkeley Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut, and part of the delegation from Massachusetts that is seeking ways to address racism in their area. “Just as theologians connect lynching to the crucifixion of Christ. He was impoverished, with brown skin and he didn’t do what he was supposed to do.”
“This helps you think more about faith and how to use it to help others,” said James Smith, 13, of Forsyth, Georgia, who attends St. Francis Episcopal Church and came with his sister and parents. “I didn’t understand how bad it was and I need to see how it is now and how I can relate so we can fix it for the future.”
In 2017 and 2018, the Beloved Community Commission for Dismantling Racism plans to offer similar pilgrimages to other sites in Georgia. For more information, contact Catherine Meeks, email@example.com.
— Michelle Hiskey is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and member of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church.
[Anglican Communion News Service] Australia’s faith communities should be allowed to help settle and provide care for those asylum seekers still being held in offshore detention centers on Nauru and Manus Island, the National Council of Churches in Australia has said.
En juin 2016, lors du référendum sur le maintien ou non dans l’Union européenne, l’Irlande du Nord s’est prononcée à 56% en faveur du maintien dans l’Europe. Un vote opposé à celui de l’Angleterre. Pourtant, les deux nations font toutes deux partie du même état : le Royaume-Uni de Grande Bretagne et d’Irlande du Nord.
Dès le lendemain du référendum : l’archevêque de Dublin, primat de l’église d’Irlande a fait part des craintes des irlandais par rapport au Brexit. L’église d’Irlande est de tradition anglicane, mais revendique toutefois ses origines celtiques, remontant à 1600 ans et aux premiers chrétiens dont le fameux St. Patrick, saint patron de l’Irlande.
Les craintes des irlandais portent sur la frontière, jusqu’ici plutôt lisse, entre la république d’Irlande au sud et les six comtés d’Ulster, rattachés en 1921 à la Grande Bretagne. L’église d’Irlande compte, elle, une province de chaque côte de la frontière, avec cinq diocèses dans la Province de Dublin au sud et sept dans la province d’Armagh, au nord.
Certains (et pas seulement en Irlande) entrevoient aussi dans le Brexit, le danger de réactiver les luttes sanglantes entre les nationalistes catholiques (aussi appelés républicains) qui militent pour rejoindre la République d’Irlande et les unionistes protestants attachés à la Grande-Bretagne. Un réel danger, après trente ans de conflits et une véritable guerre civile qui a fait près de 4000 morts, civils et militaires.
Depuis 2007, la paix est revenue en Irlande du Nord, grâce au partage du pouvoir entre le parti Unioniste démocrate et le Sinn Fein. Mais jusqu’à quel point cette paix peut-elle résister ? Aujourd’hui encore, les communautés vivent toujours dans des quartiers séparés. Des quartiers séparés par des murs, à Belfast.
Pour mieux appréhender les enjeux, le Magazine Anglican propose un bref retour historique sur la situation politico religieuse. Au XVIe siècle, avec la proclamation d’Henry VIII, roi d’Irlande, puis la colonisation « plantation » de l’île par les anglais et les écossais. En 1972, avec le « bloody Sunday » à Londonderry.
En 2002, à Belfast, avec les émeutes à l’origine des murs qui séparent les deux communautés.
Mais c’est aussi sous un jour plus souriant que le Magazine anglican est parti à la rencontre des anglicans d’Irlande du Nord. Dans deux magnifiques cathédrales anglicanes : St. Columba de Londonderry, la première cathédrale construite en Europe après la réforme ; Sainte Anne de Belfast dont l’acoustique exceptionnelle met en valeur les voix de ses choristes.
En évoquant aussi les œuvres du très célèbre C.S. Lewis, natif de Belfast et celles du compositeur irlandais Charles Wood.
Une invitation à découvrir l’Irlande du Nord sur : http://frequenceprotestante.com/emission/magazine-anglican/
Le Magazine Anglican est diffusé, le 4e samedi du mois, à l’antenne parisienne de Fréquence Protestante. Via la radio numérique, chaque émission est accessible pendant six mois, aux auditeurs francophones d’Europe, d’Amérique, d’Afrique et d’Océanie.
Animé depuis 2012, par Laurence Moachon, paroissienne de la Cathédrale de la Sainte Trinité à Paris, le Magazine Anglican a pour objectif de mieux faire connaître la tradition anglicane / épiscopale.
