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MENSAGEM DE PÁSCOA DA IEAB

SNIEAB Feeds - qui, 17/04/2014 - 14:55

Ele não está aqui, porque já ressuscitou, como havia dito. Vinde, vede o lugar onde o Senhor jazia. Mateus 28:6

A Igreja cristã está mais uma vez desafiada a viver nesta Semana Santa a passagem da angústia para a alegria, da morte para a vida, da derrota para a vitória! Este é o tempo que vivemos e nos identificamos com o caminho de Jesus, em seu embate contra um sistema opressor política e religiosamente, gerador de imensuráveis dores e divisões.

Dois mil anos depois, mudaram os personagens da história, mudou a tecnologia, o conhecimento científico, a cultura, mas a lógica continua a mesma. Uma lógica de morte. As cenas que vivi recentemente em minha viagem a Rondônia ainda estão vivas na minha memória. Eu vi seres humanos abandonados à própria sorte, lutando em condições desiguais para sobreviver e afirmar sua dignidade. Eu vi vítimas de violência de gênero (na visita à Casa Noeli Santos) que parecem implorar a cada minuto por sua dignidade e seu direitos no meio de uma sociedade indiferente ao seus mais legítimos desejos.Em cada olhar e cada gesto daqueles irmãos e irmãs pessoas eu pude imaginar o quanto Jesus sofreu as nossas dores. Não falo somente as físicas, mas igualmente as emocionais e espirituais. E reforcei ainda mais a minha convicção de que só podemos continuar a nossa caminhada por fé e confiança na providencia divina.

Nossa sociedade está profundamente doente e segue insensível às barbáries que acontecem no nosso cotidiano Somente a fé nos sustenta através da experiência da Ressurreição. Através da Ressurreição de Cristo temos certeza de que a lógica da morte e do “presente século” está vencida definitivamente. O túmulo está vazio e a morte envergonhada. É essa fé que nos move na direção do outro(a) e do mundo. É essa fé que nos move a enfrentar pela palavra e pela ação as potestades deste século. Poderes sentados em seus confortos de uma engrenagem que só lhes beneficiam, mas que envergonham os céus. Mas estes poderes nada podem contra Aquele que ressurgiu dos mortos e “não está mais aqui”!

Que nossa IEAB experimente profundamente a força do evento pascal. Para além da forma e beleza litúrgicas devemos viver a Páscoa em nossos corações, capacitando-nos sempre a teimar, a anunciar e a transformar nossa sociedade. A dor, o sofrimento e o choro dos excluídos, fracos e pobres serão convertidos em alegria eterna e nós, como seguidores de Cristo, somos chamados a manter a fé e a esperança em solidariedade com nossos irmãos e irmãs mais fracos. Que a força do Cristo Ressurreto seja a razão do nosso ministério e que não nos acomodemos, mas tenhamos coragem de anunciar que a injustiça não prevalecerá!
Uma abençoada Páscoa do Senhor!

++ FRANCISCO

Bispo Primaz da Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil

‘To help people, to further the kingdom’

Episcopal News Service - qua, 16/04/2014 - 10:50

Clifford Williams, working in the Friendship Center’s studio, paints head of a tiger. The Friendship Center is a ministry of Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Atlanta, where more than half the congregation includes persons living with mental illness.Photo: Ann Fowler/Holy Comforter

[Episcopal News Service] When Matthew Collins was diagnosed with bipolar disorder about seven years ago, he lost his job, his marriage and his self-understanding in rapid succession.

“Mental illness turned my own mind into something I no longer recognized,” Collins told ENS recently. During two sleepless weeks he cycled through psychosis, paranoia, grandiose illusions, beliefs that people were trying to kill him. Eventually he was hospitalized. Afterwards, there was the stigma of being labeled a person with mental illness.

“It was an extremely frightening experience, the most frightening experience I’d ever endured,” he recalled. “I lost the job I was working while I was hospitalized. I was married at the time. My wife then was frightened by the experience in the same way I was frightened, but she did not want to engage it. So, she left.

“I had been very successful in my undergraduate degree, working full-time and going to school full-time and had been supporting myself since I turned 18,” Collins said. “I was also in the U.S. Air Force reserves and I had balanced it all very well and very successfully, so it was a very painful experience to move from being an independent, successful person to someone I no longer recognized.”

When he told family members about his diagnosis, their reaction was, unfortunately, typical of many, including clergy and communities of faith: “they just kind of acted like it wasn’t there,” he recalled.

Mental illness in varying degrees affects some 25 percent of the U.S. population and struggling families often turn first for support and aid to clergy and faith communities, who typically are ill-equipped to offer meaningful assistance.

“I think there is an imperative that the Body of Christ actually be the Body of Christ,” said Collins, executive director of the Friendship Center, a ministry of Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Atlanta, where more than half the congregation includes persons living with mental illness.

“My hope for the Body of Christ at large and the Episcopal Church in the future is that we would truly mirror more and more what neighborhood churches look like,” Collins said. “In particular, there are people living with mental illness and/or families of people living with mental illness in every congregation across our nation but in most churches, it’s just unspoken and unaddressed.”

Holy Comforter: ‘all of us together’

The Rev. Mike Tanner, Holy Comforter’s vicar, believes that acknowledging mental illness is often “too challenging to our self image.”

“I know people who have trouble coming to Holy Comforter and I think it’s because the presence of mental illness in other people creates fear in them about themselves,” Tanner told ENS. “We often have an idea of what church ought to be like and it’s pretty nice and clean and well-ordered and doesn’t look like the world around us. But,” he added, “Holy Comforter looks like the world around us.”

The Rev. Mike Tanner, Holy Comforter Episcopal Church’s vicar, says the community is “the richest spiritual and theological environment I’ve ever been in.” Photo: Daniel Tanner/Holy Comforter

Founded in 1893, Holy Comforter was nearly shuttered in the mid-1980s “because of white flight” out of the city, he said. Those left behind were the poor and former residents of mental institutions released under federally mandated deinstitutionalization. Then, a new vicar walked the neighborhood, inviting everyone to church “and the people who came were living in group homes and had recently been released from mental institutions,” Tanner said.

Now, Holy Comforter’s average Sunday attendance is about 80, and about 60 percent of the congregation includes “people who live with a diagnosable mental illness” such as schizophrenia, psychotic disorder, anxiety disorder and depression, and who are severely and persistently affected by mental illness to the extent that they do not have much of a work life at all because of their illness,” Tanner said.

“The bulk are people in personal-care homes, whose only income is their SSI (supplemental security income) check and who get Medicaid for their medical services and who basically live in significant poverty, along with mental illness or some other disability.”

And yet Holy Comforter “turns out to be the richest spiritual and theological environment I’ve ever been in,” he said.

“We have a rich liturgical life, a prayer book-centered liturgy, but the thing that has amazed me is how rich the environment is because of the presence of people who aren’t like I am, … and how visibly God is working in their lives, and how strong their faith is, in spite of their Job-like lives.”

Are there disruptions? Sure, Tanner said. “There are odd things, like one woman who’s so severely affected that she will get up in the middle of my preaching or celebrating and walk up to the altar and move something from one side to the other. In many ways, we’ve learned to be more relaxed about that than if we were in a buttoned-up place.”

The remainder of the congregation “are people who find this kind of church a very attractive place to be, that worshipping God in the presence of poverty and chronic illness and that kind of vulnerability on the surface all the time, enriches their spiritual lives and also gives them a sense of mission of something they can do in the world to help people, to further the kingdom.”

Like Helen Cabe, an independent contractor nurse, who said she went to Holy Comforter about four years ago to donate clothes, “fell in love with the place and the next thing I knew, I was driving vans and serving meals. I joined the church, got baptized and here I am.”

“Some really different stuff happens there, but also some very amazing things happen,” said Cabe, 45. With “some mental health issues in my family” she especially likes the services Holy Comforter provides, through its Friendship Center, to the community.

“Society just does not provide for people with mental illness,” she said. “The safety net is not effective. A lot of our members live in some pretty rough conditions and aren’t cared for. We advocate for them. We provide services, meals. One of our members who has a mental health disability used to be a nurse and is now employed by the church to do vital signs; and he has a foot clinic.”

Moreover, everyone is involved in the church’s liturgical life, she added. “We have people at so many different levels of ability. So, people who are able to read get up and read. One of our choir members lives in a group home and the people who carry the offering plates, and the bread and wine, are profoundly disabled.

“We encourage wellness, and for everybody to do as much as they can,” she said. “It makes for more of a sense of community. It’s not us and them; it’s all of us together.”

From left, May C. Brown, director of Friendship Center’s gardening program; Eddie Dillard, gardener and Alice Delaney, parishioner, volunteer, and Brown’s partner join a customer to look over a selection of plants at the farmers’ market at the Cathedral of St Philip. Photo: Ann Fowler/Holy Comforter

For Richard Cummins, 47, the gardening program at the Friendship Center has meant a whole new life and community.

“It’s hard for me not to worry and stuff,” Cummins told ENS. “I worry about things that a lot of people wouldn’t worry about. My anxiety prevented me from holding a job and I ended up in a personal-care home,” he said.

When the Holy Comforter van picked up other residents at the group home a few years ago, he decided to go along, too. Now, he works Tuesdays and Thursdays — and since it’s springtime, on Saturdays, too — in the garden center. “I do just about everything in the garden, transplanting, I’m real good at organizing and cleaning out the tool shed. This year, we’ve planted tomatoes, herbs, parsley, eggplant, just about everything, and flowers. And I weed the garden.”

