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A summary of Executive Council resolutions

Wed, 01/24/2018 - 3:49pm

[Episcopal News Service] During its Jan. 22-24 meeting at the Maritime Institute Conference Center outside Baltimore, Maryland, the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council adopted multiple resolutions that are summarized below.

Advocacy and Networking for Mission

Acknowledge 2018 as the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign in this country called by the Rev. Martin Luther King and the leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; acknowledge the unfinished work of the 1968 Poor Peoples Campaign, celebrate the revival of the movement as the 2018 Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival; that Executive Council, under the guidance and direction of the presiding bishop, lead our church into action, ministry and official relationship with the 2018 Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival in an effort to allow the Episcopal Church “to act faithfully on its long history of honorable General Convention and Executive Council intentions but imperfect and fragmentary practical actions in matters of poverty, racism, sexism, and economic justice;” recognize issues of poverty and justice severely affects domestic and global brothers and sisters and commit to ministry of active engagement, advocacy and support throughout the Episcopal Church (AN035).

Affirm the following new Jubilee Ministries: St. Luke’s Jubilee Center, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Stephensville, Texas (first Jubilee Ministry designation in the reorganized Diocese of Fort Worth); St. Peter’s Jubilee Ministries, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Medford, New Jersey;

St. Martin’s Jubilee Center, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, Bridgewater, New Jersey (AN036).

Declare as “reprehensible the widespread racist and unjust treatment of immigrants that has become a convenient theme of current political discourse;” affirm a series of propositions regarding immigrants in the United States: deplore any action by the U.S. government which “unduly emphasizes militarization of the border between the United States and Mexico, as the primary response to immigrants entering the United States to work;” support the goals of expanded immigration relief for youth as outlined in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); advocate through education, communication and representation before legislative authorities the continuation of Temporary Protective Status for all persons fleeing to or currently resident in the U.S. seeking refuge from violence, environmental disaster, economic devastation, or cultural abuse or other forms of abuse; advocate for congressional consideration and implementation of comprehensive immigration reform which will allow millions of undocumented immigrants who have established roots in the United States and are often parents and spouses of U.S. Citizens to have a pathway to legalization and to full social and economic integration into the United States (AN037).

Finances for Mission

Establish Trust Funds 1163-1171 as investment accounts for the Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota (FFM095).

Establish Trust Fund 1172 as an investment account for Friends of St. Alban’s (Tokyo) Foundation Trust Fund (FFM096).

Establish Trust Fund 1173 as the Joan Grimm Fraser Legacy Fund to support a delegate from the Episcopal Church to the Anglican delegation to meetings of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women; awardee shall be determined by appropriate senior staff in consultation with the presiding bishop and the treasurer; any balance not awarded be used for the general purposes of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS) to support programs for women (FFM097).

Designate portions of the total compensation paid to each Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS) clergy employee for calendar year 2018 as a housing allowance pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 107 and Internal Revenue Service Regulations S1.107 (FFM098).

Establish Trust Fund 1174, Episcopal Diocese of Lexington Cassidy Trust Retained Equity Fund, as an investment account for the Diocese of Lexington in Kentucky (FFM099).

Extend thanks to those who have included the Episcopal Church in their wills and recognize the generosity of all those who endow the Episcopal Church and thus support its ministries (FFM100).

Authorize withdrawal of $310,000 from three designated trust funds for the Episcopal Church of Liberia (ECL), as requested through a resolution of the Cuttington University College Board of Trustees on Dec. 21, 2017, for improvements and renovations at the college campus (FFM101).

Establish Trust Fund 1175 as an investment account for St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Newcastle, Maine (FFM102).

Accept the 2019-2021 draft budget (FFM103).

Commit to supporting the Episcopal Church’s upcoming 2018 annual appeal (FFM104).

Governance and Administration for Mission

Approve the revised Memorandum of Understanding between the United Thank Offering board and DFMS (GAM014).

Local Mission and Ministry

Approve grants recommended by the Evangelism Grants Committee (LMM013).

Approve grants recommended by the D005 Advisory Group on Church Planting (LLM014).

Approve grants recommended by the Executive Council Constable Grant Review Committee, (LMM015).

World Mission

Express appreciation for the following Young Adult Service Corps appointments made on behalf of the presiding bishop in recent months: Sarah Caroline Anderson (Diocese of Mississippi), assigned to the Diocese of Rift Valley, Anglican Church of Tanzania, Oct. 10, 2017; Elizabeth Grace Bleynat (Diocese of Western North Carolina), assigned as chaplaincy assistant, Mission to Seafarers, Diocese of Western Kowloon, Hong Kong, July 31, 2017; Amelia Bjelland Brown (Diocese of Albany), assigned to the Anglican Communion Office, Sept. 18, 2017; Eleanor Duncan Campbell (Diocese of Virginia), assigned to the Diocese of Costa Rica, Sept. 5, 2017; Adrienne Davis (Diocese of Southern Virginia) second year extension with the Helpers for Domestic Helpers in Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong, Aug. 20, 2017; Alexandria Fields (Diocese of Florida) second year extension in the Diocese of Costa Rica, Dec. 12, 2017; Aspen Gomez (Diocese of Texas), assigned to the Diocese of Costa Rica, Sept. 5, 2017; Benjamin Hansknecht (Diocese of Central New York), assigned to the Visayas Area Mission, Church in the Philippines, Sept. 5, 2017; Zachary Jeffers (Diocese of Upper South Carolina), second year extension in the Diocese of Wellington, Anglican Church in New Zealand, start to be determined when visa is granted; Emily Kirk (Diocese of East Tennessee), second year extension in the Diocese of Liverpool, June 28, 2017; Kellan Lyman (Diocese of Atlanta), second year extension in the Church in the Philippines, start date to be determined; EmmaLee Rachael Schauf (Diocese of Pittsburgh), assigned to the Diocese of Liverpool, Church of England, Aug. 28, 2017; Caroline Whitley Sprinkle (Diocese of North Carolina), assigned to the Diocese of Northern Luzon, Episcopal Church in the Philippines, Sept. 5, 2017 (WM029).

Express appreciation for the following mission companions who faithfully completed their terms of service: Jere Skipper (Diocese of Washington), canon for mission with the Convocation of American Churches in Europe, Oct. 16, 2004-Jan. 31, 2017; Perry Alan Yarborough (Dioceses of Western North Carolina and Upper South Carolina) intern with the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations and Virginia Theological Seminary Center for Anglican Communion Studies, Sept. 1, 2016-Dec. 31, 2016 (WM030).

Express appreciation for the following Young Adult Service Corps volunteer companions who faithfully completed their term of service: Naomi Zoe Cunningham (Diocese of Kansas), assigned to the American Cathedral, in the Convocation of Churches in Europe, Aug. 25, 2015- July 31, 2017; Alexa Henault (Diocese of Rhode Island), assigned to the Diocese of Costa Rica, Sept. 19, 2016-Sept. 19, 2017; Tristan Jacob Nicholas Holmberg (Diocese of Kansas), assigned to the Church of the Philippines, Sept. 24, 2015-Oct. 30, 2017; Mitchell Honan (Diocese of Connecticut) assigned to the CASB Project in Cap-Haitien, Diocese of Haiti, July 7, 2016-July 6, 2017; Katherine Jewett-Williams (Diocese of Dallas), assigned to the Diocese of Liverpool, Anglican Church of England, Sept. 11, 2016- Sept. 10, 2017; Elijah Lewis (Diocese of Upper South Carolina), assigned to the CASB Project in Cap-Haitien, Diocese of Haiti, July 7, 2016-July 5, 2017; Rachel McDaniel (Diocese of West Tennessee), assigned as a UTO-YASC intern in the Diocese of North Dakota, Sept. 1, 2016-Aug. 31, 2017; Charles Merchant (Diocese of South Carolina), assigned to the Order of the Holy Cross Monastery, Diocese of Grahamstown, Church of the Province of South Africa, Feb.16, 2017-Dec. 15, 2017; Wilmot Merchant (Diocese of South Carolina), assigned to the Asian Rural Institute (ARI), Nippon Sei Ko Kai and the Church in the Philippines,  Nov. 13, 2016- Nov. 12, 2017; Brooklyn Payne (Diocese of Missouri), assigned to the Diocese of Panama, Sept.1, 2016-June 5, 2017; James Isaac Rose (Diocese of Southwestern Virginia), assigned to the Mission to Seafarers, Nippon Sei Ko Kai, Japan, Sep. 7, 2015-Aug. 4, 2017; Tristan Tucker (Diocese of Springfield), assigned to the Church in the Philippines, Sept.1, 2016-April 10, 2017; Bryan Alexis Velez Garcia (Diocese of Puerto Rico), second year extension in the Diocese of Rio de Janeiro, Anglican Church of Brazil, Dec. 19, 2015-Oct. 11, 2016 (WM031).

