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Gene Robinson named to two Chautauqua Institution posts

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 11:07am

The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson is the former bishop diocesan of New Hampshire.

[Chautauqua Institution press release] In anticipation of the departure of Director of Religion the Rev. Robert Franklin at the conclusion of the 2017 Chautauqua Institution season, President Michael E. Hill has announced plans to reorganize the Department of Religion with an eye toward shaping a national dialogue on faith in society.

Retired Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, formerly of the Diocese of New Hampshire, will assume the new role of vice president and senior pastor of the Chautauqua Institution effective Sept. 1.  Robinson will provide executive leadership for the Department of Religion and will chair a new volunteer advisory group, the President’s Advisory Council on Faith in Society.

Currently a fellow at the Center for American Progress,  Robinson is an internationally recognized interfaith leader. He is among the inaugural group of 13 senior fellows at Auburn Seminary, the first leadership development and research institute in the country to launch a fellowship program to cultivate the skills of multi-faith leaders working for justice. Also an outspoken advocate for the rights of marginalized populations,  Robinson is recognized for his groundbreaking work with the LGBT community, youth communities and those suffering from abuse and addiction.

Longtime Associate Director of Religion Maureen Rovegno will be promoted to the role of director of religion, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the department and serving as a key programmatic partner to  Robinson.

Robinson is no stranger to Chautauqua, having served as a popular and thought-provoking speaker/lecturer and as chaplain of the week during the 2011 season.

“Religion is at the center of many of today’s most pressing issues and most difficult challenges,” Robinson said. “Yet in our increasingly polarized society, there are fewer safe places to have meaningful conversation about those challenges. Chautauqua and its Department of Religion have been, and will continue to be, a place where those conversations can happen, where all viewpoints are heard, and where every human being is honored and valued. Through the curated conversations from a religious perspective, our goal is no less than to heal the world.”

Read the full release here.

Episcopal Divinity School, Union Theological Seminary agree on collaboration

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 3:08pm

[Episcopal Divinity School] Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) and Union Theological Seminary announced May 19 that they have signed an agreement that will allow EDS to continue as an Episcopal seminary through a collaboration with Union at its campus in New York City beginning in the fall of 2018.

“We had three goals when we began to plan this news phase in EDS’s life,” said the Rev.  Gary Hall, chair of the EDS board. “We wanted to continue providing Episcopal theological education within an accredited, degree-granting program, deepen our historic commitment to gospel-centered justice, and provide financial strength and stability for EDS’s future. Today, I am delighted to say that we have achieved all three.”

“This is an historic moment,” said the Rev. Serene Jones, president of the Union faculty and Johnston Family Professor for Religion and Democracy at Union. “We are honored that EDS has chosen to partner with us and are certain that the stewardship of our deepest commitments will be fulfilled in the years ahead.”

The Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas will be the first dean of EDS at Union. Photo: Washington National Cathedral

EDS appointed the Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, Susan D. Morgan Professor of Religion at Goucher College in Maryland and canon theologian at Washington National Cathedral, as the first dean of EDS at Union. Douglas will also join the Union faculty as a professor. She is the author of many articles and five books, including “Stand Your Ground:  Black Bodies and the Justice of God,” which was written in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin.

“Kelly Brown Douglas is one of the most distinguished religious thinkers, teachers, ministers, and activists in the nation,” Jones said. “We are confident that Union’s longstanding commitment to both the Gospel and social justice will be strengthened and enhanced under her leadership.”

Ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1983, Douglas holds a master’s degree in theology and a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Union. Her academic work focuses on womanist theology, sexuality and the black church, and she is a sought-after speaker and author on issues of racial justice and theology.

“Kelly is an Episcopal Church leader and an eminent scholar—and she is a daughter of Union,” Hall said. “Working together, EDS and Union aim to advance the causes of social justice and theology in the world and Kelly is the ideal leader for this new venture.”

“I am excited for the challenge,” Douglas said. “What I am really happy about for the wider EDS community is that this isn’t the typical bad news of a small seminary closing. This is the news that this place believed enough in its mission that it went out and found a way to carry that mission forward in a viable fashion, and found a way for the mission to grow. EDS is going to continue. The EDS community has found the platform to do that, and they have found in UTS an institution that shares their mission. I feel privileged to be a part of this next chapter in EDS’ life.”

Beginning in 2018, students who enroll in the EDS program at Union will earn graduate degrees from Union and also fulfill requirements for ordination in the Episcopal Church. In addition to Douglas, EDS will hire a professor of Anglican studies to join the four Episcopal priests currently on Union’s faculty.

“I look forward to the amazing possibilities that will be brought forth through this affiliation,” said Union’s Board Chair Wolcott B. Dunham Jr. “Our work together will surely expand the ways we serve the church and the world.” A lifelong Episcopalian, Dunham is also senior warden of St. James’ Episcopal Church in the City of New York and a former trustee of the Episcopal Diocese of New York

EDS plans to purchase a floor in a new building being constructed at Union that will house offices, residential space for the dean, and other facilities. The EDS campus in Cambridge will be sold after operations there cease in July, and the proceeds will be added to the school’s endowment, currently valued at $53 million.

The EDS board has voted to cap spending at four percent of its endowment once expenses associated with the move to Union are paid. “We are in this for the long haul,” said Bonnie Anderson, vice chair of the EDS board.  “Enshrining our commitment to sensible, sustainable spending in our affiliation agreement was important to us.”

EDS alums will enjoy the same library and campus privileges accorded to Union alums. The EDS library and archives will be reviewed by representatives from both schools and Union will accept items that do not duplicate its own holdings. The Burke Library at Union, part of Columbia University’s library system and one of the largest theological libraries in North America, with holdings of more than 700,000 items.

The initial term of the EDS-Union affiliation agreement is eleven years, and both schools have the option to agree to extensions beyond that time. EDS will remain its own legal entity with its own board of trustees.

The two seminaries began negotiations in February after Union was chosen from among nine potential candidates that expressed interest in an alliance with EDS. The EDS board, spurred by financial challenges that were depleting the school’s endowment, voted in 2016 to cease granting degrees in May 2017 and to explore options for EDS’s future.

EDS has adopted a generous severance plan for its faculty and staff. All students who did not complete their degrees this month are being “taught out” at other seminaries with EDS’s financial support so as to avoid additional costs.

About Union Theological Seminary
Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York is a seminary and a graduate school of theology established in 1836 by founders “deeply impressed by the claims of the world upon the church.” Union prepares women and men for committed lives of service to the church, academy and society. A Union education develops practices of mind and body that foster intellectual and academic excellence, social justice, and compassionate wisdom. Grounded in the Christian tradition and responsive to the needs of God’s creation, Union’s graduates make a difference wherever they serve.

Union believes that a new interreligious spirituality of radical openness and love is the world’s best hope for peace, justice, and the care of God’s creation. Empowered by groundbreaking inquiry aligned with practical realism and a bias for action, Union is charting a profound new course for enduring social change. Union’s graduates stand out wherever they serve, practicing their vocations with courage and perseverance, and speaking clearly and acting boldly on behalf of social justice in all of its forms.

About Episcopal Divinity School

Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts was formed in 1974 by the merger of Philadelphia Divinity School (1857) and Episcopal Theological School (1867). For more than 40 years, EDS has offered a bold and expansive vision of inclusion and social justice in the service of preparing students to lead faith communities.