And that’s not all. “I sing in the choir,” Cummins said. “I do bible readings at the Wednesday evening services and I’m on the vestry.”

Last year, the center served 16,000 meals, provided arts and other programs to an average 85 people daily. If ever there was a community “that owned mental illness and claimed it for what its redemptive value can be, this is it,” said Collins.

‘Friend to Friend’ – learning to engage

Through the diocesan Episcopal Community Services congregations in the Diocese of San Diego can offer support and assistance to homeless people who also suffer from mental illness, according to Lesslie Keller, executive director/chief executive officer.

“It’s an old-fashioned, street-based ministry to the chronically ill who also have a diagnosis of mental illness,” Keller told ENS. “I find that usually has a co-occurring substance abuse disorder. We’re dealing with people with schizophrenia, bipolar, anxiety disorder who experience repeated bouts of homelessness or long-term periods of homelessness.”

San Diego County has an estimated 9,000 homeless people, mainly in the downtown area, Keller said. Volunteers for the Friend to Friend program invite homeless persons to a drop-in center, where case management services, arts and other classes and meals are available to them. Congregations sponsor the meals, according to Deann Ayer, community engagement coordinator. “It’s a welcoming, inviting place where people can work on their goals and seek healing and significant progress,” Ayer said.

On a mission to “dismantle the stigma of mental illness” Keller said that, inevitably, whenever she makes presentations about Friend To Friend, “someone pulls me aside and in a confessional way tells me about a family member suffering from mental illness and in a very moving and concerning way tells me how the family can’t talk about it.”

Part of a trend across the church

Increasingly, faith communities across the nation are acknowledging the need to equip clergy and congregations to assist persons with mental illness.

The Rev. Canon Angela Shepherd is leading a series of Mental Health First Aid workshops in the Diocese of Maryland, as a proactive way of “offering support, and pointing people in the right direction for mental health care,” she wrote in an email to ENS. “The workshop covers suicide, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. The information is pertinent for clergy and lay alike.”

All of which “has really hit home,” for the Rev. Caroline Stewart, associate rector of The Church of the Redeemer, Baltimore, who acknowledged that she, along with parishioners, has family members living with mental illness. But often, “because of the stigma associated with it, they don’t self-identify.”

While most persons coping with mental illness are not violent, a clergy colleague and a parish administrator were killed by an individual who was homeless who had mental health issues two years ago at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Ellicott City, Maryland, she said. Since then, “we have had programs deliberately on mental illness, for not only the congregation but for the community. We will do something each year to de-stigmatize the issue of mental illness,” she said.

“Anything you can do to bring it into the sunshine of day,” she added. “You never know who you’re going to touch and what impact you’ll have.”

Victoria Slocum, a doctoral student at the University of Kentucky, is hoping to develop ways to incorporate persons with intellectual disabilities into worship services because “liturgical churches like the Episcopal Church are ideally suited because we follow a precise format in our services.”

Her efforts may also assist congregations in opening themselves up, as well. “I remember being in a church with a woman who had three children with severe ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) who was asked not to come back to the church,” she said.

The former special-education teacher also “had parents who said they would like to go to church but didn’t want to take their children for fear they’d disrupt the service.

“People in need, need the church most,” she said. “That’s why we need to make our churches truly welcoming and create a situation where they can participate. It’s more than just coming and sitting in church. The question is, if a person wants to worship, how can we include them? Everyone’s got a right to worship as they wish or not, but if they do wish to worship, how can we make it accessible to them?”

Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Atlanta is “a congregation living with significant mental illness,” its vicar says. Photo: Richard Norris/Holy Comforter

Tanner of Holy Comforter said: “You have to start with the realization that, whether I can see it or not, right now it’s in my parish and if I begin manifesting an openness to talking about mental illness and to people with mental illness, if I stop resisting the stigma of mental illness, I can create an environment within the parish that makes people feel safe to talk about it.”

“People don’t talk about things like that in church because church is just like the rest of society in so many cases and the rest of society doesn’t want to know about it.”

He added that: “People with mental illness are very aware they’re different and that it’s dangerous to let other people know what they’re going through,” he added.

Holy Comforter’s program is not based on a charity model and that is a good thing, according to the Friendship Center’s Collins. “This is a model of mutuality and in that mutuality of personhood and human dignity, no one is providing ministry to the mentally ill.”

“We are just a congregation living with significant mental illness,” he said. “And what I’m learning at my time at Holy Comforter is, when you extend ministry with, rather than ministry to, it starts to open up ministry with every group, so inclusion just breeds more inclusion.”

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

Ecumenism must involve dialogue and social action, says Welby

Episcopal News Service - seg, 14/04/2014 - 15:22

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Toronto, Cardinal Thomas Collins, at an ecumenical reception in St. James Cathedral Centre. Welby visited the Anglican Church of Canada April 7 to 8. Photo: Michael Hudson

[Anglican Journal] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has underscored the value of continuing ecumenical dialogue at a “passionate theological level” while at the same time having “a closer relationship of action” that addresses the needs of the world in such areas as poverty and social justice.

Ecumenism must be “something that is our burning desire,” Welby told a gathering of ecumenical guests at a reception at Toronto’s St. James’ Cathedral Centre, during his “personal, pastoral visit” to the Anglican Church of Canada April 8 to 9.  “In the last seven verses of John: 17, Jesus prays with extraordinary passion and extraordinary directness about the absolute necessity of the visible unity of the church…Love one another…”

In a divided and diverse world, Welby said the church could demonstrate “how humanity can overcome its cultural divisions and truly be…a holy nation of God’s people.”

In different parts of the world, there has been “a new movement of the spirit,” said Welby. He cited a decision by Chemin Neuf, a Jesuit-founded French Catholic community with an ecumenical vocation, to accept his invitation to take up residence in Lambeth Palace.

Last January, four members set up “a fraternity” in Lambeth Palace. “We hope that is something that will grow and develop,” said Welby, adding that he and his wife, Caroline, got to know the community over the last seven years. (The archbishop’s spiritual director is a Swiss Roman Catholic priest, Fr. Nicholas Buttet.)

The Guardian newspaper has noted that the move breaks five centuries of Anglican tradition and ushers “a further rapprochement between the churches of England and  Rome.”

Welby also noted that his relationship with Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols has been “very, very warm,” and that they meet regularly on Sunday afternoons. They recently launched Listen to God: Hear the Poor, a special week of prayer for Christian social action.

“Everything we do in church has to be rooted in theology, theological anthropology and ecclesiology. Those are things we cannot and must not avoid,” said Welby. But at the same time, he said, Christians must draw on “the riches that God has given us.” He noted how Catholic social teachings have been “formative influences of my own thinking in terms of the ministry of the church, and the most powerful one from which I’ve learned and continue to learn.”

In his remarks, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, noted that Welby has made a commitment to ecumenical dialogue “and furthering the realization of our Lord’s prayer that we may all be one.”

In his first year of ministry, the Archbishop of Canterbury has named as priorities “evangelism, resurgence of prayer and religious life in the church, and reconciliation,” said Hiltz. “At the heart of reconciliation [is] reconciliation within his own church…with the Anglican Communion…with the whole church.”

Archdeacon Bruce Myers, co-ordinator for ecumenical and interfaith relations at the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod, said he welcomed Welby’s reminder that “we, as divided churches, must continue to painstakingly work out the knots of our theological differences while at the same time giving practical expression to the unity we already share by engaging together in mission.”

Myers said the fact that Welby set aside time in his tight schedule to meet with the Anglican Church of Canada’s ecumenical partners is “a measure of the value he, our churchand our communion place on being attentive to our relationships with other Christians.”

The gathering also gave the Anglican church’s partners “a glimpse of what it means for Canadian Anglicans to be a part of a worldwide family of churches like the Anglican Communion, and why that’s an important aspect of our identity.”

Before the reception, Welby and the ecumenical guests gathered for vespers at  the historic Cathedral Church of St. James.

The ecumenical guests included the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Toronto, Cardinal Thomas Collins; Nora Sanders, general secretary of the United Church of Canada; the Rev. Stephen Kendall, principal clerk of the Presbyterian Church in Canada; Lt. Col. Jim Champ, of the Salvation Army, who is also president of the Canadian Council of Churches; and the Rev. Karen Hamilton, general secretary of the Canadian Council of Churches.

Also present were Archbishop Colin Johnson, of the Anglican diocese of Toronto and metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario; and the Very Rev. Douglas Stoute, dean of Toronto.

- See more  here.

‘Reclaiming Gospel of Peace’ wraps up in Oklahoma City

Episcopal News Service - seg, 14/04/2014 - 13:39

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori reads the intentions conference attendees placed on cross during the closing Eucharist of Reclaiming Gospel of Peace at St Paul’s Cathedral in Oklahoma City. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

[Episcopal News Service – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma] After nearly three days of learning and praying about how to turn the epidemic tide of violence in the world, participants in the Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace gathering left here to begin Holy Week as the United States witnessed yet another shooting attack.

Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, of Aurora, Missouri, is accused of killing three people during two separate shootings April 13 in Overland Park, Kansas, at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and in a parking lot at Village Shalom, a senior living community about a mile away. Cross is as a former Ku Klux Klan leader with a history of anti-Semitism and racism, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization that tracks hate groups.