Commends the United Thank Offering Board for its extraordinary effort to encourage, equip and support members of the Episcopal Church, especially the 110 diocesan coordinators, and to promote the daily discipline of thanking God for blessings received and challenges offered to strengthen our efforts to become The Beloved Community; recognize the efforts of diocesan coordinators for equipping the worshipers in congregations, encouraging the spiritual discipline of giving thanks to God daily, offering alms to pay those thanksgivings forward, developing grants to innovative start up programs, aiding and support communities in need (WM032).

Approve the United Thank Offering Young Adult and Seminarian grants for 2018 (WM033).

Join with Christians around the world in observing the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Jan. 18-25); give thanks for the life and ministry of the Rev. Paul Wattson who initiated the Octave of Christian Unity in 1908 which subsequently became the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity; encourage all Episcopalians to remember Wattson in prayer on Feb. 8 (the anniversary of his death in 1940), encourage the bishop of New York to convey Council’s greetings to Timothy Cardinal Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York and to request any further news of the cause for canonization of Wattson; encourage the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to recommend to the General Convention that Wattson, who was ordained deacon in the Diocese of Easton in 1885 and priest in the Diocese of New York in 1886, be added to the calendar of commemorations of the Episcopal Church (WM034).

Quebec Anglicans remember victims of city mosque shooting on first anniversary of attack

Wed, 01/24/2018 - 12:41pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Quebec City’s Anglican community will be one of six spiritual groups gathering to offer reflective song and prayer to the public Jan. 28, at a commemoration of the mass shooting at the city’s Grand Mosque a year ago. Meanwhile, Anglicans in the city have been supporting efforts to provide a new home for a member of the mosque, whose heroic actions during the attack left him paralyzed from the chest down. Six men were killed and 19 others wounded when a gunman opened fire on worshippers at the mosque as they prayed shortly before 8 p.m. on January 29, 2017. Alexandre Bissonnette, a university student, has been charged with first-degree murder in relation to the attack.

Read the entire article here.

Brazil takes ‘decisive steps towards gender equality’ with election of its first female bishop

Wed, 01/24/2018 - 12:17pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil – the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil – has elected its first female bishop, some 34 years after the province first paved the way for women to serve in all three orders of ministry. The Rev. Canon Marinez Santos Bassotto was elected Jan. 20 as the next bishop of the Amazon during a meeting at Belém, in the northern Brazilian state of Pará. She will succeed Bishop Saulo Mauricio de Barros, who retired in November. The province was one of the first in the Anglican Communion to official open the episcopate to women in 1983. Its first female deacons were ordained in 1984, and its first female priests in 1985.

Read the entire article here.

Este artigo também está disponível em português / This article is also available in Portuguese.

Nombrado el Equipo de Planificación para el Festival de Jóvenes Adultos en la Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal 2018

Wed, 01/24/2018 - 11:26am

Se ha anunciado el equipo de planificación de seis miembros para el Festival de Jóvenes Adultos de la Convención General en la 79ª Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal.

Los nombrados para el Equipo de Planificación del Festival de Jóvenes  Adultos son:
• Christina Donovan – Diócesis de Long Island
• Nic Mather – Diócesis de Spokane
• Marvin McLennon – Diócesis de Arkansas
• Eva Ortéz – Diócesis del Sudeste de Florida
• Marcia Quintanilla – Diócesis de Texas
• Sarah Syer – Diócesis de Nevada

La 79ª Convención General tendrá lugar del jueves 5 de julio al viernes 13 de julio en el Centro de Convenciones de Austin, Austin, Texas (Diócesis de Texas).

“El equipo de planificación trabajará en conjunto para crear un marco para que los jóvenes adultos de toda la Iglesia experimenten la Convención General”, explicó la Reverenda Shannon Kelly, Oficial de la Iglesia Episcopal para los Ministerios de Jóvenes Adultos y Campus. “Con el culto, los talleres, la creación de redes y la convivencia, el Festival de Jóvenes Adultos hace que la Convención General sea accesible y agradable para novatos, defensores y líderes por igual”.

Se recibieron más de 40 aplicaciones.

Para obtener más información, comuníquese con Wendy Johnson en wjohnson@episcopalchurch.org.

Convención General
La Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal se celebra cada tres años para considerar los asuntos legislativos de la Iglesia. La Convención General es el cuerpo gobernante bicameral de la Iglesia, compuesto por la Cámara de los Obispos, con más de 200 obispos activos y jubilados, y la Cámara de los Diputados, con clérigos y diputados elegidos de las 109 diócesis y tres áreas regionales de la Iglesia, a más de 800 miembros. Entre las convenciones, la Convención General continúa trabajando mediante sus comités y comisiones. El Consejo Ejecutivo de la Iglesia Episcopal lleva a cabo los programas y políticas adoptados por la Convención General.

Nigerian bishops speak out against increasing attacks by Fulani herdsmen

Tue, 01/23/2018 - 4:11pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria has criticized the country’s government for failing to act against Fulani herdsmen who have carried out a series of fatal attacks. The anti-persecution charity International Christian Concern says that 80 people in Benue state have been killed in attacks by Fulani militants this year.

Read the full article here.

South Carolina church finds ‘natural connection’ with middle school in push for education equity

Tue, 01/23/2018 - 3:04pm

Patty Trotter, right, leads the cooking club in a cookie baking activity. Trotter and other volunteers from Trinity Episcopal Cathedral lead after-school activities on Thursdays at W.A. Perry Middle School in Columbia, South Carolina. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Columbia, South Carolina] The students of W.A Perry Middle School know it’s 4 p.m. when the speakers begin blaring end-of-day announcements – information about the upcoming Sweetheart Ball, encouragement to “read, read, read your way to new heights.” And on this afternoon, a reminder: “Club Thursday.”

“All after-school students should report to the cafeteria and sit in your assigned sections,” the announcement blared.

Students who spend their early evenings at W.A. Perry known the routine by now. They know Club Thursdays mean an hour of cooking, sewing, tennis or golf. They know school social worker Marilyn Doucet will be checking to make sure they get to their assigned clubs. And they know the activities will be led not by school personnel but by a small, dedicated band community volunteers.

The volunteers come from Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Columbia, a detail of only passing importance to the students’ comprehension of the activities, yet underlying these experiences are a 16-year relationship between the cathedral and W.A. Perry. The cathedral’s lasting commitment of support is renewed every Thursday with each cookie baked and each needle threaded.

“It’s been a great partnership with Trinity. What they do for us is priceless,” Doucet said Jan. 18 during Episcopal News Service’s visit to the after-school program.

Church-school partnerships like this one in South Carolina’s capital city engage Episcopalians in the Episcopal Church’s call to address education inequity. It is a call taken up most prominently by the All Our Children network, which held a conference in Columbia last week that drew more than 100 educators, advocates and church leaders from multiple denominations.

All Our Children is an ecumenical network with roots in the Episcopal Church. It was backed in 2015 by a General Convention resolution that identified church-school partnerships as “a path for following Jesus into the neighborhood, addressing educational inequity, and rejuvenating congregations.”

South Carolina has been fertile ground for such partnerships thanks to the Bishops’ Public Education Initiative, which involves the state’s Episcopal, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, United Methodist, African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion and Christian Methodist Episcopal churches.

Diocese of Upper South Carolina Bishop Andrew Waldo, left, speaks Jan. 17 about an education initiative involving several Christian denominations in the state. Waldo was part of a panel discussion during the All Our Children conference held at Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbia, South Carolina. On the right is Bishop Herman Yoos of the South Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

“God is calling us to raise up the gifts of every child that was put on this planet,” Diocese of Upper South Carolina Bishop Andrew Waldo said Jan. 17 at the All Our Children conference during a panel discussion about the Bishop’s Initiative.

Waldo’s implication was one that reverberated across the three-day conference held at the cathedral: American children, though “created equal” in the eyes of Jeffersonian democracy, are not always treated equitably by their public education system, but instead find the scales tipped according to race, language, family income and even the street where they live.

All Our Children seeks to balance those scales, and a common refrain at the conference was the need to develop meaningful relationships across racial, cultural and social divides. Anyone searching for examples could begin with the divide between the mostly white, affluent congregation at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral and the mostly black, low-income student body at W.A. Perry about a 10-minute drive to the north.

“It’s good to see y’all here,” volunteer Patty Trotter said as the Club Thursdays cooking class got underway. The 16 students, broken into four groups, sat at tables in a classroom equipped with ovens and furnished with cookware and utensils.

Of the few dozen students in Club Thursdays, each identifies preferred activities at the start of the academic year and is assigned by the school to two of them, one club in the fall and the second club starting in January. This was the first club meeting of the new year, so Trotter and other volunteers from the cathedral helped the cooking students make an easy inaugural treat, cookies from prepackaged cookie dough.