In July 2016, the EDS Board of Trustees voted to cease granting degrees in May 2017 and to explore options for EDS’s future that would carry on the seminary’s historic mission, continue accredited degree-granting theological education, and provide financial strength and stability for EDS’s future. More information is available here.

RIP: Katherine Elizabeth (Betty) Davis Gilmore

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 11:59am

[Diocese Northwest Texas] It is with profound sadness that the Diocese of Northwest Texas shares news of the death of a great friend and an outstanding icon of lay servanthood. Katherine Elizabeth (Betty) Davis Gilmore, of Midland, Texas, died peacefully on the afternoon of May 9, 2017.

Betty had recently been diagnosed with a serious illness, and was sent to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center for further diagnostics and possibly treatment. She was transferred back to Midland recently to be with her family, and died at home, surrounded by her loved ones.

She leaves behind her husband of 60 years, Willis (Bill), and four children: Kathy Shannon of Midland; Karen Anderson and husband, Steve, of Fort Collins, Colorado; Trey Gilmore and his wife, Susan, of Houston, Texas; and Laurence Gilmore of Denver, Colorado. She was the grandmother of eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Betty was born September 3, 1933, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Her childhood years were spent in New Orleans, Louisiana, while attending Louise S. McGhee School.  She enjoyed her summers at Camp Waldemar where her daughters and granddaughters continued the tradition. She later attended and graduated from The Hockaday School in Dallas, Texas.  She studied English Literature at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1955. She was a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority in which she remained actively involved for many years.

If you were “friends” with Betty on the web, you may have encountered her personal profile on LinkedIn, which listed her role, her “job,” as an “Independent Non-Profit Organization Management Professional,” a description that was quite apropos. She used that knowledge and experience to be civically active in Midland, where she served on the Board of Manor Park, a local retirement facility, and was a charter member of the Midland Symphony Guild, where she formulated the organization’s bylaws with fellow Guild charter member, Harriet Herd. She and Mrs. Herd continued to create bylaws for various organizations throughout the community.  Betty participated actively in Junior League, Friends of the Library, and the Samaritan Counseling Center.

For numerous decades, Betty served the Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas, and the Episcopal Church, in almost every capacity in which a layperson could serve. The executive secretary emeritus for the diocese, Carolyn Hearn, recently spoke lovingly of Betty, by reflecting, “Betty was the greatest mentor I’ve ever had. She took me under her wing when I was hired as the executive secretary, and kept me there for 37 years.” Betty’s grace and knowledge were exceptional. She lit up every room she entered with her gracious smile and cheerful personality. She was, indeed, a great Southern lady and an outstanding servant leader, setting an example for what lay leadership could be. The April 2017 diocesan newsletter, The Adventure…on the go, stated, “She has always answered the call of service to the diocese willingly and happily. Her beautiful white hair and equally sparkling smile can’t compare to her gracious personality.”

In her decades of service for the diocese, Betty served as parliamentarian for the annual diocesan convention for many years, as well as serving as the chair of the Constitution and Canons Committee, during which she oversaw the complete re-write of the diocesan Constitution and Canons. Betty also served on the Standing Committee, the committee in charge of ecclesiastical oversight for the diocese; the Commission on Ministry, which assists the diocese with screening and approval of candidates for the priesthood and diaconate; as well as serving as the diocesan ECW president. She was a lifelong Episcopalian and active member of St. Nicholas’ Episcopal Church, in Midland, serving on the vestry, as well as serving as a lay Eucharistic minister, a lector, and through assisting with the planning and execution for the construction of the new church building on the Loop. Additionally, she served for numerous years on the Province VII Council, as the Secretary of Province VII of The Episcopal Church.

On a church-wide level, Betty served the Episcopal Church for years through her service to General Convention as the chair of dispatch of business, as well as serving as a General Convention deputy representing the diocese. Betty was also the chair of the Committee for Restructure of the Church, from 1994-1997. Prior to the 1994 General Convention, Betty was asked to write an article for The Living Church, a publication of the Living Church Foundation, as a service for the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.  The article was entitled, “The Big Picture from Many Angles,” which discussed a possible new direction for the Episcopal Church at the Indianapolis General Convention. In her service to the Church, Betty developed relationships with Episcopal Church presiding bishops, diocesan bishops, and many, many other people who respected her tremendously.

As a result of her long years of service and leadership, Betty was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in humane letters in 1999, from the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. The citation that accompanied Gilmore’s honorary degree remarked, “Highly organized, skillful facilitator and keen yet gracious parliamentarian, you have been the epitome of lay ministry in all levels of the Episcopal Church for decades. You have left your mark not only on your parish, St. Nicholas’, Midland, and the Diocese of Northwest Texas, but also Province VII and the national church.” Again, in 2006, Betty was honored by being named the Diocese of Northwest Texas Honored Woman at the national Episcopal Church Women’s (ECW) Triennial meeting, which ran concurrently with the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, in Columbus, Ohio. She was identified by the National Episcopal Churchwomen’s Board, with other women throughout the Episcopal Church, as “modeling the Christian life.” The October 2006 diocesan newsletter reported, “She walks in the ways of God in the church and the community. She uses her God-given gifts in all she is and in all she does. Betty has graciously and faithfully served her parish, diocese, province and the national church in ways too numerous to mention here.” It goes without saying that her presence, wisdom, and grace will be greatly missed, but her untiring service to her family, friends, church and community will continue as an inspiration to all who knew her.

A memorial service was held May 17 at St. Nicholas’ Episcopal Church in Midland.

Online condolences may be offered here.The Gilmore family suggests memorial gifts may be sent to:

The Gilmore family’s suggested memorial gifts are listed here.

2 Iranian Christians face court hearing

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 11:15am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Two Iranian Christians arrested at a Christmas celebration in 2014 have been summoned to a court hearing this Sunday. Victor Bet Tamraz was seized at his home along with Amin Nader Afshar. They were subsequently released on bail, but Amin Nader Afshar was then re-arrested last August during a picnic along with four others, including Tamraz’s son.

Full article.

World Council of Churches delegation arrives in Zimbabwe for ecumenical visit

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 11:13am

[Anglican Communion News Service] The World Council of Churches general secretary, the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, has arrived in Harare, Zimbabwe, leading a delegation of church leaders from Europe, Africa and North America. The two-day trip is an ecumenical solidarity visit to manifest Christian churches’ support for the people of Zimbabwe.

Full article.

Episcopal Church’s sense of prayer aids ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ campaign

Thu, 05/18/2017 - 1:01pm

[Episcopal News Service] Before the church was the church, the first followers of Jesus faced an uncertain time. He had ascended into heaven, after pledging to send the Holy Spirit “not many days from now.” However, the promised empowerment to be his witnesses had not materialized. So, Act 1:14 says, they prayed, constantly.

It is said they prayed for 11 days until Pentecost’s tongues of fire descended on them and the Holy Spirit gave them the power to spread the gospel, telling the story of how the kingdom of God had come near them in the person of Jesus. Their witness began drawing in others who committed to following Jesus and together they formed a nascent church.

Today in the church, these 11 days do not get much attention, coming as they do after Easter as spring eases into summer. However, for the second year, Thy Kingdom Come, a campaign initiated by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, seeks to refocus Christians worldwide around the world on the early disciples’ example. He wants people to know “what it means to follow Christ and what an amazing journey that takes you on,” explained Emma Buchan, project leader of Lambeth Palace’s evangelism task group project.