[Episcopal News Service] The coming winter and changing attitudes on the part of some Dakota Access Pipeline project opponents and law enforcement officials near the Standing Rock Sioux Nation are changing the Episcopal Church’s ministry in that part of North Dakota.
Episcopalians spent part of Oct. 24 driving church vans around the state picking up protestors who had been arrested over the weekend. A planned camp move will put a winter protest camp close to an Episcopal church that will be able to bring even more services to campers.
The Oct. 22-23 weekend was a heated one near the proposed pipeline route. The Morton County Sheriff Department said Oct. 24 that 126 people were arrested two days earlier for “illegal protest activities” during a day of often-violent encounters with those protesting the pipeline that will run under the Standing Rock Sioux’ water supply, over its treaty lands and through some of its burial places. One person was arrested on Oct. 23, the department said, bringing the total number of arrests to 269 since the protest started Aug. 10.
Some pipeline opponents, who prefer to call themselves “protectors,” seemed to “have upped the ante and got themselves in place to block construction,” the Rev. John Floberg, supervising priest of the Episcopal churches on the North Dakota side of Standing Rock, told Episcopal News Service Oct. 24. The authorities, he added, responded with what he called “overwhelming force.”
“From my side of this, the authorities have always been provocative and excessive, and the people that are doing their protection acts are getting pushed to take a harder stand that is still non-violent,” said Floberg in a telephone interview as he drove a church van to Fargo, North Dakota, about four hours to the east of the camps to collect some of the protestors who were taken there for arraignment.
Floberg’s trip to Fargo Oct. 24 was one of two trips the Episcopal Church on Standing Rock was taking that day to bring protestors back to the camps. People arrested were taken to six locations around the vast state of North Dakota for processing, Floberg said. “And of course they don’t get offered a ride home,” he added.
The Bismarck Tribune reported that the sheriff department said four protesters flattened the tires of a vehicle that had been driven onto the construction site and then attached themselves to the vehicle. Two of them were attached to the outside of the vehicle, and one to the steering wheel. The fourth person had put an arm through a hole in the door and had his hand encased in a bucket of hardened cement. All four were released from the vehicle and then arrested.
The newspaper said between 200 to 300 protesters marched during the early morning hours to a Dakota Access Pipeline construction site and began to set up a new camp. The private land was recently sold to the construction company but the land is also claimed by some as land belonging to the Sioux nation.
“This is being termed a riot today because the individuals know they are criminally trespassing,” said Capt. Bryan Niewind, of the North Dakota Highway Patrol, according to the Bismarck Tribune. “They are creating chaos for law enforcement. They are creating a dangerous environment for us when you have people attaching themselves to equipment.”
Niewind also described the protesters as verbally abusive.
Photographs of the Oct. 22 actions in the Tribune and on various Facebook sites show variously uniformed police in riot gear holding long batons, rifles and fire extinguisher-sized canisters of pepper spray. At least one apparently armored vehicle can be seen. Pepper spray was used because “we want to use the most nonlethal method possible,” Rob Keller, a spokesman for the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, told the newspaper.
On Oct. 23, the sheriff’s department said that protesters “attacked a helicopter with a drone, fired arrows at a helicopter, established an illegal road block on Highway 1806 and illegally occupied private property moving in tents and teepee’s (sic) to a DAPL construction site.”
Floberg said law-enforcement officers fired their guns at the drone. “That’s shots fired in the air and you don’t know where those bullets are coming down,” he said. “That’s provocative action as well.”
Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said at an Oct. 24 news conference that the law-enforcement presence near the protestors’ camps and near the pipeline route will soon increase. He said personnel from Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming responded to his request for help. Officers from other North Dakota counties and the state highway patrol are already helping Morton County.
Authorities have closed sections of Highway 1806, the main north-south road through the reservation. Niewind said at the news conference that the road was not safe because of increased protest activity.
On Oct. 22 Floberg and his colleagues on the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council asked federal and state officials to “de-escalate military and police provocation in and near the campsites of peaceful protest and witness of the Dakota Access Pipeline project.”
The council resolution is rooted in the Episcopal Church’s support of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation in its struggle against the pipeline. That support has come from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry both in words and his presence with the protestors as well as visits by Heidi J. Kim, Episcopal Church staff officer for racial reconciliation; the Rev. Charles A. Wynder Jr., staff officer for social justice and advocacy engagement; the Rev. Heather Melton, United Thank Offering staff officer; and the UTO board.