Trinity volunteer Beth Yon shows a W.A. Perry student some of the finer points of sewing a hem during one of the four Club Thursdays activities at the school. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

In the next room, fellow volunteer Beth Yon showed about a half dozen students how to sew a hem. Tie a big knot, she advised, so it will anchor the thread.

The students will progress over the coming weeks to sewing a button, operating a sewing machine and eventually working on a final project, such as a pillow or a bag, Doucet said.

The volunteers are called to this work by their faith, but religion isn’t discussed with the students. And despite the classroom setting, these lessons are not academic in a traditional sense. Their value is in the interaction between adult and child.

“That’s very good,” Yon said to one girl, who was scrutinizing her stiches. “I’ll show you a trick,” Yon continued, and then imparted a nugget of needle-earned wisdom.

Bridging divides in the push for education equity

For each Club Thursday activity, the cathedral sends three to six volunteers to help. The activities are chosen to give the students opportunities to try new experiences, and the volunteers also gain new experiences, spending time in a school and a neighborhood removed from their daily lives, said the Rev. Patsy Malanuk, Trinity’s canon for mission and outreach.

“We’ve made deep relationships with the people at W.A. Perry,” Malanuk said, adding that the interactions with school officials and students have expanded her own “depth of experience.”

School buses wait for students just before the end of classes at W.A. Perry Middle School in Columbia, South Carolina. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

W.A. Perry, one of nine middle schools in the Richland 1 School District, was chosen by Trinity for outreach partly because the cathedral already had been involved in the neighborhood, through a homeless ministry called St. Lawrence Place.

Perry also is known as a Title 1 school, a federal classification indicating its students come predominantly from low-income families. Of its 375 students, 98 percent are from families with incomes low enough to qualify for free or reduced lunches. (Because of low family incomes district-wide, all students in the district now can receive free lunches.)

The schools in South Carolina receiving federal Title 1 assistance make up a long list, but education equity advocates say some of the greatest need is found many miles from Columbia in the poor, rural school districts along the state’s Interstate 95 corridor. Crumbling facilities are common, resources are scarce and students are deprived of even a “minimally adequate education,” according to the South Carolina Supreme Court, which ruled in 2014 that the state had failed to meet its obligation to 30 school districts in that region.

The court ordered the Legislature to develop a funding plan to correct that injustice, but after turnover on the bench, the Supreme Court effectively reversed itself in November 2017, concluding it was up to legislators, not judges, to decide proper funding levels for education.

Much of the public’s awareness of the rural schools’ plight was generated by the 2005 documentary “Corridor of Shame,” which depicted conditions in six of the districts included in the lawsuit. The film was directed by Bud Ferillo, a South Carolina native and former political aide to some of the state’s top elected officials.

Bud Ferillo, interviewed in Columbia, directed the documentary “Corridor of Shame.” Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Despite the attention his film brought to the issue of education equity, Ferillo thinks progress has been uneven at best. Some districts and schools may have improved, he said, but not through any concerted effort by lawmakers.

“The state has not taken any definitive action to address the problems that were brought up in the suit,” Ferillo told Episcopal News Service in an interview near his home in Columbia.

The South Carolina churches, on the other hand, have provided a model for pushing progressive stances on the issue, he said. Such broad coalitions of action put pressure on the state to adequately fund public education.

Ferillo also doesn’t see equity as a rural vs. urban issue. The funding reforms sought by the rural districts’ lawsuit would benefit poor districts in cities like Columbia as well.

“Any decent remedy, we’ve always said, would not just be restricted to plaintiff districts,” he said. “It would be to any district similarly situated, with the same kinds of statistics – low-achievement schools with overwhelming minority enrollment and underpaid staff.”

Malanuk acknowledge the range of need in South Carolina and in her city. “There’s still some schools around here that may be in deeper need,” she said, but the cathedral remains committed to the students at W.A. Perry.

‘Natural connection’ bonds church, school for 16 years

W.A. Perry Middle School, likewise, is glad to have Trinity as a partner.

Marilyn Doucet, left, is the W.A. Perry Middle School social worker, and Robin Coletrain is the school’s principal. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

“It’s been just a very great relationship,” Robin Coletrain, Perry’s principal, said. “They do so much for us, and you just see the compassion and love in everything they do.”

Coletrain has worked as a teacher and administrator in the Richland 1 district for 17 years. This is her second year at W.A. Perry.

“Our kids come from some difficult home situations,” Coletrain said. Some live in single-parent homes or have parents working two or three jobs to get by. Some students are staying with their families at the temporary housing provided by St. Lawrence Place.

Whatever challenges the school faces, it offers a warm and welcoming environment for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. As important as the facility, Coletrain said, are the experiences the school offers the students, from field trips to see “The Nutcracker” to the activities after school.

The after-school programs are partly funded by a federal grant, but Club Thursdays wouldn’t be the same without the volunteers from Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. Some of those volunteers spent the afternoon Jan. 18 coaching students on proper tennis technique on the courts outside the school, while others accompanied some students to a golf center a short distance away.

Inside the school, the cooking club’s first session was wrapping up.

“I’m so glad all of y’all are here,” Trotter said. “You did great on your cookies. You did great on your cleaning. We appreciate it.”

Eighth-grader Caliyah Thompson, 13, was all smiles, joking with a classmate about some of the food she has made at home. Pasta, for starters. And a cake.

“Two-layer cake,” she said, with a glint of pride.

She and the other club members will learn table manners and a bit of floral arranging in the coming weeks before building up to a final entrée, such as lasagna.

Doucet has been involved with the school’s partnership with Trinity from the beginning. She has worked at W.A. Perry for 18 years, long enough to see two generations of neighborhood families pass through the school’s doors.

Through Club Thursdays, some of those students receive “experiences they wouldn’t get to have,” Doucet said, because of the work of people like Betty Gregory, one of the original volunteers from Trinity.

Betty Gregory helps students cut cookie dough onto sheets for their after-school cooking activity at W.A. Perry. Gregory was among the volunteers from Trinity Episcopal Cathedral who 16 years ago helped start this church-school partnership, which Gregory called a “natural connection.” Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

At 5:10 p.m., with the school’s kitchen tidied up after the cooking club, Gregory and Doucet chatted about how the partnership formed and how far it has come.

The cathedral had parishioners who wanted to serve the community, and the school had needs to be met, Gregory said, but she and other volunteers didn’t go to the school with their own proposals. They started by asking school officials what they needed and then listening.

Administrators said they needed more books, so the cathedral donated books. Then the volunteers asked what else was needed. More service projects followed.

Eventually, school officials explained that they were running out of ideas for after-school enrichment activities. Trinity’s volunteers had some suggestions based on their individual interests.

“Within six weeks, we had a program up and going,” Gregory said, calling it a ministry of presence.

Now 16 years later, she sees the relationship between the cathedral and the school as something “intangible,” even “magical.”

“It’s sort of like this natural connection,” Gregory said. “There was just something about Perry and Trinity coming together that was God-inspired.”

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

Oklahoma Bishop Edward J. Konieczny elected to Anglican Consultative Council

Tue, 01/23/2018 - 11:26am

Diocese of Oklahoma Bishop Edward J. Konieczny has been bishop in Oklahoma since 2007. Photo: Diocese of OPklahoma

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council Jan. 23 elected one of its members, Diocese of Oklahoma Bishop Edward J. Konieczny, as the church’s bishop member of the Anglican Consultative Council.

Konieczny, who has been bishop in Oklahoma since 2007,  succeeds Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas whose three-meeting term ended after the last meeting of the ACC in Lusaka, Zambia, in April 2016.

He joins lay member Rosalie Ballentine, a deputy from the Diocese of the Virgin Islands, and House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, who is the Episcopal Church clergy member.

Diocese of Texas Bishop Andy Doyle and Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe Bishop Suffragan Pierre Whalon also stood for election.

The election took place on the second day of council’s three-day gathering at the Martime Institute Conference Center outside Baltimore, Maryland.

he ACC’s objective, according to its constitution, is to “advance the Christian religion and in particular to promote the unity and purposes of the Churches of the Anglican Communion, in mission, evangelism, ecumenical relations, communication, administration and finance.” And, among the ACC’s powers listed in the constitution, is one that says it should “develop as far as possible agreed Anglican policies in the world mission of the church” and encourage the provinces to share their resources to work to accomplish those policies.

The ACC is one of three Instruments of Communion, the others being the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops and the Primates Meeting. The archbishop of Canterbury (who is president of the ACC) is seen as is the “Focus for Unity” for the three instruments.

Formed in 1969, the ACC includes clergy and lay people, as well as bishops, among its delegates. The membership includes from one to three persons from each of the Anglican Communion’s 38 provinces, depending on the numerical size of each province. Where there are three members, there is a bishop, a priest and a lay person. Where fewer members are appointed, preference is given to lay membership.