Thy Kingdom Come invites individuals, families and congregations to pray between Ascension Day (May 25) and Pentecost (June 4) that their friends, families and neighbors come to know Jesus Christ. The campaign suggests that participants keep five specific people in their prayers during the 11 days. Moreover, they are invited to make their prayers known by sharing a short prayer on each of the 11 days through social media (details below). The motto is “Pray it – Picture it – Post it.”

Each day’s theme comes from the catechism in the Episcopal Church’s version of the Book of Common Prayer. The catechism’s prayer and worship section (page 856 here) lists the principal kinds of prayer as adoration, praise, thanksgiving, penitence, oblation, intercession and petition. The organizers added a prayer to Jesus as well as prayers of celebration, silence and for thy kingdom come. They modified some of the language, with penitence becoming “sorry,” oblation becoming “offer,” intercession becoming “pray for” and petition becoming “help.”

“We were asked to suggest a strategy for involving clergy around the world and also to figure out a way of making sure that the prayer component in which people are asked to participate is of substance and depth,” Jamie Coats, director of the Friends of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist told Episcopal News Service.

The SSJE brothers have worked with the Anglican Communion Office to offer Advent Word and that office asked them to discuss with Lambeth Palace “ideas that could help people pray around the world together.”

High on their list of suggestions was that Thy Kingdom Come’s prayers follow the catechism pattern that the brothers developed at the request of then-Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori for the Prayers of the People at the 2015 meeting of General Convention.

Calling the Episcopal catechism beautiful and poetic as well as very well-articulated, Coats said the choice is a “recognition of the extraordinarily beautiful work that went into the catechism.”

“It’s been wonderful to work with Lambeth Palace and see them reaching out and working with people around the world,” Coats said. He added that much of that work has been around adapting church language to broader, diverse audiences spread over many time zones.

“We’re really delighted to be working with the Episcopal Church and we’re really delighted to be joining together with churches around the world in this time of praying,” Buchan told ENS.

“They just seemed to us to be a good thing to have a theme for each day,” Buchan said of the catechism-based daily focus. “Just to give people an opportunity to come in many ways to prayer, and to consider what God might be calling them to do, to pray for those they love,” as well are for all of the other things in their lives.

All of the work is anchored in the hope that people will come closer Jesus, she said.

That hope fits perfectly with SSJE’s mission. “As members of a monastic community, we brothers are committed to helping people learn to pray their lives,” said James Koester, SSJE’s superior. “We believe that this is what Jesus did when he taught the disciples the prayer we now know as the Lord’s Prayer. During the 11 days of Thy Kingdom Come, it is our hope that everyone who participates will deepen their friendship with Jesus and come to know that every aspect of their life is the stuff of prayer.”

In his lead-off video for Thy Kingdom Come’s daily meditations, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry says prayer changes everything. Photo: Episcopal News Service

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s meditation on #ToJesus leads off the 11 days on May 25.

More than 100,000 people committed to prayer during Thy Kingdom Come’s first round in 2016, according to Buchan, who was hired to plan the 2016 effort. That year the goal was 5,000 participants. Buchan called that outcome “an amazing work of the Holy Spirit.”

Coats said the 11 days are meant to “give people a taste of the different ways to pray” and think about how they might use the Thy Kingdom come materials, which are essentially timeless, at other times of the year as well.

The how-to details

Pledge2Pray

Access resources and information

A wide range of resources and information to aid participation in Thy Kingdom Come are available here. For instance, a prayer journal for young people and adults to record thoughts, prayers and ideas throughout the 11 days can be downloaded here. A facilitator’s guide for people who want to follow Thy Kingdom Come in a group is available here.

Pray in person

Across England, prayer events of all shapes and sizes will take place, including 24/7 prayer rooms, prayer days, prayer walks and half nights of prayer. Church of England cathedrals, churches and other venues will host “Beacon Events,” gathering people to worship and pray for to be empowered of the Holy Spirit for effective witness.

While the majority of such events will happen in England, there is a short but growing list of U.S.-based events.

The Church of England is supplying low-cost copies (about $1 each) of “The Life: An Account of the Life of Jesus Christ According to Luke” () to be given away at Thy Kingdom Come-related events.

Video messages

Each day’s prayer leader offers a video featuring him or her praying a prayer of his or her own design based on that day’s theme. The schedule is:

  • May 25 #ToJesus: The Most Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop and primate, the Episcopal Church
  • May 26 #Praise: His Eminence Christoph Cardinal Schonborn, archbishop of Vienna
  • May 27 #Thanks: The Most Rev. Paul Kwong, archbishop of Hong Kong
  • May 28 #Sorry: The Ven. Liz Adekunle, archdeacon of Hackney, London
  • May 29 #Offer: The Rt. Rev. Griselda Delgado del Carpio, bishop of Cuba
  • May 30 #PrayFor: The Most. Rev. Fred Hiltz, archbishop and primate, the Anglican Church of Canada
  • May 31 #Help: The Most Rev. John Sentamu, archbishop of York and primate of England
  • June 1 #Adore: The Rev. Roger Walton, president, British Methodist Conference
  • June 2 #Celebrate: His Grace Bishop Angaelos, general bishop, the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom
  • June 3 #Silence: Br. Keith Nelson, the Society of St. John the Evangelist
  • June 4 #ThyKingdomCome: The Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury and primate of All England

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is senior editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

New primate elected for Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East

Thu, 05/18/2017 - 11:01am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop Suheil Dawani of the Diocese of Jerusalem has been elected as the next primate of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. He succeeds Archbishop Mouneer Hanna Anis, who has held the post since 2007.

Full article.

Episcopalians, Methodists propose full-communion agreement

Wed, 05/17/2017 - 2:07pm

The Episcopal Church-United Methodist Dialogue Committee met in April in Charlotte, North Carolina.

[Episcopal News Service] A group of Episcopalians and Methodists has released its proposal for full communion between the two denominations.

Full implementation of the proposal will take at least three years. The Episcopal Church General Convention and the United Methodist Church General Conference must approve the agreement, which culminates 15 years of exploration and more than 50 years of formal dialogue between the two churches. General Convention next meets in July 2018 in Austin, Texas. The General Conference’s next meeting is in 2020.

The 10-page proposal, titled “A Gift to the World, Co-Laborers for the Healing of Brokenness,” says it “is an effort to bring our churches into closer partnership in the mission and witness to the love of God and thus labor together for the healing of divisions among Christians and for the well-being of all.”

Montana Bishop Frank Brookhart, Episcopal co-chair of the dialogue, and Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, United Methodist co-chair, wrote in a recent letter that “the relationship formed over these years of dialogue, and the recognition that there are no theological impediments to unity, pave the way for this current draft proposal.”

In the coming months, there will be opportunities for feedback, regional gatherings and discussions on the proposal, according to a May 17 press release.

“We encourage you to reach across denominational lines to establish new relationships and deepen existing relationships by shared study of these materials and mutual prayer for the unity our churches,” Brookhart and Palmer wrote. “We believe that this proposal represents a significant witness of unity and reconciliation in an increasingly divided world and pray that you will join us in carrying this work.”

Additional related information, including historical documents, is available here.

The Episcopal Church defines “full communion” to mean “a relation between distinct churches in which each recognizes the other as a catholic and apostolic church holding the essentials of the Christian faith.” The churches “become interdependent while remaining autonomous,” the church has said.

The Episcopal Church-United Methodist Dialogue Committee, which developed the proposed agreement, says the two denominations are not seeking a merger but that they are “grounded in sufficient agreement in the essentials of Christian faith and order” to allow for the interchangeability of ordained ministries, among other aspects of the proposed agreement.