Temple Israel and St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church in Overland Park gathered at St. Thomas the evening of the shootings for a vigil service for those who were impacted by the violence.

“I know they are in heaven together,” Mindy Corporon told the vigil. She is the daughter of slain William Lewis Corporon and mother of Reat Griffin Underwood, 14, who was killed with his grandfather.

The name of the third person killed, a woman, has not yet been released.

“There are no words but words are all we have,” Kansas Bishop Dean Wolfe told those gathered.

And, at the end of the Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace gathering on April 11, Diocese of Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton told the participants that “out of talk, much can happen.”

Two women who have experienced horrific violence and its aftermath set the tone for the closing day of the gathering.

The Rev. Kathie Adams-Shepherd, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Newtown, Connecticut, gave the morning reflection April 11 and talked about her parish’s experience of the Dec. 14, 2012, massacre at nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

“I am standing here this morning because the violence that takes the lives of God’s beloved children every day all over our county and our world visited us in all its horrific and tragic loss in the quiet suburb of Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012,” said the Rev. Katie Adams-Shepherd, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Newtown, Connecticut, during morning worship.

“Twenty-eight lives, violently and tragically cut short by a mentally ill man who had access to the kinds of weapons and high capacity magazines that he simply should never have had at his disposal, but rather should have had access to affirming mental health care and support,” she said.

“We in Newtown are well aware that we joined a large part of the world that suffers mercilessly from violence and terrorism.”

In the aftermath of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the world took notice and the tragedy served as a  “tipping point” for people of faith, she said.

“It’s a very important part of the healing process for every person touched by violence and violent death that we come together from all corners of live and faith, belief and perspectives seeking a way, multiple ways to live as co-missioners with God,” said Adams-Shepherd.

“I’m sorry that it took such a tragedy in an affluent community in one of the wealthiest counties in a first world country to wake us up even just enough to have conversations like this one,” said Adams-Shepherd. “The horrific and violent deaths of our brothers and sisters and all of our children all over the world for all these years should have been equally compelling.”

In the 16 months following the shooting, Adams-Shepherd said her community has become more engaged with others worldwide, including in Oklahoma, Colorado, South Sudan and El Salvador, communities that have suffered violent deaths, whether they’ve resulted from natural disasters or mark the everyday reality of life.

Melissa McLawhorn Houston, a survivor of the Oklahoma City bombing, shared her story with the group. Houston participates in the National Memorial and Museum’s First Person: Stories of Hope program. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

Melissa McLawhorn Houston has also transformed her experience of violent death into a way to help others around the world deal with similar events. She survived the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. On that day during Holy Week almost 20 years ago Timothy McVeigh committed an act of domestic terrorism that killed 168 people and injured 600 others; one of the first 20th century tragedies in what has become an epidemic of violence in the United States.

Houston and other bombing survivors tell their stories to visitors to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum and to people who have suffered from violence, including the 2011 bombing and shootings in Norway that left nearly 100 people dead.

“One of the biggest ingredients that we see in terrorists is a lack of hope,” Houston told Reclaiming the Gospel participants during a visit to the museum. “If you don’t have your own sense of hopefulness for your own life, that’s where a lot of that starts from.”

Houston, who spent 10 years working for the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security after the Murrah bombing and who now works as chief of staff for the state’s attorney general, said ultimately she had to choose how to respond to what happened to her that day in downtown Oklahoma City. She has chosen to be a “hopeful witness” despite feeling “a sense of evil” in the second after the blast knocked her to the ground of her office across the street from the Murrah building and showered her with debris.

The Rev. Joseph Harmon, rector of Christ Church, East Orange, New Jersey, takes in the exhibits at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

Experiencing that sort of violence does not leave people unscathed, Houston acknowledged, recalling her message and those of other Murrah survivors to survivors of the Sept. 11 attacks or last year’s Boston Marathon bombing, many of whom turned to Oklahoma City for help and advice.

They told those people “it really sucks where you are right now but you will eventually move on. You won’t get over it; you’ll be different, you’ll be changed but, you will continue to have a life.”

After suffering  violence, some people choose vengeance, wanting to destroy the person or system they believe cased them harm, Houston said.

But others, including the people who tell their stories via the museum’s education program, want to ask how society might help prevent vengeance from growing in people’s hearts. “How do we change people’s hearts and make them understand that just because they’re mad doesn’t entitle them to take 168 lives?” is the question they ask, she said.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SChori preached April 11 at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, at the close of the three-day Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace conference. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori spoke about the role of the heart during her sermon at the gathering’s  closing Eucharist.

“Countering violence requires custody of the heart,” she said. “Violence begins in the heart, especially in hearts that have been wounded and scarred by the violence of others, and then react and respond aggressively, in overly defended ways.  Violence begins in the heart that cannot countenance vulnerability – rooted in fear that its own vitality will be extinguished.”

Violence is intrinsically kin to evil, she said, while “the ultimate counterforce to fear is perfect love, the ability to share life to the full, with radical vulnerability, in the face of those who would destroy it.”

“Feeding the rage of violence may briefly burn out the heart of aggression, but it only increases the carnage,” Jefferts Schori said. “It does not increase love.”

Earlier in the conference Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby also spoke of the heart’s role in transforming violence.

“Reconciliation and an end to violence, or the transformation of violent conflict into non-violent conflict is something that can only be achieved by sacrifice and by a prophetic stand,” he said. “There are no shortcuts and no cheap options, which is why this conference is so important. There are no shortcuts and there are no cheap options. We are talking at this point about change in the heart of the human being, and neither technology nor law will alter that.”

However, he warned participants of the work ahead, saying that “reconciliation with God is achieved through the cross, not through conferences and meetings and declarations.”

“The Christian disciple is to take up their cross, and for many even today this is no mere metaphor,” Welby said. “Bearing the cross means public ownership of Christ, public association and love with and for all those others who own Christ as Savior, and public commitment to follow Christ wherever we are taken.”

Beth Crow, youth missioner in the Diocese of North Carolina, writes “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me,” on a blackboard panel during a visit to the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

Brother James Dowd, a member of the Order of the Holy Cross, echoed those sentiments when he said during a panel discussion on Episcopal responses to violence that to move more deeply non-violent discipleship of Christ, the contemplative life is essential.”

And, it’s not that God needs more monks and nuns, he said.

“What God needs is people on the street and people in the parish and people in their homes and people in the workplace who are contemplatives,” Dowd explained. “There’s all kinds of ways to do that in terms of your prayer life; there’s all kinds of prayer techniques. Whatever it is that you were to develop; it is a prayer life that helps you to love more deeply.

Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence was held April 9-11 at the Reed Center and the nearby Sheraton Midwest City was meant to help Episcopalians renew their commitment to the Gospel call to make peace in a world of violence and “reclaim their role in society as workers for nonviolence and peace.”

Conference attendees, including Bishop James Curry, bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Connecticut, center, listen as a National Parks Service guide describes the events of the of April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City bombing. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

The gathering of 220 people, including 34 bishops, Jefferts Schori and Welby, was centered on four pillars: advocacy, education, liturgy and pastoral care, aimed at addressing the culture of violence within and outside of the church.

Workshops and panel discussions touched on programs designed to meet the needs of children of incarcerated parents, to foster restorative justice programs and to curb violence through job creation and creating alternative paths for at-risk youth, as well as information about advocating for stricter gun laws and purchasing restrictions.

Jefferts Schori told a news conference on April 10 that the conference was about “encouraging the world to pay attention to what we believe is the gospel about the reign of God” that describes a “world where people live in peace because there is justice.”

“We are seeking to respond to the eternal epidemic of violence in our culture and around the world,” she said.

 – The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg and Lynette Wilson are editors/reporters for the Episcopal News Service.

Visita Pastoral do Primaz a Rondônia

SNIEAB Feeds - seg, 14/04/2014 - 10:39

Santa Maria, 14 de abril de 2014

Palavra do Primaz sobre a visita a Porto Velho e Ariquemes

Bem aventurados os misericordiosos porque alcançarão misericórdia (Mt 5,7)

Irmãos e Irmãs

Entre os dias 07 e 11 deste mês estive visitando o Distrito Missionário Anglicano para levar ajuda humanitária às vítimas das enchentes do Rio Madeira que afetaram Porto Velho. O quadro que encontrei naquela cidade é desolador. São cerca de 20 mil desabrigados. Bairros alagados, casas debaixo da água, perdas materiais incalculáveis e um sentimento de impotência por parte das autoridades.

As regiões ribeirinhas foram as mais atingidas, onde o povo perdeu tudo que tinha, sem tempo de resgatar seus bens pela velocidade com que a água subiu. Encontrei famílias acampadas no meio da mata, vivendo em condições deploráveis, obrigadas a viver em barracas improvisadas de lonas e sem condições sanitárias dignas, muitas delas só com a roupa do corpo.

O atendimento da Defesa Civil não atende as condições mínimas a ponto de receber a cada 15 dias água potável que só dá para duas pessoas em um dia.

Parte dos desabrigados está espalhadas em 37 escolas públicas, sem perspectivas de retorno ainda por muitos dias. Estes desabrigados que estão nas escolas e em um acampamento fornecido pela Defesa Civil são, na maioria, moradores dos bairros da capital de Rondônia. Os ribeirinhos em sua maioria estão em picadas abertas na mata por eles mesmos e nas péssimas condições mencionadas acima.