The ACC meets every three or four years, and the Lusaka meeting was the council’s 16th session. The first meeting was held in Limuru, Kenya, in 1971. It will next convene in 2019. Sao Paulo, Brazil, was due to host that meeting until the ACC Standing Committee said in September that concerns were raised about Brazil’s political and economic instability as well as the church’s discussions on human sexuality and marriage, which will take place at its 2018 provincial synod.

The Anglican Communion News Service reported at the time that it was felt that, given this combination of issues, “the leadership of the church would need time to deal with pastoral issues arising from the discussions.”

Hong Kong, the province of ACC Chair Archbishop Paul Kwong, might step in to host ACC-17.

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is interim managing editor of the Episcopal News Service.

Atlanta bishop named to GA Supreme Court Committee on Justice for Children

Tue, 01/23/2018 - 5:52am

[Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta] Episcopal Bishop Robert Wright has been appointed to the Supreme Court of Georgia’s Committee on Justice For Children.

Wright, bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta, is the only faith leader on the 29-member committee charged with improving justice for children and families involved in Georgia’s juvenile courts.

Formed in 1995 to apply data-based improvements to Georgia’s child dependency cases, the Justice for Children (J4C) committee expanded its scope of work in 2017 to include the full spectrum of juvenile court cases.

The J4C lists its top priorities as: 1. implementing nationally recognized best practices; 2. providing child safety, permanent placement, and judicial process measurements to juvenile courts; 3. improving foster care placement stability and decreasing the time children spend in foster care; 4. improving outcomes for children in delinquency and status -offense cases; 5. advocating for improvements in juvenile law and policy; and 6. ensuring compliance with federal grant requirements.

“The list is long, but the work is vital,” Wright said, following his appointment to J4C. “I’m committed to leveraging my experience and perspective as an adopted child, the parent of an adopted child and chief pastor to thousands of families facing the crisis of broken ties in my work on the committee.”

Wright was appointed to the J4C with two other new members; Virginia Pryor, the interim director of the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services and Georgia Appleseed Center for Law & Justice Executive Director Talley Wells.

Georgia Supreme Court Associate Justice David Nahmias, who chairs the committee, said he was impressed by Wright’s real-world experience and leadership qualities.

“Bishop Wright is a passionate and eloquent advocate for children, and for the special needs of foster children in particular,” Nahmias said. “We look forward to the experiences, ideas, and contacts he will bring to the Supreme Court’s Justice for Children Committee as we seek to improve the justice system for Georgia’s children.”

Wright was born in a Roman Catholic orphanage in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was adopted at 9 months of age. After graduating high school, he served five years in the U.S. Navy as a helicopter crew chief and search and rescue diver.

While attending Howard University in Washington, D.C. where he earned degrees in history and political science, Wright worked as a child advocate for two mayors and for the Children’s Defense Fund.

Wright earned an M.Div. from Virginia Theological Seminary, and has been awarded honorary doctor of divinity degrees by the Virginia seminary and Sewanee: The University of the South.

Prior to being elected in 2012 as the 10th bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta, Wright served as rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta.  Previously, he was Canon Pastor and Vicar of the Congregation of St. Saviour at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, and as chaplain of the Cathedral School.

Since becoming bishop of the diocese, which includes 114 worshiping communities in the northern half of Georgia, Wright has been a vocal advocate for improving the lives of children, prisoners, immigrants and military members and their families.

As bishop, Wright has addressed the Georgia legislature, urging passage of sensible gun safety laws, spoken up for Medicaid expansion and has been a vocal and active opponent of the death penalty in Georgia.  His pastoral examples include marking the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King by praying with City of Atlanta sanitation crews before taking an early morning shift on the back of a city garbage truck. In 2015, Wright was named among the 100 Most Influential Georgians by GeorgiaTrend magazine.

The Atlanta diocese was carved from the Diocese of Georgia in 1907, and includes 75 ½ counties stretching from south Columbus and Macon to the state’s borders with South and North Carolina and Tennessee.

The Diocese of Atlanta is the ninth largest of the 109 dioceses of the Episcopal Church in 17 countries. By its membership in The Episcopal Church, The Diocese of Atlanta is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion of 70 million people in 38 provinces. The Diocese of Atlanta has active companion diocese relationships with several dioceses in Africa and South America.

Carta del Obispo Presidente, Presidente de la Cámara de Diputados

Tue, 01/23/2018 - 5:25am

“Nuestra iglesia tiene que examinar su historia y llegar a un entendimiento más amplio de la manera en que manejó o manejó mal los casos de acoso sexual, explotación y abuso a través de los años”.

Estimado Pueblo de Dios en la Iglesia Episcopal:

En las últimas semanas, el testimonio convincente de mujeres víctimas de acoso sexual y ataques por hombres poderosos, nos trae a la mente un pasaje particularmente difícil de las Sagradas Escrituras:  la historia de la violación de la hija del Rey David, Tamar, por su medio hermano Amnón (2 Samuel 13:  1-22). En este pasaje, una conspiración de hombres trama la explotación y violación de una mujer joven. Ella fue despojada del poder de hablar y actuar, su padre ignora el crimen, y el destino del violador, no el de la víctima, se lamenta. Es una historia bíblica desprovista de justicia.

Por más de dos décadas, las mujeres africanas de comunidades marginadas han estudiado este pasaje de las escrituras utilizando un método llamado estudio bíblico contextual para explorar y hablar sobre el trauma de la violencia sexual en sus propias vidas. Utilizando un manual publicado por la Campaña Tamar (the Tamar Campaign), las mujeres preguntan, “Qué puede hacer la Iglesia para romper el silencio contra la violencia de género”?

Es, según los predicadores de antaño, una pregunta convincente. A medida que nuestras sociedades han sido obligados a reconocer nuevamente que las mujeres de todos ámbitos han sufrido trauma tácito a manos de agresores y acosadores masculinos, nos hemos convencido de que la Iglesia Episcopal debe trabajar aún más para crear una iglesia que no sea solo segura, sino también sagrada, humanitaria y digna. Tenemos que comprometernos a tratar a cada persona como un hijo de Dios, que merece dignidad y respeto. También debemos comprometernos a poner fin al sexismo sistémico, la misoginia, y el abuso de poder que afectan a la iglesia, así como corrompen nuestra cultura, instituciones y gobiernos.

Igual que nuestras hermanas africanas en fe, debemos crear contextos en cuales las mujeres puedan hablar sobre su trauma tácito, tanto si lo sufrió dentro de la iglesia o en otro lugar. Y debemos hacer más.

Nuestra iglesia tiene que examinar su historia y llegar a un entendimiento más amplio de la manera en que manejó o manejó mal los casos de acoso sexual, explotación y abuso a través de los años. Cuando los hechos lo dictan, debemos confesarnos y arrepentirnos de las instancias en que la iglesia, sus ministros o miembros han sido antagónicos o insensibles a las personas—mujeres, niños y hombres—que han sido víctimas de explotación o abuso sexual. Y hay que reconocer que en nuestra iglesia y en nuestra cultura, la explotación sexual de las mujeres es parte del mismo sistema injusto que también causa brechas de género en la remuneración, los ascensos, la salud y el empoderamiento.

Creemos que cada uno de nosotros tiene un papel en nuestro arrepentimiento colectivo. Entonces, hoy, les invitamos a unirnos en un Día de Oración el 14 de febrero Miércoles de Ceniza dedicado a meditar en las maneras en que nosotros en la iglesia no hemos apoyado a las mujeres y otras víctimas de abuso y acoso y a considerar, como parte de nuestras disciplinas cuaresmales, cómo podemos redoblar nuestro trabajo para ser comunidades de seguridad que se opongan a la violencia espiritual y física de la explotación y el abuso sexual.

Ninguno de nosotros pretende tener toda la sabiduría necesaria para cambiar la cultura de nuestra iglesia y la sociedad en que ministra, y en la Convención General de este verano, queremos escuchar la voz amplia de la iglesia mientras definimos cómo proceder tanto en expiar por el pasado de la iglesia y formar un futuro más justo. Que encontremos en nuestras deliberaciones oportunidades para escucharnos unos a otros, para ser honestos acerca de nuestros propios fracasos y quebrantamientos, y de discernir devotamente las maneras que Dios nos llama a estar con Tamar en todos los lugares donde la encontramos—tanto dentro de la iglesia como más allá de nuestras puertas, las cuales hemos usado con demasiada frecuencia para excluirla.


Rvdmo. Michael B. Curry
Obispo Primado

Rda. Gay Clark Jennings
Presidente de la Cámara de Diputados

Episcopal Church challenged to repent for when it failed to protect victims of sexual exploitation, abuse

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 3:54pm

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, issued a call Jan. 22 for the Episcopal Church to spend Lent and beyond examining its history and how it has handled or mishandled cases of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse.