“We are blessed in that neither of our churches, or their predecessor bodies, have officially condemned one another, nor have they formally called into question the faith, the ministerial orders, or the sacraments of the other church,” the group said.

The proposal also benefited from the fact that Anglicans and Methodist have an on-going dialogue, the group said. The dialogue launched a report in 2015, “Into All the World: Being and Becoming Apostolic Churches”, describing its progress. The launch highlighted a then-new new relationship of full communion between Irish Anglican and Methodists churches, and the historic concrete steps towards an inter-changeable ministry.

The Episcopal-United Methodist full-communion proposal acknowledges that the United Methodist Church “is one of several expressions of Methodism” and notes that both denominations have been in dialogue with the historically African American Methodist churches for nearly 40 years. They have also worked with African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), African Methodist Episcopal Church Zion, (AME Zion) and Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME) in various ecumenical groups.

The Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church have taken some interim steps toward full communion in recent years. In 2006, they entered into Interim Eucharistic Sharing, a step that allowed for clergy of the two churches to share in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper under certain guidelines.  In 2010, the dialogue group issued a summary of its theological work called “A Theological Foundation for Full Communion between The Episcopal Church and The United Methodist Church”.

The proposal for full communion outlines agreements on the understanding of each order of ministry. The ministries of lay people, deacons Episcopal priests and United Methodist elders or presbyters (elder is the English translation of presbyter) would all be seen as interchangeable yet governed by the “standards and polity of each church.”

Both churches have somewhat similar understandings of bishops, according to the proposal.

“We affirm the ministry of bishops in The United Methodist Church and The Episcopal Church to be adaptations of the historic episcopate to the needs and concerns of the post-[American] Revolutionary missional context,” the dialogue says in the proposal. “We recognize the ministries of our bishops as fully valid and authentic.”

The Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church would pledge that future consecrations of bishops would include participation and laying on of hands by at least three bishops drawn from each other’s church and from the full-communion partners they hold in common, the Moravian Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The Episcopal Church currently is in full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, India; Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht; the Philippine Independent Church; the Church of Sweden and the Northern and Southern Provinces of the Moravian Church. It is also engaged in formal bilateral talks with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Roman Catholic Church via the U.S. Conference of Bishops.

More information about the Episcopal Church’s dialogue with the United Methodist Church is here.

The work of the Episcopal-United Methodist Dialogue is enabled by two General Convention resolutions: 2015-A107 and 2006-A055.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is senior editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

 

Young Anglicans go into training to help Pacific communities adapt to climate change

Wed, 05/17/2017 - 1:55pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Sixteen young leaders from the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia have started two weeks of training in the South Pacific island of Tonga to help their communities adapt to climate change. The course will aim to improve their resilience in the face of the disasters, such as cyclones and flooding, that climate change brings.

Full article.

Canadian bishops block consecration of diocesan bishop over his views

Tue, 05/16/2017 - 1:37pm

The Rev. Jake Worley, elected bishop of Caledonia April 22, will not be consecrated after a decision by the provincial house of bishops that he holds “views contrary to the Discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada.” Photo: Anglican Journal

[Anglican Journal] The Rev. Jake Worley, elected bishop of the Diocese of Caledonia April 22, will not be consecrated, after a ruling by the House of Bishops of the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and Yukon.

“As the Provincial House has registered its objection, the Rev. Worley will not be consecrated bishop in the Diocese of Caledonia in the Anglican Church of Canada,” reads a statement released May 15 by the national office of the Anglican Church of Canada. The statement specifies that, according to the canons of the province, the decision is final. The diocese will now proceed to hold another synod to elect another bishop, it adds.

Last month’s election was held to find a successor for Bishop William Anderson, who announced in late 2015 his plans to retire.

The house’s decision has to do with Worley’s views on his involvement with the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA), a collection of theologically conservative churches that was originally a mission of the Anglican Province of Rwanda.

In 2007, Worley, who was born and raised in the U.S., planted a church in Las Cruces, New Mexico, as a missionary for the Anglican Province of Rwanda. (At some point after Worley left, that church joined the Anglican Church in North America, another grouping of conservative Anglican churches.)

The bishops began to discuss Worley’s views after a review of his service for AMiA, which, according to the statement, he performed “under license from the Province of Rwanda in the geographical jurisdiction of the Episcopal Church without permission of the Episcopal Church.”

“After many open and prayerful conversations, the majority of the House concluded that within the past five years the Rev. Worley has held—and continues to hold—views contrary to the Discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada,” Archbishop John Privett, metropolitan of the province, is quoted as saying.

According to the canons of the diocese, the House of Bishops can object to the election of a bishop if “he or she teaches or holds or has within five years previously taught or held anything contrary to the Doctrine or Discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada.”

“The view he held and holds is that it is acceptable and permissible for a priest of one church of the Anglican Communion to exercise priestly ministry in the geographical jurisdiction of a second church of the Anglican Communion without the permission of the Ecclesiastical Authority of that second church,” Privett continues.

The bishops made their decision, according to the statement, after they “reviewed the Rev. Worley’s past actions, what he has written directly to the House, and what he said when meeting with the Provincial House of Bishops.”

The bishops, the statement says, met several times after Worley’s election last month, to “review the materials before them” and meet with Worley.

The statement concludes with a request by the House of Bishops for prayers, “especially for the Worley family, for the Diocese of Caledonia and all those who worship and minister there.”

Neither Privett nor Worley was immediately available for comment as of press time.

Bishop’s arrest in Philippines is condemned

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 2:17pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) has condemned the arrest and detention of Bishop Carlos Morales of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church) last week. Bishop Morales was arrested with his wife, driver and a companion at a checkpoint in the village of Gango in Ozamis City in the Philippines.

Full article.

Barron Trump to attend Maryland’s St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in the fall

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 2:17pm

President Donald Trump points to his son Barron while watching the inaugural parade Jan. 20, 2017, with first lady Melania Trump in Washington, D.C. Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

[Episcopal News Service] Barron Trump, President Donald Trump’s youngest child, will attend St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland, this fall.

Barron Trump, 11, will move to Washington, D.C., from New York with his mother, first lady Melania Trump, at some point after he finishes the current school year at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. He is believed to be in fifth grade.

St. Andrew’s Head of School Robert Kosasky and Rodney Glasgow, head of the middle school and chief diversity officer, wrote a letter to St. Andrew’s families confirming that the young Trump will become a member of the Class of 2024, CNN reported.

The Washington Post reported that the White House wanted to announce the news in the summer after St. Andrew’s ended the academic year, in part out of concern that the school might become that site of protest. However, parents started to ask questions when rumors began to circulate and the school decided to confirm Barron Trump’s enrollment. CNN reported that the school had the Trump family’s permission to do so.

Melania Trump said in a statement after the announcement that the family is “very excited” to have Barron Trump attend a school that she said is “known for its diverse community and commitment to academic excellence.” She said the school’s mission “to know and inspire each child in an inclusive community dedicated to exceptional teaching, learning and service” appealed to the family.

Donald Trump was raised Presbyterian. Barron Trump was baptized in December 2006 at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Florida, the same church where his parents married on Jan. 22, 2005.

St. Andrew’s, about 20 miles north of the White House, was founded in 1978 and has 580 students in grades six through 12. It has a median class size of 15 and a 7:1 student to teacher ratio, according to information on the school’s website. Tuition is just less than $40,000 for students in grades six through eight.