A situação agora se apresenta com a expectativa do recuo das águas. E isto é preocupante também porque as águas estão contaminadas e o risco de epidemia de leptospirose e outras doenças aumenta. Pude sentir um mal cheiro intenso nas áreas onde as águas estão represadas, pois o refluxo não consegue ser total.

Em minha visita fui acompanhado pelos irmãos e irmãs da Paróquia Phileon e tivemos o apoio dos irmãos e irmãs da Missão Moriá. Entregamos cestas básicas a cerca de 30 famílias e outras foram entregues nos acampamentos neste sábado pelos irmãos das comunidades nossas. Não pude visitar todas as comunidades porque tivemos fortes chuvas na quarta-feira e o acesso ficou impossível.

Reunimo-nos com o prefeito da cidade de Porto Velho e procuramos saber das medidas de emergência adotadas em conjunto com a Defesa Civil e com o apoio das autoridades do Estado e do Governo Federal. Percebi que o processo de enfrentamento da calamidade caminha com muitas deficiências e lentidão.

Aproveitando a viagem, estendi minha visita à Ariquemes onde visitamos a Casa Noeli Santos e a Paróquia da SS Trindade. Foram oportunidades de contato com as reverendas Elineide e Maytee, bem como com as lideranças da comunidade. Na visita à Casa Noeli Santos pude ver o esforço da Reverenda Elineide e da Psicóloga Lucimere em organizar a casa e as limitações materiais da casa. Sinais positivos se abrem agora com a assinatura de convênio com a Prefeitura, assinado na quarta-feira passada.

Diante do quadro que encontrei, das enormes necessidades dos desabrigados, reafirmo meu apelo à IEAB que continuem em oração pelo povo de Rondônia e conclamo nossos parceiros internacionais a atender nosso apelo por apoio concreto no enfrentamento dessa situação. Apelo a todas as comunidades da Igreja que queiram ajudar a enviarem suas contribuições para atender as necessidades mais básicas de tantas famílias  que perderam tudo e estão sobrevivendo unicamente através da solidariedade das pessoas.

Em meio a tudo isso, o meu coração está apertado e nossa Igreja é desafiada a assumir, nesta semana santa as dores de nossos irmão e irmãs, que a exemplo de Jesus, sofrem as conseqüências de um sistema injusto, insensível e excludente.

Meus sinceros agradecimentos ao povo de Porto Velho, ao Reverendo Robert, aos ministros leigos e ao povo das comunidades Phileon e Moriá pela coragem de enfrentar o desafio de levar carinho, solidariedade e apoio concreto aos desabrigados.

Solicito aos bispos, clero e povo da IEAB que se mobilizem para atender esta emergência. Qualquer ajuda é bem vinda. Se qualquer irmão ou irmã quer ajudar concretamente, peço a gentileza de contactar a Secretaria Geral da IEAB ou o Primaz, para que encaminhemos as orientações para o envio da ajuda.

Que o amor de Deus nos motive a demonstrar nossa solidariedade com os que sofrem!

Que o amor de Deus seja derramado em nossos corações para servimos a Ele na vida dos necessitados!

Vosso irmão e Primaz,

++Francisco

San Joaquin: Court rules St. John’s belongs to the Episcopal Church

Episcopal News Service - seg, 14/04/2014 - 10:28

[Episcopal News Service] A California Superior Court has ruled that the 160-year-old landmark St. John the Evangelist Church in downtown Stockton, California, is to be used for the mission of the Episcopal Church.

In issuing the April 2 ruling, Stockton Superior Court Judge Roger Ross granted the Diocese of San Joaquin‘s motion for summary judgment, agreeing with previous court rulings that “all the parish assets and parish premises are held for the ministry and mission of the church and the diocese” and the wider church.

Once the individuals of St. John’s former vestry left the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, they “ceased to be the directors and officers of, and could no longer represent or otherwise act on behalf of the parish corporation, and as a result had no authority to act on behalf of the parish corporation,” according to the decision.

San Joaquin Bishop Provisional David Rice said, “I join with Episcopalians throughout San Joaquin in looking forward to exploring the ways in which St. John’s, Stockton can continue to be a center of celebration and place from which God’s mission is evident.

“We believe St. John’s provides a marvelous opportunity to become a place of reconciliation and again, given its context, a downtown center for much needed urban ministry. We also look forward to seeking ways in which we might welcome any parishioners to remain.”

St. John’s was established as a congregation in 1854 and is a landmark church in downtown Stockton. Located at 316 N. Dorado St., its assets include commercial property.

It is the latest church property to be returned to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin since theological differences purportedly split the diocese in 2007. Those differences resulted in legal cases concerning church properties still held by former members.

Altogether, other properties in Ridgecrest (St. Michael’s), Turlock (St. Francis), Bakersfield (St. Paul’), Delano (Hope and Redeemer) and Sonora (St. James) have also returned to the Episcopal Church. Another church property, St. Paul’s, Modesto was returned July 1, 2009 prior to litigation.

State and federal courts have consistently ruled that church properties are held in trust by the diocese for the mission and ministry of the wider Episcopal Church and that while dissenting members may leave, they cannot take property with them, according to Michael Glass, diocesan chancellor.

Other disputed properties are in various stages of litigation, Glass said.

–The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. She is based in Los Angeles. 

 

Video: Heidi Schott talks about rural poverty and restorative justice in Maine

Episcopal News Service - sex, 11/04/2014 - 13:42

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[Episcopal News Service – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma] Heidi Schott, canon for communications in the Diocese of Maine, talks about generational poverty, the high prevalence of domestic violence in her state and the diocese’s taking on restorative justice work.

Video: Nevada Bishop Dan Edwards on how to counter violence

Episcopal News Service - sex, 11/04/2014 - 12:19

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.][Episcopal News Service – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma] Diocese of Nevada Bishop Dan Edwards describes how his diocese is working against what he calls “this crazy violence” that he says is often bred in loneliness, despair and disempowerment. Edwards spoke to ENS while attending the April 9-11 Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence being held at the Reed Center and the nearby Sheraton Midwest City here.

Video: Priest Joseph Harmon describes a way to influence guns sales

Episcopal News Service - sex, 11/04/2014 - 11:30

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.][Episcopal News Service – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma] The Rev. Joseph Harmon, rector of Christ Church, East Orange, New Jersey, in the Diocese of Newark describes an effort to get state and local law enforcement agencies to discuss safe-gun technology with their firearm vendors. Harmon says that, after the U.S. military and other federal law-enforcement agencies, state and local police form the largest single group of gun buys in the United States and, thus, could be a strong advocacy voice. Harmon spoke to ENS while attending the April 9-11 Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence being held at the Reed Center and the nearby Sheraton Midwest City here.

Video: Diocese of Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith

Episcopal News Service - sex, 11/04/2014 - 09:59

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.][Episcopal News Service – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma] Diocese of Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith discusses the growing epidemic of violence and how he and other Episcopal Church bishops have come together to form Bishops Against Gun Violence to begin to stem the tide. Beckwith spoke to ENS while attending the April 9-11 Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence being held at the Reed Center and the nearby Sheraton Midwest City here.

Video: B-PEACE for Jorge, an antiviolence campaign in Massachusetts

Episcopal News Service - sex, 11/04/2014 - 09:43

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[Episcopal News Service – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma] Julia MacMahon, lead organizer for B-PEACE for Jorge, and Tania Ortiz, a youth organizer, talk about the Diocese of Massachusetts’ antiviolence initiative.

In September 2012, 19-year-old Jorge Fuentes was murdered while walking his dog outside his home in Dorchester, Massachusetts. He was an exuberant, remarkable young man and natural leader, adored by the children he mentored at St. Stephen’s Church and St. Mary’s Church in Boston and respected by his peers. Click here for more information.

 

Video: Lindsay Fry-Geier of New Hope Oklahoma

Episcopal News Service - sex, 11/04/2014 - 08:46

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[Episcopal News Service – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma] Lindsay Fry-Geier, executive director of New Hope Oklahoma, a Tulsa-based nonprofit organization that serves children of incarcerated men and women, talks about violence, its effects on community and providing services more than 400 children to break the cycle of generational violence.

Archbishop says church must ‘join its enemies on their knees’

Episcopal News Service - qui, 10/04/2014 - 16:45

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby spoke April 10 during the Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

[Editors' note: a correction was made to this article to remove reference to the location of the mass grave where Welby said he had been told Christians were murdered out fear that they might become homosexual because of Western influence.]

[Episcopal News Service – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said April 10 that “the gospel of peace is reclaimed by loving those who love violence and hatred” and that a church committed to peacemaking “looks like those who join their enemies on their knees.”

“We celebrate the fact that as the Anglican Communion functioning as a community of peace across the world, as it does in so many places so wonderfully with such sacrifices, that it manages disagreement well in many places, that it maintains unity across diametrically opposed views on a matter – that that Anglican Communion to which we belong could be the greatest gift to counter violence of all descriptions in our world,” Welby said.

Welby spoke during the April 9-11 Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence being held at the Reed Center and the nearby Sheraton Midwest City here.

He said what is sought is a church “that bears the cross, that is so caught up in Jesus Christ and its relationship with Jesus Christ that it is drawn inexorably in partnership with the poor and pilgrimage alongside them, sharing the surprises and risks of the journey under the leadership of Jesus Christ.”