The two say in a letter to the church that recent “compelling testimony from women who have been sexually harassed and assaulted by powerful men has turned our minds to a particularly difficult passage of holy scripture.” The story of the rape of King David’s daughter Tamar by her half-brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13:1-22), they said, “is a passage in which a conspiracy of men plots the exploitation and rape of a young woman. She is stripped of the power to speak or act, her father ignores the crime, and the fate of the rapist, not the victim, is mourned.

“It is a Bible story devoid of justice.”

Jennings announced the letter during the opening session of the winter meeting of the church’s Executive Council at the Maritime Institute Conference Center outside Baltimore.

She and Curry call in their letter for an Ash Wednesday Day of Prayer on Feb.14, during which Episcopalians should meditate on how the church has “failed to stand with women and other victims of abuse and harassment.”

“We believe that each of us has a role to play in our collective repentance,” they wrote.

They added that a Lenten discipline for the church would be to “consider how to redouble the church’s effort build “communities of safety that stand against the spiritual and physical violence of sexual exploitation and abuse.”

Curry and Jennings said: “As our societies have been forced into fresh recognition that women in all walks of life have suffered unspoken trauma at the hands of male aggressors and harassers, we have become convinced that the Episcopal Church must work even harder to create a church that is not simply safe, but holy, humane and decent.”

The two presiding officers also want to have General Convention discuss these issues because they “want to hear the voice of the wider church as we determine how to proceed in both atoning for the church’s past and shaping a more just future.”

Jennings told the council that many Christians might think that such exploitation and abuse happen only in Hollywood or in business and industry “but not in the holy work we do.” However, she said, “those problems have been endemic in our culture in the church for far longer than Hollywood, or tech culture, or corporate journalism have existed.”

On the agenda

Executive Council is meeting Jan. 22-24. A major agenda item is finishing work on the canonically required draft of the 2019-2021 churchwide budget. Jennings said the current working version is filled with “big dreams and limited resources.” She told council that the final version of the budget hinges, in part, “on our ability to have holy, respectful, and civil conversations about how we allocate our resources for God’s work in the world.”

According to the joint rules of General Convention (II.10.c.ii on page 227 here), council must give its draft budget to General Convention’s Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) no less than four months before the start of General Convention (essentially by February of convention year). PB&F will meet next from Feb. 5-7 to begin work on that draft budget.

Council’s Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission (FFM) has been crafting the draft budget for much of the current triennium, gathering information and input from committees, the churchwide staff, dioceses and Episcopalians. While council is not required to give PB&F a balanced budget, that is FFM’s goal, the Rev. Mally Lloyd, the committee member leading the budget work, told council Jan. 22.

The committee has eliminated a large gap between anticipated revenue and those big dreams Jennings mentioned. The deficit was just more than $12 million at the start of council’s October meeting and $8 million at the end.

Council then asked the church for input on the budget in November and posted a version showing that FFM had reduced the deficit to $4.5 million.

On Jan. 22, Lloyd and FFM chair Tess Judge showed the council a current working draft that is essentially balanced. Revenue is increased based on the fact that diocesan income was up nearly 3 percent in 2016 over 2015. Based on the formula used to calculated diocesan payments to the churchwide budget, that means $2 million more in the coming triennium.

Tess Judge, chair of the Finances for Mission (FFM) committee, reports on the big work of this #excoun meeting: the draft budget. pic.twitter.com/JLknDFCzj6

— Holli (@BeingHolli) January 22, 2018

What Judge called exceptional investment performance in 2017 of 20 percent added $1 million to the anticipated income for the coming triennium, based on how the draw on investment income is calculated.

In addition, Lloyd said “we adjusted every single expense line a little bit” to trim $1.5 million, thus making up the $4.5 million deficit.

“Brothers and sisters, we still have some work to do,” Judge told council members, explaining that some line items still need to be tweaked after talking with staff.

Judge and Lloyd stressed that it is hard to do a line-by-line comparison of the current budget and the draft of the 2019-2021 plan. The current budget was structured around the Five Marks of Mission while the draft is built on categories of the Jesus Movement. “It’s a lot of new things and a lot of changed things in this budget,” Lloyd said. Council discussed how to note those differences in the document it sends to PB&F.

Council is due to vote on the final version of its draft budget on Jan. 24.

The rest of the meeting

After the opening plenary on Jan. 22, council spent the rest of the day meeting in its five committees. Council will meet again in plenary the morning of Jan. 23. The members will approve its Blue Book report to General Convention and elect the bishop member to its Anglican Consultative Council delegation. On Jan. 24, council committees will each report to the full body, proposing resolutions for the full body to consider.

Some council members are tweeting from the meeting using #ExCoun.

The Executive Council carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1). The council comprises 38 members – 20 of whom (four bishops, four priests or deacons, and 12 lay people) are elected by General Convention and 18 (one clergy and one lay) by the nine provincial synods for six-year terms – plus the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies. In addition, the vice president of the House of Deputies, secretary, chief operating officer, treasurer and chief financial officer have seat and voice but no vote.

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is interim managing editor of the Episcopal News Service.

Letter to the Episcopal Church from Presiding Bishop, President of House of Deputies

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 3:53pm

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings have written the following letter to the Episcopal Church.

January 22, 2018

Dear People of God in the Episcopal Church:

In recent weeks, compelling testimony from women who have been sexually harassed and assaulted by powerful men has turned our minds to a particularly difficult passage of holy scripture:  the story of the rape of King David’s daughter Tamar by her half-brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13: 1-22). It is a passage in which a conspiracy of men plots the exploitation and rape of a young woman. She is stripped of the power to speak or act, her father ignores the crime, and the fate of the rapist, not the victim, is mourned. It is a Bible story devoid of justice.

For more than two decades, African women from marginalized communities have studied this passage of scripture using a method called contextual Bible study to explore and speak about the trauma of sexual assault in their own lives. Using a manual published by the Tamar Campaign, they ask, “What can the Church do to break the silence against gender-based violence?”

It is, as the old-time preachers say, a convicting question. As our societies have been forced into fresh recognition that women in all walks of life have suffered unspoken trauma at the hands of male aggressors and harassers, we have become convinced that the Episcopal Church must work even harder to create a church that is not simply safe, but holy, humane and decent. We must commit to treating every person as a child of God, deserving of dignity and respect. We must also commit to ending the systemic sexism, misogyny and misuse of power that plague the church just as they corrupt our culture, institutions and governments.

Like our African siblings in faith, we must create contexts in which women can speak of their unspoken trauma, whether suffered within the church or elsewhere. And we must do more.

Our church must examine its history and come to a fuller understanding of how it has handled or mishandled cases of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse through the years. When facts dictate, we must confess and repent of those times when the church, its ministers or its members have been antagonistic or unresponsive to people—women, children and men—who have been sexually exploited or abused. And we must acknowledge that in our church and in our culture, the sexual exploitation of women is part of the same unjust system that also causes gender gaps in pay, promotion, health and empowerment.

We believe that each of us has a role to play in our collective repentance. And so, today, we invite you to join us in an Ash Wednesday Day of Prayer on February 14 devoted to meditating on the ways in which we in the church have failed to stand with women and other victims of abuse and harassment and to consider, as part of our Lenten disciplines, how we can redouble our work to be communities of safety that stand against the spiritual and physical violence of sexual exploitation and abuse.

Neither of us professes to have all of the wisdom necessary to change the culture of our church and the society in which it ministers, and at this summer’s General Convention, we want to hear the voice of the wider church as we determine how to proceed in both atoning for the church’s past and shaping a more just future. May we find in our deliberations opportunities to listen to one another, to be honest about our own failings and brokenness, and to discern prayerfully the ways that God is calling us to stand with Tamar in all of the places we find her—both inside the church and beyond our doors, which we have too often used to shut her out.


The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry                            The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
Presiding Bishop                                                   President, House of Deputies

Threat of nuclear war “is a sin,” World Council of Churches’ chief tells economic leaders

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 1:14pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The general secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, will take an anti-nuclear message with him when he travels Tuesday to Davos, Switzerland, for a meeting of the World Economic Forum. Writing in advance of the meeting, Tveit says that he “can think of no greater antithesis to this vision of shared life and responsibility, no greater obscenity against it, than the continued existence of and political and social support for nuclear weapons … It is time to say together that this is wrong. It is time to call it a sin, both using and having nuclear weapons.”

Read the entire article here.

Church of England bishops reject plea for service of recognition for transgender people

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 1:10pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Church of England’s House of Bishops has rejected a request from the province’s General Synod for “nationally commended liturgical materials to mark a person’s gender transition.” The request came in a motion passed by the synod at its meeting in York last July. It called for the bishops to consider such a move in recognition of “the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church.” In a statement today, the Church said that the bishops had “prayerfully considered whether a new nationally commended service might be prepared to mark a gender transition” and had decided against.

Read the entire article here.