The school has the Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning, which says its priority is to “ensure that 100 percent of St. Andrew’s pre-school through 12th grade teachers receive training and ongoing professional development (every school year) in mind, brain, and education science, the most innovative thinking being applied to enhancing teacher quality and student achievement today.”

Archbishop of Canterbury praises for ‘bridge-building’ archbishop of Jerusalem

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 2:14pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has concluded his longest pastoral visit to a diocese outside the Church of England by praising the archbishop of Jerusalem’s “bridge-building” work between Israelis and Palestinians. The diocese, in the province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, includes Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon.

Full article.

Presiding Bishop urges the Church to ‘wake up’

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 1:50pm

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry proclaiming the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement in a public event at Goucher College outside Baltimore, Maryland. Photo: Randall Gornowich

[Diocese of Maryland] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry returned to his old stomping grounds in the Diocese of Maryland, bringing an inspiring message and encouraging Episcopalians to claim their role as members of the Jesus Movement.

“’Heaven help the devil if the Episcopal Church ever wakes up,’” he said, quoting the famed 20th-century evangelist, Billy Sunday. “Wake up, Episcopal Church. That’s what the Jesus Movement is all about.”

Curry, who served as rector of St. James in Baltimore for 12 years, has been calling for a new period of evangelism within the church since being elected in 2015. This effort also includes a desire for the Episcopal Church to address some of the systemic race and class issues that plague American society.

“We need to find a way for the grace of God to bear on the deeply rooted system of sin that mires us in a quagmire of racism,” he said. Racial reconciliation, evangelism and the care of God’s creation are the roots of the Jesus Movement for the presiding bishop.

This week Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, will launch a churchwide program aimed at encouraging racial reconciliation. It is called, “Becoming Beloved Community: The Episcopal Church’s Long-term Commitment to Racial Healing, Reconciliation and Justice.” An introductory webinar is set for May 16.

The program is the result of a year’s worth of listening sessions, consulting and reflection. It began with the passage of Resolution C019 at the 2015 General Convention, which called for the House of Bishops and House of Deputies to create a vision for addressing racial injustice. The convention also budgeted $2 million to make the plan a reality.

Success in the drive for reconciliation will depend in large part on building relationships, said Curry.

“Deep down in the bowels of our racial dilemma is the truth that we really don’t know each other,” he said. “Racism has a field day with that because that’s where we get into stereotypes, and one of the ways you get out of that is to get people to engage in real relationships.”

During his Maryland visit, Curry gave a brief morning talk at the 233rd Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, squeezed in a couple of interviews, and preached to a nearly filled auditorium on the campus of Goucher College in Towson.

The evening event, known as “The Big Tent Meeting,” gave him a chance to have a little fun with the perceived reluctance of Episcopalians to engage in evangelism. He built his sermon around Acts 1:8 and brought in other biblical citations such as Isaiah 43:10-12. Then he brought the message closer to home, quoting from the baptismal liturgy and the catechism in The Book of Common Prayer.

“The truth I really do believe is that we need witnesses, and not just witnesses in the abstract,” he said. “We need evangelists to witness to a way of being Christian that reflects the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth.”

Curry used his love of baseball to find a surprising illustration of the sometimes subtle, yet powerful ways witnessing to the gospel has influenced public life. Apparently, Branch Rickey, the famed executive of the Brooklyn Dodgers, used the Beatitudes and other teachings of Jesus Christ to help Jackie Robinson find ways to withstand the insults that would come when Robinson integrated the major leagues on April 15, 1947.

“They changed major league baseball following the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth,” Curry said. “Be not afraid and be not ashamed to be Christians who are known by love, justice and forgiveness.”

During an earlier interview, Curry noted that part of his passion for proclaiming the Jesus Movement was born out of his own reflections and a desire to help people develop a richer spiritual life. Bible study is key to making that happen, he said, adding that in the current world of social media, the study need not be done face to face. But the study must happen.

“It’s kind of like the Emmaus Road,” he said. “Have a conversation and Jesus will show up.”

Curry also said that as the Church claims its role as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement, it also will find an ongoing role in the public square.

“We are not entering the political realm as partisans, but to lift up the values we have as Christians,” he said. “Jesus died in the real world because he dared to take the values of the Kingdom of God and live them.”

-The Rev. M. Dion Thompson, a priest in the Diocese of Maryland, is a former reporter for The Baltimore Sun newspaper.

Supreme Court justice honors Thurgood Marshall during Harlem event

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 1:21pm

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer speaks on the role of the courts during Harlem event honoring Thurgood Marshall. Photo: Keith Griffith

[Episcopal News Service] Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer made an appeal for the importance of courts and the rule of law at an event honoring the late Thurgood Marshall. Breyer spoke on May 13 at St. Philip’s Church in New York, addressing a crowd of several hundred on the occasion of the 10th annual Thurgood Marshall Law Day, which honors the former Supreme Court justice who once served on the Harlem church’s vestry.

Marshall, the first African-American to serve on the Supreme Court, lived in New York while serving as an attorney for the NAACP, and joined the historically black St. Philip’s in 1938. The Episcopal feast day honoring his life and work, May 17, is the day he won his most famous Supreme Court argument, Brown v. Board of Education.

The program began at 4 p.m. with an Evensong service with readings from Amos and 1 Corinthians. The Rev. Patrick Williams, St. Philip’s interim pastor, was the celebrant and the Bishop of New York Andrew M.L. Dietsche, offered a blessing to kick off the speaking program.

Breyer paid heartfelt tribute to Marshall, who retired from the high court in 1991 and died at age 84 in 1993.

Clutching a biography of Marshall stuffed with leaves of paper scrawled with handwritten notes, Breyer discussed the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 case in which the court found that state laws establishing separate schools for black and white students were unconstitutional.

Marshall, arguing before the court in that case, “didn’t discover some part of the law that everybody didn’t know full well, it’s here it’s in this constitution,” said Breyer.

“Either you believe in this document or you don’t you believe in that equality or you don’t,” he said.

“Of course it helped America by producing integration, but it helped America in other ways too that are just as important,” Breyer said of the court’s ruling in Brown.

Breyer went on to describe a recent visit he’d received from the chief justice of Ghana, who was curious about the power of law in American democracy and asked Breyer “why do people do what you say?”

“You want the rule of law in Ghana, you don’t have to convince the judges. The people you have to convince are the people who are not judges or lawyers,” Breyer said.

Breyer said that the 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education was the “most important” Supreme Court ruling, but that Cooper v. Aaron, a follow-up case that also dealt with school integration, was his “favorite.” The court’s ruling in Cooper held that states had to follow the orders of the Supreme Court and desegregate schools, even if they disagreed.

Breyer pointed out that the Cooper decision was signed by all nine justices, which he pointed out was “unusual.”

The consensus that the judiciary must be respected, even when its rulings are disagreeable or outright wrong, is vital to society, Breyer argued.

As an example, he brought up Bush v. Gore, the 2000 ruling that halted a recount in the presidential election and effectively allowed George W. Bush to assume the presidency.

“I dissented very strongly, I thought it was wrong,” Breyer said of the decision. “But people didn’t have riots or kill each other in the streets.”

“Before you reach that conclusion, turn on the television set and see what happens in the countries that try to settle things that way,” Breyer said.

Following the talk, attendees gathered in the undercroft for a reception.