After the violent weekend, Floberg began recruiting at least 100 ordained people for a “united clergy action,” now scheduled for Nov. 4, to show both the tribe and law-enforcement officials that clergy are standing with Standing Rock.
“It’s also for those engaged in the protest to see that clergy are bearing a witness of non-violent peaceful protest,” he said.
Clergy participants will be trained before the protests in “how to walk up to the line and not cross it.”
“What I have made very clear is that in every statement that has been made, no matter what denomination has made that statement, the solidarity is with the Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman and council,” he said. “We are going to follow their lead in whatever it is that we do. It is not a statement of solidarity with the camps; we never declared that.”
Floberg acknowledged that the camps have been criticized for their lack of unified leadership. “And people have stepped beyond the bounds of what the Standing Rock Sioux tribe has said that they wanted done and or not done, so we’re trying to reinforce the chairman’s position,” he said of the clergy action, explaining that the tribe’s position calls for protest against the pipeline along with the acknowledgement that the pipeline will be stopped through efforts in court and in other government arenas.
The nature of the camps is about to change. Floberg told ENS during the Executive Council meeting that the Sioux tribal council voted Oct. 19 to invite the campers in the Oceti Sakowin Camp to come to what is now being called Winter Camp on reservation land two miles south of the current location and near St. James’ Episcopal Church in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. When the tribe asked the Cannon Ball community to consider taking in the camp, the church hosted the meeting – and supplied supper – for residents to discuss the issue.
One benefit of the move, Floberg said, is that tribal police will have jurisdiction over the area. Earthen lodges are being proposed and he will offer the church’s mini excavator, purchased via a sustainability grant from the Episcopal Church’s budget, for use in camp construction.
The proposed 50-acre site is near a cell tower. Floberg, who has been practicing a ministry of presence with protestors for months, said the camp is expected to be able to accommodate 500 people, most of them non-reservation residents. Because that number is much smaller than the thousands that have been at the other camps, Floberg said, campers will be asked to rotate out of the camp so that as many people as possible “can come and join in the solidarity.”
“We will turn our multi-purpose space that is the church into a place where people can have social time, they can have movies,” he said of St. James’. “We will continue to respond to human needs as they are presented to us and as other sources can’t assist.”
And, Floberg said, St. James’ will no doubt have a Christmas party “like we’ve never done before.”
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Anglican Communion News Service] Complaints of church-based sexual abuse in Australia’s internal province of Victoria will be investigated by an independent body with its own board of directors. The dioceses of Melbourne and Bendigo have already approved the new structure, which will be considered by the dioceses of Wangaratta, Ballarat and Gippsland next year. The new body is being established by the church but is separate from the dioceses and their archbishop. It will work across a number of dioceses.
[Anglican Communion News Service] A simple act of solidarity with the people of Aleppo by a parish of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland has turned into a global initiative supported by several Anglican churches. On Oct. 12, the parish of Kallio in Helsinki, began ringing its tolling bell at 5 p.m. each evening. The tolling bell, usually rung at funerals and to mark periods of mourning, was rung to mark the thousands of people killed during the military onslaught in Syria’s besieged city of Aleppo. A social media campaign, #BellsForAleppo, encouraged other churches to join in with the initiative, culminating on Oct. 24 — United Nations Day.
[Anglican Communion News Service] A hymn written by the Very Rev. Chris Butt, dean of St Christopher’s Cathedral in Bahrain, has been selected as the winner of a hymn competition to mark the 40th anniversary of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf. The competition was announced last year by the diocese’s standing committee, who said that “whilst not as auspicious as a 50-year jubilee, it is nevertheless an achievement to be proud of.”
[Episcopal News Service] Harnessing energy from the sun is expected to save Church Divinity School of the Pacific $120,000 annually.
Earlier this year, the Berkeley, California-based Episcopal seminary installed solar panels on Easton, Parsons and Shires Halls. It’s the largest solar installation of any theological seminary in the United States.
“When American Solar came out and looked at our flat roofs with basically 100 percent southern exposure they were blown away by how effective this is going to be on our campus,” said seminary Dean and President W. Mark Richardson, during an interview with Episcopal News Service earlier this year.