Sexuality working group recommends services of blessing without changing formularies

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 1:06pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A working group established by the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia is recommending that bishops should be able to decide whether to authorize a service of blessing for same gender couples, using provisions already within the province’s canons for “a non-formulary service.” But it says that there should be no change to “the Church’s teaching on the nature of marriage [which] is to affirm marriage as between a man and a woman.”

Read the entire article here.

Interfaith Power & Light welcomes Susan Hendershot Guy as new president

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 5:24pm

[Interfaith Power & Light] Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) announced that Rev. Susan Hendershot Guy will serve as its new president, ending a year-long search for the successor to founding president the Rev. Sally Bingham, who is retiring after leading the organization for 18 years.

“I am excited to continue to grow this vital organization and its critical mission to mobilize a religious response to global warming and to act as good stewards of our planet for future generations,” said Hendershot Guy, a minister ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) tradition, who has led this work in Iowa for seven years. “I deeply respect the work of Rev. Bingham and hope to build on the solid foundation she created. The need for people of faith to lead the movement to protect Creation has never been greater.”

President Emeritus Bingham will remain involved on IPL’s board of directors. “It is with delight and my strong support that I leave IPL not only with a strong board of directors, but also in the capable hands of the Rev. Hendershot Guy who will carry IPL well into the 21st Century,” said Bingham.

IPL has an unparalleled track record of educating millions of “people in the pews” about the call to care for Creation and mobilizing them to action, achieving clean energy policy wins from the local to international level. Mobilizing people of faith to be advocates for climate protection is more important than ever, as the Trump administration continues its reckless attempts to roll back urgently needed climate policies. Maintaining the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, and keeping congregations all over the U.S. moving forward with emissions reductions to show that “We are Still In” the Paris Accord are important priorities for IPL. Hendershot Guy will be speaking in support of the Clean Power Plan at the upcoming hearing in San Francisco.

“Rev. Hendershot Guy will bring a valuable new perspective to our San Francisco-based team from her experience leading one of our successful Midwest affiliates,” said Doug Linney, chairman of the board of directors, which conducted the nationwide search for the new president. “I am more confident than ever in our stability, strength, and the urgency of our mission. I believe we are in a great position for growth and innovation,” Linney continued.

Hendershot Guy will step into her new position this month. She will lead IPL from its national headquarters in San Francisco.

Follow social media coverage of Presiding Bishop headlining Georgia revival

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 12:22pm

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry are hosting a revival Jan. 20 on the theme “Fearless Faith, Boundless Love.”

The event will feature preaching by Curry. It was postponed from its original date September after Hurricane Irma damaged the diocese’s Honey Creek Retreat Center Intracoastal Waterway on the Georgia southeast coast where the event was due to be held. Downed trees have since been removed and the events will go on as planned. The revival is set to be livestreamed here.

Because of Hurricane Irma, the diocese also had to postpone a celebration to mark the new feast day of Deaconess Anna Alexander, the first black female deacon in the Episcopal Church. The event will now take place on the morning of Jan. 20 at Good Shepherd Church in Brunswick, Georgia, about 25 miles north of Honey Creek. That celebration will be livestreamed here.

The presiding bishop’s office has teamed up with local leaders to organize Episcopal revivals across America. The next event is scheduled for April in Honduras.

You can find social media posts from the Georgia event using the hashtags #PBinGA and #GArevival2018 or by checking the feed below.

How Episcopal churches embrace ‘radical welcome’

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 9:59am

Church member Linda Tarnay, center, cuts the ribbon of the new ramp as her caregiver, the Rev. Winnie Varghese and the Rev. Anne Sawyer watch. The Dec. 2 ramp blessing ceremony celebrated a challenging five-year project to make the historic New York’s St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery more accessible to people with mobility disabilities. Photo: Amy Sowder/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] Linda Tarnay used to leap across the hardwood floors in the nave of St. Mark’s Church in-The-Bowery in Manhattan’s East Village.

A member of the historic Episcopal church for more than 25 years, she also taught dance at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts for 35 years, owned a dance company and earned many accolades. These days, even crossing the threshold of her church is a challenge since her Parkinson’s diagnosis. Tarnay uses a wheelchair to get around, and St. Mark’s is a historical landmark building, which like many old church buildings was not built with access for those with disabilities.

“I try to come as much as I can,” Tarnay said recently at a church reception, as her caregiver brought her a bite to eat.

As the Episcopal Church’s worshippers age along with its buildings, needs rise for more disability accommodations. Plus, the welcoming, inclusive vibe churches strive for can be made more tangible with accommodations for people of all abilities, regardless of age.

Money for building-access renovations or technology for the hearing or vision impaired is often not in congregational or diocesan budgets, say advocates who’ve sought funds. And building maintenance often gets priority.

Because grant money is severely limited, projects such as ramps and lifts for handicap accessibility aren’t always eligible for grants, but in the Diocese of New York they are eligible for loans on a case-by-case basis, said Michael Rebic, director of the diocese’s property support committee.

There can also be less motivation to do these renovations because churches are often exempt from federal accessibility requirements.

But for the Rev. Winnie Varghese, the temporary, rickety wooden ramp that Tarnay had to use was unacceptable. She wanted St. Mark’s to practice what she calls “radical welcome.” As interim rector at St. Mark’s, she pushed hard to get a ramp installed at the front entrance. Today, Varghese is the director of justice and reconciliation at Trinity Church Wall Street in lower Manhattan, about 2.5 miles south of St. Mark’s.

“This church learned that it has many more values besides this historic site and this building: the people in this place, the mission that has been developed here together over the years, its fine commitment to the arts, to social justice, to radical inclusion,” Varghese told the crowd at a Dec. 2 Blessing of the Ramp ceremony.

The Revs. Winnie Varghese and Anne Sawyer sing along to the St. Mark’s ramp blessing song, adapted from the “This Land Is Your Land” song by Woody Guthrie. Photo: Amy Sowder/Episcopal News Service

“And actually, this place … has found a way to preach its values through its site,” she said. The ramp is now a visual symbol of the church’s mission to be radically welcoming and inclusive, she added.

Historic Preservation

Many Episcopal churches are more than a century old. When maint­aining the buildings, some conflicting values can butt heads: preserving the original historical structure and ensuring everyone — regardless of ability — can enter the building.

That conte­­ntion was especially true for St. Mark’s, which had members of the church and community opposed to adding an access ramp in front of the prominent landmark.

With the property’s roots as a church starting in 1651 and Episcopal ownership in 1793, St. Mark’s is the oldest place of continuous Christian worship in New York, according to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Walter B. Melvin Architects was the preservation architect for the portico restoration and access ramp installation, which took five years to complete from design to construction. Much of this time was devoted to integrating the design with the historic site, obtaining the permits and approvals required from several city agencies and the community board, as well as an extended fundraising campaign to accomplish the whole project.

“Finally done,” said David van Erk, project manager. “I’m glad they were able to achieve their goal. Their persistence helped them through the obstacles they ran into with obtaining permits and financing. All in all, a successful project, and it fits in with its surroundings.”

More than a month after the ramp concrete dried, Tarnay said the new ramp makes it easier for her to attend church.

“There’s a more welcome feeling when I am there,” she said.

Linda Tarnay, left, pushed by her caregiver, proceeds up the access ramp at the Blessing of the Ramp ceremony at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery in New York. Photo: Amy Sowder/Episcopal News Service

Founded more than 300 years ago, Trinity Church Wall Street is also exploring a renovation that includes installing wheelchair-accessible ramps around the building’s perimeter, said Nathan Brockman, communications and marketing director.

In Newark, New Jersey, the House of Prayer Episcopal Church still lacks easy access from the church to the parish hall, said the Rev. Joyce Bearden McGirr, the priest-in-residence. Built before 1725, the site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

“To get to the parish hall from the sanctuary requires climbing steep stairs, which is difficult for both congregations worshipping there,” McGirr said. “Also, the entrance to the parish hall from the street requires climbing stairs.”

The priest said she isn’t aware of past accessibility discussions, but she’d like improvements.

Before the Rt. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows became the bishop of the Diocese of Indianapolis, she worked as a religious property preservation consultant for 10 years, among other roles. She studied architecture and earned a master’s degree in historic preservation, completing her thesis on how churches and preservation communities can work together.

The state of Indiana, as well as New York, have sacred places programs, which can assist with fundraising, Baskerville-Burrows said. United Thank Offering grants can sometimes help fund accessibility projects too, when the request is tied to a mission.

Still, the cost of maintaining old churches can be insurmountable, not to mention the spiritual and social cost to those who can’t participate in church activities because of lack of access.

One of the last parishes where Baskerville-Burrows served was on the National Registry of Historic Places. She has watched so much money goes to minimal upkeep of buildings like these, at the sacrifice of the mission of the churches.

“As much as I love historic buildings and have worked decades to keep them upright, I think sometimes there are better caretakers of them, and it’s best to let them go,” she said. “We’re not about our buildings. We’re about our people, our faith and our ministry. It’s about reconciling people and being reconciled to God.”

Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows of the Diocese of Indianapolis.

“Those are some hard choices in terms of other losses in our church these days,” Baskerville-Burrows said.

Complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life.

That includes jobs, schools, transportation and all public and private places that are open to the general public. But the ADA exempts religious organizations and entities controlled by religious organizations, so in many cases, churches don’t have to be accessible. Access can mean many things.

With roots in the 1849 Gold Rush, Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, seat of the Diocese of California, today has elevators and three wheelchair-accessible ramps. At Sunday services, the liturgy and order of worship are printed out for the hard of hearing.

That helps Karma Quick-Panwala. She’s a special-education advocate for families of children with disabilities,  and she’s also severely hard-of-hearing. Trained as a child in lip-reading, Quick-Panwala is not fluent in sign language.

Since 2011, she’s used Community Access Realtime Translation services, or CART services, at the annual Diocese of California conventions.

“But the benefits of real-time captioning could help everybody, not just me, and it could help record-keepers and provide transcriptions,” Quick-Panwala said.

All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Pontiac, Michigan, began as a parish called Zion Episcopal Church in 1837 and its current building was completed in 1950, according to the website’s historical timeline. Between 2000 and 2007, the church became a universally accessible building with ramp access to the sanctuary and parish hall, elevator access to all floors and front pews with space for wheelchairs.

Former House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson attends All Saints’ along with her husband and their adult son who uses a wheelchair.

“For me, at least with a son that needs accessibility, it’s all about the baptismal covenant. We promise, with God’s help, to respect every person’s dignity,” Anderson said. “As churches, I think we have a responsibility to people who need extra help. We have ‘The Episcopal Church Welcomes You’ on our signs. Everyone is welcome. We say that, don’t we?”

Providing equal mobility access goes beyond the entrances.

When an older church has difficult chancel steps and doesn’t have an accessible altar, sometimes communion is brought to people sitting in the pews who need help. “Some people don’t mind that, and other people don’t like it at all. It singles you out from the congregation and makes your disability more visible,” Anderson said.

Some people would prefer to take communion at a standing station at the bottom of those chancel steps, where the priest and lay eucharistic minister stand, she said. The church bulletin can spell out the options.

Churches that have parish schools are legally required by the ADA to be accessible, said the Rev. Paul Feuerstein, a multi-vocational priest who assists at St. Mark’s in-the-Bowery and is president and chief executive officer of Barrier Free Living. The multi-service agency helps disabled victims and survivors of domestic violence and homelessness.

Because there are resident arts organizations at St. Mark’s, there are often public poetry and dance events onsite, so the church is legally required to make reasonable accommodations, Feuerstein said.

“But it really came out of a passion for social justice and to make a statement of radical welcome,” he said of the ramp project. “I would hope other churches do it, not because they have to, but because they want to.”

Feuerstein was a founding member of an access committee in the Diocese of New York, but the committee hasn’t been active in several years. He’s done disability work since 1978.

Whatever the legal requirements are for a particular church building, event or activity, it’s really about parishes taking up that mantle, Feuerstein said.

Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California, offers accessibility for people with mobility, hearing and sight disabilities. Photo courtesy of Bobak Ha’Eri

“All too often, people who end up with disabilities, aging people, don’t like to use the ‘d’ word. I get it. There’s a reminder of vulnerability that impacts people’s embracing the issue.”

Resolving to change on a larger scale

Quick-Panwala’s request for CART services at the 78th General Convention in 2015 was received shortly before the start of the 78th General Convention and was unable to be accommodated with the limited time and resources available, according to Lori Ionnitiu, director of meetings and convention in the church’s Office of the General Convention.

Because Quick-Panwala can’t read sign language, the Diocese of California helped with funding remote captioning over Skype on her laptop. It’s not her preferred method because internet service is restricted and spotty, and it requires using a microphone. But she made it work.

CART services will not be available when the General Convention meets in Austin this July because there are no funds to provide complete services in English and Spanish in both houses, worship, all legislative committee meeting rooms, and the meeting of the Episcopal Church Women.  Analysis by the Office of General Convention estimates the equipment and staff costs to be close to a half of a million dollars.

Quick-Panwala’s frustration with getting accommodations to participate in church activities inspired her to write a General Convention resolution encouraging the church to renew its commitment to provide full and equal access for all people with disabilities to any church program or activity. The 2015 resolution was sponsored by the Rev. Eric Metoyer, and it passed.

“Our church tends to have an aging population, and disability is almost a normal part of the aging process,” Quick-Panwala said. “Many people already have vision, hearing and mobility challenges. We want everybody to be able participate in church activities just the same.”

Although the resolution recommended that the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance budget $80,000 in the 2016-2018 triennium to fulfill accommodation requests at the 79th General Convention and at ancillary meetings and events, no money was allocated in the budget that PB&F presented and convention passed.

“It appears that there was little more done on the resolution than the formality of the church saying ‘Yes, we will provide more accessibility.’ That’s one reason why I pushed so hard for money to be attached,” Quick-Panwala said. “Somehow, there wasn’t any money in the Episcopal Church budget to allocate to it.”

It’s unfortunate, Quick-Panwala said, that General Convention resolutions often ask for money to be allocated in the next three-year budget but PB&F cannot always fund all those requests.

The resolution also calls for the General Convention Office to work with the Episcopal Disability Network and the Episcopal Conference of the Deaf to develop a set of best practices for providing disability accommodations at all official and ancillary church events. Such guidelines would help dioceses and churches when someone asks for a disability accommodation, Quick-Panwala said.

The Rev. Michael Barlowe, the secretary of General Convention, told ENS the Executive Office of General Convention continues to work with the Conference of the Deaf to provide and coordinate interpreters for the deaf at General Convention and also offer enhanced listening devices for those that are hard of hearing.

“It is important for us to work closely with those organizations specifically connected to the deaf, hard of hearing and related communities to consider best practices for all attending General Convention and other meetings of the Episcopal Church,” Barlowe said. “These historic connections go back over a century, and the differing opinions about best practices within these communities is ongoing.”

Besides following Jesus’ example, providing more accommodations for people with disabilities can be a self-interested cause, Feuerstein said.

“Chances are, we’re going to end up there ourselves,” said Feuerstein, 70. “And the older we get, the more limitations we may end up with.”

— Amy Sowder is a special correspondent for the Episcopal News Service and a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn. She can be reached at amysowderepiscopalnews@gmail.com


El Obispo Presidente Curry en materia de trata de personas: ‘la trata de personas es un crimen que va en contra de los principios más básicos de nuestra fe’

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 7:04am

El Obispo Presidente y Primado de la Iglesia Episcopal Michael B. Curry ha emitido la siguiente declaración sobre la trata de personas.

Mientras conmemoramos a nivel nacional el mes de la concientización sobre la trata de personas de 2018 es importante reconocer que el tráfico de personas es un crimen que va en contra de los principios más básicos de nuestra fe. Desafortunadamente, es también muy común y pone a millones [de personas] en riesgo cada día.

La trata de personas se manifiesta en una variedad de formas y en una variedad de industrias desde la servidumbre personal [involuntaria] hasta la agricultura, en los hoteles e industria hostelera o en el comercio sexual. Lo que sí sabemos con certeza es que para que este crimen ocurra los responsables deben devaluar y deshumanizar a otra persona.

Hemos de tener claro que todos los seres humanos están hechos a imagen de Dios y cada uno merece una vida libre de violencia y de la amenaza de violencia, de explotación y de coerción. Debemos también condenar las estructuras y sistemas que hacen muy fácil que este mal ocurra. 

Elogio la labor de las diócesis, las congregaciones y las personas en toda la Iglesia y la comunión anglicana que colaboran para crear conciencia, apoyar a los sobrevivientes y proteger contra la trata de personas. Exhorto a todos los que siguen a Jesús que se comprometan a seguir desarrollando una relación amorosa, liberadora y vivificante con Dios y con nuestros semejantes.

Obispo presidente Michael B. Curry
La Iglesia Episcopal

La oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales alienta a los episcopales a tomar acción en la lucha en contra de la trata de personas a través de la Red Episcopal de Políticas Públicas, aquí. La Alerta de Acción sobre la trata de personas incentiva al Congreso a pasar el Acta de Protección a las Victimas de la Trata de Personas (TVPA, por su sigla en inglés). Escriba al Congreso aquí.

Puede encontrar información adicional sobre como brindar apoyo y otras maneras de combatir la trata de personas aquí.

All Our Children conference envisions path to education equity through church-school partnerships

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 3:10pm

Kenita Williams, director of the Racial Equity Leadership Network at the Southern Education Foundation, speaks Jan. 17 at a panel discussion as part of the All Our Children conference held at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Columbia, South Carolina. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Columbia, South Carolina] Bishops, priests, deacons and lay leaders at the forefront of the Episcopal Church’s advocacy for equity in education joined this week with educators and advocates from several other Christian denominations for a three-day conference in South Carolina’s capital.