“Today was a historic event, so we were very proud,” said parishioner Mark G. Barksdale, who works for the city of Newark as director of the Department of Economic and Housing Development. “It was a great honor for the church and the diocese.”

Barksdale, a lifelong member of St. Philip’s, was a child when Marshall was on the church’s vestry. He reminisced with co-chair of the church’s Cultural Committee, Beverly Brown, about those days, when Marshall coordinated the annual St. Philip’s Day celebrations in the very room they now stood in.

“We were running around in the undercroft with the other kids, while the adults were doing what we’re doing now,” said Brown, laughing.

Senior Warden Charles Williams III said that it was important for the church to host speakers from outside the Episcopal community, such as Breyer, who is Jewish.

“The church is supposed to spread its word and bring the outside in,” said Williams. “We’ve always had the idea to bring, quote, ‘non-religious’ people in because we are part of the community and the community is part of us. And you never know, some people may hear something that they connect with.”

St. Philip’s does have a connection with Breyer, as his daughter Rev. Chloe Breyer is an associate priest for the congregation.

Williams pointed out that “it’s not often you get a Supreme Court Justice, especially in a church,” noting that even Marshall intentionally became less involved in church life after taking his place on the high court, to avoid any potential sense of bias.

John W. Watkins, an attorney with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, helped plan the event, which drew a large student contingent from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

“The message the justice gave was really on point,” Watkins said after the event. “He really helped redirect my feelings about the current state of things from rage to reason.”

– Keith Griffith is a New York-based freelance journalist. He is a member of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Harlem.

Massachusetts’ ‘B-PEACE for Jorge’ honors murdered teen by targeting root causes of violence

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 3:50pm

Members of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts march with a B-PEACE for Jorge banner in the 2016 Mother’s Day Walk for Peace in Boston. Photo: Diocese of Massachusetts

[Episcopal News Service] More than four years after the unsolved murder of 19-year-old Jorge Fuentes, a group of Episcopalians in Boston, Massachusetts, will again spend Mother’s Day walking for peace in his name.

Fuentes, an active member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, was shot dead in September 2012 by an unknown gunman while walking his dog near his family’s home in Dorchester, a neighborhood in Boston. Fuentes was a respected Episcopal teen leader. Since 2013, the Diocese of Massachusetts has honored Fuentes by participating in the annual Mother’s Day Walk for Peace sponsored by the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute.

The diocese typically mobilizes hundreds of its parishioners to participate, some carrying the banner of B-PEACE for Jorge. The campaign was launched after Fuentes’ killing to focus the diocese’s work on addressing the root causes of violence, with attention to youth development and anti-violence advocacy. The campaign combines youth mentoring, jobs for teens, support for families and activism on gun reform legislation while partnering with established organizations.

The Rev. Liz Steinhauser is director of youth programs at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

“We can help other organizations and other projects that are already underway have more success,” the Rev. Liz Steinhauser told Episcopal News Service. She is director of youth programs at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and one of the coordinators of B-PEACE for Jorge.

The campaign emphasizes a “youth led, adult supported” model, Steinhauser said. Young participants help identify community needs, such as park renovations and access to safe activities, and teens help work toward those goals.

Organizers see the threat of violence as a public health issue, and “we want to focus on prevention, not intervention,” Steinhauser said in April at a Bishops United Against Gun Violence conference in Chicago, Illinois.

Steinhauser was one of more than a dozen adult and youth leaders from the Diocese of Massachusetts who attended the conference, “Unholy Trinity: The Intersection of Race, Poverty and Gun Violence.” She and others involved in B-PEACE for Jorge led one of the workshops, detailing the history and successes of the campaign.

The Rev. Liz Steinhauser speaks April 21 at a workshop on B-PEACE for Jorge at the Bishops United Against Gun Violence conference in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

The campaign’s roots are in the tragedy of Sept. 10, 2012. The motive for the shooting remains unclear, but witnesses said, after the gunman opened fire, Fuentes was moving a friend to safety when he was shot in the head and killed.

Fuentes was a graduate of Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, worked as a caterer at Fenway Park and dreamed of joining the U.S. Marine Corps, family members told the Boston Globe. Fuentes also had long been involved in the youth programs at St. Stephen’s in Boston’s South End neighborhood, and he grew to become a teen leader who served as a role model for younger Episcopalians  – not just at his home church, but also around the diocese.

News of his death hit the congregation and the diocese hard.

“A lot of us were brokenhearted and felt like the work that we had been doing all these years was for naught and we had failed,” Steinhauser told attendees of the B-PEACE workshop at the “Unholy Trinity” conference. “But I think that out of that experience of grief came a sense that we had not failed Jorge, but we had failed the young man … who shot him.”

Under then-Bishop Thomas Shaw, who died of cancer in 2014, the diocese responded to Fuentes’ killing by researching ways it could get more involved in the fight against violence, initially forming the Jorge Fuentes Antiviolence Task Force. The work of that task force included focus groups with local youths, as well as studies of successful anti-violence initiatives around the country, and it led to the creation of B-PEACE for Jorge in 2013.

The PEACE stands for the campaign’s five action areas:

  • Programs for youth.
  • Employment for teens and young adults.
  • Academic excellence in public schools.
  • Communities of support for families.
  • End to gun violence through reforms.

One highlight, shared at the “Unholy Trinity” conference, has been B-PEACE’s efforts to improve Ramsay Park, south of downtown Boston. The park is near the Church of St. Augustine and St. Martin, which hosts after-school and summer programs for several dozen students through a partnership with St. Stephen’s.

Students and parents raised concerns about the park because it was known for drug use, drunkenness and violence. Shootings had been reported near the park, and parents sometimes didn’t feel comfortable letting their children walk through that area, Kesanet Tesfazion, 17, said in Chicago.

Tesfazion has worked as a B-PEACE community organizer for two years. During that time, she and other youth organizers launched outreach projects in the park, including cleanups, murals, tennis and basketball lessons, peace walks and a youth dance.

They also contacted the Boston mayor’s office seeking assistance. The culmination of those efforts came in January 2016 when Mayor Marty Walsh, after visiting the park, announced in his State of the City speech that the city would spend $2 million to renovate Ramsay Park, with a new playground, safer lighting, better pathways and sports court upgrades. Those improvements are expected to begin this year.

B-PEACE’s focus on the park “was a good thing to show that we were engaged in this neighborhood,” Tesfazion said, but she doesn’t want the improvements in this and other neighborhoods to stop there. “I’m hoping that this renovation is a good start toward leading to more solutions.”

Kesanet Tesfazion, left, and Ned Notis-McConarty talk about their work with B-PEACE for Jorge at the Bishops United Against Gun Violence conference. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service.

The B-PEACE campaign also has supported the diocese’s advocacy for state gun law reform and money for teen summer jobs. Having teens testify and share their experiences helps diffuse some of the polarization inherent in a volatile issue like gun violence, said Ned Notis-McConarty, an adult leader in B-PEACE’s advocacy efforts.

“It has a real impact on the process,” he said in the “Unholy Trinity” workshop. “I’ve been blessed to be able to see that and have seen a definite effect and some success because of their involvement.”

Steinhauser stressed that B-PEACE is a campaign of the diocese and is intended to engage everyone across a diverse spectrum, including suburban churches that may not experience the problem of gun violence in the same way St. Stephen’s has. The death of Fuentes was felt in all corners of the diocese because he was active in youth programs, mission trips and conferences with adult leaders.

“A lot of people were affected and a lot of people had questions of what can we do to stop this from ever happening again,” Steinhauser told ENS.