On Oct. 22, former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, St. Margaret’s Visiting Professor of Women in Ministry at CDSP, and Bishop of California Marc Andrus lead a liturgy to bless and dedicate the solar panels at the end of a daylong conference exploring the church’s response to the crisis of climate change.
The solar panels move the seminary toward energy independence, and the project itself is also a way to teach and empower students who were involved in the decision-making process to think about ways to mitigate climate change when they graduate, said Richardson.
The leadership at CDSP involved students in the solar installation process from the start. Including walking students through determining the project’s feasibility, the request for proposals, how to secure the necessary legal contracts, setting a timetable for build-out; the skills seminarians will need in the community, said Richardson.
Through a dashboard, students will be able to track the effectiveness and energy-saving capacity of the solar panels.
In December 2015, Richardson and Andrus were among those who represented the Episcopal Church and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at the United Nations climate talks in Paris where negotiators reached a comprehensive agreement on climate change.
The Paris Agreement calls on countries worldwide to limit carbon emissions. Limiting carbon will require a decreased dependence on fossil fuels and an increase in reliance on renewable energy sources. CDSP’s solar panels show what efforts nongovernmental institutions can make toward helping the world shift toward renewable energy.
“CDSP is going off of one grid – the grid of life lived by extraction and ever-increasing consumption – and consciously becoming part of a network, that of life lived sustainably and in communion,” said Andrus, in an email to ENS. “CDSP is making a profoundly spiritual shift, towards wholeness.”
So far, 84 of 197 parties, including the United States, have ratified the Paris Agreement, which calls on not just nations, but state and local governments, and nongovernmental institutions, including religious organizations, to make an effort to prevent the worst effects of climate change.
“The Episcopal Church too can lend their important aid to fulfilling the Paris Agreement,” said Andrus, who represented the Episcopal Church at the United Nations for the signing of the agreement.
As retired Archbishop of Cape Town Njongonkulu Winston Hugh Ndungane said of the church in Africa, “‘There is no better means of delivering social services than the church, as we have an “outlet” in every village.’ Look at how the Episcopal Church is one body, with some 5,000 ‘outlets’; our impact for helping prevent climate disaster is potentially enormous,” he said.
Of the Diocese of California’s 81 congregations, 30 percent have installed solar panels. The goal, Andrus added, is to install solar panels on all of the diocese’s churches and diocesan buildings.
Berkeley sees an average 256 days of sunshine a year, and like nearly every region of the United States, “solar power generation makes abundantly good sense,” said Jefferts Schori, in an email to ENS.
“The installation of this solar array on the campus of CDSP will provide a major boon to the annual budget, lessen the demand for electricity produced from fossil fuel and reduce the need for future power plants,” she said. “Christian seminaries have long claimed their grounding in the Son of God who brings light to the world. How better to enact this in a sacramental witness to the interconnectedness of all creation?
“CDSP is offering the world an outward and visible sign of the spiritual grace abounding in this community.”
— Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal News Service – New Brunswick, New Jersey] The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council asked Oct. 22 that law-enforcement officials “de-escalate military and police provocation in and near the campsites of peaceful protest and witness of the Dakota Access Pipeline project.”
The request came in a resolution council passed as it wrapped up its three-day meeting here. A summary of resolutions council passed is here.
Council’s resolution on the Dakota pipeline protest follows support by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry both in words and his presence with the protestors.
The Rev. John Floberg, council member and supervising priest of the Episcopal churches on the North Dakota side of Standing Rock, told the council’s Joint Standing Committee on Advocacy and Networking for Mission Oct. 21 that the way the protest has been conducted has been “the most powerful experience I have had in my 25 years on Standing Rock.” And, yet, he said, he has been shaken by the racist responses that the protest has generated elsewhere in the state.
The Episcopal Church’s ministry to the protestors opened what he called the “evangelical window of the gospel” between the Christian churches and Native Americans, “versus all the racism that has been reared up so ugly in North Dakota.”
Floberg told the committee that law enforcement’s response has been provocative and nearly amounts to martial law. He said he has seen officers shoulder their guns against prayerful groups of protesting adults and children.
“It’s going to result in death” if the response is not stepped back, he said.
Council’s resolution calls on President Barack Obama, the North Dakota governor, North Dakota’s U.S. senators and congressman, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Morton County Sheriff Department to make all necessary efforts possible to immediately de-escalate military and police provocation at the campsites. It praises the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council and its chairman and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and its council for their “prayerful and nonviolent presence.”