The Jan. 16 to 18 gathering was hosted by All Our Children, an ecumenical network of church-school partnerships with roots in the Episcopal Church. More than 100 people attended the conference’s wide range of workshops and presentations at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral – across the street from the South Carolina statehouse grounds, where Confederate war generals and fallen Confederate soldiers are still honored prominently with stately monuments.

The Civil War’s legacy of segregation, discrimination and racial injustice was an underlying thread through much of the conference, as several speakers detailed how educational disparity is interwoven with economic and racial disparity – both across the United States and dramatically across South Carolina, from the rural communities along the Interstate 95 corridor to the poor neighborhoods of Columbia, the state’s second-largest city.

The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and stewardship of creation, delivers the keynote speech Jan. 17 at the All Our Children conference. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

And although conference attendees were disappointed to learn early on that Presiding Bishop Michael Curry had been forced to cancel his keynote address due to illness, the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, Curry’s canon for evangelism, reconciliation and stewardship of creation, delivered a rallying speech in his place.

“God is working out a new salvation story for this whole nation, and it starts with our children, all our children. It starts with you,” Spellers said Jan. 17 to the crowd gathered that evening in the cathedral.

All Our Children’s executive director is Lallie Lloyd, a lay leader in the Episcopal Church who founded the organization in 2012 to build bridges between churches and under-resourced schools. She and others at the conference emphasized how Christians can bring a moral and spiritual authority to the debate on education equity.

Lloyd, in her welcoming remarks Jan. 16, called education equity a “common good” – “that core American principle that we hold some things in common because we all benefit from them. And we all benefit when our neighbors’ children are well educated.”

South Carolina was chosen to host the conference, All Our Children’s first, partly because of the stark contrast in how “our neighbors’ children” are educated around the state. One of the five lawsuits that were combined into the desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education was filed in South Carolina, but many schools in South Carolina, as in other parts of the United States, are said to be just as segregated today as they were before the case’s landmark 1954 Supreme Court ruling.

Diocese of Upper South Carolina Bishop Andrew Waldo, in his welcoming remarks, cited the 2005 documentary “Corridor of Shame” for raising awareness of the alarming reality of education in the poor, majority-black school districts along the I-95 corridor of South Carolina. Thirty of those school districts were plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in 1993 arguing that chronic underfunding by the state had left the schools, staff and students in conditions resembling third-world countries.

The state Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that students in those districts were not receiving even a minimally adequate education, and it ordered the South Carolina Legislature to develop an improvement plan. But after two new justices were elected to the five-member bench, the South Carolina Supreme Court reversed itself, saying in November 2017 that it was up to the Legislature, not the courts, how to set funding levels for education.

Diocese of Upper South Carolina Bishop Andrew Waldo has pushed for church-school partnerships through the ecumenical Bishops’ Public Education Initiative. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

“We have a long way to go,” Waldo said, alluding to the 2017 decision.

Waldo also touted an ecumenical collaboration he helped kick off in 2014, another reason South Carolina was chosen to host the All Our Children conference. Known as the Bishops’ Public Education Initiative, its partners now include the state’s Episcopal, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, United Methodist, African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion and Christian Methodist Episcopal churches.

“Our work has been to engage our congregations and raising up ways of being connected with our local schools,” Waldo said.

Church-school partnerships, such as tutoring and mentoring programs, form the core of All Our Children’s efforts, through the work of volunteers like Betty Hudgens, a member of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral who has served as a tutor for four years through the initiative’s Reading Matters program for children through third grade.

“We commit to one hour a week, which isn’t whole lot,” Hudgens told Episcopal News Service, but sometimes just having a conversation with the children she tutors seems to make a difference. “I walk away from there humbled.”

Building relationships with students

Lloyd’s goals for the conference included building relationships between church leaders and educators, turning the spotlight on the issue of education equity, highlighting ways churches already are making a difference and providing resources for advocates and volunteers to help the movement grow.

Some of the workshops and presentations were intended to quantify the problem by mining data on educational disparities and surveying the latest research on the best teaching practices. The conference’s first keynote speaker, Jeff Duncan-Andrade, set the tone for much of what was to follow.

Jeff Duncan-Andrade, an education professor at San Francisco State University, delivers his keynote presentation Jan. 16, the first day of the All Our Children conference. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

“The school is the single biggest influential factor in child development. It’s not the family. It’s not the media,” said Duncan-Andrade, an education professor at San Francisco State University. “They spend more time in school than anywhere else, between 5 and 18. If we get that right, in one generation we can transform communities.”

But many statistics show we are not getting it right. High school graduation rates remain low for low-income students, who struggle to learn while suffering from the stress and trauma of poverty, Duncan-Andrade said. At the same time, the gap between wealthy and poor Americans is growing. He also cited the United States’ high incarceration rate and its low ranking on the Global Peace Index, which compares countries based on an analysis of crime, wars, diplomatic relations and other factors.

Duncan-Andrade also underscored the difference between equality and equity. Spending equally on affluent and low-income school districts is not equitable if the needs are exponentially greater in those poor districts, he said.

The message that perhaps resonated most among those attending the conference was the importance of building positive relationships with students. All successful teachers are ethnographers, he said, meaning they get to know their students and develop trust before classroom learning can blossom.

“We will not policy our way out of this,” he said. “We will people our way out of this.”

Other events at the conference were intended to confront racial bias and systemic racism. And several presenters provided advice on how effectively to advocate for changes in government policy that will move society closer to education equity.

Much of the rest of the schedule was devoted to discussing examples of existing church-school partnerships and how congregations can learn from those examples and start their own partnerships. Such partnerships have been endorsed by the Episcopal Church’s General Convention as “a path for following Jesus into the neighborhood, addressing educational inequity, and rejuvenating congregations.” Its 2015 resolution on the topic also backed the All Our Children network.

A participant in one of the workshops Jan. 17 described how her church Greenville, South Carolina, reached out to a nonprofit called Greenville Literacy Association asking how church members could get involved. That led to volunteer opportunities teaching English as a second language classes.

Leave your preconceived notions of what’s needed at the door, said another workshop participant, a priest from North Carolina.

One of the churches she served reached out to the local school, thinking volunteers might be needed for tutoring. Instead, school officials said a teacher’s lounge hadn’t been painted in years. The church volunteers grabbed some paint brushes.

And while a majority of the conference attendees were white and described themselves in an early conference activity as being on the “have more than enough” end of the economic spectrum, the Episcopal Church’s emphasis on racial reconciliation was echoed in many of the discussions.

Racial justice needs to be part of the conversation because it is inseparable from the issue of education equity, said Kenita Williams, director of the Racial Equity Leadership Network at the Southern Education Foundation. She and other speakers noted that the victims of the broken education system are disproportionately children of color.

“We just have to have these tough conversations, and we are clear up front you might be uncomfortable,” Williams said during one of the Jan. 17 panel discussions. At the same time, the goal is not to assign blame or dwell on the negatives, but rather to serve the children. “Keep it asset-based rather than deficit-based.”

Hudgens, the Reading Matters tutor, does her part every Thursday morning at Columbia’s Hyatt Park Elementary School, where she reads with two third-grade girls, a half-hour each.

Her first job after graduating from college in 1962 was as a high school teacher in Columbia, where the schools were just starting to be integrated. She later worked in public relations and then as executive assistant to the dean of the cathedral. Now in retirement, Hudgens still feels passionate about public education as one of her “soapbox” issues.

So, when she was asked to be a reading tutor, “it was a chance to put my money where my mouth was.”

The reading sometimes takes a backseat to conversation, she said, as some of the students she tutors are eager to talk. Others are not so open.

One second-grade boy never seemed to enjoy the reading sessions, Hudgens said, and she could never figure out why. Late in the school year, she asked him what he liked, and he said basketball. She confided that she, too, was a basketball fan, and they began talking about the NBA star Stephen Curry.

“I said, how would you like to read something about basketball? He said, ‘Well, maybe.’”

The school library didn’t have any books about Curry, so Hudgens went out and bought one to take to her next session with the boy. They read it together.

The tutors are advised not to give any gifts to the students, so Hudgens instead donated the book to the school library. Now it is available to be checked out by the boy, or by any other student who might be interested in reading it.

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

Review proposes law change to improve governance of English cathedrals

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 12:27pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A major review of the governance of the 42 cathedrals in England has recommended a change in the law to improve their governance. The review recommends the retention of chapter as the governing body of a cathedral, but with a clearer emphasis on its governance role. It says that the dean should chair the chapter alongside an independent lay vice-chair nominated by the diocesan bishop. The report recommends that at least two-thirds of the non-executive members would be laity.

Read the entire article here.