Now congregations across the diocese have a range of options for getting involved, from book studies to the Mother’s Day Walk for Peace on May 14. Some churches also have developed partnerships with public schools, offering tutoring or after-school activities, to fulfill B-PEACE’s action item on academic excellence.

Some members of the diocese also have participated in B-PEACE for Jorge by working on the Do Not Stand Idly By, a faith leader- and citizen-led campaign that presses gun manufacturers to improve the safety of their products. That, Steinhauser said, is one example of the diocese getting involved with an existing initiative to amplify its results.

These efforts may invoke Fuentes’ name, but it’s tragic that he is no longer alive to participate in the work of the church because of the systemic problems that lead to such senseless violence, Steinhauser said.

“We are participants in the decisions that allow that to happen,” she said, but the church and individuals also can be part of the solution. “It is my hope that B-PEACE is trying to do that.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

Mission to Seafarers raises concerns about seafarers’ mental health

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 11:22am

[Anglican Communion News Service] As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, taking place currently in the U.K., The Mission to Seafarers is highlighting the mental health challenges faced by seafarers and calling on the industry to offer wider services that could help safeguard their welfare. Much of the work undertaken by the Mission to Seafarers globally involves mental health support, from offering the ability to contact families to being on-hand to support seafarers struggling with depression and fatigue, and even providing support after cases of attempted suicide.

Full article.

Re-opening of church in Diocese of Jerusalem a ‘symbol of renewal’

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 11:19am

[Anglican Communion News Service] The archbishop of Canterbury has described the imminent re-opening of St Peter’s Anglican Church in Jaffa as a story of hope. The church has been closed since the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. The Diocese of Jerusalem is now working on renovating it, with hopes that worship will soon resume there.

Full article.

Six region missionaries hired in service to God’s common mission in Connecticut

Thu, 05/11/2017 - 12:02pm

[Episcopal Church in Connecticut press release] The Episcopal Church in Connecticut (ECCT) announced May 11 that it has hired six people to serve as its first region missionaries, one each for the diocese’s six geographic regions.

These include:
* Northeast Region: Maggie Breen
* North Central Region: Erin Flinn
* Northwest Region: Eliza Marth
* Southwest Region: The Rev. Carlos de la Torre
* South Central Region: The Rev. Rachel Field
* Southeast Region: The Rev. Rachel Thomas

Scroll down for information on each missionary.

“I’m thankful to God that the resources of the Missionary Society of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut can once again be used to support missionaries in our state,” said the Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, bishop diocesan. “We are in a new missionary era. I’m delighted that these six missionaries will assist us in greater collaboration and participation in God’s mission.”Their hiring fulfills the promise made at the Annual Convention in

Their hiring fulfills the promise made at the Annual Convention in 2015, when clergy and lay delegates voted to reorganize and restructure the diocese. The plan included a change from 14 deaneries to six regions, region missionaries for each region, increased recognition and support for grassroots “Ministry Networks,” and a change from an Executive Council to a Mission Council, whose members would be selected from regions as well as elected from ministry networks.While each Region is unique, each Region Missionary’s core task is the same: “To challenge the Episcopal parishes and worshiping communities to expand their reach into local neighborhoods by collaboration with potential community partners — from other faith-based institutions to social service organizations to government agencies.”

While each region is unique, each region missionary’s core task is the same: “To challenge the Episcopal parishes and worshiping communities to expand their reach into local neighborhoods by collaboration with potential community partners — from other faith-based institutions to social service organizations to government agencies.””We’re called to listen to Jesus as disciples and spread the Good News as apostles,” said the Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens, Bishop Suffragan. “We pray that our new missionaries will be another opportunity for us to put our shared vocation into action as followers of Jesus, intent on transforming the world even as we are transformed.”

“We’re called to listen to Jesus as disciples and spread the Good News as apostles,” said the Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens, bishop suffragan. “We pray that our new missionaries will be another opportunity for us to put our shared vocation into action as followers of Jesus, intent on transforming the world even as we are transformed.”Last spring and summer, each Region Convocation selected and commissioned lay and ordained leaders to serve on its Region Recruitment Team. Beginning last fall, these teams helped craft the job descriptions and, early in the new year, vetted the nearly three dozen candidates in

Last spring and summer, each region convocation selected and commissioned lay and ordained leaders to serve on its region recruitment team. Beginning last fall, these teams helped craft the job descriptions and, early in the new year, vetted the nearly three dozen candidates in a first round of interviews. Additional rounds of interviews followed, completed by the bishops and ECCT senior staff and human resources personnel. By early May, the six region Missionaries were hired.

The region missionaries begin work on June 6. They will spend the summer and the rest of 2017 focusing on the region — its people, parishes, worshiping communities, and variety of contexts and cultures — while meeting regularly as a team for mutual prayer, team-building, learning, and sharing.

“‘Traveling lightly together and following Jesus into the neighborhood’ sums up our hope for how these new missionaries will inspire and lead us,” said the Rev. Tim Hodapp, canon for mission collaboration.

Referring to the 2015 governance and restructuring proposal from the Taskforce for Reimagining the Episcopal Church in Connecticut (TREC-CT), Canon Hodapp added, “They’re not tasked to accomplish the work charged by TREC-CT — namely, to collaborate, convene, connect, and build capabilities — solely on their own.

“Rather, our region missionaries will assist all of us in discovering new ways to join together across parishes and engage more deeply in what God’s doing in our neighborhoods.”

The Region Missionaries

Northeast Region: Maggie Breen
Statement: I am excited and blessed to have the opportunity to serve as the NE Regional Missionary. I am looking forward to joining with all of your efforts to spread the love of Jesus throughout our communities; together we can bring about great things. I can’t wait to start!

Bio: I’ve been involved in the Episcopal Church since the cradle, though my relationship with God has blossomed in the past nine years or so as my commitment to Him and my home parish, St. Paul’s Windham Center, has deepened. I live on a tiny farm in Chaplin with my husband Michael, our dog Shirley, and a small flock of sheep – three Shetland ewes and a Gulf Coast Native ram. I received my bachelor’s degree in music education and deeply enjoy my time spent in performance and rehearsal; my husband and I both perform in the Windham Concert Band and the ECSU Concert band, and I am a member of Take Note! an a capella singing group. My past work experiences have found me in such settings as public schools, hospitals and financial institutions. In the time reserved for leisure activities, I enjoy cooking, knitting, reading and walking. I’m excited about starting this new chapter with ECCT.

North Central Region: Erin Flinn
Statement: I’m thrilled to be joining the ECCT Regional Missionary team, and am looking forward to collaborating with a team to imagine a new way of living out God’s mission in Connecticut by connecting worshiping communities to each other and beyond.

Bio: I will be graduating from Yale Divinity School with a Master of Divinity this May. Over the past three years, I have been immersed in Anglican studies and college chaplaincy. Most recently I was the Program Director for the Episcopal Church at Yale. Prior to seminary, I worked in university administration at Northwestern University, but my background is in theater production and I worked for the Lyric Opera of Chicago as the Assistant Lighting Designer for four years. I am originally from New Hampshire, and I am delighted to be remaining in New England, and settling into the North Central Region with my husband and our giant Newfoundland dog. I am especially passionate about ministry that looks outward and is open to all people, young adult ministry, and fishing.

Northwest Region: Eliza Marth
Statement: I am thrilled to be serving the beautiful Northwest Region! If the Region is the Body of Christ, as Region Missionary I hope to strengthen the circulatory system so that with connection and collaboration, we may maximize participation in God’s mission.