The resolution commends the dioceses of North Dakota and South Dakota for their supportive leadership of the Sioux Nation’s response “to the corporate and governmental intrusion onto its sacred ground”; the ecumenical and interfaith partners that have joined the Episcopal Church’s ministry there; the Anglican Church of Canada; and the Episcopal dioceses that have offered moral and financial support.
The resolution asks the Episcopal Church at all levels to prayerfully and financially support the planned winter encampment, which it says is the Sioux Nation’s “right for peaceful assembly and protest.”
On the closing day of the meeting, Floberg presented to the Archives of the Episcopal Church housed in Austin, Texas, the now-tattered Episcopal Church flag that flew over the Oceti Skowin Camp in North Dakota for months. The flag, he said, was the only Christian church flag among the 300 flags of tribal nations that flew over the peaceful-protest encampment.
On Oct. 21 the flag was part of Holy Eucharist at nearby historic Christ Church. Early in the service, the flag hung near a plaque commemorating the fifth president of the House of Deputies in the early 1800s and Christ Church Rector Abraham Beach; at the Great Thanksgiving, the flag was moved to the altar.
One of the first organizational meetings of what is now known as the Episcopal Church took place at Christ Church. During a lunch-break news conference Oct. 22, current House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings linked those organizers to the Episcopalians now ministering on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
“They were really courageous, forward-looking, patriotic Anglicans trying to figure out how to be the church in a new land and in a new way,” she said, juxtaposing their efforts with church members in the Dakotas who are now “being Episcopalians in a brave and courageous new way” and who are “trying to figure out the exact same thing.”
Curry said that the Episcopal flag with what is now an “old rugged cross” running down its middle had been in the Oceti Skowin Camp a “visible witness of what the cross is about – the out-stretched arms of Jesus reflecting the love of God and now reaching out at Standing Rock, reaching out for everyone to be treated as a child of God, reaching out for us to care for God’s creation.”
And, Curry said, that “old, worn Episcopal flag” was the “defining image” of this council meeting and its work around racial reconciliation and evangelism.
During the Oct. 22 news conference, Curry said the Episcopal Church took a stand on the Dakota Access Pipeline project, not because of the question of whether oil should be used as an energy source. “The issue here is that decisions were made which adversely affect Native communities – the Sioux reservation itself – when there may have been other alternative ways to accomplish the same thing.”
The decisions involved whether the environmental assessment process was properly conducted and whether the United States respected the Sioux’s rights as a sovereign nation.
Curry said he was glad that the federal justice and interior departments, as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, had called for construction to stand down 20 miles to the east and 20 miles to the west of the Missouri River so that those decisions could be reviewed. The pipeline is routed under the river, which is the reservation’s only source of water.
The Episcopal Church’s entry into the protest is rooted in its 2009 repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery, Curry said. “Part of that action was to say we have got to find more just, equitable and fair ways of being in relationship with our brothers and sisters in the Native communities in our country,” the presiding bishop said.
The pipeline protest, he said, is a way of calling people to step back and examine what is the “best, most sensible and most prudent way” to address energy needs of the nation. Curry emphasized that he went to the Standing Rock Nation at the request of Episcopalians involved in the action.
“I really do believe this is not a partisan thing. This is not a liberal or conservative thing. This is not a Republican-Democratic thing. This is a human thing and it’s a Jesus thing to do what is right for all God’s children,” he said. “I am glad our government is trying to figure out what that is.”
Executive Council met at the Heldrich Hotel in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Previous ENS coverage of the New Brunswick meeting is here.
The Executive Council carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1). The council comprises 38 members – 20 of whom (four bishops, four priests or deacons, and 12 lay people) are elected by General Convention and 18 (one clergy and one lay) by the nine provincial synods for six-year terms – plus the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies. In addition, the vice president of the House of Deputies, secretary, chief operating officer, treasurer and chief financial officer have seat and voice but no vote.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Diocese of Puerto Rico] The Search and Nominating Committee for the election of a Bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Puerto Rico, after deep prayer and discernment in the exercise of its responsibility and in accordance with the criteria established by the Standing Committee, on Sept. 27 announced a slate of four candidates for the position of the eighth bishop of the diocese, succeeding the Rt. Rev. Wilfrido Ramos Orench who has served as provisional bishop since March 2014.