“We do not see such churches today on a global scale, although they may be found in many places at a local level,” he said. “To turn this into a national [phenomenon] such a great and huge nation as this, let alone a global phenomenon, is humanly impossible. We find it easier to be caught up in our own disputes and our own rights.”

It must be acknowledged that human beings are inclined towards violence, Welby told the gathering. “Violence is intrinsic to being human, and I have to say in particular to being human and male, or human and powerful, over against minorities of all kinds,” he said. “Moreover it is addictive, violence is addictive, and we become hardened to it.”

But, God “is committed to acting in response to wrongdoing” and is a God who judges but also saves, “giving of God’s own self to make an opportunity for rescue,” the archbishop said.

Thus, “the resort to violence is always the denial of the possibility of redemption,” he added. “And since in our hearts we believe in redemption as Christians, an early resort to violence denies the very heart of our faith.”

However, he said, Holy Week’s anticipation of Easter shows a different way.

“It is in accompanying Jesus on the long walk through Holy Week to the cross that we will find ourselves bound together afresh and love released,” Welby said. “The love will be such that we cannot imagine unless we turn to Christ in repentance, seeking to be those who challenge and overcome the violence that he himself bore for us on the cross. It will be a love that comes to reclaim in ourselves and in our communities the gospel of peace.”

The text of his speech is here.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts
Schori respond to questions during an April 10 press conference. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

At a later press conference with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Diocese of Oklahoma Bishop Edward Konieczny, Welby was asked about comments he made April 4 when he told a British radio call-in show that that Christians in parts of Africa face abuse, violence and even death because of decisions on sexual equality made by Anglican Churches in the West. His answer came in response to a question from the Rev. Kes Grant, a Church of England priest and school chaplain who had called in to ask why English clergy were not allowed to decide for themselves whether to marry gay couples.

“Why we can’t do it now is because the impact of that on Christians in countries far from here like South Sudan, like Pakistan, like Nigeria, would be absolutely catastrophic and we have to love them as much as the people who are here,” Welby said.

Welby explained that while standing at a mass grave he was told that the excuse given for the murder of hundreds of Christians there had been: “If we leave a Christian community in this area, we will all be made to become homosexual, and so we’re going to kill the Christians.”

Welby concluded, “The mass grave had 369 bodies in it and I was standing with the relatives. That burns itself into your soul, as does the suffering of gay people in this country.”

During the news conference, Welby noted that he had made similar comments in the past and that he was trying to say that “at its heart is the issue that we’re a global church.”

“The Anglican Communion is a global church.  And that wherever we speak, whether it’s here or in Africa, or in Asia or in any of the 143 countries in which we are operating, in which there are Anglicans, we never speak exclusively to ourselves but we speak in a way that is heard widely around the world,” he said. “And so the point I was making, because the question was essentially about why don’t we just go ahead and do gay marriages, we have a profound disagreement within the Church of England about the right thing to do, whether to perform gay marriages or have blessing of same sex marriages where the marriage has taken place in the civil system.”

Same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales on March 29. Parliament by a comfortable majority passed The Marriage (Same-sex Couples Act) in July 2013.

The Church of England is “starting two years of facilitated conversation about this and we are not going simply to jump to a conclusion, to preempt that conversation in any direction at all but we need to spend time listening to each other, listening to the voices around the communion,” Welby said.

The example he gave during the call-in program of his experience at the site of the mass grave “was of a particular example some years back which had had a great impact on my own thinking,” he said during the news conference.

Earlier in the day when the archbishop spoke to the entire gathering, he said he and his wife Caroline stood alongside a mass grave in Bor, South Sudan, where the bodies of clergy and lay South Sudanese people were buried in what he has described as a massacre influenced by western acceptance for same-sex marriage.

“I think we need to be aware of the realities on the ground in our own countries and around the world and to take those into account when we are moving forward,” Welby said during the news conference.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean you do something other than you feel is the right thing to do but you are aware of the need perhaps to do it in a different way,” he continued. “It means particularly in these conversations that we have to make sure that we hear the voice of the LGBT community, which themselves in many parts of the world, including in our own countries suffer a great deal, and we also need to hear very carefully the voices of other members of the church, of other faiths, of ecumenical partners, so that it is a genuine process of listening and in listening to each to listening to the voice of God.”

A video clip of Welby’s comments at the news conference is here.

Welby came to the United States April 9 from Canada where he had spent four days meeting with Anglican leaders. Towards the end of that visit, Welby sat down for an interview with the Anglican Journal during which he also addressed his April 4 comments in a similar vein.

“One of the things that’s most depressing about the response to that interview is that almost nobody listened to what I said; they mostly imagined what they thought I said…It was not only imagination, it was a million miles away from what I said,” he added.

Both the Canadian and U.S. visits, which Lambeth Palace has said are “primarily personal and pastoral,” are part of the archbishop’s plan to visit the leader of every Anglican Communion province by the end of this year. Details about his other such visits thus far are here.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg and Lynette Wilson are editors/reporters for the Episcopal News Service.

Long Island welcomes Assistant Bishop Chilton Knudsen

Episcopal News Service - qui, 10/04/2014 - 16:43

[Episcopal Diocese of Long Island press release] Bishop Chilton Knudsen, former Bishop of Maine and current Assistant Bishop of New York, has been appointed Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Long Island.  Starting on September 2, Bishop Knudsen will be asked to share in Bishop’s visitations three weekends per month and provide oversight on behalf of Bishop Provenzano for the ongoing work and ministry of Episcopal Charities and Episcopal Community Services.  She will work directly under Bishop Provenzano’s pastoral direction and in collaboration with diocesan staff.  Of her appointment, Bishop Knudsen writes, “I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to serve the Diocese of Long Island as Assistant Bishop and look forward to working with Bishop Provenzano in this part of the Body of Christ.”

Bishop Knudsen received her M. Div from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in 1980.  She was ordained deacon in 1980 and priest in 1981, first serving a new mission in Bolingbrook, IL; she later served in other congregations, both in rural and inner-city areas.  In 1987, Bishop Knudsen was called as Pastoral Care Officer (later Canon for Pastoral Care) in the Diocese of Chicago, where she developed a nationwide ministry of consulting and training about Sexual Misconduct in church settings.  The material she developed continues to be widely used.

While serving on diocesan staff in Chicago, Bishop Knudsen refreshed her high-school Spanish and served as supply priest and pastor for several Spanish-speaking congregations.  Her fluency was further refined as she helped establish La Mision de San Lucas in the Diocese of Maine.

Additionally, Bishop Knudsen has a long and personal interest in issues of addiction and recovery, especially regarding systems (congregations, dioceses, organizations) that have experienced the subtle yet powerful effects of addiction-in all its forms-in clergy or lay leaders.  As Bishop of Maine, she planted three new Maine congregations (including Maine’s only Latino congregation) and led in the revitalization of several congregations, including congregations that suffered from the aftermath of addiction in their leadership.

During Bishop Knudsen’s tenure in Maine, the Dioceses of Maine and Haiti inaugurated a Companion Diocese relationship with a number of ongoing partnerships in mission.  Bishop Knudsen herself served in 2009 as a missionary in Haiti, where she gained great respect for Haitian culture, learned to function liturgically in French, and built enduring friendships with clergy and lay leaders of that diocese.

Bishop Knudsen was born into a Navy family and grew up overseas in Guam/the Marianas Islands, the Philippines, and Japan.  She studied biology/ecology at Chatham College in Pittsburgh, PA, earning a BA in 1968. During graduate study at the University of Pittsburgh, she taught at her alma mater, developing interdisciplinary courses in Behavioral Biology and Ecosystem Analysis.  She later taught interdisciplinary courses at the community college level, and served as a counselor in women’s health clinics in Pittsburgh, PA and in Wheaton, IL.

Married since 1971 to Dr. Michael J. Knudsen, a retired engineer and composer, Bishop Knudsen delights in their adult son Dan, golf, opera and classical music, coastal scenery, and cross-cultural experiences.  The Knudsens make their home in Bath, Maine.

Video: Archbishop explains comments made to LBC radio

Episcopal News Service - qui, 10/04/2014 - 16:34

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.][Episcopal News Service - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in an April 10 press conference addressed comments he made last week on a British radio program saying that the Church of England’s embracing of same sex marriage could lead to the persecution and murder of Christians in other parts of the world.

Welby is attending Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence being held April 9-11 at the Reed Center and the nearby Sheraton Midwest City in Oklahoma.

Presiding Bishop visits Western North Carolina

Episcopal News Service - qui, 10/04/2014 - 07:42

[Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori visited the Diocese of Western North Carolina April 6-8, leading a retreat where members of the diocese explored the theme, “Do Justice, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly in a 21st Century World.”

The retreat, held at Lake Logan Episcopal Center in Canton, North Carolina, focused on what mission means and how the church can be encouraged and inspired to do God’s work. Jefferts Schori stressed that missionary work is necessary at both the local and the global level. “The universe is connected in all scales in God’s transcendent, created reality,” she said. “The dream of God is that abundance is possible if we’re not selfish.”

Jefferts Schori’s address is available here.

A panel discussed mission work in far-flung places, like Haiti and India, as well as local projects that support the homeless, the hungry, and the under-educated. “We share the same destination, whether that is heaven or hell on earth,” Jefferts Schori said.