Bio: I hail from the magnificent mountains of North Carolina by way of the Chicago area. I graduated from Carolina State University with a BA in sociology and was heavily involved in the Episcopal Campus Ministry there. I then worked for two years with the unemployed and homeless in Washington, D.C. followed by a year spent on small-scale, diversified vegetable and livestock farms. The last two years I’ve lived and worked in Boston with an Episcopal Service Corps program called Life Together. At St. Paul’s, Brookline Mass. I have supported lay leadership, enhanced communication systems, and fallen deeper in love with my Episcopal community. I was born into the Episcopal Church, so it is with deep joy that I come to Connecticut to continue serving my community in this new role. In my free time, I love spending time with friends, cooking rich foods, and writing in my journal.

Southwest Region: The Rev. Carlos de la Torre
Statement: I’m excited to work together on collaborative projects and initiatives in the Southwest Region. The wealth of knowledge and resources are abundant in our region but so are the challenges. I look forward to gathering as a body to further engage God’s mission and continue to serve God and God’s people in our parishes, our region, and the world.

Bio: I am a priest in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. A native of Peru, I was raised in Westchester County, N.Y. In 2012, I graduated from Manhattanville College, Purchase, N.Y, where I majored in philosophy and world religions. That same year, I began a master’s program at Virginia Seminary, Alexandria, VA. In 2015, I graduated from Virginia Seminary and was ordained a priest on the Feast of the Presentation of Blessed Virgin Mary. I have worked with parishes and community agencies in Yonkers, N.Y; Houston, TX; Alexandria, VA; Washington D.C; and in Stamford and New Haven, CT. Currently, I serve as a missional curate in ECCT working with parishes, agencies, and community members to engage God’s mission in new and creative ways.

South Central Region: The Rev. Rachel Field
Statement: I am delighted to return to the South Central region of Connecticut to support and encourage the ways in which you are listening for and following God’s mission of love for the world.

Bio: I am first and foremost a beloved child of God, as are you. I was working as a research biologist and environmental educator on the Eastern Shore of Maryland before pursuing ordination and attending Yale Divinity School (class of 2016). In this current time of ecological crisis I am moved by the invitation of Jesus to “love your neighbor” and to imagine how our liturgy can further incorporate Creation as our beloved neighbor. When I am not spending time in or around churches can be found hiking with my energetic dog Frodo, birding, gardening, playing my Appalachian dulcimer, or baking (anything involving chocolate).

Southeast Region: The Rev. Rachel Thomas
Statement: I am honored to be serving as the new SE Region Missionary. I love this region. I know God’s mission is too big for any one of us, and have found great joy in sharing it with others.

Bio: Seeking God and God’s path for my life has led me from Georgia to Connecticut; from being a Methodist to becoming an Episcopalian; from recreational ministry to campus ministry, to parish ministry and interim ministry. Along the way, I received three different graduate degrees and was ordained to the priesthood (in 1991). God’s continual creating Spirit always amazes and humbles me. My husband Eric is a dermatologist with a practice in Middletown. A gift to me, as I love beaches and sitting in the sun. I also enjoy swimming, cycling, and walking our Brittany Spaniel, Coleman. Whenever we can, we see Eric’s three grown children and three grandchildren, who live in Manhattan, Brooklyn (NY) and Southington, CT. Eric and I live in Deep River.

 

New York bishop finds her spiritual center atop a motorcycle

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 4:36pm

Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe of the Diocese of Central New York laughs while sitting on her new Harley-Davidson Softail Slim, which she will ride at a Blessing of the Bikes event May 13 in Jordan, New York. Photo: Diocese of Central New York.

[Episcopal News Service] Central New York Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe isn’t the kind of Harley-Davidson rider who publicly promotes her love of motorcycles. Riding, for her, is like a form of personal prayer, not a Sunday sermon. But on a recent ride through upstate New York, she had stopped for water at a store, and some men walked in and asked whose cool, new motorcycle was parked outside.

That’s mine, she said, striking up a conversation with the men. Eventually, their questions turn to what she does for a living.

So she told them: “Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York.” And much to her delight, the conversation turned to the topic of faith, a discussion as lively as the one about the Harley Softail Slim. Her motorcycle had become a tool for evangelism.

“It’s given me opportunities to share the love of Christ in ways that are wonderful and include other people,” Duncan-Probe told Episcopal News Service in a phone interview. “I’ve just been blessed with conversations that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.”

Duncan-Probe, 55, will drive home the power of two-wheeled evangelism on May 13 when she presides over the annual Blessing of the Bikes event at Christ Episcopal Church in Jordan, a town to the west of Syracuse. After blessing the bikes, the bishop then will hop on her Harley to participate in a group ride, weather permitting.

Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe. Photo: Diocese of Central New York

Duncan-Probe became the first female bishop of the Diocese of Central New York in 2016. During her walkabouts, a time when bishop nominees meet with the people of a diocese, she was asked how she stays spiritually centered. She brought up the spiritual feeling she gets riding a motorcycle down country highways with the wind hitting her face.

“When I get out on the motorcycle, I feel in touch with God in a way,” she told ENS. “It’s very centering. It’s just a real sense of renewal for me.”

And after just a few minutes on the bike, she added, she feels like she’s 15 again.

That’s how old she was when she first started riding motorcycles in her hometown of Fort Worth, Texas. Her brothers offered to let her ride behind them on a Yamaha 100, but her father insisted that she learn to ride on her own. She earned a motorcycle license before she learned how to drive a car.

She rode motorcycles off and on through high school and college, but when she moved to California to pursue graduate studies, she mostly gave up riding.

About five or six years ago, after being ordained as an Episcopal priest and while serving as a rector at St. Peter’s in the Wood Church in Fairfax, Virginia, she was at the church one Sunday morning in May when she heard a low rumble.

“The windows of the church were open. It was a nice day, and you could hear the motorcycles go by,” she said. It was the annual Rolling Thunder ride, when hundreds of thousands of Harley riders converge on the Capital Region to honor military veterans and those lost at war, and the sound made her think how much she missed riding.

She and her husband, who rode dirt bikes in his youth, decided to take a motorcycle safety class with their oldest son (they have three children). Then a few years ago, Duncan-Probe bought a used Harley, and this spring, her husband bought her a new Harley, the Softail, for her birthday.

They are mindful of safety precautions, riding only during daylight hours and avoiding rainy days. And Duncan-Probe said she prefers the country roads outside of Syracuse  to city streets or freeways. There is a “prayerfulness” to those rides, she said, something she missed during the years she had given up riding regularly.

She also feels drawn to the community of riders. Although new to Harleys, “it has opened up an opportunity for connecting with people I wouldn’t normally have connected with,” she said.

On a trip to a local Harley dealership to pick up a part, she encountered a large group of riders and was struck by how they all came from different backgrounds but were united in their love of motorcycles.

“As we started talking there was such hospitality and community and life, and I found it very humbling, because they welcomed me as I was,” Duncan-Probe said.

She sees parallels with the Episcopal Church. “God welcomes all of us as we are and into this community of faith.”

Now that her passion has become more public, she’s not interested in being known as the “biker bishop.” Rather, she encourages all Episcopalians to embrace what centers them in their faith – “those things that really connect us with God” – whether it be prayer, meditation, gardening, hiking or riding a Harley Softail along the scenic shores of New York’s Finger Lakes.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

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