- Rev. Pres. Carla Roland Guzmán – Diocese of New York
- Rev. P. César Ramírez Segarra – Diocese of Puerto Rico
- Rev. P. Rafael Morales Maldonado – Diocese of Puerto Rico
- Rev. P. Luis Fernando Padilla Morales – Diocese of Puerto Rico
A petition process, during which additional candidates may come forward, ended Oct. 10.
The Election Assembly will be held on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, at the Lions Club of Bayamón.
[Anglican Communion News Service] South Africa’s church leaders have said that the country is facing a constitutional crisis. In a joint letter, 31 church and faith leaders – including the Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa – say that the “fees must fall” university protests are just one aspect of a much wider crisis facing the country.
[Episcopal News Service – New Brunswick, New Jersey] The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council traveled from here to New York on the first day of its Oct. 20-22 meeting to meet with the denominational staff as part of the Church’s effort to have its culture better reflect the loving, liberating and life-giving way of Jesus.
Kicking off the afternoon of conversation, Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry said the work is an effort “to set this church free to light a fire in the world for good and for love.”
The entire denominational staff met together Oct. 18-19 to continue the culture-change work it has been doing since late spring. During the final exercise of that gathering each staff member verbally committed to one behavioral change. Curry, describing his reaction to listening to those pledges, said that behind each vow was “deep hope for us to be something closer to what God dreams for us to be.”
During council’s opening plenary session Oct. 20 both Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings reminded members about last month’s historic meeting of the church’s House of Bishops and House of Deputies that many members joined to hear about the culture-change work is being aided by Human Synergistics International. The consultants were hired after an investigation of staff complaints made last fall about the work practices of three senior managers at the Church Center in New York. Curry told Episcopal News Service at the time that the decision was broadly based on addressing the need for any church organization in a leadership transition to examine its culture.
Jennings linked the work to the questions the Church has recently faced about how to change its structures to better enable the work of mission. “If we don’t pay attention to what we’re learning about the culture of the church, and concentrate on changing it to create a Jesus Movement culture across the church, we’ll never make meaningful structural change,” she said.
Changing the Church’s culture “will free up the energy and power of Episcopalians in all orders of ministry to fulfill God’s mission for the Episcopal Church” and the combination of the Church’s culture and energy “will lead us to create a healthy, life-giving, liberating structure that makes the best use of our resources as the people of God,” she said.
Curry related the story of the mid-19th and early 20th century evangelist Billy Sunday who, upon reading the Book of Common Prayer, declared “If the Episcopal Church ever wakes up – look out.”
“My brothers and sisters, we are awake,” Curry said.
Also during the morning plenary before council traveled to New York City, the Episcopal Church’s three Anglican Consultative Council members, Jennings; Rosalie Ballentine, a deputy from the Diocese of the Virgin Islands; and Diocese of Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas reported on the ACC-16 meeting.
Jennings said the Episcopal Church members went to the April gathering in Lusaka, Zambia, “despite conjecture from some quarters that we should not go” because of the Communion’s primates call in January for three years of “consequences” for the Episcopal Church after it acted for sacramental marriage equality. Jennings noted that the ACC declined to endorse or impose the consequences that the primates’ meeting “didn’t have the authority to impose.” She criticized Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s subsequent claim that the ACC had, in fact, endorsed the consequences.
“I have come, regretfully, to conclude that the polity of the Anglican Communion is in peril, and the Episcopal Church’s support for marriage equality is being used as a smokescreen by a few primates who apparently want to co-opt the authority of the Anglican Consultative Council,” she said.
Ballentine, a former council member whose son, Jabriel, now serves on council, said she learned a lot about the Communion during the meeting, which was her first, and she realized that, rather than concentrate on governance in the strict sense, ACC meetings emphasized building relationships to address the world’s issues. The council addressed issues such as discipleship, gender-based violence, climate change, religiously motivated violence and food security that affect all Anglicans and “at no point were we made to feel unwelcome,” she said.
Ballentine was seated at the same table as Welby and the experience gave her “a deep empathy for him and the challenges that he faces trying to hold the communion together.” Welby, she thought, understands “our different histories, the complexities of our different contexts and how those impact the church worldwide.”