Western North Carolina Bishop G. Porter Taylor said that regardless of where we go to do missionary work, “we don’t go to tell them anything – we go there to discover and to be open to that power that transcends us.”

Jefferts Schori stressed that it’s not a decision about whether to do local work or global work – that we can think globally and locally, and take action in both. “We’re all called to do different things,” she said, encouraging everyone to find a passion and to connect to that ministry.

Taylor agreed: “If our theology is sound and we’re all connected, then we need to ask, ‘How can we react to that?’”

The presiding bishop used the Five Marks of Mission to describe how to approach mission work thoughtfully, but also encouraged everyone to “Fear not – be creative.”

The panel discussed what inspired them in their mission, with panel member Shawnee Irwin talking about the relationships she’s built in the companion diocese of Durgapur, India, and saying, “I keep hearing the voice of our Lord, and he keeps saying – ‘Go back, go back, they need you’ – and I need them.”

Jefferts Schori said her inspiration comes from hearing stories like the ones told during the retreat. “That’s a gift,” she said, “and then I can take those stories and share them wherever I go. That sustains me.”

– Chris Goldman is communications officer of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina.

Canada: Welby explains gays and violence in Africa remarks

Episcopal News Service - qui, 10/04/2014 - 07:28

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop Fred Hiltz met for two hours at the convent of Sisters of St. John the Divine in Toronto. Photo: Michael Hudson

[Anglican Journal] After a 12-hour day of back-to-back engagements, a jet-lagged Justin Welby, the 105th archbishop of Canterbury, sat down for a 15-minute interview with the Anglican Journal late Tuesday evening, April 8.

Welby and his wife, Caroline, arrived in Toronto Monday afternoon for a one and a half day “personal, pastoral visit,” his first, to the Anglican Church of Canada. Welby, whose area of expertise includes conflict resolution, has said that these visits are part of a process for getting to know the primates (senior archbishops) and their churches. The Anglican Communion, which has been struggling with divisions over the issue of sexuality, has about 80 million members in 143 countries. Including Canada, the archbishop has visited 17 of the Communion’s 37 provinces and aims to visit them all by the end of the year or early 2015. He arrived April 9 in Oklahoma City, to visit The Episcopal Church.

Excerpts:

Q: How would you describe your first visit to the Anglican Church of Canada? What have you learned about this church that has been most unexpected?

A: Two things have been unexpected, that have been striking. One is the depth of commitment to the truth and reconciliation process, which I didn’t realize quite how deep that went into the life of the church. And, also, the commitment of the church to support the Council of the North dioceses…That’s all part of the same sense of commitment to those who the church has damaged or who are on the edge. The other thing that’s struck me has been the commitment to the Five Marks of Mission and that these are very much part of the strategy of the church, and that’s the vision of the church.

Q: You mentioned in your dinner remarks that your conversation with the primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, has been most useful in terms of how to move forward in the Communion.

A: We had two hours together and I find him a particularly helpful, thoughtful and challenging interlocutor, and someone who seems to be able to unlock and unpick issues that were weighing on my mind and to…enable more creativity. I don’t know if that’s part of his life as primate, but I felt that, as a result of the conversation, I was more creative than I was before it.

Q: Could you give us a sense of what you talked about?

A: There were these obvious things. We talked about the challenge of diversity in the Communion, that we have such breathtaking diversity across the Communion, that it’s a massive task to even think about how we can relate to each other effectively. We talked quite a lot about the companion dioceses and the value they are…the depth they get into.

Q: In 2016, the church’s General Synod will be presented with a resolution changing the marriage canon to allow same-sex marriage. Is this a cause for concern?

A: That’s a really tough question. Well, it’s got to be a cause for concern because this is a particularly tough issue to deal with…And, I hope that two or three things happen: I hope that the church, in its deliberations, is drawing on the wealth of its contribution to the Anglican Communion and the worldwide church, to recognize…the way it works and how it thinks, to recognize the importance of its links. And that, in its deliberations, it is consciously listening to the whole range of issues that are of concern in this issue. We need to be thinking; we need to be listening to the LGBT voices and to discern what they’re really saying because you can’t talk about a single voice anymore than you can with any other group. There needs to be listening to Christians from around the world; there needs to be listening to ecumenical partners, to interfaith partners. There needs to be a commitment to truth in love and there needs to be a commitment to being able to disagree in a way that demonstrates that those involved in the discussions love one another as Christ loves us. That’s the biggest challenge, that in what we do, we demonstrate that love for Christ in one another.

Q: Some people have reacted strongly to your statements about the issue of gay marriage in your interview with LBC radio.

A: Lots of people have.

Q: Were you in fact blaming the death of Christians in parts of Africa on the acceptance of gay marriage in America?

A: I was careful not to be too specific because that would pin down where that happened and that would put the community back at risk. I wouldn’t use the word “blame”— that’s a misuse of words in the context. One of the things that’s most depressing about the response to that interview is that almost nobody listened to what I said; they mostly imagined what they thought I said…It was not only imagination, it was a million miles away from what I said.

Q: So what exactly were you saying?

A: What I was saying is that when we take actions in one part of the church, particularly actions that are controversial, that they are heard and felt not only in that part of the church but around the world…And, this is not mere consequentialism; I’m not saying that because there will be consequences to taking action, that we shouldn’t take action. What I’m saying is that love for our neighbour, love for one another, compels us to consider carefully how that love is expressed, both in our own context and globally. We never speak the essential point that, as a church, we never speak only in our local situation. Our voice carries around the world. Now that will be more true in some places than in others. It depends on your links. We need to learn to live as a global church in a local context and never to imagine that we’re just a local church. There is no such thing.

Q: You’ve said the issue of same-sex marriage is a complex one that you wrestle with every day and often in the middle of the night…

A: I have about a million questions. I think really I’ve said as much as I want to on that subject.

Q: You recently released a video collaboration with Cardinal Vincent Nichols. What was the impetus for that?

A: It came about in the discussions we were having together. We meet together to discuss and pray quite regularly and out of that came the sense that we ought to do something public and visible that demonstrated what the church is already doing, to draw attention to that and that we’re centered both in prayer and social action. 

Q: Is there an Easter message you’d like to give to Canadian-Anglicans?

A: I would say that at the heart of my own thinking as we approach Easter is to recall the joy that is in the risen Christ.

Q: Is it harder for you now to be on Twitter because you’re the Archbishop of Canterbury?

A: Yes.

Q: Are you less candid?

A: I’m not necessarily less candid. It’s very interesting with social media, isn’t it? Every day I get loads of questions directed at me through a Twitter message—everything from “What’s your favourite book?” to “Are you really saying…whatever?” Sadly, there’s really no way I can respond to those—it’s just impossible. I would do nothing else all day, and then I wouldn’t get through it. One of the things I find difficult is ignoring responses to things that are tweeted because everything in me wants to respond to the people who’ve responded to me. But it’s just not possible. The other thing is that you just become aware of the dark side of all these things: that people feel that they can write things about other people, and not just about myself, which are really horrible. And so I have to say there are moments when you think, “I just don’t know if I want to put up something on social media because it will just unleash a torrent of abuse from some people.” But in the end you think, “Well, I won’t read it…there’s no point… I’m just going to get on with life.”

Q: Do you still compose your own tweets?

A: Yes.

Q: You don’t have a minder doing that for you?

A: No, no. I said it’s got to be authentic. It’s got to be me; that’s why there are sometimes gaps. I’ll go through a few days where nothing particularly occurs to me or I’m traveling. I’m not on Twitter today—I might just manage it today before I go to sleep. Some days, lots of things happen; other days, my mind is a perfect blank…

Q: You also need to be kind to yourself.

A: I do know about that, but you at least have to know when you’re going to bore people stiff.

Rapidísimas

Episcopal News Service - qui, 10/04/2014 - 07:19

Las autoridades de Israel han cerrado el acceso a lugares de devoción para los cristianos como el Santo Sepulcro diciendo que es para mantener el orden y solemnidad de la Semana Santa pero grupos cristianos han interpretado la acción como un ataque a la libertad religiosa. El lugar del Santo Sepulcro se encuentra bajo el control de la antigua ciudadela y desde 1967 está en manos de Israel después de la guerra de los “Seis Días”.

El periódico francés “Le Monde” conocido por su línea liberal y pro revolucionaria, dijo recientemente en su editorial: “Los venezolanos llevan una lucha continua contra el despilfarro, la  corrupción y el autoritarismo político. Es un cóctel socio-nacionalista inspirado en el ejemplo cubano y el anti-imperialismo militante que saca sus fuerzas de un viejo fondo revolucionario latinoamericano. Es la herencia de un caudillo militar”.

Acaba de aparecer el libro “Chavistas en el imperio: secretos, tácticas y escándalos”  escrito por el periodista venezolano Casto Ocando que revela las inversiones secretas en los Estados Unidos y los negocios que han operado desde la llegada de Hugo Chávez al poder. El libro expone la doble cara del chavismo: por una parte una enemistad feroz contra el país del norte y  por otra las grandes inversiones secretas como empresas y edificios de lujo en el mismo. En una extensa lista el libro revela los nombres de los ministros, militares, parlamentarios y banqueros que están bajo investigación por el gobierno federal de Estados Unidos. El libro también revela los dineros del petróleo que han sido empleados para sobornar en el país y el extranjero.