The election of Hong Kong Archbishop Paul Kwong as ACC president was worrisome, she said. Noting that some people said electing a primate to chair the ACC would give all the primates a way to communicate with the ACC, Ballentine said “that is, in my opinion, precisely the danger in electing primates.” The primates, she said, “need to learn how to talk to us not just how to talk to each other.”
Douglas, whom Curry praised for his decision to not stand for election as ACC president, said that decision was based on “institutional and cultural” concerns over how his candidacy might effect the ACC, the Episcopal Church and “my own personal vocation” as the bishop of Connecticut.
If he had stood and been elected, Douglas knew that “detractors were already preparing statements about the waywardness of the ACC and how it doesn’t reflect the Anglican Communion because a person from the Episcopal Church was elected. That would hurt the ACC,” he said.
If he stood and wasn’t elected, the loss could have been claimed as evidence that the Episcopal Church does not listen to the primates. In addition, he said, others helped him discern the impact that the presidency could have on his person life and on his vows to be the bishop of Connecticut.
Asked about the Episcopal Church’s $1.2 million triennial contribution to the $3 million annual budget of the Anglican Communion Office, a payment that Jennings said Episcopalians should continue to make with “gladness in our hearts,” Douglas said the payment is about half of what is asked of the Church. Because the asking is based on the GDP of each province’s country or countries and the province’s membership, the Episcopal Church’s contribution is the second largest among the provinces after the Church of England. Douglas noted that current exchange rates make the American dollars go farther in England.
* Treasurer Kurt Barnes briefed members on the 2016 portion of the 2016-2018 triennial budget’s performance through August, saying that both income and expenses are in line with forecasts. He also noted that the five-year net earnings for the church’s $370 million in investments, including $110 million that is invested for individual congregations and institutions, was 9 percent annually. That performance keeps the Episcopal Church trusts funds in the top 20 percent among its peers holding trust assets in excess of $50 million. “This strong performance in no way weakens my resolve I mentioned a few months ago to work towards lowering our dividend payout ratio from 5 percent to 4.5 percent in the next few years,” he cautioned. Council will be asked at this meeting to revise the 2017 year of the 2016-2018 triennial budget to reflect changes in income and expenses since General Convention approved the budget in July 2015. Among the changes are higher diocesan income than assumed, delayed rental income for half a floor at the church center and higher than budgeted medical insurance premiums, Barnes said.
The rest of the meeting
On Oct. 21 council will begin its day with Holy Eucharist at the nearby historic Christ Church in New Brunswick and then spend the rest of the day meeting in its five committees. On Oct. 22 those committees will each report to the full body, proposing resolutions for the full body to consider.
The meeting is taking place at the Heldrich Hotel in New Brunswick, New Jersey, about an hour southwest of the Episcopal Church Center in midtown Manhattan.
The Executive Council carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1). The council is composed of 38 members – 20 of whom (four bishops, four priests or deacons, and 12 lay people) are elected by General Convention and 18 (one clergy and one lay) by the nine provincial synods for six-year terms – plus the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies. In addition, the vice president of the House of Deputies, secretary, chief operating officer, treasurer and chief financial officer have seat and voice but no vote.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
[Episcopal News Service] When the Rev. Joshua Case and a small group of parishioners from Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church bow their heads in prayer as they bury some of Atlanta’s youngest victims of violence, they often do so alone.
In some instances, family members are present at the burial. Other times, they’re not. Either they are absent, don’t have transportation to the cemetery, are incarcerated, or the state forbids them to attend.
But the child is not forgotten. For this brief, solemn service, Case and the others become the child’s “family in mourning.”
Since April, Case has conducted 16 of these services at Lakeside Memorial Gardens Cemetery. These represent a small portion of the roughly 300 burials each year paid for by Fulton County’s indigent burials program. The total number of child deaths in Georgia – several hundred each year, by official count – is even more startling, and the plight of those victims has inspired Holy Innocents’ to focus its outreach efforts on child victims of violence as it seeks to live into its longtime mission and its name.
As he continued to learn more about Georgia’s young victims, Case met the Rev. Cliff Dawkins, the chaplain who oversees Fulton County’s indigent burials. Case was stunned to learn that burials of children often were taking place with no family present and no witnesses other than Dawkins and cemetery staff.
“My first response was, ‘Not in my county,’” Case said.
Dawkins invited Case to begin presiding over the children’s burials, and a small group from Holy Innocents’ has formed to accompany Case to those services.