Recientemente  hubo una reunión en Caracas con el fin de encontrar puntos comunes para la paz. La oposición pide la libertad de todos los presos políticos, el desarme de los grupos armados patrocinados por el gobierno, la libertad de prensa y reunión,  la destitución de funcionarios chavistas en la Asamblea Nacional, el Ejército, la Corte Suprema y otras instancias como la dirección de Ministerio del Tesoro. Estos puntos serán remitidos al ejecutivo mediante un delegado imparcial. Desde ya se cree que el gobierno rechazará discutir esos puntos. También se aceptó con beneplácito la medición del Vaticano.

A pesar de que las leyes brasileñas permiten que las iglesias no paguen impuestos  debido a su labor social hay iglesias evangélicas “que además de intentar llevar creyentes al paraíso celestial, también operan acciones para llevar dólares a paraísos fiscales”. Por esa razón,  Ministerios Públicos investigan a  templos que pudieran ser usados para lavado de dinero, ocultamiento de patrimonios y evasión fiscal.

Bob Coy, joven pastor que dirigió la segunda iglesia evangélica más numerosa del Estado de la Florida desde 1985, ha renunciado. La iglesia llamada “Capilla del Calvario” tiene 20,000 miembros y está situada en Fort Lauderdale, una ciudad cercana a Miami.  Coy dijo que renunciaba por razón de “dos fallas morales” que había cometido pero no dijo cuáles eran.

David White, que fue profesor del Seminario Evangélico de Teología de Matanzas, Cuba,  falleció el 1 de abril en su hogar de Nashville, Tennessee, a la edad de 92 años. Por varios años enseñó ética y otras materias en Matanzas. Hizo su tesis doctoral sobre el pensamiento de José Ortega y Gasset (intelectual español, 1883-1955). Sus alumnos lo respetaban por su carácter sobrio y sus conocimientos de varias materias teológicas. Al principio de la revolución en 1960 junto con otros misioneros norteamericanos en Cuba, escribió una carta al Presidente de Estados Unidos afirmando que la revolución era un “genuino movimiento nacionalista” sin conexión con las ideas socialistas de la época. Posteriormente cambió su posición al ver lo que pasaba en Cuba.

Bargeeta Almby, misionera evangélica sueca de 72 años fue víctima de un asalto a mano armada en Punjab, India, donde ha trabajado por 38 años. No perdió la vida pero está en estado crítico en un hospital local. Frans Van der Lugt, sacerdote jesuita holandés de 72 años fue asesinado en Siria por dos desconocidos.  Hace cuatro años se le ofreció salir del país pero rehusó diciendo “necesito estar con mi pueblo”. El sacerdote Juan Francisco Blandón, párroco de la Iglesia Concepción de María del Municipio de Wiwili, a 300 kilómetros al norte de Managua, Nicaragua, fue muerto tratando de mediar en una disputa matrimonial. Desde principios de año 24 mujeres han perdido la vida a manos de sus esposos o compañeros de vida.

PANCARTA. En una de las tantas manifestaciones de Caracas se podía leer la siguiente pancarta: “Fascista no es el pueblo que desconoce a su gobierno. Fascista es el gobierno que desconoce a su pueblo”.

‘Life becomes simple’ with lasting Lenten practices

Episcopal News Service - qui, 10/04/2014 - 07:02

Hikers rest and reflect upon reaching the 40-foot Eaton Canyon waterfall in the San Gabriel Mountains near Pasadena, California. Photo: Pat McCaughan/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] The season of Lent may rapidly be coming to a close but some creative Lenten spiritual practices seem sure to linger on.

Like the ‘Fat-Tuesday’-inspired “Skinny Tuesdays” running club at Trinity Cathedral in Miami in the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida.

After the traditional Fat Tuesday pancake suppers “we figured everyone was going to need a skinny Tuesday,” joked the Rev. Grey Maggiano, assistant priest and a serious runner. “People enjoy it, it’s a neat way to have a diverse group of people gather.”

The ‘Skinny Tuesdays’ running group walks/runs about three miles weekly from Trinity Cathedral in Miami to Miami Beach and hopes to make Skinny Tuesdays a regular gathering. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Grey Maggiano

Altogether, about 50 people have joined in the runs at one time or another during Lent, with about a dozen participating regularly. “We meet on the cathedral steps at 6:15 p.m., stretch for 15 minutes, talk and catch up, pray and then we take off,” said Maggiano.

Participants are aged from 7 to 70; some do a two-mile walk, others a three-mile run along the Venetian Causeway from Miami to Miami Beach and back again. “We run along the water the whole way.”

The physical exertion helps clear out the clutter of the day, Maggiano added. “The rhythm and pacing of running has always given me something else to focus on so I can distract my mind … and that little corner opens up where I connect directly to God and pray as I’m running and life becomes simple. You focus on two things, God and the road and nothing else matters for that two-hour stretch,” he said.

It also has been a helpful spiritual practice because “Miami, like most cities, is so built up, we can forget how close we are to nature.

“Watching fish jump out of the water, and running by palm trees and reminding yourself that this once all was nature that we’ve taken over, is an important reflection for our call as Christians in this community,” he said. “To remember, that not only are we serving God and each other but we’re also serving this creation that surrounds us.”

The group has even attracted some runners who aren’t members.

“The thing that’s exciting for me as a priest is the people showing up and the conversations being had on the margins with folks about their lives and their kids and their spiritual lives and everything else.

“Now, one young runner wants to become an acolyte and to get more involved at the cathedral,” added Maggiano, 33. “Last week he brought a friend, so he and the friend raced while their moms walked and talked together. It’s exciting to see new people becoming familiar with the cathedral and the Episcopal Church through something as simple as running.”

Hiking in Los Angeles
Similarly, nature lovers from St. Luke’s Church in Monrovia, and Transfiguration Church in Arcadia, California who joined a Lenten “Wilderness Wondering/Wandering” Saturday morning meditation and hiking group want to extend it beyond Easter.

“Hiking is such a wonderful time to meditate, as well as focusing on health,” according to the Rev. Neil Tadken, St. Luke’s priest-in-charge, who is considering establishing hiking as a regular weekly time with parishioners.

Andy Dagis (in the foreground) follows the Rev. Neil Tadken along semi-rugged terrain during the weekly Lenten ‘Wilderness Wondering/Wandering’ on April 5. Photo: Pat McCaughan/Episcopal News Service

The hikers meet at the church and carpool to the hike location; the weekly treks are moderately paced, “and we’re learning what works and what doesn’t,” Tadken said. He selects the hiking paths in consultation with others and by checking hikespeak.com, a guide to California hiking trails.

Their first outing, a 5-mile jaunt along the Sam Merrill Trail to Echo Mountain in the San Gabriel Mountains, offered both physical and spiritual connections with that week’s gospel, “the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness where he is shown all the kingdoms of the world,” he said.

“We could see as far as from Camarillo to Palm Springs to Catalina Island” a sweeping panoramic 150-plus mile view of the Southern California landscape, according to Andy Dagis, an avid hiker and church member.

Wearing hiking boots, shorts and an Illinois sweatshirt, Dagis, a statistician for City of Hope and former Sierra Club member, also was along April 5 on a 3.5-mile hike to the 40-foot Eaton Canyon waterfall in the San Gabriel Mountains.

“Is the high road easier?” he mused as the group brushed past wild rosemary bushes, California pine and oak trees, navigating slippery rocks while crossing small flowing streams, up hill and down, alongside a winding creek, in semi-rugged terrain.

Much of the journey was single file, solitary, except for periodic stops to reflect on the next day’s Old Testament lesson, Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of the dry bones, prompting hikers to review the past and reflect on the future.

“When in your life have you felt all dried up?” Tadken asked hikers, in response to the Scripture. “What helped you renew your faith? If we say the future is nothing more than what the past has always been, then we can’t call something new into being.”

Yoga Nidra in Seattle: becoming still, still, still
For yoga instructors Wendy Townsend and Brenna Kramer, teaching ‘Yoga Nidra’ at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle, Washington, was to offer stillness and centering as a response to the way “our society is so driven to go, go, go, do, do, do and it leads you into a very deep place.”

Citing a Thomas Merton definition of Lent as “seeing our own true self in Christ, in the desert, in meditation” Townsend added that: “I think our own true self is sometimes hard to connect with because we’re so outer-focused.”

Participants have gathered in the dimly lit cathedral for the five-week series and during the hour-long class focused on “a starry night, a mountaintop, images that help you let go of your shopping list and what you have to do tomorrow, and go to your center,” she said.

“I like to talk about my favorite Bible quote, 1 Cor. 3:16, do you not know your body is a temple and that God dwells within you,” she said.

The cathedral backdrop aids “the sense of being in a holy place. It’s a wonderful place to practice yoga,” added Townsend, 71, a 14-year instructor.

Yoga “is not a competitive sport. It’s an individual experience. We invite people to close their eyes and go inside and find this being that they are. It brings you into a reflective awareness and I think people long for that,” she said.

Similarly, “coming out from a deep sense of reflection enables you to better live your life because you are coming from a deeper place,” she added. “We get very superficial and we’re getting it all done but I don’t know that we come from the deeper place of being connected.”

North Carolina: passing the Lent Baton
Passing the Lent baton has been a fun – and virtual way – to observe the season at Church of the Nativity in Raleigh, North Carolina, according to the Rev. Stephanie Allen, rector.