Sullivan said Christians often mistake the call to mission as a call to do something. Sometimes it is enough simply to be present with others, letting God show them something they haven’t seen before.
The act of merely being present resonates for Mary Marvin Walter, 69, one of the parishioners who has joined Case at some of those grave sites. She said she volunteered because she was unhappy with her instinct to judge those who may have caused such tragedies.
“I wanted to get beyond that, just be a witness without any questions,” she said.
Now when that tiny coffin is blessed and lowered carefully into the ground, she resists the urge always to ask why.
The reasons aren’t always knowable. Sometimes Case learns a little about the victims from funeral directors or news headlines, but other times there are no personal details available.
Holy Innocents, founded in 1872, already was known nationally for its school, the largest Episcopal school in the country with 1,400 students. In light of the school’s success, the parish began about a decade ago discussing what should come next.
“Really, we hadn’t looked deeper at the call of what it means to be people of the holy innocents,” said the Rev. Michael Sullivan, who became rector in 2009. “Our name is calling us into the world in ways that are essential for the kingdom to be present among us.” The name refers to the biblical account of infanticide by Herod the Great, who ordered the execution of all young male children in the vicinity of Bethlehem to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews.
An early step the Georgia church took toward answering the call of its name was the introduction of an annual requiem Mass and prayer vigil, where the congregation reads the names of all the children in Georgia who died from violence in the past year. It started in 2010.
“The first year, we thought we would just have a few names,” Sullivan said. “We were shocked when the departmental agency gave us a list of several hundred names.”
In recent years, the total provided by state agencies has topped 500. The next vigil will be Nov. 6.
By Georgia law, child fatalities are included in the total if they are “sudden, unexpected, unexplained, suspicious or attributed to unusual circumstances,” and that could range from homicide to a co-sleeping death.
Child fatalities are not just a Georgia problem. Nationally about 1,580 children died from abuse or neglect in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of those victims were less than a year old. Separately, the agency’s most recent fact sheet on youth violence says there were 4,800 homicide victims ages 10 to 24 in 2010.
“Violence is a very broad category,” said Ashley Willcott, director of the Georgia Office of the Child Advocate, which provides oversight of the state’s Division of Family and Children Services. A violent death might happen at the hands of a foster parent, or it could be a suicide or an accidental shooting. “The bottom line is we need to know: Could it have been prevented?”
Willcott praised churches like Holy Innocents’ that are bringing awareness to the plight of vulnerable children and getting the community and their congregations involved.
“Holy Innocents’, to me, is one of the churches … really leading the way in combining the knowledge of ‘this is what’s happening to children’ to ‘what are the next steps?’”
Case was hired by the church in 2011 to pursue those next steps in responding to child violence. He previously spent six years working with students at international schools in Switzerland before moving to the Atlanta area to pursue his master’s degree in divinity at Emory University. His primary role at Holy Innocents’ is to lead the team developing outreach efforts addressing violence toward children.
One of Case’s newest initiatives is called “Caring for the Carers,” a program focused on supporting Family and Children Services caseworkers. The assistance may involve providing emergency clothing for the children taken from homes by the caseworkers. Or it may mean simply sitting with the caseworkers and listening as they process the trauma of their jobs.
A new 64-foot bell tower and columbarium completed this year are physical examples of the church’s new ministries. The church had long worked toward a capital project that included renovations and a tower. As the project evolved, it grew to incorporate the church’s 19th-century bell and two additional bells that were donated, creating a landmark that honors Georgia’s young victims of violence.
When the columbarium was added to the project, the church also took on the responsibility of maintaining 200 burial spaces that will be offered without charge for children who die from abuse, neglect, gun violence, abandonment, or have died in state custody.
The columbarium was consecrated in May, though no burials have yet occurred there. The tower was dedicated Sept. 18. Its bells ring every day at noon and 6 p.m.
Case sees his mission and the mission of the church as making Georgia a holier place for all God’s children. The children who attend the church’s school already may see Georgia as a holy place, but “there’s a significant population of children … for whom Georgia is not a holy place at all,” he said.
The ministry has had a personal effect on Case, 39, who has two young children of his own.
“I can tell you it’s reshaped me as a father,” he said. “I probably operate with a little more grace with my toddler than I did before.”
– David Paulsen is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and a member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Wauwatosa.