“It’s an idea of using Instagram and sharing the pictures of our lives and where we see God at work in our everyday normal lives outside of Sunday mornings,” Allen told ENS recently.

Imagine spending an entire day snapping camera phone selfies – Lent- and faith-focused ones – and then sharing six to eight of them, said Allen who took the first slot on Ash Wednesday and included bread as one of her images.

“Somebody brought me some bread as a little thank you gift and so I took a photo of it with my phone. You know, bread, bread of life, it took me to all kinds of places.”

Others have taken photos of their journals, daily Lenten readings, plants, candles, and people interactions.

For Allen, it’s become a spiritual discipline in that it helps remind us “that God is there, if we pay attention and if we take the time to really open our eyes … and you realize that’s really what we ought to be doing all the time.”

She admits to being an Instagram newbie until the Lent baton happened, “but there is a lot of potential for sharing … your image of the world and how you see it,” she said. “Everybody is an artist with their camera phone” and the wider community has also joined in.

Parishioner Mike Belmares, who facilitated the Lent baton, got the idea after seeing the popularity of the RDU Baton where “people in Chapel Hill and Raleigh, were signing up to take the baton to show parts of their lives, where they hang out, go jogging, eat. It has a two- to three-month wait list so he decided to adapt it to the church.

With a signup genius phone app, all participants have to do is “see it, snap it, share it,” he said. Nativity lends its account user name and password for a day, to participants.

“Lent is kind of this forgotten season, yet so pivotal to our faith,” he added. “It isn’t just about weeping and gnashing your teeth, or about your sins. It is a procession up to Easter. The idea was to kind of give life to a somewhat forgotten season, and to find fun ways to do it.”

He aims to continue the practice. “It is a matter of taking the message outside the brick and mortar of our congregations,” he said. “It’s about sharing faith. And I love the Episcopal Church and I think it has a lot to offer.”

The enthusiasm has caught on and “we’ve had other folks in our diocese jump on board. That was really neat to see. Folks we’ve never known have gotten involved from other congregations and it’s become a way for people to share their faith.”

“We just wanted to engage people and to share, that’s all. There is more power in all our hands than some of our hands.”

Seattle and the Ministry of ‘Worsted Wool’
While it’s true that Jonie Pritchard and Barbara Erickson are serial knitters, this year they invited others to enrich their faith during Lent by knitting baby blankets for a local pediatric clinic for the underserved.

It has also functioned as a kind of virtual ministry, in that the participants corresponded via the Internet, exchanging patterns – called ‘Jonie’s pattern’ – and e-mails, but worked in the solitude of their homes.

For Pritchard, performing the knit one, purl one, simple basket weave stitch is in itself a spiritual exercise, which she augmented “by praying as we’re knitting,” she told ENS recently. “We are bringing a new child into the world and this is a special thank you God for the ability to knit or crochet.”

Soft pastel worsted wool yarn is used and “we should have a big basket full of baby blankets to be blessed the Sunday after Easter.”

Along with six other members of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle, they participated in the ministry, dubbed the Ministry of Worsted Wool by Erickson.

“It dawned on me that the blankets we make are out of worsted wool yarn. So I decided to call it the ministry of worsted wool, and then I found a little lamb on Google and that’s become our little symbol,” Erickson said.

“It just felt like it was the right thing to do for the season,” she told ENS recently.

“We just knit, and I give away a lot of my knitted products. So, whenever I knit something it’s done with that spiritual intention.”

Knitting, for Erickson, “has a spiritual aspect. It’s a calming thing … To me, no matter what’s going on in the world if I just go and sit and knit I’m at peace.”

Added Pritchard, 76: “It’s a labor of love. I do this all year long but this time I have blocked out the other blankets I have requests for and am just doing this during Lent specifically with the idea in mind that St. Mark’s Cathedral will be knitting a bunch of blankets for the clinic.

“And I picture these little babies be there, and I pray it [the blanket] will comfort the new baby, and be of comfort to the mother, that the baby will be blessed by God and will turn to God. It’s all done with love and to the glory of God.”

– The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. She is based in Los Angeles.

Episcopalians gather to ‘challenge mythology of violence’

Episcopal News Service - qua, 09/04/2014 - 23:49

Participants in the Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence conference on April 11 will visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum which memorializes the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building by Timothy McVeigh, an act of domestic terrorism that killed 168 people and injured 600 others. The Field of Empty Chairs includes a chair for each life lost, including 19 smaller chairs for the children who died that day. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma] An Episcopal Church effort to have “a dialogue that our society has not been able to accomplish” about violence in general and gun violence in particular began April 9 here.

Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence being held April 9-11 at the Reed Center and the nearby Sheraton Midwest City is meant to help Episcopalians renew their commitment to the Gospel call to make peace in a world of violence and “reclaim their role in society as workers for nonviolence and peace,” according to a press release from the church’s Office of Public Affairs.

The gathering of 220 people, including 34 bishops, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, is centered around four pillars: advocacy, education, liturgy and pastoral care as “key avenues to address the culture of violence within and outside of the church,” the release said.

“We have worshipped for far too long at the altar of the gun to solve our problems,” says
Diocese of Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton at the opening session of the April 9-11 Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence conference Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Diocese of Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton asked the participants to create a “condemnation-free zone” for the three-day conference that he said was a gathering of Episcopalians from “across the spectrum of geographical, political and theological differences to learn from each other, to pray with each other and to discern what the spirit might be saying to us as church leaders.”

Sutton invited people to “challenge the mythology of violence” in the United States that says violence will protect us from an unsafe and unpredictable world. Sutton said there is a “widely held myth that violence works and that non-violence is a pipe dream.”

“We have become intoxicated with violence as the only effective means to achieve our personal goals or national aspirations,” he said. “We have worshipped for far too long at the altar of the gun to solve our problems.”

Sutton said we have known for a long time that there is another way.

“The Christian gospel has proclaimed for thousands of years that there is a cure but we have lost confidence in our day that that ancient solution will work,” he said.

The gospel cure for violence is love, Sutton said, reminding people of Jesus’s commandment to love one’s enemies, bless those who curse you and pray for those who abuse you.

Non-violent movements broke British colonial rule in India, ended apartheid in South Africa and drove the civil rights movement in the United States, he said, citing examples.

The text of his remarks is here.

Diocese of Oklahoma Bishop Edward Konieczny, who says he favors the constitutional right to bear arms, hopes the April 9-11 Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence conference will be a “model and an example to others of how different voices with often very opposite passions can come together with honesty, charity and grace for a common purpose.” Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Diocese of Oklahoma Bishop Edward Konieczny told the gathering that he wasn’t expected to be invited into this conversation, much less be asked to host it. Konieczny, a former Southern California police officer who supports the constitutional right to bear arms, told the gathering that he has a concealed carry weapon permit.

“On occasion I have been accused of being a gun-toting bishop,” he said, adding that he sometimes carries a gun while traveling in Oklahoma.

Konieczny shared stories about his life as a police officer, including the time he switched shifts with a fellow officer who was killed by a man wielding a semi-automatic handgun on that shift.

Another time, he said, he responded to a call and a mentally ill man pointed a rifle at his head and pulled the trigger. The weapon misfired.

“But for the grace of God, I would not be standing here,” Konieczny said in an emotion-filled voice.

Rather than become more hardened by those experiences, the bishop said, “I refuse to feel powerless that I can’t make a difference or have an influence.”

Konieczny said he has seen many youths and adults be “renewed, reconciled and restored” by people who practiced the vows of what Episcopalians know as the baptismal covenant to respect the dignity of all people and strive for justice and peace.

“We don’t have to figure out what to do; we just have to do that which we have already promised,” he said, adding that “it is going to take generations” to reverse a cultural reliance on violence that has been built over generations.

“My hope is that this conference will be a model and an example to others of how different voices with often very opposite passions can come together with honesty, charity and grace for a common purpose,” he said.

Konieczny urged participants as they meet over the next days to keep in mind all victims of violence, especially the 20 students and a security guard who were stabbed by a 16-year-old high school student at a high school in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, about 20 miles east of Pittsburgh, early during the day on April 9.

The text of his remarks is here.

The rest of the conference

Following morning worship on April 10, Welby will address the gathering, followed by a press conference with Jefferts Schori. Concurrent workshops round out the morning. That afternoon the Rev. Chuck Jackson, associate pastor of South Grand Lake Christian Church, a Disciples of Christ congregation in Vinita, Oklahoma, will present an interactive discussion titled “Let It Begin with Me.” His presentation will be followed by a panel discussion on Episcopal responses to violence. The day concludes with workshop sessions in the afternoon and evening.

The April 10 sessions with Welby, Jackson’s presentation and the panel on Episcopal responses to violence are all due to be live streamed. The link is available here.

On April 11, the conference continues with a morning of worship, conversation and workshops. In the afternoon, participants will visit the Oklahoma City Memorial and Museum. The memorial and museum memorialize the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building by Timothy McVeigh, an act of domestic terrorism that killed 168 people and injured 600 others. Some survivors of the bombing are due to make a presentation to conference participants.

The gathering concludes with Eucharist at St. Paul’s Cathedral, less than two blocks from the site of the Murrah bombing. The cathedral was damaged by the 1995 blast. Jefferts Schori will preach. Dinner, featuring a concluding speech by Diocese of Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith, follows at the cathedral.

A schedule and list of workshop topics and presenters are here.

ENS and others are tweeting from the conference using #peaceokc.

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